Put together by Plein Air Magazine, this Outside the Lines documentary on the history of Plein Air painting is a good watch. It's about 38 minutes long, and covers American and European lines. A lot of history here, so enjoy:
I've been climbing for about 15 years now. That's so hard to believe when I look back on those first few years. The man who introduced me to climbing passed away during a climbing accident not too many year after he got me hooked. On the day I found out, I went climbing. I still can't tell you why. I guess I just felt it was the right thing to do.
For many years I wanted to go climbing in El Chorro, in the Malaga region of Andalucia. My then girlfriend was studying in Sevilla so I loaded up the empty bank account with not much more than enough to visit and went. Along the way an old climbing friend from Germany flew south for a visit. We rented a casa in Ardales, one of the next towns over, and proceeded to climb for a few days together. I was woefully out of shape, mostly as a result of focusing so much of my time on art and keeping my head above water, but it was a fantastic few days. We stayed just up to the right of where this painting was inspired from.
I prefer to paint the small things, or the things that most people don't think about. This street was just a moment in time, which is just like any other moment if you stop and think about it. It was painted with watercolor on canvas board in 2014.
Henri Matisse has long been one of my favorite artists. In fact, in spite of the fact that he probably isn't my favorite artist to study or even look at, he has probably influenced me more than any other artist. I never chose to use bold colors, but it's certainly a strength of mine, and Matisse's paintings, particularly A Glimpse of Notre-Dame in the Late Afternoon, absolutely helped me to understand that my use of colors works in the public eye.
One thing that I've been concerned with is using archival materials. I've done a fair amount of my own research on the matter and try to work with materials that will last. However, I'm always impressed with how conservationists are able to maintain, and sometimes improve, works of art that were not created using the most archival materials. I stumbled upon MoMA's restoration of Matisse's Swimming Pool and was completely impressed by the fact that it took the conservationist 2000 hours to remove the burlap fibers behind the paper cutouts that Matisse had originally hung on his studio's walls. Often times they removed the threads one at a time! That's about one year's work just to remove the burlap. Impressive stuff. Check out the article and the video here, or just check out the video below.
As a painter I have been fascinated by the color blue. I'm certainly not alone. Picasso is probably the most famous of the past 100 years to have produced a significant blue period, so to speak. Of course, as was Yves Klein. In my paintings, since I really am completely self-taught and really only inspired by those who create what I have no interest in creating, none of these blue periods or obsessions have influenced me. My own blues come from my own tastes.
I'm not really sure why this is so. I grew up on an island, so maybe that's it. But even then the sea where I'm from is so cold and dark that on many days it's more of a green and black than it is a blue. I also have blue eyes, but I've never been the one to wear blue clothes to make this stand out. While I do like having blue eyes, their sensitivity has burdened me more with such severe headaches during periods of uneven light or in the spring or fall when the angle of the sun is such that I can't avoid squinting than they have enlightened me with whatever spectrum they allow me to see. I like blue, but I like other colors, too.
Click the title above to read more...
This is the first post of what I hope to be will be a "Material of the Month" string of posts. I'm a painter, and I'm also self-taught, so I see this series as a sort of informal education for me as well.
This month's material is watercolor paint, which is something I've been getting into more this year. I began my career as an oil painter, and I still consider oil to be my main focus. However, I really enjoy working with watercolor because of its transparency. This is one of the themes of my work, but I don't work much with it with oil, instead leaving it to watercolor and oil pastels.
As one might guess, watercolor paint is water-based. It is made up of pigments (color), gum arabic (binder), additives (to improve the quality), and solvent (dilutant). It's the binder that makes it watercolor.
To read more, click the link above.
So the exhibit ended on May 10, 2014. It was a successful exhibit for a couple of reasons. One is that I now have two paintings no longer in my possession. Barcelona Rooftops was sold to a private collector and Cidade à Noite became a part of the museum's permanent collection. The owner of the museum, Guido Viaro (the grandson of the Brazilian painter of the same name for whom the museum is dedicated to), has been gracious enough with his time to introduce me to various galleries across Curitiba, as well. My exposure was good and I'm happy with the results. Opening night saw more people come than any other opener I've done, and it wasn't just friends and family either, but a slew of people in the art community who I've never met before. Of course this is good as now more people have had the opportunity to see my work and spread the word.
Thanks to all who came, helped, and participated. There's only one direction to go now, and that's straight up.
These past few years have been a real struggle. I guess I knew what I was getting into when I left my comfy job in the healthcare finance world, but I didn't know just how challenging the early years would be. In fact, I'm not out of the water yet, but next week marks the beginning of the next step forward. Of course, I hope there are many more steps like this in the years to come.
I will be exhibiting at the Guido Viaro Museum in Curitiba, Brasil. This museum is dedicated to the work of the Brazilian artist Guido Viaro, who was one of Brasil's more important painters of the early-to-mid 1900s. It also hosts many exhibits for regional artists while its permanent collection has many works from artists from the state of Paranà, which is in the south of Brazil. As a part of this exhibit, one of my works will also become a part of the permanent collection.
Of course this is an exciting moment for me, and I'm really happy to be taking this next step. I have a lot of work still to do to improve my skills as a visual artist, but this is an important first step. Please wish me luck. I hope this carries forward well into the future.
Greg (April 2014)
I started working with watercolors a few weeks ago, and today I finished my 11th painting, of which only two are worth presenting. The learning curve has proven to be steep but not tiresome. This painting is the 11th attempt and one of the two that I believe is worthy of satisfaction. It is called Iglesia en La Serena and it's based on a photo I took while visiting La Serena, Chile a few years ago. I took this photo knowing that I would someday paint it. This was when I was a full time writer and yet to begin painting full time. I guess I knew more then than I thought I did.
I want to note the process, however. An artist, like anyone, must practice and work every single day, and he or she must do so without seeing results. I know that sounds crazy but it's absolutely true. One must produce until the results come. There is no amount of planning of a painting that will allow it to magically appear. The painting must be developed through hours and hours of practice. This does not mean that a specific painting can't be painted in a short session of an hour. Of course it's possible; but that painting can't occur without the artist having developed over time, unless the artist gets lucky.
I say this because this particular painting came in one sitting. It was the first of my watercolors that I was satisfied with after the first attempt. All the others took at least two, with one taking three attempts and I'm still not happy with its development. I painted that "failure" over and over again seeing no progress. For a new medium this can be frustrating, but I continued knowing that no progress would mean substantial progress all at once at some point. A week's worth of frustration was finally rewarded, and I have my example of work with no results everyday yields results on the final day, before a new process begins. Am I satisfied overall? I have a long way to go, but thus far I am enjoying this new medium.
A happy day today, as I begin my first ever Kickstarter project. The name of this project is Operation: Frame and its purpose is to help raise funds to frame paintings for my exhibit in February in Curitiba, Brasil. You can see the project here:
What is Kickstarter? It's the world's largest crowd-funding website that helps creatives find the necessary funding to finish projects. I've supported three projects thus far (two movies and a book) and I'm sure I'll support more going forward.
Why support a Kickstarter project? Simply put there lots of great ideas and creative people in this world who go unnoticed by the masses. Kickstarter gives them a chance to not only raise awareness but also the necessary funding to get to the finish line. And the benefit for you are the cool rewards that are on offer as a result of your support as well as the knowledge that you helped someone creative reap the rewards of making this world a little more interesting.
Why support my project? Often the world expects artists to work for free, or for "exposure", so to speak. Not only is this damaging to the individual, but it's also damaging to the overall growth of creativity in culture. Such is how Brasil functions with regards to visual artists. I need help framing my paintings for an up-coming exhibit in February. I almost went broke preparing and communicating my last exhibit, which was a success press-wise (I got interviews on the local TV station and newspaper) but was difficult to manage financially. Without your help I will not be able to frame and exhibit these paintings. I simply don't have the financial means to do so.
What do you get out of the deal? I'm offering not only some of the paintings that will be exhibited (i.e. - you can own a painting that was exhibited in Brasil!) but also postcards with my art on them (and a Brasilian stamp!) and commissioned paintings. I'm also giving credit on my website and at the exhibit, so please stop by, donate, and share this project with your friends and family. It's a great way to get directly involved with an artist, let alone one living abroad!
Thanks and best...
The link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1273459531/operation-frame
I was recently featured on a website called We Poets Show It, which is an arts website devoted to just about all the arts, in spite of the name. They have a daily feature in a different area of the arts, which mostly focuses around writing and plastic arts but also includes music. too.
Here is the link to my feature there: We Poets Show It - Greg Mason Burns
Greg Mason Burns is an American-born painter living in the south of Brasil. These are his thoughts on life as an artist.