Viewing blog posts in Method and Making

 

I relearned an old, old picture making lesson yesterday: nothing can be precious.

 

If I fall in love with any portion of a picture, and it’s not helping that picture as a whole, I’ll have a harder time nixing it. And it’s very likely that I’ll ruin the rest of a picture by trying to make it fit with its mismatched part! That’s backwards.

 

Luckily, this picture wouldn’t die, even as out of balance as it was and as much as I messed with it. To begin with, it looked like this yesterday morning:

 

LOGAN TEST

 

Yikes, that surface was so visually active that it was almost wiggly, but the wild staccato of textures and tone everywhere completely short-circuited the whole image. I’m exhausted just looking at it.

 

Yet there was wonderful work in there. And you may notice pieces of scrap, inky paper propped up along the bottom and taped on in the middle right. When in trouble, I start gluing. Some call it cheating, and others call it collaging. I just build pictures. But I also call in my Sweetie and several dear friends when I’m confused. “What should I do,” I ask, oh poor, poor me.

 

One member of my advisory board said I should just cut out the good parts and make a couple little pictures. These was her suggestions:

 

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 11.05.13 AM

 

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 11.05.26 AM

 

Yep, she was sure right, and do you see what I mean? Such lovely work in there, but I didn’t want to butcher my picture. I wanted to fix it. How?

 

And now, for a quick aside: you must understand that I paint in the middle of a big mess. Well, let me just show you instead of trying to describe it:

 

Logan studio 9-19-17

 

This is normal for me. In fact, it’s a bit cleaner than usual. Uh huh, truth.

 

There are always piles of scrap paper and cut up pieces of old, failed paintings on my work table. I just keep clearing space to continue slinging ink, until I’m feeling so crowded that I have to tidy up. This doesn’t happen often, and what that really means, is that I have big supply of collage material right at hand.

 

Now, just after my friend said it was time to subdivide, I noticed a big piece of blotchy paper. I didn’t even know how it got there or what it was once part of, but it was propped up as if waiting for me. And I realized it could span clear across the bottom half my troubled painting. I taped it in place and this is what it looked like:

 

LOGAN TEST 2

 

WOW, WOW, WOW!! I mean, I could almost hear the whole image snap together.

 

And I felt disappointed with myself. Of course the really active background in my  picture needed something big, bold and simple in the foreground. Why didn’t I see that?

 

And just to throw in yet another and, I felt uncomfortable with taking advantage of this little discovery of mine. I mean, is such huge happenstance really fair?

 

Phew, okay, I got that out – now I can move on!

 

My goal is pictures and momentum, thus the rest of my tale points straight forward – I cut off the bottom of my painting, then sanded and spliced in my miracle patch. Of course, I couldn’t just leave it at that! I’m me, and I have a hard time quitting, so I fussed; collaging in other bits and pieces, scrapping, sanding and painting a little more.

 

NOW, I think I’m done – and I’m a looooong way from where I started too!

 

LOGAN TEST 3

 

That’s yesterdays tale. Now it’s time to continue with the next one –

 

 

Your Buddy Bill

 

 

PS: one more goofy thing – which I don’t understand at all. Many of my pictures look just as good (or even better) upside down! What?

 

LOGAN TEST 3 flipped

 

 

Logan Norway 1 9-14-17

 

Strange marks and moves today – paper ripping up and Geez Louise, is it stormy in these pictures! I must work on bringing in some sunshine soon.

 

All of these still need work. My hunch is that each requires select focusing of salient details. I must anchor this chaos, and give viewers a toehold. But how? I’m not sure what to do.

 

I also realize my quick snapshots don’t do reality justice. If we were looking at my paintings together, you would feel them in your gut. The surfaces are so brutalized and raw. It’s as if they were torn up in a big, bad old storm – and took us with ’em!

 

Of course, the flip side is that I don’t think these will support themselves. They’re so distressed and fragile that they’re ready to fall apart. I’ll have to figure something out, and I suspect it’ll mean mounting onto carrier sheets, but how do I do that without flattening texture I don’t want to lose? Yep, still more concerns, but they’re another day’s problems.

 

Tomorrow won’t be a painting day – and I probably won’t write you either. I must prep for my exhibition reception, and then clean the place up – we’re having friends over afterwards.

 

Your Buddy Bill

 

Logan Norway 2 9-14-17

 

Logan Norway 4 9-14-17

 

Logan Norway 3 9-14-17

 

 

Norway Warm Up 3

Okay so yes, if yesterday I could do no wrong, today provided counterbalance. Oh my oh my, what a difficult time I had, with nothing to show for it at the end. Just another day in the trenches then, but still I learned a thing or two. That counts!

 

The picture above still has a good ways to go, but it’s promising so far. It was begun right after the one I showed you yesterday (that one still needs work too – scroll down to see it).

 

Gray is HARD to handle. It has no obvious punch. It goes muddy so easily, or never makes it past lackluster, yet if I can figure out how to use it well, my pictures might have surprising potency. And they would be honest. Norway, up in the mountains in the storms and mist, is almost a black & white & gray, gray world. But it’s still dramatic!

 

The key to success may be in making tiny moves that somehow still read. I think it has to do with how acutely we see even small interruptions in what we’re looking at. I’m going to have to sort this out, and learn how to stack and mix textures and subtle tonal shifts. It will require sensitivity, and I’m more of a sledgehammer kind of guy. Oh, and I also need to better understand and take into account how to fine tune a picture for a specific viewing distance.

 

This is all tough stuff – I’ll be working on it awhile!

 

Tomorrow I’ll get back at it –

 

Your Buddy Bill

 

 

Norway Warm Up 4

 

This was also done as a warm up just before we left to go over there. It’s not quite finished.

 

The view is of a peak behind a lake, high up in the stormy mountains on the way to the Sognefjord, and the little town where my Sweetie was born.

 

THIS IS ANOTHER PAINTING THAT REALLY COMES INTO IT’S OWN WHEN ENLARGED – CLICK IT!

 

You’ll see a number of variations of this view – I’m sort of stuck on it! In fact, the very weird, ripped up picture from yesterday began as (or maybe still is) of the same scene.

 

I wonder how today in the studio will go? Guess we’ll have to wait and see –

 

Your Buddy Bill

 

 

Logan_strange new dragonfly

 

Okay, I’m on fire today – and I’m delighted because tomorrow who knows? Not today’s problem.

 

Do you like my new dragonfly! I do, a lot, but didn’t to start with. In fact, just his front half (he’s on two sheets) got pitched in my almost-a-goner pile last December. There he stayed, until a couple of hours ago when I found him again. I stuck a new right side on, slammed ink down and started bullying it around. Now Mr. Aerial-predator has one fine looking back end! My Sweetie just came home from work and she says this dragonfly looks as if he’s flying out of a Norwegian landscape. Well, go figure!

 

Bug saved. Like I said, I’m the king of ink today.

 

Oops, did I just jinx it? Guess I’m about to find out!

 

Your Buddy Bill

 

 

Wild Norway 9-12-17

 

I literally tore into this Norway view this morning – and I love it! The dimension and physicality of the picture is almost overwhelming, and I can take it even further with additional quiet sub-texture.

 

BUT I’M IN TROUBLE TOO! I had intended to collage in textures/tones behind the holes so they peek through, but I’m shocked to find that I LOVE the brown and green of the tape and backing board showing. Poop, color. Really? Now what do I do???!@!!> ?

 

Oh, and CLICK ON THE PICTURE – IT’S WORTH IT!

 

Your Buddy Bill

 

 

This is the same scene as yesterday, but now winter is in. I really like this one. It was  almost as if the marks made themselves, and they look very unplanned, yet the information is there. And then, I had to have the guts to peck at it, and grind course sandpaper into the sheet, to create the falling flakes. THAT was a tough thing to do – if it had gone wrong the picture would have been ruined. But it went right and I am pleased!

 

There will be a different landscape tomorrow – keep watching –

 

Your Buddy Bill

 

Norway warm up 2

 

 

Good Morning All –

 

For awhile there I got out of the habit of regular posting, and that’s no good.

 

But beginning this week my summer play time is over and I’m starting what I hope will be a concentrated studio run that takes me through the Autumn and Winter. I have SO MUCH new work to show you already, although most of it must still be flattened and scanned. That’s going to take a bit, so for now, let’s at least start with some quick point-n-shoot photos. Perhaps it’s not the best way to show you what has me so excited right now, but at least it’ll give you a hint of what’s coming!

 

I’ve begun a new series of Norwegian landscapes. All are done on two sheets, with the thought that they’ll end up bound in sets into albums. A lot of my method and mark making seems to be coming together in these, yet I find them as perplexing as they are exhilarating. I’m not really in control here, so I’m just hanging on and taking the ride.

 

Here is a moody up in the mountains scene. CLICK ON IT TO TAKE CLOSE LOOK – IT’S WORTH IT!

 

Norway warm up 1

 

Oh, and I’m going to keep puttering with odd flower pictures too. Here’s one that was in my almost-a-goner pile. It’s a pretty big pile actually, and most of the pictures there will be scrapped, so they’re fair game to mess with. If I screw one up, who cares? Sometimes I don’t though. Sometimes, a loser ends up looking kind of fine, like this one:

 

Strange bloom

 

 

I’m fond of brush strokes that serve multiple purposes. Take for instance, that cluster of little petals in the center of this bloom. They’re rendered with such a wide variety of marks. It lends a lot of character, and also introduces great depth, but if you really start paying attention, it gets hard to tell what’s in front of what! It’s sort of odd, or hazy, or a little ghost-like in there.

 

I’m also quite pleased with how the bold, black brush strokes that define the outline of the bloom become a sort of background for it as well. Yep, making marks that multi-task is worth chasing after!

 

If you click the picture – you’ll see what I’m talking about!

 

LOGAN FLOWERING 122

Flowering #122

India ink and surface alteration on paper – two sheets = 14″ x 21″

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Well hey there!

 

I showed you a quick studio snapshot of this a couple of weeks ago – which did it no justice whatsoever. This scanned version is much better! I don’t know how I managed such gorgeous wings, because they were done in frantic mode. I was moving too fast to think!

 

LOGAN OYENSTIKKERE DRAGONFLY 26

Øyenstikkere (Dragonflies) #26

India ink, inked collage and surface alteration on paper – two sheets = 14″ x 21″

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This painting started out as miserable attempt at a damsel fly. I was so disgusted I pitched in a corner. The next morning though, I picked it up again and with nothing to loose, decided to see just how far I could push scrubbing and sanding out the failed damselfly before slamming another round of ink down on top. The answer is WOW!

 

Even though my paper usually hangs on to some record of the marks I make (I frequently scrape and scar it), I can take away a lot more than I ever imagined, and the ghost-like remnants become wonderful, surprising textures in their own right.

 

Somehow, in the frenzy of brutalizing these sheets, incredible wings blossomed. They have more dimension, suggestion and texture than almost any passage I’ve ever managed – in any picture!

 

LOGAN OYENSTIKKERE DRAGONFLY 26 detail

 

This was teetering on disaster painting at it’s most panicked! The big, black swipe of ink in the lowest wing actually hides most of the previous damselfly’s terrible body. Even as I slammed it down, I remember thinking, “S–t, that’s too much – now what’ll I do?”  Fingers and thumbs were ground into the sodden, buckling surface, horribly distorting it. Ink was pressed clean through and scrubbed back up again. Bits of paper were ripped up and glued back down. I even left holes that were later backed with blackened paper that shows through. All of it worked, and I don’t know why or how, at least not yet. But I suspect I may be headed towards a lot more of this kind of thing. Most of what I know, I’ve learned experientially, and it takes its own time to sink in.

 

Hey, just for fun, here’s a little diagram that shows you where the remnants of the lost damselfly are still visible!

 

LOGAN DRAGONFLY 26 diagram

 

Sometimes, my pictures are a lot less whacky! In fact, they might even be a little elegant.

 

There’s as much room for nuance and and expression in a personal visual language as there is in any other language you can think of!

 

Click it to make it bigger – you’ll enjoy it!

 

LOGAN FLOWERING 57

Flowering #57

India ink, inked collage and surface alteration on paper – two sheets = 14″ x 21″

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There are some particularly lovely happenstances in this picture.

 

I made the lined/grooved stem in this picture with a broken piece of hair comb. As I scraped it up and then veered down and to the right, it picked up and carried some of the wet, dark ink I first dragged it through. When using a comb (or anything else that makes a regular, repeated pattern or texture), there’s every likelihood that it’ll look horribly mechanical. It can kill a picture. But false starts are worth it when now and then marks turn out a little scrubbed and ragged – in other words, with a ton of character.

 

There’s something else strange here. After I dried the stem marks, I slapped down a few broad, rapid, very wet strokes of clean water to make a puddle where the bloom would be. Then I scraped and ground an ink charged brush collet (all of its fibers were worn off) back through the puddle to make the lines that delineate the petals. Some of that ink also bled/blended into the puddle to make the wonderful, liquid grays. Here’s what’s odd: even though my water puddle originally covered the end of the flower’s stem, the dark, dry ink from those marks somehow created a mild resist that forced the puddle back. Thus there is a white halo around them that shouldn’t really be there. I don’t understand why this happens but I’ve seen it before. I’m trying to figure it out, or at the very least, learn to harness the effect, because it’s beautifully cool!

 

Stay Snug –

 

Your Buddy Bill

 

A tip: this looks really great when enlarged – click on the image!

 

LOGAN FLOWERING 50

Flowering #50

India ink and surface alteration on paper – two sheets = 14″ x 21″

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LOGAN OYENSTIKKERE 3

Øyenstikkere (Dragonflies) #3

India ink and surface alteration on paper – two sheets = 14″ x 21″

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Good Morning All –

 

Why oh why do so many of my pictures end up looking better UPSIDE DOWN?

 

I started by painting this particular dragonfly the other way around (see below), but it’s far finer flipped up (like above). So, that’s how I finished it, and only those in the know, know that there are actually two legs sticking out of this bug’s back!

 

There definitely won’t be a post tomorrow – I’ll be making pictures instead of showing them off –

 

Enjoy the day –

 

Your Buddy Bill

 

LOGAN OYENSTIKKERE 3 flipped

 

 

Which means I can finally capture good images of them without all the wrinkly paper being a problem. This is actually the second one I did – I can’t believe I just finished the 25th yesterday. Not a big series as I roll, but there are still more dragonflies coming!

 

It was instructive to take new look at this one. As usually happens, the first images in any series of mine are quite simple and to the point. Then, as I keep going, my pictures get ever more fussy. Or do I? Yep, it’s probably me. Know thyself – and don’t worry about what you know. Keep moving.

 

LOGAN OYENSTIKKERE 2

Øyenstikkere (Dragonflies) #2

India ink on paper – two sheets = 14″ x 21″

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Logan Cool Dragonfly

 

Hey ya –

 

Disappointing days (especially today) – but yesterday, this happened at the very last! It came as a surprise, and was a reminder that lost causes sometimes aren’t: a truly terrible damselfly is buried under the dragonfly painted over top of it! That dark band in the hindwing obscures a former, skinny and ugly little body! Yep, it’s true, and the other takeaway lesson: with nothing to loose, you may as well wet scrub the heck out of a picture and bring out the sandpaper!

 

My casual studio snapshot really kills this image, but I couldn’t wait to show it to you. A proper scan will come soon – patience!

 

G’night All –

 

Your Buddy Bill

 

PS: does it look better as a horizontal picture?

 

Logan Cool Dragonfly horizontal

 

 

Hey ya –

 

I’m still incredibly backlogged with new work I must get up on the website. Thus, the my new plan – starting now – is to completely catch up by the end of February. That’s pretty ambitious, but I think I can do it.

 

Towards that end, here’s a sunflower painted from life in Montana – and finished on my birthday last August. Compared to the flower paintings I’m doing in the studio (and out of my head – see my previous post, for instance), this is really tame. Yet it shares some of the same method and moves as my crazy stuff. Neat to see!

 

If you want to take a look at others from this same small series, you can by clicking right here .

 

Your Buddy Bill

 

 

SUNFLOWER FOR ATANAS 4

Sunflower for Atanas #4, 2016

India ink and surface alteration on paper. 24″ x 18″

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LOGAN WILD BLOOMS 1

 

I took a little break from painting dragonflies today!

 

Here are quick snapshots of two new pictures I like. The first one is actually made of two different halves that I put together. I bet that confused you! Remember, all of the paintings I’m currently working on are done on two sheets, taped together. Some time soon, I suspect I’ll start migrating onto even more sheets than that! It’ll be interesting, but I’m still me, so I mess up A LOT of pictures – probably two out of three. Often though, one sheet or the other (in other words, one half of the picture) isn’t bad. So, I’ve been saving ’em and have quite a stack!

 

Recently, I’ve begun fooling around with pairing up orphans to try to make new pictures. It sure leads to odd juxtapositions, and images I never could have anticipated! Of course, lots of marks and brush strokes don’t carry across the joint between the sheets (how could they?). I have to get pretty inventive (and often quite brutal with the paper) as I try to make two halves become one picture. But what is there to lose? And I’m very good now at patching and reinforcing fragile sheets from behind!

 

LOGAN WILD BLOOMS 2

 

 

Here’s the post I promised for Sunday, a day early. I’m going to be holed up in my studio tomorrow – bet I won’t stop slinging ink for nuthin’!

 

This is just a little dragonfly, taking a plunge. Don’t know why he’s doing it, other than it was fun to fit him in the space that way!

 

I’m constantly aware of – and working on getting better at – change-ups in textures, but even more so at juggling bold marks and their character. There is no logical reason that the wing at bottom left should go all gray and watery, or that it’s mate should be indicated just in thin outline. But it works, is interesting and keeps the bug’s front end quiet. In turn, that sets up/balances the big, black marks that become the rear wings and body. The intensity in the middle of the picture attracts and focuses your attention, before you starting looking around.

 

I’m not a big thinker, so I don’t ponder or plan any of this beforehand. There is no under-drawing. I pretty much run on intuition, and hope good things might happen. I decide to make a certain kind of mark, do it somewhere that makes sense, and build the picture from there, in response to what’s happening. Often, I go through quite a few attempts before I feel I’ve worked out the moment or notion. Wish I could just nail it and keep moving, but I’m not that guy either!

 

LOGAN OYENSTIKKERE 5

Øyenstikkere (Dragonflies) #5

India ink on paper – two sheets = 14″ x 21″

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Hello Again –

 

I was actually setting this one up for tomorrow’s post, but had to show it to you now, because this dragonfly turned out EXACTLY the way I wanted it to! That hardly ever happens.

 

I was shooting for bold, fluid, suggestive, slightly blurry – slightly not – – – and all of it teetering on the edge of abstraction. It occupies it’s space perfectly, and the play off between the big blacks and the spidery thin lines really does it for me too. Visually, it’s exciting. If I could make pictures like this all the time I would be wonderfully happy!

 

I’ll post again over the weekend – probably on Sunday –

 

Your Buddy Bill

 

LOGAN OYENSTIKKERE 6

Øyenstikkere (Dragonflies) #6

India ink on paper – two sheets = 14″ x 21″

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Good Morning All –

 

I’m about to dive into a concentrated block of studio time – so I won’t post a dragonfly tomorrow – or probably Friday either. Here is an extra one today though, to at least partially make up for it!

 

I’m enjoying how some of my pictures are, for the most part, about the depiction of these cool insects, while others (like this or the previous one) are far more expressive and mark driven. Playing with painting – that’s my gig!

 

Stay snug and be creative!

 

Your Buddy Bill

 

LOGAN OYENSTIKKERE 9

Øyenstikkere (Dragonflies) #9

India ink on paper – two sheets = 14″ x 21″

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