Tuesday, November 1, 2011

kanevsky admiration

This post falls under the category of painters who inspire and excite me.

I had not seen Alex Kanevsky's grass painting before I did mine in June, but I was just looking over his website today and saw it and it's like what I wanted to achieve, but didn't quite. It's amazing. I've liked his work for years, since a friend first showed it to me. This same friend just alerted me to a new Kanevsky show opening this week, and I'm looking forward to seeing that paint close up. I am trying to figure out how to loosen and open up my brushstrokes and paint application so I can get at that gesture, to me it's impressionistic in the truest sense of the word. Seemingly spontaneous, yet thoughtful, and also expressive. I was after the same idea with the apple branch. I started out loose and free but then closed in on it somehow when I didn't even plan to. Using an easel instead of hunching over on the floor did help me feel more expansive (or leaning my own grass painting up against the barn wall, with real grass brushing the edges of the canvas) and when I did let myself have at it, I thought I was really getting some of what I wanted.
I tried it again today with a small painting on masonite of some pumpkins and squash. It was too solid and dull, they were well-painted but it was like having your shoelaces tied too tight when you really want to go barefoot. I should have taken photos of the painting as I went along because I kept messing with it in ways that surprised me, covering up things I had spent a lot of time on, like some subtle shading. I will post a photo when it's finished. What I love about Kanevsky's work is the seemingly effortless way his brushstrokes converge on the canvas, out of which an image emerges. Within the stillness there is motion and life. Sometimes bordering on the edges of abstraction, the way your eyes would paint if they could hold a brush.
From a couple of online interviews with him, I excerpt the following.
"Painting is not something I do to a canvas. It is a form of conversation, and just like a conversation it can turn out exciting, boring, ugly, beautiful, enlightening. Like a conversation, it can have unexpected turns, sudden discoveries and hidden subtext and periods of silence. All this is what makes painting endlessly fascinating."
This is something I am starting to turn my thoughts to much more, lately. I know I can paint what I see before me, or what I see in a photo I took. I can generally envision how it will turn out. This approach still serves me, but I think I am also looking for a more honest and uncertain way to get at what I see. If it frustrates or eludes me, that means I'm scratching at something I haven't done before.
In answer to the question of what he would say to an artist just starting out:

Build up your self esteem to the level that might seem unwarranted. This will help you ignore both positive and negative responses to your paintings. Both are usually misguided, since they come from the outside. Be your most severe and devastating critic, while never doubting that you are the best thing since sliced bread.
The moment something works well and is under control - is the time to give it up and try something else.
Put all your eggs in one basket. Precarious situations produce intense results.
Forget subjective, it is mostly trivial. Go for the universal.

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