"The Mockingbird" - Finished
I'm proud to say that this one is all finished. It was 3 weeks of work + a lot of sketching and compositional studies. I didn't end up doing an oil sketch for this one, but I probably should have.
I'd never attempted a painting this large (32" X 24") and this complex, but I'm very happy with the final finish.
I'll be shipping this along with some signed prints of "The Butterfly" to Dog & Horse Fine Art within the next few weeks. I still have to varnish this one also..
"The Mockingbird" - 90%
So close to finishing this one. I don't want to go overboard on the background with the detail. My initial thoughts were to have a mosaic of glowing leaves behind the golden retriever and I want to stay true to my first ideas. I'll sign it and call it finished at 95%.
The Zen of Skateboarding
I have to write a post about how much I truly love skateboarding and everything that it has taught me. I'll preface by saying that I'm not a great skateboarder by any means. I have the basic tricks down, but I'm far from an expert. I've loved skateboarding for a long time, but it's this naivety that allows me to be so happy if I land a trick.
I went skating today down my local street and ran into a friend who also skates. We're about equal in skill level so we tried to jump (ollie) over some curbs. The curb in the video below was fairly high and had a patch of grass that we were trying to land on. I kept rolling up to it, trying to ollie onto the grass, but I couldn't commit to the jump.
In skateboarding of any level, it's all about psychological commitment. There's a moment right before you do something where you say: "I'm going to land this or I'm going to bail." And this moment of clarity is extremely zen. It took me a while to build up the guts to jump over the curb. And when I finally landed one, I realized that I could roll through the grass onto the sidewalk. Also, once you land a trick, it's as if a switch is turned in your brain and you feel like you could land it anytime you want.
The satisfaction that consumes me when I land a trick is based on the fact that skateboarding is scary. Even doing a small trick like this one in the video is terrifying. There's something so rewarding about conquering small fears. I also feel it more deeply because I'm at a low level of skill with skateboarding.
As for painting, I still find satisfaction in my work, but it's harder and harder to come by. And with painting, it's also more of a drawn out process with no physical prowess involved.
For a guy like me, I need the yin and yang balance between skateboarding and the sedentary pose of painting. In some ways I learn more about painting by skateboarding and more about skateboarding by painting. I hope to do both for a long time.
What I've learned in 2 years
I've written about self portraits before, and every time I paint one, it acts as a stepping stone to see how far I've come. I don't know exactly, but I think I've painted about 12-15 finished self portraits. I did a lot of them when I was in school because I didn't always have a model to pose.
Before my most recent one, the last self portrait I did was when I was a senior at Penn and I was 22 years old. It came out very well and I think it took me about 3 weeks to paint. I have it hanging above my bed and I look at it every day. It marks a very happy period in my life and I'll keep it forever. Every painting I do is very dear to me and makes me sentimental when I look back at them.
In the two years that are between these two self portraits, I've learned many things. The reason for my growth is because I've painted a lot of paintings. Some of them are pretty bad, but I've done a lot of commissions that I'm super proud of.
I'm starting to learn that the materials, technique, palette and everything are all secondary to the great poetic theme. Of course, I value technique immensely, but it will always be subservient to the theme. And the truth is that my technique is really simple and I use a fairly basic palette. A lot of my paintings may look very realistic, but they actually aren't. Aside from doing portraits, I don't like realism; even my most accurate portraits are idealized.
The other main thing that I've learned is how important tonal arrangements are in a painting. I sum it up in the follow order of importance: Line -> Value (tone) -> Color. It may be my colorblindness, but I place a great deal of importance on the value.
I keep learning every day, I paint almost every day and I'm still addicted to it after 10 years.
*See pictures below..