Thursday, November 12, 2015

Star Spangled Art and the metaphor of Tae Kwon Do

This weekend opens the "Star Spangled Art" exhibit at the Carrollwood Cultural Center in north Tampa. The art work that I saw during installation is moving, and beautiful. The exhibit features the art of military veterans and the diversity of expression is just amazing! I'm humbled and thrilled to be participating with four pieces in the show. The reception is Saturday, Nov 17 from 4-7pm and it runs through Dec 30th. Local authors will be presenting that evening!

I would normally definitely go to the opening, but this weekend my daughter and I are going to our school's Tae Kwon Do camp. She is testing for her advanced green belt and I'm testing for my 3rd degree black belt. We were told to expect surprises!

We've been planning and working for this since last November.

Why do we do this?

We do this not just to attain our next level of "mastery" but to see progression and to work through it. If we practiced martial arts just for the glory of saying we have a certain belt, we would quit afterwards. If I painted and my goal was to win an award for example, I'm sure that I would grow quickly bored afterwards and would quit. Its not the belts or awards that matter, it is the doing that matters. The practice of the art creates giddiness, exhilaration and unprecedented growth, and sometimes mind blowing realizations.

Practicing Tae Kwon Do is a metaphor for painting and for my life. They all inform each other.

I realized that pursuing most things for the short term is usually a waste of time. I know I've talked about goal planning before, but this isn't that. This is doing something with the belief that it doesn't matter how long it takes, the longer the better because you know what? It is hella fun doing anyway. What I just completed level 352? Bring on the next one!

This is accepting that the process is the end game, and that the finish line doesn't exist. And once I went there, I realized that my life would be much fuller, richer and happier if I gave in and looked at it all (my life, myself, my relationships, my work) as work in progress.

Practicing forms in martial arts is a metaphor for how you see yourself.  You've all seen the lone martial artist running through a patterned warrior like dance where only they can hear the music? These are forms or katas. You're not competing against anyone else but yourself and improvement comes over time. What you put into it, is what you get out of it. Sweat equity, my friends.

Sparring with someone is a metaphor for how you interact with others. It is ebbing and flowing with their energy. It is paying attention to someone else's actions before reacting. It is going with the flow. Sometimes that flow includes a defensive move followed by a palm strike to the face. But usually, not.

Breaking boards or concrete is a metaphor for breaking through barriers, pushing through limitations and getting to the next level. This is where you set aside all the "I can't do this!"'es and insert the "I'm gonna cut through that concrete like hot buttaaaah!". You visualize the outcome before you even start.

There are a lot of parallels in art, sports and life. When you are in it for the long run you get to see those rich storied parallels.

I have it in my mind that I will always paint and wind up like Renoir with a paint brush tied to my hand at the end. He painted in a wheelchair until his death and said six years prior "I am just learning how to paint".

I am still learning how to paint and to practice tae kwon do. I hope it takes me a loooong time.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Collaborative painting for Central Florida Dream Center Auction Sat

I've been working on a collaborative painting to benefit the Central Florida Dream Center  through Arte Que Salva (Art that Saves).

Like many artists, I get approached for charities throughout the year. I usually like to choose those that benefit my community or an issue that is close to my heart. Central Florida Dream Center does both, working with families, individuals and children in need to offer a three pronged approach to their programs: spiritual, social and economic. 

So what is a collaborative painting? 

It is simply that you work with another artist to complete a painting. There are no rules. For instance, it can be done simultaneously in the same painting session or you can mail unfinished pieces back and forth with serious time lapses inbetween sessions. In this case, children from the Central Florida Dream Center started the painting on an canvas piece of cloth during an art workshop. Some of them chose to work alone on a single piece of canvas, and some worked with a buddy. Now, it's up to me (and other participating artists) to finish the work.

Here's a before and after. 

Collaborative work between students and me!

Students Alexia and Amiya created the painting on the left. The final piece after I altered it is on the right.

I thought about different approaches to painting on their painting. I thought it was really important to keep the integrity of their work and not completely paint over everything. But where to start? I usually paint realistically in oils but in keeping with the spirit of the piece I decided to work mixed media. I used graphite (pencil), inks, acrylics and papers. I wanted to stay with the vivid colorway and push it. I also wanted to incorporate a little realism and have that play off all of the kid's elements and the abstraction. I also wanted to build up layers. Layers of life, layers of thinking and of the possible future.

Did you notice? Ignoring an accepted "rule" of composition, I put the girls face and figure almost dead center in the canvas. Rules are made to be broken, hey!

This is a close up detail of the figure.

Detail of collaborative work between students and me

In the detail you can see the graphite drawing with paint glazes, torn paper collage, stamping, scumbling, sponging and painting.

The painting will be displayed and auctioned along with the other art pieces at the Jeanine Taylor Folk Art Gallery in Sanford, Florida. They will be displayed from 12-8pm on Saturday, May 16 with the reception and auction running from 6-8pm. Map here.

Enjoy a special, one night event with wine and refreshments and support the Central Florida Dream Center!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Orlando Museum of Art 1st Thursdays "Florida Grown"

Two of my paintings were selected to be on display at the Orlando Museum of Art 1st Thursdays "Florida Grown" exhibit!

Click image to enlarge

My paintings selected for this exhibit are All the World's a Stage and Hexidecimal Dream f.

The exhibit is a one night only event, on April 2nd, running from 6-9pm. Enjoy music, film, h'ors doeuvres and mingle with artists on this special night. $10 entry/ free to OMA members. Directions.

Friday, January 16, 2015

30 Days of 30 Paintings - Day 16 "Hexidecimal dream f"

Here goes days fourteen fifteen and sixteen. I took on a monumental painting project during the 30 Days of 30 Paintings, "Hexidecimal dream f".

After the original half-completed painting was stolen, it became a serious road block for me. The completion of this painting symbolized my artistic recovery and moving onward. During the painting I feel like many unseen hands were helping me.

It was a joy to reclaim my painting. It was even better to see it realized after so much time thinking about it. 

I can't help but look at this finished painting with joy, I feel it says everything that I wanted to and more. There are many layers - literally and figuratively speaking. The title "Hexidecimal dream f" refers to counting digitally in the hexidecimal numbering system.

We normally use base 10 numbering system (10 fingers). Hexidecimal uses base 16, mainly because of computer hardware registers. If you are in the ones column with base 10, when you want to go past number 9 you must go to the tens column and put a 1 in as a placeholder and a 0 in the ones. In hexidecimal, after 9 comes a, then b, then c all the way up to f. f is 15. If you count starting from 0 to f (or 15), like with computer registers, then it stands for 16 instead.

This is a portrait of a girl at the age of 16. The girl's head is filled with dreams of digital thoughts. It's a recursive environment and there's some interplay between the realities. How much of digital life (tv, movies, social media etc) seem real at that age, or any age? Still, it's her inner dialogue. It's the place she turns to when she thinks about her future. It has shaped her world completely, even though she is aware of it's influence. It feeds her rich fantasy life and at times spills over.

"Hexidecimal dream f", 30x40", oil on linen, ©VP Miller

Link to the first stage of the painting.

Link to the second stage of the painting.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

30 Paintings in 30 Days - Day 13

Someone told me that artists generally shouldn't show paintings in progress. I'm sure there are very good reasons for this. I'm sure we as artist some believe that should keep all of our technical abilities and development secret. When I worked in I/T I never withheld knowledge. It's not my nature, and I love teaching. It's the same way with art for me. Even if you have two artists painting the same subject side by side using the same techniques, the paintings won't be the same. Artists put themselves in the painting. I think forgers are fascinating not because they are so closely able to emulate masterwork but because they are able to keep their own selves out of the finished painting.

In keeping with the 30 Paintings in 30 Days project I'm showing my work. This painting may take a few days so you'll be able to see a real transition.

 "Hexidecimal dream f" in progress, 30x40, oil on linen, ©VP Miller
 Thinned oil washes were put down all over the canvas. The face was fleshed out a bit. Some parts of the layered image in the foreground (the man) were filled out a bit.

Click to see the first day of this painting.

Monday, January 12, 2015

30 Paintings in 30 Days - Day 12

The project has evolved from painting 30 paintings in 30 days, to painting daily for 30 days in January (except I just took the weekend off). 

I'm also not always going to do one painting per day. I think in the future if planning for another 30 days/30 paintings I would have preplanned. (cough) I highly recommend not only planning out ideas for paintings for the entire month, but also planning out a few weeks of easy meals. Yesterday, I managed to plan out the next two weeks of meals and half will be some sort of crock pot miracle. 

I would plan ideas/objects for daily paintings for still life and also locations with time of day, for plein air. Not that you have to stick with the plan, but it sure is handy when it's 2:00 in the afternoon and you haven't figured out what to start next for the day.

Today, I started on a large painting. This is one that I've wanted to tackle literally for years, but I had serious blocks when approaching it. This is a do-over. I've already painted this subject. But the (not quite) finished painting was stolen. It's a long story, and really not all that important. The main point is that I'm no longer giving the pain of having it taken from me any more energy. I plan on painting a better painting than it's last iteration.

Here's the beginning. The last time I painstakingly sketched on canvas and then discovered what happens when you apply thinned oils over it (it smears and you can no longer see your marks). This time I used odorless mineral spirit thinned oils to get the proportions down on canvas. It also allows you to make corrections on the fly by blotting and reapplying.

Beginning of "Hexidecimal Dream f", 30x40", oil on linen, ©VP Miller

Tomorrow I start laying in the color field.

Friday, January 9, 2015

30 Paintings in 30 Days - Day 9

"Bang", 12x16", Silver metal and oil paint, ©VP Miller
I'm really enjoying experimenting in combining metal leaf materials, in this case silver, with oil paint.

Bang. It is a fun toy trick pistol.