above: the shrubs and crabapple tree

above: watercolors

above: tools - brushpens, gouache (sumi-e paints), pastels and mango juice for me

above: my favorite and most current painting - watercolors and gouache

above: watercolors, brushpen, pastels, prob some gouache...I get a little crazy when i am trying for a color or an effect

above: sumi watercolor on rice paper

sumi watercolors are not watercolors.  they're actually a mostly opaque medium but their binder is with something pretty horrific like horse glue or something equally upsetting, but they happen to have incredibly vibrant color and an elegantly viscous brush feel.  above: one of the many nearly exact same approach to the tree/shrub visual but after weeks - this one is - I believe - the start of getting it right for me

watercolors, pastels, gouache

above: sumi watercolors

the painting above came a few weeks ago and it was me giving me permission to let this crazy controlling thing go.  I had been pushing a very constricted approach and it wasn't serving me.  it WILL because it's something I love doing and it pops in and out - often without being particularly noticeable, but not in the way I was going at it, at the time.  

the above is one progression of one painting I overworked over time.  there were many tree/shrub ones that got really really overdone.  I'm not sure if that was in a good way or not.  won't know until I put it away for a few months. 

I'm going to take a minute to quickly explain that watercolors traditionally are a fast but careful medium.  you mask out white space, draw in parameters to guide you so your brush is sure and you avoid the bad farting around looking for your drawing and overworking the paper.  the artist endeavors to control the medium while hoping for those miraculous surprises, which is a little too anal for me.  

I like to get in there and do whatever I want to do once I understand my medium - meaning how it responds to me and the surface.  all mediums should work for the artist and not vice versa.  so, of course being partially wrong in trying to use the medium incorrectly, I was essentially driving myself nuts - which isn't necessarily a bad thing. but I was thinking too much.  much of painting is about the impulse and the spirit, the lyrical - and that comes from a combination of method, result and how the artist feels about what they're seeing - is this close to what you're trying to say? 

I use watercolors for their transparancy, but not necessarily to create the overall "watercolor" effect of layers and washes, etc.  I love washes but I like to draw on top of them.  I like to wet them and blot them and rub them away until the surface is sandy and then put something else on them.  I have taken to getting in there with pastels.  LOVING that.  that feels like l I'm on to something.  Hate the dust but love the overall dreaminess of it.  

so this is how I'm spending my summer vacation.  on my deck painting one tree and four shrubs with a few other trees plus this, which is the first time I've given myself poetry to think about while I work:

I had been painting sky, just sky and this came while something like this enveloped me -

holding her hand

to a sky

raining sun

I see a big oil painting in that thought.  and that makes me happy.  

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Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on August 5, 2017 at 1:49pm

I like the "sumi watercolor on rice paper".  It's purdy!

Comment by Foolish Monkey on August 5, 2017 at 3:08pm

thanks.  it's not a very good painting - it has no depth.... I was itching to paint on the new rice pad I just bought and there were some petunias nearby....

it is pretty but it's also pretty not good.  :D

Comment by Foolish Monkey on August 5, 2017 at 3:11pm

none of the paintings have much depth, now that I think about it.  my focus seems to be finding a way to speak, not necessarily what to speak about.  except the tree and those shrubs and a few other shrubs.  and there's always the sky. 

Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on August 5, 2017 at 3:16pm

LOLOL  Thanks for telling everyone (as if they didn't already know) just how terrible my artistic taste is...

BTW, I just got this BEAUTIFUL mew painting...

Image result for dogs on velvet

It's on REAL black velvet too!  How cool is THAT?

Comment by Foolish Monkey on August 5, 2017 at 3:42pm

you crack me up!

I didn't say you didn't have taste you dingbat.   thats a very pretty piece but it's not particularly good in terms of a good sumi painting - which has quite a lot of depth - even when it's a flower.  

I'm afraid nothing I put up is any good...but I don't care.  I'm liking where I'm going.

btw, I LOVE that painting of the dogs.  it will be my inspiration when I do my BFF's dogs, which is still sitting in the studio waiting for me to get in there and tackle it.  

Comment by Foolish Monkey on August 5, 2017 at 3:45pm

I should be using bigger sheets of paper and I have plenty but I'm too lazy to go down to the basement and dig through the boxes.

Comment by Rosigami on August 5, 2017 at 3:45pm

oh monkey, I love seeing your work! I am envious of your abilities with watercolor. (I own a bunch of different types of watercolors and gouaches, and I can play with them very happily, but nothing of any real consequence emerges.)  I really like the one of the tree where you used all the different media. And the birds! Oh and the last painting! I am floating right there!
But my absolute favorite is the sumi-e watercolor of the tree. 8th picture down. It just grabs me. 

Comment by Foolish Monkey on August 5, 2017 at 3:53pm

aw thanks rosi.

yeah, I like that sumi tree and shrubs if I get you.  

if I work fast my brushwork is solid but it's frustrating to make a fast painting.  there's so much more to be said.  it's a quandary.  if I could live with = lets say the first image of the birds - life would be easy.  I could bang out paintings like morris katz, the guy who lived above times square making a million million paintings - many with toilet paper.  he's just schmere it on.  he was very good.  but the work was more facile than anything.  it's like being glib.  the short, one word answer.  some things require more.  I suppose that's my dilemma.  I WANT to work on something, more than it needs to be worked on.  I'm trying to find a language that says more than I can say now.

thank you for the encouraging words and compliments.  

Comment by greenheron on August 5, 2017 at 4:34pm

I love paintings on velvet! There’s a lot of technical skill involved. Painting on a black ground is hard because everything light is additive. 

Pardonner my art’splaining, but for example, see how the bright yellow ellipse inside the hanging lamp gently gradates towards transparency as it exits the ellipse? And how the lampshade itself is nothing, just black velvet with a few blue strokes tossed on. That’s completely counterintuitive for most painters. I also enjoy how the dogs are subtly anthropomorphized so that you don’t notice where their canine anatomy morphs into human anatomy. Check out the German Shepherd holding the beer with his man hand! 

Monkey, some nice work here. The strongest aspect for me is the color. It’s lush, rich, deep. Even your palette tray is a pleasure to look at, filled with pure color. Shadows can drab things so easily.

I like the pastel overlay. You get the best of both wet and dry worlds and they add even more pure color. You’re making enough work that you’ll figure out the depth thing–yes/no and how to create depth in a way that doesn't diminish the color riot. Watercolor is such a challenge to create deep shadows. It drys lighter than it looks wet. The whites of the paper are your light source. so you have to know where to save them before you even start because you have like thirty seconds to figure it out once the brush starts moving and possibly (probably, in my case) obliterating. Gah. This is why I put them away and draw now. Drawing is so soothing. So peaceful :) 

I’m closing in on finishing the cranes but decided not to include them in the CT exhibit. Like you, I need to sit on something awhile before I have a clear perspective. I’ve worked on this one 71 hours so far and it’ll be close to a hundred before I think I’m done. It would suck to realize after it’s hanging on a gallery wall that it needs ten more hours of work.

Comment by greenheron on August 5, 2017 at 4:35pm

Morris Katz painted with toilet paper?!

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