Monday, May 28, 2012

Windows Looking Out

Edward Hopper - House at Dusk


Looking out upon the dusk
From inside
We don't see
Those looking
To the light
into our lives.

J. Binford-Bell
May 2012

Windows are a favorite subject of mine in my art and photography. I recommend my previous blog Windows Again for my most recent photographic view of windows.

And check out Magpie Tales for other takes on this week's prompt.

Windows Again

La Cuerva by J. Binford-Bell

I love windows. I love looking through them. And I love photographing them. I love windows that are not windows any more and those that are barred.

Reflections by J. Binford-Bell

And those that are boarded up.

Ocate Pathwork by J. Binford-Bell

Or stuffed with stuff.

Mora by J. Binford-Bell

Window to window by J. Binford-Bell

Or those open to windows on the other side.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Offshore gas leak plug 'success'

The BBC Reports: The operation to plug the gas leak on the Elgin Platform in the North Sea has been a success according to oil Firm Total.

The company's platform, 150 miles east of Aberdeen, was evacuated when the gas began leaking on Sunday 25 March.


Beneath the deep blue sea
the earth sprung a leak
ancient gases escaped
maybe those that killed the dinosaurs
bubbled up from the sea floor.

On the sea
nobody spoke
experts whispered
men in steel toed boots tiptoed to avoid sparks
the media was kept in the dark.

It's plugged they now say
we did not go off like a skyrocket
or fall on a deflated balloon
this space platform where we reside
sprung a leak
because someone poked a hole 
looking for oil.

J. Binford-Bell
May 2012

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Circus

Circus Horse Rider by Marc Chagall

The Circus

Is once again in town
Erecting its make believe world
inside a much traveled tent.

The circus has arrived
amid much fan fare and applause
horse and rider circle the ring.

The circus is here
all the clowns parade at the end
me in the wrong color costume.

J. Binford-Bell
May 2012

Clown in Yellow Costume by Marc Chagall

This poem was inspired by Magpie Tales and the Clown in the Yellow Costume. And the many fantasy works by artist Mark Chagall. Reviewing his work while thinking about the poem forming in my head has also hatched some creative ideas for paintings. Artists should never close themselves off from other artists' works. Nor should they copy except as an exercise.

The Painter by Marc Chagall

Friday, May 18, 2012

Playing around with departures from the norm

Getting back into painting I am trying out new subjects, new techniques and some new media. This poppy and bud is done with my usual liquid watercolor on cradled gessoed panel. And then I added highlights with my new oil sticks I am playing around with.

This was the painting before the addition of the oil sticks. One of the differences which does not show in a photograph is the slight texture the oil adds to the surface. I got this new medium in order to add selective texture to my paintings and this poppy was just the first place I played around with it. I plan to use them more extensively in my Route 66 painting still in progress.

Route 66 unfinished

What has been thus far painted will most likely remain just watercolor. The car in antique car in the foreground will be first painted in watercolor and then worked with the oil sticks. My hope is to create a sense of dimension through the texture in the foreground and the lack of it in the background.

It is interesting to be working with new subjects and new techniques and materials. But it does slow progress down a bit. I find myself doing more thinking about what to do next rather than actually applying paint to canvas. This painting is 16 x 23 and is on stretched canvas.

In answer to a question from a fan, yes, I do paint bigger but on new subjects I generally start out small. This allows me to work out the details without huge expanses of surface to work. And it gives me the small studies to sell for those customers that want something that fits into the suitcase or their budget.

This picture which is 8 x 8 I am hoping to do with some changes in a larger size. I want to change the moon to the ring of fire and have the raven picking a "pearl" out of the ring. The raven and his rock perch will be worked with oil over watercolor. There are also some other changes. I have an 18 x 18 canvas stretched for it and am now working on the sketch.

"I paint what cannot be photographed, that which comes from the imagination or from dreams, or from the unconscious drive." Man Ray

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Meal by Paul Gauguin

The Meal by Paul Gauguin

The Meal

A Still Life
With foreign fruit
Island children
empty bowls
full of questions
and the vacant eyes of a girl.

J. Binford-Bell
May 2012

As a student of art I have always wondered about Gauguin's island days and the paintings he produced. They all seem to hold questions. Not the least of which is why Henri Paul Gauguin left France to go there; left the school of artists called impressionists to paint alone. Was it just for the colors he could use? For brown people to paint. And red dogs?

The Red Dog by Paul Gauguin

Did he run out of paints? Some his canvases seem to use an economy of paint. Almost washes as opposed to a more lavish application. They belie the richness of the color; the lushness of the subjects. The landscape they occupy.

When will you Marry by Paul Gauguin

I find myself nervous spying on what seems an uncomfortable moment. I want to escape from the eyes and run into the hills and fields behind them. Did he make them pose? Do quick covert sketches he later inserted into landscapes and still lifes? Why do they make me so uncomfortable?

The short poem of questions was written for Magpie Tales 117. The image The Meal a prompt. The questions I have always had about Gauguin are mine.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Creative Process - It's a head game

The Thinker by J. Binford-Bell

I had a very interesting conversation with another artist yesterday. She, like me, has been stuck on don't paint. Yes, that is don't and not can't. Unlike writer's block I think painters can always paint. And even if you cannot come up with a totally unique idea you can pull out an old sketch and do it up in different colors; change the sky from day to night, reverse the sketch so the main subject is looking another direction.

If there was a fair to be preparing for this June like last June I would no doubt be producing a number of "new" paintings for that. Before Christmas I sat down and did a few new works to sell from my studio. But it was that sort of painting I was trying to get away from when I decided last summer to not do fairs any more. I was very tired of doing another church or coming up with another goddess in a canyon wall.

In a way a series of "dark" paintings I had done rather spoiled me for formula paintings. I began to want a painting mean something. I had always produced the occasional thought piece for entry into exhibitions and they won their share of awards. I suddenly wanted everything I painted to be meaningful and I was totally unsatisfied with any painting I began that wasn't.

Today I finally pulled canvas off of several sets of stretcher bars. Canvas I had begun painting but totally lost interest in where those paintings were going. I have been working on some sketches. And have three new canvases stretched. And during the process part of me wanted to put together a couple more canvases. I am used to working in "lots" as it were; doing four or five paintings at a time. Getting ready for that active summer fair time.

I had to stop myself at three. I have sketches for those three. But I want to do them one at a time. I want them each to be special. Yes, I could still go to the studio for a week and produce 10 churches or ten poppies but I really don't want to go there. It was seeing that future that made me stop paintings.

I am looking forward to doing these three paintings and playing with my new oil sticks on top of the water media. I think playing is the key word in that sentence. Art for me has always been a type of creative play until it became too much of a business.

This should be a different summer art season. I have only myself to please. And only my studio to supply with art. I want to do more lessons because I enjoy teaching. This is all about getting back to the joy of art.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Blessing Way

The Blessing Way by J. Binford-Bell

The Blessing Way

Calling forth
the spirits of canyons
and streams
birds in flight
sheep and shepherdesses.

The setting sun
leading the way
with ravens as honor guard
our souls follow
into the night.

Moving steadily
like the river to the sea
we all march toward
our destiny
seeking grace.

A cosmic calling
of infinite scope
beyond our knowing
but we go
the Blessing Way.

J. Binford-Bell
May 2012

Jingle Poetry at Gooseberry Garden is host for this week's poetry picnic.

Journey not taken

Embudo in the Fall by J. Binford-Bell


Rivers call to me
Invite me to explore
To know where they go
and from where they come.

Rivers whisper
to my heart 
of journeys not taken
and memories of those I have.

Rivers sing
even in the stillest spots
of falls and rapids
just around the bend.

Rivers call
join me

J. Binford-Bell
May 2012

Magpie tales is a weekly poetic challenge to writers. Tess Kincaid posts a visual prompt which is to excite the muse in our souls. Not every prompt works for me though it is a challenge to try and stretch. Her prompt this week was a photograph of a river taken by another. I felt inspired not merely to write but also to use my own lazy river image.