Painting Moonlight

Night landscapes aren’t as common as daylight ones for obvious reasons.

I love them. There is something borderless about paintings of the night sky. Sharp edges tend to destroy the illusion. Silhouettes and shadows meld into one by moonlight.

Moonlight on the Bruges Canal by Charles Warren Eaton. A beautiful tonalist work.

Lisière de Bois by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and Moonrise by Robert Macauley Stevenson.

A painting I can’t find the title to from Franz Sedlacek. Google him. His work is odd and all over the place. If the internet is informing me correctly, his work is a mix of Bosch, Fantastic Planet, Goya, pop surrealism and Magritte. It’s confusing me in a pleasant way.

Moonlit Landscape by Jean Delville, one of my favorite Symbolist painters.

Moonlight Ring by Henry Prellwitz and Moonrise by Stanislaw Maslowski.

Looking at these is like seeing the afterimage of a brighter day behind your eyelids, after rubbing them, laying in bed staring at the ceiling in the dark.

Star and Siberia by Alphonse Mucha.

Art in Asheville – ALLIGOODART

My plan for a while has been to blog about local art I find in Asheville, and not just from white walled exhibitions. There is a lot going on here. Most businesses seem to try to incorporate local art into their decor. Below are some pieces I’ve seen on display at Harvest Records, a local indie record shop near my place in West Asheville. It took me a while to figure out who the artist was. There wasn’t any attribution tags below the works which was a bit frustrating. Maybe if I was truly a local I’d already know who she was. I stumbled across her work looking at other local profiles on instagram. She goes by Alligoodart and you can see more of her work on her instagram feed. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume her name is Alli Good.

It’s interesting to me that I immediately had the gut assumption that this work was created by a man. The grotesque stylization and bright, acidic colors are things I associate with male artists. It reminded me of work by Ryan HeshkaTravis Lampe, and Gary Basemen, but then I realized another artist it reminded me of was Camilla Rose Garcia, a woman, not exactly of course, but they are all in the same extended family. The detail on the turtle necks, painted patterns of strawberries and cherries, should have clued me into the work being created by a woman. I remember growing up wearing such things usually paired with too tight corduroy pants.

In the end though, it doesn’t matter what the gender of the artist it. It’s just interesting to examine your immediate assumptions about anything.

Please check out her instagram feed. She seems to update it very frequently with not just paintings, but tons of ink drawings. Hooray for gross art! Our bodies are itchy and prickly vehicles that makes all sorts of funky fluids and noises. Girls are especially under pressure to deal with monthly weirdness all while expected to pretend our bods are fragrant and soft spring meadows. Okay, I’m being silly, but it’s true. I just like art created by girls that pokes fun at bodies.

POSING FOR ARTIST ANGELA CUNNINGHAM

When I first moved to Western North Carolina I was studying full-time and didn’t have time for a regular job. To earn some extra spending cash, I posed regularly for local artists and drawing groups. I haven’t had the time to do it much lately. Being employed makes it difficult to be on call, but lately I have been sitting for artist and my former instructor, Angela Cunningham.

It’s a slow process but an amazing one to see come together. Every step is important in order to create a successful end product, which is in this case, a large format all graphite drawing, and perhaps also an oil painting. She’s done a few color studies, one of which is shown below.


As a figure model, I never have much expectation or investment in the work completed based on my posing. I know it’s not about me. It doesn’t hurt my feelings if the likeness isn’t there, or if it’s not particularly flattering, but sitting for Angela has been a unique pleasure because of her skill. It’s one of the few times I’ve allowed myself some satisfaction and expectation for the final piece. I can’t wait to see how it turns out and feel honored to be a part of her body of work.

Below is one of my favorite pieces of her work. It is titled Silence. I love this painting not just because it’s beautiful, or that I’m partial to skulls, but also because the moth in the lower right hand corner is a polyphemus moth I found fluttering while it died on a hot night the first summer I had moved here. It reminds me of how exciting that time was and how beautiful, for both good and bad reasons, my experience here has been.

Burnished Vignettes – Contemporary Inspiration

I have a tendency to drown in other’s work. I have a hard time balancing being inspired and being paralyzed by how beautiful by it. There are more working artists now than any other time in history and all competing for an audience. Below are some of my latest or long time favorites. 

All the below pieces are produced by contemporary artists I admire. They all inhabit a similar space in me in how I categorize artists and work. All very different but stir up similar feelings. Contemporary and antique. Like opening an old book full of yellowed pages and secrets.

I feel that all these works are successfully part of the long conversation of art history. They look backwards and forward.

They remind me of looking into a miniature diorama, a view finder, all a scene of a single piece of work or play. They also seem to share a similar balance of warm and cold golden browns. 

I’m going to try to blog more about my influences as a way to organize my own thoughts and to help me understand what it is what I want to achieve as well.

influences and inspiration – historical to contemporary

Below are examples of artwork from the past and present, antique and contemporary, that especially appeal to me. I think it’s important to have influences, and even more important to be aware of what they are.

Above from left to right – Death the Bride by Thomas Cooper GotchMemento Mori by Tom Bagshaw. Bagshaw’s halo in the above piece reminds me of details from Paul Delaroche’s paintings dealing with the subject of death. Bagshaw’s work is an example of what painterly effects can be achieved through digital media.

Drained by Lori EarleyThe Sleepwalker by Maxmilián Pirner.

Daphne by Hubert von HerkomerYou Don’t Sing to Me Anymore by Caryn Drexl. Caryn is a very talented contemporary photographer who I wished lived near me so I could collaborate with her!

La nuit by Auguste Raynaud, Evening Mood by Bougereau, The Morning Star and the Moon by Carl Schweininger. It’s pretty clear that I am a sucker for floating bodies and gauzy vapor and/or fabric.

Below are some links to some sites that sustain me a bit, especially when it comes to breaking down the process and solving technical issues. Though I have to be careful not to let myself get too sucked into reading about painting and drawing rather than actually doing it.

Underpaintings

Paintings Stuff to Look Like Stuff

Portraits of Painters

DG Oil Painting Techniques

David Kassan

Hibernation & Guilty Pleasures

It may be the shorter days but I feel the need to nest and go into art making hibernation.

This means having an insatiable need to rearrange my home and make another attempt at putting together a livable and workable studio space.

Strangely, it also means making playlists of down-tempo and OTR horror and reading comic books(specifically right now Fables Volume 14 and 15).

I need a constant rotation of Portishead, the Twin Peaks Sound track and so on…Spotify has been useful in finding new music in the same vein. Music has usually been a private thing for me. I was never immersed in it the way my friends were as teenagers. Then I discovered down tempo/trip hop/whatever it’s called. It felt right. It’s more like a sound track rather than individual songs.

On my playlist now…

Willow’s Song – The Wicker Man Soundtrack
Small Town Witch – Sneaker Pimps
Pretty When You Cry – Vast (can’t get into any of their other songs)
Galaxies – Laura Veirs
Flame – Crustation
Down By the Water – PJ Harvey
Overcome – Tricky
Stars – Hum
Capsized – Samiam
Ten Cents a Dance – Ruth Etting
Horse and I – Bat For Lashes
Celestica – Crystal Castles
Half Day Closing – Portishead
Audrey’s Dance – Angelo Badalementi

Still from Vast’s Pretty When You Cry

Then…that Vast video makes me think of a fantastic radio play version of The Company of Wolves by Angela Carter produced by the BBC…which then leads me to another witch themed radio play, The Hairy Hand of Dartmoor produced by the radio horror show Fear on Four. I always thought the girl who played Little Red Riding Hood in the first play sounded like the witch in the second play.

The Hairy Hand is an urban legend out of Dartmoor, England. The story goes that on a stretch of road motorists and bicyclists have had their steering ripped from them by disembodied demonic hairy hands and caused them to have accidents. You can read a bit about it on Wikipedia here.

I’m trying to get my work from this past semester photographed and started on new ones, including a piece for a group show next spring curated by the founder of Creepmachine.com The group show is called Marvelous Humans. You can read about it at the blog the curator created for it. The show will be about ‘human oddities’ of the past and present and how they made the most out of what life dealt them. I’ve chosen Millie La Marr the Mind Reader, a Victorian Era Albino woman that traveled with the circus performing mentalist tricks, pretending to be a psychic. You can see photos of her here.

I wish I could find more out about her as person rather than just a side show oddity. I chose her because of her ‘act’. As any reader here can probably tell from my work I am fascinated by spiritualism and so called psychic phenomena.

I was super stoked to see that the show Jason and I was in, Multiversal Miami, was profiled on Artattacksonline.com here.

The Pursuit of the Original

It’s a weird feeling to see that the work you like to produce fits into a movement or oeuvre or genre or whatever. It’s a weird feeling to have to question yourself why that it is.

It’s not that I want to create things that are not a response to the long history of art and human experience but I still wince at the idea that I could be seen as aping other artists or too easily influenced.

In fact I am embarrassed to admit that for a fleeting moment I felt very special and original with my ouija board based paintings. Truly, anytime you feel original it just means you are less informed than you think you are. Not being original though doesn’t mean that you are mimicking someone else, it just means your brain isn’t a magical portal to unmined imagery and ideas. You haven’t thought of the unthinkable.

After reading a post on Wurzeltod by the unfailingly honest Suzanne(and why I cherish her presence on the internets) about a current trend in contemporary art I realized my work could easily fit into the fault she finds in it.

I guess that’s okay but it left me confused. Why is this imagery so popular right now? I have some theories, and the only ones I can come up with are why I’m attracted to them. Perhaps we all got into our parents dusty attic boxes and found their seventies magazines and hippy mystical books balanced with others spreading fear of satanism and the new orders attempts at creating new witchy peons through saturday morning kids programing.

Maybe.

Though my parents never seemed afraid of me being corrupted or led away from a god they had chosen. In fact they raised me with no religion, more out of not having time for the effort than any lack of belief. Our house used to be owned by a Jewish family. There was a hebrew letter built into the backyard stone grill and a jewish good luck symbol screwed into the door frame of the front door. I remember feeling upset when I wasn’t allowed to remove it and take it with me when I moved out.

Outside of my home was a big scary Catholic world. Those were the kids who told me spooky stories about the smurfs and taught me to play bloody mary games in the bathroom. Those were the kids who grew alarmed when I pulled out a ouija board. I adopted their superstitions for play. I found books in my elementary school library about poltergeists. In middle school every girl had a ghost that haunted them. I think some of them believed in it. I didn’t want their faith but I loved their superstitions. Being fun scared made me feel full of adventure. I was truly scared of many real things. It was better to be pretend scared of things I was sure didn’t exist.

My family didn’t really have neo-pagan books in the attic, but they did have Dianetics and guides on how to hypnotize all on a shelf in the basement. My father also collected books about local ghost lore and treasure hunting in abandoned towns. He sat up with me and watched Histories Mysteries narrated by Leonard Nimoy. I snuck back even later and watched Unsolved Mysteries by myself in the dark.

I’m not sure why other artists paint the things they do, but I do know mine are more about my lack of belief in the supernatural and my wish that I could find control and comfort in ritual and superstition.

Artist as predator

The actress Marian Marsh as Trilby

If I was good at writing I’d spend a lot of space here talking about how movies and drama have treated the artist as a madman(rather than woman) similarly to the mad scientist of many a horror film and book. The below examples don’t necessarily match that concept, but they are creepy stories featuring artists and art.

Trilby, pictured above and played by Marian Marsh, is a story by George Du Maurier and published in the early 20th century. Trilby, the protagonist, is a young English girl living in Paris and earning a living as a figure model. She is hypnotized by the evil Svengali, a brilliant but villainess musician…

I believe you can watch the movie version of Trilby on Netflix under the title Svengali. Better yet, read it for free through Google books. You can download a pdf of it. I’m honestly only halfway through it and have been reading it on my nook.

Trilby by George Du Maurier (broken link, will re-link)

Bluebeard, a story about a man who … ya know, kills his wives, was made into a movie. The villain’s role was changed into that of an artist. He paints portraits of women then murders them. Freaky puppets are also involved. Watch the 1944 version of Bluebeard on Hulu.

I also collect radio horror plays. The two linked below are on topic! The First is a story about two French art students who roam the countryside in search of inspiration. The second play is about a ceramicist searching for a perfect ingredient in order to achieve an unusual glaze to his work. You can download the plays or listen to them online.

Fear on Four’s By the River Fountainebleau (broken link, will re-upload)

Nightfall’s Glaze of Perfect Beauty (broken link, will re-upload)

There are many other examples of creepy stories where either the art or artist is menacing, like Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray or just about any movie that involves ventriloquists and dummies.