I love (to) paint!

I like to paint, sure. But I also like paint. You know, the actual pigments bound with all kinds of wondrous polymers and compounds? Yeah, I can't get enough of it, I love paint! Those wonderful, vibrant colors. Sometimes they even look like food!

I am the kind of person that can stare at the same painting for hours. No joke. It's like listening to your favorite song over and over. You want to take it all in, every nuance of every second. You are experiencing a piece of art that moves you, that gets you, that inspires thoughts and triggers memories. It goes beyond the professional instinct to try to figure out how it was made. Like watching the sun set, you just want to be there.

A little preview! Stay tuned for more!

So today, I was there. I am digging the way these new paintings look. Like I said in my previous post, the road is wide open!

Despair... What's going on?

Art is a commodity. There is no denying that. We know it, we choose to make art nonetheless and hope for the best. We take a leap of faith and create works of art with the hope that there will be people out there who will love them, love them enough to take them home and keep them forever!

But times are tough, and there's no denying that, either. When it's time to tighten the belt, the non-essentials are the first to be cut. Again, we know that. But there is a difference between being aware of it and seeing it with your own eyes.

For those of us who are still trying to get out there, the thought of being represented alone brings a little peace of mind. We think that once we are in, we are somewhat safe. You get local, regional and national representation and you are on your way. But what happens when your gallery drops you, or even worse, when it closes its doors? What do you do? This is a different kind of failure I am ashamed to admit I have never considered before.

Trying to make sense of things.

When I first moved to LA, I had the daunting task of scouting for prospective galleries where I could show my work. I don't like to waste my time or the time of others so, to improve my chances of being accepted, I had to keep in mind I should only contact galleries that represent emerging artists with a body of work somewhat similar to mine. Unfortunately, this list took a seriously long time to prepare. I looked at, literally, hundreds of places; each of which with its own sets of parameters. "Accepting submissions". "Check back for submissions". "We DO NOT accept unsolicited submissions". By the time I was done organizing this, I had no energy left to actually start submitting!

So I kept the list on file and decided to develop my body of work. Then Marine Layer happened. And Laguna Beach happened. And as much as I hate to admit it, I got complacent and a little lazy. I stopped pushing.

The new year came and it was time to keep things in check. I pulled out my list of galleries (now with a more considerable body of work to show) and, to my surprise, I started witnessing how so many of them are now closed. To make it even more tragic, some of the websites are still up, posing as painful digital gravestones that point us to the fallen and left behind. Further inspection led me to find out galleries that once accepted occasional submissions are now not accepting them, under any circumstances.

So, what now?

I honestly don't know. I want to keep working and creating even stronger pieces, as hard and, well, pointless as that may sound. As of now,  I am still trying to paint my new series in bigger formats, which as I've said before, it's proving to be very difficult. I guess I will be doing that and take it from there. As for now, I guess I'll just be bummed, thinking about all those poor artists and gallery owners.

Art is a cruel profession indeed.

Back from tour...

I just got the Matilija Poppy painting back from its last show. It has been a little over 18 months, 7 shows on 7 different states. I was expecting the painting back, but I was still excited to see it again. Usually when they leave, they don't come back!

I am especially proud of this painting. Now only did it come out exactly the way I wanted it to, it allowed to show at so many different venues and reach so many people. Sure, they were a lot of expenses involved on this whole adventure, but getting out there is a must!

It's funny that this painting came back just as I am starting a new painting for another contest. To see them next to each other allows me to see how my technique keeps evolving. That is something I normally do not get to do.

Before it left, back in January 2011!

Now. Just look how beat up the box is!

But the painting is intact on the inside!

For this painting, my main goal was to make it look as if it was made with oils. I wanted textured brush strokes and I stuck to bristle brushes to achieve it. Now, I am coming from the opposite angle and trying to show the least amount of brush work possible. Not quite airbrush (that's still a pending quest!), but definitely something thinner and more 'ethereal' looking. The Marine Layer series is definitely a strong visual reference. This new painting is part of it, but it will take a few unexpected turns...

It will be worth checking out, trust me!

Some assembly needed...

It's been a weird couple of weeks around here. Almost immediately after graduation I got really sick. What appeared to be just another cold proved to be a much bigger annoyance. My nose was very sensitive and my body was aching, so I decided to go to work but wait until feeling better to go back to painting. Fast forward almost two months and I'm still trying to go back and paint!

Acrylics build up fast. Some of these brushes need to retire!

After many weeks of picking up shifts at work and having almost no free time at all, I finally had some days off to go back to my paintings. But with the last semesters of school and work, I just didn't keep up with my little art corner (it cannot be really called an art studio) and it had become incredibly dirty and messy. I needed to perform some serious "Spring Cleaning style" work before any painting took place.

So, I cleaned, dusted and organized everything. I also recycled some of my unused mixed colors from previous paintings and made a colored gesso base for future priming. I was surprised to see how many years I can keep containers of premixed acrylic paint! I washed all my containers and primed at least 15 boards for new paintings.

I also took advantage of some pre holiday deals and ordered some supplies. I realized a couple of weeks ago I needed some serious upgrading in the lighting department. So, I did my homework and ordered some artist grade CF daylight bulbs. The regular household CF bulbs are incredibly noisy and inconsistent. Since incandescent bulbs are scheduled to be discontinued at the beginning of next year anyway (just around the corner), it seemed like a perfect time to start experimenting with new lighting conditions. Even in California the sun sets pretty early during the winter, so if I want to paint at all during the next couple of months, I need to be prepared.

Hopefully I can now start painting some stuff! I need to go through my stash of unfinished works and see what needs the most attention. Here's to finally picking up where I left off!

More photos, more paintings!

I recently started to upgrade my camera equipment and every now and then, when my schedule allows it, I like to take a drive and just shoot pictures. Having reliable tools will help me make better art, so I am pretty happy. I am nowhere near done, though. There is still a lot of tools I need to get before I can continue with what I originally intended to do.

My homage to fellow Ecuadorian artist Pablo Cardoso.

In the meantime, I will revisit some painting genres I have unintentionally ignored for the past few years. It all adds up in the end. Painting more only means getting more experience after all.