Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Aboriginal Influence

Twenty-four years ago, last May, I graduated from Mississippi State with a BFA in Graphic Design and other emphases in Photography and Painting – meaning I had twelve plus hours in both areas. The jobs I had after graduating were in pre-press. As for my fine art, I did a lot of experimenting with the techniques I had learned in school. Many of them were rooted in “happy accidents.” Generating unexpected imagery was more exciting to me than planning one out and then simply executing it. My blogs mind places and slingin paint cover the majority of the artwork I created between 1984 and 2000. The dot art was not a high priority. It has something that I’ve come back to at different times.

By 1993 I did some substitute teaching at my old school. My former high school art teacher had me substitute for him. Another art teacher had swapped with him in order to teach high school. She had become interested in the art created by Aboriginals and she had her students painting with enamel paint pens on canvas. Also, she was working on her own painting using the same method. It was at this point I had a chance to view a book of Aboriginal Art.

Suddenly I was excited about trying the method myself. Around this time I became interested in art that had a primitive expressive edge. In attempting dot painting, I was determined to do something that was more connected to New Orleans, since it is where was born and have lived all my life – except when I was in Starkville, MS for collge. It happened that an art association was having a Mardi-Gras-themed art show. So that became my opportunity to try out the dots. My dots became sequins. Below I have posted one of three I painted. It is called "Five Masks in Blue."

acrylic on canvas, 16" x 20"

Saturday, June 25, 2011


This was a project from my Painting I class at Mississippi State. All the projects for the course were painted in oils. I painted this one in the spring of 1984. We were instructed to use dots of pure color and place complementary colors adjacent to each other. We were using the Seurat Post-Impressionistic approach.

I had enjoyed playing with Impressionism in high school art classes. When this project came along I was thrilled.

I used an old photo of my grandfather and his cousin picnicking on the levee for my composition. I had to imagine color for this shot. At the time I did not have color levee photos to aid me.

The painting project that immediately followed this one consisted of collaged imagery. We were asked to be more personal in subject matter and to choose how we would render the piece. I mention the project because I had painterly water like Monet. You can see the painting "Cat Slide Water" on my blog, mind places.

oil on canvas, 28" x 36"

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Painting for My School

My high school headmaster requested a do a painting to hang at school. That is how this painting came to be. It hung in the school library. The painting was returned to me sometime before Katrina. Fortunately I had it at my house, which did not flood.

acrylic on canvas pad, 16" x 20"

Friday, June 17, 2011

Water's Edge

Next I painted this landscape. I wrestled with bringing trees forward and backward in space. My high school art teacher advised me on placing reflections of the sky in
the water.

When I finally finished this piece, I gave it to my mother. She had it framed and hung it among a collection of Impressionist styled paintings in her living room. Several of the paintings she had in her house had an impact of use of color and brushstrokes.

acrylic on canvas pad, 12" x 16"

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dabs of Paint

Between my junior and senior year, I traveled with five other students and my French teacher to France. The last five days of our five-week trip were spent in Paris. Naturally I enjoyed seeing the Impressionist paintings at the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume. The museum is now dedicated to photography. Also while in Paris I also saw some Vasarely paintings. His works are in the abstract geometric direction – usually with circles.

Previously I had painted more in the Monet tradition, but now I was headed in the Seurat direction. By now my brushstrokes were more like dot dabs of paint. Although I loved Vasareley’s work, his influence on my work didn’t come until much later.

Here is an acrylic painting I did during this period. I continued to play with warm and cool colors. The great thing about acrylic was that I could cover up the areas I didn't like.

acrylic on canvas pad, 12" x 16"

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Farmhouse in a Valley

Not long after my first Impressionist painting, I had a request from someone in my school's front office to paint another Impressionist painting. This time I worked from a color photograph. Again, with the help of my high school art teacher, I explored dabbing bright colors in egg tempera. My second effort was even more exciting for me.

egg tempera on paper

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Shaped by Impressionism and Post-Impressionism

It was spring of my high school sophomore year and I completed my first impressionist painting in egg tempera. The piece hung in the front hall of the school. Next thing I know the drama teacher told me she had to have it. I let her. Around that time she became an administrator. Soon the piece was framed and was proudly displayed in her office.

My source material was a black and white photograph of a big oak tree and shadows cast on the grass underneath and a nearby stream. So, I had to invent colors for my image. My high school art teacher advised me along the way.

This is the only photograph I have of my painting. It was taken with a Polaroid camera.
I had to clean up the image a little to give a cleaner photograph.

egg tempera on paper

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

An Early Dot Drawing

On October 7, 2005, I arrived back in Metairie after my evacuation to Memphis. My family had contractors tear out moldy walls in the basement of the home where I grew up. Some of my art was stored there. I was informed that I needed to go grab the art that did not get soaked during the flood. The portfolios I retrieved have been sitting in my art storage room at home. I knew from past browsing that the majority of my kid art perished.

Four years ago, I decided to see what actually survived. This is a drawing made before I started Kindergarten. When I used to visit my father’s sister, I’d draw and she would hang my art on one wall of her kitchen. It was the “great art wall,” if you will. Of course my sister and brother had art on the art wall too. They never pursued art, but they created some nice work too.

My family says that the trail of dots is supposed to be ants. As for the “H-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h” – my guess it means “H-h-h-h-h-h-e-l-l-l-l-l-l-p!” Anyway I thought I’d post an early example of my “dot art.” I altered the temperature of the picture so the drawing is easier to see. Needless to say the paper has turned brown, the rubber cement is showing through and there are obvious tears that were scotch-taped.