early 2008 - opened morlanstudio in White Rock BC, Canada.
Painted 48 canvases of which 22 were used for the installation. After the paintings were installed I used the canvases not used in the installation for new works.
After a couple of months I found that spontaneous *first sitting* paintings have a nice fresh punch to them but I would tire of them relatively quick.
Started going *back into* these with *multiple sittings*. This is done without thinking about what had previously been painted, creating more and more layers. Many of the paintings in the studio now have been completely different paintings at one time with some paintings having changed as many as 8 or 9 times.
Example of 4 different sittings - late 2008.
Same paintings close-up.
A few years ago I'd read a story about a Zen Master who was asked by his pupil, "Is Buddha in a dog?" In typical Zen Master fashion he hit the pupil on the head with his bamboo stick saying, "Only the facts! Where is your mind!?"
I'm not sure if that's actually what was written, but that's (more or less) what I remember. What has stuck in my mind over the years is "Only the facts!" The facts! What are the facts? What isn't a fact?
The *fact* is that what's been given to me in my life, are the only facts. Everything else is an abstraction.
The *fact* is that I've had a really good life.
The *fact* is that everything that's given me trouble in my life have all been abstractions.
I have not been in a war, it has come to me as an abstraction.
I did not know John Lennon, he came to me as an abstraction.
John Lennon's murder and all the horrible things people have done are all abstractions.
What you see on TV is an abstraction.
What you read in books are abstractions.
Wants and desires are abstractions.
Fear comes from abstractions.
Anger comes from abstractions.
Global Nuclear Annihilation is an abstraction.
Global Warming is an abstraction.
I now realize that the issues that have so greatly affected my life in a negative way, have all been abstractions. The anger I've had towards humanity (after John Lennon's murder) and the fear I've had of humanity (Global Man-made Catastrophes) are both abstractions.
this is not an abstract painting
This may seem a bit "out there" but when I look at my life it's the truth.
The *fact* is I've never been without what I need. Sometimes that's been no more than the clothes on my back, some food, some water and shelter. Other times what I've needed in my life has been a lot more.
The *fact* is there's only been a couple of people in my life that had been a problem. To be honest a lot of the problems I've had with people came from abstractions I've had in *my* mind.
When I live in the NOW and only pay attention to the *facts*, life is quite good. In fact it's excellent!
I now have the understanding that the materials I use to create art are here to help teach me with what I *need* to learn. When I'm with them they are a *fact*. When I'm not, they are abstractions.
When I paint a very realistic painting of an onion, what I've painted is not an onion. It's an abstraction that represents an onion. The *fact* is the painting of the onion is paint on canvas.
When I live in the NOW and love *only the facts* then I have to love paint, canvas, brushes, my hand, etc. for what they are while painting. I have to love an onion, a knife, the cutting board, my hand, etc. for what they are while making a salad.
Started to think that *abstractions* are something to learn to let go of.
Started paying more attention to *only the facts*.
mid 2008 - committed myself to do some paintings for the local theater. Because of the space I decided to paint three 6'3"WX16'H paintings. Realizing this would be absurd to do in oils, I started using acrylics again (last time was in 1985) and would paint on raw canvas. Found a great local shop that makes the acrylics.
Found I quite like the acrylics on raw canvas. It's more spontaneous and the painting can be changed on a whim. Also that the raw canvas has a warmth that primed canvas doesn't.
early summer - 3'W X 4'H
Started painting what came to me in the moment and what *felt* right. Found that when I don't *think* about a painting and just *feel* the painting, the seasons have an enormous influence on the painting.
mid autumn - 6'3"W X 16'H
Stopped painting the "Romantic Parisian" paintings.
With the "faces, vases and landscapes" I found that...the vases are like the faces with one difference,
late 2008 - started mixing acrylics and oils.
Put some oil glaze over an acrylic painting and liked the depth of color. However, I found the shininess of the glaze over the whole surface overbearing. Started painting oil on some areas of the glazed acrylic, bringing back areas with a matte finish.
Found that a glazed surface pulls you into the painting and a matte surface pushes out of the painting to you.
Found the glazed part of the paintings creates a nice aspect of change when walking past the painting and that the painting looks different depending on where you stand in the room.
Started placing a vase of flowers in front of the painting. If they compete? The painting is too busy.
late autumn - 4'W X 3'H
Remembered that frames somehow always get damaged.
Heard *the voice* say, "Don't make decisions based on wants and desires."
Started seeing the objects around me not as having different souls but as being soul itself. That it's the perceived differences that creates the illusion of things being separate and that actually everything is made of the same stuff. This illusion is not here to trick us but to teach us and that because of this I should have faith in what's being taught and accept what's given in life without question.
The Global Economic Meltdown began.
early 2009 - got tired of answering the question, "...but, do you know how to paint something the way it looks?" with, "yes... I do."
Painted some landscapes.
a landscape the way it looks
a landscape with more of the way it feels
a landscape with the way it feels and what I know about it
A note on technique: When painting a representational painting often the technique demands your complete attention. In order to have a surface that's uniform and doesn't distract from the illusion, the paint and glaze must only be worked up to a certain point of the drying time. When the paint and/or glaze starts to close the brush strokes will gum up leaving bumps and flat areas. This interferes with the integrity of the surface, taking away from the illusion and often creating unwanted results.
a landscape the way it looks - oil on canvas
Because this demands your complete attention, distractions are annoying and there is a lot of stress involved. This is one reason why I don't like painting this type of painting. I need to be able to walk away from a painting at any time. When someone comes into the studio I need to be available for that person, not stressing over where the glaze might be at a certain point.
Life is too short for stress and...
somehow this type of painting always gets damaged (scratches, dents, goobers, etc.). If a painting like this happens to be your *precious object* you will surely become upset when it does gets damaged. Like I said, "Life's too short."
Abandoned the *precious object* concept in favor of just *being* with the paint and canvas. Painting without thinking and just enjoying the process.
Started painting using the approach...
What if I just love:
The paint for what it is.
The canvas for what it is.
My hand for what it is.
... and that's enough.
Now when I enter the studio I turn on some music, grab a brush, push it into some paint, lift the hand on the end of my arm and make colorful marks on a surface.
After awhile I'll stand back from the painting and feel the energy of the marks and colors, then start painting again. At the end of a day I'll sit down, look at the painting and ask, "So... who are you?"
At this point it's like I'm seeing the painting for the first time.
This is joy in being.
This is what I'd like others to understand for themselves.
I call these "paintings in progress".
I don't consider these paintings "abstract". I'm not abstracting from anything. These are the results of being, of being with the canvas and the paint. What they my appear to mean is coincidental. I don't paint with the intent of them meaning anything.
Close-ups of "paintings in progress".
There is no point of completion with these paintings and they change daily.
With the same canvas being painted on over and over this creates new subtleties of surface, new transparencies, new layers of color and new associations of shape every time it's gone back into.
A couple of advantages in painting like this are: environmentally less resources are used and it's relatively inexpensive to have a new painting for an environment.
Over time a painting will get emotions attached to it. Sometimes positive, sometimes negative, sometimes both. Often there comes a time when the energy of an environment just needs a change.
Started thinking of a painter as someone who provides a service. A service not too unlike that of a gardener. A gardener that takes care of the energy of an environment with the energies of color, shape and texture. Changing the energy when needed, maintaining the health, life and interest within an environment.
Once a season, once a month or even once a week, I'd show up, paint on the canvas, put up a *wet paint* sign and leave.
Sounds like FUN! to me. :)
I've found (after all these years) that I love painting and listening to music. It's that simple. When I've had a few hours doing what I love, the world becomes a lighter more enjoyable place. My walk is a little bit lighter and there's a smile on my face.
I no longer try and translate what I experience outside the studio into something done inside the studio. I no longer take the thoughts and ideas I have inside the studio to the outside.
When I'm outside, I'm outside. When I'm inside, I'm inside.
When I'm with a person, I'm with that person. When I'm not, I'm not.
Learning to let go of abstractions is quite refreshing! :)
Started teaching - the funnest most rewarding thing I've ever done!
(yes... yes... I know... but I've always had the word "funnest" in my vocabulary)
Teaching to let go of the *precious object* and have FUN!
A 7'X9' canvas with 4 different classes working on the same canvas.
After the classes were done I went through the painting and *removed ownership* of elements within the painting by scraping off paint. This was so that no one class or person would *own* the painting.
Only 1 student out of 80 complained about the process. After seeing that what she had done had almost completely disappeared she stated with a bit of anger, "What was the purpose of doing this then?!" I told her, "To learn to let go of the *precious object* and have FUN! in the process."
After each class I asked the students if they had FUN! They all yelled, "YES!" :)
Teaching to enjoy *painting as a process* while listening to music.