Category: Black birds

I’ve drawn the landscape for the Magician’s world onto the canvas, with distant mountain range, a trough of water, a cross of long rags attached to sticks, and rocks and clouds that resemble each other. All four elements are represented in this painting.

In the distance, placed on the golden section at the centered horizon line, there’s a citadel on a hillside. I’ve drawn perspective lines to help me draw the clouds in a receding pattern emanating from the city. The composition still lacks the raven who will sit in the foreground of the left side. I’m concerned to get the bird right, so I started looking for a stuffed raven, and discovered a weird legal fact: it’s illegal to make taxidermy mounts from American ravens!

I’ve painted the morning glory flowers blue, but still need to add a couple of layers of colour to the leaves – they’re quite flat at the moment. I’ll continue working this evening.

IMG_3987Bert asked me to leave some of the crows with him at the gallery, so we put together a nice little flock of the birds ascending a wall. If you’re near Fifth and Spring and want to pick up a few of them, drop into the gallery and enjoy spending some quality time with the works he shows. His Bert Green Fine Art gallery is always interesting, at the heart of Gallery Row. He’s between installations right now, look for a new exhibit opening March 10th.

I’m happy to report that at the Kwan Fong Gallery at CLU we’ve opened a show of paintings by Paz Winshtein, a young and very talented artist from Ventura County. Paz’s work is dreamlike and brightly coloured, sometimes a little disturbing, but always drawing the viewer in for a closer look. Addressing issues of contemporary culture, like building and machinery, his work is quite unusual and I recommend a visit if you are in the area.

Ruffians ruffiansandroses

I’ve added three crows flying in toward the traveler beside the tree, adding a nice little detail to that area of the painting. I think they’re soft enough to avoid attracting attention away from the most important features of the piece – the sky and the traveler.

I’ve been enjoying working the wild roses up, using a light grey and a dense Ceramic white, with touches of Naples Yellow and a little Cadmium Red in the centers of the flower heads. I’d like to get serious about the leaves next, because although I’m happy with what I’ve done so far as a background, the rose leaves need to be equally carefully rendered as the acacia leaves in the upper right, or the depth will feel wrong. I expect to drop the bright whiteness of the petals back a little with a glaze of Iron Oxide. At first glance there doesn’t appear to be much difference to the work I completed Sunday, but there’s a lot more detail in the flowers now and I’ve added many more small and indistinct white roses in the background, putting the tree into a better relationship with the foreground.

I must confess to a deep seated temptation to paint a California Landcape purple into the mountains!

In this fantastic world airplane vapour trails never cross the sky.

Photos from yesterday’s talk, which was enjoyable. I spoke about alchemical nigredo, the grail flints found in Neolithic tombs and the nature of inner transformation discovered in the search for the purified and re-integrated prima materia, embarked upon by all alchemists.

bertgreenartisttalk2 bertgreenartisttalk

I’ll be at Bert Green Fine Art for an artists talk on Saturday at four o’clock. My installations Grails and As the Crow Flies have been there this month.

Do join me at the gallery if you’re in the Los Angeles area. Downtown has changed a lot in the last ten years – there are sidewalk coffee shops and bookstores where there once were discount stores and abandoned buildings. It’s an extraordinary transformation, in part generated by Bert’s efforts to establish Gallery Row. I think he’s a Los Angeles hero!

Bert Green Fine Art

213-624-6212 (recorded information)

102 West 5th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Fascinating video on the intelligence of crows – a short talk by Joshua Klein.

I’m planning on including a tree and a few birds in the Traveler painting.

Crow video

Installing the exhibit down in Bert Green’s gallery in Los Angeles went smoothly, and the dilapidated truck I borrowed to transport the paintings and the grail piece held up very well indeed, zipping along the California freeways quite nicely, and reminding me of how fortunate I am to live here. (I’m remembering again that Talking Heads song: “And you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?…” which has been a theme for me since I arrived in Los Angeles twenty years ago.)

The opening reception is on Wednesday evening from six until eight. Please do come and visit the gallery. I’m showing two of my favorite works: As the Crow Flies (the golden panels with black birds wheeling around a seated figure) and the Grails installation, which increasingly feels central to everything I am about in the creative work I do. If you follow Bert on twitter you can find a picture of the installation as we were working on it earlier today.

Address and directions are here on Bert Green’s website.

This feeling of gratitude struck me repeatedly over the last few days during conversations with friends and family in England and West Virginia (Paul Luchessi). They’re living with pouring rain and snow, and in Paul’s case deep snowdrifts and a state of emergency. Meanwhile I’ve been busy in the garden digging out beds with the help of my children, planting the seeds of Morning Glory, White Sage, Hollyhocks, Foxgloves, California Poppies, and plenty of culinary herbs.

Glendale is over. We pulled all the paintings and much of the sculpture out of the gallery yesterday, filling the early evening with the back and forth of canvases and crates, and driving our little trucks through the mayhem of Los Angeles traffic. The work went surprisingly quickly with the help of a couple of my students, Michelle and Mark, who were wonderful.  

Today Jason and I will go and pack up the gravel and the remaining bits and pieces, I will dismantle the distillation apparatus and the tree, bringing everything back to storage, ready for their next incarnation in Fall, which is disturbingly close!

I used a couple of hours of yesterday afternoon to prepare the third big panel with canvas, discovering that I’m about four feet short of having enough canvas to complete the forth, so it will have to wait until I get another piece big enough to cover it. Because it will take me a long time to complete the angels I’m not too worried about this, but I can’t help wishing I could get them all done, just for a sense of completion.

If  you’re in Thousand Oaks area and would like to come to the reception at the Hillcrest Centre please join me there at four this afternoon. I’m selling gilded raven paintings at a very good price. The installation looks terrific in there and there’s plenty of art to see and enjoy with a drop of wine and snacks.

I’m been camping with my son for the weekend, but taking a break this afternoon to head over to the opening reception at the Hillcrest Center for the Arts in Thousand Oaks, CA. My As the Crow Flies installation is in one of the rooms there for the current exhibit. I’ll post photos of how the piece looks in this space later today.

I’m planning to work hard in the studio and at promoting my work this year, to find my way into larger gallery spaces, because the pieces have outgrown small venues.

There’s going to be a reception at the Hillcrest Centre in Thousand Oaks California on Saturday May 30th, 4pm – 6pm. If you’d like to see the As the Crow Flies installation, come and visit the centre. I’ll be there, happy to see you if you can make it. I really like this piece of work.