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The Value of Plein Air Painting.

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I have been thinking about writing this blog post for a while now about the relationship I have with plein air painting and the relationship plein air painting has with the rest of my art practice.

When I was in art school I was a drawing major and so I studied drawing and I drew a lot. I had a few painting classes and learned some basics but it was really just a drop in the ocean of the understanding needed to really establish a strong foundational core for your painting practice.

I remember for my final graduation piece for the big grad show, for some reason I decided to do a painting. A big one! Like 8 feet by 6 feet or something like that. Even though I had never really endeavored to do anything like that before. I was astounded how long it was taking me to complete this piece and I remember working literally right up to the last day deadline and the painting was still wet when they hung it in the show.

I realized something about painting during that big final piece I did for my graduation. I realized that there was still a lot about painting I didn’t know, naturally, though, I realized I in fact knew even less than the obvious small amount I did grasp to some degree. Or that there was so much more to it than I anticipated. It was humbling.

That summer after graduation I began learning to paint.

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And literally the first painting I did to begin this process was a landscape plein air painting. My reasoning was simple. “Learn From Nature”, I mean I read that statement over and over and over in all the art books I studied in school, and I had already established clear feedback from my drawing practice that I leant an immense amount about drawing when I draw directly from life and so seeing as how my new home summer studio after my graduation was out in the country side surrounded by nature; the landscape was a ready subject ripe for observing, and in my eyes the perfect aid in teaching myself how to paint for real; to lean the basics, the fundamentals and to create these into a Solid Core Foundation to fuel and support my artistic expression. And so this is what I did.

I spent that summer not only painting the landscape, but also painting a lot of self portraits, portraits of my girlfriend at the time, still lifes, interiors, ect. I took every opportunity to paint directly from life. And this is the crux of this blog post. I did this, I painted from life, and I painted plein air, because it taught me the fundamentals. I started learning how colors interact on a flat plain, and how to make something look and feel real. I wanted to know the rules. I wanted to develop and know the basics, so that I had a stable foundation from which to branch off and explore other means and methods of painting.

20160408_134249Plein air painting always gave my studio work a liveliness and vitality. And so even when I was focused very much on studio work, I always found time to go out and paint plein air as the foundational process to strengthen the core of my painting practice and really understanding the structure of how paint interacts on the canvas to form the appearance or illusion of space and objects

So I still go out today and paint the landscape. Its like my baseline.

Even when I am not doing a lot of painting, I have maintained an application of painting the landscape. Simply as that very basic, building blocks, process of painting.

So if you are an artist and you are looking for a way to develop your skill. Or you are wanting to begin your artistic journey, I’d highly recommend plien air painting or painting directly from life anywhere, whether that be still life’s, or portraits. Or if you are a drawer, and not yet into painting, then the same applies if you haven’t yet, to draw from life as that regular study of the basics, and development of the fundamentals.

So one primary reason I paint plein air is because of what I explained in this blog. It is how I learn, practice, and perfect the basics and fundamentals of painting.

 

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Painting on Green River in Whistler, Canada, April 2016
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The Psychology of ARTWORK and Blending Realities

Self Portrait Drawing - Andrew Gable

Doing art for me throughout my life was always a very Self Reflective Process. In my 20’s as I got more into art and eventually studied it at school as a drawing major, it became more and more a tool that I would use to understand and investigate myself, where this way of approaching creating art in a way started to become my purpose within it. Art became a mirror through which I could reflect the world back to myself. What does this color mean? What does this posture mean? what does this abstract shape mean? and what does it say about me? What does it show me about myself?

So as I have walked my process as an artist, my interest in the psychology of art has burgeoned. What art can show us about ourselves or where art can become a tool to support ourselves as individuals and as humanity to become stronger and more effecitve is something that I have spent a lot of time considering and also creating actual works of art around.

Even when I look back at my older work where this interest to have my art be more aligned with psychology, mental health, the depths of human nature ect, wasn’t as concrete, I often will find pieces that I did are great tools now for me to reflect on and relate to the human experience in a way that does shed some light onto the mysteries of human consciousness, even though at the time of their creations I wasn’t 100 percent clear with what I was doing.

Internal Patterns Drawing By Andrew Gable

 

With the drawing I did above, I remember I wanted to create a face out of these sequences of abstract and semi-recognizable symbols, shapes, notations ect. Where in doing this I could represent the “inner appearance” of the being as well as the “outer appearance”. In looking at this piece recently I noticed an interesting point about human consciousness that I find holds true in my own life and awareness of myself today.

What I find for myself is that often times it is hard to distinguish between what is reality, and what is our interpretation of reality. What is truth and what is just merely our opinion.

What I have noticed about myself and my own life is that I will create ideas in my head about something that isn’t actually true at all.

let me take an example from my Art Career. I have had situations where I have engaged with a potential collector about purchasing a piece of art. And everything seemed to go really well and all is in agreement to connect at a later date to finalize the details. But then as a few days pass, I start to think they have backed out and eventually I come to the conclusion that “they aren’t going to buy a piece” and I am so sure of it, I believe it completely to the degree where I start reacting within myself, like feeling disappointed and basically thinking “maybe next time” Then, adversely to this idea I created, they contact me and are excited and move forward with purchasing a work of art they connected with.

In this situation my inner and outer realty become one and its hard to distinguish between what is real and true and what I am just making up in my own mind.

Now as a point of Direction within myself and my life, I have taken the approach to align myself and focus myself with What is Actually Real, as the Physical Facts, and to stop indulging in my mental reality because I have noticed how I can so quickly create false realities within myself which I become so preoccupied with that I cannot distinguish anymore that these ideas are simply existing in my head and not actually real which only becomes clear when reality asserts itself and shows  “see all that shit in your head was not actually valid” when the exact opposite of what I was certain would happen actually plays-out.

So the Drawing above called “Internal Patterns” illustrates this dimension quite nicely where you have the inner and outer structures of the face kind of seamlessly blending together where its hard to tell what is happening on the inside and what on the outside.

Its like this with our experiences of emotions and feelings as well, where it just all seems to merge seamlessly with our outer realities and we then think that it is our outer reality that is causing the inner experience maybe not seeing that our inner experiences are being triggered from a past memory or event or belief system that took years to create.

So just wanted to share this point that opened up when I was looking at this drawing “internal patterns”

View This Drawing on my Galley Here – http://andrewgableart.com/product/2745/

 

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The Secret To Becoming An Artist

Original Drawing By Andrew Gable

 

My Expressive Period.

Throughout my process as an artist my style of the work I do has shifted, changed, and evolved. In retrospect I can begin to see specific phases and stages of the development of my art, and within that I can see the particular “values” that I was holding during those years that ultimately ended up shaping and forming the work. One such “value” that I see in looking back over the artwork that I have created during the years that is quite a prominent thread running throughout almost all my work is the point of “Expression”. Now in one period in particular I can see this point of expression was quite dominant and andrew gable artI held to be of the utmost importance when I created my work. I remember during this time that I would never pre-plan anything. My focus at the time was simply “creating in the moment” as a result I would be preparing my canvases and I would have no idea what I wanted to paint, but that this was done on purpose, and as such it was a kind of a rule. So, the rule, was that “I have no rules”, lol. This aspect has changed throughout the years, but I still do see it existing within me and it still does come up in the creating of my work in varying degrees. I can never recreate work I did in the past. It was specific to my beliefs, values, and situation at the time. My theory during my ‘Expressive Period’ was that I couldn’t use “I don’t know what to paint” as an excuse not to do art. In fact this reminds me of a very influential statement I read when I was around 16 or 17 years old that struck a chord within me and that would in a lot of ways serve as inspiration, direction and motivation for my art in the proceeding years, and even today, this statement I read at that time is still a part of me.

original drawing by andrew gableThe statement came from an Italian Renaissance workshop by way of conversation between the Master artist and his curious apprentice. Perhaps maybe the inquiry of a young Michelangelo or Leonardo. The young artist was curious about what made a great artist and what the secret was. The Masters response was grounded, and sober. “Draw Every Day Without Fail”…..When I read this, I stopped in my tracks. I realized the simplicity of becoming effective at art or anything that one wants to do. This statement was so inspiring to me and supported me during my early development and beyond which in part was why I adapted a way of working where I would not allow “not having good ideas” as a reason or justification to not create art.

 

So I would simply paint, whether I had a ‘good’ idea or not, or no idea at all. This allowed me to move through drawings that were very much free-flowing and expressive.

As adults we tend to get stuck in patterns, and hardened into routines and ways of being and doing things where if you observe a child, they are much more free and expressive and not so hung up on if what they are doing is right or wrong or what other people think about it, they just express, unconditionally, and so for me during my expressive period, my art was unconditional in a way, I was just exploring and expressing as an artist.

View my Drawings Gallery

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Inside The Artists Studio Update

Stone Carving, Andrew Gable, in progress

Today I worked on a new project that I started yesterday. It’s an alabaster sculpture of a sitting polar bear. My first one in this sitting pose. The alabaster is nice because it is a softer stone which allows me to work more with hand tools if I so chose. Sometimes I will spend some time shaping with a small rasp because in these moments, I can just turn the power tools off and slow and quiet things down for a moment. I especially do this while working on the faces of the animals that I carve.

 

stone art andrew gable
I was also finishing up another Custom project this week of a Samoyed dog sculpture where the clients wanted some stone inlays done and so I was busy with that this week which can be quite a tedious process.

Other than that I have been spending some time in the evenings after carving re-designing my website, aligning it in a way that is current and representing WHO I AM at the moment in my life and in my career. I have done this so many times, maybe 6 or 7 times since I first put my website live in 2012. The website is really an ongoing, ever-evolving process.

So this has been an interesting time for me as I continue to explore different directions with my art where lately I am pushing in a few different directions to see which one of these gets some traction. That is honestly what I like about being an Artist. I like the diversity and range of things that goes into doing this professionally where at this stage consists of carving stone during the week, and then doing some drawings on the weekends or in the evenings. Also, I work quite closely with the gallery that sells my sculpture, and I usually spend 1 day a week on the gallery sales floor speaking to customers and packaging any recent sales that I have had. Then in my spare time, I will work on my website, adding content, writing blogs, sharing photos, and doing my social media stuff. There is quite a lot to maintaining an engaging digital profile as an artist which I am still getting the hang of but find it deeply creative. Doing my online work is quite interesting to me because the internet is vast and it is a great place to showcase artwork as well as being able to interact and engage with people who are interested in my Art. Ultimately it is my goal to make sure that anyone that ends up on my website or any of my art pages, knows that there is a Real Human on the other side and not some ‘automated robot marketing machine’ which I think could actually be beneficial to have as a particular personality suit hat one has in ones closet to wear strategically enough to encourage sales of the work. But for me, one who has always been more of a recluse, I see its as important to really share who I am though my media channels so people that like my work can get to know me on a more personal level.
Okay, just thought I’d do a quick update from Inside the Artists Studio.

stone sculpture, contemporary art by andrew gable

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My Purpose and Directive For Creating ART

Questioning Existence

What interests me about art?

For me creating art is an extension of my own life process of understanding who I am, and understanding Life, and really just exploring what is here as my existence, as this existence as a whole. This might seem a bit existential but for me its just who I am and how I have always been.

 

What is the point of our existence, of our lives here on earth, of life itself. Doesn’t everybody ask themselves these questions? I assume that a lot of people do ask themselves these questions but maybe just don’t verbalize it much or give it that much attention. Art for me is a way to focus in on these questions for myself.

 

Art is also just Fun! Its so cool to create a piece if art and then to stand back and look at what you created and think about how you could never have imagined such a creation where there is a dimension of creating art that is completely unexpected or uncontrollable in a way.

 

The art I make is like windows into existence for me to look into and reflect on the questions I posed above about life and understanding it.

 

My Art is also about my own Self Development. A vehicle within which I can support myself to practice things like Self Discipline, Expressiveness, Openness, Forgiveness, Precision, Planning, Deliberateness, and the list goes on.

 

I also like to use my art to express what is going inside me. Sometimes I aim to express specific experiences that I have, or have had, other times I ‘let it go’ a bit and just express and then Look as I am creating to See what is HERE and what I can see or articulate. So art can be therapeutic for me as well.

 

How and Why I do art does change over time. At this stage of my Art Process, I have been moving more and more into doing ART as a Career, and this has opened up many other dimensions for me to consider and learn about.

 

But fundamentally, with my art, I want to create something REAL!

 

Something of Substance. So much of our reality these days is actually designed to manipulate, to hide, to cover up the truth, and this is done on conscious and unconscious levels where we as a species have conditioned ourselves to not go beyond the surface and delve into the depths of ourselves.

 

So for me, one of my purposes with my art is to Add Depth to our lives. To have it be something of actual Value. It doesn’t have to be pretty or nice to look at. But it has to have substance.

 

My art I realize is an Exact Reflection of Myself and will only reflect Depth if I myself am imbued with that same depth through my own personal process on this earth of introspecting and becoming Self Aware of myself, human nature, and how this reality really works.

 

So, I don’t claim that my art has all of these qualities I am speaking about here in this blog, though it is a Directive  and Purpose I have with Myself in My Art, for it to be and become these points that I mention, and of course, I am open to any other dimension that might open up as well in terms of how I could move and express myself within my art expression.

 

I was thinking the other day about ‘What Makes Good Art’ as I have heard that question asked so many times. I thought to myself, ‘well, it would be the same as what makes a good conversation’ Art is really just something normal. It is just an expression of ourselves, like a conversation we have with someone. So “What Makes a Good Conversation?” Depth, Intimacy, Realness, Honesty, Enjoyment. Good conversations are not always pretty, sometimes tough love is needed, or constrictive criticism. And again sometimes great conversations happen unexpectedly, like art, or they are just goofy. Sometimes they are planned, like a meeting that has a lot of structure. Good Art like Good Conversations can happen in different ways. I thought this was a good analogy to understanding what art is and what makes good art.

 

andrew gable original sculpture, contemporary art