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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 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

 

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Embracing Myself and Embracing The Art I Make

 

Studio Wide View

 

So I am in the process of re-designing my website…….again. I have re-designed and re-aligned my

Fire - Original Drawing by Andrew Gablewebsite probably 10 times over the past 4 years since I put it online for the first time. To be honest, I find creating the website just as fun and engaging as creating the artwork to go on it.

This time around I am doing something that I haven’t yet tested out, and that is, to include ALL of my artwork. What I mean, is that you can now find my drawings, my paintings, and my sculpture all included on my website where previously I have tested out focusing on just one or two of those areas.

20150126_153738I initially tried separating my work because I found it to be quite contrasting, however at this stage, I am rather more embracing those differences which is actually all coming from ME anyways which means it IS ME, and so I have decided to simply include ALL of me into my website this time around. I hope this will also make the overall experience more enriching for myself and for those who come onto my website.

Recently, I also carved my second figurative piece where my main focus with my sculptures is wildlife. This again, is me simply testing out new ways to make art and not to pre-judge it, which really just prevents it from coming into existence so best to just do it and see what the response is.

And man, the inner talk I had going on as I walked this process of doing my second figurative sculpture was quite a lot and I had to often just collect myself, center myself and continue the carving process even though  a part of me just wanted to abandon it.

So Overall, as I walk my process with art, I am at the moment practicing embracing MORE of Myself and stopping that whole tendency to want to edit and control myself which in some ways is just based on Self Judgement.

I finished the figurative piece, and find it to be quite interesting, and already have more ideas to do more of them. So, I am grateful I didn’t allow my own self judgement prevent me from trying something new here.