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Portrait of a Mountain

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When I go out to paint, I will at times have specific things that I am going to work on. With this painting, the word that was prominent within me as I headed out to paint was the word “Portrait”. I wanted to create a portrait of a mountain. for me, I didn’t want to just go out and paint some general mountain scene. The more I have been going out to paint here in Whistler BC, the more I have noticed an inclination within me to document specific areas or scenes around the area. Actually this inclination, if I trace it back, came from a visit to the new museum that was build here in Whistler called the Audain Art Museum , particularly the EJ Hughes gallery. I was inspired by Hughes’ attention to detail and specificity in capturing all the details so quintessential to the area that he was painting. Since then, I have been practicing this into my own work. So when I went out to create this particular work, my aim was to paint a portrait, something specific, something unique, not just some general mountain. Now I wasn’t exactly sure how I would do this, but it is what I aimed to do. As a result, I noticed I payed closer attention to the peaks on the mountain as well as the way the ski runs gave this mountain its unique characteristics. The above painting is a depiction of  Whistler Mountain as seen from the north end of whistler.

Definitely will be doing more “portraits of the landscape” as I develop my plein air painting series.

Enjoy.

 

For purchase details e-mail  – andrewgable@hotmail.com
View this painting

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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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Using Photo References and The Meaning of Life

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Why I use photo references.

When I carve my wildlife sculptures I will use allot of photo references. I get my images from the internet of the specific species of bear I am working on in different positions.

Essentially I am getting as many angles as possible so that I can understand how to sculpt the animal in 360 degrees.

When you creating a painting you only need one angle because a painting is flat, and so you only need one angle. Painting is a different process than sculpting. There are similarities but there is differences also.

When I started carving I decided to use photo references in my process because I wanted to understand the accurate way to sculpt the particular animal I was working on. I have spent years working from memory or ‘no references’ and seeing what kinds of expressions come from that. I have spent years working directly from life doing life drawing and life painting and seeing what kinds of expressions come from that.

One thing I have noticed is that when you work from ‘imagination’ you are working from a picture. You are working from a picture in your mind. That picture in your mind was formed from all the pictures of the particular point you are referencing throughout your life. So, then, what is the difference between using a photo reference that you hold in your hand versus using a photo reference that you hold in your mind.

I have found that my mind tends to be a bit more transient where to hold a physical photo reference really helps grounding me in the information I am looking at where in the mind it seems the information I can extract is less specific and I lose sight of the image easily.

So maybe it is a question about access?

Accessing the information you have acquired where for instance I have found I am not able to access as much detail by looking at an image in my mind versus looking at an actual photo.

Now this brings me to the point of DIRECT SEEING.

One point that I am practicing when I use photo references is ‘Direct Seeing’

People have the tendency to ‘interpret’ things. But within this often the ‘truth’ get lost. Throughout the last 7 years of my life, I have more and more aligned myself with DIRECT SEEING. This Direct Seeing process actually has little to do with art. It has more to do with my real life and who I have become within my real life, and the CONSEQUENCES that INTERPRETATION has had on this World, and so I have recognized for myself the value and imperative for DIRECT SEEING rather than Interpretation where Interpretation is EASY. It is something that we do all the time. Have you ever read a news article where you kind of just scanned and jumped your way through the article to get the general gist of what was being said. That is Interpretation. DIRECT SEEING would be to read the entire article thoroughly and to understanding completely what was being said. I see the later as more valuable and substantial to the human being and human development.

One reason I have aligned myself with DIRECT SEEING and practicing this within my life is because I have realized how little I actually know about myself, and how LIFE FUNCTIONS where for instance from my perspective, the fact that we don’t actually know where we come from as Life is a result of a kind of INTERPRETATION, of not bothering to look at the facts. I realized that in my late 20’s that I had no idea how I created myself. I had thoughts, and emotions and experiences existing within me and I had no idea where they came from, and from a certain perspective I found myself overwhelmed by what was going on inside of me and so I began a process of DIRECT SEEING, of pushing myself to SEE HOW THINGS REALLY WORK, and stop trying to fill in the gaps with interpretation where you don’t actually understand the functionality of something but rather have an incomplete picture yet you have convinced yourself you understand. As a result, we LOSE DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLE of ourselves as human beings, as creators, because we don’t know how we work.

So I began to align myself with practicing DIRECT SEEING – Seeing what is really in front of me.

Another example is in communication, when you interpret someone’s words or – here’s a good one – where you create an IDEA in your mind about someone, like someone you like but have never really talked to at length, and then you think you really like this person, but then you finally go and talk to them and who they really are is NOT AT ALL what you interpreted and made-up in your head. So Interpretation is essentially just ‘making things up’. And I see this as making things up based on the information YOU ALREADY HAVE, and so from that perspective you don’t LEARN anything new, you just “Interpret” which is an expression of using what you already have and forming a particular opinion or idea or form.

So when I began carving 2 and half years ago, I used photo references to start to build up my information base of the animals I carve. I did not want to “make anything up”

I questioned what information I would use to fill in the gaps for instance when I was carving a bear and I didn’t have a direct reference for something like the back of the foot, or the shoulder. I could ‘make it up’ and it would probably look fine, and at times I do. But I at this stage push myself to understand the actual information and how it really works and fits together.

Look at the state of our world right now, wars, poverty, violence, everywhere, total destruction really. Yet no solutions on how to really go about fixing it. Most people have no idea how the system we live in functions or how money actually works, and i would challenge if those running the country even understand how things really work. Could anybody that truly understands how things work justify using violence against another life form as an apparent solution? To me, war and violence stems from a lack of understanding or ignorance of who we are as life, and so, I see DIRECT SEEING is important to start cultivating in this world to answer some of these problems we face.

So that is why I currently use photo references. Who knows, maybe someday I will lose the references and take the artwork in a different direction.

I am not to strict with myself. I am fine to interpret, but this must be a deliberate decision and not something done out of laziness.

When you write a research paper. It is important to do the research about the topic. If you do no research, you could probably write the paper but the content would likely be generalized and uninformative. This is the approach I take when I carve an animal. It is a research project, and I must do the research, about how the anatomy fits together.

Id like my projects to be expressive and Informative so I use photos as sources of information to utilize.

I also think that people respond better to ‘realism’ I think interpretation is easier and so that if I focus on developing a certain degree of realism that it will give me an edge in the art I make because I am actually creating something more ‘rare’ and so using photo references is also linked to this point of creating something that people will find valuable and see as unique. There is allot of art there, and I see ‘realism’ as a challenge that the minority of artists take on in their work. I don’t think it makes one persons art better or worse. Its a personal choice also of where I am at and what I see will benefit my own personal development and human being. For others, perhaps practicing letting go would be more beneficial to them in their lives and maybe someday I will be at that point, but for now, I focus on adding that dimension of realism to the sculptures I am creating.

So there is some insight into why I currently use photo references while I carve.

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My Creative Process for “Feareless”

SEE THE FINISHED PIECE HERE

 

Timeline

With this piece, the first thing I did was I actually cut and sanded a small portion of the stone to see what kind of stone it was. Then based on the different parameters such as stone type, color, size, ect, I decide what I am going to carve.

I was wanting to do another carving of a grizzly and after I noticed that this particular stone was brown alabaster I figured it would be perfect for a grizzly.

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Next I will decide what is the most effective way to utilize the stone to do the carving. Once that is determined I will cut a flat base which will be the bottom. I have learned over time that this stage is crucial. Doing a nice flat cut in the beginning will make sure all 4 legs of the bear will be firmly planted on the ground and will make the piece nice and stable in the end.

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I will often use a wax pencil to rough out a basic drawing of the pose. This is just a general guideline to get things started and to begin to get the size of the bear in place.
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Alright so here now I am starting to bring the shape out. With this guy and what I will do often is I will start to establish the face right away. I find the face can sometimes be the most intricate so I like to get started on this right away and start to lock it in. Once I have that in place, I can use it as a way to measure the ratios and proportions of the rest of the body.

Also during these early stages I am identifying any problem areas in the stone which would require me to alter the design. A problem area is like for instance a crack or fault that might end up breaking away later on.

Often the most fragile parts of the stone is the outer edges where once you start getting into the core of the stone its allot more stable.

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A Bear Emerges!

This is such a cool phase of the carving process where you start to see the character of the animal emerge. Here you can already start to see this guy coming out even after only a few cuts. At this stage I am working mostly with a 5″ diamond blade on a hand held grinder. This allows me to carve fairly quickly. I will explore different approaches to carving a piece where sometimes I move quickly and sometimes I will slow myself down quite a bit. This is to see the overall affect that this creates in the final piece. Whether moving fast or slow, I try and remain comfortable and natural in my movements.

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Okay I have the overall shape pretty much locked in. Now its just a matter of refining some areas before I get into polishing.

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Okay getting close now. I have the muscle definition pretty much where I want it and rounded off the feet. Next step is about 4 or 5 layers of sanding and polishing and then a coat of sealer and wax to shine and protect it.

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The final step before polishing is usually the nose, the eyes, and the mouth. I decided to keep the feet relatively simple for this guy.

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Done!

Looks Great.

Sanded, Polished and in the gallery. Really loved the patterning and coloration in the stone for this one. It kind of reminds me of pebbles or rocks or stones so thought this suited the rugged Grizzly Bear perfectly.

See you next time.

 SEE THE FULL PICTURE INVENTORY OF THE FINISHED PIECE HERE

 

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Overcoming Creative Block and Becoming Inspired to Work

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The point I want to write about today is the point of Inspiration. The reason I want to write about this is because I find there is allot of misconceptions about inspiration. I often hear people talking about “waiting for inspiration” or “the don’t feel very inspired” and so because of this they end up not moving themselves. Or not doing something that they in fact would really like to do.

I discovered early on that inspiration is cool, it is a powerful force, though there is another force that is even more powerful than inspiration – YOU!

I do not require inspiration or motivation to work because I am the one who decides if I am going to work or not.

Its quite cool because many days I have no inspiration, and other days I do. Yet I work all the same.

Now through the years, I have refined this application and yes, it is still a work in progress where some days I get trapped by that whole ‘inspiration excuse’ where I just really really really don’t feel like working. And so I still have work to do to really take back my power so to speak.

I find this word ‘inspiration’ is often attached to creative work, and artists.

And then there is the whole concept of ‘writers block’ or ‘creative block’. But I have found for myself that this is no different than simply not wanting to do something. I have been grateful to have adjusted my approach to creating art to where I now align my application to PRINCIPLE not Inspiration, or if I feel like it or not.

I have created allot of my best art when I didn’t really feel like getting up and going to work, but I did, and I pushed through the resistance and got myself moving and then suddenly things weren’t all that bad and even often after I walk through that initial “feeling uninspired” and just got myself moving and working on what ever piece of art I had going for that day, that suddenly I was inspired.

So

In a way, I see that one has to become inspiration for themselves. Where one must create their own inspiration and not wait for it.

Yes, it might be tough, you might not feel like it, it might be uncomfortable, but its worth it!

So my suggestion when facing a creative block is to firstly realize that it could just be “you just don’t feel like doing anything” and that is not really creative block, that is just the plight of the human being who has become more inclined to instant gratification than disciplined self movement.

So my suggestion when facing creative block or facing that experience when you just don’t have inspiration, is to take a breath, gather yourself here, and remember that there is a force more powerful than inspiration – and that force is you and sometimes you just have to force yourself into movement, into action. Its normal, its natural, so dare to move and dare to improve . It’s a challenge, but why else are we here on planet earth. And this suggestion can be for anything, for something artistic, something business related, maybe you notice your environment is getting a little messy and you have been wanting to clean up. Perhaps we have given too much of our power away to this interesting thing called Inspiration. Now its time to realize that we must be the power that moves us through our lives. Inspiration is like luck, it may or may not play a part, so we must base our Living Expression and Actions on something more predictable and Stable, and that is US, our own SELF Movement and SELF Motivation and SELF Inspiration.

More Links about this

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/creating-in-flow/201209/10-creative-block-breakers-actually-work

http://www.artbizblog.com/2009/01/get-out-and-gain-inspiration.html