Archive for March, 2009


Seattle Rock Show

Just had a weekend visit with my friend Johnathan Sindelman, keyboard player for Parallels, Seattle’s Yes tribute band.   He asked me if I would like to put on a projection show of my art at the Parallels Concert featuring Alan White of Yes on May 7th in Seattle. For more info and music/ video clips of these very talented musicians please go to  www.myspace.com/parallelsthemusicofyes  I put together a show with them in Mt Vernon, WA in 2007 and, although I wasn’t present, the projection went over well. Very excited to be actually attending this gig. More to follow.

Parallels (Seattle's Yes Tribute Band)

Parallels (Seattle's Yes Tribute Band)

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Art and depression

I was told once by a friend who is a successful therapist that most artists he worked with needed to keep creating or they had a tendency to slip into depression. While I’m not usually a depressive type and don’t mind spending long periods of time alone I notice I feel generally better if I’m working on a painting that has some meaning for me. I am not so concerned with whether it’s going to appeal to others.

For example, my most recent large project titled, at this point, “Utila Tortuga” will be a photo realist painting of a sea turtle I saw recently while diving near Utila Island in Honduras. Spotting this beautiful, ancient (they’ve been around since before the dinosaurs), graceful creature as it slowly glided past, a few feet from me, was an epiphany. All thought fled my mind. I wasn’t even thinking “Turtle” or “Beautiful.” It was a  pure Zen moment, one I’ll never forget. I saw all the brilliant sunsplash markings, the elegant movement of the flippers, the purposeful, beaked head with its symmetrical markings all in a total gestalt. I tried to follow it but it quickly picked up speed and disappeared over the reef wall, plunging into the dark depths.  So it is important to me to try and reproduce this moment in photorealist detail.  I’ve been studying photos of turtles and reefs in the Caribbean and the quality of light underwater is very interesting.  If objects are near the surface, as my turtle was, surfaces that slope away from the observer take on a blue green tinge, obscuring the natural color.  I will do this as a final spray once the body is completed.

So I am quite happy to be working on this project even though it is a slow and very painstaking process.  Yesterday I put in 3 hours on the dark patterning on the right flipper.  It was almost finished when my Corel Painter program developed a hiccup.  All work lost into the Void!  Whaaaat the &%#@!  Now that’s depressing, and its always hard to redo stuff you’ve already done.  So today I started to do some work on another part of the body, just to keep going.  Maybe tomorrow I will revive the lost flipper. 

So my advice to all you artists out there is keep working, even if its just a doodle, or a sketch or whatever.  It’s Important to You to keep the creative flow happening.  If you run into a snag, try something else, perhaps another project.  Also you may find meditation helpful to your artistic life.  I certainly do. 

One of the things I try to be aware of is my process when painting.  Obviously, I am experiencing thoughts going through the mind, and I’m moving the digital pen on the tablet, and I’m making decisions about shape and color, zooming in and out, etc.  However, the best moments are when the mind is very quiet and there’s just the act of painting, no self here doing anything.  That’s known in Zen as a samadhi state, with the mind intensely aware, yet peaceful and silent.  That state comes more often when I am doing regular zazen meditation at the local Zen Center.  Then the art truly comes from the best possible place and the work is deeply satisfying. 

The lost flipper

The lost flipper

I’m thinking of selling this, once completed, as a digital image, suitable for large  HDTV monitors.  Stay tuned to www.artbyinglis.com  New Works galllery for details.

The Economy!?!?!

OK, so I gotta weigh in on the economy and what it means for us creative types.  First let me say that I am very fortunate as an artist.  Painting has always been a passionate hobby, so there was never a sense of having to sell out or compromise my vision.  I can do an abstract or a portrait or a Buddha or a turtle, and the sense of satisfaction from having something take form and shape is there .  Yes, I have a website and like to sell, knowing that my work is gracing someones wall, however, that isn’t why I paint. 

Last night I watched the movie “Modigliani” starring Andy Garcia, and, although not historically accurate in it’s details, it gave a glimpse into artists lives in Paris after WWI.  Most of these famous people, including Diego Rivera and Pablo Picasso,  were struggling to make a living in the face of a public that didn’t understand their art.  Many of them lived at the fringes of society, half mad and freezing, in dingy apartments filled with paints and canvases.  They were not strangers to adversity.  However, they had the strength and passion to keep on working and their creations continue to  move and inspire us today.  Modigliani was an alcoholic and a hashish addict who lived on the edge of poverty and madness most of his brief adult life before he died of tuberculosis.  His first solo exhibition was closed by the Parisian police because of its nude content. Yet, in spite of his struggles, he created timeless works of poignant beauty.   

So, will a severe economic crisis really change the lives of artists?  The answers to this question are complex.  Some will have difficulty buying materials such as paints and canvas and paper.  Some will find new, less costly avenues of expression.  Some will give up.  Some will emerge unscathed.  Some will continue to prosper.  Some will create works of art that will stand the test of time and be a testimonial to overcoming creative obstacles.   Perhaps works will emerge that give future generations a sense of what it was like to live and paint in these times. 

We will notstop creating.  Perhaps millions of pieces of art are being born as I write this blog.   I still believe that art is the lifeblood of human civilization and, short of total extinction, we will keep on drawing, dancing and making joyous music.  Because we must.  Hopefully something new and wondrous will emerge from the art world as a result of this adversity.  Maybe we are in the crucible of change.   We don’t really know.  As the contemporary Zen Master, Seung Sahn, said, “Only don’t know.”  Maybe that’s enough. 

So I give you a glimpse of my latest project, based on my recent sighting of a green sea turtle off Utila Island in Honduras.  The turtle has been around a long time.  Before there were dinosaurs, there were sea turtles.  So they have survived all sorts of adversity, and have a certain timeless quality.  This is what I want to convey with this painting.  The finished  work will be photo real and will take months to finish, given that I enjoy painting fine detail.  The head alone took  seven hours to complete.  This file is approx 30 mb, 14″ x 16″in size with a resolution of 248 pixels per inch.  It will look stunning on large HD monitors and so I will make it available as a digital file.  Keep checking the New Works gallery for details at www.artbyinglis.com  

Sea Turtle Epiphany

Sea Turtle Epiphany

So here is the basic layout of the body with a more or less finished head.  I will probably add a lot of background details since the reefs in Utila are so varied and rich in shape and color.  The finished painting will encompass more background and have a wider color palette.

I often have self doubts about the merits of my work but know that many of the greats also had the same inner questions, so, in that way, feel that I’m in good company.  I have been reading a biography of Matisse recently and he was quite tortured by the attitudes of his contemporaries toward his early work.  He was not respected by his father and even his primary art dealer, Vollard,  treated him shabbily.  Matisse doubted his own abilities for many years, as his work did not sell well and was often derided by the art critics.

That said, I cannot for an instant compare myself with Matisse, or indeed any of the great artists, but it is interesting to watch how I delight in a bit of positive feedback from someone who has seen my online gallery at www.artbyinglis.com  and sometimes feel a little sad that I haven’t sold anything from the site yet, despite lowering my prices 30% in January.  Maybe I’ll just blame the recession.  Yes, a globe-spanning scapegoat!

However, nothing will prevent me from continuing to paint for the rest of my days, even if no one ever sees my work.  I sometimes think there must be a deep vein of narcissism in me because I love looking at my paintings, over and over.  I have more creative ideas than time, and sometimes wish I had an agent or even a secretary who could do all the slogging for me.  So painter’s block really never comes up as an issue.  Quite the opposite, in fact I feel I will never realize all my potential.  Makes me almost want to give up blogging and get to the “real” work. 

Where do I find inspiration?  From looking at others’ work, obviously, and, since there are few utterly original artists, I don’t mind being lumped in with the non-geniuses.  I love experimenting with various digital programs and may start out with a pattern created in a CAD program, which is then altered in a graphics software, then colored with Painter.  End result is often absolutely unforeseen! 

The drawings you see here derived from an original pencil sketch, I call Up Against the Wall, with some shading slightly altered in Painter.  Then I took one of my linear mandalas and, using the cloner brush, painted the color pattern into the drawing.  So here we have a truly mixed media drawing/ painting.  I also cropped this work several different ways, enjoying the process immensely.  So here are two different versions:

Up Against the Wall 4

Up Against the Wall 4

Up Against the Wall 5

Up Against the Wall 5