EXPLOITS: The 2017 48 Hour Create-A-Thon – Two Gardens

Richard Bledsoe “Two Gardens” acrylic on canvas 24″ x 30″

.

It was that time again. For the last three years I’ve taken part in Camelback Bible Church‘s 48 Hour Create-A-Thon. Starting on Friday night February 24, a group of artists gathered at the church, where we were presented with our inspirational theme. By 4pm on Sunday February 26, we needed to have a completed artwork created on site, ready to share at a reception. Throughout the weekend, the public was invited to visit with us to see the artistic process unfold.

This year I had a different experience than how the 2016 Create-a-Thon started. For 2017 we had two juxtaposing inspirational passages: Genesis 2:8-17, the description of the Garden of Eden, and Matthew 26:36-46, the story of Jesus’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane,  where He prayed to escape his destiny if possible, but put himself in God’s hands.

This year, as soon as I heard the subject matter, the vision came. I saw the image in my mind; now I just had to bring it out so everyone else could see it.

I immediately laid in broad planes of textured colors. I don’t like working straight off a white canvas. In this shot I’ve actually flipped the canvas over to get better access to the blue area; in the completed work, it’s the upper right corner. I stayed until about 9 pm that night, just getting the under painting laid in.

A fast start

I was there around 9am the next morning, and stayed until almost 5pm, a good solid working day. I didn’t even take a break for lunch, as the church provided us lots of good snacks, and cup after cup of coffee.

No time to lose, had to get the drawing in right away

.

The first thing I did Saturday was crudely block in my two essential elements: Christ and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Then, with wide swoops from the shoulder, I dragged loops of white paint over the blue, and gray over the yellow. These were the faint beginnings of Eden’s hazy atmosphere and Gethsemane’s tangled branches. The rest of my time spent on this painting was spent revising and refining these loose beginnings.

An action shot from the 48 Hour Create-A-Thon

My wife Michele Bledsoe was there for support. She wrote her own blog post about the experience, “Marathon Painting and the Art of Sitting on the Sidelines.” She spent her time drawing and taking pictures and videos. Michele spends a lot of time on her art. She jokes if there is ever a 480 Hour Create-A-Thon, she might take part.

.

Finishing touches

By the time I came back Sunday morning, I was well positioned on the painting, and I spent time on all those little details and touches that can make or break a painting. One of my ongoing quotes about this stage is “That’s why painters go mad.” Anyone who has ever seriously engaged in painting has probably had that experience when the most minuscule adjustment or mark can make a work spring to life-or crush it into a mess. As an intuitive painter, I never know in advance what mark that may be. I have to discover it.

To see my art is to see me, performing my role as a conduit for something else 

.

So the question for me becomes, if the Create-A-Thon shows I can complete a resolved and meaningful painting in really less than 48 hours, why do I normally work on them for months?

In that environment, in that experience, the Spirit really moved me, I suppose.

The Remodernist’s job is to bring God back into art but not as God was before. Remodernism is not a religion, but we uphold that it is essential to regain enthusiasm (from the Greek, en theos to be possessed by God).

-The Remodernism Manifesto

PAINTINGS: Versus

versus

Richard Bledsoe “Versus” acrylic on canvas 12″ x 16″

.

I’ve written before on the connections between toys and art. In 2016 I participated in a show that gave me a chance to explore this fascinating synergy. The Firehouse Gallery was hosting “Toy Art 6.” I used the call for entries opportunity to work in a style unusual for me: still life.

That’s right. The epic confrontation depicted above is actually a very literal depiction of my toy Godzilla, and my wife Michele Bledsoe ‘s wind up pressed tin panda bear, on a table top. They tell such a story by simply being placed together.

I usually work intuitively. How different to be able to see the thing I was trying to recreate in paint. It takes me back to my student days, when I worked from observation. It was important to learn to control the medium: to make a painting capture something of the essential nature of what I was observing.

Later, I started trying to make my paintings capture something of the essential nature of my inner world. It’s a fascinating task, trying to evoke the subtlety  of thought into a visible form.

.

“It should be noted that technique is dictated by, and only necessary to the extent to which it is commensurate with, the vision of the artist.”

-Billy Childish and Charles Thomson, The Remodernism Manifesto

STUDIO: The Mirror Test

dscf1330

Mirror mirror on the wall:

A tool for self critique

.

No matter how cleverly you sneak up on a mirror, your reflection always looks you straight in the eye.

-Louis Cyphre, Angel Heart

.

The image above is not me; it is my reflection in our bathroom mirror. Michele Bledsoe snapped it while I was contemplating one of my works in progress.

It’s a problematic piece, one I’ve been working on for a long time without resolution. That is why it’s getting the mirror test.

I’ve written before on painting as being a process of seeing and judging, and the various ways I have to tweak the way I ponder on my unfinished paintings so I can see them with fresh eyes. I look at them upside down or sideways; I put them near completed paintings for comparison. Even moving them to different locations, like outside on the front porch, lets me break out of the tunnel vision that can develop while a work is being created.

As an intuitive painter, you have to be own worst critic. Since you are creating a world out of your own unique vision, only you will understand where that world fails to conform to its own principles, where the spell is broken. You must fearlessly identify the flaws and weak spots of the image. All these variations on looking break the limiting habits you fall into while staring for so long at the art being created.

The mirror test involves looking at the image in the mirror, and seeing it all reversed. Michele says it’s a great way to identify drawing issues. I look for ill defined passages, places that lack the dramatic interplay and balance that every good painting distributes across its entire surface.

Just like looking at ourselves, looking at our art in the mirror is a ruthless means for self knowledge.

.
“Spirituality is the journey of the soul on earth. Its first principle is a declaration of intent to face the truth. Truth is what it is, regardless of what we want it to be. Being a spiritual artist means addressing unflinchingly our projections, good and bad, the attractive and the grotesque, our strengths as well as our delusions, in order to know ourselves and thereby our true relationship with others and our connection to the divine.”

-The Remodernist Manifesto

ARTICLE: Michele Bledsoe in “The Labyrinth Beyond Time”

michelebledsoe

Creatures Great and Small: Michele Bledsoe with her painting “Under the Pillow”

.

I’ve written a number of times on the amazing creativity of my wife, artist Michele Bledsoe. 

Michele was recently the featured artist in an article in The Foothills Focus, a weekly newspaper focused on life in north Phoenix and its environs.

Read the article at this link: “The Labyrinth Beyond Time,” by Shea Stanfield.

The writer does a great job summing up the spirit of Michele’s painting by referencing a quote from Marcel Duchamp: “To all appearances, the artist acts like a mediumistic being who, from the labyrinth beyond time and space, seeks his way out to a clearing.” Stanfield goes on to relay significant details about Michele’s experiences and attitudes towards art:

“She filled tablets with sketches and ideas that bound through her imagination. Creatures great and small would eventually be rendered in paintings as she taught herself the techniques. By all accounts, Michele has been successful on all fronts. Today, she paints in her home studio in Central Phoenix, her canvases supported on an easel her father gave her for Christmas 25 years ago. His passing a few months later added an extra portion of meaning to his gift and confidence in her, as well as Michele’s inspiration.”

The art of Michele Bledsoe does indeed navigate a special vision, her own enchanting world apart. It was a pleasure to read this article’s commentary acknowledging her achievements.

.

Forever (2)

From the article:

“Michele, over the last 20 years, has exhibited in various art galleries and venues.  Recently, she was invited to participate in an art show, at Skolkovo Art Gallery, in Moscow, Russia. The exhibit featured a number of international artists involved in the Remodernism Movement. As Michele would put it, ‘Who would have believed my painting “Forever,” a painting of a snail, is the one piece, out of all my work, that has ironically traveled furthest!’”

STUDIO: Sixteen Years of Paintings

storage-4

At least they stack nicely

We are working on some renovations on our house. These upgrades involve emptying the room where Michele Bledsoe and I store our art.

Paintings can be fragile things, easy to scratch, dent, puncture, or rip if you are not careful. I believe the best way to store a painting is to have it hanging on the wall, and believe me when I say our house is lined practically floor to ceiling with art. This is what happens when two compulsive painters get married, and they have lots of artistic friends to trade works with.

But in the end there is a limited amount of wall space, so the majority of my art gets stacked out of the way of life. This home improvement project we are working on required moving my paintings out of their secure location.

It didn’t occur to me to take a “Before” picture. We had sixteen years worth of mostly my paintings lined neatly up by size, front to front, back to back, with dividers of cardboard and foam core for extra safety. They were elevated off the floor on strips of lumber I cut for just that purpose.

I was so used to this system it didn’t really occur to me how many paintings there were, until I had to pull them out.

storage-1

storage-2

This isn’t even all of them, just a few of the stacks that have been distributed throughout the house. One thing we are doing is taking this opportunity to do an inventory: documenting the titles, medium, and size of each work. Once we get this massive update done, I intend to keep it current with my new works, but we will see how that goes.

Ironically, seeing how many paintings I have, and scrambling to find a place to put them, makes me want to paint even more, on even larger canvases.

storage-3

PAINTINGS: The Moon in the Daytime

The Moon in the Daytime

Richard Bledsoe “The Moon in the Daytime” acrylic on canvas 18″ x 24″

.

I spent a part of my day off from work for Independence Day completing a painting I have been working on for several weeks.

This piece had an unusual twist for me. Instead of working from a perceived vision,  or discovering the image in the process of painting, in this case I started with a title only.

“The Moon in the Daytime.” Even though the moon is always associated with the night, it’s a common occurrence for it to be visible while the sun is out too. It’s so common I’ve determined there isn’t even a special name for the phenomenon. You just call it the moon.

Somehow it’s always been special to me, to see that faint white shape in the bright sky. As I climbed into my van one morning I saw the moon above me, and the phrase started to ricochet around in my mind all day: The Moon in the Daytime. It reverberated with a kind of poetic, mysterious atmosphere I’m in the mood for in my art right now.

The problem was, I had no clear idea what such a painting would look like.

My wife Michele Bledsoe came to my rescue. After puzzling over it for a few days, I shared my haunting phrase with her while we were painting in our studio. She started to describe what the phrase suggested to her. Something she immediately thought of was the moon personified as a woman. This was something that hadn’t crossed my mind, and it was the missing piece. Soon enough the vision appeared, and I was able to get to work on it. It’s an ambiguous, lyrical image, incorporating a sensibility I can just see opening the way to so many new painting ideas.

It’s wonderful when two artists inspire each other so much.

EXHIBITIONS-Russian Stuckism: Registered in Moscow and Moscow Region

Russia Stuckism

The exhibition in Moscow

.

“Communion has been one of my artistic goals for as long as I can remember.”

-Ron Throop

It’s been a very busy year.

I am thrilled to announce Michele Bledsoe and I were invited  as special guest artists for a July exhibition in Moscow, Russia. Also featured is New York painter Ron Throop, who has been very busy himself with an ongoing DIY cultural exchange with the Russian Stuckists who organized the show. He documents their exploits on his blog, Round Trip Stuckism.

I wrote about Ron Throop’s vision when they first launched the project. I really admired the initiative and enthusiasm shown. Grassroots painters separated by half a world and some really intense history were using art to come together, to learn from one another, and to provide support, despite vast physical distances, language barriers, and cultural differences. It’s really inspiring. Ron’s achievements were recently recognized when he was awarded a grant from the New York State Council for the Arts Decentralization Award Program.

The art they are making is fantastic.

andrewticket1

Andrew Makarov

“The Pretty Lady Takes the Andrew Makarov’s Phone Number in the Yard of the Ministry of Labour and Sotsrazvitiya”

.

Stuckism, the most visible manifestation of the Remodernist art movement, has spread to 236 groups in 52 countries. It truly is an art of the people. We have a mighty task to accomplish: to redeem art from the crisis of relevance that elitist malpractice has inflicted on the culture.

I was very grateful when Andrew Makarov sent me a Facebook message inviting us to share our paintings. Michele and I sent works to Russia for the show, and included a copy of our children’s book The Secret Kingdom as a gift. I’m looking forward to more exchanges with these creatives. We all speak the universal language of art.

Forever (2)

Michele Bledsoe “Forever” acrylic on canvas 5″ x 4″ 

.

deep diver

Richard Bledsoe “Diver” acrylic on canvas 5″ x 4″

.

From the Handbill:

“Russian Stuckism, registered in Moscow and Moscow region — an exhibition at a Moscow gallery “Skolkovo”, July 2nd – 30th. The exhibition is based on works of Moscow painters, who has joined the Stuckism International about a year ago: Alexey Stepanov, Andrey Makarov and Lena Ulanova. Their artistic way highlights the meanings of collectivism, equality between process and the result, and registering the events around them without judging the events. Alongside with the Moscow representatives of the Stuckism, you will see their colleagues from St. Petersburg (Ilya Zelenetsky and Sergey Uryvayev) and American artists Ron Throop, Richard and Michele Bledsoe. When exhibited together, the works of these artists suggest one of the answers to the question on the place of picturing in the modern art.”