STUDIO: An Ikea Hack for Painting Storage

A Simple Solution for Painting Storage 

 

I’ve written before about the challenges of being a compulsive painter who likes to work on medium/large paintings (see 2016 entry STUDIO: Sixteen Years of Paintings.) If not sold, on display, or on the walls of my own house, where can I keep all the paintings I make?

The number of works has only grown over the last 3 years. Due to life circumstances, for a few years I had to store my paintings at a separate location. But in the fall of 2018, they came back into our home.

All 185 of them! We used the transportation and unpacking process as an opportunity to do a really thorough inventory and documentation of all the works I’ve made and kept over the last 18 years. This count does not include works I’ve sold, traded, given away, or painted over.  I’ve been busy.

Just a Small Sample 

But once they were all accounted for, we still had the problem of how to store them. I had the idea of constructing a two tier painting storage rack out of plywood and 2 x 4s. I did various sketches, contemplating the best methods for joinery and assembly.

When I showed my drawings to my wife Michele Bledsoe, she made one of her typically insightful comments: I was basically drawing something with the structure and dimensions of a bunk bed. There was no need to try and fabricate a stable, load bearing structure from scratch. We just needed a cheap bunk bed frame.

One trip to Ikea later, and I had a painting storage rack that could be assembled in an afternoon. It was $169.00. The raw materials for a wooden rack would have probably been cheaper, but avoiding the frustration my crude carpentry skills would have caused is priceless. I lined the beds with cut down sheets of cardboard from the boxes the bed came in.

The few largest paintings (3′ x 4′ and bigger) I have resting on the floor between the bed and the wall, elevated on strips of wood. All the rest now are safely stored on the adapted bunk bed rack. My paintings are lined neatly up by size, front to front, back to back, with dividers of cardboard and foam core for extra safety. My painting storage problems are solved!

 

The Big Ones Get Their Own Dedicated Space 

 

A stepladder helped in loading small works on the top tier 

 

The Great Ikea Painting Storage Rack Hack

Room for Plenty More! 

 

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PAINTINGS: “Gentlemen Astronomers,” My First Completed Piece of 2019

 

Richard Bledsoe “Gentlemen Astronomers” acrylic in canvas 24″ x 30″ 

 

Starting off the new year with a piece that I’ve been working on since September 2018. I completed Gentlemen Astronomers on Friday January 4, 2019.

This one became a study in moonlight.

 

Symbols give hints. They gesture. If you follow their indications, you find yourself gazing upon the unknowable complexity and profundity of existence.

I no longer work from preparatory drawings or grids. I create the images by painting them directly out on the canvases. While working on the paintings, the most effective results happen when I’ve become so absorbed in the process that I’m aware of nothing else. In fact, it’s like I’m aware of nothing at all.

I vanish while my paintings get applied to the canvas. I have the continuous experience of stepping back from the work to see it, and it’s like I’m stepping out of a trance. I’m constantly surprised by what I see has appeared on the painting, because I have no memory of doing it. Turning myself over to this receptive state allows something beyond my own capacities to take over. My best achievements are works done through me, rather than by me.

-From the book Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization, by Richard Bledsoe. Buy from Outskirts Press Here

 

STUDIO: Knowing When to Reuse a Canvas

Richard Bledsoe”Each in Their Garden” 30″ x 30″ 

Working as an intuitive artist carries risks. I paint directly onto the canvas from out of my imagination. I don’t work out problems in advance with preparatory sketches. I don’t cheat by letting a projector make my discoveries for me, and be a substitute for my own draftsmanship. I work to coordinate my mind, my hand, and my eye, to communicate the subtlety of inner vision.

The risk is I don’t always succeed in producing an effective image. This is okay, because I always have multiple paintings going at the same time. I put the unsatisfactory canvas aside.

I mentioned the Room of Shame in a previous post. It’s where the unfinished paintings wait. Some I will pull out and bring to proper resolution. But some are past saving. Case in point: Each in Their Garden. 

The title is a reference to a short story by H.P. Lovecraft. I’ve had a vision of the prehistoric monumental chaos he describes in his mythos. I attempted to depict it on this 30″ x 30″ canvas. It ended up murky and congested. The more I tried to fix it the less cohesive it became.

The seething image I can see in my mind didn’t make it into this picture. It’s become too overworked to repair.

I am so unsatisfied with it I’m going to start an entirely new image on the canvas. It is still a vision of chaos, but in a much more tangible form. I’m excited to get to work on it.

I did want to give Each in Their Garden this one acknowledgement, because parts of it I really enjoy-mostly in the upper half of it. I will take what I learned from this, and move on.

 

“The making of true art is man’s desire to communicate with himself, his fellows and his God. Art that fails to address these issues is not art.”

-The Remodernist Manifesto

 

 

 

PAINTINGS: The Evolution of “Hollowsaurus”

 

Richard Bledsoe “Hollowsaurus” acrylic on canvas 24″ x 36″ 

On September 1, 2018, I finished Hollowsaurus, an epic painting 6 months in the making. It was an ambitious expansion of an image I first played with on a small canvas:

 

Richard Bledsoe “Table for Two” acrylic on canvas 12″ x 16″ 

 

I was so intrigued by this vision I was presented with that it inspired a whole series of images in my mind.  These pieces are the beginning of a new body of work for me. I have already started the next one. I feel the powerful symbolism flowing through these pictures. They speak to me without being reduced to mere words.

While I was making Hollowsaurus, I took pictures of its development. I think these photos give insight on how I build a painting, and how the works evolve.

Barely Begun 

 

 

Defining the elements 

 

 

Building Details 

“Spiritual art is not about fairyland. It is about taking hold of the rough texture of life. It is about addressing the shadow and making friends with wild dogs. Spirituality is the awareness that everything in life is for a higher purpose.”

-The Remodernism Manifesto 

STUDIO: “Night’s Forces” Emerges from the Room of Shame

Richard Bledsoe “Night’s Forces” acrylic on canvas 30″ x 30″ 

Let me tell you about the room of shame.

The room of shame is the place where unfinished paintings are stacked, faces to the wall. It must have close to a dozen residents right now, some as large as 30″ x 36″. Some have been in there for many years.

These are paintings which I began, and then at some point in their development, I lost the plot, and the point, and my ability to finish them. This happens sometimes when working intuitively. The inspiration dries up before the work is complete.

I always have multiple works going. For example, right now, I have 4 unfinished paintings pending, 2 of which are practically done. So it’s no great blow to my productivity if I have to put something aside temporarily, or not so temporarily.

Some incomplete works are unsalvageable. I will paint over them, and create a whole new image.

But the paintings in the room of shame are worth completing. I still believe in them, and am waiting for their moment to return. They say the way you do something is the way you do everything. I may be slow, but I am persistent.

Case in point: Night’s Forces.

I began this painting in 2015. It was far advanced when I had to put it away. I’d had a series of studio sessions on it where instead of improving it, I was making it less effective, less resolved. It was a complex composition. I couldn’t get the colors and definitions to function. Off it went to the room of shame, where it lingered for years. Until a few weeks ago, when I brought it out again. I made some big moves on it, because at that point I had nothing to lose. The work would either crash, or crash through. Fortunately, it was the latter.

Night’s Forces is now finished, and I’m ready to move on with additional new projects. My wife Michele Bledsoe created a video of me working on it as it entered it final phases. See the video here:

Video-Remodern America: Renew the Arts and Renew the Civilization

As I state in my upcoming book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts will change the Course of western Civilization:

“Remodernism reboots the culture. Remodernism is not a style of art, it is a form of motivation.”

Sometimes a painting needs a time out followed by an assertive jump start. This return is driven by Remodernist motivation: I need to show you what I saw, so we will better understand each other, and life as a whole.

BOOKS: The Cthulhu Blues and Other Stories-by Richard Bledsoe

Richard Bledsoe and Michele Bledsoe

“Blind Mugwump Johnson” acrylic on canvas 10″ x 8″ 

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“We were led away from the others and sat under the shade of trees in the cemetery. As he arranged himself, sitting rather irreverently on a crypt, it gave me a chance to consider the hardships he must have suffered to reach such a condition. He was exceedingly tall but thin to the point of gauntness. His coloration could be described like that of an albino’s but instead of a pinkish tone, his pallor displayed a greenish tinge, with mottlings of purple. His unseeing eyes were squeezed shut, bulging behind lids that almost seemed to be sealed over. Unmindful of facial expressions, as the blind often are, he seemed to have a terrible snarl always about his lips, exposing his gums and a surprisingly strong looking set of teeth.

“Once he started to play his talent was evident, but it was not to my liking at all. The sounds he produced on his guitar I can hardly credit as music; his voice fluctuated between an eerie falsetto warble and an impossibly low croaking or gasping sound. Many of lines were delivered in some harsh language or dialect completely unknown to me. Those words which he sang that I could discern have shaken me to my very core.”

From the short story “Blind Mugwump Johnson and the Cooloo Blues” 

August 20th is the birthday of horror author H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937). I have been a fan of his writings since I was a teenager. It’s amused me to watch his influence spread over the years, becoming mainstream commercial to the extent you could go on a Cthuhlu-themed shopping spree, if you wanted to.

Lovecraft invented an underlying myth for a series of short stories he produced during the early decades of the twentieth century. In his nightmare world, prehistoric Earth had been colonized by monstrous demonic aliens. These evil beings were still here, slumbering under oceans and desolate wastelands, waiting for their time to rise again. Encounters with these creatures or their human accomplices led to madness, death and destruction.

Many other authors have built on the haunted universe Lovecraft suggested. Here in Phoenix, H.P Lovecraft’s Birthday was a performance art event for many years, held at various venues. I took part in these shows, doing readings of a series of short stories I wrote, my contributions to the Lovecraftian Mythos.

These stories are collected in an ebook available on Amazon. The Cthulhu Blues and Other Stories.

My wife and I made a book trailer for it, which had us shrieking – with laughter.

The painting currently on the cover is a Lovecraft inspired painting I made in 2001; “Tendrils of the Dreamer.” However, when Michele Bledsoe and I first conceived the book, I decided I was going to create a new painting for the cover design.

I was going to produce a portrait of the character Blind Mugwump Johnson, the mysterious and sinister Delta blues singer. I started right away. However, as Michele assembled the e-book, I couldn’t get the painting right. It happens sometimes. Here is an earlier version, long before I quit working on it:

 

I covered this base coat with purples and unbleached titanium and then piled on more green, and redrew the mouth. It just wasn’t happening. Rather than delay the book, we went with another image, and the work in progress hung on the wall of our studio for months, unfinished.

Recently Michele and I started collaborating on paintings. After we finished our first one, she had another idea of how we could share a work. She asked if she could put her hand to finishing “Blind Mugwump Johnson.” She didn’t want to change it, just tweak it a little. I loved the idea.

She brought it to a wonderful resolution. With a light touch, she brought substance and subtlety to the image, and made it complete.

My next book is going to be “Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization.”  We are in the final editing stages now, we want it out this summer if possible.

But once that’s all complete, I look forward to returning to the shadowy depths spawned by Lovecraft, and discovering some more stories to tell about them.

 

 

STUDIO: Collaborative Painting with Richard and Michele-Part 4, Completion

Michele Bledsoe and Richard Bledsoe “Tusk”

acrylic on canvas, 12″ x 6″ 

 

“The Remodernist artist formulates expressions of personal liberty in pursuit of higher meaning and significance.”

The Remodern America Manifesto 

Our first collaborative painting has been completed, and actually has been displayed in two shows so far.

Michele and I both created our own painting in our own unique style, but allowed a dialogue to form by the interaction of our individual efforts.

Michele compared it to having a conversation.

The process of working on a piece together was so enjoyable that we will continue to collaborate. We hope to someday have a show of just our shared pieces. Watch this space for future updates.

 

Read the series:

STUDIO: Collaborative Painting with Richard and Michele-Part 1

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STUDIO: Collaborative Painting with Richard and Michele-Part 2

 

STUDIO: Collaborative Painting with Richard and Michele-Part 3