PAINTINGS: “Do the Work,” a New Collaboration by Michele and Richard

Michele Bledsoe and Richard Bledsoe “Do the Work”

acrylic on canvas 12″ x 6″

 

Michele Bledsoe and I have completed the third piece in our ongoing collaborative series.

As we develop our art and our lives together, we have found inspiration in a book by Steven Pressfield:

Do the Work.

“A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It’s only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate. Don’t think. Act.”

-Steven Pressfield

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 an intimate 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.

 

Previous Collaborations:

Tusk

Blind Mugwump Johnson 

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ARTICLE: Michele Bledsoe in “The Labyrinth Beyond Time”

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

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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.

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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!’”

PAINTINGS: The Moon in the Daytime

The Moon in the Daytime

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

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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.

EXPLOITS: The Fine Art of Childhood

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John Singleton Copley “Watson and the Shark” 1778

When my wife Michele Bledsoe and I co-authored “The Secret Kingdom” together, I was pleased to know it was intended for children. What we did for the book was write poetry inspired by Michele’s existing body of paintings.

The art came first, and was not created specifically for kids. These are just the paintings Michele makes naturally, her visions made visible. The works just have such a mysterious fairy tale atmosphere about them which makes them accessible to all ages.

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Michele Bledsoe “Salvation and Desire” acrylic on canvas 18″ x 24″

I love the idea of presenting such wonderful works to kids. Art is for everyone, even children. We are doing a real disservice to youth today by assuming that doodles and cartoons are good enough illustrations for children’s books.

Why not give the kids something intense, beautiful and mysterious? Why not present them with real art?

I speak as someone who grew up with some pretty serious fine art reproductions decorating my room and our house. I’m sure having them around at an early age fed into the artist I’ve become as an adult.

I’ve already written about my dinosaur fascination and its connection to my art. I also gained inspiration from some more traditional masterpieces.

I grew up outside of Washington DC. I must have been in second or third grade when we made a school trip to the National Gallery of Art. I came away with some souvenirs-some beautiful art prints I picked out myself. My mother hung them up in my bedroom; for many years afterwards, as I grew up, I contemplated these images.

I had the taste of a little boy. The lurid “Watson and the Shark” was one of the pictures. There was also a Raphael painting of St. George and the Dragon, and a spooky dungeon scene by Giovanni Battista Piranesi.

I don’t know what ever happened to the actual prints I used to have, but thanks to the magic of the internet, it was easy to find the images.

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Raphael “Saint George”

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Giovanni Battista Piranesi “Carceri XIV”

My parents also had a nice framed reproduction which hung over the fireplace in the family room: “The Haywain” by John Constable. As I spent countless hours in that room watching TV, I also would stare at the picture over the mantle.

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John Constable “The Haywain” 1821

Being exposed to truly great works from a young age enriched my life, and gave me the sense of the action and beauty art is capable of. I see echos of these images I grew up with in the art I make to this day.

VIDEO: How Cooking is Like Art

We cooked dinner with my sisters-in-law last Saturday. It was a fancier meal than we would normally make so my wife Michele Bledsoe brought her camera, intending to document the process.

What began as a spontaneous goof on a cooking show intro became something more as the evening went on. Michele filmed each step, not for the purpose of making a how to video, but as a platform to reflect on the overlap between our normal efforts at art and the preparation of a special meal to share with family.

The results were fascinating and extremely delicious.

STUDIO: Painting in Progress 4-Completion

A Tale of the Forked River

Richard Bledsoe “A Tale of the Forked River” acrylic on canvas 36″ x 36″

On March 15 I posted a picture of a blank canvas I had just built. I finished the painting on Sunday June 28.

As we share our studio space, my wife Michele Bledsoe and I also share observations. We’ve been able to identify how we can tell our paintings are completed.

This is important for intuitive artists, working out imagery that comes from the imagination. Technically a painting is never really done. You just have to be able to recognize an effective stopping point, where the piece has reached a place of integrity: the sense of being whole, where even the contradictions are part of an overall unity.

A work in progress is full of problems. As we paint we zero in on the problem areas. Each adjustment creates a new set of issues. During this process all we can see on the paintings are the problems needing to be fixed.

As a painting nears completion, we start to see the entire image again.

So what does my painting “A Tale of the Forked River” mean?

Hopefully what I show you speaks for itself.

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Flashback: The Beginning of the Painting

Earlier Installments

Introduction: Creating a Canvas

Painting in Progress 1

Painting in Progress 2

Painting in Progress 3

EXPLOITS: Artist Bill Lewis and the Cosmic Unconsciousness

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Remodernist Painter and Poet Bill Lewis at a recent exhibit in the UK

But where does imagination end and reality begin?

-Dr Julian Karswell                                                    

Carl Jung was a visionary psychiatrist who understood religion, spirituality and mysticism as key elements of the human experience. In his work he developed the concept of synchronicity, the significant coincidence. It’s when things happen that seem meaningfully related, but which happen without any apparent cause. For Jung it was a demonstration of the collective unconscious in operation, a universal awareness that everyone shares. In my life experiences synchronicity is a common phenomenon.

I recently experienced an amazing moment of synchronicity. It involved artist and poet Bill Lewis. Bill is one of the original  British Stuckist artists, having been part of the seminal Medway Poets group even before the art movement began. Bill Lewis has continued his work as a Remodernist artist, and as I got involved with the international movement, I made his acquaintance through Facebook of all things. Since then we’ve exchanged books and our thoughts of the mysteries of art and life. It’s one of the wonders of this age, how we can connect with interesting people half a world away.

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Reading “The Book of Misplaced But Imperishable Names” by Bill Lewis at a Phoenix AZ poetry event

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Bill Lewis with The Secret Kingdom

Bill has had many intense moments of synchronicity, so his role in my recent experience is no surprise. One evening just before Christmas I was coming home from work, driving down a short cut through the alley behind our house, when one of the neighborhood feral cats ran in front of my car.

The cat was far ahead of me, it was in no peril. In the dark twilight all I saw was the indistinct bobbing of its mostly white body. The sight reminded me of a creepy passage from an old favorite story of mine, “Casting the Runes,” by M. R. James.

At the beginning of the story an evil warlock puts on a magic lantern show that traumatizes the local children. The images included “a horrible hopping creature in white.” The glimpse of the cat in motion triggered a memory of that description, although I haven’t read the story in ages.

When I got home moments later there was a package waiting for me that had arrived that day in the mail. It was an unexpected Christmas gift from Bill Lewis. I couldn’t wait until Xmas, I tore right into it. It was a DVD of the classic British horror movie, “Night of the Demon,” and the recut American version “Curse of the Demon.” This film is based on the story “Casting the Runes” by M. R. James.

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I was so moved by this experience I ended up creating a painting about it, featured in the current exhibit “BOOKED: Contemporary Literary Art.”

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Richard Bledsoe “A Horrible Hopping Creature in White” acrylic on canvas 16″ x 20″

The connotations of this event are very interesting to me. A key plot point of the story is how the attention of paranormal forces get passed along by means of a rune inscribed slip of paper delivered to an unsuspecting recipient. In an interview, Bill Lewis describes inspiration being passed along like a virus between carriers. I see a connection  in these models.

I don’t see the demonic content of this particular transmittal as an ominous thing. If anything, it’s a cautionary example, a call to examine my own motivations and actions.  The warlock in the story and movie abused his knowledge selfishly, evoking energy in an effort to build his own power, and he was destroyed by it. In this unexpected and meaningful gift, I saw not a demon, but a demonstration of wisdom. Thank you Bill!