STUDIO: A New Painting in Progress, Part 5, Completion: In the Belly

Richard Bledsoe “In the Belly” acrylic on canvas 30″ x 40″ 

I have completed my latest large scale piece-large for me being in this case 30″ x 40″. In my first post, I showed the first crude underpainting. In the second post, I started making additional drawing decisions. In the third post, I started bringing out suggestions of the original vision-the whale not just as an animal, but as a gilded cage of chaos. In the fourth post, I shared how the processes of an intuitive artist can go awry.

But now the painting is complete. It’s often said a painting is never really done, and that’s true. There’s no end to the possibilities and potentials in the magical worlds we create by the means of a liquid medium smeared onto a flat surface. But the trick is recognizing when the art has become what it needs to be, and respecting it for what it is.

My wife, artist Michele Bledsoe, and I have a method for comprehending completion. In a work in progress, our eyes are drawn to fragments of the image, the parts that need fixing. It’s hard to see the painting as a whole while there are omissions or shortcomings still to address.

As errors are refined, other bits with flaws and weaknesses are exposed. The adjustments go on, until finally, as we near the end, we start to see the whole image again, intact.

In my book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization,  I describe integrity as one of the elements of looking at art with 5 Eyes (or “I”s):

The Physical: Integrity

In the physical sense, integrity means being complete. The art
is independently expressive in and of itself, all of its elements
working together to create a unified whole. When a work
achieves the level of art, it radiates a visceral presence that
can be felt by anyone, no explanation or education required.

It was a joy to work on this vision, and bring it into a form which can be shared. The story of Jonah describes a man who tried to dodge his responsibilities, and wound up being swallowed by a great fish-temporarily. How often have I lived this pattern! I put my experience into this painting.

I have already begun my next large scale painting project. Watch this space for future updates!

Previous articles:

STUDIO: A New Painting in Progress, Part 1: In the Belly

STUDIO: A New Painting in Progress, Part 2: In the Belly

STUDIO: A New Painting in Progress, Part 3: In the Belly

STUDIO: A New Painting in Progress, Part 4: In the Belly (Not All Accidents Are Happy Ones)

 

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I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a painting. Please send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!

STUDIO: A New Painting in Progress, Part 4: In the Belly (Not All Accidents Are Happy Ones)

Work in Progress: In the Belly 

 

I am currently at work on my latest large scale piece-large for me being in this case 30″ x 40″. In my first post, I showed the first crude underpainting. In the second post, I started making additional drawing decisions. In the third post, I started bringing out suggestions of the original vision-the whale not just as an animal, but as a gilded cage of chaos.

The painting is coming along well (see above). But working as an intuitive artist, obstacles arise which could not be foreseen. I am presented an image in my mind; they come to me in a flash, complete. It becomes my task to translate that vision into a form that can be shared, filtered through my individual artistic personality. I paint my works directly onto the canvas, without preparatory drawings, all the better to take advantage of sudden discoveries and inspirations.

However, in art as in life, there are problems that come along with the opportunities.

Pablo Picasso, that human kaleidoscope, explained something like the dilemma I recently faced in my painting, when he talked about a visit he made to his Cubist colleague, Georges Braque.

 

“I remember one evening I arrived at Braque’s studio. He was working on a large oval still life with a package of tobacco, a pipe, and all the usual paraphernalia of Cubism. I looked at it, drew back and said, ‘My poor friend, this is dreadful. I see a squirrel in your canvas.’ Braque said, ‘That’s not possible.’ I said, ‘Yes, I know, it’s paranoiac vision, but it so happens that I see a squirrel. That canvas is made to be a painting, not an optical illusion. Since people need to see something in it, you want them to see a package of tobacco, a pipe, and the other things you’re putting in. But for God’s sake, get rid of that squirrel.’

Braque stepped back a few feet and looked carefully and sure enough, he too saw the squirrel, because that kind of paranoiac vision is extremely communicable. Day after day Braque fought that squirrel. He changed the structure, the light, the composition, but the squirrel always came back, because once it was in our minds it was almost impossible to get it out. However different the forms became, the squirrel somehow always managed to return. Finally, after eight or ten days, Braque was able to turn the trick and the canvas again became a package of tobacco, a pipe, a deck of cards, and above all a Cubist painting.”

 

He Was Only 5’3″

Braque and Picasso Get Squirrelly 

So, in the process of trying to evoke a painting experience, something unbidden had worked its way onto Braque’s canvas. Or maybe Picasso was just messing with him. I wouldn’t put it past him.

But recently I had a similar misstep while working on In the Belly.

My wife, artist Michele Bledsoe, and I were working in the studio. She noticed I suddenly started raving and muttering at my painting; lost as I was in the moment, I didn’t even realize I was talking out loud.

What was the problem? While I was trying to render where my whale’s fin attached to his body, I was horrified to see an equally horrified emoji had appeared on my canvas (outlined in red, below).

Is There An Emoji For The Scream of a Lost Soul? 

This could not stand. Mumbling about “wiping that look off your face,” I attacked the problem area with more marks and shading.

When I stepped back, I saw that I had succeeded…succeeded in giving the unwanted face eyebrows and a hat.

Facing the Problem

Needless to say, I had to cover over this whole area, and start again. It happens with the methods I use. As I state in my book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization:

“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.”

The point of this post is, although I have the upmost respect for The Muse, sometimes she’s got a strange sense of humor. I’ve learned to laugh, enjoy the message, and move on.

 

Previous articles:

STUDIO: A New Painting in Progress, Part 1: In the Belly

STUDIO: A New Painting in Progress, Part 2: In the Belly

STUDIO: A New Painting in Progress, Part 3: In the Belly

 

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I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a paintingPlease send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!

STUDIO: A New Painting in Progress, Part 3: In the Belly

In the Belly: 

Colors Developing 

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I am currently at work on my latest large scale piece-large for me being in this case 30″ x 40″. In my first post, I showed the first crude underpainting. In the second post, I started making additional drawing decisions.

I ended up rejecting some of the drawing elements shown last time. The figure was all wrong. I covered it over with a skein of gold.

And that’s when things started to go strange.

Because I never intended this to be a realistic depiction of a whale. The vision I had showed me Jonah not inside a sea mammal, but in a gilded cage of chaos. I rendered the figure again in a more dynamic pose-from the fetal position, to a more reaching out posture, limbs akimbo. This change is philosophically meaningful. It’s exciting to figure it out as I work. The painting tells me about myself, and my own mental, emotional and spiritual states.

As I state in my book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization:

“Remodernism is the return of art as a revelation. We are showing particular things about ourselves that can also be universally recognized. Our art symbolically represents flawed, searching humanity participating in birth, existence, growth, and death. It is mysterious and moving, comic and tragic, clumsy and elegant. Remodernism is a celebration of the beauty and weirdness of the life God has granted us.”

 

This painting is taking a hallucinatory turn. Watch this space for future updates!

Take a Trip 

 

Previous articles:

STUDIO: A New Painting in Progress, Part 1: In the Belly

STUDIO: A New Painting in Progress, Part 2: In the Belly

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I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a paintingPlease send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!

STUDIO: A New Painting in Progress, Part 2: In the Belly

In the Belly

Evolving Imagery

I am currently at work on my latest large scale piece-large for me being in this case 30″ x 40″. In my previous post, I showed the first crude underpainting for a piece that I will be working on for the next several months.

These images show the progression.

Even though my paintings originate in inspirational visions, where I am shown what the imagery needs to be, it’s up to me to make that image appear through painterly technique. It’s hard to translate the subtlety of thought into tangible forms. But that is the fun and challenge of being an intuitive painter.

I don’t make preparatory drawings to figure out compositions. I paint the picture directly out onto the canvas. My process involves lots of editings and revisions along the way.

Having Jonah in there is vital to this work. This is how I put him in initially.  The painting has changed greatly from these early stages.

 

As I state in my book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization: 

Making a painting becomes more than just a matter of how to represent something. It symbolizes the artist’s engagement with life. We want so much to make an image that says, “This is who I am, and this is what I saw.”

When we do it right, everyone who sees it will find that image inside themselves as well. It becomes a moment we share, and which can be visited over and over, with new understandings always unfolding. This is the power of art.

Ultimately a painter doesn’t replicate the real world, but creates a world in the painting that exists nowhere else. There are no limits for a painter; every decision in the work can be freely made to best suit the desired result.

Watch this space for further updates!

 

Previous article:

STUDIO: A New Painting in Progress, Part 1: In the Belly

 

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I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a paintingPlease send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!

STUDIO: A New Painting in Progress, Part 1: In the Belly

In the Belly

A New Painting for the New Year

 

I am currently at work on my latest large scale piece-large for me being in this case 30″ x 40″. The image above is my first crude underpainting for a piece that I will be working on for the next several months.

The current subject came to me in a vision, as my imagery often does.

Right now I don’t have to fulfill any commission. I don’t have create a piece for any particular theme show or call for entries. Being so free to choose out of the many painting ideas I have could be challenging. However, as an intuitive artist, I am provided guidance. I know the right idea to proceed with because it’s the one I keep thinking about. I can’t get it out of my mind. I’m going to need to paint it out.

The story of Jonah describes a man who tried to dodge his responsibilities, and wound up being swallowed by a great fish-temporarily. One of my favorite artists, Albert Pinkham Ryder, painted this subject before.

Albert Pinkham Ryder “Jonah”

 

I have visited this theme before, in a small work.

Richard Bledsoe “Leviathan My Friend” acrylic on canvas 12″ x 12″  

2020 looks like it’s going to be the year of getting stuff done. We can’t remain the bellies of the various beast that consume us. We must do the work we are called to. That is the energy I am pouring into this new piece.

It’s powerful theme, that everyone can relate to in some way. As I state in my book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization: 

 

 

As I work on the paintings, I come to interpret them. Patrons will often share insights with me on my works as well, telling me meanings that I didn’t even realize, but which become clear once indicated.

Such is the seductive beauty of symbolic expression; even when manifesting universal archetypes, a symbol caresses the spectator in an intimate manner. While symbols can communicate concepts shared in common, each person experiences the thrill of recognition in a unique way, different as fingerprints.

 

I will periodically post updates on this work, and share the progress.

 

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I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a paintingPlease send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!

 

 

PAINTINGS: The Finish Line

Finish Line

Richard Bledsoe “The Finish Line” acrylic on canvas 20″ x 24″

Sometimes the paintings just take off in unexpected directions. When they do, it’s best just to follow their lead.

We, as artists, act as conduits. Through us pours the source of all creativity, into vessels shaped by our own particular consciousness.

It takes faith to get out of the way of that flow.

“Spiritual art is not religion. Spirituality is humanity’s quest to understand itself and finds its symbology through the clarity and integrity of its artists.”

The Remodernism Manifesto