Sunday, March 25, 2018

God, I Hate These!

Writing My Latest Artist Statement...

I just finished the first version of an artist statement that I am writing to go with a recent body of work for a grant application. I HATE writing these. They get heavy and wordy and no one reads them anyway. I usually just write a quick quirky wiseass version. (Only because it shows the reader who I really am.) But, this one is for a serious grant that gives out some serious cash. I didn't wait until the last minute because I wanted to leave it for a little while and come back to it to see if I'm still feeling it, and then edit it down using new eyes. Then I thought that I'd put it on here to try and get some feedback. So here it is. Please tell me what you think;

     People always ask,”What do you do?” at some point during small talk. For a long time now my response has been,”I am a painter.” And I was. Until recently, I painted work solely to sell. I painted what I thought people would buy; sail boats, light houses, and white picket fences. And they did. For years my paintings filled the white tents, which filled ball fields and parking lots across Cape Cod all summer long. People came, and saw, and bought. I was making my living as an artist. I didn’t however call myself an artist, I didn't feel it was art. I was simply a painter, painting souvenirs, not an artist.

     Despite not giving myself credit, the time I spent painting gave me a sense of peace. Until one morning when Multiple Sclerosis stepped in and took that peace away. It took, overnight, my balance, my vision, and my fine motor skills. I could no longer see my sketches, hold my brushes, or stand before my easel. Sympathy is not necessary here. This was how I realized I truly am an artist. There was void that not being able to paint left in my soul. So, despite the pain, I painted. One day, sitting on my studio floor, no longer able to stand, wearing a patch over one of my eyes to keep them from crossing, holding a broomstick that served as both a crutch and a moll in one hand, and a brush duct taped to the other, looking at a, finally, finished work, I, accepted that, now, I can call myself an artist. My primal urge to paint, the artist inside me, had overridden any fear of pain. I smiled. Then laughed. Then cried.

     My vision, my balance, and fine motor skills, all of the things that I lost, I would give up again in exchange for what I’ve found; my voice.

     My current work is about painting simply to paint. No longer representational, it has far less to do with what you see, than it does with pure release. It has to do with the smell of paint wafting out of my studio, and the paint that stains every article of clothing I own. It is about the cool wet feel of it on my hands, and that of the rough textured surface that I smear it on. It’s about the way the paints and glazes puddle in the pock marks of the surface, the overlapping of color, and the depth brought forth in the varnishing. It’s about more than the painting itself. It expands to each tiny vignette created within, quietly asking the viewer to lean closer for a better look.

Calvin and Hobbes

Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 2, 2018

It Has Been Too Long Since I Painted.

This might just be a bitch-fest.

I am coming off of about a week and a half string of appointments and deadlines. My mind would really love to be in the studio (ten feet away). My body just needs a break. On any given day I have a small window of time where I can get a "task" done. A task for me is something outside of the normal activities of my daily life, things beyond showering, dressing, cooking, organizing, straightening, etc. the things that everyone else take for granted. For me, doctors appointments, errands, grocery shopping, and anything that involves me actually getting out of the house would fall under the "task" category. Unfortunately, painting has also been put in that category. I don't mean to put it there. But it ends up there. I have to take care of my well being first. So painting has been compartmentalized into a small space of time that, unfortunately, gets pushed to the side too often.  This past week's full schedule was unavoidable and exhausting, so my painting, again, has been neglected.
As I sit here writing this, I have every intention of getting up and painting after I am finished. Painting is really one of my necessary functions for survival. Without it I get anxious and depressed. There are five works in various stages of development screaming for my attention. My body is screaming for some as well. It really just wants to rest right now. I am struggling to find the balance. 

I don't mean for this post to ooze negativity. I am not writing this to complain, I am writing this to let other artists, who may also be struggling with Multiple Sclerosis, know that they are not alone. Society does not see our daily strife, and frankly, they don't want to. Too often our society tells us to just "suck it up and smile, we all have our crosses to bear." Some days it's just nice to know that there are others out there that, literally, feel your pain.   

Experiments with color
(The painting above is in it's infant stages. It is part of my Experiments in Color series. This is under painting. By the end, you will only see fragments of this color showing through larger fields of color... I think, but we'll see how it goes.)

Monday, February 26, 2018

Are There More of us Out Here?

Are You an Artist with MS?

I am looking for other Artists who have MS. Whether you were an artist before your diagnosis, or became one after, it doesn't matter. I would love to have a chance to have some sort of dialogue about some of the challenges you deal with, or changes that have happened in your Artwork. If any of you would be into that, I really want to hear from you. Maybe you could be a guest blogger, or we could do a live chat on my you tube channel... I'm still working it out in my mind, and I'd love to hear your thoughts, e-mail me at  or comment below.

Elizabeth Jameson
“Self Portrait of the Artist’s Brain 2,” a sagittal MRI view of the artist’s brain.

This is a great article!
Click on the above image for the link.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Coming Soon!

An Experiment in Color!

I am working on a series of paintings based on Color Theory. I am scared of color. So it's time to face it head on! Bright, bold, and right out of the tube, this will be an experiment in color.

An Artist with MS and the De-Evolution of His Work

If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words...

For the last ten years of my life I have been trying to make up for the fact that, from the start, I had never pursued my career as an Artist. After realizing this error, I painted with a feverish vigor as if I were trying to make up for all the years of sitting at a desk and going to sales meetings. I reach a crescendo a few years back. I was painting hundreds of paintings every year for shows, and selling them so fast that between each show I would have to paint furiously to make sure that I had enough for the next. I had to find a balance between quality and quantity. Eventually, my Multiple Sclerosis took control of that and I had to slow down and focus on quality over quantity, which in my opinion, was not the worst thing to have had happen. The next season of shows, I showed less works at fewer shows, but really felt like I had a better balance. As my MS progressed, the number of shows diminished and so did the number of works that I created. I'm not complaining. I just recently had a chance to step back and look at the progression of my work over time and noticed that, like Benjamin Button, my works seems to move backwards in time.

There was a point where my work was somewhere between impressionism and realism:

L-R: "Due North", "The Lighthouse at Sandy Neck", "The Red Sailboat"
L-R: "Yellow Sailboat", "Super Moon II", "Black Sailboat"

These lead to some paintings with some decent brush work...

L-R:"Self Portrait", untitled still life

These paintings were the high point of my ability, not my creativity, and there is a big difference there. With the progression of my MS, getting a brush to hold a line became much more difficult, as did seeing pencil sketches. I switched to a much more fluid drawing style and stylized it to achieve pleasing aesthetics without the worry of perfection. Instead of a pencil, I now use a Sharpie to lay out my work which doesn't leave much room for mistakes. The drawings now became more real to me, there was more attention, actually, more intention towards the overall finished look, with less anxiety over achieving realism, these paintings became fun and I wish that I had done more.

L-R, U-L: "Coffee Pot", "Morning Routine", "Breakfast", "The Red Chair"

On my next "good day" I'll try.

For a while I settled on a minimalist seascape style that allowed me to paint in the quantity that I needed and still gave my buyers a quality artwork. I was able to keep up with the demand and fill shows with sale-able work. Despite their sale-ability though, I felt like I had somehow "sold out".

Seascape paintings set up for a show
(Bottom Photo: One of my shows at the Chatham Bars Inn)

Eventually my energy and ability to hold a brush kept me from producing enough work to do these huge shows. So I did fewer shows with fewer artworks. This allowed me to concentrate on each individual painting and I really enjoyed the results.

R-L, U-L: "Horizon", "Cranberry Bog at Sunset". "Distant Waves", Across the Cove"

(Yes, there are a lot of horizons, but I sell my work in a beach resort county, and the name of this blog, is Making a Living as an Artist after all.)

The final stage of my work, so far, has been total abstraction. Oddly, It is where I've always wanted to go. It is hard to pull off and, with too much expectation for the out come, can easily look contrived, or trite. For me, abstract painting is the hardest thing that I have ever done. To go from painting something how it is seen by others, to painting something how you like it to be seen was fairly easy. But, taking that next step... Painting something that no one, not even you, the Artist, has ever seen, is a daunting task. As you open yourself to that flow, you are exposing your inner most secret, you are revealing you true self for all to see and judge. It is a gapping wound, bleeding, and exposed to the world, and you are inviting others to either share it with you and tend to it, or throw salt directly into it. You have shown the world your heart and soul. It is the truest, most intimate form of communication. Understand that this is new to me, and that it is the necessary leap to be able to continue my work as an Artist. I am still learning to let go.

Untitled Abstracts

But still those damn horizons...

Untitled Abstract
(No horizon on this one...)

As I scroll through the paintings above, It looks like the paintings further down the page are earlier works. You would think that the groupings at the top of the page were done with more learning and experience. As I scroll down, I see lessons learned and an emergence of my creativity, and I think I like where it is going.
As usual I would love to see any thoughts, questions, or suggestions in the comments below.

A lot of these styles did overlap. I have my good days and bad days. So, you paint the way that you are able on the days that you're able to paint.

You can read more about my MS an how it has affected me as an Artist here.

Monday, February 19, 2018

A New Work in Progress

I've had this support (canvas) prepped for months. Gesso'd black, sitting on an easel, staring me in the face from across my studio, waiting. I've been working on a series of colorful textured abstracts, bright, bold colors, right out of the tube. My color vision due to my M.S. has been fading fast. Some days my vision is limited to shades of gray. It comes and goes. Luckily though, so far, it has come back. (Not as good as it originally was, I suspect...) My fear is that some day it will not, so although working with these bright colors is not my passion, I am doing it out of some sense of obligation. If somehow someday I loose my color vision for good, I won't have a sense of regret for never having at least experimented with it. 

In the midst of my self imposed immersion into to color, and having probably been subconsciously affected by this large black-gesso'd canvas that has been staring at me from across the studio wanting for attention, I took a night off from my work and went to an opening. It was a huge event. (unbeknownst to me, I hate crowds lately.) The opening was held at one of our growing Art centers here on Cape Cod, the Cotuit Center for the Arts. A former instructor of mine Betty Carroll Fuller was having a show. I really admire her work and as an instructor, I found her inspiring. So despite the crowd, I stuck it out. There was some color in this show, but the works that I found myself drawn towards were neutrals and metallics. A series by Betty called "Night Music" really spoke to my muses, and upon returning home that night I started to work on this painting. It isn't done yet. I can see where it is going, and I like it. With the fatigue from this damned disease, the paintings don't come out quite as quickly as they used to, so there are a few more sessions until I can even pause and contemplate it. But here is a preview. If you have any feedback, I'd love to hear it!

Abstract painting, neutrals, black, copper, gold
Untitled Abstract
Latex and plaster on Mahogany panel
48" x 36" x 2"

I tweaked it! Can you tell?

It Needed Just a Little Something...

After looking at this on the dinning room wall, the bathroom wall, and my living room wall for a couple of months, I decided that I really loved the subtlety... But, it still did need something. So, I loaded up my thumb with a globule of gold, and slid it along the ridge of paint just atop the horizon line. It was just the little something that I thought it needed. Now I can sit back and look at it without thinking, and just enjoy it for what it is.

abstract painting by Greg Lindberg, neutrals, turquoise, gold
untitled abstract
Latex and plaster on mahogany panel
36" x 18" x 2"

(in the upper righthand corner that is a glare that I couldn't seem to get rid of no matter how many times I adjusted the lighting.)
Click on the image or HERE to buy it!