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I Love To Paint With Black And White!

Expedition 2013    Oil, Graphite on Canvas, 40 x 54 inches 


I love painting with black and white and grey.  A lot of my paintings I begin with a gestural under-painting where I draw into the under-paint before I beg in to add color.  Sometimes though, a particular canvas might cry out to me, “Stick with it!  Don’t add another color!”  And I have to then agree with my painting that adding a color would then make it all about them!  Expedition is such a painting.  At a certain point it demanded to me not to dare ad any yellow, or pink or whatever.  That would have made the painting something else altogether.


That’s okay too a lot of the time.  Being able to “let it go” is a vital part of painting the way I do.  At every stage, I need to be able to do this, to avoid it ever looking “doctored”.  To me that is the kiss of death.  Spontaneity and expressing something that is there inside me but doesn’t have a thought in my mind to describe it is what I paint for.


Expedition is the title I gave this painting for several reasons.  I recently watched a fabulous pbs documentary about Lewis and Clark’s Voyage of Discovery.  It was such a tremendously brave expedition into the unknown that I was absolutely amazed.  Yes they were brave, but they were often lucky too. When things appeared they didn’t expect, they took advantage of them. They had a bit of a plan when they started, but they basically figured it all out as they went along.  There are so many parallels in their story to how I strive to paint!  As I paint, I often feel like I am on my own expedition within.  I try to be brave and just do it and to take advantage of any luck that somehow appears.


As Larry Poons said once to someone who said maybe they should paint over something that they hadn’t intended, “What?  Why?  You should never give away free money!”

Passage  2013  Oil, Graphite on Canvas,  14 x 36 inches 

I painted Passage the same time I painted Expedition.  To me it has a similar vibe.  A Japanese artist friend of mine said it reminds her of some Buddhist picture in Japan.  Wow!  I love that.  It is such a great feeling when my paintings elicit some sort of feeling memory in someone else!

Please view my previous blog entry: When We Were Small to view another black and white painting - and a poem!

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Comment by James MacMahon on July 23, 2013 at 9:36pm

me too.

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