Saturday, November 7, 2015
As of today, it has been about 30 months since my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought and defeated her cancer. By comparison to many others her fight was brief, but it was a fight. Near the end of her battle, we spent some time in the White Mountain National Forest in upper New Hampshire. We love the area and it was peak leaf season. The days were warm and bright, perfect to take our strolls along some easy trails as she regained confidence and stamina, and simply enjoyed herself.
The colors were remarkable, and I snapped a few digital shots, sketched a bunch more and absorbed what I could, finding more inspiration and motivation than I had since before she got her diagnosis. The leaves were just part of it. The sky bloomed like a flower. The sun was low and lit the world from a soft and comforting angle. Wind sang in whispers through the ticking branches while carrying scents across the forest to rival the aroma of any fine kitchen.
We rode the Cog Rail and took the Cannon Mountain Tram. Perspectives were changed as we looked across the peaks toward the ocean or Canada. We held each others hand and walked the rim of Cannon Mountain. Her breath was short and each step took effort, but the views and hues drove us onward and deeper.
These paintings are a result of those walks. They are images filter though a healing heart. I didn't know then how wounded I felt. Her discomfort far eclipses my own. But those mountainous trails led us both toward a newer understand of who we had become and what we might create.
My wife and her recovery are as much a part of these paintings as are my years of training and exploration. We made these together, hand in hand, during a few autumn days in the forest a few hours away from our home. Views and Hues is a record of our journey back.
Friday, September 18, 2015
|Mount Hope Bay Series|
I have a friend, really I have more than a friend, but one in particular likes to remind me that "Change is the only constant." I don't know if he is quoting someone else, but I am quoting him, as he is the one who reminds me of it so often. He embraces change, even encourages it. I on the other hand simply accept that it is possible and not always as bad as I fear. Change, it seems like such a loaded word, a premise even, one we can use to our advantage when it regards our creativity.
|The Drawn to Music Project|
The last time I wrote a blog entry, I was amazed by Da Vinci drawings, click back and read it. I hope you find it at least entertaining, if not quite profound. I was inspired by those drawings to once again explore the power of the pencil and how that might affect and influence my work. But first, it also inspired me to change the look of Taylespun Studio.
I loved the way Da Vinci looked on colored walls. I loved the intimate feel and the comfort I felt looking at the masterwork on the walls.
Now, I don't and would never equate myself with those brilliant precursors of my artistic lineage, I will leave that others less attached and far more objective to do, and yeah, I hope someday they will. Hell, why not? But I do like the idea of learning from the presentation and well as the hand and the line. So, I came back to Taylespun Studio and picked up a brush, a big one, and a roller. I laid a few layers of paint on the walls and changed, (that word again,) the look of my studio.
|Views and Hues|
It more fairly resembles a gallery. I still work at one end, but walking in, my work is presented, not simply hung. I am not certain why I avoided this before now. I think I liked the idea of exhibiting my work raw, unvarnish and simple. But I have to admit, I like this better. My clients seem to as well.
The patrons and volunteers here at The Narrows Center for the Arts who visit me and my work have expressed to me how much the like the changes. Its funny how I return to the word over and over. My friend is not an "I told you so..." kind of soul. He is honest and blunt, and sometimes his bombast is as quick as his wit. He helped me to hang my newest series of work, "Public Spaces," and as he handed me the paintings while I stood atop a tall aluminum ladder, there was a smile, even a glint in his eye, one I recognized. He approved.
|Shadows and Light|
Two weeks later, he topped me. He spontaneously got married for the first time. Now that's change embraced for sure.
|Drawn To Music Project|
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
The lighting is soft and specific, small spots trained on what is most important. It is quiet, almost reverential, not quite like a church, but akin to a lecture hall featuring a respected speaker. The drawings on the walls are over 500 years old, drawn by undisputed masters, famous beyond all measurements of fame or celebrity.
The idea of this exhibit its focused on contrasting beauty, but it isalso filled with contrasts of line, value , time, and abstractions and in all of these ideas, this collection of drawings inspires me. I see a bridge to cross. I want my pencils and my paper and more time. I wish I could buy time, or maybe trade for it. I want to feel the pull of graphite across a sheet of paper and never stop.
For me Art has always been a process, the object on the wall, a recording of that process. Looking at the objects on these walls, I am inspired to further my own process and make more objects to hang on more walls. I find myself wanting to touch these drawings to feel the texture of the paper, to smell the passing of time absorbed between then and now, oh and of course to sit in a lecture hall and listen to these men speak.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Every so often an artist of some sort will visit my studio and want to show me how smart they are, maybe even how much more they know about painting than me. Art somehow needs to be a competition for so many of us. Who am I to say? Maybe they do know more about painting than I do. I just don't compete. Last week, an artist shared these words with me, "Your drawings and studies are far more successful than your larger work." To which I replied, "That would depend on what the definition of success is."
If there is one right way to create artwork, I have not seen it yet. I love the variety of answers I see. On the flip side, of that same day, I had a conversation with an artist that lasted nearly two hours. This was an artist who I respect for her work, her person, and for the high example she sets.
I don't know if he will come back to add to his collection. He said he would, and if the real world were not so insistent, it would not matter if he did. His words were strong payment for the time he spent with my work,and for the food he supplied to my creative energy. The muse needs to me fed as well as my belly, my soul, or my mind.
|At Rest (detail)|
The opportunities to connect to people through my art work are priceless. I began my career as a very private artist. I worked in a secluded studio, and somewhat dreaded the openings receptions for my exhibits. I worked for the sake and need of the muse and exhibited as necessary. My time with an open studio at the Narrows Center has changed all of that. The connections I make and the chance for folks to share my work in context has been a transformative experience for me. I like to think it has been so for my visitors as well.
Drawn to Music Project Paintings
Taylespun Prints and Reproductions
Monday, February 23, 2015
About five years ago I went to my museum, The MFA in Boston. I know, but I feel we should all claim one museum as ours, explore it, learn it, learn from it and grow with it. So, The MFS is mine, so let me start once again.
About five years ago I went to my museum and after my normal stroll, (my sit down conversation with the paintings of Sargent, the light and brushwork of the impressionists, and a quiet reflective pause in the new contemporary galleries), I began exploring some of the newly displayed galleries. There is a small gallery in the middle of the museum, one without windows and with low light. This gallery is dedicated to displaying work on paper, mainly etchings and drawings. I suspect this room is for the museum’s more fragile work. I often skip by, but on this particular day, they were displaying a group of prints done by Albecht Duer, an artist from the 1500’s.
I found myself connecting with the buildup of value through line, the full energetic compositions, and the somewhat distorted or stylized figures. I found myself remembering my early days as an artist, working with whatever pencil or paper I could find and drawing to tell a story. I think that most artists begin as story tellers. We illustrate ideas or a character before we have any formal training. Narrative. It seems to me that narrative was our primary motivation, and then we are seduced by process. For me that day, those etchings drove that point home to me, literally. My sketchbook came out and I began to scribble and take notes. On the drive home I though back to the small boy in a badly lit bedroom pulling a charcoal stick across a bit of cheap drawing paper. I remembered the smell of a kneaded rubber eraser, and the seduction was on. I had been painting with oil almost as long, but my days at Swain drove me deeper and deeper into the mysteries of color. I had put down my pencils and erasers and dove into the hue and Chroma or pigment and medium. The brush became an extension of my fingers, y hand, even my arm. I struggled with the conflicting needs of narrative and energy, of surface and space, of color and value. But looking at those drawings drove me to a place where it became necessary to explore the power of the pencil once again, sort of the initial drug for me.
At first I went to the stories I read over time. Stephen King, Mary Shelly, and Shirley Jackson. I followed that with drawing of my own stories. Eventually I approached the narrative in the same way I did in my paintings. I drew images of Chicago, NYC, and Boston. I did line drawings and complete value drawings. It became therapeutic. I even sometimes refer to my time with a pencil and paper as “Graphite Therapy.”
I have now integrated my drawing as a full partner in my work. My last series of paintings, “The Drawn to Music Project” was augmented by a full series of drawings. I work now on toned, heavyweight printmaking paper. I love the feel and the look of graphite on this paper, it reminds me of those old Duer prints. It took a while for the one trip to my museum to integrate itself into my work, but it did. That’s why I go, that’s why it’s mine. So, yeah, it is back to the drawing board for me. Check out more of my drawings on my website or stop by the studio next time you are in town, or simply grab a seat, a pencil and a sheet of paper and practice a bit of graphite therapy for yourself.
Friday, February 13, 2015
The Drawn to Music Project
A series of paintings by Chuck Boucher
This collection of work is inspired by performance that takes place within the city of Fall River. The work is intended to express the essence of music. It is not intended to be portrait of a performer or a specific performance. During my process, I endeavored to capture the feeling of a song, the movement of a rhythm, or simply the energy of a riff. The effort has been to translate the sounds and poetry that are the structure of song and to create a visual interpretation of song, in essence what I feel music looks like.
This project was supported in part by a grant from the Fall River cultural council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
Along the industrial waterfront of Fall River, under the span of the now blue Braga Bridge, which provides a delightful rhythm of its own, one finds a beautiful green park. At the southern edge of Heritage Park, there is a carousel,. The former merry-go-round from the defunct local amusement park spins memories and new fantasies as it twirls to the music of the calliope at its center. Just beyond, the Battleship Massachusetts, a museum to World War II, floats on the river as if guarding the city, protecting it from ignorance and naiveté. On special days, the song of a single trumpet can be heard echoing off the steel beams and granite walls. There is a train museum, a working pier with a ferry to Block Island, and a freighter that makes regular trips to Portugal, what many residents would call the old country. The ship’s whistles and horns add to the song of the waterfront. It is a diverse mixture of sound that blends like a natural symphony.
Across the road, near the train tracks, the ones that sustain traffic to and from the state pier and cargo ships, are old factory buildings built of brick or granite. The first, and smaller, houses a pub that features live music and tasty food. It is a popular spot on weekend nights. I am inspired by the sounds that sneak out of the opened doors, and by the people, dressed for date night, making their way over the cobblestone street toward the front door. That door is emblazoned with the words, “No Colors Allowed.”
Behind the pub building stands a three story granite factory building. It is here that I have spent eighteen months creating my artwork. From January until August of 2014, I have focused on the music inside. Walking in, I step up the forty-two stairs to the third floor. The stone walls are pleasantly painted in neutral colors. The area is clean, not much like the factory it once was, but like a place where art is created and performed. On show nights, I arrive in early evening. As I climb the stairs, the music of the sound check gets louder and clearer. First the bass, the drums if there are any, guitars, and keys. I love the sound of the old Hammond as it kicks in, and finally the vocals. I walk through the doorway and the sound is complete.
More times than not, a smile is drawn across my face. I greet the staff and the volunteers of the Narrows Center for the Arts. It is the home for up to ten studio artists in five working studios, and most importantly for the purposes of this project, home to hundreds of musical performances each year from which to be inspired and create ten oil paintings in eight months. I am a slow and thoughtful painter. This project required commitment and drive for me to complete. This is my workplace and my muse. The performers and the patrons who come into my studio before or after the shows are as much a part of this work as the paint, the brush, or my own hand. The idea of this project was to show how performance art can influence visual art, and I am grateful for the experience.
I had no idea, the range of musicians that would step though that doorway and onto the stage just a few dozen feet from my easel. There were nights that it took extreme effort to remain an artist and not a fan boy. When Carl Palmer, drummer for the progressive rock band Emerson, Lake, and Palmer came into the studio and began a wide ranging discussion about art and painting, my heart beat like the sticks on his snare drum. I have been a fan since I was sixteen or so. There were others of note. Dave Davies, of the Kinks, Dr. John, Leon Russell, The Zombies, Jefferson Airplane, Members of Little Feet, Live, and so many more. Some were up and coming performers, Seth Glier, Shamika Copeland, Samantha Fish, and so many more. On some level it is the last group that I found the deepest inspiration from. The local folks who opened the shows, Mark T, Small, Rebecca Corriea, the many whose names slipped by in the shadows between the flood lights and the headliners. Their names may have flitted by, but their impact remains. I sat in the darkness of my studio with a dim lamp shedding a soft glow on the drawing table and drew with a soft pencil or a black marker and captured the gesture of the performance. While I often found myself whistling and cheering with the audience for the headliners, sorry Carl no sketches of you, it was the performers I did not know who allowed me to respond and create from their work. They don’t even know how profoundly they influenced me, but they did. As for the headliners, yes they were important as well. The sketches were more crude and less evolved, yet the impact of the songs in my head remained long after the echoes died out.
Ahh, the music. It starts with folk and Americana, moves with a quick step to Rock and sometimes Jazz, and even a bit of Country. There are solos and harmonies. Sometimes the tunes are familiar and quite often they are new discoveries. I love it when I discover something new. Royal Southern Brotherhood came in with legendary family names and did not disappoint me with a group of songs that added to the legacies of at least two musical families. I play the songs regularly. Chuck Cannon, a man I had never heard of opened with a collection of songs that reminded me of Johnny Cash and so much more. His deep haunting voice flowed over the rhythm and strum of his guitar. Shamika Copeland is a powerhouse vocalist, reminding me of Etta James. Her voice was like a great trumpet blast.
I love discovering new work and that’s my motivation with this series of paintings. My intent is that they come across like a song heard for the first time. It is no longer important who they were at the start. What is important is how they are received and translated. The colors vibrate like notes on a scale. The values are like a bass drum, beating the time and full of guidance. My strokes of paint, like improvised flares during a solo. Like the music and performances that inspired this work, it is more important now that that I am finished. Like the songs on an album, this collection now belongs to those who are moved by it. The Drawn to Music Project will continue at a slower pace. I don’t think I could ever let go of this particular muse. For now, this album is complete.
“Reflecting on All That I Know" was completed in 2012. It is one of my most popular images. The original oil on canvas painting measures 36x48 inches and, since I am a slow deliberate painter, it took me about six months to complete. I use only small brushes, 3/4” flats and brights of smaller, along with size 0, 1 rounds. This Blog is about the basic development of this painting.
After a visit to Rockport Mass, where I drew several early sketches, I assembled the small drawings and scribbles and I began with a fully rendered full value drawing to use as a guide to the painting.
I started this one with a blue/gray tones ground on the canvas, that was a bit vivid from the start and influenced my color choices though out the early stages.
Without any preliminary drawing on the canvas, I started blocking in big shapes. I did not use a drawing on the canvas so that the rhythm of my brush would dictate the movements across the surface of the canvas. It allows me to keep a more fluid feel to the composition.
I let the ground color substitute color for objects in the painting until I decided what color they would be. Because a major portion of the composition is water, the blue ground was a fair substitute.
I added red where the intensity would be most effectively dictate eye flow throughout the composition, while I continued blocking in major shapes, and darkening shadow areas.
After the canvas was fully covered, I went back and started changing and fine tuning the color to indicate light and shadow, while keeping in mind the structure of objects in the painting as well as the structure of color relationships. I began here to define the differences between similar colors. Notice the variety of reds and how they change.
I continued with details like reflections of the shadows, more specific windows and deck gear, and mooring lines. I also started to develop the spacial relationships, the surface movements and most importantly the structure of the color relationships. Look closely at the hull color of the two foreground lobster boats.
I finished by strategically placing spots of color to indicate bright reflections and movement across the surface if the water. One recent buyer of a reproduction commented that after 6 weeks in her home she still had not found all of the different colors. Here I began to finalized my color choice and wrap up the narrative elements.
The final painting is a brilliantly colored interpretation of one of the most visited day trip locations in New England. I love to Visit Rockport, Ma., and I've worked hard for that to come across in this painting.
"Reflecting on all That I Know" 2012 Chuck Boucher
Click here for prints of this painting and more available on line