The basics of an art block

Every effort to keep art alive in our lives is worth mentioning. I see keeping a micro art journal as the equivalent of writing a poem in the notes app. I think those poems aren’t appreciated enough. But neither are the pages of an art journal meant for subway rides and laundromats. Personally, mine comes out of the closet whenever larger paintings just don’t work.

So what do I think of these pages and how do they help me?

I’ve been guilty of not revisiting these tiny paintings after I’m over my art block. It may be because I have various ways of getting over an art block; sketching with pencils and charcoals, doing digital illustrations, attending virtual art galleries, watching documentaries of well-known artist, just to name a few. Yet that doesn’t leave out the instances I need to express some color in a jiffy. And that color needs to be laid out in a small piece of paper.

It doesn’t restrict me from pouring my ideas onto the paper; it gives me a window to look through. That window shows me all the things I needed to see during my art block. It’s like following rain drops and then falling into a river, but then realizing that the river is actually an ocean. And when you get out of the ocean, you see that you are in space. Because not every blue space is water.

Ocean and Fish, Watercolor on paper, 3.5×5.5, 2021

But this one is! And I just went with the feeling I had at the moment. Now if you’ve been with me on my “bubble journey” you know I’ve been exploring Fauvism, heavily influenced by Henri Matisse. Here is a recent post where I went full on Fauvist style. I used primary colors because I wanted to express myself clearly without the interruption of colors and the thought of mixing them. I went a step further in this second painting below.

The Park, Watercolor on paper, 3.5×5.5, 2021

Here’s a broader color palette, and more to look at. Brushstrokes of different kinds, various hues of limited colors; all things done in accordance to my mood. I say, just go with it. Even if you want nothing under your brush but a napkin, go with it. You can frame anything that means something to you. As long as it pushes you forward and brings art with you in every step of you way.


Reviving the blank distance between things: the appreciation of a canvas

I’ve embarked on my bubble journey toward Fauvism. It’s easy to get lost in the still life you can create within an art form. I’ve been very appreciative of keeping the white paper untouched with watercolors throughout the years. However, Fauvism has made it even more interesting.

As I’m heavily influenced by Henri Matisse, I’ve spent some time studying his work and the distances between things. The white canvas peaks through the colors stunningly. This reminds me of Paul  Cézanne’s art; the importance of what is left out. But that’s a different story. Henri Matisse doesn’t leave much out, he accentuates it with the white spaces around objects (in addition to the deep blue outlines). For now, I like focusing on the distance between what is portrayed and what is the significance of it.

I’ve been so used to merging objects and landscapes together that sometimes I’ve had to let go of the white spaces I could keep in watercolor paintings. But my experience of painting in Fauvist style has changed that. Everything is in its own place, not touching what’s next to it.

A watercolor painting of a stream in a field of trees.
The Stream, Watercolor on paper, 5 x7, 2021

I did this painting inspired by John Harney’s photograph. He is a wonderful photographer based in Connecticut. I’ve been leaning toward larger areas of colors and less brushstrokes with less water and more color. The presence of white paper makes me appreciate the vibrant colors even more.

This makes me think of the next chapter I will be going toward with Fauvism. Do colors get bolder within this art style?


Waterlilies: Impressionism or Fauvism?

I’m finding my exploration of Fauvism very rewarding. When I began studying the works of Henri Matisse and Andre Derain, I imagined the steps they took and what they were thinking when they were painting. I’m sure they weren’t thinking of opposing to Impressionism every second of their career, but it’s sometimes difficult to conclude whether your actions are motivated by decisions or oppositions.

I tapped into one of my favorite collections, by one of my favorite artists in my first revival. I spoke about attainting the right vision you’ll need for your artistic journey (or career) and now I feel that confident with the lens I’m looking through. Waterlilies is a collection that can astound anyone when they take experience Monet’s fluency in French Impressionism.

To avoid exhausting the subject, I will dive into my main source of inspiration. I was fortunate to come across John Harney, a wonderful photographer based in Connecticut. His new photo of waterlilies urged me to paint, but he continuously inspires me with every shot. Here it is.

The colors and saturations of this photo are unmatched. It would actually make for an incredible impressionist painting. But this (I) wild beast ins’t going down that path. The whole purpose of this revival is to oppose impressionism, just like the Fauves did long ago. However, I had my own oppositions with Fauvism too. For example, I’m continuing to paint with watercolors. It is weird and untraditional, but it is liberating.

I’m quite happy with the way my painting turned out.

Watercolor painting of waterlilies in a colorful pond.
Waterlilies in Litchfield County, Watercolor on paper, 5×7, 2020

I think the most valuable prize that comes with painting (and Fauvism) is learning about your own art style within the form you’re exploring. I can see my brushstrokes being rounder rather than linear, just like my handwriting. My colors are often more pigmented than watery. I’m also more keen on small brushstrokes, just like my preference for smaller paintings.

I will also be selling all paintings due to me moving in a couple months. I can’t wait to see my paintings hung in their new homes! Contact me via the commissions form if you’re interested in purchasing any of my work.