Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Live Painting Demonstration at The Ellis Nicholson Gallery
I was recently asked by Agora Gallery to discuss my recent experience in doing a live painting demonstration at the Ellis Nicholson Gallery during the Spoleto USA festival that happens every year in Charleston, SC. The two-week Arts festival begins on Memorial Day weekend every year as part of a seven city, worldwide festival that begins in Spoleto, Italy at the same exact time. Charleston itself becomes a mecca of the arts for the two weeks celebrating the fine arts including Opera, Ballet, Theater and Classical music performances along with, of course, the visual arts. Charleston is rich with quality painters of every subject from landscapes to figures to contemporary. I'm fortunate to belong to a progressive gallery, The Ellis-Nicholson Gallery, that is inviting artists that create contemporary works that deviate from the norm while still preserving the delicate balance of beauty and content and all the while appealing the local's senses. During this time, I was asked as part of a street wide effort of artists in various galleries to do live demos in the afternoon of their painting skills, to create works and discuss my techniques; something I'm all too happy to do. I love talking art and I love to teach in the hopes of reaching and inspiring someone. As I stood painting a historical monument, the audience was taken aback by the fact that I wasn't painting what I saw directly, but what I saw in my mind's eye. As the painting progresses, the questions started coming from the crowd. "How do you see what you see in your head?" "Do you use Photo references?"; "How long does it take to complete a painting like the one your working on?" I enjoyed their curiosity and their good questions while I painted because as they spoke, I got ideas for either that painting or the next ones in the future. I love demonstrating work in from of a crowd because 1) You draw a crowd, 2) You can educated people about art 3) You make new friends. The crowd seemed happy with the developments on the canvas as they whispered amongst themselves. This always proves a fun time as everyone has a story to tell and if you can stop and listen, you might hear a story that was inspired by your painting which will inspire another one or even a whole series. You never know. You see, all I was doing was painting the building with the cupola, The Exchange Building, as it may have looked 100 years ago in a state of disrepair or 50 years from now. It became a statement based on my current series of paintings, that our world is heading for oblivion with only ruins left of our great cities if we continue on our path of greed and corruption by the banks and our governments. I readily admit that while my current series err on the darker side of the truth, they still have a romantic beauty about them that can be appreciated by both the critic and the buyer. While the crowd stood there asking questions, we became both the teacher and student while we debated topics like politics, religion, philosophy, business and even creative possibilities all from one simple live interactive demonstration while people sipped wine and learned a little more about how art can change the world.