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Greetings from California

Hey there everyone!

I am a 32 year old artist who lives and works in Southern California. I was born and raised about an hour north of New York City and moved to California to be with my wife and finish up school about 10 years ago.

After going through some foundation courses at local community colleges I started formal training at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn NY. After a few years at Pratt, I transferred out to Otis College of Art and Design in LA and finished up my BFA in painting in 2008.

Throughout my time in school I mainly painted abstract and have some, but very little experience in drawing from life and painting realistically. Therein lies the problem I am facing now.

I started doing abstract art based on my taste/sensibility and appreciation for abstract art pretty early on in school. (Here's my website to give you an idea of how I work www.edbopp.com ) I've continued to paint abstract ever since graduating and have produced some very successful bodies of work. BUT...

Recently I have been working on a series of paintings that are based on Southern California architecture and I've been wrestling with the forms, colors, composition, drawing, perspective you name it....and have come to the sad yet honest truth that after a decade or more of school and making art, I CAN'T PAINT. Now, I say that with tongue partly in cheek but honestly the older I have gotten the more I realize that some of the best abstract painters were masters at painting and drawing from life. I feel like if one cannot draw and paint from life then the abstraction from life is contrived and dare I say pointless if not mindless.

So where does that leave me? Well I realize now that I have to kind of back peddle a bit and relearn A LOT. Do I have the time? With a full time job and two kids, not really. Will I devote the time I do have? Yes. Am I happy about having to break old habits and relearn pretty much everything? Not really. Do I think retraining and learning to paint/draw from life will make me a better abstract painter and perhaps a better artist over all? ABSOLUTELY. So that's why I'm here.

Feel free to reach out Email: [email protected]
Website: www.edbopp.com

Martin_J_Crane

Comments

  • Hey there Kingston! Thanks for the welcome.
  • edward

    Welcome to the DMP Forum.

    I am astounded about how often I hear the same trajectory.
    Many art school grads complain that they have to learn how to mix paint and draw.
    But I will say your grammar, structure and spelling are excellent. So something worked.

    Abstracts are by convention flat and seem to me to have limited potential to express feelings or communicate a narrative. Acrylic paint used as self colored geometric areas only increases the flatness. A bit like trying to be sincere or emotional with Morse code.

    However, I can see and feel the abstract artist's intention, though only rarely, even then I have to work hard to achieve this. I would love to understand the mental process between inspiration and canvass.

    Denis
    edwardbopp
  • I think that so-called abstract painters and realist painters have a lot more in common than appears at first glance. Its telling that Andrew Wyeth often referred to himself as a purely abstract painter whereas Mark Rothko denied being an abstractionist at all.
    edwardbopp
  • Thanks for the kind words dencal!

    (I'm going off topic for a sec here as I am new to forums in general... do i need to quote you when i respond, or are you notified when I comment under your quote? Just wondering)

    Anyway, I totally agree about your acrylics statement. I started using them based on price (college student at the time), quick drying (impatience), lower odor (worked in smaller studio) and a few other common factors. But yes, acrylics although they have their place, something is lost in the translation. A certain luminescence/resonance is carried over with oils that acrylics, no matter what you add, just does not.
  • Absolutely Martin. I would also say that painting abstractly is somehow perceived as easier or less work and so I've seen a lot of students (myself included) jump head long into painting abstract and make formally successful work at first. But what I see happen is (has happened to me in one way or another) is this loss of momentum and lack of sophistication that is inevitable without a rigorous figurative framework with which to work from.
  • Hello Ed! I LOVE your story. And at 32, you are honestly still a babe. I am a full 30 years older than you and I am on the same path. Back in the fall of 1969, when I was a mere 17 year old regretting not having attended Woodstock during the Summer of Love (and yes, I was invited, but was too scared to go) I started college in the field of Fine Art hoping to learn all the secrets of realism and the old masters. Instead, the focus was anything but. The more outrageous your concept, the better the instructors liked it. And I could roll with that, but I never got the education I craved. It sounds like you embraced abstract art from the beginning - I did not. And I did take a look at your web site.

    Before I comment on that, let me say that I visited the Picasso Museum in Barcelona some years ago. And what we artists know (but others don't) is that Picasso could draw like Rembrandt at age 14. His early work is traditional and beautiful in the most classical way. And I believe that because he mastered that, he was able to invent Cubism - which most ordinary folks dismiss as abstract and unstructured. But when you see the progression he made - there is no doubt that his way was paved with realism. And the leap he made to Cubism was genious! (however, I don't think I would have liked him much as a person based on his mysogenistic nature!)

    My biggest pet peeve in the world is when someone says of Picasso or Pollack... "I don't know art, but I know what I like!" Puhleeeeeaassseee! There is no more ignorant statement in the world!

    So, yes, you are going back to get that step you missed - realism. It is a very specific discipline and I am excited to find Mark Carder who seems to be able to teach it. And where it takes you - that will be exciting.

    I took a quick look at your paintings. They look very polished, yet they look almost like quilting patterns to me. And not very complicated ones. I don't mean this as an insult - I may not even know what I am talking about here. It is just my impression because I have no experience with abstract art. Over the years I have involved myself in many types of craft and artwork. Quilting is one. And believe me, some of those old-time pioneer women were creating heavy-duty art out on the prairie alone. So I apologize if I sound critical - I am not at all.

    Like you, I am new here. And I've already gotten off on the wrong foot in another thread because I like to question what I see and have a real discussion about it. I'm here to learn and digest and make the most of my time and resources for painting. I HUNGER to learn and it seems to me that you are a serious artist who does as well.

    Can we keep up a dialog to learn the Carder method and stay on our journey to leave a legacy of serious art behind? You've got 30 years on me, brother! But I'm a die-hard hippy dippy from way back and would love to chat (and debate) seriously anytime....

    Wishing you the best on this journey!
    Starr
    edwardbopp
  • Welcome Ed! I enjoyed your website. I especially like the 'tool' paintings.
    edwardbopp
  • Thanks Starrgirl. Seem like we have a very similar trajectory of sorts. Yes, I was astounded when I first saw Picassos early work. Its the old adage, "you have to know the rules in order to break them" and he sure did.

    I see your quilt pattern comment and take no offense whatsoever. I've had people describe them as puzzles or lego sets or stained glass and in some cases textiles. Its inevitable that comparison pops up with so my pattern and repetition.

    What they actually are, are generic house shapes that I've scaled up from a paint chip sample and repeated and layered to give a sort mild 3D effect. I'm exploring repetition and pattern in southern california tract housing and master planned neighborhoods so they are intentionally flat, sterile, hard edge and banal. Even the colors for instance the beiges I use are matched directly from the homeowners association approved house colors which again tie back into this idea of control and similarity and scaling back of individuality and expression in a way.

    What I would like to take away from the DMP method is the ability to draw these houses from life out in the neighborhood and take the works back to the studio and work on them a bit more abstractly from there. I would like to even go as far as going out into open air areas with no developments and plein air painting, then taking the results back to the studio and artificially insert tract housing and patterned housing into the beautiful landscapes. Its a work in progress.

    I'm all about real discussion and invite critique and all forms. I don't believe in deconstructive criticism. I've been torn into a thousand pieces in college critiques and what can i say, i'm a sucker for the pain.

    Take care and talk soon!
  • Well, Ed, you've just totally blown me away. After I posted here I began to feel bad - like I am way too snarky for my own good. And I don't mean to be snarky - I just value REAL discussion. You totally came back and defended your work BEAUTIFULLY and I am so happy to understand better what you are doing. I think it is brilliant! OMG - you're even using contractor's beige for effect? That is stunning. I can't wait to see how you develop from here - it is so exciting and you obviously have the talent AND the hunger to pursue this project. Thank you so much for not taking offense with me - I, too, am a "sucker for the pain." You hit that nail explosively on the head! I'm so looking forward to seeing more of your work and discussing it. Welcome, here, my friend. Let's chat anytime!!!

    Starr
    edwardbopp
  • Yeah I get that a lot haha! People are like "OHHHHHHH I see it now! That's awesome" when when I break down the whole idea and how the paintings are conceived. That's the disconnect I am having between the final product and the original idea... Unfortunately I cannot speak for my paintings when they are on the wall in a gallery so they have to have their own voice and I just don't think I'm speaking through them yet.

    Glad the work somehow resonates with you now that we've discussed them a little. Lets not forget that without discussion and growth and concept art simply falls back into the category of craft. Which is to say a craft is something that can be mastered, like cabinet making for instance, it is something that is reproducible to an exact measurement. To a degree, art should have aspects of that, but like any great work of art that stands the test of time, it should first have meaning and a cultural or big picture significance outside of itself and then the technique of course is necessary to employ that significance and communicate to the viewer. That's the fine line I am struggling with and eager to work through.

    Talk soon!
  • Hmmmm.... you should go read and comment on Mark's thread, "Artist or Artisan" - an interesting discussion...

    Meanwhile, there must be a way for you to communicate what you are doing - through an "Artist's statement" or something? Ideally, you wouldn't need to do that, but like you say... the paintings on a gallery wall are not quite conveying the message - and then when you explain, it is like AH HA!!! Maybe Mark or David or Kingston or Mike O or someone else here can weigh in on that.... I would find it very interesting...
    edwardbopp
  • ohhhhh... I just had a thought. You mentioned that your progression is from pattern and repetition of California tract housing. What if you went back and did a "prequil?" Like actual paintings of the houses - realism style - and showed the progression of how they become abstract shapes in the big picture of things? Maybe some architectual drawings in between that turn them into beige objects? If the current paintings can relate to their origin, that might be the key!

    I'm sure you could do the realistic images and relating those to the abstract images would be such a social statement. Very exciting!

    Oy vey - thinking out loud here...
    edwardbopp
  • dencaldencal -
    edited July 2014
    Folks

    Not that any of you need this instruction, but I thought it is a useful base for achieving a likeness in portraiture.
    http://www.artistdaily.com/blogs/steve/archive/2009/05/11/4-ways-to-get-a-likeness-in-portraits.aspx

    It is an interesting topic - recognizing familiar faces in a crowd is a matter of broad shape discrimination, even silhouettes are discernible as are two and three color head portraits.
    That, I think is about the basic structural likeness, which is not the likeness we perceive with nose and eye shape and the relativity with other facial features.

    A likeness is about communicating a truth, and being faithful to a subject. It is about sharing a common perception of reality and demonstrating the skill of an artist.

    A portrait without a likeness is just a painting.

    Denis
    edwardbopp
  • Great reference, Denis. And I think you are right on about recognizing familiar faces in a crowd due to proportional shapes. Gestures, too, are an identifier and if you can incorporate one into a portrait, all the better. What really drove this home to me was a weird experience I had in a restaurant. I was eating lunch with friends when I saw a man at the counter paying his bill. His shape and movements drew my attention to the point that I began to stare. My friends turned to see what I was looking at (this all happened quickly and I didn't realize for a moment that I was gawking) and I remember holding my fork in mid-air while the man's shape registered in my brain.

    "Is that HIM??" said my friend... who indeed had never met my ex-husband. And yes, that familiar shape was the man I was married to for over 20 years. He was by that time, a stranger, but recognizable in a crowd. Just seeing him from the back, across a crowded room, prompted my senses to recognize him. But it was really wierd!!
  • starrgirl said:

    ohhhhh... I just had a thought. You mentioned that your progression is from pattern and repetition of California tract housing. What if you went back and did a "prequil?" Like actual paintings of the houses - realism style - and showed the progression of how they become abstract shapes in the big picture of things? Maybe some architectual drawings in between that turn them into beige objects? If the current paintings can relate to their origin, that might be the key!

    I'm sure you could do the realistic images and relating those to the abstract images would be such a social statement. Very exciting!

    Oy vey - thinking out loud here...

    I really dig that idea. I'm going to try to put what I learn in the course into getting the houses as realistic as possible and see where it takes me. Inevitably i see my self cycling back into abstraction in one form or another especially with such rich subject matter.

  • dencal said:

    Folks



    A likeness is about communicating a truth, and being faithful to a subject. It is about sharing a common perception of reality and demonstrating the skill of an artist.

    A portrait without a likeness is just a painting.

    Very well put Denis! I'll check that link out for sure. Thanks for the guidance!

    Ed

  • It's going to be fun to watch what you do!
    edwardbopp
  • The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • Edward

    Did the earth move for you?

    Denis
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