Quick digital sketches on the tram in Budapest

Digital sketching keeps captivating my attention.
Recently I have discovered this wonderful easy to use application for iPhone called Procreate which so far is the best app that allows for very quick doodling in a very simple and easy way.
The public transportation in Budapest is very efficient and convenient and even on occasions when its very crowded it is still comfortable enough to steal few glances without drawing any attention. This is actually a very important key element in doing these sketches. I found that people usually do not like to be observed and if they catch you looking at them, they usually change their position or can move away, annoyed.
There are about five station from my home in Buda to the centre of the city which I visit quite frequently and it is a great opportunity for some quick sketches on my smart phone.
Here are some recent quick sketches of people between the stations.
These are gesture drawings that leave no room for details so it’s an excellent way to practice capturing the essence of the movement.

I have started the practice of quick digital sketches almost from the very beginning of the appearance of the smart phones and with time I feel more and more comfortable with the medium. Here are some ideas on the use of digital media as opposed to “real” painting.

What’s the point ?

Asking this question in the context of doing art has  two meanings.

Ok, maybe it has more but right now I would like to concentrate on the two that are coming up readily to my mind,

One, is the simple visible point of focus around which the composition is built. In the art of painting, it can be a simple object that has an intrinsic balance that gives us a sense of beauty that pleases the eye.
A  rose, beautiful landscape, an interesting face, a general feeling of a place that can lead to some abstract forms or even a pattern that gives a sense of a meaning like the musical rhythm patterns of Kandinsky or the intricate abstract patterns of an Arabesque.
They all have a sense of a built-in reason for their own existence and require no further explanation.
In Chan Buddhism it is referred to as Tathatā. The inherent suchness of things.It is the seemingly mundane appearances of simple forms that given the right point of focus and right perspective, allow us a glimpse into the more elevated and perhaps a spiritual reality of everyday objects that surround us.
Some of the greatest Art is Tathata.Think of the eloquent line in the Turkish Bath by Ingres

turkishbath
Turkish Bath

Or Bouquet Of Peonies by Eduard Manet

bouquetofpeonieseduardmanet
Eduard Manet Bouquet Of Peonies

The exquisite rhythm of lines in a still life by Giorgio Morandi

GiorgioMorandi
Still life by Giorgio Morandi

There are of course countless examples of great works of Art and  great artists troughout the history if Art  who knew intuitively what is Tathata and in many ways the art of painting could be viewed entirely from this focal point.
Many of the contemporary philosophies of Art that try to explain what art is get into superfluous explanations that miss the whole point of visual expression and the main reason why the human eye is craving to look at beauty.
Much can be said about muchness , Tathata and the God of the simple things revealed to anyone who can listen with their eyes but I will touch on this in another post related to the concept of the Pardes taken from Kabbala mystical way of life.

The second focal point , which i would like to touch and  in my opinion is the more important question in the realm of Art making, it is the why of the work of art. The raison d’être.
This can be of course a very tricky question in the sense that much of a good work of art is not done on a conscious level. It would be a very awkward process if an artist or for that reason any creative practitioner had to think about the deep hidden reasons of why they are drawn to express themselves in the that particular way and it would undoubtedly hinder the whole process of creativity.
There is of course countless attempts to explain what constitutes a work of art and why a certain work is a masterpiece while others are mediocre repetition of something trite. The verbiage of artsy talk has been a subject of many of the anecdotical  talks in post gallery visits in Woody Allen’s films that intuitively draws laughter from the audience. It makes us laugh, precisely because of the ridiculous pomposity of the words used only by the few initiates of the inner conclave of the world of Art.
What I would like to discuss here is something that is rarely thought in art schools in spite of much talking done in the famous crits of the more prestigious schools of art.
This point is the individual perspective that combines the particular with the universal. It is where according to Carl Gustav Jung , the archetypal world of our dreams converge with the specifics of our individuality, creating a unique patterns that constitute the creative dance of our life.
Putting it all back into an  individual perspective,in my own personal art, in the theme of the cafe I am trying to combine the specifics of observations of a given scene with some kind of unexpected element that has a deeper quality.
I is a specific state of mind that allows the subconscious, dreamy quality, to interlace with a more mysterious aspect of reality, usually hidden from a casual glance and requires a deeper, more dynamic and more contemplative looking.

attentive
attentive listening

Cityscaping in Budapest

Citiscaping at Mechvart liget
Citiscaping at Mechvart liget

Summer is here and with it the opportunity to do some cityscaping.
One of the privileges of living in a beautiful city, I guess is the fact that the eye can feast in almost any direction it looks.
In the photo above, I have started a new composition yesterday in my neighbourhood of Rose Hill in Buda.
I must admit that I love the challenges of the cityscaping.
One is finding the right spot.
In my opinion, finding the right spot is more then just finding what pleases the eye. There is of course the obvious sight that draws attention of the eye. Then, there is the special angle that is not too conspicuous and is a little of the main flow of the pedestrian flow. Yesterday, I was lucky to find a balcony of a restaurant that is in renovation so I had plenty of shade and even got a chair from the renovation workers.I guess luck is also a very important element in life and it is truly so in finding the right spot for the right composition.
Roaming the streets, exploring the place one lives in, looking for points of interest that go beyond what meets the eye is a very enjoyable preliminary action that creates a nice workflow with initial sketches and first impressions.
In my case, since I am new to my neigbothood, this kind of search for the right spot has an additional value of getting to know the place where I live.
Second, is having the right gear.
Well, there is the obvious stuff like the portable easel, the paints and the materials but there are the less obvious stuff that many times can make a significant difference between a pleasant work session and a disturbed one in which you look for a paper towel to clean either your hand or a paint that was dropped and cannot be left on the pavement.
I mean, there is an absolute need to leave your place without a trace of your activity .
It is more then being considerate. In case of oil painting with all the hazardous materials of turpentine and paint thinning mediums, it is important to have a disposable trash plastic bag that will keep your used paper towels from being scattered all over by the wind. I was lucky yesterday cause I didn’t have a trash bag but there was no wind so my  used paper towels didn’t fly all over the place.
Since I am planning to make a video tutorial about the whole subject of landscape and cityscape painting, i will not go into details about it right now but just wanted to mention these obvious prerequisites .
The third challenge, in my opinion is the most important and it is a need for a  fair amount of tolerance for being distracted by the audience.
No matter how secluded is your spot, there will always be an audience. I mean,if your spot is not in the flow of the daily routine pedestrian traffic  most people will not notice you and go about their usual business.
Some people, take a peek and sometimes smile since a street painter is not a very common everyday sight.
Some people will stop by and will ask your permission to watch .I personally do not mind and usually agree. I know some artists become too self conscious and cannot work with an audience watching over their shoulder.
I guess , years of teaching have thought me to be able to concentrate on my work without feeling too self conscious.
Sometimes if you are open for it, there is a conversation that develops and sometimes it flows into a real interest either to see more of your work or even buy. In this case ,painting outdoors is a kind of promotion of your work. Once in while, though there is the one or two exceptional people who will start tell you their life stories or about their uncles, grandma, children, spouses paintings, seasoned with anecdotes of personal details. Personally, I have found that the best way to send them away is by simply ignoring them.
All in all, there is a need to develop a bit of exhibitionism in order to enjoy the outdoor painting. Without it, the whole experience can be an unpleasant encounter with a crowd that disturbs your creative flow.
Here is a video of the famous Spanish artist Antonio Lopez Garcia trying  desperately to disperse a crowd blocking his view on the Puerto Del Sol Square.
Of course one can always ask what is the motivation of an artist to paint outdoors in one of the busiest and most visited by tourists square in the world with full knowledge of the conditions.In  early spring, I had an opportunity to do some plain air watercolour sketching in the north of Hungary at the Balaton , Kaptalanfured area.

sketching at the lake
sketching at the lake

There is a nice complementary relationship that exists between the two modes of outdoor painting.
The plain air, landscape painting as an independent theme  exists from the early Romantics for whom Nature with all her glory was more then just an interesting subject matter. It was an anchor point to escape the stifling constrains of Neo Classicist era with the emphasis on moralistic , historical subject matter with greys and browns as the dominant colors.The beginning of the modern era had a need for a  fresh, new philosophy that today we would call ecologically conscious philosophy with the Noble Savage at it’s core.
Budapest is an amazing city for cityscaping and almost any location you choose, you can find many interesting angles from which to start a composition.
I am not referring of course to the obvious tourist postcard vistas like the Parliament house, the Chain Bridge or the Fishermen Bastion, even though, I am sure it is possible to escape the obvious postcard view with the right kind of orientation.
Here is an old painting where I have incorporated an element of the Chain Bridge and combined it with my ongoing theme of the cafe.

chain bridge cafe
chain bridge cafe

Precision 


yesterday after completing my first composition with the couple I moved on to the next table that came out to be much better with a more precise balance between the technique and the theme.
Actually, this is really what I am after when sketching outdoors. Especially with water colors. Since this medium requires a great deal of freedom in handling and a fairly high degree of profciency in balancing the different elements, it is therefore ideal for finding the right balancing point between the technique and the theme.
my first attempt today to find this balance was definetly not a good one so much that I do not feel like posting it here but the second one was so much better that I feel like can bragg a little.

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Spring in Budapest

springinbudapest
Waiting for the date or spring time in Budapest

 

Spring has finally arrived.The leaves have sprouted and almost immediately bloomed into the fresh yellowish green and together with garden flowers, the city has become vibrant and full of life.
At last I can sit outdoors and get a better view of the magnificent buildings facade some dating hundreds of years back in time.
Here is a man supposedly waiting for his date with a glass of red wine. But in reality it is an improvisation on something I have started yesterday and red wine belongs to someone else who sat at the completely different table.
The guy who is in the painting arrived about an hour ago and drank a pint of beer.Since yesterday he was with a lady who seemed to be his partner by the way she was kissing him I assumed that he is waiting for her.
This part of the creative process where I can add and invent stories that are suggested either visually or by the context
is something I enjoy tremendously. Sometimes there are all kinds of happy evidence and other times I can actually glimpse into dome kind of hidden aspect of reality that is totally intuitive.
A good example of this is the quick pen and ink sketch I did while being hospitalised few days ago.

angels
angels among us

There was an old guy who was attended by the nurse, and the dynamics of their interaction was very touching and moving. I finished the gesture drawing quickly and only few hors later decided to add wings to the nurse.
Next day the old guy has died. I was quite shocked cause he didn’t seem to be in such a dire condition.
What is amazing is how the intuition knows the future even if totally subconsciously.

Puncturing a hole in the matrix

angels
angels among us

 

Once in a while I find myself in a hospital.
A combination of bad genes, my natural laziness preventing me from exercising regularly , age, a pseudo bohemian lifestyle, all together and each separately, bring my bodily systems to such a condition that requires medical intervention.
Right now I am in Semmelweis University Hospital in Budapest awaiting gastroscopy.
I have few days to balance and prepare myself and meanwhile using the time to observe and sketch with pen and ink. It is my favourite technique for quick impression of a passing moment.It is also a very good exercise for the eye/hand coordination that captures a gesture concentrating on the essentials , leaving out the superfolous details.
Sometimes, this attitude of nonchalant quick doodling allows a glimpse into those fine extraordinary details that reveal some extraordinary connections between the outer form and it’s magical content.
Hospitals, are a meeting ground between heaven and hell, alternating frequently one with the other. Angels in form of nurses and doctors attending to suffering of the patients with different degrees of dedication, creating opportunities to puncture a hole in the matrix , revealing the tenderness of human fragility and at the same time the enduring the majestic beauty of it’s spirit.

Saving Face

ovad

I love the deep wisdom and layered meaning in small sayings and expressions.

Saving face means to preserve a person’s dignity and allow them to retain their inner sense of respect and character in spite of a challenge or failure. It’s an expression of respect for one’s inner being rather than an emphasis on one’s outward ability, performance or value to the group.

In portraiture this saying has another layer of meaning. It refers to creating an image where the likeness of the face is not a photographic replica, but rather an expression of inner characteristics. Character traits like strength and dignity are conveyed in the features and expressions of the face itself.

Consider this portrait. Eran’s face is full of subtlety and his features express his inner character and emotional state. It is quite challenging to find just the right kind of balance – yet this is essential for capturing his inner qualities and saving his face.

Energy Flow Chart

Behind every form there is an intricate flow of energy lines that define it. These lines delineate the borders of the object itself and at the same time are part of an intricate web of interaction between other forms.

A man seated in a café is interacts with the newspaper in his hands and the table in front of him. The energy around him is visually full of vibrating dots, lines and planes – constructing three dimensional forms in a dynamic state of equilibrium and held in place by the meaning and purpose of the form itself.

Painting is the gentle interaction between the intrinsic meaning of the form and the discerning observation and interpretation of the artist’s eye. When these two coincide we have a great piece of art.

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