Another year passed by

Daniel the gardener

Exactly a year ago I have written my last post on my blog here.
I am not sure if I sm supposed to be ashamed but I have many excuses as to why I was not available more.
Recently, I have experimented quite extensively with making this place more alive and realized that one of the reasons I am not posting regularly is that apparently I want to chew more then I can swallow.
What I mean by this is the fear of leaving some part of my activity out.
There are the course of creative, visual thinking trough the art of drawing and painting. This course is supposed to be delivered by video classes that require working out the specific curriculum and the adjust it to the attention span of some 20 minutes per module.
There are the portrait commissions that I would like to build a page for.
I want to have a web shop where I can sell my art in general and my cafe sketches in particular.
Creative visual thinking trough art has a particular niche for non artistic audience like business people, medical practitioners, teachers, academic researchers and everyone who has any interest in developing and expanding their creative skills.
these are some of the ideas that I am currently working on but Since I am working on them in a circular manner, non of those are yet fully ready for exposure.
Still, beginning this year, I will try to concentrate on one idea at the time and hopefully it will yield better results then before.
So, these are some of my excuses, aside from plain laziness and desire to just play around experimenting with a newly discovered interest in gardening and off grid living.
Thanks for visiting and you are welcome to leave a comment if you feel like it.

A return to Nature

Sleeping beauty

A year has passed since my last post. It is not that I didn’t have what to say. Some of what I had to say or show about my art I did on my Facebook page. Other part is the need just to experience life without the need to project outward for everyone to see. There is something trying and even a bit superficial for an artist to communicate all the time with audience and it is very beneficial, I find to hold back from time to time and concentrate inside.

Also in the past year there was some very intense period with moving outside from the city into the country with all that this entails.

It was always my dream to be connected more to Nature and leave behind the patterns of pseudo bohemian lifestyle with the cafe as the main focus of the artistic endeavor. Part of me longs for a simple life in Nature with more of a daoistic outlook looking for deeper connection to the spirituality of Earth .

There is still much adjusting to do until the new balance will be found in which Mother Nature has a much more prominent role to play both in my life and in my art.

The weather is still relatively cold but come spring I hope to start painting outdoors and get connected to the rhythms of the landscape.

Here is a photo of our new place that was chosen because of its inspiring view.

Sleeping beauty
Sleeping beauty

 

Red wine as the passion of spring

 

Wine and coffee
Wine and coffee

 

Spring.

Time of renewal. New energies coming in. New ideas. Future plans are brewing.

It’s been long time since i have posted but i do not feel apologetic about it. It is all a question of timing.

Then of course, there is this Facebook thing. Having considerable presence on facebook takes away the desire to write for your own blog.

Especially when your own blog has no audience. Of course there are the seo experts that will offer you all sorts of advise on how to increase your blog’s audience but  I have this feeling that it should come naturaly. Maybe I am naive but hey, I am an artist. What is an artist if not a naive who belives the world is a magical place?

Anyways, i feel like writing an update, so here it is.

Winter was quite cold this year and it made everything kind of retreat inside. Cold itself is not a problem of course but since my studio is still not functional, I had to rely on the sketching in cafe.  Working in cafes has become my second nature by now. It is my daily exercise.
Like every obsession or devotion, after a while it becomes a habit that is hard to give up.
In this case, I believe it is a good habit so there is no need to give it up.
Over the years, what started as a simple observation has slowly mutated into something that goes beyond the appearance with the subconscious getting to play a larger part in the final outcome.  Some of those ideas have already manifested in some of the oil paintings i did earlier but
once the studio will be more functional I hope to be able to devote more time in my studio.

With the approach of the summer, there are plans for traveling to do some landscape painting in the beautiful Carpathian mountains of Transylvania ,Romania.

Carpathian mountains
Carpathian mountains

 

I will of course keep you posted as the plans will become reality

Jasmin with friends

Jasmin
Jasmin with friends

 

Part of my daily sketching practice involves interaction with people around me.
Sometimes the people involved notice they are being drawn , curious about the outcome they come up timidly asking permission to have a peek.

Other times people just curious about the creative process as it happens live and ask permission to watch over the shoulder.
As a n art teacher for many years, it is usually not a problem for me and in fact, I am actually enjoying the showmanship and the performance.

This is something that every cityscaping, street or pleinair artist is well familiar with and in fact, the ability to tolerate and even like the interaction with audience is part of being a successful outdoor artist.
I have some colleagues, friends who would never be caught dead doing something so intencely exposure intensive as painting outdoors or having to interact with live audience. For them the creative process is a deeply internal and personal work and being alone in the privacy of the studio is a must. I guess it is a question of where on the scale of the extrovert-introvert continuum you find yourself.
Personally I find myself leaning towards the extrovert,a bit exhibitionistic side.

This specific digital drawing I was drawing yesterday, attracted a very nice tourist couple from the beautiful medieval city of Bruges.

Bruges
Bruges

 

We had a lovely conversation during which the table which I was drawing has left, so another inevitable consequence of communicating with people while you creating outdoors is allwing yourself to be interrupted once in while. Since it doesn’t happen very useful often I am quite open for this kind of interruption where I believe that having great conversations with complete strangers and perhaps making some new friends is as much important as the creative process.

Amazing Grace

amazingrace 

Sometimes, as I gaze into the space around me I can see the infinite correlations between the different objects floating in that space with all their trajectories, connecting the invisible  lines  going back in time, revealing the history of those objects, transforming them into events that created the present, extending into the future with all the karmic implications.

This delicate balance between objects, events and patterns, creates the cobweb we call the NOW, pulsating with life in suspended animation allowing us to see how we created those connections with our thoughts, feelings and actions.

It shows us the inescapable truth of us being the creators of our own destiny without any judgement , making apparent how every move we make in either direction will always create the ripples in the pond of life, generating the future waves that we can either learn to ride or let them roll over us until we learn to surf.

It’s four in the morning , three days after my sixty fifth birthday and there is a painful lucidity to this vision right now in my life as the ripples I made long time ago came back as crushing waves , sweeping over me in this very moment of the Blessed Now, leaving me the decision to reject it or gracefully accept it as a birthday present.

With tears rolling down my cheeks, I humbly accept in Gratitude.

Observations- sketching in Maimano cafe

maimano from josef on Vimeo.

 

Sketching in cafes is my passion of many years. It provides me with an excellent opportunity for

men-watching as well as a daily exercise in observation and improving my technique of water

color painting.

Upon arriving to Budapest few years ago, I have explored many wonderful cafes with really nice

atmosphere, beautiful and impressive architecture and interesting history dating to pre WW2

time. Places full of history when artists, intellectuals and prominent people of the time were

gathering regularly, dreaming, arguing and discussing the events of the day.

Sadly, many of those places have lost their old charm and became tourists traps devoid of the

soul of those days when the magic was still in the air.

This is why I feel especially lucky to have discovered MaiMano café, a small unassuming place in

the middle of Budapest that in spite of being relatively new, has all the characteristics of those

old establishments where interesting and creative people of all disciplines are still gathering

and share their visions and dreams in a very casual atmosphere provided by the friendly owners

and stuff who are real friends and not just service providers, which is always exceptional,

heartfelt and punctual.

The regulars of MaiMano café are a wonderful bunch from all walks of life, of different ages,

with an impressive backgrounds and interesting creative occupations that makes the

interaction an uplifting experience.

In this small display of selected watercolors in this show, I am trying to catch both, the casual

atmosphere of the place as well as some of the gestures of the people who are part of

MaiMano’s café daily routine.

I hope you will enjoy looking at my work at least as much I enjoyed creating it.

Thank you

Josef

Good form doesn’t show

It seems like my subconsciousness  is busy I lately with relationship between form and essence and this morning I woke up with this message;

“Good art is the relationship between the exact amount of information and details that are relevant in a given form. Too much or too little make the form incomprehensible.
This is also the essence of good design.
According to Rudolph Arnheim ” good form doesn’t show” . One of the examples he has given is when a woman wears too much perfume it acts contrary to the idea of enhancing the essence of the personality . My own example is the superb design of iPhone where the feeling is that it felt totally natural as if it has always been like this. Touch screen felt totally right from the very beginning as if was obvious that this is how mobile phones should have always supposed to be designed. Many great ideas when they first appear have this feeling about them as if they always existed and always been around. Great art has the same pleasant feeling of the balance between content and form in which the constructed image gives the impression it has always existed. Think of the Last Supper

Last supper by Leonardo de Vinci
Last supper by Leonardo de Vinci

or the Night Watch.

Night watch by Rembrandt
Night watch by Rembrandt

 

Much of the greatness of these images connected to the fact that their design feels completely ” natural ” going to the essence of the message without attracting much attention to their construction and the overall design.
This is why Art is so important especially at this time. It gives a sense of meaningful order in the world of information overload.

 

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.

Inspiration, role it plays in re-enchantment of the Arts

Inspiration plays an important role in re- enchatment of the Arts.

 

In writing this post, I am using few presupposed and self evident truths about the current state of the Arts.

One, is the need for re-enchantment of the Art.

I have taken this term from Suzi Gablik’s book by the same name where she criticises some of the basic tenets of the Modernist movement that led directly to much of the confusion left by the Postmodernism. Part of this confusion left the artist without a philosophical background needed to establish a basis for relevant correspondences between the personal and the universal principles of creation. At the same time this lack of philosophical support opened a gap in communication between the artist and his audience.

Second, is the need for Inspiration as vital source of revitalization of the current confused condition of the Art. The extreme relativism of the late Post-modernism has left a scorched field where the traditional values of excellence have been replaced by purely personal, anecdotal and many times accidental views that left the Art without it’s Muse .

Inspiration according to full definition of Merriam- Webster dictionary is: “a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation “In other words, an inspired person is one who is touched by his Spirit. That sacred part of his being that communicated the feeling of the Devine.This kind of definition tends toward somewhat religious interpretation which I believe tend to distort the real meaning of Inspiration as a direct heart felt feeling that is totally natural to all of humankind and not only to artists.

I have many sources of Inspiration. 

Some come from my daily observations of life around me. Be it an interesting form of simple objects that can turn into a still-life drawing,like this Moroccan tea pot done with silverpoint technique.

Moroccan tea pot
silverpoint drawing of Moroccan tea pot

 

Someone’s face that draws me to paint a portrait,

 

Daniel the gardener
Daniel the devoted gardener

 

a corner of a street that becomes a cityscape,

city scape
Cityscape, Work in progress

 

landscapes

 

landscape of rhythm
rhythmic landscape

 

 

Then of course there are the great masters of Art from all periods in Art history.
When I was still a student in the Avni Institute of Art in Tel Aviv, I did a small scale study of The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus by Peter Paul Rubens.

after rubens
after Rubens

 

In the beginning of my artistic development I was enchanted by the magic of Jan Vermeer’s intimate interiors with their delicate balance of composition and the luminosity of his colors.
Here is a composition that was influenced by the Vermeer’s Young Woman with a Water Pitcher

vermeer in middle east
Vermeer in Middle East

 

Another great influence on my development as an artist is a more contemporary American Andrew Wyeth who’s hunting and mystical connection with landscapes of rural Maine and Pennsylvania resonates strongly with my own view of Nature. Wyeth’s choice of the tempera medium which requires contemplation and slow visual meditation on the subject matter, invites from the viewer equally slow contemplative viewing. In today’s hasty world it is in itself a huge accomplishment.

church in ruins
Church in ruins

 

With time, my themes have varied and mutated according to context, time and places I have found myself.

At certain point I have found that many of my themes tend to converge into one recurring theme that has accompanied my creative work and that is the theme of the cafe.

 

I have found that besides a great opportunity to exercise my powers of observation, this theme of the cafe, allows me to combine all other themes in a very simple, elegant way where the spontaneous interaction of all the forms untie to create a unified and sometimes totally unexpected message.

The theme of the cafe is enough in itself and need no other justifications for painting it but as it happens, it has the power to combine a wide variety of objects and themes that seamlessly fuse into each other allowing the mundane everyday objects to interact and create a whole new possibilities for flowing in different artistic directions.

Let’s say, a couple sitting around a table, with a dog playing at their feet, with some messy still-life on the table, with cups of coffee and perhaps some food, in the background. I can paste any landscape or cityscape that doesn’t even have to be in the original composition. This way I can eliminate accidental architecture or replace any other object that feels more meaningful and more appropriate for the final purpose .

In this age of photoshop aid with the cut and paste ability, I can substitute any and all of the components to create a more meaningful and more interesting composition then the original conception.

All these themes and objects, appearing in the context of a cycle of creativity that is inspired by a wheel of The Five Elements taken from the Chinese Wu Xing theory.
On this wheel of creativity taken from the Chinese philosophy of Dao i will write later in a different post

 

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