Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Facebook Collection--Ongoing

I don’t see what will be, but I am thoroughly convinced that it will turn out well. I've become so certain of it that I'll keep working until the current mess becomes a brilliant


If things aren’t going your way it doesn’t mean that the vision/promise isn’t so, or isn’t for you. 
 Believe when you don’t see things working out by employing words of Life
  All things are possible to those who 


I don’t believe in random. Not anymore. It’s been some time since I took the idea seriously but, no…never again.

I have a reason. I have a cause. I act with purpose—His


 I have an inheritance that can only be squandered by


If you do not quit, you will not fail; I believe that with a vengeance, for everyone. As such, ideas are worth pursuing and sometimes things are a mess, but that isn’t anything to be afraid of. It’s just something to work through.  


I am exhilarated—no, ravenously overenthusiastic—by the potential of new ideas. But God gives the vision, and it’s perfect: there’s nothing missing, nothing broken about it.

My challenge is to believe that, and RELAX. All the “what if’s” and wheel spinning are not peace and confidence, it’s me taking responsibility for making God’s vision happen.

Then I’ve taken it over…what has it become?
Psalm 127:2


Wishing everyone a season of wholeness: 
 nothing missing, nothing broken.

This Peace on earth; and good will--
(good desires, good intentions, good motivations)
--to all.  


“Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers” 
 3rd John: 2

You see the wind’s effect and hear it blow, you feel it moving: although invisible you know it's there. 
 John 3:8


"Surprise is the beginning of delight." 
Roy H. Williams, Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads


We are not in competition with darkness. 
 (Romans 8:25-39)


  This is not my choice, it’s your Choice.
This is not my church, it’s your Church.

This is not my work, it’s your Work.
This is not my thought, it’s your Thought.
This is not my mind, it’s your Mind.

This is not my life, it’s your Life.

This is not my joy, it’s your Joy!


Friday, November 22, 2013


I am thankful for these days,
and the days built upon these days

 I thank God for these days.  Things are happening that have needed to happen, and progress is occurring.  These are necessary days, just a few days of work in areas that aren’t necessarily my strengths, however I've found that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I thank God for the days that are built on these days.  The days ahead are days of success—art is a winning business!  I can see them even though they aren’t here yet, because the way is so clearly prepared.
What a refreshing change of pace that is!  The number of directions, the quality of those choices and where they lead is keeping me awake at night. 
The future has come knocking, the knob is turned and the door begins to swing….

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Wow of James Turrell

I’ve noticed myself speaking very excitedly about the Turrell retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art—much more excited than what I felt while viewing the show. 
Especially in Turrell’s immersion artworks:  to be conscious and aware in such an unusual environment is disturbing (pleasantly), disorienting (I can imagine walking into a wall without realizing it were there), and other-worldly. 

Maybe “other-worldly” is the right term.  In a work like “Breathing Light” (2013)  you are surrounded by colored light and exist in a physical space which doesn’t allow for any other experience… sound isn’t a part of the installation, touch isn’t relevant…taste and smell, forget about it.

"Breathing Light"
But there you are in this colored space…you’re not dreaming.  This is a real place, but unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before.  Sense deprivation is a field of study for Turrell, and it is typically in a laboratorial, if not negative context (solitary confinement); but this is so extravagant and rich.  Indulging the sense of sight so thoroughly and without detail brings into play the mechanics of vision—the way the eye scans and moves to gather information—and what about afterimages?
"Breathing Light", view from waiting area

By the time you emerge from the retrospective you feel like the scales have been removed from your eyes (Acts 9:17-18) .  Having been under the exclusive influence of light and color for one to two hours, I wonder what I’ve been involved with, really.  The spiritual references to light speak of understanding, clarity and glory. 


The physicality of light, which I’ve never considered or encountered before now, is wavelengths or vibrations.  Breaking the human experience down to one element (light) and continuously exposing viewers to that singular experience renders an increasingly physical effect/impact on the viewer.
 “What is happening to me?” is a question that occurs during this experience.  Perhaps nothing or nothing that isn’t quickly restored upon leaving the museum and returning to daylight and the bustle of Wilshire Blvd.  Darn it.

On our flight back east I began reflecting on all of this.  Detail is eye pleasing—the eye hungers for it.  My window view from the airplane confirmed it:  I spent a lot more time looking down than up—you see the sky, you get it—but the landscape below was changing constantly and filled with detail and texture…fascinating. 

 I got excited, realizing that Turrell’s work is not eye pleasing.  It forces us to look at terrifically little; as such it goes against the nature of the eye.


The three dimensional references of the early work (the gorgeous etchings, as well as the light projections like “Juke”) are done away with in the shallow space installation, “Raemar Pink White”, as well as in the immersion installations, like "Breathing Light."
"Raemar Pink White" (shallow space installation)

In the latest works the edges, seams and planes of the viewing space are removed, giving our eyes even less information.  There are fewer and fewer references to our previous experiences, our world.

"Breathing Light"

I left the museum feeling like a spiritual being:  sensitive, reduced by stages through each progressive work.  I felt as if I’d experienced the creation, through man-made spaces, ordered experiences and sensory deprivation/indulgence.  Turrell reduces this world and the vastness of creation to a focused experience of the first element, light.  His stated interest is in creating experiences rather than “art”....

Job well done, sir, and thank you for the memories.  Wow!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Heron Rainbow

I am creating some paintings based on the New Vision Heron Mural.  You may recognize it from my Facebook cover photo...These new artworks will accompany the hanging of the new mural.  They allow people to own a beautiful original painting, unmistakably related to the new public image and downtown marker;  clearly made by the same artist.
These new works are paintings on paper, both multiples and singles.  There are about two dozen pieces in the series so far, with several more on the way; made between sessions of working on the mural. 
I like these: they are fun, intuitive, and straight forward.  The color scheme is the same as the mural, the subject matter too; but the unpredictable qualities of spray paint keep things fresh!  Spatters and skips from the spray can, and using the stencil to create prints keeps surprise as a key part of the process.  One of my favorite quotes is from “Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads”, by Roy H. Williams, (1999)  “Surprise is the beginning of delight.”
I have enjoyed making these new paintings!  There’s a production aspect to these works (I did work as a cabinet maker for decades).  As such, I tend towards streamlined processes, uniformity, and how time and speed relate to cost.  I want to be realistic in my pricing, creating interesting and fun artworks for a price that is both affordable and fair to me. 
Now is the time for success!

Friday, October 25, 2013

"Towards Disappearing" A Painting by Sam Francis, 1957, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

 I really love this painting!  I’ve never seen it before, and figured it was by Helen Frankenthaler.  The wash that was under the opaque brushwork looked like stains seeping out from the heavier paint.  I only associate that effect with Frankenthaler, but all that open space…the brushwork relative to the size of the painting was underscaled, but the composition—its critical groupings of shapes, brushwork, and spatters was so unusual! 


What does it take for a painting to strike you as weird? “Towards Disappearing” by Sam Francis is very pleasing in its sparseness, but perhaps the placement of its parts is not entirely precise—everything is roughed in by the transparent blue wash, then brushed over with heavier paint; but the unusual balance, particularly from top to bottom wins. 

The blobs on either edge of the canvas are perhaps too obvious in stretching the image to its full margin, but I refuse to belabor this point because of the sweetness of the main body. 
I find it easy to simply report the basics:  to look at the technique and process, believing that this tells about the painting.  "Towards Disappearing" illustrates the concept of a work being greater than the sum of its parts. 

This painting is more than the brushstrokes and qualities of the material.  It is more than Francis’ colors--they seem to be swallowed up by white canvas and then appear upon closer inspection; it is more than the many fine spatters of thrown liquid paint.  Technique doesn’t define this curious imagery.
The museum notes mention the artist’s travels to Paris and his encounter with Japanese art, and point out the simplicity of expression, the asymmetrical division of the space, the calligraphic quality of the brushwork and identity of the image.  This begins to open a door onto the work, but it is a genuinely weird painting. 

In Francis' painting the asymmetry, paint handling, the liquidity of the paint are its subject.  Its wash, drips/runs and fine splatters speak so to liquid characteristics—no impasto or thick film, no structure. 

And it doesn’t look like water lilies, birds, or anything--It's just a painting, not a painting of something.  Success!

For more on Sam Francis:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Francis


Monday, September 30, 2013

Scale and Measurement: Creating a Mural from a Sketch

I just finished 2 ½ hours with a reporter doing an article about the New Vision Heron Mural.  A surprising amount of our conversation had to do with preserving the characteristics of the preliminary artwork in the mural.  How do you scale up drawings?  
For this project I began by overlaying a grid of ½” squares onto a copy of the sketch, and then drew 12 inch squares on the mural.  This creates a      ½” scale      (½” = 1’).

On the sketch I found where the edge of the heron intersected a grid line, and put a dot on that spot, on the mural’s grid.  Going to the next place where that edge crossed a grid line, I transferred another point to the mural grid.  As I worked around the drawing, marking the mural and then connecting the dots, the tiny drawing was faithfully rendered.

My pet peeve about many murals is that they don’t look like paintings.  Accurately rendering the sketch is my best attempt to make the mural look like art, so I’m taking pains to get the lines, marks and distortion in the right spots.

 I continue the same procedure for the distortion speckles in the background.  On a mural it may not be visible to drive by viewers, but it is a part of the approved design…it also creates a texture in the background, rather than simply having flat planes of color.
This drawing was approved by the town’s Historic District Commission. All the contributions were given to see this drawing made into a mural.  There is accountability to the community and all the donors to render the sketch accurately!
I also want to improve on the drawing by making the steps in background colors smoother and cleaner:  I’ve spent 12 hours mixing colors to achieve that. 

These samples were created using measuring spoons, converting to cups for painting the fields of color in the 30’ x 12’ finished mural.  I also make a sample chart using the mass quantity mixtures to verify accuracy.
Studies often surpass finished artworks in charm and spontaneity— translating that joy to a large scale work is a challenge.  These mathematic functions are only the foundation for accomplishing that.  All of your skill will be called on to fill in the gaps, once your proportions and color are properly translated.
Best wishes, and don’t be afraid to GO LARGE!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Art Forgery and Love

"Graphite Grid, Panel #8"; 2014-17, 16" x 16", Hay Embedded in Latex Paint on Wooden Panel
James Thatcher  ©  2017

I understand.   The wealthy want the best and an investment level artwork is bought to be re-sold at a profit; hence galleries, auction houses and private dealers market the works of grand masters.  Who has time to pursue their own investments, because time constraints, expertise and even fear can come into play in their choices?

Perhaps they hire researchers and then make informed choices.  You’ve got to trust your market analyst, your investment counselors, your interior designer; the galleries, critics, museums…
If investors are quick to research, does this zeal translate to their other interests?
"Hypar with Analytic Function"; 2013-17, 88" x 66", Acrylic & Hay Embedded in Latex Paint on Canvas
James Thatcher   ©  2017

Alas.  Few are passionate enough about visual art to make their own inquiries; but these are the ones who generate movement in the art industry.  And perhaps they send in their people to look, to edit choices and recommend the next purchases…it seems practical, no?

"Hypar Z"; 2015-17, 18" x 24", Acrylic on Canvas
James Thatcher  ©  2017

Buyer beware.  The recent art forgery scandal has made many fools.   Wouldn’t it be better to be surrounded by your own choices, by what you’ve discovered and love; as opposed to being sold a false bill of goods?
Why not come to know the keen disappointment of a day spent going from gallery to gallery, seeing nothing of interest?  Eventually you’ll realize the one place that really does have stimulating work…this is your dealer.  You will know that you are intrigued, you think about that artwork when you’re not there, and you’ll know that you must have it.
"Hyperbolic Paraboloid", 2017, 18", Welded Steel
James Thatcher  ©  2017
 In the end, if your passions change or you were merely infatuated with works that weren’t what you once thought, you can donate them to a hospital, a university, or a charity auction receiving full credit of your purchase price as a tax deduction.  So much the wiser.

Come on out and play ball!  Artists want to do good work; they want to sell it and be able to do what they love.  Every collector who gets their nose dirty by actually collecting broadens our industry and stimulates great activity.  Make jobs, have a great time, and change lives—buy your own art!

Study; 2017, 48", Pine
James Thatcher  ©  2017

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Damsel March--A Taste of My Family History

My great grandfather, Edwin Damsel (1887-1913) was a professional musician in Columbus, Ohio.  He wrote “The Damsel March” to celebrate the birth of my grandfather, William Damsel, in 1911. 


One hundred years after his death in the Great Ohio Flood of 1913, his march was performed for the first time by an orchestra, the Northport (MI) Community Band on the evening of Saturday, August 31, 2013.
The music has passed through 4 generations without ever being written down.  My younger brother, Joe, converted it through the computer program, “Sibelius” into written piano music which found its way into the hands of Mr. Kenneth Bloomquist.

Ken is the retired Department Head of the Michigan State University School of Music and a resident of Northport, MI.  Over the past year he arranged the piece for orchestra as a gift to my aunt, Sharon Hall and presented it during an evening of Sousa marches last week.
It pretty well rocks--Thanks Ken!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Studio Footage: The Funnest Painting Ever!

This is the first painting of the rest of my life--
Stay tuned for future updates...this will be interesting!


As of early September, 2013:
The decision has been made to paint the background of this painting red with a transparent glaze of Alizarin Crimson.  Going over these gray-greens will darken the ground considerably and make the figure stand out. 

Next, a spin off project:  Create a painting using this painting as subject matter.  I'm going to use a couple of the hay canvases...See the post entitled, "A Painting of a Painting."
Today I attempted to flip the dried hay mat painting--OMG!

And the finished product is not very heavy--the grommets embedded along the top edge should be able to hold the suspended work...the next experiment.  I'll let it dry for a few more days with this side up and then see about hoisting it up!

I couldn't be more pleased with the success of this project.  More are on the way!


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Studio Footage: The Origins of Large Scale Abstract Art

The beginnings of new multi-panel paintings
Here's the next step in the process:
More to follow!