The edges are where most of the action occurs. The place where two worlds meet. That moment when black becomes white. When harmony becomes dissonant. Its the place during the artistic process where all the uncertainty dissipates. A place just beyond what you know to be familiar. For me and my work with paint, its capturing a multi-dimensional world on a two-dimensional surface. its arranging colors and shapes in such a way as to suggest endless possibilities and depth of experience. Its being able to see sound and hear color, even if it is not possible, because its the artist’s job to expose logic, always seeking to inhabit a world beyond beliefs.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to draw. I mostly sketched things such as animals from memory, and I liked to copy photos. Going through some of my belongings from childhood, I’ve found drawings of an elephant, many deer, mountain sheep and of course snakes. I have this memory of me at age 7 when I came across a king snake. I killed it as I thought it was necessary according to most everyone. I got to thinking about what I had done, and I asked myself, why did i kill that snake? That was the first time I can remember questioning what I’m suppose to do, and that was the first and the last snake I have ever intentionally killed.
I grew up hunting for mostly deer and a few birds. My dad would take us hunting every fall. These trips make up some of my best memories. I think my dad would agree, hunting trips were primarily an excuse to get out in nature and in this case the Hill Country. I’m not against hunting or fishing. I eat meat, and the meat is good. However, over the years I’ve noticed that I spend more time in the “outdoors” than ever and I rarely if ever hunt. For me, going to the forest isn’t any opportunity for sport. I don’t need to bring an ATV or other toys. It’s where I get inspiration. I get peace and am recharged. I can hang a out all day and do nothing besides listen and watch, keeping far from busy.
I got reconnected with art during high school. Like most of us who don’t grow up in a city, I was totally ignorant of any sort of art world or any art movement outside of my own head. I took the only high school art class offered and began to get influenced. Through the teacher, and some of the other students, I began thinking in a more creative and abstract way than i had before. I began to work with ideas and feelings in the form of illustration for the first time. Like many teenagers, I dealt with anger, frustration and insecurity. Art became an outlet to express myself, and I immediately developed a connection. I knew that something artistic was what i wanted to do with my life, especially if it involved drawing, so I went to art school. Going off to school definitely saved me from making some poor choices.
I got to The Savannah College of Art and Design uncertain of what major I wanted to pursue, but It wasn’t long before I knew I was going to study studio art. I found that I love to paint, and for the first time in my life, I was surrounded by other artists. This probably wasn’t a big deal for many, but for me, this was huge. I found my tribe. Could art school last forever? I left Texas really wound up and I think that the only thing that got me focused and put me at peace was the artistic process. I could spend days at a time in the studio making art and channeling all the excess energy. I often wonder if I would still be alive if not for art. It kept me out of prison for sure. That and luck.
I’ve been painting for about 30 years now, seriously. Serious is the word i use for the moment when I decided i wanted to be a painter. I have not been making money off of my work for 30 years straight nor have i painted consistently. I’ve taken time off to travel and learn other things. I’ve worked jobs, and jobs can get in the way of making art. In that time I’ve felt inspired and made art everyday and I’ve gone through periods when I didn’t want to do anything. The life of a painter can be lonesome. Unless you paint on stage everyday or paint models, most of an artists day is spent alone in the studio or out in a field. I’ve often asked myself is there anything out there that you might want to do besides painting, perhaps something easier with more consistent pay. I’ve tried a few thing. I have many interests, but I’m still painting.
I’ve gone through phases and have painted and worked with a variety of styles. I know artists that art still painting basically the same thing they did when they got out of school. An artists gets a style or body of work and then spends the days in the studio polishing technique. From a marketing perspective, this is a very good thing to do. For me, however, the consistency has been in the determination to not have a technique. I want every work of art be as honest as possible. Allegiance to style or technique tends to become decoration. In most cases, artwork is suppose to be beautiful to look at, but a great work of art has that something extra that inspires. It opens us up to unknown possibilities.
The two greatest teachers in my life have been the artistic process and nature, and as the years go by, they become more and more woven together. They seemed mutually exclusive, but that was before I began ‘plein air’ painting or painting on site, like Vincent. Going out in the countryside and landscape painting with my french easel allowed me to enjoy the process of art more than ever. I have Taos, NM and many of my painter friends to thank for this. During this time, I would go out and paint landscapes with other painters most every week. Also, I fell in love with watercolors and their immediacy and ability to capture the ever-changing sunlight. Working with watercolors made the studio more mobile, and allowed me to travel and paint out of a backpack. the representational landscapes evolved into more abstract interpretations that no longer needed a reference to work from, but I’ve moved my studio outdoors, anyway. I’m happy to give up a controlled environment for the great outdoors. ’Studio’ is loosely used to describe where I’m painting. It could be a room. it could be a backpack with an easel strapped on.
Most recently, I find myself surrounded by a garden I helped create and the wildlife it attracts. When I can, I go on hikes, and I draw. I’m looking out over what I have and the art I’m poised to make thinking how blessed I am to be where I’m at and still alive.
russellbelue • contemporary fine art • abstract • watercolor • oil • impressionist • plein air painting • art • design • abstract watercolor paintings • oil paintings • oil on canvas • abstract oil paintings • watercolor paintings