How I Killed my Summer Vacation

image of the backs of paintings

There are projects and then there are Projects. How was I to know how big this project was going to be. I bloomed late in the area of technology but now I recognize that the old photographs I took of my paintings were very grainy, sometimes scratched or sprinkled with dust and generally of poor quality. They were taken with my old Pentax Spotmatic from prehistoric times. I had it around my neck one day in a coffee shop and someone approached me in awe saying "wow is that a camera that shoots on film?" The degree of wonder in the voice made me realize that perhaps it was time to get a digital camera. So I hung up 110 paintings instead of going to the Bahamian Riviera and photographed them properly with my new digital camera.

As I went through the stacks and hung up the pieces it was something of a retrospective for me. Like going back in time and seeing all of the pieces hanging on a wall again but now from my present aesthetic perspective. Once I finally got to the back of the stack I was awed by my earlier aspirations and also inspired by them. And the ones I identified as 'art attempts' I adore because I will paint over them. Oh good, a stretched canvas ready to go and with texture!

There was a painting from Emma Lake as posted here that brought back all of those wonderful memories of that wayward retreat miles beyond the last civilized outpost. Plus it is amazing how focused you can be on your art when almost everything else is taken care of for you and you are far away from the demands of your own life. The painting Rebirth is close to the beginning of my rendering of color field abstraction.

painting: REBIRTH
Rebirth acrylic on canvas 53 x 32 in. © W.Skog
sculpture at Emma Lake
Banjo Player steel Doug Bentham

Also at Emma Lake...

I was very much influenced by abstract sculpture which seemed more like drawings in steel. Abstract drawing within my paintings became an important element in my artwork. At Emma Lake there were sculptors in the woods working on platforms and often stray, finished pieces could be found lurking unexpectedly in the forest, there to both surprise and inspire you with that strange presence of human intervention that we think of as creativity. Those who were not sculpting, the painters, sweated over their work in the studios and everyone had a scotch at 4 o'clock.

As I sifted through my colossal stack of paintings, the piece that surprised me the most was One Degree that I hadn't seen since it was exhibited at Fran Willis Gallery in 2006. At 79 x 52 inches it can easily occupy your entire visual field and you can then feel inside it. This is also true for Ovid's Obsession, 78 x 79 inches.

painting: ONE DEGREE
One Degree acrylic on canvas 79 x 52 in. © W. Skog
Ovid's Obsession acrylic on canvas 78 x 79 in. © W. Skog

Some of my representational pieces that came into focus in my camera while working on this project explored the mundane theme of 'chairs', their structures conforming to the human body so closely, I started thinking of them as 'stand-ins' for the human figure. See Trial by Jury below. One of my favorite pieces is the transitional piece Lawnchairs and Power Transformers that contains the irony of lounge chairs lounging in front of broken, crushed power transformers as observed in Eastern Canada during the ice storm of 1998. The transformers, drastically reshaped by heavy ice, were tragically beautiful monolithic sculptures.

painting: TRIAL BY JURY
Trial by Jury acrylic on canvas 68 x 35 in. © W. Skog
Lawnchairs and Power Transformers
acrylic on canvas 88 x 56 in. © W. Skog

There was something about the period when I was painting power transformers, telephone poles, and other current memes that still interests me. It is a creatively stimulating zone to be in -- the exploration of our proliferating present day structures as symbolic of our human potential. But the freedom of pure abstraction is very compelling and lured me through another shift in style back to formalism. True Vermilion is an example of more recent work that I re-photographed for my online portfolio exhibitions.

True Vermilion acrylic on canvas 75 x 54in. © W. Skog

After spending weeks with these paintings, photographing them, reviewing them and posting them into my portfolio sections, I gained some insights into my evolving process both technically and philosophically. These will take me to a new level or at least that is where I'm inspired to go! Back to the beach.

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