Monday, September 26, 2011

Canine Soul Mate

"Canine Soul Mate", 30" x 39", ink, acrylic, & graphite on synthetic paper. (c)2011 by Howard Salmon
This painting is about the strong bond that people have with their dogs. The dog pictured in the painting above is MY dog; he lay at my feet as I was tacking the drawing surface to the wall, in preparation for this painting.  This piece reminds of a combination of Marc Chagall and Walt Disney: those diffuse areas of primary color, as well as the way the dog appears to float...and also, the  zany line up of cartoon characters that reminds me of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. 

I'd initially chosen a rainbow as a device to organize this picture, so I could have a rainbow land in a bowl of dog food. (The working title initally was "At the end of hte your dog"). The dog's body position mimics the rainbow arc of the dog shape.  I painted the dog in Antique Gold paint, as did I the dog bones in each of the four corners, just to emphasize how precious dogs are to people: might as well get 'em gold plated!

At the bottom of the picture is Charles Darwin, talking to one of his finches, and contemplating inter-species friendships between humans and animals. The top half of the picture shows double portrait of a dog and his owner (the bald bearded man), arranged in a heart formation. At the center is a fat laughing Buddha character, to reinforce the happy spiritual quality I was going for. Two of my Muses are hanging out in the right side of the picture.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Drum Circle

"Drum Circle", 30" x 41", acrylic, ink, graphite on synthetic paper, (c) 2011 by Howard Salmon.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Virtual City, Bright Lights

"Virtual City, Bright Lights", acrylic, ink, & chalk on synthetic paper, 30" x 42" , (c) 2011 Howard Salmon
This painting is a virtual night life, filled with mystery and adventure. The yellow dotted border is made of "emoticons". It makes me want to read the painting as a computer monitor.

I'm starting to combine some of the imagery I've included in other paintings into my more recent paintings. I like to see how these various characters will interact with each other.  On the left is my bearded balding man cluster character (Scholar? Prophet? Bum?) On the right is one of my "muse" characters.

Hey babe, take a walk on the virtual wild side! And the avatars go "doo da doo da doo..."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Heal Thyself

30" x 46"; india ink, Sharpie, graphite, acrylic, crayon, on synthetic paper; (c) 2011 by Howard Salmon
This painting is about my secret natural cures for healing: coffee, beer, hot sauce, and art.   In moderation, they can really enhance life (at least the first three; with art, it's okay to overdose on the stuff: its good for you...)! If you're feeling sick, try these home remedies before scheduling that doctor's appointment!

The image shows a face (repeated six times, on the left side of the picture) represented by these three items: a coffee cup, a can of beer, and a bottle of hot sauce.  I've worked a caduceus symbol (which I associate with the medical profession) into the image of the face: but the two wings wrapped around the staff ended up looking like tufts of hair on a bald guy's head, and the two serpents facing each other look like attenae. Bozo the clown from Mars? Nope...that's the face of Mr. Salmon's natural healing remedies.

On the right side of the picture you'll see a doctor's clipboard with a prescription: coffee, beer, hot sauce, and art.  In the bottom right corner, you'll see my recently created "Muse" "mask, who I've been flirting with lately...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Art Muses (Flying Around Two Rolls of Blank Canvas)

ink & acrylic on acrylic sheet, 30" x 41", (c) 2011 by Howard Salmon
This is a painting about artistic inspiration. As you can see, the picture is divided into two diagonals. The lower diagonal shows two rolls of raw canvas, leaning against each other.  The upper diagonal shows six art muses, who look modern and stylish, compared to Raphael's cherubs. They've each got a severe Manga-styled hair cut. Their facial features include three eyes, two of which are lined up vertically (a Picasso-esque touch), and lips drawn in the style of golden aged comic book molls.  Their skin is painted a metallic gold: a reference to the art and people of Mesoamerica (which I regard the Arizona Southwest as a part of).   The muses actually look like bats with bosoms (or "angry birds"), but I'm cool with that: it has a certain "noir" quality that I like. The little line of a river in the background is supposed to reference the river in the background of the Mona Lisa (apparently, one of Leonardo da Vinci's artistic innovations was the addition of naturalistic background behind a portrait ;the river in the "Mona Lisa" was a new thing for portrait painters). At the lower left is a tube of paint, with the cap off, and with paint already squeezed out by some anonymous artist.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Scholar, Prophet, Bum

30" x 38", ink & acrylic on acrylic paper  (c) 2011 by Howard Salmon
The latest in my "masks" series: The Sage. Or is it?  The image of a bald guy with a beard: is he a sage? Is he a scholar? Is he Socrates? Is he a bum? The image of a bald guy with a beard could be any of I mushed triads of these identical looking characters together, as if they were a goofy-looking Venn diagram, or perhaps it's Manny, Moe, and Jack n old age...who knows? Symbols of knowledge and divine inspiration are strewn throughout the landscape here, with a few computer trash icons sprinkled about just to keep things tidy.  This piece also doubles as a Ouija board (just kidding)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Study Group (cultural masks)

"Study Group" 30" x 49", ink & graphite on acrylic sheet
Another in my series of cultural masks: cartoony "types" repeated over and over again, as a tradition. This one is about a cluster of different types of learners. A group of cartoony students, huddled together as a cluster, and repeated over and over again. Imagery in the backgroud has a structured look: everything's chopped into units and modules, timed, measured, and served up, like a bunch of nuggets.  Still working with the idea of creating a few simple pictures on the fly, and repeating them over and over again...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Traditional Masks

"Traditional Mask" (acrylic & ink on acrylic sheet) 36" x 48 (c) 2011 by Howard Salmon
I'm shifting direction. I've become interested in masks, but more specifically, in the concept of anonymous artists creating timeless forms and images within a tradition.

After watching a video on African masks, and looking though various books on art, I can see that  most of the great art work around the world, the stuff your see in art and art history books, has been done by ANONYMOUS artists working within a tradition of passing on art and images to society and to successive generations. The tradition is to make exact copies of cultural images and icons; the individual subordinates his own ego and identity to the group or the tribe. Each artist distinguishes himself with the skill that he brings to the project. This is what I've done here: I created an image, and repeated it over and over again, redrawing it in the exact same way. The repetition is what creates the tradition.

Of course, you can see that there is a lot of variation within these "masks": that's where stylistic evolution happens. The top center was the first "mask" I'd created; the bottom right image is the last one I created in this painting.  As you can see, there's a lot of morphing and change that happens even when working within the strictures of a predefined precise image.

Unfortunately, I can't be a purist here, because I can't resist the urge to sign my work! But I'll be working with this "mask" idea for a while...