I thought it would be fun to take a look at a typewriter painting I did exactly 11 years ago. Although I think my precision and technique have changed over the years, I feel rather consistent with subject and approach.
I haven’t shared anything on my blog in a few weeks because I’m knee deep in several complex paintings. I don’t know how some people have the time to share so much on social media. Every time I decide I should post on Instagram or Facebook it seems to take way longer than anticipated. I’d rather be painting.
This painting of an Oliver No.3 Typewriter from 1907 is my contribution to the Attention to Detail exhibition at the Robert Lange Studios in Charleston, South Carolina. The Exhibition runs through February 2017.
The exhibition features 30 realist painters from the USA, Canada, Spain and England. It is an honour to have been invited to show my work beside artists who share an affinity for this labour intensive approach to painting.
I found this magnificent typewriter at Everything Old – an antique shop near my home.
Typewriters are all about ideas and writing. They seem to spark the act, I think it’s because of the physicality of them. They make this amazing noise, your words literally express themselves vocally as you tap away at the keys. You have to immediately concentrate, your whole mind and body becomes involved. You focus.
These two typewriters are a great contrast to one another – the Corona with its sleek black curves and stately design, the Royal with its crisp blue and modern edges.
I have these typewriters in my collection, and when they’re out of their cases they invite anyone around to sit down and type.
When I first started painting typewriters, they were very loose and expressive. They were more about the idea of the typewriter and I had not quite figured out exactly what my painting style or technical approach should be.
It was intimidating, to say the least. These old typewriters are full of details and precision. But I think I have found the balance I’m looking for in my painting. I approach them like architecture. The keys are like grand steps leading to a sturdy building flanked by columns.
I think the square within a square composition is effective. I’m happy with the way this painting turned out.
What I mean is that whenever I set out to paint one, I realize how technically difficult they are to paint and I feel like I’m being ambitious. They are full of these intricate details and repeating shapes, they take full concentration and a great deal of time. Getting those keys right is a slow process.
Then there is the idea of writing, story telling, compiling ideas. Getting it right the first time. Typing your thoughts on a typewriter is all about concentration – just like painting them.
The little green Tom Thumb below is a working children’s typewriter from the 1950s. I love how it contrasts with the classic Corona No.3 above.
Here’s another piece in progress. I’m calling it “1:00, 2:00, 3:00”. I’m positive it will be complete during the next sitting. It’s resting on a self in the studio, by the door leading to what once was a balcony. Someone closed it off in the 1950s. I’d like to expand it into a sitting room one day. Right now it serves as storage.
The second photo is of me hard at work on the typewriter.
I thought I’d share a photo, a glimpse into my work space. This is another painting of the old Underwood in progress. I’m tackling the keys today, a great way to ruin ones posture is to sit for 3 hours straight, hunched over moving across the canvas, inch by inch. In a few months, I’ll share the completed painting once it’s hanging at the gallery for the exhibition in June.
I’m calling this piece Second Draft. The first time I painted this old Remington (only a few weeks ago) it appeared on a very dark background. Unfamiliar territory. So I fretted and stirred and resolved myself by painting it a second time in more familiar territory. I’m sure I’ll experiment further with other tones in the background but it’s a slow process.
Goodbye 2008. I’m glad to see you go, you miserable year with your dismal news headlines. I plan on hiding in my studio doing the best work I possibly can for 2009. I’m actually optimistic about that.
Saying “Happy New Year” doesn’t feel empty and pointless this year. I really, truly hope it is a Happy New Year.
There’s no shortage of those stories of people who wanted to do something other than what they are doing, or did for the entire life, like writing a novel, learning to play an instrument, traveling, etc. So many things complicate life, preventing dreams from taking shape. Responsibilities, people and events all put the kibosh on passions. Subscribing to the simple philosophy of “just do it” seems almost terrifyingly simple, so brazen and lacking foresight. It’s as if people are happier if things are really complicated because that complication can help squelch the little voice in your head that reminds you that you once had dreams.