Tagged underwood

Underwood No.5 at Robert Lange Studios

May 3 is the opening day fora group exhibition called “Perfectionists” at the Robert Lange Studios in Charleston, South Carolina. Check out my contribution to the show below.

Underwood No.5 / 36 x 30 / oil on canvas

When I was invited to participate I thought about the idea of “perfectionism”. I’ll be honest — it’s sometimes my problem. I want everything to be perfect and in reality, it can’t be. The reason I keep painting is that I am trying to perfect my work. The previous painting I completed didn’t seem to work out exactly as I had planned, so I try again with another painting. If I live forever, will I paint forever, always chasing the elusive perfect painting?

A closer look at the precision in the composition.

When I set up a group of objects for a painting I always consider negative space, repeating elements, shapes, angles, lines, perspective — everything that moves the eye around the canvas. I use grids to help outline the composition. The objects I paint are engineered machines with symmetry and balance often baked right into their designs, so applying these rules to the paintings seems fitting. The overall effect I am trying to achieve is a sense of order, calmness and stability. Painting these objects transforms them from cold and banal tools to something more human and hopefully pulls a viewer in to think about how they relate to the world of objects around them.

On Painting Typewriters

Underwood Leader / 30 x 30 / oil on canvas / 2018
Underwood Leader / Detail
Underwood Leader / Detail

Typewriters seem to embody ambition. They represent the tools to document thoughts, ideas and stories – you literally hammer your words on to paper.

They’re familiar to us, but distant enough to be obsolete. As with all the man made objects I use as subjects the compositions are simple and straight forward. But they become more complicated with the repetition of the keys and the mechanics of the machine.

I’ve painted many typewriters and without fail, every time I start working on the keys, I think “what did I get myself in to?”

Above: Underwood Leader
Below: Remington Quiet-Riter II

Remington Quiet-Riter II / 30 x 30 / oil on canvas / 2017
Remington Quiet-Riter II / 30 x 30 / oil on canvas / 2017

Profile of a Typewriter

24 x 30 / oil on canvas / 2008
24 x 30 / oil on canvas / 2008

This is a big departure from pears. Much more complicated, but a blast to paint. It’s an Underwood #5. Gigantic and heavy. My wife found if for me at an estate sale. It’s useless and entirely broken, but you can’t tell in painted form.

I once came across a piece of computer software designed for writers that has the intention of trying to somehow eliminate the plethora of distractions the computer offers. The idea is that if you’re a writer, sitting down to get some work done can be difficult when everything in the world seems like an easy double-click away.

Once upon a time writers had only either a pen and paper or a simple typewriter. A blank page was a blank page. Judging by the way things are now, it would appear we’re losing our ability to focus. Sitting in front of a blank page with no browser icon to double-click would have required tremendous focus.