Saturday, May 22, 2010


Oil on canvas, 79" x 79"
Price on request, email

Travelogue (April 14th post) has undergone yet another transformation. I'm still not sure I'm finished with it or, more aptly, whether it's finished with me. I started back into it with the idea of lightening it up some. Instead, the painting seemed to insist on growing even darker and more turbulent. Still, though it's not what I expected, there's a kind of energy that I think I like. This kind of open-ended process is a journey in which I'm always more a passenger than a driver.

Computer screens are such levelers. This painting looks like it could be one of my little six inch square dailies, instead of well over six feet. Click the image to get at least a slightly better idea of scale.


Diana Moses Botkin said...

Such an interesting piece and it sounds like the process was quite a journey.

I recently did some abstract work (will post sometime soon) and even though I have done them in the past, it has been awhile.

The process seemed a lot harder for me, working on the nonrepresentational pieces, because (unlike working on something from life) it was often difficult to know exactly where I wanted to go with it.

I ended up with different ideas than what I'd originally thought I wanted to do.

Edcooper_art said...

Hi Don,

wow this must have quite a monutmental feel paintined on that scale...great painting!

lochinvarwelsh said...

The floating teeth bring a malevolent "Cheshire Cat" feel to the piece that makes the weight of the rock rather sinister rather than just solid and earthy. Indeed, the rock has become for animated with its vibrant colors and the ribbons of ochre that spin off its upper surface. The juxtapositions are heady.

SamArtDog said...

Interesting to read people's reactions to this painting, as well as yours. You've called it--chaotic, darker, turbulent, open-ended. Others mention--process, difficult, monumental, malevolent, sinister, heady, looming, creepy.

There is nothing about it which looks like a little six-inch-square daily. Fair to say, your "Travelogue" has got some mojo!

Don Gray said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Diana.

I feel the same way about this kind of process seeming harder somehow, but it is also for me equally exciting. Representational work always has at least an illusion of stability, since the goal is more or less defined. But painting without any idea of what the final piece should look like means surrendering to the process and becoming comfortable with not knowing. When I can do that, the sense of discovery is wonderfully addictive. It can also be scary, because I may dredge up subconscious things that I then have to face as parts of me.

But when you think about it, even when we believe we have more control over the work, it is more illusion than truth. I've never painted a painting, realist or otherwise, that hasn't started veering from my "intent" with almost the first brushstroke. But that's OK--who wants to end up with a painting that is only what they can think of?

Don Gray said...

Very nice of you to say, Ed--thanks!

Don Gray said...

Hmmm--hadn't thought about the "Cheshire Cat" quality of the smile, Lochinvarwelsh, but I think you're right--it certainly can be seen that way.

I try to keep myself away from interpretation, though I find it fascinating. As soon as I think I know what something "means" it freezes the idea and I become self-conscious about it. The desire is always to remain as innocent as possible about meanings in my work.

I do greatly appreciate hearing your interpretations, though.

Don Gray said...

Sam, you always write insightfully and with great humor. I'm thrilled if Travelogue's got its mojo working!

Sheila Vaughan said...

Hi Don - I sent a comment a few days ago but it hasn't appeared - Blogger playing up again. Anyway, this painting is amazing. I can't take in the actual size. Comparing it with its earlier version you have created more depth and solidity with this one. The notion of being a passenger rather than driver is wonderful. I love that idea. It describes what I've been trying to do and is both liberating and scary but when you have done it once, it's hard to go back to a much more 'planned' way of working although I think there will always be "provisional" planning along the way.

Don Gray said...

Hi Sheila--thanks for perservering to write a second post. Sorry the first one floated off who knows where.

"Liberating and scary" describes the process of creative traveling without a roadmap quite well. And you're right--it is less satisfying to go back to more planned approaches, even though they can be more in a comfort zone.

I'm excited about the direction you're moving, Sheila--less observational, more tuned to an inner landscape of memory and feeling.

harry bell said...

I haven't been able to visit your blog recently, Don, and now I'm regretting it. Your Heaven & Earth series really connects with me and would have been of inestimable value when I was working through some of my own Rock & Tree paintings. Maybe this will spur me to return to them.

Even on the small screen, your current Travelogue painting certainly doesn't have the feeling of a small picture. It has tremendous presence and whether you feel it's finished or not, I think it's already a striking image which I'd love to see "in the flesh".

Don Gray said...

Hi Harry--so good of you to write such thoughtful and encouraging comments. I think your rock and tree paintings are superb. I'm deeply flattered if you feel my stone series could be of some use to you in your own lovely work.

Thanks especially for your comments on "Travelogue."