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At long last, I have finished the form of a new sculptural painting. I have been working on some ideas for imagery and have, worked on a composite in Photoshop. The theme is water, human impact on the environment. My goal is to create a painting that has a visual harmony, both in terms of form, color and theme, but one that also gives a voice to some of the issues that we face. The structure of this painting represents a long, narrow bridge spanning a turbulent river. There’s an unbelievable amount of work that goes into a painting. Just calculating the angles to cut is headache enough, but in the end it all falls into place. the painting is nearly 3 meters long (that’s 9 feet for my American friends). I had to make some practical decisions when building this one and have divided the panels in the center so that it will be possible to transport from the studio in a car. I’m attaching some pictures of the stretcher bars–the skeleton of the painting. Sometimes I feel it’s a shame to hide all of that work under a layer of linen.  /K

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Process_mosaic

Today I had the opportunity to present my work for 2nd and 3rd year students at Young Business Creatives (YBC) in Nacka.  As an artist, it was a great learning experience for me. It felt good to give an account of my work as an artist over the past ten years. I spoke of my creative process and how my voice and focus has changed throughout the years. One thing that became apparent to me during the talks was how my work, having become increasingly more abstract over the years, still has the same voice that it once had. I am still interested in the relationship between the individual and her or his environment.  The fact that my paintings have become more abstract has to do with that I want them to be more universal and less personal. Ten years ago, my work was more about my own journey through life whereas it now has more to do with the “individual” in general and has less of a personal tone. I think that finding the commonalities that we all share and then talking about them is the real work of an artist–capturing the zeitgeist of the times.

I gained some really good feedback from each student group, who listened attentively for over an hour. One of my messages to them was to be aware of the material that one uses in the creation of art. There are so many aesthetic choices that can be made when choosing the materials to work with. I also wanted to stress the idea that your audience will not automatically understand your work, but that you need to present it to them with words–that is set the tone and act as a guide by giving them a point of departure for interpreting the work. Finally, letting your audience in on your process is key. If you only show the world your polished product then you are denying your audience the right to see the discoveries you’ve made along the way. As far as learning goes, the process is everything. It was a great experience to talk with all of the students afterwards and see the ideas behind their current projects.

www.kevinleeconrad.com

Admittedly, I find myslef at a crossroads where I am not sure if the form should be the main focus in my work.

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Over the past three months, I have built up five-to-six new forms. the one above being my newest. It is such an exciting process to form the wood into new shapes. This picture was taken at the studio a couple of days ago. I like how the shadows interplay with the wall behind it and the forms overlap eachother. I wonder if it’s even necessary to paint at all. My former painting mentor from Western once said “don’t paint by committee”, meaing that one shouldn’ t let others determine the content of one’s work. However, I feel that art is not a closed process, but is a dialoge with others. I’m wondering what you think. Please comment on this post if you like. Do you think that an image will detract from the form of this painting? I am thinking about continuing with a more simplistic color field, but thought that I’d throw out my idea to all of you out there in cyberspace.

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I know what you may be thinking….Isn’t he a painter? Why then is he not painting?? The last posts have really only dealt with the skeletons of my current work. That’s because I find it far more interesting to figure out interesting shapes, and challenge myself through the use of my materials, than slap paint on a canvas. That’s important, too, but the structure of the painting and how it emulates natural forms is exciting to me. The picture above is really a sketch that I did with newly curved wooden bars. The bottom picture was taken tonight just before I left the studio for the evening. It is  in two parts. Each of the panels actually nest with one another. I think it’s important to photo document the work process, but I also feel like the majority of the work that I put into my paintings is then covered up and hidden from the viewer. There’s a lot of calculation of angles that is never seen in the final piece. This is troublesome to me. My thinking is that if I’m excited about the structure of my work upon which everything else is built, then there may be others who are, too.

That is why I’m reconsidering my materials. Maybe I should stretch one of the panels with a type of visqueen. That way I could paint only part of the panel so that one can see through it to the panel below. I’m not quite sure just how I will solve this one. I can say that this painting has really tested my patience because there are so many angles that had to line up with one another (see continual s-curve on left-hand side).

More later on.

After continuing with my technique of merging two panels together, I began exploring what a painting could be. For instance, why do they need to hang in the middle of a wall? Couldn???t a painting hang in the corner of the room? I thought about the possibility of crumpling the surface of my paintings so that they turn inwards toward a corner where two walls meet. I began crumpling paper and looking at the structures that it created. I also wanted to combine both the fluidity of the curves paintings that I???d done in the past with some of the jagged angles of other paintings. The crumpled paper offered a lot of different forms. It turned out that these forms were a little too difficult to tackle for the time being.  

I must have stumbled on this idea about the time that I was in the middle of a busy period at school, because I also wanted to find a way to illustrate the time constraints that I found myself in. A day is limited and there is often too much to pack into that day. I wanted to talk about this in some way. This corner painting was my solution. The corner symbolizes that predicament that you can???t get out of. You???re stuck!

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I completed this painting after deciding to make parts of the canvas that cannot be seen by the viewer, or trying to hide parts of the canvas. This painting was sort of the result of that. It had a life of its own. I really liked the idea of how cities have hidden tunnels and structures that cannot be seen as well as roads and pathways. In some ways, city maps include roadways that interweave in and out of each other. I got to thinking that people are like that in ways, too. We interact with one another in a city landscape, but make pains to ignore one another J. In that sense, we are a part of the city, a living part of the city structures. The culture that we live in partially shapes these structures: how we approach one another, how we act in public. My time in Sweden has been difficult in that respect as I am from a culture where people seem to interact more in public spaces. I first interpreted Swedes as being shy or unwilling to speak to one another in public???

Okay, on to the art part. The preceding paragraph is what was going on in my head while creating this painting. It is of a woman lying on her side in a city landscape. She blends into the landscape and there???s a map that intersects her and abstracts her. She represents a sort of living map. The sketch here was done to figure out how I could make the wooden structure of the painting merge together seamlessly. I???ve also included a few different angles of the painting in progress.

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After completing my painting called, Shifting Foundation, I decided that I wanted to do another one, but this time on a larger scale. This time, I turned the canvas 90 degrees.  Now that I had figured out all of the angles, I figured that it wouldn???t hurt to try a similar motif, but this time horizontally. To me, the structure of the painting???s surface looks like someone taking a breath and then exhaling. This too was a lot of work. I needed my sketch close at hand while cutting. Oh, did I mention that I do all of my cutting on a cheap miter box? It makes for tiring days.

What I found out with this painting is that you can look through it (through the holes). I didn???t realize this until I hung it vertically. This was the first painting where I really stopped caring about what was on the surface of the canvas. The shapes that emerged became far more interesting to me.