Berman Blog - 17.16

Berman Blog - 17.16

Going the Distance

Title:  Going the Distance

Medium:  Oil & Colored Pencil on Canvas

Size:  48" x 48"

Copyright:  2016

Catalog #:  16.033

I have spoken to many artists, writers, gallerists, etc. over the years.  There is one thread that holds them all together and that is the desire for their particular message, idea or brand to be heard and validated in some measurable way.  Most often, validation comes by way of sales or with the current social currency of likes or follows or shares. 

This painting is called Going the Distance and is about the pursuit of telling your story and going the full 15 rounds until it is complete in your eyes and without any external validation.  It's about a singular pursuit to do what you think is right and finish what you started.

"I believe there's an inner power that makes winners or losers. And the winners are the ones who really listen to the truth of their hearts." - Sylvester Stallone

Berman Blog - 17.15

Berman Blog - 17.15

DeveloPING

Title:  The 10th Ping

Medium:  Oil & Colored Pencil on Canvas

Size:  30" x 24"

Copyright:  2017

Catalog #:  17.006

This painting at it's core is about hard work and being steadfast about pursuing your goals.  It was developed over several sessions and includes at least 10 layers of paint.  The title was derived from the 10 letters making up the word DeveloPING with each layer representing a letter in the word.  The letters PING are all that are left visible.

 

"The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones." - John Maynard Keynes

Berman Blog - 17.14

Berman Blog - 17.14

Building Blocks

Title:  Building Blocks Medium:  Oil & Colored Pencil on Panel Size:  24" x 16" Copyright:  2008 Catalog #:  08.016

Title:  Building Blocks

Medium:  Oil & Colored Pencil on Panel

Size:  24" x 16"

Copyright:  2008

Catalog #:  08.016

Here's another older painting called "Building Blocks".  It reminds me of when I was a child stacking the grocery boxes when my mom came back from food shopping.  I would build them up, knock them down, and then start over.  For some reason I wasn't satisfied with what I designed so I did this a LOT.

"Music is made up out of these building blocks. Studying how these blocks go together and what they consist of and the math of how it works - it's all the same stuff; it's just different aesthetics that we're talking about." - Flea

Berman Blog - 17.13

Berman Blog - 17.13

Title:  Whisper

Medium:  Oil & Colored Pencil on Panel

Size:  12" x 12"

Copyright:  2010

Catalog #:  10.001

Whisper

Here's an older painting from 2010 called 'Whisper'.  It reminds me of the song 'Closer' by Joshua Radin especially when he adds the chimes in the background of the song. 

This particular image included was remastered from the original and will be offered as one of my Berman Blocks.

Berman Blog - 17.12

Berman Blog - 17.12

Iron Cross

Title:  Iron Cross

Medium:  Oil & Colored Pencil on Canvas on Panel

Size:  20" x 16"

Copyright:  2013

Catalog #:  13.004

Here's a painting I did in 2013.  It reminds me of a quote from Winston Churchill.  Although there are a multitude of historic references to the meaning of the Iron Cross, the intent of my painting is to symbolize the Teutonic Order using my bermanesque iconography in place of the typical shield insignia.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

Berman Blog - 17.11

Berman Blog - 17.11

Title:  Shooting for the Stars

Medium:  Oil & Colored Pencil on Canvas

Size:  50" x 60"

Copyright:  2016

Catalog #:  16.031

Looking to become a patron of the Arts?

One of the dilemmas every artist faces is how to monetize their work.  One way is having gallery representation.  Another way is to travel and do art fairs and festivals.  Yet another way is to find patrons or people who appreciate and are inspired by your work and want to pay a stipend to be a part of your development as an artist. 

For those of you out there that prefer the third option, there is a new company specifically tailored to help artists find patrons.  It is called Patreon and you can find me there at KenBermanArt.

Berman Blog - 17.10

Berman Blog - 17.10

Throwback Thursday

This is an older painting done in 2010 and is called "The Green Machine".  It is a play of words since I associate it with the 'Mean Machine' which was the prisoner football team in the movie The Longest Yard.  I often use allegory in my work to connect it to real-world and/or real-time issues.  I try to be as subtle and obtuse as possible for maximum abstraction and optimal interpretation.  In this case, the machine is the fabric presses filmed in the movie as the inmates were chanting 'Mean Machine'.  It is meant to reflect solidarity at a time of oppression or disadvantage.

Title:  The Green Machine

Medium:  Oil & Colored Pencil on Canvas on Panel

Size:  30" x 24"

Copyright:  2010

Catalog #:  10.005

Berman Blog - 17.09

Berman Blog - 17.09

Berman Blocks

Assortment of Berman Blocks

I've started a new series of miniature copies of my larger paintings that are laminated onto plywood blocks.  The paintings are printed on photo paper, laminated onto the blocks and then sealed.  They can go just about anywhere ... on a desk, table and of course a wall.

 

"The future influences the present just as much as the past." - Friedrich Nietzsche

 

Berman Blog - 17.08

Berman Blog - 17.08

Throwback Tuesday

Title:  Lowerin the Boom

Medium:  Oil & Colored Pencil on Panel

Size:  20" x 16"

Copyright:  2008

Catalog #:  08.027

Here's another older piece I want to share.  This one was done in 2008 and is called "Lowerin' the Boom".  It combined several features of my work including a larger engine block element and colored pencil lines.  It also is one of a series of transition pieces where I start to take my pipes and break them down/combine them so they incorporate several different segments along a line.  These fittings offered a variety of scales and allowed me to add a glaze color to differentiate them from adjacent segments.  You can also see the subtle incorporation of color as well.

Berman Blog - 17.07

Berman Blog - 17.07

The Power of Love

The Beatles iconic song "All You Need Is Love" is a testament to the bands ability to focus on the important issues while they and the world were going through turbulent times in the late 1960's.  The song expresses a clarity of understanding and purposefulness that transcended current events and personal circumstances.  Attached is my version called The Power of Love.  It combines the feminine and masculine traits I mentioned in Berman Blog - 17.04.

Also, this painting will be on exhibit at the Paul Mahder Gallery in Healdsburg, CA. as a part of the Sensations show.

Title:  Power of Love

Medium:  Oil & Colored Pencil on Canvas

Size:  12" x 36"

Copyright:  2017

Catalog #:  17.003

Berman Blog - 17.06

Berman Blog - 17.06

Nitty Gritty Skateboard

Here is my latest skateboard called Nitty Gritty.  It's meant to represent well-worn tools that have fulfilled their purposes over the years.  It also portrays a grungy urbanism reminiscent of the early industrial revolution - at a time when an old walk-up on the Lower East Side of New York reflected the character and determination of the human spirit.

 

Berman Blog - 17.05

Berman Blog - 17.05

Title:  Extraterrestrial Widget

Medium:  Oil, Alkyd & Colored Pencil on Laminated Plywood

Size:  9" x 9"

Copyright:  2007

Catalog #:  07.001

 

Throwback Thursday

Here's another painting from the past.  It was done in 2007 and featured my construction lines as well as the combination of shapes, colors and layering.  Notably, it won an Honorable Mention Award at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art Biennial and was the first time a critic described my work and included it in his article about the show.  The critic, Colin Berry of Artweek Magazine, called it "A mysterious schematic for an extraterrestrial widget".

People frequently ask me what my paintings are about.  Frankly, I cannot really describe them better than what Mr. Berry did.  The one thing I can offer is a perspective that I was lucky enough to receive from Robert Rauschenberg when I met him at his home/studio for the book signing for Kiki's Paris in late 1989.  I asked Mr Rauschenberg how you knew you were an artist.  He told me that you are an artist if you wake up every day with the drive and desire to create your art.  In his opinion it was that simple ... so I think I'll leave it up to the art critics to come up with a proper description for my work and continue on doing what I do.

Berman Blog - 17.04

Berman Blog - 17.04

Balance

Title:  Bounce

Medium:  Oil & Colored Pencil on Canvas

Size:  24" x 18"

Copyright:  2017

Catalog #:  17.004

Recently, I have been combining a variety of colors and textures in my work to give it more visual interest and appeal to a wider audience.  As a result I am starting to understand and more clearly articulate the balance between the feminine and masculine qualities that comprise my work.  This painting is a great example of balance and I call it Bounce because for a small painting it has a lot of 'hop-to-it'.  It has energy, power, strength and focus and those traits can apply to anyone.

 

Berman Blog - 17.03

Berman Blog - 17.03

New Bermanboards

2017 is starting off nicely with a few new BermanBoard Extreme Sport Board (X-Board) designs featuring some of my recent artwork.  My boards can be outfitted with trucks and ridden or hung on a wall like fine art using my patented skateboard bracket I call the Deck Dock.

To the right you'll see a crazy skateboard arrangement I did for a show in Calistoga, CA. last year.  People loved it and I showed both my printed and painted skateboards.

BTW - you can see one of my Deck Dock brackets on the box to to the lower right of the photo.

Pop Music Skateboard

Urban Fabric Skateboard

Engage Art Fair 2016

Calistoga, CA.

Berman Blog - 17.02

Berman Blog - 17.02

Throwback Thursday

Title:  Blue Pipe

Medium:  Oil on Canvas

Size:  12" x 12"

Copyright:  2001

Catalog #: 01.015

I've always liked showing people how my paintings have developed over the years.  This one is called Blue Pipe and at the time reflected my interest in the concept of connection.  My goal was to use piping as a metaphor that connected individuals with the rest of the world.  The horizontal pipe in this painting was meant to link several paintings together to create a larger 'family'.

 

Berman Blog - 17.01

Berman Blog - 17.01

New Year - New Work

Title:  Urban Fabric

Medium:  Oil & Colored Pencil on Canvas

Size:  30" x 30"

Copyright:  2017

Catalog #:  17.001

Starting off the year with a new painting to share.  This one is entitled Urban Fabric and is meant to be an urban wallpaper incorporating mechanical and architectural references instead of typical floral patterns or geometric designs.

 

Berman Blog - 16.03a

Berman Blog - 16.03a

Studio Highlights 2016

Title: Rust

Medium: Oil & Colored Pencil on Canvas

Size: 12" x 12"

Copyright: 2016

2016 marked a distinct change in the way I paint.  I was able to learn to control the medium much better and integrate several techniques including palette knife, roller, stencil, line work and glazing into my work.

I also started to adjust the compositions so they incorporated larger and more colorful shapes.  I call these shapes my 'Engine Blocks' since they help anchor and stabilize the compositions.  (See Berman Blog 16.03 also).  This opened up a new world of possibilities since it gave me another item in my visual repertoire to use.

My work continues to explore the concept of abstract thought and purpose with leanings toward invention and an infinite world of possibilities.  In keeping with this theme I have been working on developing and expanding my Berman Boards (board graphics meant for extreme sports) as well as a new line of Mini-Me's that I am tentatively calling Berman Blocks which are small reproductions of larger works that will come out in 2017.

 

Berman Blog - 16.03

Berman Blog - 16.03

What is your Underpinning?

This week's quote comes from Steve Jobs who said:

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it"

Title:  Lionheart

Medium:  Oil & Colored Pencil on Hollow Core Door Panel

Size:  18" x 18"

Copyright:  2016

I am writing about the broad topic of loving what you do but equally important is understanding what comprises your 'underpinning' - the values that form the core of who you are and what you are all about.  Implied in the quote is a constant testing which will be a consistent theme throughout your life.

This topic was actually inspired by an older building contractor who has worked in the trades for years and is very knowledgeable about his craft.  Recently, he's come upon difficult times which has tested his entire belief system.  His sole anchor in his period of turbulence was his love of what he did for a living and the stability in knowing that he had something to work toward every day.  This was his 'underpinning'.  This was his anchor.

As the contractor described the unusual circumstances surrounding his life I started to reflect on a scene from the movie Ben Hur - specifically at the pivotal point where Charlton Heston is about to undertake the race of his life against his nemesis Messala.  If you recall the scene where Heston is talking to the four white horses, all of whom are named for the stars.  One by one he respectfully addresses each horse and identifies their strongest traits and even some shortcomings.  When he comes to the last and smallest of the four horses Heston says "steady Antares, you will be our anchor". 

Now it's important to note that Antares, which is also a super-giant star, was the last of the four white horses that Heston addressed.  He had already mentioned the other three and the consummate qualities that each possessed including speed, agility, intelligence, etc.  However, what I believe the writers were getting at when they wrote the movie script was the importance of knowing what that key ingredient was that held all the other traits/horses together as a team - stability.  Stability is the very core, that anchor, that veritable 'underpinning' that you will find in the building contractor as he travels through the challenges he will face and that is what Steve Jobs was alluding to in his quote.  What work you love to do is in fact your underpinning, your anchor, your stabilizer.  It represents everything that you are and everything you want to be.  As Steve Jobs said ... "Don't Settle".

 

Berman Blog - 16.02

Berman Blog - 16.02

The Power of Optimism

This week's quote is provided by Helen Keller.

"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence"

Title:  T for Tough

Size:  10" x 8"

Medium:  Oil & Colored Pencil on Canvas on Panel

Copyright:  2016

Helen Keller was the first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.  Think about that for a second.  Could you imagine what affect blindness would have on a painter?  How about a sculptor?  Artists sometimes get wrapped up in larger "stuff" regarding gallery representation, awards, recognition, achievement, acknowledgement, etc. but often lose sight (no pun intended) of how lucky they are to see and sometimes hear the creation of their own work.

Artists often talk about their work but the act of painting, sculpting (making their 'mark') is a more truthful manifestation of the hope and confidence they have in themselves and the world around them.  Nothing expresses the hope and confidence an artist has in themselves as crafting their work year after year and the subsequent growth and development that is a reward for their diligence.  I've heard many a time about the 'mistakes' that an artist makes but those mishaps are keys to creating confidence since it is overcoming those obstacles that is the very foundation necessary for achievement.  Success is a byproduct of failure.

I am a self-taught, Outsider artist who started painting after meeting Robert Rauschenberg in late 1989 at a book signing taking place at his NY studio.  The book was Kiki's Paris and was written by Billy Kluver and Julie Martin.  What struck me most while I was walking around Rauschenberg's studio looking at the work he had on his walls was that this was an artist who had supreme confidence in himself and was clearly able to make a living doing his artwork.  That was an epiphany for me.  I was always told that I had to get a 'real' job by my parents, teachers, etc. If that was the case then how do you explain what Robert Raushenberg was doing both in art and life?

When I first started painting I didn't have enough money to take a class so I read how-to books on painting and painting techniques.  I read The Artist's Handbook by Ralph Mayer as well as a host of other books including artist biographies which described in greater depth the overall environment in which the artist worked (This is where Kiki's Paris was an instrumental introduction since it was a glimpse into the life of the artists).  I identified with many of the artists and artist biographies including that of Georges Braque who is my favorite artist.  To me his work with Cubism, along with that of Picasso, ushered in a new world of 'seeing' that took the visible world and transformed it into an architectonic intellectualism that made it possible for the viewer to see more than the object itself.  I was hooked!

So I painted ... a lot ... and started to learn the properties of the oil painting medium.  I was free to explore, make mistakes, have fun, etc.  Braque and Picasso opened up a world that I didn't know existed and with the inspiration from my chance meeting with Robert Rauschenberg (who in many ways to me is Cubism 2.0) I was ready to go.  And although at the time I lacked the skill and proficiency to paint I had faith that it was something I could learn and I was optimistic that I would find my way in creating my own work.

Tip of the Trade

  • In building the layers of an oil painting it is essential to build your painting using lean layers first.  One method I like to use is to work with black, white and grey gesso over a black primed canvas or panel to build the composition.  The tinted gesso underpainting gives me a very lean grisaille to add fatter paint layers and colors.

 

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Berman Blog - 16.01

Berman Blog - 16.01

The Art of Persistence

My preferred method of communicating with the world around me is visual.  So my objective in starting this weekly blog is to pair examples of my artwork with actual quotes from great people whose media of choice is the written word.  My hope is that there will be a synergy between the two media that inspires the reader's imagination and motivates them to pursue their calling.

Title:  Lady Liberty

Size:  48" x 36"

Medium:  Oil & Oil Bar on Canvas

Copyright:  2006

Below is one of my favorite quotes from Theodore Roosevelt who said:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

What I like most about this quote is that a key component to 'success' is persistence.  No matter what business you are in you have to be determined to start at point A and finish at point B.  It is understood that there will be ups and downs along the way but as you start to climb your mountain you have to keep the summit in mind at all times.

In describing the concept and meaning of my painting above entitled Lady Liberty I wanted to combine the raw energy and power of the urban environment surrounding New York with the mechanics of our modern age.  At the time of Roosevelt's quote, America was just getting started transitioning from the agrarian based economy that dominated its early history to embracing the new opportunities inspired by the Industrial Revolution.  And now, even as I write this blog, we are underway as an entire world in embracing new opportunities as part of the High-Tech Revolution which has made this blog even possible.

This is the art of persistence that I refer to in the heading.  It is a key component of human nature to strive and keep learning, growing and finding new mountains to climb or problems to solve.  Hidden within persistence is growth, knowledge and eventual success.

Thus, an artist must be persistent to be successful.