Buddy Cushman Art

engaging stories of hope and joy


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Upside Down

 

Upside Down

It’s the title of the very first single my fave rock band The Jesus and Mary Chain released. It’s also the title of my painting – pictured here. At first, second, or third glance there appears no good reason for this painting to have that title, especially since it’s painted in the realist and not my favored abstract or expressionist style. But there is one. A reason.

For the first time in my relatively brief (given the number of years I’ve roamed the planet) career as an artist,Upside down 3 I painted a painting entirely upside down. The idea came from the book “Drawing From the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards. One of her techniques is to practice drawing images when they are turned upside down. It’s supposed to lower the light and activity of the logical left side of the brain and amp up the cells on the way-more creative right. I’ve done drawings that way a number of times, with results varying from wicked cool to what-the-hell-is-that.

Anyway, I had the flash, one day in my wife’s garage-turned-studio, to try an upside down painting.

NS 1

I had some old, used books of photos from around the world and I found one of a fishing village in Canada.  Deciding on it as my subject, I did something else I had never done before as a painter and graphed out the photo. You can see that in the picture to the left. When that was done I penciled in a similar graph on the 20 x 24 canvas. Standing close to the finished painting today some of those pencil marks remain visible through the acrylic paint. There’s also a vivid example of the process in the lower right with the blue boat. The graph mark cuts that boat right in half, but since I was painting one graphed square at a time the boat is slightly off and it almost offers the appearance of movement and another dimension. We painters call things like that fortunate and happy accidents. Often I prefer “Duh”.

NS 2

 

 

Anyway again, before applying the first brush of paint I turned the graphed picture upside down and began painting – a square at a time -from right to left, top to bottom, on my canvas, in actuality painting the sky last. I never once turned the painting over to see how it was going, not until every inch of the canvas was covered and the paint had dried. I say, in all modesty, that I was shocked at how lifelike the houses on the bluff/hill came out. I have never been able to paint a house with windows that well right side up again – before or after. Ever.

 

 

I tried the graphed, upside down technique one other time on a painting, attempting to copy my favorite artist David Park and one of his paintings. It didn’t work very well.

No lessons to be learned here, no moral nor heavy thought. No keen insight or words to live by. Simply a little story about a painting I did88ef918dc457d2dada7cf751635148da.599x601x1 upside down.

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On the Dark Side – With Feeling

Some where between the inherent artist who’s always lived within me and my increasing horror at the sparkling stupidity of mankind and most of its individual members, I have morphed as to what it means for me to be an artist. That I started late in life maybe plays some rolExpress 1e. But the TV plays one greater. On-line news sites. Overheard conversations on the street. The eternal optimism of the “now-we’ve-finally-got-him” multitudes. These are the ingredients explaining my world view and painterly outlook.

 

I’ve been paying more attention to the German expressionist painters of late. Their works speaks to me, whispers to me to come over here, hang out for a while, take a look through our eyes. See what we see — and how. The dark side, in technicolor. So I see, as best these old eyes can, and I feel, and I get it. I, as in me, get it, as in what I get.

Get it?

Express 4

My painting has evolved, hopefully I’ve become a little more skilled with the brush and knife over the six or so years I’ve been painting. Subject matter too, from happy flowers to abstract visions to, a goal, David Park-like people. And now expressionist people.

Lake Merritt crowd piece

This is mostly a visual post and I’ve included four paintings of famous German expressionists, and three of my own. You can tell which are which — theirs are better. Mostly, though, the deal is how I feel today. Bruce Springsteen once said, “Man the dope is that there’s still hope.” For me “the deal is how I feel.”

 

Hopefully I can get that in paint.

 

 

Express 2Express 3My backyardGirl


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Help Me Help You

Haven’t posted a blog in a while, but that will change this week.

Frenzy. That’s the goal for this week. All out creativity activity in an effort to end the endless ennui of having days and weeks

 

 

blondie-s-pizzaand months fly by — and oh do they fly in the “senior” years — with the sadness of getting what feels like very little done.

Now I have published my first two books in the last eight months — a life-long dream come true, even if neither qualifies (yet) as ‘The Great American Novel’. I have Facebook friends and Twitter followers way closer to that reality than me. Still, two books. And I have had a couple of public showings of some of my art, both at New Seasons markets  in various Portland, OR locals. I’ve done a few new paintings during that time — and I’m still waiting on the writing/painting simultaneous thing to show up.

But the fact remains that at the end of each day I’ve been blessed with, at the end of each of those weeks, I have the distinct feeling of wasted time. Way too much wasted time. This is not me being hard on myself. This is not me ignoring easy does it. This is simply the fact, Jack.

 

So yesterday, sometime during my daily morning ritual of up at 5:30, sit for 10 – 20 minutes in a rather hilarious half-assed version of “meditation”, drink two cups of coffee while reading something useful (spiritual, inspiring, rewarding) and/or looking at a book of art, then down to the basement for three “morning pages” in a wide-ruled notebook, sometime within that period yesterday I had the decision come upon me that the next week — Sunday, today, through Saturday — I was going to dramatically amp up my creative efforts and social media involvement and general gifting to the Universe with my unique gifts and express myself, and late last night I drew up a chart I could check off and follow and visually confront myself with evidence of any slacking, which in this case translates to lying to myself. And how low is that. Or, hopefully progress.

 

 

So you’ll “see” more of me this week, here and there, and I’ll likewise be invisible and missing in (your) action for long stretches while writing, drawing, painting, brainstorming, etc, etc, etc.

But I will be back right here tomorrow with some specifics about just what exactly is in the works.

A bientot.


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Press Release

Well, how did I get here? First, I got in my car in Massachusetts in the fall of 2008 and drove to Portland. Had never been to Portland or Oregon or the Northwest, didn’t know one person, no waiting job. It just seemed like a good idea. A year later I met a woman – now my wife Susan – and through her repeated suggestions to do something while she worked on her pottery, I opened her old set of acrylic paints. I was 59 years old, and had not picked up a paint brush since the fifth grade, 50 years earlier.

Some20140817_090403how, some way, the painting took over. My original work would have made a fifth-grader blush, in embarrassment , but I kept painting, and little by slow, I got a little better. I took one two-hour lesson once, which wasn’t helpful, and sat in on a free portrait class at the Oregon Society of Artists. I volunteered at the 100th Monkey Studio in Southeast as a janitor for about eight months in exchange for attending a few art therapy groups and some individual drawing lessons with owner Beth Ann Short. That is it for my formal training. What I did do right was begin checking out one art book after another from the Multnomah County Library, how-to books and books about artists and their artist lives. I’ve read hundreds. I started buying used art books and American Art Review magazines on Ebay and at Goodwills and stores like Cameron’s downtown. I’ve studied it all as best as I can with my old and soggy brain cells, and I have tried to honor the painting styles – at least a little – of artists whose work has spoken to me – Robert Henri, John Singer Sargent, Alice Neel are some. I use both oil and acrylic paints on stretched canvas or canvas sheets, each painting kind of tells me what it wants.

I have had a number of public showings of my paintings in Portland coffee shops and restaurants, with more scheduled for the fall. I was a Portland RAW artist in 2012. I have pinched myself a few times, driving by a business and seeing my art on the walls, and knowing I have a paintings in peoples’ houses across the country. Me? A few months ago I begin created a line of greeting cards, color reproductions of my paintings. I’ve had an Etsy store for a few years, since the beginning I guess, but I sold almost nothing until the greeting cards. Those have sold okay in the last few months, and I am really proud of them. The printer does a great job, the paper quality and color reproduction is outstanding, but mostly because it feels like I am taking part in some continuum of kindness. How great is it to get a beautiful card in the mail, with some words from a friend or family member inside instead of a mailbox filled with just bills and junk mail. And how great is it to send someone one of those cards? It is all about being kind, and I have heard the most wonderful stories from people about buying the cards, who they are sending them to, and why. It’s pretty cool.

I left a 35 year career in human services three years ago, signed up for Social Security, met a guy on line and wrote and produced a CD of original doo wop music, and began painting more and more. I also began writing again. I have a WordPress blog where I post weekly, and have a couple of novels in their infancy.

I have sold one painting for more than $100, the rest around $35. So when I say I am living in part on the sale of my art, that gets me a few cups of coffee a week. And a burrito dinner with my wife. But the library is free, walking around this beautiful city is free, writing on WordPress is nearly free, and I can say I own my own on-line store, and that I am an artist and a writer. Not bad for an old guy.”

You can see Buddy’s on-line gallery at http://www.67blondies.artistwebsites.com  

His Etsy Shop at  www.etsy.com/shop/musicflower67  

his blog at http://www.buddycushmanart.com    

Follow him on Facebook at   http://www.facebook.com/67blondies  

The doo wop CD can be heard at www.facebook.com/thegrayjays

Much of this story can be read on-line in the Portland Magazine Project:Poppycock, where I am a featured local artist this month.    www.projectpoppycock.com

 

 


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Coin Flip – Writing 101

Those brown, shiny coin-like things that I use to hold down my greeting cards – after chasing wind-blown cards darting and dipping across the street one too many times – I get asked about them a lot. This is what I tell people. “They are sobriety medallions. The number on the coin indicates a number of years of sobriety. You get them on those anniversaries. I was going to use small stones to hold the cards down, but I thought these were more interesting.”

Sunday mid morning, behind the Red Fox vintage store, in a space rented for $10 across the street from the farmer’s market. My 4 x 2 table is set up, covered with a beautiful purple cloth borrowed from my wife. The cloth mostly covered by the 15 original art greeting cards I sell, or hope to sell, reproductions of my original paintings. Not blowing off the table in the on-again off-again breeze that finds its way behind the building, anchored by the large gold coins.

“Your cards are so beautiful.”
“Why, thank you. How’s it going?”
“Pretty good. Have you sold many?”
“No, not yet.”
“Hmmm, I don’t see why not. I think I am going to buy some. I didn’t bring any money with me but I can go home and get some. How long are you here?”
“I will be here until two o’clock.”
“I love this one. Where is this supposed to be?”
“That is from a trip I took to visit my son in Alaska last summer. This is from a photo I took when we climbed Mount Healy, in Denali National Park.”
“I love it. These coins are really cool too.”
“I was going to use small stones to hold the cards down, which I learned the hard way chasing them down the street a few times, but I thought about these and decided it would look better. Do you know what they are?”
“Yeah, I think so, these are your AA coins right? You have talked with me about being in AA before. I think I have seen some of these in the past, a friend in Virginia had some of these.”
“I kind of thought that in addition to holding the cards on the table it might spark a conversation with potential buyers, maybe another reason to stop and look. In fact I had a woman tell me yesterday, out of the clear blue, that her mother was sober 29 or 30 years.”
“Wow, that is so cool…….I have been thinking about going to a meeting.”
“Really?”
“I think about it. It seems like I am drinking more and more lately, and it is kind of the opposite of how I am trying to live my life, doing things that feel really important to me, meditating and organic growing, community stuff.”
“Well, I can tell you where some meetings are in you want to know. There are different kinds of meetings and some might work better for people checking it out. I would take you to a meeting if you want.”
“Really?”
“Heck ya. I would be happy too.”
“Okay, I’ll think about it. Well, I’m outta here now but I will be back before two for some cards.”
“Okay, thanks. See ya.”


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Rockport

 

There are eight million artist stories in the city. This is mine. This is “Rockport”.

I can almEntering Rockportost hear the ghost of Edward Hopper chuckling softly just behind me. “I lived here. Just down the road. I painted here, painted some of my famous pieces of art. Pieces of art you will come to love and honor and dream about painting. One of these days. Not too far away in fact. But not today.”

It’s true. I lived in Truro, MA for nine months back in 2007/2008. With my son Spenser. While I ran an AIDS/HIV housing program just over there in Provincetown. Edward Hopper lived in Truro too – and painted there – for much of his life. Maybe a mile, maybe a mile and a half away. In time I came to know that. And I came to know his work, and be thrilled by it. Pieces like “Nighthawks” and “The Mansard Roof” and “Chop Suey” and “The Automat” and “The House By the Railroad”, and so many more. I have worn out library books looking at his paintings, and seen some in person in Portland and San Diego. But back then, living in Truro, I was simply oblivious to this painter, to painting – my future path.

It wasn’t the first time. In the fall of 1976 I moved from Salem, MA to Rockport, MA. I did this because I was – how do I say this politely – a drunk, and I knew a bunch of people in Salem and not one single person in Rockport, and back then my strong belief was that the world was unfair and often out to get me, and my friends didn’t really care about me, so later to everyone, I’m gone. This is the very kind of thinking alcoholics practice when they are alone, often at 3 a.m., ruminating about life in the big city. The world is out to get me. And so geographical cures make sense, and cashing in a crummy life for what undoubtably will be a better one. That’s how we think, when left to our own devices. So, as I was working at the time for the Tri-Town Council On Youth and Family Services, Inc. in Topsfield, MA, and since Salem and Rockport were about equi-distant away from Topsfield, I made the move. I found an apartment on Main Street in Rockport through a realty company. And I moved in.

Little did I know, just like I didn’t know 30 years later, that I was moving to a community of great art, of great artists. I would walk down the street and out onto Bearskin Neck because it stuck out a little in the ocean and it was cool to walk out there. I scarely noticed all the galleries and art studios on The Neck. These people had all painted there, many had lived there – Winslow Homer, Cecilia Beaux, Childe Hassam, Mark Rothko, Frank Duveneck, Aldo Hibbard, Emile Gruppe. Some of the most famous painters in our history – this country’s art history – in a place regarded as one of the greatest painting colonies in the United States, maybe even the world.

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