Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Monotype

I added a couple monotype prints to my web page. Monotypes are much like original paintings. They are one of a kind works but they use a printmaking process of working on a plate and with an etching press. There is an energy to the process that I really like. These are part of the Fire Season series but were done a couple years ago. I haven't shown anyone before now.
Fire's Warmth by John Holdway


Monday, July 27, 2015

Two Rivers Pulsing

I have been working on a new series of abstract paintings that continue to explore elemental conceptions of nature. The series title is Two Rivers Pulsing ( at least the working title) which is from 
Emerson's poem Two Rivers. For me the poem speaks to my long interest in the expression of the internal and external worlds.

Two Rivers
by Ralf Waldo Emerson

Thy summer voice, Musketaquit,
Repeats the music of the rain;
But sweeter rivers pulsing flit
Through thee, as thou through the Concord Plain.

Thou in thy narrow banks art pent:
The stream I love unbounded goes
Through flood and sea and firmament;
Through light, through life, it forward flows.

I see the inundation sweet,
I hear the spending of the steam
Through years, through men, through Nature fleet,
Through love and thought, through power and dream.

Musketaquit, a goblin strong,
Of shard and flint makes jewels gay;
They lose their grief who hear his song,
And where he winds is the day of day.

So forth and brighter fares my stream,—
Who drink it shall not thirst again;
No darkness taints its equal gleam,
And ages drop in it like rain.

Here is a glimpse of one of the pieces that I am finishing up from the series.
Here Beside the River


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sketchbook Studies

Jean commented on the method of doing thumbnail studies. I bucked this type of preliminary work, wanting to use a more improvisational approach in my work when I was younger. I worked intuitively and reacted to what was happening in the moment. When I began a series of realistic observational still life paintings 14 years ago I started to see the advantage to doing preparatory studies. When I started following the steps. (I actually created my own method somewhat based on classical techniques.) I was having less failed paintings and I was much faster. I could also expand and work in any size I wanted.

In researching classical methods and found that this preliminary work is extremely important. You can go to visit James Gurney's blog to start learning about adopting the old techniques. He is very generous with his knowledge. There is a huge explosion of information on classical painting techniques so you will have no trouble finding information. Other resources you might like are illustrators who work using classical methods such as Donato Giancola and Dan Dos Santos also there are atielier trained artists like Stan Prokopenko.

I have always been interested in intuition and improvisation. I have developed a synthesized technique for myself. I create dozens if not hundreds of thumbnail compositional studies. These play a different role than they do to classical or imaginative realism. I don't want to create a roadmap or plan for a painting. I want to focus on intuition and improvisation while I am painting even when it comes to composition elements. These studies serve as a method of developing the abstract visual language and mark making language. I find it extremely important in my work. 

Sketchbook Page


Magma Chamber on the easel

Monday, July 20, 2015

Idea Mining

To get ideas I just start doing these little scribbles. I am starting to look for something to develop. I am searching for the thing that will light the fire. The idea is the most important thing. I know what to do when the idea comes.


Monday, July 13, 2015

River Retreat Abstract


A lot of my work is moving toward abstraction. I haven't shown much of it on the web yet. Here is an example.

Saturday, July 11, 2015


The epic feel in movies inspired me to do a series of long format watercolor studies.

Friday, July 10, 2015



Here is another longer format watercolor landscape format. I am inspired by the epic feel that filmmakers get when they use a long format.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

New Video New Class New Show

I have three things I want to report. A new video, a new class, and a new show.

I made a new time lapse video of myself painting a chickadee. You can see it on Youtube or Facebook. Please comment and let me know if you would like me to make more videos.

Next I am teaching a Workshop at Oregon Art Supply in Eugene, Oregon on March 14th and 15th. Check it out and sign up.

I am going to have a number of paintings on display at Oregon Art Supply in March and April. I will be at the First Friday Art Walk Friday March 6. I am going to bring my gear and do a bit of painting. I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Food and Art

This year I decided to try something different. I started going to a writing group! I felt like an interloper since I don't feel like a writer and have never aspired to be a writer. As it is turning out I am find myself writing more and more to help further my painting. The group is very inviting even though I feel a little backward surrounded by many fine writers. I first published this post on johnholdway.com but since I decided to move blog posts here. I think this post was inspired in part by being a part of two food art exhibits this summer and meeting Mary of oneperfectbite.blogspot.com at the writers group.

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Michelle wrote about food in literature while getting her Masters degree from Johns Hopkins. We lived in Baltimore and spent many evenings drinking wine and talking about books, food, movies, ideas and art. Listening to her talk about how everything is affected by our relationship with food opened my eyes to how food is a tangle of the ordinary, spiritual, political and cultural. Michelle is my muse but I haven't done a pile of portraits of her. She is not a sit still kind of girl. She feeds my mind. The ideas make their way into my art.
 visit my web page

I eventually started a series of paintings of food. I exhibited those paintings in many exhibitions including two solo shows, Shelf Life at Opus6ix Gallery and Fresh at David Joyce Gallery. Just recently I am included in two group exhibitions that question the role of food in culture. Farm to Table:Table at David Joyce Gallery in Eugene, Oregon and Culture and Agriculture at New Visions Gallery in Marshfield, Wisconsin both deal with the disconnection between the food we eat and its production. I heard Tony Shalhoub interviewed on the radio yesterday and that made me think of Big Night. Michelle and I saw that movie at The Charles Theater when it came out in 1996. The cultural enthusiasm over food was buzzing in the zeitgeist. When we moved to Eugene in 1997 The slow food movement and Community Supported Agriculture were taking off. Eugene already had well established farmers markets and community garden programs. We got a community garden plot and began growing our own vegetables. My series of still life food paintings began with squash grown from our community garden. Here is something I wrote for the Farm to Table:Table exhibit-
 visit my web pageFarm to Table: Table Since the industrialization of our food supply we have begun to develop a vision of a romantic farm. We romanticize agriculture of the past. This is not so helpful in describing the past but instead tells us more about our own desire. Industrialization has many benefits and we cannot go backward. Industrialized agriculture also has costs. One of these is our connection to the food. We seem to need its connection: we want a beautiful vision of where our food comes from. Our food has never come from the Garden of Eden. It is doubtful the truth of food production will ever live up to that idea, but I see that we crave that vision. In that way food is important beyond it’s physical nourishment. In the painting of still life the subject takes on a new importance. The image is similar to a shrine. We are allowed the time to observe and contemplate. I feel that this exhibit is a connection to my own personal work. It seeks to question our own connection to the food we eat. How can we reconcile our physical needs with our spiritual needs?