Making Movies

Friday March 10, 2017

I recently had another artist, Marjolyn van der Hart, come to stay with us for a day and two nights while I filmed her for one of the short documentary artist portrait films that I’ve been doing (yes, that was a shameless plug, contact me if you’re interested in having a short documentary artist portrait interview filmed for your own self-promotion). Ever since we met back in July of 2008, there’s never enough time to catch up on everything we want to discuss when we see each other on the road.

Marjolyn has defined her brand as something richly personal and meaningful, to combine a sense of history, fashion and her own life experiences with colorful statements and some brilliant perspectives on domestic living in the western world.

After getting enough footage for the film we decided to take a short ride to the studio of the pop-artist Jeff Schaller. I met Jeff at the Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show back in the year 2000, and I’ve watched as his family grew and grew up. We sat for a short bit and had beverages while discussing technical aspects of process, business and swapping ideas and opportunities. It’s as though time stood still for all of us, as we became timeless and ageless and purely pushing for what we can create in the moment, and what we’re building for what comes next. Each of our colors have been woven together into an even richer tapestry of community and connection that has never existed before, and all together we’re making history.

See the mixed-media works of Marjolyn van der Hart and discover the retro-pop encaustic paintings of Jeff Schaller

Marjolyn’s film should be finished in a few weeks, and will be posted here and on her website.

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David Oleski

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The Fork in the Path

Friday February 24, 2017

Upon my return from the last of the Florida shows, I’m back to work on paintings for my upcoming gallery show. Spending several weekends staring at my current body of work is always a difficult task. Hearing feedback from the audience is usually fairly illuminating, but after so many years of doing this it starts to feel a little thin.

I did have an opportunity to give a short presentation to a high school class in one of the Miami suburbs before the last show. Many of the questions were more about the business than the process, as the notion of having income as an artist seems hard to grasp. When I referred to some of the spacious and wonderful homes that usually wind up with my work, the teacher pulled me aside and explained that most of her students probably lived in those spacious and wonderful homes. I found myself wondering if I would have chosen the path of an artist if there were easier and more immediate options.

The fork in the path from pursuing business studies or art school was most likely the deciding factor in whether I am the artist that paints, or the client that gets to purchase and enjoy the paintings. Finding a quiet joy in the path I’ve chosen is sometimes veiled in layers of strife and challenge. The question was posed if painting and doing the shows was lucrative, and I had to admit that while I’m not rich, I do get to do what I want to do every day. A person might say “if I were rich, I’d just paint every day”, while I took the shortcut, and get to paint every day without being rich. So there is a certain wealth of freedom and expression that is just beyond the brushes, canvases and tools of what I do.

I finished today by working the reflections on a green bell pepper before sitting on the deck with Frank the dog, with a cigar and a glass of scotch watching the final colors of the sunset. I could see Venus high up above the pond, through the still-barren trees. Tomorrow will be a good day.

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The End of a Year

Saturday December 31, 2016

The shortest day of the winter solstice has come and gone, and each day is now growing imperceptibly longer and brighter. I’ve been busy throwing paint on the beginning of a series of brand new paintings I’m preparing for a gallery show in West Chester in May of 2017. Each day is a celebrating of all of the good things about painting: color, mass, depth and light. I’ll begin posting some of these finished pieces in the upcoming weeks.

This brings us to the final day of the year 2016. Usually on the fleeting eve of the new year I’ll describe a nightmarish scenario of time being a vast machine, the clock face of which I’m crawling along like an insect, precariously avoiding being swept off by the hand that marks the passing seconds. In other versions I’m clinging to the second hand, watching the numbers scroll past me like hieroglyphics on a cliff face. In every version, time is something ancient and decrepit, with the piercing sun lighting up the dust floating in the air, and me clinging to some version of the things that always move, and always threaten to drop me into a vast darkness below.

As I’m posting this just after midnight of the beginning of the day of New Year’s eve, I’m filled with a sense of calm confidence. I have fresh paint on the palette, and the dog is sleeping soundly next to me. I can hear the tick of the clock, but there is nothing menacing about the passage of time right now. I will complete the year as I will have chosen to live the next year, surrounded by friends and family, with food and drink, and light and paint. I’ll try to check in again later today to give a final report on what revelations may have occurred to me over the next twenty three hours, but at this point I believe I feel just fine.

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David Oleski

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The Shortest and Darkest Days

Friday December 9, 2016

I’ve been working diligently on these very small paintings since my return from Chicago last weekend. Small paintings yield small revelations, and small lessons in small aspects of the composition and color.

I finished a short film from my recent trip to Thailand and Laos. As always, the short glimpse of warmth of comfort does not begin to describe how friendly and warm the people really are.

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The Brand New 25 Days of Christmas

Sunday November 20, 2016

From December 1st to the 25th, each day I will be making available one very small framed 5 inch by 7 inch painting, for a special promotional discount price of $240, just in time for the perfect holiday gift (the typical non-promotional price for these Very Small Paintings is $300 each). As though that weren’t enough of a holiday miracle, included with each painting will be a gift certificate for $240, good toward the purchase of any piece from my current and upcoming available inventory, valid from the day you receive your Very Small Painting until December 31st of 2017. As many certificates as you collect can be combined together for any purchase, although these cannot be used in combination with any other special offer or promotion, including any other Very Small Paintings. Buy all 25 paintings and get the giant painting you’ve always wanted to hang above your couch…for free! On December 26th I might wake up and wonder what I was thinking, but in the meantime, I’ll be having fun playing Santa Claude Monet for the 25 Days of Christmas, or the Eight Days of Hanukkah and the mystic prime number of 17 days added around the Festival of Lights. The Very Small Paintings will be listed each day on the Very Small Paintings page, as well as on the Paintings of David Oleski Facebook Page, to be sold through the modern miracle of Ebay.

For those not wishing to purchase a Very Small Painting, but still wanting that perfect gift for that hard-to-please David Oleski fan, I will also be selling gift certificates in any amount from $200 up to $10,000 for that special someone wishing to make a selection on that perfect painting they’ve always wanted.

And of course nothing compares to just buying a David Oleski painting for yourself, and to prove to everybody that each and every one one of us truly is Number One, and the joy we bring to ourselves can only add to the joy we can offer to everyone around us. Why suffer with desire, when you can revel in acquisition? Happy holidays to everyone, and to all a good night!

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Once Upon a Time in the West

Monday September 12, 2016

A full month later, and I’m back from a whirlwind national tour, from east coast to Chicago, through Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and ending up in California. The enormity of it all is humbling, and our one truck and all those miles of highway makes us feel very small. Some notable moments were pausing to hear the wind in Badlands National Park, and walking out onto the Great Salt Lake salt flats as the sun went down. Sausalito and the bay area is always wonderful and lovely, and our return trip started too soon.

Our exhaustion made the return trip seem even longer, as we stopped in Indianapolis for another show last weekend. Two days of oppressive heat, rain storms and drenching humidity made the entire short weekend seem almost dreamlike.

Climbing the hills toward our house at dusk felt surreal, to see the darkest and greenest forest in the entire six thousand mile round trip. Of course it’s nice to be home, and I’m excited to already be mixing massive amounts of paint for my next piece.

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Space and Passage

Monday August 8, 2016

This past weekend’s show at Rehoboth Beach was not only a time to meditate on spectacular heat and humidity, but it was a bit of a reveal of some overall patterns that have been developing. Some of my artist friends are questioning this life we’ve chosen, as for many of us, it seems that the only bills we struggle to pay are the costs of doing the festivals. Good shows keep us caught up enough to continue to paint, and lack of income means our collections of available inventory continue to improve. Nobody ever started this way of life believing they might actually be rich from the profit, and many of us learn to come to odds with the notion that our job is to paint, and our weekly paycheck is the average of the income we make from sales. More than a few of us wonder how our lives may have been different if we hadn’t been lulled into the false sense of power and influence from something as fleeting and fickle as fine art.

One notable character from my ever-growing circle of friends recently and suddenly passed away. Chuck Kaiser was one of the sweetest and most compassionate artists on the show circuit, and his wit and humor and gentle nature will be sorely missed. His mixed media and batik paintings represented some ambitious explorations into pattern and color, and somehow he managed to remain positive and optimistic despite some deeply intense personal challenges over the years. Another artist quoted him as saying “We honor the dead by living”, and all of us will face the sobering future of living with that sentiment in mind, but without him. So very sad.

As I’ve been working for the past year in getting things sorted out with my family, things are finally almost finished. Today I stopped by to walk though and shoot some final pictures of the house that has been in the family for just short of fifty years. The massive amount of possessions have been dispersed and disposed, and the empty spaces are vast and full of air and light. My footsteps echoed through the hollow floors, and the creaking of every room was like a voice struggling to be heard and remembered. There was so much pain and sadness in that house, and the life we lived left each of us with our own difficult memories. The wallpaper in almost every room is stained and streaked, as though the entire house has been bleeding and crying for a lifetime. It’s hard to feel as though it’s only closing a chapter on my life, when it represents almost the entire time I’ve been alive. This will not be the house that the famous artist David Oleski grew up in, as it will only be a empty discarded shell of the thing that crushed and ruined so much light and joy for so many people.

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The blinding yellow sun of August

Wednesday August 3, 2016

In the past I am usually fairly troubled by the angle of the August sun. Some of my lowest points and richest revelations have happened when I was trying to see through the amazing glare of August. I’m not sure if it’s the forest going dry and thinning out, or the angles of the sun and reflections changing, or just my exhaustion at the end of the summer show season, but for some reason this winds up being quite the challenge every year.

For the past two weeks I’ve finished a few more atmospheric studies, which is only fitting because it was in August only a few years ago that I started attacking a painting with a knife for the first time and discovered the woven veils of color I could create within the gentle transitions and color fields. The newest things I’m exploring is key notes of fairly intense color. Usually these marks hang in front of the apparent surface of the underlying colors, but today I laid in a rich, dark red that actually sat back and forced a mesh of blue to come forward to the front of the color space.

It’s all so very interesting.

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Immersion and Plateaus

Monday July 18, 2016

I’ve been hitting a certain plateau as of late. My abilities in color exploration and all of the composite elements have been growing in leaps and bounds over the past few years. Two weeks ago I slammed down some stunning studies, of black plums and of a cooked lobster. Last week I finished a large study of a bouquet of sunflowers, and finally I feel that I’ve hit a wall. Attempting a subject that regularly challenges and confounds me wound up throwing me a curve. The biggest hurdle with sunflowers is to make something turn when every part of it is vivid and glowing. The brightest parts of the yellow petals can only go one of three different directions, either blue-gray, green or orange. It might be a limitation of my eye’s ability to see these gradations, or it might be a limitation of what I can envision, audition and explore to reference the relationships that create shape, mass, depth and atmosphere, all within the context of something that starts as vivid as cadmium yellow straight from the tube.

I’m building some large canvases today, so this week I’ll be trying some different things to see if I can’t get some forward momentum going again.

This past weekend I was at a show in Westport, and had plenty of time to study my two bodies of work. Seeing the atmospheric color studies through the eyes of a new audience is always refreshing, as the sense of wonder and surprise reminds me of the simple thrill of the effect of the immersive scale of the all of the interwoven colors. I’m starting to consider exploring some new directions with the color fields, although I do feel that I’ve prematurely left the study of white behind as I dig into deeper and heavier colors with each new effort.

I became aware of a subtle but profound shift in the colors of fashion. While perusing some of the trendy clothing shops of Westport, I could see that colors are shifting from one range to another. Gone are the high-energy vibrant blues and violets, and instead they are being replaced with what could only be described as the foundation for a possible trend into earth tones. Rich magentas and oranges and blues that lean more toward green than violet, the entire range of color seems to be going through a major and notable shift. At a certain point, this will be a consideration in the colors I may select for the major elements in my paintings, as upholstery and wall colors will be following the fashion as well.

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The Fabulous Crushing Heat of Summer

Thursday July 7, 2016

Few things compare to the heat of summer in the northeast. The sun is absolutely brutal, baking the paint into chewing gum in the middle of a painting session. Paintings are being rushed off of the easel before everything sets up.

I don’t have the blinding glare of August yet, and there is a wonderful selection of subjects at the grocery store. Black plums are available, but they aren’t yet covered with the soft blue haze. A great deal on lobsters meant I was able to throw that familiar and delicious subject up on the table. Sunflowers have the perfect blond centers, so next week I’ll be diving into a giant bouquet of sunflowers for the first time in several years.

I’ve been scrambling to build canvases ahead of what I need for each day’s painting, as I’m working quickly to make use of the long and sunny days. Each painting session is a long drawn-out exercise in stamina and patience, and it always feels good to sit down again at the end of the day.

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Summer Solstice

Monday June 20, 2016

On this very longest day of the year I’m busy slinging paint after a fun weekend at the Virginia Beach Boardwalk Art Show.

Two weeks ago I finished a series of abstract pieces, and today I’m deep in a large study of seven lemons. It feels like a luxury to just stay home and paint, as I now have far too many moving parts in my life, with the momentous task of liquidating my family home.

As part of the salvage operation, I procured my entire body of student work from art school. After quickly unrolling a few big pieces for a few laughs, I decided that I will create a final viewing event before erasing these pieces from existence. Many would proclaim this as an act of idiocy, but any real artist would understand the benefit of avoiding any fixation on past footsteps to the ascension of where their careers have taken them.

I’m pleased with who I am as an artist now, and I see those first disciplines and exercises as important parts of my journey. Looking back I can see how difficult it would have been for those works to have been the springboard to the career I currently have. There was no direct path from one to the other, and nothing less than the decade of time spent as a musician and an explorer were a big part of what tempered my personal conviction to be committed to painting, or more importantly, to explore by creating paintings.

If I took the time to be outside, all the light and color and warmth is just lovely. Everything is green, and everything is alive.

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Vernal Equinox, and Beyond

Saturday April 2, 2016

As things turned out, the angle of the entire planet is changing as the earth spins and rotates around the sun again. The vernal equinox has passed while I was in Europe, enjoying a brief tour of Brussels, Bruges, Ghent, Amsterdam and Paris. In addition to the standard whirlwind of various flavors and cuisines, I was able to visit the Rijkmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, as well as the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

I’ve been involved in an interesting project, as seen here,



 

And the opening reception that followed was even more exciting than the live session.

The days are getting longer and brighter, and I’m painting as much as possible for the next few weeks.

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