Archives for category: The Voyage

As a professional, in any line of work, the process of re-discovery should remain continuous, because there is always something new to learn. And learning means evolving.

I for one have never been satisfied with knowing “just enough” to get by, but instead strive to be all I can, and then some. It’s what keeps me steady in the face of adversity. Because I know I’ve never taken the easy way out. In fact, I fail often… because I dare to confront my uncertainties head-on. And those failures, in return, then provide the tools I need to meet the next challenge.

But it’s not just the lessons we learn that are important. I love learning because it helps me to re-discover the beauty in what I do, forcing me to see the work (once again) through fresh and curious eyes. And this moment is no different, as I immerse myself in the painted landscape.

Landscapes have occupied many a background, in my work, and have oftentimes been utilized to express characteristics about my subject. But I haven’t explored the landscape on its own enough to truly say I understand the technique. So as I endeavor to fully incorporate the landscape in my repertoire, here I am again… falling in love with the process of converting raw material into something beautiful.

Check it out: Using a single palette knife, some pretty rugged brushes, painting medium, Gamsol (which is an odorless paint thinner) and few squirts of paint…

Tools and Raw Materials

Tools and Raw Material

The magic begins when all of this mess…

My Palette

Sections of the single palette used to create “Quiet Reflection”

Begins to merge and take shape on the canvas.

Stage-01

A simple sky and outline of the foreground added over a solid wash

Stage-02

Working dark to light, from the background forward

Quiet Reflection: On the easel

On the easel, as I begin to tackle the foreground

Until, at last… the work is complete.

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“Quiet Reflection” © 2017, Michael Torres ~ All Rights Reserved

This was the second of ten practice pieces that I’ve challenged myself to create before Christmas. So, stay tuned! ~ There are plenty more to come!!

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The Automatic Process is just one of many methods of creating a painting (or any work of art). But it’s the method I most commonly prefer, primarily because it allows the artist to tap into his/her subconsciousness, oftentimes with surprising results, as artwork that isn’t planned so much as it just happens.

Insatiable

“Insatiable” © 2013, Michael Torres ~ All Rights Reserved

Although I also work from fully visualized concepts that are sketched out and systematically executed, my opinion is that The Automatic Process (with practice) can be more genuinely expressive and revealing; not entirely explicit of the artist’s presumed comprehension of the subject, which can be unavoidably subjective, but of the artist’s unacknowledged (or unrealized) aversions, preferences, and innate tendencies toward that subject, which perhaps arrive at a closer proximity to objectivity (without the filters of reason). It is a technique that liberates what is normally suppressed by our conditioning (reflexively) and self-censorship (voluntarily), animating that mysterious source within each of us that never sleeps; that which I deliberately refer to it as the Subconscious part of the mind, rather than the Unconscious, because to actively utilize its wealth is to awaken its potential.

It might seem ridiculous to think that such a source can be harvested. However, just like learning a new language, a new skill, or improving one’s memory, tapping into one’s subconsciousness is an acquired ability that can be harnessed through practice, a function that isn’t quite as abstract as one might think. In fact, The Automatic Process is more accurately about allowing one’s self to be vulnerable, admitting (to ourselves, at very least) that we don’t always know why we feel certain ways. It’s about letting go of our imaginary controls, to make room for revelation. And it’s about purposefully encountering our innermost (which is indelible and vast); a frightening proposition, I know, but a journey well worth endeavoring.

Catalog: 1992 - Mar, 2011

“Undertow” © 2013, Michael Torres ~ All Rights Reserved

From Freud to Breton, to Your’s Truly:

To shed more light on the subject, I was first introduced to the idea of Psychic Automatism when exploring the roots of the surrealist movement and was immediately intrigued by the suggestion that the limits of active consciousness could be expanded and employed. It was a claim originally proposed by Sigmund Freud, whose psychoanalytic discoveries gave substance to André Breton’s First Surrealist Manifesto, officially establishing Surrealism as an intellectual practice. (read The First Surrealist Manifesto, by André Breton, here: Surrealist Manifesto)

However, because there is no fixed single method of approach, the process of Automatism can vary drastically, influenced by any number of factors (such as personality, emotional state, space and time). And yet, for the most part, I’ve remained faithful to the surrealist’s original manner, adopting what is called Automatic Painting. Though, what is generally considered random and accidental mark making, I now refer to as intuitive composition, simply because of the progression I have witnessed in my own work, which evolved from pure abstract expressionism to diverse representations of abstraction, expressionism, and surrealism.

Here are a few examples of work created with The Automatic Process that exhibit a natural evolution, as I become more and more comfortable with this form of expression. Though the process itself remains necessarily flexible.

Puncture Wound

“Puncture Wound” © 2012, Michael Torres ~ All Rights Reserved

A Violent Departure

“A Violent Departure” © 2013, Michael Torres ~ All Rights Reserved

Achieving Symmetry

“Achieving Symmetry” © 2014, Michael Torres ~ All Rights Reserved

Meditation-Eq

“Out of Bounds” © 2017, Michael Torres ~ All Rights Reserved

My Process:

As previously mentioned, my work isn’t always created in an automatic style. I still honor the tradition of painting when approaching classical subjects, such as landscapes and the body. But when I’m feeling inspired and uninhibited, I usually begin with a single color (if driven by raw emotion) or a simple sketch (when working from a concept that is intended to evolve) and allow instinct and intuition to guide each step along the way.

The key, once the work commences, is to remain immersed in the process, which requires me to “receive” rather than to dictate, seeking internal guidance without surrendering to the temptation to “edit”. And only when the subject has developed enough to contain substance and to speak for itself do I attempt aiding in the work’s aesthetic movement, by refining composition. The process’s real promise, after all, lies in discovery; not for vainglorious purposes, but for the emotional connections established by the image’s own individual presence and for its meaning, which is created and shared through discourse (between the work, the artist, the audience, and that mysterious source within each of us that never sleeps).

Follow me on Instagram: @whoismichaeltorres, and on Facebook: @ Who is Michael Torres

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Silent Scream

When a creative dry-spell becomes a drought, I sometimes have to reach beyond the image to recover the fire. I sometimes have to delve into the clutter of a collective creative consciousness, into the minds of artists who inspire me, to find a flicker of my own creative light.

There, in uninhabited space, outside the boundaries of our supposed 10%, we are all relatives. And, as I navigate through clusters of coruscated thought, which appear like stars within a galaxy, it is often the whisper of a word, printed on quiet paper, that resonates. It is often a whisper… that rekindles the flame.

I hear you… You, whom I would also call myself. And I am moved.

As a romantic, even the simplest conversations sometimes blossom into deep, penetrating discourse because of floral expressions that embellish a thought. I had one of those discussions recently, that started as I was closing a text exchange with a friend. We hadn’t seen each other in about two weeks, as I’ve immersed myself in the process of enriching my Social Media engagement, out of necessity, to expand my network. But to paint a complete picture for you, she is also a romantic interest who has kept my enthusiasms at bay as the “third wheel”. So our conversations, even when standing on pure decorum, are always infused with the overtures that underlie the platonic structure of our correspondence. I told her, “I won’t be a ghost for much longer,” to which she replied, “What do you mean by that?”

In hind-sight, it was an abstruse thing for me to express in a form of communication as static as text, especially as someone who is trying to respect the boundaries of current circumstances. However, I also stumbled upon useful discoveries as I traversed the question in search of a multi-foliate answer, because, despite the implicit nature of that statement, I simply didn’t intend to suggest anything more than “I am in the process of Emerging”, in many ways that remain a work in progress.

The most significant of those discoveries, as they pertain to my creative pursuits, is that I am only now beginning to awaken from a deeply introverted trance that has guided me through the last several years. Meditation has not only been a way of being present in the moment, allowing me to feel and experience the world on a deeply personal level, but it is also a retreat and sanctuary, when the event of Life threatens to supplant the exerted efforts for which I have sacrificed so much. So as I now immerse myself in the effort of discovering “My Story”, I realize more and more that I have almost become desensitized to the deprivation I only occasionally used to endure (in Self-preservation), which finally brings me back to the beginning… a painting in my collection that I keep in my studio as a reminder that “I knew this would be a difficult journey”.

“Self Portrait, 2008” (below) symbolizes the decision I faced when choosing the path of the artist. That moment was a stance taken in the conflict between my Spiritual Voice, which is expressed in my work, and my physical Self, who belongs to this lifetime. I recognized then the sacrifices I would have to endure to find equilibrium between these two vivid aspects of myself. It was an epiphany, a moment in my life that has led me here, still painting and evolving alongside my expressive brush.

In the painting, the city burns in the background as a symbol of the Social Life I would have to abandon in order to find and nurture my creative Self, who is inherently introspective. But I also went another extreme, removing the threat of my enormous Love from the equation, which is sometimes even too big for me to handle, by setting my heart aside where it still rests in the box (for now).

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Self Portrait

A good friend endearingly asked, as she lassoed me with her kind eyes and playful smile, “Did you bite off more than you could chew again?”

She already knew the answer to that question. She could see it in me as we approached one another, embracing through an exchange of glances. But I didn’t want to disappoint. I strutted my stuff the way I should, mirroring her grin with my own, and replied, “Absolutely.” (as we both laughed)

I knew it would please her to hear it. But it also pleased me to watch her light up and giggle. That is the part of my life I love the most… being able to leap blindly without relent and not seem foolish, because there is calculation in my movement, even if the sums and differences of what I do are barely perceivable. I know that every action counts and contributes toward my calibration. But I also enjoy the challenge of landing on my feet from whatever distance and against whatever odds. I enjoy the rush of the pursuit. And the truth is… it only has to work out perfectly, once… for the game to change forever. That’s life, after all. It is a precarious proposition at best (for everyone). So why shouldn’t we attempt to live it on our own terms?

As you may have guessed, I missed my Tribeza Deadline. (sigh) But all is not lost. I certainly eyed it as a prize, in reaching a target audience. But with two months still to go, there are a number of ways to compensate for the lost advertising spot, such as, a more aggressive campaign through the Chronicle as the exhibit approaches. But it might also be time to call in some help with marketing. (More on this later.)

As for the Prospects I was pursuing: Well… much to my chagrin, I’m still in pursuit (of all four)… but haven’t lost hope. Never!

~ To Be Continued…

My first advertising deadline is only 14 days away and the key component, the elusive “where”, for my fall exhibit is still up in the air. In the past, I would have been worried, feeling like my back was against the wall. But nowadays… Meh. It’s just another day at the office. I’ve grown accustomed to the unhurried pace of my life, despite the maddening pace of my mind, always striving to accomplish something before the sun sets and the moon casts its spells. Even for me, under the influence of the moon and beneath a veil of stars that decorate the vastness, my creative fire burns, eager to fill the darkness with her elegance and radiance. She is the reason for my daytime stirring, so that I may continue to feed her flame.

In my eyes, I am still on course and according to plan, always at the center of this quiet commotion, at the eye of the storm, where I juggle all the metamorphosing pieces that have materialized from mere thought as I attempt to assemble the puzzle. The “Big Picture”, as I imagined it, is much larger than any single project, passed or failed. It is the accumulation of both light and shadow, which gives my life dimension and depth. I am here and now, but also, there on the horizon, at the final destination for which I have set sail with patience as my anchor, to remain present along the voyage while admiring the view of this fluid world we walk on when we dare live out our dreams.

A full update is coming soon. But, for now, I wanted to take a moment to recognize two early contributions that have officially helped launch this campaign: Linn Robinson, who, as a patron, “wanted to give me every advantage possible”, and Havenly Cleanshttp://havenlycleans.com/ – who proudly jumped at the chance to become a sponsor. Thank you for your generous support!

~ This is just the beginning, ya’ll!

I have a little less than 12 weeks left, to have artwork hanging on the walls for my Fall Exhibition, and there is still a lot to be done. Although most of the pieces being showcased are near completion, needing only tweaks and detailing, the big picture is much more comprehensive than the art itself. Those wholly immersed in the business understand the enormity of the task at hand (to do it right, at least). But for the rest of you, regardless of your level of enthusiasm, I hope this small glimpse “Behind the Scenes” will be a fun journey that will also shed some light on all the time, money, and effort that is invested in presenting the work. So, whether the show is well-coordinated or a total disaster… We’ll see soon enough.  🙂

Getting Started:

Foremost among my priorities is creating enough interest in the project to finance it (without loans, barter, or credit). I realistically only have 4 – 6 weeks to raise all the $$$ needed, and the outcome of my effort will directly impact two very specific matters; Location, and Marketing. I knew going into this that raising capital would be the most daunting of my tasks. So of course, I’ve wasted no time. As of now, there are three active prospects with whom I am coordinating studio visits, two of whom I’ve met with casually to discuss the project, my needs, wants, and long term goals. The third is a recent acquaintance with a passionate appreciation for art who has developed a serious interest in my work over the last month. All are solid prospects that I have nurtured. But another potential, a lead with whom I still need to follow up, has been added to the list of hopefuls through referral from a friend. (Much more on these developments later)

Obviously, the objective of the Studio Visit is to generate sales. So I make it a practice to plant the seed early. That way, potential buyers won’t feel blindsided when the subject comes up during the tour. I know. The voice of reason tells you that “the intent to sell” is an understood. But in retort, let me remind you that Assumption is also the mother of all f*ups. I know. I’ve been there and done that. So, I don’t assume. I take a very direct approach instead and put all my cards on the table, plain and simple.

My Selling Philosophy:

I’ll readily admit, I feel fortunate for having been equipped with the ability and eagerness to sell. I don’t know if I was just born lucky, or if my proficiency as a salesman is a skill-set that has been acquired and honed through experience. Probably, it’s a little of both. But I also attribute much of my success to a simple selling philosophy that begins with Knowing One’s Self. Many artists fail to recognize that when a collector acquires art, they’re not just purchasing an image or an object they like, they’re investing in the artist – a living, breathing person with aspirations and beliefs. The artist is the product. Despite the shared enthusiasm in the work itself (which is only a bonus), it is the artist’s persona and vision that gives the work any real value, and it is within the artist that “Potential Investment” can be found.

The principles themselves are simple. Create Value, both in the work and yourself. Make It Personal, because you HAVE TO be more than just a name on the wall next to a piece. Always Offer the Best Deal Possible, which means… Be Fair to Yourself Without Getting Greedy. But most important, you have to Close The Sale (arrange for the client to buy). Chances are, if you’re approach is genuine in all regards, closing the sale is just a formality that ends with a handshake and a happy client. After all, (yes) they are there for a reason (to purchase). But nothing is free in this world. You still have to earn the willing exchange if you want to complete the transaction on fair terms for both parties.

Let me demonstrate how this approach works, by applying it to my upcoming studio visits.

Creating Value: The real advantage to inviting potential buyers into the studio is simple, Seeing is Believing. So I focus on my three greatest strengths, the sheer scale of my collection, diversity, and my attention to detail.

The first part is easy, because the moment my guest steps into the studio… They Are Bombarded… with art, everywhere; hanging on the walls, in progress on my easel, neatly resting on shelves, and peeking out of every nook and cranny. The selection is easily 100 pieces strong, in-house, which can be overwhelming. But that impression alone is generally enough to create a sense of wonderment that establishes grounds for conversation. And 9 times out of 10, they are the ones who break the silence with some variation of exclamation.

My_Studio_Eq

The second part requires a little more finesse. You have to listen… to understand what the buyer is looking for. Your job, is to fulfill that need, expressing your appreciation through attentiveness while recognizing your cues to comment. For the most part, the work should speak for itself, because, in all honesty, art is inherently subjective. But its also important to share tidbits about the processes undergone, the concept and what it took to achieve it, because they want to see the work as you do, even if they own a different interpretation of it. But regardless of opinions, there is simply no comparison to seeing the work in full, vivid detail – in person.

Here’s an example of a piece you’d see in my portfolio.

The_Gallery_Eq

And details you would want to see in person, to fully appreciate their depth in texture and the sensitivity expressed in each brush stroke.

Detail_01_EqDetail_03_EqDetail_06_EqDetail_04_EqDetail_05_EqDetail_07_Eq

Making It Personal: Making it personal is not just about navigating the one-on-one exchange. It’s about instilling a sense of appreciation in your patron, for the opportunity they provide you by supporting your decision to pursue your passion. Collectors give our work real meaning and purpose when they become our patrons. They become the most vital component in turning a hobby into a career. So I conduct my business with pure, unadulterated gratitude, knowing that every sale will directly flow into preparation for the next project (currently… my Fall Exhibition). It’s not leisure money I’m accumulating. It is necessary working capital. (Everyone will have their own approach to this, but hopefully, you get the gist.)

Offering the Best Deal Possible: This is the most significant benefit for you patron, because it translates directly into savings. I cannot stress this enough.

The art market is still retail, which means heavy markups on the art when purchased through a third party (the gallery). Don’t get me wrong. There are many well-established galleries that can fetch far better prices than I could as an individual, but they are not abundant enough to support the whole of the art community (regardless of skill level and/or experience). Therefore, I prefer to create my own opportunities while continuing my quest for representation, and studio visits have proven to be increasingly lucrative and mutually beneficial (for myself and my collectors).

The simple truth is, when purchasing artwork directly from the artist, the buyer automatically eliminates the added cost of commissions, usually 40 – 50 percent of the sale, which galleries keep. Prices seem exorbitant in galleries because they are (even when the price is justified through the galleries function). I know I’d never take a cut on my part! That means the gallery has no choice but to raise prices, in order to receive its share, while the buyer absorbs the cost. That’s why I’ve grown to appreciate studio visits as a regular part of my business… I feel like I can genuinely offer “Privileged Pricing” for those willing to engage.

Closing the Sale: I realize that not just anyone has two or three thousand dollars in “petty cash”, with which to by art. So, when it’s time to decide on the purchase, I like to guide the buyer through different payment options to provide them with the best solution for their budget. Of course, cash is still king. So I will oftentimes offer a discount for cash purchases, to encourage a full commitment up front (when it is within their means). However, I also accept credit cards and have discovered the added benefit of receiving payment in installments, which can be arranged any number of ways. In fact, I’ve sold more work over the last two years, than ever before, since I started offering Payment Plans (up to 10 months for larger acquisitions). They’ve helped smaller budgets stretch further (for a purchase that is normally out of range) and have proven an effective method in creating a steadier income stream, allowing me to focus more heavily on expanding my audience and growing a business that is built around a labor of love.

In conclusion:

Enough of the groundwork has been laid down, from strategy to production, to achieve my desired outcome… even within a limited time-frame. So as a matter of principle, I prefer to trust my own instincts, now that I’m engaged, rather than rely on conventional Best Practices. I stick with what I know for a host of reasons, but primarily, because it eliminates complications that I’m not prepared for. And that is part of the excitement for me here, whether the show is a success or failure. I get to put my instincts and experience to the test… And it will unfold here, for all to see. This is my life, after all, the life of an artist… and this is “Why” I started this blog.  🙂

~ Stay Tuned!

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