Upcoming Events with J.T. Grant
FRIDAY, MAY 19, 2023 AT 6 PM
LET'S TALK ART with J. T. Grant -- Q & A Roundtable discussion.
Join us in welcoming J. T. Grant back to Montross, VA. J. T. is a world-renown artist now living in Texas. This is the first of three events -- Art Roundtable Discussion and Q & A. He will answer your art-related questions but wants to focus on information that will help us grow our art business -- How to make a living, how to develop our signature work, and how to build a collection.
This is an RSVP event as seating is limited. Please visit our website -- www.TheArtsCenterofMontross.com/workshops to register.
SATURDAY, MAY 20, 2023 AT 1 PM
ALLA PRIMA PAINTING DEMONSTRATION with J. T. Grant
J. T. Grant will demonstrate painting a still life featuring mangoes. In this demonstration he will be illustrating composition, color transitions, brushwork, untangling your choices to the primaries and secondaries, and the importance of what to leave in and what to leave out. He says, "If you can paint a piece of fruit you can paint the world."
This is a RSVP event, as seating is limited. Please visit our website to register -- www.TheArtsCenterofMontross.com/workshops.
GROUP ART CRITIQUE with J. T. Grant
SUNDAY, MAY 21, 2023 AT 1:30 PM
Bring two paintings you would like Mr. Grant to critique. You can bring two more but they will only be critiqued if time permits. This is a absolutely fantastic opportunity to have your work critiqued by this artist.
This is a RSVP event as seating is limited. To register, please visit our website -- www.TheArtsCenterofMontross.com/workshops to register.
From the Artist
Everything in art is dichotomy. There is no bright without dull, no light without dark, no activity without stillness. And, there is no beauty without at least the threat or angst of lurking ugliness. A bucolic landscape is crawling with the dead and dying and that which feasts upon it. Even Gibran wrote lovingly of the beauty of a “heart blazed over with scars.” And most importantly all things everywhere, from the cosmos to a cup of coffee derive from chaos.
I limit all my choices of subject and my treatment of them to what I like and what I want. I want to approach each painting in a way that is unencumbered, more like a child at play not questioning each act. (Accepting that I have carefully established all my practices and discipline and have worked to make them entirely automatic) this approach is most likely to allow me to open myself to my unconscious. It is there, the unconscious, where the art urge originates and it is from there where the best use of color derives. I want to make my paintings having put aside my conscious approbations and become childlike, freely playful, and unquestioning in my choices. No matter how serious or dark or joyful the subject, it is in that playful state where the unconscious is able to most directly influence my process, my use of color, and the development of the text and subtext of my work. I often paint my reactions to the plague of systemic victimization, extrajudicial executions, the war on the middle class, our rapidly deteriorating social structures and norms, and the inevitable outcome that follows it all. For that reason, my work has been described as “post-apocalyptic romantic realism. For facing that kind of direct subject or sublimated content I owe much to my viewers. I use saturated and carefully juxtaposed colors to appealingly illuminate the canvas and my difficult subject matter. I want to create some balance, a sort of payoff that makes the experience of viewing sometimes difficult paintings not just tolerable, but hopefully invigorating, perhaps somewhat darkly introspective, but also pleasing to the eye. Though I strive to offer contemporary viewers a rich and varied experience, I paint for 50 to 100 years hence. It is my intent to make paintings whose symbolism, meaning, and text will be clearer in the future than today. I exclude objects and clothing that will fix the time at a specific point in the present. The situations, figures, and objects may represent any point from tomorrow to some yet unknown epochal event and into the future. Telephone poles exist, they stand but are often stripped of their wires. Figures are made bald to avoid any sense of style that would place them at some distinct point in time and to suggest a broad cultural shift from current fashion. Clothing is replaced with swaddle, not only to avoid the issue of transitory fashion but to question how people would use cloth to adorn and identify their perception of identity if there was no fear of nudity, no longer conscious of it. The use of swaddle also serves as a reminder of the influence of religion in postmodern life. Things that look like tulips, may in fact, only have a single petal, two, or six, like members of a clan with differing eye color or hair, or body type. They have impossibly long stems that trace a pattern of geometry and music, their sweep and line based on the universally ubiquitous Fibonacci spiral. They struggle to maintain community, and cohesion or fly to escape it. They are us. I work from life and my own photographs. I freehand everything and use no projections, gridding or copying techniques. I do not use sketches or oil studies prior to executing a painting. Though ultimately arriving at a relatively high degree of realism, mine is a process of seeking to keep the painting open as much as possible. There is always chaos at play in my paintings. I bush in lines to vaguely suggest compositional masses and to begin to activate the picture plane and myself to act and react. I begin with broad loose strokes and sloppy lines to break the canvas into vague compositional fragments. From there and until the end of the painting I need only make smaller and smaller mistakes. My painting then is a process of moving from the largest possible mistakes at the beginning through increasingly minor mistakes as I progress so that at no point during the painting do I have to worry about what’s right, wrong or about protecting some passage I’ve laid in, no matter how much I like it. By scribbling, being sketchy and thoughtfully adding directional lines and countering strokes, all of which I will allow being subsumed by later more refined rendering I facilitate the painting rendering its own correct likenesses. Nothing needs to be perfect until the last tiny strokes, which are in fact the most important of all. This process allows me to render not just the form of the subject but the feelings and thoughts deriving from it that I wish to convey within a work. In this chaos process, I heartily embrace the inevitable gross error. My posit is that since the art urge derives from the unconscious, and the conscious cannot directly experience the unconscious, that is psychosis, then sometimes when the unconscious is attempting to get the conscious mind to execute some particular movement of color, it may come out of the unconscious upside down and backward, so to speak. It will seem to be a bad mistake. However, my experience has proven that in the patient correction of these mistakes I find that an expression of color and form far superior to my capacity will result. Color alone, if allowed to express with as little intrusion of conscious choice as possible, relying instead on intuition and the pre-verbal “like and want” urges, will act as an independent semantic, grammatical, conversational expression and will operate as a second subject distinct from that suggested by the models rendered. By nature, we are creatures of a symbol. We understand the world from the earliest most primitive tribal structures to today by a symbol. Color is the first symbol by which we begin to understand communication. Word-symbols follow. Restaurants often use red in their interiors. It is an agitating color and encourages guests to eat more quickly to make more tables available faster. Blue soothes. Harmonic colors are emotionally engaging. The adjacent juxtaposition of complementary colors vibrate at their border creating a sense of urgency, irritation and focus. But beyond these basics of color theory and color psychology, it is my operating thesis that color can function as a fully formed semantic, grammatical system. I use color to do two things. First, I want to cover a canvas with the prismatic and fragmented color of harmonics and compliments to render the appearance of a person, place or thing and to entice a viewer to pause long enough to experience some nascent emotional or intellectual connection with the painting. Secondly and more importantly, however, I seek to mix and compose arrangements of color in such a way that it will describe with clarity and depth an independent, linear subtextual meaning that may only be related to the paintings’ obvious subjects in the most tenuous way. To date, this theory has been borne out by the discretely observed reactions and statements by viewers unaware of me observing them. A field of crimson clover with no subliminal cues causes one to wonder how many slaves died in that place. The field was in fallow and a part of a former plantation. A blue vase with a moth near it makes someone sad for their mother. The story I repeated in Gyre was of an old Jew, hiding her most prized possessions in a vase in the garden before the soldiers came the next day to take her to a “safe” place away from the shelling. It is at the end when the most important, subtle “conversational imperatives” of color come into play. These, finally, are the only strokes and colors that must be perfect. It is these final small, often counterintuitive strokes that bind the entire color composition and finish the subtext written by the semantics of color. In tiny final applications of color, with sometimes hours of staring between minute applications of intense color onto, perhaps, a canvas that is 8‘ x 12‘, a fragment of color less than a sixteenth of an inch wide, and 1/3 of an inch long in the Lower right-hand corner (or center or edge or anywhere) can activate an entire expanse of the painting across the canvas, 9 feet away. I paint to see what I am blind to.