The experience of the sublime is to be looked for in art. Art integrates senses, emotions, and thought. The sublime in art elevates our sensory experience, heightens our emotion and can tap our emotional potential, and furthers our knowledge. The sublime in art can also give us a moral, a stance towards living. At its best, the sublime in art inspires awe in our human potential and gives us a path to evolve as a whole being and as a species.
Michael Newberry has been exploring figurative art for more than four decades with a focus on unleashing his best. Fascinated by the problem of visually transcribing senses, emotion, and thought he has sought to paint his discoveries, sometimes achieving the synergy of everything into one definitive work.
Notable paintings are Denouement, Icarus Landing, Puccini, Manhattan at Night (with the Twin Towers), and his current Arabesque Lovers' Series. He has exhibited in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, New York, Rome, Athens, and he will have an upcoming show in Washington D.C. in the fall of 2017. Read more ...
The Journey Home - November 2017
Over 40 pastel landscapes from my journey home. I drove my big paintings to Washington DC for my first solo show there, on the drive back to Idyllwild, CA I drew these pastels landscapes. I will turn a few of them into large paintings.
A decades-old guiding principle for me is to constantly evolve my art either with the idea, method, or emotion. Ideally for large figurative works is to integrate these three things to make something sublime. With smaller works, like these pastels, I focus on fewer things, but still furthering my knowledge and emotional range.
These pastel sketches are exploring method and emotion. Specifically, pastel technique, color harmonies, and the emotions I get from the colors in the landscapes and the colors I create on paper.
oil on canvas, 60 x 46 inches
As a young boy, Icarus had dreams that started with flying inside his bedroom, looking down at the two beds and windows. As he got older the flying expanded beyond his walls to far away countries and beautiful places. He learned from the best flyers how they used light and air currents. He became intoxicated with his capacity for flight. The moment he became an adult he flew across the ocean seeking Atlantis. He flew higher and higher without a care for landing. He saw magnificent purple mountains, shimmering towns, green and rust-colored valleys, and cobalt seas. He couldn't find Atlantis so he flew higher still, beyond the stars. Instead of the blustering illuminating light of the sun, he had entered black emptiness, void of life-giving energy. "This won't do," he said. So he turned back to the blue glowing Earth noting that the Sun needs to shine its light on people, land, and seas to give each other meaning. As he returned to Earth he spied a pale shimmering granite outcrop rising up from a pine-covered hollow with a distant arid-colored and peopled valley beyond; he choose to gently land on that peak. He had found his Atlantis, known by some as Idyllwild.
An exciting thing about being an artist is actively engaging in kinesthesia -- transcribing differing senses into visual terms. In this case flow. I think of flowing water, waves or energy moving in currents over time. Painting is static, it freezes a moment, but I like to think I am capturing something of an ongoing movement.
One of the muses for this project is Georgie Leahy, a lovely person inside and out. She is fearless and will go to the ends of the Earth to make art projects come true.
The model, Katie Bolin, is local to Idyllwild, the land of honey, granite, artists, thinkers, and kind people. She contacted me about making a painting and that she was 8 1/2 months pregnant, and would I be interested? "Yes!" was my reply.
Katie and I discussed beauty and pregnancy, and we came up with this neo-classical pose that reminded me of the Graces from the Renaissance.
When she first posed, I noticed a beautiful blushing quality to her skin, and I am most happy with I think I succeeded in getting that in the painting.
She came with her mate, Ivan Ellirand, a photographer, and he took reference images along with some candid shots in my studio.
What does the sound of the rustling petals look like?
Almost impossible not to thinking of the erotic symbols of an opening the phallic nature of the petals.
A wonderful part of painting is being calmly focused on one brush stroke at a time. A close up of a rose lends itself to this zen-like process.
oil on linen, 22 x 28 inches.
Unfolding layers of delicate petals
Puccini, pencil on paper, 16 x 19 inches.
This drawing came about from a discussion with a friend about how great a composer Puccini is, and he wanted the original oil painting, which is not available and I offered to draw this based on the 1984 painting. The collector said the drawing brought him to tears. My first work of 2017.
Dancing petals through space leaving shadows behind.
Silly and happy blooms.
La Vie en Rose
oil, 25 x 19 inches.
What a difference a blush makes
oil on canvas, 46 x 42 inches.
Before there was the Origin of the World there was man.
Is art about the surface or should it go beyond and uncover layers of intimacy?
An amusing experience about posting nudes on Facebook is that they can be flagged by disgruntled silly people. Apparently, the French government sued Facebook over censoring Courbet's Origin of the World, a nude female figure with her crotch in the center of the composition, on the grounds that it was one of the greatest paintings of Western culture. So anytime I post a frontal nude I include Origin of the World as a reminder to Facebook censors, and I haven't had a problem since.
This painting is also my take on the male version of Origin of World, a relaxed sensual man awaiting his lover and his crotch in the center of the composition. Art experts have a rule about never placing the point of interest in the center. It is actually a good rule especially for beginners, but on a more advanced level of creating art the artist makes his/her own rules. The main compositional rule I have is to paint interesting shapes in the corners.
A painting is of one moment in time, one that I would like to live with for a lot longer. We live with millions of moments the vast majority of them terribly mundane, and if not mundane they can be unfocused feelings of anger, envy, boredom, and etc. Before I start a major painting like Emerging I rack my brain, emotions, imagination, and memories for what moments are the best of the best. I filter out all the shit, and anything that doesn't rise to the level of exceptional.
Emerging is that moment of heightened positive anticipation of a soon to see lover. An unbearably delicious moment.
oil on linen, 42 x 36 inches
Where does identity end and art begin? Can you look back at a song, movie, or artwork and think about how that work influenced you, how it helped shape who you are? Those influences rarely manifest themselves explicitly, though with tattoos one turns oneself literally into a work of art.