Tag Archive for painting

Artist Became the Story

Twilight Angel Concept development

Koskinas tells a war story

As we plan where, when and how to launch the Twilight Angel, I am mindful of how this whole thing began, a year and a half ago.

After we had firmly committed to do “something” based on James’ war stories, we convened in my studio to work on the concept. Sitting around the coffee table James would read a bit or tell an anecdote from memory.

Kayla comforting Koskinas

Twilight Angel script team

There was so much love and grief, so much power in his voice as he told these stories. We knew that this was to be a big part of our narrative. As James emoted the terrible beauty of the the relationships and events from that time, my dog Kayla would come over to comfort him. She didn’t want him to be sad.

The Artist's Story

The Artist’s Story

We came to feet that our movie’s story should be about the Artist, and how his past shaped his work and his process. We knew there was energy there. The ghosts were a powerful force compelling him to work. And we also knew that there must be some transformation, some way that our character reversed the spiral and claimed his own power.

war graphic

The war in the art

We dug deeper into our character’s painting. His war would turn inward and become enacted on the canvas. Like a graphic novel’s pages superimposed on each other he would paint the stories they commanded, yet now each became a self-portrait.

Koskinas and dog

a love story

As we worked Kayla stayed very close, helping James hold this deep place he was exploring within his Artist-self. The story flowed out, the Artist recreating himself, reframing his history.

Our story would be this process – a love story!

Kayla approved.

Big-Thunder and Beyond

 

James Koskinas in front of canvas

James Koskinas in front of canvas

I’m both a word guy and a painter. Both require imagination, yet painting requires no words. In fact it’s better if there aren’t any. They just get in the way. Painting’s vocabulary may come from the same place as words, but they aren’t necessary. I don’t think in words when I’m painting, only in color, images, the application of the paint, using my tools, brushes, and moving. Moving is very important, big movements, small movements joining together in a dance of sorts. Reacting to what is happening on the canvas is important. That red may lead me somewhere. Where?

That’s painting.

I’m a writer too. I wrote a play called “Even if the Mountains Burn.” I had so much time to tell so many stories. I had to choose my words carefully. They arrived and then they were rendered. Chosen after a board meeting of the intellect. Its takes a lot longer to choose a word than it does a color, a brush stroke. And the movements are small. Pushing the keys, moving the delete button. I can cover a whole huge painting in the time it takes to write what I just did. Time is different. The computer is clinical. About the only thing the same is you start off with a white page, a white canvas. Blankness starring at you. I wouldn’t call writing a sensual activity. Painting is however a sensual act. Moving the thick buttery paint around. Spreading it. Thick, oozing, it becomes bodily fluids. You decide.

I started the movie with words, a play really, very few of the scenes really had any visuals that were as concrete as the writing. It was a movie without equal visuals to go along the words. Its what I knew at the time. I’d already written my scenes for the soldier character because I’d told the story already as a play. Words were the medium then. I dragged them along, not that they weren’t important, but it was like a person with only one arm.

See it goes back to what I said in the beginning. Painters don’t need words, we don’t use them, they get in the way. So really I had no idea what my character the painter was thinking, because to be honest I’d never thought about it. For a guy who talks a lot and is expressive verbally, the irony is I’d spent almost my entire life working alone speaking to no one. Just simply working. But John always said the movie was about the painter, the soldier stories informed the artist, and the art.

The thing is, I wasn’t painting at all when we first started making the film way back in August. I thought I’d just put it off until the movie was done. Then we had these painting scenes and that’s when everything shifted. I had to paint the last big painting for the movie. I started painting, little paintings before John came in to set up equipment, then larger ones. Some were great, we put them in the film, I had to look at my paintings again. I’d forgotten them. Sorry.

But now that the character of the painter was let loose, ironically I wanted to let go of the words, the last of the stories. All I wanted was to paint on the floor and move and let John film the whole thing. Painting forever, the cameras rolling. Infinity. We’d get to the end of it someday. Painting does that to me. Now I’m explaining it. Better not. Those scenes will have to stand on their own. We’ve got the end of the movie to shoot. I’ll have to find my way to the words again. I wrote them, maybe it won’t be so hard.

Anyway, John will be there yelling, “Action!” and I’ll be bound to them.

Going for Picture

We are shooting tonight!

Thanks to the great support showing up for us on Indiegogo and anxious to see action to accompany the powerful Vietnam stories we’ve been recording , we’ve built part of the set (or, a “sub-set of the set,” as I like to say) and will do our first filming tonight.

I’m very excited to get this rolling and look forward to working with James and the material we’ve been evolving. Who knows how it will go?

I’m just very glad to get a chance to do what I do best for this project, …and to start doing that tonight.

Thanks to everyone who has had encouraging things to say to us in person or write in our comments here on the blog, on the campaign page or on Facebook. We are up against some steep challenges and it means a lot to hear those things from friends and supporters.

It means a lot too if you share this project or forward it to YOUR friends.

And to everyone who has helped fund the project: thanks for making this exciting moment possible. You will see what you’ve helped to do!

 

Making the Movie

James Koskinas

A new language to learn, thank god I have a master in Austin Texan John Witham, thirty odd years behind the camera and a performance artist to boot, an ex rock-and-roller. I’ve been hankering to get back on stage or performing again after my one man play a few years back.

JW is careful, methodical, professional. He balances my headstrong urges to rush in and shoot from the hip, it works with me being an action painter yet not in a long, detailed, arduous process like making a movie. And it’s not a short film either. We’re going for a full length feature. Daunting. But we’ve got stories, plenty of them, a backlog from the ones that didn’t make my one man play,” Even If the Mountains Burn.” Grist for the mill.

JGK-angel

James, “shoot this part here.”

A film is like a giant moving painting with words. Oh, we’ll use my paintings as characters. In fact, JW has been lobbying for them from the beginning, and now I’ve moved away from the original movie idea which was to use most of my Vietnam stories again. I’m allowing the paintings to start telling their own stories, they are, in fact, how I ended up doing the play in the first place. That will be revealed in the film.

Every time I think something doesn’t really matter it comes back to show me that nothing is wasted. In art especially, there are no wrong turns or dead ends. So the new project is  up to date. JW says, it’s who I am now. The war stuff will inevitably reappear but I’m  thinking it may reveal all new stories. If you saw the play, this is another chapter, and if you didn’t you can catch part of it here on YouTube.

John Witham

Anyway this is whole new exploration of seeing that old character. Ways to show the experience I may never have thought about… a fresh take on it. The film is a mystery too – which the play wasn’t  In a strange way the war is an old friend, an old acquaintance at least. At this point I’m over the trauma of it, I went through that when I did my play. I think it will be more powerful. I’ve changed, written a lot since then, my artistic voice seems stronger, clearer. I’ve taken writing workshops with local author Robert Mayer,  lots of my own writing, out and about doing readings. Keeping it fresh.

Speaking of movies -how does one even start such a notion? …something so vast, so detailed and structured. Well the damn Texan got me into it really, he and all those people I kept seeing in the produce section at Trader Joe’s that kept asking, “when is the next play?” Carrots never tasted the same again. It wasn’t absolutely planned. I’d call it kismet. A slow dripping kismet, it snuck up on me.

JW is a quiet, still-waters-run-deep kind of a guy, humble, self effacing, but he’s got these iron arms. I was impressed with that. Quiet but substantial. He kept appearing in my life, here and there, around town, at parties, at readings, at Counter Culture, quiet but substantial. “I think we should work together, it will make us better men,” he kept repeating, quietly again. This sounds like a movie itself. Two gunfighters. Lets rob a bank, run a herd of cattle to California. Two wild guys that love samurai swords, that love to drive fast.

alive

 

Hell, if you asked me straight up, let’s make a movie, let’s invest time and money in a potential public disaster, risk something so big, risk it all and trust in our own experiences, our own creativity, just what we’ve got now, whatever we’ve got inside us now, even if it’s 25 cents worth, I’d have said no.

But  here we are, I’m writing a new dialogue, a new script, we’re filming my paintings,  filming and recording stories, setting up lights, building our first sets and deciding on our first attack. I‘m not scared, but I will be.

Ironically, that’s when I’m most alive.