Saturday, January 6, 2018

New Year Resolutions? Why not start with just one: Self-Control.

 THE AGE OF MAN (2017) Oil and Goldleaf on triptych panel 16 x 11 inches 
                                                 by Patrick McGrath Muñiz

It is a new year and like all years, we often think and plan our resolutions. Year after year we may start to notice most of these fail. Bad habits are hard to break and as soon as we start adding more to a list of things to change, we inevitably make it harder to focus on our goal. After trying out different work schedules and thinking about all the problems in the world I started to see a connection between the one thing that I could improve within myself and if we all set our minds and will to it, change the world for the better. As an artist I'm often thinking about relations and correspondences between the macro and micro and finding ways to address a whole spectrum of issues with one simple step. The step I'm talking about is Self-Control.

HEBE (2014) Oil and gold leaf on panel 18 x 24 inches 

The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, conducted in New Zealand, followed the lives of 1037 children since the day they were born to their thirties. The study revealed that one of the most important factors for successful and healthy life was the ability to manage and control behaviors and emotions in order to reach a long term goal. According to the study, Self-Control played an even greater role than intelligence or social status in determining success in the lives of  many of these children. The study is important because it not only it can be a predictor of mental emotional and physical health but it also sheds light on how to change bad habits and lead healthier lives. If you wish to read more about this study, check out the marshmallow test. The results and insights are mind blowing. There is a very good documentary series that covers it : Predict My Future: The Science of Us.

TEMPUS FUGIT (2014) Oil and metal leaf on panel 36 x 31 inches 
                                                  by Patrick McGrath Muñiz

Imagine a world where corporate greed, consumerism, crime, addictions and all other vices in society can be managed and controlled. Just think of a president that cannot control his impulse to tweet a taunt that could have devastating nuclear consequences for the world and you'll soon realize how important self-control really is. In the middle ages people were familiar with the Seven Deadly Sins: Gluttony, Rage, Sloth, Avarice, Envy, Lust and Pride.  With Temperance (self-control) all of these excesses could be dissipated. In 2008-09 I worked on a series of paintings exploring these themes. Almost ten years later I now see Temperance as the most important virtue to attain. Think of the other three virtues: Strength, Prudence and Justice. In order to be strong, prudent and just, one must first temper (moderate) one's owns weaknesses, impulsiveness and prejudices. 

OUR DAILY BREAD (2016) Oil on canvas 36 x 60 inches 
                                             by Patrick McGrath Muñiz

To have self-control is to be self-disciplined. To be self-disciplined is to know oneself and tame the beast within. This is key to anything from losing weight, to changing bad habits and becoming a master at your craft. So instead of having a long list of resolutions for this year, consider focusing on one thing, just one thing: Self-Control. Once achieved and with a mindful set of balanced activities in daily life, everything else will fall into place. As Buddha would once say: " The true master lives in truth, in goodness and restraint, Non-violence, moderation and purity". 

                                 CREDO (2017) Oil on canvas 18 x 24 inches 
Private Collection


Saturday, September 30, 2017

An artist's responsibility in an Age of Climate Change.

DILUVIUM (2017) (detail)
Oil and metal leaf on panel 30 x 45 inches by Patrick McGrath Muñiz

At the time of writing this, it's been little more than a month after Hurricane Harvey hit us in Texas. The level of destruction and flooding here in Houston had no description, you just had to see it for yourself. At this moment, we are still seeing not just the aftermath of Harvey, but of two others, Irma and Maria.  This year has seen some major destructive hurricanes within just a month and hurricane season just started! My closest family in Florida were affected by Irma. Maria has caused tremendous devastation in the island of Puerto Rico. My hometown of Aguadilla was not spared from it and my childhood home and studio destroyed. A considerable amount of artwork from my early stages till recently are now gone forever. Over 30 years of work erased in the blink of an eye. These storms have affected so many of us in so many different levels. And even though my family is ok... for now, I still haven't heard from many of my friends and fear for their lives. Maria has now become a major humanitarian crisis with a shamefully slow response from the U.S. government. Let's be reminded, this is an American colony and the people from Puerto Rico are American citizens. It is the responsibility of the U.S. to take care of it's territories and peoples, otherwise let them be free. 

Oil and gold leaf on panel 11.5 x 23.5 inches  by Patrick McGrath Muñiz

These three catastrophic events have hit me in a deeply personal level but Im also painfully aware of the "natural" disasters occurring in Mexico, Sierra Leone and Bangladesh. This all has had a powerful impact on me as well. Climate change is real and it is affecting us all. And yes, I know we've always had hurricanes but the fact that these are intensifying and becoming more and more common because of warmer water and air conditions is a direct consequence of climate change. As unregulated transnational corporations keep polluting and our dependence on fossil fuel and rampant consumerist habits grow, we can only expect things to get worse, a lot worse.

BRENDAN (2017) 
Oil and gold leaf on panel 11.5 x 23.5 inches  by Patrick McGrath Muñiz

As citizens of this world we can no longer be immune or indifferent to the effects and most importantly the causes of climate change.  As an artist, a talented person with an extra sensibility it would be totally unforgivable . Artists are story tellers, myth makers and hope bringers. Our impact and influence on how the rest of us think and feel should never be underestimated. We are potential agents of change. But art can also transform our understanding and perception of history, nature, culture and even ourselves ultimately deciding the Zeitgeist or collective spirit of the times and the course we take.   

 PLEGARIA (2017)  
Oil on canvas 24 x 24 inches by Patrick McGrath Muñiz

We could either despair and loose hope in the future or we could get up and do something about our current environmental crisis. Nothing good has ever come out of doing nothing so it's worth giving action a chance, resist and fight back for a better world with social and climate justice for all. Everyone can make a difference depending on their abilities and gifts. Some celebrities have lots of money so they donate their money to help others. Others work in politics and can put pressure and challenge the establishment elite. The media could be doing a much better job at investigating and communicating the root causes of climate change.  We, artists have our talents and art at our disposal in order to bring awareness of the most important issue of our time: Climate Change.  Do your research, learn from others, tell your personal stories and create art that educates and opens minds.  Enough with modernity's obsession with individuality, progress, commodities and consumerism. Make art that's ecocentric, not egocentric.  No more time for excuses, time to get to work !

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

El Desembarco (The Disembarkment) A Documented Painting Process

El Desembarco (The Disembarkment) (2017) Oil on canvas 60" x 38" 

Today Im going to do something different for this blog entry. Instead of discussing my concepts, sources and research, I'll rely more on visuals and share with you my documented painting process for a recent painting I just completed, titled El Desembarco (The Disembarkment). This piece is inspired after historical depictions of  the Spanish Conquest and American Manifest Destiny. Im also incorporating within the composition some personal narratives, pop culture references and other contemporary elements. These are some of the preliminary sketches I worked on before starting to paint.  The short video shows how the painting started, changed. and gradually evolved tilll conmpletion. The idea for this painting has been haunting me since 2016. The painting itself took me about a month to execute but the ideas, research and drawings took me about a year and went through many changes.

I always make as many preliminary sketches as possible before I start to paint. These are just a few...

These last two pages of my journal were drawn recently while whorking on the painting. Sometimes I tend to go back and review my sources and do some more studies. 

 And here's a very short video summarising a month's work on this painting. Enjoy and please share!

Hope you enjoyed this article. If you wish to see more of my artwork, please visit my new artist website at: Stay tuned for more related articles that I'll be posting once a month on this blog. Also check out My Youtube channel which I just started. I'll post more videos soon! Take care and as always, thank you very much for your support!