Saturday, February 28, 2009

Unexpected Evening

Tonight was a bit unexpected. I painted a little, but was just feeling too tired. Called the evening early, but couldn't get to sleep and listened to music.  After drinking some tea I started inking a little here and there and soon I had inked out most of what I needed to get done. I'm keeping the illustrative quality of this one in place. Originally, I thought of this as a diptych.  I have a feeling it will become a series of works.  I've flirted with the idea of following a building's life as it becomes haunted. I think in a few works I've touched upon it, but haven't set out to show the entire progression. I think I will.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

For the fever you have at 3am.

Getting serious about the diptych.  It's part of the continuing series of building portraits and the streets below.  I paint a lot of these and I'm not sure why.  I haven't tired of them, so I see no reason to stop.  The concept is that with everything that happens within them and outside of they their soul (the soul of the building or place) gets stained.  They're and extension of us the humans who have build them, but even before that they were a place in nature that has long since been destroyed by their creation and the urban environment around them.  When humanity is gone they'll be returned to nature and maybe eons from the land will return to it's natural state.  But for now I will paint these portraits of buildings and the places they inhabit.  Oh, that's what Your Vanity can Wait painting is about in case any of you thought it was a bit out of character.  I plan to extend this since of place outside of the high rise environment a little.  I'm going to start painting old churches, libraries and maybe even barns if it suits me. 

It was trips to Bisbee, Jerome and scattered ghost towns throughout Arizona that instilled this idea of place and our footprint on nature within me. A little history. After college I went back to Community College for graphic design, a little photography, refresher life drawing courses, and cartooning. Well, my photography course was on slide photography with the intent to learn to use my camera well and shoot slides of my artwork.  It was an serious photography class, so it meant that you had to go out into the world and burn through lots of film. I chose to jump into the truck with Alicia on the weekends and search out ghost towns and make trips to historic towns throughout the state. I love the open road. My family moved around so much when I was a kid from state to state by car I grew to love the freedom of leaving one place to an uncertain future. There's still part of me that longs to just lift my roots up and just go.  Of course I have to remember the lesson I learned through all that. No matter where you go there you are.  All the things you think tie you down don't really, it's your mental projections on them that empower them to "tie you down". They're nothing more than illusions.  For example, your job. You think your secure, safe, and bound to the company you work for, but tomorrow you could be laid off and in search for a new job.  When that happens you have to ask were you really tied to that job, that place, and that building or were you free to go all this time? It's this transience and ephemeral reality that is at the root of my work or should I say the motivation behind it. Nothing is here to stay and everything is in a state of constant change or in flux.

Another facet of impermanence is our loved ones. Today is the anniversary of my Mother's death that happened when I was seventeen. I can't even begin to relate how that has influenced my life and my work and only recently have come to admit it to myself and others. Alicia wasn't feeling well tonight ( she might have what I'm just getting over), so we've postponed our going out for dinner to this weekend. Starting a few years ago I decided I was tired of crying over my mom's death and simply started taking Alicia out to eat or scheduling vacations big or small on the day. My mom told me in her last days to live my life fully for every moment without concern for money or anything other than my personal happiness, because life passes you by way too quickly. So in honor of that I'm putting aside the tears and smiling in remembrance of her.  Reap Ye Rosebuds While Thee May!  Hence my fever at 3am.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Getaway!

Wasn't breathing well tonight, so I went ahead and finished The Getaway.  There wasn't much left to do, but finish the sky and work on the figure in the background.  The guy tailing the guy in the foreground.  A little Film Noir narrative going on like the movie "The Third Man".  I feel better having another two canvases done for the upcoming shows.  I have two large canvases waiting in the wings.  I will also be knocking out some small works as well.  The small works are critical for the Modified Show with the economy on top of just the natural market.  Many of the folks who like my work don't really have money to buy it.  Well, I think it's my responsibility to create some products that can be sold in their price range as much as possible.

Your Vanity Can Wait

Here's what is going on in the studio this week so far.  I'm back to producing work. I'm trying to make up for lost time without over extending myself.  The Getaway is coming along nicely.  I also knocked out a small 9x12 canvas entitled Your Vanity Can Wait.  I'm not sure what's with the title, but that is what popped into my head while working on it.  I know I'll understand some where down the road.  I would like to add some collaged elements, but I have to figure out what is appropriate. I think a postmark would do nicely, but I have to find the right one at the right size. I don't want to place something that is simply gratuitous and unnecessary to the work.  I don't feel it necessary for every work to have abstract or collage elements.  There's no formula here, I just paint and do what feels right.  Painting is so much about the dialog between the artist and the painting.  I honestly feel like the painting is already within the canvas - I just need to make it happen.  It's like that when I paint into old paintings and turn them into something different too.  Paintings, just like people grow and change.  I think my repainted canvases are sometimes my best because they have so much more history.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

To be great is to be misunderstood

"To be great is to be misunderstood" Fortune Cookie

Sorry, I'm a little tardy on the postings for this weekend.  I've been super sick with a respiratory infection and haven't been able to do much work.  This painting is called The Getaway and it's been going pretty fast until I got sick.  I did a lot of the hard work on the painting mid-week before I came down with whatever this is that seems to be making everyone else sick. There has been lots of drying time between the stages.  It took two days for the collaged muslin to dry and then it took a a day and a half for the heavy gel medium to dry.  It's been a bit moist in Phoenix the last week, so with the humidity comes extended drying times.  In the mean time I've been eating lots of spicy Chinese Food, drinking lots of tea and sleeping all I can to get better.  I've also have spent time organizing my digital sketchbook and going through my photos.  I have the all of the Modified show figured out and a little over half of the Lanning Gallery show planned out. Now I just have to paint. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Where do we go from here?

I finished Where do we go from here? tonight.  It was a little tricky, because in some areas the coloring was just right, but the thickness of the paint wasn't.  It all worked out.  I'm on to the next paintings.  I'm holding off on Exodus 2 right now. Technically it's done, but it's missing something for me.  There needs to be another level of complexity added to it.  I'm not sure what, but I'm going to get on with the next paintings and figure it out a bit latter.  It's important to me that the viewer always finds hidden little passages they didn't see the first time around or even the 559th time around.  I feel good paintings should be like good books, no matter how many times you read them you should discover something new.

I received the books I ordered on the Ashcan Painters.  Somewhat of a mixed review for the lot.  The books didn't seem to contain many of the works I remembered being shown in my college drawing and painting class slide shows. David Sklar and Jerry Shutte had extensive slide collections that they showed in their classes.  I guess it is simply a matter of what artists feel are the important works of other artists and what art historians feel as important are not always the same.  It could also be that what is in vogue with the art world doesn't match what today's artists are in to.  Just a bit of speculation here.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Avoid compulsively making things worse.

How's that for words to live by? I love fortune cookies.  Yeah, some just have lame sentiments in them, but there's always those good ones.

I should have followed that fortune cookies advice.  There's a storm blowing in and I made the mistake of putting a heavy layer gel medium on "Where do we go from here" (formally working title Noreaster 3)  I thought it would dry in it's normal Phoenix, AZ fashion in a couple hours.  Ha! It's still wet!  So, I moved on to Exodus 2 a commission I'm doing in exchange for Alicia's guitar lessons.  I like barter.  It's a really good system.  Right now an old school mate and I are exchanging painting lessons for percussion lessons.  Oh, and did he throw me for a loop in yesterday's percussion lesson.

Exodus is moving along well now.  I suspect that I'll have both it and "Where do we go from here?" done this week.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

More Foundation

Finished up the under painting and some of the rest of the foundation layers today. Tomorrow I'm going to be busy.  I'm going to start another painting and work on making some more progress on another canvas I've been neglecting.  This canvas is moving right along.  I should finish it before next weekend.  I need to work on the textures a little more and decide what elements should be collaged or if I should just leave it as is.  Just thoughts that go through my head while painting.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Portland Here We Come!!

Alicia asked our friends if Andrea and Shawn if they were up for another visit this Summer and they are.  Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!!  I can't wait to take on Mt. Hood again Mountain Biking with Shawn.  I also can't wait to ride around Portland again.  I think that I'm going to see if Shawn is up for spending a day on the bike just riding around the city with me to take source photos for my paintings.  If he's not maybe I can borrow a bike from him to do it.  I love the scale of Portland and the atmosphere.  It's the only West Coast city that matches my cityscapes within my work.  I think I need to plan a week in Chicago or New York to shoot photos as well.  I've been threatening to and just haven't, but I really need to.

About tonight's offering.  Here's the painting that was leaning against the wall from Saturday's post.  I'm quickly working in the paint and roughing out the areas.  Tomorrow evening I will work in some details with my fine brushes and ink pens.  Probably end the evening with some glazes.  I think I'm going to actually apply some varnish tonight when it's dry enough before I go to bed.  I like to apply the varnish as I go.  This is based on two photos I took of Andrea, Shawn, Alicia and I walking the streets of Baltimore, Maryland when they lived there (the figures in the foreground are left to right Alicia, Andrea, and Shawn).  It was so frickin cold since they were having a Noreaster that year.  That was the title for the first version of this painting.  I just really loved the composition and had some ideas as I was painting that version.  I tend to follow the sage advice of my mentor David Sklar, which was to stay the course on a piece and paint different versions with the ideas you come up with while painting it.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

George Bellows

Finished No Apologies I'm not sure if that will be the final name or not.  I know that is what I'm going to entitle the April Show at Modified Arts.  I'm working on the title for the June Show in Sedona. 

I recieved the George Bellows book by Mary Sayre Haverstock.  It's interesting.  I find myself a touch disappointed, because it doesn't include some of the works I wanted to finally have in a book by George Bellows.  There are tons of works I'd not seen or seen in color before, but there of different time periods of his work around the time he painted Stag at Starky's.  I guess art historians and artists differ on opinion of what the most critical part of an artist's body of work is.  It's still the best book I've seen of his work, so it will be spending a lot of time in the studio.  I'm excited that the Ashcan School Painters are getting more critical attention now with museum exhibitions and supporting publications.  As much as I love the American Abstract Expressionism art history wise it seems like they happened and everything else before might as well not have happened.  That's my perception of it when I was attending school and years after trying to purchase books on the movement over the years. This George Bellow's book is the first of five of my purchases.  I have another one on all of the artists of the movement in route and will be ordering three more when I get paid.  I'm getting them while I can before they go out of print.  It's important to note all of these were published in either 2007 or 2008.

Monday, February 9, 2009

More Rainy Evening

Decided to post twice considering the earlier post was where I left off last night. Quickly, drawing this piece to a close as the lights flicker from the storm outside.  I think I'm going to take the little scene behind the two dominant figures and use them in another painting.  I really like that old guy.  There's something about his character that seems important in times like these.

I'm getting to the point where I think I'm just going to stop listening to the news, but I know it's a lie and I will have to muddle through the columns any how.

Rainy Evening

Pretty much done with the smoker.  She gave me a bit of a fight.  I think it was her big hair, but I'm not sure.  I plan to start into the other figures and simply go back to her.  Sometimes it's the best to just put aside the part that's giving you trouble and continue on even if that means jumping to another canvas.  It's raining outside and sounds so beautiful.                                                                          

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Catch Up

Today's studio shot.  No Apologies and Prajna my cat.  The painting is coming along.  I just need to finish up on the fire escapes and paint in the rest of the figures.  The smoking woman is giving me a bit of a struggle.  The gentleman behind her happened really easy, so my goal of finishing this canvas today should happen.  I started another canvas yesterday as well that you'll see below leaning against the wall based on two photos I took in Baltimore, Maryland on a rainy day like today, but much, much colder.

...and this is where No Apologies was back on January 26th.


The purpose of this blog is to keep the fans of my work updated to what's going on in the studio as well as document the creation of the works in my studio.  I've always enjoyed seeing other artists work.  I also really enjoyed seeing what classmates did over the weekend while in art school.

This blog will work as a visual artist's diary of sorts.  I'll explain a little bit about the thinking process behind works as they're being done.  I will also share the preliminary work that goes on as well.