Saturday, December 11, 2010


Essentially I took the day off today other than organizing photos and spending time looking through art books and finding new work of artists I admire on the web.  As an artist there are so many things that influence your work and among those are the work of other artists.  With this post I thought I would do a little show and tell.

Robert Birmelin is an artist that Jerry Schutte (my life drawing and life painting professor) back in art school shared with the class in slides and set my mind a lit. I love the movement within the works and how he captures the small details of urban living that seem to be overlooked or not consciously considered when your walking, riding or driving down the street, but if any of these details the sidewalk cracks, chipping paint, and the pan handler weren't there it would be noted that something wasn't right. It would feel like you stepped into the twilight zone.

                                  Giving and Taking by Robert Birmelin

                          City Crowd - Cop and ear by Robert Birmelin

Many times I have searched the web and only found a painting or two, but tonight I found that he now has a new website.

Now if only I can manage to purchase a book of his works.  I'm still very much in love with books and haven't managed to conform to the idea of reading books  off a screen yet.  I need the physical, tangible, and tactile object in my hands with it's wonderful pages to flip through to be content.  

I've been searching out for the last three years the artists from Jerry's slide shows.  It's odd, but somehow the works shared weren't within assessable books at the time and only occasionally within art magazines.  Nonetheless, the works have stuck with me. A few more to add to this list are Alfred Leslie and Jenny Saville (who's book I purchased at SFMOCA on my trip last month)

                      The Telephone Call by Alfred Leslie

                      The Cocktail Party by Alfred Leslie

                      Fulcrum by Jenny Saville

It's nice to finally own art books of these artists or at least be able to find more visual samples of their work online.  I'm starting to wonder if figurative art is moving back into vogue due to the increased availability?  My interpretation is that figurative and realistic art haven't been seen as important since the development of the camera.  The irony is somehow the paint although an abstraction of reality can often times capture what a camera can't - the soul of the creator of the image.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The beginning of a new series

The beginning of a new series of works begins.  Combination of remembering a dream and thinking about how I feel sometimes has set this new series into motion.  In my dream I was painting a bunch of canvases that depicted the buildings cut in half, but still standing and people in the foreground split as well, in movement or as ghostly apparitions. The name that came to mind was "Schism" denoting the fractured state of the buildings and in some ways the fractured state of how my country has become.

Tonight I watched a Nova documentary on dreams on Netflix.  It's interesting how some of the mystery of dreams is finally being revealed, but how much we still don't know about them. I do know that I'm often painting in my dreams, which usually leads to the creation of new work.  I've come to the conclusion that I'm always doing art.  Even when I'm dead asleep.

This painting has a great many challenges though.  To begin with I had no photos in the perspective I wanted and the facade I wanted was actually a combination of the side and front of a particular building in San Francisco.  My solution is simple I will draw the building out referencing the photos.  Looking through my photos I realize I will be doing this often.  There are many instances where my photos are ready to go, but most of the time they'll need work to become a work of art.  Next up will be finding the figures to work with that I want.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Snap is almost there

Snap is almost there.  Right now I'm entering into the scary part of the piece.  I can easily overwork it at any moment.  I'm almost to the point that I may choose not to address the weird fold of the bag and just leave it as it is rather than try to fix it and go to far.  Thankfully, I'm heading to my sister's for our holiday get together and will have the space of going away and coming back with fresh eyes.

Friday, December 3, 2010

More Linear Thinking

The work on Linear Thinking continues.  I am very close to being done.  I'm simply waiting until the varnish layer dries and I can ink in some detail.  There is a bit of a debate in my mind of how detailed I want to get with the figures.  Frankly, it's feeling just about done.  I think the focus on this piece is actually the fractured and tortured street in the foreground.  The white crosswalk line is the story.  I like the fact that what is commonly the subject matter of a painting - people, buildings, and cars are playing a supporting role.  It's almost as like going to a concert to see the opening band and leaving midway through the main act's performance.

I'm focusing in on new ways to fuse the collaged elements into these next works.  I also have a renewed interest in texture along with a greater hierarchy of brush stroke. It's truly amazing what a brushstroke from a 1" brush can do that fifty brushstrokes of a #1 flat can seem to convey.

Tomorrow I plan to finish Snap and resolve the issue of the bag.  I opted for being well rested rather than working on the piece when tired from a crazy day at work. It occurred to me recently that as amazing as it would be to not have a day job and simply spend my days painting. However my day job is a blessing in disguise in a strange since.  When painting over the Thanksgiving Holiday in my Uncle's work shed where I received very few interruptions and my body's needs dicated my breaks rather than my minds provocative.  I found myself thinking too deeply to the point where my positive thoughts turned to negative ones.  This seems really odd in some ways.