Saturday, December 31, 2011

Final Painting for 2011

Just finished my last painting for 2011. It's called Escape Plan. I'm going to submit it for a show called Gothic along with a two other works. I feel this work will fit in with the show's premise well. I've always been a bit tormented by the fact people consider my work dark, but with this painting I've went ahead and leaned into it a bit. 

I've actually become more comfortable with being considered dark. The conclusion I have reached is that I am a Alfred Hitchcock or Rod Sterling when it comes to doing my art. When I think about it though the world is really a dark place and I don't think there are many that would argue that we're not living through some dark times in some respect. Although, a quick glance through the history books leads me to think that times are always dark for one reason or another. I guess it's all relative.

2011 for me was a year of up and downs, but ultimately more up than down. I built the studio and my gallery sales have been great this year, so I can only feel thankful and forget any of the downs. With any luck 2012 will be great year for all.  Happy New Years!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Started working on the first stab at the drawing Crowds 2.  I don't have a name for this piece yet.  I say the first stab, because I'm not sure of how I will want to work the series.  This canvas is 24 x 48, but I almost want to make it 36" to 45" high to really focus in on the figures. I also want to have the larger versions to lack a background. For the time being however I love the painting that is evolving on the easel at the moment. I may create two individual series of the works.  One larger without backgrounds and one smaller on 24x48 canvases with backgrounds.

When I look through books of other artists I see a great deal of duplicity and returning to subjects or them painting the same composition three if not twenty odd times.  I know that I have caught myself doing the same and somehow have always stopped. Now I'm starting to wonder if it's just a tendency artists have to work and rework ideas on different canvases until it's out of their system.

Other than that I've been getting ready for the Holidays. A Christmas first I will be having quite a few guests to the house for Christmas.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Crowds 3

Finished up the third drawing of the series - Crowds 3. It's been really nice to just sit and draw. I'm also feeling more satisfied with my photographs from the San Francisco trip. I can see that I'm going to get a lot more paintings from the outing than I originally thought. The great thing about these characters is that I can use them a few times with variation of detail, compositional importance or just use their clothing style on another figure. I also see the advantage of having a large photo library. Granted I can compose these pieces from scratch without the photo reference, but the light, shadow and drape of the clothing can only be approximated and with that the work resulting will always feel "mannered or stylized". The only way I know to achieve a more naturalistic rendering of subjects is by either drawing from life or the next best thing my photographs.

I framed the first two drawings of the Crowds Series this morning and will frame this one before I turn in tonight.  The will be exhibited in a show called "Drawing from Reference" at Modified Arts.  The opening will be this Third Friday December 16th from 6-9PM with the second reception the First Friday January 6th from 6-9PM. I plan to attend both receptions.

I like the minimal starkness of these drawings.  I don't know if it would work on a canvas though. I think on a canvas it would feel a touch too spartan. If background buildings and figures don't work this may be the perfect opportunity to use collaged materials and silk screened text. I'm going to give the spartan look a try first. As for the drawings: I'm going to keep knocking them out while it's in my system and figure out the size of the paintings afterwards. I'm thinking a little larger than 24x48 maybe 30x60 or 36x72. I really want canvas to be part of a show, where these and the preliminary drawings are all that's shown. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Crowds 2

Finished the second drawing of the series.  I plan to have a series of twelve works in this vein. I have always loved Pause and Could've.  The absolute focus on the characters without buildings and the background figures slipping into atmospheric abstraction. I think it would be fun to have an entire show of just these works.

I'm really enjoying the fact than rather than just working with ready-made photos this time I'm working with tons of character snap shots and putting it all together with 

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Just finished up Crowds tonight.  I went ahead and scanned Puddle as well, since the photo shot wasn't the best. It's nice to take a little break from the easel and spend some time drawing.  I always forget how much I enjoy to just sit and draw. I can tell already that it will be the key to working out the works of the next show.  Looking through my photo fodder from San Francisco this time around I have more fragments, characters and street elements than ready made paintings. I'm glad that's the case, because I've been wanting to create more works like Pause and Could've, but just haven't had the right photos.  Well now I do and Crowds is the first sketch to result.

I think Puddle is the first sketch of the large series to be shown all together perhaps sequentially if the storyline is that tight. I'd like to put together. I'm starting to ponder titles.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Back to the Sketchbook

Back to the sketchbook. One of the things I've been missing is working in a series with a storyline that unfolds through the creation of several canvases, so I'm returning to the sketchbook to develop the next body of work with this intent. I have always wanted to design an entire show that would evolve around a single story arc.  It's the comic book and movie influence coming through, but I'd like to have twenty to thirty pieces that reflect a storyline and even have to be shown sequentially, so that the viewer has to digest each work from left to right and work their way around the room. To date my largest series has been seven works that were shown in three different shows, but I have always wanted to do something bigger and show the works alone within a single exhibit. I'm going to make this a long term goal of course- creating the work over the space of a year or two, while working on other paintings. Now for the hard part figuring out a story.  I guess this is where spending a lot of time in my sketchbook will come in handy.

I have to admit that with the demands of getting canvases painted during off work hours that I have been away from the sketchbook in recent years. Back in college I would sketch daily and fill sketchbook after sketchbook.  Unfortunately, I also cannibalized these books using the sketches directly for reference on the easel.  In retrospect I should have left the sketches in the books and found a copy machine.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Return from San Francisco

Returned late thursday afternoon from San Francisco. I don't think I'll be happy until I live there. I walked a little over 30 miles photographing everything I could. I did make a point to visit the Japanese Tea Gardens this time. Had the hard choice due to time of going through the De Young Museum or staking out galleries to show in. Since I opted to shoot photos instead the year prior I thought I'd better get down to business and check out the galleries. It would be nice to visit more often. 

I spent a lot of time in around Union Square and in China town.  I wondered into the Tinderloin, but I was a little nervous about snapping too many photos there.  Frankly a bit nervous about being there period with the sun setting, being alone and having about twenty or so people staring me down and greeting me. It was one of those walk quickly and cut diagonally to get to another part of town asap.

It was probably a good thing we returned when we did.  I caught a bad cold from the plane trip there and started feeling bad Thursday morning and was down for the count for the next two days. I started going through my photos despite being sick. I have more "characters" this time and not as many buildings, but I think that might work out better since I have been wanting to spend some quality time in the sketchbook and getting back to my city scenes being a little less location specific and more of a universal city.

This morning I'm waiting for the studio to warm up a little, so I can get out there and paint. It's been a week too long since I've been in there working.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Late Afternoon

Just finished up with Late Afternoon. It's been a rather challenging piece.  Originally, I had planned to utilize a faux encaustic technique that would make the figures recede into the background in a mysterious fog like way , but my Matte Medium was littered with dry white chips and of course this wasn't discovered until after it was applied and had dried over night. The fact I was down in Herford with family and it was Thanksgiving pretty much meant I needed to change direction if this piece were going to be submitted for a group showing this week.

I decided to play with the golden daylight of the afternoon and revisit the color scheme of Minority. It's also created from crowd shots that don't focus on the faces.  The figures become completely anonymous. I feel this speaks to the reality of walking down the city streets though.  When in a large city on a particularly busy street I find that I'm not looking into people's faces I'm looking down and figuring out where to cut in between others and obstacles (sign posts, newspaper machines, and gum). Other times I'm looking up above people navigating, which street to go down. Either or my focus isn't upon making eye contact or relating with the people around me more than I have to.

It's that same anonymity that Edward Hopper captured in his work, but using a different strategy to achieve it. I have to own up though that when I was taking photos last year in Union Square area in San Francisco I was simply trying to be a little covert about snapping my photos or snapping before I'd finished framing the shot.  The main reference photo was really a mistake or at least thought to be. It was the same for Chill. It wasn't until latter when I saw the motion the fact that the absence of a face or just a partial glimpse addressed not only the anonymity of a crowd of people, but helped me the viewer become part of the crowd. Just call it a "happy accident".

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Just finished up Jaywalking. Nothing left, but the final coat of varnish. It will be another work that will be delivered up to the Lanning Gallery on Monday. I love the warm foreground played against the cooler background.  I've also have be pushing to further explore the loose almost caricatured background with the more realistically painted foreground elements. This concept is most evident within the works of George Bellows and Thomas Eakins.

I have also been busy devouring books on John Singer Sargent.  His paintings in Italy are just astounding. The economy of brushstroke and mixing detail with abstract shadows and light leave me speechless. I find that I just flip through the pages repeatedly visually digesting each work.  I particularly like the Venice street scenes. After I had completed Chill I headed to the library to pick up some John Singer Sargent books. I realized that I was in some regard naturally gravitating to a color pallet similar to his Venice works and wanted to compare notes. That's the timelessness really of art to me.  The fact that I'm deeply touched by his paintings created in the 1880's and find them as relevant today as the day they were painted is a testament to the power of art. With any luck over a hundred years from now another artist will look at my work to compare notes.

Today Feels Like a Sunday

I can't say why, but today feels like a Sunday to me. Maybe it's the overcast sky. It's supposed to rain and granted it did feel like rain this morning, but it seems to have changed it's mind. I like it when it rains, because the humidity helps my paint stay moist and blend better.

Above is a progress photo of Jaywalking. It's been a fun little painting to work on and continue working on some of my new color theory ideas. In this work I'm playing with cool background elements with warm foreground elements using a master color mixture of burnt umber and Payne's gray. I've been mixing in splashes of strong color as well.  It's a tricky balance to keep the subdued color pallet, but allow some stronger colors in. I'm accustomed to working fairly monochromatically in shades of grey, but the night paintings have caused me to rethink the strategy a bit.  One of the challenges I've experienced with my normal mode of working is that I paint everything grisaille using black, white and grey.  With the night works the dark areas lack the depth of field that I desire.  So far my Burnt Umber/Payne's Gray mixture is working like a charm.  It's still grisaille, but with a different base. I like the luminous quality the mixture creates.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rainy Monday

It's a rainy Monday. Granted it has only sprinkled with wind and clouds, but I have a feeling more weather is coming. I performed a few touch ups on Chill and finished Minority and Night Crossing. I have a feeling that Minority is one of those the oddball of the bunch.  I personally feel the painting is a breakthrough piece compositionally. I also know that giving the birds distinct personalities humanizes them to some extent. I haven't dealt with the animals that live within the urban environment before, but they may sneak into another painting somewhere down the line.

Night Crossing has put me closer to nailing down the "night painting" color scheme.  I usually approach my work starting with only black, dark grey and white, but that strategy doesn't particularly work with night paintings.  So the challenge is to come up with a good pallet and color recipes that will work better. That's what is great about being an artist.  No matter how long you've been at it there is always something new to do and learn.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Almost finished with Minority. It's been a really fun painting.  It's been nice to focus on painting the birds.  In a way it really doesn't feel that different from painting people, but the variation of the feathers and patterns has been a welcome departure. I also like the how the landing birds in the background give a sense of depth by not being painted in detail.  There are a lot of elements in this painting that I need to implement into future work.  I also realize I need to keep expanding what is deemed my subject matter. The urban environment in an unlimited source of material to paint from, but like most urban painters I focus on only a small part of it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Something Different

I'm working on a bit of a different kind of painting subject matter wise.  Of course birds are definitely part of the urban environment. I just haven't focused on them. The piece is called Minority. It's not political, but there is a bit of a sociological aspect to the work. The title came to me last night when I was working on it.  I noticed how the people in the scene were completely out numbered by the birds, but towered over them all the same. I feel that human beings have a tendency to think that they are the only life on the planet that matters. This is the result of our might thanks to our intellect.

The idea for the painting was really another - wake up at 2AM in the morning and find a sketchbook to sketch and write it out. I proceeded to spend two hours running around the park taking photographs of birds and the figures within the painting latter that morning. It was odd how you'd find a bunch of pigeons with one or two grackles or a bunch of grackles with only a few pigeons. The grackle in the foreground was the bravest bird when I was dolling out a quarter of my bagel to the lot. Need to pay your models.  He would come up close and give me this quizzical look as if to ask "what are you up too?". Oddly enough the composition took on a life of it's own and departed greatly from the original sketch.  Not that I can say I mind, because it's better for it. It proved to be one of the more challenging compositions that I've created of late.  The physical difference between birds and humans along with the point of the view proved to be a real challenge.

I'm relieved that this work is going well.  I've had two weeks of paintings just not going right. I guess I've been "painting myself into a corner" as Bob Cocke one of my old painting professors used to call it. Although, it's incredibly important for an artist to create problems on the canvas to work through in order to grow: I would rather just paint happily and save the growth spurt for a  latter day. Too bad it doesn't always work out that way. I like to think I'm in control of the work and maybe I am on a subconscious level, but not on a conscious level. It gives the illusion that the paintings are calling the shots. I think it's like playing a chess game against yourself where you are really playing to win and only make one move a day, so that you can truly play the opponent's role in earnest. It's easy to get stalemated and that's what happens with some canvases. It just takes a while to realize the gig is up.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hammering Through

Hammering through another week's worth of paintings.  Above (working titles only) Gino Carlo and Grocery Mart. Both works have extreme perspectives. I'm a touch concerned about how fish-eyed Grocery Mart is perspective wise, but at the same time I like it.  It's one of those places where just, because it's a bit different there isn't really any call to stop and do something else. Besides doing art isn't about being comfortable. It's a perspective used in comic books from time to time and by photographers using a fisheye lens. It also captures one of those awkward life moments where the figure is rummaging through her purse from something, but can't seem to find it. It's  a question if she's waiting for someone or looking for her wallet before she goes in.

Gino Carlo on the other hand is just an extreme point of view without the fisheye effect. It has it's own set of challenges. The victorian features of the building at this extreme perspective are very challenging to capture. I would have liked to been able to collage my photos of the building together in photoshop prior to starting this piece, but the perspectives of the photos varied greatly.  I picked the photo with my favorite angle and I've just gone for it referencing all five to seven shots.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Finally completed Chill.  It has been one of those works where every time I would look at it I would see yet one more little thing that needed to be resolved. I'm sure I've been a bit of a perfectionist here and there regarding this painting, but some works require a great deal of polishing.

Below is a pastel life drawing.  I took advantage of a local art school's open studio session on Friday.  I plan to go at least twice a month.  It was so nice to work from a live model and brush up on basic drawing skills.  Even though I paint pretty much every day I'm guilty of not taking time to sketch from life enough. I guess it's like practicing scales if your a guitarist. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

New Week

Working hard to finish this painting up for a delivery to the gallery tomorrow.  It's probably going to be a late night, but heck that's when I like to paint the best.  There has always been something about painting late at night for me. I feel more focused and I'm able to comfortably work on the intricate and taxing portions of the canvases better.  It's the same with the early morning hours.

I really like the muted color scheme of this piece.  It's almost as if a photo filter has been applied. I've recently watched a couple Japanese Horror films Goth and Premonition.  Goth has really nice lighting effects. The actors were occasionally shot against hyper bright backgrounds that obscured their features.  You could see their face clearly, but their arm would almost abstractly fade and distort into the background. I'm planning to employ this effect in some future works.  The recent painting Remote was influenced by watching this film now that I think about it. I have to say I really enjoy Japanese Horror films.  They are not gory or special effect intensive, but rather focus on artfully composed scenes and suspense like Alfred Hitchcock films. I've also noticed that the subject matter is a bit different as well.

I think that's the trick for any artist or at least for me. I find it's really important to seek out the art of others for inspiration. I prefer to find inspiration in music, books and film rather than within the work of other painters. I think it's just a case where I like to get lost within the atmospheres of the stories within those art  forms.  If I read or watch a film right before bed it is more likely that I will not only dream, but remember those dreams upon waking.  

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Catching Up

I've been a bit neglectful of the blog for the last few days, but here's a quick update on the paintings I'm working on.  I'll post details later on today.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Finished Remote up tonight.  Definitely a work that I want to see bigger.  Much bigger.  I think that I might be painting a few more rooftop works as well. I named the work Remote, because that's the sense I get when I look across those rooftops to the downtown shrouded by mist. It's like looking out upon a world at large, but still figuring out how it all works. I've noticed that this year's works are showing a shift in my color schemes.  It seems that I'm still mostly monochromatic, but slowly moving away from just black and white into the earth tones.  This is a case where I feel I just need to go with the flow.

I have five other works in progress right now. I'm starting to develop a really good flow in the studio.  As much as I tried to plan things I've noticed that studios really come together organically over the course of time.  I'm still working primarily on the northern wall using the western wall as a staging area more than a work area.  Hopefully, I'll learn to work on all three easels.  If I'd only known when I built the studio I might have placed the doors differently.  That way I could have set up multiple easels on the North wall.  Oh well, as they say hindsight is always 20/20.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Push and Pull

Still working on a title for this piece. This painting seems to be about light. It's been a bit of a challenge to capture the smattering of the sunlight  and shadows on all the various roof top structures and keep the misty feeling of the sun shinning through the moist air. It's an effect that I really respond to, so I'm going to work on employing it into other works in the future.

I'm also carefully bringing collage elements into play in background elements of the work.  There's been a lot of push and pull and sometimes painting things back out and using only the their textures.

It's 12x24 inches, which feels a bit small for this particular composition. I think I should do another rendition of this piece maybe 36 x 60 down the road. It's just a small work that is so much bigger than it's substrate.

I'm planning to start the studio practice of working on large works and small works simultaneously. I've always have had the tendency to do one or the other, which causes me to go through transition of getting used to working either big or small. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Street Lamp's Hum is finished.  It's a bit of a reference to Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel in title, but Bleaker Street comes to mind as well.  When I look at it I'm also reminded of a scene out of the Albert Camus novel A Happy Death where Patrice Mersault is wondering around the streets in Amsterdam. Of course the setting is not Amsterdam, but the feeling is still there for me.  The central figure carries his cooler in one hand and plods down the street to return home or go to work if he works a grave yard shift.  The night life establishments down the street are about mid-shift and will close in about two hours.  The folks who are not night life types are tucked into bed until their alarm clocks wake them in the morning.  Your wandering the streets enjoying the brisk air and the way the various humming street lamps make the reflections dance and the shadows creep.

The title for the piece had eluded me until I starting thinking about how it made me feel and then I heard the street lamp humming in my mind while I looked at it. I'm elated to have finished this work this week.  I've been waiting for the next wave just like a surfer, so that I can ride it and produce a new large body of work.  Well it's here and I've caught it.

Waiting for a Title

Still don't have a title for this painting and it's almost done.  It's been a really interesting piece so far.  I have a bunch more night paintings coming up as well. I've been busy finishing up two other paintings for delivery to the gallery for tomorrow.

It's been an a different kind of week for me.  I've now become a full time painter. Right now I'm trying to break into a good routine that works best for getting art done. At the moment the last week of triple digit weather has been forcing me to work in split shifts of Early Morning and Night rather than a normal 8 to 10 hour straight studio session.  I hope the heat breaks soon, because I really would like to just work straight through the day without interruption. I get more done that way.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Studio Days and Nights

Not sure of the title for this piece yet, but it's coming along.  It's based on one of the night photos I took during my San Francisco trip last November.  I'm planning on another visit this year as well.

I've been a bit lax in posting over the last few weeks, but I'm sure I'll make up for it in the following months. Getting the shadows right on the building and working in the colors of the city at night has been the challenge on this painting. With the last few works I've been bringing back the collaged text subtly.  It's interesting that of late I've questioned my motivation behind collaging the elements into the work.  I know in art school that many of my professors warned of becoming an mannerist of yourself.  There were many artists to whom they felt had "sold out" listed.  Well, in short they instilled this fear within me.

Recently, though I was told by someone who wasn't really a big art person that what they thought what made my work stand out of the crowd of other artists they've seen was that added level of subtext within my work.  They felt that the carefully blended fading in and out collaged text elements within my work addressed modern society. Oddly, this reminded me of why I've done it for so many years and that although it's become a ritualized thing that I just do that the conceptual meaning behind it hasn't been lost, but simply internalized so deeply that I just don't think about it and focus on the other elements of the work. 

As far as the artists that were labeled as "sell outs" - I'm now wondering if they just hadn't found their niche. I know for myself that I feel that the urban environments that I paint are a bottomless well of inspiration for me.  I used to struggle to find inspiration and would have creative blocks.  Now I just go out with my camera and discover meaning within myself through what I find out there.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Another Exit

Starting with the top is my copy of the Neighborhood Register by Marcus Jackson with one of my painting Ascension Night on the cover. Marcus signed it as well. You can pre-order a copy of the book here on Amazon

You can also visit his website here His work has a nice gritty urban feel. Something I personally respond to for obvious reasons. He has a very strong minimalistic, straight to the heart of the matter, without any fluff style of writing that reminds me of many of the American authors between WW1 and WW2 along with the beat generation. I appreciate this approach, because I know that I paint at my best when I use an economy of brush strokes.

Below the studio shot is Another Exit and Vantage Point. I've added a rolling cart to the studio and have placed a drafting tabletop upon it.  It eats up some room, but it's really nice to bounce back and forth from the easel to the table with works for laying glazes and coats of varnish.  It's also nice to have a place to allow works to dry and place another work on the easel and get to work.

It's odd that even though I have three easels - I seem to primarily work on the easel on the north wall. It's been suggested it's simply a matter of me unconsciously not wanting to have my back to the door.  The other easels serve the purpose of keeping works in progress within view, so that I can work out problems within them while painting other works.  I guess nothing is wasted. Maybe when it's cool enough to close the door and lock it while working out there I will feel more comfortable working at those easels.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tomorrow's Past

Work on Tomorrow's Past continues.  It will be the first canvas completed in the series.  Both Tomorrow's Past and Coffee Stained Morning have the same pallet, so I have a feeling that Too Much Caffeine will be following suit in some regard.

I've pretty much figured out what these works are about and in many ways they're very autobiographical and relate to what's going on in my life, while telling a story independent of me. My thought process behind the three pieces of the triptych is that each painting is a different morning experienced by someone riding their bike to work in the morning along the same river.  Each morning is different and as such the rider is noticing different spots along the river.  Of course their perception of each morning is tainted by the events going on in their  life.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Uncertain Dawn's Triptych

 Coffee Stained Morning
 Tomorrow's Past
Too Much Caffeine

Back from our trip up to Portland, OR and back down the coast.  It was a great trip, but I have to admit I'm grateful to be back in the studio knocking out paintings.  I will post some of the plein air works I performed on vacation.  There's nothing like painting on the beach.  The sunburn, the bugs and the wonderful ocean air.  I have to say in some ways it's much harder to paint on location than in the comfort of your studio even if it's currently 100+ degrees.  I think there is a lot of improvising that takes place since you don't have all the tools, materials or really even the time working in a studio space grants you.  It reminded me a lot of life drawing classes when you had to practice the economy of line and stroke to capture as much of you could of a model's essence within 15 minutes.  I'll be doing it a lot more for just that reason.

This is the triptych that is the result of Uncertain Dawn. I had a bit of a caffeine headache tonight and felt that the paintings had the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning after being up too late and drinking too much soda and coffee.  The daylight can almost be stabbing, but your mind is hazy whilst still reflecting or dwelling upon the thoughts that kept you up so late in the first place.  I guess that plays right into what an uncertain dawn is all about really.  Being in a place in your life where your hopeful, with moments of being bright and happy, but still have the black clouds hanging just off to the side.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Uncertain Dawn

I came close to completing three canvases today, but alas I had to call it quits to get some sleep.  Uncertain Dawn is just going so well. That's the working title at least.  I've been debating between Leave Me Alone and Uncertain Dawn.  I feel like Uncertain Dawn might be the ultimate pick.  There's a wonderful ill at ease, but hopeful spirit within this work.  It's hard to explain, but there are times that you are alone in the early morning watching the sun rise and there's an uncertainty in the world or at least within you that you in turn transpose onto the world.  I feel that way when I look at this painting.  It's that moment of uncertainty and ironic unlimited possibility that scares you and invigorates your spirit all within the same moment. Like that country song that my wife listens to all the time "The day is mine to do with as I wish".

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Long Day

The Long Day has given me quite a long day really.  The central figure has been painted and repainted a few times.  I wish the shadows of her face were darker, but her skin is blended perfectly.  I will have to decide if I'm going to live with it or chance it.  I guess that is a normal question I pose often when looking at a canvas.

Painting Weekend

Painting like crazy this weekend.  I'm feeling a touch behind, so the plan is to paint like mad and cover as much ground as possible this weekend.  My goal is to finish at least two works and get started on two others.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Great Outdoors

Plein air painting is not something I've ever tried.  Well outside of when a few art professors would have us pack up and go outside or when I was in life drawing sketching people at coffee houses and around campus.  Back then when our professors had us head out it was most often with complaint.  In our defense going outside with your art boxes and drawing boards was a bit cumbersome at best.  Maybe we were just wimpy and spoiled art students back then.

I have to say that I really enjoyed painting outside with my sketch box easel.  Yes, there were horse flies, various kinds of bees, bugs I'd never seen before and mosquitoes - it was fantastic and liberating.  I'll have to do a lot more of it.

Now, I have a feeling the paintings that resulted from this camping trip and future trips will most likely not end up within a gallery show.  I figure that they're completely out of my normal subject matter. Not to mention my usual color scheme. With that said my paintings are my paintings.

I gifted the piece first shown Morning Moon depicting the moon over a meadow to our friends who took us.  They had a wonderful tent trailer with just enough amenities to make camping life easier without taking away the roughing it aspect a way a mobile home or a fifth wheel may have.  It offered a good place to escape the rain storms that passed through two of the three nights we spend at Hawley Lake.  It also had a propane stove that hooked to the outside and a built in water tank for a simple pump sink.  Of course it was finding a tree or using the out houses and going without a shower for a few days.

I went camping a lot as a kid and I know my mom and my stepfather were definitely purists when it came to camping.  I know when we'd head up they'd grip about the people with tent trailers and RV's. Often stating that "they weren't camping". With that said they had the giant tent, tarps, portable propane stove, portable toilet, portable shower and a truck with a camper shell to fall back on with serious rain.  In other words they had all the amenities, without towing them behind them.  Frankly, I liked my little loft tent bedroom off the wet ground after several hours of rain. I still swatted mosquitoes, flies, and various crawling and flying creatures, dodging humming birds and bees. Felt like camping to me.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I started Passing tonight.  I decided to show more of the street behind the figures in this work in comparison to A Long Week.  I may opt to use the same approach when returning to work on A Long Week, but I'm not sure.  Speaking of a long week I think this is going to be one.

With Passing I'm maintaining the earth tone pallet.  It seems to really work for this body of work.  There's a common mood within these works.  There's almost a Edward Hopper isolated feeling within them.  The figures are lonely while surrounded by others.  I'm just going to go with the flow and let the work enlighten me.  I feel my work tells me about myself or at least about what's going on within me on a subconscious level. In this case it might just purely be an observation of how people are in a large urban environment.  Large cities tend to turn us into just another face in the crowd. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Long Day Started

I started Long Day.  My game plan is to get most of the canvases for the upcoming exhibit started and then just work them all to completion.  I know that the summer heat has a tendency to sap my creative energies, so I'm going to simplify my life by getting the most creatively draining part of the works out of the way.  Figuring out what to paint and starting them.

I also want to use this as an opportunity to lay out the color scheme for the works.  I usually work with strong grey tones.  This show I want to have some grey, but I want to shift the pallet towards the earth tones and then either add warm tones or let it go towards the grey pallet.  I guess for the most part I'll have to see where it goes from here.  I don't want to make anymore hard and fast rules except for the earth tone pallet.

In regards to this series of works in particular that Long Day will be part of.  I'm going to develop compositions around strong central figures.  I want to leave everything other than a figure or to out of focus or abstracted.  They are going to be almost portraits of a sort.  I just notice that when I'm looking through my photos that some figures just stand out and that nothing else in that particular scene is really of interest to me, but that it feels weird to compose these figures into another composition with other figures.  They would almost become lost or would simply compete with the other figures.  So why not just blur their backdrops and make the works completely about them?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Who Knew?

Saturday, I purchased a Jullian French Box Easel for an upcoming camping trip.  I've never tried one of these easels out before.  I admit that when I was in college working at an art supply and putting these together for display that a fellow art student and I made fun of the concept.  I guess I'll have to pass that off as a youthful indiscretion and eat my words.  The easel is beautifully designed.  Although, I have to admit it's more suited to oil painting that it is acrylics - I've found ways to make things work. I can put all my materials except for my gel medium into the box.  Even there it's more a matter of the amount of gel medium I can fit.  I like to varnish between layers of paint to achieve the luminous effect with acrylics that you naturally get with oils. I will be using a lot of gel medium, so a small 2oz container will not last past two sessions.  If I could find a larger container that's not too tall for the box I would be set.  Oh well, it's just one thing that goes into my backpack instead of the box. My wife made a great custom brush holder for me that I can suspend between the legs of the easel.

The studio is bouncing between 107-117 degrees right now, so I'm using this as an opportunity to use the Jullian easel and get used to working with it.  I plan to have a dozen small works within the show along with larger works, so I think I might spend the most of the month on the Jullian in comfort.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Productive Weekend

With two finished canvases this weekend has proved to be very productive.  I also delivered both works up to the Lanning Gallery in Sedona.  Thursday Afternoon top was the first started, but the last to be completed and Voices (bottom) was the last started and the first completed. It's funny how it works sometimes.  A bit of it was that Voices was a very all consuming painting that demanded my undivided attention.  It doesn't always work that way.

It was a nice trip up to Sedona. It's not as hot up there as it is down in Phoenix, so it was a nice break.