Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Fifth Figure

I'm not sure when I started this painting, but I've had it on the back burner. It just wasn't feeling right and I simply did my usual bad habit of finding something else to work on. 

Well, while working on After the Rain I discovered the solution add a fifth figure. The composition is now fixed and I know where I'm going with the piece again. It's silly and so elementary when I think about it. Four figures was an even number which doesn't create a successful composition. Things are supposed to go 1,3,5,7,9 and so on. Okay, it's not a hard and fast rule, but if you study old master works and perform a physical count of the number of figures you'll find that only within a few rare works will their be an even number of figures and when that does occur it is to match the biblical story the work depicts. In those instances though another large compositional element is introduced to balance the piece.

My birthday was last week and one of the gifts my wife gave me was John Singer Sargent's Italy. The book is just a wonderful book to look through. I love his subtle use of color within his Italian works. It's interesting to contrast these works against his more famous portrait works he's better known for. I'd say the paintings in Italy were who he really was.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Waiting for the Rain

Work has continued on After the Rain. I'm almost finished with it.  Now comes the tricky part rendering the shoes of the main two figures. I have painted the wet concrete shadows just the way I want them, but I can screw everything up if I don't render the shoes just so.

Other than that I'm just waiting for the rain literally and figuratively speaking. Rain was in the forecast for latter this week, but that didn't happen. I love painting on rainy days. The moist air does wonders for acrylics and extends the drying time, so that I can blend the skin tones and folds in clothing better. Whenever, I happen to leave Phoenix the prerequisite for my new home will be that it has more weather.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Escape Plan has been selected to be part of Gothic an exhibit at the Orange County Center of Contemporary Art in Santa Ana, California. Here's the link The Opening Reception will be Saturday February 4th,2010 - 6pm to 10pm.

I've also been working on After the Rain above. I took a little time from the easel last week to update my artist statement and resume. It wasn't the most enjoyable way to spend the week, but it's one of the necessary parts of being an artist. I have always found working on my artist statement to be difficult. I feel a big part of this difficulty is partly due to the fact I'm trying to formally put words to what I do visually. In my blog I keep things pretty casual, which is easier. My mentor Dave Sklar mused this morning over breakfast that "the reason the artist statement is so hard to write is that in essence, it's an artist's epitaph of who they are and what they're about, if a bolt of lightning was to strike them down latter today." That might be a bit melodramatic, but in essence, yes I would want my current artist statement read at my wake when I depart. Hopefully, that's a very long time from now when I've painted thousands of paintings.

Well back to After the Rain. It's been a fun little painting. It's odd, but I felt it should be a small work based on the sketch. Now that I'm into the painting I almost feel as if it should be bigger. I may have to paint a larger version latter. I actually want to do a series of smaller works to work out some color schemes.  I have four distinct bodies of work in my head at the moment and I want to use unique color palettes for each of them. There will be some subjective differences as well, but I want to challenge myself a little more.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Year

Just finished up November this afternoon. The painting really does capture the feeling of that day I was walking around in Bisbee, AZ in the rain. There is definitely a bit of a foreboding/haunted feeling in this painting. It's nice to have the first painting of the new year completed. I've been working on this painting all week along with sending out portfolios. I've also have submitted this piece and two others into a juried exhibition. My fingers are crossed that my work will fit into the show. These last two works have been a lot of fun to paint. In both I've played with the idea of allowing the background to recede into the mist allowing the foreground elements to be darker and more detailed.

I'm going to lighten the palette up a little and give this effect a try in some other works this upcoming week. Tomorrow I plan start a new work entitled After the Rain based on a sketch I started earlier this week. It will be a smaller piece. I also plan to get busy in the sketchbook to draft a series of works after it and continue on with the Crowds series.

Last night's First Friday Reception was really nice. I ran into a lot of old friends I hadn't seen in a while. I also had some great questions on the drawings. The most frequent question was regarding the lack of a background, which took me by surprise. Admittedly, when I started creating the series I went with my gut and didn't even consciously think about the fact I was omitting the background. I think I started drawing a background into the first drawing and erased it out, because it seemed to distract my eye from what was important - the figures. It really did mess with some folk's concept of what a finished drawing should look like. I also noticed many were taken by surprise that they were drawings and not a prints or photographs.

Friday, January 6, 2012


Working on the first painting of the new year. I'm going to push to finish it tomorrow for the exhibition submission.  It's going well, so it shouldn't be hard to finish it off later tonight. My working title is Stairs, but that might change. The sky is a lot darker than I intended, but the pinkish grey mixture works somehow.  I just don't know if there is enough subject field depth when I squint my eyes for my liking.

This work is based on a photo I took about ten years ago in Bisbee, AZ. It was a rainy wet day when we were walking around and the old buildings had such a haunting aura about them. At the time I was taking a photography class and learning to use my camera better. Admittedly, the point of taking the class was really to just be able to take better photos of my paintings once I knew how to manually adjust my 35mm camera. I was indeed a better photographer afterwords, but I developed a passion for hitting the road to take photos as a result. I dragged my wife all over the state taking photos of old ghost towns, stark desert scenes (joshua trees and the mountains on the way to Las Vegas from Phoenix), old towns like Bisbee and downtown scenes. Once I discovered the joys of digital photography this unexpectedly became a tool for my painting - part of the process.

Back to that day in Bisbee. I fell in love with that haunted feeling of that day. The sense that the past was ever present within the present and would linger well into the future whether it was the old spirits of the town still wandering around or just the stain of their lives upon ground they once stood it's hard to say. Nonetheless, the buildings, streets, staircases, and cobble stone paths are forever haunted and there is something truly romantic about that.