Saturday, June 30, 2012

Steps and Ladders

Here's a working photo of The Deal that's currently on the easel.  It's a continuation of my stairs theme.  It's coming together very quickly.  I really love working with the theme of stairs and fire escapes.  It's a common thread that weaves it's way in and out of my work.  I haven't spent any time on the couch in the office of a psychologist to figure it out and I'll leave the speculation of my visual focus for others to decipher.  I have my theories.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

If I Only Could

I completed If I Only Could and started two other works this weekend. Below is the piece that is the furthest along. I am working on a title. Right now the working title is Another Island. The puddle unfortunately isn't working out. I think the shape feels unnatural and the reflection doesn't feel believable to me yet. I might put the painting to the side if this issue doesn't have a clean resolution. I don't want to break my pace and would rather put this painting to the side and come back to the challenge of getting the puddle just right. It would be great if the summer storms could get going and give me some puddles in alleys to look at for reference. 

That's really the fun of inventing worlds within my sketchbook.  There is the challenge of figuring out how the elements in your head will actually look and how they'll interact with each other. Working from photo references answers most of those questions up front. There are challenges there as well. It's more challenging to evoke mood and sometimes the visual reality feels artificial, so I find myself redrawing things to make them feel right to the mind's eye. This happens a lot when working with foreshortened figures.  The reality of what you seeing before you feels off and by bending the truth by lengthening arms and legs or exaggerating the size of body parts in relation to each other feels more real.

I am becoming more drawn to comic book perspectives. Yes, they are exaggerated, but they seem to match my perceptions of reality. For instance, I can remember times spent in the offices with school principles or bosses in trouble or in other stressful situations sitting across the desk from them and it seems as if I'm looking through a fisheye lens at them. They are in complete focus while the background is almost given a Gaussian blur and the perspective is elongated and curved. It's as if their faces are abnormally larger than their bodies and pushed out towards me and yet the distance between us seems vast. A football game could be played on top of their desk. This altered perception is due partly due to blood pressure, emotions, and the endorphins that naturally flow through our blood stream when ever we're in a stressful situations?  Yes, it's an visual illusion, but is this personal experience of that moment not reality?  This is how I recall those moments when recounting them to peers and loved ones and have relived them within my dreams. Reality seems very subjective. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Weight of the World

I finished The Weight of the World last night not long after my last post. It was one of those moments where I was working and I simply looked up and realized it was finished after I shored up the linens up above the figure.  I proceeded to start work in earnest on If I Only Could below.

With the speed in which this latest batch of paintings are flying off my easel I feel like I should take three months off from painting more often. It's  been like kinking up a hose for a few seconds and then letting go. I should finish If I Only Could this afternoon and I'll go ahead and start the next painting. I'm really in the zone right now, so I'm simply going to keep it going. I have three more works figured out, so I'll need to break this weekend and get going in the sketchbook and continue designing "The Unknown Lovers" series. The working title has shifted. I may not give the series a formal name. The works are related, but their supposed to function as stand alone paintings.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Work continues.  Right now I'm applying lots of semi-transparent and transparent layers into inked and re-inked detailed portions of the buildings.  I have pretty much finished the figure.  I may have to go in and add some highlights depending on how the buildings evolve.  The challenge has been to capture the same level of contrast that A Bad Day to Hang Laundry has without over doing it.  Although, part of that is due to the fact this painting has some of the same elements, but simply functions differently visually due to the perspective and the fact the mouth of the sky runs in a more horizontal fashion.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Only the Lonely

I started the second painting of the boy and girl series.  I'll have to come up with a better title than that prior to the exhibit, but for now it will have to suffice. This painting has a little more detail, but I still want to keep the loose look, so I'll probably ink in details and paint them back out until I get just the right mix.

I'm keeping the color scheme muted and primarily monochromatic with the addition of earth tones and Paynes grey. I'm also keeping the strong perspective.  I'm planning two more canvases that will have our characters walking up and down stairs.  These works will be a little more photo based.  For the most part I'm using a mixture of photo sources from San Francisco, CA and Bisbee, AZ. Of course my goal is to create an universal urban environment, so it can be New York, Mexico City or any other city for that matter.

Later in the series I would like to incorporate the loneliness and dehumanization that is seen within Edward Hopper's paintings.  His work has always been an inspiration.  This loneliness or state of being an island is what these particular characters within this series long to escape.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Bad Day to Hang Laundry

I just finished A Bad Day to Hang Laundry.  I feel the painting really fits the mood of what the next body of work will be.  It's a small painting 12x24 inches, but it packs a punch.  I'm planning on performing a lot of small works for my upcoming show in September at the Lanning Gallery in Sedona, AZ.

This painting is the beginning of a large series of connected works that work together as well as individually.  I like to think of a body of work like a musical album.  The songs can be sold as singles, but together tell a story or establish a  definite mood.  The working title of the next show is Escape Plan.  I'm going to focus in on gritty portraits of individuals in different urban environments that are either attempting or desire to escape their environs, predicaments, other people or themselves.  

Above is the original sketch for A Bad Day to Hang Laundry and it's companion piece that I haven't named yet.  I guess it would be BDHL 2, but I'm not sure if I want to go 1,2,3, etc with this series.  The theme for this series is a tale of a boy and a girl who walk down the same streets, go to the same bookstores, restaurants, parks, and other places; yet they never meet.  I guess star crossed lovers that are perfect for each other if only they could meet.  I can hear Morrissey crooning now, if it were made into a short film. I guess a little bit of the inspiration for the series is the fact that my wife and I went to the same high school, but didn't meet each other until the second semester of our freshman year in college.

I'm not sure how the series will play out.  I'm just going to sketch, paint and repeat until I feel the series is done.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Back in the Saddle

I'm back.  I've been on hiatus of sorts.  After a few months of hitting my head against the wall I decided to step away from the canvas and shift my focus for a little while.  Of course I spent a lot of time thinking about what direction I wanted to take the next body of work.  Sometimes low creative tides are good for that. I also wanted to reflect on why I wasn't feeling it.  I have reached a few conclusions.  That I will share as this next body of work continues.

Above is a working shot of A Bad Day to Hang Laundry.