Sunday, November 24, 2013

Finding Your Way - In Progress

Here's a couple progress shots of Finding Your Way. It's based off the drawing Crossing. I'm playing with a new kind of light within this piece. For be a big part of why the drawing works is the negative space and the fact that the details fade out into the white space. I'm working to capture the same effect within the painting. I'm also trying to integrate some of the elements within my drawing back into the paintings. I love the quality of line within my drawings and that aspect gets lost in the paintings. I guess doing art is really about endless exploration.

I'm just getting ramped up for the next big exhibit. It will be either April or May at the Lanning Gallery in Sedona. The tentative title that the Director and I have discussed is "Night and Day". It will be an exploration of the urban environment during different times of day. I haven't decided if I'm going to focus in on primarily city works or if I will do both urban and suburban environments. I guess the process of developing the works in the studio will tell.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

In Two

Completed In Two a pen & ink and marker on paper drawing this morning as a birthday gift for a friend. It's based off of a photo I took in San Francisco. I love the long shadows and the motion within the piece. This will ultimately become a painting as well. 

Last night was the second reception for the show and it was a fantastic evening. I'm profoundly thankful for the public response to this new body of work. Half the works have been sold and the show hangs for another nine days. Thank you to all who came out to either the Opening or the 1st Friday Reception last night and a big thank you to Kimber Lanning at Modified Arts.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Sense of Loss and Letting Go

I finished A Sense of Loss and Letting Go late last night. I'm really glad that I pushed myself to complete this final piece for the show. In a lot of ways A Sense of Loss the first painting that dealt with this station was the start of  the series and when I was painting it back in March and April I didn't feel resolved. I knew the painting was done and that it was one possible solution to the subject matter, but I had other ideas of where to take it. I still do. This painting is yet another possible solution. I guess for me this is the station that I photographed first and the seed for the whole series. 

I think what strikes me about this station is how it feels like the bleached white dry javelina skull parts I come across when hiking down around Sierra Vista and Bisbee. This station sits with it's bent up awning and broken out windows as an empty shell like a pile of bones surrounded by future tumbleweeds in the middle of the Southern California desert outside of Barstow.  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

As the World Passes By

Just finished As the World Passes By this morning. The title comes from how I feel this morning and the fact that the people waiting to cross the street are just watching the traffic pass them by. This morning I looked through my newsfeed and just felt a deep pang of frustration. Later drinking my morning cup of tea looking at both this drawing and the painting in progress on the easel; I thought how odd it was that my work isn't political and that I don't actually express my political views on my blog.

That's not entirely true though. It's impossible in some ways for an artist's worldview not to come through in their work. My work is actually political, but it's not tied to the fashionable politics of the day that blow in every which direction depending on where the wind current is coming from on a particular day. My focus is on what it is to be human, the modern world and how I see the world (or rather my attempt to make sense of it).

I remember when I was in art school I had a drawing professor Jim Eder. It was my first life drawing class. He came up from behind me and pointed out that I was missing the subtle transitions of how shadows were criss crossing each other across the model's body. Once I saw it; I saw it everywhere I looked. Capturing it became an insane challenge for me. I quickly learned to keep my drawings loose and not to commit to early to strong heavy shadows. I noted that as the model's pose would progress that more shadows and highlights would reveal themselves to my eyes. Almost as if my eyes needed and adjustment period. I soon learned as Jerry Shutte another life drawing and painting professor taught, that after a pose is held the model will succumb to gravity and their body weight will shift as a result. It became important to either wait for that shift or quickly capture the initial moment. Becoming an artist is more about learning to "see" than learning to master your materials.

When I look at any of political issues that currently divide my country: the longer I look the more complex the problems seem and less clear the answers to those problems become. For me it's just like drawing or painting from life in that there are so many intricate details to capture that don't always show themselves in the beginning and that things are often so much more complex than they seem. When it comes to politics it seems as everyone wants to paint these problems over with a big broad brush of absolutes. There seems to be no middle ground, but in a world of grey...

I'll paint in my studio as the world passes by and hope that maybe my paintings and drawings with all their shades of grey will inspire others to see differently.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Kingdom Come and Went

Just completed Kingdom Come and Went. It's another super wide piece. I think this format works really well for the abandoned gas station/desert works. I think it highlights the one aspect about the desert outside of the heat: it's expansiveness. The desert has several places where it's flat with mountains in the distance that in more humid climates would be obscured by the atmosphere. There's lots and lots of sky and the land just seems to stretch out before you in every direction; forever. It's odd to write about this, because this is really quite normal for a desert kid like me. Whenever, I'm away from the Southwestern Deserts it may take a while, but I notice the lack of expansiveness and endless blue sky.

The title popped in my head right after finishing the painting. The title has some religious undertones, but I think for me personally it's my perception of how these small desert towns were once booming and now are a year or so from becoming ghost towns. I just imagine a gas station owner, perhaps a mechanic by trade who buys the a station just off the highway and runs a prosperous business. Then over time with more fuel efficient cars business just slowly slips away until he can no longer keep the doors open. It's as if all his dreams came true to own his own prosperous company, but times change and he finds it slip from his hands like grains of sand. Like his kingdom came and went before his eyes.

Friday, October 11, 2013

No More Time and Late Evening Walk

Finished both Late Evening Walk and No More Time this evening. I'm shooting to finish up two more drawings and complete one last painting for the show this weekend. I figure the rest of the week before the hang date will be framing and installing hanging wire. I'm looking forward to being finished with the work for the show. Of course, as soon as the work is delivered I will come home to work in my studio on the next body of work. I find it keeps me balanced to just keep working. I find that taking even a week off throws my work out of whack.


Finished up on Crossing this morning. It's really nice to spend some time drawing. Unlike paintings drawings are very much about getting in and getting out. It's very easy to overwork an area and destroy the piece. In fact one false move and you may very well have to start over completely - at least with pen & ink. That's the beauty of the medium though. After any length of time spent only painting canvases I find that I get accustomed to be able to monkey around with a passage until I'm happy with it or just the opposite. I also forget that less is more.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Gum Wrappers and Fancy Cars

Just finished Gum Wrappers and Fancy Cars. It's a whimsical title really.  Maybe a musing really.  As I was looking at the drawing thinking of a name it dawned on me that there's fancy cars, dirty streets with gum wrappers, lots of signs and...

I think it's an interesting contrast between super clean expensive cars and liter strewn sidewalks. I respond somehow to San Francisco - Chinatown's mixture of glitz, high intensity colors, decaying buildings and liter strewn streets. I remember when I was a kid the first time I went to LA's Chinatown I felt like I'd stepped into a scene from Bladerunner that I'd only seen six months earlier. 

When I lived in Honolulu, Hawaii it was very similar. Once you made it out of the touristy parts I remember walking down alleyways where there were street vendors, grocers with chickens hanging from hooks, the guys with merchandise inside their coats, street performers, street preachers and lots of people. I lived in three different buildings. Initially, we stayed in a 20 story building that was okay, then we moved and lived in a 40 story and ultimately lived in a 30 story on the 28th floor. The last building was really the best for living space, ocean view and location. It was only five blocks from the beach where the bus stop that I rode to school was as well. It's odd to think about it, but I rode a public bus to school in Hawaii rather than a school bus. Nonetheless, I thought I was in heaven to be able to watch the waves and smell the ocean air during my 30 minute wait for the bus every morning.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hanging On a Curtain

Completed Hanging On a Curtain last night or really early this morning. I'm in the last days of preparing for the show. I have enough work, but I'm pushing to have even more. I haven't actually had a solo show at Modified since the remodel, so there's a lot more wall space to fill than before. Most of my works are large horizontal pieces, so it should be okay.  Nonetheless, I'd rather push myself to create as much work as humanly possible before the hang date.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Left To Your Own Devices

Finished Left To Your Own Devices, pen & ink and marker this evening. I spent the afternoon at a coffee house I know with nice big tables. The music was a bit loud, so I was cranking my iPod since working with my own soundtrack is a must when I do art. The coffee house was moderately busy, but I noticed that crowds would pour in shifts around 3pm. To my knowledge no one paid me any mind, but of course I was pretty absorbed in my work. I can see why people go to coffee houses to work on things. There's a nice energy and it's also a pleasant change of pace.

This drawing is based off of a photo I took in Chinatown - San Francisco. There will be a pencil drawing as well. To work out the perspective I had to draw the scene in pencil first, I then proceeded to trace it in ink. I find that the pencil doesn't always erase to my liking and gets the markers dirty. I also like the fact it gives me and opportunity to contrast the medias with the same subject.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

There's More To It Than That - Completed

I completed There's More To It Than That today. The real finishing detail was finishing off the light area of the sky on the left side, but adding dirty semi-opaque glazes. The sky just needed to have the small clouds defined and the bright yellow toned down and dirtied up a bit.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

There's More To It - Working

Here's a working shot of There's More To It Than That a new 72 x 36 inch mixed media on canvas work. I have to laugh at my titles at times.  I bounce back and forth from single word titles to long The Smiths like titles. It's what comes to me while painting them, so it is what it is. 

When I worked abstractly I used to make lists of titles for a show and then if a title didn't come to me I would then go down the list until something fit. Often times I found myself in the predicament where the title that came to me while painting a piece had already been used. I stopped using that system.

Today, I just wait for a title to come to me. If it doesn't come to me I will look to the collaged text to invent something or will open a book randomly with my eyes closed and point somewhere on a page. If it makes sense - I use it. Titles these days typically don't require any special rituals, however. They've been flowing easily.

This piece is an answer to There's No Going Back. I chose to have a sunset with an impending monsoon storm coming in. In this instance a storm coming in is far from negative. In the desert the storms are awaited for, not dreaded; bringing cooler temps and life to the landscape. The sunset is representative of turning the page or putting false perceptions to rest for a new day tomorrow. In many cases there is no going back, but sometimes there's more to the circumstances surrounding past events than you may have known at the time or even been capable of grasping. In fact I have recently found that everything I thought I knew at one time was based on false perceptions and assumptions. In short, there may be no going back, but there is returning to where you once were and beginning a new. In the same place; just at a different time.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Just completed Reckoning working title was Lonely Outpost 2. I think the new title fits better with the definition of "the process of calculating or estimating something" or "a judgement or opinion", rather than the "avenging for past misdeeds". Of course I guess all could apply depending on you the viewer's interpretation.

I guess for me buildings are representative of souls with the wear and tear. With this series I have known that it speaks of my childhood, but of course it sometimes takes years for me to figure out what my subconscious mind is saying to me. That's okay though. I like the mystery. What I do know is that I have been doing a great deal of reckoning in regards to my childhood past. Somethings have become clearer to me, mythologies shattered, lies exposed, family members that were once lost found, and today new beginnings. 

Of course my way of processing it all is in paint. One of my favorite verses from a Folk Implosion song is "I never know what I'm thinking, until I dream". For me that hits home on how I am. Of course, I dream in paint. Come to think of it that's what inspired the gas station series to begin with. I woke up remembering a dream of me painting a huge series of gas stations out in the desert. I found the photo I'd taken three years earlier of an abandoned gas station outside of Barstow California and it felt right.

I also think that the concept of reckoning is a big part of this body of work in subject matter alone. These gas stations in the Southwestern deserts of the U.S. speak volumes about American culture. The West and the underlining Manifest Destiny philosophy has influenced the politics of the region from the pioneer days to present day. The perpetual bust and boom fueled by the cowboy spirit of American independence. Yes, speaking of this paradigm can get politically charged rather quickly, but I'm not playing politics here. At least I'm making no judgement calls, but rather just exposing the essence of what I see in myself and the world as I know it.  My family members and myself are the products of this culture, these deserts and only through the exploration of this culture and the underlining themes; can I understand them and myself - not to mention all that went down. I guess I'd rather author this story in Paul Bowles' fashion with a rather dispassionate exploration of characters and events without letting you know which character represents the author's voice allowing the reader to make their own calls. In the end there is more gray than black or white and no clear answers to be found.

For my personal history, a big part of my childhood was spent traveling these roads and fueling up most likely at these very stations moving from place to place as my mom desperately tried to find herself with my sister and I living in a temporal state of constant flux. The result of this is her son chose in adulthood to take the existentialist view that "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself" I saw this magnet at the art store my last trip, but I've thought in a thousand times - just worded differently - when thinking about all the places I lived as a kid.

For me it was both fun and dreadful at the same time. For an introverted, socially awkward kid being in a new school having to make new friends every year wasn't a lot of fun. I turned to my art as my companion. In the end I have no regrets, because I realize that I'm the artist I am today as a result of moving all over the place. Yet, I guess the time for reckoning has come.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Completed Sunrise this evening. It was more of a matter of fine tuning things.  I've been bouncing back and forth from this painting and three others. There has been a lot that has happened in the last month or so in my life. This painting is about the beginning of a new day.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Lonely Outpost 2 - working

A progress shot of Lonely Outpost 2 another 60 x 18 inch painting.  Originally the idea was to make either a diptych or a triptych, but it didn't happen with this pair of canvases at least. I'm not to worried.  I did let the two share the same yellow almost peach sky. That's the huge difference between Lonely Outpost 1 and 2; the skies.  Also, with the first painting I used red for the station's color rather than the yellow.  The station was actually an old Exxon station.  I still think that this station is the most creepy of the sites I've photographed. This station had broken light fixtures that were creaking as they blew in the wind.  It felt like one of the moments within horror or suspense films right before someone attacks the protagonist or a haunting discovery is made. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Sunrise - working

Here's a progress shot of Sunrise that I started this week.  It's going really fast, which at this stage of the game in preparing for the show is a good thing. I took the source photo in Laguna Beach while I was staying in Santa Ana to attend the Gothic opening at the OCCCA last year. It's a nice piece to help tie the gas station/desert pieces together with the more urban cityscape works. I've been waiting to paint this piece for several months, but the timing wasn't right. After the completion of Temporal I knew the time had come.

I'm using the same color scheme as Temporal I want to capture that super brightness of the sky and sun. The sun was so bright behind the building and trees that the details of the building were nearly impossible to discern. The camera thankful captured that quality. It's a slice of life, an aspect of reality that seems to only be captured within movies and photographs, but I rarely see it in paintings.

Dear Ellis

Finished Dear Ellis pen & ink and marker on paper this afternoon. The name is inspired by the store's sign, but the title Dear Ellis would make a great title for a jazz song. Something that feels like Miles Davis' rendition of Autumn Leaves.  I'm a bit behind on preparing the drawings for the show, so I will need to pick up the pace a bit.  I notice the works get done in waves.  I find myself working with nothing seeming to get done and then suddenly two to three works draw to a close.

Monday, September 23, 2013


Finished Clutching a small pen & ink and marker drawing. I titled it for the fact that the man walking was clutching his bag closely to him. When I look back at the photo the fact that his clothes are one to two sizes too big strikes me. That day I was cutting through the Tenderloin District in San Francisco after hitting some galleries just above Market Street. 

Well I guess I'm reminded of this a little today, because I just had a family that if they weren't homeless were darn near ask me for money today. I stated the truth that I didn't have any cash on me. I'm not one to give money really, but in all honesty, in this case I would have. I guess with that just happening I look at this drawing a little differently. The man in the background is clutching onto everything he has in that bag and the belongings in that bag may very well be all he has. I have no political point to make here beyond an awareness of the human condition.

I'm not a political artist and actually don't like mix politics with my work. I am generally like Edward Hopper and the painters of the Ashcan school focus on urban city life and the isolation of individuals, the herd mentality that comes with modern life and the movement of people through the city streets. I focus on the buildings and the wear and tear on them. In fact, the building paintings are portraits of societies' soul or the collective soul of all those who have passed through those buildings. I'm wondering if a portrait of the have and have nots will most likely emerge in my work rather unintentionally. Considering my manner of getting creative fodder for my paintings involves going out onto the street with a camera in hand. As my country becomes more economically divided it will undoubtedly become more pronounced on the streets I photograph.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Temporal - Finished

I completed Temporal this morning. It seem't like there were a hundreds of little areas that needed refined, but once I found myself having to repaint and fix areas that weren't in need of refinement - I knew it was time to call it quits. Sometimes you just know a painting is done and other times you know it's done when you start screwing it up.

My upcoming exhibit Temporal at Modified Arts -  with the Opening Reception on the Third Friday October 18th was included in Phoenix New Times 11 Must-See Art Exhibitions in Metro Phoenix This Fall. Thank you, Katrina Montgomery for including me.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Temporal - working

I've been working on Temporal a 24 x 48 inch canvas all week in a very focused effort. This will be the title piece for the exhibit at Modified Arts in October with the opening on the 18th. Originally I was going to use Cling, but this one is the one. It helps that the title of the show fits. This is really a temporal moment where the movement of the street crossers with the light and shadows is absolutely fleeting.

I've been going through my San Francisco and Downtown Phoenix photos with a new eye for the drawings and I'm discovering paintings I hadn't seen before. I guess a break from the figurative/urban works has done me some good.

I think the thing also about working on the desert/gas station paintings was the need to mix colors in bulk. I have carried the practice into the last two figurative/urban works and it has sped things up considerably. It's funny that something so simple has never dawned on me all these years. This new manner of working has also helped me solidify the new color palette as well. I like using more color, but maintaining a muted film noir quality.  This painting reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo with all of it's bluish grays.

Monday, September 9, 2013

There's No Going Back

Finished up There's No Going Back. The latest installment of the Desert/Gas Station Series. The Modified show is going to be really interesting.  At the moment there are two really different bodies of work going into the show.  I'm planning to take some new photos down in Bisbee that I think will tie the two bodies of work into a cohesive whole. I'm thinking of entitling the show "Temporal". It fits both bodies of work very well. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013


I have finished Cling. This one has been a bit of a long haul, but very rewarding. I started a new painting yesterday that I'll share tomorrow. I can tell that many of the things that I had to work out in this painting have poured themselves right into the new work. I guess that's the great part about being an artist for me. I never stop learning, experimenting and striving to achieve a new level of work.

My goal this week is to finish as many of the paintings that have been just hanging out in the studio not getting done finished up. I took the week off to pour myself into the work, so that I don't have to feel rushed during the rest of the month preparing for the Modified Show in October. The opening will be October 18th, 6 to 9 PM at Modified Arts. I'm really excited to be showing on my home turf next month. It's been a while since I've shown in Phoenix.

I started a Facebook page as well as another means that people can see what's going on inside the studio. I've been doing the blog for a long time, so I will update the same as usual along with smaller studio updates. It's nice to snap a quick photo with my iPod and make a  small post.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Just finished Coasting - pen & ink and marker on paper. I'm experimenting with a new paper - Canson Pro Layout Marker/18 lb 70 g. It's very bright white and the markers work wonderfully on it. With the last drawing I used a standard high quality drawing paper that was soaking the markers up greatly. I made it work, but it's a better idea to find a paper that works best for your media. I personally am a huge advocate of not fighting your materials if you don't have to. I really have grown to like using markers. Back in college I hated them, but when I went back to school for graphic design classes I took a cartooning class and something just clicked. They were like watercolors in a pen form. I also developed a technique apart from what the teacher taught that worked well for me.

I've read that collectors prefer to collect paintings rather than drawings. I haven't researched the reasons for the preference. I do know that I love looking at the drawings of other artists. In fact many of works I admire most are the drawings from artists like Bellows, Sargent, Eakins and Johns. There is something so raw and spontaneous about drawing. It's a fight to maintain the initial vitality of the drawing within a painting. I guess in a way an artist's drawings are equivalent to MTV's Unplugged Series in the 90's. It's my equivalent to going acoustic.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Before the Rush

Finished Before the Rush - pen & ink and marker on paper. It's based off of a photo I took the last time I was in San Francisco. It's time to go again. I have also been trying to plan a trip to New York, but at the moment it's just out of my budget. I know when I go I will want to be there for 5 to 7 days to visit galleries and museums as well as hours of walking the streets with a camera.

I watched a the documentary Side by Side, which interviews several movie directors on their preference of shooting with chemical process film cameras or digital cameras. The opinions were strongly divided with the pros and cons. I realized that in many ways I'm in the digital camera non-traditionalist camp comparatively. For me the invention of the digital camera and it's usage has influenced my work greatly. First off the freedom of being able to walk the streets of a city like San Francisco for hours and be able to take thousands of photos within a few days is huge. It's an economic thing as well. With a traditional 35mm it was completely cost prohibitive for me to even think of taking that many photos. Many of the shots that become paintings are truly the result of being able to take photos without worrying about getting the perfect shot. I have even created work based off of accidental shots. I also use Photoshop as a sketching tool, combining photos and sketches together. It's just not the traditional art school approach of doing things, but the technology is available to be used. I have not felt the need to stop using paint and canvas, but I like the level of naturalism I achieve and feel that my photography trips provide me with a connection to the cities I paint that I wouldn't have otherwise.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Thinking About the Past

Started work this week on There's No Going Back.  It's another installment in the desert/abandoned gas station series.  I feel I need to come up with an actual name for the series.  I have been bouncing back and forth from calling it the abandoned gas station series to the desert series.  Well, it's both.  There has to be a better name for it however.

There's No Going Back actually sheds light on what this series of works is about.  Well, at least it came to me while painting last night.  The soundtrack for this series for the most part has been U2's - The Joshua Tree album.  I was listening to Red Hill Mining Town and the verse "there's no going back" hit me.  There is no going back!  I can travel up and down some of the same highways my family did in our nomadic days of moving all over the West, but all there is left of the gas stations, motels and eateries from those days are ruins or new structures that have gone in their places.  The formative figures of my childhood have passed, so the only connection to my childhood is my memories (represented by ruins) outside of my siblings.  The desolation of the desert is a perfect analogy for separation, isolation and loss.  It's a universal experience that everyone in the world will likely share sometime in their life and I just happen to be painting it.  I guess this body of work is really about coming to age.  

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cling in Progress - almost

Cling is closer to being finished, but there's still more to do.  It's a great piece, so I'm not too concerned about rushing it off the easel yet.  The strategy of pre-mixing large batches of base colors has worked out very well.  I'm trying to walk a fine line between having a large mixture of colors while maintaining a monochromatic/cinematic lens filtered look for mood.  The weather has been kind to me with rain throughout the weekend slowing my drying time down a lot and making it easier to blend large areas.

I also started working on the first of many drawings that will make up the show as well.  Usually, when I exhibit it's paintings only without any drawings.  Modified has requested a mixture and I'm more than happy to oblige.  I really feel like I don't draw nearly enough.  I have a tendency to work only on the easel and only sketch when out of town or while sitting at a coffee house.  My camera in a lot of ways has replaced my sketchbook.  I can see pros and cons to both really.  Maybe, as a result of this show I'll find a balance between the two.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cling - In Progress

A quick progress shot of Cling. I'm just getting a chance to return back to this painting. It may likely be the postcard piece for the October showing at Modified Arts. It has been a very challenging piece. I think that the composition  coupled with it's size has had something to do with that. The fact it's been a challenge will make it just that much sweeter when I finish the piece. My goal is to try to finish it this weekend. I have some other works in progress, but I think if I can complete this one that it will create a sense of momentum. Next weekend will be a three day weekend for me, which will allow me to get a lot done for the show. I've been working extra at work, so it's pulled me away from the studio over the last month. I'm taking time off in September to make sure I finish all the works for the show.

This exhibit is going to be really interesting. It will be a mixture of my normal urban paintings, night paintings, and the gas station works. I'm going through my Bisbee photos for some new work. I have a feeling that performing some more paintings from my Bisbee photographs will serve as a bridge between the two bodies of work. Really, the gas station paintings are very much like my bridge paintings in feel. I know in some crazy way all these works dove tail into each other and although they may seem disparate they're actually part of a really big story.  I just need to figure out the chapters and characters to link them all together.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Tow Away Breakfast

Finished A Tow Away Breakfast. If I weren't on vacation and walking around with a camera I might have missed this small moment of two birds finding a scavenger's feast right before they were joined by three dozen of their feathered brothers and sisters. Yet, there is something just so fitting about these birds feasting in the tow away zone considering how most people think of pigeons and most likely want to do away with them. I confess after living in Hawaii and having to clean lanais up after them as part of my family's cleaning business...

Still, it's a great snapshot of urban life and what it is to live in a large city.

I also started work over the week on a new piece called Dead End that is going to be part of a series of night paintings. I have tons of night photos from San Francisco that I've barely touched. Largely, this clutch of photos is partly due to the fact that with my first trip to San Francisco I had more time to shoot photos at night than during the day. At the same time though there is nothing like wandering through the streets of a city at night. The city has such a different feel at night and some streets and alleyways become haunting where as during the day they are completely benign. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Isolated States - Completed

I completed Isolated States before leaving for vacation, but with the rush of getting everything together for the trip - I didn't have time to post. This station was in the middle of nowhere just East of Lordsburg, New Mexico. It was a very desolate place and the distance between the sign and the station made me think of how they were two isolated islands in a sea of dirt and gravel.

The last two works have been a little more desolate than the previous ones.  That has a lot to do with the environment and how hot the day was when I went shooting for the source photos. Maybe a little on how I felt that day as well. I start painting these pieces in my mind while photographing them.

I also think that these paintings are portraits of the buildings as living things in themselves. In this case two structures isolated from each other that face the extreme elements of this desolate landscape together, but hundreds of feet apart. In the summer it's hot, in the winter it's cold always windy with hardly any rain. 

The concept of buildings as living entities has been a big part of my work for the last several years and a big part of my return to realism. The first paintings where I returned from abstraction to realism contained buildings. From there I started taking source photos and taught myself to become a better street photographer and my work became more realistic. Of course keeping the abstract and collage elements within them. When I paint buildings I am painting their soul as a living being or the stain left by all those who have inhabited them. When I paint an old hotel or gas station I'm thinking of all the lives that have passed through them. The lover's quarrels and makeups, the family ups and downs, the lonesome travelers who have passed through, the life and times of the ownership and employees, and everything else that could've happened there. I feel the stain of time that haunts these places and while I paint these works I do my best to infuse them with those feelings.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Isolated States - Working

I'm currently working on Isolated States based on a station outside of Lordsburg, NM. The station was the most graffitied of all the stations that I have made photo studies of so far. I think the fact that it is more readily seen from the highway may play a part in that.

With each of the pieces of this series I'm starting to explore the surface just a little more.  With the figurative city works I have to tone the surface texture elements down just a little. They are the most effectively used in skies and landscape elements. I haven't really explored sanding down surfaces. I'm not sure if it's a technique that will work well on canvas or if I would have to switch over to wood panels to be able to employ the technique properly. It is a technique I've seen other artists use and I think it would fit with this body of work.  I guess for me I let the work dictate the painting techniques I use rather than just having a grab bag of tricks that I use in every painting.

I have also thought of imitating the old worn out signs that I've been seeing at these sites and allowing them to fill the background. I just have to figure out how to incorporate them just right.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Worn Out Life - Finished

Completed Worn Out Life early this morning and delivered it up to the Lanning Gallery in Sedona this afternoon. It was a very rainy trip. At one point I was tempted to pull over and find a place to wait out the storm, but I pressed on. Within another 10 miles it was amazingly dry. The irony of living in Arizona's deserts during the summer. The storms are very localized. 

I painted in my studio from the evening until a couple hours before dawn this morning while it gently rained outside. The humidity slowed down the drying time of my acrylics and allowed me to paint with ease applying layers of glazes and painting semi-opaquely back into them. It's these wonderful moments that make being a painter so wonderful for me. I found that I reworked major portions of the painting and resolved many other areas differently than originally planned.  I also discovered that the painting itself became more haunting, forlorn and monumental. It became much more building focused and the landscape more desolate that originally planned as well. The give and take within the conversation between the artist and the canvas.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Worn Out Life in Progress

About midway through the first gas station painting A Worn Out Life, from my Benson to Lordsburg I-10 trip. This piece is 36x72 inches, so it's taking just a little while. This station was in Bowie, Arizona. I almost had the feeling that the rest of the town wasn't far behind this station. I have a feeling that most the population depends on the little bit of agriculture in the area. There were groves of pecan trees from the look of it.

I've been listening to Dakota Suite & Emanuele Errante a lot while painting this one, so I named the piece after one of their tracks. Well, the track that I've listened to repeatedly while working on the painting. It's fitting really when I look at this station. There were a few incarnations evident.  I could see several layers of Texaco graphics, followed with a layer or two of when the station became independent.  I could also tell that the pumps were replaced at some point, because they don't match the architecture of the building.  I omitted the background buildings, but it looked like the owner and station mechanics lived on site, so it's very likely this station was open 24hrs or at least had later hours than most. It's  amazing how much you can deduct from simply taking some time to look around at the little details.

I also had a sense that the station and surrounding buildings have been used by transients. At one point I climbed down into a wash beside the station to capture both the Texaco sign and the station in the same shot. I discovered hundreds of foot prints in the wash with discarded clothes and water bottles. Just beyond where I was standing was a tunnel that led underneath the freeway, so my thought is this is likely part of a route into the country from Mexico. That of course explained why the building's lights were still on.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Color Study for Cling Available at Silent Art Auction

I have donated Color Study for Cling to my good and longtime friend Eric Stockard's S&S Art Supplies 3rd Annual Silent Art Auction. This year's auction benefits the Palmetto Place Children's Shelter!

It's a great little painting for a great cause, so check it out.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dreaming of Empties

I completed Dreaming of Empties and All Your False Projections this morning and will be delivering them along with Lonely Outpost up to the Lanning Gallery this afternoon. It will be a relief to get up North and out of this hellish heat for a few hours.

I have been purchasing some new brushes/tools for these paintings namely the Catalyst series from Princeton These are fantastic for achieving really nice impasto techniques. They really make a nice addition to my current textures.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Empties and False Projections

Work continues on Dreaming of Empties. I like how the addition of the yellow flowers really brings out the subtle colors that have been hiding in the painting. The studio got hot a little sooner this morning. Pretty soon I'll be out there at 4am in order to get work done on the bigger canvases. 

Started working on a small piece yesterday entitled All Your False Projections. I'm not sure about it yet. Maybe it's just a little bit different than the other desert works, so it's throwing me off. It's a great little vignette though and the brushwork in the foreground is really yummy, so maybe I'm just a little tired. It's been a long week with a lot happening and with my past rushing in. When I look at this current body of work I can't help, but feel that it speaks volumes about my childhood, but I don't fully grasp what they're saying yet. I'm just going to focus on painting, completely let go and loose myself in this work. I'll figure it out in due time. I'm pushing hard to get these works ready for a delivery at the Lanning Gallery tomorrow. I'm taking my camera with me and going abandoned gas station and modern ruin hunting afterwards. I love the freeway and searching out the places that others speed past without a second thought.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Do Empties Dream?

Here's a progress shot of a new piece entitled Dreaming of Empties. "Empties" being slang for empty soda bottles which fits with the gas station's time period.  It's based on a old gas station I photographed when heading out from Las Cruces to White Sands.  It was across the street from garage, motel and diner all crumbling modern ruins.  It's odd, but when I think about it these works really paint a sad portrait of American culture or the very Post WWII suburban/consumerism that has driven my country's culture for over sixty years.  That of course isn't really the statement behind these works.  I still feel they address my childhood in an abstract sense.  I haven't figured out what this body of work means yet in full, but sometimes I don't understand the true meaning of works until many years latter.

I recently read and interview with Haruki Murakami where when asked about the development of his stories on whether or not he knew if the protagonist in "Dance, Dance, Dance" had murdered the girlfriend he was searching for? He replied that he didn't until the end of the book like everyone else.  I guess I'm the same way.  I know as much about the meaning of my works as all the people who enjoy them.  That makes it fun.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Hunkering Down for the Long Haul

Sometimes I realize with some paintings that they're just going to take time and lots of it. That there is nothing to do, but hunker down on them for the long haul. I am also reminded of the importance of working on other works while performing the long haul works to keep loose and fresh. The Color Study for Cling has helped me figure out a color scheme that will work for Cling.  I'm greying things out a little more on the actual work. This morning I realized that I really do like the current pavement's color interaction with the main figures in the foreground, so as I'm putting in more color I'm muting it back down with grey tones. It's this balancing act with a piece with this much size and detail that really slows the production process down, but I have to remind myself that being an artist is about quality over quantity. That is somehow out of sync with how the rest of the world is today, but maybe artists have always been out of sync.

Later today I plan to get back to work on a few other paintings that have been on the easel for a while as well. I'm also going to be starting the next piece in the "Lost" series that focuses in on abandoned highway structures, gas stations, diners, and like alongside desert highways. I feel like hoping in the truck and going for a drive sometime this weekend to photograph more.  Maybe after breakfast with my mentor tomorrow.

I'm preparing work for two shows this Fall. I will be part of a group showing of Arizona artists at the Lanning Gallery in September and I will have a solo show at Modified Arts in October.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Color Study for Cling

I just finished a small color study for Cling.  It's been one of the works that's spent the last couple months in the studio going slowly.  A lot of that has to do with figuring out the color palette to use with the painting.  The freeway works have a different color palette than my urbanscapes, yet somehow working on the freeway works has coaxed me out of my creative block, so last night I decided that I'd bring in the colors from the freeway works into the urbanscapes to see what happens.  In college I always did pastel or small paintings studies for the larger paintings.  It's funny how much stuff you get away from doing that you did as a student.  Ironically, though these things are still really important to do.  I think as the years have passed since art school I've simply have formed bad habits of skipping the preliminary portion of creating paintings.  Some of it has to do with time constraints of working a day job and the need to produce work for the gallery all the same.  I think more has to do with being free of the professors who made me do all that preliminary work that was so tedious at the time.  I'm sure some of my professors would like to know that years latter one of their students finally gets it.  Granted, I'm sure they were laughing to themselves at the time "you'll understand years from now", as I was complaining to them.

This morning while painting I was also thinking about the distinction between artists that have had formal training and those who have not.  In my mind I think of it as simply those who hop onto the freeway(going to school) and those who take surface streets(read, study and paint a whole lot).  In the end both groups get there, but those who chose to get there by freeway will get there sooner.  However, I don't really know if an artist is any more or less valid based on which road they choose.  Creating art is about struggle to get what is in your head out onto the canvas(feel free to insert your own medium here) the way you see it internally. It's just like everything else that's worth doing in life - not easy.  I feel that all artists are bound together by this mutual struggle.  It reminds me of riding up a really long and steep hill on my road bike, hard work, it hurts like hell and kicks your butt, but when you crest it and are flying down the other side it's pure exhilaration. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Camera Work

Above is the photo taken in San Francisco for Snap below.

With this post I thought I'd share some of the photos behind the paintings.  There are some works that are derived solely from the sketchbook, but I love the process of going out with a camera to photograph source material for the paintings. It feeds the inner explorer inside of me and gets me out of the studio and out of my head for a while for that matter.  These three photos are rare in fact there was no manipulation or editing out of elements prior to going to canvas other than desaturating them and cropping.

Below is the photo taken outside of Barstow, CA and the painting A Sense of Loss.

Below is the photo taken outside in San Francisco, CA and the painting Unwritten Rules.

Once I get to the canvas I will often edit elements out or focus in on other details.  There are also instances where I will stray from the photo and increase the light and shadow to make elements clearer or more dramatic.  To some extent once I get to the canvas it's anything goes.

I'm returning to my original photos for many of my works, because I'm planning to create silkscreen prints of these works.  With that said though; I don't want to simply re-create those works, but rather create new pieces that explore the subject matter and composition in a different medium.  I may even decide to create new paintings based on these reinterpretations.  This isn't really uncommon for artists, William DeKooning, Robert Motherwell, and Edvard Munch all revisited works.  I haven't done this nearly enough considering that when I'm working on a piece I often am faced with several different paths.  I always tell myself that I will do a version this way or that, but hardly ever circle back.