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.