Monday, November 28, 2011

I'm pleased and happy to be part of this year's Fine Art Market Show at the Arvada Center.  It's the 25th Annual, and more than 100 remarkable, Colorado Artists will show work.  If you are in Colorado during December, please come and check it out, and if you are in Colorado on December 8th, the Opening Reception is free and open to the public! 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A nervous bird takes a trip

The Journey. Acrylic on oak wood, approx. 4 1/2" x 3 1/4". Private collection.
This little painting is about the journey we are all on. We get anxious sometimes, and I don't know about you, but when I'm nervous I act pretty crabby.  But someone is always there to light the way and help us on the adventure.

When I was a kid, the idea of climbing into a boat and sailing away all alone was very appealing.  Maybe it came from reading about Max, in Where the Wild Things Are, or from other stories like W. Heath Robinson's The Adventures of Uncle Lubin. Maybe it is simply a universal fantasy of all children, which is why those great stories have had such strong appeal. For me it sets in motion longings for
independence, freedom, and adventure.
This painting was a fun experiment in color and texture.  I had previously done the painting of BoaterBird, and was not finished with the journey theme.  I used the paint thickly here, and the majority of brushwork was done with a pointy brush rather than my usual flat brush.  

I played with it a long time, stirring up the black and blue paint like icing. At one point I questioned whether or not to continue working at it.  I ended up enamored with it, and now it's one of my favorites. I identify with the personality of this nervous/crabby little 
potato-beaked bird, and I will always appreciate a light along the way.

Sorry, the glossy finish didn't photograph well (I often forget to snap pics before the varnish).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tile designs from my sketchbook, and a FishDiver Tile

 I must have been feeling cheap when I drew these tile designs over an old, previous sketchbook page.  I was studying drawings of children for a class I took long ago, hence the pencil drawings of the girls.  

 More tile designs--the one in the upper left became a tile I like very much.  It became the finished tile posted below. All of them reflect my obsession with "little guys".  The one on the upper right features a BeanMan that seems to creep into most of the ideas I have.  I think he's a Humpty Dumpty variation. There's really nothing like ol' Humpty Dumpty for me--he's always been a poke to my muse.

Above is an enlargement of the design for a Fish tile.  I like the way Strathmore sketchbook paper takes watercolor.

Next, a final FishDiver tile, this one glazed in warm amber.  It's a thick tile, almost 3/4 of an inch. I posted it to Facebook--so far they haven't censored it, haha!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Surprising Work of Theo Ellsworth

Since this blog is about the things I love, and things that interest and inspire me, I'm doing an entry about Theo Ellsworth's art.  I love it, and it interests and inspires me.  That's pretty much an understatement.  The second I saw all those black lines--sometimes swirling, sometimes staccato, always insanely mesmerizing--I was seriously intrigued.

Studying the actual images (one bizarre creature/face/circumstance after another) is more entertaining than any afternoon in an art museum.  I'm no art critic (and I mostly lump their vocab in with that weird wordiness of wine connoisseurs) so I'm not going to attempt to describe what I see in Theo Ellsworth's works.  You can look for yourself.  But look deep and long, because there's a huge reward waiting for your eyes and mind. And yeah, it'll be a treat for your spirit, too.

He makes comics, album covers, and illustrations for nursery rhymes; he publishes zines, makes remarkable wood cut-out art, and does shows. And I'm probably leaving a bunch out. All with works that are fresh water for thirsty eyes.

 What inspires this work?  Here's a quote from Ellsworth: 

"My ideas feel like they come from all over.  Things going on in my life tend to merge with ideas I've been thinking about, or a dream I had, and come out as a new idea.  A lot of my ideas come together right on the page, which is why I enjoy the automatic quality of drawing so much. Making detailed work puts me in a state of mind where I can be relaxed and alert at the same time, and just let the work flow.  I like being surprised by the outcome."

"I find nature really inspiring.  Ancient art always strikes a chord with me, as well as a lot of outsider art.  Adolf Wolfli, Henry Darger, Ernest Haekel, James Castle, Winsor McCay, Jack Kirby, Yuichi Yokoyama, and Jim Woodring are a few artists, off the top of my head, that get me inspired to sit down and make art.  My favorite magazine is Raw Vision.  I love comics and journals, and sketchbook art. I saw a nature documentary series called Life in the Undergrowth that inspired me more than most movies have, though I love film and all forms of storytelling."

So there you have it.  

For more of his works, check out his site:
his Flickr stream:
and his Etsy store:

Thanks everyone, for checking this out--hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  And thanks Theo, for your time and permission to do this.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Holidays are Coming

Not being a person who likes thinking about the holidays in July (which is the norm for Christmas products), I was glad this card design was commissioned only last week. It's much easier to get in the spirit this time of year. The pic above is just a detail of the design. I will post the whole card--but not until December. 

It felt good to do a simple watercolor after focusing so hard on acrylics this fall.  I forget how much I like the smell of the wet paper and the way the watercolor paint slips out of the brush and onto the surface.

This design features a Victorian owl and the present you see hanging from the branch.  My inspiration was the brass owl I posted a few weeks back.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A St. Cecilia painting and sequence

I've been fiddling around with the idea of a St. Cecilia painting since last spring.  She is considered the patron saint of music and musicians, because at her wedding she is said to have sung in her heart to God.
I love music, and the image of musicians in art, so this is a pretty good fit for one of my retablo-ish works.

  Painted the image onto a ground of yellow ochre and then, in a less-than-organized way, began to add the complementary colors--making a sort of color negative. The pink went onto the wall and rug, and I added the green on top.

I picked the Neo-classical costume mostly because I'd recently finished Jane Austin's Persuasion, and the time period seemed a good fit for a lady playing a lute-like instrument.

  Same with the next two pics in the sequence. Purple on top of the wainscot, yellow-ochre onto that. I wanted this to have a bit of a storybook feel, so the next step was to add black marks--a modified hatching--with a fine brush, on top of each section.

 Lots of layers of transparent glazes followed. This is the finished painting. St. Cecilia. Acrylic on cradled hardboard, 6" x 12", private collection. The hatch marks hark back to my ink-and-watercolor works.  I like the technique applied to an acrylic painting very much, and plan on more exploration of this.

 This detail shows St. Cecilia's instrument fretless.

Adding the frets finished it off.  Sorry about the glare, but forgot to photograph the finished work before I added some glossy glazes.  Thanks for checking this out--hope you like it!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dog to Mouse

 Our dog Gus.  This makes him look sort of stately and noble.

 This is more like him.  Always in motion, and mad at me for moving him away from the warm radiator. 

 I draw him once in awhile in my sketchbook.

This is Gus as a mouse in a painting I posted previously, called Reveille. I really like this little guy.

 This is a green mouse in a new small acrylic.  He is based on Gus, even though he's a mouse. And green.

The Green Mouse (detail), private collection. Acrylic on oak floorboard, approx. 4 1/2" x 5 1/2".
Kind of like a stuffed animal this one is.  So is Gus I guess.
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