Wednesday, June 29, 2011

St. Ignatius of Loyola and mid-century influences

St. Ignatius of Loyola, acrylic on deep wrapped canvas, 4" x 12", private collection.

I have been looking through a stack of my old Golden Book Encyclopedias.  My parents bought them for my brother and me in the 60's, and I passed a lot of time as a kid reading them, but mostly copying the illustrations. This painting of St. Ignatius is my version of the style of those illustrators.

The illustrators for these encyclopedias and other school textbooks were given little credit, but I'm grateful to all of them.  The pictures they made--probably very quickly and for little money--burned themselves into my brain, and kept school boredom at bay.

This great encyclopedia cover montage was one of my favorites as a little kid.  Puts me in mind of the great Sandman covers by Dave McKean (albeit not quite as dark). I love the color combinations.

Some of the illustrations were simple, with a black outline and odd colors.  This was my favorite pic in all the encyclopedias, even though the descriptions of "real ghosts" kept me awake at night.

Some were painterly and amazing--nice to see the resurgence of interest in mid-century pics and design. Among the artists who contributed work for the Golden Encyclopedias were notable children's illustrators Garth Williams, Feodor Rojankowsky, Gustav Tenggren (who also worked on Disney's Pinocchio), and Alice and Martin Provenson.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Little Guys

Little guys have been with me at least since my first memory of them at age three.  I was certain then that a group of them was standing on the front porch, just outside the screen door, chattering away. I've always liked to draw versions of them and have sketchbooks full. One of the main reasons I went to art school was to learn how to draw them more accurately. They're still around--I'm at work now on a painting of the little guy with the accordion.

I collect them whenever I find one that strikes that particular inner chord, and sometimes my family members pick one or two up for me.  The little guy with the red hat was found in a very tiny, bleak, thrift-store in Grand Junction 20 years ago.  The little guy lady was found for me by my brother, and my son bought me the moon-faced little guy. These types are old, from the 40's, and were made of sawdust mixed with glue and pressed into molds.

The moon faced guy was the subject of a sight drawing exercise a few years ago. (The bird was drawn in response to an overly angry fellow I observed at a party--nothing to do with this entry.)
 Every culture seems to have versions of them and a fascination with them—elves, leprechauns, little goblins, Hobbits, etc. Carl Jung, in his autobiography, wrote of carving a little guy from his school ruler, placing it in a box along with a special stone, and hiding it in the attic when he was ten. I completely relate to Jung's fascination with little guys. Not sure I care to research the unconscious reasons behind them, but I'm drawn to draw them.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A week of letters

Took the week off (sort of) from doing art.  At least serious art (if anything I do is considered serious). Got a bit cranky and so definitely needed a rest.  Instead of working on a couple of painting requests, I painted wood letters for the awning at Sk3tchbook! and goofed around with illustrated (postal) letters.  I like receiving letters in the mail, but send too few myself.  This little illustration is on the back of one of the envelopes I sent Thursday.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Old Brass Lighter

I have always found sight drawing tedious. I know it is necessary. But drawing the things inside my head entertains me unfailingly. Drawing objects, not always.

The memory of a high school art teacher setting out dainty teacups and china vases full of flowers for us to draw still irritates. My head (then as now) was full of toothy, bulge-eyed creatures and anthropomorphic birds. (Crabby kid--not exactly a desirable member of the art class.)
But I admire artists who have the patience and skill to interpret what their eyes see.
It is a valuable way to understand the world and add to technical skills, but I find myself so antsy while trying to transcribe something in front of me.

Luckily, once in a great while, I almost enjoy the process, as with these sketches I did of this little brass lighter. Taking the time to record what I see adds to the image library inside my head. This does make it easier to give life to an imaginative work later on. I've been trying to spend a bit of time each day drawing the objects I love. A little more self-discipline might be in order.

I like searching out peculiar old things. Like hand-made artworks, they have a spirit, and breathe life into me. New, mass-produced items do exactly the opposite.

Don't know anything about this lighter--Linda pointed it out for me in a junky antique shop in Seattle--she knew I'd love it. The proportion is very pleasing to me, as is the warm brass. It's an amazing little steampunky object. One of those items that I love way too much.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Two "owls" in process

A couple of owls in process.  Both are watercolor, both are about half finished, and both will be mounted on canvas blocks.  The pics are experiments in color--def. not sophisticated, but am always trying to gain the color control I see in so many works I admire.  Will get these finished soon and post.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Misc. birds and creatures from sketchbook

These little fellows are part of a new eruption of ideas that came about for no apparent reason.  Sometimes I think about what I'm going to sketch and sometimes the pics just spontaneously leak onto the paper.  They are a bit like dreams as well.  Often people can link a dream to an event that happened recently, but at times the dream seems unrelated to anything in the person's life.

And in a like way, sketches can be the result of something recently seen, or an idea I might be working on. Other times, they kind of release themselves from the tip of the pen, and I nearly always find this sort more endearing.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

New "Bird on a Wire" in process

Am fixated on the concept of  "bird on a wire".  From the Leonard Cohen song I guess.  Fixated on birds in general--a bird-nerd I am.  Did a bunch of fast mini-sketches one day a long time ago, and liked the one enough to add value--don't really remember.  It caught my eye the other day so began work on a new watercolor-style acrylic (r) that isn't finished yet.  Kinda looks like a lino cut.  Guess I'll mess with it and see what happens. If good I'll put it up at my Etsy store and display it at Sk3tchbook Gallery.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Owl, Surprized and sketches

Owl, Surprized. Acrylic on canvas, 4" x 12", private collection.
The owl sketch above was done, along with a bunch of others, after dinner one night.  Had gathered a bunch of photos of owls and was looking through them for inspiration, and the sketches were just doodles done with a micron pen.  

The painting sort of fell out of the sketch (and my brain) the next morning.  Did the comfortable green-red-gold-w/turquoise-bits color scheme because I was too lazy that morning and had no desire to tax myself with anything unusual.

The painting is straight matte acrylic on a deep-wrapped canvas.  I painted it direct onto the red-washed surface with a brush and thin black paint.  Unfortunately for me, the expression on the owl puts me in mind of a face that a politician (who will remain unnamed) used to make.  But that was an accident.  I'm sick of politics and I was really sick of that politician.

Two Birds Singing

Two Birds Singing, mixed media on canvas, 4" x 12". It's finished.  Now to post as new product on Etsy.  Tried to photograph it for the store in a bit more of a setting than this.  Most folks probably don't want to see a painting laying on cement.  Alas, I'm not a hugely creative photographer.  And I don't want to spend the time.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Two Birds Singing: Next phase

Kinda weird looking in this pic. But I photographed it on my driveway.

Next step will be to add a few more cools--esp on the shirt.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Two Birds Singing: New pic sequence

Played around with some layering and also some pretty heavy texture.  Began with a scrap piece of watercolor paper glued to a messed up canvas.  I collaged a bunch of pages (from a disintegrating French book about artists) to the sides of the deep canvas.
Added the text to a few places on the pic itself, and then threw in a bunch of colors from my living room.  At least that was my intent.  I didn't much like the result, esp the magenta reds and the whitish green. Those are not colors in my living room.

Then I gave up on my living room and found another 60's poster.  This one had deep reds and greens and a pretty chartreuse-y background.  Much better. Will post the finished piece next--need to get some close-ups of the texture and the sun went down.
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