Sunday, July 29, 2012

Solitary but Compelling

Lonely houses--one of the things my eye is continually hunting. Sorting through my old photo files and paintings brought that one home for me. (Ugh, puns. Sorry.)

Have had the itch to do some acrylic landscapes, so I headed out the other day and snapped some shots--this one of a house down the street. Lone buildings nestled in trees have appeared in lots of my art and photos over the years--a variation on a theme, over and over.

 Nebraska Farm Evening. Watercolor, private collection.
One from a lot of years back, painted after a rainstorm during a trip through Nebraska. These days I hear it only rains in England.

 Old House on a Cliff. Watercolor, private collection. Home from that trip, I used the tree from the previous painting in this fantasy painting--one of my favorites from long ago.

 Grand Mesa. Watercolor, private collection. The paint-style is different from the previous landscapes only because I was painting quickly on site on a watercolor block--very rough paper.

 Not just the paintings, but the photos I take are nearly always similar. (Hard to believe during this year of drought, but not that long ago the rivers (and clouds) were full of water.)

 Snow on the High Mesa. Watercolor, private collection.
It's no secret that landscape paintings are popular, but I seem to paint them only at intervals, only when the need for that lonely-but-cozy fix hits me.

 Can't remember the name of this one. It was really tiny, though. Watercolor and ink, private collection.

 The yearning has hit me again lately, as this recent watercolor sketch testifies. This is one of the few with multiple houses.

 A serious sketching session happened the other morning--based on the top photo of this post. Here's a few of them.

 The House on Jack's Field. Acrylic on canvas, 20" x 16". 
The latest--one more lonely little house nestled in the trees.

Thanks for the visit--hope it was enjoyable!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Saint Francis of Assisi, Informal

 Saint Francis of Assisi (detail). Mixed media on wood, 4" x 6". Private collection.

 The muse visited in the middle of the night last week. It was more like a dream, but when the idea for a set of these washed into my brain, I was able to remember it. 
They seem very fresh to me and their lack of polish tempts me to keep them for myself.

 Saint Francis Traveling (detail). Mixed media on wood, 4" x 6". Private collection.

 Strange how creating goes--one minute I feel completely disinterested in making a finished artwork, the next I'm working away as though my life depended on it.  Well, I suppose in a way it does--without being able to make something, my life--or at least my spirit--would languish.

 Saint Francis and the Ravens (detail). Mixed media on wood, 5" x 7". Private collection.

I like the traditional images of the saints, but I love unconventional approaches to those images.
New Mexican retablos, Italian holy cards, and19th century book illustration provided at least some of the impetus for creating these pieces.

I used subtly different approaches for each--some have more paint than others, and certainly all three own different visages and moods. Not something I worry about ever--the work is coming from somewhere deep inside and probably far without, and I just take it for what it is.

As always, I appreciate your visit.
Peace and all good be with you!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Literature and Art (and a great teacher)

Science Fiction.
Sometimes a previous artwork provides the spark for a new one--in this case the earlier work was a stuffed robot, and the new piece is a watercolor ACEO.

Radius (Mobile Incarceration Unit #4). Watercolor and ink.

Goofing around and spending a pleasant afternoon in the cool studio resulted in this little guy. Our (inverted) tea kettle became his head, and my limited recollection of Boba Fett--from Star Wars-- provided the inspiration for his harpoon. His tiny prisoner could be everyman, I guess.

I've never thought of myself as a comic artist, even though I admire many of their over-the-top talents greatly. With a background in illustration, I use (and love) a lot of black in my work. I had a good time messing with the black and yellow pieces that became the background.

Primus. Acrylic on muslin (attached to a remnant and stuffed). 
Approx. 3" x 3" x 5". Private collection.

I made this little soft sculpture last spring--I know he bears no resemblance to Radius, but he was the stimulus nonetheless.

And Karel Capek's play, R.U.R., provided the names and inspiration for both.
Back in 10th grade I was lucky enough to have a great class--Science Fiction Lit--taught by an inspired and enthusiastic teacher. 
He had us reading many disturbing works; like Bradbury's Farenheit 451, Clarke's Childhood's End, and R.U.R.--literature that really captured (and terrified) me. Of course, a master teacher presenting the subject was more than half of the enjoyment, and made for a lot of learning.
(Thanks, Mr. Atchison!)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sketch Journal Class

 Had a really nice time last Saturday, as I had the opportunity to teach a sketch journal class for Fresh City Life at the Denver Public Library 
Originally, I envisioned the class as a sketch journal springboard, but somehow it sort of morphed into an altered-book, "smash journal" offering. While I don't consider myself an altered book artist, I do work on one from time to time, so I took it along (that's the cover, above. And yeah, it's falling apart).

 Above is a page from my one-and-only altered book--made from an encyclopedia given to me by Ruth Fiege.  I'm really a basic sketchbook person--pretty much use a sketchbook all the time for fun and idea formation, so I felt a bit of a fraud teaching a "smash journal" class.  Luckily, Ruth loaned me some of her amazing altered books--which are primo-examples--so I had a few really professional ones for the class to look through.
(Check out her blog at:

 I use my altered book for goofing around and trying out different media on the book pages.  I like the experience because I can get sloppy in a slightly larger format than my usual mini-sketchbooks. And because it contains more dumb pictures than my other sketchbooks, I don't have any fears of ruining it. 
But do I like the mess, glued-up fingers, and the snippings of paper everywhere? No!

 There were 32 enthusiastic people who attended the class, and they listened to me talk about how and why I use a sketch journal.  They each received a sketchbook and all of them got a start on smashing things into them.
I got quite a few tips from the folks who attended, too--always a nice perk to teaching.

So if you were there--thanks! Hope you had as much fun as I did.

Friday, July 13, 2012

San Pasqual

St. Pasquale. Acrylic on cradled hardboard, 6" x 12".

Doing a painting demo can be exhilarating sometimes, and once in awhile it can be intimidating. Depends on the place my head is. Last weekend it was the latter. A few nights before the demo I prepped some boards and did a few sketches. Nothing seemed to hit the mark, so on Saturday I just took along a board and hoped for some inspiration. 
But I felt terrible.

 Out on the sidewalk, I threw out a few prelims, based on my memory of a painting (below) that I'd done previously. (Obviously was not feeling incredibly confident about the day, so I was reaching for the familiar.)

 Cooking Dinner. Acrylic on canvas, 6" x 12".
This was a goofball pic done on a black-primed canvas. I was experimenting at the time, but really loved this when it was finished. Since it has a nice homey feel, I thought it'd be good to put San Pasqual into a similar-feeling scene.

This detail shows that the new hardboard was primed with red. The painting went fairly smoothly, but the jitters made me screw up the initial head totally--I'd gotten it all anatomically correct, which looked just plain ridiculous on this body, and it was way too big! 
Wish I'd thought to photograph that aberration, as it was really something--but you'll just have to trust me on that--it's amazing what a case of nerves can do.

Back in the studio, I completely re-painted the head--this time making San Pasqual look like an Italian (He's got my Grandpa's nose).
So now I'm a happy guy, and the process gave me some ideas about a new bunch of pics of Saint Francis. I'll be posting a few of them soon.

In the meantime, thanks for reading!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Creator Mundi Gallery/Cherry Creek Arts Festival

Saint Francis of Assisi (detail). Mixed media on wood, private collection.

Again this year I was lucky to be asked to do some demo painting at the Creator Mundi Gallery during the Cherry Creek Arts Festival.
I'm sort of horning in on the CCAF chosen artists who spend huge amounts of money, time, and effort to be there, but the hard-working small businesses in Cherry Creek suffer a bit during the Festival, so I'm happy to be out painting--hopefully attracting some art-loving visitors into the gallery.

This year's festival was full of awesome works by returning and new Festival artists, and I spent more than a whole day getting recharged by seeing the greats!

My top favorites this year:

Ed Brownlee--cool ceramics

Ruth Fiege--fresh monoprints

Andrew Fletcher--haunting landscapes

Johanna Mueller--fantastic engravings

Ryan Myers--varied and amazing clay work

Olive--humorous stuffed creatures

Nick Wroblewski--stunning woodcuts

Thank you to everyone who stopped by and visited with me as I sat painting. The compliments and interest in what I make were a huge boost, and I appreciate your support! I hope to see you there next year.

Peace and good wishes!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What's the point of sketching?

 Playing is the point.
This fellow started out as a simple patch of Burnt Sienna watercolor. I then drew the outlines with a fountain pen, and lifted the highlights with water. I darkened up some parts with the fountain pen, then used water to drag some of the ink out for shadows. The addition of white gouache perked up several highlights and lightened the sky.

Since I get to lead a class in sketchbook/journals this month, drawing in the sketchbook--non-stop lately-- has not only been my traditionally genial pastime, but it has a different focus as well.  Non-thinking sketchbook work's always a direct pipeline to my imagination, but lately I've been trying to think a bit about how to present it to folks who may be unused to playing this way. 

 This little portrait of my dog was done using a fountain pen and clear water.

Goofing around in a sketchbook has been part of my life since I was a little kid. I'd make my own books from the paper my aunt would smuggle home from her office. Nothing frees my creativity like blank paper (or stacks of blank sketchbooks), so I keep them at the ready. I think about pictures and drawing even as I'm falling asleep, and can hardly wait to scratch out lines on a surface when I wake up in the morning. The more I draw, the more ideas come into my head.

The best thing about a sketchbook is the lack of pressure and the absence of self-editing. So what if the pics aren't perfect--or even good? 
The point of sketching is to have no point--to be like a little kid and just play.

Sure, the time will come again when I'll put some ideas onto a canvas or a serious watercolor sheet, but when I'm in sketchbook-only-mode, like now, I just relax and enjoy it.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...