Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sketches and Troll-Ghost-Goblins

 Sometimes just letting a ballpoint pen search for an idea is best way to find an image.  The descriptions of automatic writing seem related to this sort of thing. Not that I feel some "other-being" moving my arm, but the unconscious exploration--the un-thinking-ness of this activity--seems very mechanical and is unpremeditated. I just go from one little guy to the next without pausing.

 The Troll and the Whitewash Brush (detail). Mixed media on wood.
This bloke was drawn out while talking to some friends, and taking a glimpse at the sketches once in awhile. Later on in the studio I added the bits of color and his angry aura.

Wide Awake and Fast Asleep (detail). Mixed media on wood.
I like drawing on wood (both artworks are on 3" x 5" pine slabs) and I'm extremely fond of this little guy. He's (They're?) a bit of a ghost mixed with a bit of a goblin and Wide Awake and Fast Asleep is his name.
 I must be wishing for Halloween as much as I'm wishing for Fall.

Come on cool weather!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

To Borrow or not to Borrow

Most of the time, I borrow technique freely while I am working. I look at lots of art and see what's worked for the artist, and try those techniques my way. It's usually how I (and lots of artists I know) learn new things.

(This is a detail of my latest, untitled, and not quite finished Landscape-with-a-Single-House.)

This, and the landscape paintings from the previous posts, came from seeing some paintings at a Western Slope gallery last winter. To use a label (sorry) those paintings were pretty standard Contemporary Impressionistic in technique. But the color-use was not standard.  The artists had used vivid, pure color in an sort of Expressionistic manner. 

So my head was filled with lots of new ideas for painting some vivid acrylic landscapes of my own.

(This is a detail of the other side of the painting)

I started out with sketches--lots of them.  Usually, I look at works I admire, and consciously borrow the hell out of the successful techniques.  This time, experimentally--in a (probably idiotic) stubborn fit--I purposefully stayed away from looking at any landscapes during the process, and purposely avoided borrowing many techniques. But I must acknowledge a debt to Watterson--his landscapes supporting the antics of Calvin and Hobbes will never be out of my mind.

At any rate, this painting was very difficult for me--one of the hardest painting times I can remember. But it was worth it.
I ended up with works that looked nothing like the original, colorful ideas that had sprung up in my head, but I am very happy with the result. I'm pretty excited by this recent crop of paintings, and best of all,
I learned a lot during the process.

In purposefully not borrowing, I discovered some very interesting ways with paint.  
That being said, nothing spontaneously occurs within a vacuum, and I know that all the things I've seen and liked and been taught contribute to all the work that I do. And I will go back to purposeful borrowing, because trying to re-invent the wheel all the time would be foolishness.

Hope that made some sense. Oh well, I appreciate you reading it anyway!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

I Hate Rules in Art, Revisited

 The Summer House. Acrylic on canvas, 6" x 18" x 1 1/2".

I don't really hate art rules. I just don't like it when artists tell me that only certain ways of making art are legit. Or hinting that only certain and specific rule-following creates art that's worthy of the big fat art history volume.

Obviously, I let it get to me sometimes.  But not always.  I let it get to me back in March of this year

And I let it get to me again a few weeks ago. Dang it!

Probably this is just the fear/anxiety within those artists that their own work isn't good enough.
And the fear/anxiety within me that my work isn't good enough.

Today I'm in a good place, and I'm thinking "Good enough for what--some faceless critic?"

I had a great time throwing this painting down and I like it a lot.
 I don't really paint or draw for the history books, money, or reputation. Now I'd be a liar if I said I didn't think about all that once in awhile, but really, it's all about intent.  And my intention every day is to enjoy making the art that I want to make.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Goblin at INDYINK

The Goblin King Finds the Key (detail). Pen and ink.
This detail is from a larger (5.25" x 7.25") framed drawing of mine which will be in the 10 year anniversary show at INDYINK, the opening of which is this Saturday!
I'm excited to have work included alongside a bunch of artists whose art I admire, at one of the greatest print shops anywhere

Please check out the show if you are in town, and be sure to visit the shop anytime!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Return to Watercolor

 Fuel for the Journey. Watercolor, 5" x 7".

Having always loved watercolor and getting a kick out of  little guys in period costume; making this painting was a happy experience. Is this fellow really flying, or is it the beer?

 After drawing it out in pencil on Arches 300 lb watercolor paper, I inked it with a brush and india ink. I wanted the pic to be light and airy, so I skipped the customary brownish layer.

 Then I just kept adding darker values.

 I really thought I was finished here, but a quick scan showed a need for deeper tones.
And I realized that the balance wasn't pleasing me.

 So I added darker greys to the clouds, more darks nearly everywhere, and more color to the rooftops.
Among my influences will always be Arthur Rackham. This illustration detail is his from Rip Van Winkle. A watercolor of little guys in period costume--and a bit of drinking!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Landscape Progression

 Before the Storm--The House with the Green Roof (detail). Acrylic on canvas.

 The other side of the painting.

 Kansas. Not a place I'd think of immediately for art inspiration. But on a trip long ago, I took some photos of the landscape, and they've proven to be good resources over the years.
I like the desolation and the old buildings and the non-aesthetic aesthetic. I'd take that over some vapid resort area any day.

 This is a pretty large canvas, for me--in progress--based (loosely) on the photo above.

The completed work. 
It's 30" x 12". An experiment in size and composition, I liked the idea of balancing the large sweep of the road with a slightly distant house. I'm not gonna lie--I went slightly crazy during the work on this one, but I had fun too.

Friday, August 3, 2012


Fat Green Owl in a Red Necktie (detail). Watercolor, private collection.

I'm preparing for a solo show in September. Since I really love animals in clothes (the non-saccharine type), there will be a few more of these on exhibit.

Definitely more on all this later--thanks for the visit!
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