Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Little Guys on Cardboard
Been experimenting--trying out some glazing techniques I want to use on a project this coming spring. These two fellows are painted on some cardboard rolls I'd stashed under the table in my studio.
Painted the cylinders with a mixture of ochre and sienna, drew the guys with a brush and black acrylic, then painted them in grey monochrome.
Followed that up by using tinted glazes to add subtle color variations. 
I have a few more I want to work on--good thing because it's pretty fun.

Thanks for checking it out!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Some Plein Air, and an Experiment, cont'd

Been working on many projects in the studio, but also taking some time to do a bit of on-location drawing and painting with some fellow DIS members. This study is of a garden off an alley in my neighborhood. The place has always fascinated me. I finished this at around 12:30 pm. It is 5" x 7".

Yeah it's November in Denver and there's still green grass and living plants. That's creepy. 
I took this photo around 10:00 am, before I began the pen drawing which I then filled in with watercolor. Then we got hungry and left for lunch.

Here are a couple more, done a few weeks earlier. Both studies are approx. 3" x 4".

An update from the last two posts: I'm still completely off of Facebook (outside of checking on events) and
 only occasionally looking at Instagram.
What I've noticed in 20 days since the beginning of An Experiment :
1. Still feeling better mentally; much lighter and more content.
2. I'm now sleeping through the night, every night. 
(Prior to bailing on social media I'd gotten used to waking around two or three am and not being able to fall back asleep for an hour or so. Previously, I seldom looked at screens late in the evening and never checked my phone during the night, so the new sleep habits have nothing to do with that. Maybe it's just a coincidence, but I don't think so.)
3. I'm reading a ton, compared to the last 6 months. That's no coincidence.
4. Still really don't want to jump back onto social media--it sounds less and less inviting.

I must be incredibly sensitive to Facebook. Oh well.
And that's about it--thanks for the visit!


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Angry Goblin Process

A bit of a sequence to this artwork with some less-than-steller iPhone photos.

The drawing began with red colored pencil--Verithin Poppy in this case. White highlights added with a Signo white gel pen. Crosshatching was next.

The finished ink drawing is lightly sprayed with acrylic gloss coating, then color added with transparent acrylic inks.

I like the way the red pencil shows in the final work, and also how the acrylic washes 
soften the india ink lines.

(A follow-up to last week's post: Still experimenting with zero Facebook (outside of keeping up with local events). Continue to feel much lighter and have slept incredibly well this past week. That may be a coincidence, but nonetheless I have no desire to go back to Fb. Not posting on Instagram, but am keeping up with those I follow. IG doesn't seem to bug me as much as other social media, maybe because it's mostly photos of art.)

Thanks for the visit!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Pear Trees at 7:30 am

Have pretty much bailed on social media, outside of keeping up with events and such. I like the way it feels. I don't know if it's a permanent thing.  

Not being judgemental about it or self-satisfied with the decision--just feel happier and more free than I've felt in a long while.

I dunno if a blog is considered a "social media". This auto-posts to my Fb business page tho. Oh well :)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

My Art Book (and a Sticker Pack)!

My artwork from the past three years, compiled in a really nice, 96 page volume!

This past year brought a solo exhibition for me at Helikon Gallery. Along with the show, the gallery director and illustrator, Cayce Goldberg, designed this 96 page book.

I got to watch--and add my thoughts--as he worked on laying out the covers and pages. It was a fascinating process, and I've nothing but admiration for Cayce's skills as a writer and designer.

 Many of the page layouts feature the finished work along with the initial sketch and process photos...
...along with pages that show close-up details of my drawings and paintings (with my short commentaries about technique, or process, or thoughts about influences).
There are even great layouts of my sketches (and a few "portraits" of my friends) designed consistently by theme...

...including pages that deal with my fascination with Alice's Adventures.

It's a volume that pretty much covers my work and process, and I'm very proud of it.
The gallery even created a companion sticker pack to go along with the book and exhibition!

If what I create happens to resonate for you, both book and sticker pack are available here:
Your purchase helps me continue to make art, 
and I very much appreciate your interest and support--thank you!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Afterword at Helikon Gallery--Opening this Week!

Above is one of the posters for Afterword. A Tribute to Literature.
It's the completed piece from my previous post,

Here's the line-up of all invited artists for an easier read :)

Many of my friends are showing works in this show. If they have a website, it's listed below. Click on their names for more of their works--you'll be amazed!

Here's the direct link to the show:

In addition to Afterword, Helikon Gallery is presenting
Goodnight Sweet Prince--The Artwork of John Van Horn

So much stunning artwork to enjoy--so please come out this Wednesday or First Friday and support the arts, working Denver artists, and a great gallery!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Macbeth and a Ghost: Afterword at Helikon Gallery
Macbeth and Macduff (preliminary sketch). Ink with watercolor, approx. 3" x 5"

Over and over again, Helikon Gallery presents unique and amazing shows. This November I'm pleased to be part of Afterword: A Tribute to Literature 

Shakespeare's Macbeth is a favorite. The sketch above was a preliminary for the piece I was planning on submitting.
Macbeth Sees Banquo's Ghost (preliminary sketch) Red pencil and ink, approx. 4" x 5"
I was fascinated by the witches in Macbeth, but terrified by the ghost of Banquo, so instead of my initial idea of Macbeth and Macduff's final battle or a painting with the witches, I ended up thinking about a composition that included Banquo's ghost. I did three or four different thumbnail compositions for the piece, but liked this one best.
This is the initial pencil drawing on brown paper, enhanced so you can see the lines, which were actually drawn pretty lightly. The finished piece is 8" x 10".
The crosshatching followed the establishment of the first white highlights and a good tweaking of the figures. The biggest challenge was making Banquo's Ghost transparent, but with the good suggestions of some fellow illustrators, I did it!

You can see the finished, full-color piece by clicking on the link to the show and scrolling down:
I'm excited to be exhibiting my work alongside some gloriously amazing works by other artists and illustrators--please check out all their pieces on Helikon's site!
Hope you can come to the show either for the Opening Reception on November 1, 2017, or on First Friday the following Friday, November 3rd.
Thanks for checking this out, and for your support of the arts!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

DIY Artwork Bags

Recently read about a company that made carrying bags for artwork, and they sounded great.

Especially because this photo illustrates my usual method for carting artwork to galleries and conventions.
I struggle philosophically with using petroleum-based plastics, and bubble-wrap and foam cost a lot too. After one or two wraps, it's torn and fit only for the trash. And that's a tough one for me to justify. Plus it takes copious amounts of time to wrap, unwrap, and re-wrap artworks.
Unfortunately, when I checked out the pre-made art-bags, I found them very expensive--upwards from $20 per bag. I figured making them myself would be easy and cheaper. And it was both.
Luckily, awhile back I took a sewing-machine class in order to make cloth goblins.

So I bought $30 worth of thick felt (made from recycled plastic bottles) and made 30 carry bags of different sizes. It took 6 yards of fabric.

I'm not fast at sewing, and it still only took me 5 hours to make all the bags. They work great! I'm sure a crafty-er person could add string-ties or other fasteners and make these even better. But for now, all I have to do is slip the artworks in, fold the top, put them in boxes, and take them away.

Still have to depend on bubble wrap and foam for shipping artworks, but these bags are great for a more ecological, quick, and safe way to deliver paintings to their destinations.

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Death gets a lot of Idea-Help
Death might run out of ideas from time to time, but people always manage to assist him with new and effective ways of killing their brothers and sisters. Poison gas? Sure! Automatic weapons aimed at concert-goers? Why not?
Couldn't keep reading the repetitious news full of lame politician's "thoughts and prayers", so I drew instead.

This one, like most of my sketches, began with a red Verithin pencil on toned paper. (I like Kona Classic best because I can use wet media on it if I choose.) Beginning a drawing with red pencil rather than graphite seems to keep my initial gestures looser, and I like the original red lines still visible in the finished art.
The red gestural sketch is then tightened up with either a Pentel brushpen or a brush and India ink. Then, most often, I add the white highlights, before the shading begins--in this case, a fine-point white Signo pen was used for the white. The cross-hatching follows; I like Maica brand Hi-Tek-C pens if a crow quill and ink bottle isn't handy.
This drawing is small--4" x 6". It's the third work of October--or "Inktober". The previous two were sort of humorous. Who knows what the news will bring in the coming days.

Thanks for the visit--I wish you peace.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Perfectly Mistaken
[This is a re-post of a blog previously published in the winter of 2014--more relevant to me and my work now than ever.]

Blog-reading accompanies the coffee most winter mornings. David Apatoff's blog posts enrich that experience. His cerebral writings provoke musings about art in general, and specifically reflections on my own beliefs about what I do. The comment threads are unusually edifying as well.

Apatoff's latest, That Knob on Mort Drucker's Lamp 
has been like getting one of those super-fine splinters in a finger--except this one's in my brain. His interesting post and ensuing comments provoked many philosophical/artistic digressions, but I want to discuss the principal (and maybe mistaken) question it provoked in me:
Should I--should any artist--be striving for Perfection?

Suddenly that topic is jumping out at me at every turn; in books, in documentaries, in conversation.
As in most things--art-related and otherwise--there is no exclusive truth for everyone. And there is no true perfection. There is sublimity, but that doesn't always occur with compulsive re-polishing.

On the album Diamonds and Rust, the amazing voice of Joan Baez cracks at one point (during Medley: I Dream of Jeannie/Oh Danny Boy). It's the part of the song I wait for, and it is an essential imperfection--I am very glad she didn't do another take. (I'd never dismiss the hard and continuous work Baez must have done to be such a force in the music world--not talking about work here, I'm talking about the quest for perfection.)

Perfectionism has never been a compulsion for me, and usually a concentrated attempt at it ruins the product because it ruins the process. In my art-life, if the experience isn't interesting and satisfying, the end result is usually a stinker. So why is that?

Ray Harryhausen's Skeletons from Jason and the Argonauts

Steve Johnson, in the documentary Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan, discusses Harryhausen's ability to do 98% of his filming with the first take. To paraphrase Johnson, that is part of what makes Harryhausen's art great. Johnson says,"If he had finessed it too much, the result wouldn't come from the heart. The more quickly you get your ideas out of your head and up on the screen, the more real."  Another commentator states, "Often, [this creates] artworks that resonate--because they are pure."

Medusa sketch. Ray Harryhausen

Can't help it--I completely agree with Johnson. When I create; over-thinking, fixing,
and re-drawing often disrupts the line from my heart and gut to the paper. If I think "make it perfect", it's nearly always because I've begun imagining a critic's response to the work, or my head is doing the comparison-thing
Why does the process of picking away, tracing and re-tracing, result in a forced and lifeless work? Because all of a sudden I'm out to please people who, fundamentally, can never be pleased. That's a disservice to the vision heaving and rolling inside me.

Does this mean I don't work at being a better artist? Not at all--I am after that every minute of my life.  Does it mean I can't enjoy the works of more compulsive, perfection-driven artists? Not at all. I just don't see that particular quest as the only thing that separates great from mediocre.

David Hajdu, in Positively 4th Street, writes that Joan Baez once said "I have a primitive way of going about everything. I can't force myself to do something in which I'm not interested. Fundamentally, I'm lazy."
The words "primitive" and "lazy" are not usually in the vocabulary of a perfectionist, yet who would label Baez a mediocrity?

The great artist Ludek Tikovsky* wrote, "Sometimes I like more sketches than finished piece because of the spontaneity and--how to write it correctly--'airiness' of the lines..."
Me too, Ludek! I love to see spontaneous, real sketches--those done as thinking exercises and/or prelims. These are the things artists do when they are not consciously performing for an audience, or over-thinking some consummate product. (And by "real" I don't mean the newest trend in the art world--those suddenly ubiquitous "polished sketchbooks". Often wonderful, they are not true sketch books, as they are created as art pieces meant to be viewed as finished works.
It just might be that they who strive for perfection are the ones who'll make the big bucks or the history books. I won't research it for proof, but that's got to be fine with me. Nonetheless, I know that when a work is transcendent--makes my heart pound--it is seldom spot-free and flawless.

 "I like to make mistakes when I'm painting."
-Clive Barker

*Check out Ludek Tikovsky's thoughtful, unusual blog at

(and thanks for reading--your comments are always welcome.)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Animal Parameters at Valkarie Gallery!
For the third year in a row, I'm excited to be part of a fall show at Valkarie Gallery!

Animal Parameters is coming soon, and my works will join the amazing art of
Please click on their names for links to their sites and more of their art!

Here's a little preview of a few of my works which will be in the show:
For folks who like fantastic creatures, here's a Lava Monster! A few illustrators and I were discussing how to create a stone creature who oozed lava from cracks in its hide, so I tried my hand at this fellow.
I love owning sketches by artists, so I make many of mine available to collectors. And I gotta have a few Cranky Birds in every show.
My animal works are most often images that spring from real animals but end up imaginary creatures.
And dragons are animals, right?
So I hope you will join us for Animal Parameters!
Here are the particulars:

 And be sure to check out Valkarie Gallery's current show Elements and Curiosities, featuring the works of Valerie Savarie and Sharon Eisley!
Also, Innate Tapestries: The Endless Stage--a 96 page book full of my paintings and sketches--will be available for purchase at Animal Parameters. I hope you will grab a copy!

 Thanks for reading, and for supporting us artists!

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