Monday, December 29, 2008

More to Come Soon

As I'm sure it has been for everyone this last week's been a real blur. The holidays wear me out. I've had your standard work-holidays and should be catching up on rest, but it seems like there's always so much to do: friend and family visiting, parties, the occasional road trip. I'm preaching to the choir. As a result I've only painted a few times in the last week or so. I'd say I've gotten a lot accomplished tho. I've been talking. Getting the word out. Trying to develop new relationships in my professional and personal life. Might have come through with a couple of new shows lines up. More importantly I came through with some new friendships and refreshed a few older ones.

That's what's been keeping the spring in my step. I think it's also what has produced this change in my subject matter. Spiral absorbs me when I'm in the room although at the moment she's got me a little turned around and I'm not sure where to go. I made some major changes last night. I ditched 2 or three arms and revamped her legs. I think they look strong now... perhaps too muscular. I'll have to look at it some more. I want to convey exuberance, reverance, delicacy, and strength. The limbs have to be perfect in their own pose in relation to the body but I don't want to get caught up in the details. I think that could take away the energy. That's part of the reason I did what I did with the limbs.

Frankly I need a large mirror... dammit i need a model. I don't do figurative work a lot and it would be handy to have an actual reference I could pose.

The job of Muse is also currently open...
Apply within.



Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dancer Update

I did what I said I was going to. I stepped up to the canvas w/ the bare vestiges of a gameplan. I usually have a fair idea of how I'm going to get started on a night's work, but last night I spent a little time deliberating about which brush to start with and that was about it. It just started coming out. I did spend some time testing out the pose... the position of the arms. I probably looked pretty ridiculous, but that's what curtains are for. I found myself adding and subtracting limbs, adjusting the tilt of an arm, the position of a breast. I'm not going for accuracy here, but I do want the pose to make some sort of anitomical sense. If, that is, you can make sense of a woman with an undefined number of arms.
Around 1am I stepped back and realized she'd taken on a Lovecraftian look. She'd become beautiful and horrible. Graceful and unsettling. I want her to be exhuberant, triumphant, and a little disturbing. She's definitley getting that. I didn't realize it until I stepped out of the room and came back. Guess I needed to reset my perspective. I'm not sure where she's going to go from here. Who knows what we'll wind up with at the end. I'm kindof along for the ride here so it's anyone's guess.
Stay tuned for more.



Monday, December 22, 2008

The Dancer Begins

I mentioned in my last post that I'd done multi-armed female figures before. Here's my first. The piece is entitled, "The Dancer Begins". She was the product of another burst of quick inspiration one late night. I used to do tons of figurative work in graphite and charcoal. I really enjoy it, but in recent years I've let it slide in favor of my cityscapes and nocturnes. This work doesn't fit with my regular stuff so I've kindof put it off to the side. I've had shows and commissions and too many other things to think about I suppose. Maybe it's time to let these characters back out. I've often considered posting this stuff under a pseudonym just because it IS so different. Maybe that sounds pretentious, but I like the idea of this work being the property of an alter-ego even if that alter-ego is maybe more me than the other guy or at least a part of me that I file away for personal use only.




I was up painting Friday night and wasn't having a lot of success. Earlier in the evening I'd put a 36"x48" canvas sup on my primary easel just to have something on it. I got a funny feeling right after I put it up. I was walking away from it and turned around for something and I got the oddest sensation that it (the canvas) was looking back. I even posted a note on Twitter commenting on my new, blank canvas "smiling" at me and how I knew it was going to be something different. I had no idea what tho.
I'd covered my palette with plastic wrap and had turned off the tunes. I was ready to hang it up for the night when, for no apparent reason, I snatched a dirty brush out of my turp can and started frantically... for lack of a better word, scribbling. I still really didn't have any idea what was going to come out. Kindof like Voodoo Chevalier(i think that's the name for it). Like it wasn't me and someone else was driving. I'm not really talking about spirit possession of course, but the sensation is odd to be sure. I think a lot of artists get this feeling.
So here she is. I'm calling her Spiral. It's a comic book reference to a six-armed woman that appears from time to time in the X-Men. Her character always made me think of Shiva as the Cosmic Dancer. Those images have always fascinated me. It's not the first time I've depicted a figure like this. I painted a six-armed feminine figure a few years back. A personal favorite of mine. This one's feeling different tho. I'm not sure where she's going to go from here. I'm not putting much into planning. I plan on doing some conscious tweaking, but for the most part I'm just going to step up to the canvas and let it come out. She could wind up with dozens of limbs... who knows? I'm looking forward to seeing where this one goes. Maybe moreso than anything else I've done recently. It's nice to take a new direction. It's been a long time since I've let myself explore so it's exciting. Maybe a change in direction will be good for me. Maybe this represents new things for me in other areas as well. Sometimes I think this facet of my work is my real self speaking up.
We'll see what he has to say.



Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Spirit?

Every year we're bombarded with stuff that's supposed to invoke the Christmas Spirit. Usually this irritates the hell out of me, but this year I can't say that I've really even noticed. Maybe it's because I don't watch a lot of TV. Maybe it's because of the current home situation I'm in. Christmas is a time for Family and mine's a bit of a mess right now. Not to mention, people... Jesus wasn't born in December. Pretty much any Bible scholar can tell you.
More than anything the rabid commercialization just gets me down. Kindof wears your faith in humanity a little thin.
On the other hand I've seen a lot of generosity going around in the face of tough times. If anything will restore my Christmas Spirit that's it. I've seen my own children express such giving that it lightens my heart. I can't wait to be with them when they come downstairs Christmas morning. The sheer excitement on their faces... their instant willingness to share their new discoveries with each other. Looking forward to that. It gives me some hope.
Maybe hope is the reason I'm working on a piece depicting two people walking down the street windowshopping together. It's not that I'm hoping to be like that right now. I'm not. I am putting it out there as an image of things working out. Of knowing that things don't stay the same. That situations, no matter how bad, can work out for the best one way or another. Maybe working on something like this gives me some solace. Maybe that's why I'm feeling so tentative about it. The painting's only 9"x12" and the little things can be delicate. They need special care and attention. Working small has made me feel like I'm tiptoeing. Taking little steps. Being more mindful. Perhaps that's what I need right now. A little stillness of heart.
I think that's what I want for Christmas this year.

Well, that and a new MP3 player.



Sunday, December 14, 2008


I'm back from NYC and I feel recharged for the first time in a long time. I've been taking so much time off painting lately I think because even though I was actively working on a piece and had others I wanted to get done I'd really been struggling with the desire to actually get down and do it. It's not like my weeks haven't been a little hectic, but I think I was using that as a beard for a lack of motivation. If you really want to do something you'll find a way. The opposite of that is true as well.
My day-job employer, Aviva, sent me out to Woodbury, NY to do some inventory work. I'm generally always happy to travel and the trip itself went well although the work experience could've been better. On the other hand I did finally get to meet some people I've worked with for several years that I've never had the chance to actually put the face with the voice. So that part was good. Plus one of them gave me an umbrella when I told her I was going into the city to take pics. Very cool. So, Thanks! Needless to say the umbrella went to good use as it was windy, raining, and about 40degrees. I couldn't have cared less. It was effing beautiful. I met up with a couple of friends and we pretty much walked, got soaked, and had an excellent time. I took about 60 good pics. I couldn't get as many as I wanted because I couldn't keep the camera out for long in some areas due to the blowing rain. Miraculously it still works. It was totally worth it.
The trip revitalized me. I had to really want to get those shots to go out and wander around in that weather. The experience forced me to have to endure some unpleasantry to get the really good stuff. Granted I had good friends along and Hot Toddies at the end of the road before the train ride back to Long Island. The company of friends can take the edge off of nearly anything.
So thankful that I went. So glad to be home.

Looking forward to starting on some of these. Maybe tonight.



Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Before I Go

So I've been thinking a lot about things lately. I haven't been painting much. I haven't been exercising much either. Seems like there are a number of things that are falling into that category. I've had a few shows recently and there is talk of more. Lately tho I've been settling into a different mindset.
Seems to me that Winter is a time for thought. It's too cold here to want to spend days on end enjoying the out-of-doors so your options become limited. We read, watch TV, talk, or if you live where it's cold you probably drink and/or have sex. All perfectly good ways to take the edge off of cold Winter months. Not only that tho I think it's necessary in a way. To be sheltered away for a while either on your own or with those you love. For some people it's both. Any way you slice it... it can be time well spent, but you'd be wise to build up your reserves.

I will settle back into my routine of nightly painting very soon, but just like the colder temperatures this season's frame of mind can take a while to get acclimated to.

Here is an update to my current piece. The original photo was taken in October. A time when everything alive is storing up for the Winter.

On the road to New York tomorrow. Better get some sleep.



Saturday, December 6, 2008

Quite a Week

Wow, this week's been a bit of a whirlwind so I haven't been painting much. It bothers me a bit, but on the other hand I've been using the time to promote my work and do a little reflection. Plus work's been a bear. My coworkers and I have spent the last week doing assett inventory for my employer, Aviva. That means we've been working with a team of contractors to pretty much count everything remotely electronic. With three buildings in Des Moines and four remote locations it's a pretty big undertaking. I'm proud to say that we've been moving along ahead of schedule although it's been exhausting. Mostly I've just wanted to come home, spend time with my boys, relax a little and go to bed. There IS a little bonus that comes with this project tho. I've been assigned to go to our New York office to do the inventory there. The office is on Long Island, but I'm hoping to get into Manhattan for at least one night. Christmas time in NYC is practically mythical in my book and I'm geared up to take pics til my camera explodes. Can't wait for that part.
Day-Job aside the rest of the week's been very entertaining. The Crossroads Conference happened Thursday night and I have to say that it was a blast. Lots of good music, art, food and drink. The New Belgium Brewery was one of our sponsors. I LOVE their 1554 Enlightened Black Ale. Nectar of the Gods... Last night ArtDive had an open house and the Fitch Studios & the Fitch Gallery had their open artists' studio night. Both were very well attended. I got to spend some time with some amazing artists and regular people as well (smirk). I spent the earlier part of the evening discussing art with visitors and potential customers. I tend to be a bit of a solitary observer, but for some reason I felt like I was in my element this week and chatted up a storm. I have to admit... it felt good.
That brings up a discussion I had last night with a new friend of mine. He teaches Art and had some interesting insights not only into my work, but into this blog. I tend to break the blog up into "What's going on in my life" and "Here's what I'm working on". I never really considered it, but it sort of insulates my personal life from my work. Perhaps it's my tendency to be a voyeur that led to it. I'm not 100% sure, but it's given me something to think about. I feel like perhaps I need to include myself more into my work, or at least in my discussion. Not just talking about what I'm doing, but why.
I'll give it a try. Hell, I'll try anything once. Well, almost anything....

Hope to have some more updates and maybe even some insights before the weekend's up. We'll see.



Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Keeping Up the Momentum

Getting back to it after a couple days away and I'm glad I did. It was nice to take a few extra days away from the studio this last week, but momentum is important to me. Too many times in the past I've let it slip only to find myself wondering where the time went and what I spent it on. Not to mention I tend to get surly when I don't paint.
So now it's one to the next one. I posted some pics a while back from a trip to visit friends in Galena, IL. I started the painting a few weeks ago, but have left it largely untouched in my efforts to get work done for the show at the Heritage Gallery and the CrossRoads Conference coming up this Wednesday and Thursday. I feel like I'm getting a good grasp of this image and have every confidence It'll be done within the next 10 days. I spent tonight redifining some of the shapes and laying down some more colors. I still need to correct the overall shape of the stiped awning and spend some time on the right-hand figure. Looking forward to seeing this one finished.

Sleep now...



Sunday, November 30, 2008

The First Real Snow!

Typically Sunday mornings are a big deal around my house. The kids drag me out of bed (read as "off the couch") and I get up and make a huge breakfast: bacon, eggs, sausages, pancakes or waffles, fruits... the woiks. This Sunday morning however they're off and running. No sooner had we all gotten up and moving then the neighbor kids started arriving in their snowpants and heavy coats asking if the boys could come out and play. Naturally I couldn't deny them. First snows are always good childhood memories. Good adult ones too. Thinking about taking a walk in it while it's still coming down.
So they're out playing and I'm having a cup of good, hot tea for my sore throat and my aching head. Had a few too many pints at The Vaudeville Mews last night. My reason for not having any updates this morning. In truth I still managed to fit some drawing in at a place called The Lift before my friends turned up. I may post that later, but I'll need to scan it first.
So cheers to you this fine, snowy morning. Let your kids get out and play in it. Let yourself get out and do a little of the same.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Just in Time

So which are we as a country celebrating more this year? Thanksgiving or Black Friday? It seems the latter has been getting all of the attention with things being the way they are. Understandable in uncertain times. Perhaps having a tight Christmas will get some people to start thinking about the way we're all living. Hmmm...

"'s good to be fruitful, but don't take more than a mouthful" - Lenny Kravitz
Enough about that.

I've managed to take a few days off painting this week to give myself a break. Seems like i've been doing a lot of that lately. It's good to focus on some other things for a while. I got some great work done this week as well. I managed to finish Big Red. The actual title is Washington Street in Red. The location is in the Iowa City Ped Mall area. A place where I spent a lot of time getting pics when I lived in Coralville. I may do some touching-up of the large, yellow neon sign area on the upper-right, but all-in-all I feel done. Just in time too. I've got to deliver my paintings for the Crossroads Conference coming up this week (12/3 & 4). Can't wait. It should be a great event. Hope to see some of you there!

Time to get the boys rounded up and run some errands. We'll see if I can pry them away from the Playstation (shuffles to the garage to get the crowbar...)



Monday, November 24, 2008

Amost Forgot...

I did forget to mention something last night as I was rambling on. I'd recently gotten a painting accepted into a juried showing at a local gallery. The reception yesterday was great. Great turnout, great art, and some great conversation. All of this made better by the presence of a very good friend turning out for moral support (Thank You!!).
As it turns out I didn't rate so much as an honorable mention. But judging art is very subjective. It's all based on the tastes and moods of the judge or jury at the time. A different judge might have different tastes in art and the decisions can just as easily go the other way. Not to mention the artists were all top notch. I thought all of the pieces had great merit and was happy to be in such good company.
I did get a lot of inquiries about the piece, NYC Coffee and my art in general. More names for the mailing list... It all leads to something.
The point is that you can't take things like that personally. You keep moving forward. Keep trying. Keep getting up. Keep striving. You never give up once you've found your calling.
Next time...

A Quick One Before Bed

It's been a pretty good weekend. Spent Friday night out listening to some excellent music. I was alone so I probably looked a little odd to some, but some nights you just want to check the scene and listen to the tunes. I'm a people-watcher too so that helps. That's a better show some nights than what's up on stage. I don't mind doing things by myself. I love going to movies, galleries, and the like that way. Gives me a chance to really take it in without having someone else to consider.
Got some good painting time in last night and tonight. I'm just going to post a couple of updates and notes before I go crash. Why can't we ever just rest on the weekends?
In tonight's updates you may not notice any huge differences. I'm spending my time getting the shapes right while adding successive layers of color. Last night I made a few more decisions about the person, but she's still pretty fuzzy and something doesn't feel right about her. I added some details to the window towards the front. Nothing major yet. The large sign on the top needs work, but I'll get to it. Still not sure what to do about the lower, left corner. I kindof like it, but it doesn't fit with the piece. Hmm..
Tonight I spent some time redefining one of the white signs correcting its shape and trying to make it look like more than a blob of white. I added some details to the shop window and spent a lot of time refining the girl. I spent a little time working on some perspective issues that have been bugging me, and added more of the dark to further deepen it. After this gets varnished it's going to gain some nice depth there. I think it's coming along nicely and I shouldn't have any problems having it done for the Crossroads Conference coming up December 3rd and 4th (Click the link for details). Should be a good time. I'm thinking 2 more sessions should get it.

Looking for good things this week. Perhaps I should say, "Finding" instead of looking?
Off to bed.



Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Working on Big Red

Although I have no intention of actually calling this piece, Big Red it's fitting for the moment. It's 60" tall and... well, Red. Its predecessors are called Washington Street in Red. I'm loving the simple composition on the large-format canvas. I spent last night working on giving the predominant colors some more depth. I try to achieve this by adding many layers of thin paint over the base values. It gives the color a rich look and feel. The process also helps me to define and redefine the shapes I'm working with. I'll push and pull the shapes until the elements of the composition look right together. Over the next week you'll see the shapes getting more (or sometimes less) refined as they settle into their final positions and achieve their final colors.
I love to lay the paint on really thickly too, but on a piece this size that can cost you quite a bit. Things being the way they are I've had to adjust my process a little when working large-scale to save paint and money. Art is one of the first things to get hit when the economy goes south. It's a luxury good and people are reticent to pay a lot for it when things are down. I like to paint large, but in a bad economy I've got to be conscious of price. Keeping the paint thinner challenges me to achieve my desired results with a different technique than I may prefer to use on a given painting while keeping my costs lower. That allows me to pass it on in the price of the finished work. Plus the overall effect can be gorgeous... which is what I'm hoping for on this one.
Have a Happy!



Monday, November 17, 2008


First and foremost I would like to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! to my little one, Zane. He turns five today. He's growing up so quickly. He's a great little guy and I'm very proud of him for a great many things. One of those things is that he's starting to take after his Daddy. He will spend hours per day sitting at the table drawing and coloring. I'd say he's already starting to interpret things like figures in a way that greatly exceeds his age. Both of my boys have exhibited artistic inclinations and I couldn't be more excited about it. That being said I will be equally proud of them no matter what path they take in life so long as it's a positive one.

After taking a few days off for some R and R and R (Rest, Relaxation, Regrouping) I started in on a new canvas. I'm revisiting an image that I've rendered a couple of times in the past. I really love this image. It's based on a shot that I took about 10yrs ago when I lived in Iowa City. Personally I think it's OK to revisit things like this. I don't look at it as looking backward. I see it more as a deeper exploration of a familiar thing. Sometimes you don't really see a thing until you delve into it many, many times. The composition is simple, strong, and striking. A single figure walking in the crimson glow of a storefront. I hit the canvas with real enthusiasm at about 11:00pm and didn't look up until nearly 1:30am. I love it when that happens. It's like I'm in another world. Sometimes I even feel like it's not really me doing it. By the time i called it a night I was covered in Winsor Red and ecstatic. The pics here are from last night's progress. I didn't include shots of the preliminary pencil drawing on canvas althought I may post pics of the pen sketch I did in preparation last week. Now imagine this is 36"x60"!
I'm hoping to put this up in the CrossRoads Conference for the Arts in December so I'm going to really hit this hard and do my best to get it ready.
Aiming for good things this week.

All the best,


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

And So It Is...

Funny how some chaos can throw you into a working frenzy. There's been a lot of bad craziness going around these days. Bad craziness in the world. Bad craziness at home. Sometimes you've got to take that negative energy and re-channel it into something positive or at least constructive. That's what I've been trying to do over the last week and it's really come through in this piece. I've made more progress in a shorter time frame on this big guy than I did on a painting one quarter its size. Size is relative I guess.
And so it is... I've finally finished this Chicago piece. I've decided to name it after the character standing in the bottom, left corner. I've been calling him The Watcher. So this painting is titled "Twilight in Chicago - The Watcher". He's a little creepy if you ask me.
I spent a lot of time last night trying to work out a good solution to a nasty curve I'd painted into the prominent building in the right foreground and for hiding the remnants of that taxi cab I'd decided had to go. I blew through a lot of paint attempting to get it right without it looking like i was trying to cover something up. That's the beauty of a medium like this. Oil paints are very forgiving which is part of the reason I love them so much. Not to mention they just smell fantastic.
I have nothing waiting on the easel which means I've got work ahead. Seems I've got a favor to repay to some very cool people. All they wanted in return was a painting from my photo safari to Galena, IL. I guess I know what I'm doing tonight.

Until next time



Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Surreal and Nearly There

I think I mentioned last week that I was going to have an empty house for the weekend. It did actually happen and I had an empty house for the entire weekend. That's never happened before. I'm a proud parent and LOVE spending time with my boys, but even the best of us need a break. It was well worth it in my opinion although Friday night and Saturday morning were a bit on the surreal side. I didn't sleep much Thursday night so I wound up wanting a nap around 9:00pm Friday. I set my alarm for 10:30 so I could hit the studio refreshed. Instead I awoke around 2:30am. Unable to get back to sleep I made some coffee and hit the studio. I painted from about 3:00 until about 6:30-7:00. The time was incredibly productive and I wouldn't mind trying that schedule again assuming I can start going to bed around 9:00pm. I wound up staying up until 2:30 Sunday morning. Go figure.
I painted Saturday and Sunday nights as well. I feel like this Chicago piece is nearly completed. One of the big breakthroughs was the realization that the taxi cab that had been dominating the foreground just wasn't working. It was serving the purpose of adding some depth, but it wasn't meshing with the composition as a whole. Add to that I just couldn't seem to get it to come together as an object. In short it was pissing me off so it went away (you can still see remnants of it that will be covered with successive layers of paint).
I've been working from photos almost since the beginning. I used to paint them verbatim.. within my developing style, that is. Then one of my painting profs at UNI said to me, "These are good, but what are you really doing with the image? Are you making it your own or just copying what you see?". That really struck me and has stayed with me all these years. It was then that I truly learned that subject matter isn't sacred. Whether you're painting from life, photos, or whatever make your subject yours. Give it your own twist and don't get too hung up on the details.
In other news I did wind up getting a piece accepted into the Polk County Heritage Gallery show this month. It's a gorgeous venue and I'm sure to be in some very good company. Can't wait! I got some other potentially very cool art news this weekend too. It's only a maybe at this point, but I'm excited all the same. I'll divulge what it is only if it becomes a reality. Don't want to jinx it.
Hopefully in my next post I will be able to show you a finished piece.
Until then,



Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday Updates. Sweet Peace and A Reminder

This week's been a tough one to be sure. Lots going on at the house. Lots going on at work. Not all of it good. In fact, a lot of it's been pretty bad. All of that just got tossed out the window tho and I've been reminded how precious life is. I just saw a message stating that a woman was run over by a garbage truck behind of the my employer's buildings here in DesMoines. She was killed. It may be someone I've worked with. At this point no one's saying anything. That slapped me in the face and reminded me that all of the petty crap we do to each other and ourselves from day to day isn't worth it. Love those your have with all of your heart and don't sweat the petty stuff. You never know when your (or their) number is up and you'll never get the chance to say all of those things you meant to say. Say them NOW.
In other news I just may have a completely empty house this weekend. That would be the first time in over a decade that this has happened. I'm not sure what to do with myself. Maybe something... Maaaaybe nothing. Either way, what bliss. Honestly, I will miss my children quite a lot.
I've made some great progress on the new Chicago piece. I've made some adjustments to the skyline. It needed more variety. The color I used to make the change was a little off, but once it's dried a bit I'll be able to work it to where it needs to be. I've also lightened up the far horizon element a bit. Not satisfied with the color tho. As for the rest I'm picking at the smaller elements making them work together so the final piece doesn't look choppy or too busy. The individual bits need to work together smoothly to create a coherent piece. I'm sure I'll use lots of my spare time to create this weekend. I'm looking forward to getting some good work done.



Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tuesday Image Updates

*does not blog about politics if at all possible. will not be blogging about the election today. go and vote your conscience*
One thing I'm learning as I go along is consistency. Not just in my work, but in my work habits and life. I try to get to the studio about the same time each night. I try to do things on a schedule. I'm not a list maker or a calendar freak or anything like that. But especially when you have kids you have to keep things on track when it comes to day-to-day stuff. One should also be consistent when it comes to friends as well as clients. Point being if you're going to do something do it when you say you're going to do it. If you say you're going to make a phonecall... make it. Try your best not to leave people hanging wondering what's going on. Sooner or later they'll take it personally or will simply stop dealing with you out of frustration or whatever. I've been guilty of inconsistency and it's cost me from time to time in many different currencies (monetary, emotional, etc.) So take a lesson from me and work on being consistent in your work and life. It's hard work, but being a disciplined artist/person does have its rewards.

So.. there's my little soapbox bit for the day.

Now, on to the work. The new Chicago piece is looking great. I've spent some time last night and over the weekend reworking the shapes of the cards and the background buildings. I've also started to give the big, red Chicago sign some more contrast and depth. The big building up front is start to take shape as well. If you look back through the progressive pics you'll see the windows are starting to form as areas of light and dark are worked back and forth with and against each other(remember: push and pull). I'm still debating on the color of the blue car in the middle ground. In the source pic all of the cars are more or less that cadmium yellow because of the streetlights and storefront lights. So here's where you have to ask yourself some questions: do you change the color for the sake of some variety or does it detract from the overall composition and color-balance of the piece? Still undecided.
On a side-note I put in for a show at the Polk County Heritage Gallery that will be going up this month. I'm hoping to get at least one piece in. Wish me luck!



Friday, October 31, 2008

Calling it Good

One of my good profs back at UNI, Deb Zlotsky used a saying once or twice, "A painting is done when the telephone rings". I know she borrowed that from a famous artist, but I can't remember who. Basically what that's saying is that for a painter you can't just say, "I've worked on this X hours and now I'm done". What happens more often than not, in my experience is that you work on it until it hits you. Something happens (like a telephone ringing) and you just get this epiphany. Something in you says, "that's enough".
I feel like I've finally put this little painting of the ISU campus town to bed. Stayed up a little extra late last night nitpicking until it finally hit me... I'm done. I've done enough. The picture posted here isn't the actual final image. There were some adjustments to the green sign over the building window near the foreground. So I'm going to post this one on my Etsy store for a week or so until it either sells or I take it down to ArtDive for display. It's only 9"x12" so I'll price it reasonably for the amount of work I've put into it. I always say I'd rather sell art than sit around looking at my own stuff. This one needs to go to a good home.
Getting geared up for what could be an entertaining Halloween weekend. I wish you all the best. Have fun and be well.



Thursday, October 30, 2008

Getting There and Being There

I've managed to get some good work done over the last few days. I was out of town most of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday visiting with some good friends who just moved back to Iowa from Kentucky. So glad to have them back!
I also spent a couple of evenings varnishing a piece for a customer. She purchased it last year right off of the easel. The rule of thumb with varnish is to wait at least six months before applying your first coat of any kind of varnish. I've varnished paintings prematurely and I kindof wonder what, if anything, will really happen. The idea is that your dry top coat of paint still sits over layers of wet paint. The top coat is porous and allows the moisture from the lower layers to leach out and evaporate. This is why you don't want to seal an oil painting under glass. A friend of mine had one of my pieces that was under glass and the moisture from the paint has caused mildew to grow on the surface over the years. A situation that will need to be rectified and can be cleaned up with some turp and a slightly different framing situation hopefully.

I've made some progress on both of the pieces I currently have on the easels. I'm just cleaning up the little piece. Refining lines. Correcting colors. On the Chicago piece i'm filling in more specific areas of color, definiing the characters (people, cars), and working on overpainting the sky, street, and building fronts. I'm hoping to get the ISU/Ames piece done this week. I'm spending too much time dicking around with it. Probably a symptom of my current mental state. When there's a lot going on a person can get a little scatterbrianed and/or manic. It's a happy manic tho so... don't worry. The trick with this sort of state of mind is to try and keep focused amidst all of the mental noise. To stay in the moment. Like Ram Dass said, "Be Here Now". It's something I tell my kids regularly. Don't be running in fifty different directions. Be Here Now. Keep your mind on where you are and what you're doing.
Probably a lesson many of us can live and learn. I work on it every day.



Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday. Once. Updates

Watched the movie, "Once" last night. I remembered Glen Hansard from The Commitments which is one of my all-time favorite films. I had no idea what a great singer/songwriter he was tho. I've heard of The Frames, but didn't realize it was the same guy. So... Wow. Amazing music and a great film. The tunes are tearjerkers for the most part so if you possess any emotions at all... bring Kleenex.
I got some good stuff done on my new, large-format piece. I'm very happy with the way it's coming along. The street's really starting to glow of its own accord. The cars are materializing out of the negative space which makes me pretty happy. Stay tuned. I'm pretty excited to see how this one turns out.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Some New Images

I was out and about Monday night trying to get some time away from the house and catch up with some friends. Ultimately that didn't work out so I blogged and surfed from my office. Sad, maybe. Peaceful, definitely.
After taking a little stroll around downtown I headed home to do some painting. On the way it occurred to me that I had my camera in my satchel. I've been wanting to get some shots of this railyard I pass on the way to work every day. I'd just never actually set out to get the shots. The opportunity presented itself so I parked and took a walk across the bridge to get to the spot I had in mind. It was cold and windy, but the lighting was pretty cool. I have to admit my little Kodak 12mp camera did a pretty fair job. I don't know when I'll use these shots and I'll probably do some zooming and cropping, but at least now I've got the option for when the mood and timing are right. Could be years in coming. I've got a library of photos going back several years just waiting to be paintings. There are at least 400 shots of Chicago alone.
Guess I'd better get to work.



Monday, October 20, 2008

A Relaxing Weekend Sortof

I finally decided to take some time off this last weekend. Honestly it felt strange. I did take some time Friday to spend an evening curled up on the couch with my boys. Very sedate. Very reassuring. I'd say that's one of my "Happy Places". After putting them to bed I was faced with the dilemma of deciding what to do next. I sat alone in the quiet letting the TV do all the work... My friends were, as usual, right. I needed it. I tried to avoid doing anything too productive all weekend except for a little laundry and some workouts. My body and mind needed it. I've started my week feeling less strung out than usual. I did get back to painting last night and am feeling pretty good about both of the pieces I'm currently working on.
So I've attached the progress update images from last night:

I'm still fiddling with the details on the ISU CampusTown piece. I'm fairly happy with most of the colors at this point. The structures to the left of the composition are still mostly just underpainting, but will shape up quickly. I'm very happy with the violets that are happening in the shadows. Looking forward to finishing this up soon. Coming soon to an Etsy store near you!

The second piece is still coming together compositionally, but you can see the glow of the twilight sky shaping up in the background. The cars are starting to form from the negative space of the pavement around them. I'll probably start working on the two main figures tonight or tomorrow. I'm hoping this one will come together quickly.
I'm looking forward to getting these pieces finished. I've got some new ideas I'm wanting to try out. Maybe something a little more abstract. I could use a change of pace subject matter-wise. I'm not getting much back from the clients I'm trying to nail down on commissions so it's time to produce, produce, produce.



Thursday, October 16, 2008

Progress on Several Fronts

Yesterday was my birthday. I'm not saying that trying to dig up some extra presents or even wishes. Although I joke about my age it really doesn't matter to me. Most of the time I feel as fit and energetic as I did ten years ago. But it WAS a birthday which is always a reminder of the passage of time. 1970 seems so long ago... It wasn't an easy day. At least not at the start. I think birthdays can be difficult for people because they are reminded that the clock is ticking. Maybe they think about what they haven't accomplished. Worry that they're going to be alone. We dwell on past mistakes and missed opportunities. Honestly I did all of the above. Thankfully I had some amazing friends there beside me to remind me of all the good things that have happened. Things I (and We) have done. It's a reminder that, as my friend Jeff said, "none of us is an island". We all need a lift OR a swift kick in the head from a good friend every now and again. Most importantly I was able to "be there" for a friend. Few things can make you feel better than being able to be there for someone else.

So having had my faith in humanity and myself somewhat restored I got to work last night with a sense of privilege and hope. I got some more work done on both of my paintings in progress. On the smaller piece (pictured here) I'm refining. Fixing colors and forms. Pushing and Pulling the light and dark elements to achieve a balance. To create contrast. Plus I need to work on my lines. They're all over the place. On the larger one (pictured in yesterday's post) I'm still laying out the larger areas of color. A lot of which will wind up as underpainting to be covered with areas and layers of other colors to create variation and depth (look at the techniques of someone like Dali for a real lesson in layering) . I'm finding the relationships between the forms. Trying to set them on the teeter-totter of composition so they balance in a way that draws the viewer into the picture.
Ok... The workday calls


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Finally Back to It

I've really been taking a long break from painting... For me, at least. I've been going at it pretty consistently for months now taking only a day or two off per week to get other stuff done. Lately, as I've mentioned before, I just haven't had the heart, energy, or time. I've had a lot of other stuff that I've been putting off that I had to knuckle down and deal with. While speaking to an old and dear friend last night it was pointed out that perhaps I'm not taking enough real down-time. I took a break from painting, but didn't really take a break. Just filled up that time with other things like working on a budget, updating the website, blogging, etc. He surmised that could be the source of some the other issues in my life. I don't know... I always feel driven to be productive. Life's too short and there's always this feeling that I've got to fill up the time with something. That's part of the reason I only sleep 4 or 5 hours per night. So much to do and see. Plus painting helps me go to a different place apart from everyday life. Throwing myself into my work keeps my mind off of things that are troubling me.
Ok... that's enough about that for now.
I did get a start on a new piece last night. I've got a show coming up in December (details to are coming). I've been asked to do some large paintings for it and I have to say that I'm excited to be working big again. Last night I really went after it and worked up a sweat. Painting large is so physical. I can get my whole body involved. It's almost like dancing in some ways which I LOVE to do. I didn't cover a lot of territory, but it's a good start. I'm laying out the values and larger areas of color again. Beginning to put the elements and characters into place. I'll keep posting updates to show you the progress.

Enough for now...



Sunday, October 12, 2008

Parties and Double-Edged Swords

I want to start by saying that overall I had a pretty great weekend. I wound up being able to go out with friends for a joint birthday celebration Friday (I turn 38 on the 15th). I initially thought I wasn't going to be able to attend and then here come my folks out of the blue and offer to watch the kids. Thanks, Guys! A good time was had by all... or most at least.
Got to spend some quality time with some excellent characters and good friends. I could go on and on...
I also was reminded of a song I'd totally forgotten about, "Night Swimming" by REM. Great tune and now I'll never forget it. Long story. Nice to pick up those little tidbits and have them get a fresh association. Even if they are a little bittersweet.
I talked painting with a number of people this weekend. I've had several people approach me about commissions. I enjoy taking commissioned work, but it's a double-edges sword. There is so much more obligation involved when you're producing something specific for someone. Artists approach the topic of commissions differently. Personally I like to get a good, solid agreement on the concept. Once that happens I ask for 30% up front as a retainer and to recover costs. This is typically non-refundable in my book. Depending upon the individual circumstance I may ask for the rest upon delivery or installments with the balance due upon delivery.
There were a lot of ideas and questions floating around this weekend. We'll see how many actually come home to roost. Going to try to nail a few down this week. Get some cash flowing and some new materials in-house.
Excited for the prospect of new work and deadlines. Few things motivate like cash and deadlines.
I'm hoping this week that I can start to rekindle my spark of creativity and my lust for life. The events of the past few weeks have taken their toll. I'm going to take it back with interest.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Taking a Break

All this week I've Tweeted and Facebooked, etc ad nauseaum about getting down to the studio. It seems like every night I've headed downstairs and wound up either pissing around for half an hour or so and heading back upstairs or actually trying to get some work done and just lacking the heart for it. I'm a big advocate of dogged determination, but sometimes, i'm finding, you just have to give in and either take a break or do something else productive or whatever. I try to stay productive. Try to keep moving. My Grandma Reeves used to say, "If you stop moving you might as well just lay down and die". I plan to do quite a bit more before I go and do that.

There has been a lot going on here, and I think it's just drained me to the point of distraction or exhaustion or some space in between. I've taken the position that this blog was going to be more about the process and the work than about my personal issues so I won't go into boarish detail as to just what those issues are. Suffice it to say that it's been more than a bit overwhelming. I think it's just drained my ability to paint this week.


I did decided to spend tonight working on some ideas for a commissioned piece. I hooked up witht the client through work. He's had to live in a number of different countries and has this great piece of Sydney. I've been toying with the idea of how to combine the various iconic elements of Chicago into one piece (which is what he's asking for). I've got this great picture of The Bean with this couple standing in front of it and the skyline reflected on it's perfect surface. I'm thinking I could work those iconic images (Millenium Park, the Sears Tower, Wrigley, etc) into that reflection. I've thrown the idea out there. We'll see what he says. Hopefully he'll like the idea.
So in the interest of getting something done I'll sign off.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Updates and Progress

So there're updates and there's progress. Which is which? Is it I've updated my website and I've made progress on my new painting? Or have I made progress on my website overhaul and I've got new painting updates for you?

Cyclical banter... the product of a tiche too much caffeine, too much time in the singular company of a four year old, and just plain too much on my mind. I won't go into it here, but I'm convinced that this year is just getting stranger and ... well "strange" doesn't even begin to cover it.
So (there's that "So" again) I HAVE made some progress on my painting. Here's last night's update. I'm going over the perspective again and I'm starting to push and pull the lighting and figurative elements. I'm using the light to define the dark areas and visa versa. They go through this tug of war until the right balance is acheived. Sometime later this week I hope.
Also I've been going over the purchasing page on my personal website. For some reason I had two. I've condensed them into one and am trying to get the last of the updates applied and proofed. Check it here: Not a pretty link, but it'll serve for now.

Did some tweaking of my Etsy site. Gave me a chance to play around with Photoshop and make this banner:

It needs a little more tweaking compositionally and otherwise, but I'm liking the overall canvas effect. I've done a little graphic design here and there and would like the opportunity to pick up some more. That's the kind of work you have to go looking for in my experience and it seems that these days all of my time is pre-consumed for me.
Ok... off for a run on the hamster wheel then to the studio (with stops at the shower, and fridge in between).

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Catching up After a Long Weekend

Regardless of what happens we all seem irresistably drawn towards our weekends. As it often turns out sometimes we just try to do too much with them. I'm starting to thinkg that this may be the case with mine. Didn't get much painting done, but I think I more than made up for it in other ways: lots of website updates, lots of time with my two boys, seeing giant dinosaurs up close and personal, visiting with family. The woiks.

So I didn't wind up getting a lot of painting done last night or tonight, but I did get quite a bit done Friday. In this pic i've start defining areas of color and tweaking the perspective a bit. I hopefully will have it finished by early next week. It's only 9"x12" so it'll be extremely affordable. Plus, due to its size I'm shooting for some more spontenaity. We'll see if I can let go of the reigns a bit.

Ok... very very sleepy... time to go now.



Saturday, October 4, 2008

I Went and Did It Again

More items posted on Etsy! They'll stay up until I get the chance to see which of them my local gallery rep, ArtDive wants. Once they hit the gallery the price will go up. She's gotta make a living too ya know ~8)
Looks like some people are definitely looking. It's inspiring me to get more involved with my marketing AND get down to the studio and paint, paint, paint! I really do want to make the transition one day soon from part time painter to full-time painter. I know it's going to require a lot of time, effort, and determination, but in the end it's what I've always wanted to do. If you've ever wanted to go into business for yourself or are in business for yourself I would LOVE to hear from you. To me few people are cooler than entrepreneurs. They're a different breed and they embody the spirit upon which our country was founded.

So to all of you...


ps: I'll be posting pics of the latest piece in progress. Stay tuned. I'll be back later. Same Bat-Time. Same Bat-Channel.

Friday, October 3, 2008

New Items up for Sale and My Love for Chi-Town

I went ahead and listed a few more items on my Etsy account. The first listing was a bit of a wakeup call telling me that getting more agressive with my marketing may just pay off. I've said it once and I'll say it about a thousand more times, I'd rather sell my work that sit on it. I like the idea that someone will hang this in a room in their home or office and take a minute from time to time to look at it and feel... something. My work, to me, is an extension of my being and maybe it's a bit narcissistic, but I like the idea that others get some enjoyment from it. Like Peter Gabriel said, "I Love to be Loved". I suppose it's the same for most artists.
So here they are:

All three paintings are of Chicago. What can I say? I heart Chicago. I've always had a great time in that town regardless of why I was there or what I was doing. It helps the the company I work for at my day job has an office there. As a result I get to visit on a semi-regular basis. Plus I have a fair number of friends that live there. It always helps to have friends. I find that more and more as I get older...
I have a customer that I'm waiting to hear back from that is wanting a sortof "best of" the Chicago skyline/landmarks. He's had a similar piece done of Sydney and I look forward to the challenge of matching... no, surpassing the wonderful job that artist did. Chi-town is extremely photogenic and lends itself to my style of painting. But I digress again.
Time to hit the studio. The paints, they call to me.
Wishing you all an excellent weekend.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Success, Chaos, and a New Start

I've been thinking a lot about different ways to market my work lately. I mentioned in the previous post about getting some tips for online marketing from a fellow DSM artist. As it turns out the strategy worked like gangbusters. Within 36 hours of posting my last painting (and the sale thereof) on this blog, Twitter, FaceBook, and an email to my slowly growing mailing list it sold. In fact it nearly sold twice. One potential customer, an old high school friend, emailed me via FaceBook about purchasing it directly through me instead of the Etsy account. By the time I returned home to take the listing down I discovered that the painting had already been bought and paid for. Excellent news, but it did mean that I had to get in touch with my initial contact and explain. Thankfully she took it well and in the end I wound up getting a commissioned piece out of the deal. Everyone was happy. The people that purchased the painting via Etsy, as it turns out, were old school friends of mine as well. Thanks a TON Carla and Dave!

You can be sure that I'll be doing that again in the near future. I've got some inventory left from that shop that was showing my work that recently closed. I think this would be a good way to get it out there. Show it to a wider audience. I would rather sell art than sit on it. I love my work... I love it more when it goes to a good home.

So there's the good news...

That same day I received a call from my soon-to-be ex wife telling me that she was in an accident involving a car that we jointly own. The car sustained some measurable damage, but she's OK. That's the important thing. Cars can be repaired and regardless of anything else I was simply relieved to hear that she was unharmed. Seems there's always a little dose of chaos thrown into our lives to remind us to keep grounded.

Last night I was able to get a good start on my next piece. It's based on a pic I took while I was on photosafari in Ames a couple of weeks ago. I posted the source pic and the initial canvas sketch shortly thereafter. Don't make me go back and look it up... I've started to take the graphite sketch and expound on it a bit with a mixture of Ultramarine Blue, Sap Green, and Burnt Umber. In the pictures it tends to look black, but it's anything but. It will also go up for sale via my Etsy account when it gets finished.

Keep an eye out for other works showing up on Etsy soon.



Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I was finally able to finish my painting last night. Got the final touches put into place and the edges touched up. If you track back through the updates you'll see that I did wind up adding some of the light glare from the original photograph. Initially I was going to leave it out, but in the end the composition was lacking something without it. For the record the pic I'm posting here is NOT the kind of thing I would use in marketing this painting to a gallery. It's a good example of what not to do with your lighting. The miracle of Photoshop has helped to clean it up a bit. I DO plan on getting this one scanned for future print production.
So as of today I'm placing this piece up for sale via my Etsy account (click the pic). I would like to take this opportunity to thank Cat Rocketship (who's art kicks ass) for turning me on to Etsy and giving me some lessons in online art marketing. Thanks, Cat.
I've decided I'll keep this piece posted on Etsy at this price for the next week. After that I'll be taking it to ArtDive for display and sale.
On a rather unhappy note I found out that one of the venues displaying my work has been forced to close its doors. East Village Books, a really top-notch place, has closed as of yesterday. It makes me sad to think that another great, local business has been forced out of business due to our current economic climate. The owners, Andy and Teri, are great people and I wish only the best for them in the future. Support local businesses! Keep your money away from the big chains as much as you can. Our country was founded on entrepreneurism. No WalMarts in the 1700's, eh? I'd, for one, would like to see that business model again.
At any rate, if you love the painting I'd love to send it on to a good home. Get in touch!



Monday, September 29, 2008

The Monday

More good work done last night. Had a very nice night in the studio. It was good to get back to work after a couple of very decidedly non-productive days away. Sometimes you just need to decompress. It doesn't always last, but at least the pressure was off for a little while.
I'm feeling like the only things left to do are paint the sides of the canvas and do a little detail cleaning. Once that's done (hopefully tonight) I'll put this one up on my Etsy account for sale at a fraction of the gallery cost. If there are no lookers by Friday night the piece will be taken in to be scanned and then delivered to one of the galleries where my work is currently on display.
Now that this piece is nearly done and I'm started on the next one I really need to nail down these two commissions that have been sortof waiting in the wings. I needed the break to produce some studio work, but it's time to get these other projects going. Word from a friend and regular purchaser of my work is that there may be more, large commissioned pieces on the way and I'm sure that when he decides to move forward with that he'll want them post haste. A good problem to have so I'm not complaining...

Until next time.



Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Weekend Well Worth It

In my efforts to expand into new markets I've been doing some looking in the Dubuque/Galena areas. I used to live near Dubuque and despite its small stature I've had a fair bit of luck with sales in that area. Galena is a lovely little town just over the border into Illinois. It's sortof touristy, but boasts some vibrant commerce and some very nice art as well as a pictureque setting. Both areas, in my opinion, would amount to some seasonal sales centering around Autumn and Winter. I'm hoping to get some work in somewhere before Autums's up or at least by Winter.
It also happens that I have a very dear friend living just outside Galena in an area called simply, The Territory. We spent the weekend catching up, shooting the shit, driving around some wooded farmland in a 4-wheeler getting completely covered in seeds, and taking pics of Galena for some future work. I'm going through the pics now. I managed to get about 150 so I've got my work cut out for me. Photoshop Elements is currently batch-rotating most of them... Posted above is one of many. I've employed my friend and his lovely wife as props. Haven't really thought about which of the pics I'll use yet. Over time I've found that pics I'd passed over for consideration have a way of coming back around. My most humble thanks for my friends for their gracious hospitality and love. Thanks, guys!

In other news I've gotten some more work done on my current piece and hope to put it up for advanced sale to you all before sending it off to one of the galleries. Buy it before it hangs and get a BIG discount! Sounds like a bargain for me. This little guy is 16"x20" on gallery-wrapped canvas and looks stunning in person.
Not much to say about it tonight except I'm anxious to get to it. Here's the current state of the union. One more good session and I think she'll be ready to go. I think i need to fix those small, background figures. Looks like they're marching. Not that that's a problems per se, just seems a little... I dunno... silly.

Speaking of state of the union all I can say is Wow! Where was the Fed when so many other people's businesses were going down the tubes. The Market, in my opinion, would recover more quickly if we let it do what it's meant to do instead of propping up an industry that shot itself in the foot in the name of greed. I'd be willing to bet none of the top-level SOB's in charge would be willing to cut their own pay to help lighten the load the rest of us are being asked to bear. We'll spread the cost around and let everyone pitch in.
What the Living Hell happened to us as a people? "Hey Everybody! Watch the (insert pop-culture trainwreck name here) while your culture slides out from underneath you!". Even Nero would be ashamed...
Ok... I'm done now.
*steps down from soapbox. gets beer from fridge*

Cheers, Goodnight, and Good Luck


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Push and Pull

Finally I made it back into the studio last night after a long, strange, uncomfortable evening. Got some good progress made. I forgot my camera so I don't have any image updates to post.
In a nutshell I spent some time on some smaller details. Picking at things. Pushing the dark areas back, pulling the light areas forward and mushing around everything in between.
I was talking to a friend of mine, Christine who owns a gallery called ArtDive where I display some of my work. She is not only the gallery's owner, but also an incredible painter. We were discussing the painting process the other day. She told me that she's forever telling her students to "push and pull". I got a kick out of that since that's how my process evolved, but I never knew what to call it or really how to describe it. Push and Pull. You find yourself working back and forth between the dark and light letting one partially consume the other defining forms and spaces. It fits in with my personal beliefs about how the universe works. Push and Pull. Yin and Yang. Far and Near. Light and Dark. My process then, at its most instinctual level, is an exploration of that.
I've been seeing that more and more lately in my own life. Without boring you with details it was a long, uncomfortable night punctuated by a close-up encounter with a baby T-Rex (Walking With Dinosaurs Live is in town), an entertaining visit from a restaurant prestidigitator, some very unruly kids(mine), an awkward situation that defies description (at least in this forum), a long talk with an old friend while painting, and a re-watching of Little Shop of Horrors. You balance the good with the bad or otherwise unpleasant. Give and Take. Push and Pull. Balance.

I'll get those images and update you tomorrow.

Until then... Push and Pull.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Just found this...

At first I thought I'd made a pretty big impression on someone then I found out that I have no idea who this guy is.
The guy on this website is NOT me, btw. Not even a good impression.
As it turns out there are lots of us Rob Reeves out there. There are six that I'm aware of here in Iowa. I was even served papers for another one of us one sunny, Sunday morning. Awkward...

Saw that and couldn't resist posting.



Tuesday AM

Soooo I bailed on the studio last night. Feeling a little guilty about that. Seems that two nights without much sleep finally caught up to me. In true Rob form I didn't actually get any more sleep than usual. Well, maybe a little. Instead of being productive I sat and watched a so-so fight movie called, Never Back Down. Had some decent camera work and the fights were pretty well choreographed, but predictably it was a little light on plot, dialogue, etc. Worth the rental, but I wouldn't have gone to the theater to see it. So a little viewer's remorse, but it's not like I just sat through some Steven Segal POS.
Been thinking a lot about how to market my work lately. I use but haven't really capitalized the tools of the internet marketing trade: blogs(got one now), web sales sites(ETSY), personal websites(, online artist communities(,, etc etc). I have at some point used mailers, postcards, on-site visits, face-networking, and phonecalls. I have my fingers in all of them, but have yet to really push the envelope or to create a better fusion of old marketing techniques VS new. So here I am trying to find ways (and time) to get them to work together to get my work and my name "out there". If anyone's got a story to tell here or some good advice I'd love to hear it.
Perhaps it all comes down to making a plan. Never was much for that.
There's always an opportunity to change, I guess.
So since I have no new image updates to share I'll put this down in writing. Somehow putting it out here makes it... more real. Makes me more accountable.
I will make a plan to use the tools at my disposal (blog, website, sales sites, mailing lists, postcards, business cards, etc) to promote my work. I will make phonecalls and personal visits. I will produce new postcards, update my current mailing list, and get them OUT.
And I will not let my work slide in the process.
I'm looking to get away from the 7-4 workday and start doing what I was born to do.

Suggestions are always welcome so please drop me a line if you've got any.



Monday, September 22, 2008

So it begins...

Another Monday has arrived. Another work week has begun and I'm already starting to shirk sleep. Some nights I catch that second wind. 1am rolls around to find me wide awake and working. I'm either painting, editing pics, or updating websites. Last night/this morning I was cleaning up a progress pic when it dawned on me that it was closing in on 1:30 and my alarm was wired to pop at 5:45.
All of that aside I did get some good work in last night and am looking forward to starting up a new, small (9"x12") piece. I'd put up the initial sketch on canvas in an earlier posting. Last night's work consisted primarily of re-defining my forms and spacial relationships. I'm hoping to put the finishing touches on it this week. I figure at least 2 more sessions.
Looking forward to the weekend. I'll be taking my boys up to visit their grandparents while I make a run to Galena, IL to visit an old friend and take some photos. There are a number of galleries in that area and some have expressed interest in my work. Mostly they're interested in images of Galena. There is, to a lesser extent, some interest in Chicago imagery of which I have plenty. I'm also going to try to touch base with a couple of galleries in Dubuque. I've had some decent sales in that town and am interested in getting back in there. It'll be a nice opportunity to get out, spend some time with my boys, visit with family, and catch up with a good friend.
If anyone is reading this I'm also looking to get some representation in KC. If you have any helpful info I'd love to hear from you.
Until then, Cheers.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday: Trying to get Back to It

As it turns out I was wrong about my Saturday night. I did wind up with some social obligations taht kept me out well into the AM. So, again no progress to report. I did realize, however that I although I'd shared some of my work in other genres I neglected to specify why it is that I don't make it readily available via my personal site, The reason for this is that although I love the work it doesn't fit in with my idea of presenting a solid, consistent portfolio. I use that site to present artwork to potential customers and galleries. What I want them to see is a cohesive body of work. Not just random pieces slapped up on a website. I want them to understand what it is that I'm doing and why. Posting links to the other work, to me, detracted from that ideal. I can thank my former painting teacher and friend, Deborah Zlotsky for the advice that led to me removing those links. She pointed out the potential issues and I tended to agree with her. Thanks, Deb.
So, when you're designing your website (or having someone else do it for you) keep in mind what it is that you're trying to say with it. Don't just slap up any old pics of your work. Keep in mind that you may be using this as a marketing tool. Think about the tone you're setting. Think about how the navigation should direct the visitor.
And don't skimp! Get good images of your work. Have either a professional photographer do it or get lessons. OR you can do what I do: get full-sized hi-rez scans. Some better print shops can do this for you. The cost can be a little prohibitive but they're great when you don't have the setup/good camera and/or can't get all of your work together at one time for a pro photographer to handle. They (scans) serve equally well for web images and as a basis for prints.

I really am going to paint tonight. HOPEfully I won't have any more interruptions and I'll be able to show you some real progress.



Saturday, September 20, 2008

An Interrupted Night and An Easy Saturday

Had sortof a long week at work. Decided to catch a movie before painting time last night. Watched the Ruins. So-so at best in my book. Laughable in places. The director made some odd decisions about when to go ultra-gory and when to leave it up to the imagination. I can deal w/ gore, but the true test of a director is knowing when to let the audience's imagination run away with them. Like the torture scene in Resevoir Dogs. You don't see Mr Blonde cut the ear off. You hear plenty tho. Makes it worse and that's when it becomes truly effective. I'll give the director credit for one near the end. Frankly tho I was so numb to it by that point I think the effect was lost a bit.

Anyway.. Just as I start getting a good groove going I'm interrupted. Long story short I wind up falling asleep while having to deal said interruption and losing a night's work. Important to me to say the least. Haven't been letting it bother me today, but at the time I was less than pleased, shall we say. I'm not counting on any social events tonight so I'm sure I'll make up for it. Don't let the little things get the better of you, eh?
So as a result of that I don't have much in the way of progress to show on the latest piece. I was asked the other day if I did any other type of work. The answer is, Yes. I've got some posted on my site via an unpublished link.
I'll let you see it tho:
Some of this work IS posted on some online forums like
I've also got it posted in a gallery on my FaceBook page.
Here's one for you in the meantime

The figure is based on the body of Christ from one of the unfinished Pietas. Kindof has a comic book flair. I was reading a lot of HellBlazer back then. Great cover art. I suggest you check it out.

Hopefully I'll have some progress to report tomorrow.



Thursday, September 18, 2008


For those of you that work in an office you know OOO means Out Of Office (or some permutation of that). I'm out today with a back issue. My office chair loves my back and my back loves the icepack currently pressed in between the two of them.

As it turns out I'm doing some work from home anyway. As long as I'm sitting here there are things I can still manage. So I blog. I'm not a journal keeper by nature, but putting this out here and saying the things I'm saying about my work is helping to make me feel accountable. If anyone's actually reading this then there's a witness. So if I say it I'd better do it. Sometimes easier said than done, eh?

Thought I'd put up the source photo for my current piece. Notice the large, 2001-looking monolith in the road. It was a screen put up for the festival. Didn't work with my vision for the piece so I've taken it out. Might still work in that dark area tho...

Thought I'd throw in a shot of my work table. Used to be a decent drafting table until I got hold of it. The palette is covered in layers of paint. I've had it about 2 years. Needs some scraping. I leave it on the table. It's too awkward to carry around anymore.

Have a happy.


Wednesday. What more can you say about it?

no catchy titles tonight. It's late and I'm heading to bed as soon as I finish this post. Just wanted to get tonight's work photographed, edited, and uploaded. Good sleeping weather tonight and I want to take advantage of that. Was kindof a tough day in general anyway. Time to put today down.

Here are tonight's pics. I've started to add some more specific color areas. I've painted over the pavement portion in a very light yellow/gray. Once that dries I'll go over that with the final colors. The light underneath will give it a good glow. I've started also to make some decisions about what to do with the area surrounding the group of figures in the background. Nothing's final at this point.

So... more good progress. It's been a busy day punctuated by some stress, disappointments, and bad news. On the other hand a couple of very good things have happened as well. You take what comes along. Things happen for a reason. Blah blah effing blah. But, as always I'm grateful for the opportunity to do this night after night.



Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Progress and Where Does My Foot Go Now...

Good night last night in some respects. The boys and I shared a really good dinner. Even my little one at without any problems or push-back for once. Nice chat with my neighbors. No problems getting the little ones off to bed.
After they go to bed is when my time begins. I catch up on my web-work, social networking BS, email, and then usually make a few phonecalls.
Here's where the Foot thing comes in. Have you ever made a mistake that was in no way your fault, was totally unavoidable, and yet you've caused someone so much trouble by way of your actions that you felt terrible and completely responsible? Me in a nutshell last night. I'm pretty sure I may never see my foot again unless I get hold of some ipecac. We'll try to work that out today. Perhaps I can find another place to put it.
Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why they call it "The Present"
Thank you Master Oogway. The things you learn from animated, Kung Fu Master turtles...

After all of that I still managed to make good progress on my painting from the 80/35 Festival. I've laid out the major values and have moved into laying out the dominant colors. At this point I'll start discarding elements from the source photo (ie: objects that don't fit the composition, buildings, people, trees). Anything that doesn't fit my vision goes away. That's not to say that down the line a session or two they won't return. Things change. From this point forward I'll start refining shapes, making more decisions about color, and tweaking the composition.
I'm thinking I'll have this finished by the beginning of next week. Possibly sooner at the rate I'm working.
Forward motion. Keep moving and moving.