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(www.RobReevesStudio.com), online artist communities(www.redbubble.com, www.myartspace.com, 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, www.robreevesstudio.com. 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 ArtWanted.com
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.


Monday, September 15, 2008


True to my word I began working on a new piece based on the pics from my photosafari in Ames this weekend. I've gone ahead with these because my current commission customer will be traveling for the next three weeks. She's going to try to get her husband to meet with me. Hopefully that will pan out. I'd like to get moving, but in the meantime I HAVE TO WORK. Obsessed? Perhaps.

Here's the preliminary sketch. I've gone straight to canvas (which is usually how I do it) and plan to start laying down colors tonight.

I've also begun working on another new one based on some pics I shot immediately after The Roots finished up their performance at this year's 80/35 music festival here in downtown Des Moines. Got some gorgeous shots that night, but I really loved this one. I'll drop the actual photo down later.

Both of these will be smaller-format pieces. I've made a recent switch to working small due to a few reasons. Firstly there's the expense. For those of you that have worked large you know that the cost of stretchers can be daunting. Plus there's the cost of paints, the time involved in working large, and hassels of transportation to contend with. Second, there's the economy. Art is one of the first things to get written out of any household budget when money's down. People may be more likely to put down the money for an original if it's more modestly sized/priced. That's not to say that large-format work won't sell. It will, but it's not gonna fly off the walls. Endure these conditions tho. Things have a way of coming back around.

Speaking of wich: Keep an eye on these pieces. I'll be posting updates as they progress. When they're done I'll be offering them up for sale at a discounted price for a limited time before they're taken to the galleries for display.

I do have one other commission waiting in the wings. I should probably get started on that one as well. I'm within my accepted time frame, but I can't let procrastination get the better of me.

Off to the day job...


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Reparations and Preparations

Been spending far too much time in this chair this weekend. Thank God this thing loves my back. The armrests suck tho. Can't have everything...

Up putting together pics for a commission I've been putting off far too long. Not a good business practice. Note to self: Knock it the f**k off. Thankfully the customers have been sympathetic and quite busy so it's been ok, but learn a lesson from me, please.

It's taken me quite a bit to dig out from a large commission earlier this year for a restaurant called, Bourbon Street. The owner, has been a good friend to me and is a long-time supporter of my work. A dream customer that gives me more or less full creative freedom. There'll be more about him and all of my friends as time goes on. Rest assured names will be ommitted to protect the guilty.

Shortly after those pieces were completed and delivered I got on for the show at East Village Books. My customers were understanding. Treat your customers well, kids. Learn from my example. May I learn from yours.

At any rate many of the pics are beautiful and I'm going to start working on some commissioned or not. Probably tonight.

I also took the time to go through some pics I'd gotten of the Iowa State Fair midway one rainy night. An empty midway is an odd thing to see. Especially when it's lit up. Some nice pics there too. Garish lighting, but that's me.

My back's all dorked up from carrying a mailbag while walking the ISU campus. Perhaps a backback next time. Too many hours carrying babies I suppose. There are times when I miss that. Then again there are times, like this, that I don't. Go get the anti-inflamitories and icepacks. Time to pay the piper.



Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Morning After

Well it was a little quiet last night. I'm blaming it on the rain. Sounds good at least. It was nice to be able to see a few of my friends (very grateful to all of them for coming down). Met a few new people as well. Sold a print and painting ("In Blue") in the last 15 minutes. Any sale is a success in my book. I will never complain about getting to do what I love and make some cash in the process. Even part-time, it's a dream. One day it'll be full-time. I'm plotting my way to getting out of the IT biz. Perhaps I'm getting a bit of a slow start, but it's never too late. I'd like for my kids to see their parents fulfil their dreams. It's a good example for them to follow once they find theirs.

Hoping to get up to Ames today to take some pics of the ISU campus and campus town. Should be interesting tho. The big college football state rivalry game is going on today in Iowa City and the town will be empty this afternoon, but full-to the brim later. They'll either be celebrating or crying in their beer. Frankly I have zero interest in the outcome or attending although I'm sure it would be exciting to be there. Wet too. The weather is gloomy, rainy, and windy. Not cold tho.

Could be some good crowd shots. If, that is, the crowd is in a good mood.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday AM

The paintings are done. The drudge work is done. All that's left to do is get through today, pass the kids over to the grandparents for the evening, and pick up a couple bottles of wine. As soon as that's done I'm rushing off to a wedding reception for a couple of friends from work. Should be a very good time and an altogether great night.
If you're in the Des Moines area I'd love to see you tonight at the reception (www.eastvillagebooks.com). We'll have food and bevs plus lots of great artwork.

See you there!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


So I'm taking the night off painting to do some drudge work. Maybe "drudge" isn't the right word. I'm prepping for a show in 2 days at East Village Books in the East Village of Des Moines downtown. A nice place to be sure (http://www.eastvillagebooks.com/). They've got some great artwork on display and I'm excited to be their feature this month. I'm hoping for great things Friday. I've got a new run of prints coming and they'll need to be signed, titled, number, placed on backing board and then into some protective bags. Not the most creative stuff, but it does provide a nice mental break from the constant painting. Sometimes you just need to let your brain flush out a little. Get some perspective. Get caught up. Get thinking about the next piece.

I tend to work from photographs I've taken. Sometimes I use Photoshop to make adjustments to the images (ie: crop, enhance colors, contrast, etc). Sometimes I just use the image as-is and make my adjustments as I paint. Depends upon how satisfied I am with the original image. It's not like the final piece is ever intended to be a faithful reproduction so I don't find myself getting too nitpicky. When I start on the canvas I usually rough something out w/ a big carpenter's pencil or charcoal. The composition and elements will change and shift as the piece progresses so, again, I'm not overly concerned about making a nice, finished drawing. I prefer to let the paint do the talking. I work loosely within my rough drawing. I begin by getting the general areas of light and dark laid out. Then the larger areas of color are put into place. Then I start playing around w/ the major elements. I tweak position, size, color, and shape until I find a composition that really strikes me. Odds are it'll all change again before it's over, but's it's all part of the process and that's what I really love.

I paint late at night and alone. I like the quiet and privacy. Especially because I can really let myself go. I listen to music of all kinds. I let it drive me and infuse me with rythm and energy. I sway. I talk to myself. I catch myself singing and sometimes even dancing. If i'm working big I get very physical with my work. While laying out "Twilight in Chicago" (the image included in this post) I went after the canvas so fervently I worked up a sweat. Painting can be exercise, right? Thus the deep and abiding interest in privacy. God forbid that ever end up on youtube or something ~8)
On the other hand....

Time to go make the backing boards.

Getting started

Being new to this whole blogging thing has made me a little apprehensive about getting started, but i've been thinking about doing this for a while so it would appear it's time to ... get off the pot. I currently don't follow any blogs, but I have been doing a lot delving into the online, social networking thing. Being a techie by day I honestly don't have much motivation to spend time on my computer while I'm at home. As a result I'm a little behind on what are now the more common tools of the day. Plus I've never been good at being consistent with journal-keeping. I'm going to try to make this something other than a journal in my mind. I'm using that as a catalyst to start this and keep it going.
So... let's get to it starting with a little about me:
I've been drawing or painting as long as I can remember. I have fond memories of drawing in church while sitting next to my grandmother. She always encouraged my artistic development in her way and is my model for determination and strength of character. She rests well now. But I digress... often.
I remember drawing superheroes in school. A veritable menagerie of monsters and aliens too. As I grew older my interests turned more towards nature and industrial imagery. I liked the way the light and shadow played on things like trees and factories. Odd combination I know. Also my life began to center around the night. When I didn't have other obligations I'd find myself staying up until the small hours of the morning lost in my own thoughts, a drawing, movies, books. Anything to stay awake. I started taking late-night walks around my quiet neighborhood taking in the lights and colors, and relishing in the night air and sounds. I liked the sound of my footsteps as I padded around our streets. It was the beginning of a love affair with the night.
So that was where my current body of work has come from. I do gladly paint other subjects, but I do always seem to come back to that.

I hope to turn this into a running (and open) discussion about painting or any other medium. I do love them all. I just lack skill with the others. I'll try to post a couple of times per week and I sincerely hope that some of you will come along and take part if you like.

In the meantime check out my work here: www.robreevesstudio.com .
I hope you enjoy it and I hope to hear from you.