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!