Monday, December 28, 2009

Classes are Starting Up Again Soon!

Hello one and all. I sincerely hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend (if you were lucky enough to have one at all). Just a short note to remind everyone that I will be teaching drawing at the Des Moines Social Club again. I'll be teaching both a beginner's and an advanced course one night per week. A little different from the last time around...

Classes start Monday, January 18th. Here are the details:

Principals of Drawing 1

Facilitator: Robert Reeves

10 sessions: Mondays 6pm to 8pm, January 18th to March 22nd

Price: $10 per class or $30 per month

With a focus on the concepts of Line, Perspective, Gesture, Values, and Proportion, this class will show students how to draw what they see vs. drawing their ideal of a given subject. In-class drawing assignments will be limited to simple objects to begin and moving to more complex objects and figure drawing as sessions continue.

Principals of Drawing 2

Facilitator: Robert Reeves

10 sessions: Wednesdays 6pm to 8pm, January 20th to March 24th

Price: $12 per individual class or $40 per month

This class is designed for the student looking to improve their basic understanding of Line, Perspective, Gesture, etc. In-class drawing assignments will include figure drawing and complex compositions. Each class will begin with a 15 minute “warm-up” session involving quick gesture drawings, still-life or figure drawing and will wrap up with light critiques and short Q&A session.

You can sign up by contacting either myself via this blog or my email address,, or the DMSC directly. Bring your paper. I'll supply the rest.
See you there!



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Took Me By Surprise

Sometimes things just sneak up on you. I've said many times that I'm looking to make some fundamental changes in my work. I still enjoy doing the Urban Landscape thing, but I'm looking to incorporate more narrative. To create stories... or at least some questions.

Looking to incorporate more figurative study into my work I started preparations for a portrait of sorts. More of a themed piece based around a photo than an accurate painting if you know what I mean. I did the early, rough sketches. Did a lot of thinking about how I was going to lay it out. So I put brush to canvas and within 20 minutes pretty much all of that had gone out the window and my friend was starting to develop what was looking strangely like the head of a crow. It wasn't planned. Totally not my intention. He was supposed to keep his own head. Although I'd considered inserting my own I ultimately decided against.

So here he is with this crow's head thing going on and I'm left with a choice: Keep heading in the direction I'd intended or Go with it. There mere fact that this happenstance occurred was enough to convince me to go with it. It more or less flowed out of me at that point. After two sessions I'm very pleased with what's come out. I plan on putting a lot of emphasis on the hands and glasses in the foreground. The head is nearly done. Plus there's this really great wallpaper in the shot that I'm looking forward to painting. I won't show you the whole thing yet though. Here are some details of the work in progress. If you want to see if in person you'll have to come to the "Sensory Overload" show at Instinct Gallery here in good ol' DSM on January 8th. I'll post the final after the show opens.

Spent some time in the new studio space this week. The walls are painted a lovely shade of eggshell. I'll be painting up the chalkboard wall this weekend hopefully. The floor timbers need a good scrub and a little oil soap to make them look good again as well. Once that's done (Sunday maybe?) I'll start moving my stuff in. I'll be looking for some furniture and little amenities to "home it up" a bit. I think I hear Craigslist and the local thrift stores calling my name. I'll post some pics when it's a little more in-progress.

Until then I'd like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas or whatever you happen to be celebrating (like an extended weekend). Tonight I'm celebrating my first son's tenth birthday. Who knew I'd have a 10 year old kid? Clearly I'm far too young...



Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Done with Christmas

It took some doing but I finally wrapped up my Christmas commissions. There were 2 good-sized charcoals and a painting going to the same person... presumably for Christmas presents. They should be arriving at their final destination this week. I sincerely hope the client is as happy with them as I was. It was nice to have a chance to bone up on my drafting skills. I'm trying to get less literal in my work, but it's always good to keep your technical skills sharp.

After taking a couple of days off I'm back on the job and working on a couple of projects. I've got a piece in mind for a show that's coming up very soon called, "Sensory Overload" at the Instinct Gallery in Des Moines. I've unfortunately run out of good canvases and don't really have time to place an order. Instead I've pulled out a damaged and rather large canvas I've been sitting on for a couple of years. One of the bars was crushed in transit from the supplier. They immediately replaced the order, but they never retrieved the damaged merchandise. I finally broke down, disassembled the stretcher bars and am going to re-cut and join the frame. It will be a bit smaller than its original 60"x48", but it will be much stronger... and in one piece.

It's when you start a project like this that you realize what little odds and ends you're missing. I miss having a corner vice, for instance.

I also started work on my studio space. The interior walls are primed. Now to prime the exterior and start painting. I'm going to have a red door I've decided. I'm also going to have some chalkboard space on the wall. It should help me with keeping track of random ideas as well as give my boys something to do when they visit. It might also be handy for teaching which is something I plan to do in this space.

I'm looking forward to being able to instruct oil painting as well as drawing. I'll have all of the materials there and plenty of room. Sooo... uh, if you know anyone who's looking for painting lessons... just uh throwin' that out there. Classes are coming soon.



Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Plethora of Progress

I've been busy.
I've been able to get a lot of work going lately. Sometimes the ideas have a way of coming out on their own.

I've been doing a lot of talking about changing things up and some of that involves ceasing to censor myself while I'm working. That pretty much means anything goes and that frame of mind has helped me to lighten up and paint whatever comes to me...

I've got some paying projects in progress, but sometimes you have to take a break and let go a bit. The commissioned work is a bit out of my norm in certain ways as well which is a good thing. The drawings have been much more detail oriented than I'm used to, but it's been a good exercise. I've had to pay more attention to detail... something I tend to let slide.

So here's the work: Some of it is finished. Some of it is not. Some of it is commissioned work. Some of it is studio work bound for the gallery. Some of it is personal.

One came from a dream I had when I was younger and one came from a strangely unsettling scene briefly glimpsed during a perilous drive through dense fog at an unappetizing hour.

Two of them are tributes by way of imitation of an influence, but they are still mine.

They are all mine... for now.



Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A New Home

It's been a long time in coming, but I finally signed on for some studio space outside of my home. I've been debating it for a few months now as I'm looking to move out of my current house and into an apartment/condo/rental home... pretty much whatever I can find that suits my budget and appeals to me. No matter how I slice it odds are that I won't find something with a lot of room for studio space. I'm finding that as my kids grow the amount of space they require grows exponentially... no matter how tight I wrap them.

So I've signed on for some space at the up-and-coming Northland Studio. I was introduced to the space last week and really enjoyed what I saw. The space is monstrous with some great old features like exposed brick and massive timbers. The owner has agreed to build studio space to suit our needs. I'm looking forward to seeing how that goes. Granted the building is old... and all that that implies. I'm betting there will be issues with dust and snags with heating or something on that level. Additionally the owner rents some of the space to local bands. Your mileage may vary with that kind of thing. The last time I visited the building the band that was practicing was actually quite enjoyable: instrumental trip-rock. We'll see if the other acts pan out as well.

The westward side of the space features a great view of downtown. I've picked an eastward-facing space for the time being because of the size and availability. We'll see if I change my mind.

Interested in some space for yourself? Here:



Thursday, November 19, 2009

A New Venue

Coming at ya on a cold, Iowa morning where the fog is so thick you can't see my hand in front of your face.

I recently happened upon a new venue for my artwork. The painting, "Washington Street in Red" is now hanging for view and sale at Baby Boomer's Cafe in Des Moines' historic East Village. They serve good, honest food and breakfast all day FTW! It says on the website, "just like your mom and grandma served it, fresh, no substitutes, and no excuses". That's assuming that your mom and/or grandma was a kickass cook. The homemade pies are to die for.

Aside from great food (and my painting) Boomer's also has works on display by Van Holmgren and Lee Ann Conlan.

I would highly recommend stopping in, eating lots, and while you do... check out some great art.

Oh, Tell Rodney and Tom (the owners) I said "Hi".

Got some other big news coming up! Tell ya tomorrow.



Monday, November 16, 2009

A Bit of a Surprise OR The Yattering and Miss K

When I started painting Friday I had no idea what was in store me. I mentioned a while back that I was interested in doing some portraiture as well as some more figurative work. I've been wanting to change the way I paint as well. Painting more intuitively as opposed to working strictly from photos or from life. Friday gave me a solid dose of what I've been looking for.

So I've been sitting on this photo for the better part of a year. It's a picture that I really enjoy of a friend of mine. I asked her if I could use it sometime last Winter and she agreed. Then in my usual manner I filed it away for "future use" and promptly forgot about it for 6months. I decided Friday was the night. My commissioned work is coming along nicely (plus it needed an evening to dry up a bit) and I was itching for something different to paint so I printed off the photo and started working. The pace was feverish. I don't think I looked up for 3 hours. That's when you know you're having a good time... Am I right? Yeah. At the end of the that session I'd managed to cover the entire canvas in a fairly well fleshed-out portrait. It needed some refining, but the elements were there. Plus my friend had evolved a friend of her own. He's kind of creepy and kind of comical. I'm going to say he's a Yattering. It's from a Clive Barker story called The Yattering and Jack. He's a minor demon sent by Beelzebub to torment and irritate. You have to ignore them or they'll walk all over you... and take your soul to Hell. Some people. Her apparent lack of awareness of the presence of the Yattering is belied by her bemused expression. Oh she knows he's there and her refusal to acknowledge his deeds is driving him nuts.
Or she's a meth-head and this is her paranoia in action.

I took a couple more hours over the course of the weekend to refine both of their features. The Yattering took on a couple of different incarnations. I settled on the last one because of my personal interpretation of the little guy's purpose and my own deep-seated fear of faceless gibbering horrors no matter how comical. All in all I was blown away by the speed at which this painting poured forth from me. I typically paint more slowly working on a single piece for 4-6 weeks. Hmmm... I suppose if I had more time during the day (looks thoughtfully toward the sky)... I should probably be careful what I wish for. Then again...

I've never had a lot of success painting faces. Especially making those faces look like the person (people) I'm supposed to be painting. I began to realize that was part of my block. I was so wrapped up in making a Portrait that I was failing to make a Painting. I eventually let go of the fact that I was painting someone I knew and just started painting a girl. A girl based on a photo of someone I knew. I am happy to say that her eyes DO follow you wherever you go. In the context it's more than a little unsettling.

I also had to let go of the idea that my fictional/fantastical ideas for paintings were somehow of less worth than my other work. That was a tough one. I was told a long time ago that I shouldn't put the two together, but part of me has been trying to reconcile them every since. Perhaps this is a step in that direction. Either way I'm excited and more than a little surprised at myself.
It doesn't get much better than that.

I think I need to do more. Wanna pose?



Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Hurried Thursday Update

Good morning one and all. Just wanted to make a quick post this morning to catch up on what I've been doing. It's been over a week since I blogged and I'm feeling like a bit of a slacker in this respect.

I just finished a commission I picked up back in early October. It's another Des Moines cityscape. My client came to me with a couple of very nice photos and we collaborated a bit on how to put the piece together. I'll say it again. I've been very lucky with my clients. They've all been so easy to work with (that's not always the case). I put the finishing touches on it last week and delivered it Monday. Just in time as I've got a number of project lined up. Every now and then it seems like I've got to feed this compulsion to take on a bit too much work, but you do what you do to keep you motivated. I've got work to finish for the Crossroads Conference in December and for another potential group show in January. And let us not forget we barreling towards the holidays... and all that that implies.

"It's another Des Moines cityscape."
There's the only problem I've really run into doing commissioned work. I've got these directions I'm trying to take my Art, but commissions are usually requests for you to produce something in the style with which people have become familiar. Don't take that the wrong way... paying gigs come first for the most part, but sometimes it can feel like they're stifling forward movement. I've heard this from other artists at different points as well. The general concensus is however that people need to eat as well as a myriad host of other things to survive. I'll never complain about selling work or having a damned good excuse to stay up at night.

But I do have a number of ideas that are just screaming to get out. I'm looking forward to a chance to let them.



Monday, November 2, 2009

New Scam Coming Soon to Your Inbox!

Hey Kids! I just got hit up by a new email scam this weekend. Well, it was new to me at least. It came as the result of posting my teaching class on Craigslist.

Here's the message I received verbatim: to rob
5:24 PM
My name is David john I'm interested in your lesson. I would like you to
be taking my daughter your lesson while i am at work in your city. I live
in England(UK) but i'm moving to your area because I'm having a contract
with Environmental Protection Agency in united state, And they are the one
responsible for all payment of all my need including the lesson fees and
there mode of payment is by Cashier Check.The contract will be just for 4
weeks so i want you to email me back if you can teach my daughter,
(jenny) she is just (18 yrs old) and also you don't have to worry
concerning how she will be comming to the lesson i have already made all
neccesary arrangement for all her needs infact i have negotiate with a Cab
Company that will provide her the Cab and driver that will be driving her
to the lesson and driving her back home after the lesson . So i will want
you to get back to me with the total charges for the 2hrs in a day 3 days
in a week for good 4 weeks...

I will be waiting to hear from you shortly
Mr David john
here is my living address
Ryhall Rd, Stamford, PE9 1UA
United Kingdom

Here's a link I found regarding another wording of this same email:

Naturally it was pretty easy to spot the scam what with the poor grammar, odd spacing, and a very fill-in-the-blank look about the message. Not to mention the person's name, "David John" was in no way reflected by the name in the email address, "". Granted not everyone uses their name in their email address, but to use a totally different proper name is, to say the least, a little suspect. Things like this can be easy to overlook when sales are down and you're in need of cash. Keep your wits about you and remember what your parents said, "If it sounds too good to be true it probably is".

When in doubt check with or your fellow Artists. And hey... let's be careful out there.



Sunday, October 25, 2009

Love/Hate... or at Least a Vague Dislike

People love Art it's true. The same, however, cannot be said for the Artists. The public seems to have a real love/hate relationship with them. At least, as the title of this post suggests, a vague dislike.

It's easy enough to understand I suppose. People love to look at pictures. It's only natural. Art moves us and engages us. It feeds something inside of almost all of us. It also stands to reason that we would be intrigued by the people who make it. The reality is that most people, when they're pressed to think of artists, think of hipsters, weirdos, or our dear Uncle Bob. Bob Ross, that is: the pleasant, afro-wearing painter of "Happy Little Trees" on Public Television with the somnambulistic voice. Or potentially worse yet they think of their sweet, but slightly crazy aunt who has too many cats and goes on about "The Universe" too much. Pleasant enough at Thangksgiving, but not someone you'd want to spend loads of time with. Gone are the days when the public was presented with the pop culture icons of the middle of the last century. The flamboyant or just plain bizarre characters of the days of the 'Artist as Rock Star' are gone. Some might argue that certain characters in the Art World have risen up to fit the bill. Not one really captures the public's imagination in the same way as an Andy Warhol or a Salvador Dali. You could argue that the torch has been passed perhaps to the ubiquitous Banksy or maybe Matthew Barney (whom I've mentioned before). To be certain there are stars within the Artistic Community that have their fair share of celebrity recognition, but they aren't household names.

Back to the subject though...

Perhaps the dislike for artists comes from the realization that people come across when they finally get to meet the creator of a favorite piece of work. Few things ever live up to their hype. Artists are, after all, just people who feel motivated to create. Most of us aren't much to look at and probably don't stand out in a crowd. I suppose it can be a bit of a disappointment when you find your image of the brilliant artist at work is really just a guy with a couple of kids working out of his basement... possibly with a headcold and maybe a cat. Perhaps our very presence takes away some of the magic. Like learning that the lyrics to a favorite song you've been singing along with all these years are wrong, but on the same token they've developed meaning for you. You feel let down... possibly even a bit foolish.

I personally feel that a good portion of it is due to Artists being cast in an unfavorable light by the very thing that sets them (us) apart: creating Art for a living. Creating Art is, I believe, perceived by many to be something you do for fun. We all had Art class in school. For many it was a nice break from the "regular" classses. You got to get messy. You got to draw or paint. It was more entertaining than the more academic subjects. Kind of like P.E. Fun yes... but a serious career? No. Anyone who'd attempt to do that is probably a layabout looking for an excuse not to get a "real" job. Oddly enough many of those same folks will pay hundreds to go watch a pro sporting event and never think twice about why a person should get paid millions to play a game you played in school as a kid or why you have to pay so much for decent seats. Most of us don't get corporate sponsorship or endorsements. There are NEVER lines for autographs. Not that I think that sort of thing would be enjoyable. I'm just sayin'.

I think that Artists as a group represent a freedom many people wish they had: doing something you love as a career. Most people don't.. or can't. It can be a real sore spot and can lead to resentment of those who do. Again I could point to the pro-athlete. Actors and musicians fall into the same category for that matter. Truth is many, if not the vast majority of, Artists I know have "Joe Jobs". I work as a network engineer/"your company's IT guy" during the day. I know many who teach to make ends meet. Art as single source of income is a dicey, unstable business. It's usually feast or famine. The hours are all over the place and you're at the whim of gallery owners and collectors. All of whom want your work, but many either want a lower price or a bigger commission... or they flat out want you to change your Art to suit their interests or wants. If money is tight you may find yourself more willing to make compromises although I'd recommend against...

Truth be told most Artists don't ever really choose to make Art. We're driven to do it. I know several Artists who struggle with their career choice wishing they could've been gifted in some other, more lucrative arena. A friend recently lamented, "sometimes I wish the thing I NEED to do is be a lawyer or a doctor or something". Many give up and become resigned to a life of office politics and cubeville. Some of us, however, are trying to work our way back out.

I'm not saying, "go out and hug an Artist" or anything. I AM saying that Artists serve an important role for the human race. We pry open the soft shell of our collective subconscious and look inside. We tell you things you may not want to hear about yourself. We point our fingers and laugh at things others stake their lives on. We make you laugh, weep with joy, and turn away in disgust. We hold up a mirror to the World and remind it (and you) of what we wanted it to be. Sometimes you hate us for it. Sometimes that realization can make a change for the better.

Until next time...



Friday, October 16, 2009

Cracking the Odometer

Normally I don't put a lot of stock in my own birthdays. Something in me, at this age, says "just another day". Once you have kids your focus in life changes. This year my birthday saw me turn 39. Since people put so much emphasis on turning 40 I figured this year I'd roll the odometer back.

Naturally I can't get younger. No matter how you slice it or how many pacts you attempt to make with the Dark Old Ones you just keep getting older (Cthulhu drives one hell of a hard bargain, btw. Plus he's a total liar). Frankly, at this point in my life I'm actually pretty happy with myself. Having had a personal rediscovery of sorts in the last year. If you've been following along with my ramblings you know that I'm working to redifine my work a bit. I like what I do, but I feel like it needs something more. Something of that spark I had when I was younger. I wasn't afraid to reach into my imagination and pull out all the odds and ends and put them down on paper and canvas. I enjoy doing the work I do. I enjoy creating portraits of city streets and urban settings. I enjoy juxtaposing the figures and exploring their relations to each other. I feel like there's really something that needs to be said there and I'll keep working toward my goals in that vein. I've managed to pick up a fair bit of commissioned work that's due for the holidays. It's all pretty representational stuff and I'm really looking forward to diving into each piece. It's just that lately I've been wanting to get a taste of that imaginative spark. I don't produce much emotive work. If you look at my paintings close-up you can see the emotion and energy in the brushwork and the intense colors, but the subject matter remains pretty neutral. So as an exercise I've been indulging my Id a bit and letting the little pictures that get stuck going round and round in my head out more often. I've got sketchbooks full of them. Some are grotesque (example below)and some are darkly beautiful. I may as time goes by post more.

So I suppose, in essence, I'm not really rolling back the odometer of my years. I'm letting the part of me that wasn't afraid to be off-kilter, or "wrong", or un-PC, or just plain silly back into my studio. Over the years you can get comfortable in a thing. Sometimes it pays to be a little uncomfortable to remind you who you are.

So here's my latest... I'm calling it Rabbit Proof Fence (shown at top). For those of you who've read Richard Adams', "Watership Down" (a personal fav) you'll recognize the character as the Black Rabbit of Inle. The Grim Reaper for rabbits. Don't get it? Read the book. You'll love it. If you check by his feet you'll see my little memento moris. An acknowledgement of his purpose and my own mortality which becomes more apparent with each passing day. I'm OK with that.

Find the spark. Remind yourself who you were and what you liked about that person. See if any of that's relevant to your current state of mind. If it makes sense (even a little bit) let some of it back in.



Thursday, October 8, 2009

Square One

October, while it's my favorite month, can be a bit dreary in Iowa. I suppose it's typical for October in a lot of places, but this year Autumn came around like someone flipped a switch on October 1st. One day you have clear, sunny skies and 80-degree temps. The next it's 60 and raining... and the rain continues for the next week or so. For the most part I love it. I love the rain and the smells that come with it. I love the variety of colors we get here in the Midwest. I don't like the fact that it hails the coming of another Iowa Winter. I don't really want to consider what this year will be like. We're already expecting flurries this weekend.

Aside from the cold and damp October brought with it my first foray into teaching. Last night I taught my first-ever drawing class. My experience confirmed that I do, in fact, really enjoy teaching. It remains to be seen whether or not I'm any good at it, but I think the lesson made an impact on the few folks that showed up. I imagined classes would be small to start. Frankly it suits me fine. Having fewer people to begin with gives me a chance to develop my approach towards more individualized treatment of the students. Once I get more comfortable with that then it will be an easy transition to larger groups... If indeed there will be any larger groups. Things like this take time to catch on. This term lasts a couple of months. Just enough time to give me a good idea as to whether it's something I'd like to continue doing and to get the word out.

Last night's class focused on Line: how different kinds of lines can convey different things, the way lines express things like motion, weight, distance, intent and mood. We touched on some other topics like composition and negative space as we progressed. If you're reading this and are not sure what that means and would like to know more... contact me or the Des Moines Social Club... Or just show up for a class. We'll work it out.

I called this post Square One for a reason... which I haven't really touched on yet. Square One is where you go when you go back to the beginning. Drawing is the place I started. I put myself through the same process as I did my students. It was refreshing to teach and go through the exercises I was taught when I started on my Art major in college. We focused on very simple shapes: we drew unadorned, stacked boxes. With a subject so basic you have to put aside things like color and detail and focus on composing and exploring the simple shapes in front of you. Something I think will have a profound impact on my work. Teaching gives you the chance to play the "if only I knew then what I know now" scenario. You get to revisit something I think is vitally important to growth as an Artist. You put yourself out of your comfort zone and take yourself back to school. I know I can wax philosophic, but but it's true. You never really stop learning.

Next time I'll have some pics of our class work so you can get a better idea of where we're going. Would love to see you there!



Thursday, October 1, 2009

New Studies of Old Pics

Here are a couple quick shots of some oil pastel studies I did this week.

I enjoy banging things out in small-form like this. Oil pastels have great immediacy and can be smeared around or scraped away much in the same way oil paint can... only it's more finger-friendly.

I was picking through source photos last night after having rediscovered a drawer full of photo prints. I thought I'd lost most of them and it was kind of like Christmas. Mostly I was looking for figures that I'd managed to capture, but I stumbled on this shot of an old electrical plant and wanted to play around with it as well.

I've got some new ideas I'm kicking around that play towards my change in direction. I know these might not look that much different from what I've been doing, but remember... this is just a quick study to get the feel of the image... gimme a break. You'll see what I mean eventually.



Go Get Your Sketch Books!

Just a quick note this morning to let you know a little more about the class I'll be teaching at the Des Moines Social Club.

Here's the summary:

Principals of Drawing 1
Facilitator: Robert Reeves
8 sessions, 2x/week: Wednesdays 5:30pm to 7:30pm -&- Saturdays 11am to 1pm,
October 7th – November 28th
Price: $5 per individual class or $30 per month
With a focus on the concepts of Line, Perspective, Gesture, Values, and Proportion,
this class will show students how to draw what they see vs. drawing their ideal of a
given subject. In-class drawing assignments will be limited to simple objects to
begin and moving to more complex objects and figure drawing as sessions continue.

What that means to you is that we'll be starting off very simply. I plan to work on the bare basics of drawing so if you've always wanted to learn... here's your chance. If you already do some drawing, but would like to expand your abilities or spend time improving your techniques this class would be a good fit. I think adults and kids would benefit equally and hope to see some younger attendees at the Saturday morning classes. In fact my kids may attend as well if the babysitter falls through. But be assured the class will be directed and informative AND hopefully a lot of fun.

You can sign up for the whole season or come down for individual classes. Your attendance level is up to you. Once we've made it through a season I may add a more advanced class, but let's see how it picks up before we get too far ahead of ourselves.

Here's the full calendar of classes and events the Social Club will be hosting this season. Some very interesting and unexpected options.

Plus it's right across from the new sculpture garden. Definitely worth visiting. The images in the article are from before the park was completed, but it has some good shots of a number of the featured scultpures (

To sign up contact me ( or the Des Moines Social Club.

Hope to see you there!



Friday, September 18, 2009


I have the distinct pleasure of meeting with a group of like-minded, artistic people on a semi-regular basis. We call our group, YAK (you can make whatever acronym from that you'd like). We chitchat, have drinks, and gossip. Most importantly, however, we have directed, topical discussions. We decide upon a question to discuss prior to our meeting. Upon our next get-together we're expected to have an answer or at least the ability to engage in an intelligent discussion on the chosen topic.

Of the proposed topics for our next meeting one of them in particular struck a chord with me. A group member asked,

"Has anybody ever sat back and thought how ridiculous the things we call art and create are? (Matthew Barney, Kara Walker, Tara Donovan- strange sculptures, performance Art...)."

It's an understandable question. I went off on a little different direction than the one she had in mind, but her suggestion sparked something in me.

This is part of my answer to my fellow YAK member plus a bit of my added pondering:
Often times I'll find myself standing in front of a canvas, or out taking photos and ask myself, "Just why the Hell do I do this?". It doesn't make sense when you look at it from a strictly literal point of view. Then again I think when you look at any of the Arts in the harsh light of Literalism things can look a little silly. Walking around on stage wearing makeup and sporting odd costumes reading words from a book the actors themselves didn't write all the while being told how to move around and recite by some guy... OR standing in front of an easel using little sticks with hair on the ends to cover a piece of cloth with tinted oil. It does seem a bit pointless. I know that point of view does indeed exist. There are people in the world who have no concept of how to appreciate something that doesn't break down into perfectly logical little bits. People who look at a brilliant painting and say, "but what does it do?" People who lack the soul to see beauty for what it is. In short... Accounting Majors.
Naturally I'm kidding, but many of you know people like this. Perhaps Art isn't for everyone.

Everything looks silly when presented in strictly literal terms. Even accounting. Seriously, what's the purpose of chasing around numbers that, in the end, don't really make anyone happy? Just an example. I don't want to get flooded with comments and emails about me disparaging the Accounting field (sorry, Suz). I'm just using that as a broad, stereotype-fraught example. The same could be said for parenting. What's the point in creating more people that will do nothing but create more people who's purpose is to create more people, ad infinitum? Species preservation? Why bother if that's all it's for.

See what I mean?

Seriously though... What's the purpose in anything? All said and done I guess for me it's in the invisible bits. The intangible. The sense of accomplishment you get when you finish a painting. The exhilaration of Opening Night. The satisfaction of watching your numbers work out perfectly on a spreadsheet. The sheer thrill of seeing your child change and grow into the person they're going to become. Frankly, in my book, they're all the same and they're all One. It's not about Happiness. It's about a sense of purpose and the fulfillment of that purpose... whatever it is. When people do that it helps us all to grow a little bit more. Even if you don't understand what it is they're doing... Cristo, I'm looking at you here.

I'm thankful everyday that I was lucky enough to know what that purpose is for me. Some people go their whole lives and never even consider it. Have you considered what it is that you're bringing to the table?

Until next time,



Going Back to the Table

I know I posted my painting, "That First Step" last week, but truth be told... it wasn't truly finished. After letting the paint dry I noticed some spots that looked off and some where the paint was a bit thin. Plus there were scale issues with the car immediately behind the primary figure. Needless to say my fine sensibilities (read as "potentially OCD behavior") couldn't let this pass.

I did get them fixed to my satisfaction and as my final step, signed the piece last night. I guess it has something to say about "going back to the table" which is (you gamblers out there already know this) a big No No. Normally I hold to a policy sticking with my decision as to whether or not a particular piece is finished. I think most of us have spent a fair amount of time second-guessing ourselves. It starts when we're young. I have a number of more or less unpleasant childhood memories that involve taking tests in school. I remember looking at my answer, rethinking my answer, changing my answer, then finding out I was right the first time (insert picture of me slapping my forehead). It's a common enough occurrence especially with those damnable standardized fill-in-the-dot tests.

So I went back to the table, but I managed to fix the parts that were bugging me and left a few others that I decided were far to minor to bother anyone else. I managed to do it without putting myself in the position of having to fix something else. I'm always wary of overworking a piece. Normally I wouldn't recommend it, but sometimes you've got to give in to your impulses.

Lots more work coming up. Can't wait to start posting.



Friday, September 11, 2009

Tweeting & The Mark

He blogs two days in a row?? A rarity for me these days, I know. The reason for this special event?? It's because I'm very proud to make the official announcement that I've been added on at The Mark Fine Art Gallery & Studio in Stuart, Florida as a gallery Artist! Check out their site and see some of the amazing artists with whom I'll have the distinct pleasure of exhibiting. I can't wait to get things going with them. I'm hoping one day soon I'll be able to buzz down there for an in-person visit.

The really amazing thing about this for me is that the initial contact was done entirely via Twitter. When I first created my @RobReevesStudio Twitter identity I immediately started searching to see artists and galleries. I was surprised by the number of Art galleries around the world that had already adopted "tweeting" as part of their daily commerce and I was determined to make the most of it. Within 15 minutes of signing up and posting some links to my work I was contacted by @flysupes, co-owner of @eastvillagebooks (sadly no longer with us). Within a day I'd managed to get a show with them. Since that time I've gotten in touch with a number of artists and galleries, and made a few sales. The most recent of which was the sale of a t-shirt I created for @LVGreenfield on the Artist-community site, Redbubble. I don't know if this is common, but I'd say the few minutes it took me to sign up was well worth it.

I know I've posted about Twitter before, and for those of you who would say Twitter is silly and full of random blab... well, you're right. But then again so's TV and you don't see any shortage of people lining up to advertise themselves and their products on it. I choose to use it as a tool for marketing my work and for spouting random brain droppings... which I like to call "wisdom". As with anything, your mileage may vary.

Until next time



Thursday, September 10, 2009

That First Step

This week I've got some thoughts on the Law of Gravity and the nature of Failure. Long story short: My youngest son fell off his bike, knocked out a couple of his front teeth and chipped a couple others. Thankfully they were baby-teeth and he was otherwise uninjured. The reason I bring this up is that his reaction to it once he'd recovered from the initial shock both surprised and impressed me. The very next day he was wearing his injury like a merit badge proudly showing his dental trainwreck to anyone brave enough to look. He's impatient to get back on the bike and ride again. Perhaps this time he'll keep both hands on the handlebars.

I've always told my kids that you learn and grow through your failures. Success is nice and it keeps you going, but you never learn so much as when you crash and burn. I beamed with pride at his willingness to put his fear aside, pick himself up and jump back in the saddle. It's a lesson many people forget as they get older and their failures become, in some instances, less traumatic. The great success stories of our world are typically this: a series of failures experienced by a person with dogged determination and a clear vision of what they want out of Life. I know this sounds like so much motivational claptrap and I suppose it is, but that doesn't make it any less true. I've failed many times. Sometimes it gets me down, but the difference is that it never keeps me down. I've been called bull-headed, stubborn, and downright dumb, but I don't let it stop me. Sometimes you just have to be dumb enough to keep going down your own road despite all the evidence telling you to stop... to turn back... take an easier route. I don't think that means that you should be unwilling to change. You never know where your path will lead you and I think you have to be open to that.

That's why I'm calling this latest piece, "That First Step" (not quite finished). The image shows a figure carrying a parcel of some sort poised to take a step off a curb and into the street while a car approaches and a background figure (presumably) looks on. You can't tell if the figure has the crossing light or if they're stepping into oncoming traffic while looking the wrong way. I'll let you draw your own conclusions. For me the painting is symbolic of a change in my work that embodies some of my inner fear of failure and my fear of people being witness to them. Although these days when I make a major blunder in public I tend to take a bow instead of get flustered. It's more fun that way and it keeps people guessing. I've put my fear aside and have taken steps to get back on the saddle I fell off of some years ago...

Take a moment today to reflect on the things you've really screwed up. Take another moment to celebrate them, take the lessons you need to learn from them, and let them go. Then... take that first step.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Dissatisfaction comes in waves. That's been my experience at least. You'll wake up one day and find it everywhere: in your car, your government, your wardrobe, your breakfast cereal, your job, etc, etc, ad nauseum. We all feel this way from time to time. When the wave comes it dominates your field of vision. I think it's the subconscious' way telling you that you need to make a change in your life or that you've lost track of your desired direction. Dissatisfied people are the ones the effect change on themselves and the world around them... if they're inclined to answer the call. The rest let it pass... push it down... look in the mirror and shrug... cling to the safety of a comfortable, quiet existance. "Oh well..." is the battle cry of successive generations of our species.

If you can't tell I've been ruminating. It's good tho. To avoid going on a rant I'll say that while I don't currently feel the wave upon me I have recently and have been working on making the kind of changes that will effect the course of my existence. I've started spending my mornings saying "Thank You" for everything I can think of. While this may sound a little like "The Secret" it isn't. I'm merely trying to start my day with a reminder of why I do what I do. It helps put things in perspective and helps keep me thinking about ways to move forward. It's the dissatisfaction that keeps me acting upon those thoughts.

That being said I've started submitting my work to some galleries and have already received one favorable response. I'm finally acting on my desire to teach. Teaching was one of the things I had in mind when I started on at UNI. Sadly I don't have the credentials to teach at a university or in a public school (totally my own fault), but I have the experience which is, to me, far more important than a piece of paper I paid to get. I'm putting together a couple of class proposals for the Des Moines Social Club. I'd love to teach oil painting, but drawing may be a better way to start. It's less messy, less expensive, and requires less hardware (ie: easels, solvents, cleaning facilities). Plus I think people should be well-grounded in drawing basics before they get involved in painting. I'm a little traditional in that sense, but I think a good artist needs a good foundation. Perhaps in the process of working my way though this I can think of a way to make a course in painting work.

Lastly I've been rethinking the direction of my work. I've posted my thoughts on this subject before. I feel like I'm turning a corner in what I want to say with my paintings. I've touched on some of these ideas in other ways in other works, but I'm taking new directions in terms of composition, use of color, and overall tone. I've been getting back to my roots looking to artists I haven't thought about in a while like Donald Sultan, Alberto Giacometti and Wolf Kahn.

Have you been feeling the pang of dissatisfaction in your own life? If so what are you doing about it?

Until next time



Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Keep Trying to Keep Up

The reasoning behind the title is this: I keep pushing to stay ahead of the curve. Not THEE Curve, but one of my own design. I try to paint five nights per week. I try to keep up with my blog. I try to keep up with my housework, kids, etc, etc, etc. Some nights (like last night) you try to play Catch-Up and just wind up falling asleep on the couch with your laptop open, half a blog written in gibberish, and the DVD you were watching spinning quietly away having returned to its main menu. In the interest of giving myself a break... it was a busy day. There's a point in a every very busy day where your efforts to keep up begin delivering ever-diminishing returns. At that point it's best to listen to your body and get some rest. Frankly I don't like it. I always feel like there's so much more I could be doing if only I didn't need to sleep...

Perhaps it's because of the little pangs of guilt I get from not staying abreast of all the things I think I should be doing. So in the continued interest of giving myself a break I'll celebrate a little success. I managed to finish my latest commissioned piece. I'm calling it "Capital in Crimson". It was commissioned to be a mate to "Untitled in Red and Gold". Not as snazzy as it's sibling's title, but then again I never was much for names. I have managed to keep up with my mini-paintings and charcoal. I've also started a new piece (not pictured). Keeping with my goal of bringing the characters in my work more into the forefront a large figure dominates the space. I've got an idea in my head of where I want to go and this new one isn't quite there. It feels kind of like I'm taking baby steps. That's OK though. I'm in no hurry and my goal isn't and end... just a mile-marker.

To wrap up I'd like to say a quick Thank You to the Ankeny Art Center, Brent Houzenga, and all of the other artists in the group show I had the honor of being included with called, Diversify Your Bonds last Friday. The reception was very well attended and the wide variety of Art on display was very refreshing. As always the photography of my friend, Jason Scott Hoffman, and the painting by Jeff Bonker were among the stand-outs. If you haven't seen their work... You should.

Until next time...



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Been Thinking...

As the title may suggest I've been doing some thinking lately. I think about my work and how it relates to me. About how it relates to other Art and Artists. About how, if at all, it's relevant.

I think it's healthy for a person to question themselves. If I do it every now and then it means I'm still sane more or less. It also means I still care about what I'm doing. I spend a fair amount of time looking at other Artists' work and reading about their processes and personal struggles, etc. It grounds me and presents me with other ways of looking at things. Lately that's translated into looking at my own work differently. This Summer has been key I think in helping to direct me towards where I want to go. I think there needs to be a bit of a change in the way I do things. Not just in respect to my work. I'm needing to take a more proactive approach to my career and prepare to let go of some of the safe life I've been leading. I'm sure there are a lot of people who would say the same. And many more who would say that it's a bad idea because of... whatever. There are always heaping piles of reason you shouldn't do something, but there only needs to be one reason why you should. Of course now that I've gone and said that in a pseudo-public forum it means I have to own up to it.

For me I think that means two things: 1) I need to start expanding and diversifying my studio time. Working towards that I've started including some time each night to work on something small like a charcoal (see the last posting) or, like last night, a small one-session painting. I'm thinking the figures are going to become more prominent. I'll go on about why more at some time in the future. 2) I need to start submitting my work. I've been very fortunate in the realm of exposure this year, but to be honest I haven't submitted work to a gallery in at least a year. I could say a hundred things about being busy, blah blah blah, but excuses are really just that in the end and you gain nothing by them.
I'll hang it up for now and leave you with a pic of my little single-serving painting. I wouldn't say it's good, but it's a start. Plus I only worked on it for 15 minutes... give me a break.



Friday, August 14, 2009

Charcoal Changeup

So I busted out the charcoals again. I love my charcoals almost as much as I love my Sharpies and I need to bring them out more often. I feel like they help me to get back to basics. Their simple nature belies their versatility. You can create all sorts of values and textures.. lighting effects. There's really no end to what you can accomplish with them. Plus their simple, monochromatic nature forces you to think in the most basic terms of light vs dark. The eternal push and pull.

So.. i busted them out to give myself a little mental refresher. I've been painting a lot lately. Working on the same projects. I've got three in the works and they're all of Des Moines. I needed to start incorporating some variation to my studio sessions for fear I was going to get burnt out on painting. I started with some quick studies to loosen up. We used to do that sort of thing at the beginning of every drawing class I took at UNI. We'd begin every studio class with 10-15 minutes of "gesture drawings". That means we'd get volunteers from the class to pose and we'd do several 1-2 minute drawings to loosen up. Like stretching your muscles before a workout. I haven't quite gone back into doing that, but I did grab some photos I've been considering and drew up some 15minute sketches. Not only is this a good exercise to get you relaxed and in the right frame of mind, but it's a good way to play with variations of composition, texture, and line in a non-committal sort of way.

I made the decision to start working with my charcoals again for another reason. While working on GuideOne Interactive Mural project I'd been doing a lot of sketches and studies. I also produced a number of very nice-looking charcoal pieces. Also I've been talking with my friend, Brent Houzenga who's been making a foray into working in ballpoint pen (another personal favorite drawing tool). It inspired me to start creating more and adding them to my inventory of sale-able works. I love the way a good charcoal piece looks when it's framed up nicely They're so simple and direct. Plus I can create a finished piece in hours instead of weeks. The immediacy is cathartic. Not to mention it gives me more work to offer in the long run.

Until next time



Friday, August 7, 2009

Checking In

Because I can be a little slow on the uptake it dawned on me that it'd been over a week since I posted last. I'm relatively sure that life as we know it will continue on should I be a little remiss in my writing, but from the standpoint of someone who's trying to maintain some semblance of personal discipline it means I'm slackin'.

I have been keeping up on my painting at least. I'm working on this commissioned portrait of Des Moines with a primary focus on the state capital building. It's coming along nicely. I'm working on making it go with another piece of mine they purchased without making it look like they're necessarily a matched pair. In short both pieces should stand equally well on their own. I've been spending time trying to match hues to a certain extent. The balance of the composition had to be complimentary without being a mirror image. The perspectives and scales similar, but not identical. It's involved a lot of shifting things around. There will be more. I need to keep it loose to match the other stylistically so I'm setting a due date. I think two weeks from today is more than fair. I'm hoping to have it finished before then.

Now for something completely different:

1) Got a great phonecall last week. A gentleman called me asking about purchasing two of the paintings hanging at B&N. Got the pieces back from the scanner today and will deliver them this weekend. Yay!

2) Aforementioned "scanner" informed me today that not only can they do giclee prints (that's ok because Chrissy over at ArtDive does those for me), but they do canvas prints as well. I've had some inquiries about those recently and it's tres cool to find someone here in town that can do them. I've seen some sample prints and they look fantastic. That simplifies things quite a bit and reduces my costs which allows me to take the price down. Christmas IS just around the corner ya know.
Just aaaaah-throwin' that out there.

Until next time (less than a week from now)



Thursday, July 30, 2009

David J. Vanderpool

Although I do have some updated shots of my current works in progress I thought I'd take a break from blathering on about myself and put someone else in the spotlight for a change.
When I first started creating an on-line presence for myself and my work I was amazed by the wondrous variety of Art out there... much of which is never seen by a larger audience. I made contacts with a number of amazingly talented artists who were also trying to carve out a niche for themselves. One of those artists was David Vanderpool.

David's pencil drawings are, put simply, astounding. His sensitivity and attention to detail were in such contrast to my own work that I was immediately drawn to them. When we first started corresponding he was working as a graphic designer/illustrator for a publication. His aspirations were much higher however. Over the last few years he's put in a lot of time and effort towards making his Art a career outside the magazine/newspaper industry. His efforts paid off to some degree this year in the form of a beautiful book featuring his drawings and methods. You can check out and purchase his book here ( His love of paper and pencil help to keep an old and largely ignored Art form alive.

I'll leave you with a few pics of some of my favorites from David's portfolio...

Until next time...



Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Last night was one of those nights where everything seemed OK, but I just couldn't get into the proper frame of mind. I have a number of projects on my plate at the moment. I've got a new commissioned piece, some varnishing for a customer, and three new paintings in-progress. Maybe I'm thinking about all of them too much. Letting myself feel overwhelmed. A little can go a long way when you're juggling a day-job, two kids, and a nocturnal career. Not to mention my housing situation. Long story there... I'll spare you.

Some nights though you have to put it all down and direct your energies to the more mundane tasks that studio work can provide like cleaning brushes, re-setting the palette, sweeping. AND in my case spider relocation. I don't mind them in my studio (they, along with my cat, eat some of the more irritating basement-dwelling pests), but they've got to stay off my work areas.
I caught up on the varnishing and then got to work on the rest. There's a very sick part of me that actually enjoys the act of cleaning. I like the feeling of clearing the dust and cobwebs... of cleaning the gunk out of my brushes. I especially enjoy sweeping. I find it very therapeutic. Granted if you were to visit my studio on your first glance you'd have no idea that I ever cleaned it at all the way things get piled up.

I have a system... it works for me.

In a rare display of restraint I'll refrain from babbling on too much longer and get to the pics. These are shots of one of the new pieces I've been working on plus a couple from the commissioned painting I've recently started (in pencil).

Until next time...