Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A few New Pics...

Not a ton of time to philosophize today, but I wrote a couple of posts back about my bestest and oldest friends, Michael and Joshi came to visit me in the studio. Michael posted these in-studio pics on his FaceBook page and I really enjoyed them so I had to share.

These are in no particular order, but you may notice in some of the shots some of the dark red under-painting I used. I think that red added a real dimension to the layers of color that went over it. Even in the finished piece it peeks out here and there. I wanted it to add vibrancy.

As always, Dancing is not only allowed in the studio... it's encouraged.
Here is my friend, Joshi showing us the finer points of The Skank.

Gotta Run!



Saturday, March 21, 2009

Taking a Big Bite

Once upon a time (very recently) I made the statement, "Sometimes you bite off more than you can chew, but it sure beats starving". I meant it when I said it. I still believe it, but I took one hell of a bite this week. Lately I've been getting approached to book showings for future dates; many of them in 2010. I don't have much in the way of formal bookings for this year, but next year's filling up quickly. Seems odd, huh? I took a BIG bite this week, however, by booking a show at the Iowa State University Memorial Union Art Gallery. Very cool. Turns out they'll be needing about 25 pieces for the show! Whoa... 25 paintings. That's huge for me. Thankfully the show's not until December 2010. It'll be a challenge, I'm always up for a challenge. I wonder if I could convince some of my clients to loan me a few, select pieces. That might help.
Just "thinking" out loud there.
digress digress digress...

On a couple of other fronts I managed to get that painting of the late Steb's Amusements in Cedar Falls scanned. A little color correction and I'll be ready to make the announcement that prints are available. I'll post a link here and my other points of contact (FaceBook, Twitter, etc) when that time comes. Won't be long.

Also I've finished my latest painting. I think this is a land-speed record for me. At least for a piece this size (36"x48"). I'm very happy with the way it came out. The piece overall is very loose and energetic. I've been using it as practice for the Des Moines Art Festival Mural project. I needed to loosen up. To make sure that every inch of the image had something going on. Not a necessity for all of my work, but for that project I've got instructions to make sure that there's a lot of visual activity. When the piece is enlarged the little things will become very visible: the funky, little edges of brush strokes, slight variations of color, etc. I think this latest piece has been a good exercise in working towards that, AND in working with more immediacy. It's going to a good temporary home at ArtDive so hopefully you can go see it and pieces by many other great Iowa artists in person.

Gotta run. A beautiful Saturday awaits.



Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Welcome Visitors in the Studio

For the last 4 and a 1/2 days I've been in the splendid company of two of my best friends, Joshi and Michael. During that time I got the extreme pleasure of having them spend some time with me in the studio. I don't normally have a lot of visitors, but this kindof hearkened back to a time (before small children) when I painted in my living room. I was used to having a lot of company while I painted back then. It was nice doing that again.

The whole scene gave me a much-needed dose of inspiration. I started a piece late last week out of an overpowering desire to paint. I wanted to do something relatively quickly. Keep it loose. Keep it energetic. I started playing with some deep red underpainting and was able to start working over the top of it. Having them for company kept things very lively. A definite energy carry-over into my painting. I was bolder with the brushes and actively avoided impulses to "clean" things up. Actually I'm going back over a bit of the street where the colors started to muddy. They've lost their energy and that's no good.

We also took some time last night to gather some more pics for the DSM Art Festival project. I'd never played with the panoramic settings before, but it fits the required ratio for the painting so well... I don't know why I didn't do it before. I got some shots I really enjoy. I'll put them up in another post. They need editing and I don't have the time or energy. I sincerely hope they go over well.

Time for horizontality. Even insomniacs need their rest.



Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Restoration

I swear I'm trying to write more than once per week. It seems like I've been doing nothing but running around. Plus I'm exhausted most nights lately. Dozing off while hanging out with my boys or while relaxing after they go to bed. I guess it's a sign and I should try to figure out what it means

Seriously tho I'm kindof in a holding pattern on the DSM Art Festival project. We've made some adjustments to the process of image-approval. I need to take some new pics as a result, but the weather hasn't been cooperating. I was out of town all weekend and when I came home, ready to work, I got 3 days of rain and fog followed by a 30degree drop in temperature. Not conducive to taking panoramic shots of the City of Des Moines.

So in the meantime I've been restoring a piece that belongs to a friend of mine. He used to smoke... a lot, and this piece has spent its entire life in the room where he did most of his smoking. I've taken a heavy layer of tar off the surface by gently brush-washing areas with turpentine-substitute and then taking it up with a lint-free rag. I was amazed at how much better it looked just after that. Also the painting had never been varnished so I gave it a couple coats. I like to do a coat of Damar (glossy) followed by a coat of matte varnish. When I've got it I use EcoHouse-brand Damar. It's orange-based so it doesn't smell as badly as regular Damar, AND it doesn't yellow. EcoHouse doesn't make a matte-finish product yet sadly so I've been using a Miameri product. At any rate it looks gorgeous now. The colors are revitalized and the finish is like muted glass.
(the image here is an old pic. I'll post a new one when the scan's done)

Truth be told; although I do regularly varnish "matured" pieces for clients at no charge (I feel that it's part of the process of creating the work) I'm doing this one with an alterior motive in mind. I recently posted this piece on a bulletin board for a group of people who are fans of a Cedar Falls, IA landmark, Steb's Amusements. The building no longer exists. It was foolishly replaced by a big, empty hole. The response to the piece was very positive and some people have requested prints. My friend was wary of giving up this painting at all until I offered to give it a good cleaning and varnish. I'd have done it anyway, but the potential to make a little profit never hurts. As a matter of fact I delivered it to my local hi-rez scan provider today. Tomorrow I'll have the painting along with a TIFF file in excess of 300mb which can be color-corrected and made into giclees.

The moral of this story: Never write off your old work. You never know when it may find a new audience.



Thursday, March 5, 2009

Taking a Moment

The kids are in bed. I'm NOT doing any laundry tonight. Just wanted to take a moment to do a few things for myself: catch up on emails, return a few calls, and practice guitar. I'm just learning how to play and this time I'm going to stick with it... I swear. The nice thing about it this go 'round is that there's the miracle of the internet. Last time I tried was before my first home PC. Now if there's a song I want to try I just Google the tab and go. I think that's going to be a big help. Being able to apply what I'm learning and see progress gives me a purpose. It gives me a point of focus. I'm not outwardly such a goal-oriented person, but having them does help. Plus it's on my Bucket List. Ain't gettin' any younger.

Speaking of that there's this DSM Art Festival project I've been working on. Because of the nature of my contract I have to submit images for the approval process weekly. That means I've got to be able to come up with quick studies that not only explore the composition, but the color and treatment of the medium as well. It's giving me a chance to pull out the charcoal and pastels. Oil pastels too. They're great for the quick study. The only downside that I can see is that now everything in my studio is covered in a fine layer of chalk dust... as well as the inside of my head. Have you ever blown your nose and had it come out Magenta? Talk about a nasty shock. Ah, the joys of creating.

But I digress... you know this.

The connection I was making is that this project is giving me focus, but there's another side to it. I feel a little like I'm floundering in it. There's some difficulty in coming up with an image that people will immediately relate to as "Des Moines" while keeping certain contraints in mind. I've been feeling a little stuck trying to come up with just the right shot. You think you've got the one only to hear that it won't do for one reason or another. So you do it again. Simple. Coming up with and iconic image is a tall order though and everyone's got their opinions. So the best thing to do at this time in my opinion is to forget the subtext of the project and just work.
So there you go.



ps: If you're in Des Moines this weekend make sure to check out the opening of the Instinct Gallery Saturday night. Good stuff. A definite must-see.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Push Push

It's been a good week. I've been spending my studio time wisely, but I need to be writing more. Seems like I when I have the time to write I never feel like it (read as: tired, uninspired, inebriated). I need to carry over my studio work ethic into my writing. I never was much of a writer to begin with so it's been hard at times keeping up a good momentum/schedule. But this has become important not just to me but to my work as well. Seems like it's less real if I don't write about it now.

I got great news yesterday. I've made it as a finalist for the Art EMC contest that EMC Insurance holds yearly. I think it's a great project and not just because I made it. The company purchases work from the finalists and those pieces go on display in the company's buildings. I think the businesses that populate our city would do well to invest more in local/regional Art instead of spending money on some print from or something like that. Too many times I've visited office buildings only to see the same crap on the walls. A shame really when there's a wealth of great art right here in our back yard.

Which segues into my work on the DSM Art Festival Mural Project. I submitted a pack of images last week. Met with my contact from the DSM Art Center and went over some notes a couple of days later. I'm back to the drawing board and have been plugging away at charcoal/sharpie composition studies and have moved into working with some oil/chalk pastels for color studies. I'll start posting images from that when we've landed on a final, approved image (hint: if you're on FaceBook friend me and you'll get to see all of my developmental work thus far!)
Until then I'll leave you with some pics from the studio...
Meet my palette (top). It's heavy with paint and more than a little worn. Broken in like a pair of good shoes.
And here's me in the depths of a painting fugue. I don't usually post pics of myself because... well, I'm not all that fond of the photos I take, but in this case I'd set up a camera to catch my work in progress with a series of timed shots. I caught myself a couple of times and thought I'd share. When I'm painting, for some reason, I compulsively run my hands through my hair, close my eyes, and fidget a lot. My hair has a tendency to stick out in all directions anyway when left to its own devices, but the compulsive hair-tugging doesn't help. By the end of the night I've got this great Wolverine-thing going on. I'm pretty sure I scared the little one with it last week. Good times.

Wishing you all a good week.