Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Long Weekend Leads to Little Work

It was a holiday, right?
I'm using that as an excuse for my slow-ish return to my normally stringent work schedule. In the interest of giving myself a break in that respect I do have to say that I had my boys to myself from pretty much Friday through yesterday. I love spending time with my kids so you'll never hear me complain about getting extra time with them. We spent the weekend watching movies, playing games, having friends over to visit, and the obligatory Memorial Day cookout. Outside of a little house cleaning and laundry there was almost no other "constructive" activity. In my opinion that's how holidays are supposed to be spent.

Last night I got back into the studio and was surprised at my own fervor. I turned on the tunes and within minutes "Pursuance" from John Contrane's "A Love Supreme" drop-kicked me into the single-minded state I require to work (here's a portrait I did of him some years back). Some nights it's like being possessed. I know I've written on this subject before so I'll spare you, but last night was one of those nights.

All that aside here's the latest update. Lately I've been thinking more about the relationships of the characters to each other and the viewer. In most of my paintings the figures are solitary and standing with their back to the viewer. Even in compositions with many figures situated in close proximity to each other they all seem to be on their own. There are some notable exceptions, but more often than not they're solitary. It says something about the artist frame of mind. I think it also says something about our current state of mind as human beings. Each one of us can communicate to such a broad audience, but ultimately no matter how much social networking, etc a person gets involved in it's no substitute for real face-to-face interaction. When faced with such interaction many social networkers are at a loss, or are unable to distinguish between the online personality and the person in front of them.

We plug in... We tune out.

I try to use social network in a way that gets me involved with people directly. I like to meet new people and get to know them. At the same time i'm an observer. A voyeur. A perennial fish-out-of-water. Reconcile that.

How do you rank yourself? Are you a social networker? Do you press the flesh? Do you sit and play WoW and eat cheesy-poofs?

What do you do that keeps you from turning into a shut-in?



Thursday, May 21, 2009


After having turned in the painting for the Des Moines Art Festival Mural Project I decided it was time for a break. I took the week off from pretty much everything except for housework and parenting duties... and the occasional game. I went to bed early every night (read as "before 1am"). I didn't paint. I didn't blog. I didn't Tweet (much). I didn't FB or MySpace much either. I few odd updates here and there, but far below my normal level of social networking activity. I just seemed like time to unplug a bit. As a result I look less like a crak monkey and have some fresh enthusiasm. I'm ready to go again. I think this is the longest I've been away from the easel in 3 years. The longest prior to that was the 3 months immediately following the move into my current home 3 years ago. I think I was getting withdrawal symptoms across the board.

As of last night I'm back at it. Going to try to get more intimate with the characters in my compositions. I've also been thinking about trying out some abstract pieces. I've never had the talent for abstraction/abstract thought. Probably why I nearly failed Algebra I and dropped out of Algebra II. I have always considered it a possibility that my evolution as an artist would lead me down the path to creating Abstract Art much like Piet Mondrian's did. Look at the progression of his work sometime and you'll see what I mean.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanyway here are some shots of the compositions I've started playing with. They're done in one of my favorite drawing tools, the Sharpie. Also I've included the beginning stages of a painting based on one of those drawings. It's a small section from a photo I snapped in NYC last December.

Enjoy. I'll write again very soon now that I'm back on track.



Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday Deadline

Here it is... Monday. An auspicious Monday to be certain. I'm submitting my Des Moines Art Festival image today. Hopefully they'll like what they see. I spent a lot of time on it this weekend and I'm proud of it. I've submitted it to the powers that be. My initial contacts love it so it's now just a matter of time. I'm looking forward to taking a couple of nights off and catching up on some sleep and/or R&R. Plus I'm sure the kids will appreciate the 'Daddy with no deadlines' thing. I enjoy the focus having deadlines provides, but they can make me a little surly. The boys are always there to help me lighten up or get my focus on other more important things like flying kites and working on getting my little one off his training wheels.

So here it is... my finished painting. I hope you enjoy it. I can't wait to see it blown up to it's full mural scale of 50'x20'. It's gonna look fantastic although part of me is just a tiny bit apprehensive. At that scale all of the little things come out. The things you never thought of... Like looking at your skin as reflected in one of those magnifying mirrors they use at cosmetics counters. But that's what I signed up for. It'll be nerve-wracking and liberating at the same time. I'll be on hand at the Des Moines Art Festival for the entire weekend (6/26-28) helping to get it assembled. Be sure to stop out. Grab a tile and add your touch to this interactive project!



Friday, May 8, 2009

A Quick Update before the Day Catches up

I was sitting in the office at my day job thinking "it's too quiet". Then the phone rang and my day kicked into swing. I like staying busy. It gives me a sense of purpose.
That statement was made three hours ago. I'm just now getting back to my desk. On the other hand 1/2 of my workday is over and done. One conference call, some lunch, and a few panick-driven trouble tickets and I'm off to a weekend of hanging with my boys, watchin' some flicks, and painting.

I've got the Des Moines Art Festival project piece to complete by Monday and I've signed up to do a 2-hour painting for the Healthy Polk 2020 board. Jim Engler, Concetta Morales, Sara Boutros, John Baldwin, myself, and a handful of other artists TBA will be producing paintings on the fly at the Des Moines Downtown Public Library tomorrow from about 9-11:30. I'm not used to producing work so quickly (or so early) although an occasional piece might spring forth in a single session. Guess I'm going to learn to do it on cue tomorrow. It should be a fun way to spend a morning.

Here are the latest updates on the Art Festival project... I'm re-defining the faces of a couple of buildings. I've got a couple of others that I've largely neglected up 'til now so I've got to spend some more time on them. I'll let you figure out which ones.

The final image is coming soon! Stay Tuned.



Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Art Festival Project Updates

So I got these great pics of last night's studio session. I'm all jazzed to get them edited and posted so you could seem more of the progression. I go to open them and.... nothin'. They look fine. File size looks good, but no preview. Won't open in my default viewer. Photoshop tells me their corrupt. Hmph! Will have to get more tonight. I'll post them tonight or tomorrow.

I've been both satisfied and excited about my recent progress. Perhaps the fact that I've got a Monday deadline staring me in the face has got my emotional connection to this piece keyed up. I got some good feedback yesterday from my Art Festival contact, Michael. He's been instrumental in keeping me on track with dates and with keeping this original painting in line with the logistics of the project as a whole. Thanks, Michael.

Here are some recent updates. The sky is coming along nicely and the buildings are starting to shape up. I'm trying to mix the man-made illumination with the morning light. It's a juggling act, but it's meshing nicely. Last night's progress made great strides towards making the buildings relate to each other in style and coloring as well helping to unify the composition as a whole. Like I said, I'll get more shots tonight and post them later. You are going to be seeing a lot of changes in a very short time. They'll be small, but significant. Keeps your eyes open.