Thursday, May 31, 2012

Where did all the Leonardo's go?

OK, it's June almost and yes, I haven't shared much this year, so sorry for being absent. I do have some thoughts to share and will be posting some new work soon. I came on blogger though to post some thoughts and ideas. It's 4:30 am and my eyes opened and my brain was spinning so had to get some ideas posted.

Recently a friend sent me a link to Neil Gaiman giving a graduation speech. He had some great things to say so go check it out!

I was thinking about some of the things he had to say and the kernel of his message was "make great art". We (society in general) often think of great art as being made in the past. The impressionist, Renaissance, Bauhaus and many more come to mind. True there have been some great artist and certainly appreciating the history and art of past ages is very important if we are to have a reference point to view our current culture. It is my feeling though that the vast majority of us miss an important fact which is that some of the greatest art is being made today. So what do I base that rather bold statement on? Follow my thinking on this one!

There are more people alive on this planet today than have ever lived since our species began. An astounding thought, but because there were less people over such a long span of time the concentration of gifted people was not as dense as today. There are probably a few "Leonardo's walking around out here today, an interesting thought!

Communications has made a huge difference, you wouldn't have been able to have a cup of coffee and read this blog just 30 years ago. Today we are able to share our thoughts, feelings and events in our lives with almost everyone. The world is a whole new place and we feel it on a daily basis. As a visual artist I struggle with how to market the things I create! Use to be simple, take it to a gallery and have it displayed, someone will buy it right! Well, fact is, it's not so simple these days. Galleries are folding these days and struggling to find an audience. Some have met with success by accessing the web and promoting heavily.  Artists in mass have fled the traditional venues and are looking for a better more direct means to reach an audience. There really isn't anyone out there who can tell you how to do it successfully though there are some channels developing. Indie music and film are industries who are finding new avenues to reach out to the public and doing it somewhat successfully.

I'll leave you with this final thought! There are probably some of the greatest painters who have ever lived, pushing a paintbrush around at this very moment. Same is true with Sculptors, Architects, Designers, Musicians and Writers. In general I'd say there is more creative energy at this moment than ever before. The problem is accessing it, finding it and bringing it into our daily lives. It's easy to become overloaded with content because there is so much of it to sift through. In fact, it's easy to get nothing done at all because we could spend so much time just keeping up with what's happening!
I know that one! I think I'll turn off the computer and go paint now!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Welcoming in 2012

Kissing Koi or Kissing Coy!
Clay with colored glazes
18" Tall, 16" Deep and 16" Wide

Ahhh, finally over the holidays and things are beginning to settle down once more. I have to apologize as I've fallen far behind on this blog but will attempt to catch it up over the next few weeks. I will post some of the new work I've been doing as well as update some of my latest thoughts on this thing I do "making art". We've all been suffering through some tough economic times and Art seems to be low on the priority list of so very many of us. This is regrettable due to the fact that the practice of making art can be a safe haven for so many of our thoughts and feelings and a way to express them in a positive manner. Believe me when I say I have my share of frustrations with the world around me. It ,"The World" doesn't seem to match my vision anymore as a place abundant with opportunities to express ones self, create beauty and find an audience. Most of that I will shoulder as my own perception. I'm not sure the world has really changed much and will probably be as receptive as always. I've made several choices in my life over the past year which may be driving my perception and I'll claim them as mine alone. First, I've cut off access to all television media. This was both an economic as well as a moral choice for me. I couldn't see paying almost one hundred dollars a month to watch maybe 10 programs a month. That's the cost of several first run movie tickets, a show at the theater (yes matinee on Sunday and cheap seats but it's live) or any number of tickets to shows and things to do. So I've opted to do some of these other things with my money, thanks. I would suggest you look over your budget as well and see where you could re-allocate some of your funds. I've once again been going out and listening to live music shows which I'm thrilled about because it ads so much more to the complexity of life and gives me more to draw from as an artist. So think about how you might funnel more of your cash that you'd expend anyway into something that supports other peoples visions at the grass roots instead of supporting a cable provider. It's a small step but if enough people follow my suggestion, I'd expect two things to happen! First, the cable companies would start listening to their customers and providing the types of programming they demanded. Second, small theaters, musicians and artists all need your support to keep doing what they do best. I know that selling some of what I make is such a relief even if it is only a couple of hundred dollars a month. It helps so very much so thank you to those who supported my efforts and bought some of my work in 2011. I'd also like to add a special thanks to those who take classes with me outside the Benson Center. You've made huge differences in my life this past year in both an economic sense but most importantly in a human sense. It's been good to see you each grow as artists and you've helped me grow as a person. So blessing to all of you!!!!

So enough babble! Here is some of the art I've been making recently!

"Madonna Moderna" 36 X 60 inches Oil on Canvas

"Dreaming of Saturday morning in my lovers bed"
9 X 12 Oil on wood panel

The paintings above are two being shown currently in Atlanta at Kibbee Gallery in a show titled "Nude" which is a collective of figurative works by a range of artists in the Atlanta area. These are only a part of a series I am completing for a series of shows I want to launch nationally. The series contains 16 pieces large format paintings with the additional studies and drawings totaling around 40 pieces.

Painted along Peachtree Creek at Northside Drive bridge Feb 8th 2012. This was the second night of the full moon and the previous day I had seen the moon come up around 7pm while it was still just a bit light out. So I went back the next day around 6pm thinking the moon would be up around 7 again or just shortly after. The moon didn't arrive till 8:15. Temp was a spring like 42 degrees and it was much darker than expected when I finished.

This is a "Well Wishes Jar" that was created for someone close to me and who worked with me. She has gone back to school to finish her degree and I wanted to create something so that she could always remember how much she made peoples experience better at the Benson Center for being there and being part of our lives each day! She is missed by me and all the students she touched!

Best wishes to all of you this year and be sure to buy some art and show support for creative people who labor to create beauty in your world and mine!


Monday, September 26, 2011

A Good Day of Painting, Happy Sunday!

I wanted to share with you what I feel is the perfect way to spend a day, most especially a wonderful Sunday. My good friend of many years Shane McDonald has began a figure painting group on the weekends at his studio located at the Artists Resource Center in Marietta Georgia. Shane and I have known each other for years and began our friendship through a group he hosted for almost 15 years. Over the years I've found a home with that group of artists and have come to view them as my family. It is for me one of the strongest connections to any group of people I've thus far enjoyed in my life. It is also where I happened to meet the love of my life, the lovely Ms. Goodman, "aka the LMG". Though time keeps marching on and relationships and friendships change I still feel deeply connected to the members of this group. We've all seen each other through the ups and downs of life and have a long and comforting history with each other. With the help and support of each other we have all grown and improved our skills as artists and visual thinkers. I was raised as a military brat and was constantly on the move for most of my early life till I reached adulthood or at least I was able to vote. A gift like this was something I thought I'd never have or expected. Thankfully, I've settled down a little in my life and proven to myself I could indeed have some long term relationships with other humans. I credit this mainly to the fact that they are a very tolerant group who has learned through the years that some music, laughter and good times making art and the addition of a few glasses of wine can see us through almost anything. It is to each of them I wish to say many thanks my friends!


We seem to always follow the same process each week during our 3 hour session. We begin with a series of gesture drawings lasting approximately 2 minutes each. This is a clay coated panel I was using and attempting to capture the proportions and movement of our lovely model Stephanie. Some models I find I always get a great session from, others not so much. Stephanie was someone I hadn't worked with before today and I will tell you unabashedly that she was magical as a muse to me and others in the group. She was graceful and fluid in her movements.
Just perfect! I prefer to paint generally and I always use a brush and a little paint to do my gesture sketches. I've been fairly successful at selling many of these, as they become rather abstract representations of the human form. I try and take a little care in composing the page out of these short poses.

Once we are warmed up so to speak we move on to a long pose which the model will hold for the rest of the session in 20 to 25 minute intervals. I was very happy with this effort and it came together rather quickly. I mainly concentrated on the figure, mirror and placing the carpet. After the model left I added much of the background elements. I was working on a clay board panel for this piece as well and I have to say that this being my first time trying them, I found both good and bad things about the surface. The clay quickly drinks in the oil mixture, which makes it harder to manipulate or change. The good news is that this cuts down on the glare from the lights which might be useful for painting outdoors. I found that until I had several passages of paint on the surface it was extremely difficult to move or blend the paint. Even with a rather thick passage it was not long before it sat up and became difficult to work with. Over time if I keep using this material I'm sure I'll find a work around.

So thanks for checking out my blog page and pass this on to anyone you think might benefit.
I'm always happy to hear form you and welcome your comments.

Till next we meet, I wish you laughter, love, good food, music and plenty of art!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Step by Step, painting demo

Demonstration: Landscape Sketch in Acrylic

At times you may want to work quickly on an idea and experiment with color or design in your paintings. I find it helpful to sketch in acrylic paint at times because it dries so quickly and is easily covered over if you decide to change something. This is a demo of a painting I produced from reference photos I took when on a trip recently. Normally I would have spent sometime doing a sketch plein air and then taken it to a larger painting in the studio but for what ever reason didn't have the time to complete a work on location, so a photo is all I had to work from and my memory. The photo was somewhat flat and taken in the middle of the day which wasn't very interesting or appealing at first but I kept going back to it thinking I wanted to do something to make it more dramatic. I decided to change the time of day and mood of the piece by altering the color scheme and pushing the side of the house into deeper shadow than was indicated by my reference. This five step demo will give you an idea of how the painting developed and how I went about creating a more interesting painting.

Step One: I blocked in the large masses of the painting on a gray background dividing the panel in to four distinct areas (sky, tree line, house and foreground). Each of these blocks were laid in with a broad brush and not much time was taken to develop any except the house which for me would become to main focal point of the painting. As I mentioned earlier, I didn't intend to stick strictly to the photo reference so I changed the color of the sky to a strong yellow instead of the light blue I saw in the photo. I also pushed the shadows on the side of the house into deeper shadow than was indicated. The base color for the trees was laid in with a very strong cool green tone to contrast the vivid yellow sky. The house was also altered in color slightly with the addition of some yellow in the mixture of white and raw umber to the light side of the house and violet to the darker mixture on the side of the house. I often will play with contrasting direct complements when painting and find it adds some vibrancy and excitement to the painting.

Step Two: I began to develop each area of the painting further with the addition of some stronger dark and light areas in the tree line, house, large tree in the middle ground and foreground areas. In the foreground I placed a broad wash of red orange as a base for the foliage I would later place there. In the tree line I broke the mass up and placed some open areas to indicate that you could see the sky peaking through in areas. The original photo had none of that so it was something I fabricated from my experience of painting outdoors. I also began to break the mass of the tree line up into individual trees by altering the color and value in areas slightly.
The foreground was a base color but I wanted to break it up some how and make it more interesting than just a band of color across the bottom one third of my panel. So, I began to place some darker abstract shapes in it which later would become the addition of a road back to the house which didn't exist in the reference photo. The house got a few deeper shadows and I began to develop the openings for the windows and wood siding on the face of the house.

Step Three: I continued to develop each area of the painting with the addition of lighter values of color and indication of foliage to the foreground area. Finally you could see the road developing and masses of high weeds in the field. I also continued to push some lighter color mixtures into the tree line and large tree in the mid ground. I took a good deal of care to clean up some of the edges of the house and accurately indicate some of the architectural features of the old house which helped to give it some character and a since that it had been there a long time.
The sky also got some thicker passages of color and the shape of the tree line began to develop nicely.

Step 4: With the addition of even lighter values in each area the painting finally begins to come to life. Each area begins to sit in its place nicely and support the illusion of the others. I particularly focused on the house adding some cast shadows and weathering to the wooden planks the house was built from.

Step Five: The illusion is complete after the refinement of some of the grasses in the foreground and additional cool and warm indications on the house. I also popped in some stronger lights coming through the trees. This is a much different image than the original photo reference and one I feel is stronger as a painting than if I simply faithfully copied what I saw. We as artist are not cameras or copiers. We are not tools that simply reproduce what we see. At some point we as people have to begin to make the images we create something more of an expression of what we feel. So for me, taking this painting to a different conclusion than a camera would have come up with is part of the natural process of creating a piece of art.

The painting is in the early stages on the easel and you can see the image on the screen of my Mac laptop from which I was working. You can also see that the studio isn't the most organized and neat environment which is fine by me, it's a place to work, think, read and listen to music.
A place to play, risk and fail miserably sometimes and yet have great moments of insight and joy at others.

Where you work does make a difference in my estimation. I'm fortunate to have good light, equipment and space to create art in. Of course I've built my life around that for years, so not living in a space with adequate light would be a foreign concept to me. I love my 16 foot tall windows that face north. I also like the fact they set inside the hallway of this old factory I live and work in. It affords my neighbors a chance to stroll by and see what is on the easel from time to time. The studio is not always a well kept place and I do have my projects laying around. I also provide places for my four legged roommates to hang out with me while I work. The conversations are rather limited with them but I enjoy their company non the less.

So, happy painting, do some good work and laugh and smile a little each day!
Feel free to stop by and chat if you should find me along a road side doing what I love best.
Till then!!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Painting, Painting and Painting over the holiday!!!

Plein-Air, Paint faster the Light is changing!!!!

Plein-Air is I think one of the best ways to speed up your painting technique as well as sharpen your eye to value, color and proportions. Call me crazy but standing outside, working on your tan and slapping some paint around is a great stress relief as well. You have to make a decision and stick with it till it's through.

The OverLook at Vinings at Sunset
Painted on location, this spot offers one of the best views of the city. Once the sun begins to set the lights on the buildings begin to kick in and make a spectacular view.

The Highlands Atlanta GA,

This view is looking east from the top of the ridge. It was around 6:45 am and the sky just lite up with all this color. It was like magic to see the sky light up that way!

Botanical Garden Plein-Air event.
These small (6X9) canvases are handy for quick plein air studies. Atlanta Painters Meetup sponsored this event and it was such a good time.

Alla-Prima rocks in the Studio around 5am each morning.

My Natural Collection

This oil study took over 4 days to complete which by my standards is a long time. I did enjoy painting the bugs etc. They behaved themselves and didn't walk off anywhere!

"Coming Unraveled Around You"
This is another one of those little comments I keep making about human relationships, especially between men and women. For me, this is about that sense of excitement one gets when meeting another person whom we find irresistibly attractive. You know the one, somewhere between excitement and nausea. I'm taking an Alka-Seltzer!!!

Playing with Acrylic Paint as well!!!!

"Don't Turn that Page"
This painting was started at a figure drawing session some years ago now but never completed. Since I had the acrylics out, I decided to add those final touches that would make it feel finished to me. I really like how immediate you can be with the paint and keeping a loose brush helps from making the media seem too stiff.

"Cherokee Farm House Sunrise"
I seldom paint from photos any more but in this case I did and also worked in acrylic paint. I was very happy with this little rainy day painting. On days with poor weather or during the winter I have a file of around 200 photos of things I'd like to get around to painting. I don't know that I'll ever get around to them all, maybe I should take a year off and just paint till I complete them all? You'll see this painting on a later post. I have photos of the process in progress and will go through the step by step process, soon I promise!

Avondale Arts Festival Poster:

I painted this image plein-air a few weeks ago at the Piedmont Arts Festival specificly to submit to the Avondale Arts Alliance to use on their Autumn Arts Festival Poster. The good news is that it was selected and we will have the unveiling on September 21st. Hope you can join us!!!

I tried to keep the shapes simple and values and colors with a higher degree of contrast to help in the reproduction of the painting. My background as an ex-Art Director is paying off still. I look forward to seeing what the Designer and Printer do with the piece.

Close up shot showing how simple paint strokes pull together to make images of people walking among the tents. No real detail here! Simplify, simplify, simplify!!!

The final image achieved what I set out to create and it was both a challenge and fun to hold back from adding details that I didn't need and would actually make the painting less accessible to the viewer.

Once again, thanks for your comments, support and well wishes. Keep painting, collecting art, or just passing it along to the next generation.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hmmm, more paint and laughing about it!

"We might have to break a few eggs"

These are some things I've been recently working on. I still try to do a painting a day but seldom really get around to it. The weekends seem to be a better time for me so this is a little effort I made on Sunday morning.

"Vincent is dancing in my head"
This is very impressionistic and has a bit of paint on the surface. Vincent might have painted this if he were sitting in my studio.

"Late afternoon at the beaver pond"
This was painted plein air with my class of senior students from the Benson Center.
They enjoyed the day as I did and I think in spite of the painting being mainly green, we got a little color in there.

"Roses for my love"
A bit romantic, maybe! Nice paint surfaces though and rich color and contrast.

Thanks for taking a look! Keep making some art in what ever form you choose!


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Movement and Motion

Hi all,

Hope your enjoying a few of these wonderful summer days which have been rather cool and pleasant considering we are in Georgia. I wanted to talk to you a bit about some of the work I've been working on over the past year. As most of you know I've gotten my hands in the mud for the first time in many years and have been enjoying it. My early pieces were just a bit stiff in my estimation so I've been trying to get a little more motion in my clay works as well as pushing the size and engineering boundaries of the material. Take a look and see what your thoughts might be.
I'd enjoy hearing back from you if you have any comments, so ....... on with the show!

This piece was a difficult one to get to work. It's large and heavy!

Wrapping the Koi around this Vase helped to give it a fluid motion which works from all sides.
I was very happy with this one

This was an earlier success in my view. It has a lot of motion and the texture and patterns help carry this illusion. Unfortunately, she wasn't structurally very strong and was easy to break. So back to the drawing board.