Tuesday, May 30, 2017

June 2017

      This is the painting that I am currently working on. I have been thinking about Expressionism lately, and Ernst Kirchner in particular, with this piece.  One of the things that draws me in to Expressionism is the use of color. I have always been sensitive to color, and can often perceive colors that others cannot. One need only look back to the recent blue dress controversy to see how important color and perception are to people. I also enjoy images that pop with color and seem to use the element of color to help convey thoughts. We'll see how these ideas continue to shape my work as I go forward.  

      It's also interesting to me that I am drawn to Expressionism now, almost 100 years after it was taking off as an art form. But, the ideas that drove this artistic movement in the early 20th century could arguably be said to be reemerging now. Emotions are high across all spectrums of society, and there is a general feeling of angst as well. I can't help but wonder if it is these feelings that are helping to drive me as well.    

Monday, August 1, 2016

July 2016

      Greetings! Although it is August 1st. I am posting my July blog now.

I completed the painting for my sister. I think it turned out alright. That's not to say I like it. I am still very much against it. But I told her I would do it, so there you go. While I was working on it, I found out about a large format art show. I submitted this work. You can go here and vote for it, if you are so inclined: http://bit.ly/2atkXQb

Last week was also the Art Melt Show in Baton Rouge. This was a very good event. The tone was more subdued compared to years past, but I think that is only appropriate for what this city has been going though lately.

My favorite painting somewhat relates to the issues that Baton Rouge has been grappling with. It is called Brave Little Girl and it is by Kristen Downing. More about her and her work can be viewed here.

Brave Litttle Girl by Kristen Downing

I also realized that July is the 10 year anniversary for my very first solo exhibition. It was held in July of 2006 in Falls Church, VA outside of Washington, DC. Putting on that show was fun, and really got me started in trying to get my work out and seen. Let's hope I can get more work out there.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

June 2016

      I thought it would be appropriate to update my post from last month. Above is the completed image that was submitted for exhibition in Louisiana. It is titled Mr. "Babbineaux." Like most of my figurative work, I begin with a sketch of an actual person. The finished work however is not meant to be a portrait. There are a lot of interesting things that happen while painting, and one of the things I really like, is the way a painting can take on a personality and life of its own. I think this is particularity true when creating a work based on the figure. The end result of my images of people is something that I call a character painting. It no longer represents the person on whom the original sketch was made, and the figure projects a personality all his/her own. This personality developed during the creative process, and is different each time.

     For this painting, I started with a photograph of a convicted murderer on death row. New evidence was found, and it turned out he was innocent. He was cleared of all charges and released. Something about his eyes appealed to me. In the photograph he seemed to harbor no malice, despite the years of his life unjustly taken from him. Some of these ideas transferred from the photograph, to the sketch, and ultimately to the painting. The figure still has a haunted, tired look. But, overall he seems pleasant. Like an old man sitting on a park bench enjoying the day. All this came together during the act of painting.

     No word yet on if this work has been accepted for exhibition. The drop-off day for accepted works is July 15. So, I should hear something very soon. Given the time frame tough, I'm not overly optimistic that it has been accepted.

      This is the latest painting that I am working on. It is for my sister and I have put it off for a long while. She wants a Buddha picture. I resisted painting this picture for a variety of reasons, including cultural appropriation. Ultimately, I decided to do the image because my sister requested it. I would normally not do a work of this sort. I will post progress on this image as I work on it.    

     Finally, I want to close with this video. It addresses issues of artists, galleries, and the way that nobody likes to discuss art-selling as a business. I don't enter as many shows as I used to, and part of the reason for that is that it's a huge investment of time, energy, and money with very little return. This video exemplifies how this can sometimes come to be. From my perspective, I sometimes  wonder if this undisclosed financial structure within the art world exists to weed out artists. I don't know. It could also just be sour grapes on my part because my work is not well regarded. Anyway, see what you think.  

Thursday, May 19, 2016

May 2016

   I felt it was time for another post. It has been a while since I have written here, but I have kept up with making art, which I am happy to share.

Red Umbrella
   This is my most recently completed image. Earlier this month it was raining nonstop. I actually got caught out in it and got very soaked. I think the rain may have been influencing how I have been working. I completed two sketches before I set out to paint this image, and neither one had the umbrella.

     I had something else in mind when I began sketching these ideas out. This painting and the one that I am currently working on (I'll post that one further down) are going to be submitted for exhibition at a show here in Louisiana. My original idea involved the above figure in a swamp outside of a shotgun shanty house. I may still end up doing that, but with all the rain and the gloomy weather I just wasn't interested in completing this idea. In addition, the painting completed right before I began these two sketches was headed in that direction.

The painting that started my thoughts.
Currently untitled.

    You can kind of see these ideas in this image. The shotgun house is not really visible, and this is obviously not a swamp, but some of those elements are present. I may come back to these later. I do really like the rainy umbrella image. I also like the narrowed picture plane. I definitely think I will keep working with that, but the image I am currently working on has a different subject.

Current painting I am working on

   The picture plane has yet to be fully realized, and I'm not sure what I will do with the background, but I like how this image is developing. Hopefully, it and the Red Umbrella will get selected for exhibition. The deadline for submissions is June 1, so I need to finish this one up.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

new work, a new gallery

      I thought I reached the finishing line in my quest to paint two images a month for a year. However, now when I look back at this blog, I see that I was only half way. It was a good idea, I have a lot of good work, and am poised to continue. But at the moment I'm feeling a bit blocked. Below are the final two  images that I created as part of my plan.

The Blue Cabinet

Two Faces at the Same Time
       I originally set out on this project in order to have a fresh body of work to present to the Baton Rouge Gallery as part of my application to be an artist member. When I went to fill out the application though, I began to realize I would not be admitted. I applied once before, and was not accepted, so this time I did some research on the member artists to find out more about what they are looking for. While I think my work stands for itself, when you compare the resume of these artists next to me, I'm not in league with them at all.

     Many of the artists in this gallery have completed or led artists residencies, and a few of them have does this multiple times. I have never participated in an artist residency of any kind. Most of them have also won major awards and recognition for their work. While I have been invited to participate in numerous jurried exhibitions, I have never won a major award. As I took in all this information, I decided to leave my application incomplete. Maybe I will try again next year, but I doubt it. I just don't have the experiences that these other artists do. Rightly or wrongly, this counts against me. I'll just keep painting. Eventually my work will resonate with someone somewhere.


      While I was rethinking my application to the Baton Rouge Gallery, I was invited to join the Part Gallery in  Florida. Part Gallery is unique in that patrons are allowed to rent the artwork for three months before deciding if they want to buy it. I have three pieces, but can add more at any time. The website went live at the beginning of November. You can access it here: http://partgalleries.com/
My work is listed under contemporary. I guess we will see how far this goes.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


      Holy smokes! It's almost mid August, and I just realized I have not made a post for July. I spent some time travelling, so July was a bit off. I did get my minimum of two paintings completed, and they are displayed below.

The fright

Let me think

      I have been told the first image is frighting and/or terrifying. I have also been told it resembles a self portrait. And while my works are largely based on actual people that I know, including myself, they are never intended to be portraits. I accept that the image is terrifying. I wanted to present an image with more emotion and drama. So, I think that fits. But, I maintain that it is not a self portrait. There's a blog out there that discusses how artists always paint him/herself within their works. The site does offer additional explanations on specific works of art, but it often comes back to this one idea. Here is a link if you would like to examine this site. http://www.everypainterpaintshimself.com/ I don't know if I completely agree with that thesis, of artists depicting a version of  themselves in heir work, but I certainly think self awareness plays a huge factor in how art is made. It seems that for many artists art making is a path to immortality. Subconsciously, the desire to include oneself is hard to overcome. Perhaps that accounts for some of the similarities between creator and created. Certainly, I think this is a topic that could be debated.

      The second image is a representation of the art looking back at the viewer. This is a concept I have played with before, and it is one I will probably return to in the future. I like the idea of art looking back at the viewer. I have been to many art museums and galleries and have seen this exact pose and posture when people are looking at art. To turn things around and have the art observe the viewer, is something that greatly appeals to me.

      As I mentioned, I have been travelling during the month of July. California was one of the places I visited. I went there to visit my sister who has always been a collector of some of my early works. I mention this because she has a wall of these early works on display, which you can see below.

      In observing this work, I have to say I found it all to be awful. I didn't like any of it. I do remember painting each one of these images, and at the time I thought they were okay. I see now that they are not very good at all. This made me think about how my work and preferences have changed over the years. Some of these images are 15 years old or older. How will I feel about my current work in 15-20 years? Will I look back and think my current work is awful? Do artists go on path to create new images and disregard their older work?

It's an interesting idea. I have looked up artists thoughts on their work and where it stands. But I never thought to investigate how artists respond to their work from previous decades. It's an idea I will have to explore further.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June has been active

Pinch me Mixed media

      This is the painting I have completed for June. And while one painting doesn't meet my goal of creating at least two per month, I have been active in doing other things art related.

      At the beginning of June I was inspired to start oil painting again. I have everything I need, and I believed it was just a matter of making some stretchers and getting busy. Well, painting is a messy, sloppy, business. I currently rent my home and am very conscientious about not damaging the property. This includes not spilling chemicals, paint, or the other sloppy liquids associated with oil painting. I was very careful, and carefully applied paint to the canvas. I made certain not to spill, or get anything on the walls. Such precision resulted in a very stiff, stilted, and boring image. I immediately decided that this was not going to work. What to do with the canvas and the partially painted surface, you ask? I went over the image with glue, and then affixed various types of paper over the botched oil painting. On this mixed surface, I then painted with my very familiar water soluble water colors. The image worked out much better.

     I have experimented with collage before, and have had some success. I also thought mixing the paper would result in an image that has a physical texture in addition to visual texture. If you recall, some of my earlier posts descried how I was interested in building texture in the background of my figures. You can make out the lines in this image where the edges of different paper come together. I think this is heightened by the image itself, with the solid wall, the figure, and the dart board pattern. This was an interesting image to work with, and I think I will try another one. I need to focus on getting the texture and the image feeling more cohesive.

    In addition to working on this painting, the library in which I worked hosted an art exhibition June 16-18. One of the lead librarians is a researcher in Black History with a specific interest in the west and black cowboys. As part of Juneteenth, our exhibition focused on back cowboys and the Buffalo Soldiers. I helped select the paintings we exhibited, and it was this process which got me interested in pursuing oil painting again.

   My favorite painting from the exhibition is below. I like it because most people think of cowboys as being men, and this image is unusual in that it features a woman. This image challenges  preconceived notions and surprises the viewer. I think it is wonderful when art can have an impact such as this.

By Ivan Stewart  
          More information about the artist, Ivan Stewart, can be found here.

     Finally, my co-workers and I went to "Painting with a Twist" for an evening of painting. My image was different from everyone else, as I painted the image based on my own ideas rather than following along with the instructor.

  So, technically I did paint two images this month. The image we were supposed to copy can be seen below.