Friday, December 21, 2012

New works

This will most likely be the last post of, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Last week I attended a seminar sponsored by the Art Library Society of North America (ARLIS-NA). It was very good. The main topic was creativity in the library and how to integrate more creative programming into your library.

Among the many take-aways I got from this discussion was how to stay motivated and creative. This point was reinforced by the description to work on something everyday. This is a philosophy that I have tried to practice since art school. However, many distractions over the years have pushed me away form actually practicing this idea. I then resolved to paint something everyday.

Two themes emerge if you look at my art work over time. Railroads and the figure are two topics that I have returned to many times when practicing, and it was these ideas I returned to for my daily paintings. The image above represents one of the figure studies I have been working on. Below is one of the railroad:

And here is another:   

I like these images, but so far I think I like the train pictures better. What do you think?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Taking Stock

      It's pretty funny how I wrote that I was back... and then didn't post anything for a month. Whats up with that? I don't know. I don't have any real answers. As you may recall, I recently moved. And my studio is not back up and running yet:

      I have been spending time organizing, moving boxes, and getting things ready. Anyway, one aspect of this has been to take stock of what I have, what supplies are available, etc. I have been looking through my paint supplies and compiling a list of hues I will need to restock.

      I went home for thanksgiving, and stopped by the 710 Bookstore. This was the store I used all throughout my undergraduate and graduate art studies. It is actually a very good art supply store. I never fully realized or appreciated this fact until I moved someplace that lacks a good art store. I have had to rely on mail orders.

      Ordering supplies works, sometimes they are even cheaper than buying from the store. I confess that I never purchased all my supplies from 710. I have always relied on ASW as a back up ( I have been known to have them on speed dial). They are good to work with, but there are other possibilities. Jerry's Artarama
and Dick Blick come to mind. Although I don't recommend Dick Blick. I have not had a positive experience with them. If I am in  hurry I'll shop at Hobby Lobby, but I don't really care for this store either. Where do you buy your art supplies? Can you recommend somebody new?


Monday, October 29, 2012

The weekend before Halloween

                                                       Image from Louisiana State Library

     After an illness which included a brief stay in the hospital (bleh), I'm back! And seems that I am just in time to enjoy some of the festivities the weekend before Halloween. Halloween brings out the creativity in people, and many events and parties reflect this.

      The major happening this weekend in Baton Rouge was the 9th Annual Louisiana Book Festival. This event takes place on the  grounds of the state capitol building. There are events in the capitol, the state library, the state museum and all throughout the capitol complex. It doesn't do it justice, but here is a picture of the entire event taken from the steps of the capitol. You can kind of see all the tents and events happening in the background.


      You might be saying to yourself "What the heck! I thought this was an art blog! What's all this nonsense about a book festival!?!?" Well...let me just tell you, there were plenty of art happenings at the book festival as well. The most notable was an exhibition of works by the established Louisiana Artist George Rodrigue in the state library. Rodrigue was commissioned to paint a portrait of each of the distinguished authors who spoke at the event. A sample and guide to the images can be found below.

Image from Louisiana State Library

      I think books and art represent a winning combination. In addition to this, the Halloween parade in downtown also took place. This event brought out the costumers and the fun! There was a zombie lown mower club, the Ghostbusters, and a Voodoo N' Tutu's float. All very creative and all very fun.

Zombie Lawnmower club

Ghostbusters Float

VooDoo "n" Tutus Float




Sunday, October 7, 2012

Weekend Update

   These images were posted previously on this blog. However, they are now framed. I am applying to a gallery, and as part of the application process I must submit two original works of art in a framed presentable format. It always amazes me how a simple thing like a frame can tie an image together and make it feel more complete.

   The past two weeks have been total mayhem. I have once again made a move, and although this one was across town, instead of across country, my living space (including my studio) is in total disarray. It will be some time before I am up and running again. I'll keep y'all about what happens. Wish me luck on the gallery application!   

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The importance of sketches

      The above is a watercolor sketch of Bourbon Street in New Orleans. I think it nicely captures the vibrancy of the French Quarter particularly found at night. I'm not sure what I will do with this yet, but I think that represents the importance of making sketches and getting your ideas in some sort of tangible form.  I don't think one has to have a specific plan  when making art and sometimes random experimentation produces amazing results. 

      My sketchbook is never very far from me, and I will very often pop-a-squat and start sketching a random building, scene, or natural object. Sometimes, if I am in a very crowded location, people will stare and look at me funny. I have yet to be confronted or told to stop, however. This practice of random sketching has resulted in a number of sketches that I have later used in finished works and is good for brainstorming various ideas for further development.

      My sketchbook is more a sort of mini studio which has a compartment for the sketchbook itself, but also has pockets, and storage for pencils, pens, erasers, and a portable watercolor set. It is made from scraps of canvas I had and is pictured here:

      Some other sketches that I have made and later used include the image below of a cathedral in Shreveport, LA which you may recognize from this painting. 

And this sketch of a garbage truck:

for this painting:

      One other thought before I go. As I was scanning my sketchbook, the scanner actually picked it up upside down. After seeing it from this point of view, I think it is just as interesting as right side up!

     So that gives me something else to think about.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Knitting/fiber arts and t-shirt designs

      This week's post is about a recent exhibition discussed on NPR this past Sunday, and an interesting Web Site I discovered that allows artists to submit and sell their own t-shirt designs. The discussion on NPR was titled "Are All Young Artists "Post-9/11 Artists?". In it, Neda Ulaby discussed the possibility that the events of September 11, 2001 have shaped our culture to such an extent that all artists under 40 are influenced by these terrorist attacks. She profiled three artists from the "40 under 40" exhibition at the Smithsonian, and described how each artist drew inspiration from or about 9/11.

      I'm not sure I agree with her thoughts. I certainly think that the terrorist attacks early in this century have influenced many things, including how art is made and what it is about, but I don't think you can say that all artists under a specific age are "9/11" artists. What struck me most after hearing/reading this article, other than the fact that I was not included in the exhibition (Haha! Just kidding. Sort, no definitely kidding...maybe...heh heh), was that these artists largely seem to be working with fibers as a medium. Olek and Cat Mazza, in particular are using crocheting or weaving as their vehicle for expression (hence the photo above. It's the only woven piece I could find, but it was hand made in Greece so I think it counts). But even the other artists profiled (the folds of Erik Demaine, or the quilts by Anna Von Mertens) used some kind of fibrous material in making their art.

      I think the fact that these artists are using fibers along with such trends as Yarn Bombing, speak about the art being made today as much as the fact that it is produced post 9/11. Why all the fibrous art? I don't know. Perhaps in an increasingly technological world, filled with cold and impersonal machines, people are expressing an inherent desire to return to natural materials. I think this aspect is something the author overlooked, or possibly didn't really think about. It might be interesting to investigate. What do you think?

     The second thing I wanted to mention was the Web Site

      This site allows artists to create and submit their unique tee shirt designs. When I was in college I won the tee shirt design contest for my dorm. It was great fun. I especially enjoyed seeing the project go from sketch to reality. This site makes it possible to experience that concept with each submission. I think it is an excellent opportunity, and one more way to get creative.

      Well, that's it for now. More will be posted next week.   

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


      One week ago today I got to experience my first hurricane. I didn't really know what to expect, having only read and seen images from hurricane zones on the news. In the hours leading up to the storm when everyone announced closings, people were stocking up on fuel and supplies, and there was a feeling of expectation, I found the whole experience  be very similar to the moments before a big snowstorm in the Midwest. The storm itself was noisy and unpleasant. Afterwards, when the damage could be surveyed it was the total opposite of a snowstorm (no frolicking or fun here). The image above was taken near my apartment.  Here are some more damage photos:


  I live on the high ground, so I didn't really have to deal with the flooding issues that many others had to deal with. The power went out during the storm and was out for days. I didn't really know what else I should be doing, so while it stormed I made art. I finished the self portrait I started the previous week:

Then I completed two other portraits.

I think that these second two look a little strange. Mind you, I painted them after the electricity had gone out and it was difficult to see. So that may explain why they seem a little off. In addition to these paintings, I sketched out an interpretation of a dream I had this past winter. I thought it would be a good idea for a painting, but now that it is sketched out I'm not so sure. What do you think?

If rain makes for creativity, then that seems doubly so for hurricanes.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

An homage to Modigliani

      In one of my other postings I discussed art books. This post is again going to head in that direction. The above photo is the cover of another book that I recently added. I think it is important for artists to spend as much time looking at art as they do making art. The ideal thing to do is to go to a museum or gallery and study what is there. An alternative to this is to examine works of art reprinted in books. Either case can provide a source of inspiration, and help to formulate a plan to build on what has already been done artistically.

      This new book (to me anyway, it was published in 2005), titled Amedeo Modigliani is about that Italian artist. It chronicles his life and how he came to produce the unique figures he is known for. I have long admired the work of Modigliani. I like the simplicity of form and the gritty texture in his paintings. The paintings are also very warm, and seem to have an overall positive feel to them, despite the blank expressions on many of the faces depicted in his work.

      I have been so inspired by his work, that I have attempted to rework my figures to match his. The two figures in the painting Full Circle (found below) are examples of my thinking.

      In addition, I have been working on a self portrait with the same feel.



      While not exact copies (and i don't think they should be), they do portray an homage to the work of Modigliani. I like the effect of what I have done. I'm undecided as to keep proceeding with this idea, but for now it is interesting to me.      

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Rain makes for creativity

      While most of the rest of the country is in full-on drought mode, it's been really rainy here in Louisiana. I find that this makes for the perfect opportunity to go to the studio and make something. There was a question, posted anonymously, asking if I had finished the above painting. So as you can see, yes, it is finished. In addition to this, I have started another painting, I have altered the look of this blog (did you notice?!?! I wanted it to more closely match my Web Site.), and I am getting ready to update my Web Site. So there's a lot to do when it's raining non-stop and I don't feel like going outside. 

      While reworking my blog space, all the librarians I work with made the discovery of I had already known about this site from library school, but apparently it was new to them. This site does a variety of things, but the most fun is the word cloud generator. By submitting the text, or URL from a Web Page, wordle analyzes the text and creates a textual image based on the most commonly used words. It's a fun way to determine what the main ideas of a written work are all about. The word cloud for this blog looks like this:

    I think wordle is addictive. Try it, it's great. For the heck of it I went ahead and did both of my master's theses. They look like this:

    The one on the left is my college teaching degree, and the one on the right is my library degree. From looking at all three of these word clouds, it's apparent that I spend a lot of time thinking about art. That's cool with me, because I enjoy art. Well, I'm off to do the things I mentioned in this post. So, be sure to look at my Website, and we'll see whats happening next time. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Art Institute of Chicago-New Modern Wing

      I just got back from a trip to Chicago. It was excellent! It provided me a chance to reunite with old friends, relax, and have a good time. Chicago is a city that is very familiar to me. Having spent most of my life living in Illinois, I have visited Chicago frequently. On this trip we went to Lollapalooza, the annual music festival held downtown in Grant Park. I got to see the Black Keys, Passion Pit, The Shins, Florence + The Machine, Black Sabbath, and Jack White (White Stripes) and many others. The Red Hot Chilli Peppers were also there, but we happened to miss them. If you are interested there is more info and pictures here.


      This is an art blog, and so one of the other things I did was visit the Art Institute of Chicago. Like the city itself this museum is also very familiar to me. When we arrived there was a line out the door for admission (always a nice thing to see at an art museum). My friend and I did not have to wait however, because I knew about a side entrance that is seldom used by tourists. We got right in, AND I managed to get us a discount on admission.


      The museum currently has a retrospective exhibition on Roy Lichtenstein. I don't care for his work, so we didn't stop to see that. I was more interested in the new Modern Wing. This addition was added to the museum in 2009, and it is something that has been added since I was here last. The Modern Wing is circled on the map below.

      The Modern Wing contrasts with the classical architecture of the original building. It is almost like being in a new museum adjacent to the Art Institute. I understand that they wanted the space to blend with the art on display, but the stark contrast between wings of the same structure is awkward. The following pictures  illustrate the nature of this space. On the far left my friend demonstrates the airy open space of the facility. In the center, a view of the wing from the exterior, and on the far right a sculpture that greets museum patrons as they enter the new wing.


     The Modern Wing is divided into three floors. The first floor is where the Lichtenstein exhibition was happening. But they also had gallery space for contemporary artists to use. They currently have an exhibition by fashion and fiber artist Snadra Blacklund. I tried to get some pictures, but the security guard swooped in and informed me there was no photography permitted. The second floor featured photography, sculpture, and non-representative works of art. This includes artists like Mark Rothko and Piet Mondrian. The third floor featured works by Pablo Picasso, Rene Magritte, and one of my favorites Max Beckman. Some sample images are featured below.

        Architecture aside, the new space is very nice. A good representation of modern work is on display, and the presentation is excellent. I would recommend a visit to anybody interested in this style of art. I did swing through the older part of the museum, and got to see some old favorites. The photo at the opening of this post demonstrates this. I am standing next to A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, perhaps best known by people of my generation for its cameo in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. It is difficult for me to select one painting in the collection that is my favorite, but there is one by Monet that I always try to see. It is pictured below.

I love this painting, and it was very much on my mind when I painted this image:

It's interesting how artists influence one another, even across time. One final note; I tried to stop in the museum library, but they were closed. So I will close with a picture of the library doors.


Sunday, July 22, 2012


     I've been spending some time sketching in cemeteries lately. Cemeteries have always been interesting to me. The monuments are like sculptures, which is really what they are, commemorating the lives of those who are buried. The older ones are the most interesting. Some of them have poetry and descriptions of what the person was like. They all seem to tell a story, and it’s interesting to imagine the life and the history these people saw.   
     I have had this idea for a while, and have not put it down to paper. But now that I am getting started I am excited. I often walk around with ideas for paintings, and it is somewhat surprising how they take form once I start to actually work on them.  

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Feedback and Art Melt 2012

      Last week I asked for feedback on the above image. Thank you to all who offered responses. I received some here, as well as responses on Facebook. Responses were varied form personal to technical, but all were good to read and gave me something to think about. Thank you.
      Viewer feedback is so important to me and my art making. I have never measured successful art by wheather or not it sells, and I am not really interested in the sale of my work. If somebody wants to buy it, that's great I'll sell it to them. But for me, getting my art out there and seen by as many people in as many places as possible is more important. I believe strongly in the communicative aspects of art (this is where my librarianship ties in nicely), and an open dialog between me/my art and the viewer is critical. I don't often get to travel with my art when it goes on display, so I miss that feedback component when people see it. Therefore, the more you respond to my work, either here, via e-mail, or through the guestbook on my Web Site (, the better. Please feel free to respond often! And don't hold back. If I make something hideous say so!

      The next item for discussion is Art Melt 2012. This is an annual event in downtown Baton Rouge sponsored by Forum 35, and is reported to be the largest emerging artist exhibition in the state of  Louisiana. There were certainly artists from all corners of this state, including New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport.  Art in all its forms, (visual, musical, multimedia) is celebrated at the Shaw Center for the Arts. The celebration spills into the street where two stages feature live bands. The result is a New Orleans-style party all about art.

      The art center was just as crowded as the street. Which made looking at the actual art a bit difficult.

     I did look at all the art, and I voted in the viewers choice. My two favorites were a mixed media piece by Baton Rouge artist Keith Douglas, and an intaglio print by St. Charles Artist Becky Trahan. I tried to get images of these pieces but it didn't work out. 
     I was actually invited to participate in this exhibition, but I had submitted works in Houston and North Dakota, and had other things going on at the time. As it happens, I knew one of the judges from my time at the Birmingham Museum of Art, so it could have gone well. Too bad. Maybe next year.   

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Opinions needed

      This is my latest image. A friend of mine gave me a bird-of-paradise cutting from her garden on my birthday. I told her I would most likely paint it. This is the result, but I am unsure about it. I don't care for the symmetrical quality to it ( I was unaware I did this until I stepped away from the painting), I don't know about the composition, and I'm not sure about the subject matter either. I have shown this work to a few people and they always tell me it is great. But I can't tell if they mean that, or if social convention says that they need to respond in the positive.

      Every time I create an image I keep in mind something that I learned in writing class from college. That is to make your audience care; make them see your point of view and understand where you are coming from  ( I could go on about the relationship between the written word and art, but that is perhaps an argument for a later post.). When begin an image I always ask myself "why shouls anyone care about what I have done?" For this image I don't have an answer. I'm not sure anyone should care. It's nor that great, it's not bad, but not that great either. I don't honestly see the value in this image. What do you think?

      When I was in art school I had a ready body of critics. This included my fellow artists/students, but also the art faculty. They were never short on words when it came to evaluating my work. Since I have gone away from this environment it has become increasingly difficult to determine how my work is being interpreted by viewers. When I set up this blog I had hoped it would be more interactive between you the readers and me the artist. This is an opportunity to develop that interactivity. What do you honestly think of this painting? Any feedback would be welcomed.     

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Journey

      This week is the 4th of July, which is my favorite holiday. People often look at me funny when I say that. But it's good fun. Most everyone has the day off, there's cookouts/barbecues, festivals, usually a live band or two, and then the whole thing is topped off with a dazzling fireworks display. What's not to like? There's no stress, no extraneous preparation, no commercial shopping that has to be done. It's just good old fashioned fun!
      One of the best Independence Day (as the official holiday is called) celebrations I attended was the one in our nations capitol on the steps of the Capitol Building. It was the annual "Capitol Fourth," and that particular year it was hosted by Elmo (note the picture above). And it was  through my art that I got to attend this event.
      Last week I had mentioned how my first solo exhibition had resulted from my participation in a local art fair. Well, that solo show was in Washington D.C. and it was a July First Friday event. That meant that my work had to be up on July 1st (Sat), and be ready for the opening later that Friday (July 7). The gallery was closed on the 4th, so after I had set up my work over the weekend, I took in the sights of "The District," and enjoyed one of the best 4th of July's ever!
      The point of this post is that you never know where your art will take you. When I had entered that local art fair I had no idea it would ultimately lead to a solo show, a great 4th of July, and the opportunity to see Elmo in person. If you are an art maker and enjoy your craft, keep at it. You never know what type of journey it may lead you on.

      An upcoming event is the Louisiana Art and Artist's Guilds River Road Show Exhibition. I am a member of LAAG, and I am taking this opportunity to spread the word. If you or anyone you know would like to participate, I encourage you to do so. Who knows where it will take you!