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.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


      These are the paintings I have completed for May. People in Louisiana have been after me to paint an image of a cabin/shack in the woods, or on the bayou for some time. Apparently these images are very poplar down here. I have been told "they sell like hot-cakes!" So, the image on the top is a reflection of this push. 

      The second image was an attempt to play with texture and address the issue of "edge." I decided that the yellow and blue stripes in the background resemble wallpaper. But, I didn't just want to paint a wall paper wall, so I attempted to reveal a 3-d edge on the left hand side. You can get a sense on this when looking at the yellow tonal shifts from the blank canvas on the far left. I don't know how successful this idea was. I do like the idea of a 3-d edge in a 2-d painting. I may want to explore this idea further later on. 

    I'm thinking of going out sketching this weekend. It's been a while since I have gone out and done that. So, that might be a good idea. If I do, I will share some of those sketches here.    

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Did not complete April

      Here is the only painting I completed for April. I did not reach my goal of two paintings per month for the first time this year. I have started another, and I hope to be back on track for May. I would say I should strive for three in May to make up for it, but I don't think that is a good idea. Everything that I have learned or read about art making suggests that as an artist, one must strive to make as much art as possible. The rationale being that of everything created, only a few pieces will be very good with the rest merely acceptable.
      But this idea is easier said than done. It all comes down to how motivated you are to working. Sometimes the motivation just isn't there. I find this to be particularly true when there are no outlets for displaying your art. If no one seems to  care about the art you are making, why should you make it?

     On the surface, this may seem like an excuse not to make extra paintings for this month. But in addition to the motivation factor, I think that an artist must work at his or her own pace. To force things just to reach a quota will result in art that lacks meaning, imagery that is uninspired, and a glut of sub-par work.

      The college that I work at has an annual event called Artsfest. Last year a panel discussion of four working artists was created to talk about how they work, and what it is like for them day-to-day. The common theme among all four presenters was staying motivated. They said sometimes the motivation to work on your art is lacking, and that it can be a real struggle to go to the studio. In these instances they all commented that it was good to get away from your studio for a while. They said to step back and engage in non-art related activities that you enjoy. This would keep you engaged and take the drudgery out of constant production. It was also suggested that these breaks from work would inspire new ideas and generate new ways of working.

     I'm going to take this to heart. I spent most of this past month catching up on some reading, and doing outdoor things (it is spring, after all). I feel energized and ready to work, so we will see what this next month brings for me.        

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

April art

 This is the second painting that I finished for March. I don't like it. I was trying something with gesso, but I don't think it worked. It made everything kind of muddy and difficult to work with. That's what art making is about though. Experimentation and play often leads to new and exciting works. Feel free to comment about this work below. What do you think about it?

There is an artist named Aram Bartholl that has started creating an art community out in plain sight. He has embedded USB drives in locations across the globe with .txt files on them. All you need is a portable electronic device that can plug in to a USB and you can participate.

I think this is a really neat idea. The best artworks surprise and delight in ways the viewer did not expect. Finding these drives, hidden in plain sight  adds a fun perspective to seeing art. Many others agree, as Bartholl's idea has been copied and expanded. There is now a complete list of where these works can be found and how you can participate here. I persoanlly haven't gone out to find one of these, because there none near me. But if you see one that is close to you, go check it out and leave a message here about what you saw.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Problem Solving in Art

          This is the completed image for the most recent painting I shared here. This painting turned out better than I thought it would. When I began, I was not satisfied with how the picture was shaping up. But I do think the finished painting is pretty good. What do you think?

         The current painting that I am working on has been erased and re-started 3-4 times now. Normally when I begin a work, I let the composition flow as I work. This time I have something in mind, and I can't seem to get it quite right. I have found art making to be a process wherein a series of problems are resolved with changes made directly to the image. Each solution usually creates one or two more additional problems, and the art work is not complete until the artist is satisfied with the problem solutions and can live with any remaining issues within the work. This image in particular is giving me issues as I am only getting started.


Normally I would try to have other information on here about a show, or an artists I have discovered. But I haven't really done any of that for a while. So, for now this is what I have. Check back next week, and maybe I will have something else. You could also suggest something in the comments if there is a topic you think I should discuss.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

latest musings

Since I have lately been posting the progress of my paintings as I work on them, here is where the current one stands. It should be finished in a few days.

I have completed the revisions to my artist statement. The greatest difficulty I had here was in trying to write something general. I wanted the statement to broadly reflect all of my work, and as my work has changed over the years it was challenging to compose something that covered everything. The revised statement is shorter, but it talks more about the similar visual keys throughout my work.

I haven't posted it on my Web site yet, I wanted to get some feedback here first. So here it is:

Making art helps me make sense of the world around me. To me it is a mental exercise that promotes free thought and new ideas. It is a way of communicating without using words, and it is a way to promote understanding using visual cues.
The visual cues I rely on most are that of color and line. I like to use color to convey a sense of mood, and I like the energy created by using line to move the viewer through the picture plane. The combination of mood and movement create an image that is difficult to ignore. 
In a world flooded with visual information, I want my work to have an impact and to delight the senses of the viewer.

What do you think? Good? Bad? Indifferent? Please leave responses in the comments.

Monday, March 9, 2015


I'm not certain if I mentioned it or not, but I am planning on finishing at least two paintings every month.The latest image is posted above. I started this goal in February, and I have already posted my two paintings for that month here. In case you missed them, here is a recap:

 "Bowties are cool"

 "By the fire"

I decided that I needed to build up my portfolio, and by setting the goal of at least two paintings a month, I figure by the end of the year I should have a substantial amount of work.

In addition to building up my portfolio I am trying to revamp my artist statement. The current statement I have on my website is a bit old and no longer relevant. Especially as I move to paint more of these orange figures, which is what I am currently interested in.

To help me put together a revised artist statement I have consulted an article in the December/January issue of Professional Artist Magazine. In this issue, author Kathleen Caprio described her process of updating her artist statement and offered four tips to complete the revision. One of the best tips I found was to use fresh language. A friend and I often joke about artists and notions. It seems as if almost all artist statements or interviews with artists describe one notion or another that the artist has had. It has become a joke. Indeed the current statement of my work on the Web site includes the term "notion," so this is definitely one area that I need to change.

If you are struggling to come up with an artist statement, or have just decided it was time to revise your statement, what sorts of things are you thinking about? What do you think you absolutely need in your statement to articulate the nature of your work?  

Monday, March 2, 2015

expensive art

Here is the completed image from last time. I thought that it looked drastically different than the one I posted last time. But in going back I see the differences are very subtle. I'm not sure how I feel about that, other than to say it was mostly finished last time so it makes sense that the finished image would be similar. I finished it about two weeks ago.

I also recently came across an article in Slate describing, or at least attempting to describe, why art is so expensive. I'm not sure agree with the article. Basically it says art is expensive because it can be. People will pay for it. I suppose that answers the question of why it is so expensive, but to me it doesn't really get at the issue. Though, to be honest I'm not sure what the issue is exactly. Why is art so expensive? I can't figure it out. The link to the article is here.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Prospect 3

Not much to add since last weeks post. I have almost finished the image in progress from last week. Here is a sample of that image:

I hope to finish it today or tomorrow. I'll post the completed image here when it is done.

Recently, there have been some art happenings around here. Prospect 3 is an interactive exhibition that was happening in New Orleans. Some of it has spilled over here in Baton Rouge. I have enjoyed the opportunity to see some of these things. In order to get a proper feel for it, I'm sharing a video form The Art Project that describes it better than I ever could.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Art Happenings

I have been thinking a lot about texture and pattern lately, and how to incorporate it into my images. The above image was completed a few weeks ago, and is now featured at the faculty exhibition at my college. This image shows an example of how I am using texture and repeated shapes. Most of the time texture refers to something of a tactile quality. But for me, and my paintings, I'm using texture to break up space in the same way that pattern does. I suppose there could be a perceived tactile quality to the background of my images, but what I am more interested in, is how the space is broken up by the lines, shapes, etc. and how it relates to the rest of the image. In this instance the pattern takes precedence over the texture.

This next image is a painting I completed last week.

It also features a background broken up by textural shapes and pattern. This one might have more of a tactile feel to it, given that the circles have a defined edge. I really like what is happening with the backgrounds, and I plan to continue exploring these ideas. The image below is a painting that I started this week, and for the background here, I plan to go into my old sketchbooks and pull out some patterns from when I worked with clay.

The combination of the figure with a patterned/textural background makes for a visually interesting image.