Thursday, February 24, 2011

Starting a New Painting

Sometimes it just comes to you.  You can't predict when it will come again, if ever again, so you dare not ignore it.  You just listen to it and trust it.  'It' is that voice inside your head that says, "I MUST paint that."  That phrase could just as easily be replaced with a number of other phrases such as "I must draw that," "I must write a song about that," "I must make an interpretive dance about that," or "I must write a satirical play about that."  Whatever the medium may be, when inspiration comes to create something, DO IT!

So when I took a weird photo of Madeline and the urge to paint it came as soon as I saw it, I prepared myself for a new oil painting.  Luckily, I now have a wonderful work area in which to more easily create a painting!

The photo inspiration

stage 1

stage 2

Normally, I make my underpainting in burnt umber but I decided to make this one with a more vibrant color.  I remembered from one of my painting classes at MICA called 'Pushing Color' that our teaching highly suggested for a colorful image to make our underpaintings in colors other than the neutrals.  This underpainting is in Phthalo Blue which is much more vibrant than other blues out of the tube.

I'll post more photos of this in progress whenever I get another chance to work on it during my busy schedule.

Here is a figure drawing from last week's class at CityArts Cooperative.

15 minutes
Shadows are fun.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Print of Time

Here is my latest silkscreen print:

I'm still struggling with this medium so the print is far from perfect.  I titled it "2085" which will be 100 years after I was born.  It is a view of my living room.  I think the meaning is quite obvious: nature taking over the man-made world.  I see it as a positive piece, hopeful that one day the natural world will re-grow and be healthy once again.  What that means for the human race, I'm not sure.  Either we will make ourselves extinct, or we will learn how to live in this world rather than against it.

The ironic thing about this print?  Some of the very trees in this print were there outside my window when I made this drawing.  They were much smaller, but I'm adding many years.  The day I finished the print - adding the green - all those trees were cut down.  Our landlord decided to "clean up" our yard.  They cut down a huge palm tree, a small palm tree, a persimmon tree, and at least 3 more.  They trimmed other trees to look like skeletons holding a couple of leaves at the top.  They cleared many vines and shrubs.  Our house now sits on an almost barren lot.  I made an entire series of art called "Ecocide" which means 'the destruction of the environment' so I'm obviously quite upset about all of this.  Nobody even gave us a chance to say anything before it all happened.  One day I heard chain saws and then looked outside to see our yard raped and empty.

In other news, I am working on my next print.  For this project we are printing t-shirts, so I couldn't help but revisit the octopus.  The assignment was "monsters/creatures" so I made an octopus-like creature with scales. It will be a 3-run print (which means 3 colors) and hopefully I will run my first color tomorrow.  Here is what the screen looks like right now:

That green stuff is drawing fluid.  It is painted on [VERY SLOWLY - it's just a slow medium] after marking in the image with washable marker. Once it is dry, screen filler is applied to cover the entire surface.  After that is dry, I will spray the whole screen with the hose.  The screen filler will stay, but the drawing fluid will wash away, leaving the areas where the ink will be able to flow through.  The image on the screen may not seem to make much sense and that is because I fit all three color runs onto one screen.  That means when I print one color, I will block the other areas with packaging tape.

I can't wait to have my octopus t-shirts of my own design!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Postcards and A Voice

My new postcards came in the mail yesterday.  I left the front almost the same as it was before, just with my blog address instead of myspace.  ( I think myspace is just about dead)  I added newer images onto the back, just keeping one from before.  I wanted the new cards to feel a little brighter and more colorful.

Here's the new postcard back:

The front:

The old back:

We had our first critique in Silkscreen class yesterday.  I would post my most recent print, but the series is with my teacher for a week.  Nothing has showed me how much I have changed in just a few short years  more than this class.  When I was in college (at the Maryland Institute College of Art) I was painfully shy.  I wasn't very confident.  During a critique I would try to achieve invisibility so that nobody would ask me to speak.  Of course, speaking during critiques was part of the grade.  This means near the end of the semester I would know that I needed to try to say some things if I wanted a good grade.  While everyone was saying their critiques I would sit there toiling over what I wanted to say.  I would decide on what to say, and then work up the guts to actually say it.  Then, of course, I needed a pause to actually speak, which hardly ever happened as everyone talked on top of one another.  By the time I was so close and just about to say my piece, someone else would say something similar right before me.  Ugh, back to square one.

Now, not even four years after graduation, the situation is completely different.  If I have a thought, I simply say it without hesitation.  Easily.  To me, that's amazing because I remember how much I struggled with such a simple task.  I owe my new-found confidence to the Gallery Above.  Once I knew I was to own and run an art gallery I knew I just had to get over being shy.  End of story.  And then I did it.  Through the Gallery Above I gained a voice and confidence.  Thanks, Gallery Above.  Thanks, self.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cove Alley Photo-Shoot

On Saturday Mat, Madeline, Charlie and I went for a long walk.  We mostly stuck to the alleys, where you can find many interesting and beautiful moments.  We stopped at a little park on the beach for a bit.  Our walk was at least 2 hours long and I snapped photos wherever there was something interesting.  Here are a few:

This photo is too cool.  Notice the light streaking from the upper right corner and somehow there is a rainbow on her neck/cheek!  I may have to do a painting of this.

Father and Daugher -or- What is that little girl doing talking to that bum??

Charlie and Madeline

Looking up in the alley.

Desktop image, eh?

I love moments of nature taking over man-made structures.  Always have.

I don't exactly consider myself a photographer, but I do enjoy taking photos and editing them.  I suppose if anyone was interested I could have prints made.  Email me if you would like a print!

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Creative Process

I watched a TED lecture on nurturing creativity.  The speaker is Elizabeth Gilbert, author of "Eat Pray Love."  I've never read the book or seen the movie, so I can't speak for her writing.  In the lecture she proposes that we adopt the Greek point of view on creativity: that it comes from outside of the person, from some unknown place.  She brings up good points about how creativity sometimes seems to be out of our control, great ideas coming to us at inopportune moments and then leaving before we get a chance to capture them.  She says that embracing the idea that our creativity is not entirely up to us eases some of the burden or pressures that come along with living an artistic life.  If we do something great, it keeps us from being too narcissistic, and if what we create flops, we can't be entirely to blame, all because there is some fairy-like something gracing us with ideas and inspiration.

While some of her points were of course valid, I disagree that there is a fairy whispering ideas into our heads.  Not only because that is, of course, silly, but because I see another explanation for the mystery that is creativity.  We are all, in a sense, two creatures in one because of our brains.  Our brains are distinctly divided into two halves.  Literally, if you were to take a brain out of someone's skull, the two halves are already completely separate, barely attached by a thick band of nerve fibers (the corpus callosum) which sends messages back and forth between the hemispheres.  When I teach drawing, a lot of what I practice and preach can be found in "Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards.  I have always been able to draw.  It came naturally to me to draw from the right side of the brain.  Of course, many years of practice and hard work are needed as well.  I have discovered, with the help of teaching and reading this book, that what came naturally to me can be taught and learned by people who claim they can't even draw a stick figure.

I've digressed.  Anyway, my point is, I think ideas and creativity come from the right side of our brain.  I can't explain why it's so difficult to access the creativity because I, too, struggle.  I can put myself in the right side of my brain in order to draw what is right in front of me quite easily.  Great ideas about a meaningful piece of art, however, do not come as easily.  I've heard people say they'll go decades without creativity gracing them with its presence.  I will go months without a good idea, and a busy schedule seems to keep the creativity fairies (of the right brain, that is) away.  So if anyone has any thoughts on this, I would love to hear them.  If anyone has any suggestions on how to access those genius ideas more often, please share.

Enough blah-blah-blahing, I know you just came here for pretty pictures.

This is from the 4-hour Saturday Figure Drawing Workshop I taught at Studio B.  I talked about the skeleton and asked the students to see the skeleton under the model when drawing their gestures.  Here's mine - 1 minute each.

From TEK Records at the Dustin and the Furniture Show.  This is Chesley and Jef playing as The Jerry Riddle.

From Figure Drawing at CityArts Cooperative.  6 minute drawings in pen.

10-15 minute drawing in pen.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New Desk!!!



Aaaaah, that is SO much better.  I can BREATH!  My work surface was always cluttered with not enough space to work.  I work mostly from the house in this corner so something had to be done.  PLUS Madeline accidentally knocked the precariously placed lamp stacked on 5 books over which then ripped a large drawing that was leaning against the wall.  Too cluttered and DANGEROUS!  So I had an idea:  I need a new desk!  After many drawings and plans, Mat and I trekked to Lowe's first thing Saturday morning to get just $70 worth of wood.  We then headed to Wewahitchka where his dad has a FULL wood shop with every tool and machine you would ever need.  Thanks power-tools and machines!  It took us two full days but it was worth it.  We simply cut a large piece of wood to attach to my old art desk, making the surface larger but keeping the tilt-up option.  Then we built the table to the side, complete with shelf, holes for plugs, and pure sturdy awesomeness.  Once we placed it in the room I couldn't WAIT to get back to work!  And now here I sit at this lovely art/work station merrily typing away with plenty of elbow room.

I could be a little merrier if I didn't have some pesky cold or possibly strep throat....

Figure drawing at CityArts Cooperative last week had such a good attendance I may need to rearrange the classroom better to accommodate more students!  What a lovely problem to have!  Here is a spread of sketches:

And I have been having a blast teaching Kids Art Classes at Cloud 9 Wellness Center.  Check out these talented and creative little ones!