Friday, December 28, 2012

Gray day is a perfect day to paint outside

It's a couple days after Christmas. I'm still looking for a job. It's gray outside. I haven't seriously painted in several weeks. Hello...brain...tell this body to get off it's butt and do paint.

So I know I have to paint more from life. But, it's winter. It's cold. It's ugly out. Isn't it? As a matter of fact, I love snow. It's the cold that I really could live without. I enjoy a big snowstorm. And when the snow is wet and sticks to everything, it's really a beautiful sight. Guess what it did just before Christmas? It snowed. Wet snow. It hasn't melted down and there's a painting waiting for me somewhere.

Okay, make a decision: I'm going to go paint outside. Ya know, plein air style. And I know just where I'm going to go because I scoped this spot out earlier yesterday, a whopping mile from my house. The resulting plein air trip produced a nice little study of snow, trees and a winding creek with fallen trees. It was a beautiful scene. The study has got me thinking about a full size studio version.

But for now, here's the video I put together as I trampled through a field on a perfect neutral gray day to do a little painting.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Digital Crash

What a cluster: Hard drive on my laptop died with no chance for data recovery. I should say, the cost to take the drive to a clean room with a 50/50 chance of total recovery would cost more than the laptop is worth. But what is the data worth? More than that piece of crap Seagate drive that went belly up after just two years. To make it really bad, my lazy back-up two months ago didn't get all my data. So, 2 years worth of reference photos, family vacations, special moments, etc....gone. Forever. All my high rez photos of artwork are gone. Of the pieces that sold, it's not a big deal, but it's still a shitty deal. No one else to blame but myself. And that sucks.

NOTE TO SELF- purchase some sort of cloud-based backup package and/or become very regular in backing up your computer.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Painting Live at Open Canvas 2012

Last night was another awesome opportunity for me to paint for my 6th year at Open Canvas. Organized by Jeff Kursel with art scholarships to MIAD, this year the date was wedged into a Thanksgiving weekend. It's such a classy act with tons of original art being created before your eyes. What a concept for the viewing public. A charitable event where 80 or so local Milwaukee area artists paint live and all the work goes up for silent auction during the evening. Lots of food, fun, people and ART.  I heard pre-sale tickets were down 20% but it sure looked like a nice size, good looking crowd was in attendance again; maybe 500-600?

2012 has been the year of the abstract for me. For some reason, I've stumbled upon some inspirational artists on YouTube and found other in art magazines. So it only seemed appropriate I do an abstract for this event. It did sell, not where I hoped, but this year has been tough for 2D sales everywhere for a lot of people. I liked what I did and had fun doing it, so nothing else matters.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Palette Knife Painting

I've used a palette knife for many years. For awhile all my paintings were done exclusively with a knife. I've got about 10 varieties, but truth be told I only use about 4. In the classes I've taught many students want to learn how to use a knife. It's pretty easy. Just don't treat it like a brush.

One of the best things about using one is the clean-up process. Just a roll of paper towels and you're done! Plus, in between colors requires just a wipe and you move on. No solvents, rags, etc. For oils it's really a great option. It also forces me to focus on big shapes and away from over-blending colors.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sketchbook 1

Over the years, I've filled several sketchbooks. If I was an art student I would fall short: Always be drawing and sketching was what I remember. But alas, now I'm more mature with a fuller schedule, and an art career that is mainly just a hobby. But, I still sketch and love to draw. Here are a couple of my doodles.

Tux, my cat. Charcoal on vellum.

 Some super hero. Pen

Male portrait, pen

Blues musicians. Pencil. While at Bluesfest 2010 Wisconsin

 RIU Palace resort. Riveria Maya, Mexico. pencil. This was paradise.

Poolside at The Venitian, Las Vegas. Pencil. It was 100* that day.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Images from the past

I came across a bunch of digital images from art that I've sold or given away over the years.
 Big Bend Plein Air- SOLD

 Red Sky at Night- SOLD

 Fall on the River- Oil

 Nala- RIP. A commission for my Uncle Tom

 Mid Summer- Pastel

 15 Minutes to Sundown- Oil (all palette knife)

 Bridge at Kettle Moraine Park- Oil

Winner- Downer Avenue Plein Air Event, 2007- Oil

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pewaukee Lake Plein Air Event

Last weekend was the annual Classic Old Boat Show and Art Fair. Last year I just showed up and was amazed by the boats; lots of those old Chris-Craft's and Thompson "woodies". Since I'm a boat owner myself (fiberglass), I just love boating and the water.

This is the boat I ended up painting

Pewaukee Lake is located about 20 miles west of Milwaukee. Six miles long, it's one of the largest lakes in the state. On the east end is the quaint downtown area of Pewaukee. Lots of Indian named towns in Wisconsin, it this is no different. The weather was superb! Sunny and about 75* you really couldn't ask for a better day. I got there at 6:30am to scope a first painting scene out...and to register by 7 because I had to be somewhere at 8:30.

What caught my eye was the deserted beach area, except for a flock of seagulls, the calm water, and the roped off swimming area. A seagull was sitting on a No Swimming Buoy, so it seemed to be a nice little subject.

So off I went. I had 45 minutes to get this quick plein air painting done, packed up, and back in my car. the result is below: "Awaiting the Day" 8x10 oil

I came back later with the idea to take on one of the boats. There were about 30 of the sweetest old wood boats around. And there were plenty of artists, already staked out. But, I saw the one I wanted and had about 1.5 hrs to get it done before they closed the competition. The result was...
"One in a Million" 11x14 Oil
The sun moved as it does, and I got hung up on a few details but in the end all was good and I had fun. A woman asked me if that was "her husband's boat?" Heck I don't know, let's go look. We did. It wasn't. But she asked if I could paint it for his upcoming birthday. So, a commission. Better than winning some stupid old ribbon anyway.

Monday, August 6, 2012

139 and Counting

For some dumb reason I walked into a closet I have downstairs and wondered how many paintings I had in there. So I started counting. These are paintings/drawings I've completed over the last 12 years.

10 years is about the amount of time I got "back into" my art. During 2000 when I lived in Grand Rapids, MI I took a class on figure drawing. It was fun. Then I found a local arts group called Grand Valley Artists, GVA. This was more fun, and I met some very well known national artists; Jim Markel PSA, Larry Blovets, and a few more. It got me back into art, something I had given up during the previous 10 years as I pursued a career and got married.

So around the house I went. And in the end...not counting a drawer full of smaller canvases and my "paper" box of sketches and pastel works: 139 pieces. I was kind of shocked. I've also got, without going to my inventory list, another 40 pieces at galleries and two dentist offices.

139 and still counting. I need to have a show, even if it's my own private show just to look at how far I've come as an artist. Maybe I'll do that. Stay tuned.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Urban family portrait

Urban Family
Graphite, Charcoal, Carbon

I recently completed a week long portrait for a good friend of mine. This piece was delivered as a 50th birthday present. As of today, I haven't heard what he thought. The four kids are the children of her new boyfriend, and probably soon to be next husband. Only time will tell. Because all four are either going to different schools or working, she had them gather for a photo, which is what I worked from. I did have some input and at least got a neutral smile for them all.

I created this piece on Strathmore bristol Plate finish paper. In hindsight, I wish I would have went with a 500 Series, vellum finish. Plate just didn't give me some of the effects I was hoping for and made the graphite "shine" even more apparent.

I used a combination of graphite pencils along with several carbon pencils from Wolff and General's. For some of the darkest values the only way to go and totally eliminate any sheen is with the Carbon Sketch or the Organic Black Elite Grande #5000 from Primo. These allow complete control and quickly build up the richest darks. You can pull out anything with a kneaded or plastic eraser.

The clothing was done with charcoal or graphite powder, rubbing it into the support with either my fingers or  cotton swab. The wrinkles can be made using a chamois or kneaded eraser. In most cases, slight adjustments achieved the most life-like results.

The structured drawing and study of the human head definitely helped my drawing skills, again. Working with just black and white also helped me with creating subtle value changes. My portrait work in this medium is in the photo-realism space. My wife beats me up on every little detail, to which I reply with "is there a likeness?" Of course there is, but with photo-realism you have to take extra care to make it work.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hello 2012

Is it really a new year? Has it really been over a month since my last post? Does anybody ever read my blog?

For whatever reason, I decided to keep it up this year. I'll try to be more attentive to it. But, like everything, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Last year (2011) summary, estimate...

Total art sales: too low to mention
Total teaching income: not enough to quit my day job, but 20x more than my art sales!
Total new paintings created: not sure but around 20
Total events participated in: 2. Door County Plein Air, Open Canvas
Total plein air days: around 10
Total classes/workshops I attended: 1
Total life drawing open studios I attended: 5
Total new venues where I am exhibiting: 3, which makes 4 public places as we start 2012

New year resolutions? None. Daily resolutions: 365. Be creative. Be real. Live in the Now.

If I can pull that off, life will be a new masterpiece every day!