What a Walk Will Do

Last week, I had a commitment to attend a four-day event in downtown Denver, not too far from my studio. Instead of driving, I decided to walk to and from the venue. More and more, I appreciate walks, as they slow my hurried world down and I'm able to see more of the nuances of what's happening around me. As I walked through my neighborhood each day, I noticed new things everywhere: graffiti, venues, construction, buildings, more construction. Denver is booming and there seems to be a new building going up on every block!

The walks were an adventure of new discoveries and compositional possibilities.

As much as it reconnected me to my neighborhood, it also reminded me that sometimes in both life and art, it helps to slow down, observe and reignite the excitement of possibility.

The Devil Is In The Details

Monday night, JQ and I went to go see The Dead Weather perform at my preferred music venue, The Ogden Theater, here in Denver. I had been looking forward to the show for months as the group features one of my favorite musicians, Jack White, on drums. Prior to the show, we met up with some friends at a bar nearby. At 8 o’clock we rushed through the rain to find a substantial number of other latecomers waiting in line for the sold out show. Once inside the building, we were able to work our way to a very good spot next to the soundboard.

We settled down and listened to the first band already in the middle of their set. After they finished, the roadies to The Dead Weather came out on stage, providing sound checks for the audio engineer. Each wore a black suit with a derby hat and a blue tie. JQ and I both looked at each other, acknowledging the attention to detail in something as seemingly insignificant as the dress code for the roadies.

Soon, the lights dimmed and the band came out to the stage. A powerful drum explosion erupted through the crowd’s applause with rapid-fire beats channeled straight to my heart. By the time I gathered myself back together, the rest of the band had joined in and the music sustained the heights to which I had been so violently propelled. I looked on to the stage to find a soothing blue background punctuated by the black and white colors of a tapestry, instruments and costume. Black butterflies tickling my back, as the band on fire seized our attention for the next hour and a half with a brand of rock and roll I had never witnessed before. JQ and I grooved the duration, enjoying every moment. The chemistry of sound, showmanship and lighting all working together, spellbinding the audience from start to finish.

Again, like my experience At The Theater, the meticulousness really made a difference for this show- the diligence and precision of it- paired with sound, atmosphere, drama, lighting and other visual elements. It soundly reaffirmed that when great care is applied to the most minute details of any production, whether it's a concert, a play, film or art exhibit, the impact can be completely breathtaking. The performance certainly fueled the creative fire.

P.S. Jack White is an amazing talent.

The Benefits of Teaching

Lately, I’ve been taking on students for private instruction. Though it’s a path I’ve considered for some time, I was hesitant to move forward on it because I wasn't quite sure what area of expertise I wanted to offer. Two years ago, I taught several students: one was an experienced artist who wanted to learn oil-painting specifically and the other was learning to paint for the first time. After the sessions ran their course, I convinced myself it wasn’t worth pursuing any further, convincing myself I simply didn't have the time as I toiled over the inadequacies of my studio with excuse after excuse.

This year, I’ve had several inquiries from friends who were either interested in learning more about painting or wanted to further advance their techniques. After some coaxing, I agreed to develop curriculum specifically for each student. So for the past month, in addition to my own painting, I have created lesson plans that focus on the exploration of color. I started by reviewing my original plans from two years ago to revise and improve them while researching and organizing new information. Keeping a general audience in mind has forced me to examine details in a way that I hadn’t for quite awhile to disseminate information in a pragmatic way. In doing so, I am becoming reacquainted with some basic elements I normally take for granted. This process of taking a step back is not only enabling me to become a better teacher, but I am becoming a better artist.

Feedback

Recently, I participated in The Art Students League of Denver’s annual Summer Art Market. I have exhibited and taken part in various festivals and events over the last ten years. Each event I participate in, I listen to the comments and feedback, for better or worse, which inevitably come my way. At this year’s event, I was very pleased with the feedback I received, not because it was spun any particular way, but because it was obvious people at least understood my creative intention.

After my experience at last year’s Artist Project in Chicago, I made a concerted effort to tighten up my approach in painting. This meant focusing on style and really working to render visually what was forming in my head. As somebody explained it to me, my paintings are becoming more focused. It’s nice to know when the work you put into something gets noticed.