The Future of Art?

I walked into the classroom, the floorboard creaking under each step. Though I had fifteen minutes to spare, there were already at least a dozen other artists gathered and stationed at their easels for the life drawing class. I roamed around hoping to find a spot with an unobstructed view of the stage area and luckily found a gap where I would actually be able to see the model. I marked a spot by setting my large sketchbook down on the ground; territorial pissing.

As I inspected the stage, I noticed a purple drape flowing over a single chair. Nothing more. The model arrived shortly after I set up my easel, and after some discussion with the session coordinator, she disrobed and found a comfortable seated pose as the lights were adjusted to bring out contrast in her figure.

The first sitting lasted twenty minutes and flew by. During the break, I was sharpening my pencils when I looked up to find a familiar smiling face walking in. It was my uncle and it was good to see him there. We talked for a few moments and then he went off to find a view of his own to draw from as the model returned for the next session.

During the following break, we strolled around the room a bit, taking notice of some works by the other artists. One particular setup caught my eye as well as my uncle’s. A notebook computer was set up on some sort of frame, much like an electric keyboard rig. The artist was composing directly on to the computer through some advanced form of Photoshop.

Admittedly, I was a little put off, but my uncle was intrigued. He started inquiring about the setup as I tuned the conversation out to browse other works. There was one particular part I did catch, however, and that was the student’s remark who said this was “just another medium” to work from.

To a point, I agree with his statement. I am certainly not a technophobe but do have boundaries for how I employ certain high-tech tools. In terms of the actual art process, I am more of a traditionalist. I have difficulty enough embracing giclée printing from original work, let alone art that has been produced entirely in a digital format. It is my opinion that the aesthetic qualities lost in translation to a digital format diminish the experience of the viewer; things like texture and consequently, the flattening of light, to name a few. Furthermore, it seems the artist isn’t really challenged within this sterilized, artificial setup. All the tools he or she will ever need are right there in the program: all the colors, tools, format, etc. There is no struggle for the artist to overcome and no reason to find an innovative solution to a problem. The only limiting factor is the artists own skills.

The evening soon ended and as my uncle and I left the building, we discussed our opinions of “painting” with computers. Ultimately, we’re looking forward to more art sessions with our traditional tools. If you have any opinion on technology and art, please feel free to share.

The Art of Self Perception

She held up the drawing to me- a self-portrait. I asked her what she thought of it and she said liked it, yet admitted she could have demonstrated a wider range of value. I agreed.

I didn’t want to say too much. I didn’t want to criticize. That certainly that wasn’t the point. The drawing was merely a mark in time; the beginning of her process. Who was I to judge her perceived self? I explained to her the first time I showed my mug to the public. Mind you, this was not the first self-portrait I ever did, merely the first one I was actually comfortable enough to show.

“Your nose isn’t that big,” someone assured me.

“Your nose should be bigger,” someone else declared.

“Your face is fatter,” I was told.

And so it went. I received an equal amount of praise and criticism from friends and family alike... whether I wanted to or not.

A portrait is challenging enough, but a self-portrait even more so. We know ourselves better than anyone else but can easily get caught up in preconceived ideas about who we are. Consequently, we tend to view ourselves in a subjective light revealing our own biases and criticisms of ourselves through the rendering of facial features in terms of exaggeration, distortion, addition or omission. In some instances, these embellishments are deliberate, but often this is not the case. Not to mention the complexity of technical skills it requires to draw a face in the first place.

This exercise in self-perception is designed for the artist to learn to view the world more objectively and thus, yield a work that rings true with its audience because it comes from a place of honesty. Finding this honesty in a self-portrait takes practice.

It has been over a year since the last self-portrait I painted. After my student presented her work, I felt it was time to do another. So yesterday I drew one (pictured to the right). I think it's good, but there's always room for improvement. We are all just works in progress. Please feel free to comment on any of this.

Artist Update (11/09)

I just picked up my work from this year’s Lone Tree Art Exhibition where I had one piece that was accepted into the juried competition. Last week was the kick off for Denver Arts Week. I hosted an open studio for First Friday. It was nice to see some new faces.

This week, I return to a clean studio for art lessons and painting- I currently have three students and am working on several new paintings. Five of them are for several commissioned projects, including a jazz painting for the soon-to-be Rocky Mountain Hospital For Children which will open in 2010. I am very excited about this project.

I will post more blogs with images soon along with updates to my website. Until then…

Creators (or “My Name Is Earl For Pictures”)

Last week, I attended a reception for “Creators”, a collection of new black and white portraits by Denver Artist, Sharon Brown. Sharon is an oil painter and her studio is just down the street from mine. Over the course of the last year, we have had several opportunities to collaborate, the last of which was for an exhibition/presentation with a group called Welcome Colorado.

Before the group arrived for that particular event, I was helping to get things in order at The Pattern Shop Studio. We had just finished setting up when she disappeared and quickly returned with a camera in hand. I’m not big on photos, but was flattered, assuming she was capturing the moment on film.

“Why don’t you stand up against that wall,” she directed, moving me near a self-portrait of mine. I straightened my posture and beamed right into the camera. Usually, I detest getting my picture taken, but I was rather excited for the upcoming event and couldn't conceal my ear to ear grin.

“Don’t smile,” she said.

“Excuse me?” I thought I misunderstood what she said.

“Don’t smile. I want a serious shot of you. It’s for a project of mine.”

I was confused. I thought about all the times I didn’t want to smile for a picture and now I was being asked not to and I couldn’t help myself. For the first time, maybe ever, I actually had to suppress happiness for a photograph. Oh, the irony. It took a few takes to get a decent shot with my eyes open (I seem to have the same problem as Earl in My Name Is Earl when it comes to keeping my eyes open for pictures). Thank goodness for digital cameras.

After she took the picture, she explained to me that she had taken my photograph along with a number of other artists in the RiNo area and was working to put together a show of black and white, monochromatic oil paintings of all the creative people she knew. Last Friday was the opening for that show, which, by the way, if you’re in the Denver area for this First Friday (November 6th), will be open for your viewing pleasure; just down the street, in fact, from my studio which will also be open.

The reception for Creators was wonderful- Sharon and her husband are such gracious hosts. There were quite a few people and the paintings were very well done. She thoughtfully arranged each painting to make sure it was paired with another for one reason or another. Together, the body of work made for a warm, intriguing, ethereal atmosphere that really captured a nice depth in the facial features. I would certainly recommend seeing the show. Maybe after that, come down to my studio... just down the block- I’ve got new paintings to show you too.

For more information, please visit:
www.jaredsteinberg.com
www.patternshopstudio.com
www.rivernorthart.com
and http://www.denver.org/DenverArtsWeek/

On The Surface, Part III

Tony and I returned to his woodshop from the storage unit. During the trip he talked about his early experiences with the professional art world. The topic seemed to stir something up in him as he couldn’t understand why gallery owners and dealers typically pigeon-hole artists into a single type of work- a topic for debate with many artists.

On one hand, you have dealers and brokers who are attempting to sell something based off a certain level of consistency and thus quality. Without being able to depend on that, it would be a challenge to sell artwork. On the other hand, artists tend to explore options and variety through composition, at times varying the style or approach of the subject matter based on what they are feeling at any given time. For some, repeating the successes of past works to create consistent, predictable work can take the joy out of the creative process. Tony sided with the latter argument, citing the negative impact it had on his father and his father’s artist friends. I have my own thoughts on the matter, but will discuss that in another entry.

In any case, we began cutting down strips of maple to secure to the backside of the hardboard surfaces. During the process, Tony handed me a brochure for The Santa Fe Trail. I remember he had mentioned it earlier, but now that it was before me, he beamed as he told me the whole story. Essentially, he created the entire brochure- a commissioned project by the state of New Mexico where he spent a year, on location, creating a map of the trail, the corresponding text and some of the most sophisticated black and white drawings I have ever seen. I was amazed by the variety of creativity within the brochure itself and understood more than ever his frustration with the gallery system.

Here was a man who possessed talents to do life-like portraits, design a brochure, create a map, build furniture and was learning chemistry in his spare time, in addition to a list of many other creative endeavors. With all of these skills, it was easy for me to understand his concern as it related to pursuing art as a full-time career. Tony was simply beyond category. “I don’t want to paint just trees,” he told me.

By the end of the night, we had cut materials for four boards, glued them on to the back of the hardboard surface and sanded down the edges so the backing was completely flush with the facade. They looked just as I pictured and I was thrilled with my new painting surfaces.

Tony let me keep a copy of the brochure which I took home and promptly shared with JQ. As Tony and I work to refine process and product with the painting boards, he continues to challenge me to improve as both an artist and a free thinker. I look forward not only to working with him on more projects, but returning his generosity and helping him in any way I can. Surely, there will be more stories to come.

On The Surface, Part II

David and I walked up the driveway toward an open garage on a warm, late summer night. An older gentleman stood on the left side of the entry, lingering from his exchange with Tony who turned around to see us approaching. We shook hands as David introduced me, providing a little background for us being there. I needed help putting together a wooden surface for my paintings and was hoping Tony would be willing to advise me on the best way to do that. It didn’t take much convincing for him to agree to the endeavor. After the introductions, Tony handed a painted canvas over to the other gentleman who thanked him and left soon thereafter. The painting was a portrait- very well done and realistically rendered.

Tony invited us into his house where he showed some samples of his own paintings. A few of them were painted on wooden boards, giving us a point of reference for the project. I had no idea he was an artist and was very impressed with the photo-realistic quality of his paintings. I asked him if he had ever shown his work in a more formal setting such as a gallery. He just smiled back and told me he only painted for himself. Seeing I was genuinely interested in his work, Tony took us back to a cramped room in the far corner of the house that served as his artist studio. There, he had rigged an easel up to a wall with a makeshift lighting arrangement hanging from the ceiling. On the easel was a painting in progress with a reference photograph tacked above it and to the right; there was little difference between the two. I realized then the painting Tony handed over earlier in the garage must have been a commissioned work.

We soon returned to the wood shop and got down to business. David excused himself to return home as Tony and I began to discuss technical matters. I had brought over two boards that were cut in half from one giant 8’ x 8’ sheet of hardboard. With the help of his giant table saw, it didn’t take long for us to cut six new rectangular surfaces down to size for our first attempt at these painting boards. Tony advised me on options for preparing the surface and we agreed to meet in the next week or so to apply a cradle/frame backing to the eighth-inch thick boards, providing both support and a nice finish to the wood.

I left Tony’s wood shop that night charged. His knowledge, selflessness and background in art were refreshing and inspirational. I returned to my studio that week and experimented with several different methods for priming the wooden surfaces, keeping in mind the scientific properties I had learned from Tony and the other woodworkers I had consulted with. Two weeks later, I returned to Tony’s garage.

The evening began with a trip out to his storage unit where he had some scraps of maple he thought would suffice as the backing to the boards. During our conversation on the way, he told me a little bit more about himself and I was happy to find some common ground in the way we view the world. Like me, he had worked in corporate america at one time and through his own circumstances, eventually realized that way of earning a living was not for him, so he pursued a career as a self-employed woodworker. Though he was extremely gifted in his craft, he actually was trained at an early age to be a painter. Something about the experience, however, ultimately soured him to the world of professional art as he saw his father who was also an aspiring artist and his father’s artist-friends deal with the strange world of those who earn a living selling other people’s art.

To Be Continued...

On The Surface, Part I

The ring of the saw blade glided to a stop after the last board was cut. Fluorescent lights from the woodshop fell dimly on the driveway as the sun settled behind a gentle pink summer sky blanketing the Denver suburb. We rounded up a group of four one-inch maple strips to apply to the backside of newly trimmed rectangular hardboard. This was all part of a specific painting surface I had been trying to figure out how to make since June. I was fortunate enough to find the assistance of a professional woodworker and delighted in how perfectly this dream seemed to be coming together.

Earlier in the spring, I was short on cash and couldn’t afford to buy canvas material to paint on. I had some old scraps of hardboard stored in the studio, so I took them out, cleaned them up and primed them with gesso to begin new work. I loved the way the paint responded to the hard surface. Not since college had I worked on boards, and even though this re-acquaintance was circumstantial, I couldn’t have been more pleased with the results.

I did notice after I applied the gesso primer and began the actual painting, the long boards bowed ever so slightly. I wondered if it was possible to straighten the wood in order to make them more presentable. I knew other manufacturers were already making similar products, but after I contacted a few, it became obvious that commissioning them to produce custom sized work was not the most cost-effective strategy. Besides, I wanted something that was unique to me- something I had a hand in putting together, without relying entirely on somebody else to produce it for me.

After spending some time at the hardware store and consulting with several friends who were at least a little familiar with woodworking, I wasn’t getting any further along in the process. I made several calls to various wood suppliers in the Denver area, but didn’t find them to be much help either aside from providing me with suggestions for the right materials and some basic knowledge of the properties of wood. Though I was very impressed by their overall attention to detail, I was no closer to finding what I was looking for. I decided I needed to find a subject matter expert who was willing to consult and assist me in the process.

I made one call to my friend David, who seems to know just about everyone who ever did anything under the sun. Sure enough, it didn’t take but a second for him to think of a neighbor who happened to be a professional woodworker, making cabinets and furniture for a living. One week later, I found myself alongside David, walking up the driveway to meet Tony.

To be continued…

Artist Update

In the midst of a busy week, so I don’t have much time to write, but here’s the lowdown in my art world. I learned I was accepted into a juried show for the 2009 Lone Tree Arts Exhibition which runs from October 17th through the 31st here in Lone Tree, Colorado. I’ve been making good progress on the new hardboard painting surfaces and have put together eight of them at this point. I hope to have most, if not all of them ready for my open studio event on November 6th in conjunction with Denver Arts Week. I’ve also been enjoying teaching private art lessons to several students. It’s good to revisit the fundamentals of art while passing them along to other artists. Well, that’s all for now. Next week’s blog will delve deeper into the story behind my new painting boards. Stay tuned…

Sketchaday

The artwork-a-day concept has been on my radar for the last three years. I originally learned about it in through an art magazine. The article described an oil-painter who challenged himself to produce an oil-painting a day. He then offered these small-scale renderings through a blog site and ultimately found quite a market for himself while his reputation grew. Recently, another friend of mine began doing a sketch-a-day for his blog. The thought intrigued me, but not to the point where I wanted to commit a piece every day to post online. Never the less, the idea loomed in the back of my mind.

Last week, I found myself frustrated over my inability to effectively draw a specific concept I was thinking. I tried to think of a solution as this problem has been affecting me in little ways over the last few months. I soon realized, with my time in the studio recently diminished, I have been focusing all my limited sessions solely on painting which apparently has been at the expense of other aspects of my art. My work is more than simply applying pigment to a surface; it’s about being deliberate where I put it. To achieve the level of detail I intended for my work, I needed to refine my hand/eye coordination. It then became obvious I needed to find a way to employ hand/eye coordination exercises into my daily routine. That’s when I thought a sketch per day might worth while.

So, for the past week, I've made it a point to sketch at least one page’s worth of material; a sort of art journal I suppose. There, I’ve been conceiving ideas and polishing others as I prepare for new works. More importantly, I’ve been trying to employ more still-lifes into my observations. The consistency and nature of these exercises are really helping me improve my drafting skills. I believe this will translate well on the new cradle boards I’ve been developing. Who knows, if I come up with something worthwhile, I may even post it. Stay tuned...

Misty Mountain Hop

He took the wild flowers gathered from their hike earlier in the day and put them in a little vase centered on the picnic table near the fire pit. As night softly fell over them, he lit the fire, opened a cheap bottle of wine and poured two glasses for himself and his lover as the sun’s pale glow lingered over the mountain peaks.

A few glasses later and she playfully persuaded him to get his guitar and play a couple of tunes for her. He gladly obliged and retrieved the instrument, taking a seat on a large rock facing her. He strummed out the crisp sound of fresh strings from his acoustic guitar, the notes reaching into the valley, eventually dissipating into the blue air. He chose a selection of songs they both knew well; the soundtrack of their romance.

Not far away, a stranger walked leisurely down a gravel road that ran by their campsite. When he came upon the faint sound of music, he lingered for a moment to listen and advanced at a slower, discreet pace along the path, stopping as the sound grew loud enough for him to hear every note perfectly without disrupting the performance. Detached and relishing in the warm summer evening, he stood- the red glow of his cigar bouncing to the rhythm like some ghost conductor as pine trees cast occasional silhouettes, rounding out the audience. Through the brush, he could see her swaying to the rhythm in front of the fire like a dancing phoenix. What a painting that would be, he thought, hoping the fire would burn the scene into his memory and not fade away.

The quality of musicianship surprised him to the point that when the song finished, he nearly applauded, but decided it would be selfish to do so and maybe even awkward so he resisted. No, he thought, better not to disrupt the trance of the muse and the musician. Oh, how the stranger wished he had his guitar at that moment, but then he wished for a lot of things. He felt younger, and took in a few more songs unnoticed, living out the moment vicariously.

The Necessity of Art

For the past few months, many folks have come up to me offering their condolences for the decline of the art market as the world adjusts to the changing economic climate.

“I’m not surprised really,” they are quick to point out. “It’s not like art is a necessity.” They go on to console me with stories of other businesses beyond those in the unnecessary art-world who are dropping off after years of successful entrepreneurship.

While I would agree that food and shelter are more important, I believe art very much a necessity. The arts are a sensory way to communicate, capable of bringing about social awareness as well as provoking more introspective self-reflection. Art can give hope. It can offer a glimmer of what could be, even in the darkest of circumstances. A reflection that when connected with its intended audience can delve deep to deal with complex issues or simply radiate beauty in places where there may be none otherwise. Art is therapy, providing us another avenue to make sense of our world. It is a personal form of expression that if we were unable to share would make for a very dull world. Now, more than ever, I believe, art is absolutely necessary.

Bitter Sweet

The candy-man inspected the work I had just placed on the easel, hands clasped behind his back. I opted to begin the private viewing with work from my ‘Scapes series; a body of work less descript than my other paintings in terms of content and more focused on energy and color.

He spent a few moments examining the work along with my friend who brought him in hopes of turning me on to a new collector. “Lobby art,” he flatly commented.

There was a time when I would have thanked him for coming and promptly asked him to leave, but I held my tongue. He took a step closer to the painting, head moving from side to side as he scanned the horizontal format of the work.

“Are those letters in there?” he asked.

“No,” I replied, “just part of the application of paint. I’ve developed my brushstroke technique to a point of rhythm where a sort of language is emerging.”

He remained fixed on the work with no acknowledgement of my reply, leaving me wondering if he even heard anything I had just said.

“Do you like sushi?” he asked suddenly.

“Excuse me?” my brow raised at the absurdity of his question.

“Because I think I see it written right here,” he said pointing to an area in the left portion of the sky. Indeed, I could see an “S” shaped brush stroke, but thought it was a reach to spell out the rest of the word. It was certainly never my intention and I couldn’t get over the fact that he would really think I would put subliminal advertising for fish into my work. I was beginning to think the candy-man was trying desperately to hit upon some gold nugget of knowledge to stroke his ego, but he was reaching too far and his commentary was awkward at best.

I bit my lip and remained silent. He continued to grasp for details, occasionally making comments to my friend as I accelerated the rotation of works to put our forced meeting to an end, fully aware he didn’t much care for my art. All the while, he continued making vain attempts to guess the motives behind my paintings. These were presented not as questions, but through cool assertions as if he had done the work himself. Eventually, he was able to say something complementary about one of my older works.

He was intrigued by the cubist approach in the composition and soon revealed that at one time he had painted. He went on to explain how he had set aside his creative ambitions to pursue his own candy company. It seemed to me, his stifled creativity was coming out in the form of criticizing others. Once I realized that, I began engaging him through his perceptions of art and sure enough, he softened up a little. By the time he left, I felt we had reached a common denominator, though I knew this mutual appreciation would never result in a sale… and I was fine with that.

Ode To Yellow

Oh, yellow
She's a picky color
For she only gets along
With about half the others

Look at her wrong
And she’ll turn green
A neutral, sickly hue
Like none you’ve ever seen

But how I love her
When she is most pure
The most vibrant color short of white
A nine, for sure

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 Significance of Impressionism

Last Sunday, I finally completed an essay I had been toiling over for months on Understanding Impressionism. It is a subject I hold dear, as the Impressionists have been a major influence on my work ever since my college days. Their approach to color and composition fostered, in part, the foundation for my own theories and systems on those same subjects which I have advanced into my own style.

Please click here to read the article. I hope you enjoy it.

Decisions, Decisions

The creative process is about decisiveness. It is knowing where to put your energy and how much attention is required by a particular area at any given time. In short, it is a balancing act, but once you learn how to achieve that balance, the results come easier and the creativity flows because you are no longer wrapped up in thought. You are then connected with intention.

How Are You?

"How Are You?"

It’s a question most of us are asked on a daily basis, though it seems the expectations of a response are generally superficial at best. Most offer a brief, upbeat answer that may or may not be true without going into any level of detail, such as Good, and you? or maybe I’m alright to name a few. Rarely, I find, is the question asked with the expectation of an honest, let alone detailed, response. It is under this premise I operate from, typically keeping my replies short and sweet, quickly returning the same query back to its initiator.

As I grow older, the question becomes more complicated and perplexing. Given the nature of my work, alone in the studio, I do not typically interact with many people on a daily basis, nor do I have a variety of experiences to draw from. My leisure time is largely spent reading, playing music or being outdoors when I can. I don’t come home from work with the latest office gossip, wrestling over the nonsense and injustices of office politics. I don’t have any tales of adventure from my travels. I have no children to speak of (though I must admit O has provided me with a story or two, but that is a rare occasion). My journey is largely solitary and my process is thus internal.

Each opportunity I have to create, I learn so much about myself and my craft. I see the world in new ways. I go to places in my head, philosophizing. I pause to consider my relationship with the universe and how my mind and body are connected to everything. All the while, my art continues to grow as I nurture and mark its progress like a gardener tending to his garden. Thoughts appear in and out of my head like butterflies. I enjoy their beauty for the fleeting moments they are with me, but they often leave as quickly as they arrive, never to be shared with another. Occasionally, they might return again to impress details into my memory. I have been getting better at capturing them through a note or a sketch, but the experience is uniquely mine and often difficult to share, either because I find it challenging to put into words or pressed to recall critical elusive details, leaving the larger concept incomplete and hardly worth mentioning.

Every now and then, I’ll find myself explaining how I am to someone. I don’t think many people really hear me after the first two minutes. When I notice they’re disengaged, I wrap up my part of the dialogue as quickly as possible, wondering why I ventured to speak in the first place. The conversations I enjoy are those of a slower pace allowing for accuracy and reciprocity. When it comes down to it, I’d much rather express myself through painting, or perhaps a song or writing.

So how am I?

Just depends if you really want to know.

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.

Colorful Intentions

As I continue to advance my painting technique, I am taking greater care in my use of color. Conveying a sense of depth is paramount; more so now than actual content. What this means is visualizing the colors before I apply them to the canvas. This is a new concept for me. In the past, I have simply had a vague idea of what I was going to paint and thus, approached my work reacting to the initial thought through a stream of consciousness. I am changing method that now in favor of a more deliberate approach through color and value. The result will allow for more dynamic and dramatic work.

The painting to the right, (with the working title After The Storm) shown in progress, is what I would call a crossover painting in that I began the work before I made this realization. I am now finding myself retrofitting the painting with my new technique. It will be interesting to see the end result.

Same Page

We stood in her home office and I could already tell things had changed. The smell of peppermint vaporized from a blue-neon contraption on a table to my right. The desk was neatly arranged before me, as she went on about how she was working with someone to help her feng-shui and organize the room. I sensed a level of enthusiasm and calmness in her voice that had not been there before. She explained the room is where she would be spending most of her time now that her traveling obligations had diminished, though she didn’t say why. She wanted the space to convey a sense of peacefulness and positive energy.

I smiled thinking this is exactly what I have been trying to achieve through my paintings. We were already in agreement.

I asked her what kinds of things made her feel good and she rattled off a shortlist of elements such as water and sky, in addition to a few locations around the globe and some other things. My mind was already at work putting together concepts I would later flesh out through a battery of sketches. I knew when I left her house that morning this commissioned project would be every bit of a pleasure for me to paint as it would be for her to receive.