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.

Doesn’t Remind Me

Denver scene, detail

I was painting in the studio the other day, jamming to Audioslave, when I heard a familiar verse -

"I like studying faces in a parking lots, Cause it doesn't remind me of anything."

- lyrics to their song "Doesn't Remind Me" which is so appropriate in the way I've trained myself to see, as an artist.

As I have stated before, in order to see the visual world objectively, the artist must work to disassociate from himself/herself from preconceived ideas of whatever their subject matter is. The artist observes the world as if they have never seen it before, so as to avoid any visual bias and ultimately distortion of the subject matter. 

The end-result from seeing something that "doesn't remind me of anything," enables me to find more abstract relationships between shapes, values, and colors that set the stage for my own artistic expression.

Community

For the last 15 years, my studio has been located in what is now known as the River North Art District (aka RiNo). When I moved here, the location was actually referred to as Upper Larimer: RiNo had only been in existence for a year or slightly more prior, and referred to a budding art community (as opposed to an entire district). I moved here because the space was conducive to creating and displaying my art. It was only after the move that I discovered RiNo. I consider myself fortunate to have been a part of it since then.

During my time here, I have watched the neighborhood grow with artists of all styles converging to create a very unique environment which, as RiNo's tagline indicates, is "Where Art is Made." From new murals to growing First Fridays, I’m privy to watching the neighborhood come into its own.

Last year marked my re-emergence into the RiNo scene, after spending several years privately focusing on my artistic development. During that time, I lost touch with old friends in the neighborhood and missed out on meeting new folks as well. The time seemed right to get out of my studio and be a part of something greater than myself, once again. As luck would have it, RiNo was hosting a networking party for members, so I signed up and attended a recent event.

It was great to meet new people and see what kind of businesses are popping up in the neighborhood. So much growth has occurred within the last few years. In fact, next week begins an outdoor film festival called, "Side Stories" that I'm excited to check out. I am grateful to be part of this community.

One Hundred (continued)

From November 2016 through January 2018, I worked my way through a portfolio of mostly drawings, with several paintings completed in the latter half of the series. In the end, this has been the most worthwhile activity I have ever pursued as an artist.

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For the sake of improving my drawing skills and committing myself to a number of drawings far beyond what I produced historically, I endeavored to create 100 self-portraits. I chose the subject matter (me) only because I knew I would be available, at all times, to pose for pictures. I wasn't really sure how I would be able to create 100 different poses, let alone maintain my interest to see the work through, so my first step was holding myself accountable.

I had doubts that I could complete the series and did not mention my intention until I produced the second drawing and posted it on Instagram. I figured if I started to slack off, at least my friends or family would say something to keep me honest.

The series progressed, and I noticed my work seemed to improve around segments of ten or more works. As I approached the first quarter mark, I finally started to believe I would actually finish the series. Additionally, my connections on social media started commenting on the work. Their words of encouragement kept me motivated, as I had hoped.

From November 2016 through January 2018, I worked my way through a portfolio of mostly drawings, with several paintings completed in the latter half of the series. As I approach the end of this series (I'm working on #99, at the time of this writing), I can say this has been the most worthwhile activity I have pursued as an artist. The lessons learned through consistency and commitment are immeasureable. If you believe in the philosophy of 10,000 hours - this is an excellent way to get there.

As I work to complete the final two portraits, I'm looking to the future for my next series of 100. We'll see where it takes me.

My New Favorite Artist

 "The Three Graces", Marie Bracquemond, 1880 Image courtesy of The Trivium Art History Project.

"The Three Graces", Marie Bracquemond, 1880
Image courtesy of The Trivium Art History Project.

I recently attended the Denver Art Museum's exhibition, titled "Her Paris - Women Artists in the Age of Impressionism". The show was very extensive with some artists I was familiar with, and others I was not.

One particular artist, whose work fell into the latter category was Marie Bracquemond. The luminosity and brush work of her paintings had such a dreamy quality to them - I was spellbound. I spent more time observing her work than any other artist on display.

I will certainly spend more time learning about her, and studying her paintings. I highly recommend you take a look at her work too.

Collector's Notes

I am nearing completion on three paintings. The work is significant to me, as it marks a shift in the way I approach my work. Instead of perceiving objects and things, my focus has shifted to the abstract relationships of values within the painting, enabling me to see more harmonious relationships that bind all elements of the painting together.

Furthermore, I have developed a better shape vocabulary with a greater understanding of the nuances of shape contour.  

With a better vision of the work, and clearer intention, I am able to work more quickly than ever before. More importantly, it opens doors for the future of my work to go beyond traditional figurative painting.