Saturday, January 24, 2015

phase two (interior drawing) of the alchemical vessel complete

I've been wanting to get started on this for so long and finally did, late this afternoon. I have to admit, this was kind of scary - the actual process of getting started making marks on this very special ceramic bowl, which is going to be a part of the third annual Alchemical Vessel fundraiser and exhibit at the Smith Center for Healing in the Arts, in Washington, D.C.. This project is far different from anything I've ever worked on, in that I've never drawn on a ceramic bowl. Even more so, it wasn't like I was drawing or painting on a piece of paper or even a canvas, where you could discard it or start over again if you messed up. Finally, the bowl itself is quite fragile in it's bisque-fired state. The actual act of drawing on a curved surface turned out to be far easier than I had expected. What was an issue was the pencil marks smudging, and me having to erase a lot and carefully brush off the eraser shards (using a soft paint brush) while trying not to smudge the pencil marks even more. I guess I shouldn't even worry because the pencil marks will burn off in the kiln anyways. Still, it's encouraging to see this phase of the piece finished in what will be a very gradual process. Now I'm going to take the next step and draw the flowers (Gladiolus) along the outer edge of the bowl in pencil. Tomorrow I'm going to apply color in the form of underglaze, which I don't have much experience with. There's a chance I may apply a clear coat of glaze as well tomorrow, which will be absolutely necessary but cringe-inducing.  At least the ball is now officially rolling and it's all baby steps from here on out. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Monday, January 12, 2015

a brief look at the black & white exhibit at franklin park arts center gallery

Last night I attended the opening artist reception for the Black & White exhibit at the Franklin Park Arts Center Gallery. This was the first time the gallery hosted a show with such a theme, and judging by both the big turnout as well as the number of pieces submitted, the Black & White show was quite a success. The exhibit featured media ranging from painting to print-making, drawing to ceramics, collage to photography, as well as some knitted and crochet-based works. Featuring art from both well-established local artists to folks who are just getting started showing their work, a wide range of styles and approaches to the theme were represented, showcasing the depth of high-quality arts and crafts produced in the Loudoun County, Virginia region. Above is a photo from the opening reception, and I managed to get some photos of folks' work as well, half of which did not turn out blurry, which are shown below. The exhibit runs through February 2nd, 2015, so if you're in the Purcellville, Virginia area, drop by and take a look around. All work is for sale!

*paintings by Leanne Fink and Penny Hauffe

*pen and ink drawing by Sally Summerall

*prints by Linda Bowman and Jill Evans-Kavaldjian

*mixed-media piece by Steve Loya

*ceramic piece by Bruce Bucklin

*cut paper collage by Kathleen Ganaille

*photograph by J. Riley Stuart

*photograph by Mary Louise Ravese

*mixed media sculpture by Hope Hanes

Saturday, January 10, 2015

"black & white" art exhibit at the franklin park arts center

Tomorrow, Sunday, January 11, is the artist reception for the Black & White exhibit at the Franklin Park Arts Center. It will be the first show I'll be participating in this year, and it's happening from 3-5pm in Purcellville, VA. Stop in, see lots of excellent art by local artists and have some drink and refreshments. You may even get to meet a couple of Splotch Monsters!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

astrodon page finished!

Yesterday it rained and poured from morning to night, nonstop. Originally I was going to head into DC to check out some art exhibits, but I'm glad the incredibly wet weather conditions forced me to stay inside and complete my Astrodon page for Magic Bullet issue number 10.  I put a lot of love into this page this time around, being it's a special issue that will also celebrate the tenth anniversary of local comics artist and writer collective DC Conspiracy, started by Matt Dembicki. I attended the first three meetings at a great place in Arlington called Dr. Dremo's Taphouse. I think the first meeting drew about six people, the second brought in about a dozen, and then by the third it doubled to around twenty-four or more.  I had actually found out about Matt through a Washington City paper article, featuring his Mr. Big comics - a then ongoing story about a giant snapping turtle and the animals he shared his habitat with. It was such a cool, unique story, I ended up buying all of his self-published books online and invited him to do a comics-making workshop with my students in my art classroom. It's amazing to see how far Matt and so many of the other artists and writers associated with the DC Conspiracy have come, progressing from some fun, light-hearted collaborative "jam-books" revolving around a fictional cosmic superhero called Dr. Dremo, to incredible, professionally written and illustrated anthologies that you can find at the local bookstore. Despite me not being nearly as hardcore a comics-head as most of the members of the group, Matt has kept in touch and has always invited me to participate in the latest happenings. 

Anyhow, tomorrow after work, this piece, made using thick watercolor paper and Faber-Castell Grey Artist Pitt Pens (a first for me), will go off to get scanned in Leesburg and sent to the publisher later in the evening. I can't reveal the whole page however, at least not until the paper itself has been released and is out for a little while, but I can show some of the progress as of late yesterday afternoon (above photo). I'm very happy with the results but know it could always be better. Still, you have to know when to stop and decide to move on. Looking forward to seeing this, as well as all the other amazing work to be featured in Magic Bullet #10!

Monday, December 29, 2014

further progress on the astrodon page

It looks like I'm about halfway finished with my Astrodon story for the tenth issue of Magic Bullet, as the deadline fast approaches. Astrodon was both easy and challenging for the same reason - there really isn't much info at all about the mysterious suaropod, first discovered in Maryland, not far from the Washington, D.C. area. This also makes it both interesting and boring, for that same precise reason, but honestly, are dinosaurs ever really boring? I guess that would depend on who you ask.

I never really have ever considered myself a comic strip/book artist, though I've got some work published in some great books. It's just something I don't do consistently enough, which is why I actually enjoy the challenge of working on the occasional story for publications such as Magic Bullet. As difficult as it might be for me, I still like the old-school approach of doing it all hand-to-paper, even the writing, which is the toughest part of all, especially when applying it to the panels. Anyhow, I'm pretty pleased with the illustrative part so far - that portion I've enjoyed thoroughly, and it takes me back to my youth, this drawing of the dinosaurs again. Plus, I feel like I've learned something new, as I actually have done a bucket load of research, despite the very short narrative. I've honestly never heard of Astrodon, or some of the other dinos associated with it before, and I'm hoping, if anything, I'll invoke some curiosity, debate and discussion about it with my page. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

progress on astrodon

Currently I'm working on a story page about the official Maryland state dinosaur, known as Astrodon, named for its star-shaped teeth. I've been wanting to do a comic story for a long time, focusing on dinosaurs, so I thought choosing something local would be an appropriate fit for the upcoming tenth issue of DC's premier comics newspaper, Magic Bullet. This issue will also coincide with the tenth anniversary of the DC Conspiracy, a local comics-making collective founded by Matt Dembicki. I remember attending those first few meetings back in the day, so this will be a very special issue to be a part of. So far the progress is slow but steady.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

alchemical vessel, phase one

Earlier this morning I drove out to DC to the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts to pick up a blank, white bisque-fired ceramic bowl. I picked up the bowl because I was nominated to participate in the third annual Alchemical Vessel exhibit and fundraiser this coming spring. I sketched out some ideas today for my bowl's design, and I chose and researched some subject matter that related to strength and healing and resolve in times of crisis. I'll go more into this as I gradually post my progress on the bowl. Currently, however, despite completing the first phase, which is simply a sketched out idea, I'm still kind of blurry as to how to approach applying it to the bowl. My original idea was to use acrylic paints, but I'm drawn more to the notion of glazing the entire piece to add to the bowl's overall strength and visual aesthetic. I'm only minimally experienced in ceramics, though I've got enough of an idea of how things work and so far have had no problems when working with them in the classroom. So, I will most likely apply the image with an underglaze, which works like acrylics in that you can mix colors to create new ones. Then I would apply some clear coats of glaze on top and fire the piece. I'm already gaining a huge amount of respect for those who work with ceramics, as it's such an unpredictable artistic medium to employ. The only other idea I had was to do a detailed colored pencil application, which would create a flat, matte look to the piece. Still, glazing, despite the risk, looks like the way to go for a good number of reasons. 

I first learned of the Smith Center when I visited the Joan Hisoaka Gallery portion of the place during the summer of 2012. I went to see an exhibit focusing on Outsider and Visionary art at this beautiful space, hoping to see some works by artist JJ Cromer, in person. A year later I would acquire a piece from that exhibit by JJ Cromer, and in between that time, JJ and I collaborated on a mail art exchange that would later be exhibited at the neighboring Off Rhode Studio gallery portion of Art Enables. A little over a year later, Mary Liniger, executive director of Art Enables nominated me for the Alchemical Vessel exhibit -something I had wanted to try out for since I first heard about it a couple of years ago. It always amazes me how things sometimes work out this way, and it is a real honor to be a part of this awesome project, dear to my heart for a number of reasons. In the meantime, you can learn more about it HERE. Below is a video clip featuring work from a past exhibit. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

black and white photo challenge from november

I was tagged to participate in the black and white photo challenge for a second time in recent weeks. Of course I could not say no to a good creative challenge, so I decided to participate, again. What I loved about this challenge is that it forced me to go back into my photo archives and really look at a lot of photos (hundreds at least), and decide what would make a good b&w image. I looked for subject matter with good texture, shadow and contrast, as not any old image would suffice as decent b&w photography. Some are as recent early this year, while others go back as far as from a decade ago.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

the gift of nothing at the kennedy center, washington, dc

Yesterday I went with Kris to see The Gift of Nothing's worldwide premier performance at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. I also did a guest blog post about it HERE at the ComicsDC blog!