Wednesday, June 30, 2010

artist spotlight: richard bailey

Whew, kind of late, I know, but well worth the wait, 'cause the GFT! Artist Spotlight for the month of June goes to Richard Bailey, though fans of his music know him by his Proem alias. You can say it's been Proem week at this blog, with featured videos, music and now art from Mr. Bailey, who is now a resident of Houston, Texas. It was a real pleasure having him take some time out to share some of his art and some insight into his work. Enjoy!

1. Q: Your visual work, much like your music, conveys a deep, atmospheric quality. Do you find any parallels between your visual and audio art and would you call them intentional or not?

A: There are parallels... intentional yes, but nowhere near deliberate. You could say I'm stuck in a little box of my own design. Its wooden, probably pine and usually buried under six feet of earth. It's a chore to dig myself out. I've tried for ages to claw my way out and back up to the surface. After years of digging with my bare hands,... cleaning out the dirt under my fingernails seems like more effort than its worth. Best to just carry on and make the best of it.

2. Q: What are some of your preferred mediums when working in the visual realm?

A: Even though a lot of the work I have online is either watercolors or digital, I have a love hate relationship with both. In the case of watercolors, they aren't the most comfortable medium for me to work in. I want to love them and master them but when thinking of the application of paint, my brain tends to think in dark to light rather than light to dark. Which is only a little ironic considering my subject matter. I do love the little details and random artifacts you can achieve using watercolors. That being said, there is nothing worse than spending a few hundred hours on a project only to have it rip in half when you are pulling the masking tape off. I tend to oversaturate the paper to the point of it bowing quite awfully. Thus I am no master of watercolors. I suppose that could really be more about confidence than skill at this point. A great deal of the watercolor work I've done more recently has been largely paint marker / watercolor pencil and very little water.

On the digital side I have a 3 step proces: 1) scan at 600dpi. 2) load into artrage, play around till something catches my eye 3) either finish the piece in photoshop/painter. I like to use the digital side of things as a fail safe and not a crutch. I try to quickly prototype ideas or color shifts run through the process and then go back with an idea or two that i wouldnt dare try without a plan of attack. I love the freedom of digital painting but hate the lack of tactile sensation,... even with a pen tablet nothing beats the feeling of bristles on a surface.

What I love working in is large scale acryllic on wood. The larger the scale the better.

3. Q: For lack of a better word, much of the subject matter in your art takes on a darker, almost nightmarish quality. Are you drawn to the spookier side of things?

A: Drawn, outlined, painted and screen printed that way. I dont think it makes me special or different either. Humans are the one true darkness. I'm fairly certain we invented the concept. Some of us just package it and sell it better.

4. Q: Any plans for future projects merging your visual with your audio work at all?

A: Well, I've always done the art and layout for all of my records.... I'd love to do an animation project or actually finish the graphic novel I've been working on for the last 4 years. But I cant seem to find the time or focus or extra talent it would take to pull either of those off.

5. Q: Whose art are you into these days? Any names we should know?

A: The short list of people I would cross the street to cut myself in front of are:
Ben Templesmith
James Jean
Eric Powell
Eric Lacombe
Emmanuel Malin
Brian Wood
Renee Lawter
Mike Mignola

And Yes before anyone says anything, most of them are comic artists. Which is where I think the only interesting figurative art is happening these days,... well since the cubist and surrealist movements. And not to get all art history on you but the Dadaists and absurdists really screwed things up for the art world...

Also, you know who's mind blowingly awesome? Jean Michel Basquiat. When the traveling Basquiat exhibit hit the Menil back in the mid 90's it just shattered the way I looked at art. All that hand written text and franticly painted imagery, the immediacy of the work, Mark Rothko is another one that just rocked my world. The first time I stepped into the Rothko chapel, i didn't make it any more than 10 steps in before I was moved to tears. It was the first time I felt there was a presence of a higher power.

6. Q: How about music? Who are you tuned into lately?

A: I am way into math core and death metal bands actually. To name a few:
carbomb (these guys are the most disjointed and complex metal ive ever heard)
the dillinger escape plan
ion dissonance
as for the electronic side of things:
ben frost
the new deceptikon record is fantastic (the art aint half bad either!)
squarepusher ( though i didnt care much for the last one)

7. Q: As a dad, web developer and musician, where or how do you make time for your personal visual artwork?

A: Like everyone else on the planet at the end of the day I wonder where all the hours went. It's either sleep less or relent to the clock. Either way someone or something takes the hit. The trick is to not let it be the same thing every time. I havent figured out how to do that just yet. I'm getting close. Mostly I go through cycles where I spend my freetime making music or I spend it painting and drawing. Though having children has rekindled a lot of the drawing and painting urges in me. It's way too much fun to draw in a little group than by yourself sometimes. Especially when that group hangs on your every word because you can draw a frog or a penguin or an octopus.

8. Q: How would you describe the art and music scene in Austin as of late?

A: I wouldn't know. I havent lived there in awhile. But I was never one for the "art scene". Not that I dont have truck loads of the pretense that permeates the art world... I find it tedious and difficult to play the "arthouse" game, and by that I mean actually being able to buy and sell paintings. Which is sort of important if you plan to truly support a scene. Artists have to eat too.

9. Q: As an artist, what do you find most frustrating or challenging perhaps?

A: All of the above.

10. Q: Godzilla or Gammera - if the two had to battle, who would come out on top?

A: I have three words for you. Giant. Robot. Lizard. Yea thats right I went there.

For more of Richard's work, please drop by these links!: - discography - design portfolio - ranting - work in progress / audio experiments - flickery things

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

from the archives ("lil' kris")

It's funny I even call this weekly series "from the archives" when most of the photos I've posted are probably no more than a few years old. In the context of digital photography however, we take so many more photos nowadays, that these "pics" from a few years ago seem almost ancient sometimes. This photo however was taken without a digital camera back when "pix" were developed on film. The photo itself is truly from the archives, from nearly three decades ago, and the subject is a little girl on a rocking horse on a tropical island far from Virginia. Who knew that this adorable little girl would later grow up to find herself leaving her sunny Caribbean home to live in the states and make a new life, with me? Who knew she would still, as an adult, be just as adorable and remain a kid at heart? I have my wife's mom to thank for sending me this priceless photo in the mail!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

from the archives ("twin hi-way drive-in")

Remember the drive-in theater? I grew up going to them as a kid. My very first movie-going experience was at the drive-in - Star Wars, to be exact. It was one of my most vivid and favorite childhood memories. Seeing those words appear on the big screen followed by two spaceships cruising into space, under the stars, outdoors, could only be described as awesome for a six-year-old boy. I saw many other great films at the drive-in as a kid as well, including Tron, the Fox and the Hound, and The Black Hole. There was no surround sound or 3-D (or 4-D for that matter), luxury seating, or air conditioning. In fact, what I did recall were crappy, steel speaker devices you had to put in your car, gnats and stinky bathrooms. But it was worth it, and that was only the downside to it. I miss the drive-in, perhaps because I grew up with them as a kid. As a teen, I quit going to the drive-ins. They were disappearing and weren't considered cool anymore. This one in particular - the Twin Hi-Way Drive-In is located on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, PA, and the photo was taken around the summer of 2006. Not too long after I posted it to Flickr, one guy commented on it, claiming that very drive-in was resurrected and back in business. Looks like there's some hope left for the drive-in after all.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

for rocky

I thought I'd do an Illo Friday piece for Drawing Day 2010, which is officially today, and dedicate it to an old friend. A few years ago while walking the W&OD Trail in Leesburg, VA, I saw an injured box turtle. He stood there at the side of the trail looking at me with one open eye, the other severly damaged. As speedy bikers whizzed on by oblivious to this small creature, I wondered what to do. A friend suggested I take it to the local animal hospital, which I ended up doing. They performed surgery on his eye, which he was now blind in. I wondered what had happened to the turtle, whose habitat was being rapidly destroyed and replaced by apartment buildings, shopping centers and storage spaces. I named him Rocky because he was a true fighter and his bloodied eye reminded me of Stallone in the first Rocky film. My wife wanted to keep him but I knew he wouldn't thrive in captivity, so after a week of care I released him into an area not far from where he was found, yet deep enough in the woods where he hopefully was protected. I hope Rocky's doing well today.

*watercolors, acrylics, Pigma Micron pens in A4 watercolor Moleskine, 6/2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

sketch dump: 5/2010

I know, in last month's dump I mentioned something about having no more Splotch Monsters at Go Flying Turtle!. Well, that's all I've been working on during May unfortunately, so they have returned once again. I thought I'd post my ten favorite here from May. The problem now is finding a balance between actual sketching and drawing, painting, and these. Sometimes I get on a kick and get a bit obsessed, but I've had the urge to work on other things as well lately. If anyone is looking to do a collab with me, simply print out any paint splotch (or, as I like to call them, "Splotch Form") from HERE and draw your own features on it. I've had an idea brewing for a while now, with these, and this month I'll finally be actively getting to work with that idea. In the meantime, here's to summer break's (hopefully) speedy arrival. Happy June folks!