Friday, September 17, 2010

splotch monsters on io9 and strange spanners

After a fairly long but eventful second week back in the classroom, it was nice to start my weekend off with some good news. First off is the heads-up from fellow Moleskine Exchange member Ballookey, with news of my Splotch Monsters being featured at the excellent sci-fi blog io9. It's always great to know that some people out there are enjoying what I do other than just myself. Thanks for the news Ballookey and thank you for the feature Charlie Jane Anders and io9!

Today I also received the "Zombie Rabbit Award" for my Splotch Monsters from Lazarus Lupin, who runs the wonderfully weird Strange Spanners art blog. Thanks Mr. Lupin, it's an honor!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

beauty is in the aye-aye of the beholder

For this week's Illustration Friday topic, "proverb", I went with a more well-known one and tweaked it some. I was searching for images of ugly animals to draw, when the Aye-aye caught my attention. I'm not sure I would call it ugly though, to be honest, compared to some of the others. One reason I keep doing these Illo Friday challenges is because they force me to research and learn things I may not have known too much about. Granted, a search on Google could never compare to a real, honest-to-goodness learning experience, and if I could fly to Madagascar right now and study the Aye-aye, you bet I would right now. What I did learn about this fascinating little lemur is that it is an endangered species. I also learned, unfortunately, that this virtually harmless critter is feared by the native peoples of Madagascar, who believe it is a demon who brings bad luck and death. For instance, some of the natives believe that it can use its elongated middle finger to drill a hole in it's human victims and kill them. The truth however, is this elongated finger is used to pierce a hole in hollowed out trees, where it actively searches for and hunts grubs, its main source of food. Sadly, the natives who believe the Aye-aye is evil, will kill it to prevent danger from coming to their villages. Hopefully, someday soon, those who believe this harmless beast (who is also facing habitat destruction) is evil, will evolve in their thinking and realize the Aye-aye isn't out to get them at all. It's not a good situation to be in, being a victim of too much, as well as too little progress. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place! If I could invent my own proverb, it would be "no superstition is a good superstition".

*mixed media in A4 watercolor Moleskine, 9/2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

summertime dessert

Recently, over the summer my wife spotted a curious-looking creature hovering around some flowers at a local vineyard. Before I could identify it, she said "Look, it's one of those hummingbird bugs!". I took a couple of photos, and sure enough, it was a Hummingbird Hawk-moth. The first time I actually spotted one was while traveling back home to VA, at a rest stop flower bed in Maryland. It totally confused me, this bizarre little thing zipping around like something from science-fiction. Was it a hummingbird? Was it an insect? What on Earth was this thing?! I brought it up to some people and not many folks seemed too familiar with it. I think some of them thought I was high or something. I forgot who finally did identify it for me, but thanks to Google, the mystery had been solved. In the meantime, I created two versions illustrating this silly-named insect enjoying a sweet summer treat. The bottom version is the original drawing. I thought I'd try and get a hot, summery feel with some help from Picnik, in the upper image. I'm still not sure which one I like best.

Monday, September 6, 2010

sketch dump: 8/2010

Well, more like a "splotch dump", but there was definitely some sketching going on. Unlike with July, I didn't do any observational drawing or sketching in August, mainly because I was putting so much energy into my Illo Friday drawings, as well as these guys. So, I decided to choose my favorite eight from about 31 in August. Half of them were done in a watercolor Moleskine for Andrea Martinez's Moleskine exchange, and the other four were made in my own sketchbook 'skine, which is full of Splotch Monsters and now officially finished. Right now I'm doing some on various patterned scrap papers, mostly from either Kris' scrapbooking excursions, or from school/work. Still, I'm planning on getting a watercolor Moleksine of my own and filling that one up with Splotch Monsters as well. In the meantime, I need to do more observational stuff again this month!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

solo show at king street coffee

When a local coffee shop in a little blue house on Leesburg, VA's King Street closed down earlier this year, it was a sad day. Kris and I had just discovered it, thanks to a friend, and on occasion we'd drop by and visit for a cup of coffee or tea and hang out with Juanita or Adam, who worked there. When I talked with Juanita on the last day of business for this long-running establishment, she gave me a glimmer of hope that it would once again open ... as a coffee house, but under new ownership. Fast forward a couple of weeks ago and I spied a sign in the place's window about "King Street Coffee opening soon". Then, earlier this week as Kris and I were on our way home from a visit to a couple of local vineyards, she got a text message from a friend saying the place had a sneak peek opening from 6PM - 9PM. So, we stopped on by as we passed through town to check out the new coffee house. A kind, energetic woman named Kimberly let us in and even though the sneak peek won't be until tomorrow from 6PM - 9PM, she still took the time out to talk, give us a look around and give us the scoop on the new place, which is shaping up nicely. As much as Kris and I liked the Coffee Bean, we always thought it could use a little dose of style, as well as some art up on the mostly bare walls. Right before we were about to take off, Kimberly, who is the place's new owner told us how much she wanted to get some local art hanging around the place. That's when Kris and I just looked at each other and laughed. I told Kimberly that we actually were artists and that I had accumulated some work over the summer. I told her a little bit about what I've been working on and ended up getting myself a little solo show, which we just got finished hanging earlier this evening. It was a lot to do in so little time, with so much going on with returning to school/work right now. I also haven't been too big on exhibiting this past year, and generally dealing with the extraneous BS that can go along with such endeavors. Still, when opportunity knocks.

I thought I'd take this small show seriously, like a gallery exhibit, and make a flyer, some post cards, and new business cards - all DIY this time around. I even went as far as choosing works that I thought fell together as a theme, and write up an artist statement. Generally I'm kind of skeptical about artist statements and I recall a great sculpture teacher back in college joking about how if you want to be a successful artist, you have to be good at BS. Still, on the same token, I believe that art has to be more than pretty pictures, and that there has to be some thought behind it - some kind of meaningful significance and dialogue with both artist and viewer. So, below is my attempt at one. Based on how I landed this little show, there's definitely some real irony going on in that artist statement! In the meantime, King Street Coffee won't officially be open until sometime next week. Kimberly just decided to give the First Friday Gallery Walk public a brief preview tomorrow evening, and I'm both thankful and glad to be a part of it. I'm also infinitely thankful to Kris, who played a big role in the hanging and placement of my pieces. I look forward to returning the favor when she has a show of her own in the near future. Hope to see you there tomorrow if you're in town!

Tales From the Natural World: Artist Statement

With the human need to constantly push things forward and explore new and advancing technologies, we quickly lose touch with something we are all very much a part of, nature. Distracted by the latest gadgets and gizmos, we tend to forget about our surroundings and the inhabitants we share our planet Earth with. How many times have you seen a person walk down a street with their head down, focused on a tiny rectangular device in their hands on a perfectly beautiful day? What did that person miss during their walk, as they checked their e-mail, text-messaged their co-workers and checked out their friends' current Facebook status? Where do we draw the line with this disconnect as a result from being too "connected"? When is it time to say enough and scale back … simplify? Who and what are we neglecting and forgetting as we travel further down a never ending maze of virtual communication/information and what are the resulting consequences? These are the things we all must confront and ask ourselves about during our short time on this infinitely fascinating place we call Earth.

The art work featured here was done on the sturdy pages of an A4 watercolor Moleskine, using watercolors and archival black ink pens. The artist is neither interested in photorealism or surrealism, but a balance somewhere in between. The colors used and style of drawing employed is an attempt at capturing certain feelings and emotions associated with a vibrant sense of being alive and aware. The works attempt to illustrate a sense of mystery and awe found between the branches of trees deep in the forests, across the grassy fields and plains yet to be built upon, below the deep oceans, and among the artificial environments constructed by man. There are many amazing stories to be told, sights to be seen, and sounds to be heard beyond or own human lives, and these stories can be found in what we call the natural world.

Steve Loya is an artist and art educator who grew up in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania region and has been living in Northern Virginia for the past decade. For as long as he can remember, he was fond of drawing animals. His exhibit, Tales From the Natural World reflects his current and ongoing fascination with wildlife and animals and our own connection/disconnect with the inhabitants and surroundings we share our world with.

Stephen P. Loya