It's been a good week, with no work/school all week thanks to the ice and snow. It feels like we're finally making up for the last two nonexistent winters we've had in northern Virginia. It worked out so that I could get some serious work done on my car - something that had been much neglected since the big move last summer. I also got to the gym every day this week. Finally, I did a lot of drawing in the sketchbook. As always, I spent more time on some drawings than others, and some turned out better than others. I was reminded by how much I loathe drawing things with straight lines and angles when I drew a small Transformer action figure - something I thought would initially be simple. I also surprised myself with how well my Martin Luther King JR portrait turned out, and the fact that I actually, thoroughly enjoyed working on it. I've got a lot of love for MLK and perhaps that love came through in the image, and using a black china marker seemed the ideal medium for the job. While I'm actually enjoying this ice and snow, oddly enough, I'm also looking forward to getting outside again and taking on subject matter in the outdoors, perhaps in a quicker, more spontaneous fashion. For now though, I'm enjoying the more highly detailed, full blown drawings that have been taking up free time I might otherwise be wasting online or in front of the TV screen.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Saturday, January 25, 2014
Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 8, from noon-6PM, for the first official SMUDGE! art and comics expo at Arlington, Virginia's Artisphere art center. In addition to a ton of fantastic arts and crafts available for sale, I'll be there selling Splotch Monster art and products, as well as doing a Splotch Monster-making workshop. Hope to see you there! In the meantime, check out the spectacular event poster by DC's own Matt Dembicki (above)!
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Saturday, January 18, 2014
I've been trying to sketch from objects rather than photographs more lately, though the couple I did do from photos were based on some of my own, taken in Trinidad and Tobago a few years back. The beginning of the week began on a high note, as the wife and I visited a couple of our favorite vineyards, relaxed, sipped some wine, read and in my case, drew a tree (at North Gate Vineyard in Loudoun County). Unfortunately, the next time I would draw a tree would be in the middle of the week, on a Wednesday, looking out at my back yard while at home fighting the flu. Luckily, it was one that went away as quickly as it had hit me like a Mac truck Wednesday morning. Sadly, Kris is currently suffering from an even worse case of the flu, and I felt the final sketch of the week to be quite fitting, pretty much summing it all up for you. Thankfully, we both have Monday off from work, so some quality R&R is in order.
Saturday, January 11, 2014
I can't remember the last time I did a "sketch dump", and I must say, it's a good feeling to be back in the saddle again. It's true, I began a week after declaring I wanted to sketch on a daily basis this year, but honestly, it doesn't really matter, as long as I got started.
Above are the four sketches I've worked on this week, though they all mostly have become full fledged drawings, which I've got mixed feelings about. The first one, the piglet, drawn in fifteen minutes during my lunch break, from an old Nat Geo kids mag, was made swiftly using a charcoal pencil, something I also haven't used in ages. The bee, also from the same mag (I think), was drawn at the end of my school day, while talking with a colleague, and that took about twenty-five minutes. Then they got progressively more involved, starting with the old screwdriver, which I worked on for about forty-five minutes, using a mechanical pencil during a two-hour delay from school/work, due to ice on the roads. The spotty banana took me about an hour this morning, and I used both a china marker and a mechanical pencil. I actually thoroughly enjoyed getting lost and completely caught up in the details of the last two drawings, and rather than feeling frustrated or like I had to work hard, I felt a sense of total bliss - "art zen" if you will. It also made me more empathetic to my elementary art students who can sometimes get so upset when it's time for them to clean up and leave my art room. So many of them would finally find their rhythm and totally get into their work, then have to go on to the next class. They only see me fifty minutes each week, in one visit. I cannot imagine art classes that are only a half-an-hour or less, as with some schools. Anyhow, I decided to not make any rules, with regards to time constraints. If a drawing requires an hour, then it'll take an hour. If it needs no more than ten minutes, ten minutes it will be. I do want to focus on an object for the most part though, on each page, and simply concentrate on that object, get to know it and really study it. I also want to keep it at one sitting - no going back, reworking, etc. Once it's done, it's done. On some days I might practice from an image from a magazine or a photo from the computer, better yet from one I took. However, I prefer to draw from an object in front of me, whatever that might be. Lastly, I want to employ the use of pencil more, be it in charcoal, no 2, china marker, and mechanical refill pencils. I've worked in pen for the longest time, and will continue to on many projects, but for now, it'll be pencil. The good thing is, I don't feel as if this is some type of chore, or self-imposed burden I have to "tackle". In fact, I can't wait to get started on the next one by the time I'm finished! Now, if I can only feel more that way about the gym I recently joined.
Friday, January 3, 2014
I'm very psyched to start 2014 off with a great interview conducted by Mrs. Tina Sea Monster for the Smudge Jr blog. The interview is the first in a new series to help promote the upcoming Smudge Comics arts expo to be held at Artisphere on Saturday, March 8, 2014. I'll be exhibiting and doing a Splotch Monster-making workshop there that day, along with a wide array of other fantastic artists. I really love the concept behind this interview series, where artists get to show some of their childhood work, and this one is very close to my heart, seeing some of my earliest scribbles! Thanks to Matt Dembicki, along with Tina for making this project happen!
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
As the first day of 2014 unwinds, I reflect a bit on 2013. Looking back, so much has happened, some of it seeming so long ago. One highlight includes having a dual art show in February, along with my favorite living artist JJ Cromer, at the Off-Rhode Studio in DC. It was a marvelous collaboration and exhibit and we managed to raise a good chunk of money for Art Enables, through sales of our work. I couldn't be more grateful to JJ for taking the time and making the effort to work with me, as well as Art Enables for granting us the show, and finally, the wonderful people who came out to the show and workshop, as well as bought our pieces. The whole experience made such a dismal month all the more tolerable. Kris and I also found and purchased a house the day after my last day of school last June. We had been looking for quite a while and became pretty frustrated with the whole experience, then suddenly the place seemed to have fallen in our lap. Our realtor did a fantastic job of helping to make this happen too. It was a big step for us, and owning a home has its challenges, but I have no regrets.
In between and up to now, both Kris and I kept active with our art-making, something which is very important to both of us, and I held quite a few little local workshops and exhibited in some great shows, including one in London for the awesome Mail Me Art 3, Short and Sweet book. I also finally got on Facebook, for better or worse, and opened up my own online shop, Splotch Monster Island in late 2013. I had dabbled in both in the past, several years back, but didn't really commit to either at the time. Now I think I've got a handle on both Facebook, and the online shop thing, and so far so good!
Perhaps the lowlight of 2013 was when our turtle Gammera (pictured above) nearly died after the move into our home. He had gotten a bad cold that left him lethargic and not eating, with one eye swollen shut and snot dripping from his little turtle nostrils. It's funny how attached you can get to an animal, and despite being a reptile, Kris and I love him like family and couldn't imagine the thought of losing him. Thanks to several trips to Pender Exotics in Fairfax, VA, and lots of TLC, the little fella, who I've had for eleven years now, is back to his old grumpy self. Thankfully Gam is back, and that was the worst that happened last year.
I'm looking forward to 2014 and what it has to offer. In September/October I'll have a Splotch Monster-based solo show at Off-Rhode studio in DC again, as well as participate in a handful of other art exhibits. I'll have work in a new book edited by Matt Dembicki and released through Fulcrum this spring. I'm also going to have artwork featured on the cover of a favorite local news publication soon as well (at least as far as I know so far). This spring will also be my five-year wedding anniversary with my wife Kris and I can't believe how the time has flown! The past five years have been the best five years of my life. Last but not least (at least so far) in the summer, I'll be attending a week-long artist/art educator fellowship at MECA in Portland, Maine - a state and city I've never been to yet (thanks Laura B. for the heads up!!).
More than anything, I've found that none of these things would have ever happened without the help of so many other good people, and I've felt I've made a few new friends along the way last year. I'd also like to learn how to relax, slow down and simplify my life, despite all that's going on. We take so much pride in being busy and "useful", attaching and justifying our very existence on such behavior, that it can get pretty absurd to the point where we're sort of missing out on life and not really living it. The truth is, you don't have to accomplish anything - just be, as long as you're a good person, that's what's important. One way for me to slow down is to actually take up sketching in a sketchbook again. While it might seem like busy work, it actually forces me to focus and eliminate the chatter in my mind. Some would refer to this as meditation, and I'd have to agree.
So, here's to 2014 and all that is has to offer, including the good, the bad and the ugly. Bring it on!