Tuesday, July 28, 2015

four landscapes from week four

Above are another four landscape paintings, made last week, which would conclude my fourth week of the "challenge". At times it has been challenging indeed, as everyday life gets in the way, including a nasty and persistent bout of poison ivy, and a crack/leak in the main water pressure valve. For the most part, the crisis situations have been averted and I had to keep at it during any time I had free time or energy. As always, the photos don't do the work justice, and I look forward to using Kris' nice SLR to take some professional-level photos of each individual piece, once the landscape project is finished. There are times I cannot wait to get to the canvas and paint, while other times it's a struggle, but once I begin, I'm usually pretty well locked into that creative mode that can take some time to fire up again. 

During my fourth week, and after completing sixteen paintings in a variety of sizes and shapes, I feel like I've found a comfortable style and approach where things flow more readily and happen easier. At first, I felt like I was constantly going back and covering up what I considered errors, and redoing things. Now, some pieces, like the one above, seem to have happened a lot more naturally, and in a shorter span of time. 

I'm sorely going to miss my quiet mornings, and visiting the once neglected basement studio space, that for the longest time served as more of a storage/anything goes space. In a couple of weeks I'll be rushing out the door in the early morning hours to go to work, although I plan on not doing so much "rushing" as well, this school year. Will I continue to paint landscapes, or paint at all throughout the ten months I teach at school? At first, that wasn't part of the plan, but now I feel it's important that I don't abandon such a practice, even though I'll definitely have to scale back some. If I can even accumulate one or possibly two good paintings a week, I feel I'll be able to build a significant and fresh body of work by next summer. In the meantime, I will continue at the pace of four landscapes per week, at least over the course of this week and the next one. If I can have roughly twenty-five pieces ready for the upcoming vineyard show with Kris, I'll be happy. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

magic bullet, issue eleven hits the streets!

Earlier in the week, Washington, DC's premier comics newspaper, Magic Bullet officially released it's eleventh issue. Above are some photos I took earlier this week, when I drove to the printer in Frederick, Maryland to load the ol' Honda Element and drop stacks off throughout the area. Myself, and many other fine area cartoon and comic artists have their work featured in what is yet another stellar, fun-filled volume. A huge thanks goes out to Mr. Andrew Cohen, who edited and was crucial in getting number eleven to happen, and who also picked up a ton of bundles to distribute throughout the greater DC area. It's always nice to see folks happy and willing to carry our work at their businesses and public facilities, helping to spread some love through comics! Some of the places I dropped mine off so far (and pictured above) include, The Art Institute of Dulles/Sterling, VA, The Rust Public Library in Leesburg, VA, Gallery 505 North, The Griffin Arts Center, Cafe Nola, Vinyl Acres, Brainstorm Comics and Gaming and the C. Burr Artz Public Library, all in Frederick, Maryland. This Sunday evening, from 5-8pm, I'll have many more bundles available for pick up at the Mad Hatter, in DC. Stay tooned!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

curdles wooden postcards!

Not so long ago I posted about a fantastic new book I bought called The Kurdles, by Robert Goodin (Fantagraphics). I also recently made and sent Robert some fan art, which he called a "gem" (nice!), as well as my book for him to sign. Taking my Kurdles geekery to a whole new level, I went and purchased the entire set of six Kurdles collectible wooden (yes, wooden!) postcards. I'm not too sure how I'm going to display 'em yet, but I love them. In the meantime, you can buy the book HERE and the cards via Birdcage Bottom Books.

Monday, July 20, 2015

week three, and another four landscape paintings

So, I now have a total of twelve landscapes on canvas paintings, completed in various sizes. I found that this, being my third week, has made an interesting turning point. I've been applying the acrylics thicker, and more layered, for better or worse. Also, I've struggled with keeping things looser and more abstracted. Essentially, any art is a form of abstraction, to some degree, but these paintings just aren't at the point I'd like them to be yet. Maybe that's just not in me, at least for now, to go in that direction. Maybe I need a lot more experience with landscapes, and acrylic painting in general, before I can confidently take such a detour. Still, I'm pleased with the results, even if the outcome is different than I had planned. My wife Kris has been a crucial eye in a few instances, kindly but boldly offering some critiques, as well as her usual, much appreciated encouragement. Having another good eye around has been essential this week, and I'm glad I'm not working in a vacuum. 

I've enjoyed looking through all my photos in my Flickr stream, so many of which consist of landscapes and nature. There are literally thousands on file that I've taken and uploaded over the course of a decade, and I'm sticking to keeping my subject matter local, which means landscapes from the Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware states. Perhaps someday I'll tackle scenes from Kris' former home of Trinidad and Tobago, but that will be a whole other beast to contend with, as the landscape, while similar in many ways, is also vastly different. Ok, now it's time to start week four of this project, fire up some tunes and head to the easel again!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

magic bullet 11 out soon!

Here's a portion of my submission for the upcoming issue of Magic Bullet 11, DC's free comics news publication, set to hit the streets in a couple of weeks. This one was a lot of fun for me, and a whole new approach to comic strip making, utilizing the copy machine as a creative tool. You'll get to see the rest, and how it all unfolds in the new issue, so please stay tooned!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

landscapes, week 2

I had to play a little catch-up today with a couple of my paintings, of which I had plans on completing by yesterday. Sometimes you fall behind, and my goal of four paintings per week was somewhat foiled by July fourth travel. Still, I try to keep things flexible within reason, and fortunately, I made nor had any other plans for what would have otherwise been a lazy Sunday. I'm hoping to keep this up for one more month, giving me a little rest before I return to school again in mid-August. I can't say I've ever painted in acrylics, on canvas, at such a pace before, and I'm getting more done, and learning more than I did when I took a couple of grad-level painting classes a few years back. Yes, this is work, and many times hard, even frustrating work. Nobody sees the behind-the-scenes action of an artist or a creator, most of the time. I'm reminded of Andy Goldsworthy's "Rivers and Tides" documentary, and the scenes where he's working intensely on one of his nature sculptures, sometimes for many hours, when things start to go terribly wrong. Sometimes my eyes feel strained, my back gets sore, my hand cramps a bit, but yet, it's completely worth it - this art-making thing, and honestly, it really has nothing to do with money, though that's very important too, of course. It's the learning, the experimenting, the exercising of the mind and the feeding of the soul, not to get too corny. But it really is, as you feel you can see more, feel more, and gain a deeper connection with the world you live in (again, with the corniness, sorry). In the end, painting, drawing, creating, is ultimately play, albeit serious play. One of the bonuses to working (or playing) in my basement studio, is the fact that I've revisited my CD collection, and I've reconnected with the music I love. So, I might not be spending my summer chillin' at the beach, or visiting some exotic location on a far away island, but I'm still having a quite ball with this new artistic endeavor and challenge. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

leesburg winter tree

Working on a painting of a winter tree in the summer seems to have a curiously cooling effect on a person. After being away for a few days, it was good to get back to the easel again. The tree I painted yesterday was based on a photo I took several years ago, in Leesburg,VA.  I lived just down the street when I took a few photos of it, and sadly, shortly after I took some photos, it was destroyed for the construction of a new elementary school. It was a beauty, and I wonder how old it made it to? How many other living organisms did it support, and ecosystems? Despite the tree being gone, It won't be forgotten.

Friday, July 3, 2015

landscapes and summer studio time

So, this past week I've spent some quality time in the basement studio, breaking in a new easel I got last Christmas, and painting some landscapes on canvas. I promised myself that I would spend at least four days a week in the studio and work on acrylic paintings for an upcoming show at a local vineyard. The vineyard tasting room is pretty spacious on the inside, so I feel some pressure to get a lot of work produced in a very short period of time, as the exhibit will be taking place this September. It's a good pressure, however, and I was greatly inspired by watching the David Hockney documentary, "A Bigger Picture". I love his approach to landscape painting, quickly and confidently applying color almost intuitively to the canvas, sometimes producing a big beautiful piece within the course of a few hours, outdoors, on site. Ironically, I've worked indoors so far, using photos I've taken locally over the past decade or so. Still, it's a good place to start, and I'm enjoying mixing acrylics again, and experimenting some with color. I also promised not to get too caught up in the details or going for exact visual replicas, which I couldn't, or wouldn't want to do anyhow. Now it's time to take a break for a few days, refresh my brain and enjoy the Fourth of July Weekend with friends and family.