On the blog...

June 3, 2015

Danny Gregory's Sketchbook Skool


I just started taking Danny Gregory's Sketchbook Skool. (No I didn't spell it wrong. That's how they roll.) I haven't really kept a sketchbook since my college days and I am intrigued by the idea of documenting my life in sketches. And it's just for me so I don't feel any kind of pressure that others will or won't like it. I'll share pics from my book as I go along. June is my birthday month so I'm going to dedicate it to this. Something I've really wanted to do for a while. Happy Birthday to me!

Anyone else doing this? Or wanting to?

May 12, 2015

Fuck It Moments

Abstract  (Spring 2015)
36" x 36"
acrylic on Infrastructure Canvas
Email me to inquire about purchasing

Sometimes, errr umm many many times, nothing goes as planned and I get so frustrated. I'm sure you can relate to that feeling. I try to stay in the "just love the not knowing" type of thinking, but my mood doesn't always support that optimistic attitude.  It would be great if I could be in my studio painting everyday and there would be this relaxing, creative energy going on where I just went with the flow with whatever came to my canvas, but that just isn't a reality. 

Closeup

Reality is there is so much of life that gets in the way of that process. I consider it a lucky day when I am able to have a full painting day and when those days come along, it's not easy to just flip the switch to be creative. There are a lot of thoughts and responsibilities that kind of buzz around me like flies while I'm trying to paint. So a painting doesn't always turn out great no matter how much I want it to. I'll even get super focused on it and work harder only to realize it was better five layers ago.

This is when you just have to say screw it and let go of the preciousness of a painting and go wild on it. My friend Tom calls these "Fuck It Moments". This is a burst of freedom when you slather your brush in paint and completely "scribble" over everything you've done. You say fuck it to the delicacy of the painting in front of you that is trying to survive and you just surrender to it. You stop controlling it and you give it full power to do what it wants. Sometimes, you get something better than you could have even imagined. Sometimes.

Closeup

May 11, 2015

Critique Sessions

My friend Mary and I during one of our many critique sessions.

When I was in college we had class critiques for every project that was due. Critique sessions were about 3 hours long. (Sometimes even longer!) Critiques took place in a dim room with rows of chairs in it. One by one, my classmates and I would put up our artwork on the white wall with the spotlight on it and stand in front of the classroom and talk about our pieces. After that, everyone including the instructor would have a chance to tell you what they thought about it. During freshman year, this was a terrifying experience. It was nerve wracking and embarrassing even if you thought your piece was good. It was kind of like waiting for the American Idol judges to tell you how you did. By senior year, this seemed to be a whole lot easier. I grew thicker skin to criticism and learned to even appreciate it.

These days, I am fortunate to have friends in my life that share their time with me and lend me their feedback on paintings I'm working on. These are friends that I trust and feel that their insight would help me develop the ideas or techniques I'm trying to define.

It's important who you ask to help you with this. Critiques can really hurt an artist if they aren't coming from a source with good intentions or from someone who isn't sensitive to the artists hard work. I've had this experience many times in my life. There have been a few times I've left a critique feeling confused and frustrated. Now, I've learned that as great as constructive criticism can be, it's just as important to leave some of the feedback behind when it isn't going to help you develop your strengths.

Art really is relative, but what you need in a critique is help knowing if your intended message of your work is coming across. Or you might even just need help discovering this because you might not even know what you're trying to convey.

Now, it feels good not only to hear my friends assessments, but also to trust my own intuition with my work and know what advice fits my language. Sometimes comments that I don't understand or agree with just need to go in my back pocket to never be used or to surprise me with clarity later.


May 8, 2015

Letting Go

Abstract #4 (Spring 2015)
4' x 4'
acrylic on Infrastructure Canvas
email me
to inquire about purchasing

Anyone that looks at abstract artwork and says, "I can do that. Just throw some paint around." clearly has never tried it. The hard part is to not make it look like you just threw some paint around! It is the most difficult form of painting I have ever done, yet it can be the most freeing. I say can be, because it is only freeing when I am able to just let go. That's a really difficult thing to do; to not control your movements or thoughts. Sometimes (a lot of times) I think I'm doing it, but it'll be so obvious in my work that I never really let it go.

What is "it" you ask? It can be so many things. Expectations (huge!), judgement (even bigger!), stress, interferences, rules, habits, comfort, preconceptions, etc. etc. When I manage to let these things go, I don't think I did it, I feel it in my core. I get a sense of wholeness and surety, even if I didn't create a masterpiece. Some days are so much easier to do this than others and that's really just has to do with what's going on in my life. Art is a reflection of your soul.
"There are no rules. That is how art is born, how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules. That is what invention is about." -Helen Frankenthaler

May 6, 2015

Education Is The Kindling Of A Flame

The gals and their works in progress

Once again I had the pleasure of teaching an awesome group of artists at a workshop I held in my studio. It is always such a rewarding time for me, because I get to witness each persons creative idea bloom. I get to see them get excited when they see their hard work pay off. It's amazing how each artists gave such different voices using the same image. The best part of teaching something like this is when you see an artist realize the grand possibilities there are using their new technique. It's like an AHA! moment and you can see the creative gears turning in their head. I know exactly how they feel.

We must never stop learning. 
"Education is the kindling of a flame." -Socrates





May 4, 2015

Surround Yourself With Your Work


Something I used to do when I was in college and still do now, is to surround myself with my artwork. I would take everything I had currently been working on and I would lay it out all around me. I would line my paintings all along the walls and take a seat where I could see them all. I'd also turn everything off. No music, phone or tv. No outside influences. It was just me and my artwork. I would sit there and get a feel for it. I would try to see it all as if I were seeing it for the first time.

Doing this would allow me to clearly see what was evolving. I would ask myself questions about my work. Questions like:

Is there a recurring theme?
Are the pieces cohesive?
Are the colors challenging?
What feelings are coming through?
Are my compositions interesting?
Do the pieces excite me?
Am I playing it safe or am I pushing myself out of my comfort zone?

I just try to listen to what I see and get connected with the artwork as whole and see what their story is. When I do this, I see things I never caught on to before. I might see some weaknesses and I might see strengths I should build on. 

Give it a try. You might realize things about yourself as an artist you didn't know.


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