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Slow hot summer doldrums

It’s been a bit longer than I’d like for this post. But It’s been a hot wet, take it easy kind of summer break.

But it’s time for school season to kick off and that means a return to a bit of routine, so I’m looking forward to a bit more structured weekends and getting back in front of the canvas again.

I’m fascinated by a recurring theme I’ve noticed myself exploring subconsciously, so I’m do some exploration and hopefully get some new paintings out of it.. and I’ve got to get the Undine III painting’s sketches & comps a bit further along.

On the website front, the performance has been really really really bad so I’m moving it this weekend hopefully. Lots of posts and configurations to move, but I expect it to not be too bad.

But It’s so bad on the Hostgator hosting account that even this little post has taken over an hour due to loading and image failures etc…

Beyond Exhaustion/ no more spoons/ determination, poses that show the contrast between the mental drives at conflict have really been speaking to me.
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On The Easel

The end of spring is rapidly approaching. That means it’s been a lot of garden time which is my favorite solace to recharge my batteries.

I mean.. look at this !

So painting has been a little slow, but I’m on the home stretch of the Undine painting. Really struggled with it for the first couple of weeks but I feel like it’s really beginning to come together and has really taught me a lot on bending the light around the forms.

Still have to do one more detail pass on the face and then the craziness that is going to be the water, but I’m super pleased with how most of the other elements are coming out.. except the reeds… the more look at them the more I want to wipe them out and just re-do them.. we’ll see.

Other than that, the store front re-work is coming along and I think it’s gonna be fine, but somehow I don’t think I’ll make it to my self imposed deadline of launching July 1.. which is kind of a bummer, but realistically there is just so much left to do.

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Stalling into Spring

Been an odd two weeks, but it finally seems like Spring has settled in… so that’ll be a nice months before the oven gets turned on high. So a bit of time has been spent in the weekends

Work on the next Undine painting is just about wrapped up with the drawing phase and I’m hoping to get it on board and ready to start painting this weekend.

But I have also finally gotten the store config issues worked out so I can keep populating all the products and get working on the print-on-demand along set up. And I need to test that it actually all works. So that’s a preeeety long list of todo’s this week… but also pretty exciting to see things coming together.

I could use a clone..

Because I also started a little series of dryad drawings. Figure if I make the drawings nice and on good paper they’d look nice framed and then after the Undine convert them to a series of small paintings. Trying to get comfortable working at multiple paintings at once and figuring out what I can do to maximize my number of paintings I create, I really don’t want to force myself to work faster and selectively looser.

So it’s gonna be a busy spring!

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Walking Backwards

Also known as backtracking. One of the benefits of understanding the process is that you know where you are in it, where you’ve been and where you’re going. This makes it easier to evaluate a piece at various stages of work.

And this week has been spent walking down a lot of dead ends, and then going back a step or two in the process to fix problems that are keeping the Undine I image from going as smoothly as I had hoped. On the other hand knowing when to stop, and backtrack and fix underlying issues instead of blundering ahead and hoping that the problems will go away by themself, is absolutely going to result in a stronger final image.

On a related note, a couple of us local artists tried to get some community involvement and see if we could get together and meet some other local creatives. But I guess fakebook just ate all my attempts at getting more people involved, which is a shame because it would be nice to see if we could develop a local artist community. So a not so fun step back there.. but one of them did mention another nearby town’s artist community so I guess that something.

Anyway I’m hoping to get the final drawing of Undine I done this week as well as the frame final glazes for Undine II.

Onward we journey.

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Finishing thoughts

I find that the end of a canvas is almost as hard as the beginning. When you start a piece there’s the fear of the blank canvas, and at the other end, it’s the end of the canvas, the last stroke, sticking a fork in it, calling it done.

It’s not a loud panic inducing fear, its more like the quiet fear of stepping away from it and saying it’s the best that I can do with this at this time. Pre-separation anxiety you could call it.

But then again, maybe it’s just me. Loads of artists don’t have a problem going back and reworking an old painting. I just can’t get myself to do that. When I finish a piece it’s a snapshot of where I am in a moment of time and what I’m trying to say at that point in time, and going back and re-working it well… fells wrongish.

(but boy is it tempting sometimes.. there’s some paintings that I know I could do it so much better now.)

Anyway, it took a bit but I wrapped up the Undine painting, and now I can’t wait to go and get started on the next one.

Good, but stressful week, all things considered.

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Trusting the process

If you ever spend much time time around an artist I’m sure you’ll hear them mumble ‘Trust the process damnit’ to themselves. But as a developing artist you quickly find yourself wondering “What Process?!!? How do I get a process that I can trust??!”

And if you take a course from an artist, or watch a bunch of YouTube or whatever process you can learn from, you’ll run across tons and TONS of artists who are more than happy to talk about ‘the right way to do X’. And if you’re like me, some of it will be amazing knowledge, and even more of it will be nonsense. Which brings us back to the whole process thing. What a lot of teachers try to teach you are their process, or the process of classical artists. That’s useful information, but what it doesn’t do is give you YOUR process.

Continue reading Trusting the process
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New Work and busy times

Undine Sketch 1

I’ve settled on a theme for the next series of paintings, the Undine. Beautiful water spirits rising from the water as they discover love yet dealt a tragic fate should their lover become unfaithful to them. I want to capture the fluid watery essence of them and give thought to the mournful tragedy of their inevitable betrayal from those they love.

It will be at least a series of 3 16×20 paintings and I’ve already got the first board primed and on the easel, waiting for me to finish the drawing.

Continue reading New Work and busy times
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Lots of changes on the site, new theme, new mailing list, new art, new new new… Whoo it’s a bit exhausting actually.

But it’s time to clean up things and gear up for what promises to be an amazing and creative and magical new year. And with brush in hand and critical furballs by my side there’s no telling where we’re going to wind up but it’s gonna be an exciting journey!

Continue reading Ch-ch-ch-chaaanges
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23 – Farewell 2022

22 was an incredible year spent in study and exploration and a result of over 1,200 feet of drawings and studies. It was absolutely amazing. I couldn’t have done it without the amazing mentorship of drawsfromlife and Steve Huston’s instruction. The heartsight approach to create was something truly unexpected, but I can’t imagine moving forward without it. I was looking for mechanical instruction on drawing the figure but got a new way of looking at the art I’m creating as something more. To be able to think about the reflection of life in the strokes and flow of energies in a drawing and to create that with intent, that’s a daunting goal. Well both daunting and a bit audacious. But we all gotta learn to walk the walk some time.

Continue reading 23 – Farewell 2022
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A quiet sea of change

It’s been a tumultuous year.. if you’re in the future just google it.

So yeah, lots of change.. especially at the end of summer, but it feels it’s been mostly good recently which is nice. So I’ve had time to do a bit of life reset and am finding having a renewed balance is paying off dividends. Pretty happy with the latest painting ‘Guardian of the forest’ and have recently been re-discovering the joy of playing with various mediums. Lately a bunch of ink and brush has been a fun go-to. The lack of control is a nice reminder to just let go and play sometimes… and unsurprisingly… practice well.. improvement but that’s nice to see too.

Turks Cap – ink and brush on paper

And then the stars aligned and I managed to get a spot in a kind of group mentorship program with one of my art heroes for a 10 month art intensive figure drawing group. Which means probably a bit light on the painting, but I’m already having a great time rediscovering the just joy of drawing and making marks with intent.

More soon.

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The woosh of time

Wow it’s been a while since I’ve had time to write on here. So let’s sum up the first half of 2019…

Work was insane with a couple months of intense crunch that drained a lot of creative energy.. so that wasn’t so good.

I’ve been exploring art supplies and trying new things to help find out what works well for me. There’s been some surprises and some letdowns.

The Letdowns

  • Alcohol ink markers, tried a few brands on different papers and they just don’t click for me. I see people doing amazing things with them, but I’m just not a fan of actually working with them
  • Galkyid Lite, I was hoping to like this drying assistant, but compared to liquin I just found it to be quite frustrating. No matter what I did it turned tacky on the canvas before I was done and it’s started hardening inside the dropper bottle I put it into.

The Surprises

  • Hammermill Laser printer paper, this has completely replaced my paper sketchbooks, I love the weight and smoothness of it, plus it holds inks really well.
  • Colored Pencil leads for mechanical pencils, I’m not sure how I managed before. Being able to do the initial sketch in red and then draw over it with pencil or inks just really lets me be free with the initial sketch. Maybe it’s just a mental hurdle that I had to get over, but whatever it was, they’ve been a lifesaver.
  • Tombow brush pens, I’m not normally an ink fan but these rubber tipped brush pens are amazing and really have replaced most of my Micro and Prismacolor liner pens

Next up for playing with, I’ve got a stack of oil primed Linen boards that I’m excited to try out. I’ve been fighting with the cheap canvas cotton texture and I’m hoping these will give me the combination of texture and control that I’m aiming for. If not then I’ll be priming more MDF boards which has a nice subtle texture to work on.

I also went back to Fantasy Art Workshop’s Illustration Intensive again this year and it was a great and intense week. There was a lot of struggle in getting the painting going this year and while I’m pretty happy with the end result, I feel like I learned more about how to work through setback after setback than I actually did about the process of creating a piece of art. Which in hindsight, was probably what I really needed to learn more and something I couldn’t have learned at home, since I’d just have chucked the piece in the crap pile and moved on.

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Short Book Review: Big Magic

Being an artist is hard.

Hell, sometimes even just calling yourself an artist is damn near impossible without a cacophony of voices in your head proclaiming you’re wrong, unworthy, delusional, too old, too young, too happy and so on and so forth ad-nauseam. All those little fears are all of a sudden more than happy to tell you why you don’t deserve to use that word.

This book is, in part, about those fears and giving them a nice pat on the head and telling them “Thanks for your opinion, you’re wrong, now shut the fuck up and let me get back to work.”

Now before I go on, I want to say. This book was written by someone who had another book that was ridiculously successful. So much so that I almost decided to not read this book. Which, when you think about it, is an absolutely terrible way to look at things, but the gut reaction of, “oh shit that’s popular, it must be terrible.” seems to be SO ingrained in our collective psyche. (Do you know who put that thought in there? Marketing departments for other things who want that same success. Think about that for a second.)

That got me thinking, can you imagine doing something so incredible that one of your works becomes practically a household name? How do you do ANYTHING after that, let alone take a risk and write a book about fear? I’ve got fears and doubts piled high around me, but Elizabeth Gilbert’s fear and uncertainty must be the size of a mountain. So she wrote a book where she skis on that mountain and talks about falling/failing/fearing and dealing with it.

OK, on to the book itself.

Big Magic

It’s well researched, written like a nice friendly chat with an old friend who just popped around for a cup of coffee and a piece of cake and decided to have a chat about fear,creativity and the secret lives of ideas. Is it ‘Great Literature’? Will it shake the foundations of society? Will it help you make art? The answers are, I don’t know; doubtfully, but it might help you change the world; and no it won’t help you make art.

It will, however, help you to get the hell out of your own way so you can make art. That’s Big Magic in my book.

And in my opinion, that’s something we don’t talk about enough.

The book is broken down into several different sections each dealing with a step or hurdle in the creative process. Some sections I agree with more than others, and a couple times I simply had to put the book down and have an argument with myself about who was right. Even if I don’t embrace all the ideas, they have all have proven worthwhile to just stop and think about for a while. If nothing else, after reading this and arguing with my own notions, I have a much better realized version of what MY creative process means to me and how it fits into my life.

Here’s some of the little nuggets of wisdom that really resonated with me. There were plenty more in there, but these are some of the ones I can’t stop thinking about.

The only thing you have absolutely no control over is how people react to your work.

We’re so preoccupied with trying to make things that will get us ‘likes’ or some sort of external validation that we let it impact our creative choices. If you were to paint the Sistine chapel today, you’d still get people who hate it for being garish, too much nudity, and so on and so forth. Doing something that you want and being ok with people not liking it is hard on the ego, pride and spirit. I’m finding that it’s been very helpful just to simply just stare at those words and remind myself that it’s the same for all artists.

You don’t need to do autopsies of your disasters.

Tying into the previous idea of not being able to control how people react to my work is the incessant need for me to deconstruct my work once it’s complete to try and find out why people didn’t react the way I want them to. Because the endorphin rush of the phone going ‘ding’ when you get a like really is training us to have a Pavlovian response. And there’s no way that can be healthy for creativity. So how do we recognizing that, and yet still balancing it with the actual need to work on a social media presence … well if you find out the magical balance there please let me know.