Posts tagged ‘painting’

My Latest Submission: “Vertical Katz”

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Earlier this month I completed a work to go in a group show at Gallery Twenty-Two.  They were calling for local artists to submit their skate deck designs for the August show “Let the Good Times Roll.”

I had never created art on a skate deck before but surprisingly I had two ideas that came to mind immediately. Unfortunately time got away from me and I only could create one final work.  At least I was smart enough to do the simplest one, “Vertical Katz.”  My gut was telling me this was going to be a good one.

The design is a takeoff from my “Angry Kitty” piece that I did last year, but this time I decided to do two cats on opposing sides so that they would  span the length of the board. Before that I read up a little bit about painting on wood and also received some feedback from other artists on how to approach the project.

I spray-painted the background in red using spray paint with a primer. Then the following day I stenciled both cats using paint markers. The black turned out pretty nice but the white for some reason was a little tougher to apply. The red bled through the white and I had to keep reapplying the paint so that the white cat wouldn’t turn pink.

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Overall it turned out well and I felt it was a strong design. And, of course I wired it for hanging and brought it in to the gallery at the 11th hour.

On a happy note, “Vertical Katz” sold, after being up less than a week!

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Overall the show is pretty impressive and is definitely worth seeing. It’s amazing to view the caliber of work submitted by these local artists.There are so many skate deck designs that I keep finding something new every time I go to Twenty-Two for figure drawing.

The show is up until September 5 so I highly recommend coming out to see it. .  A portion of the proceeds goes towards a skate park project.

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Gallery Twenty-Two is located on 1500 Central Ave, Charlotte, NC, in Plaza-Midwood.

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2014: My Year In Review

2014 was arguably my most productive year as an artist.  I spent most of it being gainfully unemployed but I used some of that free time to my advantage.   Here’s the list of things that I did this year:

It Sure As Heck Wasn’t Blogging

In spite of my extra time, I was too busy to blog even though 2014 was chock full of blog fodder.   My last post in November was probably the first blog post in months.  Much of my free time was spent looking for a job, or creating art.  In spite of that I still managed to increase my number of followers and I am grateful for that.

Photoshop

I think every artist needs to learn some type photo editing program. There’s a lot of wonderful free online tools out there such as Google-based programs Picasa and Pixlr.  I used those for a time but eventually began working with Photoshop. It’s a robust program and you do pay for that robustness in a “a second mortgage” kind of way.  Fortunately there’s a cloud based program where you can pay an affordable monthly fee.

I learned Photoshop by reading “Classroom In A Book” that also comes with exercises that you can download from the web.  I’m no expert but I am more knowledgeable about a program that intimidated me for quite some time. Also it ain’t a bad thing to have on your resume.

Discovered New Venues

So this is the accomplishment I’m most proud of.  This year I decided that every month I was going to have my work shown in some venue in Charlotte.    I came pretty close to achieving this goal.  Here are just a few of the venues. Not shown is my artwork at my eye doctor’s office or at the Paper Cut Gallery.

Charlotte Art League: Featured Artist of the Month
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Manor Theatre
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Beatties Ford Road Branch Library
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Twenty-Two
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How did I find these places?  I joined local arts organizations, attended art receptions, and networked with other artists. Social media sights such as Facebook and Twitter were great sources for finding out about local art happenings.  The more you start making connections the more opportunities make themselves available.

Created More Work Than Ever

The reason why I’m slow at making art is because I’m a procrastinator, often found surfing the net, eating, napping, watching TV programs and online shows; or God forbid, if the weather is really nice, doing some related outdoor activity. I don’t have the attention span to spend long hours in a studio.  This year my behavior was still the same but due to the additional time, I managed to create about 7 works compared to 3 to 4 pieces per year on average.

Red Hoodie (SOLD)
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Ninja

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Breakthrough

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Three French Hens
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The Perimeter
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Still
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Good and Mercy Shall Follow Me (SOLD)
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Sold More Art

Okay so I still need a day job but I did better this year than the previous two years.  While I only sold two originals, I had more success selling prints. Showing and selling at multiple venues gave me more visibility.

Drew More Consistently

The key to improvement is to draw, draw, draw.  I currently attend life drawing sessions on a weekly basis and have done so for about a year.  I began working in pencil and then after being inspired by an artist friend who worked in pen, I started working in that medium. I find that I’m actually more comfortable in pen than with pencil and I am also becoming less tentative with my strokes.

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I also started doing “Right-Brained Sermon Notes,” that are visual notes I take on the sermon for Sunday service.  This type of thing isn’t a requirement for a ministry, I just enjoy doing it.  Once they’re finished I post them on Facebook.  A lot of people like them and it’s even caught the attention of some of the ministerial staff.

Sermon Notes 5.25.14 Sermon Notes 5.18.14a Sermon Notes 5.18.14

Found A Job (Albeit Temporary)

It’s one of those things that’s both exciting and disappointing at the same time. As I approached the last quarter of the year I became more and more frustrated about not finding any work. Severance and unemployment only last so long and then, gasp, you start tapping into that 401K. Fortunately a few months ago, I landed a long-term contract position to which I am still assigned to this day. The downside now is trying to find the time to make art.  I know of a fellow artist who lost her job this summer and I have to admit I’m a little jealous because of the extra time she now has to focusing on painting.   It almost makes me want to get laid off again – almost.

That sums up my year!  Looking forward to more adventures in 2015.

Adventures in Black Canvas

Several weeks ago I was at the art supply store trolling for canvases for  my next project, when there I discovered black canvases stocked on shelves. I don’t ever remember seeing any primed in black before and thought that if anyone wanted a black background that they would paint the standard white canvas in black.

I purchased one small 8″ x 10″ to experiment.   I figured that using the black canvas would serve as the perfect background for my next painting in the  “Black and White and Red All Over” series.

This is my dapper dude, my first study in black canvas and was the only study I completed before launching into the final piece. One thing to note about black canvas is its ability to absorb paint color. The only color that stands out on its own against black is white. The rest of  the colors need a little help, and that typically entails painting the object first with white or a light color before applying the top color.

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First, I outlined the drawing with a white charcoal pencil, then layered my dapper dude and the umbrella in white.  Once that dried, I painted over the white with red, making the top coat more visible.  Had I painted the red directly on the canvas the color would have been lost.

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The next painting was a little more ambitious. I purchased a 12″ x 16″ black canvas for my new piece “Red Hoodie.”  “Red Hoodie” was inspired by a small digital sketch that I drew on the iPhone that was actually a picture of a yellow hoodie.   I always wanted to a create larger version of that so this was my chance.

I sketched everything out in a charcoal pencil, although not before erasing it a million times until everything was laid out to my satisfaction. I was worried that the charcoal would smear and never come off of the canvas but I was able to erase a lot of the sketchy lines with my big white eraser.

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I tinted the white with a little black and painted the first layer of  the red hoodie in white, leaving the negative space of the black to define the sleeve and pocket.  To be honest, I really liked the hoodie in white because of  the contrast, and that it gave the piece a bit of comic book vibe.

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Then I tinted the red with a black because I really didn’t want the red to be so bright.  This worked out beautifully.

I drew the rain in chalk trying to create long thin lines like I see in the comic books.  Using a rubber tip blade with a long handle ( I don’t know what it’s called), I dipped the edge in paint and did a stamp effect on top of the charcoal lines.  Prior to that I did a few practice runs on a separate piece of paper but it still took me a while to get it right.  When I applied it to the canvas some were a little messy so I just used some black paint to clean up some of the lines.

Lastly, I added the splashes to the back and sides of the hoodie, signed off on it and called it a day.

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“Breakthrough” Another Adventure in Acrylics

I just finished a new acrylic painting last week called “Breakthrough.”   This is another addition to my “Black and White, and Red All Over” series.  Clearly the color gray is present in this piece instead of black, however black is a key ingredient of gray.  Cheating? Probably.

Here I’ve depicted the balloons making their escape and ascending upward through the cloudy skies, far away from whatever has been holding them back.

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This is the fourth acrylic painting that I’ve completed and I’m gaining a better understanding of this medium.   Here’s some additional lessons that I’ve learned:

Layer in Neutrals

I didn’t layer in neutrals when I created my earlier paintings and because of that I had to work harder at applying color into the canvas.  It’s amazing how difficult it is to cover a white or a light color with a darker one.

There were two painters who told me that they always layered in neutrals before applying other colors.   Heeding their advice,  I layered the background in a light gray and added the white clouds. Then I layered the balloons in a slightly darker gray and then painted them over in red.

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The red in the balloons was still vibrant but deeper and richer thanks to the neutral undercoat.  Unfortunately though I made another painting mishap.

Don’t Overdo White In A Painting

I was concerned that the gray background might make the overall work look somber, and that caused me to go overboard with the clouds.  I didn’t realize this until after I painted the balloons red.  The piece looked stark, almost as if I would have been better off painting the balloons directly on the white primed canvas.

The following day I saw a post on Facebook  from Jerry’s Art-A-Rama that mentioned that painters make the common mistake of adding too much white to their pieces making the work look cold, chalky or dull.  The timing of this post couldn’t have been better. So what did I do?

Acrylics Are Forgiving

I repainted the entire background in gray and re-applied the clouds with a little less vigor.  With acrylics you can hide your mistakes and make corrections.

Hindsight, I wished that  I would have done that with “Ninja” where I botched a splatter technique more than once.  I trashed two canvases when I should have just continued to rework the same one.

At any rate, I’ve enjoyed the process of creating “Breakthrough.” I am inspired to work on another piece using the black, red, and white color palette, although this time I am going to try my hand at working on a black canvas. Pray for me.

“Ninja” Please, You are Finished! My Winning Battle Against The Canvas.

After three attempts, I finally finished my acrylic painting, “Ninja” on my birthday. Yes, two canvases died in the making of this piece, thanks to my lack of experience with acrylics.

This  is a seemingly violent departure from my other work which is typically joyous, gentle and peaceful.  “Ninja” is part of my on-going series called “Black and White and Red All Over” that I started awhile back and includes my two other pieces, “Chat Noir” and “Angry Kitty.”

Ninja

The look is pretty dramatic with the stars zipping through the air, as they make extreme contact with their targets.  It reminds of a scene in an action movie where everything is happening in slow motion.  This is where my love of comic books is evident.

I worked in layers by first tinting the white paint, and then applying it to the entire canvas.  Afterwards, I applied a second layer of white horizontal streaks for some added texture and to make the stars appear as if they were flying at light speed.  Then there was the application of nerve-wracking details such as the black streaks around and behind the stars, followed by the red splatters. On my second attempt, the splatters ended up being my demise because I didn’t dilute the paint and it resulted in huge clumps on the canvas.  I was smarter this third go round.

So yes, “Ninja” was a rough customer but I persevered and completed it.   This was the one time where I felt that creating art was very much like a sparring match.

Making Ugly Art

Julia Cameron, the author of  The Artist’s Way, was right.  There will be times when you will make ugly art. Yesterday was one of those days and I have to accept it.

I was working in a medium that I hadn’t dabbled in since about a year and half ago – acrylics.  My latest piece was “Angry Kitty” back in 2012 and that turned out fairly well, mostly because the subject matter wasn’t too complicated.

It was this past Saturday when I felt the need to paint “Ninja” or “Assassin ( actually I don’t know what to really call the thing).”  The following day was Palm Sunday and one would think that I would have wanted to do something more contemplative.

I made a rough drawing in my sketch book nearly two years ago.  I created three throwing stars flying in the air towards their target.  I painted a trial throwing star on a smaller canvas for practice but never got around to doing the final work because I wasn’t comfortable with executing it.

         Ninja Stars     Star Final

Saturday, I drew the throwing stars on canvas and then painted the background.

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Sunday, I tinted the white to give a light gray or dirty white base and then I applied white streaks as a second layer for some added texture.

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It wasn’t until I started working on the stars that my problems began.  I struggled with using the brushes to create a sense of motion.  The swirls around the stars were muddy and the black streaks trailing the stars were just too big.  My lack of skill as an acrylic painter became quite obvious.

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Creating ugly art is one of those things that will happen at some point in any artist’s life.  It’s a letdown considering the amount of the time one puts into their work, and in my case it happened to be a good bit of the day yesterday.  I had such high hopes.  Hindsight, I should have stopped right before painting the stars to give myself more time to think about my technique, but I was feeling pretty confident.

On the upside, making ugly art is a learning experience. Once I screwed up and was unable to find a resolution, I just went into “the heck with it” mode and just started playing with it.  I discovered that there were some things that worked that could be applied to future works and other things that didn’t.

I’m debating on whether or not to fix this hot mess.  I mean why miss an opportunity to REALLY jack it up further?  Most likely I will just scrap it and start over. That wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done something like this and thanks to the learning curve, I can probably finish it in less time.  Well, shoot, maybe I just solved my own problem right there! Just start over.  It’s okay.  It’s what the creative process is about.

 

“Angry Kitty”

Cats are amazing creatures are they not?  I have one and contrary to popular belief they have incredible personalities.  If God created dog as man’s best friend, defining what it means to show unconditional love, then surely the intention behind creating a cat must be, “You alright but you ain’t all THAT.”

Cats will impose themselves on you, walk all over your computer keyboard while you are typing (okay just now that happened), swat at your legs as you walk by, lay on the stairs in front of you as you are attempting to go down them, tear your toilet paper, boots, socks, couch, and drapes to shreds. Basically they are jerks. Hard to believe they were actually worshiped like gods during ancient times.  Can you imagine crowds of people genuflecting in front of an aloof creature that sat there licking its nether regions?

I am amazed at cats’ physical capabilities including the ability to jump up several feet in the air from a sitting position. I I also find it most remarkable that when provoked, they can swell up to the size of the state of New Jersey.

The latter was my inspiration behind “Angry Kitty.” I wanted to capture that stiff, defensive body posture with the hair standing straight up and running down the center of its back, and the skinny tail swelling up at a moment’s notice.

My initial sketch looked like this.    It was too contrived.  I had referenced a photograph of an angry cat but my interpretation was too literal.  The posture didn’t look intense enough or angry enough.

Instead of trying to work with what I already sketched, I just took the eraser and started over.  As a result, I created a looser sketch where this time the cat looked larger, more imposing, and took up a lot more canvas space.

Overall I’m thrilled with the painting. It was one of those pieces where it turned out to be pretty close to what I wanted and that’s always exciting.  Once I finished it, I held it up to my cat and said, “Look at what I did.”  Shock to no one, my cat didn’t give a crap about it one way or the other.

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