When I am trying to unwind I usually take the scale down a few notches, pull out a paper pad and markers and play around with color and composition. The size and media relieve some of the pressures that come with a larger surface (wanting it to be good, for instance) plus getting to complete a composition and cover a surface in 30 minutes rather than 6 hours is a lot of fun. Occasionally these smaller drawings will vaguely inspire a painting or, even rarer, get reproduced in large-scale, but I'm just not much of a planner when it comes to painting and that's really not the point.
One goal I have is focusing a bit more on showing off the smaller-scale side of the studio, as I've rarely shown any of the hundreds (if not thousands) of works on paper I've done over the years in between larger paintings. It's not that I didn't think they were worth it, I've just always been a bit more excited to show and make larger scale stuff. But as i've been drawing more and more lately, I'm rediscovering the passion for the smaller scale and there's something unique that comes with the immediacy of drawing.
Awake in the Shallows.
Acrylic and water on rough canvas.
There's a moment when emerging from a dream where reality and imagination mix. For a split second the real world interacts directly with your subconscious, but even in the dream-state one can usually determine that something is amiss. The dream begins to fall apart as something rather than everything grabs your attention.
Light the Way.
Acrylic on recycled canvas.
Sometimes you have to let art be your guide.
This painting was born by the one before it. I took the canvas for "Jugglers" off its stretcher bars and the backing canvas had this great abstract composition created from the last painting leaking through. Deep blues and greens covered the majority of the surface in these varied patches that looked more like worn siding than acrylic paint. small pops of yellow and red peaked through in the top portion like little balls of light. Sometimes the hardest part of moving forward with a painting is taking the first step in covering up a background you like...
"Light the Way" references the image ultimately created and the background that inspired the resulting composition. Sometimes you need to relinquish your power and allow an outside source to reveal the path before you.
I Can Do It All Without Help or Hustle.
Acrylic and ink on loose canvas.
Meant to be one in a series that never got beyond the first two paintings, although there's always a chance to bring it back, this painting and the series were about stubbornness and our inability to hand off responsibility, despite a full plate before us. Not stubbornness in a selfish way, but the type of stubbornness that leads you to take on more than you can chew. A stubbornness built from self-confidence, pride, ability, and the desire to accomplish and help rather than a distrust of others.
Sometimes we CAN do it all on our own and keeping things in-house is the easiest way to go. Sometimes a burden is too heavy and you have to admit that the load needs to be lessened. I Can Do It All Without Help or Hustle, along with its companion, were meant to display this blind stubbornness in an obvious and somewhat comical manner; here depicting a figure literally weighed down by their task, attempting to wade through the encroaching water. Any viewer or participant of this scene can easily recognize the figure is in need of help, or at the very least, should not be tasked with solving this problem on their own, but our figure silently floats by, somewhat controlling their flock but adding to the predicament with each passing wave.
We readily recognize the skill required when watching a juggler perform their talent, moving from 2 to 3 to 7 balls, introducing fragile, sharp or flaming objects, dazzling the audience as they defy injury or embarrassment by keeping their chosen objects aloft. Much less obvious, if not willfully ignored, is the skill required by each of us as we navigate our ever-changing landscape and hoist countless responsibilities onto our shoulders hour upon hour, day after day.
The danger may not be as immediate as a collection of knives flying overhead, but the consequences could be more severe. Juggling debts, relationships, work, schedules, family interests and personal goals, while not as life-threatening as a flying, flaming sword, certainly carry their potential for damage, both short and long-term. Despite this, each of us plods through our plight, many times graciously accepting new challenges while refusing offers of help. If our responsibilities were as obviously perilous as a juggler mid-performance, perhaps we’d give each other a little more space, allow ourselves a bit more forgiveness, and realize each interaction is infused with an unseen mountain of influence that each person is impacted by in unknowable ways.
Brady Street Fest 2023
I'm not a fancy person. Yes I make art...yes I hang that art in galleries...yes I hang out and talk to people about that art in said galleries, even occasionally selling something. But as much as that's somewhat required of an artist, it's never been "my goal" and it's far from my favorite part. I've always been more of a doer.
Come to an opening for a show I'm in and you'll most likely find me with a camera around my neck. Not really because I NEED to, but because it gives me something to do with my anxious energy. Give me a show and I'll most likely propose some kind live-painting performance. Again, not because I NEED to or it's expected, but because it's a free studio session, just out in public. Ask me to attend a street fest and I'll most likely volunteer to work it. Again...not because I need to, but i'd rather, in almost every situation, make art rather than simply be around it.
On that same token, as much as I love art museums, they're not necessarily great places to be an artist. Yes you get to see the icons of art history and explore art in the flesh, but you're also stuck in a stuffy, blindingly white cube in silence, shuffling around other people, avoiding eye contact, and trying not to alert the guards as to how close your getting to the artwork. To me, there's no place as simultaneously inspiring and stifling as your typical art museum...and the same goes for a lot of galleries, shows, and art-related interactions in general.
The art world is a strange place...and I think I'm realizing my best location is a bit outside it making art. Sometimes that may come across as less professional or established; sometimes that may seem unserious; other times it may just seem like I didn't or won't "make it". But the bottom line is that I'm going to keep making art whether or not I ever sell another painting, drawing, illustration or doodle, and I've grown to embrace that. It's not really about appearances, rules, branding, influence or sales, it's about making art, wherever that may be, whomever may encounter it, meaningful or not. The shows are great, the praise is welcome, the attention is fun, but I want to make art. It being appreciated and purchased is simply a byproduct.
This last weekend I enjoyed the sun and festivities out at Brady Street Fest with 3-4 paintings and illustrations in progress and a slew of work on paper for sale. There was a drag show at the bar next to me, I met at least hundred people, sold a few things, and got a few commissions in the process. I got a sunburn, a parking ticket, and some dirt embedded in the paint, but it was a far and welcome cry from the silent, stifling blindingly white walls so ubiquitous with art these days. Maybe, eventually, you'll find me in a white cube, giving an artist talk, and sipping cocktails (it's happened before), but I guarantee you, the second the lights go down in the gallery, I'll be holding a can of beer and a paintbrush, back in the studio or on the street, simply making art.
Take Me to the Water's Edge.
One of the largest paintings I've done since the Pandemic Series, Take me to the Water's Edge presents a simple interaction, or the beginnings of a power struggle.
If one is the voice speaking the title, one is seeking something they don't quite know but strongly desire. If being asked, one is placed in a position of power, holding knowledge that another seeks. However, one could also see the person demanding to be led somewhere as the one in charge while the one leading the way could simply be following orders. Is the leader the leader or, by following the orders of a follower, relinquishing their dominance in the situation. Perhaps this is simply an encounter of two people approaching the nearest water access. Perhaps it's representative of a power struggle that's a bit harder to define.
Take me to the river is available for purchase. Inquire for details and check out the shop when that gets up and running.
Between Three Trees.
This is the last painting from the marshall house studio where I've been working the last 5 years with well over 400 arts produced, including the entire Pandemic Painting series. There are some good memories here, don't get me wrong, but ultimately I am more than ready for a new start. This studio saw me endure the Covid pandemic, getting fired, a bout with some fleas, and the passing of two beloved pets. Yes, there were good things too, but sometimes the negatives just seem to hang in the air a bit longer.
A good way to end I'd say while very ready for a new start.
Between Three Trees. is about thinking or doing, whether either is more desirable, and perhaps whether contemplating that is in and of itself proof you're worried about the wrong things.
There are times i question whether or not art is worth it; whether I should put my efforts toward something measurably consequential rather than putting paint on a canvas, contemplating, and creating scenes that, while important for my own well-being, may not amount to much more than a very costly visual diary. Is art really an honorable endeavor when I could spend this time volunteering or taking part in the actual day-to-day betterment of my community? Is art effectively a selfish act? If I got a normal job and would that bring fulfillment and an end to this worry?
I think the real answer is that there's a time for both and the real problem is this feeling of guilt and why something that brings me joy also makes me question whether or not that is in and of itself worthwhile.
After a Morning Row.
The first painting of 2023 exemplifies some current trends in my painting and marked a vibrant and exciting start to 2023. Not only that, but the painting was accepting in the Trout Museum of Arts Contemporary Juried exhibition, my third time getting a painting into the competitive show and second time I'll be able to participate.
First off, the actual time taken to create the painting was much more extended than the frantic three-paintings-per-week I was doing during the pandemic. Altogether the painting spent about a month in an incomplete state, a long time period for me, especially never having restarted or painted over large portions. In addition to the timeline, the painting displays less use of water and a brightness that isn't largely present in the series. The palette as a whole, though similar, is a bit more impactful, or a least impactful differently than the Pandemic Paintings, many of which tended to be more somber. Lastly, the figure itself does not have the characteristic "wetsuit" that become a staple of the Pandemic Painting figures, opting for a comparably more naturalistic portrayal.
There are basically two ways to view the scene and interpret the title that I had in mind by the end of the process. In one it is a rather simple image depicting a moment of rest amongst nature after a morning boat ride, the other uses the british definition of "row", or fight, and changes a beautiful and relaxing scene to one of tension and conflict. A glimpse of another figure can be seen exiting the frame; is this figure leaving the scene of a fight or simply walking to shore? Is the figure in the boat taking a moment for themself or recovering from a moment of aggression? In light of this, is the surrounding scene a tumultuous roar or a serene lake view?
After a Morning Row is currently up at the Trout Museum of Art Contemporary Juried Exhibition and is available for purchase. I am in the process of building a shop so keep an eye out for a post in the future with all the details you'll need! In the meantime, feel free to reach out if you'd like to inquire about purchasing this painting.