Sunday, May 22, 2016

Monster Invasion

Well my first attempts at polymer clay monsters this weekend weren't as successful as I would have liked. Although I've done a lot with ceramic clay and Model Magic over the years, I have never used polymer clay, and it does have a bit of a learning curve. First of all, it took a while to get use to the clay. I first tried Sculpey III, but I felt like it was a little too soft, so I tried Premo Sculpey, and Fimo. Each of these has their own issues, but after a while I began to catch onto the clay, and feel like my later attempts were more successful as I figured out how to best use the clay.

Then there's my attempt at baking the clay. My first attempt at baking ended in three of the four pieces cracking - one had only a slight crack, but the other two had significant cracks. Only the purple guy above survived. But after following some advice someone gave me on Facebook (Thanks, Glaucia), I was more successful. I ended up with six that survived out of ten. I'm thinking that my success rate will go up as I make more. Depending on how many more I make, I might have to put some for sale on the website. I'll share more of the monsters over the next few days.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Little Monsters

Over the past week or so, I've been using Model Magic with my elementary students. I couldn't resist making a few things myself including the three monsters and elephant above (yes, the elephant is wearing a fez). I had kind of forgotten how much I love working in 3D. Although I work primarily with drawing and painting materials, I do find a lot of satisfaction working in three-dimensions. My foray with my students made me want to create some things in a bit more durable material. So, I went out and bought some polymer clay, and made the four monsters below. I've never worked with polymer clay, so there's bit of learning curve, but I'm pretty happy with the results. I'm looking forward to making more.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

New Radiating Design

I've spent quite a bit of time over the last few days working on this piece that I videoed a couple of weeks ago. There's a lot of detail, so it has taken me a while. I'm not sure if it's finished, so I'll live with it for a few days, and decide if I want to work more on it.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour

Mark your calendars!

The 11th annual Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour is just over a month away. Come out on June 18th and 19th and spend some time checking out over 60 awesome Northern Virginia Artists. I'll once again be on the tour, and I'll have my garage studio open to the public from 10am to 5pm both days. I'm stop number 17 in Purcellville, VA, and I hope to see you there. It's a great way to kick of the summer.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

New Work and a Short Video

A change of plans yesterday meant that I was able to spend some time in the studio working on a 24"x24" painting. I had started the background a while ago, and I had planned to create one of my radiating line designs on it. Yesterday was a perfect time to dive in.

It was daunting to draw on such a big surface. All of my previous radiating designs were on much smaller paper, but once I got into it, things began to roll. I didn't finish it, but I got a good start on it. I was even able to take some video of myself working.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Big Face Revisited

I've been working on this 18x24 inch painting in the studio over the last few days, and it's close to being finished. I am quite pleased with how it's turning out.

I used my Golden High Flow Acrylics to build up the background texture, and then I drew the face with my paint markers. I'll share when I finish it up. I'm looking forward to doing more paintings like this.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

It's Official

Well, it's official. I'm taking the leap!

With a little trepidation and nervousness, I put in my formal resignation yesterday, so at the end of my contract, I will no longer be a teacher for Loudoun County Public Schools in Northern Virginia. I'll be a full time artist.

Up until this point, I have only declared my intention of stepping away from teaching, but now I have begun the actual stepping away process. Although I have six weeks left in the school year, my contract is officially up in mid August, which means that I'll have a couple of months over the summer to get adjusted to the idea of being a full time artist. It hasn't really sunk in yet. It's such a monumental decision for me, but I don't think it will really hit me until the fall when the new school year begins, and I won't be going back.

I just have to figure out a way to make a living at it.

Dave and I already have a number of things lined up for the summer and the fall, including teaching workshops at Art Unraveled in Phoenix at the beginning of August and Art and Soul in Virginia Beach at the end of September. We'll also be keynote speakers at a couple of different state art education conferences.

I've also got ideas for some local workshops and events, and I have some notions for more online workshops. I would love to travel and teach at other venues, so I definitely need some help in finding studios and art stores where I can teach workshops, so if you know of a place, let me know.

I guess there's no turning back now, and I would't want to even if I could. Here's to taking the leap and taking flight.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Swirls and Patterns

Tonight I decided to add more to a drawing a started about a month ago, so I added more swirls and patterns in ink.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Child Within

I have been experimenting a lot lately with techniques and images, and I feel like I'm at a very unsettled place with my art. At times, I feel like I'm all over the place with things, and that's perfectly fine with me. It's giving me the opportunity to try out all kinds of things to see what sticks.

I have noticed that my work has been getting more representational - more figurative - from the monsters to the faces that I've been pursuing over the last few months. In a small way I've been trying to move my art back toward the recognizable, but I haven't gone back to the highly accurate renders that enthralled me long ago. I don't seem to have the patience anymore to try to make something "just right" with all the complex shading and detail. I'm more into simplifying my approach, and I'm liking the direction the art is taking.

Over the last couple of weeks, two things have inspired a move into yet another experiment with a style and imagery type. I've been trying to tap into the child within and just let the drawings flow. The first source of inspiration came from reading Gordon MacKenzie's book Orbiting the Giant Hairball. The book is about the things he learned during his 30 years at Hallmark cards, and it is a very inspiring read. But it wasn't so much the words that have inspired my art, it was the illustrations scattered throughout the pages. These simple line drawings are reminiscent of the way little kids draw, and they intrigued me and mesmerized me. I knew that I need to try something like it in my own art.

The second source of inspiration has come from watching several of my students draw. As an elementary art teacher, I teach about 630 students a week, and some of my students amaze me with their confidence when they draw and the whimsy and character of their drawings.  These students have yet to be tainted with the "is this good" bug. They draw and create with such pure joy and spontaneity, and I've been trying to capture some of that with my latest experiments. I'm trying to connect with that simple and joyful quality, and I've been greatly enjoying myself.

So, when you start to see more works like the one above, you'll know why.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Big Face

I found some time to work in the studio tonight, and I decided to attack one of my larger panels. Back in February, I built and gessoed a few cradled panels including this 18"x24". I applied several layers of Golden High Flow Acrylic, and it sat for a couple of months. My plan was to do one of my faces on it, but I had simply been putting it off.

Tonight, I decided that I had put it off long enough, so I dove in with my thick, black paint marker and drew the face. It's a different experience drawing on on this large surface than it is drawing the face on the smaller 4"x6" pieces I have done before. After the black lines, I wanted to pull the face out from the background, so I laid in a layer of alizarin crimson in the negative spaces. I still want to play with the line thickness, and I want to add some patterns with black and white paint marker. It's a ways from being finished, but I am liking how it's turning out so far.

The High Flow Acrylic has quite the gloss when it dries so I had to shoot the photo at an strange angle.