Thursday, June 30, 2011

Challenge #16: Making Personal Space

We all need a bit of personal space – a place that is just for us – a place that we can call our own. It might be a lavish studio or a cabin in the woods. It might be the kitchen table or a big, comfy chair. It might be the backyard or a place in our bag for a journal or book. Whether it is a space with walls or not, whether it is large or small, it is ours – our own little corner of the world.

How do you carve out a chunk of personal space? Where do you go to find space for yourself and your thoughts? How do you recharge and re-energize? What gets in your way of being there? How do you make your personal space? If you haven’t, why not?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In the Studio

I am fortunate today to be in the studio working. It has been a while since I have had the time because of the end of the school year and the studio tour.

I am working on several things (as usual), but the above image is of a journal that I am specifically using for the new book due out next year. I am trying to use the techniques and prompts to create a journal that will used for the artwork of the book.

I also wanted to try out a new app for my iPhone that allows me to create posts with images and video. If it's easy to use, expect more posts from me.

Well, I must be getting back to my work.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


I am finally finding a little time to post about my new studio space. For the last nine years, my studio has been sharing space with the guest bedroom in our house. It was a tiny room that often became a mess that had to be cleaned up when we had guests. As mentioned in a previous post, once I was accepted into the Western Loudoun Artist Studio Tour, I spent a lot of time converting my garage into a viable art space. After all the work, I decided to keep it as a permanent studio to the delight of my wife. The above image was taken during the winter, when I first began cleaning out the garage preparing to apply to the tour. The photo below shows the cleaned out garage, but far from being in a state for a studio.

Once the weather turned warmer, I began purging a lot of junk that had accumulated in the garage, and I made multiple trips to the dump. Look at all that stuff under the work benches - most of it is gone now or at least stored in the back shed. I cleaned, I purged, I painted, and I cleaned some more. I moved all the lawn and gardening equipment, bags, and tools out to a shed in the backyard, and began to move studio stuff in. I planted grass seed in the backyard as well as around the garage, and my wife did a lot of gardening around the entire house to get everything ready for the tour. We even had the driveway redone with new drains and new gravel. Check out the photo below to see how the new grass, new gravel, new plants, and the general onset of spring transformed the exterior. I would still love to paint the outside of the garage.

Inside I painted all the walls white, put up new lights, and brought out all of my artwork and all of my studio materials and equipment. I put in an air conditioner, bought a couple of tables and chairs, and organized and displayed all of my artwork for the tour. The photo below shows the studio set up and ready to go for the tour. The other photos show the set up throughout the studio.

The tour went very well, and I had quite a few people pass through both days. I sold some art, some prints, and a lot of books. The journals were a huge hit, and many people were very interested. Since the tour, I've been trying to organize the studio into more of a working space. I've brought out pretty much all of my art materials, artwork, books, and such from the house. I moved a set of selves from the old studio to the new and got rid of the two black shelves that can be seen in the right hand part of the above photo. I still have a lot of organizing and cleaning to do, but soon, I'll have the transition complete, and all remnants of the old studio will be gone from the guest bedroom.

I can't wait to get producing in the new space.

Challenge #15: My Sanctuary

We all need a place to go when the world seems to be too much where we can get away for a while and reconnect with ourselves. We need a cave, an island getaway, or a mountaintop retreat where we can go, be by ourselves, and gain some perspective. Sometimes these are literal caves, islands, and mountains, but very often they are closer than that – the studio, the gym, the garage, or the library – ordinary places where we can get away and be with ourselves.

What is your sanctuary? Where do you go when the world becomes too much or when you just need to be by yourself? Where is that place of solace and comfort or that place where you can reconnect with yourself? What gets in your way of being there? How does it feel when you are kept from your sanctuary? If you do not have an actual sanctuary, where would it be? Where would you like to go?

I've been away for a while with the ending of the school year and traveling to North Carolina, so I'll be posting  Challenge #16 later this week.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Challenge #14: Wants and Needs

We all have our wants and our needs. To many, they seem to be the same thing, but what we want is not always what we need. We often want things that are not good for us and that are sometimes outright harmful. Those wants can be influenced by so many factors. Friends, family, and the media all can put direct and indirect pressure on us to buy the latest gizmos, gadgets and stuff, to make unhealthy eating choices, and to zone out in front of TVs and computer screens.

Reflect on what you want and what you need. See where you want and need the same thing. See where you want much more than you need. See where you deprive yourself of things that you desperately need.

What do you want? Why do you want those things? What do you need? Why do you need those things? Do you want more than you need? Why or why not? What are things that you need, but do not give yourself? What if you only wanted what you needed? How would your life be different?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour, June 11-12

Nest 2, 4"x6", Watercolor and watercolor pencil
The Western Loudoun Artist Studio Tour is almost here. It will be this Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12, from 10-5 both days. This self guided tour opens the studios of about 50 artists around Leesburg, VA. There is a great variety of artwork being offered by the artists. I am stop 23 in Purcellville. It's my first year on the tour, and I am looking forward to the weekend.

I'm pretty much done with all the major work. The studio is ready and I have a lot of artwork to offer for sale. But I still have a lot of little things to do, but it will all get done.

The two works pictured here are two more that I have just completed for the tour. The work pictured above will be mounted on a wooden cradle and will be ready to hang on the wall. The ink image below is from a series of drawings that I have been exploring using only line. The idea is to have this series of ink drawings as loose, unmounted pieces. I'll package them with a foam core backer inside a plastic bag.

Stretch 2, 4"x6", Ink on paper
This is the outside of my studio (my garage) as it looked last winter. I've spent the last couple of months converting it from a garage that housed my woodshop and all the lawn and garden equipment into a large, working studio. I've decided to make this my permanent studio because it such a large space. Besides my wife will be happy to have a room that is just simply the guest bedroom.

I'll share more images of the finished studio in a later post.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Challenge #13: Solitude

As humans we tend to be social creatures, but there are times when we need to be by ourselves – to be alone, but not lonely. For some solitude equates to isolation and despair and to others it equates to reflection and time to be with our thoughts.

Reflect on how you are when you are alone. Try to determine if you are comfortable or uncomfortable with being on your own.

What does solitude mean to you? Is it isolation or is it reflection? How do you react when you are by yourself? Do you distract yourself with email, housework, text messaging, or TV? Do you surround yourself with noise? Do you sit and reflect on all that has been going on mulling it over in your head? Do you surround yourself with quiet?

In what ways do you embrace solitude or push it away?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Old Artwork

While cleaning out my crawl space looking for older artwork to include on the Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour, I discovered these six pieces. All are from 2001 and 2002, and all are oil on canvas. The first three were completed during a graduate painting class that I was taking at the time, and I had just gotten into the visual journal. The painting above was from an idea that showed up in one of my first journals. The visual journal profoundly influenced my painting. Before coming to the journal, my paintings had very dark and muted color, and they were nearly always figurative.

The journal brought color into my art, and allowed me to explore more abstract and non-objective work. The painting above was a direct result of the swirling, spiraling images that I was exploring in my journal. Since I never signed the work, I'm not certain which side is the top. I wonder what it would look like flipped.

Near the end of the class, I wanted to bring the color that I had been exploring into more representational imagery. I referenced a photograph of some old machinery near an oil well at my parents house in the above painting. I never really finished this painting, and I was never really happy with it.

The two paintings above were done independently, and I brought together some of the figurative work that I had been doing at the time and the color that I had been exploring in my class.

This final painting was from another graduate painting class the following year. I began the class working abstractly and non-representationally, but soon turned to portraits, something that I have explored since I was a teenager. I applied what I had learned with color, and focused on expressive brushwork and odd croppings. This self-portrait is, by far, my favorite painting from the time.

I am fascinated to see how much my art has changed over the last ten years. I work with a variety of water based media now, and my imagery has evolved and changed. The one thing that has stayed constant has been the exploration of self. No matter the material or the imagery, I have always looked within and tried to express the soft vulnerable truths hidden there.

The studio tour is in about a week, the weekend of June 11 and 12, from 10 AM to 5 PM each day. If you are in the Purcellville, VA area that weekend, stop by my studio to see these pieces, and much, much more.