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.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Monster in 3D

This little guy came into being over the last couple of weeks. My students have been working with clay, and I just couldn't resist making a little monster. Although, I consider myself a painter, I love working with my hands to create three-dimensional pieces.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Spring Has Sprung

Spring has sprung in Northern Virginia, and that means lots of outside chores, which has taken me away from the studio. I've still been experimenting with some small pieces here and there. Today, though, I was able to make it into the studio where I experimented with my Golden High Flow Acrylics. 

A while ago, I created the 4.5"x6" painting below. I really like the jewel quality created by layering the red High Flow paint, and I wanted to see if I could create a similar feel with other colors. I'd like to do an entire series of small paintings like this. So, tonight I tried blue. The blue is a little dark, so I need to see if Golden makes a blue that is a little lighter and a little more transparent.

It was just nice to be in the studio.

Friday, April 15, 2016


It's been a terribly busy couple of weeks, and I'm ready for life to be a little less busy. I did manage to work on this mapping piece.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Graphite Face

Over the last few days, I've worked on a graphite drawing using one of my stylized faces. It was nice to simplify my materials and try an image in a different media. Graphite will always be a specialty me. As a young artist, graphite pencil was a convenient and cheap material. I have always enjoyed being able to create that illusion of depth and three-dimensions. It's always been quite magical. I may be a mixed media artist, but I love going back to my roots every once in a while.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Morning Doodle

Doodling is a great way to start the day. I worked on this doodle this morning in a 3"x9" sample sketchpad from Strathmore using a black uniball Vision pen. I really like the long, thin format of the pad. I might just have to make some larger work with the some format.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Ink and Colored Pencil

Tonight I played around with my Faber-Castell Pitt Pens and Derwent Coloursoft colored pencils.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Upcoming Workshops

If you missed out on one of our recent workshops or presentations, don't fret. We have some opportunities coming up this summer and fall with Art Unraveled in Phoenix and Art and Soul in Virginia Beach. We hope that you can join us!

Join us in August in Phoenix, AZ for two workshops at Art Unraveled.

Good friend, Sam Peck will also be teaching at Art Unraveled.

If the desert in August doesn't appeal to you join us on the beach in late September at Art and Soul in Virginia Beach, VA. We'll be teaming up with Sam and teaching the entire week.

We hope that you can join us for one or more of these awesome workshops!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Playing with Line

Over the past couple days I've been playing with different designs using my Faber-Castell Pitt Pens on 9"x12" Strathmore Mixed Media paper.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Splotch Monsters Invade Old Ox Brewery

Last night, I had a fun evening attending an artist's reception for my dear friend Steve Loya at Old Ox Brewery in Ashburn, VA. Steve has been one of my best friends for nearly 25 years, and we met as freshmen at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania back in the Fall of 1991 as art education majors. Several years after moving to teach in Loudoun County in Northern Virginia, I convinced Steve to apply for a teaching position in Loudoun, and he was able to quickly find a job teaching art at one of Loudoun's many elementary schools.

I have really enjoyed watching Steve grow as an artist over the years. Like many art teachers, Steve got disconnected from his art the first few years of teaching, but he has since dedicated himself to getting back into his art. His series of Splotch Monsters is just one form that his art has taken, and he put many of them on display at Old Ox.

For the reception, Steve even brought some pre-made splotches and encouraged folks to add their own details to convert them into monsters. If you're in the Ashburn area, make certain to check out Steve's work. It will be hanging through May.

Congratulations, Steve!