Thursday, June 02, 2011

Nudes, summer, wandering...

Lucie from Paris, #5

Summer appears to be here but it also seems the time of year I feel a little off track. I have not gotten used to the structured seasons that Boston has. Spring came/went so quick. Things were busy, great, everyone was out meeting people & enjoying the lack of snow. But that season quickly passes and now the travel season has set in. I still have not mastered this whole summer vacation thing. When I was in Los Angeles I always took my "vacations" in the winter. Christmas in Boston, January in Utah, maybe another short trip to San Fran some other part of the year. Here everyone seems to come and go in unison and suddenly I am left in the city leaving voicemails on friends phones realizing I'll be watching Netflix movies or biking around an empty city for a few days.

I'm in between paintings at the moment. I lost some steam with open studios and I haven't quite got my rhythm back. There are several things I know I should be doing next. Applying for grants/residencies/shows, writing a decent artist statement, and finding some models (men too, I want to paint men right now, but they're skittish models sometimes.)

To hopefully find a little inspiration I did some life drawing this weekend. I tried some new pencils & pens and quickly realized why I never really use colored pencils. Looking at the sketches after a few days they do look a little better. Maybe I had a more productive Memorial day weekend than I thought. But I still wish they were better. I don't really like life drawing sessions because they always do such quick poses (10 minutes longest?) I like to have up to 30 minutes. I would really like to do even longer and paint. I don't like poses under 5 minutes. But it's hard to find sessions that don't do a majority of 1-5 minute poses. What's funny is that everyone complains about it but they keep setting up the sessions that way.

Here are some sketches from that session, there are more on Flickr. The space was small so it was hard to get enough distance from the model. She was a good model though- Lucie from Paris. I'd like to have her pose for painting in a set-up more in my own control.

Lucie from Paris, #7

Lucie from Paris, #3

Lucie from Paris, #1

Monday, May 23, 2011

Drowned Flowers

Drowned Rose

This is my favorite still life I've done this year. I'm not a big fan of still lifes but this is the closest I have gotten to painting one that had a little bit of my point of view in it. I wish I did a few more along the same lines but my energy faltered after this.

I did a few other quick still lifes, mainly of desserts. I let go of trying to put big concepts into the paintings since I did not have much time to dwell on anything longer than a couple hours at a time. Here are some samples:

Kickass Cupcakes

Raspberry Cheesecake

Fruit Tart 2

Lime Cheesecake 2

There's a few more coming that I didn't scan since they had very thick paint and needed time to dry. I also have many more figure paintings coming but I'm still waiting on drying paint before I tote them back to my studio to photograph.

After the rush...

...inevitably comes the crash. That's where I am. Whenever there is a busy season of shows, open studios, grant applications, end of the semester stuff, etc., there is always the extreme quiet that follows. And a massive head cold. I'm not good at admitting that I'm sick. I'll try to do as much as I do when I'm well. Like biking 50+ miles last week... in the rain... while sweating, feverish, and dizzy from congestion. It finally caught up to me today. When I woke up I realized I wasn't going to be able to go anywhere, at least not fast. So I took the day to try and be a normal sick person. Probably a good idea since it took me 2 hrs to move from my bed to the couch. Of course then once I was sitting up I realized I was really really bored.

But because I can't just watch movies all day and be unproductive like a normal sick person I'm going to catch up on posting some art. So here is another batch of cafe sketches. I admit I have been loosing steam on the cafe sketches and will probably have to change it up again soon and find some new inspiration. Maybe I will go back to sketching at concerts or join in on some life drawing sessions now that I have a little more time. Or landscapes when it stops raining already. Aaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrgh.

self portrait @ L.A. Burdick, Harvard Square

This is a self portrait I drew at LA Burdick. I used to go there more when I was in between jobs and could visit at times where there was seating. I decided to break my Biscuit habit and go again except there weren't many people to draw. But there were some mirrors so I tried a self portrait. It doesn't look exactly like me but I still like the overall composition.

@ the biscuit on the patio, somerville MA

Now that the weather is a little better (at least some days) I can get some different angles of people on the patio at the Biscuit. But it's harder to be discreet when drawing people since all the seating faces inward. I like this sketch (above) and was enjoying pencil for a bit. However the next few drawings are a bit uninspired to me. I'm starting to feel like they're all looking the same. People talking. People eating. People typing. I feel like there's something missing but I'm not sure what....

@ the biscuit on the patio, somerville MA

@ the biscuit, somerville MA

@ the biscuit, somerville MA

I think this very old sketch is a hint to what is missing:

guillermo 2

It's a sketch of my friend Guillermo in Los Angeles (2006?) which I should probably re-scan for a better representative image.The text reads "I am ready to work I am so bored every day..." which is what he was saying as I drew him. I think I want to draw portraits of people that are less voyeuristic, less from the outside. Perhaps of friends. Perhaps over serious conversations like we had that evening.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Revised Summer Plans?

I was going to bike around New England and paint landscapes, and I still might do that. I've even been working on my bike so that it can carry my plein-air art gear. I'm very close to having it together. However, I realized that happy little landscapes with cows and New England churches is *not* what I want to paint. Look at my painting "Exodus" posted above. That is a landscape I did. It's not very happy. It was inspired by a long stretch of desert in Arizona full of rusted out abandoned cars. This is the sort of thing I want to paint. So, new plan. I am researching landscapes that have a combination of pastoral & industrial features. Nuclear plants and ocean views. Steel factories near woods. Shipping centers near mountains. I've told this to a few people and they've all looked at me like I have two heads. I could be offended, but really it makes me want to do it more. I'm sure people won't be lining up to buy a painting of a nuclear plant. But we see ugly things in the landscape around us every day and choose to edit it out. We look at the daffodils the neighbor planted. But not the factory nestled beyond the trees of their yard. I can't paint the beauty of nature without mankind's mark on it-- nothing has been left untouched. So currently I am researching this new trip. I am also hoping to apply for some grants. Maybe I could go paint the rusted out cars from life. (And I'm hoping my fear of scorpions won't deter me.)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cafe Stories @ the biscuit (I should just move there)

@ the biscuit, somerville MA

I usually do one or two sketches a week over coffee & pastries at the Biscuit (when I can get a seat.) I enjoy watching people and drawing them, capturing their look, body language, snippets of conversation, or my own thoughts. This is different from my painting, and doesn't really tie into it. But it shows what I am naturally drawn to- just people. Their lives, stories, who they might be, what they are going through. If I don't know who they are I make it up. I've also been bringing a random assortment of pencils, markers, conte crayons, chalk around with me. It has been giving me more options and a chance to get creative with the medium. Sometimes I add acrylic paint or ink later in my studio- but I try not to mess with it too much.

The girl in the drawing above was going through some big relationship drama and was having a very serious (and loud) conversation about it. There were some cultural differences as I understood it. I was really drawn to the guy reading to the left just over the center figure's shoulder. I liked his glasses. I decided that he was a student studying Spanish who also writes short stories. I tried to do a close up of him but he left in the middle of it:

@ the biscuit, somerville MA

I don't know what this couple was talking about, they were sort of boring. I think the guy picked up I was drawing him and kept looking over. He looked like the type that would have a dull job at a place like State Street but would would also run marathons.

This guy below was in a group of three other guys. They were all in some sort of science field and were comparing notes on their various jobs/projects. I couldn't tell if they were talking about neuroscience or computer science. This guy had very fascinating lips and head shape.

@ the biscuit, somerville MA

I saw this guy at Sherman Cafe (see, I do sometimes go to other cafes...) I've seen him around that same area since- once on a bicycle wearing a trash bag to keep the rain off. I could draw his hair/beard all day. Maybe I'll see him around again and get to do just that.

@ sherman cafe, somerville MA

This girl had really cool headphones. I liked her glasses. When she go up to use the restroom she took them both off and it was like one of those scenes in a movie where the nerdy girl takes off her glasses and is model hot. Yep, she looked like she could model. But you can't really see it in the sketch.

girl with headphones @ the biscuit, somerville MA

Block 11 in Union Square is not always good to draw at. If it's crowded then there are usually only seats in the back where the light is bad and it's hard to have a good angle to see people. I usually bring a book there just in case there is nothing to draw. In this case there was a threesome. My ears perked up when they starting talking about Los Angeles. I think the older lady (you can just see her eye peeking out) was giving advice to the couple. Maybe they were moving there?

...and she told them about Griffith Park near the Hollywood Sign. @ bloc 11, somerville MA

That's all for now...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Summer Plans

It came about when I dropped my bike off for a tune up and failed to calculate a timely return trip home on the bus. There happened to be a row of vintage clothing shops right there. (And a cupcake shop but that has nothing to do with this story. But I did stop there too.) I hate trying on clothes so I was really just looking at accessories. Sunglasses, scarves, belts, bags. And I came across a huge navy blue canvas back pack for $25. Now having just browsed back packs at the bike shop $25 was an awesome deal. (Biking back packs are over $100? really? And they're heavy even when empty. And sporty ugly. Why?) So I went with the $25 one. One the 1.5 mile walk home (still no bus) and the 1 mile walk to my studio I realized what I want to do this summer for a little vacation. I'm going to take all my paints and brushes and put them in the back pack. And then bike around either Vermont or New Hampshire or upstate NY or the Cape or the coast and stop wherever & whenever to paint good views. That's all, simple, remote, cheap, no fuss. How does that sound?

However the bicycle pictured above is not the one I would take. That's what I call my Saturday Bike because it's lazy and hates hills and loves posing outside of cafe's for curious passersby. I'd take my hybrid that likes dirt and roads and potholes.

Next to figure out:

1. Narrow down what region I should go to. Just a bit.
2. Find a travel who likes a) bikes b) art c) sunshine d) going slow
3. Devise a system for transporting wet paintings by bicycle
4. Where to sleep since I don't think camping will work- hard to carry both painting & sleeping gear

Saturday, April 09, 2011

YOU'RE INVITED! Somerville Open Studios

Once again I am participating in Somerville Open Studios. I will have many new paintings, old favorites, and tons of things to buy. I am also working out a way to accept credit cards so there are no excuses this year. Please stop by my studio and say hi. I will have good food and wine. There are also 300 other artists participating across the city. Bring your bicycle and make a day of it!

There will also be a party at some point on the rooftop deck of the studio. I will let you know about that when I have the details. Also there are 2 other related exhibitions I am participating in- one at Bloc 11 (up now) and one at the Somerville Museum (opening April 15th.) Please check those out if you can. However, the open studio itself is the big event and I hope you will come.

Saturday, April 30 · 12:00pm - 6:00pm
Sunday, May 1 · 12:00pm - 6:00pm

All over Somerville MA. However, my studio is located at:

Mad Oyster Studios, 2 Bradley Street, Somerville, MA

Visit the official site at Somerville Open Studios
Visit Somerville's Diverse + Vibrant Arts Community
Over 300 artists in over 100 venues will open their homes and studios for the 12th Annual Somerville Open Studios Event on April 30 & May 1, 2011, noon to 6pm.

During this free showcase for the arts, mid-career and emerging artists working across a broad spectrum of fine art styles and craft media will exhibit their work to the public.

Visitors to SOS will be treated to displays of art in both traditional and non-traditional spaces throughout the city.

Getting around Somerville
SOS attendees are encouraged to use public transport, the Somerville Open Studios Trolleys, bikes scooter and walk by foot if possible.

During the event Trolley service is available to help visitors get around. Trolleys will at approximately 15 minute intervals during SOS hours. Signs indicating where stops are located will be posted. The trolley route will be available in the map book.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Painting Studies

Portrait of a Man

I'm currently taking a class at MassArt called the Powers of Observation with Catherine Kehoe. For the class I've been doing about 2 paintings a week for several months now. There's a few weeks left in the class still but I wanted to posted what I've done so far. These were all done from life in about 3 hrs more or less. I wanted to take the class because I've become so dependent on photographs from my main paintings that I have fallen into some bad habits. The class is helping to break some of that up and give me some fresh new technique and ideas. No earth tones were used in any of these. The goal of the paintings is to mix the exact color we see and paint it directly. It can be a bit mechanical sometimes and gets tricky with the figure. However it is definitely worth taking the time and pushing to get it as close as possible. I expect this to eventually influence my regular wood and help make it stronger with color, more nuanced, and more bold overall. Head over to my Flickr to see the paintings I've done so far.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


I'm still unpacking my last boxes from moving before the holidays. Most of the boxes have been full of those miscellaneous things that probably should have been tossed or donated like hair curlers and accessories to the toaster oven (which is why I have been procrastinating unpacking them.) Except, just when I have reconciled myself to an uninteresting afternoon of moving crap around I find over 7 FEET OF RAW CANVAS!!!!!!! I must have hoarded it away several years ago and forgot. This is like finding gold. Okay, maybe more like finding a $20. It still makes me happy because I started building a 7ft canvas frame the other day only to find I had no canvas left. Just scraps. I've put myself on a vicious art supply budget (of $0, because I already blew my budget on many many tubes of pricey paint like cadmiums and cerulean) so I thought there was no hope of getting to start this massive painting before summer. And now I will get to start it. Provided I don't run out of oil priming ground first. Or oil paints. Or time.