Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Minnies - Off To The Galleries!

"Brie And Figs" - Every time I paint Figs I put them next too other fruits. I recently read that figs go really well with cheese. I always love painting Brie so I thought they would go well together.

 "Grapefruit And Key Limes" These are just four of the new batch. With three new galleries to fill up I have been busy!!!

"Black Grapes And Figs" This one is my favorite of the bunch! I thought of each of the grapes and figs as a little solar system. They just had suck a celestial quality to them.

"Red Apple And Black Grapes" This apple has the most character I have ever seen in an apple. I love the way it feels like it is hunched over.....

Monday, October 29, 2012

Guest Blogger!: A Few Words On Drama by Marjorie Pierce

I frequently post images and auction links on my Facebook page. One of my friends there makes the most wonderful comments on my work. I am always impressed by her level of writing and insights. I thought it would be fun to have her write a blog here on the importance of Drama. I think technical ability in painting is important, but no where near as important as drama, character, and personality.......

So here are a few words by my good friend Marjorie Pierce:
I am a retired high school drama teacher. I did not actually teach full time until I was fifty years old, my children grown and my husband gone. I never thought I would last a year but made it for 25 and retired at 75. that was 5 years ago. I taught in a little rural school which is in a district that borders Whiteman Air Force Base (B-2 bombers) so we had many students who came from all over the world and went all over the world. Some stayed there in Knob Noster, of course, but I think they still came to love the theatre. We had a wonderful art teacher and a fine instrumental music teacher as well so I think our kids were given a lifetime interest in the arts. I was a theatre major at the University of Kansas and I married another theatre major who also went into educational theatre at the university level. My mission professionally has been to share to people that the theatre more than any of the other arts is a social and spiritual history of mankind. The theatre teaches life lessons as well.

I was lucky that my administrators thought "drama" was very important so they left me alone to "do my thing". Public education is going through a really bad period and I am glad I have retired. Both of my daughters are elementary school teachers and both are struggling through what is going on in that field today.

Once while attending a performance of a children's theatre production at the San Fernando Valley State College in Northridge, as the curtain opened to the last strains of the overture, I heard a child's voice in wonder pipe up from somewhere behind me: " It's in color!" I never forgot that. I always tried to instill in my students that sense of wonder and awe that is the magic of live theatre. I tried to show my students that a live performance is a gift they have to share with their audience. The applause is the audience's return gift and a thank you.

I have loved performance on stage since I was a tap dancing tot with Genevieve Seymour's School of Dance in recitals and movie house performances in various small towns in western Kansas. When later in life I had to make a living for myself I chose to do so in educational theatre. I'm glad I made that choice and here's why and why I champion theatre arts being offered in public schools. This experience teaches history, sociology, psychology and, of course, a love of art. Art students have a living gallery in which to display their talent as designers of sets and costumes; industrial arts students get to practice problem solving construction in a creative way; literature students see the printed word come alive and abstract emotions become real in a safe way ( who doesn't love to play a villain?); musicians add their audio art to the visual composition of the 'high school musical', and most important at this age, young people who may not find a niche academically or athletically find a place to fit in and succeed. Everyone is important to the success of the production and each one knows it. It is a true team effort. What better lesson!

Monday, October 22, 2012

10 Things Damien Hirst Has Probably Never Heard

In 1991 Damien Hirst put a Shark in formaldehyde and Charles Saatchi sold for at least $8 million.
The worlds wealthiest "Artist" (not a word I would use for him) has been accused of plagiarism, sued repeatedly for copyright infringement and admitted to signing his name to work he did not do himself...... Here are ten things I'm willing to bet he has never had to hear though....

10. When are you teaching a workshop? I'd sure love to learn how to do that!

 9.  I got a cousin whose work looks really similar.

 8. It would look great in my living room.

 7. You must have spent years working from casts and live models.

 6. Great glasses, did you design them yourself or borrow them from Elton John?

 5. I'm a graffiti artist, mind if I tag your shark?

 4. The study is ten times better then the finish!

 3. I'd love to see all of the thumbnail sketches, must have been hundreds.

 2.  Can you make a similar piece with my kids in it?

 1. How much did that go for on ebay?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Drawing On The Streets Of France.....

Prismacolor on Bristol 11 x 14

It's been a long time since I have done drawings like this. I used to really enjoy it! I was working on a series of paintings based on these drawings in 2005. I brought them into a gallery along with some still-lifes I was also working on at the time. If you read this blog at all you know which of the two series became more successful.

Pen & Ink with Watercolor 11 x 14

 I have been planning on going back to doing work that looks like this for a while now.....there is just never enough time!!!

Pencil Sketch 11 x 14

 Many of the paintings and drawing in the series were done from a combination of location sketches and drawings from life. I posted these four because all of them were quick studies I actually did on location in France.

Pen and Ink 8 x 10
All four of the above drawings were drawn from life.

The drawing above is 11 x 17 and done partially from life and partially from a photo.

It is in a town called Quimper, on the west coast of France.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Black Grapes & Figs 6 x 8 Oil On Panel


New Mini, This was the strangest batch of Figs I have ever seen. Pinks, purples, bright yellows, magenta, etc.....just wild colors. I think most people associate figs with being small and dark bluish and purple. I have been working on as many of these as I can because figs rot fast.
 6 x 8 Oil on Panel.
It's up for auction!

How To Get More People To Visit Your Blog?

I was reading a blog post on how to get more people to visit your blog. It is kind of important to me since this is how I make my living. I had absolutely no idea how to do it, and after reading the article....I still don't.

Some of the things it said were:

Don't just talk about yourself  Well, I'm an "artist" so that one went out the window....what would he like me to post about, the weather....maybe a movie review? I just saw Prometheus...It's two hours I can't get back.

Post comments and take questions people might want answered  I tried that, I was talking to myself. I still think I'm talking to myself.

Be funny - Doing my best.

Use Trackbacks - Anyone remember Charlie Brown's teacher? Wah waaah, wah waaah waaah.

Be remarkable - He hasn't been to the mall

Invite other people to post on your blog - Anyone want to post on my blog?

Write alot of posts and keep them short - He's calling you stupid, and saying you have a short attention span. Ok, I'll give it a shot.

Write in the second person "you" not "me" - As a painter, that would just be wierd, but I could try the third person if anyone would like. "Clinton painted this yesterday, and posted this blog while having coffee" Oh yeah, that will work.

Link out to other sites but only ones that will help people  - This guy is kidding. Why don't I link my blog to the nearest Emergengy Room, or to diet sites. How about a link to making your kids smarter? I have never heard of something so selfish......If you want to help people you just do it. Helping people to increase traffic to your own blog....gimmie a break. I'll talk to my 38 followers and be happy at that. Hello 38 followers!

Hope you found this post informative and it helps you bring lots of new people to your Blog!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Rare Mix Of Influences....Part 1

Whenever I meet someone, one of the first questions they ask is "Who is your favorite artist?"
It is such a loaded question. Favorite? It is like asking someone what their favorite song is. Some days it is this one, sometimes that one, depends on the style, how old, etc. I certainly have favorites who are dead, other favorites who are alive. For a long time, I would respond with "I don't have one", not because I didn't like anyone elses artwork, but because the kind of artwork I liked, no one considered "Art". What is funny to me is that the vast majority of what other people call "art" like Rothko and Warhol I call....well,  I'll keep it clean. Below is a short list of my biggest influences and how they effected my work. If any of you are reading this, and have a rare mix of influences as well, leave a comment. It is always nice to learn of new people.
My favorite artist isn't considered an artist at all. He is an illustrator named J.C. Leyendecker. I was first introduced to him by one of my teachers, a guy named Mike Mattesi, who's name will come up again later. I think it is important to remember the people who introduced you to the things you love....and give credit where it is due.
 J. C. Leyendecker:

I love the angles of Leyendecker's work, the crispness of the lines, the superb draughtsmanship.
Some people have asked me "what about "Rockwell"?" I love Rockwell too, but not quite as much as Leyendecker....and Leyendecker came first. Without Leyendecker, there would be no Norman Rockwell.

James McMullan:


James McMullan is an amazing Illustrator. His Lincoln Center Theater Posters are world famous. I'm not going into his bio here, you can Google him. He also created the High Focus Drawing Program at the School of Visual Arts which changed my life. To this day I go back and read that book.

The beginning of the High Focus Drawing story doesn't start with him though. I was taking a class my freshman year from a guy named Jack Potter. I hated him and his drawing style. Cranky old, bald headed.....I said I'd keep it clean.... It's ok, he hated me too....so much so that he threw me out of class and told me not to come back. That was just his teaching style. It took me years  to realize it, but I respect his decision. He knew I didn't belong there, and sent me on my way.

 While I was wondering around that day, I walked into another drawing class and there was this guy sitting there drawing. He looked like a student, maybe a few years older then me. I  looked at the drawing.....it was incredible! I thought to my self "That is how I want to draw!" so I asked him who was teaching the class. He smiled and said - "I am" .....
His name is  John T. Quinn and  his blog is listed here if anyone wants to see his work, which is also amazing.

The following year John was hired by Disney, and I was left with Jim McMullan. I didn't know Jim that well, and I was a little intimidated. Jim is smart, really smart, the kind of guy that uses words you have to go home and look up in the dictionary. I can't tell you how many times I was either complimented or insulted and didn't realize it for hours.
By midway through my junior year I was teaching the younger students in small groups while Jim was teaching the whole. My senior year, we did an independent study together and I was sitting in on all of his classes. I might add that my senior year at SVA I needed four required credits to graduate, which was two more classes. I took one required class each semester and took a full 18 credits of drawing classes.

One of the classes I took was from Mike Mattesi. He was one of McMullan's students who was also teaching in the High Focus Drawing program. He introduced me to Leyendecker, and Mucha, and so many other illustrators I can't even remember. I took one of his classes and he would let me sit in on his other one. He has since written a great book on figure drawing as well called FORCE. More info is on his blog which is listed here. My Senior year at SVA I was drawing ten to twelve hours a day six days a week and working nights on the weekends to pay for it.....yeah, I was nuts.

There is so much more I have to say about Jim and the class that I could go on for pages but I have others to get to here. I will add this:  It was in the independent study with Jim McMullan when he told me to do a psychological still-life, which is in every painting I make. The personality I strive for in my work, comes from his teachings. He is a great man, who taught a great class, and wrote a great book. I owe him more then I have the words for.....and that he is aware of.

Above - One of Jim's High Focus Drawings. Look at the rhythm!

When I wasn't at SVA taking a class or sitting in on a class I went to a place called Spring Studio, on Spring St. In NYC.  Minerva, the woman who runs it, has three live models a day, seven days a week. Almost every day, I would get to class at 9am and leave Spring Studio at 10pm.

Comic Books

It all started with comic books. Yep, I said it. Comics introduced me to reading and drawing at the same time. They introduced me to Art, Superheros, Gods, Greek Mythology, literature, Moby Dick,  and girls.....girls who's looked amazing....girls who looked nothing like reality....you think Cosmo sets the wrong standard? Try finding a girl that looks like a Jim Lee or a Scott Campbell drawing.....you can't do it.....but anyway.

I started by copying drawings out of comic books. That led me to going to The Joe Kubert School in Dover, NJ right out of high school. I learned alot there, but it wasn't enough. Imagine every class clown with a bit of drawing ability all in one place at the same time......That was the Joe Kubert school. IIf you have never seen to skinny guys in batman t-shirts getting into a fist fight in the hall over who would win in a fight Hulk or Thor......yeah, I didn't need that, and I wanted to go to a school with a girl in it. A great teacher there named Barry Bryant told me to go to art school, a real art school. He said, after commenting on how much progress I had made in just one year... "You're not there yet, but you'll get there" I have never forgotten it. I'm still working Barry, I'll get there.

(Above) Batman drawing by Jim Lee who taught me that comic book drawings didn't just have to function, they could have grace and style.

(Above) A drawing of Spiderman by Todd McFarlane. McFarlane was one of my favorites when I was a kid and his work changed the face of comic books.

After Joe Kubert, I got into the School of Visual Arts in NYC. I remember on my interview, Jack Endewelt was looking over my portfolio and he said "Well, you can draw so we can't put you in Fine Art" He set up my entire schedule, picked my classes, and my major. I was now in Illustration, and I had no idea how I got there. I have often said that I never made any decisions in life, I just tried not to let things pass me by.


 *NOTE - The below was written in 2012, before I signed with Disney Fine Art. The story is from the late 1990's when I was trying to get into a different department at Disney. I am leaving the text below because it was true when I wrote it, it's still true actually, and it is very much a part of where I am now... and  right now, I couldn't be happier with where I am.

I drew a lot when I was a kid...constantly really, but it was just something I did, like a reflex. I'm not even sure I thought about it. It was like breathing. When I saw "The Little Mermaid" during my junior year of high school I started to think about it. "I thought, "That is what I want to do for a living". The following year Beauty And The Beast was released and it was then for certain!

A lot happened in between then and getting into SVA but this a blog, not a novel. At SVA I got into an internship with Walt Disney Feature Animation called the Boot Camp. Thirty Five kids, from the US and Canada get to spend four weeks at Disney.....A dream come true...maybe.
It was the summer of my junior year. I never expected to get into the thing. My school picked six people to go to the interview. I wasn't one of them. Myself and this other guy who wasn't selected thought we should have been so we went to the meeting anyway and plopped our portfolios on the table and asked the good people from Disney if they would look at our work anyway.....they did and the both of us got in.

McMullan had a week long workshop to be held over the summer at the exact same time as the Disney internship. He asked me if I would assist him in teaching it. Darn!! I couldn't do both, I had to pick one..  I chose Disney.
It is the one time in my life where I wish I could see a movie of how my life would have turned out had I made the other decision.

A year later I was invited to do a year long mentorship with Disney. It lasted about a month before my mentor disappeared mysteriously from the employment of Walt Disney Feature Animation.  I have never heard from him again.

After five more years of dedicating my life to the Mouse I sent a portfolio to Disney Consumer Products. This was in about 1999 I think. I have read that if you want people to believe you, never tell them something that is unbelievable, even if it is the truth..
This is the truth. I sent in my portfolio to Disney Consumer Products. They spent a lot of time asking me who my influences and favorite Disney Characters were. I told them Beast, and Ariel, and Pinocchio, and Jafar etc......and they gave me Piglet...Piglet. I knew nothing about Piglet, and didn't even like Piglet...but I got a Piglet test.
I passed the Piglet test. Interview time. I flew out to Burbank for the interview (paid for it myself). I can't remember ever being so happy. This was Disney! This was it! I passed the drawing test!

I went home full of the same joy. About a week later, while I was bartending in a crappy bar in AZ. I get a phone call from Disney. The woman said "I can't say anything official over the phone, but I just want you to have a GREAT weekend, and look forward to getting something in the mail from us next week.
I was IN!!!! Words will never explain the feeling. I had just gotten into Disney!!!
...well, that's what I thought anyway.
About a week went by, nothing in the mail.
I called.
I was told, "it's coming, don't you worry".
Another week went by, I called again.
I was told, "we are working on it, but we will call when we are ready"
......I am still waiting for that call.

(Above) A model sheet of Mickey Mouse

(above)  Artwork from  Pinocchio by Gustaf Tenggren, absolutely stunning drawings and paintings. I really love his work.

*Note - People either get the Disney thing or they don't. If you get it, great, I really think your life has a touch of magic to it. If you get it, but are disappointed with the company now, your life has a touch of magic to it, and you can also think. If you don't get it, let me do my best to explain why I tried so hard to get in. Everything I have read about Walt claims that he only wanted the best. Everything had to be perfect. There is a rumor that there is more footage of Snow White on the cutting room floor then there was in the film....I really respect that sort of thinking. When I saw The Little Mermaid for the first time and she comes up from the rocks and a piece of her hair gets caught by the air and hits her face....That's not real!! Glenn Keane did that, he thought of that, that tiny detail. He was also said to have crawled around on the floor while animating Beast but that is another story.

I love the Disney that made Pinocchio, Bambi, Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book, Mermaid and Beast. I even liked Hercules. I love the idea that animals and clocks can talk and sing. When I look at the character designs, storyboards, background painters, and millions of drawings that went into each film, I am in awe. I look through any book of Disney concept art, or drawings from the films, or sketchbooks and I am blown away by the skill these folks had. I think building a place of escape, with a castle, rides, trains, and fireworks, is a wonderful thing. Walt hired a bunch of guys that made drawings move, and sing and dance.

Daniel Greene:

Not long after I graduated from SVA, I started teaching a weekly figure drawing class at Scottsdale Artist's School. In the class was a fellow instructor at the school who suggested I start painting in oils. I knew nothing about oil painting. I had a class at SVA but we would work on these huge still-life setups and would sit ten to fifteen feet away from them. (the worst way to teach still-life painting I might add).

At that point I was doing a lot of figure drawing in pencil. I never liked the whole big brush thing so I started toning my canvas to the same color as Strathmore Charcoal Paper and working in Burnt Umber and White until I got good enough to add more colors. Again I could pause here for pages, but I won't.
For two years I slowly taught myself how to paint.

In 2002, Daniel Greene was to be teaching a workshop at Scottsdale Artist's School. He had asked the school if they knew of anyone who would be willing to assist him in teaching the workshop. The school asked me and of course I said yes. At that time I was back to working ten to fourteen hours a day on painting and drawing, and teaching two classes a week at Scottsdale Artist's School. Dan told me mid-weekend of the workshop that "I was very good, but with a little discipline I could be excellent" I thought to myself, I'm working fourteen hours a day, how much discipline do I need? He meant with the way I painted...
Dan asked me what  was doing that summer and If I would like to come to his studio in NY, and be his assistant for four weeks. I would get to paint every day, all day long. WOW, another fantastic opportunity. I sad yes.
I am not going to list here everything he did for me, or all that I have learned from him. A few of the important items are that he taught me are how to have the same approach to painting every time I sit down to paint. I learned about mediums, how to prep a canvas and a palette, and how to properly pronounce palette.... The list is endless.  He is the best painting teacher I have ever met. He can tell you so clearly what your mistakes are that he never needs to make a single brushstroke on your canvas, unless you ask him to. He gave me my first real easel, which I still use. He taught me how to see color and value, gave me wonderful career advice, and I even met Steve Doherty, from American Artist magazine there, who gave me my first article.
I was Dan's assistant for five more summers after that....Every summer I wish to be back there, but you gotta walk on your own two feet at some point.

(Above) An oil  still-life and a pastel portrait by Daniel Greene.

There are so many people who are a big part of helping me get to where I am now and just through life in general,  that I just can't list everyone who jumps to mind.  I have so far yet to go and I am looking forward to meeting those who aren't on the list yet. This blog is just about five of the influences that I think most influenced the visual look of my work. It unfortunately misses all of the influences in other areas.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

New Mini "Pear and Figs" - Step by Step

Since I have a painting up for auction on Daily Paint Works, I have noticed an increase in traffic here. It has been a while since I took some process shots so I figured it might be a good time.

(Above) The finished painting... 6x8 Oil on Panel.

(Above) A shot of the setup, The colors are a bit off.
I always do a still-life from life....because that what it means, "still" and "life" - think about it.....Still-life, right? A painting of fruit from a photo is NOT a still-life. It's just a painting of fruit done from a photo. It could be absolutely amazing, still just a painting, not a still-life painting....and somehow I still loose to them in competitions...but anyway....

I draw in Burnt Umber and White Oil paint with a brush.....I start out very loose and sketch in a color just slightly darker then the surface. The surface is gessoed Masonite, 6 x 8 in, with an acrylic tone on it.

This is my third drawing. I start out very light and get slightly darker as I continue to draw. This is not straight Burnt Umber. If I needed to do a fourth drawing I could have made it slightly darker yet.

I begin to paint working from the object that is furthest away from me to the object that is closest to me. This keeps the depth right. I then begin to paint the deepest darks I see and then slowly make my way up to the lightest lights.

This is the end of the first sitting, about three hours of work total.
I will be adding more pictures as I begin to finish the painting.....

After three hours of work I let the painting dry overnight. I then coat it with medium, and begin to add more details.

After I feel that the objects are finished I then go back in and refine the background. If I am painting objects that will not rot, I paint the background earlier in the process.

Six hours of work...so far. I sometimes go over that, espicially with eggs, and sometimes less if things go really well.

I thought it was done. I was wrong. Every once in a while, after I put a painting up for auction, I decide it wasn't really done. There was something about the grey background that just wasn't working for me. I added this really dark blue background and immediately loved how it made the whold thing POP!

I let it dry and then just deepend the darks of the shadow and added some lighter blues to give it more atmosphere....It's now up for auction and staying there!!!