Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter Party Recap

Raney and Jonathan's Easter Buffet

As I mentioned in my last post, Raney and Jonathan invited me to their annual Easter party last Sunday. It's always a great time because there is a nice mix of old and young, great food and activities for everyone.

Both Jonathan and Raney are great cooks so, as you can see in the photos above, the food was incredible—assorted appetizers to start and a paella feast later in the afternoon.

They had an Easter egg decorating contest and egg hunt for the kids (of course with prizes), but I didn't win any. You know it's all political—who you know, who your parents are, etc. Besides, not to sound paranoid, but I have my suspicions that some of the "parent people" may very well intentionally crank out extra kids just to have what I perceive to be an unfair advantage in this type of sporting event. More chilluns' = more prizes. You know what I mean?

You just had a little "A-Ha" moment right? It's all starting to make sense...

Some of the kids said that I wasn't supposed to be playing at all! Can you believe it?! They even said it right to my face!! Little bastards. I think they're just jealous because I am so much taller, or maybe it's because I pushed a couple of the little hood-rats out of my way. I SAW THE EGG FIRST!!!, it should have gone in my basket. Right!?

I tried to explain to the parents that this was a regulation egg hunt and I came to win. But you know what it's like trying to reason with parents. Their kids are all "right" and everyone else is all "wrong" and they're all in my face with the "why are you so pushy?" crap. I say grow up. A little competitive shove at an egg hunt is nothing compared to what those kids have in store for them in real life. Trust me.

I, understandably, was disappointed and felt a little maligned by the other guests, so I agreed to a little "time-out" during the egg race and egg toss to take some photos of the events:

Easter Egg in Spoon Race in Santa Fe.

Above are photos of the egg race.

Someone won.

It wasn't me.

Enough said.

Easter Egg Toss

Above is a photo of the first broken egg during the egg toss. Unfortunately, no one took me up on my suggestion of a friendly game of egg dodge (like dodge ball with eggs). Maybe next year.

Then came the most important part of the day—the much anticipated EGG DROP!!!

The rules were simple. Everyone was to use the same size box and pack a raw egg inside in such a way as to prevent the egg from breaking when thrown from the roof of Raney and Jonathan's house.

I decided to keep with the Easter theme and created the Pope Peep box in the photo below. I used a photo of a bunch of religiousy looking dudes on a balcony and glued it to the front of my box. I then used some poster board and a second copy of the photo to create a little balcony for the Pope Peep to stand on and glued it to the front of the box. I dressed up my peep like a paper doll using photos of a vestment and pope hat I found online.

When it came time to stick the Pope Peep onto the box, I realized that because of whatever industrial strength petroleum by-product that is used to make peeps, it is impossible to get glue or tape to stick to them. I ended up using straight pins to attach the Pope Peep on his balcony.

This is when I decided to allow true science to take the upper hand. Calculating the estimated distance from the roof to the ground, the weight of the box and egg, the probable trajectory and forecasted wind speed for that afternoon, I hypothesized that by placing my egg in red plastic wrap and filling the box with just the right amount of assorted cushiony peep creatures and a little plastic Easter grass (for it's aerodynamic properties) I would not only have a successful outcome but, quite possibly, I may have built the greatest egg drop box in the history of all mankind :

Pope Peep Easter Egg Drop Box. (exterior on the left, interior on the right)

Then came the moment of truth. Jonathan would fling Pope Peep off the roof:

Jonathan throwing my Pope Peep egg drop box from the roof.

You can see the menacing look on Jonathan's face. I could just tell he had it in for me all day. I think that he was scanning the area for jagged rocks or other pokey-like objects to aim my box towards.

Then he threw it with all the brutal and savage strength he could muster...

My box landed with a heavy thud. I heard a collective gasp from the crowd as we all waited with anticipation for the official egg inspectors to do their job.

The atmosphere was tense—you could feel the electricity in the air. Some guests swooned, a couple fainted with excitement as my box was slowly and carefully opened:

Egg inspectors showing my egg unharmed after a remarkably violent throw off of the roof.

Alas, my egg survived, still wrapped warmly in it's little red cling-wrap onesie.

I won!! I Won!!! I WON!!!!

I got a prize for "Most Creative" and received a ginormous bottle of Raney's homemade rosemary, thyme and garlic infused olive oil.

I used some to make dinner last night.

It's deliciousy!!

So, all-in-all the day went well. It was good to see so many friends, enjoy some great food and spirits and spend time outside on a great spring day in Santa Fe.

BTW, if you were wondering where egg drop boxes go to die, take a look at the photo below.

Hope all of you had a happy Easter. It's now just a matter of time before spring rolls into summer and I can get myself out of complete hibernation mode.

Raney's rosemary, thyme and garlic infused olive oil

Aftermath of the 2012 Easter Egg Drop Massacre.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My First Artsy

**| UPDATE |**

I was able to get this shot of my painting hanging in Raney and Jonathan's house.

Notice that it is surrounded by wine and liquor bottles...I felt a tear in my's like a little offerenda to me:

My painting hanging in it's new home.


Some of my friends and family have asked me to write about my artwork and process so I have created the "Artsy" tag (and tab in the navigation bar) to lump together all of the artsy-fartsy things that I do.

I actually studied art in college and, believe it or not, I ended up with a degree. I still work as an artist, primarily as an Art Director and Designer for media (publishing, advertising, web and social media, etc.). With my art I have always focused on painting, sculpture and photography (although you can't tell by the crappy cell phone pix I usually publish on this site). Unfortunately, I simply don't have time to produce the amount of work that a gallery requires so I work primarily on the occasional commission and a few projects for myself rooted in the simple desire to create.

So, when two of my very good friends Raney and Jonathan became engaged I thought that they actually might like one of my paintings as a wedding gift—or perhaps a salad spinner.

After pricing salad spinners at my local Target store, I decided that $14.95 was an absolutely ridiculous amount to spend on someone other than myself, so I decided to go with a painting.

Shortly before my friends were married they made two major changes in their lives. First, they moved into a new home together. Second, they decided to get a French Bulldog which they promptly named Bullet.

So there was my subject matter. Newlyweds, new home and new dog.

If you have ever seen any of my paintings, you will know that although I paint figuratively, the imagery comes completely from inside my head—it's like a little movie is playing in my brain and I try to select appropriate "stills" to develop the painting. Therefore, I use different light sources, change perspectives, etc. in the attempt to recreate what is going on in my mind.

In other words, schizophrenia.

I try to use as little reference material as possible (photographs, sketches, etc.) because I want to re-create the scene that is in my brain. Of course, the picture in my head is distorted because it is built on many fragments of observation, sound, movement, and so on. Typically I don't do specific scenes much less dog portraits. My subject matter is completely from my imagination. Sometimes I have the dilemma, as in this painting, of having to portray very distinct objects. In this case it was the interior of Raney and Jonathan's new home and their French Bulldog. I knew that I would need at least a couple of photographs to draw from.

So I waited patiently for an invitation to their house. When I was invited to a dinner party I had my chance to get some reference material for the painting that I wanted to create.

This was easier said than done. First, I had to case the place to determine a nice area for the painting. When I had decided on the location inside their home, I had to do a little "composing" of the scene.

The next time you are invited to someone's house for dinner try walking around the house instead of joining in on the conversation. Then begin rearranging their furniture for no apparent reason while clandestinely pulling out your cell phone to take pictures—I definitely got some peculiar looks from the crowd. Fortunately, everyone that was there thinks that I am batsh#t crazy anyway so they just let me be.

When all was finished I ended up with these two photos. One of a corner kiva fireplace with a hand painted chair from Mexico, a wooden bowl from Raney's aunt and some antique candle holders and match boxes inherited from her Grandmother. The other photo was of their dog which also gave me a detail shot of the rug by the fireplace and the patterned brick floor:

Painting Reference Photos: Corner Kiva Fireplace and Bullet on a rug.

So I used the photos to begin the painting. I generally start directly on the canvas drawing with paint or sometimes pencil to get a general layout and composition:

Initial paint "sketch" .

Next, I begin to develop some detail, general color and lighting. This is mostly underpainting. Notice that I have not even begun to place the dog into the painting.

Building up background detail.

Then I added the dog. It is hard to see in the photo but you can see the rough silohuette of Bullet on the floor painted in umber.

Painting with the dog roughed in.

The next photo shows dimension added to the dog and the beginnings of placing the pattern on the chair from the reference photos.

Beginning chair pattern and developing the drawing of the dog.

In the next photo I have continued to develop the pattern on the chair and have decided to include a painting of the painting in the upper left corner to balance the space and provide some kind of quirky interest.

Painting with the addition of an image of the completed painting added to the upper left corner.

Now I begin to develop color relationships and try to utilize color not only to adhere to my mental image of the completed work but to set mood.

Pushing color to develop scene and mood.

The last two photos are just the continued development of color, detail and compositional balance.

Painting with a warmer color shift.

Adding final details and color balance.

And finally, the completed painting:

Completed Painting of Bullet in front of the kiva at Raney and Jonathan's house in Santa Fe.
24" x 30" oil on canvas

Everyone seems to really like the painting and I may have received a nice commission from someone who saw it in their home. If all goes well, the commission goes through, and I get paid enough, I just might splurge and get Rainey and Jonathan that salad spinner as a thank you gift (providing it goes on sale of course).

Sorry about the grainy photos, I will try to remember to use a real camera for my next "Artsy" project.

I am going to an Easter party at their house on Sunday. I will try to take a photo of it hanging on their wall and post it later. How crazy self-absorbed will that look if I get caught! ;-)

Wish me luck!

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