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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