Monday, December 21, 2009

Release The Bees - NH invading CA

I've completed my painting for the Bee Here Now show at The Hive Gallery in LA. The finish and a critique from my buddy Erick, whose blog and work you should check out if you don't already know it - Erick ledesma, has made me realize that there is more that I can do with this. I like it. I've had this kind of little kid dream in my head of raising bees for honey and having a hive on land in the country here in New Hampshire. That is not to say that I will be dropping my paint brush for a Bee Keeper's mask any time soon. But it is good to have some thoughts running through your head to draw from.

My goal with this piece and with the squid sketch a few days ago was to keep my line work a little more, make the piece look a little less "produced" and edgier. I do think that I achieved that, and I think that this is a step in the right direction. I definitely enjoyed making this piece, but the size of the piece, which I chose because of the venue and the fact that I have to mail it across the country, made for limitations in my line and in my paint. Perhaps painting larger should be on the docket for things to be doing in 2010 as well.

I am excited about my new work, even if it does seem to have a little bit of my old work tied into it. It seems more personal in painting style. The next goal is to seem more personal in content as well. The next generation of Bee drawing is getting me super excited as well.

This sketch was completed for the Art House Co-op Book project, which I really need to kick into overdrive to finish the second half of this week. Not used to finishing books quickly. I usually work in several different books at once. I really like the play of negative and positive space with this bee drawing, and I enjoy that the tree is pretty much impossible to find in nature. I guess its all about finding a way to say something completely in your language.

I'm also looking forward to experimenting in the next drawing a bit more with some different fungus. Living and drawing in NH gives you entirely new perspectives on what is cool. I love fungi! Expect more fungi in 2010. But for now this fun guy is out...


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bee Here Now - In Progress

I've really been looking at the work of Jon Carling. Meighan of "My Love For You" turned me onto him a couple days ago. His work makes me excited to draw like Mel Kadel's work did the first time I saw it and like Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns made me in college.

How appropriate that he has done some bee images and I am trying to work on a Bee piece concerned with a "state of mind" or a "higher purpose" for the group show that I am participating in with the Hive.

At the same time, I am still trying to push my drawing back into my work. I miss drawing. There is something much more visceral about the drawing than there is the painting. If you are not careful with paint, as you are using it in massive volume, it can become like paint by numbers. Not good. The drawing helps me remember though, and then I know the stroke will come back in an edgier format in the paint as well.

It is all interconnected, but the one thing that I realize is that the less feeling that I have in the end product the less someone is going to identify with it. I need to "finish" pieces before I necessarily think they are done. That is the task for 2010, so if you see me overworking pieces, I want you to drop me an email, leave me a comment or just plain drop an anvil Looney Tunes style and remind me, that I am allowed to be expressive in my work.

So, tomorrow, I will have the finish of this Bee Here Now piece up. It's going to be good. I hope you like the in prog piece.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Squid with Pen & Ink

When I first started to get really into acrylic paints, I had tremendous difficulty rendering, not because I couldn't handle the paint but because I keep everything in mid-tones. I have always had issues with making things dynamic in contrast. I guess I am just an extreme moderate in all things. To compensate for this, and to bring form to my paintings I used to rely heavily on black ink line over top of my paintings. I have gotten better at pushing darks in my paintings, so over time I have started to steer clear of the pen over acrylic style.

Lately I have been missing the energy that I achieved with the ink line, however. It is nice to be able to render a bit better in acrylic paint, and build up shape and contrast solely with paint, but if the painting loses energy in so doing what good is it? At least this is the dilemma that I have been struggling with.

Today I was working on a piece and thinking to myself that I could push it further with paint, but then I was thinking that the piece might have been stronger as the drawing that I started with, so I started working the drawing over the top again. I don't know if this style better suits me or not, but I am pleased with the outcome. It is an avenue that I think deserves revisiting. Why not?
Let me know what you think. Thoughts are always welcome.

But for now, I have a crazy Rummy date with my mother in law. She's out for blood when she plays cards. Wish me luck.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Art House Procrastination-book Project

Wow. The deadline for the Art House book is really coming up fast. I sat down with the book today intending to knock out a good portion of it, and I ended up with some drawings that I was quite pleased with, though to be honest, I didn't work as quickly as I needed to. Oh well, I may have to work some late evenings to finish on time. Pretty much par for the course in my world.

This sketch was really tipping my hat to Michael Nobbs. If you don't know Michael Nobbs, you should really check out his work. He has an exceptional way of documenting every day life, that I really would like to be able to bring into my work.

This sketch is really nothing new for me. The last three years have been dominated by pieces like this, and I love doing them, I really do, but I do wonder if I end up pigeon holing myself too much by doing so many of them. I guess when I am old I question whether I want to be known as the "bird and robot guy", or the "guy who draws the Mighty Lark" or what. Then again, there is also the question of whether I want to be known or not anyway. Fame seems appealing, but you don't need to look any further than Kurt Cobain or Jimi Hendrix to see that it is an unnatural way to live, that induces extraordinary behavior...

Fortunately, I think I am safe. There are far less super famous artists than musicians in this era.

I know that this guy kind of looks like an old man, but I really was thinking about my buddy Grover while I was drawing this. I don't even think that Grover smokes, and he's not old, but something about this guys' walk and his posture made me think of Grover. That is the best part of drawing if you ask me. When I get some really great memory in my head of some person or event and I get to relive it for a while. That is why I love art. Uh oh, did I give the secret away.
Hope the magic isn't gone now....

So Anyway.....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sitting Pretty - A Tanager on a Derby

Today I started to paint my Bee Here Now piece, but realized about half an hour into it that I needed to work out some of the kinks in my acrylic paint application. It has been about a month since I've really sat down and had time to work with paint. Moving and the new job have kept me somewhat in check, but now I am getting some time to work on things. Either way, I realized that I needed to work on my application and get my stroke back in its rhythm.

To do this I started to rework an older sketch that I had on board but which hadn't even received the full benefit of an under painting. The idea too, is a little bit older. I first put this sketch together in 2006 and painted the original in the same year, but was still in my phase of work where I finished everything with a hard pencil line, leaving all of my pieces a bit too shiny.

While I was working on the piece, I was thinking about that hard pencil line though, because when I used that line I didn't have to worry so much about contrast. Now that I have stopped using that line it is much harder to work a piece with contrast because my palette is so limited. So with this piece I was really trying to push my color a bit more to make up for some of the loss of contrast, and considering that I hadn't even pushed paint in about a month, I'm very pleased with the outcome.

Suddenly I have the desire to work with people again. Ever since I visited MICA with my fiance I have wanted to start working with people again. The birds are fun, and I love doing them, and in fact it almost feels like I am painting old friends, but with my people I can really work out how I feel about the character a bit better. Exaggeration is so much easier to use to prove a point. But anyhow, I digress. I hope you enjoy the painting, and I have a couple more in the works, so hopefully there will be something else up for you to look at soon.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Art House Sketchbook Project

I've gotten a pretty slow start on the Art House Sketchbook Project. What with it being due by the fourth of January I figure I better get going on it. So today I was drawing some work in the book. My theme is "Time". In the past I have done a lot of work on time travel and time as an element of existence. By element of existence I mean that to have volume an object has to have a length a width and a height, but the object isn't there if it isn't there for a given amount of time, so time is the fourth element.

I always thought that was really cool. When I first got the Art House book, I was still trying to find a job and move, so everything was very literal to me, but now I am thinking more about black holes, white dwarves, and the rotation of our planet. Time travel and time sitting still are going through my head. It feels good to have something a little more esoteric and creative running around in there again.

Here are a couple sketches that I worked up for the book.

The first sketch is from the series of half heads that I have been trying to figure out. Word bubbles get me so jazzed. I think they leave an artist the room to be anywhere from literal to enigmatic, and that ambiguity makes it a really fun subject for me to play with.

The second sketch I am going to work into a piece for the Bee Here Now show at the Hive Gallery in LA. I haven't sent a piece to their group show since I had my small wall feature there. But now it's time to get over some things that have been bugging me, and get back into this thing.

This piece is actually a reference to an older piece that I did when I was first into time travel. It was based largely on "Time Travel in Einstein's Universe", a book by J Richard Gott. I couldn't get over the concepts in this book and was drawing things relative to its content for months. (sorry for the pun - relative)

I'll keep you posted on this new piece. I think it's going to be a good one.
This is Mike Lewis signing off, until then......


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Superfrog Gig Poster

Life has been crazy for the past six months, but I'm finally moved into a new place and putting my studio back together. Life is good. The hard times this year were not lost on me though. I have learned a lot this year about what I need in life and what I don't need in life, what I really like and what is mediocre.

I really like making gig posters and doing illustrations. I'm moving in a direction to do more of these. I'm also looking to push my illustration work a bit more in New Hampshire. The economy has made me feel much more in tune with community, so I want to try to keep some business going locally.

But Anyway...

This is a poster that I finished today for the Stone Church on Zion Hill. Superfrog is a cool sounding little jam band, so I tried to keep the poster really simple, and kind of like the old posters for the Greatful Dead and the Doors. I actually had the LA Woman album cover in mind as I was working on the text.

I really did dug doing this poster. I hope you like the finished product as much as I do. I'll be back soon with some more stuff to post.