Saturday, January 30, 2010

Friction, Baby - Pushing Ink

Jamming's a state of mind. And Jamming I've been. Welcome back for today's installment of "what is floating around in Mike's brain?" There's a lot of exciting jazz on the docket today so stay tuned....

I am the featured artist today in the Concord Variete. I will be showing some birds and birdhouse pieces from the Dwellings exhibit, some random bird pieces and a few new drawings that I put together yesterday and the day before. I really enjoyed making some small drawings "just for fun" as they were pertaining to no show and were really just on a whim.

They will all be framed and a cheap pick up if you can make it to Concord tonight. Here they are in no particular order.

Yup these two drawings were packed with some pink punch. As an artist, I really love pink and who knows maybe in everyday life I will one day own a pink caddy? You never know.

What do you think of this guy? I really dig this character. I was thinking Boss Tweed and Thomas Nast drawings, but way more innocent and a little more avian. I gotta get a book of Thomas Nast. He was the man.

Next we have another fine specimen of robot chasing a seemingly innocent bird. This doesn't sound familiar to you does it? I can't get enough of this stuff. But it beats blue dogs...

Next up is a little Valentine's Day action for the robot in you. This guy has a heart and a trapdoor to show it!

Last but not least....I've been thinking about fishing and baseball lately. That is what I usually am thinking about long about the end of January. Why you ask? Because I live in a New Hampshire and it is cold and snowy, and I know that once fishing and baseball seasons arrive, there is only like 2 months of winter left. Ha.

Hope you folks have a good day. I'll be back soon, and if you're in Concord tonight, stop in and say Hello.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Smoke - A Study There-in

I have been doing a lot of work focusing on smoke lately. It is the first experiment in bring the old to work with the new. I have also wanted to do a bit more figurative work. Both of these things are in full swing.

I am quite pleased with this sketch as I am thinking more about smoke and line as smoke as a compositional element. The figure is slowly working its way into a series of old men smoking and walking. Kind of a peaceful moment.

I've also tried to work in some more of the static bubble over the top of the sketchiness. I'm kind of trying to play with catching a solitary moment. It really is impossible when you think about it to have just the present.

Here is the first one in the series that I have been reworking while thinking about the catching a moment concept. The shapes are taking on kind of a Fernand Leger feel. I love it. Now just to work on some color contrast.

The latest in the constructor series.

And finally a quickie that I am working up for the True Brew series. Just some old concepts with better compositions to be painted and sold cheap. Funding my rent for February you know?

until then

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Constructors - Phase Two

I have been experimenting with my line. I am trying to give an older topic a bit more punch, learn something, and meld good painting with good drawing. I am trying to think of these pieces more in an overall aspect than I have in the past few years. In essence, I am trying to remember what they taught to us in school, as I have been busy unlearning for a while.

I need to work a few new methods into some of these drawings. I like the energy, but it would be nice to keep the pencil or ink line in to the very end. Recently John Casey did a step by step on ML4U, which described his process which includes a permanent spray coat. I've tried some things like that in the past with little luck, but he seems to do well with this Krylon, so I'm going to give it a shot. Perhaps in the past it may have just been user error. I did not let things sit as long as they probably needed to at times.

I am always trying to work everything very quickly and sometimes it ends up impeding my progress, but then, this is all just a journey anyway. Anywho, here are the pieces that I've been working on:

This is actually an extension of the logger pieces that I've been working on. It is of course a log skidder for those of you who did not grow up near the woods. The smoke is more of a blanket in this piece and I am really feeling that right now. It also allows for some subtleties in the line within the mass. I think that may speak a bit more the oppressiveness that I am trying to get at with the piece. Either way I am pretty happy with the drawing on this one. I'm going to try to spray it and set it aside until it is really dry and then work into it. I'm currently reminding myself to be patient here.

This is the first piece of this nature that I've been working on. The line didn't appear until Beth looked at it and said, "Weren't you trying to make this a bit more raw". Sometimes is good to get a kick in the butt here and there don't you think?

I'll keep you updated on the progress of these two and a couple more in the near future, I anticipate. Also, there are more loggers coming up soon too. I need to work on the composition of those drawings before I get too into the pieces though.

Ya'll come back now y'hear?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Concerning the Spiritual in Art"

Third time is a charm, I hope. I am done with graduate applications for the year 2010 and now can worry about something else, like if my flannel shirt makes me look too redneck or something.

Yesterday was a good day. I managed to get my graduate applications sent out on Tuesday and yesterday was the first day that I was able to work on some things without the feeling that I should be completing or tweaking my proposal. I do think that my applications look good this time, which is great, because actually getting in to graduate school is definitely more the goal than merely applying, but all of that aside, yesterday, I got to work on new concepts.

When I say new concepts, I am not really sure that is entirely accurate. My proposal for graduate school involved a lot of planning around working on the types of pieces that I was working on in 2006 and 2007. I had something going with those pieces, but they were not well received in the second showing. The first show was at Gallery 110 which is to this day the best show that I have had for sales. A lot of that is probably due to the location of the gallery, however, so I am not going to stress that show, but the second showing was at Lunar Boy Gallery. I thought the pieces were great, unfortunately the public was not of the same mind set. It was about there that I started to try to work on more cute things. I thought to myself, "what sells here, is the cute stuff" and I also thought of a man who had said to me, "well if you're living in Maine and what sells is paintings of lobsters, why aren't you painting lobsters?" So I started painting birds. I love my birds. I think they are unique and 100% my happy and fun side, but I am a Virgo, which I have learned means that I am a moody cuss. I like to make pieces with a lot of depth, and disguise them as cute.

So anywaaaaay. Moving on to 2010. I don't make New Years Resolutions. It seems silly to me to make a goal based on a calendar, but when I really started to get into my paper and started to pour through some books again looking for the right vernacular to speak about my proposal, something started to click into place again. So now, I bring you some random sketches from yesterday, because yesterday, I spent in my new sketchbook, which I love.

I'm sure you remember stuff like this, and if you liked it, fear not, there is more to come, and not only is there more to come, but it will all be connected, like NY Telephone. Sorry, there was a jingle for NY Telephone when I was a kid that went something like "We are all connecteeeeed, NY telephooooooone". I think of it nearly every time someone is talking about all of us being connected. For instance with the 6 degrees of separation. Anyway.

I was doing some sketches with these before, but I wasn't paying much attention to composition or color in how it produced a mood. My colors have been kind of the same on every piece for a little while here. I wouldn't expect that for too much longer. I actually started a painting of this guy yesterday. We'll see if I get enough of it done to post it later today. It's a little different, but not too different. I really want to make the palette work for me. If successful this will just be the start to a much larger project which I will tell you about if and only if stage one is completely successful. There you go, I'm keeping a secret from you, you'll have to check back and see if I tell you what it is.

I also purchased a Kandinsky book yesterday, "Concerning the Spiritual in Art". I haven't even made it to Kandinsky's text yet but the introduction by M.T.H. Sadler was enough to make me purchase the book. His discriptions of the post impressionist and Munich scenes of art are fascinating, and it is interesting to really think about the different schools of thought that are prevalent during certain art periods. How, really their art was all about breaking rules, but they made new rules, to set how you broke the rules. Very interesting.

Things are happening here in Lewis Acrylic land. And it's mostly good. I will catch you soon.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Looking Back - A Tiny Retrospective

As you all know, I've been working on graduate school applications for the past several weeks. Today I finally started to give my portfolio a once over. I usually hate looking through my old work. I don't like remembering where the work has been, but this time, it has been really good for me I think. I had nearly forgotten what my work used to be like, which is a shame, because, I miss it. Now that I am looking at it, I am thinking how much I miss it. It had an emotion that I haven't been working with the past 2 years.

Somewhere along the line, I lost something. It wasn't anything specific, it was more a vitality thing. The life is not the same. So, upon looking through my stuff as a large body of work, I started to think that mentally I am throwing out the second half of this last year, not because it didn't have its good points, but because it is not what I want to pursue so much as what I was pursuing in the spring of 2007. The spring of 2007 was awesome, and yet incomplete. How do I take some of the painting skills that I have bettered over the past couple years and combine them with some of the rawness that I had freshly out of school?

And then I think to myself, "holy crow, I just justified reasoning for wanting to go to grad school in the first place". That is a much better answer than I want to grow as an artist. I have a purpose; I want the vitality of my older work combined with the painting delicacies of the new work and voila, I have something oh so much closer to what I wanted in the first place.

I've decided to share a couple photos with folks:

This is a piece from my first solo show at Gallery 110 in the summer of the 2006. At the time I was really into machinery and mechanics. I look at this now and start to get excited about mechanics again, which is an awesome feeling. The show at Gallery 110 was so awesome too, I miss the naivety I had about the art world at that point as well. I thought that the first solo show was all I needed to "make it". Now I wonder what "making it" is all about anyway.

This is a piece that I working on in my studio on Shilshole in Ballard, WA. I met my buddy Paul there and eventually traded him this piece for a sweet sculpture which is in my studio today.

At the time, I was still obsessed with mechanics but had moved on to water flow and pipes. This was not so much a precursor to the pipes in the sky pieces but kind of another extrapolation of the same concept. If you know my work and have been following me for sometime, you can see that this piece was originally a robot head drawing before I started working the bonsai tree in. You can catch the jaw line around the arrow. The pipe lines started as teeth lines as well. Weird, but awesome to look back at now.

I remember offering this piece to a local charity who was all about taking the piece of art for a raffle fund drive, but was not so into the idea that they were willing to drive from West Seattle to Ballard. Their loss in my opinion. I hope Paul still likes the piece.

Next up is another image from the Gallery 110 show. I did have other shows, quite a few actually, but this show is really ringing in my subconcious now because of the way it made me feel, the things that I learned, the other things that I should have learned, and the over arching theme of the day: How do I combine yesterday with today?

I "LOVED" this piece. It was the biggest pain in the butt to put together, and I remember Molly Norris-Curtis ended up attaching the piece in the back when it sold so that the buyer wouldn't be too frustrated. Remember I said I learned a lot from this show? But I look at this piece today, and remember my television plants phase, and joining panels together and how raw it felt, and how awesome it felt finishing pieces at this time, and I think again, how do I go there again, how do I feel so energetic and excited again? Somebody shed this cowl that I have over myself. I want that back. Preferably right now.

Lastly, I give you a piece, that I don't really have a very good picture of, but I didn't even think that I had documented at all. I finished this piece the day before my show at Lunar Boy Gallery needed to be delivered, at about four in the morning. I love it, but the painting is lost somewhere in Seattle. Who knows, maybe it just ended up in the dumpster. To anyone who might know where that stack of paintings that was at Latona went, could you give me a heads up? And to any young artists out there, always makes sure that you are the one dealing with your art, not somebody who you are "pretty sure" will grab it for you after you move 14 states across the country.

I still love all of this. It feels like is has been so long, and I guess really it's been almost seven years now that I have been trying to make it as a professional painter. Seven years. I've come so far, and yet, some would look at me and ask if I've gone anywhere at all. I don't have a good answer for that anymore, but it is so awesome to be able to look at some old work, and remember that it wasn't a chore. I didn't and still don't mind being poor. I have had an awesome seven years and I very much would like to get into graduate school and continue this journey, because I finally think that I am ready to listen to someone tell me how to work again.

Please keep your fingers crossed for me. And thank you so much to all of you that actually read this and follow my art. You are all so kind.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Lumberjack Series

The other day when my chef said that I looked like 1/2 chef and 1/2 lumberjack, I do not think that he had necessarily intended to give me an idea for a series, but he did. So far it is making me quite pleased too. I am trying to create some contrast between flat patterns and round rendering. In the end I would like the pieces to have fairly realistic looking facial features and very flat pattern clothing. Sort of like a Gustav Klimt piece but without as much glitz. I want the pattern to be really plain, speaking about where I come from.

Naturally the models that I am referencing in this series of pieces are people that I feel very close to, some folks I grew up with, my gramps, and my father, and of course one of myself. Here is a quick sneak peek of what I've been working on. There will be a lot more soon.

I'm pretty stoked to be working on the human figure again, even if it is a relatively loose concept. Hopefully I can finish a couple before I send out my materials for graduate school. I think it would be good to have some more figurative work in my portfolio. Otherwise whoever is reviewing my work will think that all I can paint is birds and bulldozers. Little known fact "Slaves and Bulldozers" was originally "Birds and bulldozers" but Chris Cornell had to change the lyrics to make the song a bit sludgier to go with Kim Thayill's riffage. Just kidding.

Hope you all have a really good night. I'm going to.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Welcome to 2010

I'm going to come right out and say this. I did not finish my Art House Sketchbook. I know, "bad Mike", but I am almost done with my applications to graduate school, and when it was coming down to the wire, I decided that graduate school was more important to me than a sketchbook project, so I am finishing the sketchbook, but a little bit late.

Still, I have the utmost respect for the Art House Coop. I think they put together great projects and depending on my workloads in the near future may even do another one of their projects, but for now, grad school.

I recently have been asked to be the featured artist of the first True Brew art after hours event, organized by the multi-talented, multi-faceted, and ever moving Katy Brown of the Concord Arts Market. It should prove to be a good event, and a good excuse to get a couple more new pieces together for that show and for the final rounds of my portfolio for graduate school. 2010 is already looking busy, as I have that feature and a solo show at the Blue Bottle in September.

I do not think I want to be quite as busy as I was last year. I want to spend more time making some quality work, so I anticipate being a little choosier about the exhibits that I am involved in, but I am extremely excited about the Blue Bottle show and the Concord Arts Feature. You may even be able to find me at the Concord Arts Market this summer if I can pull my plans together.

No matter how it pans out though, 2010 is looking to be a good year, and I'm not going to take it lying down. Watch out as Lewis Acrylics turns 30.

Until then.