Sunday, June 28, 2009

The paintings for the show are done. I've some few changes to make on two, but the bulk of the labor is finished. The show is at West End Gallery in Corning, NY on July 24th. I'll showcase the upstairs with another artist (Jennifer Fais) while Gary Myers will have the main show downstairs. Gary usually pulls some nice crowds in for his openings; I hope this year isn't any different.

My artist friends know I carry around a little black book. In it I keep track of my painting time, that is, hours when I have a brush or drawing implement in my hand. Hours of work for this week are good. Last year after the kids got out of school they fell off dramatically, and didn't go up until September. I'm hoping to avoid that this year. I've been working on studies, I guess you'd call them. The exercise is to pick a method of working and explore it. Today was one color (Transparent Oxide Red) and try to get the contour and values down. Technically I'm supposed to concentrate on one aspect of the figure, but this pose was so beautiful I couldn't resist trying the whole. Fell far short, I know. My hope is that each failure is a step. In any case the effort is wiped off at the end and I start on another.

Which brings me to last week's PGA Open. That's a leap, but bear with me. I love watching Tiger play. I know how hard he's worked to be #1. (I read about it actually.) If Tiger's playing I'm parked on the couch. He's had all those magical moments in the Masters, the Buick, Arnold's Invitational, the Open in '08 etc. I can remember him winning, I think it was the Amateur in August 1997, before he went pro. But for all that inhuman play, the Open last week was special. How awesome was it to see him struggling? Here's a guy that has taken the game to a new level, yet he still has his bad days. I guess what comforts me is knowing no matter what level you're at, you still struggle and fight and get frustrated and work to reach the next. Of course he's still Tiger and he still had a few of those magic moments in the Open. Very nice, but I enjoyed the frustration on his face more last weekend.

Today Mom called asking me to check out a website. (Mom doesn't do computers or cell phones. Her technology stopped at cable television.) This is the site of a kid who grew up two doors down from us. He's not a kid anymore, and closer to my age than I remember. Also an artist, and I was impressed by his work. He went the academic route and got his MFA, is now teaching in Georgia with some gallery representation. Check it out and his blog at I like his paintings. But one thing Bobby keeps mentioning is that we grew up in rural Pennsylvania. I'd call it small town. Of course you didn't have to go far outside said small town to find cows and corn.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Very First Post

I blame Dustin Boutwell for this. He's the artist I've been studying with for the past 13 months. I always take time off during the summer from his class because the summer can be hectic with two kids. There's swimming lessons, tennis lessons, soccer camps, etc. Six weeks ago I asked Dustin for a "report card", not so much looking at what I've accompished, but how do I get where I want to go. He came over to the house last week and we talked and looked and talked about painting. During that time we touched on the business side and he suggested a blog. So here i am - blogging. But I'll never twitter.

Since this is The Beginning I guess a quick update on my background is in order:
After graduating from Penn State in English, I looked around and decided to join the Coast Guard. That way I could earn money to pay off student loans and learn how to drive a boat. Ahh youth - I thought it was important to learn that. Seven years later I was coxswain of a 41, could fight a fire on the ocean, navigate, read a chart, run a search pattern and get my crew home safe. I also learned how to chip paint, tie knots, tell a short lobster from a legal lobster and fish for stripers. Then the fun went out of it - it was time to move on.

A quick relocation inland. At this point I married a wonderfully awesome woman I'd been dating for ten years. We'd known each other since high school and started dating in college. The two of us weren't just lovers but best friends. Marriage. Now I needed a new career. At first I tried Deputy Sheriff but moved over to Deputy Coroner. This was to be my career. We bought a house, planted a perennial garden and lived the DINK life-style. (DoubleIncomeNoKids)

At this point I should probably mention something about Art. Ever since I can remember I've drawn or painted. I visited galleries, read books, kept a sketchbook, did the portrait thing as gifts for family and friends. In the Coast Guard it passed the time, plus there were some great subjects. While in the Coroner's Office it helped balance the negative of dealing with death every day. I can remember buying my first real watercolor set: enameled steel Winsor & Newton half pans. When a friend of mine found out what I'd paid for it he thought I was nuts. Then I mentioned what he paid to trick out his Harley.

So after five years of marriage it was time for kids. No... more like Time For Kids. Connor was born at 1030. I remember the neonatologist turning to me and saying, "Welcome to Fatherhood. From now on you'll be known as Connor's Dad." How true. Big changes. Then my wife lost her position and we knew we'd have to move. More changes.

We ended up leaving the perennial garden, our first house and my career behind. More children were planned so it was decided, after mucho discussion, that I would be a house-dad. Neither of us wanted somebody else (day-care, babysitters, nanny) to raise our kids and we had no extended family to lean on. It was a new chapter in our lives.

Flash ahead one year: Here we are in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. My son is a toddler and we have a newborn daughter. I'm dying here. Stuck in the house, no local friends, diapers to change, bottles to warm, TeleTubbies on the needed a lot of estrogen and I had very little.

My wife came to the rescue. She was happy in her new position working on her career, meeting people and making friends. She saw me stuck at home slowly going insane and had a brilliant idea. We were walking around a neighboring artsy town at Christmas time. As was our habit we popped into a local gallery. She was quiet inside the gallery, and when we came out she turned to me and said, "You know you could do that." Ah-Ha One of those life-changing moments. Did I mention she's my best friend?

To make a long story short, I worked on some watercolors, approached a local gallery, and was accepted. The paintings sold. Actually this story in itself is kind of interesting and informative. I'll save it for another entry.

Three years ago I switched from watercolor to oil and seriously ramped up my seriousness. The kids were older, Connor was 9 and Jillian 6. They were both in school, doing well, and I needed to start making some money from my art. I joined a portrait group, began attending live-model sessions, and studying with Dustin. In the fall I also start studying with Tom Buechner. Right now I consider myself a student. Actually I'll probably be a student for life and that's a good thing. In this blog I hope to explore and chronicle this journey of being an artist. I'll talk about and post my paintings, some stuff I've learned and the people in my life. We're all helping each other to move to the next level. I'm going to try to keep the bullshit down. I'm going to try to keep it focused on art, though don't hold me too close to that. One vow I will keep is NO POLITICS. It just pisses me off and brings out the worst.

So my hope is that you will be slightly entertained and informed. Enough about you. I hope I'm entertained and informed by this too. Hey, it's my blog!

About Me

My photo
Elmira, New York, United States
In many ways I think like a photographer. The image itself is becoming more and more important to me; the actual application of paint less and less. Blasphemy in some painterly circles. I choose to paint figures and portraits because I consider them the most difficult subject.