Thursday, October 29, 2009


When you are hungry you take what you can get. A lone wolf can rarely if ever take down a full grown bull elk so one that has fallen to natural causes is a good find during a harsh winter. This work went rather quickly, only 4 hours perhaps. That four hours has been spread over several weeks but four never the less. Glad to have this wrapped up and anxious to start a new project.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Original Drawing by Luke

I received a very special gift today! A young man named Luke, who is 6 years old made this drawing after he watched me working at a recent arts festival. He even chose my favorite subject and my favorite medium. I'm so pleased. Thank you Luke!

This thoughtful gift came at a good time for me. I've been busy dealing with everyday realities of business and raising a family as well as participating in our global pandemic. Today was the first I've been back on my feet in a while and Luke's gift was very welcome indeed.

Be thoughtful of how you interact with people, especially our young friends because we rarely fully understand the impact we may have on others. It pleases me to know that Luke enjoyed watching me draw enough to do his very own work and to share it with me. I know a good picture framer... I believe I'll hang this in my studio.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Life is what happens when...

... when you're busy making other plans. John Lennon summed it up perfectly. I find myself focusing all my attention on my work, my business and the 101 other things that demand my time. As this goes on my young son, Kane gets bigger and bigger. He truly is my world, not the drawings that I think are my life.

This weekend he and I will embark on an overnight canoe trip into the Adirondack Mountains where we'll camp on an island and enjoy pure father and son time. We plan to explore, goof off and have great fun just being together.

Last weekend I took my wife on a trip to Boston for a concert and some alone time with her. I get so caught up in what's on the drawing board next or what business challenge we are facing that I loose sight of what's really important.

There will not be any updates here until I feel I've spent enough quality time with the most important people in my life. Then when I do sit back down at the drawing board I'll do so with a full and happy heart. Those plans can wait while I'm busy living life.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Several years ago I made the above drawing based on reference photos I shot in Yellowstone National Park. This is actually a study, though very refined compared to what would be called a sketch. I enjoyed some success with it having been selected into the top 200 artworks in the 2003 Arts for the Parks competition.

I've long had intentions of creating a large charcoal version based on the initial drawing. After the results I achieved with "Sovereignty" I'm ready to approach it. The plan is to make it the exact same size as sort of a companion piece.

Comparing the two images will show the subtle adjustments I made in the composition that I felt would improve the overall impact of the work. Cutting the image scan into pieces I moved things around slightly and changed sizes. The size changes added more depth I think and now the bison fill more of the frame. Even though these changes are small I feel that they make an important difference to the design.

You can see in this image how I'm able to chop up the elements in order to move them around. This technique of making alterations was learned from a great book written by Paul Calle named "The Pencil". Paul is without question a master and I've learned more from his book than from any other source. He used to make photocopies from his sketches, reduced and enlarged, then cut them up and paste them in various combinations until he got what he was looking for. A digital scan is my photocopy. I use some form of this process in every drawing I plan.

This drawing will show up on this blog over the course of the next few months.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wolf Refinements

I spent an hour or so on the wolf's face with some critical details. That is actually the bulk of the work. The balance requires some delineation of the dead elk and that's about it. Pretty quick overall. Maybe 6hrs when finished?

I created the first printers proof from "Sovereignty" and can finally say I feel good about the finished drawing. I was just too close emotionally to it to make a proper judgement when it was newly completed. Seeing it reduced down to print size made me realise I had achieved just what I was looking for. Working on such large originals does make it hard to get back far enough to analyze the progress. I framed up the proof and that set if off beautifully. I'm glad that drama is over!

Added the recent drawing to my newly redesigned website... check it out and let me know what you think of the new look. Thanks.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Yin Yang

I went for a 10k run this morning shortly after reading Peter Brown's comment on my last post and thought about what he wrote. As I'm pushing hard past the 8k point and the lactic acid is building I wondered why do I run like this? It hurts!

It also feels great at the same time. I do it again and again.

Something beyond my comprehension and beyond me, compels me to make drawings. To create works of art. That is what they are... work! Hard and sometimes emotionally painful labor. Sometimes tranquil and calming. It's the compulsion to do this that makes me feel uncomfortable. Many artists I've read about and talked with have shared similar feelings. Some of the greatest are tormented and driven to madness! Or are they driven BY madness? Hmmm.

I'm usually in complete command of works in progress and I enjoy the process. I felt threatened when this piece was getting the best of me and I reacted accordingly. That is not to say I wasn't enjoying the challenge of it. It might not have been comfortable but I definitely felt on the edge of my ability and very alive! Thinking back on why I tried this whole experiment in the first place I remember accepting the fact that I could loose control and that is what made it exciting.

It's all about the yin yang balance of control and loosing it I guess. The battle between darkness and light, between sitting on the porch with a beer or going for a hard run.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Word Choices

I love words. Their origins, the depth of their meaning and the context in which they are used. The listeners interpretations are based largely on our proper choice of words. I find it interesting how they are chosen to express thoughts and feelings. Sometimes we choose consciously and carefully, sometimes subconsciously and with hidden emotion.

Thinking back over the words I've used in my most recent posts and tweets (while working on the elk herd) made me think twice about their use and why I wrote them. Combinations like 'final assault', 'brutal war', 'total struggle'.

Looking back over the last hours of work on the piece I realized what force I applied to the execution of it. There I go again, 'force', 'execution'. I was attacking the thing with a vengeance trying to beat it into submission and to form to my will. Like attempting to tame a wild animal.

I am not at all sure why this happened. I even slept fitfully that night dreaming about the whole days events. My only guess is that it was caused by fear. Fear of giving up control, fear of failure.

In the end I vanquished the forces of darkness and light in that drawing. They succumbed to my bidding. I refused to concede even the smallest bit of control even while that damned thing attempted to steal it at every turn. It seemed that it felt alive in my hands. Then I chose this drawing to work on next?

Sometimes I wax philosophical so please forgive this ranting. It's all part of natural progression, the metamorphosis. I like THOSE words.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Sovereignty" finished.

Well here it is, finally! Each summer my family and I visit the 1000 Islands and the St. Lawrence River for a week in a wonderful little cottage near some great friends. I took along this work so I could finish it up in my friend's nearby studio with views of the river.

This is the final image after some last minute adjustments. I must admit it became a total struggle! I was waging a brutal war between darkness and light. I don't remember any drawing being this challenging or difficult. Makes me wonder if I approached it the right way and it leaves me skeptical about it's success.

At the moment I'm too close to it to make a proper assessment. I do not usually spend that many hours working continuously at that level of deep involvement. I'll look it over again in a few days with fresh eyes and pass a final judgement.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Getting past the halfway point.

The shadow cast across the back of the bull really brought this to life for me I think. It really seems to have lit this up with full sun. Next to the dark background he looks very bright, just what I want.

The upper left corner gives an idea of where the background is heading. Rocks and brush with more in between the deer. As that develops I think they will stand out more. As I've mentioned before this will be a very strong contrast work with the sunlight being key to it's success. Guessing I'm better than half way which is good since I have a September deadline for release of the limited edition. I love pressure.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Moved my easel again!

I just can't work in one place. I'm going to get an easel with wheels on it so I can roll it all over. I took it to my studio at Fort Drum in order to chip away at this while I'm "on the job". It's great being your own boss.

Once I roughed in the background I worked up the contrast behind the bull. Getting those antlers right is my main concern.

This close up really lets you see how much texture is on this. It makes it very challenging to lay down clean lines when I need to. The vine charcoal seems to be very forgiving and I just let it do what it wants. I need to get the antler shadow across the body soon, another key part of the work.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Hurdle passed

Well I put the lines into the face and most importantly the antlers. They were the most critical aspect in my estimation since there was just one for each tine and I had to get them correct. At the moment there is not the contrast around them I want but that will come with the background work. At least I got past my mental road block and got this important part roughed in. Now I can put in the habitat and then spend some time refining the deer.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Comfort Zone

I've talked recently about loosing confidence with this new approach. I realize that I've been just plain intimidated and scared of this thing. It dawned on me over the weekend when I tried to sit down to work and just didn't feel good about it. I felt apprehensive. So... I rearranged my studio, switched the board back upright and moved it across the room. I felt like a dog spinning around before finally settling down to sleep.

That is actually when I realized I was afraid. Afraid of not getting the perfect line put down to capture the essence of the animal. Realizing that more was on the line and there was no where to hide.

Jack Hines, an artist said it best...

"...Drawing speaks directly to the viewer about the mind, soul and hand of the artist without pretense or falsehood".

There is NO WHERE to hide! So face it head on, step way outside the comfort zone and move forward. The one confidence you do have is that you gave it your best.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Remembering my way.

It has been some time since I was last able to sit down and actually draw. I have to admit that I lost confidence in my approach to this new technique I've been using. I think it is not ingrained in my mind like my other drawing styles are. You hear of writers block and I guess this is like that. I got over it well enough to add a few more calves and a cow before embarking on the bull.

I am trying very hard not to overwork this thing. I'm still using mostly vine charcoal and smudging with my fingers. Another aspect of this new approach is that because it goes so quickly that I find that I look for larger blocks of time that I can work. It is not something that I can pick away at a few hours here or there. I need to dive right in because each elk takes only a few minutes and once I get started I need to keep moving or else I lose my focus.

This probably sounds blah, blah, blah, but this is such new territory that I'm really fumbling in the dark. Maybe I can draw again tomorrow and get the bull done. I'd be pleased about that and can move onto the habitat. Thanks for checking in.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cave Painting

I did some cave painting today. It looks like anyway. This drawing is high contrast and VERY loose as you can see. Working mostly with vine charcoal and my fingers. Just bits of detail work where necessary.

I expect this will become more refined as I work but I remember a lesson I learned in recent experiments. I fussed with it too much! I need to stop touching it!

I'll get to the habitat once all the elk are drawn in. Starting on the bull next. Love that rack of antlers and the shadow they create across the elks back.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's finally started... again!

I was wondering when I might actually get to touch this work? Today I rubbed in a medium tone over the entire board and began picking out a few highlights.

Then a few dark areas to round things out a bit.

About an hours work. Tomorrow I'm looking forward to the better part of the whole day. Once the thing is moving I can stay with it until it's complete, hopefully inside the next week or two. It depends upon how many interruptions plague me.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

It's finally started!

Hey, at least I'm working right? I've been very busy keeping our businesses from becoming a statistic of this global recession. Due to the type of work I do for the 10th Mountain Division I'm kept fully scheduled with production. I'm not complaining because many people are impacted by the economy in difficult and heart wrenching ways. So far it's just kept me from the drawing board.

I did manage to get the line drawing transferred to the gessoed panel yesterday. My wife had an artisan event with musicians and craftsmen at our bookstore which I was scheduled to exhibit at. I ended up in the workshop building frames. Like I said, no complaints... at least I'm working.

Now that the linear drawing is done I can start getting it all smudged over with a beginning layer of charcoal. Then I can dig in, when I don't know.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

101 things...

Among many things I've been responsible for recently is this pencil illustration commissioned by the Armed Services Y.M.C.A. This is one thing that I do as part of my day job. Small framed prints will be provided to ASYMCA using collectible coins and an inscription for special honorees. I have created many illustrations like this for the 10th Mountain Division based at Fort Drum, New York.

During wartime the Y.M.C.A. offered Soldiers hot coffee and food items on the battlefield using this horse drawn wagon. Later it became motorized as seen in the background. Currently the 10th MTN DIV is returning from yet another deployment to Iraq and that means a very busy several months for me providing custom framed items for the Soldiers needs.

Before that all takes place I'm determined to start and complete the elk commission I've been referring to lately. I'm more than ready, stay tuned!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I've been thinking more about artistic growth and I've noticed something. Maybe coincidence but I think this blog is related to things that have happened to me recently. I launched this blog to give myself motivation and great things have occurred since it all started.

The knowledge that someone might be reading my journal gave me the extra incentive to do better and improve my artwork. I think that I can get complacent without subjecting my work to a knowledgeable audience. Now granted, I did not suddenly get a big performance boost from blogging because these thoughts have been germinating for a long time. What I'm saying is that this blog has definitely been a catalyst to move ahead with those new ideas.

Many of the people who visit are experienced artists and just knowing that pushes me to post the best I can. I was looking for motivation but never expecting this type of benefit. I've stated that I view jury submissions as a challenge because I usually get rejected and then I vow to do better and "show them" they were wrong about my work. In the case of this venue I feel good about sharing my experience and what I've learned because my new friends are on the same journey. I have come to enjoy the feeling of companionship on the path. I promise to strive for excellence with everything I put down here in the future and never relent in my artistic and personal growth.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Journey of Dreams

A new friend of mine that I've made via this blog is Australian artist Peter Brown. Pete left a comment here recently that has had me thinking about life long dreams and the pursuit of artistic expression.

As a very small boy of 5, during our long cold winters, I remember watching a television program called Wild Kingdom. I had this paper cut-out set of African wildlife that I would stand up as each animal was shown on the programs intro. They had this fantastic native percussion theme music and I would get so excited about my little savanna on the living room carpet. I would watch in awe as the host traveled the world encountering wild creatures and having great adventures on safari.

I've been making drawings ever since. As I became an adult my dreams of becoming a professional artist met face to face with reality and my life's circumstances would not allow this to happen. Even so, I am an artist no matter what day job I may have. I am always thinking as an artist and contemplating my true life's work. Progress has been slow but as I mature I'm more comfortable with the pace. I always strive for improvement and growth.

This year I'll be 40 years from those memories of my paper safari, enjoying the same childlike awe in the natural world and creating images of what moves me. We all travel through life in different ways and I've no regrets that I'm not yet a professional. My studio is named 'WaySeeker' for just this reason.

If I'm correct, my artist friend Terry Miller was in his mid forties when he went pro. Sounds like Pete is on his way as well, creating great work after years of other responsibilities and raising a family. I hope he fully enjoys the walk-about he and his wife have recently begun.

I plan to fully savor the artistic break through I've had recently and who knows... I may yet go far and see my dream come true.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"Sovereignty" sketch

This is the small pencil sketch I have worked up for my upcoming charcoal drawing. This is a value study more than anything, I've already worked out the position of the elk prior to starting this preliminary. The finish drawing will be 48"x24" so this helps me be as prepared as possible before I begin. I'm very interested to see how long this one takes since the change I made in my process. I'll be posting as often as possible as it moves along.

Friday, April 10, 2009


I added a new word to my vocabulary today. Epiphenomenon; noun, a mental state regarded as a by-product of brain activity.

I have been filled with many thoughts since I completed "Solstice" (detail above). Whole new worlds of possibility have opened because of what has happened to me during the course of this work. The vision I have of my art has expanded beyond what I might have hoped for, like stepping up to an entirely new level of consciousness.

I expect this sounds quite aburd and esoteric but for me it's life altering. The time I spent on this drawing and the one just prior, marks a profound turning point for me as an artist. I've been chided for being too cerebral about my work but now there is an elevated degree of emotion to it as well. I can hardly wait for what unfolds.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Totally Unexpected

Well... I really do not know what to think. Here, a scant 7 hours from the point it was first posted I'm finished with this 18"x36" Great Horned Owl piece. I had this free day and thought I'd get it started, never did I think I would complete it in one sitting.

Productivity has always been the greatest challenge in my puny, part-time art career. If this new process gives results this quickly I might just have to take a day off more frequently. I was stunned that only a week had elapsed from the beginning to end of that bald eagle I recently completed and now I'm talking hours. I don't even have a title in mind for this owl yet.

There are implications from today that I'll have to think about. If I can create more drawings each year perhaps I can move closer to expanding my part-time status. Also, more works being completed means greater opportunity for artistic growth with each one. Yeah... definitely a paradigm shift, or seismic tremor, or big bang went off in my head today!

Great Horned Owl

Had some unexpected time at the drawing table today so I'm taking advantage by starting this GHO. I want to continue the momentum I gained with the last piece by getting right into another using the lessons I learned in my experiment.

I smudged in a light gray background to get the board dirty. That drops inhibition from the initial drawing marks. This image shows about 60 minutes of work. This would have taken me hours just last month given the way I worked. The board measures 18"x36" for this composition.

I'll detail the eye and beak next then finish the wing. This bird sits in snow among dried grass so there will be some habitat in this work. Not anything detailed or too specific.

I have a very large size commission I'm preparing for which is in the initial stages. Getting this owl fit in before I begin that 24"x48" elk herd behemoth gives me some practice and confidence before applying this technique to that project.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Art of the Animal Kingdom XIV

I'm very pleased to learn today that my bald eagle drawing just recently completed has been accepted in the international exhibition "Art of the Animal Kingdom XIV" in Bennington, Vermont, USA. This entry title is a link to the Bennington Center for the Arts where the annual exhibition is held. I have enjoyed being invited to be part of this prestigious show several times over the years. My wife Shay and I always look forward to a quite weekend trip to Vermont for opening weekend events. There is a great brew pub in town I love to visit and get a growler filled!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Experimenter Effect

Exactly one week from the start I have finished this drawing with results that please me very much. I was interested to see that from a distance (25-30 feet) this looks similar to other drawings I've made in the past few years but as you move in, an entirely different story takes shape. A close up inspection of the work shows the broad strokes of large, coarse charcoal and overall lack of fine detail. That was the part that made this drawing so damn much fun! The other major advantage was the elapsed time from beginning to end.

A drawing of this size (17"x40") would have taken me weeks to accomplish the way I previously worked. Achieving better results in a fraction of the time? GOOD DEAL! This is a great success from a productivity standpoint alone.

I titled this entry 'experimenter effect' because it was inevitable that I would influence the project to fit my style. I kind of thought there would be more of a departure from "my look" but perhaps that will come as I fit into this new technique. I guess that deep down I didn't want to change the results so much as improve the process and I feel I've done that.

My troublesome mistake was messing with it once lines, strokes and smudges were put down. I tried to control them too much. That's a confidence aspect I'll build on as I progress but I'll take these initial successful steps and apply what I've learned on the next one. A fire has ignited!

Oh yeah, the title is "Paradigm Shift".

Detail images

These details of the drawing will give an idea of just how abstract it looks up close. The top shows the beginning area of the work from my first entry on this experiment. It may not be visible on a monitor but I quickly learned that not all vine charcoal is black or gray, one I used gave a lavender or orange hue, yuck! I tossed that one out quickly.

The middle shot shows the chest where some of the heaviest strokes were layed in. I like how that texture gives the appearance of some detail. That is why I get to work so large without the tedium of infinite detail and I love it!

The bottom image shows the only detail area and how every so often I'll get a surface texture that works perfectly to my advantage. That one stroke of gesso just above and to the right of center acted as a beautiful feather highlight. I just accented the underside and let the bump do the rest.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Required detail

I needed to detail the face of this eagle but attempted to do no more than absolutely necessary. Once that was done I spent some time on the background. Eventually I'll get to work on the feet and talons.

Spring is here in the Adirondack region. I could not resist setting up an easel on the porch to work in the sun. Working in my customary vertical position also helped me get the face drawn in. So far so good but where it will go from here is hard to say. I'm just going to feel my way through.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Paradigm Shift

I have found that my work follows a series of what I would call spikes and plateaus. I will work at a level for a period of time and then all the sudden I get this feeling that a spike is pending. There is a feeling that is like a thought that has remained just outside your awareness. We've all felt times when we have something on the tip of our tongue and just can't formulate it into words. It can be very uncomfortable.

As artists I would guess we all go through this differently but that is how I would describe it myself. Once that jolt hits nothing is ever the same again. The work I just posted recently seems years ago, by another artist but it was just a few weeks ago. That's how much things can alter. It was not as instant as it seemed, the plateau was the incubation period. A time of subconscious growth while working away at the drawing at hand.

I don't think nerve, confidence or bravery has much to do with it. It is just something that needs to happen or I burst! It's part of the natural growth process. Someone much wiser than I once said something like this... "a mind once expanded by knowledge can never resume it's original shape". I have to learn who said that, it sums things up pretty well. Might have been Oscar Wilde.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Carefully Planned Spontaneity

I'm not really sure what I'm doing here but I'm liking what I see. Looks like a mess right? I deliberately tried to create this drawing right on the borderline of loosing control. I had confidence and rapidly lost it only to regain my direction and take back the reins on the work. Back and forth it goes. In the end I am confident I can prevail.

Lots of cinders are scattered over the board and I am grinding them in with my finger as I smudge over the surface. I picked up a sharpened carbon pencil to delineate some areas but overall the edges are very rough and free. A famous painter, Richard Schmid once stated that "edges are everything" and I couldn't agree more.

I'm pulling out highlights as I work with a kneaded erasure. I use stiff brushes to stab the charcoal down into the deep valleys of the gesso surface. So far this has been done mostly with a 1/2" diameter vine charcoal.

This is the most fun I've had with a drawing since I can remember! This completely changes the way I look at my work. Even if I don't ultimately conquer this thing my experiment has already proven successful for me.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Labratory Experiment

I got up the nerve to attempt a totally new approach to a drawing I've been thinking about for a long time. As I've mentioned, I don't get to make very many large drawings in a year so I work very hard to make sure each one really pushes my boundaries. A great deal of visualization goes into it. I spend significantly more time thinking about drawing than I actually draw. I feel that is my way of practicing.

This is the first time I've put down a drop cloth underneath and lowered my drawing board down almost flat. I'm giving up complete control on this. I found a large chunk of charcoal made by General's. The label says "hands-on primitive art", (I couldn't resist) using the oldest drawing medium known to man!

The subject is a bald eagle, wings spread, mantling over a salmon. The board which is very heavily gessoed measures 17"x40". So far I'm using only vine charcoal and that big chunk. There are crumbs and dust all over the board and my hands look like I've been cleaning the chimney. Just the way I wanted it.

This is as far away from detail as I can get and still have it look like a bird. Since this is a total experiment I have no idea what I'll end up with. Primitive to be sure, hands-on no question, exciting without a doubt. Just the way I wanted it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rules? We don't need no stinkin' rules!

An interesting thing happened to me today... again. A friend is currently taking a drawing class at our local community college. Charcoal is the medium being discussed and used, the professor exclaims that you should NEVER mix graphite with it. (Oops, I missed that memo).

A few months ago I had a young wounded Soldier spend some time in my studio sharing our interest in drawing. He is a very accomplished artist and was taking drawing with the same professor. You should NEVER mix charcoal and graphite he was told!

I should give some history here in order to make my point. A number of years prior to all this I had a one person show at the college in question. I met the professor back then and was invited to speak with the drawing class. I explained my technique to which I was told I couldn't mix them together. (Ooops) The speaking engagement never happened and I can only surmise it was because I would contradict the doctrine of the professor.

Each of the students that I mentioned talked with me before they came to that part of their class so they were prepared for the "rule statement". They chuckled to themselves. I had preloaded one of them with a small portfolio of mine which he pulled out to offer a debate over the issue. Even with evidence to the contrary the professor continues to teach the "rule".

Why are there rules in art? Who made them? Should we believe them? I am pleased I have no formal fine art training because I may never have put varnish on a charcoal and graphite drawing. Ooops!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Varnish a Charcoal?

As I mentioned in my last entry, I have given the drawings several coats of spray acrylic clear coat and today I applied the liquid (satin) MSA varnish. Once I used matte and I couldn't tell it had been coated. I like the satin look much better.

I can varnish the drawing because it is done on a gesso covered hard board. I use a spray fixative before the spray clear coat and that stabilizes it enough to brush on the liquid. Once it is dry the drawing is sealed between the varnish and the gesso substrate. I imagine this has been done by others but in all my years as an artist I've yet to run across this process being used. I love the results and I find it unique to see a drawing framed without glazing. This helps my effort to stand along side painting as an equal medium.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bald Eagle Portrait

Since I was in the groove I got this small portrait finished up this past weekend as well. This is the latest in a series confined to this format. I find the size and orientation interesting and am always on the look out for a bird I can fit into it. The size is 9"x24", charcoal and graphite. I spray fixed this along with the osprey while I was at work today. There is a great spray booth there that is perfect for it. Next step will be two or three coats of acrylic spray varnish, then liquid MSA varnish. I'll be able to frame this like a painting without glass which I think makes for a very interesting presentation.

Friday, March 6, 2009

"Aerial Strike"

Finally finished, "Aerial Strike" 27"x40"

I've had to wait over a week to put the final touches on this bird. This evening I highlighted the wing edges which helped to separate the bird more from the background water.
I'll put fixative on this tomorrow after one final look in the morning. After that the varnish process will start. VARNISH? Yup, I'll explain later. It's another benefit of this gesso technique.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Style development continued...

During the past decade I've worked to perfect a technique that is well illustrated in this detail image. I greatly admire painters and skilled brush work. Being committed to black and white drawing and loving quality paintings I wanted to find a way to enjoy the best of both worlds. I also wanted a way of loosening up my work from highly precise detail. With a great deal of thought and practice I have found something that excites me very much. It has opened up a whole new world of possibility and fueled my lifelong passion for drawing. Now each new work demands a fresh approach and problem solving sessions. I find I have so many exciting subject ideas that I can hardly contain myself. The frustration is that my time is so limited.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The challenge mounts

A few days away from this work and this evening I'm sitting several yards from the easel in order to study and decide what to do next. Yes it's upside down to offer a new perspective, I'll also sit with my back to the drawing with a small mirror held over my shoulder. These efforts make mistakes more obvious and allow me to see what still needs more work. This one is more of a challenge than I had first anticipated. It'll cause me to reach further and I like that.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Creating a signature style.

A few days ago a fellow black and white artist, Terry Miller, (who's work I greatly admire) posted an interesting subject on his blog, Terry writes about how an artist needs to follow their own vision of what their work should say. He describes how beginning artists will sometimes emulate the style of those they admire. As a learning process this is valuable but there comes a time when a break needs to be made from established styles, market be damned. There can be a number of circumstance that allow this break to happen. It may certainly be artistic maturity, some personal epiphany, or simply natural progress. In my opinion, anyone that simply sticks with what sells is stagnant, just a practitioner and not a true artist.

Years ago, 20 to be exact, I made the photo realistic drawing above. Every grain in the boards of the canoe, each board perfectly aligned as in the actual boat. Very detailed and precise. I admire this type of work but it simply is no longer me. Over the years I've had a very clear vision of what I wanted my work to evolve into. Years of patience and visualization while I waited for my technical skills to develop to a level to achieve my goal. A method unique to my personality and what might be described as a signature style. I feel confident that this signature will continue to evolve over the next few decades. A process that I welcome.

I used to want to be a full time professional artist more than anything. Reality and circumstances have kept me from this and I've actually become grateful. I do not need to sell a thing! I create drawings that please ME. That's my only criteria. I do submit them for jury consideration but I mostly get turned down. That's OK. I have my integrity to consider first and foremost then my own artistic stimulation and satisfaction. Juries come last. 

I've transformed a jury rejection into a motivational tool. They only serve the purpose of accelerating my growth when I'm turned down. I accept it as a challenge! Recognition from my peers is more gratifying and honest by far.

Fran Sweet, (an artist I also revere) once told me that he could walk into any exhibit and pick out my work from across the room. A compliment of no small measure from an artist of his stature and something I'm very proud of. In a personal letter, Everett Raymond Kinstler described my work as full and rich. He's one of the big dogs of portrait painters! I don't intend to sound boastful, I'm just trying to make a point.

Stay true to your own vision and reap this type of pure, meaningful reward.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Walking a tight rope

I got to draw all day today! It was frustrating work attempting to balance the values and contrast to get this thing to look right but I love a challenge. That's when I feel most alive as an artist.

I couldn't get the water to work until I had the bird complete and I couldn't get the bird right without the water being more finished. ARRGH! Either way I'm finally pleased with the progress. There is still much adjusting to do but I can see the finish line.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Deadline approaching

This time of year brings numerous exhibition deadlines that I attempt to meet. Since I am not a full time artist I have to be very deliberate about which drawings I create with specific exhibits in mind. It is necessary to plan several months in advance in order to see them to completion prior to the submission dates. Of course I am rarely on schedule therefore the pressure is on. That's not the way I would prefer but that's just the way it is and I try to adjust.

I took the osprey to my other studio in order to sneak some time in between my business responsibilities. My wife and I operate two custom frame shops. It's funny that I started framing to support my drawing habit and now I have to steal time away from framing in order to draw.