For 50 days through June and July, I painted a series of gesture paintings. I enlisted 24 models (plus me, for one of these) for variety…and also to involve friends, family, and co-workers along the way,
Here are all fifty gestures. They’re each 6″ x 6″, and will be available at Sanchez Art Center on a first-come first-serve basis during the show. Go check it out!
Here’s a triptych of paintings I created based on the theme of the 2018 Works/San José member show: Infinite Memes. When I saw the theme I immediately thought of rickrolling and wanted to create something based on that.
I re-watched the video and couldn’t decide which look I wanted to show, so I picked three. I figured that had the highest likelihood of someone recognizing what they are in case they mostly remember one (for me it’s the black mock turtleneck and tan trenchcoat). These also gave the feel of the little back-and-forth dance he’s doing during the video.
I’ve done a number of paintings from less-than-ideal and low-res photos, and I like the challenge of extracting something painterly and interesting from them. These were screenshots from YouTube. While I wanted to preserve the look of each setting, I chose a limited color palette to unify them. I liked how the dark slate gray looked on it’s own so I left it flat, in contrast to the detail on the rest of the painting.
I created this sketch for a self-portrait show at the Art NXT Level / 33 Contemporary Gallery space in Chicago. This opportunity popped up in the middle of my 50|50 efforts and I was feeling a bit overloaded with painting – hence the ink.
This is the first time I’ve drawn on mat board, which is usually used for framing. As a drawing surface it’s much “thirstier” than I expected. It absorbs ink pretty quickly and can get saturated easily so it starts degrading the paper itself. The texture also catches the ink in ways that can be unexpected. Tricky!
I started this during Caltrain commutes to the city to force myself to keep it loose and not get too precious about the lines. The art in the bottom is a pointillism rendering of one of my paintings, Untapped (which itself references the Mona Lisa).
Since May I’ve dived headlong into a few projects: showing at ZeroONE (an art fair/street market), prepping for (and now waiting on) the 100 Block mural project, and ramping up for the 10th Annual 50|50 show at Sanchez Art Center. Here’s a few work-in-progress pics of my theme, gestures. 50|50 is a little different as a show because it’s a benefit and is cash-and-carry – which means all works are available for purchase and can be taken home immediately.
There will only be one chance to see them all together: the opening night of August 31st, 2018. The first two hours are a preview fundraiser benefit for Sanchez Art Center (tickets for sale on Eventbrite – they often sell out!) and then it’s open to the public for the rest of the evening. I’ve been posting them in batches of 5 on the various social networks, and will post the full set in early August or so.
Here’s a throwback of a painting I’d felt was not quite done at the time and finished years later. I recently brought it out for a show so here’s a little backstory about it.
I started this one in college as an figure painting exploration with a particular focus on hands and feet. At the time it only had the frontmost two feet in it which ended up looking strange. It seemed like there was one giant thing? creature? looming above it.
At some point after moving I’d left it out on my drafting table. Something about leaving it off to the side to just see on occasion helped me realize one day that I just needed more in the background. I filled in a bunch of additional feet and it finally felt balanced. It was a little odd to work on something after so long, but why not? I was much happier with the result.
I ended up carrying through parts of this style to other work without really thinking about it. The mix of detailed backgrounds with drawn elements came up in the Chinese folktales re-paints of scroll calendars. It’s been easier to spot these things in hindsight than to explicitly plan for them.
A few months ago I had a little extra time in the evening and ended up at Corridor with a glass of wine and my laptop. While I was there, I was struck by the lighting and the rhythm of the layout. Two other people were there, quietly enjoying a dinner, so I surreptitiously snagged a photo that I decided to make into a painting.As with all paintings with photo references, I start with a sketch. It’s nearly impossible to correct weird angles or proportions after the fact so I always do this when it’s from a photo. The lighting in this is a bit darker than I’ve done before – a good test of me slowly attempting to improve the balance of dark tones in my paintings. Part of the challenge is that I get them looking right in person and then the photo is just…off. When I take a photo or scan them I always need to adjust them to match what I see. The dark tones are built up from a mix of burnt umber and ultramarine blue.
I listened to the High Resolution Design podcast while painting this one. I think it helped keep me in an industrial design headspace while I was painting all of these lights.
During the Cinequest Film & VR Festival, I’m one of three “live painting” artists for Phantom Galleries along with Brandon Anderton and Fernando Amaro Jr. (Force129). We each started a painting that we’ll complete over the course of the Cinequest Festival, to be completed on the final day at the closing party.
When I thought of the theme, “Elevate”, I thought about how people express themselves with gestures. I picked a movie for each of the 13 days of Cinequest to be represented here by gestures from one of their characters. I’ll update this daily with the current progress as well as information about which movies are represented. By March 12th, this will contain them all. Enjoy!
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I made a few more three-panel illustrations with the phrase “Peace, Love, and Understanding” spelled out across tattoos. Not too much story on these; I mostly picked it as an excuse to draw different people and to think through the meaning of tattoos. “Peace” and “Love” are pretty easy to incorporate into tattoos…but “Understanding”? Much more difficult. The best I could do on that one was either including it in a longer phrase, or taking the education angle. It was getting quite challenging to not repeat tattoo locations too.
This new painting is based off a photo I took at the Jack Rose, tucked away off Highway 9 between Los Gatos and Saratoga. The bar is illuminated by yellow lights and creates a very cool effect on the concrete floor, especially with the line of bar stools.
I tried a couple of new things on this one. First: instead of sketching this one by eye, I tried out carbon paper. Much faster! Since these are just guidelines for getting the alignment correct, I’ll probably do more of this in the future. The carbon paper also doesn’t smudge as much as pencil does.
I also tried out a new paint color which created an interesting effect here. After I layered on the basic tones with the yellow ochre, burnt sienna, and burnt umber, I added on a few spots of nickel azo yellow. I thought it would pop out the lighter yellow colors, but instead it added an interesting oxidized-copper looking green to it. It really makes the reddish bits in the burnt sienna pop out. I used it to create more detail in the bar stools since they were slipping away into the shadows.
Ever since painting The Raven I’ve been paying more attention to the contrasts in the dark tones. Here, I used ultramarine only in the areas around the figures to make those a sharper contrast. This contrast helps the rest of the barstools fade away.
Mixing is the last of seven technologies I’ve explored in Prior Art: analog media manipulation and vintage virtual reality.
Steve Johnson // SoundCloud: @ByDisgn
“Two turntables and a microphone” are the classic setup for a live DJ. During songs, the DJ will gauge the mood of the crowd and queue up potential next songs. Albums provide a richness in sound quality but also unique ways to blend songs together through scratching and beat matching.
In addition to commercially-available albums, DJs may use white label albums: limited runs of songs often used for house music and hip hop. Sometimes these albums are made to test crowd response for tracks that aren’t yet released to buy or missing the proper clearance for samples.
In the early days of hip hop and freestyle improvisation, most performances only occurred live (instead of in a studio). Between performances, mixtapes (or party tapes) provided a way to spread their music through clubs and parties. DJs and club proprietors often record their own to sell to promote their work.
The greater availability of cassettes and high-quality home recording equipment put music recording within reach for consumers who could create their own mixes from the radio, other tapes, or albums. Private mixtapes are forms of personal expression, created to capture a particular time or mood and intended for a specific audience.
Handwriting the song list on the paper insert for the cassette was often just as important as picking the songs themselves.
The unifying thread of a good mixtape can be almost anything.
It can be familiar to many with popular songs or to a few with indie selections. It can be obscure to challenge the listener or local for surprising references.
It can have a steady flow or choose to change it. It might ramp up, it might ramp down, or it might fluctuate.
It can set a mood: red up, victorious, irty, cheery, introspective, calm.
It can fit a particular spot: the energy of a dance or the chill of a club, the excitement of a race or the reflection of a dive bar, the relaxation of a beach or the quiet of a bookstore.
Whatever it is, it captures a time, place, and mood for the person listening to it.