I recently painted a part of this epic mural project called 100 Block. Organized by The Exhibition District, this is a mural created by 100 different artists each painting a 3′ x 3′ square. Now that it’s complete, it’s being submitted for a Guinness World Record for “largest collaborative mural” (as in: most number of artists working together on a mural).
The call went out last May during which I made a small (12″ x 12″) painted concept. This is based on a photo I found in the Library of Congress of Mrs. Norris with homegrown cabbage (photographer: Russell Lee), a photo I’d found a little while ago while browsing the LoC archives. It reminds me a lot of the coastside and CA central coast, though finding out it was a photo of a victory garden was a neat little discovery too. Unfortunately the original mural location fell through, so I had no idea when (or if) this might happen.
It came back to life at the end of January once a new location was secured, and we started the elaborate process of alternating artist times so we could all do our parts. They provided everything including the scaffolding, tape, paint, and brushes thanks to many excellent sponsors. I was a little nervous about both the texture of the wall (very bumpy) and getting the right color mixes since they weren’t my paints. So: I ended up blocking out the main shapes very quickly, and each area probably went through 2-3 rounds to get the colors right. The lighting also shifted a lot during the day from dark clouds to bright sun, so I’m glad it came out as balanced as it did.
The timing ended up being extra complex due to the weather. More than half of the original artist days to paint were rained out, so we had a lot of reschedules. It was completed in time for the First Friday artwalk, though, and it looks great!
A few mentions in local news:
• Artists Collaborate to Create Possible Guinness World Record Mural In Downtown San José (NBC Bay Area, Feb. 27, 2019)
• Massive Mural Project Underway In Downtown San José (San José Mercury News, Feb. 20, 2019)
I enjoy painting portraits of pets, and my latest commission was especially fun: pet chickens! I had a good baseline about how chickens look and act from having an occasional pet chicken (or chickens) while growing up.
Even though I may only end up working with one reference image, it helps to see a few different ones to get a sense of their personalities. That also give me more options to find which ones will look best as portraits. Additional references always help too. I ended up shifted them around a little bit – adjusting their heads and necks – to get a consistent size and approach for all three. I mocked up a few different approaches for colors and name labels, and what you see here is the winner.
I use my traditional color layering technique here: starting with the warms tones and then layering in the real colors. Since each chicken had distinctly different colors, I put each on a vignette-style background tinted with a color similar to them. The highlights are often the most satisfying parts to paint, and I enjoyed the eyes and combs especially.
Side note: working with oval canvases is surprisingly tricky for alignment. Canvas has its own tooth and angles, and I got led astray by it a few times while sketching these out. It’s oddly challenging to set an oval upright, especially when there’s a pattern pulling in another direction. They look lovely, though – worth it!
Continuing the tradition of creating new works to donate to the annual Works/San José benefit auction (see 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014) – here’s one that echoes some of the artful cropping of the Statement paintings but with a new subject matter. The translucency of the tail and the shine on the scales caught my eye most, and I decided to make those the focus of this painting. Check out the auction details here – silent auction completes on Saturday December 8th!
I started this one off at a Two Buck Tuesday at Kaleid Gallery, and painted a portion of it during Street MRKT (an outdoor evening event) which lead to some interesting color choices due to the yellow street lights. The background on my reference photo was very busy so I tried out a bokeh-style blurring. This may be my go-to technique now: small dots to soften edges, big dots to obscure details.
I haven’t done many abstract works so this is a bit of an exploration for me. This is a painting I started a while ago – 2004 – and put on pause while I debated what to do with it. I got inspired to pick it up again and figure out what else it needed. It had the structure I wanted with the teal background and branching green shape. It was just a tad…sparse.
I decided it needed to propagate in two ways:
That guided the color and details choices I made to fill this in. I’d like to try more in this style so in the spirit of that I’ve given this a number. May it be the first in a series!
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.
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.
I think every artist has a go-to character/style/theme when they’re feeling stuck…here’s one of my go-to’s when I want to draw a comic character.
This past weekend was Silicon Valley Comic-Con and we’re less than a month from Free Comic Book Day (first Saturday of May), so in honor of those, Psycho Donuts in Campbell is hosting a “Ripped from the Strips” show. It’s been a little while since I’ve drawn in a comic style, so I decided to go for one of my standbys: Flaming Carrot.
Flaming Carrot is an indie comic character created by Bob Burden in 1979, published in some form up until 2006. He was one of the “Mystery Men“, a superhero group also created by Burden that was made into a movie in 1999 that’s a pretty fair (though much flashier) representation of the oddity of the comics.
I like the combination of things to draw for Flaming Carrot – the giant carrot mask, on fire, on a guy in a kinda rumpled button-down shirt. Superhero costumes are usually spandex or armor so it’s fun to draw something different. I flipped through a pose reference book to find something suitably epic to base his pose on for exclaiming his battle cry, “Ut!” I sketched it in pencil, filled it in with watercolors, and inked the linework once it was dry.
When I came up with the idea for Natural Conclusions, I knew it was highly dependent on the kind of artwork I’d find in thrift stores. I had a vague idea that landscapes or still lifes would probably be the easiest subject to find for original paintings. They were…but I also came across a lot of other stuff too. About 15-20% of what I came across ended up working for this particular project. Here are the various reasons why pieces were either non-starters or failed along the way:
Colors too unrealistic. I found a few with background/skies that were so far beyond any natural color (hot pink) that any interpretation I’d make would bear no resemblance to the original. I was a little leery about whether Cherry Blossoms \ Shae and City Sunset / AP would work out for this reason, but the subjects were too interesting to pass up and it worked out.
Lighting too unrealistic. I came across lots of bizarre lighting for moonlit scenes. I decided that it was okay to have an unnaturally large moon (always a full moon…no love for the waxing/waning out there) as long as the scene was even a little realistic. That’s how Winter Forest \ Anonymous and Night Mountains / Brooke P made the cut.
Far too busy. I found some good candidates that I later realized had too much conflicting detail to clearly show what the landscape was. If I found myself thinking about how to simplify it – rather than how to fill in detail – then it was too busy. Since only a slice of the original would be showing it needed to still look like a landscape, and these would just look abstract.
Words. Paintings with words are popular home decoration but didn’t really fit this project. They might make for an interesting Jasper Johns-style collage. I’ve seen some fun uses of frames-with-words, like this awesome one with Skeletor.
Good enough. I really wasn’t sure if I’d find enough to work with, so sometimes I bought paintings that I later decided were pretty reasonable on their own. When I had this change of heart, I donated them back.
Material failures. I had two promising paintings that were either oil or had some kind of coating that eventually rejected the acrylic: one was a Victorian house, and one was a barn in the snow. I had practically finished the Victorian one when I removed the tape, and the layers of acrylic I’d painted lifted right up along with it. When I start each painting I always put a base isolation coat to seal them, and that lifted up too. I checked the barn (which I’d taped off but not started painting) and sure enough, the isolation coat lifted off that one too. Very disappointing.
My solo show, Natural Conclusions, is now up at Kaleid Gallery in downtown San José from now ’til March 30th. Beyond the official description, I thought I’d say a little about what these are and why I did this.
This show is the culmination of two years of collecting amateur landscapes in need of a little love. This idea came to me based on two ideas:
• remembering what it’s like to get “stuck” on a painting, knowing I wanted to improve it but not sure how (one in particular I did finish years later)
• thinking about “paint night” paintings and how they can only go so far in a couple of hours
I aimed to preserve the intent of the paintings as much as possible while “finishing” them. About half were signed so I’ve left those visible and noted them in the titles. The frames are unfinished pine that I also “finished” in the same areas as the paintings. I hope you enjoy them!