Friday, June 20, 2008

Signed, Framed, Delivered: It’s Yours!

David and Mariam, the portrait's subjectMy wife and I delivered my commissioned portrait of Mariam directly to her place of work yesterday. Rather than having me bring the painting to her office, which she felt would certainly lead to unwanted ribbing from her already tease-prone coworkers, she met us in the lobby, complimented the portrait, asked for a little stack of my business cards and walked directly out to the parking garage to sequester the painting from prying eyes.

She later wrote that she took a few trusted friends to the garage gallery and showed them, which garnered the art work still more compliments.

Note: This painting was painted in its entirety live on the Dave the Painting Guy Show.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

On Acrylics, Lips and Mistakes

To be honest, I am always nervous about drawing in front of people, and having done so in classes and workshops I have taught and, now, online has really "kept me on my game." I suppose it's a bit like stage-fright. I don't think anyone is really afraid of speaking in front of people: they are deathly afraid of looking stupid in front of people by saying something wrong.

But even that comes in degrees. Even the most stage-frightened individual could give a 5-minute oratory in the 'baby hold' of a neonatal ward. At the other end of the spectrum, speaking before a crowd of dignitaries who know everything (or worse, think they know everything) about a subject you know very little about.

So when I teach, I have to remind myself that these people are here because they believe I have something to give them; something they do not yet have. That, metaphorically, puts the situation closer to the neonatal ward. I think, I can handle this.

It's a little different, though, doing a 'show' which largely attracts artists, including professionals. It rattles me to draw in front of people anyway, to be honest, and more so other artists. But I hate what fear does to me.

Fear is an energy. It makes me feel unpleasant. I am not talking about the healthy fear that makes you feel creepy about trying to jump from one building to another when they are 30 fett apart. That kind of fear saves lives. I am talking about the kind of fear that keep me from growing; the kind that screams in my mind's ear "Don't do it! They will find out you're a fraud!"

"But I'm not!" I argue back, in a questioning tone.

Oh, really? Then why not invite artists you look up to to watch the show?

While I would rather paint in the neonatal ward, the little dark shoulder-angel (or is this really the light one?) has a point... so without [much] hesitation, I invite Morgan Weistling, Chris Hopkins, Mick McGinty and others to view my show early on. [Norman Rockwell has still not signed in...] And in the spirit of William Hung, I just do my best.

Knowing I am far from the neonatal unit of the David R. Darrow School of Art and Halftime Extravaganza forces me to really think about my process, my measurements, my mixtures -- no easy task with the hounds of ADD nipping at my off-camera hind end the whole time.

On the John Wayne Painting

Starting so loose with acrylics was truly an experiment... the slick board made it flow easier than the canvas painting of Natalie I had just finished minutes before. Again, I was uncertain of the outcome, but envisioned a sloppy mess slowly turning into a decent painting.

My approach was to get my values and dark shapes in as a 'drawing and washes'... glazing until it "started to look like him" -- I felt it was WAY off until I got past the first eye. I found that mixing the acrylics was a challenge because of the difference in the way pigments work together in oils vs acrylics... but, just as oils were hard at first, I figured there was a way to 'compensate' and just concentrated on that: fixing what was wrong. (Probably the greatest "ah-ha!" for me as an artist was grasping that my method is '90% correcting mistakes' -- and so I am no longer nervous making mistakes -- it's my process.)

Partway (before the lip debacle -- watch one of the later video clips) I almost "canned it," thinking I could not recover sufficiently to make it salable... but I think I caught it good enough, when all was repaired and done.


Natalie in acrylic was another experiment. When I started, I did not actually believe I could do it. But, now that I have struggled through it, I am very pleased with it. I had no vision of what it should look like. I often do, when staring an oil -- and that lack of vision was an obstacle. That vision often changes, but I can generally "see" certain parts finished before I even begin them. As I started to get the hang of the "retarder gel," I saw hope and kept going, making the face pleasing to view, and that inspired the will to finish.

Yes, I did think of tossing it, early on. I often do -- but, honestly, never do. I have a flaw, some might say, of not knowing when to give up and move on. Maybe it's an asset in a product-sense, but not financially. I don't 'cut my losses' well.

It is gratifying to know there are folks out there who just like to hang out at my easel, and for the most part, allow me to make mistakes in front of them.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Submit Your Viewer Picture

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Follow these steps:
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