Saturday, October 16, 2010

three weeks down

How're y'all doin' out there?

Okay yes, three weeks of Fall term under the belt.  So far so good, and all the instructors are present and accounted for - which you know is important for me, if you've read any of my previous rants about professor absenteeism. Furthermore, all of the instructors are top-notch. Art History (how does she maintain enthusiasm term after term?), Printmaking, Algebra and Figure Drawing.

 I've been heinously remiss in posting all the nuggets I want to, so I just threw together this little thing that shows the process of me figuring out how to paint what I want to paint. (I love process talk, don't you?)


11 x 14"

Kinda fun, yeah? Well it was, and it wasn' usual :) But now that it's been what, a month since I painted it, going back through the photos and reliving the discovery and happy accident process part of it is pretty fun.

I am renewing my vows: to give myself more credit for that ol' intuitive process, and paint (draw, etc) what I love. Or maybe more importantly....paint and draw how I love to paint and draw.

Our latest homework assignment in figure drawing is to draw a foot. Not just any foot. Your own foot. I did that this afternoon. Boring. Why? Because I am trying to draw how I think I should draw - and I'm also trying to learn how to draw 'mass' instead of 'line'. Okay that's all fine, it'll be useful. But the kicker is that I am also sacrificing my own personal style. I need to figure out a way to marry the two processes.

The upshot is that my drawing this afternoon lacked the zest (and the wonkiness that usually accompanies said zest) of other stuff I do. I know it's inevitable, not everything can be bangin'. The quick ballpoint pen studies of my left foot that I scrawled out last night are far more interesting to look at.

Aaaanyway, short and sweet tonight, I aim to post another process piece soon.

Here's my latest personal project spawned from printmaking class, and good night.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

saturday evening

So I've realized, in fully articulated realization, that I love painting with an illustrative quality. And, I love illustrations with painterly qualities. I love mixing and matching. Now I'm going to learn how to paint more shapes and fewer (or no) lines, while retaining a sort of illustrative aspect. Here is my latest attempt, of the corner Dari Mart. I'd like to say I'll return to it and add that phone booth (I am fond of phone booths, they are fast becoming obsolete) and a few other finishing acoutrements but I won't hold myself to it. Let me say that the intention is there though!

11 x 14"

I didn't use any mediums in this one. Next up: more experimenting with the one jar of gloss gel I bought for that painting class this summer. Trying to take a decent photo proves difficult - the ambient light bounces off it most unbecomingly. So I adjusted the levels and contrast a bit in iPhoto. But it's pretty true to the original. I'm....mostly pretty happy with the results, considering my patience and skill level :)

I'm all signed up for Fall Term, four meaty classes: Printmaking (relief) and Algebra on m/w and Art History and Figure Drawing (emphasis on aqueous medium, says the course description) on t/th. Classes start at the very sane hour of high noon every day. It'll be great if this continues for Winter term. 

I've decided to NOT ride my bike to campus in the rain; instead I'll take the bus downtown and then back uptown and over the mountain to school (we don't have any cross-town bus routes here). I feel SO much better, having made that decision. During Spring (when it was raining heavily) I would ride cross-town to a bus stop with lockers where I could stow my bike and then hop on the bus to let it do the climbing, and save me from arriving sweaty and wet (yes, wet, even though I have pretty good rain gear). But then I'd ride home from the bus stop in the dark and the rain....I'm sick of it. Thoroughly sick of it. And tired, did I mention tired? Feels like so much energy to gear up and disrobe and pack all of my shit in bags with me. I must be getting old. That and the fact that I've been doing this bicycle thing for a decade (plus) now. Time for a change!

You know what I really want is one of those mini car/van/trucks you see on campus. Like a golf cart. They're so damn cute, and utilitarian, low impact, and quiet. Too bad they're not legal for on-road usage.

Oh but back to school and future trajectories.....I poked around the University website and although they don't have an Illustration section for Art majors, they do have Painting and Printmaking, which I'm very interested in and I think I would excel in. So when I transfer there in the Fall (next year), I'll have all my math done at the community college; in fact, I'll have all my generals done plus a good chunk of classes towards my major. And I'm looking forward to checking out UofO now.....wasn't too moved by the prospect before looking around the website. And admittedly, every time I go into the Arts building I am SO uninspired - every other building and department on campus is funded for restructuring and so on...the Arts building is....dank and lifeless. I also go to the Art building on saturday morning, when classes aren't in session (for the open studio figure/life drawing that's available to students and public alike). So maybe there IS life in there. And maybe I can take some letterpress classes.....oh man that'd be awesome.

So then I decided to poke around some more and came across all the MFA information. Why not apply for a GTF? So maybe I will delay the Master of Library Science and opt for an MFA first, or...who knows. Thing is, I feel re-energized.

Then there is the fact I recently learned that Ann Gale teaches at the University of Washington School of Art..........AND, there you can earn a BA/BFA in Painting/Drawing. Too bad that UofO has axed the drawing curriculum....shame on them. Stupid fucking sports programs shoulder out what's really important. Anyway, Ann Gale? Oh you should check her work out. Here, I found an example:

Ann Gale's

Gary with Light Wall

14 x 11"

oil on panel



Um........amazing, OR WHAT?!

Right. I'm wrapping it up rather early, as I was up raaaaaaaaather late and up so-so early. Bon nuit!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

hardly a dry spell, but.....

I'm a few days into the summer break now (heaven!!), with two more classes at the tail end of Summer Term under my belt. I've talked with other students both near and far and they say that my feelings towards dropping out and wondering just what the hell I'm doing in college are pretty normal. I may as well continue; it's not a completely useless and heinous endeavor. As long as there are loans and grants I suppose I'll keep on with it.

Painting class was a huge disappointment. I read somewhere once that disappointment is a term used for lovers. I am having to adjust my expectations right and left around the majority of art classes I've taken so far (which, granted, aren't so many). I learned more from reading and watching tutorials on the internet than I did from our instructor, a friendly enough fellow but very taciturn (shy? uninterested?). The class amounted to paying for a studio space, with occasional commentary and still-life set-ups. And long bouts of absenteeism (what is with instructors leaving the room for twenty or thirty or forty minutes at a time? Several times per class? Every class period?) When I fired off questions as to technique and expressed interest in looking at painters whose work I find really exciting (so as to gain some knowledge about how they do that!):



"You sure have a lot of questions."

When I probed further to ask if any of those questions were to be addressed, I was answered vaguely, "Sure, we'll go over a bit about gel medium........"

I talked with several other student to take the temperature of their views on the class and basically we are in agreement. About the 'non-teaching' aspect of it.

I understand that there is no substitute for just doing the work, for practicing, and lots of it. Experimenting, exploring, and all the rest. I also better understand why so many artists are self-taught. And, I'm learning to give myself more credit for my own process and progress. What I really want is to be in class with an instructor who is excited about teaching and encourages personal style and pushing those edges. One who is actually present in class and engaged with the students. I don't want someone to hold my hand or yak the entire session......As an artist I spend a fair amount of time alone in the studio (duh). I guess what I'd really like is a mentor and to study under someone whose ego isn't the size of a dirigible. I want a personal connection and for that, I've been looking to my fellow students, which is great - and I still want to be taught by someone like Walt Stanchfield.

Thank god that Tom Madison was our intermediate drawing instructor - that four-week front-end summer course was awesome. Tom is definitely into teaching and into his craft. That classroom experience was closest to what I remember about being in school as a kid, and what I loved so much about being a student. Enthusiasm is contagious, and we all like to be encouraged (and not with empty praise). Tom gave drawing demos if we cared to watch and talked about art in a way that made sense to me. He stayed in class! "Composition trumps skill" was one of his mainstays. And he stated in the syllabus and throughout the class that he wanted us to continue developing our own methods and style. So I know these people do exist, even at the community college. And that what I want from an instructor isn't beyond the pale.

So today I'm going to the library to see if there are any good books on painting. And I'll keep scrubbing around on canvases to see what I come up with. I would really like to buckle down and study one thing for a span of time but the way I operate is like buckshot fired from a rifle: I'm all over the place and I like so many different mediums.

I'm so inspired by the following artists these past few days and weeks!!!

Jason Shawn Alexander

Kent Williams

Shaun Tan (children's book illustrator and painter)

especially his paintings here!

Also I was at the comic shop looking for inspiration, hoping that they still had an Ashley Wood book or two, and they did (check him out....whoah). I came across William Wray's urban landscape paintings while browsing through a compilation book (Swallow, volume...Two?). Instantly inspired. So I wrote to Sir Wray to express how much I enjoy his paintings and he's been so great in writing back and giving me more inspiration from these artists (and more)

William Wray's art can be found here and also here

I'll be back later. I need to go for a walk - it's sunny and this will (purportedly) be the last for awhile, as it's (purportedly) supposed to rain for several days to come. 

Thursday, August 05, 2010

My Bogs are somewhere near North Salt Lake, in transit to my front doorstep.

In preparation for the rainy season just around the corner, I decided to start looking for some new waterproof breathable shoes. Because, you know, I walk around a lot (outside) and bike around a lot (outside)....year round. I could ride the bus but often it's just easier and faster to bike, and I can set my own schedule. So anyway. My 'waterproof' shoes for the last few seasons have sprung a permanent leak (in the sole). No good.

Have you seen the prices of things lately? For the love of peter paul and mary! How disgusting. Does anyone know how to write grants? I need one, "Unemployed artist, full time student needs funds for new shoes." Oh, right. It's called a Stafford Loan. Oh okay it's not THAT bad, but in principle I am against laying out a hundred and fifty mackerels for a pair of shoes. Do the math. That is seventy-five dollars each. (perhaps I would lay aside my principles if three fifty dollar bills weren't equal to almost three weeks' worth of groceries).

Well, speaking of this quandary and debacle to a friend, she responded, 'Have you tried on any Bogs?'

What the hell is a Bog? Ohhhh........they're beautiful. Hers fit me splendidly. And they're built by folks right here in Eugene, sold internationally (I'm sure sales are highest in the wetter climes). And I found a pair on eBay for a third of the cost of the shoes I tried on at Burch's last weekend. So I can forego one week's worth of groceries in turn for a pair of Bogs. Okay just kidding, I'm not going to skip the groceries. I'm not in that dire of straits.

So yes, according to FedEx tracking, they are on their merry way to a new home and I hope they fit right.

For now, though, it's sunny. And warm, with nary a wet stormcloud in sight. (what would a blog post be without talk of the weather?) And I am eminently, head-over-heels happy about it. In fact, I am going to celebrate this fine weather by cracking open a bottle of my new favorite libation: Newton's Folly cider, courtesy Trader Joe's. Clean, crisp, non-cloying, delicious. Not too dry for my palette. And a bargain at a buck a bottle (so it's only fifty bottles of Folly I need to forego in favor of Bogs....and my liver will thank me I'm sure, even if my mood does not, as Folly brings me temporal happiness).

In fact, the latest perfect summertime meal is pugliese mounted with bruschetta, and a few leaves of fresh basil sandwiched twixt the two, topped off with the aforementioned brew. OH MY YUM.


I'm back, after a brief break, to tell you to have a care around Folly. A bottle goes down in a trice. Woooo!

On to the art talk!

Two things I doubted I'd ever be interested in, much less (dare I say) excited about: landscapes and architecture drawing, and algebra. I'd hoped that my interest would pique about the former (drawing environments is key to storytelling, and that is what I dream to do in illustration), but I never gave a second thought about mathematics except to wipe my brow with gratitude, thinking I'd never see another linear or quadratic equation outside of junior year, high school. And what is one of my mottos? And perhaps yours as well? Never say never!!

As for algebra, I'm actually enjoying it. It's all synonyms and puzzles (as I've written before), and I like how my brain feels when I'm using it like that. G has said that to me before regarding math and I regarded that skeptically but was glad she felt that way. Now I feel that way too and I am so darned surprised. Two more terms of algebra to go. And might be Calculus, which doesn't sound fun, but I'll never say never. (I can't believe that summer algebra term is over next week! our final is thursday!!)

As for the architecture and stuff, I'm really getting into it! I can already feel myself wanting to go somewhere else with it, and avoid becoming overly formulaic. I was reading a book at the campus library today after studying some algebra (natch), featuring artists talking about their work and process. The book was published in 1975 but definitely still relevant :) I liked reading about things that I've either suspected or experienced or learned as valuable skills and ways of interpreting and drawing (or painting):  variety, simplify, values, gesture. And looking at how the artists built up the painting and palette bit by bit was fantastic. I love seeing that!

I've also been studying Darick Robertson's art in Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan graphic novels (it's a scream, it's brilliant). There is so much to learn and pay attention to, it's really a lot of fun. I'm completely enthralled with the story, and completely mad about the art (nods to all the inkers, color separators, editors and so-on as well......good on y'all!!). I am completely convinced that this world and its inhabitants are real.

I'm not sure if it's a function of me paying a different kind of attention to story, character, pacing, layout and environment or that this is an exceptional effort by all involved. I suspect it's a mix of heightened awareness and interest along with the stellar crew of creatives.

Do the artists work from lots of photos? For the people? For the perspective? Is it that after awhile (that being a relative term), drawing so much, you just know how things should look? How to shade? And so on? It's really amazing.

Here are some of my latest efforts, then, in my small sketchbook, 5 x 7", heavier paper designed for wet mediums:

I found a shady spot to sit and sketch, on the curb opposite some buildings and businesses near campus last weekend. I did it freehand, which is scary and exhilarating, straight to pen. I'm now using UniPins, which are permanent inks, and I found quite the bargain on a site based in Tokyo called Stationery Art. The pens are under a buck fifty each. I amped up the colors, doing that in the studio with watercolors. I like this one, it's fun and wonky.

Next I drew the Library from the west side, on Charnelton. I went straight to pen on this one too, I'm pretty sure. Yeah.

I worked from a photo I snapped, rather than sketching on site. Trying to find a good spot to sketch, where the sun is on the subject but not bouncing off a white page into my face, is another challenge to field drawing outside. Also finding a bench or a curb. If that's not in the cards, a nice bit of pavement will do.....for awhile, until my bum goes to sleep and my back seizes up :) 

Here I sat at a table outside the market and penciled, coloring it at home and adding a few spicy elements:

There isn't a 'beastro', but there is a Rabbit Bistro, which I find strange and funny, considering it's a strip mall sort of place. There are white linen tablecloths and outside dining and everything. The rabbit I drew is a nod to Ray Johnson, father of Mail Art (you knew that). Oh, a 'seminal figure in the Pop Art movement', says Wiki, perhaps that is more relevant to the world at large, eh.

You can even google map it! 246 E 3rd Ave Eugene Oregon. I'm sure you won't see any alien stickers in the windows though :)

Yesterday I also sketched (with pen, no pencil prelim) this little ditty, which I consider a warm-up. It's 5 x 7" but I am thinking that a biggie-sized would be pretty rad. The mini-van parked out back is honestly half the size of the Barber Shop! I love it! I mean in terms of making a drawing out of principle I think downsizing on the vehicle front is probably not a bad idea...(ok off my soapbox already!!).

And now I'm going to rustle up some good animation to watch*. Bon appetit, bon nuit!

*ooohhhweee!! Triplets of Belleville! It's been awhile!

And if you haven't seen A Scanner Darkly......oh, do.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dear god I need to go to bed but........I don't want to, even though I'm fading and I have class in the morning. But no test. Just learning all about rational expressions, hey. Hey! I aced that algebra midterm from yesterday hoo hoo hoo!....even though I felt like a dog shit in my head. I cannot believe that I am actually......ahmmm......enjoying math. How inconceivable is that?! I love languages, it's another language, it's about synonyms and puzzles, what's not to love right? ha hahaaaa

So I tackled another drawing-painting. Rather than leave it as a plain ol' pedestrian slice of life (nothing wrong with it, but if you know me, you'll know that I like the drama), I wanted to amp it up a bit. I snapped a photo of a couple ladies out front of The Kiva (locally owned grocer serving up lots of natural goodness and then some), a busker, and some dude doing I don't know what. One of the ladies is one of the owners, I thought that was cool. And I was there the day before, when the other owner was planting the flowers around the tree.

Okay, so. The ladies turned into children. Surprise! I'm notoriously unskilled and unpracticed at drawing small people. And I thought okay, one's pointing, the other should look awed or Oh My God or something. What could be over there? The Apocalypse? I wanted a strong light/contrast. The guy sitting on the planter under the tree could be Some Intelligence - his car is there with the black windows. The big tree in front of Kiva reminds me of one that might come alive and eat you (Poltergeist?).

But......even though there are goodies galore......there are too many goodies. I need to isolate the, uh, variables! The kids. I tried, by putting the strong light on them. But there is too much to look at and subtract from them,  you know? Maybe I should risk totally effing it up and make all the darks darker and eliminate some of the detail and values, to emphasize the strong light and washed-out (destroyed?) world on the left.

Here's the thing, it's pretty big.

This is the size of it:

It's big by my standards anyway. Everything's relative. I could noodle around with it some more working on details......or I could do as I suggested to myself and darken it up. Or, I could do another painting. Hey there's an idea.

I like this portion, it's not as chewy (in an overwhelming way):

How many hours did I spend doing this? Hoo hoo hoo........many. A dozen probably, including the photo finding and layout. I'll sell it. For.......(whipping out my algebraic formulas) even grand.

ps - Instead of drawing on monday when I was singing tales of woe, I watched Shaun of the Dead. Why did I pass this over?! I totally dismissed it. Oh how wrong I was. This movie kicks serious zombie buttocks. I laughed so bad. Please go see it if you haven't. Off you go!

Monday, July 26, 2010


Oh shit and fuck me. I'm falling into the 'it's all been said and done before so why even bother' hole. Ugh.

It all started (this time) after I woke up from a late afternoon nap (today). (what the fuck did I dream? some soul-sucking thing sucked out my soul and I'm soulless now?) I was rather raring to go on some little art project or other (nothing planned). Sat down to see what was up on a few sites, and stumbled back on Odosketch. It was going well enough, me with my mouth slack and synapses popping, holy mother, there is a lot of art out there and look what people are doing. Look what they are envisioning. Look how easy they make it look. Look at all that depth and volume. You can actually click on a finished picture and Odo will reel back time, letting you see the manner in which the damn thing was 'made'.

I started feeling like I was missing something. A way of seeing that seems to elude me, the harder I chase it.

You see where this is going. All of these thoughts, leading me down the rabbit hole. Where it could be fun, except I'm running from the Queen of Hearts who thinks to cut mine out (apparently I still have a heart even though I've been soul-sucked). And she's yelling, "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"

I started thinking, gee, maybe I should use some of that loan money to buy myself a Wacom. They're relatively inexpensive. Relatively.

Dejected and disgruntled, I hung up my hat (so to speak) and went out into the yard, pulled some weeds, and all the dying, leggy vegetables (not much sun back there), composted them, repotted a tomato, watered, ate a few blueberries off the bush and now you see me here.

Maybe I shouldn't read Transmetropolitan before naptime. Oh hell yeah. It's wicked, and I laugh gleefully when I read it. I highly recommend it, can't recommend it too much in fact.  Fully realized future/other-world and this angry hilarious crazy brilliant irreverent subversive (gonzo) journalist whipping it up into a frenzier. I really believe that Spider Jerusalem exists. The writing, the artwork. Look what those people are doing; what they are envisioning....yeah. Well I know how many years those guys have been doing comics and whatnot. They (probably) (hopefully) made a lot of bad art and wrote a lot of suckass stories before the likes of TransMet.

I'm almost ready to grab my trusty ballpoint pen and sketchbook.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

new day

Officially, it's sunday since it's half past midnight. It was so warm today, I love it. Went to see the Banksy matinee (pretty good but I have to admit I expected a bigger payoff - but, as one of the guys who was Banksy's spokesperson said, ".......I'm not sure who the joke's on. I'm not even sure there is a joke.") Who knows, it could all be orchestrated. I shall remain a fan.

I must say I love this weather. It's still warm, all the windows are wide open, I am wearing no socks and dressed in appropriate summer attire. Something deep inside me eases when the weather is warm. I love hearing people outside; I love that the inside comes inside during the summer (even though the crows in the morning grate on my nerves, if I forget to stuff earplugs in halfway through the night). I feel damn near naked, after a very long wet and cool season with lots of layers and warding myself against the chill and the downpours (especially on my bike all winter).

Really trying to focus on how good it is right now, to store it up for the long winter months that are practically right around the corner. I love living here where there is plenty of fresh clean water, great local organic produce and long growing seasons, and bicycling as a means of pleasure and commuting is a breeze. I love that I can bike through town quickly and be on the river paths within minutes. I also long for more sunshine and access to a more diverse nightlife, you know? I need to do some problem solving; I don't think I'll be able to make it through many more winters without completely cracking.

But back to now. The fans are on, it's 83 degrees inside, the music is pouring out of iTunes like bacchinalian rites revisited, I napped earlier so I feel pretty alert, and I've done some painting and drawing and experimenting. Our drawing instructor last term emphasized that it's all about a presence and absence of light, and that it's also all a series of interlocking shapes. I practiced just laying down values straight into ink and after a few tries came up with this which tells me that yes, an old dog can learn new tricks:

I wanted to keep it loose and gestural, especially after doing a lot of careful and more studied painting and drawing over the last couple of days. There is something scary and thrilling about laying down those washes without planning it out. I like the energy in this one. I did it pretty quickly. Learning how to balance a certain distance from your subject and also be involved and focused on what you're doing (painting, drawing, etc) is an interesting exercise. Painting what you truly see? Tricky!! Does everyone walk around seeing things differently? Ohhh yeah. Love it!

Also walked around the blocks tonight at nightfall for some reference shots to paint from. Here's a smaller painting with ink and washes, with a bit of watercolor in the sky. It's so interesting to, interested in drawing more than just figures as I have been in the past. I walk or ride around more slowly (when time permits) and find myself observing all those......interlocking shapes and the presence of absence and light, and what is the gesture of things, you know?

Joan (my landlady) and Lisa (who comes once a week to do yardwork) dug up some small potatoes from some little place in the jungle that's the backyard this morning. I found four of them deposited on my stoop. So adorable. These look more egg-like, but hey....

Right, I need to think about winding down so I am not completely useless tomorrow, or sleep the day away. There is much sunshine to be soaking up!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

what the what?


name that formula! If you nailed it, distance = rate x time, then you might have guessed that I've gone miles in terms of abstract - or maybe metaphorical - distance at a relatively speedy rate in a relatively short amount of time. Drawing class is done after an accelerated four week term and another meaty final assignment; I'm still kickin' it in algebra, for another four, three, actually. Then it's a four-week psychology course to replace the algebra morning time-slot before painting in the afternoon for four hours. Two weeks off, and then Fall term begins.

I'm determined to slow down time. Summers are short here, and this year is exceptionally short in terms of true summery weather. Pause often to soak in the sun before diving back into quadratic equations and drawing. I've set some goals for myself with art and so far I'm carrying them off well enough. My focus has widened to include rendering environments, something I've not previously been very interested in reproducing. After doing the drawing final and receiving some constructive and positive feedback and encouragement from our instructor, I've been drawing and painting scenes from around the city. I've always been pretty astonished by what other people create - especially in graphic novel and animated film format. I'm watching a lot of animation and reading graphic novels with an eye towards perspective and light/shadow, so I can learn how to re-create or even invent environments in a (dare I say) captivating way.

Nothing beats doing the drawing though. Here's my final. Actually I did two, since I love drawing my friend Alex (the wrist dribble was a total accident, geez). Compositionally though, the Luckey's bar is stronger so that's why I decided to do that one as well. These are ink and ink wash, 24 x 30" heavyweight watercolor paper sheets:

I've also been companion to Paul Madonna's All Over Coffee book, which compiles a large selection of his pen and ink with ink washes, depicting scenes from San Francisco. I love his spin on the world and the language of his illustrations. He goes straight to pen without laying out the drawing in pencil first. Amazing. Tom (our drawing instructor) suggested that I do more scenes like Luckey's and do a show and/or sell stuff. I'm beginning to see how I could do that; my confidence and skills are growing. I worried aloud to Tom that I would be stealing Paul's thunder, but of course Tom is right: lots of people draw and paint scenes and sell them. It's not like it's a new idea. Sure we might be working in similar mediums....but if you look at Paul's work and you look at mine, they are sure different. I love how a hundred people can draw the same thing and it looks a hundred different ways.

Here's a couple smaller formats on heavyweight watercolor paper, 9 x 12". This one I did with no pencil prelim and I kinda like the wobbly actually. 13th street, near university campus:

And from the downtown bus stop. Love this guy in the foreground. Wanted to create a warmth and a continuity with the blue colors that happened to group in the sign and what the folks were wearing. Needs a few more shadows and some tweaks but it's good to be building my chops, yeah?

Yesterday I spent some solid hours finishing this one up (below). I laid it all out with pencil first. Much more meticulous. I don't have much experience doing larger and more detailed works, building a longer relationship with the subject matter like this......but I like it. I feel impatient sometimes (what's the rush? I don't know!), I wonder how I'd manage to survive multiple clients and deadlines if I built up a freelance illustration life for myself - I draw pretty slow. But I'm also learning a new language of sorts, so I'm sure I'd learn how to drop in values quicker, determine where to be more gestural and where I want to finesse it, that sort of thing. In reading Paul Madonna's afterwords in his book, I learned that he invests anywhere from 8 to 20 hours per drawing (not including researching, pounding the pavement, sketching, and the like). If he can make a living doing that, then in a few (several?) years with enough practice I could definitely develop my own method and approach......not to just crank 'em out, but to 'work smarter not harder'.

Anyway, with this piece I experienced all sorts of push-pull feelings. I felt excited, but hesitant. I don't want to fuck it up, right? But then again, it's only a drawing and I can make another. But what about all the time I'm investing in this? Well it's not a waste, regardless of whether I make a total mess of it or not; I'll be learning from everything I do or wish I had done/differently. I went very carefully in some areas and felt as though I'd like to move faster, more assuredly, and worried that my carefulness would translate into the picture and make it stagnant, dry, or dead. I thought about all the people on the planet in their creative endeavors, whether doing them fast and dirty or slow and contemplative, and about artists both contemporary and historical who spend hours and days, weeks or even years on a single piece. I like that as an artist (of any stripe) we can choose how we want to create -- warming up with quick gestures, or spending hours just doodling, or knuckling down to some more refined work.....pretty cool.

This is on the north side of the building that houses Paul's Bicycle Way of Life (they just tuned up my bike, with a new chain, cassette, bearings, it rides like a freaking dream now!!), Allann Bros. Coffee and another business I've never patroned. I've been trying to find interesting things to draw, or learn how to make any mundane thing interesting.......and I'm feeling pretty bored by Eugene in general (the architecture is pretty bland). So I decided to draw something I find interesting:

And you're all like, Finally, damn, show us the picture already!

I'm pretty happy with it, I like looking at it, and of course I see a lot of things to do still or that I might do differently. It's a good beginning. Another large size on watercolor paper, ink, ink wash and watercolor. I'm running out of wall space to hang these babies I'm going to approach Shawn over at his store/gallery, the Museum of Unfine Art, and see what we can do about hanging these up there, maybe some time this year. Okay that means I have to frame them. What?! Help.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

tuesday today

Big news! It's actually a warm summer's eve here in the pacific northwest! This really is breaking news and I am ecstatic. The last time I kept all the windows open past 6 o'clock was last...september, probably. It has been a really long wet cool protracted did I mention wet spring. In the first two days of June it rained more than it usually does for the entire month. I feel decidedly bloated and am looking forward to drying the hell out.

My intention was to pack myself off to bed earlier but you know how one thing leads to another and I decided to make one last pitstop. Here. Now. Yes hello!

Very glad that I studied algebra over the weekend because I'm experiencing a big fat estrogen surge tonight which in all honesty impairs my ability to think in a linear fashion, which is a lot of what one must do in algebra. Although the argument can be made that there is a certain intuitive quality to problem solving as well.

So, see, studying art and algebra together is going exceptionally well. I'm completely surprised. Algebra is my go-to subject when I am frustrated with art and vice versa. It's really weird, totally unexpected, and I'm glad it's all shaking down that way. I could also build an argument about how similar algebra and art is but I'm just not in the mood to go that deep right now. Trust me though, it's not a specious argument.

I'm asking you - any one or all of you - to try a grilled cheese and peanut butter sandwich. I am off dairy, so I won't be eating one myself, but it was a childhood favorite (thanks mom). Trust me, it's delicious. Please do us both a favor and enjoy one soon. Try making a half sandwich. Or a quarter sandwich, if your doubts are running high.

The latest art assignment over the weekend was pretty beefy. At least it was for me. I like some parts, and overall, well -- it was fun, it was hard work, there are bits I think that captivate but overall it's not very challenging to the viewer. You know? It's safe art. And I guess that's okay sometimes; what I did fulfilled the instructor's directions, although the composition could be more interesting. I wanted to create a narrative, and in the last panel there was potential to create more tension - so I did the final drawing as if at night.....creeping around the corner of the building....but it's rather dull. I'm looking forward to combining composition, value, and all that fun stuff with more of a spin. Something not so.....straightforward.

So here they are and off I go, buenas noches!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

belated update

Yesterday's Common Ground Work Party was bountiful! We harvested the garlic planted last October - it's HUGE. So are the beets. The peas forest a whole acre (slight exaggeration), and just since last week everything has grown several inches up or out. Amazing. You can see some pictures on this blog. Now imagine everything BIGGER! Such a juicy garden! Things here at home (things being plants of the vegetable variety) continue to grow at a glacial pace, if at all. Too little sun? CUT DOWN THOSE TREES DAMMIT! Too little fertilizer? I glad for our neighborhood Common Ground.

Went to see a fellow art student's opening exhibit at First Friday. Drew Bardana draws! And paints. And I love his experiments with medium and style and subject matter. It was fun to meet him; we found out that we're both signed up this Fall for Grosowsky's figure drawing class. (you will recall Mr. G from last semester, yes?) Drew did an intensive one-week drawing course at the outset of summer term. For six days, you are in class from 9am to 9pm. Whoah. I'm considering rearranging my own summer term schedule (yet again) to accommodate the last drawing marathon which is at the end of summer term. That is some crazy shit! It sounds extreme.....and fun.

Last week we worked on perspective and organic forms. Drew outside most days, with assignments to draw architecture and shrubbery. I like the contrast between linear contained forms and the relatively nonlinear and looser/gestural qualities that shrubs and vegetatives bring to the picture. It's been an interesting week, with the usual ups and downs. But I'm learning what works and what doesn't and how to adjust with different sized drawings.

Here's the first homework assignment, which I really enjoyed doing. Discovering different mark-making techniques and figuring stuff out was actually fun. Graphite, 18 x 24".


The second homework assignment last weekend was to create a still life. I couldn't bear the idea or the execution of another damn fruit bowl or some random objects so I decided to create a narrative. Make of it what you will. I liked doing this one too, and grunging it up. Charcoal, 18 x 24"


I did an extra homework during the week because I wasn't satisfied or excited by what I had done in class one day (I was being social with a fellow classmate, and I really can't divide my attention productively: I have to draw, or talk, not both). The composition is okay but my focus was more on the perspective aspect of it, since I haven't practiced much with this discipline. Eventually I'll be able to keep it all in mind and use mark-making, perspective AND composition all to greater effect. Mixed media: charcoal, ballpoint, marker, graphite. 18 x 24"

Here's this weekend's homework assignment, part one.

The assignment: continue with perspective and organic forms. Create a minimum of six thumbnails and develop three with full value. Then do a full-page (have yet to draw that one up).

There are elements in all three that I like but overall I have yet to really hit the mark. For example........the middle one is too busy. Too many goodies, ya know? The last one I like as an idea: creeping up, almost to the corner of the house, and there is more resting for the eyes. Also, I want to create a sense of tension, approaching the corner of the building. Maybe tilt the frame? But here it lacks a punch that I'm wanting.
Aaanyway, a good learning experience. 

I think if I try that third frame full size in charcoal I might achieve more of what I'm after. I'll give it a go tomorrow.

This kind of drawing exercise is challenging in ways that I haven't taken on before, which is good (and necessary). It's kind of meditative too.....and in a way it's safe. Drawing organic forms alongside architecture is a good mix as I mentioned earlier up there - Mister Teacher knows what he is about in assigning this -- the looser/gestural quality brought to the scene with organic forms is a nice foil to the linear qualities of architecture and buildings.

I'm really glad that this instructor is giving us a variety of assignments. A good introduction to a discipline, and he states in the syllabus that aesthetic end and developing personal style (and composition!! always composition!) trumps skill. Nice.

I'd like to bring something not so safe to the table with these drawings and I am hoping I can introduce that in the third panel (make it nighttime instead?). However, I might just have to abandon ship and start over if it's not happening.

The cool challenge is to complete the assignments within the parameters and put a unique spin on it. Well yeah...that's what it's all about.....

This morning I reworked the three drawings, smoothing out some of the chatter and trying to create the shadows to lie on forms more convincingly; also boosting up the values with more contrast. Things were starting to look grayscale. In the originals you can really tell a difference since last night. Here are some closeups.

So in a lot of ways I think these are pretty safe drawings for the viewer. I'd like to create more tension and mystery. I'd like to discover some new techniques, push something somewhere further. I'd like to learn how to add more depth by laying down medium, erasing, and laying it down again. I've read somewhere that is how to create depth but I'm not sure how to do that. Yet. That third panel, I keep going back to; in this rendition it's pretty boring but I think there is a lot of potential there. I really like the big black of the window right up next to and falling off the edge (or, the implied continuity is technical terms this is called 'closure', when things run off the page).

Here's a drawing I did last week in class, instead of the boring still life in front of us. It's a portion of the studio's ceiling. The best bits to me are the spotlights. I like the ballpoint outline that describes the forms and the 'coloring outside the lines' I deliberately did with the charcoal. I've tried to recreate this effect but haven't spent much time trying (too busy doing other assignments, perhaps....?). Maybe I'll try to employ that in something this weekend; I'd like to finish the homework assignment today and then start on something new that incorporates certain elements of our assignment but that I take greater liberty with :)

The vent on the wall needs some reworking (yes that's a vent, right now it looks like.....what the hell is that?).

A couple of sketchbook sketches round out my appetite and once again I thank my friend J in Leeds for the references and inspiration!

Okay that's a wrap for now. Laundry needs to be hung the SUNSHINE! oh thank god it's sunny again.


The second half of the homework assignment, a full-sized. I decided to go for the night scene, and some things I like about this, but it's dangerously close to being too uniform in value (how do you avoid that at night??). I'm also hankering for some new techniques. Or something.

Interestingly enough, the last couple of days I've been out on my bike I have been looking more closely at foliage and buildings :) How the pieces all fit together, and Wow look at that streetlamp I want to draw that! and the patterns of light and shadow -- looking at the gesture of different plants and trees, and seeing things as the absence and presence of light. Pretty cool.

Friday, June 25, 2010

three views

I woke up at 9am to buzzsaws this morning. This was after I removed the earplugs, which I jammed in  halfway through the night, to ensure that I would sleep in. This was after falling asleep at about 3am. This was after drawing for hours, and then watching some of A Scanner Darkly (you must see this movie if you have not already!!!). Was I disgruntled because of the nap instead of the long sleep I anticipated enjoying? Was I irritated by the constant roar of machinery? Hell no! Why? Because it's summer, and it's finally warm, and I feel supercharged!! Even if my gait is uneven and I feel slightly hung over and my vision is a tad bit blurry.


The contrast between drawing instructors for the two classes in this subject I've enrolled in so far is amazing. I like that each instructor has something different to offer, and that there are a few dozen in the art department to choose from; eventually (one hopes) you find one whose teaching methods match your learning style. Well I've found such an instructor for Intermediate Drawing this semester! OH THANK GOD.

Tom brings an enthusiasm and presence to the table and mixes up the drawing sessions in a way that's really engaging. We begin with a slideshow, and/or some theory and practical tips on drawing, which he accompanies with drawing demos......he even uses the chalkboard (gasp!). He goes way beyond giving us a handout and saying, 'okay go to it, see you next week.'

The other day we started out with warm ups - yeah! what a concept! He stood up on the dais and did 15 second poses for us to do gestures. He did really dramatic ones with dialogue, throwing an arm over his eyes and arching back, 'oh! poor me! life is so hard!' to which we chimed in, 'I'm a starving artist!'.

He encourages us to develop our own style. From the syllabus:

"This course will not only help to further your ability to model what you see in a variety of drawing mediums, but moreover will help you to find your own unique aesthetic way of responding on paper to life. More emphasis will be placed on composition and the search for the unity of the formal elements -- line, shape, value, texture and space -- than the draftsmanship.

This class is graded less on your ability to model reality and more on what you do with a drawing medium to achieve an aesthetic end. You will be expected to do exercises that work on your technical skills but ultimately aesthetic considerations will outweigh technical ones in this class."

We drew outside yesterday, after a short recap lesson on perspective (something our previous instructor did not really go into much.....okay well he gave us A Handout). Architecture and organic matter. We'll be doing lots of different exercises, finishing up the course with two full figure drawing sessions with live models.

He stopped by to check in with me while I was sitting and drawing yesterday and happily offered lots of information about drawing, feedback on my work, his own trajectory towards becoming the department head of graphic design, a bit about the business of a freelancer/illustrator, and sincerely extended his time if I wanted to go over anything outside of class.

Don't you want to be in this class? Well hurry up! Registration is still open!!

He even assigns homework :) (something we didn't do in our last drawing class, unless you wanted to)

I'm like a fish to water here. I am loving it. I think I'll talk with a financial aid person to see if it's viable for me to stay on at Lane for a two-year certification in the graphic arts program before transferring to the University to finish my BFA.

Now that I think back on it, I remember some discussion in Basic Design class about Tom. He teaches (or taught) 3D Basic Design also and the student and our instructor referred to him as eccentric and sort of scattered.....kind of an odd fellow. Now that I think about it, I remember writing down his name to make sure and enroll for that class. He doesn't teach it any more, but I'm so stoked that he picked up this summer session for intermediate drawing. Man...I wish he taught figure drawing too.

And now, a view of a room in my two-room abode, before making up the bed into a couch and transforming the sleeping space into a salon.

A view from the art area, looking out the window

And a view of my Spam folder. Hilarious. All those ads? Because of a male name in my email address? ha ha!! Exercise that index finger and click for a big shot.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

some thoughts

I can hear laughter outside tonight. The next door neighbors to the north are having a party: an all-girl party as far as I can tell. The voices and laughter sound ebullient, and somehow pure. Bubbly. Genuinely happy. The laughter to the south from the other next door neighbors is also female and by contrast sounds harpy-ish. I love laughing sounds, but the southern laughter grates on my nerves.

I started thinking more about this and realized that if I didn't know anything about either neighbor, would I still feel the same?

For instance, I know that the southern lady never initiates a hello. She often looks sour, and tired. Her backyard is neglected, full of weeds and old furniture. The dogs bark a lot. By contrast, the northern neighbors like to garden, keep their yard up nicely, and live in a house with a front fence and gate that is handcrafted, like an art installation -  so I infer that they have values and a lifestyle that resemble mine more, and that I prefer.

If I'd never seen the southern lady or her yard, would I feel the same aversion to her laughter? How about if her sons didn't shoot their b-b guns all summer long? Or if they weren't generally noisy and, well, slovenly (at least on the outside)?

There's no doubt that the laughter sounds different. I do like hearing the girls laughing on the south side. I like the way it sounds, from the belly, genuinely mirthful. What would the northern lady's laughter sound like to me, if I knew nothing about her and was not informed visually by her surroundings and the way she chooses to keep it (express herself though it?) ??

Also interesting that there is 'warmth' from the north side neighbors, and a very distinct coolness from the south....


Monday, June 21, 2010

June, the twenty-first, on a monday

Heh heh....heh....yeah that's me, all last week. E-e-everything's cool, even though my face is sliding off and about to puddle around my feet. Gawd what a week I was having! Maybe two weeks? Did I keep the faith? DID I? You bet I did! For the most part. My moods are always swinging. I knew I'd eventually come back around....and sure enough last night I started feeling MUCH better after a really great drawing session in my sketchbook (and thanks once again to my good overseas buddy Jay for providing some inspiration, have I mentioned how many times he's pulled me out of a funk??). I was finally able to just sit the hell down and relax and concentrate. And also, to let go of the outcome and have fun with the -here it comes- Process. Man I love that.

And awesome ride UP THE BIG HILL to campus (yessssss, I made it without bursting a lung or any major blood vessels! It's been a couple weeks since I rode up that heart-pumper). Followed by a very heartening algebra class, where we are actually reviewing a few chapters from last term before plunging headlong into quadratic equations (sounds like I know what I'm talking about, doesn't it?) -- and the instructor seems pretty damn cool OH THANK GOD.

Hey did I report my grades from last term? Three A+ and an A (in algebra..okay, elementary algebra..or is it pre-elementary algebra?)! woo! I'm savoring the math grade. I anticipate upper levels to be more rigorous (natch) and I will need to work harder. Aim high but be okay with a lower grade.

Anyway, emerging from math class I stepped into


suunshiiiiiiiiiiiine!!!! yes! yes! oh baby! yes! It's been so long. So so long. I was withering.

I grabbed an empty locker in the art building, stowed my bags, and went for a walk (hour and a half 'til next class). Campus is situated up in the south hills with woods all around; I knew if I prowled the perimeter I would eventually find a trail, and I did. Was really great to stretch my legs between classes. Came upon one of those cellphone towers, eyesore that they are, but perched jauntily atop was a huge bird's nest. Nice. Also crossed paths with a couple of boys crouched down by some big puddles (did I mention we've had buckets of rain this spring, even more than our usual buckets) - collecting pollywogs. Nice!

So drawing class is very very promising. Our instructor actually used the chalkboard and talked about stuff! It's different than any of the other art classes I've attended so far -- it's what I've been wanting. And, he's enthusiastic in a way I haven't encountered yet either. Maybe because he's been teaching only part-time and isn't burnt out. The course outline is chock-full of goodness; we'll be exploring different mediums and composition trumps skill. Did you hear that?! He wants for us to develop our own style, doesn't really believe in talent - only varying degrees of hand-eye-brain coordination and skill. NICE. This is what I signed up for.

Then Tom starts talking about how we'll be drawing architecture using perspective alongside organic forms (buildings and trees, for example), that there is something very beautiful about this juxtaposition, and how linear and comforting it is to draw perspective. Like math. Very safe, known quantities. Follow a formula, and be gratified with a predictable answer. And it's what I've been thinking about all last term - how math is turning out to be the perfect foil for art. A real nice balance.

I trotted off to the bookstore and bought the requisite supplies, and then I revisited the classroom to stock up on sketchbooks. Oh yeah. Anything left by students from last term, anything that hasn't been picked up by now (it's been almost two weeks) is fair game. It's all going in the recycling bins - so I helped myself to sketchbooks and big pads of drawing paper that were still half-or-more-blank. LOVE IT.

I'm going to sleep so good tonight. Oh, I'm still worrying about the state of the world and how fucked up it all is.......but now I am also feeling mighty fortunate, and resurrected in a way.


If anyone has any suggestions as to why my formspring thing isn't displaying as a box, or why my flickr badge isn't displaying as usual, please help me out. I changed layouts for the blog (FINALLY), and it looked great in Preview mode, but now it's all messed up. Gah.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

31 Flavors

Hey I just learned something: 31 people are following this blog! Well hello there! How about that.....I'm in a social network and I didn't even know it. I don't even know most of The Followers. But, welcome (belatedly). Are you people being paid? Well then kick somethin' down! Financial aid hasn't disbursed yet!

I saw this ad earlier and I am sorely tempted.....

.......but what if your hand looks like

I'm just sayin' there anyone out there who will love me? Is there anyone out there with a similarly shaped hand?! Show me your hands!!!!

Here's a shot of the neighbor's junkyard through the knothole. 

Short fluffy post. The term break has been fun, I mean that sincerely; apple cider and comics, what more could a student want on vacation? Starting up again on monday with algebra and drawing, and our drawing instructor headed up a band in the 90s: Miles Exeter. They played at Bumbershoot alongside AIC, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. I know cuz I Googled him. And I hope he's as cool as all that! Expect a full report next week. For the second half of summer I'll be in painting and psychology. Yessirree it's the student's life for me!