Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Just another day at the office...

No cube farm for me baby, no way. I never had an interest in the corporate world and What Color Is Your Parachute? could have been written by a slobbering biomorhpic alien for all I care. It's all about the studio and what comes out if it that interests me, not a desk job. But certain responsibilities are attached to being a solvent (no pun intended...well maybe a little) artist in this day and age. I never bought into the suffering artist myth and I've always believed a successful artist carries a strong work ethic. Also, an artist needs to know basic business skills and have a firm understanding on how to handle his or her money. These are themes I'll expand upon over time as this blog develops. I believe an artist can be successfull in many different ways, not measured only by sales of artwork.

I'm busy packing for my trip to the Sierra in two days and looking forward to "sharpening the saw" as author Stephen Covey puts it. I'm so hungry for granite walls and alpine meadows now....rrrrrrooooowwww!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

New Light at Mono Lake
32 x 47
oil on panel

Just finished watching the first installment of Ken Burns' doc on the national parks highlighting the induction of Yosemite and Yellowstone as national parks. Perfect timing because I'm going camping in the Sierra on Friday with my pal Shawn. Five days visiting Yosemite, Mono lake, Obsidian Dome, the high desert, Bridgeport, and long stretches of dirt roads into hidden canyons.

Do not worry my friends, take refuge in the knowledge that I will be sufficiently geared with camera, sketchbook, pochade box, food, sleeping bag, and the writings of John Muir.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Green Frog
Emily Holland

Emily has only just recently started painting and like her sculptures, she started painting very small and worked her way up to larger paintings as her confidence grew. Her first landscapes were snow scenes painted on pennies. They are just too small to photograph for this blog without a macro lens.

These moths were painted after a visit to our friend's ranch in Montana last summer.

This little oil painting of a gorge is from the same Montana trip. I love how she captured the play of light on the rocks.

A simple snow-capped mountain with beautiful, loose brushstrokes

As you can see, Emily's got quite a head start with her art and it will be exciting to watch her grow and develop over the years. One can only imagine what her work will look like in twenty years. She's definitely giving her old man a run for the money!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Today we take a look at Emily's fantasy sculptures. She's a big fan of the Pern series of dragon books so a lot of her sculptures revolve around the characters in that series. Her original sculptures were so small and detailed she would mount them on pennies. As you can see, she's working larger as her confidence builds.

She finished this character this week. She uses Sculpey, a soft polymer that you bake in the oven to harden.

Like April's doll collection, I'm convinced these things come alive when I'm asleep at night. I swear I heard this beast flap its wings last night...

This dragon chess set was also finished this week, each piece individually sculpted, no casting was used. Though she's an animal sciences major at UC Davis, I think she could work at Pixar as a maquette modeler for the computer animators.

Friday we close with a look at her landscape oils.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Old Fence
Emily Holland

This week I get to brag a little about my youngest daughter Emily who starts college at UC Davis today. I'm going to feature her artwork all week so you can get a glimpse inside her world through her art. All my daughters are smart and creative in their own ways, but Emily really got my "art gene" in a bad way. She has been blowing us away from an early age with her abilities to work and be successful with different media.

These are examples of her scratchboard drawings. Scratchboard, if you don't know, is thick white paper with a thin layer of black (I think clay) on top. You simply scratch away the black with a sharp tool (like an x-acto blade) to create your drawing.

This forest scene was one of her first scratchboards and it's got to be my favorite. It has such a German Expressionist feeling to it. For me, it vibrates with the same intensity of the artwork from that turn of the century era, a time when the world was changing and the images born reflected that unease. Art critic Robert Hughes called it, "the shock of the new", when all the academic ideals of art were challenged. So perfect for Emily, (who's always questioning and challenging the status quo), as she enters college and the beginning of a new century.

On Wednesday we'll take a look at her sculptural work and on Friday her oil paintings.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Watercolor interior

Why are we doing these by hand when it's so much faster to create them on the computer? That question is a common one in my classes. True, clients probably aren't going to pay you to sit for hours to render a complex concept image of their design project. What I try to convey to my students is that they need to develop the skills to sit and draw out a quick sketch of an interior arrangement, a piece of furniture, a built-in, etc., on a piece of paper in front of their client. It's all about visual communication from the designer to the client.

The best visual presentations combine both digital and hand rendered images. The parts done by hand add a certain warmth, style, and soul to the project. And sometimes a little eye candy will seal the deal.

On another note, this weekend April and I officially become empty-nesters. Emily leaves for UC Davis on Sunday so in celebration of all her hard work, I will highlight her artwork here next week.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A 75K kitchen on a 50 cent piece of paper...

This drawing was created with Prismacolor markers and pencils, it took about ten hours to complete. I demonstrate this exercise to my advanced class and spend two class sessions doing so, just because of all the complex elements involved. In this picture we're dealing with gradient planes, reflective surfaces, a variety of materials, perspective, and different lighting sources all rendered by hand with the pencils and markers. It's a grueling assignment to get through but in the end, my students come away with achieving a great deal.

Monday, September 14, 2009

This week I'm going to highlight some of the rendering I teach design students at Canada College. In my classes we use various media such as colored pencils, markers, pastels, and watercolor to convey design ideas to clients. The image above is a good example how various media can be mixed to achieve a strong rendering. In this drawing I used grey markers for the mirror effect on the desk, markers on the floor, pastel on the wall, and pencil on the chair and artwork. A dash of white-out on the artwork creates the illusion of reflected light on glass.

I'm constantly telling my students that a good rendering starts with a good drawing, so they're required to keep sketchbooks devoted to drawing. The chairs above represent three different styles rendered with markers only. The left chair is silk, the middle is zebra hide, the Ghost Chair on the right is made out of polycarbonate and is rendered with grey markers. I like teaching this technique because the results are immediate and exciting for the students.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Strange Mutations

Started my day by inking these hybrid animal sketches in my sketchbook while listing to Gregorian chants and waiting for the coffee to kick in. Looks like a promising weekend. Carry on, fellow mutants...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Today is a studio day. I'll put a few hours into that manzanita branch, sketch out some ideas for a new series of bird altars I've been thinking about, work on Shaari's bird for her foyer, and grade some papers. A full and fun day ahead.

Enjoy the bear drawings from my sketchbook!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Between Two Worlds is nearly finished. This past week I brought some of the fire light to the distant hills and yesterday I finished the raven. All that's left is the branch which I'll start today. I have a manzanita branch in my studio that I'll use as a model. This is my favorite part of the painting process, seeing the end!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Fine Art of Living

As I get older I'm appreciating the simple luxuries in life, such as April's weekly supply of fresh-cut flowers for our home, a glass of wine, an excellent meal, and time spent with family and friends. I never bought into the notion of the suffering artist, I believe a life well lived supports the creative drive. You certainly don't need to be wealthy to live well, just open your eyes to the simple things in your life that make you happy and savor them.

Recently we had dinner with our friends Danny and Michelle at their home in Sonoma. Michelle knows how to bring simple luxuries into her home and a dinner at their house is always something to remember, in fact it's a work of art. They have nearly a dozen of my paintings throughout their house and it's always good to go back and visit the older Holland work.

Old Friends
April, me, Kristan, Jim, Danny, Michelle, Joan, Richard, Mateo (holding camera)

On this long weekend I hope you'll reflect on the gifts that are in your life and hopefully reconnect with friends and family. (Thanks, Michelle and Danny!)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Here's a fun little sequence from my sketchbook. Sometimes I cut out shapes so the content on the following page is exposed and becomes part of the page being viewed. Note the swimming koi with the topo map bodies. Turn the page:

The koi become the clouds from the previous page... the fun just never ends in my life!!