Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My Place at the Table
18" x 24"
oil and paper on canvas

What is the role of the American male today? Especially if he eschews the conventional role of donning a suit for a job and chooses, instead, to paint and carve out a "living" as an artist? This is a theme I've been grappling with for many years. This painting is laden with personal symbology, though that was not my intention at first. It all started out as a simple arrangement of objects, but at the end I see a personal narrative in this painting.

The background of this piece is actually collaged pages from an old childrens science book, probably around first or second grade level. On top of that, the still life was painted (from life). Some of the text and images appear through the lighter areas of the tablecloth.

When our daughters were little, I stayed home during the day to raise them since April was a teacher and had the steady paycheck. I was starting my painting business (walls, not art) and was more flexible with my time. April would come home at the end of her long day to take over and I would go out and paint apartments, empty homes, etc. at night and on the weekends. It was tough, but the reward was being able to spend quality time with my girls at such a formative age. I think this painting speaks of that time in our family history when gender roles (in terms of earning income) were switched. I always kept my hand in my artwork no matter how beat down I was from my work. Looking back, I feel I strengthened my male identity by being a stay-at-home dad and artist, that's who I was (and still am). I guess the old pliers in the painting are symbolic of that.

Speaking of dad stuff, I just want to wish Jessie a belated happy birthday. She's in the final few weeks of completing her Masters in Management, Science, and Engineering from Stanford University. Needless to say, the parental units are very proud. (I love you, Peanut!)

This week's studio music:
Social Distortion- Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell
Revolutionary Road soundtrack

Monday, February 22, 2010

Today was a ditch work day. I visited Briones Regional Park in the East Bay with my friend and fellow ditch-work-day artist Marty. Marty is a killer great bird artist and we meet regularly to hike and draw from nature. I brought along my watercolor kit and made a few small paintings.

After ruining a couple of watercolor sketches I moved to pencil sketching where I could again relax and get something halfway decent onto paper. I like making thumbnail sketches to help capture the composition of a subject quickly. We're going to meet up again next month and I plan to bring my oils and do a quick plein air study or two.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Irish Vase
oil on cradled hardwood
10" x 10"

I started this painting yesterday, drank lots of coffee, and finished it today. This beautiful vase was a gift from our friends Babby and Peter, they bought it in Ireland a few years back. I love this vase because the glazing patterns remind me of the lunar surface. My goal in this painting was to illuminate the vase like a full moon set against a cold February night.

Travel to Ireland, England, France, and back to Italy, is only a few years away- only three more years of college expenses to pay for- and we're off. That is, unless April wants her new kitchen first... ( I think she will.)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

White-faced Whistler
oil on canvas
15" x 30"

Here's another rendition of the White-faced Whistler at our zoo. The first one I painted was only 6" x 6", so this one is considerably larger. This is the last unfinished work from 2009 and I'm so happy to be finished with it. It was actually a fun painting even though I stopped work on it for a few months. Sometimes I just need to walk away from a challenging painting and come back to it later. Buying new brushes is also a superb motivating factor to finishing a waiting piece.

I'm probably going to lay off birds for awhile, I've been wanting to get back into some more coastal landscape work, which I may do this week. Also, my architectural model workshop is coming up in a few weeks and I need to prepare for that. I've got over 30 students signed up so I better start sharpening those x-acto blades.