Saturday, January 24, 2015

Facebook Challenge Part 1

Artists on Facebook are challenging one another to post three images a day for five days. Artists are suppose to invite a new artist to post each day and they will follow the same rules. This is like the ice bucket challenge (i.e. peer pressure challenge) for artists. I will thank New Mexico based painter Scott Anderson and book artist Jeff Abshear (he is the director of the Kalamazoo Book Art Center), for this opportunity to plaster Facebook with odd pictures. At least I am assured they will enjoy my pictures and may be pleased that the challenge is alive outside Facebook. Also, one of the advantages of not being on Facebook is that I can curate my peers into this post. The following are examples by Anderson and Abshear:

Painting by Scott Anderson
Book Page by Jeff Abshear

The theme I chose for day on are "car" paintings. Specifically, the cars I have owned. Some say "you are your car". In other words here are three (or four) self portraits.
Kip Deeds, Self Portrait and Subaru, 2001
Kip Deeds, Self Identification, 2001
Kip Deeds. Passed By, 2009
As part of this challenge process, I chose Dawson Weber to next take part in this challenge. He is one of the few artists I know living in L.A. who also is a Midwesterner through and through. Go Dawson!

Dawson Weber, Study for Malagasy Notebooks (October, pp. 2-3), 2010

Sunday, January 18, 2015


This photo of Miss Maud Swedish Smorgasbord Restaurant is courtesy of TripAdvisor

When I was young I would take trips to Reading, Pennsylvania with my parents (this was their hometown). Through out my childhood, these journeys were made to see relatives. Along the back roads I would take note of the landmarks (no tv in cars in those days). One such landmark was a restaurant advertising a smorgasbord. In my mind this conjured up an image of the most amazing spread of food. The somewhat exotic name "smorgasbord" gave me a sense that there was an ethnic connection between the foods. However, in reality the connections may have been minimal.

After posting about breaking records 2014, a certain amount of fear entered into my mind as 2015 approached. Could I live up to the high standards of 2014 and make 2015 even more special? I felt the need for a grand post to introduce this new year. Here I am attempting to offer a pictorial smorgasbord (i.e. variety with the hope of connections). I am seeking to recapture some of the experiences of 2014 and add something new.

My first drawing started and finished in 2015

Perhaps today was a suitable day to look back. It rained all day, and so I stayed in and worked on a few drawings using adobe illustrator. First I tried to capture the mood of the day.

January 18th, 2015

I also tried my hand at drawing a "recap" that represented 2014. Although I am am not fully satisfied or finished, I thought I would post the result so far.

Cap over cap, a recap.

One of the most enjoyable events in 2014 was a September trip to Detroit. At the time I had a print in an exhibit at Re:View Gallery in Detroit. Although I made a post about making this print, I never showed the finished result.

Detroit Diamond, Screen Print, 2014

On the way to Detroit, I stopped in Indiana, Pennsylvania and visited with metals artist Sharon Massey. Below is one of her sculptures.

Sharon Massey, Metals Sculpture from the Streetview Series

There is a gallery on the campus of Indiana University of Pennsylvania called the Kipp Gallery. Below I am pictured standing in front of it.

While I was pleased to see the prints by the other artists included in the group exhibit at Re:View Gallery, I was also thrilled that in the gallery's second exhibition space was a show by my friend and mentor Timothy Van Laar. Tim was one of my graduate school professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While at UIUC, at the turn of the millennium, Tim was making small scale abstract paintings. I loved the way bits of color jumped out of these paintings. It was nice to see in this exhibit the continued sensitive but certain handling of paint and mark. While the paintings remained mysterious (answers are not given but the clues are numerous), content was introduced that feels personal and gives a sense of warmth. Below are several images from the exhibit.

Timothy Van Laar. Painting included in 2014 exhibit at Re:View Gallery

Timothy Van Laar. Painting included in 2014 exhibit at Re:View Gallery

On the return trip from Detroit I had the chance to visit Chad Andrews. Chad is artist friend who lives in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Andrews makes prints but his work also stretches into painting and sculptural drawings. Below is a view of six of his "Black Cat" drawings in progress at his studio in the Pajama Factory building.

Chad Andrews: "Black Cat" drawings in his studio.

After such an event filled break, I was sad to return home. Now that it is January, I also miss the colors, warmth, and smells of late summer/early fall. Below is an image from Hanna Farm where Chad and his family live. I have to sigh a bit here but I am full. Although I could not pack all of my experiences from the Detroit trip into this post, at least for me, the smorgasbord idea worked.

Hanna Farm, Near Williamsport PA.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Breaking Records

The idea of breaking records rarely holds my interest (particularly feats of strength and speed). Attempting to break records can at times feel like an exercise in striving to best others at narrowly defined achievements. Without a higher sense of purpose, efforts can feel like a misplaced use of energy. Despite my misgivings, I will delve into a small personal record. I will continue because an attempt to reach lofty goals can yield redeeming results (e.g. truth or service).

With this current post, I will have broken my record for most posts in a year. At the beginning of the year I declared a renewed work ethic and commitment to write and post. I did not know how long this resolution would last. Thus, it came as a surprise that I had brought a higher than expected level of dedication.

Breaking records serve as markers and can allow us to be reflective about setbacks and surprises while also allowing us to consider how to move beyond abstract points of completion. Pushing myself toward the finish line and the end of 2014, I made one of my "assignment" drawings. In order to not lose sight of the fact that I am student, I set a time limitation one would have for a studio art class.

I gave my self about three hours to come up with something that approaches resolution. The results are not always as fine tuned as I'd like. However, a little pressure is felt and occasionally I end up in a very different place than I thought I would. In memory of a watercolor by John Ruskin depicting a large stone/boulder, I decided to draw my own "bolder" (seen below).

As it turns out, a bolder approach sometimes can be record breaking.

Above is an image of John Ruskin's watercolor Fragment of the Alps. However distant in style and approach, below is my own drawing of a large Stone.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Pilgrim's Poppin Progress

Earlier this year I wrote about Phil Poppin and Mr. Wisor. I wanted to follow up here and show some progress. I started out with one drawing of Mr. Poppin (represented in the far left of the image below). However, this drawing did not seem to represent the full dimension of the character. I wanted to move from a physical description to a depiction of spirit. This led me to develop two additional versions (the second two bands in the image below). Though the third rendering focuses less on the body, it still offers hints and parts remain. Eventually I glued all three drawings down to a larger sheet of paper and spread out to the left adding "poppin" in the way that stars appear in a clear night sky. This was an attempt to focus on qualities and thoughts rather than a fixed identity. I am not sure if there are three, four, or one renderings of Phil Poppin here, and I am not yet certain when to stop adding "poppins"? However, for a rectangular image the character is becoming more rounded.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Studio

In most cases this blog focuses on short and direct ideas. With these efforts there is the satisfaction that comes with quick and immediate results. Not all work is like this. Currently, I am involved with several projects that involve collage, drawing, painting, and writing. Little by little work gets done. The slow pace can be frustrating. Today I took a picture of my work space to prove to myself there is progress. Sometimes we need small rewards to keep us going with grander visions.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Staying Calm

Much has happen in the last month. There have been many ideas. These have come and gone. There have been good intentions. I wanted to report on my visit to Detroit. I wanted to report on all of the birds that neatly lined themselves on the power lines down the street from my house. Alas, they have flown away. Frazzled and a little warn, I sketched out a meditating man. It is hard to make what is flat have dimension or to pick colors that are not within grasp. So, I try and stay calm and let some of the nervous actions rest. Best not to try and force harmony. Harmony, is not responsive bullies.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Thirty Minutes

When at work I have a thirty minute lunch break. While the weather is warm, I usually spend the time at a special spot beneath a tree. There I have a perfect view of the cars on the bypass. For me the trick is to see how to maximize this short time. After eating lunch I am usually able to collect fifteen minutes of solitude. In my mind, I am often able to drift to foreign places. At times I try to recapture my break experience through drawings of the places I have imagined. Below are some of the drawings inspired by this break. The top portrait involved testing out a marker, the middle drawing is a kind of self portrait (myself under the tree), the bottom drawing is an imagined landscape. What I enjoy about making these little pictures is the roughness of the marker and the direct feeling of moving from thought to image.