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Month: November 2009

the rose bowl

the rose bowl

Before one more person from Ohio asks me if I’m going to the Rose Bowl I’d like to share my coworker’s story…

He asked me this morning if I was going, to which I gave the usual reply “I can’t afford $500 tickets.”  He informed me that I was lowballing it, because he just talked to a friend from Ohio that was flying out with terrible seats (40 rows back in the corner) who paid $550 for each seat.

deep diver

deep diver

When I bought all the pieces of wood a few weeks ago I bought one that was really thin.  5.5″x24″ to be exact.  I had many ideas about how to use this space, but eventually each one proved to not be a good fit, I just couldn’t make any compositions work in that frame.

Then it hit me:  I’d been doing a lot of sketches of this figure I originally drew in my sketchbook:

The idea here was some sort of experience of ecstasy, flames of some kind burning up from some of the chakras.  Specifically I was going after the same mood invoked in part by The Ecstasy of St. Theresa, by Bernini, which I’d always loved.  Ironically after sketching everything out and laying down the background on this painting (we’ll get to that in a minute) Sam and I watched Angels & Demons which features that sculpture at one point in the story.

I did several sketches of this figure on the tracing paper; experimenting with different hand gestures, feet placement, adding wings, etc.  Then one day I looked at it from upside down… and I realized that the figure looked like a trapeze artist.  Suddenly I knew exactly what I could do with that troublesome piece of wood.

I started laying down multiple acrylic washes on the raw wood.  The paint seeped into the wood beautifully with a great “hazy” effect that I actually wanted, not wanting the background to have that much detail (in order to give the sense of depth later).  For once, I was actually really pleased where it was going.

This is without the spotlights added…and then with the lights and the paper figuring out just how to position her.

I had the worst time actually getting the girl on there.  For one thing, I realized I’d just sketched out the bones and musculature on my tracing paper, but not the OUTFIT.  I had to go back and do some research… then trace it out again.  I then tried a few different methods of making transfers from the tracing paper to the wood, but nothing worked… so I had to try to freehand it as best as I could.  I think I made her thighs too big though… oh well.

I apologize for the crappy photo quality.  This piece and the octopus piece are actually very hard to take photos of because of their crazy size.  Also, there is a lot of tiny detail.  For instance, you can’t really see it here, but if you look close in person there is actually light from the spotlights reflected off of the trapeze strings (not sure what they’re called).

The actual painting of this one was very quick.  Probably a total of 6-8 hours, but there was much consternation between stages… I didn’t want to screw it up somewhere along the way like I did with the “snood” painting last month.

Here is a photo of the two paintings side by side leaning against the wall for a better idea of the size…

octopus attack

octopus attack

I fiddled with this idea about an octopus attacking a guy underwater for a long time.  I finally decided to try it out on one of the long pieces of wood I bought a few weeks ago.  First though, I took all the sketches from my sketchbook and tried to combine them and bring in some other elements.  I did initial sketches on layers of transparency paper.

After toying with that enough I decided to make a more serious drawing on actual paper. The dark box on the left is just the shadow from the camera.

next, it was time to grid the wood and sketch there…

So here I have a lot of the main elements getting fleshed out.  It looks very cartooney, but in a way maybe that would have been more appropriate.  I decided it didn’t look right and tried outlining everything with ebony pencil, which was a huge mistake:

But, I tried to pull it back together by getting out the teeny tiny brush and putting in details (more contrast on the body, bubbles, details on the tanks, light, etc.)

I might go back and fix the jellyfish… as they don’t really look right.  It is hard to see the detail in the above photo, so I took a detail photo and another detail photo of the original sketch, to compare:

Although it looks more alive in close-up, the piece is somewhat dull in person.  I think part of it stems from my overuse (or just the use at all) of the ebony pencils. In my head I wanted this to be sort of like one of Julian Callos’ wood pieces, but it didn’t work out that way.

brain wiz

brain wiz

Fox Sports West just honored a USC player with their “brain wiz” segment during the halftime of the UCLA/USC game.  The smartest player on USC’s squad has an amazing….

wait for it…

2.9 GPA.

Eczema sucks

Eczema sucks

Years ago, when I was working at CardSupply, my fingers on my right hand started getting weird.  The skin would blister, dry out and crack.  At first I thought it must be from handling paper all day.  However, more than five years later, it is still here.  I’ve tried various remedies, even saw a doctor once.  The doctor told me there was really nothing I could do. 

Two weeks ago I decided to try something new.  I knew that part of the problem was that the skin could never heal.  So, I started wearing latex gloves at home.  It seemed to work fairly well, the skin actually healed up to the point where there were no cracks.  I started using a leather glove on my hand during racquetball.  Last night the glove still didn’t protect from a crack forming on my thumb.  All the little bubbles are still there under the skin as well, they just keep on coming forever apparently.

Usually this is irritating, but when the skin on my thumb cracks open it actually hurts to do every day things.  Imagine if you had a constant deep gouge on the inside of your thumb…. 

For those of you (thank your lucky stars) who don’t go through this, see wikipedia.  The first photo is pretty much what my right hand looks like on the thumb and middle finger (and to a lesser extent the other fingers sometimes as well).  The descriptions fit my case exactly – right down to the “pits” in my nails on the worst fingers (thumb and middle).

Ironically the article states that latex gloves, like those I’ve been wearing for two weeks, exacerbate the condition.   I’m already wearing gloves all the time, moisturizing all the time and avoiding soaps altogether (on that hand).  I’m not sure what else I can do or try. 

Why only my right hand?  I have a nickel allergy on my right hand that developed around the same time as well.  I’ve worn my watch on my left hand for the past five years with no irritation over there.

happiness

happiness

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.”

That quote from Hemmingway is one of my favorites.  I’d have to add though that unhappiness is probably the biggest motivator for intelligent people.

To that end, with my latest paint fumblings (see last blog post) I started over with some good old 2B pencil drawing.  I’ve had an image in my head for about 6 months of an octopus attacking a man under water.  I decided to conquer that thought with a drawing on Friday (a select few saw the tracing paper practice sketches in email last week).  The drawing took about 8 hours over Friday and Saturday but I think it is done (unless I decide to go back in with an eraser for highlights and a darker pencil… but probably not).  Unfortunately I don’t know how I can post an image here since I no longer have a scanner – and the drawing is larger than a standard platen anyway at around 6″x18.”   Why so skinny?  Because I want to try to paint this scene on one of the pieces of wood I had cut the weekend before last.

Progress on anything creative is slow right now as we’re hitting the heavy end of fall term at school.  I finished up a group presentation and paper last night, but I’ve still got two finals and two (lengthy and complicated finance) papers to write.  It’ll all be over in two weeks though – and then I hope to be able to produce a lot more (creative) work in the full month I have off (from school…not work, of course).

still not going anywhere

still not going anywhere

A few years ago Cindy asked me to paint her.  At the time I was thinking about trying to paint again.  I’ve gotten this inclination a few times since college, and every time my little experiments ended up looking like some kind of visual torture mechanism.  I would “quit” again for a year and then try again and the cycle would repeat itself.  Well, back in 2007 I decided to try again when Cindy prodded (or maybe the whole thing was my idea, I don’t remember) me to paint her.  At first I tried to paint her laying down on her wicker couch thing that she used to have.  It looked pretty rudimentary – but when I showed her the progress she noticed that the way I had positioned things it looked like you could see up her skirt (which I really really had not intended at all).  So, I put a wash over the canvas and gave up.  (I didn’t take a photo of this early try)  In October 2008 I decided to give it another go with one of the shots from our little photo session in the park.  The result of the start is below:

Looking back now this looks like a crazy modern art Francis Bacon kind of thing.. and I could have probably slapped a silly name on it and tried to sell it for 3 million dollars.  However, to my “classical” eye it looked like complete crap – so I put a bunch of washes over it and scrubbed and washed again until I had this neat blue/white scratched up surface.  I put the canvas away, vowing not to take it out and use it unless I came up with something cool because I really liked the way the surface looked.

After finishing the “ribbon” painting I decided to try a smaller painting of a person (was originally a girl, but looks more like a guy now) with civil war guns walking through a forest.  After about two weeks this thing looked like crap too, so I stopped.  I decided to go back to the one thing that I thought worked – the “girl writhing around in the sheets” theme.  I took out the canvas that I’d hidden away a year ago and got to work:

At this point I let it sit for a few days.  I couldn’t decide on whether adding the hand below would destroy the balance of the piece or not.  But eventually I decided to go for it:

I thought the hand turned out really great (yeah, I know the ring finger is a little funky).  At this point I didn’t know where to go… and was really worried about messing up the good thing I had going.  I should have gone with my instincts and just stopped (after fixing that ring finger).  But… of course not…

I tried adding in the sheets… and some kind of sheet on the head… and some kind of magical thingie going on around the hand.  It wasn’t working.  I decided to take the piece into photoshop before going back and trying anything else:

“okay” I thought, this will work I guess…

ewww… hmmm… well, maybe I can polish it into something.  I decided that instead of having the water fade into the bedsheets, that I’d have her laying on a rocky surface over the water.  So, I got to work digging up more source material for granite and marble.  I also decided that Sam was right (she’d seen it in progress last weekend) and and I would eventually paint hair on her instead of a “snood.”

So here I am.  This looks like some disjointed awful mess.    I think I’m learning an important lesson – you can’t design a whole piece around one thing that you like (the hand).

I’m 28 and I’m still trying to figure out what to do and how to do it with this art stuff.  I’m getting more and more involved in the art scene in LA.  By involved I really mean “following;” going to art galleries and subscribing to everyone’s blogs.  Something I’ve noticed is that most of the artists that I really like became skilled illustrators before transitioning to fine art.  They use different media, but their skill in representing the human form stands out.  One guy that I particularly like is Eric Fortune.  Eric’s drawings are fantastic, and he just takes them and makes amazing paintings with them.  I was surprised to discover that Eric actually lives in Columbus.  He is doing a lot of shows here and in New York of course.

With this new painting I feel like I’m moving backwards.  Most of the little paintings on wood turned out pretty well. I liked layering up the paint thinly on the smooth surface.  I also like the paintings I did on raw canvas – but they were very very frustrating to actually make because it was so hard to actually move the paint around.  Perhaps I should just put this current canvas aside and go get some sheets of wood.  Sam mentioned to me recently that when we go to galleries most of the paintings are much smaller than mine… so maybe I’m trying way too hard.  She said that my work might not get shown (later) just simply because they’re too large.  Obviously size isn’t much of a problem with a solo show, but any solo show would be a long way down the road after a lot of group shows.

Of course, all that is long after (and IF) I can actually develop a consistent style and competency.  Not even there yet, so I shouldn’t leap ahead….  Very frustrating moving so slowly though.  I know I should have been doing this since I was eighteen years old.  I probably should have went to a “real” art school.  But, nothing I can do about all that now, I have to push forward and work with what I’ve got.

Johnny winter must be flattered

Johnny winter must be flattered

So, I love most of everything Josh Homme and/or QOTSA have ever done… but his first single from his new band is actually a very old single from an old band.

This is quite clearly lifted from a Johnny Winter song…