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Month: February 2010

This is why my life sucks right now

This is why my life sucks right now

taken from this craigslist post :

Our Graphics Team is looking for a full time graphic designer and color correction specialist.

Skills needed include:
Proficient in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator
– Ability to take creative direction
– Must have a good eye for color (CMYK)
– Must have a good eye for scale and perspective
– Able to multi-task in a fast paced environment
– Organized
– Good attitude
Knowledge of HTML and CSS is a plus!
– Interest in home décor industry a plus!

Responsibilities Include:
– Work closely with Product Development and the Graphics team to produce art for wall décor products
– Color correcting imagery
– Creating new art for current projects
– Manipulating and refreshing existing imagery from Company Image Library
– Archiving images on CD
– Create atmosphere shots for packaging and website

Please Submit a resume with 2 small jpegs of personal work for review.

  • Location: Los Angeles
  • Compensation: $10 per hour  (emphasis mine)

So – to recap- I can drop out of high school and get a job at Starbucks making $11 an hour AND get health and retirement benefits.  OR – I can take my training in two different specialized pieces of software and two coding languages (in addition to things like “good eye for color”) and work for little more than minimum wage (in California). 

(and that’s just assuming I only have the minimum requirements for the job – not my real years of experience, training and education)

This is what I’m competing with/bargaining for and this is why my life sucks right now.  Not all the jobs are like this (obviously), and thank god my current clients know you get what you pay for… but the mentality is out there – and it shines through in postings like this.  And, because of the current unemployment rate in CA I’m sure there is someone (maybe me if I lost my job tomorrow) desperate enough to take this rate.

Are Blogs Dead?

Are Blogs Dead?

This morning, my bestest buddy, Byron was featured in an interview on an art blog.  The interview was short and sweet, and I’m glad he decided to take a stance on the horrible Kanye West art/design trend we’re drowning in.  Byron is quickly making a name for himself because of his focus on textual (is that a word?) design elements.  I envy this focus as I know I’m still trying to find my “voice” – especially my painted voice.

But the fact that Byron was interviewed by a blog brings up a subject I’ve been curious about for some time.

Last week google introduced Buzz.   I’ve been using gmail almost since inception so I was one of the first on the Buzz roll-out (as were many of my frequent contacts).  When Buzz linked up with my other google services it automatically posted the only entry on my Blogger blog – which simply redirects everyone to this blog.  This automated buzz received one response: “This guy, blog guy. That’s so 2000’s.”

Is it?  I know Byron tweets and buzzes and facebooks several times a day (with many overlaps), but his blog receives much less “love.”  Just yesterday I found myself Buzzing about two artists (one Sam and I saw at the Copro Hi-Fructose show last Saturday).  A month ago I might have made blog entries about this, but those blog entries would have taken ten times as long to produce.  I’m starting to think that even for me, a blogging stalwart, the blog may only become the repository of detailed dramatic passages of life or artistic events.  Anything that can be quickly summed up can be buzzed.  Of course, I never updated my facebook status (ever), because I abhorred the “look at me” factor.  Somehow buzzing doesn’t seem as attention-whorish, perhaps only because (at first) the networks are smaller.  That will change though, and I worry I’ll be forced to leave Buzz behind as I did Twitter when my network starts pumping an average of fifty buzzes a day into my gmail inbox obscuring “real” and perhaps much more important email.

The blog is not dead for all, however, as the Art-blog community is thriving.  This suggests to me that far from the Blog being “dead,” it is actually getting fine tuned into the instrument of supreme personal content that it was intended to be.  When blogging first became hip, “Joe Average” started a livejournal to blog about what food he was feeding his dogs that day.  Now this mundane and useless chatter is much easier regurgitated on Facebook, Twitter and now Buzz; leaving the real content to Real Blogs. 

The Proof in the Pudding is the fact that many of the facebook/twitter/buzz posts are simply some one’s expounding on what they’ve just read/seen on a blog somewhere.  This is great for premium content blogs – as the social network posters are advertising for them for free.  Google Reader plays a part in this too – essentially a buzzfeed of content you choose (not your friends) to investigate further or skip.

The downside of course is that conversation on the blogs themselves is going to vanish.   With content ferreted away (or linked) by social media from the source, the conversation now happens downstream among each fan’s social network – and not on the original blog itself.   A small price to pay for increased exposure.  In fact, likely a welcome change for most blog administrators – who will be all too happy to let Google now police the heated discussions and spam about their content.

So… after all that claptrap, where is my content?

Okay – after weeks of schoolwork taking up most of my time I shut out the outside world and did some drawing last night.  I tried working on the slimy green monster again – but I’m leaning away from it now – or perhaps leaning towards a stylized ink drawing rather than a painting.  The thing’s big eyes just make it look like a puppy dog rather than a menacing beast. 

see… looks like a little puppy walrus or something, right?  And no, I have no idea what I was thinking with that skull.  Version 2 was better – but I didn’t take a picture.

I took a break from imagining Lovecraft and doodled something that I may do for my next full size painting:

(this is just a doodle – before anatomy correction, life study, etc. and taken with a cell-phone camera in low-light)

The more I look at it, this is heavily inspired by Eric Fortune.  The hands and the face are basically a reverse of his “nun coming up out of the water” piece.

I’m at a very strange point my artistic development right now.  I can no longer afford to fit the canvas to my image – I now, because of intense financial constraints, have to work with existing materials.  I’m not sure if I even have a canvas (or piece of wood) that is the right size for this, so it may have to wait.

portrait from an american family

portrait from an american family

I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago that I’d been inspired by one of my mother’s photographs.  I won’t show the source photo, because #1 it isn’t mine and #2 I don’t know if the subject would appreciate it.  I will show the painting, however, because I don’t believe anyone outside of my family will know who it is, and I do not mean for it to be unflattering.  I know the expression on his face isn’t the typical boring toothy smile – but that is exactly why I liked the photo.  The expression – the emotion – in the face was so complex and interesting. 

This piece would be another on poplar plank.  For the first time I used my new transfer paper.  I’m still getting the hang of it, so there were some spots where the transfer didn’t go as planned, but overall I think I got a much more accurate starting drawing this way than eyeballing it.

As usual I didn’t know what to do for the background.  There were some trees in the source photo so I started with some green, and added some leafy shapes.  I didn’t want to get into too much detail because I wanted the background to stay a little fuzzy just like in real life.  Even the highlights on the leaf tips seen below might have been too much.  The interesting thing about unfinished poplar is that thin paint bleeds into it not unlike regular paper stock.  The leaves seen below took hours because of the slow build up of paint.

Next was the shirt, which didn’t take as long because it was lighter and thinner with more broad areas of color.  I had fun painting this because after doing the last two large canvases it was a blast to just hold the poplar plank in my hand and get up close with a tiny brush instead of sitting on the floor and leaning in until my feet go numb.  I know these photos show this painting sitting in a (crappy) easel, but it didn’t stay there when I was actually painting.

and then it was time for some skin…

and then more work on the skin – some stubble – some pupils…

And finally the finished piece:

There are some problems with this, and these problems stopped the painting from actually looking a lot like it’s real subject, but if you didn’t know the man you probably wouldn’t know that his left upper lip wasn’t that small or his upper right cranium wasn’t as pointy.  Or his hair as orange.

Oh – and dad might get a kick out of this – based on some sketches I did last night (during a group teleconference for school no less) I think my next painting might be of …. the great cthulu…

Snood painting done (I guess)

Snood painting done (I guess)

A few months ago I wrote about my long struggles with this piece and this canvas.  I worked at the piece again after some encouragement from Sam, and I think I’m happy with it.  There is one nagging fault with the anatomy, but I’m willing to let it stand since the paint is too thin to paint over successfully.  This is the last piece I’d do by eyeballing proportions before switching to a process involving photoshop, tracing paper and transfer paper, but more on that later – maybe…

Here is the original text from that post – updated with the final image at the end: 

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 every one’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.

And so I went back in determined not to let this one slip away.  There are some rough spots, but there are a lot of things in this I was really happy with.   Although (as I seem to say a lot) it is hard to tell in the photo, the water now looks nice, especially in the lower right where it gets murky and dark with light flickering off the top.   Sam said that the way the skin was painted was the best she’d seen yet and this looks more like the soft slightly splotchy kind of skin that seen in old frescoes by the masters.  She didn’t say that last part, I did.  I also reworked the cloth to have more natural light and shadow gradations – although it still comes off looking flat in many places.  I reworked the snood in the same way.  I added a little bit of hair to give this girl some personality and finally added more depth to the cracks in the stone.  This piece really looks better in person.  For instance, in person you can see veins in her hands in a slight blueish green – not so much in the above photograph.

I said at the beginning of this blog post that this painting had two glaring anatomical errors.  One most people will pick up right away, but another I’m told by the few who have seen it isn’t obvious at all and nobody will catch on if I don’t mention.  So… I won’t.  The “non obvious” error is a huge one, can you see it?  It isn’t in the lower half….