It has been two years almost to the day when I started the path as a full time artist. So…. I wanted to make a blog post about what it is like to be an artist. To make a record of my process, so I have something to reflex upon and to compile my progress and failures. Also, as many artists seem to be I am dyslectic and really could use with a daily writing exercise (and well I am not the best writer). So may I add, sorry for and grammatical errors and so forth. I am hoping any tips, tricks, or how to information will make up for it.
I am hoping to do daily or almost daily posts (probably not really going to happen), including my morning sketch, works in progress, materials and all sorts of what ever tidbits that happen in my day. Hopefully showing a perspective of life as someone with an obsession of making.
bit about me and mostly about my art background that is. I was born and
raised in Denver, CO in the late 70’s. I had lots of per-university art
exposure and maybe I will have a chance to post about that some day
soon. I attended (then) Metropolitan State of Denver (now it is
“University”) from 1997-1999. With the help of my drawing professor (a
student of Richard Diebenkorn while he attended UCLA) I was excepted to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
and spent the next two years there 1999-2001. 2001 was a though year
for anyone trying to get a start to a career and I was no exception
because of what happened that late summer. While at the start of my
university art education Metropolitan State of Denver I worked at a
heavy duty vehicle parts company part time and in 2001 because of the
current job market I started working there again. I pretty much stayed
with that company until 2016 ( I did jump around a bit and worked for a
local photographer, Pamela Mougin
who has since passed away. I also worked in large format printing,
repaired Mac computers and customer support for a piece of building
From 2001 to 2016 I was still making art,
just not full time. I started showing in Denver in 1999 and showed very
rarely until 2009 when became a showing artist and member at EDGE
gallery in north Denver. At about that time I started showing quite a
bit and entering call for entry shows (maybe I will post about how I
currently fell about call for entry shows in the future) Also I started
dealing with a few local Denver art consultants that sold some of my
work and commissioned a few large projects. In 2013 one of these large
commissions was for 6 large works that needed to be complete in a short
amount of time. I was working full time 40+ hours a week and completing
the commission on top of that was quite a task. After I finished that
commission I put my art making on almost hold. I left EDGE gallery and
was no longer taking commission or activity trying to sell work. This
was a very bad idea, I am still after two years of full time art-ing
trying to get back to 2013 sales, commissions and exhibitions.
As of April 2018 I became a member of Spark gallery and have a scheduled show February 14th – March 10th 2019. I am currently engrossed in making work for this upcoming show. I will be posting works in progress for this show.
I am also currently working towards a certification in botanical art and illustration at The School of Botanical Art and Illustration Denver.
I have wanted to to this program for a very long time. Now I have the
time to do this program. Thankfully they have a scholarship that I
applied for and received that covers most of the programs costs.
Continuing to learn new approaches and techniques, I feel is very
important in making great work and pushing yourself into new places of
I wish I could make the idea of building canvas stretchers sexy, but it is just some milled lumber. There is something special about building things yourself though. In this case building the skeleton of the skin that is the canvas that is almost never seen or thought of. Eight 45 degree cuts attached to make perfect 90 degree angles. A few pieces of strait lumber to keep the rectangle from flexing, so when the canvas is attached it will always be flush when hung. Simple ideas but sometimes not easy to complete.
I have been building variations of painting surfaces for 20 years or so now. The first semester at school, A painting instructor of mine at The School of the Art Institute approached me while in a painting studio and I think he asked why I was working so small. As an art student I was pretty broke and working larger at that time was not in my budget. He suggested I go down to the wood shop at the school and start making my own canvas stretchers and stretch my own, as it would be more cost effective and I could start working larger. A semester later I was asked to apply for the advanced painting program by the head of the painting department. The rest is history as they say.
More that being cost effective, it became this integral part of how I make work. It makes the painting process deeper for me. I am not just slapping some paint on something I picked up at the art store. I was part of the birth of the surface that I will then lovingly apply paint, building composition and having a connection with the end result.
Here is a fun little project I did and made a time lapse of it. I will be making a tutorial on drawing with graphite with this footage as well soon. Check back in in a week or so and I should have it ready. Please go to my YouTube page and follow me if you have a YouTube account. Or if you have anything you would like to see me make or have a tutorial idea leave a comment. Thanks again!!!
I started a awesome new collaboration project with the Denver artist Kat Potter, AKA my wife. She is a local art educator and very supportive of me as an artist. The current project is based in the idea of line and landscape. I think the work speaks for it’s self, but it is only a fraction of the beauty that surrounds us in the natural world.
We would love some feed back. So let us know what you think.
Through the late winter months, my work balanced itself into two connected streams of thought. See here and here. As we enter early spring, my drawing and painting investigations have been adapting to the environment.
I’ve been busy lately, and now finally have the time to do some reflections.
The closing weekend of March, I co-hosted a pop up art show in Oklahoma City in a residential space. The two night show showcased my recent bodies of work in a more approachable environment, a home, a location with different context from a gallery.
Leading up to the event was the usual preparation of transportation, media releases and signage. This time around, I too took on the goal of building my own frames for my paper works. The inspiration came from my recent acquisition of oak flooring from a 1920s bungalow in my neighborhood. The wood needed some work but was beautiful to work with. The smaller frames also features glass from windows reclaimed from houses in the neighborhood. Hence the radio silence. Take a look at how the show came together.
As I spend more time in the studio and reinvigorate my body of work, I’ve found I spend a lot of time with my own thoughts. About the piece I’m working on, about my process, the process of making in general, and that of the artists I know.
Watching other artists work is like osmosis, without a direct transfer of technique. I am sure I have picked up on mastery of my teachers over time. One of my most influential teachers was taught by Richard Diebenkorn, and I sometimes wonder what, if any, of his techniques have made their way into my work…
I posted last week about an inspirational moment eighteen years ago that has influenced the way I make my paintings. In another serendipitous moment, I got an email Friday for an artist presentation by none other than Homare Ikeda, the same artist I had just reminisced about. And the presentation was going to happen the following day, Saturday, at Meininger Art Materials.
The event was part of a series called Demo & Dialogue, organized by the Art Students League of Denver. The Art Students League was there for me in my youth when I had limited access to art and art instruction.
The idea behind demo and dialogue is open up the artist’s process to the audience by having the art work on a piece. Ikeda gave us an open invitation to interrupt with questions as he worked on two large (and several small) works.
“On the island I am from they had no sense of what art was. I’m lucky I didn’t have a preconceived notion of what art was. Before I came to the US, I studied traditional painting so I’m aware of how I use my brush. I will hold with my left hand or use two brushes, that creates negative space.” -Ikeda
I was struck by how similar his thoughts about process and his approach to making resonated with my own. Ikeda approaches his art with openness and flexibilty, focusing on the process with little interest in the product. He is able to speak about his process and work with depth and humbleness.
“I’m not trying to make a painting therefore finishing is not my goal, the process is something that excites me. I have many paintings that come down from one show and I keep painting it. I know what color theory is but at the same time I just grab whatever I can grab. I’m looking for surprises. In my mind I ask, ‘Should I keep this or do I change it.’ I have options.”
“Painting is honesty. If the artist is honest it’s a good painting. Getting honesty is very hard to deal with. Painting is making me more than I am making a painting. ”
The demo wrapped up after close to 2 hours and Ikeda stayed answering questions and greeting the crowd. I waited to approach him and thank him for sharing his craft and thoughts. Last week I had shared my blog post with him and his response in person was as gracious as his email had been. It may not surprise many these days as Denver emerges onto the national scene, but we have long had a vibrant art scene including artists like Ikeda.