painting

great faces, great places

For a hot minute I thought I should talk about the art festivals I've done so far this year or the gallery shows I've participated in their have had their ups and downs and take home positives and things I've learned, for me that is the logistical side of business and...logistics bore me! Hence why I haven't blogged since May. So I am just gonna talk about MY process which is A. My inspiration and B. How I make my stuff. Because I'm into it and could talk about it all day.

So I went to South Dakota, ya know that place you went with your family in 2nd grade and you'll probably never go back to until your kids are in 2nd grade. Its a lot cooler than you remember by the way. It is honestly kinda love everything about it, well minus the couple tourist trap aspects but I get it they gotta make that money.

The Badlands are where its at, well ok its tied with Custer State Park, they are equally awesome. The Badlands have the biggest bison I've ever seen, it was like a truck, tons of bighorn sheep, loads of black tail deer. I loved it I just flat out was in heaven.

I love this little guy!

I love this little guy!

and this huge guy, seriously built like a brick house 

and this huge guy, seriously built like a brick house 

I want to like draw and paint every nature moment I had there. Caught some beautiful fish, saw some gorgeous deer and pronghorns, and a billion beautiful sunsets. I utterly loved it. I recently started this landscape of the vista from the needles highway in Custer. You don't really think vastness or mountains really for South Dakota but it really was, the Black Hills are a lot more breathtaking than you think.

so rocks are hard but i love the sunset meeting the far back mountains

so rocks are hard but i love the sunset meeting the far back mountains

I kind of love doing this cartoon-esque landscapes. I don't know if other people like it but I find them so fun and I like the character of it. I want to do some from the badlands too. There was so much color and life at the badlands that really surprised me. 

I also went to northern Minnesota to some mining lakes and want to do a bunch of Minnesota paintings now too. I started by doing a drawing of a Minnesota mermaid with a nice freshwater trout scene.

I freakin' love it

I freakin' love it

So this is probably my best artwork to date. I have only dabbled in colored pencil in the past and this is my first completed colored pencil drawing. I still use copics for blending and "blurring" spots, I have to learn how to blend with mineral spirits still. I have started to try what I call effects, but essentially playing more with reflections and shadows than I normally do. I love the water ripple reflections on them both, I had no reference photo so its not perfect but I think it turned out cool. I think using tan paper helps give it the underwater murky feel. 

I want to make more of these, do a couple of different freshwater mermaids. I am really into fish lately, they are so fun and have so much texture and color that lends good to colored pencil. 

So maybe I will start a more frequent blog schedule and just talk about the things that interest me, probably what a blog is actually intended for. 

i met you in the summer

So last Friday was my first gallery showing. It was a pretty small show and at a city community center art display showcase, but the show was so sweet and really touching. It was in honor of a local artist that passed over a year ago, Anthony Caponi. Tony built an art park that I worked at just after college during my graphics career. When submitting artwork to be considered for the show you were asked to include a short essay about how Caponi influenced you, whether that be through his art, the park, or knowing him in person. I wrote about my time working there and what it meant to me not knowing that if chosen to show that the story would be printed alongside the artwork on display. So seeing my story and everyone else's stories on display was really exposing at first but also very sweet. There was so many touching stories about how one man's art really reached so many people on more than just a visual aesthetics level.

I had a couple guests that came out for the show and that was incredibly sweet of them to come. So a big thank you to them.

here is the showcased piece, matted and framed up

here is the showcased piece, matted and framed up

So next month I am doing my first outdoor show. It not a solely art dedicated show, its a festival that has crafts and food vendors as well but it more art leaning than your regular run of the mill arts & crafts fair. It is a 2 day festival called Night Market which surprise takes place at night. It seems really fun and I am excited about it. I do have a pinch of nerves/fear of not selling anything but I am hopeful that I can gain some audience and reach more people. 

I've been trying to fit in art more often because I can see improvement the more often I work at it, which duh but seeing actual improvement is a real motivator. 

I really love doing the women and wildlife/nature drawings. I find them super fun to make and relaxing I love how they look. Now, whether or not they are something that appeals to people remains to be unseen. 

I just love drawing cartoony fish, THEY ARE SO FUN

I just love drawing cartoony fish, THEY ARE SO FUN

Fish are incredibly fun to draw. I am so into doing almost cartoon-like animals and women. I can see areas I need to tighten up, but I for sure don't want to head towards realism. I like graphic look to art. Big bold lines and colors, like I wish drawing tattoo flash was an art path I could take. 

I have been playing around with the idea of making travel artwork. I obviously already have a heavy North American landscape and wildlife influence but taking the work and marketing it as travel art. I don't know I need to formulate the idea a little further. I want to make some of my landscapes into postcards. We'll see how it turns out.

I am also excited to try more oil paintings. I finished 2 last month and they were fun and challenging but I really liked working in the medium. It makes you slow down, which is a good thing. 

my little salmon guy

my little salmon guy

colorado scene

colorado scene

Now the first painting I will say plays more to oil's strengths, the landscape I think I tried to approach it like I do acrylics and that's why it isn't as new feeling. With oils it feels like you have to think bigger picture than you do with acrylics. With acrylics I can lay one layer down in the background and work my way forward and its almost like you have to work opposite in oils. Which can lead to cool things like the sunset for the salmon. 

I need to play around with it more, I am always too worried about wasting or ruining a painting but I really need to be okay with making mistakes to learn so I can improve my skillset. Which duh, but it's one of those things you know it but until you do it you don't really KNOW it. 

14ft of awesome

Mural is finally finished! 

Like my photoshop skills to have the gate on there? It's not actually mounted yet

Like my photoshop skills to have the gate on there? It's not actually mounted yet

It doesn't photgraph well from a distance. In person the details are much more vivid, so I took some closer shots so the "glasswork" can be seen. 

Each pane has beveled glass details and I absolutely love how it turned out. The iris is my favorite detail. I am a sucker for purple. 

Overall it took about 32 hours of work, which seems like a lot but it is a 14ft x 9ft space, so the sheer size is what ate up a lot of the time. 

This has been the largest project I have taken on and I am happy with the result as is the client. I am exctied to move onto my next project [bear painting] and hope that more comissions will follow. 

murals, commissions, life lessons & adventures

Welp, I thought by July I would have a ton of new paintings done that I could post on here but alas nothing new in a while. HOWEVER I have been busy. Which I'll get to in a minute, first going to talk about what I learned the hard way.

MN State Parks is getting their own MN license plate and held a contest recently for artists to render designs that they would use on said plate. I made a painting but had decided it sucked too hard to bother entering and thought there's no way I could have won so why even try. Well life made sure I will always try now. They posted the 3 finalists last week and they... well they... let's just say had I known that kind of quality would be finalists I would have entered in a New York minute. I guess I know now that always try, because you never know. 

So in spirit of try, I am going to do my own artist in residency of sorts in 2 weeks. I will be going to a rural yurt with my friend Anna for a few nights on the Southern Shore of Lake Superior in Upper Michigan. I plan to bring a couple sketch books and hopefully find some inspiration to make some new stuff. I took off 10 days for me to work on new stuff and work on some newly commissioned stuff. 

Recently I was commissioned for my first non-family/friend artwork. I know that sounds like oh wow finally someone who isn't related to you is asking for art big deal, but I don't know, it kind of feels like some sort of step forward? I am making a mother bear and cub portrait for her, with a forest motif. I am actually really excited to start this painting. I think it's going to be a lot of fun. Here is the preliminary sketch. 

wanna do lupins and lots of pines in background

wanna do lupins and lots of pines in background

I also have been commissioned to do a outdoor mural on the brick wall on the back of my aunt's garage. She had told me she wanted to incorporate her garden and ferns but wasn't exactly sure what she wanted. I went with a stained glass motif since she is a stained glass artist herself and I thought it would simplify the large wall space instead of trying to do life like detail on enough flowers to fill a space of 14 feet, and would be something unique to her. This was my original sketch, excuse the highlighter coloring since that was all I had available when I sketch this during an overtime shift. 

I primed the wall then sketched out in marker then went over in thin black paint to create the outline I am filling in with each "pane" of color. I will go over the outline in black again once the panes are finished to give the illusion of lead soldering. 

had to modify the sketch a bit to fit the actual dimensions of the wall

had to modify the sketch a bit to fit the actual dimensions of the wall

I have started to add the color piece by piece and it is proving to be a lot more time-sucky than previously thought. I love how it is looking but I am glad I am starting with the small bits and moving towards the larger colors because I don't know I would have the patience for the small detail after doing the large scale colors.

the border looks a little gryffindor now but once the other colors fill in it will balance out the cool tones

the border looks a little gryffindor now but once the other colors fill in it will balance out the cool tones

I will take more detail photos once more of it is finished. Each pane I have painted in the illusion of stained glass with waves and reflections on the glass. I think it looks pretty cool, and excited to see how it looks when I add more and more colors. 

dunraven pass... I think

During this painting specifically I've learned I struggle with paitence while painting. I love acrylics because they dry so fast, I would LOVE to learn to paint with oils but CANNOT imagine having the patience to wait for things to dry. However while working on this painting I realized how slow dry time would be helpful in the blending of large areas, so maybe in the future I will dabble with oils... we'll see. 

I tried to paint this exactly as I saw it the day I was leaving Yellowstone out the NE entrance, near the Tower area of Yellowstone. It was rainy overcast, the sky melded with the furthest hills and clouds mixed in with the steam from a distant geyser or spring. I also included some ferns that were near the road. I don't know how to explain it but when it is overcast the greens of leafy stuff like ferns just seem SO vibrant green again the dark forest green background. 

I think the large trees could use some more definition from the closest hill of trees behind it [picture doesn't show any but trust me there is some in the painting] but thinking back when I saw it in real life, there was little distinction and they kind of melted together. 

I know I need to work on detail technique in my landscapes but I need to work on having patience for little fine work like that. Overall I am happy with this, I think it captures the essence of what that place felt like to me. The place was misty and wet and vast and like most of Yellowstone it felt ancient, and I feel that when I look at the final product here. 

prismatic

Yellowstone is, let's keep it real, one of the best places if not the best place in America. Everyone knows it's great but if you haven't been there, know that it's 10 times better than you think. It is like nothing you have ever experienced. I am doing a whole series on Yellowstone so I am going to talk piece by piece about the inspiration from the park in each painting. 

So I'm gonna talk about the grand prismatic spring for a second here. It is huge. There are paths to see it from a higher ground to get a larger view of it but I really preferred it from the boardwalk point of view. There are so many small areas of beauty, it of course is amazing and beautiful as a whole but when you are up close and personal with it you get to see that it has so many more colors and it such a delicate feel. In the fields leading up to the spring the water flow on-top the mud has caused the bacteria to form these windy trails that look like arteries almost. I love when you see biology within other biology, it gives you a sense that we are connected to the natural world, because we truly are.

Midway geyser basin is the stop you need to make in Yellowstone, if you are doing a one day trip driving through this is the place to stop, not old faithful. In this one stop alone you get to see 2 gigantic springs [grand prismatic and the dormant excelsior geyser] and the incredible turquoise pool, which I will also be featuring a piece on. 

For this painting I wanted to focus on the edge of the bacteria line, where the vibrant colors are beginning to pop, and there are mounds of clay/dirt. I had a lot of fun time making this, abstract pieces are always interesting to play around with new methods of blending and application. I wish it had turned out a little less peach and more orange but I really love this piece. 

year of the bison

We all know that bison are the ish. 

I met a ton in the Dakotas and Wyoming, but it seems the ones I get to encounter close up [not that close though, I'm not about to selfie with a bison] are bulls going through rut looking a mess like this. 

If you could only hear the bellowing belch/honk coming from this guy. So about 3 minutes after this picture was taken, he walked out towards our car on the road stared into my soul and yelled at us. He never broke eye contact as we drove away. I will never forget you grumpy bison! 

If you could only hear the bellowing belch/honk coming from this guy. So about 3 minutes after this picture was taken, he walked out towards our car on the road stared into my soul and yelled at us. He never broke eye contact as we drove away. I will never forget you grumpy bison! 

Not that I have anything against grumpy drooly bulls, I just wanted to paint a sweet one. When I think of bison I want to nuzzle my face in their fluffy fur on their forehead. Knowing that I can't do that in real life [apart from the goring and death factor they kinda have a smell and are covered in nast] tears apart at my soul. 

Most of the bison I saw were in Teddy Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. Yellowstone did have a lot as well but at TRNP they were bam right there and we lucked out and got to see an entire herd in motion both times I've been there. I would love to do a whole series on TRNP as well [I am already working on a Yellowstone one] because there is such cool stuff there and I feel like nobody knows about it. The Dakotas have so much just incredible stuff and I think it gets overshadowed by the tourist traps. Spearfish Canyon is one of the best scenic drives in the country, and you probably would never know about it unless someone told you, so here I'm telling you. If you go to Rapid City skip deadwood drive up 14 to Spearfish, stop in Lead at the bakery, and you can either go to Devil's Tower or back to RC.  

Anyways, back to the painting, I found it hard to get depth in the fur since they are so dark brown but overall I am happy with how he looks. I wanted him to be peaking out from behind some spruce, because I saw a ton shading themselves in the trees and I like giving animals a more [for lack of a better word] cute feel, although I have contemplated recently to do a series of grumpy animals. 

*clap*clap*clap*clap deep in the heart of zion

I got the chance to visit Zion National Park last month and it was pretty incredible. 

Somehow we were able to make it there the week before the shuttle system began, and thank god man. It was actually some sweet-ass driving in Zion. They really have their roads on point. Most mountainous national parks have some moderate to difficult driving on the way to and within the parks [not that I'm complaining I totally get why they have roads like that] but Zion was a dream for driving, in fact all the mountain roads and highways in Utah and Nevada were nice, god what life must be like without winter potholes. 

There was about a billion and a half people parked by Angel's Landing, and it had just poured pretty hard so I wasn't about to walk up slippery rock dropoff holding a wet chain, so we chose to do the Emerald Pools Trail. [which I highly recommend] Also, may I say the place smells so good. They got some fresh breeze/crisp juniper/light sage/cedary type of thing going on in the air, and I was digging it. Anyways, there's 3 emerald pools, you can hike all the way to the top waterfall to see the upper one, we didn't make it since rain was closing in, but it was still an incredible hike with cool sights. 

Most of Zion is accessible from the canyon floor, which gives you a really cool play on light and shadow from the bottom perspective. The rock gets 'dyed' from water run off and turns an indigo shade in certain places. I was there during winter, and even without the greenery of leaves there was still TONS of color in Zion, which lends itself nicely to painting aesthetics for a winter season artwork.  

As far as the painting is concerned it didn't really capture what I was going for. The rockfaces in  Zion are so drippy gooey dark blue and black on top of the vibrant red rock. But in paint its hard to walk that line without it getting muddy and unreadable. It's even difficult to photograph in person. The mountains have an iridescent quality and from the canyon dark and shadow can deceive the camera. Obviously most mountains or any nature scene doesn't live up to the reality of seeing it in person but Zion has this on a whole 'nother level. I'll consider this a practice and attempt another in future, but for now I am pleased how this turned out.