New Art and How to Stay Together When It’s Tough

New Art and How to Stay Together When It’s Tough

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know that I often use my works of art as a conversation piece. The art becomes an avenue of dialogue, and sometimes the conversation diverges off the path of the original idea conveyed in the work, just like you may compliment your friend on their tasteful decor, and then moments later you segue into talking about how you and your best friend met. I think this is what will happen with today’s post. I hope you don’t mind. 🙂 I recently got back from a wonderful vacation in Michigan visiting friends over in the Detroit area, and then had a beautiful, scenic drive through the U.P. We stayed overnight in Escanaba, and in the morning our kids played at a vacant and refreshing beach. With this time away from the studio, I came back refreshed, but had to stoke the coals a bit to get the productive artist in me going again after a week of inactivity! Monday afternoon, some classmates from high school made the two-hour drive from Merrill, WI to Eau Claire to pick up this wedding portrait I did for them. I love how it turned out, and as I told them, it all starts with an excellent photo to work from. The pose is natural and the they are a good looking couple.   This was a candid shot taken right before the grand march, and perfectly captures the overflowing joy of the celebration of their new life together. Here is a photo of them in front of the painting. Nearly twenty years and still going...
New Artwork and Building Bridges Part 2

New Artwork and Building Bridges Part 2

A few weeks ago, I posted on a new painting I completed recently, a 48″ x 72″ black-and-white portrait of a family from the Twin Cities. It was the largest portrait I have ever been commissioned to do, and arguable the most unique. There’s more about the idea and how the portrait came to be, here. I’ll jump in where I left off on the last post. The portrait took nearly 200 hours to complete, from the time taken to build the sizable canvas stretcher frame to the last dab of paint. I underestimated the challenge of painting in monochromatic.   Although it is easier to do a painting this way than full-blown color, it presented a few difficulties that I didn’t foresee, at least to the extent that surfaced in this work. You would think that to do a black and white painting that you would simply just use black and white paint and mix various amounts to arrive at the grey tones in between. It didn’t work that way for me. I typically paint with a translucent glazing technique that allows light to reflect through the canvas and back to your eye through the layers of paint, like the Old Masters, giving the final painting a vibrance that is hard to capture with opaque paint alone. So, when you mix black with the clear acrylic medium, even mixed with some white, and apply it to the canvas, the resulting color is not slate grey, but a brownish grey, because the light shining through the canvas warms up the color. Then, when certain areas become more opaque than...
Experiencing the Joy of Camping

Experiencing the Joy of Camping

The passing of Memorial Day heralds the beginning of summer and with it, the camping season. I love this time of year. The weather is still fairly temperate and the days are long.   I also love camping.   It’s the combination of cooking fire over the open flame, and “roughing it”–leaving many of the conveniences and distractions of home behind that charms me.   More than that, it’s wonderful to be out in nature where you can be calmed by the green, translucent canopy above, the sounds of leaves rustling in the wind and dragonflies buzzing, and to be able to take scenic hikes at leisure.   My wife was hiking on a beautiful sunlit trail at Copper Falls State Park in Northern Wisconsin, carrying our daughter on her shoulders, and I snapped the photo that this painting was based on. Below is a commissioned portrait sketch I did that celebrates that love of camping. This drawing was made from an older photo, decades old if I remember correctly. Here we can see the husband and wife just enjoying being out together camping, and they look pretty happy. This freehand drawing took a few hours and, although not at my more photorealistic level of work, I think it captures the feel of the picture without too much fuss. For folks that camp at the same place every year, their spot can begin to mean a lot to them–a home away from home. Here is a drawing I did for an old friend from high school based off a photo of his parents’ cabin. After the drawing was done,...
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