Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What's New in the New Year?

Yikes! It's a new year already, and although I don't believe in making resolutions, I do like to use this time of a year as an opportunity to assess where I'm at with my painting and to set up new goals for the year ahead. It's easier for me to slow down and think at this time of year than it is during the summer or fall, when I'm usually up to my eyeballs in exhibiting at outdoor art shows or plein air painting while the weather is advantageous.

In a rather anticlimactic way to kick off the new year, I've been taking the time to clean up my studio space. Sometimes, you have to clear the cognitive clutter in order to focus more effectively on creative work. In addition, the re-organization of my studio space reflects a change in direction for me. This past year, I transitioned from working exclusively in the pastel medium to adding oil painting to my body of artwork. This year, my goal is to work exclusively in oils. New year, new me? Maybe.

Manhattan Mist 36" x 36" oil on canvas.

Why the change? A few reasons. First, pastels are exceptionally dusty to work with. I love the medium, but I hate the mess. And after more than a decade of dealing with it in our home (my studio is above our garage), I decided to pull the plug on it. Second, I participated in my first outdoor art shows with my oil paintings last year and it went well. Those "trial balloon" events gave me some positive feedback that I"m on the right track with my ideas and my approach. Finally, I've been ready for a change for a couple of years now. It's high time to do something different, and the new challenges of this medium have revitalized me. Thanks to some excellent workshops and instruction from other professional artists, I'm excited about the possibilities of this year and more years ahead.

My first new painting of 2017, "Manhattan Mist," is shown here. This is a 36" x 36" oil on canvas based on a smaller study that I completed late last year. This is a view across midtown Manhattan, along West 48th Street. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Reflections on 2016

My parents were right. Each year goes by a little faster than the last.

2016 proved this point for me. As I look back, I can't believe how fast this year came and went. Overall, it was a good year both personally and professionally.

Before I dig into 2017, I want to reflect on some of my personal favorite paintings from 2016. Yes, I know, I'm not supposed to play favorites. But while I like to refer to my paintings as "my children," it's only a figure of speech. So, therefore, I get to play favorites at the end of the year.

Here, in no particular order, are some of the paintings from this past year that really stuck with me (for the right reasons!). Enjoy, and I'll see you in 2017.

Parallel Universe 18 x 18 pastel.

I thought that this piece from the heart of Chicago captured the woman and the brilliant summer light effectively.


Please Continue to Pull Forward 12 x 24 pastel.

I chose this piece because of its unusual subject matter and its optimistic title. What better philosophy for how to proceed through life?


Woodward Avenue, Detroit 6 x 12 pastel.

Luminous light, bright colors, and strong shapes made this piece from Detroit pop.


Skyscape No. 9, Sapphire Spring 8 x 12 pastel.

I have positive vibes about this landscape because I discovered the subject while on a bike ride.


Twilight Highway 8 x 12 pastel.

Sunset in central Wisconsin, my home state.


Follow My Gaze 16 x 30 oil on linen.

A wonderful portrait and portal into another world.


Star Gazers 36 x 36 oil on canvas.

I wanted to begin working in oils because it would allow me to work larger. Here's one of my first larger pieces in oil.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Winter and Experimentation

Yesterday was the official start of winter and today, happily, the days start to get longer. I'm already looking forward to getting out into my veggie garden in just a few short months, but I also value this time of year for the opportunity to rest and restore my creative spirit. This is the season when I experiment with my art materials and try some more ambitious motifs in my studio that I don't have time to explore during my busy summer months. After all, when the wind is howling and the snow is blowing sideways, what better time to slink into my studio with a warm cup of tea and really dive deep into a big piece or new idea?

My Palette featuring several different blues (and one green) mixed out from full strength down to lighter tints to see which one has the vibrancy that I need.

Right now, I'm doing precisely that. I'm tackling a series of larger cityscapes during these upcoming months. I have a bunch of exhibitions coming up in the spring and I'm excited by the opportunities ahead. I'm currently working on a 36" x 36" oil on canvas featuring a view along West 48th Street in midtown Manhattan. Over this past year, I've had a fairly established selection of oil paint colors that I've used in all of my works, whether they were landscapes or cityscapes. A consistent palette of colors is important to streamline the working process and maintain predictability in color mixtures.

But for this particular subject, I found that my blues were falling short of the mark. Naturally, I took to the Internet and ordered in some new colors from my favorite online suppliers (Jerrys Artarama, Dick Blick, and Utrecht). Have I mentioned that the coolest thing about being an artist is that you can paint _AND_ satisfy your compulsive shopping urges at the same time?

Anyways, I ordered in some new paints from a variety of manufacturers until I found just the right ultramarine blue for the job. Gamblin won, in case you were wondering. The big piece is still in process and you can grab a sneak peek of it via my Instagram account, but it isn't quite ready for its full-fledged debut on my web site. Instead, today I'm posting the small 8 x 8 study, "Midtown Mist" here for you to see what will come off of my easel early in 2017. Enjoy!

Study, Midtown Mist 8 x 8 oil on panel.