More Visual Searching

General / 22 September 2021

I created another non objective painting this past Sunday. Balance and exploration of color were top of mind as always, with the addition of trying to figure out what I mean when I say that I want my work to feel a bit more like paint. Yes, it's edges, but it's also process and the duration of time that I like to see in the material narrative.  It's a bit like when you remember the feeling of a dream, but not necessarily the content of what happened. 

I like all these colorful dashes and how they hover over top of the more neutral, but related, colors. I like that they are contained in a grid structure even as they still feel immediate and intuitive in their energy and hue changes. Even as I write this I am remembering a series of drawings from my MFA that these are totally reminding me of now. That connection won't be obvious to most ;) More of a note to self there. 

I just like looking at these marks and exploring what is there. I want to wield them like a style, something with more depth not just left to right shallow-ish space. Let's see what happens in the next ones. 

🤷‍♀️ I like it ✨

More PB Development

Work In Progress / 16 September 2021

Very early look of my character for my PB manuscript :) Awww, so cute.  

This is what absent minded painting comes out looking like for me. To be clear, I've written the text, story boarded and edited each page, developed character designs, done a bunch of research and planning for the look of the thing, but the touch or the handwriting of the mark making is what is left to work out. I’d like to balance the look of the raw digital and some of the rough edges with something that looks more like paint 🤔

I want it to be both paint and rendered legible form simultaneously. I can chase a realistic texture or lighting scenario, but for this I'd like to ride that moment where it looks exciting like paint balanced together into form. I like this very raw digital, almost reckless sort of approach to just bringing something into view. It helps to get me past overthinking, or trying to figure it all out in my head instead of on the page, and being too precious with the brush marks. But even as someone who likes the digital look, I need to use this as a rough draft to create a more polished image that I'd be happy to explore printed at a larger size.   

I'm liking this direction though. I want an image that is full of things to look at and even discover. I'm want this to be a book that can be opened and enjoyed and explored more than once. They're illustrations, but they're also paintings. 

PB Progress Thumbnail

Work In Progress / 09 September 2021

I don't usually post sketches or WIPs, but I've been working on a larger project lately and I'd like to share a small glimpse. All summer I've been pushing around suuuper rough black and white thumbnails that make up my story about magical creatures in a forest on a bit of a journey. Really I had no clear idea of what the story was until I just started with these thumbnails and their revisions. I've been in the seriously rough, reworking, maybe only I can tell what is meant by that shape, awkward phase for awhile now, so it was exciting to carve in some crisp edges and color :)

Originally I thought I'd be creating a wordless picture book with a single character, but eventually the words arrived and also several more characters. For the character designs I'm just about happy with them.  I design with abstract shapes and marks so eventually I start to feel compelled by a design, but then need to translate it into actual features, or a way to keep the marks abstract and still feel legible and at home within the artwork. 

More than a bit of what is in this thumbnail I consider place-holder marks. A way to design shapes that stand for stuff and the beginning of finding precision, or more considered marks, but still a short hand language and not quite containing all that I'd imagined in my head. More than a start, a foundation I guess. 

Painting Class Wrapped

General / 25 July 2021

Friday was my last day of teaching Digital Observational Painting for the summer session at PCA&D! This is probably my favorite course to teach: the digital tools have so much potential and I always learn something new myself through the process. I started with a challenging little monochromatic grouping, including this reflective metallic cup. Trial by fire I guess. I remember learning to render in paint with a set up of white eggs and white styrofoam cups and that seemed challenging to me at the time. I have such a short amount of time to teach, so I go right in with a bit of color and temperature from the beginning. 

I don't always make use of these solid flat color shapes, but I started to enjoy how they sort of punctuated all of my other marks.  This was a fun still life to photograph for class because my lit candle really was that close to the spray painted black box top 😆 Wouldn't have been able to work from observation of this one even if we were back in person.

My colleague always included a grapes still life in his Intro Painting course and it's great to see the works that comes from it. It's a bit of an advanced concept to separate out local color and value from the effects of lighting on an object, but probably best to just jump in and begin. This was a great image to experiment with brush work and texture on the background as well to generate some visual interest in the trompe l'oeil format.  I might try to back light them next time, that seems like a good next move.

Environment Study

General / 21 May 2021

Like most painters I like to study reference by painting it, or making a study. I'm not really trying to invent my own ideas at this point, just identify the major relationships of tone, color, perspective, and potentially story or something about what the focal area is. I opened Mapcrunch today to find a quick reference to study, something simple that I could study in an hour or less and focus on simplifying. 

And of course Mapcrunch beamed me to an extremely visually complicated place. But there was an archway and I love archways. Also I've never known too much about this place, the old city of Jerusalem, but when I looked it up to see if this gate had a name I learned that this city has many more gates, each with interesting stories and names associated. So, with the real fear of an intense research-based side quest looming, I minimized the research tab and, for now, have just focused on the painting ;)  

My one hour study was allowed to balloon to just over two because this was challenging in a good way with a good sweep of perspective, tight tonal relationships, and new brushes to put to good, and hopefully visually interesting, effect. While painting this I tried not to zoom in too much or often. To me, that is one of the definitions of a study- not getting too into details. Edge quality is in bounds and important, but anything that needs to zoom to be really appreciated or painted is out. So, probably about 6 x 8" on the screen while painting. 

Texture Study or Digital Monoprint?

General / 12 May 2021

While trying out some new brushes today I began a little non objective painting. No plan, just making one move in response to the previous one. I'm starting a new book project and need to develop the visual style. So I was looking for brushes with that in mind. I'm trying to replicate the look of a painting surface with textured support and some dry brush just skimming across the uppermost surfaces. That's not something I've just passively come across digitally, I think I need to develop a way to create that, or else work both traditionally and scan in paintings to assemble digitally.

Usually i'm thinking about balancing the colors and the shapes. 

And then I wanted to interrupt this painting a bit and used some transforms to disrupt the structure. This process was slightly reminding me of Gerhard Richter's squeegee paintings all of a sudden. 

I've been playing with bevel and emboss to create relief texture within the individual brush strokes. That's an idea from artist Jama Jurabaev and it's fascinating to try to control. I started there with my new brushes, and used lots of techniques for painting and selections to try to create a surface that reminded me of heavy dry brush surface. I'm not completely sure that I've found something I like for my specific project, but it's certainly an interesting place to start.  

I started to think of this process as a digital monoprint. While monoprinting is really similar to painting, there is something that happens in the press and it can bake the surface together in a way that is different to straight painting. That slight bit of process that takes some of the image out of my direct control reminded me of the bevel and emboss settings on the layer style. I'm going to call this digital monoprinting and I'd love to hear opinions on that ;)

Plein Air painting for #PleinAirpril

General / 09 April 2021

I've been participating in a plein air painting challenge on Instagram this month. So far, it's been only en plein air in spirit because I have been working digitally indoors from photo reference (Just go with it). I've been studying some reference from the New York Botanical Garden of single flowers bunches, or views of the ground like this one. In a way it's a completely new approach to plein air because when I go out painting I find myself looking for some interesting effect of the light and then painting the scene as quickly as possible so I can get to capturing the lighting effect. 

But these references have mostly been tightly cropped and with completely flat lighting. So I really need to visually interpret what I am seeing, and usually bring some sense of organization other than the spotlight effect of direct lighting. The challenge, from my perspective, is to get bored enough with just getting the representation of the motif right or working, that you have to find another more specific way to entertain yourself with making the piece. Something like a specific moment where two colors come together, or maybe allowing the paint to feel like paint for like 75% of the piece and then snapping into detail and representation and sharp edges for the the remaining bit.    

It's really difficult for me to just allow a painting to feel unfinished, or under-rendered. I really enjoy creating textures and form in paint- usually that is the logic I use to make my next move. But at the same time I am trying to find a way of creating some looser and more painterly marks in my work and then allowing them to remain and not painting over them in time. Having those looser passages feels like a faster moment in the painting. Like a place where it is all just holding together in balance effortlessly, rather than meticulously. So this has been a really helpful practice with just that thinking. 

This little view of leaves started to feel like paint that I enjoyed looking at and actually reminded me of work that I was doing back during my MFA degree.  There is something here that I am trying to bring along with me for the future works. The challenge goes all throughout April so there is plenty of time to join in #pleinairpril. 

Non Objective Design

General / 01 April 2021

In 2d design we study the visual elements that make up an artwork and the principles that organize the composition. Then we try them out by making simple non objective designs. We analyze existing artworks such as poetry, music, and painting to see what elements and principles are making them work and if we can use some of those same combinations to create new original design. 

How can we visualize the structures and emotions of poetry and music? How can we understand the existing visual structures of artworks to engage with that same visual language? I wanted to really lead the students through this process to show them exactly how I might analyze an existing artwork with the intention of learning what makes it work and theorizing the process of how it might have been made. 

I started with this painting by Caleb Taylor from a recent exhibition of works at Haw Contemporary in Kansas City, MO. This is a very direct one to one example since it is a non objective painting being used to create a non objective design. I have my visual observations on the list on the right. It’s just observations of what I see. Then I used that observation to create an original design, looking for subtle opportunities where I can make a move that feels different from the source material. I have a lot of fun trying to get in another artist’s head and I don’t have a practice of non objective drawing and painting so it’s an interesting change of pace. 

My design based on an existing artwork :)

Teaching Demos

General / 25 March 2021

I'd like to keep a selection of my demos from teaching to share online. I'll start with this small black box still life I put together the other day. This July I will be teaching a refreshed version of my Digital Observational Painting course through PCA&D. I am adding a bit more of a focus on drawing and two dimensional design. Usually I skip quickly through drawing, since I teach painting, but drawing issues will always haunt your piece if you don't correct them during the process of painting. I want to focus the students' attention on design as a main source of expression in their work.  Our paintings shouldn't all look the same, even when working from the same motif. We will go through a series of exercises intended to open up a conversation about what our goal is in making a painting, or how our visual marks can tell the story of our visual  attention. 

Course description for my upcoming Digital Observational Painting:

Making a painting is a practice of both drawing and painting skills, but also one of design. While it is a visual problem to solve, there is not one correct answer, but an entire language of expression. This course will open a conversation into digital painting strategies and tools to grapple with the expressive challenge of visual perception. What are our paintings about and how can we make them visually legible? We actively guide our perception of the still life motif to focus around a design question, because while there are infinite ways to paint a still life, the correct visual path is the one that furthers and engages with our initial design question.

Moon Daggers

General / 05 May 2020

If the Moon Daggers are ceremonial objects, more than weapons, then it seemed like their place could be someplace interesting and more than simply a rack or placed upon a piece of furniture. They are kept out in the open, not locked away or in the darkness of a trunk, but within the garden under the open sky, in the shallow pool at the center. 

I tend to block out basic silhouettes to keep myself designing in shape until I’m ready to start painting and really visually knitting everything together. This way I can use these silhouettes as easy ways to create selections and masks as I need them. 

I tried quite a few shape designs when making this thumbnail. Really, I just didn't know what I was looking for so I searched and made these decisions while drawing. I make these thumbnails at about 2 x 3" so I am forced to simply stay designing in shapes and not think too hard about the details of what those shapes really represent quite yet.

Most of these just didn't have the right emotional tone that I feel is represented by the Moon Wytch. I kept thinking that I needed to balance cerebral, peaceful, and vaguely religious tones, but not dark magic or herbs or potions either.