Saturday, September 29, 2012

September 29 - 3 Hours

Saturday -  A gorgeous day in Minneapolis.  Started the day off with spending time with my nieces & nephew, ending it with Dry the River and sandwiched in between, productive painting time.

Soundtrack - Kathleen Edwards (Voyageur), Cat Power (Sun), Air (Talkie Walkie)

Piece(s) worked on - Lindsay; Colin.  In the Lindsay painting, the eyes still weren't quite right.  Another hour is all she needed, now I'm perfectly happy with this piece!  I'm almost done with Colin.  I'm happy with the face & clothing.  Now I just have to tackle that beautiful beard with a small brush.  Right on track!

Stoic Wife & Husband

NOW it's finished!

Friday, September 28, 2012

September 27 & 28 - 3 Hours

Thursday & Friday - I SWEAR these weeks are moving slower at work and faster in the evenings.  I can't seem to get enough sleep and haven't found myself in the mood to paint.  Which, yesterday, resulted in only 1 hour of frustrating work.  Today...things happened.  Good things.  Maybe it's an every other day thing?  Perhaps this blog will be a scientific experiment of the gods' humor on my success/failure pattern.  Shut up and show the progress?  Ok...

Soundtrack - Mynabirds (Generals), Hall & Oats (Greatest Hits), LCD Soundsystem (LCD Soundsystem)

Piece(s) worked on - Colin.  I felt good about this piece.  Then I ruined it.  Now I feel good about it again.  So much drama....
I always think it's interesting to see before & after shots.  R side has changes from today, L side is still untouched from yesterday.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 25 - 2 Hours

Tuesday - In week 4.  Seeing progress is really encouraging.  I feel like I'm coming down with a now that I've worked, studioed, and ironed all my blasted suits for work, I'm watching an episode of Breaking Bad and drinking wine.  That'll help, right?

Soundtrack - Frightened Rabbit (The Midnight Organ Fight & Sing the Greys) -- seeing them in concert soon; that's going to be awesome.

Piece(s) worked on - Colin.  I got to a point about an hour into my time painting in which I thought his nose was PERFECT.  And I made a mental note not to touch it again.  And then I did.  And spent almost an hour ruining it more.  So that part needs to be fixed.....  That being said, I think the eyes and mouth may be close to done.  And this beard is going to be fun to paint.  Who knew all the males in my life had such fantastic (fun-to-paint) facial hair?

Monday, September 24, 2012

September 23 & 24 - 6 Hours

Sunday & Monday - This weekend turned into less of a paint-a-thon than planned.  Sunday evening, after a lovely walk in Uptown and seeing The Master (highly recommended), I reluctantly trekked to my studio to be productive.  And sometimes...things just don't come naturally or work easily.  Regardless, it's a skill, not a talent (I am utterly convinced of this), that I am willing to work on forever. So, somewhat frustrating productivity wise, but here we are, none-the-less.

Soundtrack - Rufus Wainwright (Out of the Game & Poses), Grizzly Bear (Shields), Fleet Foxes (Fleet Foxes & Helplessness Blues)

Piece(s) worked on - Victor & Laura; Colin.  Keeping on schedule with one painting a week, I finished Victor & Laura last night (Sunday).  I'm still struggling with calling it done (as I do with many pieces) because I still feel there's something that needs to be done with the background.  But, for all intensive purposes, it is a finished piece!

Victor & Laura - Done!
 I started the sketch of Colin's portrait months ago.  It will eventually live next to a portrait of the same size of his lovely wife, Ellen.  Tonight, when I attacked this piece whole-heartedly for the first time, things DID just come together.  I feel like I have a good handle on his face and expression already, which is pretty quick and rare.  Maybe I'm getting better at this painting thing? :)

There's something positively Old Testament-y about this beard.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

September 21 & 22 - 4 hours

This weekend turned out to be incredibly more social than planned.  Not so great for painting production, but it was wonderful for everything else.  I was able to support my lovely friends Emilie Hitch & Nikolas James Perez in their photography show, take part in a wonderful performance by Alt-J at the Triple Rock, AND make new friends.  Additionally, I had the honor of photographing and talking with a good friend in her garden.  Her portrait will be coming together next month hopefully!  Quite the Friday/Saturday.

While in the studio; Soundtrack - Phantom Planet (Raise the Dead), Semisonic (Feeling Strangely Fine), Alt-J (An Awesome Wave), Beach House (Bloom)

Piece(s) worked on - Victor & Laura.  He's finally done.  Now it's just the she part I have to worry about.  And that blasted background....I'm never 100% pleased...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

September 19 & 20 - 0 Hours

Wednesday & Thursday - uhoh.  Long work days and car troubles = no studio time for 2 days.  It's very weird to break routine like this, and I must say I'm feeling more anxious than I have in a while as a direct result.  However, I'm back on track and ready to work extra hard starting tomorrow.

Soundtrack - nothing but the beautiful fall wind.  
Personal note : I love sleeping with the windows open when it starts getting cold; nothing more soothing.

Piece(s) worked on - I finally did see the finished project of a collaboration between myself, my mentor, Alonso Sierralta, and fellow artist and ex-studio-mate, Ahmad Hassan.  It's for the current exhibition at Concordia University highlighting the faculty and one or two of their alumni.  The piece is titled Ipso Facto.  

Front; sculpture by Alonso Sierralta; frame from late local painter Roy Ronyak

Ahmad Hassan's poetry
Dark paintings are hard to photograph..

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September 17 - 2 Hours/18 - 3 Hours

Monday & Tuesday - busy days at work & in the studio.  I'm in love with this weather and the cool breeze through the studio sure beats the sweat drips.  Tonight brought a lovely unexpected visit from Lindsay, who gave her stamp of approval on her portrait.

Soundtrack - Amy Winehouse (Back to Black), Sharon Van Etten (Epic), The Lumineers (The Lumineers), The National (High Violet), Neko Case (Blacklisted).  I first fell in love with High Violet in the fall of 2010; when I was living in an artist loft, didn't have a car and spent a lot of time painting in my apartment.  There's an odd feeling that comes over me when I hear it; a memory of how things were and a false recollection of how I think things were at that time. It makes me want to put on a sweater and never listen to anything else again.

Piece(s) worked on - Laura & Victor.  I've been working on this piece on and off for months.  This couple and this specific sneak attack photo is what spurred the thoughts that created the series.  Laura & Victor ... well, I could go on and on about their story and how wonderful they are.  Simply, their lives are, and have to be, flexible.  Their space truly is transient, and therefore, their "place" is found in each other.  In an attempt to illustrate this (without illustrating) I've highlighted the important things in the composition.  The uncomfortable, painful-looking positioning they are in is softened by the couch that is irrelevant.  The importance is in the closeness; while they remain two separate figures.

The progress:
First Sketch
1st time I considered it finished
2nd time I thought it was finished
tried to fix things and ruined them/made more changes to background
FINALLY happy with the face.
Not done, but it's literally the 10th time I've painted his face and I think it's right this time!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

September 16 - 5 Hours

Sunday - Started my day off with a run (perhaps why I'm so tired today?  Exercise is the worst?), coffee  and adventures with a good friend from out of town, and then hit the studio.  

Soundtrack - As mentioned, was tired, needed dance : Justin Timberlake (Future/Sex/Love/Sound), Kanye West (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy), and LCD Soundsystem (This is Happening & LCD Soundsystem) 

Piece(s) worked on - Lindsay.  DONE.  On schedule.  I've gone back and forth so much with the composition of this piece, but I think it's finally where I want it.  That being said, I'll probably change it all in 6 months....  Also, I started putting together the frames I cut yesterday.  It's a process to make new canvases, but I love the process.  Of it all.
I must need a new camera; this picture is awful!
Close-up of t-shirt fabric. I'm so pleased with this!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Day off?

It's Saturday!!!!!  Weekends usually mean rest and relaxation, however, my schedule does not allow this.  But here's what I worked on for part of today:
Red curry with lentils & basmati rice
Yes, it was good.  Yes, there are leftovers.

And this is what I worked on the rest of the day:

These 48 pieces are now ready to be assembled, covered, primed and painted on.  It's fun to use tools.

September 14 - 2 Hours

 Friday - I woke up REALLY early this morning to meet a friend on her running route, which is her space.  It was wonderful to see her mid-run at sunrise on Lake of the Isles and take some great action shots.  After that lovely start to my day, I worked, went to Menards to stock up on 1"x2"s & 1/4 rounds, and headed to the studio.  I was sleeping by 10.

Trying to channel Rembrandt's techniques

Soundtrack - My Brightest Diamond (All Things Will Unwind, Bring Me the Workhorse & A Thousand Sharks Teeth)

Lindsay & I have seen My Brightest Diamond twice and lead singer Shara Worden once together.  It's become our annual(ish) date, and while painting her beautiful self, this was the perfect soundtrack.  Plus, have you listened to how amazing Shara's voice is?  Cause you should.

Piece(s) worked on - Lindsay.  I am very very close to done.  Just fixing some issues I have with the background and clothes.  Feeling gooood!

Closest thing I have to a social life right now.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

September 13 - 1.5 Hours

Thursday - Seriously, is it Friday yet?  Oh well, busy at work, busy in the studio.  I spent a few minutes this morning outlining the pieces I'll be working on when and realizing I may have more than 20 when I'm done doing all the pieces I want.  This is wonderful.  It's great to know that there are more than 20 people willing to let me copy/use/manipulate their image.

Soundtrack - Michael Kiwanuka (Home Again), Passion Pit (Gossamer)

Piece(s) worked on - Lindsay.  I love getting to the point in which I have to make a decision about the painting.  I love even more when I make the right decision.  I was liking the background, but it just wasn't right.  I kept working, re-working, adding, subtracting, and it still wasn't right.


And then I went for it.  Yellow.  The color of Lindsay's kitchen (where this photo was taken).  And voila; much better.  And she also has hair now, which absolutely helps :)


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September 12 - 2 Hours

Wednesday - It seriously isn't Friday yet?  It was quite the busy day at work and I'm doing my best not to get overwhelmed between obligations.  I'm still on track, and still going to the studio every day, which is the important thing.  It's almost as if I'm in a serious relationship with art.  If I don't spend the time, it won't put out.  Or something like that...

Soundtrack - Doug Burr (O Ye Devastator), Dr. Dog (Be the Void), Edith Piaf (Best Of)

Piece(s) worked on - Lindsay.  I might even be done with her face at this point.  Which, I feel is fast.  But, then again, so is a painting a week!

 And here's the finished Nik:

What a face :)

It's funny how the simple details sometimes end up being my favorite parts.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11 - 2.5 Hours

Tuesday - This week is long already.

Soundtrack - Cults (Cults), Arcade Fire (The Suburbs), Bat For Lashes (Two Suns)

Piece(s) worked on - Lindsay.  This was my first day working on Lindsay that wasn't a sketch or underlayer day.  And I'm feeling really good about it.  Only a slight struggle with getting proportions right and I feel like I have the expression pretty spot on at this early stage.  Feeling good.  And tired.  But mostly just good.

Monday, September 10, 2012

September 10 - 2 Hours

Monday - After (failed) grand plans for 6+ hours painting yesterday, I rushed to the studio after work today to finish my first 1st one-painting-a-week-crazy-schedule painting.  Nailed it.

Soundtrack - Dry the River (Shallow Bed) over and over again -- can't get enough of this album

Piece(s) worked on - Nik; Lindsay

Piece FINISHED - Nik;  It's a rough photo due to bad lighting and wet paint, but here it is:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

September 8 - 3 Hours

Saturday - After a morning of errands & tasks (which did include the Minneapolis Farmers Market & Utrecht -- solid errands), I studioed.  Now, time to shower and off to work for a random Saturday evening of serving cocktails.

Soundtrack - Sondre Lerche (Two Way Monologue), Alabama Shakes (Boys & Girls), Alela Diane (To Be Still)

Piece(s) worked on - Nik.  I'm SO close to finishing.  Just a little bit of a touch-up on the facial highlights, some more beadwork and finish rendering the left sleeve.  I got as far as I could, as the paint was too wet in those areas to layer.  I'm very pleased with how it's turned out in such little time!  (The photo is a little odd as the wet paint is very reflective.)

Aaaand, as much as I love painting beards, I don't love painting arm hair just as much.

Friday, September 7, 2012

September 7 - 2.5 Hours

Friday - Work.  This first work week of my 2+ hours/day in studio has been...exhausting.  But oh oh oh so rewarding.  Yesterday I took my one alloted evening off and went to see the MIA's Rembrandt show.  It was ridiculously crowded and filled in with non-Rembrandt works, but it was also awesome.  It's amazing how much we can learn from simply looking and examining.  I'm sure much more could be learned through instruction by the master himself, but as he's dead...well, I'll take what I can get.

Soundtrack - David Byrne & St. Vincent (Love This Giant), Fleetwood Mac (Rumors), Deerhunter (Halcyon Digest), and Grizzly Bear (Shields)

Piece(s) worked on - Nik.  My goal is to be done by the end of the weekend.  Experimenting with new trying-to-be-more-Remrandt-y techniques, I had a very successful night.  

Side note -- I'm really enjoying painting beards.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September 5 - 2 Hours

Wednesday - Work -> Studio -> Meditation -> Studio - My studio is thankfully across the street from a wonderful meditation center.  And on a day like today (in a week like this week), it's quite amazing that I could paint for an hour, meditate and learn for 2, and then come back in a more aware state to tackle the task at hand.

Soundtrack - Father John Misty (Fear Fun) and Feist (Let It Die)

Piece(s) worked on - Just Nik today.  I'm still struggling with getting the expression just right.  However, there were moments of triumph today along side the usual throwingpaintbrushonground moments of frustration.  This one is getting quite the thick buildup of paint, which can hopefully been seen by the texture :

At this rate, I'm hoping to finish this weekend (crazytalk, but let's go with it and have some positive thoughts) and boombang onto the next one.  For now, I'm exhausted...  Oh and Nik, you have a very lovely nose.  I'm sorry for never telling you this before.  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September 4 - 2.5 Hours

Tuesday - came to the studio straight after work.  This is going to be the routine for a while: Work 8-6, work in studio from 6:30-9, lather, rinse, repeat.

Soundtrack - TuNe-YaRdS and Sharon Van Etten

Piece(s) worked on - I added a layer for Lindsay's background and sketched out the composition for Eric's piece.  Mostly I worked on Nik; getting his expression just right.  It's currently a bit too lamenting and not enough smoldering.  I am quite happy with the simplistic accuracy of his right ear.  And after another layer or two, those forehead wrinkles will be just right.

***Personal note - I'm glad I didn't fail on my first day of scheduled rigorous painting.  More to come tomorrow....

Monday, September 3, 2012

September 3rd - 6 Hours

Monday - Day off of work which equals 6 hours of studio time

Soundtrack - Radiohead (Amnesiac, The Bends, Hail to the Theif, In Rainbows, Kid A -- yes, alphabetical) - I was feeling a need for consistency today.

Piece(s) worked on - Nik & Lindsay; both wonderful, beautiful souls who let me photograph them months ago.  I'm feeling great about both of them.  With Lindsay's, I'm taking some abstract pattern chances with the background, which have so far been successful.  With Nik's, I've struggled with proportions quite a bit (sometimes they just come on the first try, sometimes not) and since I don't believe in stencils, grids or projecting the image to save time, I really spent a lot of time.  Now, the eyes are in the right spot (whew!) and I just have all the details to put in.  I'm playing with depth of field with Nik's, as I did have use of his fancy camera for the reference photo and his face is actually out of focus. 

The concept

Every good body of work requires cohesion - a common thread, theme, visual element, etc that ties the pieces together which makes them read as a collective creation.  My thoughts have over the past year lain heavily with the concept of space.  No, not outer-space, as that frankly just scares the bejesus out of me.  As a being on this planet, I occupy space.  All the time.  This, thank you Science, is something we can't escape from.  Now, this space we occupy, it can feel comfortable, inhabitable, scary, unwelcoming, tight, daunting and about a million other adjectives.  Space affects us, and in turn, we affect it.  In taking a "placemaking" workshop for public art opportunities in St. Paul, the idea of spacial ownership was discussed at length.  No direct answer that would hold in the court of law was discovered, but the idea never left my mind.  Who owns space?  And if you do (legally), why? And how to stake claim to a spot that you haven't purchased?

Simultaneously, I've been desiring to incorporate my community into my artwork.  My last major project (Basic Needs/Creature Comforts) featured myself as model, out of no desire to look at myself that much (because, believe me, it isn't easy or awesome), but out of necessity for the project.  The series before that, I used and abused one dear friend for multiple portraits combining her face with others' bodies and personalities.  Since I have so many talented, interesting and deep friends, I want to paint them - as themselves.

And herein lies the new body of work.  I ask any willing soul with whom I have a close relationship to figure out what place is theirs.  This can be the place they own or lease, a public space, or something more ambiguous.  Additionally, to the willing couples, I have asked that they find the place in which they collectively feel ownership of (it's harder than it sounds, believe me).  The idea of capturing the creature in their own natural habitat is very key, as I believe that people are the most genuine when comfortable.  And where else would someone be more comfortable and at ease than in a place they feel they own?  The hope for the result is 20 unique environmental portraits that communicate the spirit of the person or people depicted (and hopefully get me into graduate school!).

Here are the 3 that are completed so far:


Self Portrait

Back to School

Well, that's the goal anyway.  And the hope.  And the focus of this blog for the next 4 months.  "Woah, 4 months - that's a bit excessive" you say?  No doubt I should have been focusing on it many months ago; maybe I would be feeling a bit more prepared and confident about my applications.  Shoulda, woulda, coulda, etc etc, story of my life.  So here we are, September 3rd.  3 paintings done, 17 to go.  Applications in by December 31st.  Yes, I'm aware this means 17 paintings in less than 4 months.  With collecting my CV, perfecting my artist statement, and figuring our where I'm even applying...well, it's all a bit overwhelming.

I've done what any anxiety-ridden person would do and broke it down: 4 paintings a month; 1 painting a week.  Seems ridiculous with the full time job, friends, family and using oil paints.  But, no matter, I will try.  This blog will keep me accountable and you all (whoever you are -- Mom?  Just you?) can watch me unravel and hopefully succeed.

Check back frequently for updates, there will be updates, and I'll see you in person in 2013!