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Mr Jones revisited

One of my intentions for my blog is to tell the stories of my paintings. Everyone has a story real or imagined of how and why it came to be. I realized the other day I had accidentally omitted two paintings from one of my pages- People. So here are the paintings and their stories.

Both were painted during the same time period, I like to refer to it as “The Mr Jones Period.” I had taken some time off from college to work and  play. I also painted a lot.

One day, my friend Dustin asked me if I had heard the Counting Crows song Mr. Jones. With the last name of Jones, of course I had, a lot, people just felt compelled to sing it to me. I really kind of hated it. He then told me it reminded him of me, particularly the verse-

Well I’m a paint my picture
Paint myself in blue, red, black and gray
All of the beautiful colors are very, very meaningful
Yeah, well you know, gray is my favorite color
I felt so symbolic yesterday
If I knew Picasso
I would buy myself a gray guitar and play

Reflecting on that conversation, I learned a few important things:

  1. I really actually like the song Mr Jones
  2. I have a life long desire to be “someone just a little more funky”
  3. My paintings at the time were dominated by blue, red, black, and gray

So, on to the paintings

The first is La Petite Morph (above.) The title is a take off the French term for orgasm- La Petite Mort or The Little Death (see I did learn something in french class.) The morph part is the figures joining together. I have to admit as a young male, I was more then a little interested in the concept of joining together.

Mr. Jones and me tell each other fairy tales
And we stare at the beautiful women

I was into the idea of large color fields at the time. Trying to find the balance between graphic/comic art and fine art. Discover that perfect simplicity of shape and color.  I also liked to paint fast. I felt it was important to complete a painting prior to my overall mood changing. I seldom spent more then a week on a piece, often only a day or two. I felt the truth of moment needed to be captured quickly.

Which brings me to painting two- Rainy Day Woman 

rainyday woman
Rainy Day Woman

This painting was all about mood, the demons that haunt us all. I believe the title has as much to do with the real life atmospheric conditions occurring at the time as it does the atmosphere I tried to create. And talk about red, blue, gray, and black.

I liked the subject because it showed a woman in an oriental style dress. I was influenced by Asia things at the time, like Zen Painting, the Tao and Buddhism.

Help me believe in anything
‘Cause I, I wanna be someone who believes

I still appreciate Asia, probably even more now that I have visited.  I like the way new experiences and new culture have blended into my art and my life (which really are one.) It’s one of the ways I try to be a little more funky.

Sha la, la, la, la, la, la, la
Yeah
Uh, huh
Yeah

 

 

 

See Ya in the Funny Papers

My older cousin introduced me to the Legion of Superheros when I was 5 or 6. I was hooked instantly, who wouldn’t love books about characters endowed with powers beyond mere mortals. He also introduced me to comic collecting. I remember sitting in his room and pulling the comics from the storage box and carefully removing them from their individual plastic bag.

Soon,  I had a comic book habit, not a bad one, usually a couple a week. I would walk or bike to the drug store, the grocery store, or the convenience store, (my town had one of each.) and spend my allowance. The X-men books were my primary weakness, but I also bought a lot of Spider-man,  Superman, and The Legion of Superheros.

During one trip to Denver, my cousin let me tag along as he made a run to Mile High Comics. Ten year old me was beyond excited to be in a VW Bug hanging with teen boys, doing what teen boys do.  And, then to add that we were going to a place I had seen an ad for in every comic I had ever owned. It was Awwsomeee!

In my teens, I gave up comic book collecting, though comics stuck with me. I even imagined being a comic artist. The first computer illustration I ever did was of members of the X-men. I still have my copy of Drawing the Marvel Way.

In college, I found that my fellow art students that wanted to draw comics, drew comics all day long (some of them succeeded!) I loved painting! The dream changed! I sold of my collection for a disappointing amount of money. Oddly, it turns out that everyone else was collecting those same X-men comics.ash mile

About a year ago, I had an Uber driver whose day job was at Mile High Comics. He told me their main store was now on the edge of my neighborhood. I was intrigued.

About a month ago, I saw a newsfeed about Mile High Comics in my hood. I decided it was time to go! I grabbed the kids and drove to their warehouse location.

It was Awwwsomeee! Rows and rows of comics! Great art everywhere! My kids had fun! I even bought them a couple of comics. I saw issues of comics I once owned. They were now worth more than I sold my collection for. So it goes!

I no longer want to draw comics, though I do see their influence in my work. Dark outlines and large color fields. Plus, the characters in my paintings are often endowed with powers beyond those of mere cows and chickens, at least in my mind as I paint them.

dad mh

 

 

Cartoons and Field Trips

Last couple of weeks have been field trip week for my family.

My daughter took a trip up into the mountains. Her lunch bag is shown above. A few years ago I started a tradition of drawing a cartoon on my kids sack lunches. Five minutes of effort for a smile, it’s a great deal. Plus, it is one of the few times I draw cartoons.

My daughter also went to see a performance group The Silhouettes and my son went to the Children’s Museum. These trips also called for fun lunch bags.

bags

I like drawing cartoons. When I was in high school, I wanted to be a cartoonist. I doodled cartoons  for my friends. I doodled cartoons on my notes. I even had a short stint as the editorial cartoonist for The Thunderbird, my college paper. I dabbled with cartoons for an independent underground zine- The Thunderground. My press credentials for that paper still hangs in my studio.

Alas, I was unable to devote the time I wanted to art and had to choose, cartoons or painting. Painting won!

Coincidentally, while I was drawing my daughters buffalo lunch bag, this video showed up in my inbox. And I was stoked!

You see, I also took a field trip. I went and watched a lecture with Disney Legend Floyd Norman.

Norman the first African American illustrator at Disney was speaking at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design as part of the VISITING ARTIST, SCHOLAR, AND DESIGNER PROGRAM, sponsored by the Clifford Still Museum and Alamo Draft House Theater. Norman gave a lecture detailing his time at Disney and Pixar. He also discussed the changes in animation technology over the last 50 plus years.  As a separate part of the event, they showed the documentary “Floyd Norman: An Animated Life.”

I did not pack a sack lunch for my trip. However, I was reminded of an important message I learned in elementary school, field trips are fun, like cartoons!

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Make Better Art”

In his book, The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly, Seth Godin, repeatedly calls  for the reader to “Make better art.” The premise of the book is that we should make art, there is no better time to do it, but that is not enough, we should “Make better art.” I have been a fan of Godin since my corporate days and was excited to see he had written a book focused on art. I am also a fan of the Icarus myth (see above.) So, I picked it up and wham! Not only did it speak to my current situation, it also referenced the past three books I read. It was as if my brain had been primed for this book. Kind of weird! Now, I am not trying to get all Secret Celestine Prophecy on you but the synchronicity! It talked to me, it excited me, it pumped me up!

And that phrase, “Make better art,” it bolted through me every time I read it.

Isn’t that the call of the artist, to “make better art?”

DSC_0206 (2)

Above is a side by side photo I took of my chicken that won first place at the Denver County Fair and a painting of some people in a theater that won first place at the  Uintah High School art show when i was in high school. I had picked up the second one when I was recently at my parents house. I wanted to compare.

I currently have both hanging in my dinning room. I wanted to compare.

Results have been mixed.

“Impressive! You painted that in high school?” said the gentleman from art website I volunteered my kids to do a focus group for.

“Can we take that down? your new work is so much better.” My wife keeps asking.

They are both right. My technique has improved over the years. There is a great freedom and expression in my old work.

Then, I use to push to complete paintings as fast as I could. Now, I am slower more controlled.

I like them both! Each has audience! Each has it’s merit! Both are the past!

The next one will be better!

 

 

The First Chicken

I recently read a fascinating article in Newsweek about how medieval Christians encouraged chicken evolution and most likely responsible for the creation of the domestic chicken. It doesn’t answer the question of which came first, but it does talk about the benefit of breaking the habit of being a seasonal breeder. (Tough habit to break! I hear. I wouldn’t know.) Imagine the joy of your annual omelet though!

It also discusses breeding chickens to like people. I know! It’s hard for me to conceptualize the little terrors that existed before this happened. Chickens are mean. They are one of the closet relatives to the T-Rex. I am firmly under the belief that if a chicken was large enough it would eat you without a question.  So, these medieval monks decided to raise these mildly evil birds and then concluded they needed more, faster.  Why? cause you can’t eat steak on Friday’s during Lent. Thus, the first domestic chicken.

A couple of years ago, I felt I needed to evolve past cows and cattle related paintings and spread my wings a little. So, I painted this chicken. It’s a small acrylic painting on canvas- 12 x 12 My mom came to visit a few days later and asked to take it to Dinosaur Land. It felt fitting. While I was at her house, I shot a couple of pictures. So, this is my first chicken-

DSC_0139 (2)

This week, I have experienced endings and beginnings. I went to my parents home for the last 30 years as they prepare to move. I gathered the few remaining items they had held on to for me, pictures, memories, scrapbooks, my swim-team warm-ups, and being an artist, my early paintings.

Orange brown clown doll harlequin
Still Life With Clown- Acrylic on board

This is the first real painting I completed.  I stress the word real, because I had painted before, finger paints, water colors, paint-by-number, etc.. This was the first painting with substance. My high school art teacher, Brock Thorne, had opened my eyes to the joy of structure. How to design, build, format. How to create with a purpose.

Jump forward many years and I am engulfed in the structure of art again. This time, how do you design art that works, how do you build an art business, how do format HTML? Hopefully, I will be able to answer these questions and many more.

This is my new beginning!

 Welcome to my website!

 

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