Here is some of my recent work as of Aug 2021
We Are All Jesus, Buddha, and The Wizard of OZ- XTC
Last week, I was painting away at my home studio when there was a knock on the door. After realizing that none of the other people home were going to answer it, I proceeded downstairs and opened the door to a delivery driver who was dropping of lumber at the construction site next door. “Can I help you?” I asked. “Tell me about your car,” he requested. I explained the basics, answered the standard questions, and gave them permission to take some selfies with it. He offered to trade me his truck, I said no.
You see, I am the proud owner of a yellow Echo3 electric scooter, pictured above. And people love it. Driving around heads turn, people point, we get noticed. My wife’s Covid office overlooks the driveway and all pandemic long she has watched multiple people a day stop to take a look.
One night I was out at a bar with some friends and ran into another friend from the neighborhood. She introduced me to her companions as “the guy that drives that funky little yellow car.” Her friend exclaimed that she new it, in fact, at a neighborhood meeting earlier that year, someone giving a presentation showed a slide of my car and said, “we need more of these.”
I ended up with my Echo 3 because friends Klare and Jeremy decided to open a business importing them. They had brought in a couple of early models and we were excited. We wanted one. When they finally brought in an actually shipment, we were one of the first to committee. And we have no regrets, it’s a fun little vehicle great for tooling around the neighborhood. My kids like it when I do school drop off or pickup in it because their friends think it’s pretty cool. My wife has found it is the perfect vehicle for driving her paddleboard to the lake. Plus, so easy to park, there is always room. Did I mention, it’s just fun!
The standard questions-
Yes, it is electric. We do plug it in. The solar panel holds the charge, I feel (and have been told) if we got a stronger panel it would charge it enough for local driving.
It goes 35MPH, due to a regulator that was installed to keep it a legal scooter.
It can go 40 miles on a charge. We have not gone anywhere close to that distance.
It sits three adults. When our kids were little we got all four of use in, if my wife sat in the back with the kids and I drive.
It has a Bluetooth stereo, a fan for air-conditioning, a heater, and it the alarm speaks Chinese.
It’s registered as a scooter so we only have to register it every two years and the insurance is like $5 a month.
It’s name is ‘ello’, because every car needs a name. It’s yellow. And my children felt that is how British people say Hello. And it’s the kind of car that would say hello in a fake British accent (it’s fun remember.)
No, you can not rent it for your buddies bachelor party (different door knock.) Too much liability.
Echo3 can be reached through their website- https://echo3.energy/ They are located in Denver’s Santa Fe Art district.
About the painting
It is my first attempt at a gouache. It is pronounced gwash or maybe goo-wash. I didn’t pay attention in french class because I was afraid of my professor. She yelled a lot. “Eric, Français, Français.” Cercle vicieux.
I bought the paints a few years back, about the time we bought the Echo3. The connection formed in my head that this should be my first gouache painting/ Then years passed. This year, I have been working on finishing the unfinished and doing the undone. This includes trying lots of new things. I liked the results so, I am currently planning on doing more Gouache.
Gouache on paper
“Give me land, lots of land, under starry stars above.
Don’t fence me in.”
-Robert Fletcher and Cole Porter
These lyrics are imbedded in the face of this bull above the eyes. I have sung these lyrics my whole life. I first heard Roy Rogers sing them when I was a kid. I would watch his black and white movies and escape to the wild west. In 2020, I felt the need to escape as well. I wanted freedom. Ironically, due to forced activity, I probably spent more time outside in early 2020 than most years of my life. Even though my body was active, my mind felt fenced in.
Sometimes fences aren’t real.
Sometimes fences make borders
Sometimes you want a fence until you need to cross it.
“Let me gaze at the moon until I loose my senses
Don’t Fence me in.”
Sometimes you get fenced in by doing the same thing, thus the introduction of the UFO into the painting. The UFO idea had been percolating for years. I felt the need to add to my cow mythology. Cows and UFOs just seem to go together. The beam of the UFO is comprised of clippings from two classic novels, Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey and Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. Books have always been an escape for me. Science fiction was my genre but my step-dad got me reading westerns. They are not that far apart.
Gunfights happened in the old west because people would put up fences and others would cut them down. Usually, this is where the hero shows up. I like heros.
I also read a lot of comics (see other post.) Comics were an escape for me. As I got older music was an escape for me, especially punk rock. The symbol on the shoulder represented The Avengers and Anarchy.
There is also a bird (hummingbird/Thunderbird), a Flag, the play off the rebel symbol from Star Wars, and lots of faces, some intentional some by accident.
The “Free” in the sky just appeared. It wasn’t planned. Three of the letters just formed during my process. Once I saw it, I had to add the fourth. Sometimes free just happens. Especially in the west and in the stary skies
Acrylic on Canvas
As a general rule, I feel one should not know how the sausage is made! Especially when the bad parts like cow lips go in! Sure, it will be tasty when it’s done, but do you really want to see them drop into the grinder. Usually, I feel like cow lips in a grinder when I paint. It’s either not quite right or maybe it was better before I added the lips. I take lots of photos of the process, and then delete them.
This piece however is an exception. I often liked what I saw. And therefore, I am willing to share. Even though, it literally contains cow lips.
The piece is based of a photo I took outside of Jensen, Utah of a cow grazing. When I approached it look up to check out what I was doing, and a star was born.
The first step in my process is to complete the under-painting. After years of no under-painting at all, I moved to a version of the Dutch Masters style and now construct the whole thing in raw umber. This is called Dead Painting, because the lack of color made the subject look dead. Often with this technique a grey layer is also added. I enjoy the way the raw umber looks so I usually stop at that point.
Here is my “Dead” cow-
After I complete the initial under-painting, I usually will do a layer of glaze and then start to apply colors. The initial layers of colors are usually an under-painting as well and typically are chosen to help emphasize the final layer when it goes on. In this piece I painted a lot of blue, purple, red and yellow.
I will then put down another layer of glaze to prepare for the finally layer(s). I then do multiple layers of a paint glaze mix. Recently, I have painted more realistic color combinations, but sometimes I don’t (I feel those times a coming!) It really depends on what my vision for the piece is. In this one I ended up with a brown(ish) cow. I typically finish up with some dry brush work, which is visible in the green and blue of the background.
And ta-da a sausage, I mean painting is complete…
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:
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?”
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!
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-
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.
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!