Studio Dreaming

As my professional art portfolio grows, I want my studio to grow along with it.  In an effort to keep up with the expenses that are synonymous with art creation, I have started an awesome Patreon page.  For those who have been following my blog or who have taken an interest in my artwork, here is a way to be a part of that growth.  Joining my Patreon page will give you the opportunity to be a direct participant in my studio experience!  I welcome you to visit the site and become a patron for in-depth project  updates and a more intimate view into my daily studio activities!

patreon page

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My local Art Supply store

It sits empty now.  But, a month ago, that large, weathered wooden box served as my local art supply store.

contractor dumpster n storage

It has been almost 4 months since my employer, Texas Design Interests, LLC, moved into its newly constructed  headquarters.  The contractors have completed the finishing touches on the third floor(our office), while the second floor is being prepared for future business tenants.  As the various crews wrap up their work, the remaining construction materials are cast into the contractor’s makeshift dumpster.

For several weeks, my coworkers and I endured disruptive, high-decibel noises and disconcerting vibrations that emanated from the second floor during final construction.  I also watched from the third floor window as workers tossed building scraps into the dumpster until it overflowed.  Eventually, they began carelessly heaping material against the sides which soon created a hazardous pile that wrapped around the entire box.  After a week or so, that huge pile became enough of an eye sore that the property owners would complain.  It would all disappear soon after.

This process repeated week after week until, one day, something in that dumpster caught my attention.  It appeared to be several large, evenly cut wood boards.  Upon closer inspection, I discovered that they were leftover cuts of 3/4 inch, 7-ply maple plywood.  Each was roughly 12 inches wide and varied in lengths from 4 to 8 feet.  Despite being exposed to moisture and fluctuating temperatures, the material was in pretty good shape.  There was some aggressive surface mold on a few pieces, yet they were thick enough to resist warping in the elements.  After getting permission from the head contractor, I gathered my new substrates and hurried them back to my studio.

wood boards on glass desk

some 3/4 inch wood boards cut to size and prepped for artwork.

Once in the studio, I carefully evaluated each piece of wood and decided that every piece would be useful.  I sawed them down to 12″, 24″ and 48″ lengths before giving them a rigorous power-sanding on all sides – including the edges.  On some pieces, the mold was aggressive enough to penetrate the veneer and could not be sanded away.  Those “ugly” pieces will be sealed for longevity then coated with gesso.  The others will be sealed before I apply medium directly to the surface allowing the wood grain to show through the artwork.

Work has already begun on my “found wood” boards.  This will be an intrigueing project.  I look forward to seeing the results.

Stay tuned!

Creative Space and Time

Here we are, 5 months into the year and I have finally been able to offer this… my first post of 2018!  I could spend the next paragraph expressing how disappointed I am with myself for not keeping up with my blog or producing more artwork – for which there would be no blog.  That would be a waste of time and keystrokes.  Besides, I have become much less tolerant of complaints and excuses – including my own.  I have recently undergone a major life transition.  This transition, albeit gradual and costly, has allowed me to eliminate one of my biggest excuses for not making art.

In previous posts, I lamented about not having a dedicated creative space.  This was not entirely true.  I did have a bit of space in which to paint and draw.  I simply didn’t like that space.  I didn’t feel comfortable there.  And if I’m not comfortable, I’m not creative!  So, I decided to invest in my comfort/creativity by renting a small apartment.  Obviously an apartment is far from an investment unless you’re the lessee.  But, the purpose of this apartment is to serve as a quiet space where I can feel comfortable and creative enough to produce wonderful artwork.  In fact, I refer to it as “the studio”.

In it’s current state, it looks more like a storage area than an occupied living space.  Inside, there is nothing but art supplies stacked in the corners and lining the walls.  The only piece of furniture is an old desk that I bought from the Re-Store years ago.  It’s top is a large piece of tempered glass that I grabbed from a roadside pile of junk which was set out for the neighborhood’s bulk pickup.  So, that’s it.  I now have at my disposal, a tiny apartment with a “frankendesk” (no chair), and a few creative implements.  This will do just fine until I paint my way into a larger space.

Now, that I have secured a humble creative environment, I need to find a way to eliminate my next impediment to art-making… lack of time.  Between my day job and the shared responsibility of child-rearing, there isn’t much time left in the day(or the night) for creativity.  So, it’s time to plan and execute my next major transition.  From languishing employee to thriving entrepreneur.  Let’s make this thing happen!

Cradled Wood Panel Building

I have successfully built a few more cradled wood panels.  This time, I started completely from scratch.  That means measuring and miter cutting each piece of wood by hand.  Then glueing, clamping, sanding and sealing everything together. It took me a few tries, but I think I have settled in on my own method of how to build a solid cradle that will stand the test of time.

Below are two 12″ x 12″ x 2″ cradles that were built a week apart.  You can see the difference in quality between my first hand-built panel(bottom) and my last(top).  On the first, I could not get the frame properly square because of the rush-cut wood pieces.  So, the corners were either offset or had a gap.  I also used nails in addition to the wood glue to secure the panel to the cradle.  The results.. an ugly, uneven cradle that will require alot of extra prep work to make it paintable.

After building two other imperfect panels during that week, I learned from my mistakes and ended up with the top panel.  All of the corners are perfectly mated.  There is no panel-to-cradle “lip” or overlap, and I used only glue to bond the panel and cradle together.  A little bit of finish sanding and this panel is ready to be sealed, gessoed and painted!12x12 comparison
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I had the same experience while building my larger panels.  It is the larger panels, however, that are the most cost effective to make.  Much more time and material is required for additional bracing, but the investment will pay off.  The majority of my new artwork will be done using these large and extra-large panels.  The only improvement that I will make is to use real wood panels such as pine, oak or walnut instead of hardboard.

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12″x12″x2″ panels(front 2), 24″x48″x2″ panel(middle), 36″x48″x3″ panel(rear)

I am, by no means, a master art cradle builder.  But, until my artwork becomes in-demand and I can afford to spend several hundred dollars on a manufactured cradled panel, I’m going to keep building my own.  Plus, there is a higher level of satisfaction knowing that I created a work of art that was made entirely by my own hands.

Who Is Kehinde Wiley?

About a week ago, I discovered an amazing artist who I had never heard of, despite the past few months of vigorous art blog and e-zine browsing.

There was a segment in one of my favorite fantasy shows, The Secret Lives of The Super Rich, that covered the growing popularity of Art Basel among the art-loving 2 percent.  The segment followed an older couple who, among a select group of other wealthy collectors, enjoyed a “first dibs” browse of the works on display.  I found it quite funny that the narrator of the show mentioned that there seemed to be.. ” alot of really expensive stuff that shouldn’t be called art”.  This couple, however, was looking for real art.  Something new and exciting to add to their current multi-million dollar collection.  From what I observed, they bought at least 5 different works of “art”.  By the end of the spree(which lasted about an hour), the couple was reported to have spent around $300,000!

One of the works that they purchased was a kind of second-chance offering for another painting that had already been sold.  In fact, the curator literally pulled it from a nearby closet.  It was an original oil painting by renowned artist Kehinde Wiley.  A beautiful 96″ x 72″ canvas from his An Economy of Grace series.  Although both paintings were shown for only a few moments, I could tell that it had been painted by an artist of considerable talent.  The buyers were familiar with the artist and did not blink at the $125,000 asking price!

PRINCESS VICTOIRE OF SAXE-COBURG-GOTHA, 2012

A few days after recording that episode, I went back to my DVR to review the segment again.  I pressed replay several times so I could catch the name of the artist.   After 5 or 6 replays, I kept hearing “Candy Wiley”.  I knew that first name couldn’t be right, but I searched it in Google anyway.  Maybe enough people had misheard the name as I did.  Of course, Google made the connection(and the correction) and offered the artist’s name and website within the results.  Wow!  I must admit that I have not seen or heard of such a celebrated African-American painter since Jean-Michel Basquiat.  I’m sure that statement has been made many times over during Mr. Wiley’s rise to prominence, despite that fact that their painting styles are completely different.

I guess what surprised me the most about my discovery of Kehinde Wiley is that without having any prior knowledge of the artist, I developed an opinion – even a mental image of who I thought the artist might be.  Based on a few glimpses of his work, I was thoroughly impressed.  It was apparent that the subject in all of the paintings was a brown-skinned male or female – painted with the skill of a renaissance master.  I am ashamed to admit that I did not expect the artist to be African-American.  I questioned why a (white)artist would focus solely on black/brown subjects.  I doubted, momentarily,  that a black artist could be a modern master.  I was pleasantly surprised(and humbled) to learn otherwise.

Related Links:

Artsy’s Kehinde Wiley Page