Thursday, June 11, 2009

Introduction, and thanks to those that helped me

The purpose of this blog is to document my growth as a traditional artist. (I say "traditional" because I am an artist with a facet that is more modern and illustrative–but from hereon I will just use the term artist.) I work to achieve several goals with my traditional art, including: harmonious composition, accurate draftsmanship, a sense of light and atmosphere, and the ethereal expressiveness of the subject. This last goal, expressiveness, is a peculiar quality because it is not tackled individually, but rather it seems to emerge on its own when all the prior goals are met. All airy ambitions aside, the "meat" of the matter is that paint must be applied to canvas. That brings me back to the reason for the blog: so that I can see a concrete progression of my work out in public space, which will give me a sense of accountability to myself, and to others if anyone takes an interest in my work. This sense of accountability will provide extra motivation to continue producing paintings and drawings. 

My work from the last few years can be seen at As you can see, I have many paintings and drawings under my belt, but I need to take my skills further. For about four years I painted by almost pure intuition, and initially I got results that were pleasing to me. For example, the painting at the top of this post was my sixth oil painting ever, on 24x30 canvas. That painting, from winter 2002, was one of a series of three figure paintings that seem to be just a ghost of the past. I have learned much more since then, but I have not been able to paint any figure with the completeness and glowing palette of that series again. I am in a new stage of the painting journey; we'll see what emerges as I lose an old style and gain a new one, hopefully more grounded in structure, value, and temperature.

My specific plan with this blog is to post paintings from a process I started in May: painting 5-7 paintings a week on mini canvases. I was initially inspired toward this goal by Jason Saunders' advice given during his April 2009 workshop. He made it clear that skill is heavily dependent on the sheer number of paintings created. I had always been told this, but for some reason the idea finally took hold during this workshop. I was also inspired by Elin Pendleton's video podcast of her daily paintings (available through iTunes). 

I may start with earlier paintings than my recent near-daily painting efforts. I'll probably go as far back as my first serious attempts at painting plein air in June 2008...if I'm brave I'll also post a few monsters that I painted between 2006 and present. But don't count on it! Once I get the pre-workshop plein airs posted, then I'll get started with the "mini series." I will also include my portrait, still life, and figurative work.

Before I end this post, I want to thank Kevin Menck for giving me the idea of starting a painting blog. I also want to thank him for taking me with him painting yesterday, and providing encouragement and advice. I also owe thanks to other Nashville artists that have provided support: Mitchell Chamberlain, Paul Proctor, Michael Shane Neal, and Alan Lequire. I can't leave out Samuel Lester, who hosted figure art sessions in his home, complete with excellent models, music, food, and camaraderie. Finally, I need to acknowledge my dad, a retired engineer and newly self-educated painter, for providing belief as well as financial help with the often expensive requirements of an art career. 

As I can see from my growing list of people to thank, art is not the lone pursuit it may seem to be at first glance. Many minds come together to create a single artist. The other part of the equation is the raw, manual effort of the individual, one painting at a time. That is what the focus of this blog will be.