Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sunday I went to the awards ceremony for the art show I entered recently in Carlsbad CA. I did not win anything but that is OK! Being excepted into another Juried event is reward enough! Wile I was there I decided to checked out another gallery a couple of doors down from the show, Moseley Fine Art Gallery. I spoke to the owner/artist John Moseley. Really nice guy and a vary talented artist. Loved his work. Come to fined out that he had a piece in the show also and didn't win anything either. You just never know what the judges are going to like and you can't let it get to you! If you go up there check out his gallery to. There is another gallery a block east on State Street, Viz Art Ink. They have some pretty cool art in there also. I have not done much painting lately. Been focusing on a web page design and getting it up and running. I need to finish it so I can get back to painting. There is another show in November that I would like to enter.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Last Saturday I entered this painting in a Juried art show in Carlsbad and today I found out that I am in. It is not as big of an event as the San Diego Co Fair, but that does not matter. The awards ceremony is this Sunday, so we will see what happens. The show started today and ends September 8th. Below is the event info and a link to their site. Hope everyone can get the chance to go and see it.

Carlsbad Oceanside Art League
62nd annual
Open Juried
Fine Arts Award Show

COAL Gallery
Carlsbad Village Faire
300 Carlsbad Village Dr.
Suite 101
Carlsbad, CA 92008

Gallery Hours
Tues, Wed, Thurs & Sun; 11 am - 5 pm
Fri & Sat; 11 am - 8 pm
Closed Monday

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Did a layout for a post card today at work for my art. Yes! it is old school, but it gets the job done!

Saturday, June 29, 2013


Last month after completing the painting for the San Diego Co fair fine art exhibition, I began work on three more paintings. This piece has been my main focus because of another art show that is coming up in August. I wanted to enter something last year but did not have anything ready. It is not a big painting, only 9” X 12”. I felt that a smaller piece would be easier to complete in time to meet the dead line for the end of July. The picture I used was one I had taken at La Jolla shores on New Years Eve. I was able to get off work early so I decided to go their for a walk and I am glad I did. I have been wanting to do some paintings of shore birds and since these little buggers where out and about, I took as many pictures as I could get of them. It was not easy because they don't like to sit still for vary long. My goal is to do some more paintings using the photographs I took that day.

This is the photograph I used for this piece.

I started out by painting the whole board to represent the color of the sand that is just under the water. After a couple of tries with different browns I ended up using a mix of Raw Umber and Unbleached white and let it dry overnight.  

Next I painted over that with a wash of Cerulean Blue and Titanium White for the water. It was not quite matching the color of the picture. So I added some Alizarin Crimson to the mix. It still took a couple of layers of thinned down Titanium white in the end to finally get the color to look right. Each layer I did I let dry overnight before proceeding with the next one.

Once the background was done it was time to start painting the bird. As usual I began with a basic outline and then proceeded to add color to define it. things went pretty smoothly for me but I did come to the point that I told myself to stop and move on. It did seem easier to do with this piece. Maybe I am getting better at that! 

The big white spot just below the bird was a gouge on the board that I was trying to repair. I should have fixed it before I started. You can still see it a little bit. Oh well, it adds caricature to the piece.

The reflection was an area I was apprehensive about attempting even before I started the piece. And yes everyone, I doubted my abilities again! Once I did stepped out and just do it! It was not as difficult as I thought it was going to be. Still, taking that first unknown step can be scary some times!  As they say, "Faith is like a muscle, you have to exercise it to get stronger"! 

The Finished piece

The whole time I worked on this painting I used a method of doing a little work, let it set overnight and then come back and see if I need to change anything. I even took the painting into work to get some different lighting and it really helped with the progression of the piece. Monday night I put the finishing touches on the painting and I guess I still can't believe it is done. I have been going over my, “to do list” and it is exciting to be checking things off. Still have a month before the deadline. Maybe I should do another one.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

My whale painting was excepted into the San Diego Co fair and I won an Honorable Mention in Acrylic, Rep., Animals. To be honest I am more excited with what I received this year than the first place award for my bird painting last year. I am vary thankful and honored to be in the fair again with another painting. I had a lot of fun at the artist reception held on June 6th. Ran into an old friend of mine that I have not seen in a long wile. He also had a piece in the fair in the mixed media class. Talked with some artist and one of the ladies that is in charge of the fine art exhibit. But it is time to put the fair behind me and get ready for the next art show.

Me with my whale painting at the artist reception. 2013 Exhibition of Fine Art, San Diego Co Fair.

My friend Tom Lewis and his mixed media art. It had lights between the layers. He does some amazing work. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Finishing what I Started part 4

Finally finished this piece in time to submit it for judging for entry in the San Diego Co. fair this year. I should say that it is finished to the point that I needed to stop fiddling with it! I did not want to be working on it up until almost the last day, but I did. The last 2 months I Have been so committed to completing it that I started to get stressed out at times thinking I was not going to meet the deadline. It was not as bad for me as last year but I did notice it. There were some areas that I felt like painting out and starting over, but didn't. And parts that I did even though I did not want to. Always the perfectionist! This painting has taken on a special meaning for me also. Something that I have been dealing with for the last couple of years in my life and I will get into that later. My goal for this year was to be back in the fair with another painting and not even think about weather I will win anything or not. I am more focused right now on just, “staying in the game”! To be honest, there were times I contemplated weather this is as good or better of a painting than the one I submitted last year. That is my ass talking because my head knows better. Thought that about the bird painting I entered a year ago and ended up wining first place in acrylic animals with it. Whether it is or isn't does not matter! What does, is being back! I am excited and hopeful about seeing my art in the fair again this year regardless of what happens!

As I left off with my last post about this painting, see part 3. My focus was on finishing the sky. Things had started out quite nicely. There where some parts of it that I did not like but was confident that I could fix them as I moved along. A couple of months ago I was talking to an artist friend of mine at work about how things were progressing with the painting. Told her I was trying not to put to much detail into the sky because the focus needed to be on the whales. She said, “if it is not working for the painting then paint something that is”! My first thought was, “I know what I am doing” true to form for a man, right ladies! But one night as I was working on an area of the sky. I became vary frustrated with how it was looking. It seemed like no matter what I did it was getting worse. I remember taking a step back form the painting and looking at it for a few minuets. As much as I did not want to start over I reached for a bigger brush and some blue paint. I did not paint over the whole thing just the top half which I am glad I did. What I ended up with looks a lot better for the whole painting than what I started out with. There are areas of the old sky that I am going to use for another painting so some good came out of it.

This is where I started out with the sky.

I used a little of the first sky I painted, from way back in the beginning. The clouds were showing through in some areas of what I had painted over so I decided to graft them in to the new one.

At this point I was happy with how the sky was coming along. It still needed some tweaking but I was confident I could fix it. The upper right half of the sky was the area that got away from me. Felt like no matter what I did I was making it worse. Probably because I was trying to put to much detail into it. I don't have any pictures of how it looked before I changed it. But you will see how much it did later on.

Once the sky was done and it was time to leave it alone, I turned my focus to other parts of the painting. The area of the ocean above the waterline I am not sure if the color and lighting are right in some areas. But like the sky it is not the focus of the painting. As work progressed on the sky I felt like the whale at the bottom of the painting was to distant and needed to be bigger and closer to the mother. Once I settled on how much bigger I realized that some of the whale I had done before was not going to be completely covered. Started dreading the thought of having to re-do the background. But I was able to fix it and even I have a hard time seeing it! I think the sky just fell. A little sarcasm her folks. The area below the waterline, in the upper right of the painting. At first, I was thinking of having some people swimming with the whales and a boat just on the service. It need something there because it was looking bare to me. So I decide to go with another whale. My first thought was to have it more in the distance, vary faded. But I went with a little detail so that it looks closer. At one point I kicked around the idea of adding a fifth whale to the painting. Decided to use that idea for another whale painting.

Here is were I started work on making the whale at the bottom bigger

Trying to get the basic color and shape painted back in.

In this picture you can see the old tail sticking out to the right of the new. I was able to fix it though.

The fourth whale being added in the upper right.

Beginning to paint some basic color, shape and lighting for this whale.

At this point the whale at the bottom and the upper right were pretty much done. I did do a little more tweaking on them. Time to finish the mother and baby. You can also see here how much I changed the sky. It helps the whales to stand out more. Sometimes less is better!

Once I had those two whales done. My attention turned to the mother and calf. The mothers tail was an area that I had struggled with from the beginning, Mainly as to the shape of it. At one point I was going to completely paint it out and start over. After looking at some pictures I had taken of the painting as it progressed along, I left it alone. Again, it was the right choise. I still struggled at times trying to get the color, lighting and reflections right. Reworking the tail over and over again along with other parts of her to. I am happy with how she finally turned out though. As for the baby I am still not sure if I have it right. I did tweak it some more but like the other areas of the painting it was time to stop! The last thing I added to the piece was a guy in a boat. I felt it needed something in that area and sense it was an idea I had for the painting form the beginning, it finish’s it off nicely! An artist friend of mine asked me this week if I was done with the piece? I said, “yes”. I told her I had to stop working on it! Or maybe I should say stop fiddling with it. She gave me some good advice. She couldn't remember just how it went though. “If you don't know when to stop fiddling or messing with your art, then you are not being a professional artist”! Sometimes I am not good at letting go of things. I have thought about getting a vault to stick my art in and put a padlock on it. Then give the key to someone so I can't mess with them anymore. I probably would find a way to get into it though. Hi, My name is Mark and I am a fiddle-a-holic. Maybe I should call myself a tweak-a-holic. Would they be considered compulive disorders? Duh! Now lets see, where did I hide that whale painting? I am just kidding everyone.

All most done. Just a little more to do on the mother and baby. I added some rays of light coming done through the water. The background seemed to flat to me and I feel it adds some depth to the painting.

The man in the boat.

I had been trying to think of what to name this painting. Kicked around a couple of ideas but nothing seem to click for me. It finally came to me when I painted the guy and the boat in. Can't explain why but all of a sudden I felt like, “that is me”!. This is when the painting took on a special meaning for me. For the last couple of years I have been trying to figure out some sense of family in my life. If they haven't past away they have moved away. Boy, sometimes I feel like, where the hell did everyone go? And what do I do now?. As I look at the painting, I am the guy in the boat. Looking back on family and what I feel like I have lost, heading out, hoping to find some since of it again in my life. So I have named the piece, “Ohana”. In Hawaiian it means family. This was not my idea for the painting in the beginning. It came from a YouTube video of a baby whale leaping out of the water. I guess as artist we either try to put meaning into our art, or it becomes meaning for us. All in all it is a nice ending to the piece.

The finished piece.

I am looking forward to hopefully having another painting in the fair this year. Been looking at my to do list trying to figure out what to start on next. Got back to work on the portrait painting of a friend and her son and started a small piece for another art show that is in August. But I need to figure out what to do for the fair next year. The clock is ticking and it will be here sooner than I want.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A portrait in the works

This is my first attempt at painting a portrait, if you don't take into consideration the stuff I did as a kid. I had asked a friend of mine if I could do one of her and her son after seeing a picture she had posted on Facebook about two years ago. I am finally getting around to it. She asked me if it would take a year to do it. “Oh no, not that long” was my reply. Two years later and I am finally starting it. I had primed a board last year specifically to do a portrait painting.

For this painting I primed the board orange. A couple of years ago I was at the La Jolla Festival of Arts here in San Diego, CA where I reside. I came upon the artist Annette Hammer. She had a display at her booth of one of her paintings which showed a progression of the painting from start to finish. I noticed that she had used orange for her base color. I asked her why she had done that and she told me that Rembrandt used the color orange for the base color of his paintings. Being the novice artist that I am, white is all that I have ever known or been taught to use. I guess I need to get out and learn more! I have seen black and gray gesso in the art stores and kind of wondered why anyone would use them. Using the black gesso reminds me of the black velvet paintings from the 60’s and 70's. Since then I have learned and thought of some ways I could use those colors to prime my boards. It is similar to using color in glazes to set the tone of a painting.

So I decided to give it a try. Off to the internet I went to see if I could find some more information about what Rembrandt did. No such luck! I could not find anything about him using the color orange to prime his boards. I even found a book at the local book store about Rembrandt but there was nothing in it about that subject. What did I do next might you ask? Well I thought about going onto the internet and asking some people for help. But being the shy boy that I am, hell maybe I should say the prideful, arrogant man in me claimed I don't need any help, so I went at it myself. I figured if it doesn’t work I can always paint it over with white primer and start again. My first attempt I added some orange to the gesso as I primed the board. It didn't look very orange to me though. Hello Mark! What do you think will happen when you add a lot of white to a little orange? It looked a lot like the color of a 50/50 ice cream bar. I still had two more coats of gesso to apply to the board so I decided to add some red to the mix. It looked a lot better but at first it was leaning to the salmon orange side of the spectrum. I was talking to an artist friend of mine about it and she helped me to realize that I am experimenting and it may be just the color I am looking for. If not, she recommended I try something different next time. I really need to get past the whole thinking of, “It has to be perfect every time or it is not going to be right!” I am working on it but old habits are hard to let go of sometimes!

My first attempt
For my second attempt I used the scale at work that we use for mixing ink for printing. I was probably being a little to picky! but by doing this I know how much of each color I used for future reference. 

This is my second attempt. "Definitely oranger"

Two years ago I had the chance to talk to Annette Hammer again about this and she gave me some more insight into what she does. She primes the board with white first and then goes over it with a somewhat thinned down orange. I told her what I had done and she said try adding some yellow to my mix next time. I love her work! The amount of detail she puts into her paintings is amazing.

One of the reasons it has taken me so long to do this piece is that I was trying to figure out what to paint in the background. I liked the picture my friend had of her and her son but wanted to do something different for the background. I asked her if she had anything she might like but she pretty much left it up to me. When she posted some pictures on Facebook a while back of a waterfall she and he family went to, I said to myself, “that is it”. She only had two pictures so I had to go onto the internet to help me fill in what I didn't have.

Once I got everything I needed, it then came down to working out the composition. I moved the tracings around on the board trying to figure out what would look the best. At one point I thought about doing the painting in a vertical format but came back to the horizontal. I also wanted to have a dark area behind her and her son with the waterfall being pretty much the only area in the background that is lit up. Rembrandt used dark backgrounds in some of his portrait paintings with the subject in the foreground being lit up. That is what I am attempting to do with this piece so we will see what happens. 

There is not much to look at right now because I am just getting started and because I have been focusing more on my whale painting lately. Trying to complete more than one piece a year! Reminds me of what a lady friend of mine once told me, "One is not enough but ten are to many". Of course she was talking about boyfriends. She was joking about that! At least I think she was. Anyways, I keep telling people, "I am not a multitasker"! Even though it my frustrate me at times that I am not doing more. I would rather do one painting that is a masterpiece, than ten that are mediocre! Even if it takes me a year.

Finishing what I started part 3

I am finally getting back into the studio to paint. My job has been keeping me busy lately and by the time I get home I don't feel much like doing anything! I was starting to get frustrated with myself for not painting. Over Thanksgiving I was determined to do something on this piece, even if it was not much. Last year flew by so fast and I am nowhere near where I should be or want to be with my art. My goal was to have this painting, along with others, done by now. There are two shows this year that I hope to be in, but it is not going to happen if I don't paint!

I decided to focus on the above water scene before finishing the whales, which is what I should do anyways. That part of the painting was not set in stone and I came up with a couple of ideas as to what I might do even as the painting progressed. In the beginning, the rough sketch I did for this piece included painting in some clouds and an island off to one side. Then I thought of doing a panorama scene that would show the Hawaiian islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai. I spent about a month looking at so many photos of the three islands trying to piece together what I thought might look good. But it was just not clicking for me. The size of this painting is 18” x 24” and the area it would fit in is only three inches high by the width of the piece. I finally decided that a larger painting would do more justice to that idea. So I have put it on my “to do” list (which keeps growing all the time). The idea I settled on was a South Pacific island scene. While looking for reference material for my last whale painting I came upon a site on the internet for a whale watching adventure tour to the South Pacific islands of Tonga. They say they are the only place in the world where you can actually swim with Humpback whales, up close! And yes it is on my bucket list now!

After acquiring some reference photos, it was time to get to work. As usual, at first I was a little gun-shy about starting but once I did, things began to click. I painted a couple of islands and then started to do some clouds. I like where I am with the piece so far but I am also somewhat worried that I am trying to do too much with the above water scene, sounds like an oxymoron doesn't it? I want people to focus on the whales and not the sky. I am kind of at the same point I was with the bird painting I did last year. I thought about toning it down a bit but knowing me I will probably keep going in the direction I am! I do like detail in my work! People loved the sky and the bird as well in my last painting so I need to stop worrying about it. It feels good to get back to painting. Something I need to be doing! This piece is finally at the point where it is starting to come together and that has me excited right now. The motivation may be back but I need to stay focused on it and get it done! The San Diego county fair is four and a half months away and that time is going to fly by before I know it. Time to become a monk in the studio again!