When I look at my art now it's no surprise that the nature of my work has changed over the past 15 years. There are spots of time in the last ten years where I didn't create any art at all beyond a doodle or two. However, I can look at my work from college and see how my current style is worlds away from where I started.
I was primarily a drawing artist when I was college. I wasn't very interested in painting because I had only experienced oil and had not tried acrylic paint yet. I found that oil painting was stinky and annoying to wait around for. So, I studied drawing and honed my technical skill. I took everything from basic techniques to advanced experimental art and I logged hundreds of hours drawing the nude human form in all shapes and sizes. Despite the fact that I think of myself as a painter, I regret nothing about taking so many drawing classes. After all, drawing is the basis for much of painting so it ended up bolstering my skills in the long run.
One of my favorite ways to draw was with charcoal, which is messy yet wonderful. It was a natural leap for me to go from intensive drawing toward painting. The skills I learned in those classes ended up being the basis for my understanding of painting. I remember that even as a drawing artist that I would incorporate pale colors into my work using watercolor or gouache.
My present work is anything but muted in color and I'm happy to feel nothing like the student I was in college. I almost exclusively follow my intuition while creating my artwork designs and hold value the stream of consciousness creative model.
How has your art style changed?
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Does everyone remember Bob Ross? I talk about this dude constantly because I feel he was an artist genius. As a kid I was glued to the television every time his show came on PBS. (Shout out to the folks as PBS for creating educational, inspiration shit that cable-free kids like me had access to.) For those who don’t know who I am talking about: "The Joy of Painting" was a TV show hosted by Bob Ross where he stood at an easel and taught you how to paint using acrylic. He created these gorgeous nature scenes, plucked from his mind, in seemingly no time at all. Bob Ross walked us all through his personal art process in a calm and kind manner. He has undoubtedly inspired millions like myself.
Mr. Ross used acrylic so now I use this type of paint, too. His work positively shaped me over the years and influenced my own pursuit of painting. I find that I’m able to work in a freer fashion with acrylic versus oil paints which dry much slower. With this type of paint, there’s no need for mineral spirits or thinner of any kind.
Now that I’ve learned the properties of my medium, I can work with them accordingly. I like to mix additives into my paints which allows for different finishes or dry times. For instance, you can add a gloss medium to your paint and it’ll dry with a high sheen. There’s other additive mediums available to create a matte finish or slow/hasten dry times. I like the versatility of this medium because you can create a different look by easily switching up tools or by pouring paint onto the canvas. Acrylic paint is archival and easy to care for over time. Some paint additives even help your work remain dust-free over the years.
TL;DR- I paint in acrylic because it dries quickly, it’s less expensive, archival and non-toxic.
Questions? Email Me.
My unique artwork is the product of a process I’ve developed over time. This post will serve as a little look into how I create my designs with some instructional photos.
First, I choose my surface. I tend to alternate between stretched canvas of varying thickness and archival canvas board. Both are treated with gesso for strength and smoothness. You can learn to stretch your own canvas, but I’ve always gotten mine from a local art store. I find it’s easier and is cost efficient if you buy in bulk and surf the periodic sales.
Second, I create a grid pattern. You can see by this photo that I started with equal quadrants that I measured out with my handy blue ruler. I made four squares this time around, but any size grid is OK.
Then, I find my tangrams and use them as stencils. I also utilize jar lids or cups for circular work. Please note that I drew this design in pencil but I use sharpie just as often.
Third, I paint my background design. Sometimes I’ll create a tie-dye pattern with watered down acrylic and others I’ll use just one color for the background.
I am strategic in my color choice and pattern creation. When creating my designs, I consider things like palette, balance, and visual weight. These considerations help me to create an aesthetically pleasing design with room for change along the way.
After filling in all the shapes I’ve created with colors from my palette, I tend to trace my design in bold black paint pen. I use a ruler to create crisp lines. This simple and final step makes the form to stand out from the background and read well from a distance.
Here's the final product:
Do you have a question about this or any other post? Feel free to email me.
There have been a few times in my life where I felt artists’ block. During those times I had nothing but fear when facing a blank canvas or sheet of paper. I shamed myself further for not having good ideas or for not creating any artwork. For me, this persisted on and off for years. Anxiety has proven to be a creativity silencer for me. I find that when I calm my mind that ideas start to appear.
Meditation is an excellent and proven way to get my mind into order. It admittedly took a few false starts before I made this practice into a habit. I’d recommend trying meditation apps like Calm or Stop, Breathe & Think. There are plenty of free sessions available between both of these apps. Both even offer a timed guided breathing session that has been a lifesaver in times of anxiety and stress. I have confidence that when you quiet your mind that all your good ideas will appear.
Second, record the things that come up in some manner! You can’t guarantee that you’ll have that same thought again so it’s best to keep notes just in case. The mentors I look up to also suggest this exact same thing. Writing in a journal or notebook around could be the answer for some people and talking into a digital recorder could be better for others. Keep track your thoughts in any way that works for you.
I recently worked with Chris Pemberton of Crisp Creative when I participated in Creative Mirror USA and he has some very interesting thoughts on creativity. Check out his TedX Talk here.
Breathe. Take a beat to focus with even a tiny amount of meditation and the rest will follow.
Questions? Email Me.
Last September I was sitting at my display booth a local art show as people walked by and checked out my paintings. A passerby was perusing my art pointed at my painting and said: “Kinda folksy, huh?” while walking off. I realized in that moment that artwork can be easily misunderstood and that the message I'm trying to send isn't always received by the viewer. The big lesson here for me was that if I make strange art, which I do, it may serve me to try and explain it to the world. There's a big part of me that wants each individual viewer of my artwork to have a different idea on what it means, independent of what I say. I like to provoke thought and conversation as an artist and I'm glad if my work does so. Still, I think it's probably good to shed some light on my process and how I come about the imagery I create.
I do have a process that I like to follow. I enjoy creating little rules of each piece of artwork. These rules end up helping to inform the piece. For instance; I might make a rule that I can only utilize certain colors or tools. It's my thought that by creating small limitations that it helps me move my work in an abstract direction. I also change the orientation of my canvas intermittently while I work. I like to check that my image has visual balance and I think the change in perspective helps my brain see things more clearly. It's the same idea as stepping back 10 feet from the easel while working; a shift in perspective is good most of the time.
For these types of paintings I have adopted a stream of consciousness style. I'm not sure that is an exact or popular style, but it's what I call it. When I say stream of consciousness style, I mean that:
I paint comedians I admire and respect the most and Joey Diaz is on that list in bold letters! It was my goal to contribute to Joey’s legacy by immortalizing him in a painted portrait.
I created this artwork in early 2019 and it’s made with acrylic paint and metallic paint pen on a 16”x20 canvas. Periscope is a main theme of this work because Joey broadcasts there often and is well-loved on the platform.
This portrait of Joey Diaz (JoeyDiaz.net) is one in a series of comedians I have painted and this piece has been reworked twice because I didn’t quite like the lettering in my first iteration. I ended up doing some research, changed my technique slightly, and started over. The reference photo I used was a simple screenshot from Periscope when Joey was laughing a hearty “HA!” into the camera.
I absolutely love Joey Diaz for being not only a hilarious genuine king of comedy but for also being a very positive influence in my own life when I needed it most. Does he realize he’s such a good motivational speaker? I sincerely hope so. It has helped me out tremendously (see what I did there?) to just listen to Joey speak from the heart on Periscope, especially on days where I felt down. In the past few years, there have been days upon days that his broadcasts shifted my perspective for the better and I’ll always be appreciative of that.
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This painting exists among a series that were created in a stream-of-consciousness style.
This means that I clear my mind through meditation or other means and then set to work creating markings in pencil or paint directly on the canvas. This initial abstract design isn’t usually what takes the longest, it simply sets some boundaries up and alleviates the anxiety attached to painting the first brush stroke. The shapes created during the initial stages eventually give rise to objects, forms, and patterns that tell a story.
The longest part in creating a painting this style is in all the details lovingly placed on the canvas. Tiny brushes lend to the small details of this painting and help to create thin outlines, dots and dashes. I also changed the direction and orientation of the canvas several times throughout her painting session in the hope of creating a balance of form and color.