Monday, February 23, 2009

I'm not a very good blogger. The other day someone told me he saw my blog and I realized it's almost been a year since I posted anything. Embarrassing. I don't think many people look at this, but just in case you are...

This painting is 2 feet by 4 feet, oil on masonite board. It was inspired by a wire tree created by my uncle in 1970. A lot of my tree paintings have been inspired by his work. Thanks Uncle Ken! Since this photo was taken I added a green leaf on the pear. I think I like it, but it doesn't feel finished so I'll probably readdress it at some point.

This painting is titled, Worlds Without Number, 22"x28" oil on canvas. It was inspired by my creation paintings (if you haven't seen that series, take a look at the link on the right hand side of this page under "more paintings").

I'm not sure what to say about this except that I love it. It makes me want to lay on my lawn on a summer night and explore the sky.

I finished both of these paintings fall 2008.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Fairly Recent Paintings

Oliver has always been very supportive of my declaration to make Tuesday night Art Night. In an effort to support my goal, he agreed to model for this painting back in December. It took about 45 minutes.

I created this painting from a photograph I took in Cambodia last August. It shows two young monks with their alms buckets. I love their bright orange robes and yellow umbrellas, which was a common sight in SE Asia. I was curious to know why it was so common to see the monks with yellow umbrellas, and learned that they use the umbrellas to protect their shaved heads from the hot sun, as well as the rain during the wet season. I still don't know why they're all yellow though...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Creation of My Artistic Journey

Art, for me, is a journey, not a destination. I used to think of art as a picture hanging on the wall but as I’ve spent more time creating art, I’ve come to appreciate it as a process rather than a finished product. Artistic ability is something that has come naturally to me. As a child, I enjoyed drawing pictures of unicorns, rainbows, and scenes with trees and mountains. At the age of seven or eight, I remember going to my best friend's house and drawing pictures together. Then we would go door to door in the neighborhood selling our artwork for five, ten or twenty-five cents each, charging more for my drawings because we thought they were better.

I've always had a talent for looking at something and re-creating it on paper. I first recognized my ability in fifth grade. I was assigned to write a paper and draw a picture of the former United States President, Calvin Coolidge. I remember receiving praise and admiration from the students and teacher for my drawing.

In high school, I began noticing students who always had a pencil in their hands, doodling on everything they touched. I did not have that natural drive within me. I have always enjoyed art, but mainly because I was good at it. I excelled in beginning art classes when teachers were very specific, requiring me to follow a particular pattern on the assignment. However, once my teachers began allowing more freedom in expression, I realized I didn't have a vision. I didn't have a burning desire to express anything in particular.

In college, I chose to pursue art as a major because nothing else interested me. However, I thought it would be practical to choose art education rather than fine arts so I could get a job once I graduated. During my first semester as an art education major, I was given the task of volunteering once a week in a high school art class. I chose to study with a demanding teacher named Mrs. Payne. I was envious of the discipline and skills her students learned because I never received that in my own high school art classes. Near the end of the semester, she left me with one valuable piece of advice. She had been a painter for several years before deciding to teach, and felt strongly that an art teacher should be highly skilled in at least one medium to be a proper teacher. You really have to know how to paint if you want to teach someone else how to do it. I did not know how to paint well enough to feel confident enough to teach others. I really took her advice to heart and decided to gain more experience by changing my major to drawing and painting.

As my artistic skills have developed, and as I’ve matured and grown as a person, my view of the world has changed, and I’ve turned to art to help me define myself. Through painting more often, and experimenting with different painting techniques, art has become a therapeutic and exhilarating experience. Looking back, I recognize three specific experiences and the corresponding paintings that became influential in the development of my philosophy that art is a journey, not a destination.

The first experience that influenced my development began shortly after declaring myself a fine arts major at the University of Utah. I was feeling frustrated and discouraged because I didn’t feel like an artist. I was just someone who could draw. I had an impending assignment with freedom to paint whatever I wanted, but I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to paint. During this time, I was also training for a marathon and had spent several months running endless miles down the same streets, in the same neighborhoods. I was feeling unmotivated and uninspired in all areas of my life. I expressed my feelings in a journal entry, dated October 3, 2003:

I have been training for the St. George Marathon and a couple weeks ago I needed to run 6 or 7 miles. I had been really tired of all the routes I usually run and was pretty sick of running in general. That day I was also feeling particularly discouraged about my art. I decided to do something I hadn't done in a long time and just start running with no destination, exploring streets I'd never been on, and seeing sights I've never seen. I started running around 7:00 pm. It had been raining all morning so the weather was cool and the air was crisp and fresh. It reminded me of my fall semester at Ricks College when I would run with my roommate. We never had a planned route, and we weren't familiar with the area so we often got lost, which I enjoyed because it made our runs longer and more interesting. As I was running that crisp autumn night, I thought of happy memories of Ricks College and enjoyed the beautiful weather and new houses and streets.

That run ended up being incredible! It was one of the best runs I've ever been on because I was able to enjoy myself and not worry about the distance or my speed. I was running for the fun of it, enjoying my surroundings and the gorgeous weather! I kept thinking, "This is why I love running!" I was also thinking about my painting class and for the last few days I'd been trying to decide what to paint for my next project. My last painting was terrible so I really wanted to think of something interesting that I would enjoy. As I ran, I noticed many beautiful yards and trees and decided that's what I would paint. Trees! Maybe a forest. I was so excited because, for the first time, it was something I really wanted to paint, and I felt like I had a personal reason for doing it.

The painting I created after that experience became my personal favorite, not just because of the final product, but because of the experience I had creating it. To start that painting, my professor, Maya Chachava, had asked us to think of a word or phrase to write repeatedly on our canvas in all different directions and sizes. Next, we were told to paint over it with a transparent glaze of color and repeat the process again and again. The purpose was to encourage us to spend more time developing the background of our paintings and to build up rich, vibrant color through the layering of glazes. The phrase I wrote on my canvas was, "The way to be nothing is to do nothing." That phrase had particular significance to me in regards to art because I wanted to be an artist, but I didn't feel like one. I realized the only way to become an artist is to make art. To do something. If I sit around thinking I'm not an artist, I won't be. But if I get up and start to make art, I will become an artist.

The second experience that helped shape my artistic development happened my senior year through an independent study course with John Erickson. I had prepared a three by four foot piece of plywood, but I didn't know what to paint on it. John encouraged me to begin the painting without an end in mind, to create a painting about the experience of painting. I incorporated the process introduced to me by Maya, writing across the surface and layering colors. Most of the text was illegible, only there for the purpose of me putting it there. This procedure became a therapeutic exercise, providing an opportunity to write ideas and thoughts, often very personal. The product was a random board of colors and text. It didn’t feel finished to me, so I wandered around my house looking for inspiration. I spotted an old wire tree that my uncle had twisted, mounted to a rock, and given to my parents as a wedding gift thirty years earlier. I picked up the tree sculpture and began sketching the form on my board. I was left with an image of a curvy tree with branches that twisted and turned into single lines on the canvas. I began playing with the idea of a three-dimensional object being represented as a two-dimensional image. Sections of the tree started to represent a tree trunk or branch, but other sections were mere lines on a flat surface.

I was happy with my painting, but it still didn’t feel complete. I took it to John and we sat, staring at the image for an hour, discussing possible directions to move the painting to completion. After some deliberation, I decided to paint an apple. I painted the apple as realistically as possible, continuing the theme of two-dimensional versus three-dimensional objects. I was satisfied with the finished product and enjoyed the new concept of painting for the sake of painting.

The third experience that affected my view of art happened after moving to Virginia in May 2005. I began a painting that summer using the same layering technique. Using a pencil to write across the canvas, yellow, green and blue paint, and a spray bottle of water, I developed the beginning of a painting that ended up sitting in the corner of my bedroom for several months. It had a cosmic feeling to it, and reminded me of cells dividing, emerging and forming something universal. I created a second painting using an orange and red color scheme and it joined the green painting in the corner.

The following August, I went home to Salt Lake to visit my family. I went to a church art museum and saw a few paintings that depicted the creation of the earth. I loved the idea of painting the Creation and the concept made me think of the paintings sitting in my bedroom. I decided to take them a step further and create my own series about the Creation.

I developed seven more paintings to follow in sequence after the first two, giving birth to my series. The nine paintings depict the creation of the earth and everything in it. I began with the dividing and evolving of cells, then depicted the formation of the heavens and the earth, the separation of light from dark, the separation of land from water, the creation of plant life, the creation of animal life, the creation of Adam and Eve, and, finally, the day of rest.

The exercise of dripping and pouring water into puddles of oil paint was inspiring. It was a spiritual experience watching the pools of color merge and repel, gliding across the surface of the canvas, leaving their paths behind them. I would sometimes try to control the medium and move the drops to specific locations; however, the paint had a mind of its own and would not be deterred. The theme of this series is beautiful to me because it illustrates the Creation, while simultaneously creating itself.

I intend to continue experimenting and discovering techniques that allow me spontaneity, yet I have discovered I’m more effective as an artist when I have a plan. Rather than constantly facing a blank canvas with no end in mind, I am more productive when I have a theme and seek to depict a specific idea or story. I find motivation through my personal beliefs and enjoy focusing on spiritual themes. I am currently brainstorming a new idea for a series, and look forward to continuing my artistic journey, experiencing the paintings as they unfold before me.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Zanny and Amanda

(16"x20") This first painting depicts my friend Zanny. She is a very talented musician and we got together one night to create art. She jammed on the guitar for a couple hours while I painted her. It was awesome because I love her music and enjoyed the chance to use my talent while listening to hers. This painting has never felt finished to me but hopefully sometime soon I'll get the renewed drive to pull it out and make a couple finishing touches.
(16"x20") This painting is my old roommate Amanda. She has since moved back to Utah but was kind enough to let me paint a picture of her one day while she read. I spent less time on this painting than the last but for some reason I feel like it's more complete.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Wow, I'm not very good at posting stuff on here, am I? It's like writing in my journal. I'll be really good for a little while, then it's back to once a month. In my defense, it's a lot of work to get a new painting to show each time. But I'll try to get better at this and post more of my old artwork too...starting tomorrow.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Shadow Stripes

These are three drawings/paintings that I created from a picture I took while hiking Old Rag (a mountain in Shenandoah National Park) last Spring. I love forests and especially like the way the shadows from these tree trunks lay across the mountain path.

This first image is a 5 1/2" x 8 1/4" drawing on brown paper with oil pastel. I did these first two drawings as studies for the larger painting but ended up liking the studies more than the final piece. This drawing is my favorite of the three.

The second study is 8 1/2" x 11" oil pastel on gessoed paper. I like the electric colors but never quite finished the piece.

The third painting is supposedly the final product. It's much better in person because of the size (2 ft x 4 ft). It's oil paint and oil pastel on masonite board. If you're staring at it in person and using a bit of imagination you feel like you're on the forest path.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

painting of the week

Corey came over last night and studied for the LSAT while I painted a picture of him. I liked the painting the first 10 minutes but then it went downhill and I spent 30 more minutes trying to like it again. I was fairly unsuccessful. I do, however, feel productive knowing that I finished a painting. Even if I had been doing something else productive last night, it's nice having something tangible to show for my good use of time.

A painting a day is my ultimate goal, but for now I'm happy with a painting a week.