Question: can an artist base their entire career on paintings of candles? No? Maybe? Well, this was just a warmup. I have twelve candle paintings upcoming for a big trompe l’oeil style project so hold on tight.
Recently found myself on a train rolling back and forth across the country, so of course I had to document it the best way I know how. Did a digital sketchbook as it’s easier to carry a stylus and iPad than an entire paints set (also, I’ve ruined more physical sketchbooks traveling than I care to remember), so here’s the results. I can’t even begin to describe how difficult it is to sketch while being steadily jostled on a train for hours on end, so while I wish I’d done more sketches during my time spent back east, the protracted concentration needed to create these pieces on the journey demanded I give it a rest - until I was on the return trip with lots of time on my hands. (click the image below to view.)
No, but really. Where. I feel personally affronted in the ways in which time is always reminding me how long certain projects take to come together. This one - that I’m intending to turn into a second book with dozens if not a couple hundred illustrations - is coming up on three years now. Granted, the idea didn’t solidify until last fall, but still. So here is a new illustration to add to the Dark Mysteries collective, and I’m hoping to focus more on it from here on out so I can get the story finished and the artwork to go along with it realized as well. Cheers to the best laid plans!
There’s so much I could say about this painting - about how it helped push my practice, my mindset about what I want my work to be, how it helped me further let go of caring about how my work is perceived, and how it gave me hell but was worth every second I worked on it and pushed through. But instead, I’ll just show you the label I’ll be affixing to all these pieces moving forward. I dug up a saucy antique printing block and, well, it just seems appropriate that they’re now a mark for this series.
While you’re busy letting thoughts for new work fully form, you mess around with digital. Or, at least that’s what I do. I have two paintings in my head that aren’t ready for canvas so here’s an illustration I did based off one of my favorite photos of Gene Kelly. Because, Gene Kelly.
I was telling someone today how weird it is to be the creator of such overtly erotic art when that’s never what I set out to do. Way back when I began creating these pieces I was really mostly interested in spacial arrangement and the challenge of conveying an idea with only pieces of information. It didn’t take long, though, until I embraced what it is these entangled limbs represent, and I really like putting these little sexy people puzzles together. They’re a challenge both for me to create and for you to decode and visualize what’s missing / the mechanics of how it works.
These two started out as one idea from a spontaneous sketch, but as I worked into the wee hours of the morning wrestling with foreshortening, angles, overall positioning (I did these with zero references) one became two. Maybe if I’m feeling really ambitious I’ll create a series of illustrations bridging the divide between these two positions so it can be a flip book/gif/mini animation. We’ll see.
Nothing in my work flow ever seems to go to plan. Got set up last night to figure out the final elements of a painting I’m working on when flipping through my inspiration folder brought up a photo of a face. I started mindlessly sketching to get in the flow and then this illustration happened. Didn’t get anything done for the painting. Oh well. That’s how it goes sometimes. You need to listen to the muse and not fight it, I’m not upset about it. I rarely have the interest to draw people - couldn’t tell you why. Perhaps an over saturation of faces in art leaves me wanting to focus on other things, but once in a while I’ll see a face that makes me want to create.
If you were ever curious about what paintings look like on the way to becoming finished paintings or my thoughts on why I decide on what and how I paint, follow me on Instagram! I’m continually posting there again since I’ve made the time to get back into regular studio practice. (You can also follow me on Facebook, too.)
I think the top most frustrating thing as an artist (for me) is when things that usually come easy to you - because you put in years of practice - stop flowing. Being creative is most certainly a muscle you need to constantly flex and condition and even then you’ll have an off day. Normally the drawings I map out for my Touch series flow easily and I’m able to imagine all the spatial arrangements needed without too much difficulty, but this one was a couple days struggle. To decompress before I move this onto canvas I had to just find space to play. So here’s the original digital drawing and a little abstract color play alternate. Now to get this started as a physical painting, take it in a new direction, and hope it comes together with fewer mental blocks.
I started a new Instagram account. I need more social media in my life like I need a hole in my head, but alas, it’s happening. & with crucial purpose. Compartmentalizing my creative pursuits for the one track mind that is social media consumption has left me feeling so disjoined & disconnected that I’m bringing it all together. So, if you care for a more in depth look at my creating, little scraps of my life, my philosophies and things I admire that inform my work, I hope you’ll follow along. @twothingscanbetrue.
Sometimes paintings go on long odysseys and come back from ruin - more than once - before being completed. This one really put me through my paces.
It’s been raining in San Diego for weeks.
January’s almost gone and this is the first bit of art I’ve done yet in 2019. Adult responsibilities… goooo away. Anyway, you can find prints of this in my online shop. Hopefully I’ll have time to lock myself away in my studio soon and finish/start a few paintings. Here’s to hoping!
& this is only the beginning. If this is the first you’re hearing about my current project, I’ll catch you up in just a few words:
I’m writing my second book (read more in my previous post here) and I just spent the last month and a half illustrating a full scene just about every day in conjunction with the inktober challenge. It was absolutely brutal. Creating a work of art each day is tough enough, but I was doing it within the tight bounds of a story I was writing as I went along. I can’t remember the last time I did a project of such intensity in terms of time constraint and it being coupled with writing a book along side. I pushed myself as hard as I could (and slept very little while pacing holes in my floors).
So yeah. I have about a third of the book plotted and over 30 illustrations done. It’s yet going to take a lot more work to get this book finished but I’m really excited for the challenge. If you want to see all the illustrations I did this year (and a few from last year), click the images below. &, if you want to read the beginning of my story, join my mailing list and I’ll send along the password to the secret page on my website. But for now, I need about a week long nap. (If only, on to the holiday commissions!)
If there’s one thing I love doing with my art, either on a micro scale within one single painting, or on a larger scale with a series - it’s storytelling. I don’t want my art to be something taken at face value, and so I’m really, really excited about my latest project that will culminate in my second book (First book? You say - click here). I detailed a little bit about it in my previous post (you can read it here), I’ve built up over 20 illustrations so far (check them out here), and I’m busy building out the written story itself. It’s taking shape organically as I create the pieces that inform the story, and the written story is inspiring new illustrations. It’s a super rewarding process, regardless of outcome - though I’m working hard to make the end result deeply interesting, and a book worth reading as well as collecting.
Although a lot of the work I’m doing on the art end of this has been digital (as I decided to work within the Inktober format, and to push out a full illustration a day is rough enough on its own, doing it traditionally would have been near impossible to keep up with for this project), I am going to be pulling ideas out of my digital work and creating hand drawn pieces as well as hand cut, hand pressed limited edition prints. These will be available as I go through the process of putting this all together. I’m thinking giveaways and/or a kickstarter? Those details are still a ways off, but they’re in my mind, and if you’d like to not miss anything, please join my mailing list (that form just off to the right) and keep up with my Dark Mysteries.
For once! I’m prepping and ready for inktober this year. If you’ve never heard of inktober, click here. Essentially it’s an exercise artists can participate in to challenge and push their skills in inking and design. I absolutely love it as I work in a fully black and white format and it informs my choices and spurs growth in my style very quickly. It’s also insanely exhausting. Last year I burned out (and my marker quit) after about eight days. One reason for this is that I work within the tight bounds of a very specific theme. It’s a darkly magical, Faustian, mysterious theme. It’s a flip side of my personality and interests, and one I can only fully delve into in such intensity for so long. The month long format of inktober is a perfect frame of time, but still not one I’ve ever successfully completed. This year I’m working not only to complete the 31 days but to push the complexity of my narrative, line work and composition, something I’m able to do thanks to the outrageously amazing app Procreate. Working digitally this year will allow me to experiment more freely without losing years of my life by - quite literally - going back to the drawing board when working out compositions. As a sneak peek teaser here are the first two pieces I’ve completed ahead of the start of the inktober challenge, and if you’d like to see more of this narrative you can click here to go to my Dark Mysteries gallery. If you want to follow along, each day of October I’ll be posting one of these to my Instagram & Steller pages. There I’ll also be posting time lapse videos of these pieces so you can see how they came together, which I think is a pretty awesome aspect of working digitally, as well as background details about pieces that unlock more of the symbolism. There’s more than meets the eye in a lot of these. Hope to see you there!
I don’t often draw people. Couldn’t tell you why, I find people insanely fascinating on so many levels, but it just takes a lot for a face to catch my eye and compel me to draw it. I’m working on changing that by getting some digital drawings together of faces I find intriguing - that all seem to be coming from the vintage fashion loving crowd. (Perhaps this has something to do with my love of Mucha’s ornately attired women.) This is burlesque performer Dandy Dillinger.
I've started a new series in earnest that's taking on a life of its own. It began with the simple idea of explaining how all my work comes together - both as a visual catalog of what inspires me, and to show what is constantly knocking around in my mind that informs the more involved paintings and compositions I pursue. It's also helping me work on what I set out to do at the beginning of this year, which is loosen up my style. Each of these paintings is one brush stroke closer towards instinctual mark making while letting the overly-focused/critical side of my brain rest after doing the heavy lifting with composition. I have to admit it's a freeing way to work. I'm holding myself to as few rules as possible while doing this in order to allow each piece to stand alone and be as idiosyncratic as it needs/wants to be. The only task I've set for myself is that each successive painting must have elements of the directly previous one - whether it be an object, shape, pattern, or just a color - and imagery from paintings previous in the series can and should pop in and out. So this first series is now starting to build momentum, and I'm really loving where it's going. I hope you'll consider following along with each new piece on my Instagram.
I'm calling it "Roaming Abroad" as that's what and where my mind always is, and by you engaging with it you're doing the same, taking time to explore the landscape I've created for you.
A life goal of mine is to one day live close enough to Venice that I can take off to paint it whenever I need. And painting Venice is, most certainly, always a need.