Sunday, November 29, 2015

My Brain on the Shelf


Late last night I decided to organize my "library", which is a single wall of bookshelves that I built in my basement last year.  I promised my wife I would confine my book collection to those shelves, which has become a problem because the shelves are already full.  Basically, that means for every new book I buy, I have to get rid of an old book to make room.

Around midnight, I realized that I hate this agreement because I am not very good at letting go of books.

Also, I realized that when I organize my library, I am really organizing my brain.  Through my library, I am able to catalog my thoughts along with my books.  You won't find anything even close to the Dewey decimal system, but you will find books grouped by topic, and a particular group of books will sit next to another group because I see a connection between the two.  For example, on one side of a shelf I have books about Art Education and on the other side of the same shelf are books about the development of creativity, and right between them are the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci. Seeing the books organized in this way helps me visualize the connections between ideas that are occurring in my head.  In another section are books on the outdoors, leadership, and Scouting. These sit right below books published by Outward Bound, and above that are books on theories and practices of education. Again, they are all interconnected and their organization on the shelves helps me see patterns and relationships. There are also sections for religion, history, science, fiction, and many others.  There are a lot of books, each connected to one thought or thousands of thoughts, and sometimes it's really hard to find the right place for each of them.  And when the ideas in my head change, I find myself rearranging the books, sometimes moving whole sections and sometimes reclassifying only a book or two.  I try to make them fit, both physically and conceptually, on the shelves.  And when there is no more room, I have to evaluate which thoughts are worth keeping.

I realize now that I am not very good at letting go of ideas.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Prepping to Paint

One of the things I like best about my painting of Virginia Woolf  is the texture created by layering charcoal, white glue, and acrylic paint.  Tonight, I laid the groundwork for two small paintings using the same technique. I used General's powdered charcoal and a spray bottle with water to apply the charcoal across the canvases. I then experimented by dropping ink onto the canvases as well.  Overall, I like the effect.  Much of it will be lost as I apply glue and paint, but elements of it will sneak through, helping make the final painting more visually interesting.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Layering with Elmer's Glue and Acrylic Paint

Today I tried something new, at least for me.  It wasn't the path I planned to take, but in the end it was better.  I set out to create a charcoal drawing based on a 1902 photo of Virginia Woolf by George Charles Beresford.  The drawing wasn't progressing to my liking, so in a fit of artistic rage, I attacked the image with a kneaded eraser.  What was left was a ghost image of Virginia.  I figured this was a good time to experiment.  Inspired by a collage piece I recently read about, I brushed Elmer's glue over the whole image then spread red acrylic paint over the glue while it was still wet.  As it dried, the paint began to crack and form into unique textures.  Once dry, I painted the face and shoulders using black and white acrylic. It still didn't feel complete, so I put another coat of Elmer's glue over the image and applied more reds, some yellows, and a small touch of blue.  Later, I added more details until I felt mostly satisfied.  

I definitely want to explore the technique further.  It added some great texture to the painting, and it was simply fun.  The rapid drying time of the glue and paint allowed me to complete the painting in only a couple hours.  I could probably spend another hour or so on small details, but I consider the experiment successful and will let the painting stand as is.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Giraffe in a Hat and Suit with a touch of Magritte

Obviously, I have been a poor blogger.  I am working on my Master in Education, serving as a Scoutmaster, teaching high school, and doing my best to spend some quality and quantity time with my wife and children.  Unfortunately, in a world of finite time, something has to give, and in this case, it has been drawing and painting.  Luckily, I found some time to work on this giraffe painting this past week.  I painting is designed to be printed on a skateboard, which may or may not actually happen.  The medium is oil over acrylic.  The poor fellow hasn't received a title yet, and I am open to suggestions.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Baba Yaga and Friends

I developed a love for creating 3-D characters while working for 12 years at Alinco Costumes.  Now, as a school teacher, I still enjoy the process of designing and sculpting these imaginative characters.  I recently completed this old woman I call Baba Yaga, after the Slavic folk tale. The figure is about 10 inches tall.  The face and hands are sculpted in Sculpey.  The body is shaped with foam and wire. Then the clothes are hand sewn, which is the most difficult part for me.

 And here are a couple of sculpted figures I built last October. The first, obviously inspired by the work of Brian Froud, is about 10 inches tall.  The second is about 18 inches tall.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sometimes Creativity Detours

After painting my robot skate deck last week, I really wanted to try another.  But I wanted to do something completely different.  I just couldn't come up with an idea  Then, yesterday morning, a student said to me, "I want to paint animals in suits."  In my mind I envisioned well dressed creatures in Victorian fashion, but upon further questioning, I discovered my student meant animals in "space suits."  I told him to go with his idea, and I would go with mine.  I found some reference of animals and vintage Victorian photos, then began sketching.  Soon came a pencil sketch a stoic bear in a boiler hat.  I liked him and decided to place him in the middle of the skate deck. At some point in the painting process, I began referring to him as "Papa Bear," which reminded me of the story of Goldilocks, and then I realized he needed a wife and son.  The whole idea developed in a very free-flowing way.  I enjoyed the process, but have one big problem with the result . . . what skateboarder in his right mind wants three Victorian bears on his skate deck?  I mean, if you've ever stood long enough near a skate park that skaters aren't exactly into children's rhymes.  What was I thinking?  Still, I think there is something here I might explore in future paintings . . . on canvas.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Another Skate Deck

I enjoyed painting the robot skate deck, so I began work on a second.  I call this one "Papa Bear" for obvious reasons.  I still have a lot of work to do before it's completed, but I am enjoying the animals in Victorian clothing concept . . . I just have no idea what it means.