Monthly Archives: June 2013

let me tell you about: lacey

In an earlier post, I told you about my cat: Chausette. It’s only fair that I give equal attention to my other ‘sweet girl’, Lacey the Cocker Spaniel.

IMG_0919Her story is special. My parents recently lost Andie, our party color Cocker Spaniel. She was a particularly hard loss. She was a part of our family since 1996. She passed away in 2012. It was difficult to imagine wanting another dog right away. But, you’d be amazed how a new dog really softens that blow.

So, my parents started looking for puppies. To make a long story short, shelters and rescues make it very difficult to adopt, if you’re looking for a certain kind of dog. The rescues go to the pound, take all the dogs they want. They leave the old ones, and sell the puppies for an expensive price. The pound does not allow you to reserve a dog over the phone, or even tag a dog you’re interested to see. You have to wait in line, and by the time you get up to the front, the dog you want may have already been adopted. Needless to say, the puppy search was abandoned pretty quick.

Then one day, my parents stumbled upon an add from a Chihuahua rescue for an older, champagne colored Cocker Spaniel named Lacey. My parents decided to check it out. I was returning from the Austin City Limits music festival when I got a text saying “You’ll have to meet our new addition when you get home.” I replied, “a puppy?!” To which my mom replied, “not exactly.” She was eleven years old, and going blind in one eye. I was skeptical. Our Andie was a sad, slow decline. At times, it was excruciating to watch. I wasn’t sure that was something we needed to go through so soon.

But that attitude changed once I got home. She is the sweetest dog you will ever meet. Hands.Down. Her original owner was put into a nursing home. The ladys’ kids were supposed to take care of Lacey. Instead, they dropped her off at the pound, with instructions that she could only be adopted by people with ‘experience’ with Cocker Spaniels. If not for the lady with the Chihuahua rescue, Lacey would certainly have been euthanized. I tear up every time I think about her being dumped off at the pound.

For being old, and nearly blind, she is quite spry. She still points, and loves to play with her toys. There are many good years left in this dog.

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I’m glad we could give her a warm home and a lot of love. If you take anything away from this post, please consider rescuing an older dog. Morons who can’t take care of an animal drop them off to the put to death every day. This is a fate no animal deserves.

new work: more from India.

I’m working on a large format version of my small Indian elephant diptych. The small piece turned out so cool. People were really drawn to it in the studio, despite the fact it took a while to sell. I decided to do a whole series of ‘exotic lands’ in this stylized manner {re: ‘inspired: chuck jones’}.

This one in particular is a market scene…and yes, it will have a few brightly decorated elephants roaming around. I decided the next two will be Bali and Japan. I’m pretty enthused about this series. I feel like I’ve hit a pretty big inspiration groove after a long period of hodge-podginess.

Oddly enough, creating paintings for my job at Pinots’ Palette has made me even more comfortable with painting more complex landscape compositions. I’ve generated a few simplified landscapes for our master library. Landscapes are something I’ve rarely, if ever, attempted. We incorporate minimal perspective. However, we incorporate elements like buildings, trees, fields, etc. And they actually appear very complex. It doesn’t have to be a literal interpretation. It just has to be proportionate, colorful, and interesting.

I believe this is why the background came together so wonderfully. This job has pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I’ve surprised myself with my ability to create scenes. Scenes that are vibrant and animated…little worlds full of finite details. Scenes that appear alive.

I can’t wait to see how this painting develops {i’m very impatient}.

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inspired: chuck jones.

While researching how to build my website, I did a lot of surfing on the blogs/websites of other artists. One thing I noticed is that most content focused on images of art rather than any inkling of information regarding the person who created it.

I wanted my blog to be different. It was important for me to provide a personal context to my art. What inspires me. What makes me tick. The truth is, most of the art I like is inaccessible in person. Unless I can go to a gallery to see a particular artist, websites are the only outlet for viewing pieces of work. Obviously, the work should shine in this format. However, without any sort of personal context, they’re just pretty pictures.

My goal is to weave personal stories {i.e. about my cat or my farm truck} to tell people who I am. However, I also want to include posts about what inspires me related to my art. I came up with an idea for a series of posts called ‘inspired’ where I focus on a person, place, or thing that really resonates with my creative process as an artist. These subjects may not always literally translate to a canvas. Sometimes, it is more subtle. For example, I love the clean lines of mid-twentieth century furniture. In fact, I’m obsessed with it. Do I create compositions of Eames chairs? No {although that might be pretty cool}. Rather, I try to incorporate that kind of streamlined form in my paintings.

When comparing this series to the art on my blog, it may not appear to completely match up to an ‘inspired’ post. However, I hope through time, people can begin to see all the facets of life that influence my art, subtle or conspicuous.

Without further or due, I bring you the first installment:

Chuck Jones.

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There are many artists I wish I could have met in ‘real life’. This guy is definitely in my top three. You may recognize his work from Looney Tunes…

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Looney Tunes were one of my staple cartoons as a child. In fact, I still watch them today…but only if Chuck Jones is the art director. Yes, I am extremely picky about my Looney Tunes. I always have been.

As far as I can remember, I knew there was something different about his cartoons compared to other animators. The characters always appeared more delicate. The line-weights he used were always smaller, yet more infused with character. Daffy would have little clumps of extra feathers. Porky always had eyelashes. The facial expressions of the characters were always more emotive. His characters just have a different look about them.

Then there are his background settings for cartoons. I was always more mesmerized by the way he stylized landscapes and interiors than the characters. When you break everything down, they are all formed of simple shapes, lines, and color masses. His use of light and shadow are pretty stark. He often achieves the effect by pairing two planes of opposite color side by side. Little to no fading.

And it’s so effective.

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Details in the rock are just thin wavy lines. There are hints of bright blue on the shaded sides of the mountain, again very subdued. By the way, this image is taken from ‘What’s Opera Doc?’, one of his most renowned cartoons. The whole cartoon is beautiful. Elmer chases Bugs through several Wagner operas. Yes, I said operas. Seriously, someone could write a thick book analyzing the cultural references in Looney Tunes. But I digress. The backgrounds…

Here is another one from the same cartoon.

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His use of figure grounds {essentially flat silhouettes} was an epiphany to me as an artist. They are a simple way to provide depth to anything, especially a landscape such as this one. The colors for the ground and sky are distorted, a stylized effect that I really love. He also uses combinations of orthographic {drawing on one plane} and perspective elements to create depth. This is the reason most of his landscapes always look so dreamy. {I wanted to live in the one pictured above}.

As a child I knew, in my own way, that Chuck Jones had to be a tremendous talent as a visual artist to create such beautiful animation. {as shown below}

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Most animators have to be. The misconception is that  you don’t have to be talented to draw cartoons. It’s quite the opposite, in fact. You have to be the most talented. In Jones’ day, all of these cartoons were 100% created by hand. You had to be sharp enough to draw the same character or background over and over again, incorporating subtle changes in position so that it created movement when the cells were merged together on film. Grasp of proportion, perspective, color, and composition would have to be on point every single time. Pretty daunting when you think about it.

For years, I tried to draw like Chuck Jones. It’s sort of futile any time you try to carbon copy the style of somebody else because you constantly compare it to the original. It won’t ever look the same. I gave up trying to replicate and instead, just appreciated it on the TV.

Instead, I try to incorporate that stylized approach to my paintings. I’m currently working on a series of paintings that use a lot of figure grounds in the landscape. Buildings are very stylized, asymmetrical, and maybe a little disproportionate. I’m also experimenting with different colors for the ground plane and the sky. The ‘Indian Elephant’ diptych on the ‘My Work’ page is an example of this. The whole background is layered in different shades of orange. I loved it so much, I decided to recreate it on a large canvas. This one will be much more animated with people, and a market scene. I’ll also create some other companion scenes for the series, probably inspired by locations like Bali or Africa.

Chuck Jones died in 2002, at the age of 90. His genius is not limited to Bugs and Daffy. He animated for Dr. Seuss, Disney, and countless other studios. You may  have seen his work without even realizing it.

Unfortunately, the airing of Looney Tunes have dwindled quite a bit for being deemed politically incorrect. So, there aren’t many opportunities on tv to see his work. Fortunately for us, there are many clips and full cartoons on YouTube. I encourage you to check them out. Compare them to other Looney Tunes, or other cartoons in general. Your level of infatuation may be a lot less than mine. However, I guarantee you will see the difference.

Go to http://chuckjones.com/ to find out more about the artist. There is an online store, full of prints, cells, and other fun stuff created by Chuck. There is also a listing of galleries where his work is displayed.

{image credits: Chuck Jones companies and Warner Brothers Studios}

let me tell you about: our old farm truck.

I’m currently working on a rather long blog post about the influences that shape my artwork. It’s the first installment of a series, so I want it to be perfect when I publish it. In the interim, I thought I would inform you a little more about me.

This is our old farm truck.

IMG_1820It’s a 1954 International Harvester. It is a three speed, with one side mirror, and turn signals. Top driving speed is 20mph. The truck is complete with a flat bed for hauling. It used to have wooden sides on the bed. Those have rotted away by this point. The cab is a flat, sea-foam green color. The wheel rims are split faced. I’m not familiar with cars, but my dad tells me these are extremely dangerous when it comes to changing the tires. If you’re not careful, the rim can fly away and cause injury and even death. Supposedly, my uncle saw a guy get decapitated by a wayward rim. Apparently that’s why many people change these tires through a cage. Every once in a while, dad has to change a tire. It freaks me out.

This truck has been in our family forever. Both sides of my family have a rich background in farming. My dad grew up on different farms belonging to aunts and uncles {the truck was actually first owned by my Uncle Charles and Aunt Gayle}. My great-grandparents on my moms’ side owned a large farm in Banner, Oklahoma. Unfortunately, the farm was sold a long time ago. In addition to memories, not many tangible reminders of those times exist anymore. This International is pretty much the last piece of equipment we have….and we love it.

We restored the exterior of the cab a long time ago to enter it in Oklahoma City’s Fourth of July parade. We outfitted the bed with hay bails, flag bunting, and two gigantic fire crackers. I’m talking at least eight feet in length. We called it an “Old Fashioned Fourth of July”. My sister and I were dressed in prissy American flag outfits. Our friends also rode on the back of the truck. We were mesmerized by the fact that we were part of a parade; waving and smiling at people. Looking back, it’s even more satisfying to remember how much spectators loved that truck. It was such a wonderful day. It remains one of my best memories from childhood.

The restoration has faded over the years. It would be nice to have the money and time to have it fully restored. I hope someday, we can bring it back to its former glory. For now, the rusty spots are reminders of the years of good use and fond memories.

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i felt like this yesterday…

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It started on Sunday. Father’s Day. We {by ‘we’, I mean me, my mom, and my sister} took my dad to brunch at 10am, and spent the day at the zoo. It was as he described, ‘a near perfect day’. It was. He’s 62 years old, and he wears me out. I’m fortunate to have such an awesome dad. After a day at the zoo, we spent the evening together, eating pizza and drinking some pink champagne I bought him the day before. Then, I had to catch up on MadMen. Needless to say, it was a very full day.

Fast forward to 3am, Monday morning, to the power going out. I reported it to the electric company around 5am. It didn’t come back on until 10AM. I was already tired from our father’s day extravaganza. I mean, I could have sucked it up, and got ready for the day without my hairdryer. But, that would have been very inconvenient since my hair is down to the middle of my back.

So….While I waited for the power to come back on, I kept falling in and out of sleep, which resulted in that feeling of never being able to wake up. Once the power came on, I ate some lunch, got ready, and was out the door. But my jilted sleep pattern had taken its toll. I was really groggy the whole day.

Sunday was awesome. However, I really hate it when Mondays start off rocky {I know, don’t the all?} It messes with my routine the whole week. Fortunately, this morning started off normal. But, I wouldn’t trade an off day for the Sunday I had with my dad.

new work.

In 2003, I traveled to Japan with the landscape architecture department at Oklahoma State. It was a trip full of sightseeing; ancient gardens, significant landmarks, and plenty of beer gardens. Japan is a beautiful and sometimes haunting place. Everything is so different. The sounds and smells are still vivd in my mind. It’s like you can actually feel the history in the air. Ten years later, Japan stays with me.

A couple of years ago, I did a quick painting of a lotus blossom featured in a picture from my trip. I also created another painting inspired by some water plants in a photo from Taiwan {a side trip we took while in Japan}. Those paintings sort of marinated for a while. Until I began thinking…..It would be cool to do a series of these paintings, each inspired by a photo or experience from my trip. They are 8″x8″ paintings, in acrylic paint, and hints of gold puff paint. I wrote that in italics to emphasize how awesome it is. I’ve completed four paintings thus far. But, I think I would like to have a grid of twenty or so.

The paintings below are the newest addition to the series. I’m very excited to watch this develop. The most recent paintings are very floral. Subsequent paintings will be based around people, places, and patterns. More progress to follow soon…

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when water is scarse…

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For those of you won’t aren’t aware, Oklahoma has been under the thumb of a severe drought for the past three years, or so. The first year was oppressive. That’s the only way I can describe it. Triple digit temperatures, no rain, and expansion joints literally breaking in the roadway. This spring, we’ve experienced record amounts of rain. People are declaring the drought to be over. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Texas and parts of western Oklahoma are still in a stage of severe drought. Central Oklahoma is still technically in the drought area ‘with lessened effects’. This means that just because we get lots of rain in spring, does not mean that summer will be as water logged. Beyond that, I wholeheartedly believe these drier weather patterns are here to stay…for good. Water rationing, conservation, and xeriscape are the way of the present. People just haven’t accepted the facts yet.

This brings me to my broader point. People in central Oklahoma are not going to be able to maintain giant gardens full of Boxwood, Hydrangea, and thousands of annuals anymore. Working in the design industry, it was so important that we incorporate as many evergreens as possible. If it’s not in a constant state of green, people freak out. I agree, evergreens have their place. However, if weather trends continue, we simply will not have the water to support them on a large scale.

Enter wildflowers. 

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I have tried to push the use of wildflowers in residential, commercial, and civic projects for YEARS. Sure, they aren’t evergreen. They appear unkempt. You have to seed them twice a year. But, they are extremely drought tolerant, and in many cases native. The deal is, you have to be strategic with where you plant. You also have to avoid any weeding until the flowers actually bloom. It is worth the work. Once these flowers bloom, it is the most incredible seasonal show. You have flowers that arrive in early spring. Those die back, and a wave of summer flowers appears. It’s a dynamic display of color and foliage. Our mix includes Larkspur, Poppy, Cosmos, Blackeyed Susan, in addition to many others. The cool thing is, certain seeds may or may not appear in a mix. So you may have the same performers for a couple of years. But have a completely different show the next. It’s pretty amazing, really.

You have to wrap your head around the fact that in the late fall and winter, the bed will be collage of dormant stems {or empty if you cut it all down}. The prospect of that may scare some people. Believe it or not, absence really does make the heart grow fonder. It’s amazing how much I look forward to spring when everything is semi-bare in the winter. It makes the appearance of the wildflowers that much more exciting. If you’ve got some empty space to work with, try wildflowers.

collage

Now that I am done with all major commission work, it’s time to indulge in one of my favorite artistic pursuits: collage. There’s something about cutting out little, tiny images and arranging them in a meticulous manner. I’ve collaged surfaces before. But I’ve never created a collage piece on paper.

The thing about collage (if executed properly) is it takes a long time. I work in layers, getting just the right orientation. I’ve also spent years compiling a box of elements cut from magazines. Diamonds, flowers, vegetables, shoes, people, and lanterns are only a small cross section of my collection. I particularly like collage because I can bolster my supply of images while I watch tv in bed. I’m also experimenting with mixed media; meaning I’m drawing in large elements with colored pencil or paint, and supplementing them with collage elements.

This piece is entitled ‘Forest Floor’. It’s not completely finished. I love the way it’s assembled. I’m using a lot of white paper to create a subtle transition from the images of the magazine to the edges of the surface. The intent is that the images are flora that peek through a carpet of fallen leaves that you would typically find on the ground in a forest. Eventually, I would like to do a series detailing different types of forest floors that include three dimensional elements. We’ll see where this prototype takes me…

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tulsa tough.

title-imageFor those of you who don’t know, this is one amazing event that takes place within the borders of my great state. Apparently, this is the tenth year for Tulsa Tough. I say apparently because we rarely ever hear about it in OKC. In fact, there were many of my friends, who live in Tulsa, that had never heard of it.

In the first (or second) weekend in June, thousands of cyclists descend on downtown Tulsa. Days begin with amateur riders, and end with professional races that go on well into the night. The first two days are in downtown Tulsa, namely the Brady District. The core of downtown is essentially blocked off to provide area for courses and spectators. People are walking around, drinking, eating, and screaming.

Per tradition, we set up a camp across the street from the Soundpony. On a related note, Soundpony is possibly my favorite bar in Tulsa. To most people, it probably looks like a hipster paradise; bikes hanging all over the ceiling, music played from a turn table, and 80’s arcade games lining the hallway. I don’t care, though. It’s my own little patch of weird. What’s even better is the bar sponsors a racing group who rides in Tulsa Tough. They’re definitely the ‘home team’ since most riders are from out of state or even the country. But I digress a little.

Once the camp is set up, we have a cooler with beers and snacks. You hang out all day to watch the races. As I mentioned earlier, the riders are more at the professional level by the time the evening rolls around. By nightfall, the streets are packed with cheerleaders. From what I’m told, amateurs will head to the bars after the last race to get completely trashed. Professionals save themselves for Sundays’ main event: CRYBABY HILL.

1001061_10101229074057702_1891349605_nBelieve me, this is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. The hill is essentially at 13th and Riverside Drive. I’m not too familiar with the layout of the course, other than it contains a giant hill. These races last as long as 80 minutes. This year, they expected as many as 3,000 onlookers. I’m pretty sure they all showed up. People are in costumes. There is a band and a DJ. Booze is everywhere. Needless to say, it’s completely awesome. Referees in Roman Centurion garb enforce the “gap”. Every time the racers go by, people fill out into the street for dance party. When the pace car comes around (yes, there is a pace car, supported by refs on motorcycles), the guards clear the street to form a barrier so drunk morons can be spared from being owned by a cyclist going 30 miles an hour. It’s really pretty amazing that spectators aren’t hurt.

We were out here all day. Luckily, the weather was decent. It was only 85 degrees, as opposed to 105. Words can’t even do this justice. The energy out there is incredible. Everyone is there to support these riders (who are obviously giving up an awesome time to race instead) who have busted their ass all weekend in the races. They do a victory lap at the end of the races on Sunday, just to take in the love from the crowd. I consider it a small reward for being drunk all day (besides being drunk all day, of course). In our own way, we worked very hard too, right?

Take in sights. The tag-line for this years’ event was ‘Take Monday Off’. They definitely weren’t kidding…

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{photo credits for a couple of images given to Lindsay Wright and Eric Loggin}

let me tell you about: chausette

The weekend is almost upon us. I will be out of town, and thus, unable to update my blog for a couple of days. I will be heading northeast to take in Tulsa Tough. It’s a massive bicycle race, taking place over three days in downtown T-town.

I figured my slight hiatus would be the perfect opportunity for a cat post. For those of you who don’t know me, I love cats. I’ve always had a cat. They’ve been a fixture in every phase of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs too. I have a sweet cocker spaniel named Lacey, who will be featured in her own blog post soon. But cats….cats.

The newest kitty addition is Chausette. Her name is French, for sock. She has little white socks on giant paws. To make a long story short, she was rescued from a family who was completely incapable of caring for her. She has giant whiskers, loves boxes, and constantly drags any number of strings pulled from hoodies and sweatpants around the house. She’s definitely the most quirky cat I’ve had in a while. She’s also a lap cat, which is unusual for such a live wire.

So, enjoy some instagram pictures of this silly kitty. I’ll see you on Monday!

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