Jul 31, 2011

Theatre of the Absurd

Red balloons, 4.25x10.5" watercolor
It was in February when I last attended a Dr. Sketchy session, way too long ago. Those not familiar with Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School should check it out on the web.

Raleigh is one of over a hundred cities on five continents represented by a branch. Click here to go to Raleigh’s web page. I actually ran into someone there Thursday almost my age. She’s a professional illustrator, who like me, was there honing her skills.

The theme of Thursday night’s session was a French surrealist play titled “Les Mamelles de Tiresias”. One of you is French Canadian, and familiar with Dr. Sketchy in Montreal, so can you please translate for the rest of us?

The show was what they say, risqué? Loads of fun to try and capture such theatre. Not familiar with the play, I’m assigning titles to only three of the sketches.

Playing with lipstick, 8x10" watercolor
Virginia, 6x6" watercolor

Jul 25, 2011

Mad dogs and a Lexus

My neighbor's Lexus, 7x10" watercolor
I suppose you’d rather read here about the color, the composition, the medium, etc. Although I do respect and try to pay attention to the “rules of aesthetics”, seems my inspiration to paint what I do is often tied to a story or a memory. Today’s plein air watercolor is no exception.

I live in the house on the left in this painting. That’s my neighbor’s car in the garage.

I love most of what I can recall about my more-years-than-I-want-to-admit advertising career as an art director. Sure there’s a lot of schlock out there, but much advertising is downright entertaining. An ad group in NYC created one of the funniest, most clever ads I ever had the privilege to view. The name of the small, very-hot-at-the-time, agency in New York was Mad Dogs and Englishmen. Yes, I’m serious. (I Googled them and found the agency closed its doors in 2005.) The ad was for the National Wildlife Federation and the visual had a couple of small sparrows perched on a tree limb. The headline was, “Give to the Wildlife Federation. After all, who else is going to _____ on your neighbor’s Lexus?” something like that. You fill in the blank.

Yep, that’s a Lexus parked safely (from any wildlife) in my neighbor’s garage. Did this painting yesterday in spite of the heat. Click Morning pathway to see the plein air oil I painted this morning before the mercury soared.

Jul 22, 2011

Company’s coming

Task Avoidance, 9x6" watercolor
In 2005 I enrolled in a Frank Webb workshop. See the signature on the bottom of the matted painting at top of today’s watercolor. Webb, like some of the other watercolorists with whom I’ve studied is a former student of famed watercolor artist Edgar Whitney. It was hard in the Webb workshop to know what came originally from Webb or what he was passing down from Whitney.

Calligraphic painting, Webb said, is about adjectives, not about nouns. By this he meant, if you’re doing a calligraphic painting that includes a roof, paint the shingles, not the roof.

Anyone who’s been in my house knows that the rooms inside are rich with adjectives. Every room is laden with adjectives that might lend themselves to my calligraphic style. So here’s the first of my Brenda’s House paintings. Hey, we got to do something while it’s too hot to go outside and too soon to worry about the company that will be here in two weeks.

Jul 18, 2011

Commemorative statue planned

Get ‘em while they’re HOT, or not, 8x10" watercolor
The City of Raleigh Arts Commission will commission a bronze statue of American artist Brenda Behr that will be positioned where Person Street dead ends Peace Street in Raleigh, North Carolina. Plans are under way to erect the statue diagonally across the street, kitty-corner to Raleigh’s most iconic Krispy Kreme® doughnut shop.

In 2011 Ms. Behr set the Guinness book of World Records not for eating Krispy Kremes, but for painting them. During the difficult economic times the United States suffered in the first two decades of the 21st century, Ms. Behr resorted to painting and selling Krispy Kremes to pay her rent and otherwise put bread on her table. The statue will depict Ms. Behr painting as she sits on her little red stool, a constant traveling companion when she was on the road. Also featured in the statue will be Behr’s ever-present Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff tote bag.

Disclaimer: Only portions of the above statement are true. The City of Raleigh Arts Commission and the Guinness Book of World Records have no knowledge of Ms Behr or her artwork. Nobody said blogs have to be true, just interesting.

Jul 6, 2011

Red, white, and green

Independence Day in Goldsboro, 8x10" oil on panel
I was good. I stayed in all day on the 3rd and worked on my portrait commission. And I’m pleased with how it’s progressing. On the 4th however, I decided I was entitled like the rest of America to celebrate our country’s birthday. My way of celebrating was to get out of the house, find a shade tree not far from home and do some plein air painting. Independence Day in Goldsboro is the view as you’re facing north on the sidewalk between my neighbor's and my house.

Last summer I painted a house with a red roof. And just out of curiosity I went back and checked the date on which I’d done it. I believe it was either the 3rd or the 5th of July. So it looks like I’m establishing an Independence Day pattern here with a red roof theme. Janet Francouer who owns Carolina Creations Fine Art & Contemporary Craft Gallery in New Bern, NC posted a blog a year ago that features last year’s red roof painting. Click here to read Janet’s take on our plein air adventure.

Jul 3, 2011

I will stay inside and paint today. I will stay inside and paint today. I will stay inside and paint today. I will . . .

Ruddy Duck at dinnertime, 6x9" watercolor

Here’s the last of the Morehead City paintings, at least until I trek down there again. I’m dying to get out and paint again en plein air. For the time being I’m confined to quarters, as they say in the military. I’ve been dragging my heels on a major portrait commission — three faces, 40x30”— and so in this hot July month, I’ve decided it a good time to tackle it. Problem is, in spite of air conditioning, I wilt when I don’t get out and enjoy nature and all her gifts. Soon the caterpillars will be on my fennel plant, ready to strip it of all its fine foliage. Reminds me of a book of poetry I illustrated when I was in college,
. . . And the lilies tall lean over the wall
To bow to the butterfly,
It’s  July.

by Susan Hartley Swett (published in the 1880’s)

For those who are within driving distance of Raleigh, please stop by The Little Art Gallery the evening of July 20. This gallery, that is my exclusive gallery representative in Raleigh, is participating in the event I’ve shown below. I will be there doing yet another painting of the Peace and Person Street Krispy Kreme. What could be sweeter?

Click here for more info

Jul 2, 2011

Sanitary paintings

Sanitary street view, 5.5 x 8.5" watercolor
Earlier this year I received a commission to paint the Sanitary Restaurant and Fish Market, a landmark restaurant on the waterfront in Morehead City, NC. The popular eatery has a history that dates back to 1938. As you might guess, the Sanitary was first a fish market, then a restaurant. I can maybe get why somewhat would call their fish market “Sanitary”, but don’t we all want to assume a restaurant is clean? Can you think of a worse name for a restaurant? The name stuck. And now I bet they sell as many Sanitary t-shirts out of the place as they do seafood.

This small watercolor, like my other Morehead City paintings in recent blog posts is now hanging in Vision Gallery in Atlantic Beach. $195 each including frame.