I’ve been going to Mark Chester’s Gay Men’s Sketch in San Francisco for several years now. Classical male nude modeling almost every Tuesday night. I won’t tell you what happens on say a Thursday night every now and then. For me it’s been a place to explore mediums, connect with other artists and just draw the human figure.
I started out drawing in pen & ink, a medium I picked up on a visit to Paris, France keeping sketchbooks of my trip. It stayed with me for years. I worked the medium to death. Black and white always, sometimes with a wash. I decided to live a little. Inspired by other artists and also because I had a box of them from years past, I picked up colored pencils. Something about adding highlights to a colored paper and then shadows just made them come alive. I’m still discovering this medium, but for now I love it.
This was a painting that originally I thought was a good idea but it just wasn’t working out. I wanted to paint a male figure with an Italian landscape. I was after something classical but a little Baroque with the flowers. I started it; got frustrated with it; set it aside for a year.
Then I had this idea to just attack it. Realizing that I could ruin this completely, I did it anyway. The black strokes kind of made a frame
for it. Not content, I stenciled one of my patterns onto it. Finally I liked it. The play of flat color versus the depth of the landscape and the tension created by wiping out something you spent a lot of time on worked for me. It was the act that was important.
I made up this story. “The classical painting was in a mansion somewhere. People broke in and vandalized the place, ruining the painting. The owner loved the painting and wrapped it in fabric to protect it. Some of the fabric stuck to the surface.”
Let me know what you think…
Flowers for Alexander, 40″ x 30″, oil on canvas
So this is the way it goes – I took a photograph in Golden Gate Park on a foggy day. New to watercolors, I started experimenting and did a small 9″ x 12″ painting from the photograph. I didn’t try to copy the photo exactly – just tried to give the general idea. I’ve been working with watercolors for the last few months. On vacation in Hawaii, I was so inspired by what I was seeing on Maui that I bought a watercolor set at an Ace Hardware store in Kihei. I started painting everything.
On my return I began to paint from pictures of my life. Someone told me that small paintings can be too “precious”. Inspired by the challenge, I thought why not – why not try a big watercolor. So I bought some 22″ x 30″ sheets of watercolor paper. I quickly found out that what works on a small scale does not work on the big scale. I did the painting inspired by the small one I had already done. The result was mediocre. I signed it – then erased it with some water and a cloth. The original did not go away entirely, I was hoping it would add some depth. Pictured here is the reworked background with some of the original still showing. A day later after letting it dry, I finished it off.
A painting of a photograph inspired a painting. My first big watercolor.
As quoted from World of Interiors magazine about a book by Kahi Lee, Rough Luxe Design: The New Love of Old
“Variously defined as ‘an act of rebellion against Modernism’, ‘dedicated to the authentic and unpretentious’, a style that ‘preserves rather than perfects’ and ‘reveres the past from the youthful perspective of the present’, the defining features of the Rough Luxe look are weathered and battered surfaces, and recycled or ‘re-purposed’ furnishings with a faintly industrial edge, whether old tractor seats as stools or army tent canvas as upholstery. Antlers are almost de rigueur, taxidermy and Victorian medical equipment are optional extras. The effect is masculine, textured, decorative and a relief after too many blank walls and blond floors.”
The glossy pages of World of Interiors magazine continually inspire me.
Rarely do I find a style that defines me. Growing up on a farm in Indiana, I have always had a love for old things with patina. My artist studio is the culmination of years of collecting oddities and projects that needed restoration. I chose to create installations on the studio walls – swatches of painted patterns staged with my artwork and objects. Here are a few pictures of some studio details.
This is a door in a Beaux Arts apartment. Inspired by a Louis XIV design it is hand-painted to look like moulding. Silver metallic was used for the design and acrylics were used for the base coat and shading. The door surround is painted with a faux bois – red on red.
The client wanted a Burberry-inspired plaid wall treatment. My spin on this was to use metallic paints for a richer effect. We chose to do an accent wall with the plaid and the rest of the room in a champagne metallic finish. Metallic paints can show every brush stroke so I used a cross-hatching brush pattern for the base coat. I added a texture to the stripes to give it a fabric look.
Attached are the sample board and finished walls.
The first bathroom project that I created was a small stripe and faux bois repeat. The client was specific about the color he wanted. It was to match a stripe wallpaper that originally was installed but kept peeling up over time. A painted finish doesn’t peel up and there are no seams. Instead of just painting the original pattern of the wallpaper, I suggested the faux bois, a woodgrain that resembles moiré fabric to make it cooler. Surprisingly he went for it.
[From Wikipedia, “Faux bois (from the French for false wood) refers to the artistic imitation of wood or wood grains in various media.”]
A week and several rolls of tape later the bathroom was completed. Attached are before pictures, in progress and the finished wall treatment.