Sunday, 30 March 2014

A Rough Start

As I hinted at in the ending of the last post, getting back into the studio (the new space here in Atlanta) was challenging, not in getting set up, although that was a long process filled with trouble-shooting and problem solving. No,the challenge I faced was finding my direction. Six months had past since I had painted and in that time, I sort of lost my artistic focus. I felt I had just started to gain some sense of a style of painting when we (my partner and I) had to leave Orlando. But, not to worry, right? I just kept painting everyday until I started to get into a groove. It did not come easily, I confess. Perhaps it was not helped by the mental challenges of starting over in a new place. I'm sure that was (is) a part of it. I feel a bit isolated out where we live in Smyrna. It is really quiet here. In any case, what seems to be emerging is a raw aesthetic on my canvas. So, I decided not to fight that and just let it come out how it wanted. Below is the first canvas I painted in the new space, correctly titled, 'Rough Start'.

'Rough Start', 24 x 36, acrylics

I really had to sit with this for a few days before I decided that it was okay. I don't usually paint this roughly, but this is how I felt I guess that's what was destined to come out of me that week.

I also painted another canvas that same week, but I'm uncertain how I feel about that one. Here it is below, pictured alongside Rough Start.

'Rough Start' (on the left) next to its untitled sibling in my studio.

So, all of this mentioned above was in mid-February. Now we are at the very end of March and things are still coming out a bit more raw feeling than I usually like to produce. But I think, for me, the bigger and more important point is that I am painting everyday despite the challenges.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Transplanted to Atlanta, Georgia? Yup.

So, it has been six months since my last entry... but I swear I have a good excuse. We sold our condo in Orlando back in October of 2013 (right after my last blog entry, actually). My partner got a job with Delta Airlines in Atlanta, so we uprooted ourselves and headed north to a house we bought on the fly in Smyrna (which is just outside NW Atlanta). So basically the end of last year was a complete blur filled with all of the fun stuff that is involved with selling/buying a new place and the joy that is moving all of our worldly belongings. It is not for the faint of heart, let me tell you.

Once we were settled in, I turned my attention towards assembling my new studio space. The home we bought has a really great (but unfinished) basement with plenty of room to spread out and have several pieces ongoing at once. BUT! Wow, was it c-c-cold down there....and dark, except for one 'meh' window. Winter in Atlanta (which sits well north in Georgia) is vastly different from the mild winters in Central Florida. I tried a few different heaters to warm the would-be studio space, but they were all pretty useless. I was getting worried about being able to paint at all, except spring and summer. But, finally (thank goodness) I came across a blog that suggested a natural gas heater for cold basements. After tracking one down that got great reviews, I bought the heater on-line and it took about three weeks days to arrive. Next was to find someone to install the thing, which took a little more time. Somewhere along the way, I remedied the lighting situation as well. In any case, by the time I got the heating situation under control, January had almost gotten away from me. Ugh! A few more weeks to get unpacked, organized, and set up and then finally I could begin to get into some paint!

Below is a photo I took on the first day that I had things set up enough to get started.

Finally all set up! Now the easy part, right? Nope.

It felt amazing to be ready to paint. I was ready! Now the easy part, right??? Nope.
More very soon (promise!)

Monday, 30 September 2013

My Abandoned Blog

Okay, I admit it: I became one of those people who starts a blog and then abandons it after only a few entries.

But my intentions were good! Honest! I just got busy with other wallowing in self-doubt and enjoying angst-ridden evenings worrying about if I have what it takes to do this (be a full-time studio artist), etc. so, I hope that you'll forgive me, blog. I promise to try and do better from now on.

So, what have I been up to then? I mean beside the negative self-talk loop that has been playing in my head? Well, mostly I have been in the studio everyday painting as much as I can. I had (and have) this urge to build an inventory of finished canvases. Why? I don't know. Maybe for an on-line store...or just to have multiple pieces ready for placement somewhere at the drop of a hat? I'd say that about half the days spent painting were absolutely great and the other half felt like a disaster. But, I think this is probably normal (you know, the 'bad' days). It's just that spending 7 or 8 hours painting, only to have what you've done that day turn out to be less than beautiful, feels really awful as an artist. It brings up all kinds of self-doubt about what I am doing. I feel as though I am still finding my voice as a painter...and this can be frustrating to say the very least. One thing for certain that I must stop doing is comparing myself to other artists. Doing this is not very helpful to positive motivation for creativity. It's not like I don't know this and yet I still find myself doing it again and again. In fact, this whole journey of being a full-time studio artist is putting to the test everything that I already know about being a happy and grateful human being...and forcing me to go more deeply with it. It wants to become more spiritual (my process of approaching painting)...and I am resisting that. Why? I'm sure it has to do with remaining in control. Anyway, I'm fading here (See? Resistance.) 

OKAY. More later on this, I promise. But for now, this will have to do.

So, how about some pictures?! Yes, let's do that!!!

I spent part of July getting ready to place several pieces in a very cute salon here near downtown Orlando called Lambs Eat Ivy.  A dear friend, Brad Fletcher, mentioned my artwork to the owner, Lisa Perillo, and after a few emails between the two of us, she said she would love to host my paintings for September and part of October, which was great. I really work well with a deadline and a concrete objective and here was a chance to work under those conditions. The paintings have been hanging for about three weeks and Lisa says that they have received a lot of praise from her clients and also her stylists.

So, here are the installed pieces in Lisa's great space in Thornton Park in downtown Orlando. These paintings are executed in tinted plaster and acrylics:

In the entrance area hangs 'GiddyUp', 48 x 72.

Along the salon's hallway hang (from left to right) '1964' (24 x 36), 'Blissful Thing' (30 x 40), 
and 'Mark-O' (24 x 36).

'The O in Joy' (24 x 30) hangs in the rear hall near the powder room.

Here hang (from left to right) 'Cafeteria', 'Playground', 'Recess' (all 20 x 30), and 'Duality' (on the far right). Reflected in the mirror on the far left is 'Energy and Idealism' (24 x 30).

Here is a good image of 'Duality' (24 x 30), seen to the far right in the previous image.

To the right of the mirror is a small piece I constructed out of my vast collection of used paint stir-sticks. There is a close-up image below of this piece. This constructed work is titled, You Have It All'

'You Have It All',  constructed of used paint stir sticks and varnish. The title comes from some printing that is on one of the stir-sticks.

Now, has a piece sold there? No. but it was an enjoyable effort to create the pieces and add to my inventory of available works. Perhaps a salon's clientele is not my target audience, but nonetheless, it is putting my work out there. It is all valuable experience, this I know to be very true.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

My paintings at FAVO in Orlando

First of all, you are asking what the heck is FAVO, right? FAVO stands for Faith Arts Village Orlando, and it is a small 1960's motel property that has been purchased by the adjacent Presbyterian Church (Park Lake Presbyterian).

Here is the motel property, pictured below...

The motel has been converted by the church to studio spaces for local artists..or at least it will be once the building can be brought up to city codes. BUT! In the meantime, the city is allowing the facility to be used on the first Friday of every month as gallery space to display the work of  local artists. Recently, I was fortunate enough to be offered one of the spaces there by the FAVO coordinator, Will Benton  (himself, a painter and musician). Here is Will, pictured below, with one of his fantastic paintings:

It was a really fun evening and I met so many great folks...and a lot of local artists, which was great. Plus, it gave me a date to work towards regarding painting. It is funny how motivating a deadline can be, isn't it? 

On the afternoon of the day of the event, I set up the space with my pieces and it was very exciting to see them all placed together. I luckily had some help from my partner, Martin, otherwise it would have taken two trips with my truck to get everything there. 

A little adjustment of the improvised lighting and....

Voila! All set!

Here are a couple of paintings ("Seems Eames" and "Malibu") on the other wall.
My personal current favorite, "Momentary Reality"
All in all, it was a great time and it was wonderful to get some feedback on the paintings I had to offer. If you are ever in Orlando on the first Friday of the month, stop by FAVO in the evening from 5 pm to 9 pm and check out some local art. Maybe I'll see you there!

Monday, 1 July 2013

The Seeds of My Artist Statement?

Yesterday while painting, I had a flash of insight about my developing artist statement. You see, I don't have one...yet. But I am working on a website for my art and I need one. I've really been at a loss about what to say exactly. I read some other statements I've seen on the web and they run the spectrum from sounding like a bunch of gibberish to reading like poetry that makes me want to look at that painter's work more deeply. I'm thinking the latter is the reaction that I'm seeking.
Yesterday was one of those days when I simply could not paint fast enough. I was inspired. I had six canvases going at once, placing them out in the sun to dry as I picked up the next. It was a day of experimentation and I was very excited by the very bright colors I was being drawn towards (I usually gravitate towards muted colors). On more than one occasion yesterday, what I thought was going to look amazing went completely in the other direction and looked like, well, mud. But then by my third pass on some of the pieces, the tide changed and magic happened. Magic that would not have occurred if the application of colors had not failed to meet my expectations.
This got me thinking about spirituality, God, and life. So many times in the past couple of years things that I labeled as bad or unfortunate turned out to be blessings in disguise. The way that I paint reflects that too. When I start a new piece, I simply put things in motion. I have no idea where it will end up. I begin with a color that strikes me as needing expression in that moment that I pick up a prepped canvas and place it on my studio table or wall. From there, I am simply staying in motion and taking cues from the way that the color and texture of the chosen color looks. Life is this way too, isn't it? We have an idea or a direction we want to move towards and we put ourselves in motion. sometimes, it goes the way we thought it would (rarely!). Sometimes simply being in motion takes us towards something or someone or an insight or new perspective that we did not know was there. Whatever happens, we have the choice to be happy or change things if we can. So, for me, the way that I approach painting mirrors the way that I have come to experience life, God, love; everything is a blessing in disguise. It is merely our judgment of things that makes something seem "bad".
This little glimpse I had has stuck with me and has caused me to be even more brave in my color choices. Life is one big experiment; so it is painting. Here is just such a painting pictured below. Is it done? I keep coming back to "no".

"I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else." - Pablo Picasso

(Precisely, Pablo. Precisely.)

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Using Up Material On-Hand

I have a TON of unused products from my time spent installing faux-finishes over the past few years. Recently, I made a decision to divide my 800 square foot studio space into thirds in order to offer two of the spaces to other artists looking for space. BUT, before I can get that underway, I must find creative ways to use up some of the inventory of paints that I have stacked on the shelves of the studio. They are taking up very valuable space! I've been opening up cans of paint that have seen better days. Most are unusable and those I sit aside so they can finish drying out. however some (for whatever reason) have thickened up like a heavy-bodied acrylic painting medium. I love when I come across these because they make a great ground for blank substrates. I came across one yesterday and I scooped it out into a separate container and mixed it with some acrylic Venetain plaster from Lowe's and made a really nice thick compound.

Thick paint. Awesome!

Mixed with a little acrylic Venetian plaster, the thickened paint makes a great texture.
This saves some money, using the existing products that I have on-hand. I'm hoping I come across some others today that are in this state (wish me luck!)

Monday, 24 June 2013

Texture? Yes, please.

Lately, I've really been wanting more texture in the paintings I've been working on. I've tried to do this with the materials that I have on hand at the studio. I have a ton of leftover products from various decorative painting jobs over the past several years. However, I just could not seem to get the depth and interest I have been picturing in my mind to show up on my canvas. So I trekked over to my local art supply store to pick up some new products to play around with. $265 dollars later, I think I found a couple of things that really give the depth and texture I was imagining. It was a thrill to experiment with some new mediums and get away from simply relying on what I have on hand.
Here is a piece titled  Looking Past that I painted over the past few days, incorporating some new thick, clear, gloss mediums by Liquitex I picked up at Sam Flax, Orlando's only decent art supply shop.

"Looking Past" in process

"Looking Past"
by Jeff Huckaby
tinted plaster and acrylic on canvas
20" x 60"

Below is a detail of the surface. I am attempting to get out of my "neat" box that painting very tight decorative art has placed me in over the past several years. Using these new products and allowing some chaos to simply be was a great exercise for me. I'm very excited to get back in the studio today and experiment some more!