Why I Paint.

| 09 December, 2013 07:01

I began painting in my mid-30's.  It was an impulse, a desire...and it was terrifying to try something that I really knew very little about.  I always laugh to myself when I meet people at shows that are so enthusiastic about art and then they say, "Oh, I can't paint.  I can't do anything artistic."  My follow up is always, 'Are you sure?" because I know my own story and I remember telling myself things like that once.  Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had never garnered the courage to just give it a try and allow myself to create things that fell so far short of what I had envisioned...but I know what would have happened--nothing.  Nothing new, nothing changed.

My wise father once told me that no one ever changes anything in their life by saying 'no' to something--change only comes from saying 'yes' to something, and that's why I started painting.  Not because I thought the world needed new artwork, or that I was going to be a world-famous artist, but because something in me wanted to do it and I said 'yes'.  That one follow-through of an impulse has led to a whole new chapter in my life that has brought me tremendous joy and fulfillment.  

There is nothing more exciting than creating something and having someone come along whose eyes light up when they see it.  They might say, 'Oh, this reminds me of my children' or 'This makes me so happy!' and then they take it home to look at everyday.  The fact that one person can follow a creative impulse and other people are inspired in ways the artist cannot even fathom is why art is so wonderful.  Art goes straight to the core of you--it's not literal, it's pre-verbal, and it speaks to the emotions.  That's how we perceive the world as babies and children, and when we can find that place in us that interacts with the world on that level, we have the most potential for experiencing the well-being and happiness that is at the core of our being.

To paraphrase Joseph Campbell, 'The effect of a vital person vitalizes the world' and that's what art does--it speaks to that vital place in all of us.  I can't imagine a better way to spend my hours.

Article on commissioned pieces for Southern Living Showcase House

| 09 December, 2013 07:01

Here is an article written on the AB Home Interiors blog about the two pieces interior designer Amanda Burdge commissioned for her design in the Southern Living Showcase House.  Amanda is a fantastic designer and I am so priviledged to be working with her! 

Click here to read about our work together and for details on the Southern Living Showcase House that is open from late October into November.  Come on out and see, it should be something to behold!

How a Painting Comes to Life

| 09 December, 2013 07:01

Frequently I have people interested in seeing how my paintings come into being.  The process I use is one I found through experimentation and it is very interesting to see any painting evolve.  I recently did a photo series on my facebook page to show the different stages in the life of one of my paintings.  Here is a condensed version of a piece I did for AB Home Interiors and the Southern Living Showcase Home....


First, I talk with Amanda Burdge, the designer who own AB Home Interiors, about a design concept that works well with her overall color scheme and feel.  When we land on one, she determines the size painting she wants and I do a sketch and come up with a color scheme that meshes with her chosen pallette.


Next, I apply a coat of thick gesso on the wood panel to create texture for the background.


After that has dried, I do a pastel sketch of the subject matter on top of the gesso background, and then begin to fill in the sketch with lots of textured gesso.


Following this comes the first of many, many layers of diluted acrylic.  All of the color I use is transparent, so that every layer shows through to the color layer below it.  This adds incredible depth to the color field that cannot be attained by only showing one opaque color that is on top.


More color is added over a series of days, because each layer has to dry before the next can be applied.  For this reason, I always have quite a few pieces going at once, so that I can keep painting by moving from one piece to the next while layers are drying.


As more color depth develops, I add details and contrasting darks and lights to give visual depth to the subject matter.



The next step is one of my favorites--varnishing!  The foreground has no varnish, so you can see how the varnish layer adds depth and richness to the color, as it reaches down and pulls every layer of color that was applied forward, as you can see in the background.


Here is the final product-- 'Elegance' 36x48 acrylic on wood panel.

This piece will be available for sale after the Southern Living Showcase Home Show has finished in November.





Original artwork can make a space your own

| 09 December, 2013 07:01

Sometimes it can be hard to see a piece of artwork and imagine the impact it will have in your own home.  Buyers rarely have the opportunity to see a piece of artwork in their own home before purchasing it, so it can be hard to understand how it can take a space you love and really give it that 'something' that makes it complete.

Sometimes people will choose not to buy a piece that has really captured their heart because they fear it will not go with their decor and color scheme.  My interior designer friend Amanda Burdge says that there is the possibility of things becoming too 'matchy-matchy', meaning that a piece of artwork has just the right colors to match your pallette but loses the impact because it gets lost in the overall, becoming stiff and even looking fabricated.  If a piece of artwork really catches you in the solar plexus, 9 times out of 10, it's going to work because artwork should grab you when you walk in a room. 


I'm not a designer, so I often feel at a loss when choosing things for my home, but I do know that decorating is like the rest of life--and if you follow your gut and go with what means something to you, it will reflect those same wonderful feelings back to you when it is in your home.


Art Defines a Space

| 09 December, 2013 07:01

Here is a great series of pictures taken by Gallerist Gregg Irby in Atlanta of a singular space with different pieces of artwork as the focal point--as you can see right away, it completely changes the feel, mood and even the look of the decor.  Sometimes a space that seems like it could only accomodate a certain type of art can actually accomodate many more, and is actually the better for it!

A Painter Paints

| 09 December, 2013 07:01

I had someone teach me many years ago that a painter paints, so a good spiritual practice is to regularly paint over things you have created so you never forget that a painting is a process, not a destination...this man reminds me of the buddhist monks that make the zen gardens and then upon finishing, start over.


The Dirty Car Artist

Five Things to Consider When Buying Original Art

| 09 December, 2013 07:01

Buying original artwork is optional in life, and it is also an investment; maybe not your typical financial investment (although some people buy for those reasons) but most people buy artwork for personal reasons, and it usually doesn't come cheap because an artist may spend up to a couple weeks or more on a painting.  When buying art, you are not only paying for the creation, but the time of creation.  And even if money is not a concern, you will more than likely have this piece of artwork in your home or workplace for a considerable amount of time, so knowing what you want the artwork to do for you is helpful when entering into the decision-making process.  Here is a list of five things you might want to consider when looking:

1)  The color scheme of the room where the artwork will reside:I started here (almost as a trick) because this is one of the most common considerations people start with when they begin looking, and in the long run, ends up being the least important.  A room can be painted, and considering that you will own this piece for years, chances are you will want to paint that room eventually anyhow.  So if you've paid big bucks to have an interior designer choose a color scheme, this may be your (or their) main priority, but if not, I'd paint the room before I bypassed a piece I was crazy about.

2)  Price range:I included this as well because this is, of course, on most everyone's mind when considering a big purchase of original art.  If you find a piece you love but is out of your price range, the gallery or artist may be willing to work with you on price, or even consider a payment plan.  I also have done versions of a large piece that people fall in love with, and scale it down to a size that fits within their budget; it's always worth asking.

3)  How does the piece make me feel?This takes some thought beforehand--maybe the question should be 'how do I want my artwork to make me feel?'  Art speaks to us on an emotional level through the eye.  It evokes feelings.  If you have a piece hanging in a location that you pass frequently, it will evoke feelings from you every time you see it, so it is worth asking yourself what feelings you want drawn from you that often.  One of the most common things people say when buying my artwork is 'It makes me so happy', so chances are, they are going to get that feeling triggered in them every time they look at it.  

4)  The purpose of the location of choice for this piece:If you are buying something for your workplace, you may want to consider it's effect on the people that visit and work with you there.  I have had clients that are doctors and they buy my work for it's soothing, happy effect in their waiting rooms.  If you professionally deal with people on complex issues, you more than likely don't want a piece of artwork that is complicated and emotionally complex.  This seems obvious, but sometimes it can get overlooked and merits some thought.

5)  Does this piece make me happy?This takes #3 further, and I will admit this right from the start, I am biased here.  I am a happiness convert.  Many people are suspicious of happiness, especially when it comes to the subject of art; maybe they believe that art is supposed to be serious.  I think it can achieve both.  There is nothing more serious to me than happiness, because after all, when you think about it, we are at our best when we are happy:  we work more effectively, we love more completely and unconditionally, we relax, we appreciate.  All things we want in our lives, we want because we think they will somehow make us happier to have them, whether that be a relationship or a job or health.  I think that says something about us.  When we are happy, we are heading toward the best version of ourselves--happiness is a meter telling us which direction to go.  So when buying something we look at and that evokes feelings in us, why not have it be something that tunes us to the best of ourselves? For some people, an abstract with rich dark colors makes them feel happy, for others it is a rendition of a beautiful place, and others may find something whimsical most heartening.  Regardless, your feelings are your guide and can be your top consideration, because after all is said and done, what happens inside of you will be what you continue to receive from a work of art.

What is "Good" Art?

| 09 December, 2013 07:01

When you are looking for artwork for you home, What Makes Art "Good Art"?

Haven't you heard people say this (or maybe you have said it)--

"I like this piece of art, but I'm not sure if it's 'good'.  What do you think?"

The moment I hear someone who's loving a piece of my work make a remark along these lines to someone else, I know they are going to have a hard time making an art purchase for one simple reason:  They don't know what makes art "good".

When you don't know what makes art 'good' then you are constantly having to get other people's opinions about it, and we all know where that goes--down a lot of different roads, all at once.  Because everyone has their own opinion, you're going to get a number of different viewpoints.  And even if you took a vote, you still may not have enough of a landslide to leave you feeling that you made the 'right' decision.  

But here's the good news that enough people don't get taught when they are young (while instead they are taught to do it 'right' and to color the sky blue and color inside the lines): art is supposed to make you feel something.  It's completely and utterly personal.  The eye reaches out and the heart has a response, plain and simple, and if it moves you, especially in a way that you like or want or need, then it is 'Good".  Somehow, many of us have been left with the impression that there is 'good' art and 'bad' art and everyone should have the same opinion about what falls into which category.  I have seen buyers experience a considerable amount of stress, scared that they are choosing something that may fall into the 'bad' art category, and if so, what does that say about their taste?  So believe it or not, this subject is actually illuminating on many levels.  Do you trust yourself?  Do you have a clear understanding about what you like, and is it ok to like what you like? 

If you are just buying for the pleasure of it (as opposed to an actual financial investment), that's the only criteria that determines the value.  How is this piece of art going to affect you emotionally and mentally everytime you see it?  If it affects you in ways that you desire, then there is no other determining factor--it's not only enough, it's all there is.  An artist created it, but you will have the long-term relationship with it.  Does it inspire you?  Does it soothe you?  Does it move you or make you ponder something deeper about your life or the world at large?  Does it remind you of qualities or truths that are important to you?  Does it please you and/or make you happy just to see it?  These are the questions that determine the value of a piece of artwork.  There is no standard outside yourself.  No one else can tell you what moves you, and even if they could, it doesn't matter.  If you love something, that is enough to make it 'good'.