Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dean Facts!

So it's that time again.....

A chance for you all to learn more than you ever wanted to about myself.

Things you never really needed to know that I'm sharing with you anyway!


The newest installment of "Dean Facts!"
  • When I was 18-years-old I got braces on my teeth and wore them for approximately two years and two months.
  • I once prayed to God to let me die in my sleep.
  • My immediate family were all born with black hair and brown eyes. I was the only one that had blue eyes and dark-blonde hair!
  • I love rainy weather and hate the sun!
  • It seems I always almost miss my train to work. Subconsciously, I think it's because I'm sick of that job already.
That's all this time around. Stay tuned for the next edition!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

W.I.P. Hibiscus Painting - Step 2 - Underpainting

I finally got around to painting this thing!

Masking fluid was used for all the pencilled water drops on the hibiscus because there's no way in hell I'm going to maneuver around all those little circles! It would drive me crazy! It's the easiest way to retain the white of the paper so I went for it.

Here's a nice tip for you all!

Starting off with a bright yellow as a base makes the final colors appear to least when using watercolors.

Check out the next phase down below once all the colors were added. You'll see how the flower and the leaves that were originally painted yellow now 'pop' compared to the other areas.

My biggest concern at this point is making the bloom have depth and not look flat. But how does one do that when a flower only has one set of petals which are all flat and lack depth?!

Do any of you more seasoned artists out there, specifically floral painters, have any advice? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

The next step is to strengthen the shadows in the background, tweak the colors on parts of the hibiscus, and add any last little details.

So very close!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A new dawn. A new day....

This morning's sunrise outside my window

The birds chirp about, singing to one another in the treetops. Spirited, active, well-rested.

A coolness floats through the air that refreshes the body and soul.

And from behind mountainous clouds the sun emerges....illuminating the sky as it always does and always will.

To start over. To start again. Another chance to shine brilliantly.

Just thought this would be appropriate to share considering my previous post.

Thank you, everyone!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Having a bad day.....

Today I felt like absolute shit. No, I don't mean sick with a cold.

Early this morning while checking e-mails, job listings, and the internet, I found an online profile of someone I used to talk to.

Seeing this person's picture got me so upset. My heart ached thinking how I could've done things differently with this person and in turn how different things would've been.

And before you knew it, that got me thinking about other things, which led to thoughts about even more things, and I ended up a teary-eyed mess in front of the computer.

Going back to bed was in order so I went to go brush my teeth. But seeing myself distressed in the bathroom mirror was a big no-no. Read my ugly self-portrait post and you'll see what I mean. At that moment, I felt so ugly and gross and I'm not okay.

The hurt in my blue eyes. The tears running down my flushed cheeks. All I could do was clasp my mouth with my hands and watch my reflection weep. What an emotional fuck-up I am!

I had trouble falling asleep and the rest of the day was spent feeling depressed, anxious, irritated, tired, and worthless. How very sad. Sad, sad, sad.

Needless to say, absolutely no drawing or painting got done on my day off from work. How fucking unproductive!

It's days like this that make me want to quit altogether.

Go to hell, Dean. I'm so sick of you already.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

W.I.P. Hibiscus Painting - Step 1 - Drawing

With the weather getting warmer I thought it would be nice to do a floral painting.

I drew this from a photo I took of a very colorful hibiscus bloom. (Love the ruffled petals!)

This happens a lot. I'll do a really strong, detailed drawing and be quite pleased with it. Then once I start painting, I mess it all up!

Let's hope that's not the case for this latest work-in-progress.

I went all "old school" and listened to Queen's Greatest Hits while drawing this. Hearing Freddie Mercury sing "Don't Stop Me Now" is just chilling in a really great way!

The next step is to add color and take it from there!

...."Don't stop me now ('cause I'm havin' a good time)
Don't stop me now (yes I'm havin' a good time)
I don't want to stop at all."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wow! I got A Passion for Painting Award!

It's been less than a month and I got tagged with another blog award! Whoo-ha!

This time, the fabulous Susan Beauchemin nominated me for A Passion for Painting Award on her blog last week.

The rules for winning the award:

List 7 things you're passionate about
Link to the person who picked you
Pass the award onto 7 others and notify them of the award

I'm going to cheat a bit and kill two birds with one stone by telling you why I'm passionate about the winners I chose to win this award. (Sneaky, I know!)

My nominees are (in no particular order):


--Tracey Clarke (Brainworks). Moody, dark, thought-provoking, and just plain cool! That's how I describe this artist's wonderful work. Tracey clearly immerses herself in her subjects, leaving paintings full of depth and hidden meanings.

--Mona Conner (Grander Joy of Spirit in Portraiture). Mona's work is just heavenly *wink wink*. Often dealing with religious themes, Mona's colorful, detailed portraits are awesome!

--Paul Brown (Artworks by Paul Brown). A very talented realist painter. Anyone that can get this photo-realistic with a paintbrush MUST be passionate about what they're doing!

--Kathleen "Kate" Rietz (A Moleskin Journal). I love Kate's style. Her pencil renderings are so technical and precise yet her good eye for composition keeps them from being boring. Her whimsical children's book sketches will bring a smile to your face too!

--Kim Denise (Luminous World). Wow, wow, wow! A fantastic painter who captures light brilliantly. Her paintings appear to glow! Luminous indeed. And her cats are cute as hell!

--Gayle Mason (Fur in the Paint). Gayle's passion for wildlife, specifically cats shines through. Her step-by-step colored pencil drawings are unbelievably detailed and will leave you wondering how she did it.

--Alvin Richard (Acrylic & Light). Another artist whose work is so ridiculously detailed that he has to be passionate about his paintings. Alvin's impossibly realistic paintings are something to behold. Always colorful, fun, and defy all probability! See this modern master's work for yourself.


So that's my list. I'm aware some of these fellow artists probably already won this award. Even so, they're all worth noting.

Now get going and check them out!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Chicago's Buckingham Fountain at Night!

Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park is spectacularly lit up at night starting in spring until early fall. Much like Crown Fountain in Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountain changes a series of colors after the sun sets. Tier by tier, it transitions from brilliant reds, purples, golds, oranges, greens, blues, and back again.

Since wednesdays are my late shift, I wanted to take some pictures of Buckingham Fountain after I got out of work. At night it's really something to see! Just magical!

Surprisingly, there were quite a number of couples watching the display. Holding one another, kissing their partner tenderly, whispering sweet nothings in the warm breeze. I almost felt like I was intruding on everyone's private moments.

The sound of all the fountains spraying, Michigan Avenue aglow as a backdrop, slight drizzle from the cloudy night sky. It was sooooo romantic and I could see why there were so many lovers out. And yet again I was all by myself! Ugh--the story of my life it seems. 

Before you knew it, the rain picked up and so did the nearby lightning. At ten o'clock sharp, I was just about to leave when all of a sudden music started blaring from the overhead speakers. I had heard about Buckingham Fountain's light and music show but didn't realize it started this early in the year. I had just stumbled upon it by sheer accident--what luck!

The light and music show is basically classical music played in time with Buckingham Fountain's many changes. As the music crescendoed, the color of the lights alternated as would the length and intensity of the fountains' spray. Essentially Buckingham Fountain was tuned to the music and acted accordingly.

Down below are some shots of the fountain getting more lively once the symphonic music started. (Notice the tall jet-spray shooting from the middle now).

Unfortunately just as the light and music show started the storm got much worse. I mean much worse!

Lightning sizzled overhead. Being out in the open, drenched, near all the trees in Grant Park, and surrounded by the metal railings of the fountain--not smart, Dean!

So I dashed towards the Loop. After all, you've never heard of anyone getting struck by lightning in the Chicago Loop, right? Right!? Well, that was my theory anyway.

But the storm was quite bad and I couldn't get to that area in time so I turned around, went back towards Buckingham Fountain, and hid under the roof of the small building to its left which housed the bathrooms.

Standing under the restrooms' awning, lightning and rain thundering down, I watched the rest of the light and music show which lasted about 20 minutes. After the show concluded the storm had calmed down just enough for me to quickly get to my train station.

Ah, the things I go through to capture beauty and share it with the rest of the world. A memorable night for sure!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Dandelions sketch

Isn't it funny how some plants can grow even in the worst conditions and not only survive, but thrive?

Here's is a quick pen and ink sketch I did earlier this afternoon of a clump of dandelions emerging from a crack in the cement.

Most of the blooms were spent....the puffy white seeds ready to be taken by the wind.

The dandelions seemed undaunted by the lack of dirt and less than ideal growing conditions. Their roots were strong and nothing was going to keep them down!

A good metaphor for life, wouldn't you say?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Sheila's Butterfly" ACEO

Watercolor and ink on watercolor paper - 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" (NFS)

When someone shows an act of kindness or shares their generosity with you, I believe it's important to return the favor.

So this butterfly art card was given to a wonderful lady to show my appreciation and gratitude.

I'm quite pleased with the way this turned out. I really love the bright colors against the black of the butterfly's wings.

A fun, simple little painting!

I had toyed with the idea of doing an entire butterfly series at some point. After having enjoyed creating this ACEO I just might do that!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Rain, puddles, and tears (Part 3)

Puddles are gifts from the rain. Rain is a gift from God. God's holy water blesses the earth so that new growth may not only emerge....but thrive. The downpour washes away the dirt and shame and cleanses thy soul made bare.

This is the final and perhaps most important post about myself turning thirty.

I know you're all probably thinking, "How many days does your birthday have, Dean!?" This is the last, I swear!

Part 1 dealt with weathering the storm....the disappointment and sadness....of my 30th birthday.

Part 2 gave me a chance to reflect on things to see where I've been and where I'm headed.

Part 3 is a chance to start my third decade of life off with, great intentions. To ask God for guidance and clarity and strength.....

My grandmother's rosary

My hands were clasped so tightly the blood rushed from my fingertips. And with my grandmother's rosary around my neck I prayed for the same four things I always do:

For God to let me be great, let me do great things, let great things come into my life, let great people come into my life.

And I mean "great" in the truest sense of the word. Not, "Oh, what a great guy." I mean true greatness. To soar and transcend. Be extraordinary, renowned, remarkable, amazing. Truly great!

Let this be a time, as others here mentioned, for me to see what I can still do rather than what I haven't done. An opportunity to do things differently both as a person and an artist. To find those dreams and parts of myself I let die and give them a second chance at life.

And from all the times I've fallen let a new stalk emerge from the drenched, tear-covered earth. A stem strong from my resilience which will bloom into the most glorious of blooms!

"Let me be great, let me do great things, let great things come into my life, let great people come into my life."

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Rain, puddles, and tears (Part 2)

Puddles are gifts from the rain. They provide a murky view of the world around it. Shallow pools that mirror everything back at us. A chance to reflect on our distorted reflections.

So I had a chance to recover (a bit) from the earth-shattering, cataclysmic, and traumatic event known as my 30th birthday.

Last year I could tell people I'm in my twenties. Now I have to say I'm in my thirties even though I turned thirty only two days ago! Ughh!!

I didn't even get the chance to join 20-something-bloggers now I have to join 30-something-bloggers instead. Eewwww.

Me ten years ago in college. I didn't like my picture taken!

Looking back, my twenties had so many more downs than ups. Here's a list of the more memorable ones:

- I lived like a recluse for almost two years after graduating art college.
- I deliberately lost contact with my two best college friends.
- I took on a dead-end job and quit five days afterwards.
- Had a quarter-life crisis and left for Ireland, swearing never to come back, only to take a flight back home three days later.
- Got another job and was fired four days after getting hired.
- Became unemployed for a good couple of years.
- My father died.
- Our family dog died the following year.
- I had my heart broken.
- My new best friend, who worked at my current dead-end job, left for a better paying position and now I don't see her that often.
- My current place of employment, due to budget cuts (a.k.a. the economy), pulled all future job openings. It might be like this for the next couple of years meaning I'll be at the bottom level for a while.

A lot of these things I must take accountability for. Certain things are out of my control but for the most part I'm exactly where I am in life because of the choices and decisions I've made or haven't made.

I've detached myself from the world and people around me. Faced the same damn "issues" over and over. Waited, procrastinated, and waited some more until years went by. I let fear, depression, shame, lack of drive, and weakness keep me down.

Here's to hoping my thirties are more productive, fruitful, positive, and focused on my career in art.

That all the garbage and shit of my twenties gets buried and mixed into the ground becoming the foundation for which I build upon from thirty on up.

Only time will tell if what I see reflecting back at me in future rain puddles is good or bad.