Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring in Chicago?!

Over a week ago Spring officially started but here in The Windy City you'd never know it.

This is what I saw when I woke up this morning. Snow!!

I've grown up in Chicago my whole life so the sometimes drastic weather changes are nothing new to me.

Here's a picture of the backyard fence (shown above). Does this look like the Vernal Equinox to you?!

Soon the weather will be getting much warmer so it's one last chance to see the snow fall. It's kind of nice....almost romantic in a way.

A shot of the neighbor's garage earlier today.

If it's snowing in the springtime I wonder what summer will be like.....

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Red and Green.....

I had the day off today and hung out with my very best friend and unofficial Spanish sister, Isaura (hola!).

She wanted to go eat lunch at Denny's in Cal City but I suggested Leona's which was just up the road instead. I had a craving for Italian food so we gave Leona's a try.

At 12:30 p.m. on a weekday the place wasn't crowded so we got seated instantly. Unfortunately our waitress was a bit of a bee-yotch but I think it comes with the territory in that line of work.

My friend had the spaghetti with meat sauce (shown above) and I ordered the fusilli pesto with broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes (shown below).

When the dishes came out my first reaction was that they're so rich in friend's a bright red and mine an intense green!

I did feel a bit foolish taking multiple shots of our meals with my camera but I just had to get pictures of these for my blog! Dork!!

Sadly, not only was the food at Leona's kind of pricey but both our meals were really bland. If only they tasted as good as they looked. I've made better pasta dishes than this. Shame on you, Leona!

But the food didn't really matter. I hadn't seen my "Spanish sister" in a while and it was great just getting to talk to her in person.

"Next time," Isaura said, "we should go to Olive Garden." I agree!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Blue and Gold" (W.I.P. Pears Painting - Step 4 - Completion)

Watercolor on watercolor paper - 6 1/2" x 9 1/2" (SOLD)

It's done!!

In the first stage of this painting I mentioned wanting to do a piece to show what I can do. But I'm not so sure I like the way this one turned out. Embarrassing.

I do like the blue and yellow color combination though.

The fabric used for the still life was really intricate and beautiful and I don't think I fully captured that here. But at the same time, I wanted the pears to be the focus so if too much detail was put into the floral cloth it would defeat the whole point.

Maybe I'm just too critical of my own work or maybe I've been looking at this still life for so long now that I've grown sick of it.

Well at least it's finished. Oh, and the pears are now resting in peace in the compost bin!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

W.I.P. Pears Painting - Step 3 - Panic!!

This stage always seems to come up when I do a painting, doesn't it?

I was feeling kind of depressed earlier in the week. That combined with my lingering cold and me just plain resisting the process, I put my current painting on the back burner.

Unfortunately that isn't always a good plan when working with live fruit (see photo above).

After several long days, the pears started to began turning!

Oh crap, I haven't even finished painting these yet!

The good news? I was able to salvage as much of the pears as I could, blocking in most of the shadows and important details. The rest I should be able to improvise.

Time to finish this still life once and for all so I can toss those rotting pears in the compost bin! Gross!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

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

At this stage all of the colors have been laid down.

I also blocked in some of the shadows on the floral cloth as well as on the pears.

I'm undecided about the background color though. At the moment it's a salmon-peach which I'm not 100% sure works with the other colors being used. It still can be adjusted at this stage if need be.

Now I just have to strengthen the shadows on the pears and build up the details on the patterns in the fabric.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A touch of green for St. Patrick's Day!

Look what I saw while walking to work the other day.

This is a photo I took of a manhole cover on the corner of Wabash and Van Buren in the Loop. I'm guessing the city must be planning on doing sewer-work sometime soon because it's clearly been marked in chalk.

I almost screeched like a little girl. Green is my most favorite color so I spotted this right away.

Here is a close-up shot.

Mind you, I did get some odd stares taking photos of a sewer and being in the middle of live traffic didn't help things either!

I know what you're all thinking:  "Dean, this isn't art. It's a friggin' manhole cover, you imbecile!"

Yes, yes, yes....while all of that is true, I just love the color combination of the bright, lime-green chalk against the dark, chocolate-brown sewer.

It was an unexpected splash of green that I wanted to share with everyone on St. Patty's Day!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

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

Lately I've been posting a lot of amateur work on my blog, IMHO. So feeling kind of adventurous, I decided that my newest painting will be super-detailed.

I wanted to post a really strong piece to show what I can really do....hopefully!

This work-in-progress (W.I.P.) will be a painting of pears on a very intricate floral cloth.

I'm feeling really nervous about this one just because it's so technical with all the little patterns and designs in the fabric.

Since I wanted the artwork to have a romantic feel to it, I listened to my oh-so-rare Sailor Moon R - Symphonic Poem CD while drawing this piece.

For those of you who don't know, "Symphonic Poem" contains songs from the Sailor Moon anime that are performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. Super cool music....soft and powerful all at once!

Now that the drawing is complete it's time to lay down some color!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Field Trip! The Art Institute of Chicago

One of the lions that "guard" The Art Institute of Chicago

A quick update everyone!

I had a nasty head cold this past Monday which prevented me from doing anything art related. It's at that annoying runny nose stage but my cold is almost gone. Thank goodness!

With my free time this week, I decided to go to the Art Institute with blogging pal, Justin. Thanks again, J!

We got to see the "Becoming Edvard Munch" exhibit which runs until April 26th, 2009. I was a bit disappointed at the museum's layout. Many of the rooms in the Munch exhibit were quite dark. I mean literally dark. The walls were gray and some of the signs next to the paintings were gray as well. Talk about hard to read!

I would've liked to learn more about Edvard Munch's thought process and what made him tick. There were mentions of his alcoholism and his sister's death but I'd really love to know more about his mental disorder, the deep-rooted anxieties, the "electrification" treatments. Something I could really sink my teeth into....something more to munch on (bad pun! Ahahhahaha).

The rest of the museum was much more cheerful and interesting IMHO.

I do admit to always feeling up and down when going to see famous works of art. I'm inspired for sure that such great paintings can be made and yet I feel kind of depressed because my own work is really kind of shitty and meaningless compared to something like a Mary Cassatt painting.

Still, I hadn't been there in a while and being flooded with all the artwork did make me want to start on another painting right away.

Time to get started!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Congress Pkwy & Michigan Ave. sketch

So I had to work this weekend. Unfortunately my train gets me downtown about two hours earlier than I need to be. I decided to kill the time by sketching some things here in Chi-town.

This is one of my favorite statues in the Loop! It's called Magdaline and was created by artist Dessa Kirk.

The statue is located on the small median at Congress Pkwy and Michigan Avenue.

It appears to be constructed entirely out of metal. The coolest part is the lower half of the body which is made up of rebar that digs into the ground below. In the summer, morning glories and other flowering vines literally climb up the base and overtake her torso. So frickin' neat!

A little known fact about me is that I love plants and have about 50 houseplants at home. This nymph-like, plant woman was just begging to be drawn.

It was raining off and on that day which made the limited grassy area muddy. Thankfully I had a RedEye with me to sit on. That free newspaper saved my ass....literally!

There were a couple challenges trying to draw the statue.

Traffic was zooming by on both sides of me. I was sitting down on the grassy area right where that blue vehicle was (shown above). Should a car accidently make a wrong turn....I'd be splattered all over the intersection. For those of you who don't think I suffer for my art, just remember that!

Also, the rain picked up during mid-sketch. I had to juggle an umbrella with one hand and draw with the other. Quite cumbersome.

Keep in mind that this is a relatively quick sketch. It does not do the original work of art justice. Dessa Kirk's "Magdaline" really does need to be seen in person. So if you're a Chicagoan or just visiting the area, check out the real thing!

Friday, March 6, 2009

"Pink Zebra" ACEO

Watercolor and ink on bristol paper - 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" (SOLD)

I was in the mood to do something detailed but small so I decided upon an animal ACEO.

For those of you that don't know, ACEO's are miniature works of art, always measuring 2 1/2" x 3 1/2".

My original idea was to do a black and white portrait of a zebra's face (using just a technical pen). But upon completion, the drawing looked way too plain and was about to get ripped up and thrown out.

Then I remembered Don Gray's comment in my "Quadruplets" post about doing what the artwork is telling you rather than what you want to do.

The white of the zebra did not pop like "it" wanted so I went ahead and painted the background all black. Now everything looked dark and depressing and "it" screamed for color! So again I gave the artwork what it wanted. I add several watercolor washes, choosing pink for shock value, and it was finally done.

This isn't one of my strongest works of art but it looked unique enough to share with everyone on my blog.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Resistance is futile.....

No, I'm not reenacting a scene from Star Trek featuring the Borg. I'm referring to a stumbling block many artists face.

I saw my painting pal, MaryAnn, about a week-and-a-half ago. She told me how she hadn't painted in months. She explained that her basement workspace was now too dreary and cramped and went on to talk about switching rooms.

When MaryAnn told me she wasn't sure what the problem was, I said quite frankly, "You're resisting."

It has nothing to do with the space, place, day, time, or anything else. Resistance is a chosen state we place upon ourselves.

God knows this is nothing new to me. Many a time I've gone on cleaning binges around the house, completely organized my socks by style and color, and did practically everything else under the sun but draw and paint in my little studio. But why?

Is it not wanting to start an art project because it might not turn out right? Depression preventing you from enjoying the process? Fear that you can't cut it as an artist? Maybe it's a combination of all of these and so much more.

How do you combat resistance?

Do the complete opposite. When you resist, you are trying to stop the process, so you have to then choose to take action.

I know....easier said than done.

Giving in to resistance makes it harder to take action in the future. Likewise, taking action when you don't feel like it empowers you on those days when you want to stop altogether. 

Maybe the Borg got it right after all....resistance is futile.