Thursday, December 4, 2008

Its about stars

My most recent piece after getting back into my studio after a 4 month hiatus turned out better than I was expecting. I had been using the star symbol in my work before the baby was born, but not to the extent that I did in my most recent work. The traditional symbol of a star with multiple points is a quite nice shape and with all the many connotations that accompany a it, a start can mean so many things. Thinking of all the places I see stars including the sky. I can not escape them. There are stars in the entertainment industry, in business, in athletics, in the military. They represent states and countries. And even have their place in religion. With all of these associations, stars are one of the most ambiguous and abstract complex shapes (it has a minimum of 10 sides with 5 points and 5 valleys) I can also forego the entire shape of a star and represent it as just a dot. It then becomes something different while still representing a star. When a star becomes a dot, it becomes a point, and as such becomes even more ambiguous. I think I can play with the concept of stars for a while.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pictures of me with other peoples work

So, I have been hitting a the equivalent of writers block for an artist. Until I start getting some work of my own to show again on this blog, I will be posting pictures of me with artworks in some of the chelsea galleries. This one is by a fellow Iowa artist Dan Attoe and it is part of a group show at Stellan Holm Gallery.
Back to my problem. My art making has been pretty stagnant for the past 3 or 4 months. I have been finding that expressing the problem is part of the solution for me. It forces me to think about why I am not making work. I have been using the excuse of a recent child but now it is time to get back at it. I started December off with a trip to my studio and a new drawing. The studio seemed like a new environment, divorced from what I new it as before the baby was born. I had to reconnect with the place, find where I had put my supplies, search for the tools I wanted to use, and make it feel comfortable again. It was like catching up with good friend you haven't seen in a while. Everything is the same, but there is the events of the absence that create a new niche in the relationship. This is how I felt to get back in the studio.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A New Approach

So I have not been making a lot of work since the arrival of my baby and the beginning of a full time job. At first I just went with the flow and told myself that once I was settled in with the job and the baby, a new schedule would materialize. Well, that hasn't happened and I don't feel like it will until I make it happen and the best way for me to do that is to address the issue in the blog. I am hoping it that someone may come across this and will be able to relate. Or, it may be able to help someone else that is experiencing the same problems.
The problem of not being able to make work for whatever reason is one that plagues many artists. I have been talking to artists who have children and have been trying to get a sense of how others tackle the task of making art and raising a family. the responses are mixed, but the one that remains constant and should be obvious is the task of doing something that keeps ones mind involved in the art. Drawing tend to be the first one that comes to mind because it can be done with anything that makes marks and on any surface that receives those marks. It is the most transportable and possibly the most immediate. But for some reason drawing is not working for me. I have been avoiding it and I am not sure why. The intent of this blog is to determine what is causing me to refuse to make the work I feel needs to be made. I think this blog is becoming a part of my work in that I have been using it as an online journal in very much the same way I write in my sketchbook. So until The work starts to flow again I will document my tribulation.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


In January, my wife and I will be working on a project together which will involve building a 16-20 foot obelisk. Right now we are in the planning stages and are making drawings and starting to build models. The models have proven to be a valuable reference when it come to realizing the drawings. for example, The first idea was to have an 8 ft base that narrows to 6ft at the top, right before the pyramid cap. When it was built, it looked more like an old oil derrick and not as much as a obelisk as first imagined.

The peice needed to be more narrow but still have a solid base so it would not topple over. As can be seen in the photos, the solution was to make an obelisk with a 4 ft base and a 3ft top while adding an 8ft base. This larger base keeps the obelisk stable and adds to the dynamics of the piece in general.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Back to Blogging

This baby in the photo is the reason I haven't posted a blog in about two months. My attention has been elsewhere but I am making an effort to get back at it on a regular basis. I am shooting for three times each week. If you want to know about this picture, it is my boy Dante checking out one of Michael Perone's paintings at his recent show at Michael Steinberg's gallery.

I look forward to your comments to my upcoming posts.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Need to Outline

Making a continuous line around a shape in my work is my way of fixating on that shape while at the same time giving it an energy that radiates from it. 
With this drawing here, I remind myself of those times as a kid when I would throw something in the water and watch the circles grow. By throwing more than one thing at a time, I thought I could control the way that the circles grew. 
While I may have disrupted the waves, they always seemed to continue moving away from the original source. Nothing I would do could change that. 
In the same way my drawings take on a force of their own independent of their maker.  Once released there is little I can do to change the course they will take. 

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Artist Trading Cards

While making my drawings, I have been thinking about how the the combination of the different materials I am using work work together for a common goal, a finished drawing, and these drawings then become an entity in themselves.  In my studio are placed as many drawings on the wall as will fit. Upon looking at and contemplating the works together I began to think of the accumulation of the drawings as another piece in and of itself, made up of numerous 'players' or a result of a 'team' of drawings. Each piece being able to stand alone while at the same time contributing to something larger. 
As a sportscard collector I decided to take the idea of a 'team of drawings' to the realm of actual trading cards. I found a company that made baseball cards and decided to have a couple of my drawing made in to cards. They are the same size as baseball cards and even have the glossy finish. 
Since making these cards I have found out that there are events where artists show and trade ATC's (art trading cards) but these are usually  just little artworks that are on the 3.5x2.5 in format. Mine are different in that I have the photos of my artwork printed directly onto a baseball card. 

Skulls, my connection with David Dunlap

The use of skulls has been a recent addition to my work, but is not new to my interests. As a young boy, I was fascinated by the components that living creatures are made of. I loved looking at diagrams of muscle structure, veins and arteries, and of course the skeletal system. The skull in particular was striking in that it is made up of many different bones, but unlike the rest of the skeleton, the bones of the skull combine to form one unit that rely on each other and remain fused together even after all other parts have turned to dust.  

In my teenage years the skull acted as a way to bring out a rebellious side in me and tell authoritative  figures in my life to "stick it". Skulls were scary they belonged to the dead or those soon to be. They represented pirates, criminals and the lawless. Seeing someone with a tattoo of a skull instantly told be that they were a dangerous person. 

It was not until I saw an image of David Dunlap including pirate flags into his art that I started using skulls in my own work. It was a way for me to communicate with the man in a strictly visual way. I started sending images I made of skulls and he in turn would send me new images. It is a fun way to communicate with a limited verbal interaction. 

Instead of trying to verbally interpret what the other person is saying with their imagery, it is done using only visual cues. This has been an interesting form of communication that I hope will continue. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Island Hoppers

After my post of T.C.'s Chopper, I was reminded by my good friend that while on the ground, T.C. drove a VW Vanagon with a matching paint scheme. 

I will make a prediction and say that the same color format and configuration will show up in a future artwork of mine. (i got a lock)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fred Eerdekens

This is a work that I installed at a private residence. It is a beautiful example of the work of Fred Eerderkins. As you can see, the work is dependent on the light source in order to complete the piece. But even with out the light casting a shadow and spelling the title, it still functions very nicely.  If you like this work, you can see more of it at the Spencer Brownstone website. 

Sunday, July 6, 2008

TC's Chopper

I was thinking about some of the things I thought were cool when I was was kid and Magnum's Ferrari was cool but it never compared to TC's chopper. TC's chopper also blows away Zeds chopper but we all know that "Zed's dead baby, Zed's dead"

I know this doesn't fit with my blog but I just wanted to post it. 

The Artist Statement

An artist statement is always one of those things that throws me off. The question of how does all of my artwork fit into one little statement. If art is a visual language, why does it need to be translated for the viewer? As I look at the work I have made in New York, I find a common thread between everything and that is the materials and how I am using them. Sometimes the imagery is abstract while at other times it is based in some form of representation, mostly with the use of an iconographic form that represents some sort of encompassing thought I have about a secret society for example. But when the representation is taken away, the drawings still contain a common thread. 
Apart from the representation, I am interested in creating a space that lies somewhere between three dimensional and a flat space that addresses the surface. I have been working laboriously on the small drawings so that 'feel' carries over into the drawing. A slow build-up of graphite on the tooth of the paper until the pencil begins to burnish the paper and change it's texture. Doing the same with ball-point pen while including multiple lines in order to give a shape a pulsating affect. Markers have allowed me a very 'dead' form of mark-making that has been challenging to work with but allows for a space that cannot be achieved any other way. The last drawing tool I have been using is highlighters. They have provided me with a means of accenting small areas while at the same time giving a rich color to the work. 
Abstraction has always played an important role in my work but I enjoy being able to use imagery when it is needed. And then the question of 'when is it needed and why' needs to be explained and that is where things start to fall apart for me. I start to feel that the reasoning needs to be profound and will begin to loose its impact if it is not backed up by some current social issue placed on our shoulders by society. 
When it comes down to it, I want my statement to be about what I like in art and that is the way different materials are used and how beautiful and exciting it can be when they are combined in one piece and  begin to speak in unison while still retaining their individuality. 

Thursday, July 3, 2008

With my current series of drawings, I am giving myself the permission to stop a drawing whenever I want and then start a new one that is a copy with additions. For example, these two drawings were both started with a different intention in mind.  As I began the bottom one with the felt tip markers I liked the way the white of the paper was interacting with the fading marker stripes, so, I stopped at that point and began another.  The top drawing became a conversation with the first and I wanted it to speak to the silent white space of the first with a voice that spoke in a similar volume as the faded stripes. Working in this manner has allowed me to look at details of similar ideas that are expressed in different mediums. 

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Nearing the End

I am nearing the end of a set of restrictions I had put on myself for the drawings I have been making. Those being the limited use of materials. I have been inadvertently collecting pencils, pens, markers, and hi-lighters while I was in college. After finishing school and emptying out my former studio, I had discovered an unusually large stockpile of these materials. Still not knowing what to do with them, I carried them with me to New York and it was here where I finally decided to put them to use. I decided to remain working with these specific materials that I had collected until they had been exhausted. 
As I was in a new time in my life, my former work no longer applied to the situation I was in. Not knowing where to begin and not being able to produce the work I was accustomed to I took the quote of William Stafford as a starting point, "A writer is not so much someone who has something to say as he is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things he would not have thought of if he had not started to say them." 
So, I started to speak with the materials I had and came to an unexpected area with my art. With the materials running low, I am preparing for the next movement. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Finished or Unfinished?

These skull drawings started with an agenda that changed on me as I was making them. They have each gone through different stages of finished. As I now see them on my computer screen I feel they have not been worked to the extent that I had originally desired. Which is that none of the white of the paper appears through the areas that have been filled in with ball-point pen. I want the areas of pen to rely more on the direction of the mark-making than the values created through overlapping lines. It is the impression that the point of the pen leaves on the paper that I am interested in with the pens I am using.  

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Obelisk Drawings

I am working on a series of drawings that deal mostly with obelisks, skulls and stars. The compositions remain unified by the placement of the horizon line and the column. I have done this so I can explore different treatment of the surface of the paper in relation to the shapes that have been created.  This gives me a constant denominator in each of the drawings so I can eventually compare them to each other and decide how the surface treatment sets the 'mood' of the drawing.

I find a mystery in the images I am using in that they leave me with more questions than answers. They cause me to look into myself and reflect on what a human skull signifies, and to examine what stars mean to us today and for those who lived long before, with the obelisk linking it back to society. 

The three drawings pictured here are a few examples of the most worked surfaces in the series, combining ink pen, felt tip marker, highlighters, graphite, and gauche. The very dark one is also part of a series of drawings that uses only ballpoint pen. All are 25"x19" on stonehenge paper. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

One of my heros

I was looking through my photos to find something to post and ran across this photo I took of Rauschenberg. He has always been one of the people that had really excited me about art and I was lucky enough to be in the same space as him for a night. This photo was taken outside of PaceWildenstein gallery shortly before his death. He looked so happy at the show but also very frail. 

My infatuation with the obelisk

The obelisk symbolized the sun god Ra and was said to be a petrified ray of Aten, the sun disk. It was also thought that the god existed within the structure. I am drawn to the obelisk for its simplicity of form and for the associations the the astronomical phenomena connected with sunrise and sunset: the zodiacal light and sun pillars.

Monday, June 2, 2008

 This is my first series of drawings since getting to NY.