My First Art Opening

The painting continues...time is moving quickly these days...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Pruitt Igoe Myth

I learned about the Pruitt Igoe projects in St. Louis when I was at the Environmental Design School at UC Boulder.
I did not remember the details, but understood that it was a massive failure.  Since this was a design school, we talked a lot about the failure of the project in architectural terms.  I am sure we talked about the failure of the public housing system, but it is not what I remembered.
The Pruitt Igoe Myth is a documentary that is very well made, touching and eye opening.  Included in the film are a number of candid interviews with past residents, some who were there from the beginning.  Some remember the opening of the place and the joy of moving into their new "poor man's penthouse".  When it was fully occupied and there was enough revenue to pay for the maintenance and security it sounded like a great place.  It was clean with light and views and places to play.
The decline happened when the industry in St. Louis began to decline and a large number of people left the city for the suburbs.  Industry followed these folks to the suburbs and left a hole in downtown St. Louis.
It turns out that the Pruitt Igoe projects, like many others, had to use the rents to pay for maintenance and security.  When the residency rate declined, so did the revenues and everything fell apart.
If you think that you know about Pruitt Igoe, then you need to see this.

Here is the trailer on Youtube:

Friday, June 29, 2012

Looking at something a little closer

Every day, I look at this painting (It is in our kitchen, you may have seen it) that I did a while ago and find that the part that I really like is a small sample within the larger painting.
So, I finally decided to go back and enlarge the area that I liked.
Here is the enlarged scene.  Can you tell what part of the painting has been enlarged?
It is just the start, but I like it.  It will be crazy trying to work in and around all the detail!

Toynbee Tiles

For all of you who like mysteries as well as documentaries, here is a good one.
I happened on this documentary on Netflix called "Resurrect Dead, the Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles.
Here is a good link to a indi-filmaker website with some information on the film:

I had not ever heard (it may be in my memory someplace) of the Toynbee tile phenomena.
This subject has already been talked about extensively and I don't want to try to describe it myself but there are many links.
It is a weird little mystery which is outlined on Wikipedia:

The film, directed by Jon Foy, is about the intrepid search for the origin of the tiles by artist and fellow film maker Justin Duerr.  While the tile phenomenon is interesting in it's own right, the film is a great piece of art and is worth watching.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


I was able to work outside today.  The daylight is amazing compared to my dungeon of a studio.  I dream of a day when I can work in a daylight filled studio with large doors that can open to an outdoor deck.
My family took me to the art store today, but I did not buy anything.  I would like to get another easel to use outside.
I promised myself that I would not spend any more money on art stuff until I sell some paintings.  I could make an easel, but that takes time, time I could be painting.

People ask me how I do the layout for the paintings.  Many assume that I project a photograph on to the canvas, but I don't.  I use a grid and transfer information from a photograph.  I don't have a projector and I have this idea that by doing the transfer the way that I do can give a little looser feel and it forces me to make decisions about what stays and what goes.

Three small paintings

Here are the finished versions of these 6" x 6" paintings.
I did them all at the same time, well, in the same session anyway.  I was able to share the palette and think that these make a nice little group.
The scenes are from around SE Portland.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Self Portrait via New Art Tech

This is me after dealing with my unemployment situation.
Actually, it is a cartoon version of me that I "constructed" on the Wacom Bamboo digital tablet and Sketchbook Pro (Autodesk).  I took a photo of myself and traced over it to get the line work and then added some color.  The program is similar to Photoshop in that it lets you create layers.
For $70, it is a good sketching and coloring tool.
I am hoping to do some graphic novel work at some point.
This is a freaky and severe image of me, but it was a good test of the technology.  Click on the image to get a better idea of the detail.
 I was going for a graphic novel feel to the self portrait and it is close.  I have a tendency to got too light when I draw and this carried through with this technique. 

The Wacom pad works fairly well, although I imagine that the large versions (much more expensive) allow for more fluid hand motions.  For $100, the Bamboo is impressive and I would recommend it as your entry level pad.  Like anything, it takes some practice to get the hang of it.  I find that having the pad in my lap and sketching as if it were a paper sketch pad seems to be the most natural.

Sketchbook Pro has so many options for pencils, pens and brushes.  I like using the pencil to do the line work vs. the pens.
My motivation to use this technology vs. drawing on a pad and scanning the image in is to eliminate the middle man.  
With a little more practice, I think this may be the trick.
Yes, I could have done an oil painting, but then I would need to photograph it.
It is crazy how far we have come.  As much as I enjoy playing with the new tech, I still like the hands on stuff more.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ok,  I'm going to get political again.  I just finished "The War", a documentary about WWII.  If you though that you knew about the war, then you should see this.  It is an exhaustive account of the war, with commentary from soldiers and survivors.  It was truly moving.  If you are easily upset by graphic accounts of war, then you may want to pass on this.  The images are from actual footage of the war, in all its beauty and horror.  Ken Burns puts his famous panned still image thing on the production, but it is so much more.  Having the actual veterans talking about their experience was emotional for me.

This is a seven part series and it is long.  Each chapter is about two hours.  It is gut wrenching and graphic.  I have never seen so many dead bodies in my life.  You really get a feeling for what the GI's went through.
Those of us who did not live through it have no idea what the country went through.  Even 911, as awful as it was, pales in comparison to the sacrifices of WWII.

It is hard to believe that we were able to take on the task of fighting a war on two fronts and win, yet can't figure out how to take care of the less fortunate or how to educate our children.  We have the people and we have the resources.  We can do it.

With that said,  I do think that the series is an incredible piece of art.  The combination of the still images, film and interview footage was brilliant.  Yes, it does go on and on, but you get the whole picture.  Ken Burns and Lynn Novick constructed the series around four american towns, which helps ground the work.  It is a great series and is worth the time.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Small Paintings

These are 6"x6" paintings on MDF panel.  I was able to paint all of these in the same painting sessions and hope to finish them together as well.
These have the maximum amount of information that I want to express.
Can I sell them for $100 each?  We will see.
Working on wood panel is different than canvas.  I don't like the hard feel of the panel, compared to the soft flex and texture of canvas.  These are MDF panels that I made many years ago.
Since I paint the panels myself, you can see the gesso brush strokes, which is ok.
Painters who do super detailed paintings use a smooth finished panel.  I see these at the art store all the time, but am reluctant to buy them.