I got to wondering about my enjoyment doing octopi and ocean floor scenes. I remembered reading all of the Ocean books in my H.S. library (Shawnee Heights, Tecumseh, Kansas) had this wild notion to join up with Jacques Cousteau my hero, the crazy part about it… I was afraid of water or at least water that I couldn’t see the bottom of. Then I started liking architecture, especially Frank Lloyd Wright , even though i had a fear of heights over 20 or 30 feet. Despite my fear architecture won out. I figured I could stay with cool looking western one story high ranch style houses with that low lean look…oh and only be 10 to 15 feet high…lol. At any rate after 2 years and an associate degree in architecture, I knew it wasn’t for me…so off to be an art teacher, something that I always loved, seemed to be good at, and had only a couple of fears… furnaces (ceramics, casting metal and glass blowing) and speaking in front of people ! Surely college could cure those issues…right, right?
This piece above was something I kept on my bulletin board during my years at Ottawa University, Kansas… adding things every so often to its landscape. The title? well remember the Alka-Seltzer commercials, the bathysphere started out as a tablet fizzing and bubbling. Octopi? If you look hard enough you will find at least one octopi and several squid…this was something that I could often look at during long study hours and feel a sense of ease…took me to a place I thought at one time was my future dream…notice how far you can see in my ocean…pure fantasy ;-)
Oh by the way, manufacturing cured my fears of speaking in front of people and using and being around furnaces…but even with a degree in ART I never quite got to being a professional teacher of art…a small regret, but I like what I see in the mirror…so it is all good.
I remember an assignment in college when we were asked to use bottled ink and whatever size pen point and or brush we wanted. It was to be a subject on a vast piece of paper, but the subject was to come across as small in relationship to its surroundings. I did at least three of these of which this is all I have left, back then I most likely give them away to friends or girls i was trying to impress. Any rate this piece was about 36 x 48 inches on fine illustration paper, not sure were our teacher got the paper…Lynn Havel was his name, a great teacher at BU-CO JU-CO, Eldorado Kansas…back to the assignment I had a small black shadow of a stork flying with no details, couldn’t go outside of the class to work on the piece nor bring in other outside resources (like Audubon..lol) Lucky for me I was a bird watcher for 3 years when I lived in Massachusetts. Came out pretty good I think, got a little lazy on the wings after a while tho…it amazes me how the colors after all these years are still the same, well maybe the paper is a little yellow. Proves the point about using quality materials, this piece is 42 years old.
I like showing stuff like this because people think if you do abstract work you mustn’t be able to do more realistic things…I do abstracts because that is what excites me, …now.
Pretty basic stuff here, but never the less a nice journey playing with light and color. This is a piece that looks good from afar or up close. Thought I might get cutesy with the title but then that would take away from the intent…sweet and simple. Someday maybe this will be “Knieling’s Blueboy”, a classic from the reknown artist from Kansas. ;-)
11x14in. mixed media, cut-outs.
I have mentioned before that I have been going thru my old college day’s stuff, well this is one that I cleaned up. This was a drawing class at Ottawa taught by Pal Wright with models. I was hooked at the time on using a Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph No.00 Yellow head(one could tell a true user of these fine costly instruments, they had a black spot on their lips from sucking the ink at the tips to get them flowing again). It amazes me when I look at these drawings at the details I captured…gosh my eyes were sooooo much better then. The deal in class was we did a type of couture drawings, we were able to pick up and look, place and continue. Later in my 3rd floor penthouse/dorm studio (nicely lit desk in a shared room) I would embellish with color and cut out sections and place on fine colored papers. Needless to say imagination made them quite interesting, especially since we couldn’t fit a Chevy or Sonic sign in our classroom. Being fair though, it was my 3rd drawing class and one does get bored…and boredom in my case normally lead to creativity. Actually the most unusual thing about this drawing…the model was nude…I must have been thinking about car hops and lunch ;-)
18×28 in. mixed media on canvas. Naming works is an art in it’s self, or at least it seems. Some artists I talk to spend very little time on naming a piece and just want to get it over with. Why? We spend so much time making something that is linked in some fashion and form to our name, why not give it it’s due. For myself once a piece is finished i want to spend time with it and enjoy it’s presence…it is during this time thoughts of what to call it drift around my head. I write them out on my work pad,or a scrape piece of paper while I am wandering the bins at Lowes, sometimes one begets another and several names later I wonder how I got to this title…but once I place the label to the piece, rarely does it change, it fits like a favorite pair of jeans…just right. When you get down to it a title can help the artist give the viewer some insight into their vision and from that point look at it maybe in a different way…trying to understand… what in the heck was going thru the artist’s head…lol;-)
PS…This piece was about my factory experience and done with the style/commerical art I was into at the time. Believe it or not all of that equipment, I operated at some point in time while working there (Right Donnie?). The title nails it for me.
9×12 in. mixed media. Drawing class could become quite boring despite Tigers, nude models, expensive silk hangings, and good 1970′s rock n’ roll…Professor Pal Wright tried to make it interesting tho. But once when I started cutting out my drawings and placing colorful backgrounds to them or mixing different papers into the piece, drawing class became exciting again. This piece had quite a bit of graphite on it, just no lines since they were cut out. Soaked the cut yellow piece of thick paper in I believe acrylic or polyurethane, then quickly started positioning it on the slick bright red stock, not easy since the yellow paper was one piece and with all of the cut outs hard to position…note winkles I couldn’t get out. Once dry I had at the surface with a graphite stick then started playing with it using an eraser. Note the long hair, it was the 70′s man, mine was almost as long…for a little bit, but thats another story. By the way no live animals were used, just big honking silk sheets with beautiful prints. :-) Hope you don’t mind the reflective photo, I love the way it works on the piece. Later in life i would work with Professor Frank Lemp and I am sure he would have had a thing or two to say about my textures in this piece.
9×12 in. mixed media. Given that today’s date is 12/12/12 I had to post…I reached back to some unpublished work. This was done on my trusty 512 Macintosh and then embellished. I did several of these playing with trees having hands and feet to conduct their daily tasks…been thinking about going back and playing with this concept using some of my current styles …time will tell
I have had this unfinished canvas around for many, many years, a project started but one of those pieces I could never get my head around to finish. So when I came across it a few weeks ago I was determined to complete it, this year!
It felt strange to be working on canvas again with its grain and the push and give of it’s surface, made me long for my watercolor paper. The original task was to do a piece for a fellow worker that was into ninja type stuff, thus the title I gave this piece. Looking at it now finished I really like my moon and Jackson Pollock vegetation. Don’t ask why I have a Camelot castle vs. something more oriental, I was young then. As with my recent works I work hard to get texture, this piece shows that especially in the moon and foreground areas.
Of note, I say it is finished but I want to live with it for awhile to be really sure….. ;-)
8×11.5 in. ink. My earliest memory of drawing was doing pictures of cats, dogs, horses, planes, etc. on a piece of paper each one about the size of a 50-cent piece. I would then show it to my Mom who would give me praise and encouragement and then say finish filling the page before I give you another piece of paper. Might explain why I hoard drawing pads and books half-finished today, I don’t want to run out or worry about getting more.
So this drawing is one I shared with my Mom while I was in college…she loved it and noted how well I used the paper :-). Subject matter was whatever came to mind or was in view doing the process…key chains, money, dominoes, ads, magazines, mushy cards for GF’s, old sneakers, etc.
To be sure most artists that do abstract art know how to draw well (ie.. realistic) but we choose to go another direction…cause that is what inspires us. I don’t draw cats and dogs any more but my Mom would still be proud of the of the fact my abstracts use all of the paper…thanks Mom.
8×11 in. mixed media. My first piece done on a Mac512 using McDraw about 1986.That isn’t old age spots in the left hand corned, but spray acrylic that didn’t like the parchment paper… I made it work like background texture, each spot is outlined in white.
Boy was I proud to sling that portable machine over my shoulder, in it’s tan apple case with logo, and take it to my computer class at Washburn University in Topeka. Everyone was so jealous while they had to hack around with Apple II’s doing art, very crude, and I was doing my thing freehand with my MacMouse. Loved the mirror option, doing one half while the computer made sure it got the other half down. Funny thing was I had broken my left arm, i am a lefty, and watching the screen and mousing away with my right hand I was getting very good at being a righty…so much so whenever I used a computer from then on, I was right handed…but believe me I couldn’t hardly draw with my right to save my life (still can’t)…but i could on a Mac.You had to have imagination also, since the screen was only in black and white…just as well color printers for the Mac at the time were very limited, thus mixed media if you wanted color. This was a great machine for conture drawing, I did several full sized drawings of people’s faces and liked the look better than pen or pencil, and no messy paper…just a nice colorful floppy disk with label. Just wished at that time it would have been battery powered.
Mixed media 18×24 in. on canvas. Back in the day part of studying photography was you did your own developing and printing, very challenging and costly till you got what you wanted. In this piece I incorporated some discarded B&W nature shots into my painting, along with some discarded fabric from the textile lab. My kids call it the dirty underwear picture, but I never was that cutting edge back then. A closer look and we can see a typical Kansas Winter setting near some fence rows. I also used a brite red cinnamon wrapper to add texture and color. This is a piece that has had no issue (my wife likes it) finding a home in a main traffic area in my house over the years. Talk about slow, I started this in 1974 and completed it in 1988…a story for another time.
A 19×24 in. extremely mixed media. Before I get back to my current stuff I thought I might at least show one more, my first mixed media circa 1972. It was during a time when I was trying many different approaches to art and I personally liked Peter Max and the Beatles. (who didn’t at that time) This was about the time I changed majors from architecture to art education. It was also the first time I discovered tissue paper and recycling less liked art, of my own of course. This work uses flour, tissue paper, ink, pen, sand, paper, elmer’s, varnish, and papermate flairs. For being 40 years old it looks brand new, shining just it did then…can ya guess where the recycled art was useful?
Mixed media 24×30 in. canvas. I get asked from time to time what was some of your older works like…here for your viewing pleasure is an example of circa 1988. This was done to help complete my BA degree from Ottawa University (no not Canada , sorry). Being a Kansas boy you see these signs in the fields along side of the road everywhere. DeKalb seed has a large presence in Nemaha Co. The sign was done on foam board with colored pencil then fragmented to my liking, against exposed cardboard (love the ribs and texture). The painting on canvas was my acrylic attempt at Kansas landscape. You might notice that it has no signature, well I never quite liked my signature enough in those days, figured I would come up with a cooler looking one later (I do like the piece tho)…24+yrs later I have never signed it…maybe this year?