MY ART PEEP, Barbara Nerenz-Kelley invited me to participate in the latest social media challenge – Artists to post 3 of their paintings for 5 days in a row. I gratefully accepted posting a few pieces from the last few decades on my FB page.
This was a fun exercise as it required me to dig through my files, looking at pieces I haven’t seen in decades. Many earlier pieces, I honestly don’t remember even doing.
Day 1 – High School
I wanted to be a realistic painter when I was in high school. As you would expect while learning about medium and techniques, the pieces below are explorations of many mediums. And no one will be surprised to find horses! There was a tag on the back of the drawing “Foal”. I must have shown it at a summer art festival. The price was $5.
Day 2 – College
I was lucky to be accepted into a concentrated art school. My first year was at The Minneapolis College of Art & Design but their curriculum was a bit too fine arts for me. I transfered the next year to Detroit, The Center for Creative Studies from where I graduated. In college we were encouraged to develop a unique illustrative style. I spent hours in the library going through CA and Print annuals. You can look at my work today and see the foundation forming back in the early 1980s. I believe the Tiger piece is the first where I paint in flat shapes, the technique I still embrace today. The Kiss is the first piece that shows a bit of unique style emerging.
Day 3 – Apparently I Doing Drugs in the 90’s
After college I moved to Atlanta and started to look for a full-time job as an illustrator. I had my portfolio, I could get a job, right? Wrong. There is no such thing as a full-time illustration job, a point that no one bothered to explain while in college for 4 years. I did find work in the creative field. My first job was pasting up business cards for a Thermography printer. I learned how to use the typesetting equipment, then stood at a light table and pasted up 4-up cards for 8 hours a day using wax and a t-square. And at night I painted, but I must have painted in a vortex cause I don’t remember creating most of these pieces. But they’re certainly mine. That’s my signature.
(sidenote: During his lifetime, I included my lab, Alex, in every painting. I cried when I found the piece with old Alex in it. He was a great dog.)
Day 4 – The obsessive period – details, details, details.
I would kick around my portfolio and get an occassional assignment but commercially, I wasn’t making an progress with art as my career. I started to look for other artistic avenues and turned to fine arts. At this point, my work becomes extremely decorative, figures are formed my shapes of patterns and color. The pieces are large, full of activity. On exhibit, it was fun to watch people study these pieces, pointing and talking to one another about what they were seeing – making up their own stories about the figures and their interactions.
Day 5 – Simplifying my life (art follows trend)
Literally one day I was sick of patterns. I remember looking at a piece, the paint still wet and wondering, why am I spending all this time painting these patterns, how are they helping the painting or communicating the story? I no longer had an answer. That same afternoon I started a new piece, a simple piece. Form, color, blending, merging, distinction now disguised by overlaps. My MO now is working shapes to their simplest elements and also exploring new mediums and the opportunities they bring for expression (acrylics on canvas, big canvas, really really big canvas).