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Van Eyck

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It has been awhile since I shared anything on social media. My attention for the past couple of months has gone to my Color/Design class, and non-art working. I have been enjoying long walks around Bloomington. Taking in the subtle colors of winter that I enjoy, and acclimating to cold weather. Without leaves on the trees the vistas open up. I’m glad for the hilly terrain around here.
Here is a little sketch from Jan Van Eyck, the Dresden Triptych. This is my rendition of the central figure. It is an amazing piece, overloaded with finely drawn detail, but also wonderfully composed in a large way. St. Catherine, on the right panel, is in much stronger light than anything on either of the other two panels, which I love. I can see everything else in the other two panels acting as a foil for the figure way off to one side, which I find wonderfully eccentric and energizing. There is also something of a sense going through the three panels of a movement from dark to ligh…

Travel Memories: Ireland

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I started looking through the photos that I took on my trip to Ireland in January of 2017. Exploring memories from that trip seems like a nice way to think about my life. What I have enjoyed and why, and what I tend to do when I have traveled. This could give me some clues about what I should do next.
The first two photos were taken from the airplane, probably flying from Indianapolis to Chicago. Then I find myself in Dublin. It was a gray, cloudy day, and I was standing on the North Wall Quay by the River Liffey, that runs through the city. I had just taken the bus from Swords, a suburb of Dublin near the airport, where I was staying, and was headed to the National Gallery of Ireland.
That is what I like to do when I travel: explore a city, on the way to and from the art museum. I like to spend a lot of time in the museum. I find a painting or sculpture that interests me, and draw from it, sitting or standing there for hours. In a new place, sketching from great, original works of …

Aqueduct Painting

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Yesterday we installed this painting at the Utilities Department building in Bloomington. It is part of an exhibition of five 'water-themed' paintings that I will have on view there through next August. If you are in Bloomington and have the chance, please stop by and see them!

Aqueduct Painting is 54"x64", oil on canvas. I finished it this past Saturday, adjusting the female figure's right hand, and turning a fan on it so it would be at least somewhat dry. Most of the painting was made with palette knives and somewhat thick paint. I found it enjoyable and exciting to work this way, especially in the area of the water. For me, the paint surface has a richness and power that I like very much.

The image was built up over the course of about 7 months. I spent a lot of time looking at the painting, to decide what to do next. The figures and the aqueduct were there from the beginning, but I developed the landscape elements later on. At first the figures had no ration…

Self Portrait

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This is a self portrait that I drew about a week ago. It was the first one I had done in almost two years. The drawing is in pen, in my 8 1/2"x 11" sketchbook. I wanted to think about where I am now, and to engage and energize that thought process through making a drawing.

Now I am painting in a small studio space. Thinking about what I might do next, as I work on a large painting that is due in two weeks.

The drawing reminds me of a self portrait that I drew years ago, in my freshman year of college, thirty four years ago. Both images have a dark background, with a close-up view of the head. A few angular, impatient marks that are trying to find the shape of my glasses, on the right side of the drawing, remind me of marks I made in that past drawing, trying to draw the similarly shaped but larger wire framed glasses that I wore then.

That drawing I made in college was in pencil, in my 18"x 24" sketch pad. At 18 years old I was full of thoughts, feelings, and a se…

Sketches for Water-Themed Paintings

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When I heard about the opportunity to show water-themed artwork for the city, there wasn’t too much time before the submission deadline to prepare. I would need to speed up my process to do this project. I had been painting mostly medium size portraits, and working on them on and off over the course of years. For this show three 40” square paintings, with relatively complicated subject matter, would need to go from start to finish in about two months.
My first concern was that the studio in which I was working at the time was especially humid, even for Bloomington, and it was taking a long time for my oil paintings to dry. Right before I started on this series I had been working on a painting that, two weeks after my last application of paint, was still completely wet to the touch and hazardous to move. Turning a fan on it full time eventually helped, but that kind of time frame wasn’t going to work for these paintings, so I decided to paint them in acrylic.
I bought the supplies and…

Water Themed Artwork Exhibition

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These are the three paintings I made this past summer for a special show opportunity here in Bloomington. Artists were invited to submit proposals to show water-themed artwork at the Utilities building on Miller Drive, to celebrate Bloomington’s bicentennial.
My paintings emphasize the human element in Bloomington’s water supply and maintenance system. Employees at a water treatment facility in town are portrayed, in a monumental, classical format, engaged in everyday workplace tasks.
In each painting it appears as if the figure is standing in an interior space with a large window. The insides of the water processing facilities that I toured do not actually look like this. Walls, structures, and details of the interior spaces are replaced by landscape views set against a large, open sky.
In the first painting, an employee is examining a water sample delivered to the facility by a resident, along with paperwork identifying the sample. Bloomington residents can have their water teste…

Sketches

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Here are two sketchbook drawings from earlier today. One is a life study from a figure drawing session, and the other is from a reproduction of Vermeer’s The Milkmaid.
This was the first life drawing session I have attended in several months. It was good to work from the model again.
The reproduction of the Vermeer painting was in the copy of David Hockney’s book Secret Knowledge that I have borrowed from the public library. Secret Knowledge is Hockney’s historical investigation of the use of lenses in making paintings. He convincingly demonstrates that as early as 1430 artists such as Jan Van Eyck were using the advanced optics of their time to transfer a real image to their painting surface.
Along with the large art book, Hockney produced a two part video series on the topic. Like the book, I find the videos enjoyable and convincing.
The idea that lenses were used in making some great paintings does not make me think drawing is not worthwhile. Drawing is a great way to connect bod…