Commissions Progress Page

On the SWPA page, I put out there I was doing commissions. A friend asked that I do one of the small works of Albany’s long-time alternative music hang-out, the Fuze Box.

The Fuze Box was a rescued Art Deco building and one-time White Tower Hamburgers location. White Tower was a Wisconsin-based competitor of White Castle, the first store opened and the company peaked in the1950′s. Most of the original details in the building are still present: the molded glass and chrome, as well as signs advertising the buildings history before it was reused as a night-club. Long-time Albany scenesters still remember the days when the club was the QE2, and hosted live all-ages shows, as well as alternative dance nights.

So, a venerable historic structure in its own right, the Fuze Box/QE2 has been an anchor of Albany’s nightlife as long as pretty much anyone cares to recall. My friend, James, wanted an image to commemorate the Fuze Box and commissioned the work. I started doing preliminary sketches this morning.

A bit about my process: any commissioned work, or a serious work I do generally involves a few sketches. The sketching allows me to work out problems and practice the image before I start the actual work. I encourage my students to practice their ideas with sketches on paper before they truly start a piece. In this case, this is a mixed media color study and architectural study of the White Tower building (as it was in 2006, this image is from my own collection, taken with one of my many digital cameras I have owned over the years).

The sketch:

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The original image I am working from is below:

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I’ll include images, with the permission of the buyer, of the full work when it is done. If you’re interested in commissioning a work, use the contact information in the about page.

[update]

Working on an architectural drawing of a highly symmetrical Art Deco building is proving to be a challenge (not an unwelcome challenge, by any means, but still a challenge. Hopefully, I am not trying the patience of my buyer by taking my time and doing a score of preliminary sketches to get the end product right.

Last weekend, I went out with my point and shoot and took a couple night-time images to make a composite image for the final product. Today, I am working off pencil sketches of the various angles.

here’s today’s sketch (pencil on paper):

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The Class

For those that didn’t know, I have spent the last several weeks teaching an art class within the Capital District Psychiatric Center. My goal is to get funding to expand a program that makes fine art classes a part of mental health treatment both inside and outside the hospital in the city I live in: Albany, NY.

Again for those who didn’t know: this is a goal for me, because I know when I was inpatient in CDPC, art groups were important to me as a way to rebuild my life in the hard times I was having. The art groups were something I looked forward to each day when I was inpatient. As  teacher, I want to use art to help troubled people do what I did: get out of the hospital and live better lives outside of the mental health system. Mentally ill people can live full lives, hold jobs, and stay well. We can and do recover. I feel like art can help mentally ill people do that, and I am not alone in that belief.

In that spirit, I’d like to show some of the in-class demonstrations I have done. These are sketches and things I did during the class, demonstrating for my students, art techniques and skills.

It’s my hope that my students not only develop their own skill, but find ways to make art a part of thier lives once they are back living in the community –professionally, or non-professionally.

Art is important. I know from looking around my classroom, art is important to helping struggling people heal.

Some images:

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Bulletin board of my student’s work

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Sketching architecture, reproduction of Van Gogh’s House at Arles.

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Architectural study, perspective example. In this case a very quick study of the corner of Clinton and N. Pearl St. In-class example.

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Study, landscape, another Van Gogh reproduction.

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Study of Paul Klee’s “The Red Balloon,” from a lesson on using color and abstraction/ non-representational drawing.

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Architectural study, from the book “Hudson Valley Ruins.”

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Portrait, study. From a lesson about composition and placement of facial features.

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Studies: faces and facial features.

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Study, portraiture, faces and facial features.

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Placement of facial features and composition.

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Manet’s work “The Old Musician” has been a recurrent theme in my sketching. In this case, the “dread-locked cow-girl” is based off a figure in the Manet piece, and swaps the gender of a figure from Manet’s work.

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Study, dog

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Study, infant.

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Study, tree trunk.

First, a figure study. Study of a child playing, including an illustrated armature (left). In class demonstration.

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Reproduction, Paul Cezanne. Working on landscapes, explanation of horizon line. Oil pastel on paper.

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ExHuman, 12/6

More Photos from this month’s ExHuman:

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Mini-lesson: The Ten Minute Sketch

It wasn’t that long ago I was teaching in a classroom 40 hours a week in a subject matter that was unrelated to fine art. The simple reality for a lot of creative people is that a great deal of our days are spent doing things other than create art to pay our bills. So, with that in mind, the single greatest block on an artist’s creativity can be the simplest of stumbling blocks: “Do I have time for this?”

With this in mind I thought about ways that creative non-professionals and even professional artists can kick-start their process. I’m calling this example the “ten minute sketch.” It involves sectioning a piece of standard 8 x 11 1/2 sketch paper in your sketch book into four sections (the sections will be roughly the size of 4 x 6 note cards I was taught in high school to use to take notes for research papers).

Generally, I have encouraged my past students to “scale up” (ie: increase the size of their drawings and art) and to use a full sheet of paper for each piece. However, –this time around and in the interest of time– the idea is to create a smaller image that can be done more quickly as it will require less detail. Since this is meant for a sketch book exercise, it’s ideal for pencil or charcoal. Those who wish to may choose to work in color, but if you want to keep to the time limit (a suggestion, not a hard and fast rule by any means) you will simplify your drawing by working in one color, or with a limited palette.

Here is my example from last evening:

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My partner, Muse. Pencil on paper, 3” by 5”, from my sketch book.

Bear in mind, this is an exercise designed to help get the blood flowing. You need not agonize about small works not intended for sale. With the small size you will want to keep your details simplified.

I choose portraiture for the topic of this sketch. The planes of the face are generally simple enough to sketch in this small a size. Subjects that are more intricate and have a great deal of detail might take a great deal more time.

Whether or not you work in areas unrelated to your art, the most important key to being happy creatively is good time management. Set time aside each day to be creative. Whether your ten minute sketch is done in ten minutes or not is not important. The important piece of doing this exercise is getting over the notion of being “too busy” or, “not having time” to be creative. This is a mental trick more than anything else.

Get out there, have fun and create!

Cultivating the sketching habit (II)…

Some more recent sketches here. Many more are due because I am developing ideas for some of the small works I plan to do:

[explanation: I’ve recently become a lot more disciplined in doing regular sketches of images that I find interesting for whatever reason. When I was a kid, or a teenager, it was a natural thing to just pick up a sketch-book and treat whatever I saw. I sort of lost that habit in the business of being an adult. Now, as I am producing more lately, large complete works, it’s all the more detrimental to maintain regular practice sketching small ideas and things that I may want to turn into larger complete works.]

[note] I’ve decided to begin loading new works towards the top of the page, so it’s easier for readers to see new works, rather than scrolling past ones they may have already seen to see the newest pieces.

I am trying to keep up the momentum with my sketching and practice. I have a possible set of classes, (I’ll call it a seminar) I will be teaching on my own. So I am looking forward to that and whatever new opportunities arise. I’ll give full details when the dates are confirmed.

Some recent sketches:

 

Again, from the book “Hudson Valley Ruins” (it’s a beautiful book, the history in it and the images are top-notch.)

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An abandoned car, from the book Hudson Valley Ruins. (above)

 

 

 

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This should be a familiar sight to people who frequently travel from Albany to NYC: The Yonkers Power Station (abandoned).

In my current class, which is a “therapeutic” fine arts group held in a hospital, I drew this sketch to the prompt I gave my students, “And then the fire went out. No one noticed.”

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Quick architectural sketch. Image from the book “Hudson River Ruins” (Ranaldi, Yasanik [sp?]) The picture is of Fedralsberg, an abandoned ruin south of Albany:

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I have also been doing some figure studies:

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figure study, pencil on paper

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figure study charcoal on paper

Another in my series of images drawing Eduard Manet’s “The Old Musician

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A reproduction of G. Klimt

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And second, Timmy of Nixon’s Spirit:

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So, I am doing a lot of sketching as pre-planning for larger works:

These are the two pieces I posted yesterday I was interested in essentially “tinting” with watercolor:

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Study/sketch, pencil on paper. Pollock and Klingman together near the time of the artist’s death. Photo from a NYTimes article.

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Two small sketches: above is a figure study of a Libyan opposition fighter.

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Figure study, elderly woman with a rake. Pencil on paper.

The following two images I am planning to do further work with. I will do a similar thing as I did with another small work –an image of a depression-era man selling chestnuts from a vending cart. That piece I drew in pencil, and then tinted with watercolor. I am hoping to do that over the next couple days. I will post the results once I have an opportunity to do so.

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This is a reproduction/study of Edouard Manet’s “Madame Michel-Levy.” I am starting more and more to keep Manet as among my favorites of the Impressionists.

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This is an image of a TV/entertainment mogul. I found the image in the NYTimes. For whatever reason it made me think of the song lyric scribbled next to the image.

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The last image is of a young woman, Shawna Timmonds, who was profiled in a NY Times article.

More to come, soon…

These were both in-class demonstrations (charcoal on paper):

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(Note the lines and marks made as I illustrating planning and pre-drawing techniques)

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Hope to have some more of the recent sketches out of my sketch-book soon. Here’s one of my ideas from the SWPA series…

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Sketch for the SWPA.

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In class demonstration.

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In class demonstration: placement of facial features.

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Based on a photo from the New York Times.

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For class, sketching hands and feet.

A piece riffing off Edouard Manet’s  “The Old Musician,” it is a series I am considering for the SWPA (see for explanation here: http://elevenimages.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/the-small-works-progress-administration/)

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Here’s a couple more sketches (in color). This piece is pencil and colored pencil on paper. I was working with a student on using color in shadows:

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This piece is also a pretty good color study, this time in oil pastel:

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Photo Dump: Exhuman, 11/1…

Some photos from “Something Wicked” Exhuman’s event at the Fuzebox, 11.1.13:

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The Small Works Progress Administration

So, I am launching a thing at the moment, I am playfully calling “The Small Works Progress Administration.” It’s an obvious allusion to Franklin’ Delano Roosevelt’s depression-era Works Progress Administration. During the 1930’s in this country, among other things the WPA did, was launch the careers of artists like Jackson Pollock, a personal inspiration of mine. The WPA paid artists to produce art during the Great Depression and the result was American art blossomed and put America and New York City on the map as one of the modern artistic and cultural hubs in the world. 

But, much like the 1930’s, it’s a hard time to be a person that aspires to make a living creating art. That’s why this photo:

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What’s in the image is a bunch of found objects in gesso. There are 5 pieces of found card-board, and piece a typical brick like many found in 19th century buildings. The brick is the only piece that there’s a clear plan for right now. When it’s done it won’t sell for 10 to 25 dollars –there’s a big back-story behind that one.

The rest are open to interpretation.

[UPDATE]

My lovely partner gave me a couple found objects that I gessoed today. Here they are with gesso drying: two paving stones found locally:

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I’m going to give a little thought to what needs to go on them. They are both rather small. I’ll post results as I have them.

I finally got around to working on the small pieces.

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This is what my floor ends up looking like in the process…

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two of the gessoed cardboards on my easel.

I spent a few hours and got the first three (in a series of five) of the small works done. These are 7.5” by 10”. All are acrylic on gessoed cardboard. I am looking to sell these cheaply to fund other things (see below). All of these three are loose extrapolations of figure studies I have done based on Eduard Manet’s work “The Old Musician.”

Here are two of the small works drying next to my boots on the radiator:

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And here is the third drying on my easel:

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More as they come…

Finished another of the small works. From the book “Hudson Valley Ruins,” this image of Fedralsberg, an abandoned Mansion south of Albany: (drying, next to my boots)

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Another new addition, this of the former Trinity Church (Albany’s South End Neighborhood) The building was demolished in an emergency demolition in 2011. The images is based on a photo I took the day the historic church was demolished:

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This is an image of the Hudson River Psychiatric Center in acrylic, on paper. I did this as an in-class demonstration:

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Lastly, I have a glut of mounted and unmounted photographic prints (most are from 35mm film and are of local/regional architectural landmarks). I am looking to unload those for $3 to $5, so inquire if you are interested.

[continue original post]

I don’t have so high a hope for my small work progress administration as the result FDR got. I just need a few things. What I’m looking to do is 5 simple images on the cardboards in hopes of selling them for about $10-15 a piece. I’ll commission one of the card-boards for $25 for –whatever you want on them (bear in mind: the cardboards are only  7.5” x 10”). I like the idea of producing original art for anybody that wants it –not just the typical crowd that buys art from galleries. I like the idea of making original works that anybody can afford, but I need supplies to keep making new larger projects.

Some of the things I need:

Pencils, especially 2 and 4b.
Sketch pads of quality drawing paper
Oil Pastels
Max Grumbacher water-soluble oil paints
Especially in the following colors: titanium white
cadmium red
yellow ochre
burnt umber
french ultramarine blue

Canvases (any size)
Water-color paper

Money for gallery entry fees
Money to travel

You can use my e-mail contact if you are interested in a commissioned work. Or, you can send an e-mail about a particular piece when they are finished. All pieces are 7.5” by 10” acrylic on cardboard.

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