#ThrowbackThursday: Overpass

December 19th, 2013

Overpass, 2003. Oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches.

In many ways this was a breakthrough piece for me, and set me on a new theme that I had been playing with in my mind for some time. At the time I spent every morning and every evening crossing Nashville to get to work, and I became fascinated with overpasses and the light and shadow patterns created by them.

I was still toning canvases with bright, complementary colors, a technique I picked up from Mitch Breitweiser, who was painting that way our senior year of college. This also has that same bright, unnatural color approach I posted about previously with the painting of Jennabeth.

#ThrowbackThursday: Angel of Loneliness

December 12th, 2013

This week we are going way back, into high school. You can definitely see the Salvador Dali influence here, with the floating blue and red orbs and the lightning-figure on the horizon. If you look closely enough, you’ll see that I hid a menacing eye in the clouds.

The Angel of Loneliness, 1997. Oil on canvasboard, 16 x 20 inches.

I was eighteen when I painted this. I think this is my first oil painting. I’m not sure. If I were to do it again now I would probably do it large, preparing lots of studies with a model for the angel and paint it really large. No doubt there would be lots of hidden references in it. Just for fun.

Of course this was probably a good psychological representation of me at the time: high school was a lonely time (now I realize it is for pretty much everybody, even the popular kids) but I was a little bit pretentious and not as sophisticated as I thought I was. I believed I was special because I knew who Dali was, and thought I was clever for hiding that eye in the clouds. I think I was scared of what would happen after high school. And yet — there is a glimpse of hope in that sunbeam.

Throwback Thursday: Jennabeth

November 21st, 2013

Ten years ago I painted a couple of portraits of this friend of mine named Jennabeth. I knew her from church. She had extremely long blond hair and a sharp, brooding look to her eyes.

Jennabeth, 2003. Oil on canvas, 22 x 22 inches.

At the time, I was still painting with bright, unnatural colors on brightly-toned canvases, allowing the underpainting to show through. The highlights of the hair is built up with thick impasto. The lilies are her favorite flower. I’ve since lost touch with this friend. It’s funny how people float in and out of your life over the years.

Jennabeth 2, 2003. Oil on canvas, 24 x 36 inches.

I did this other painting in more realistic colors, but it looks rather unfinished. I’m not sure if I just stopped, or if this is how I imagined it. Remember, I liked to keep the Cerulean-toned canvas showing. In this case, nearly the whole background is just toned canvas. I must say I did a pretty decent job modeling the face and using complementary colors to create shadows. This is about when I grew tired of showing the toned canvas, since her face looks like a mask — her forehead doesn’t seem to go under her hair — and the stripes on her sweater make her look like Bibendum (The Michelin Man). I do like the looseness of the brushwork.

Throwback Thursday: Self-Portrait, 2001

November 21st, 2013

In case you haven’t already heard, “selfie” is the word of the year according to Oxford Dictionaries.

So in that vein, here’s a self-portrait from 2001.

Self-Portrait, 2001. Oil on canvas, 20 x 24 inches.

I’m pretty sure this was an assignment. I don’t think it’s all that great. I got the eye color right, and that’s about it. Curly hair is surprisingly hard to paint. If you try to get it exactly right, the detail will look way overdone. And it was the early 2000s, so I had a goatee and sideburns just like every other dude.

There’s something odd about the neck, and I have no idea where the man-boobs came from. I think I was trying to make my pecs look bigger than they were. I’m a little embarrassed to post this, but if this is the worst throwback selfie I could produce, then I’m doing all right. It may not be as classy as these self-portraits from Tate Modern, but it’ll do.

What’s that? Oh, you want a really goofy TBT picture of me? All right, then. Same time period.

I had hipster hair before it was cool. This is from 2001!

Throwback Thursday: A Response to Columbine

November 14th, 2013

This is Not a Toy, 2000. Acrylic on canvas, 40 x 36 inches.

I painted this in 2000, a year after the tragic shooting in Littleton, Colorado. I heard about the Columbine High School massacre on my way back to the States from a semester in Europe.

I’ve never taken a strong position on gun control, and I still don’t. For me the situation underscored that guns are not toys, but to be respected. There’s a place for them, but when and where? I don’t really like guns per se, but I have enjoyed skeet shooting with my father-in-law and brother-in-law.

This painting is more about the bloody massacre committed by young people who were in that awkward space between childhood and adulthood, probably angry at the world about something. Aren’t we all angry about something at that age? (I know I was.) Unfortunately, these boys (I can call them that now that I’m a 30-something father, but at the time I was barely in my 20s) didn’t find a constructive outlet other than make explosives and plan how to kill everyone they knew.

It’s sad and kind of pathetic, really. Yet I suppose my job now is to educate my own children and help them find ways to constructively vent their frustrations.

Throwback Thursday: Split Motorcycle

November 7th, 2013

On the social web, Thursdays are special. For about ten years now, Throwback Thursday has been a thing, in which one posts pictures of things that are vintage or classic, but in 2011, it took off as a hashtag on Instagram, where people posted pictures of themselves some time ago. I’ve dug up a few old photos at my parents’ house, like this one from when we went to Europe when I turned eighteen.

Rather than post old pictures of myself here on my blog (that’s what Instagram is for, right?) I’ll post pictures of my old art. I don’t know how long this will last or if I’ll keep it up, but it might be fun to see where my art has been and how it got to where it is today. Know yourself, and all that. Plus, while I showed you older works in the context of what influenced me, I thought it would be fun to look at things I’ve done just in the sense of what I painted or drew in the past. Throwback Thursday. Because nostalgia is fun.

So without further ado…

Throwback Thursday: College Edition, #1: The Classic-Romantic Split

Yup, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance made quite an impression on me in college. So I painted it. I’ve blogged about the ideas several times, most recently here.

I painted this in 1999 or 2000, while I was in college. With the motorcycle as a metaphor (as in the book), I split it in two, showing the left side as an abstracted blueprint and the right side painted colorfully and expressively with a split-complementary color scheme. I’m pretty sure I was listening to jazz when I painted the right-brained side. I know for a fact that the tight line art took several days to complete, but the loose palette-knife work took me about 45 minutes.

When I showed it to a friend who was an engineering major, he got it immediately even though he hadn’t read the book. He knew he was the left side, and he preferred it over the right.