Monday, December 29, 2008

New Paintings and Wishbone Show - January 2009

Here Comes the Sun, acrylic on canvas paper, 2008
I have a solo show during the month of January at Wishbone on Lincoln Avenue in Roscoe Village. The show is part of the Friends of the Arts (FOTA) "Around Town" program.

I just finished the above portrait, Here Comes the Sun, and the abstract tree shown below, called One Fine Day. I worked to create uplifting images with bright colors for the new year and in hopes for a better road ahead. These will both be part of the Wishbone show.
One Fine Day, acrylic on canvas, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

Photo Fridays: Apache Motel

Apache Motel, photograph, 2008
One of the bike routes I take to and from my studio is Lincoln Avenue. Lincoln Ave. is the Route 41 -- and before the highway system -- a main travel route in and out of Chicago. It actually follows an old Native American trail.

I shot this photo late one summer afternoon biking along Lincoln Ave. on my way home from the studio. There are many of these old motels along this northern stretch Lincoln Ave. which are slowly being replaced by condos and new businesses. They're now mostly transient residences and flophouses. The Apache Motel sign is probably the most interesting of these signs -- the dusky sky and setting sun bringing out it's faded colors of a bygone era.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Photo Fridays: Randolph El Station

Randolph El Station, photograph, 2006

I've been going through some more old photos and found this one. This shot was taken from the walkway over the El tracks in Chicago's Loop. I was shooting photos of the passing trains and surrounding architecture along Wabash Ave when I got approached by a CTA employee. He asked what I was doing and told me that I couldn't take photographs on CTA property, especially of the trains. Even after I explained that I was an artist he asked that I stop. Apparently, the train operators were getting nervous because they thought my telephoto lens was a gun. Taking photos in public places - another casualty of 911.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Photo Fridays: Canal Street, NYC

Here are some more shots of New York. It's been a couple years since I've been there, so I guess I'm getting the itch to go again...

Canal Street (food cart), photograph, 2006

Canal Street (shopping), photograph, 2006

While I normally focus on architecture, I sometimes like to shoot street scenes of people doing everyday things. These two photos were taken at opposite corners near Broadway and Canal in Lower Manhattan. Canal Street is the place to go to buy cheap stuff and, where historically, goods are brought into port and sold.

Soho, Chinatown, Little Italy, and Wall St. are nearby and the vibrancy of those neighborhoods all spill out onto Canal Street - people working, shopping, running errands, or getting a bite to eat. I like the mailman talking on his cell phone in the top image and the woman looking for something in her purse in the bottom photo.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Photo Fridays: CBGB's Forever

I took this shot when I was in New York in 2006 two weeks after the landmark underground music club, CBGB's closed. I've been there a few times for music since the mid 90's and a couple times during the day when you can wander in without all the crowds. Definitely an end to an era - most of the Ramones are dead and the owner Hilly Kristal died last year. And now his family fights over the estate.

It's rare to find a place where so many artists, musicians, writers, poets, and the avant garde created a community that influenced so many people. CBGB's was an incubator for creativity and experimentation - the effects still being felt today - 30 years after it's peak.

The day after I took this photo (on my way out of town), I passed by CBGB's in a cab. The graffiti and sign were painted over with all white - as if CBGB's never existed.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Photo Fridays: Obama + Oven

Since I skipped posting last week for Photo Friday's, I'm posting two images this week. Both are images taken right around the time of the U.S. election.

The first photo is a shot I took at an Obama rally in Highland, Indiana on Halloween night. About 40,000 people showed up to hear the future president speak.

This second photo is a shot of an old oven from a friend's apartment. I took it while I watched the results roll in on election night. Out with the old, in with the new...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

New Finished Painting: Bubblegum Blue

Bubblegum Blue, acrylic on canvas panel, 14x18, 2008
This afternoon, I finished this abstract portrait after only a second painting session. Check out the difference from last week when I first started it. Amazing what a few more layers of color and some details can do.

I'm mostly happy with the way it turned out -- the brushstrokes and color harmonies give it an overall positive feeling. The one thing I'm not thrilled about though is some of the texture. It was painted over an older painting that had a dot pattern, so some areas are a little more lumpy than I would like. That said, I really like how the texture of the hair turned out -- almost like of layers of bubblegum, inspiring the name of the piece.

I think "Bubblegum Blue" is also a little bit of a jump from my usual abstract portraits. It has somewhat of a realistic and three-dimensional quality to it, but at the same time retains my cartoon-esque style. I'm usually able to get a more 3-D look when I sketch with pencil or charcoal on paper, and so I'm trying to bring that quality to my portrait paintings.

Now that it's finished, I'll pick up a frame for it and add a protective varnish when I'm back in the studio in a couple days.

Work in Progress: Charcoal Sketch

This is a sketch with charcoal and acrylic on canvas paper -- just playing around with some ideas and some new angles for composition.

There originally was a female profile in the lower left looking up. I'll likely either paint over this or actually enhance this image with layers of paint. I might even add the female profile back in -- I like the idea of starting to add more than one figure to a painting -- something I haven't done much of. Drawing and composing this way also gives me some freedom and allows for some looseness to flow into the composition.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Photo Fridays: Chunk of the Berlin Wall

Chunk of the Berlin Wall, photograph, 2008

This photograph is a piece of the Berlin Wall installed under the Western Avenue El Station in Chicago. The neighborhood, called Lincoln Square, is the old German enclave in Chicago and that's why it ended up in this location. People probably walk by every day on their way to work and don't even realize the little chunk of history in their midst.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Works in Progress: blue hair + the tourist

The studio has turned cold. A week ago, it was 70 degrees and I painted with the windows open. Today, we had a high temperature of 40 degrees. I started two new paintings while trying to stay warm this afternoon.
blue hair, acrylic on canvas panel, 2008 work in progress

the tourist, acrylic on canvas, 2008 work in progress

Friday, November 7, 2008

Photo Fridays: Seattle Skyline Over the Puget Sound

Seattle Skyline Over the Puget Sound, digitally enhanced photograph, 2008

Taken in summer of 2008 on a trip to Seattle with my wife. This shot was from a ferry coming back from Bainbridge Island. Our hotel, The Edgewater, is in the foreground which we found on Hotwire after leaving another hotel after being physically threatened by a hostile guest.
Another story for another time...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Photo Fridays: Watertank Bird

Watertank Bird, photograph, 2008 (click to enlarge)

This is a new feature for the blog with the goal to post a new photo every Friday. This is the first post. I'll feature subjects that I usually shoot, but I'd also like to experiment and keep it a little loose with some unexpected images.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

El Marina - Screen-print

El Marina - screen-print on paper, 2008

I took a 5-week screen-printing workshop at the Lill Street Art Center where I made this piece. It combines a photograph of the El train and one of the Marina Towers. I first painted the paper with acrylic using abstract shapes to echo the shapes of the buildings and train. I then transferred the photo images over the background using several screen-printing techniques.

New Work in Progress: red watertanks

red watertank #1, acrylic on canvas, 2008, work in progress

red watertank #2, acrylic on paper, 2008, work in progress

red watertank #3, acrylic on paper, 2008, work in progress

I started creating these experimental paintings after my first screen-printing workshop in September. The class really got my ideas going...I started with a make-shift stencil that I made using cardboard. I painted onto the stencil then pressed the image of the watertank onto the surface -- repeating a few times using different colors. The layers built up and I'm in the process of adding more colors and textures.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Works in Progress: The Lake

The Lake 1, acrylic on canvas, 2008 work in progress

My fall exhibitions are over and so now back to work. I started creating a new series of paintings.

The Great Lakes contain about 21% of the world's surface freshwater -- in a world with rising water shortages. These new paintings are motivated by my environmental interests -- specifically the role the Great Lakes play in the region and how they'll factor into our future.

In this series, I'm taking my "city by the lake" paintings down to a basic, abstract level. I'm using aerial maps as my inspiration. I went to Google Maps, zoomed in on the Chicago region and printed the regular map view so I could reference the shapes of Lake Michigan and the surrounding states. The painting above is a close up view and the one below is a further out view of the regional area.

The Lake 2, acrylic on canvas, 2008 work in progress

I haven't done any true abstracts recently and it's always a great way to experiment. It's fun to throw on some tunes, mix some paint, and let the music create the energy of the brushstrokes. These are still a work in progress -- I'm looking to add more textures and layers and some boundary outlines.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Art Shows - This Weekend

This weekend brings our annual open house at the Cornelia Arts Building running in conjunction with Art Walk Ravenswood. I'll also be attending the Chicago Art Open Friday night at the Merchandise Mart where my painting At the Beach will be featured. Details below.

October 3-19, 2008

Chicago Art Open
Opening Reception - Oct 3rd 6-10pm
Merchandise Mart
Chicago, IL
- group show: painting on display

At the Beach, acrylic on canvas, 2008

October 4-5, 2008
Open Studio Event
Cornelia Arts Building
1800 W. Cornelia, Studio 201
Chicago, IL

Here's a preview of my studio set up for the Cornelia Arts Building Open House:

Drop by if you can - we'll have some drinks and snacks.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Screen-printing - first image

I'm taking a screen-printing on paper class - this is one of the first images I created after learning some basic steps. Utility pole images have started creeping into my sketches and paintings so I figured it would be good to try that out in this workshop.

Utility pole, screen-print (sample from workshop), 2008

It's the first time I've ventured into screen-printing but so far I like it. I like working fast and creating a lot of art; screen-printing definitely has that quality. Mostly though, I just wanted to learn something new, something that I could possibly incorporate into my own work. At the very least, it will help get the creative juices flowing and give me some new ideas to explore and techniques to try out.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Work in Progress: Utility Pole (purple haze)

Utility Pole (purple haze), work in progress, acrylic on board, 2008

The gesso board I'm using for this painting is a new type of surface I've been working with and so is the subject matter. The idea is to keep the brushstrokes loose and design a simple composition. I'm using the wires as an abstract element to give the painting some movement. This painting is close to being done -- just needs some touch-ups, including removing the dark lines under the flying bird. I'm also not happy with the bird on the right so that needs some reworking too. The goal is to have it done in time for the 7th annual ArtWalkRavenswood to show during our studio open house on October 4th-5th.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

New Finished Painting: Weed St. Watertank

Weed St. Watertank, acrylic on wood panel, 12x12, 2008

I took the day off from my day job today. Got over to the studio early -- framed a painting, and added a hanging wire to another. Then, finished up Weed St. Watertank. By adding in the red, purple, and pink it really brightened it up and brought it together. And yes, the watertank is actually pink. Check out the photo I took below that I used as reference.

Weed St. Watertank, photograph, 2008

After starting two more new paintings this afternoon, made it home in time to meet my wife so we could get downtown to Millennium Park to see a free concert by Chicago's very own, Andrew Bird. He's a multi-talented musician and songwriter whose frequently in rotation on my studio playlist. His offbeat lyrics and music always give me some needed inspiration and creative visual ideas.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Work in Progress: Warhol-Mare

Warhol-Mare (work in progress), acrylic on clay board

I started this painting yesterday. I'm using a reference photo of my wife that I digitally enhanced to give it an Andy Warhol-style look. It's a square format, much like Warhol frequently used for his portraits of celebrities. Thus, the working title: Warhol-Mare. It's acrylic on clay board, which is a softer surface laid on top of wood. I first added some designs by scratching into the clay board with a screwdriver. Then, I added a wash of purple as a background. Next, I sketched the composition with marker then added the areas of color. I have a little more work to do like fixing some proportions and adding some details so it's probably about 75% finished. Another fun little experiment...

New Finished Painting: Fairfield Avenue Sunset

Fairfield Avenue Sunset, acrylic on wood panel, 16x20, 2008

Yesterday, I added some red and orange color to the new Fairfield Avenue Sunset painting and finished it up with a final protective varnish. The sides are painted black so it probably doesn't need a frame. But, I think I'm going to pick up a cherry red wood frame to see how that looks. I think it will pick up the color from the birds nicely and give it a little character.

Here's a close up of the birds to give a better idea of the colors and textures.

Fairfield Avenue Sunset (Detail), acrylic on wood panel, 16x20, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New Painting: Electric Crows (Fairfield Avenue Sunset)

Electric Crows (Fairfield Avenue Sunset), acrylic on wood panel, 16x20, 2008

I can't decide on the name for this new painting:
a) Fairfield Avenue Sunset
b) Electric Crows
c) I'm leaning toward combining those: Electric Crows (Fairfield Avenue Sunset)
d) Or vice versa: Fairfield Avenue Sunset (Electric Crows)

Post a comment and let me know which name you like.

I painted this piece fairly quickly over the course of two painting sessions and I purposely tried to keep it loose. I think it's finished but i may add a little more color to the birds. I'll decide when I'm back in the studio with some fresh eyes.

It's also sort of an experiment with some new imagery that I've been working on in my sketchbook. The support is made from wood topped with a thin layer of a canvas-like material. I've been making some paintings on wood this year and like how the paint feels on it. There's a smoothness to the way the paint moves on the surface. I'm definitely going to pick up some more of these wood panels and continue experimenting.

Monday, August 18, 2008

New Painting - Watertank Blues

Watertank Blues, acrylic on canvas, 36x48, 2008

After a month, I finally finished Watertank Blues. This is part of my ongoing City by the Lake series of paintings. I'm creating a mix of architecture and lakefront scenes - two things that strongly influence my art.

For this particular painting, I used a photograph of the Finkl Steel watertank -- that I took one afternoon in April -- for reference. As you can see, I improvised a little and added the telephone pole, missing from the original photograph.

Finkl Steel Watertank, photograph, 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday in the studio

The studio had a nice breeze coming through this afternoon. Lots of light and the occasional plane buzzing the neighborhood from the Chicago Air and Water Show. The squeaky, adjacent El trains were quiet in comparison.

My newly finished painting, Watertank Blues, dries against my easel.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Watertank Blues in August

Watertank Blues, acrylic on canvas, 2008 (work in progress)

It's been about a month since I last posted. Spent some time on vacation in Seattle and Vancouver, Canada. Also been out enjoying the Chicago summer weather as much as possible. But, I still have been working on the Watertank Blues painting a several hours each week. I've added a telephone pole and wires to the composition along with some more layers of color. I'd say it's about 80% finished. Some more work to do on the buildings and I'd like to change some things on the watertank. If you look closely, you can see the original photograph taped to my window which I'm using for reference.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Paintings in Progress: Watertank Blues

Several months ago I found myself on an afternoon photo shoot of old watertanks around the north side of Chicago. The watertanks have been figuring prominently in my both my paintings and photographs over the past few years. More recently, due to the decline of these structures, I've been making it a point to photograph them when I see them. Some of these are then used for reference in my cityscape paintings or as the main focal point. I'm also working on assembling the best for a series of photographs.

This 36" x 48" painting in progress is of the Finkl & Sons blue watertank which I discovered while wandering through the grounds of this near north side steel processing plant one spring afternoon.
Watertank Blues, acrylic on canvas, 2008 (work in progress)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Paintings in Progress: watertank and portrait

weed st watertank, acrylic on wood panel, 2008 (work in progress)

I've been working on a couple new pieces recently. One is part of my watertanks - city by the lake series and the other is a portrait of my wife. The watertank is on wood panel and the portrait is on canvas. I'm using photos as reference for both of these. For the portrait, I'm trying to make it more realistic than what I normally do for portraits, but also applying my usual style and color scheme. It's been a fun experiment so far...

portrait of mare, acrylic on canvas, 2008 (work in progress)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Chicago Skyline Sunset - at a hotel near you

Chicago Skyline Sunset, photograph, 2002

Recently I was selected by an Atlanta-based art consultant (Faulkner + Locke, Inc.) for placement of my art in a major hotel chain. The Sheraton in Elk Grove, IL is in the process of remodeling their guest rooms and public areas. My "Chicago Skyline Sunset" photograph is being printed onto canvas, framed, and hung in all 250 guest rooms. The print size is 27" high x 33" wide.

I had been talking with Faulkner + Locke on-and-off for about a year until everything came together. In April, the licensing agreement was in place and I sent them a digital image of the photograph. Today, I received my artist's proof of the print -- it looks great! And being printed on canvas really brings out the painterly quality of the photograph.

Since the hotel is just out in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, I'll eventually be able to see the finished hotel redesign with my art on the walls. Of course, I will post those installation photos when everything is ready.

Working with an art consultant is very exciting as it has opened up a new door for me, helping to bring my work to a wider audience. I'm definitely looking forward to exploring this area some more and curious where it might take me. So far it's been a rewarding experience.

Friday, June 13, 2008

New Work: City by the Lake series

I'm still in the midst of a website redesign but getting closer to finishing up the new, expanded galleries. In the meantime, I'm keeping busy with some new work in my "City by the Lake" series. The subject matter is a mix of urban cityscapes and lakefront imagery. As always, you can click on the images for a larger, more detailed view.

Pencil Factory Watertank, acrylic on wood, 2008

South Loop Watertanks*, acrylic on wood, 2008

*South Loop Watertanks was recently sold! Many thanks to collector, Carol F.!

At the Beach, acrylic on canvas, 2008
(Will be featured in the Chicago Art Open at the Merchandise Mart October 3-19, 2008)

More new works coming soon...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Wrigleyville Commission Painting

Wrigleyville, acrylic on canvas, 2008

Late last summer, I was commissioned by one of my collectors (Troy) to paint a large-scale cityscape. He already owns two of my cityscape paintings and so he knew what he wanted. This was helpful since it gave me a good idea of the colors and style he likes. The only stipulation was that Wrigley Field needed to be prominently featured. 

He invited me into his home so that I could see the space where it will be displayed and to take some measurements. I also took exterior photographs of his building and the surrounding neighborhood that I used for reference. The size - 4 feet x 6 feet - is my largest painting yet. It took me over 6 months of work to finish (with a break in December due to a replacement heating system being installed in my studio building).

I periodically emailed him photos of the work in progress to make sure he was happy with the direction I was going. Along the way, he made a couple of suggestions about adding some more buildings. Then at the end, he threw me a curveball (pun intended), requesting that I incorporate a cyclist riding along the lakefront bike path. The suggestion turned out to be a good one and I think it adds a little whimsy to the painting.

Troy hasn't taken the painting yet - he's in the process of a home remodeling job so I'm able to showcase it in my studio for the time being. Once he takes the painting he will display it in his new, custom-designed living room. 

P.S.> His building is the orange one in front on the lower left.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

In the studio: Art on the Move

On April 15-16, 2008, we had a group of visitors from Art on the Move that toured the Cornelia Arts Building where my studio is located. I had to give a couple of talks and answer questions about my work. I was able to speak about my newly finished commission painting which I'll write about later.

Talking to the tour groups was a good experience and proved valuable - these were members of the Art Institute of Chicago and people who collected art. Over the two days I sold four paintings and someone asked me to call them when I finished one of my works in progress. 

I sold three paintings from my latest series of watertanks along with a view of the "El" from my studio windows.

west loop watertank #1, acrylic on canvas paper, 2008

west loop watertank #2, acrylic on canvas paper, 2008

west loop watertank #3, acrylic on record album cover, 2008

moving windows (studio view), acrylic on canvas, 2007

Saturday, May 24, 2008

StoryStudio and Wishbone Exhibits

I recently hung a photo exhibit at StoryStudio - the center for writing and related arts. I'm showing my series of cityscapes in their classrooms and hallway gallery.

May-July 2008
Solo Exhibition
4043 N. Ravenswood, Chicago, IL

I also have a couple paintings on display at Wishbone restaurant through the end of May. This a group exhibit for the annual Friends of the Arts Members show.

May 1-31, 2008
3300 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL