it’s hard

One of my favorite comedians, Kyle Kinane, has a joke in which one of the lines goes: “It’s hard being a human being.” Exactly. My wife and I repeat this line to each other very often and always with laughter. It is hard being a human being.

I’m not leading with this to say that being an artist is hard but just to say life is hard. Being an artist is not intrinsically harder than any other endeavor someone makes a choice to take on. I’m not interested in comparisons here. It’s just to say that too many times I find myself in the place I was in in my last post – What have I even been doing?

So once again to answer the question, “What have I even been doing?” Here’s what I’ve been doing since my last post:

And while I was doing this painting and drawing I also continued to make progress with my kitchen renovation (which has been put on the back burner for a while). Classes at the arts center where I teach drawing and painting have started back up. Perhaps most significantly I have started back to my job as a public school teacher at one of the local high schools. That certainly has been no small transition and it has been an extremely and unusually difficult return to school this year.

Please don’t take me to be bragging. Honestly this has far more to do with me helping me keep perspective and me doing some journalling too. I don’t often share even this much of my internal dialogue with many people. A small part of this is also a reply to a few folks who walk into my studio and in some form or fashion say, “oh… I’ve already seen this.”

It’s hard being a human being.

post script

After all the brooding I found myself taking good advantage of a cool-for-July day to work outside.

I spent almost two hours this morning on the grey house painting. Through out the rest of the day and evening I worked on composing numbers 5 and 6 of the suburban landscapes. A restful and productive day.

what have I even been doing???

What have I even been doing??? I am not asking this as if an imaginary person is asking it of me. This what I am frequently asking myself these days. “What have I even been doing??? Because it sure doesn’t seem like you’ve been doing much painting or drawing! What’s up with that???” I ask this question of myself in a very judgmental way, as if to say you are one lazy so and so, are you even committed to doing this art and painting thing?!

In all honesty, I do tend to ask myself this a lot anyway and especially at this point in the summer.

Though it has been almost two months or more, I did finish the “Yellow House and Green House” painting and started the “Grey House” painting. These are part of a series of suburban landscapes of the houses on my street painted en plein air.

In June ACME Art Studios where I rent studio space opened its doors back up for the city’s Fourth Friday Gallery night with a studio wide group show. We were all beyond excited and happy for it. So there was that and it did take me a few days to prepare.

One immediate outcome of June’s gallery night was this still life. These are the flowers that were placed out in my studio as part of my welcome to visitors. It was pretty easy to get this painting done considering there was little option but to get it done before they wilted beyond recognition (which I think would make for an equally nice painting). Now I could have certainly taken a picture and then paint from that, but then I have made a resolution to paint not quite exclusively from life. So, yeah, not an option to not finish it.

I have also worked on two commissions. There’s that. For some reason I tend to exclude those in my count of “What Have I Even Been Doing?” survey. However, they do count and other than the fact that they are not my personal projects, I could not explain my reason for stubbornly refusing to count commissions as getting-some-painting-done.

The job that I do not grant myself much kindness for in my “What Have I Even Been Doing?” survey is a kitchen remodel. I have installed a base cabinet, custom built and installed a shelf, tore out two base cabinets, custom built and installed a bench seat, and turned a coat closet into a kitchen pantry. The job, as you can imagine, is still in progress.

No Trey, it is not drawing or painting. You are right about that. However, it is design work. It is creative work. You have also been trained in that kind of work. You enjoy that kind of work. It is a BIG job and summer is pretty much the biggest chunk of time you have for such a project.

What have I even been doing??? Maybe not as many paintings as in years past but the year is not over and I haven’t exactly been sloughing off. Be kind to yourself.

steady, not necessarily slow but not exactly fast

There’s been plenty going on since my last post in March, much that I am thankful for. I completed a commission and have two new ones ready to get underway. So that’s pretty exciting. I started work last month on a new personal painting project. As always the school year keeps me busy and despite the unusual circumstances that have dominated the school year, I had a great time with the students and they accomplished some amazing things in the shop.

My personal project is for a series of paintings that I unknowingly started last year when I did a plein air painting looking down my street. Continuing with that initial painting, I am going on around the cul-de-sac I live on. This idea was inspired by a photograph I took one evening of a particularly amazing sky. Also, I have resolved that all of my oil paintings will be done plein air or from life, at least primarily, further inspiration for the series.

Other thoughts for new work are brewing which involve a much smaller format than I have traditionally used. I purchased a few 6″ x 8″ canvases and made a few 6″ x 8″ panels too. If I had to guess, this new work will be some plein air “sketches” using oil paints.

snapping out of it

It’s nearing the end of March and I think I may finally be shaking off the doldrums and cold of winter. Fitting I suppose since we just made it to the vernal equinox.

These are two watercolor/mixed media pieces that were actually started back in September, and now that I think about it, right around the autumnal equinox. Wow! Pretty cool.

Now that I realize that I don’t think there’s much else to say for this post. Cheers!

Slow

So it’s March now and not a lot to report. Haven’t spent a lot of time in the studio but I do keep up with the sketching and drawing at least. Drawing and sketching is a must; whether it’s sitting in my chair in the evenings or taking the time to go outside, enjoy the sun, the air, and the wildlife.

I have managed to start a new painting, a plein air painting at that! There is still an unfinished painting on the easel in the studio from back in August, or somewhere around that time. I could not tell you what the deal is with that painting. Oh well.

The most immediate job is to clean up and reorganize my studio. Need to straighten up that physical and mental space.

finishing out the year

By circumstance I finished out the year doing some nighttime sketching. Not a bad way to greet the new year.

During Christmas break I was able to get into the studio and make up for some lost time. As I mentioned in my previous post I found myself wondering off on a series of large format mixed media drawings and I completed a few more of those. The drawings are 26-1/2” on the short side and 40” on the long side. It has been fun and refreshing making these drawings; I plan to make some more.

Finally, the large oil painting I was working was also completed over break, or indefinitely abandoned you might say, and that feels really great. There is another painting on the easel that didn’t make it though and another that has been cast off since February or March. However, the way I see it I am already primed for this year (not that I am ever short of ideas).

This past year certainly had way more than it’s share of shittiness but I must say there was also plenty of good fortune and for that I am truly thankful.

Here’s to a new year and better times ahead!

December – still making art

Since school started back I have been all discombobulated. As soon as I would find a rhythm there would be a disruption and then another and then another. Despite all of that turmoil I still made sure I took the time to draw or paint no matter how irregular it was.

Here is a update on all that I have managed to do in the face of a very frustrating school year.

These two oil paintings I started at the end of the summer are still on the easel. Over Thanksgiving break I went in to the studio and made a big push on the painting on the left. Almost forgot how much I love oil painting! At one point I was laying the paint on so thick I thought I might as well just start rolling around in it.

We have a fig tree that was doing poorly in the ground and we finally dug it up to put it in a pot. The fig tree is much happier now. I am very captivated by this tree and so I sat out to do a couple of watercolors of it which turned into this mass of drawings/watercolors you see here.

I have done a few other small watercolors which you can find on my Instagram feed.

While working on a commission (I have been very fortunate this fall to be commissioned to do several small watercolor paintings) I managed to distract myself with these drawings. They started out as warm-ups before working on the commission but I think they are turning into a project all their own.

summer break’s almost over

Teachers will be reporting back in about two weeks and then the students a week after that. Right now we have a half-in/half-out plan for students to return but it looks like we may end up going fully remote. We’ll see.

On to better things – I have been fortunate to have a couple of commissions over the summer and am very thankful for that. Since March I have spent a lot of time with my watercolor paints, more than usual it seems, and have just this week put them down for a bit to get back to some oil painting. I managed to get one oil painting finished just before getting tied up with the commissions and just this week I have started two new oil paintings.

It is so refreshing to be painting in oil again and to be painting large format too! However, I know I’ll be picking the watercolor brushes back up soon. Can’t stay away from any of it for too long.