A Week of Still Life

  King Oyster Mushrooms 6x8” oil on panel Sold    Process video here

King Oyster Mushrooms
6x8” oil on panel
Sold
Process video here

Recently, I had a week scheduled in which I was going to focus on Still Life paintings. Usually, I have done these one at a time, between other projects. But this had resulted in my not doing very many, because there are always a lot of things that need doing between projects, things that fall behind when I am in the midst of larger works.

So, knowing I had carved out some time, I decided I would paint one per day. This also meant that, having planned the time, I had the forethought to go do some shopping for specific things to paint, versus painting objects at hand when opportunity arises.

So my wife and I went to get some items, and since it is fall, there were a few good autumn things to paint. I let her pick a few things out, in part because I imagined she’d want to hang one or two of the final pieces until they sell.

  Raspberries 6x8” oil on panel Original art available    Process video here

Raspberries
6x8” oil on panel
Original art available
Process video here

Next, I decided I would try something else new: live streaming. I have on occasion posted time-lapse videos on Instagram, and they have a live stream option that I thought I would try. There were some issues though: my iOS devices are so old that the Live option was not an option on my versions of the app! As well, I learned that IG’s live streams are I think limited to one hour. These still lives usually take a good bit longer than that. Lastly, I don’t have a great setup for suspending my device for streaming.

  Flint Corn 6x8” oil on panel Original art available    Process video here

Flint Corn
6x8” oil on panel
Original art available
Process video here

So I went to Facebook Live. They allow 4 hours, and in 2-3 instances, I made it under the line by a couple of minutes! It was pretty enjoyable working live, and a number of folks made their way in, some popping in for a peek, others hanging out for most of the stream, one or two hanging out about the entire week of full streams. After the first day I decided to begin interacting with comments and questions verbally on-stream. That made it even more enjoyable for everyone I think.

Still life paintings are probably the most fun of the work I do to watch, in that they tend to get completed in one sitting, and they are very spontaneous: no pre-drawing in pencil or anything, just paint on board. Due to their low-commitment nature, I tend to try things I wouldn’t try in other venues: texture, materials, application, etc., are all fair game for experimentation in these. It could also result in failure, but if it does at least it doesn’t crater two weeks of effort.

  Gourd 6x8” oil on panel over acrylic Original art available    Process video here

Gourd
6x8” oil on panel over acrylic
Original art available
Process video here

Over the last few years of doing these still life paintings, I think I have both introduced and grown a little facility with palette knife application. I think it is easy to overdue knife applications, and for years I didn’t see a way to use them well, but I think I’m getting more comfortable with them as a tool.

I also used a brayer in one of the pieces. This is newer, but I’ve used it in some Hearts for Hardware pieces.

I also used a rubber-tipped paint wedge to pull paint off the surface. I bought it on a whim a few years ago but haven’t found many good uses for it yet.

  Blood Orange 6x8” oil on panel Currently NFS    Process video here

Blood Orange
6x8” oil on panel
Currently NFS
Process video here

In the Gourd piece I also started with some opaque acrylic base tones, which I used the paint wedge to reclaim and use in the final art a bit. The Gourd piece had 3 total of the above techniques.

In the end I was pretty pleased with all of them, and the Blood Orange piece at the end in particular was the winner. I’ll be saving that one for submission to some annual shows (and my wife gets to hang it in the meantime). The others are available for purchase.

I’d like to do the live stream thing again sometime, maybe on a multi-day piece like a landscape. Perhaps streaming on YouTube would be better than Facebook? Not sure. But I appreciated all who stopped in. The videos are archived and public, so anyone can view them even without an account.

Avatar of Hope

  “Avatar of Hope” 6x8” oils Sold

“Avatar of Hope”
6x8” oils
Sold

Certain years seem particularly bountiful for children in one’s life. Some years, no one you really know well is having kids, the next you get 2-3 and a handful of pregnancies besides. This year is one of bounty around me.

I’ve always thought, and this is by no means an original feeling, that having a child is about the single most hopeful thing someone can do. It is trusting in the future—not the far future, just the future some decades beyond your own life. The moment the child enters the world, you are concerned with its safety and well-being, and just placing it in the world is a bet that this world will be safe for them in the future. Thus, those who have children during particularly hard times are in essence believing that those hard times won’t be forever. I think that is wonderful, especially if the having of the child begins to move the parent towards improving that world in the ways they are able, to help make their optimism real.

So here’s to the parents in my life, particularly the new parents. Make the world good.

  In progress.

In progress.

Hearts for Hardware, Infinite Continues

I let my Hardware series sit for awhile, but the level of interest on my part was so high that the countdown to insert more coins and continue was ridiculously long. As much as this work had been pushed aside in my schedule, it was constantly on my mind and I was heartbroken not be able to get back to it sooner. But not only have I done so, but I finally upgraded its sub-site as well.

 "First Among Many" 11x14" oil over acrylic on canvas Original art available

"First Among Many"
11x14" oil over acrylic on canvas
Original art available

"First Among Many" represents the C-100, the first of Atari's home Pong systems, from 1976,  though it was still not the first: Sears stores had put out an Atari produce, Sears-branded/Telegames version of this first before Atari stuck its own branding on it and sold it elsewhere. And of course the very popular arcade game preceded it. And, even that was not the first, since Magnavox had developed the original Pong game and even sold it for home use in the one earlier step in hardware history (which I will probably paint, being the first of the first). But as Pong under the Atari brand goes (Magnavox's Odyssey was a multi-game console), this was the first. What would follow in the next few years were a range of Pong variant systems issued by Atari and everyone else--even Nintendo created a Pong machine to sell in Japan! In my own home, prior to the Atari 2600 we had a variant that if I recall correctly was a Radio Shack one.

 "Visionary" 9x12" oil over acrylic on canvas Original art available

"Visionary"
9x12" oil over acrylic on canvas
Original art available

"Visionary" portrays Mattel's forgotten 1979 Microvision handheld, the first handheld game with games you could swap out via cartridge. These "cartridges" were in fact half the entire unit, seemingly, comprising most of the front of the chassis. They played primitive games on a black-and-white lcd of ridiculously low resolution, and not many of them. Though popular upon initial release, this one never took off. Given how expensive it was and how few fun games there were, this ended up being a beta test for what would come a few years later still. It's acknowledged that this was the inspiration for Nintendo's popular Game & Watch series of handhelds, which itself pioneered many things that would carry over to today. I played a Microvision back in the day once, somewhere as a kid. Maybe an in-store display.

 "The Last Days of Old School" 5x7" oil on watercolor board Original art sold

"The Last Days of Old School"
5x7" oil on watercolor board
Original art sold

"The Last Days of Old School" features the Game Boy Advance Micro, the first of the GBA line I've painted. This series goes by whim, not chronologically. Sometimes it goes by private commission, as this one was (collectors, realizing that some more popular hardware paintings tend to sell quickly, have commissioned art before I have chosen to paint them myself). Released right about as the Nintendo DS also released, this was to be the last time a system dedicated to 2D, sprite-based graphics would hit the market. Oh sure people tried to get the GBA to do polygons, but it was counter to the design of the unit. From here on out, it was to be a polygon-based world even if 2D games continued to appear.

Higher res scans of these and the rest of the series can be seen on the (new!) Hearts for Hardware website. Original art and prints are available through their store.

Petaluma Evening

Petaluma is a small city in Northern California. As you cross the Golden Gate Bridge out of San Francisco, and pass through Marin County, Petaluma is the gateway to Sonoma County on Highway 101 there. You'll know it because while Marin County is pretty nice, you suddenly enter this area of nearly endless rolling hills and oaks.

 Petaluma Evening 24x30" oil on panel Original art available

Petaluma Evening
24x30" oil on panel
Original art available

 Sometimes, as in this painting, there is essentially no pre-drawing, I just paint as I go.

Sometimes, as in this painting, there is essentially no pre-drawing, I just paint as I go.

I mentioned last time that I was going to branch out from vineyard related paintings for a bit, and part of that is from wanting to explore this area more. I just said that Petaluma is endless rolling hills, but this painting only indicates two such, and focuses on trees; well, actually it focuses on light.

On the same trip where I took reference for this painting, I also took reference for the right side of "Turning Point." I saw enough gorgeous stuff in one afternoon walking around to inspire a dozen paintings. Now it's just a matter of finding them time to paint them!

Outside of my illustration work and Hearts for Hardware, a lot of my other work doesn't really utilize pre-drawing these days anymore. That's quite a change from my earlier days. I just go straight to paint. Sometimes that means "drawing" with the paint, other times it just means massing in the forms and defining as I go, as with my still life paintings.

 The smooth transition of evening sky was much simpler to just paint as a mass of sky and then paint trees over it, rather than try to maintain the color gradations in all the little holes in and around the branches and edges of the tree shapes.

The smooth transition of evening sky was much simpler to just paint as a mass of sky and then paint trees over it, rather than try to maintain the color gradations in all the little holes in and around the branches and edges of the tree shapes.