Dream Worlds Exhibition at the Canton Museum of Art

From the museum website:

“Dream Worlds: The Art of Imaginative Realism” (on view November 23, 2016 – March 12, 2017) assembles award-winning artists from around the country who play a pivotal role in the art of cinema, television, set design, 3D animation, gaming, and costume design—pushing the boundaries of contemporary realism through the guise of surrealism. Their creations are now a fundamental component of both the fine art world and the commercial art industry. This exhibition is certain to entertain and educate all ages with a journey through the art of imaginative realism, offering fantastic visions within the past, the unexplored future, and even the unseen present—a journey that may inspire viewers to explore their own creativity and storytelling ability through art. “Dream Worlds” is produced with CMA guest-curator and Canton native, Chris Seaman, an award-winning artist-illustrator.

With thanks to the aforementioned Chris Seaman, I am currently participating in this show--my first in an actual civic museum. The broader world of Imaginative Realism is extremely varied still, and this show runs the gamut. Some pieces hold down one end being very whimsical, while myself and a couple others are holding down the more serious end of the fort. 

"Glossai Pyros II" (L) and "Glossai Pyros" (R) Thanks to Tom Kuebler for the photo from the opening

"Glossai Pyros II" (L) and "Glossai Pyros" (R)
Thanks to Tom Kuebler for the photo from the opening

Both these paintings hanging at this exhibition, for the first and probably last time, since "Glossai Pyros" was sold to a collector before I painted the second piece, and is on loan for the exhibit.

"Glossai Pyros II" is available for purchase through the Museum. Please contact them for details.

25 Years Ago, Fall 1991

For whatever reason, I am fond of memories and of tracking time. You'll have noticed that if you've been around this blog for awhile. I mark various anniversaries regularly.

25 years ago, it was autumn, 1991. That is significant for a few reasons, and if you have had an interest in my work, and/or are an artist, maybe you will enjoy this look back.

25 years ago I was three months into my first semester of art school. I remember, having left high school--which I was not particularly fond of--the sense of freedom and excitement I felt to finally be pursuing art single-mindedly, or nearly so. This was before the internet became a consumer thing. After considering a few art colleges like Cornish, Pratt, Art Center, Academy of Art in San Francisco, and the California College of Arts and Crafts (now just CCA) in Oakland, I applied only to the Bay Area ones. The primary reason was that art school--then as now--was almost as expensive as Ivy League schools, just in tuition. My parents both worked in factories of different kinds and managed to pull together a modest middle-class living, somehow, for their three sons. But I did not qualify for nearly enough financial aid to make leaving home possible. I could not move to the north or east bay to be close to school unless I funded it entirely on loans. So I stayed home and commuted from south San Jose to North Oakland 3-4 days a week for long class days. That was a challenge, but was a great decision as I left without crushing debt later.

18 x 24" charcoal on paper 16 year-old me in my Core Drawing class. We were being introduced to different forms of drawing and encouraged to use different techniques constantly. This one included smudging charcoal and lifting out with a kneaded eraser. I even dated it, 10/4/91.

18 x 24" charcoal on paper
16 year-old me in my Core Drawing class. We were being introduced to different forms of drawing and encouraged to use different techniques constantly. This one included smudging charcoal and lifting out with a kneaded eraser. I even dated it, 10/4/91.

My first semester, I entered as I said full of exuberance, only to encounter Core Year. Core Year is the year you are tightly constrained to mostly mandated courses, meant to give you a cross-discipline foundation before you declare a major and specialize. Some of it was necessary: basic composition and materials, foundation drawing, foundation painting. Some of it was a waste, for me, like foundation 3d (sculpture, not digital). Some of it was useful: some humanities, art history.

Much of it was frustrating, however. The 3d class wasn't even an attempt to teach sculpture. It was exposure to materials and mostly abstract assignments and installations. For my purposes, a complete waste of time.

My intro painting class I started with much hope, but it ended up being largely a waste of money. It was by-and-large uninstructed. We would do still life paintings or figure paintings, or paint our own projects, and there was really nothing in the way of color theory, paint handling or materials instruction beyond learning how to stretch a canvas. The instructor never painted with us to teach through demonstration. Through now I was exclusively self-taught, but I hoped to be taught now. Sadly, that didn't really start until my second year, so I made the best of my first year with the self-teaching. I was not confident enough in myself to question this method of "teaching" or to insist on being taught actual, you know, things. Critiques were mostly useless, since no one else knew much either, yet.

I trashed a lot of my student work when I got married and moved out of my folks' house in 1998. You generate a ton of bad work in art school--you're supposed to. So what I kept I guess I considered decent or notable for some reason.

"L'Inconnue de la Seine" 16 x 20" oil on canvas, 1991

"L'Inconnue de la Seine" 16 x 20" oil on canvas, 1991

In my painting intro class, we had a plaster cast I later came to learn was kinda famous. This painting was done I think in two sessions, or in one session but I repainted a bit more after it dried. You can tell because the profile around the cheek through underjaw was re-painted a bit, and ghosting remains. I painted it as it lay on a table, as the painting is shown. Later, I stood it upright and noticed the drawing errors, and corrected them. I also signed it in the vertical aspect, but I prefer it horizontal again.

It's fascinating to look at my 16 or 17 year old self's efforts here. It's not bad, considering age. I'm half tempted to get a hold of this cast somehow again, to give it another go. Of note as well is that it is now 25 years old, painted on basic-level canvas panel from any ol' art store, with at least half a palette of budget student-grade paints, and is holding up very well, materially. I'm not surprised--I have a couple other panels that are 2-3 years even older and are holding up fine.

Why did I paint it so large? It's about 2x life size. I can't tell you, really. I think I had this idea that bigger was better for whatever reason. Or we were encouraged to paint or draw larger. I mean Real Art is usually big, right?

18 x 18" ink on paper, 1991 This exercise involved a brush and pot of ink, and drawing using a free-form gesture line that was supposed to travel or criss-cross the figure. I think we were asked to not lift the brush unless it got dry. Kinda weird. Maybe 20 minutes?

18 x 18" ink on paper, 1991
This exercise involved a brush and pot of ink, and drawing using a free-form gesture line that was supposed to travel or criss-cross the figure. I think we were asked to not lift the brush unless it got dry. Kinda weird. Maybe 20 minutes?

Art school was a wonderful time--finally free to dedicate my time to art, but without all the financial burden of needing to support myself. Living at home helped with that part. I did have a part-time job throughout, working with Thomas Kinkade's nascent publishing company, as detailed earlier. So even at my day job I was involved at least tangentially with the business of art.

I was young, having graduated High School earlier than usual, and I was focused but naive. Because I didn't live on campus, I didn't socialize or make friends at school really, but as I was already dating my now-wife, who was also back in San Jose, that occupied my human interaction time. Even still, there began to be periods where I would have to tell her I wouldn't see her for a short stretch at a time so I could focus on various projects. Things got busier my second year, but already I was busier than I had ever been.

And it was wonderful.

 

Gameplay: A Tribute to Video Games

Notable mostly for me, today is the 12th anniversary of my blog. I always count election day as the official anniversary day, having launched on an election day here in the USA.

In the news, I have two paintings in a group show, Gameplay: A Tribute to Video Games, over at Helikon Gallery in Denver, CO, running through Dec. 10.

This makes the second gallery show which has hosted works from my Hearts for Hardware series. The first was my solo show at Krab Jab Studio a little over a year ago. In both cases, I did not pitch being in the shows, but was asked to participate, which is extremely gratifying.

My work hanging @helikongallery through Dec.10, opened last night #art #videogames #retrogames #gallery

A photo posted by Randy Gallegos (@randygallegos) on

As regards the art itself, I consider these opportunities to be a win for the series in general. One of the things I wanted to do with this series was to elevate objects which are normally kept firmly on the side of entertainment, frivolities, even toys, to the status of Art in some small way. This is one reason I haven't gone for fun, jokey gags but have treated them as straight, serious still life paintings, though admittedly the site hosting them is a bit intentionally retro. It's a reason I have not portrayed people playing the hardware (something I've been asked to consider a couple of times). So, all this tells me that I am on the right track, and this encourages me to continue on with the series.

In any case, "Motion Control, At Rest" and "Master Gear" are both hanging at Helikon in Denver. They also are stocking a few of the giclees of other images. If you are around, stop by and see the show. If not, and if you are interested in purchasing the works, drop them a line!

Recent Small Works

While this blog was laying fallow, I continued producing a number of small works, which were featured over at Every Day Original. Let's catch you up, shall we?

"Taraxa" 6" x 8" oil on canvas Original sold

"Taraxa" 6" x 8" oil on canvas
Original sold

"Taraxa" is the last of a series of four small paintings, each with a seasonal motif, and I can't decide if it is my favorite, or "Arctis".

While working on it, I took a few in-progress shots which I posted over at Instagram. You can check them out here by clicking this link and then working backwards.

While I still do post up other things over at EDO like last month's still life painting, increasingly I'm zeroing in on smaller black-and-white pieces, as they seem to have had the best response there.

In that sense, EDO functions a bit as an idea lab. Much earlier in the year I posted a figure study which I mentioned was for a larger painting, but as yet that painting hasn't been started. Some of the other pieces I've done I also envisioned as being potentially preparatory for larger paintings, and as I look for holes in the schedule to do more uncommissioned studio works, I will continue to simply put ideas down.

"Drown" 4" x 6" oil on canvas Sold

"Drown" 4" x 6" oil on canvas
Sold

The thing is, as I spend more time simply putting down concepts, two things will happen: I will generate more personal concepts, and I will create a larger gap between the number I put down and the number that become fully-realized paintings. In fact, I know a number of these concepts will not ever be paintings, because the amount of time I spend doing these personal works only allows a couple of slots per year currently, on a larger scale.

There is almost a sense in which by putting down these concepts, I am ensuring they don't get painted, but that's not the correct way to look at it. Since I do so few of these as full-realized works per year, they don't get painted anyway. But, before, the ideas would never even see the light of day in any form; they would just stay in my head or disappear even from there. Now, at least, I'm getting these visions out into the world in some form, and maybe I'll double back and further develop a couple along the way.

"Glossai Pyros II study" 3.5" x 5" acrylic and graphite on paper Available at Every Day Original

"Glossai Pyros II study" 3.5" x 5" acrylic and graphite on paper
Available at Every Day Original

For this month's offering, available today, we have a different approach. This study for "Glossai Pyros II" was actually done earlier this year, while concepting what would become the larger painting. In this case, I just Googled some sleeping babies and used one to make this small study.

Convinced by the overall concept, I then went out and created the full painting. Of note of course is that the pose is totally different. There are a few reasons for this.

First, I wasn't going to straight-up use someone else's photo for a full painting, even if I'd have changed the lighting and context entirely. Second, I didn't want to fake the lighting, as it was key to selling the vision. And third, once you commit to using your own reference of an infant, you have to understand that the odds that that infant will assume or hold any particular pose are about none. I worked with the infant I used for awhile as she was quite tolerant, and I also greatly enjoyed that she was holding onto the string-light LED I used to create the lighting. There are aspects of this pose that I do prefer but as it was not a possibility, I am content to have created this alternate vision and put it out into the world, and that it spurred me on to create the larger painting at all.