Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Life finds a way and then...

There was a small maple tree in the common area of our neighborhood. It was much like all of the other young maples in the neighborhood. Then one summer night it was struck by lightning, splitting it down it's center. It's higher parts were removed by the landscapers leaving only the splintered trunk. After about a year it began to sprout new growth. In fact, a lot of new growth. The tree continued to try. It grew and grew but could not seem to grow up. It could however grow out. It fashioned itself into a maple bush. Magnificent and unique. It grew and grew for years. It filled out into a bush of true substance albeit not a tree of height. This beauty beat adversity and flourished -- for several years.

And I watched and admired.

Then, suddenly, without warning, an ignorant landscaper decided that this bush did not meet the criteria for the plantings in the common area and REMOVED it.

I feel a sense of sadness as there was a struggle and a victory that was simply removed by someone that had no knowledge of history.

That's all.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Old Cabin - Point of View

old cabin - original (full) view
I finished my 'old cabin' painting and then started playing around with different views - closer views of the image - to see if the impact changed. Here are a few of those...

A. old cabin - close up crop

For this view the total frame is filled with the cabin. Very little interest around it.
B. old cabin - crop is right / top
In this view the cabin is horizontally oriented toward the right of the frame and vertically a bit biased toward the top. There is more motion indicated in the swooping ground work which flows from right to left and there is a color splash on the left in the sky creating additional interest.
C. old cabin - crop left/bottom
This is the opposite crop to the preceding view. I think there is still motion and interest but the view feels very different to me.

What do you think? A, B, or C, or stick to the full original?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Stained Glass - Chameleon

This was a lot of fun to make. Mostly because I kept thinking about one of my all-time favorites Gustav Klimt. This began with a sketch of AmazingTori. Once I had the sketch, I colored in warm skin tones along the arm and the face. Then I began to color the canvas in fairly regular shapes. Once the canvas was completely colored, and brightly so, I might add, I then ran the layer through a Topaz filter which stylized all of the color borders with slightly curvy markings.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Point Bonita

Twain had it right when he said, the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. Point Bonita, a sharp rocky peninsula extending into the Pacific Ocean from the Marin Headlands overlooking San Francisco, is cold and foreboding. Sea lions lounge on the rocks below and the waves crash against the black craggy stones jutting upwards. Hundreds of sea birds float dotting the frothy white caps of the dark water. An imperative for life exists above the water as colorful succulents grow out of sheer rock furthering the surreal scene.

To be there, trekking out to the last working lighthouse in California, I was struck by a sense of solitude, and somewhat ironically, calm, and truly sublime peace.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dreaming Parade

This is one called Parade from the Dreaming series. I started this work about a year ago, so I think it is my longest running ongoing work - and I'm still not sure it's done.

It began as a photo, which was turned into a sketch, which was then charcoal outlined, then watercolored. So a hybrid of photo and PS filters, to handpainting using the Wacom.

The idea is the parade of thoughts that goes through the mind of a teen. The ideas for thoughts came from 'eavesdropping' as kids were talking - so going on the theory that they have limited filters for their thoughts. As such I edited out a lot, preferring to focus on the funny and random, intermingled with the sometimes insecure, anxious, or angry.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

One Perfect Moment

A Sunday, started out cloudy and without promise, but turned to blue, bright and warm. Swimming in the pool, the water appropriately cooler than the air, and then stop, float, looking up toward the blue cloud-spotted sky. Now lean back, ears, eyes, fully covered by the cool water. Breathe slowly, slowly, then listen. The water sounds, and heartbeat. The warmth of the sun filtered by the water over eyes. Every thought drifted away, or merged into one. Hard to remember any boundaries. But found one perfect moment of calm, contentment, understanding, and bliss.

Then "cannonball"!

(dahlia painting, 2010)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Remember me

This is the before photo, before I take a cut at restoring this photo. It is my grandmother as a young girl and it evokes strong emotion in me. A bit of me feels lost in it. I knew my grandmother so well - or so I thought - but this photo seems to be of someone I didn't know at all. It's a strange sensation to know someone for a period of time, to be close, and then to realize that there was so much more that you didn't know - and not in a bad way - just in a left wanting more way. So I'm going to take my time and restore the photo and then I'll tell you more about an amazing person.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

On The Brink

Another hybrid art sample in this work featuring the AmazingTori and Andrew. On The Brink is all about big change. Emotional turmoil generated by new love; young love, and pending transition, from the remnants of childhood to the real world. The simultaneous coveting what was, and craving what is to be. This is a continuous rollercoaster ride and we are along for it. Hurling over the tracks, hoping not to derail. Mopping up tears and taking in the smiles.

 This work conveys all of that for me - but then I'm biased. I look into those eyes every day.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Caribbean Steps - Hybrid Art

This work, Caribbean Steps, is what I am calling a 'hybrid' or 'fusion'. The basis was a really low resolution digital picture taken in low light. Not a great shot by any stretch of the imagination. I cleaned the shot up in Photoshop, fixing all of the usual things; brightness, contrast, hue and saturation, until I got a photo that was better than the original snap. Then I manufactured an HDR set of pictures, using the RAW exposure settings and saving them off so the exposures were ranged from -1.0, to 3.0. I generated the HDR in Photomatix and did the Tone Mapping, leaning somewhat more to the 'overdone' side of HDR - clearly a bit more surreal than the actual scene - and a lot brighter.

Once I had this, I picked the color palette, and saved that and I rendered a simple B&W sketch in Photoshop from the HDR photo. I painted the sketch in sticking to the color palette using primarily watercolor and texture brushes.

Once that was done, I masked in the HDR shot using a texture brush, with the painting to emphasize some of the more detailed elements of the scene (flowerpot, drainpipe, lantern) to allow these to be more realistic than the 'stained glass' painting effect on the rest of the scene.

By the way, the original shot was taken at a restaurant in St. Thomas, at The Old Stone Farmhouse, at around 8pm in December. The colors were all there in the stones, but were far more muted, particularly given the light. This is how I imagined the scene should look in full daylight.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


A high contrast, slight blur, HDR shot of one of the angels at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. Like being transported to ancient Greece or Rome.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Thinking 'Longer'

I was driving home from the grocery store this morning when a large hawk flew in a swooping motion coming very close to hitting the car. This launched this chain of thought...

The hawk has a white belly, the vultures have black bellies. Why? Because the hawk hunts live rodents, etc. and is designed to blend with the sky so they can't see him coming. The vulture eats dead things, so no need to hide. My thoughts jumped to chameleons, and other creatures that blend in perfectly with their environment - great hiders. It seemed improbable to me that so many things are out there that can hide like that. It seemed lucky - a bit like someone made a wish and all of a sudden their physical nature was changed. OK, stay with me here... so even though I know about evolution, survival of the fittest and all that, I still had that moment where it seemed just as likely that it could have been a wish.

The mind isn't geared to 'blink' to the real process which takes hundreds or hundreds of thousands of years to actually be accomplished. The real process where some hawk was born with a lighter belly, and he succeeded in eating where another one with a dark belly did not. The light-bellied hawk then got to make more light-bellied hawks, and so on and so forth. Basically an anomaly occurs, and it works out, better than the status quo. The anomaly's successes continue over time and voila we have creatures that can emit light, that can change color, or that generally blend in with their environment.

It's harder for people to think about that process that takes a long time to get somewhere, because you want to jump to this thing has always been. And whole cultures make up stories to explain these things; like the hawk made a deal with some native spirits to have white feathers and the vultures didn't get in on the deal (I made this up, but you get my point...)

So try thinking 'longer' as opposed to bigger!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Welcome 2010!

Being fond of transitions - at least the good ones - the marking of a year past and entry into a new one, holds much significance to me. Like most people over the age of 25 (at least that was the age this happened for me) I tend to notice the progression of time more acutely than before that age. More conscious of my own mortality and yet no real desire to stand still; not that it would matter because time marches on anyway. I also think that if you are more aware of the passage of time, it moves more slowly - similar to the old wives tale of a 'watched pot never boils'. This New Year was very interesting to say the least. Living with teens and almost teens is certainly not boring. So with the music loud, lights strobing, subterfuge and hormones, the New Year was rung in with a host of friends and family, all focused on the same thing for a few minutes around midnight; Dick Clark's Rockin' Eve.

This is one of my works from the evening.