Friday, February 23, 2018

Free Piece of Art for Signing Up for my Newsletter

My next monthly newsletter is coming out next week. I enjoy making these and people enjoy hearing about what is happening in my studio. So, in order to share these with more people, if you sign up for my newsletter before the end of the day Thursday, March 1, you will be eligible for a free piece of art. To sign-up for my newsletter, go to my website: Once there, a newsletter form will pop up. Just fill it out! Sorry, if it doesn't pop up you already receive my newsletter.

My newsletters include:
- Featured Painting - a first peek at a painting I just completed and information about its meaning, how I painted it, and more. Sample.
- What's Happening in the Studio - is a look at paintings in progress, planning for new work, building stretchers and panels, and sharing about equipment and material. Sample.
- Updates on Exhibits and Events - be the first to hear about upcoming exhibits, auctions, and events. Sample.

- Updates on other things, such as: progress on studio renovations, holiday sales, projects I am working on, etc. Sample.
- The Finishing Touch - The place where I talk about art, culture and my own painting discipline, a chance for me to open it up and get a little deep about my life and my practice. Sample.

Again, just fill out the newsletter sign up at my website and your name will be entered into a drawing for a free piece of art. Winner announced in the next newsletter.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Rocky Nook, oil painting on canvas

Rocky Nook
oil paint on canvas
30" x 30"

To see more, click here.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Upcoming Online Auction

I'm currently working with Gregory Graham to create art for an online auction. The pieces will be small, 5" x 7", gouache on paper. Each piece will be framed. Auction will be this summer. More info later. Now off to start painting!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Art is Not My Purpose, It is My Vehicle

I'd like to be self indulgent and share why I have become more introverted as I get older. Lately, I see more articles and posts on social media about how this world really has no meaning, that people have no preordained purpose. I think these two things are inter-related.

For the last couple of decades I have defined myself as a father first, then an artist, then by my day job and then whatever else. My daughter has become an independent young woman, living on her own in another country. My first self-definition is needing less attention and the needs of my second self-definition are growing. It keeps knocking on the door and insisting that I finish something that I started years ago.

I have been drawing, and getting recognized for that skill, since 3rd grade -- Mrs. Shore's classroom. I did quite a good job of drawing a map of the United States and recreating the cover of an album of Sleepy Hollow stories by Washington Irving. My fellow eight year old schoolmates also seemed to like the clay creatures I would create. There was a girl in the class who was also a good artist -- I wish I could remember her name. She reminds me very much of a friend I have now, named Aleta. This pseudo-Aleta, as I mentioned, was also very good at drawing and it seemed like her and my art were considered the best in the class. More often than not, my classmates tended to respond a little more positively to my work. I liked that. It felt good to be considered the best at something. I drew a lot at home and did as much art as I could at school.

When not making art I would hang out with Peter Goodwine, David Hooley, or Michael Iannacone and we would catch frogs, light firecrackers, build forts and tramp about the woods of Northern New Jersey. It was a good time.

In high school, I continued to define myself as an artist and was recognized as one of the leaders in my grade. So much so, that in my senior year the art teacher told me to sign up for any art class and then he would determine my assignments with me - in any medium I wanted. Basically, every class was an independent study. I would hang out with Mark Johnston, Jim Pappageorge, Brian Huck and Ken Hooten. We would drive around, listen to the Cars, play soccer, play pool in Brian's basement and laugh A LOT! It was a good time.

In college, I continued to be a leader with the art department crowd. I won awards, hung out with cool kids and had a good time. In graduate school I was considered a leader in my class and was the first student ever to win back-to-back graduate fellowships in the department. I was living in New York City and met my future wife. It was a good time, although I must admit that living in New York City in the mid 1980's was challenging. There was a lot of crime and I left The City not thinking much of people, in general.

I got married soon after graduating, moved to Minnesota to teach art at my alma mater and a few years later became a dad. I kept making art, but it took a backseat to my relationships. I was very active in my community. It was a good time.

In mid-life, things got harder. The marriage fell apart. Having a proper studio space in which to make art disappeared with the marriage. There were several years of trying to parent while putting the pieces back together. Friends changed, too, as they dealt with their own divorces, needs, passions... or addictions. We scrambled it all up and then tried to put things back together again. Some friends are still here, but many new friendships have developed. Over time, the things that were important when I was younger ended up not being that important. What I look for in a friendship or romantic relationship has completely changed. Through it all, the swings this way and that, I have come to the decision, like many in our society, that there is no preordained purpose to my life.

Art has always seemed to be part of my sense of purpose. But after a lifetime of not making a living at making art, of art taking a backseat, of people not valuing my subject matter as much as me, art becomes slightly hollow in its sense of purpose.

Now this seems like I should be depressed by my experiences. It seems like maybe I should give up art. But, I think, truly, it has taken me a lifetime to hit rock-bottom and now I can build up again. When I say "rock-bottom" I don't see that as a negative and it doesn't mean I am depressed. There is a point in life where you have to live with your true self and accept it so that you can go through the next doorway. I am on the threshold and I can't deny myself what is ahead. It is happening and I am letting it happen, gladly. Art is not the purpose of my life, but I have been making art for so long that it has become the vehicle for moving myself forward. When you realize that there is no preordained purpose to life you, hopefully, realize soon after that meaning and purpose in life is dependent on no one but yourself. With this wisdom I can hold introversion and focus in my one hand while holding relationships and community in the other. It almost seems like the threshold is moving toward me now.

I don't know if anyone will understand what I am writing, as I said, I was going to be self-indulgent. But, I am on a journey and I think sharing it is better than not. I think it is sufficient for you to know that art is very deep for me.

Friday, February 9, 2018

That Cute Little House

People have been asking about the small house I have been renovating. Here are some pics of the place. I currently have installed the in-floor heating... and the floor. I have also installed the rust slate stone tiles at the front entrance and kitchen area. As you can see, I have purchased some cabinets for the kitchen. More still to come. Next is to prepare the bathroom and kitchen area for a plumber and an electrician. Then install a spiral staircase. And then track lights.  And then a bedroom.  And end is almost in sight. Almost.


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

What's Happening in the Studio - February 2018

As you might have seen previously in this blog,I completed a Food Obsession painting titled If There's a Cure for This, I Don't Want It. This is part of a series of paintings talking about my food obsessions. There are certain foods I cannot pass up, even if I'm full. Since this is a dis-functional relationship with food, I am titling these (and writing the title into the composition) after phrases within popular culture that refer to dis-functional relationships. The paint on these panels is thick and luscious, enticing the viewer to fall into my emotional state and consume the painting as I would the food depicted. More of these to come.

If you would like to see a fun time lapse of the different stages of creating this painting, you can view the 24 second video at this blog entry:
I've been making some new stretchers for wood panels so I can paint more of these food paintings. That's been fun. My wood shop is ridiculously filled with furniture and other stuff from the recent move and construction, but I still wiggle out some room to make some stretchers. It is something I enjoy doing. When I was in High School I had a job working for a guy who made wooden toys. I learned to use a lot of power tools and have enjoyed doing this type of work ever since. 
And... as a teaser, here is a painting I just completed. It is drying before I take a picture of it and share with the world. It is leaning against the canvas that is my next large landscape: 8' x 4'. Getting BIGGER! Having FUN!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Grassy Island Rocks - Oil Painting

Grassy Island Rocks
Oil paint on canvas
48" x 60"

This is a dramatic painting of a rocky shore on Grassy Island on Rainy Lake in Northern Minnesota. This is the biggest painting I have created in the last few years. It was fun to paint big again. Its liberating to be able to make big strokes of paint without ruining anything. Smaller paintings demand more control. Also, it was a fun painting in that the surface has many layers showing. There are areas where the mineral spirit soaked paint drips down the canvas and leaves a wash, like in watercolor. There are other areas that are thick with paint, and yet other areas that have several thin layers of oil soaked paint on top of each other.  It was a very fun painting to make.

Landscape and food still life paintings and fine art prints are available at my new website: mark A 20% discount on all art for first time visitors/buyers.