For over a year now, we have all experienced dramatic changes. Each of us have adapted in various ways, found paths to keep our sanity intact as much as possible. For artists, and for me specifically, I was able to reconnect with my art, my passion and my way of exploring what I feel. Sometimes, what we feel, what we see and what we experience is reflected in art. This has been the outcome from my time during the global pandemic. It isn't bad, it isn't a burden to spend time with yourself. This time, much like my early years growing up and in my early years of my career, where I would spend alot of time with myself wondering what to do, how to do art, would it be good, what would people say. So, here I am again, making art, wondering what to do, how would people react. What is different, is the experiences I now have to draw from, the energy to do more, to do better, to take more chances and if I fail, so what, I will learn from that.
I have created over 100 pieces of art so far during this time, along with various graphic design projects. More than I have ever been able to do. With the support of my loving wife, my new home studio and this redirection of sorts, I have taken chances I might not have done in the "before times". So I am grateful for this time to explore, make art, share it online. Sometimes I create art just for myself. This is a time to take more chances, risk failure and make myself better as a person and as a creative person. I have, over time, created a schedule of doing something, creating something everyday. I make lists and while I may not complete everything on that list, that's ok. Sometimes my only art for the day are the doodles I make on that list. That's ok too. Regardless, working with this time, is time to think, time to explore and time to make art. I will take this time as a period to learn about myself and the woman I spend my days with and maybe, how to be a better artist.
Having the space to create, free from anyone’s constrains, is a dream. It is a
safe space that allows you to fail, learn and fail again. In that sense, it is a
creative laboratory where experiments are performed until the art “scientist” experiences success. It is a place that you can control, be organized or not organized to the level your art needs it to be. It can be the platform for influencing how your art comes to life. It is a place where you feel relaxed, inspired, protected. Sometimes I feel like artists are like performers who want to be in the spotlight,
but standing behind their art. Bringing your art to life where it can sometimes
take a life of its own. Hopefully it will move someone enough to want to see it on display in their home, office or
a public space.
My studio space is a combination of digital workstation, shop table with glue, blades, color sticks and a wood and paint shop. I am a solitary person and enjoy time with myself, being alone to create ideas, test them to a point
I think it should be brought to life. It really is a space to make what I choose. Sure, sometimes I can create a turd-like Frankenstein, but it is still mine. Here, in my art studio is a separation from anything out there, anything beyond
my doors. My art studio allows me to focus my brain to be creative. I can switch gears quickly on my art. I can
sit at my computer or stand in front of my chop saw, both give me freedom to create. Within all of this creative freedom, I need order as well. I want to have a sense of accomplishment each day with a list of things I want to do. Not all are done, but as long as I can see progress, I will bring order and progress within my art studio. I have
spent a great deal of time in my art studio during this pandemic and it has been a wonderful experience for me.
I have been allowed to create many new pieces. I have even had to create storage carts for the artwork. I have expanded my style to adapt to a variety of sizes, some large and now some very small. I have bee fortunate
enough to create art for friends and their families. I have been able to share art online through social media,
my website and a few galleries. I also made a connection through an online gallery (singulart.com) that exposed
me to a collector in the UAE and now I have a piece of art hanging in the Dubai World Trade Center. Certainly a highlight for me during this time. So, this space, my art studio will continue to help me create, thrive and share
art with other. I hope, like other artists, to have a time where we can open our studio doors and share our personal space with other creatives, friends and collectors.
So, why is an art studio important? It is important to facilitate, focus, balance, fail, succeed, build confidence,
organize a creative mind and most importantly, it gives my wife a place for me to be, out of her way
while she works and this makes us both very happy.
I also have to thank her for all she has done to support me in this effort and allowing me this wonderful,
sometimes messy, sometimes loud, occasionally smelly space.
This is why my art studio is important to me.
Creating, making art is something like therapy for some of us. We get on to an idea and want to explore all aspects in hopes of finding better results, better technique and better solutions for a wide audience. Assuming I had any of the latter to speak of. Nonetheless, we charge on, testing or trying things until it breaks, doesn't look right or it just sucks.
In talkig to a friend who wanted me to do a smaller version of the mosaic technique, of course I scoffed and said it couldn't be done. We don't have the technology, it would not look right and of course, the whole "worlds would collide" aspect. After saying it, I now had to make sure all the bullshit I had claimed was correct and of course it was not. So I was able to try doing simple color solutions with paint chips, crap, this thing could work! Maybe layering in some imagery would be cool too... yep, it was. What if I tried doing a simlified composition, double-f-knuckles... that was working too. So I says to myself, what if you could make several of these crazy, micro mosaics and group them together on the wall, or wait.... on a credenza... this is crazy, but it seemed to work for me. (Your results may vary as your opinion on art is unique and my stuff may not hit your awesome button). Now I'm full tilt into this voyage to where no mosaic has gone before. Beam me up Batman.
I doodle a lot. I mean a-lot. I have books full of them. I doodled in meetings and while it may have seemed I wasn't paying attention, it was in fact, helping me focus more. In these cases, it's more of a thinking process than a drawing process. Often these scribbles mean nothing to someone else, but it seems like a code to me. Sometimes it can inspire me to come up with a solution, whether it be for a design project or a piece of fine art. Thinking is. hard, thinking of ideas can be harder, but if your brain is engaged, it can free up ideas that may be something you think should be pursued to a point of execution.
Making a mark with a pen on paper is the beginning of that idea, that thought and transferring it into a real, physical shape is the beginning. An artist has to be vulnerable in order to create something that connects visually, emotionally and physically. Dealing with things you might feel afraid of sharing are sometimes an inspirational start. Afterall, when you create a piece of art, you are revealing something of yourself. There is something in the experience of creating this art that you are sharing in a very public way. You can not always avoid the things you fear or feel insecure about. I have become more secure in taking risks, attempting to create something that I find interesting, something fresh and visually stimulating. Even if the eventual reaction to that art is one of dislike. I want a reaction, good or bad because the worst reaction for a creative person is one of indifference. I want you to love it, to think it is great or you hate it and want to destroy it. These are the emotional connections we look for as an artist.
So, where do ideas come from? They come from inside us. They come from our experiences and how we feel about them. We are inspired by other creative people and the creative risks they have taken. This is where I landed on the mosaic idea. I have always drawn and painted, since I was eight years old. This new style or technique is something I came up with that challenged my mentally, graphically and creatively. I had no idea if this was really art or if it was going to be accepted on the same plane as I had visualized it. What I like about this technique is the opportunity to say something in a multitude of layers. Abstract thoughts and vivid colors interacting with images and misaligned squares. The application of paint and glue that appears to have just happened are really thought out and somehow planned strokes and globs.
So, keep doodling.
I like to ride my bicycle. So, riding enough will eventually lead you to adopt those oh so tight, spandex like riding gear. During those warm weather months, I ride with several other like minded riders on Saturday morning for a few hours of enjoyable riding, chatting and most importantly, the breakfast stop. This, overtime has turned into a great club of sorts where I have enjoyed meeting many great people from many different walks of life. The longer we did this, we eventually decided to design and identify ourselves at the "FatBoyz" cyclists. It was a very short sided thought for a name as we have several women who ride with us, regardless, we have continued on with it. Using the Owayo 3D jersey kit design model, it is very easy and fun to create custom jerseys. So, while designing my "El Jefe" jersey you see below, I wondered what they might look like with my mosaic artwork. Not too bad for that artsy biker look. So taking art that I created for fun, I expanded to applying it to a garment. This may lead to some more ideas later on, but for now, enjoy the art show. Thanks.
It's the most common question an artist can get. Why do we care how long it takes? An artist's speed is always of fascination to people, especially collectors. In our early stages, it does take more time, more effort, more ways to discover what your art is to be. We're all racing against the clock to make art and live our lives. There is the myth of artistic struggle-it is easier to value intensive physical labor over conceptual endeavor when an artist's thought process can feel so intangible and sometimes impossible to grasp. In reality, everything is based upon time. A movie is two hours, a song on the radio is less than three minutes, mowing the yard is less than a day, more than an hour.
Sometimes, if you are not restrained by time (deadlines), you can completely submit to the experience. You don't think, you just "art". So why does it matter again? It maybe that time is the one thing we all have in common. When I answer this question, it is like trying to explain a recipe. "Well... I spend time thinking about what the subject might be, what the central composition element will look like, then I spend time setting up the digital file, searching for images, placing those images in selected areas, sometimes moving them around til I think I have it right. Then I overlay the large element, is it right or do I need to adjust the opacity or add more solid color pieces. Now that that "hard" part is complete, comes the printing part, printing in pieces plus duplicates in case I need to replace or repair in the assembly stage. Cutting the individual squares does take alot of time. Oh, and sprinkle in the time to buy good wood, cut it and build the hardboard panels that will serve as my canvas and frame. Yes, it is painted and sanded and set up for easy hanging. Now the glueing comes in to play and that takes time to gently place and secure each square piece. Once dry (like the next day), I seal the art with a matte medium to protect it and allow a better surface area for the drawing with oil sticks. Ok, I give up at this stage, it just takes a freaking bunch of time. Maybe 30-60 hours!
So in short, the answer to how long does it take? IT TAKES AS LONG AS IT TAKES. I don't thinkg about it, I just ART it!
I'm lazy. But it's the lazy people who invented the wheel and the bicycle because they didn't like walking or carrying things. The bicycle is a fascinating object. Far more than just a tool to get around, it is an intersection of sport, transportation, politics, environmentalism, art, style, and craft. Old school…I never had the nicer road bikes of my day, but I rode the hell out of my Murray with a banana seat and my trusty brown Schwinn Varsity “English Racer.” All day jaunts around the town and down county roads where I spent hours soaking up the solitude and the joy of the breeze across my face. Sometimes you have to just try something that may sound like it will never work. Like riding off the path and into the ditch. So with that in mind, I wanted to try and build a bike over the winter. I wanted a solid chromoly frame that fit me well. It needed to be a frame that would allow me to modify and hang the type of components I wanted. I also would need someone who would be able to guide me down this path, someone who had the experience and knowledge to tell me how far I could go with this build. Fortunately both were easy finds: the place to go was in Kettering called Bikes for All (https://www.facebook.com/BicyclesForAll/about/).
This is a charitable organization accepts all types of bikes in all types of conditions. Usually those bikes that have sat in a garage for years as children grew up, learned to drive and moved off to college or more importantly, out of their parents’ home. The second piece of my build, and without a doubt the most important, it was having someone who could advise and guide me through the process of putting it all back together. That someone was my new bike friend, Peter Guarde. A master mechanic, he was as excited about the idea of building a not so typical road bike as I was. And so it began, I rolled out a 1977 scarlet Schwinn LeTour II from amongst three hundred or so bikes. I had researched and found some bikes to serve as my inspiration, one in particular was a beautiful rusty ride with wide, white wheels and a leather seat. It sat in my garage for a few days until I finally got the confidence to put it on the rack and begin taking it apart. I had researched this bike and learned it was built during the beginning of the decline of the Schwinn empire. It was built and assembled in Japan. I found online, the catalog from 1977 which listed all of the specifications. Finally, down to a frame, I started the paint stripping. Surprisingly, there was a lot of paint and primer on this chromoly frame. I documented my steps along the way, knowing I would need to show Pete what I did if he would need to fix something. I bagged every piece I took off the bike because I knew I might need some of those pieces to put it back together, even with the weathered patina of rust. This was exciting and I began showing off my rusted frame to anyone who would give me two minutes. The parts box begins to fill up. The big, deep v-cut white wheels arrive and I can begin to see the bike look taking shape. I start to mock up pieces, wondering if our choices were going to be the right ones. We meet on a Saturday afternoon to begin hanging parts on the frame. The priceless derailleur hanger shows up in a huge box, wrapped in a basketball sized piece of bubble wrap. We begin with that … it goes on and the derailleur attaches to it. We are rolling now! I had some trouble with the seat stem diameter and had to order it a few times more before it could slide into the frame and attach my beautiful Brooks B-17 saddle. Classic retro is the look now. The gold KMC chain wraps around the single ring and through the derailleur and cassette. I’m in love with this bike now. Peter is excited about the build and how it is going. I’m taking pics of it and sharing with friends as I try to contain my excitement. I order a front rack and my daughter offers to build a cool wooden plank with my name inlaid. More cool touches to add to the finish. Brake housing and gear cables are added before the bike can take its first ride. It is a glorious rebirth of the bike. It glides around the room effortlessly and to my surprise, it’s got some speed for a heavy frame. Peter takes over and does some fancy wheelies and bunny hops to make sure it holds together. We both have huge grins across our faces. There are some adjustments to be made as the bike begins to settle in to the new components hanging on it. My daughter, Elle also contributed to a beautifully Koa wood inlay plank she made to put on the front rack that is the perfect accent, with my pseudonym “el Jefe”. We now bask in the initial success and begin tweaking parts to make it a worthy, reliable ride. Thanks to my wife for her great patiencel, support and tolerance of this project. Very proud and grateful for all the input, advice and help to make this a truly rewarding experience.
In the early 2000's I created a series of illustration prints that were very technical and mostly focused on racing, open-wheel racing. Formula One and IndyCar specifically. They were all side profiles and I would list the technical specifications of each car below. Printed on 12x18 sheets, they were attractive to racing enthusiasts and weren't too big to take up all of your wall space. Creating a consistent size would also allow you to add to your collection and they were small enough to carry to races and get them autographed. It also allowed me to meet many Indy 500 winners at vintage Indy shows. I was fortunate to get many autographed myself and many were very nice and gracious individuals. Below are a few examples of my TechSpecs years. I still have many left over and if you would be interested, ask me if I still have any and I would be happy to sell and ship!