I love old steam train locomotives, always have. Since my story will feature a railroad tycoon, I decided to try and model a 3d train engine. It gave me a chance to have a point of reference for future scenes and also to understand the mechanics of the machine. This is the clay model I sculpted using Blender without any textures or colors.
Welcome to Autumn, my newest project, is a fictional story about a small town in Virginia, told through drawings and paintings. This 3d render of a fictional antique book is an illustrated history of the town starting back in the 1870′s.
It’s like Kickstarter, but instead of raising a bunch of money for one giant project, Patreon allows fans to help support the creators they love by throwing in small amounts like $1 or $2 per project or per month. It gives them a chance to work on the stuff you love and not have to worry about where their next paycheck will come from. That let’s them improve the quantity and quality of the work.
What do you get?
All kinds of creators are on Patreon.com. Musicians, web comic writers, bloggers, and visual artists like me. For your contributions, you get tiered rewards that include things like:
that warm, fuzzy feeling for helping an artist concentrate on the work
behind the scenes, work in progress, patron-only access
involvement in the creative decisions
Q&A with the artist
What’s it for?
Simply put, it’s to help me get back to making realistic artwork. I have a new series in development called Welcome to Autumn, and I want to work on it full time. Financially, however, it has to stay on the back burner indefinitely. This is your way of showing your support and telling me to make it a priority to get back to the good stuff. I love my silhouettes, but I love my figurative work even more.
3d visual reference for the Welcome to Autumn painting series
As you have noticed over the past few years, it’s been difficult for me to maintain the kind of artistic output I’d like. I want to see more drawings and paintings, and I’m sure you do too. Unlike Kickstarter, this is an ongoing system so you can join in and opt out at any time. I hope you consider becoming a patron and helping me create my next series.
I have to admit to you that this post is a bit difficult for me to write. It involves the subject of patronage and some personal talk. You can take a look at the wikipedia page for patronage to get a better idea of what it is, but it’s basically this:
In the history of art, arts patronage refers to the support that kings, popes and the wealthy have provided to artists such as musicians, painters, and sculptors.
Money for art making, not for the final product, but for the act of creating it. For those who know me, and have known me for a long time, my biggest downfall has always been the inability to hold a long term job, one that wasn’t connected with my career of drawing and painting. Like most people in this world, and in all of our history for that matter, people work for money. I work very hard on my art, and I could go into a long discussion about what I consider work and what most people consider work. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if I didn’t think it was worthy. But I also understand how the subject of art can be polarizing in terms of it being considered a “real job” or a worthy endeavor at all.
Cosimo de’ Medici – Patron of the Arts
I’ve also discussed with people over the years my feelings towards modern art and my personal taste for more traditional styles. My knee-jerk response to the mention of modern art is always disgust, but it’s also followed by a more mature explanation. For me, modern art’s value is that of conceptualization. Prior to the 20th century, art had become locked into the academic and technical aspects of art making, or in other words -boring. Modern art, in all of its various forms, challenged this way of thinking. Without this part of art history, I doubt my work would have been as interesting. Without the lessons learned from that period, I would have never been taught to challenge my own thought process and develop my work with more depth.
My disgust doesn’t come from modern art as a genre or even the aesthetic value because I enjoy talking about concept and having an occasional “outside the box” discussion about what art is. It, instead, comes from the academic suppression of the technical side of art, the lack of appreciation for visual beauty, and the shaming of those who like what they like because it’s nice to look at. Alongside this century old trend is the rise of The Artist persona and more recently the obsession with branding, which I have gone along with myself to some degree. The artist must perform as entertainer, must create some kind of mystery or intrigue for his/her fans, and must engage constantly or else risk losing their interest. The traditional subdued artist, the quiet introvert who needs time to create, is at an obvious disadvantage.
I want to make art for one reason – passionate curiosity. It’s the reason why I picked up crayons when I was a kid…
I have always had a quiet persona and been uncomfortable with socializing with strangers, especially about my own art. I prefer listening to speaking. I don’t like to say anything unless I have something truly valuable to say, which is an obvious reason I like to work visually. I do my best at posting on social media and “putting my art out there,” but it’s never enough to get the job done. I’ve spent way too much time on building my websites, marketing, and monetizing my brand. Why did I spend all my time doing this? To make money. Not to make lots of money, but just enough to keep making art. I would be just as happy having twenty diehard fans who truly appreciated my work as long as I didn’t have to worry about the business side. It’s been three years since I’ve made a realistic piece of art for a personal project. And that makes me sick.
My animal silhouettes are a little bittersweet for me. I’ve absolutely enjoyed working on the fun designs, but they marked the point where I wandered away from what I truly loved, painting the human figure in my own way, and towards something I needed. I had to, in order to make art that was more affordable and appealing to a wider audience. This is the kind of decision most artist’s have to deal with at different points in their career.
I don’t quite consider myself a freelance artist. Yes, I’ve done some freelance work and commissions, but not many. Over the years, I’ve noticed that freelance work and commissions feel very familiar to something else – smalltalk. Initially, you feign interest, and if the smalltalk is really bad, it’s hard to keep it up. It becomes obvious that your heart isn’t into it, and the conversation suffers. I’m not good at small talk. I freeze, second guess everything, and I can’t concentrate on anything but my mistakes. When I work on projects I have little passion for, I feel like I’m stuck in small talk hell, and my work suffers, more and more over time.
I’m ignoring that overwhelming feeling of guilt because I need to, because I trust that if I ask, if I show people what I can do, and give them a chance to help, they will.
That’s not an acceptable excuse, I know. Artists all of the world are struggling worse than I am and are doing well (and they’re more talented!). I should be able to suck it up, and just take what I can, when I can. I’ll keep trying, although I know my own limits. But this post isn’t about what’s right, it’s just an honest journal entry into what kind of artist I feel I have become over the last 3 years, and I’m embarrassed to write any of it. It still feels honest though which is why I’m writing.
I want to make art for one reason – passionate curiosity. It’s the reason why I picked up crayons when I was a kid, and it was the reason I went to art school. I simply wanted to see what I could do, in my own way, to the absolute best of my ability. That’s what makes me happy, and in turn, that’s what makes my art work well. And I want to get back to that!
I used to feel valuable because I could draw and paint well. Now, with my stagnate work and an internet full of expert artists, I feel mediocre, lost, and therefore worthless. But I’m tired of feeling so negative. I’m still an artist, and I still have ideas. I’m finally ready to get back into the realistic work with a new project, a new series devoted to the subject I love. It’ll be different and push my own limits, but I think it’s worth it. The curiosity and passion has been building for a long time now as I’ve brainstormed and developed new ideas. I’ll explain a little more in a following post sometime in the near future.
I’m emotionally and psychologically ready. Unfortunately, I’m not financially ready. I must continue my animal silhouettes and finding work where I can, but I’m hoping that a new crowdfunding site, Patreon.com, can change that. Finally, fans can help support the artists they love and allow them to concentrate on the creative side instead of just on the moneymaking. It doesn’t take a lot to contribute, but it adds up, and it can mean quite a huge difference for the artist. I’m very excited for the future and what it will mean for the art world.
98% percent of me feels like slime for ever asking for support, but the other 2% understands the history of patronage and the community that values art. I’m ignoring that overwhelming feeling of guilt because I need to, because I trust that if I ask, if I show people what I can do, and give them a chance to help, they will.
Artists, throughout history, have had patrons. The patrons were nobility and the powerful few. Now, in 2014, with crowdfunding taking hold, including Patreon, the patrons are all of us, each supporting the creative people we want to succeed, a little bit at a time. I’m here to ask for support, and to ask that you join me on my next journey.
Alright, so a year and a half has gone by since my last post, so why post now? Well, after my Kickstarter project failed, I took some time to regroup and rethink my path forward. I am grateful to the people who pledged and supported the idea, and I’m still sad that I had to abandon the project. There’s nothing like a public failure to knock the wind out of you. However, instead of just quitting art altogether (How could I even fathom that!?), I started brainstorming new projects. After all this time, there’s little to show for it in the way of artwork, but I’m excited again to start putting pencil to paper and oil to canvas with the new ideas I have.
It seems only fitting, then, that I got a chance to show my entire series before moving ahead. I was recently asked to show my “little people” series in a solo show – my first one! Very exciting. The faculty at Laredo Community College in Laredo, Texas invited me to display drawings and paintings from my series in their beautiful gallery space at the Visual Arts Gallery inside their Visual and Performing Arts Center. The show is titled My Humble Existence. Here’s a write-up of the event.
Unfortunately, at this point, the month long show is only up til the 20th of February. When I returned to Charlottesville following the opening, I felt it was time to clean up my website, consolidate the online shop, and organize for future projects. I’m finally done with all that work, but I apologize for the late announcement to anyone who has followed me on this site.
Still, it was a fantastic show! I gave an artist talk about how I developed my concept, a drawing workshop demonstrating a technique using graphite and gouache, and a live TV interview with the local NBC station. I met some great people including young, curious art students. My work had been packed away for some time for the upcoming move back to Texas so it was quite an overwhelming relief and satisfying feeling to stand in the middle of the gallery, seeing years of work displayed on the walls for strangers to experience for the first time. All in all, I’m feeling good.
I still have some planning to do before I return to the workflow I had going before, but I’m looking forward to what’s next. Until then, enjoy the updated website and new shop page!
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to see some more tiny people. It’s been a year since I completed my last painting Undaunted Courage, and I’ve spent the time since working on my animal silhouette series. I’m happy with the way things are going, but I miss the figures, I really do.
So, how bout it? Wanna see me get back to people – the drawings and oil paintings? This week I launched my campaign to start a new oil series about literature. I figured since I ended on books, why not start back up with the same theme? Instead of painting random people, though, my new pieces will be focused on some of the most famous characters in all of literature.
There are really too many to count, and I hope I get to paint a lot of them. BUT, I need some help. I can’t get back to painting unless my funding goal is reached. That’s the great thing about Kickstarter.com. After you help out by pledging, you get something as a reward. There are different levels, from just a few dollars, up to high amounts that get you things like original artwork.
So, if you’ve enjoyed my artwork in the past and have the time and means to chip in, please do so. Like I said before, I can’t do this project unless I reach the goal. I’m ready to get my sketches going again and break out the turps and oils!
Here is my newest painting, two bears catching their dinner in a waterfall.
Since I moved to Virginia, I’ve been able to go hiking a handful of times. On one of those trips we almost stumbled across a brown bear. Some hikers in front of us had seen the bear walking across the street so we all grouped together, waited a few minutes, then cautiously continued on the path. I have plenty of respect for this large animal.
I received a request from an old friend to paint longhorns so that’s exactly what I did. My Alma mater, the University of Texas, instilled quite a bit of pride for me within these calm animals. I’m not a cowboy, and I never rode horses to school, but I did see this scene all the time growing up in Texas – sans the tornado of course. Everywhere we drove there were flat fields with either cows, goats, horses, or some other kind of four legged animal. And although tornadoes were a constant threat, I never saw one in person. Burnt orange Texas Longhorns – Hook ‘em!
This is the second dog I’ve painted in my animal series. Pugs, like dachshunds, have a pretty hardcore following. This one, in particular, was inspired by a little guy named Hubert. However, as I found out later, his personality is the opposite of what I’ve shown – tidy and organized. I continue to find myself learning a lot about each animal that I paint.