Friday, August 09, 2019

Summer 2019

August 9, 2019

Watercolor paintings and sketches are some of my favorite ways to practice art. This spring and summer I've been busy doing just that. The drawings below are a selection of some of the work in my sketchbooks. I've been trying hard to sketch and paint a little more loosely. I think when I tighten up my work, it never really achieves the level of photorealism, because deep down I think that you might as well just take a picture.

To get good sketches, I like to get out and about. Traveling the back roads and urban side streets can provide subject matter. I like barns, especially old barns, so I sketch and paint them. Here are a few of my recent sketches.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Looking Back At 2018

December 23, 2018

The year will end in just a few more days, and like most years as I get older, it passed too quickly. This year my son began his final year of middle school, my Dad got cancer, I started a new job, discovered the joy of motorcycling with my wife and I took an extended break from YouTube. Okay, so a lot more happened this past year, the most significant being my fathers illness. He's receiving treatment and doing better now and my family is very thankful for that.

When someone close to you becomes ill, you start to gain a certain perspective about life, mortality and how you want to spend your time.

Most significant for those of you who follow my YouTube channel is my long absence. I had to give it up for a while. It was taking over my life, demanding more and more effort and there are so many other new YouTube channels doing Art Supply reviews. With all the demands of family and work, I just lost my motivation for the day-in, day-out grind of producing videos.

Like any other platform that provides content, there's the good, bad and the ugly.

I desperately need to reinvent my channel, but I guess I really don't know how to do that. I enjoyed giving straightforward, honest reviews of art materials. I was never in it for the money so that's not a motivator for me. I was never in it to become a YouTube, "celebrity", whatever that is. So when the joy left it, I just lost interest. The joy hasn't come back...yet.

Despite my lack of investment in YouTube, I have had some time to sketch. Here is some of my latest work from my sketchbook.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

The Road Less Traveled

August 8, 2018

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference." ~ Robert Frost

Sometimes in life it's a good idea to take a left turn on a dirt road. This summer has passed by quickly and I often need to remind myself to take those dusty roads, both physically and metaphorically.

This summer, the roads have taken me many places, mostly beautiful, but always interesting.

When you travel by motorcycle you experience things that you can never experience in a car or train or plane. On a bike, you feel the road and the wind and you smell the fresh cut grass, raw pine and pastures.

On my motorcycle I am always keenly aware of my surroundings, both for necessity and because I want to see everything. An Artist is almost always interested in the subtleties and details of things. Artists notice the shapes of clouds and the shadows on a face. They notice the nuanced tones of brick brick building or wooden table or piece of fruit.

Artists notice colors and wonder if they can capture it with a paint. They wonder if colors are complimentary or if the composition of what they are looking at would make any sense on a canvas.

When I'm on my bike I look for places and things to draw and paint. For me, the combination of motorcycling and art is as close to nirvana as one can get, legally.

This summer I've ridden many miles, sometimes to paint and sketch and sometimes for the sheer joy of riding. Most of the time I ride with my companion and best friend, my wife. She enjoys riding as much as I do and we find that our time together on the bikes (she has her own), is some of the best time we can spend as a couple.
We've taken rides across Minnesota and Wisconsin, into the woods and bluff country, to the open prairies and winding forest roads. None of our rides have been anything less than awesome. We always found something we hadn't expected.

So this summer has been spent working hard at my job, with many long hours. When I'm free from work though, we get on our bikes and ride. On the other days, I sketch and paint with friends and do the many things that life requires of us.

Here are some of the artifacts of my adventures.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

I Schedule Away My Blockers

May 31, 2018

"One must from time to time attempt things that are beyond one's capacity."
                                                                         ~ Auguste Renoir

On the days when I am stuck, when I can't muster the will to draw, I think about drawing. It hangs around the edges of my thoughts. It is constantly with me, a reminder that I could be, should be drawing. And then the weekend comes and I can draw again. I sketch on Saturday mornings with a group of other Artists. Then Sunday comes around and I go to the Art Academy in Saint Paul. And I draw and paint figures for two hours.

I break through my blocks by employing an old technique called scheduling intentionality When I have a schedule, it is intentional. When I am intentional, I force myself to do something, to experience something. Eventually, it becomes a habit. 
This habit may not improve my drawing or painting, but I know absolutely that if I do nothing, my drawing and painting will never improve. This is why I go every week and keep my schedule. I've discovered that the drawings do become marginally better over time. It's like muscle training or conditioning. Some of the strokes, movements and line work become second nature. Instinctually, I can draw features better over time.

There are no magical secrets or short cuts to drawing and painting like a master. It takes hard work and practice. It takes an open-mindedness and willingness to look your mistakes in the eye and accept them. The secret to becoming a great Artist, is hard work. Since I want to become a good Artist, I practice.

These drawings represent some of the work I do at the Art Academy. Sketching figures that pose for a minute, up to 30 minutes. It forces you to practice, and to learn how to judge proportions and angles. 

An art teacher once told me, "If you want to get better at drawing, draw".

Monday, April 30, 2018


April 30, 2018

Springtime has finally arrived here in Minnesota. It's late this year, and about a week and a half ago Old Man Winter through a tantrum, in the form of a blizzard. He dumped 18 inches of snow on us in a 24 hour period and let everyone know, he was pretty pissed about leaving.

The extra-long winter means we will have to make the best out of the next 5 months. Yes, it's been know to snow here in late September. Until that time, we go outside. We go for walks. We ride bikes. We drive with the windows open. We smile more and we say, "hello" to each other.

For a few glorious months we all step in unison, into the warm air and bright sunshine. In these precious days, when the sun shines longer and the birds are singing, we rejoice together, outside.

The change in weather imbues a certain appreciation for each of the seasons. The all have something special and beautiful to offer. Our winters put up a good fight though, and just like this year, the can last a month or two longer than you want them to.

As we step out into the light of day and awaken from our hibernation, we Artists want to create. We are seeing things that we haven't seen for many months, like green grass, budding trees and other people. It's time to get out and do ART. This past weekend we ventured forth with the Twin Cities Metro Sketcher's group. These are some of the pictures.

I'll be posting a video on my YouTube channel soon which will feature some clips from this event.