As my artist's statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance. -- Calvin and Hobbes

Saturday, July 18, 2009

In the Hood, and other iterations

This Anthropomorph is a fox terrier, named Romeo. He makes his home with 2 parents and 4 little children. Here, he goes into Sherwood Forest. I've been doing quite of a bit of character art for custom portraits lately, and I really enjoy it! It appeals to the silly little girl who seems to occupy quite a bit of my personality. I did another for this awesome client, the Word-Slinger. I just seems like this little dog has a good imagination. I merely brought it out of him!

Speaking of iterations, I could probably blog all day. If I don't quite know what I'm going to write, I start, then walk away for a while, eventually going back and adding more. But, putting on some music usually gets me into the right frame of mind, to write or paint!

Have you ever noticed how impactful music is on your creativity? I like show tunes, jazz, blues, alternative, and even metal. Recently, I was watching a Megadeth concert on TV, and despite thinking I would not really be interested, I watched anyway. It didn't take long before I realized how really complicated that stuff is. So much so, that I have a new appreciation for it, and I felt really creative that night. I guess you never know what will work for you.

I tell you what doesn't usually work for me. Depressing music. Can't listen to a lot of estrogen bands, female songwriters, although very talented and expertly performed, tend to use an awful lot of emotion in their music, making it kind of depressing. I can only listen for so long before I'm ready to find some chemical alteration. There is one very emotional band, though, the Cocteau Twins, who seem to inspire me in a very deep way, although I've never tried to paint while listening to them.

There are some bands, that no matter how much I listen to them, I don't seem to tire of the music. Number one for me seems to be Dave Mathews Band. I don't know what it is, but I always feel uplifted when listening them them, especially my favorite song, "2 Step".

I also love Queen. I don't think I need to go into why, but you definitely feel empowered! It's very relaxing to listen to Queen while I'm working in a client's home, I get this cadence going, and my hand and the brush really flow! Also a favorite of my friend Michel Nadai, the French Master painter who mentored me in trompe l'oeil.

And if you want to be inspired, how about KT Tunstall, "Suddenly I see" --this is what I want to be!

Many others inspire me to paint in different ways but are nonetheless not saddening (to me). Try these if you a painter: Pink Floyd, Mark Knopfler, Jimmy Buffet, Showtunes, like Phantom of the Opera. Cable even has a showtunes channel. A couple of songs by Blues Traveler also get me going, and I love them for road music, too! A few more that are crazy, fun and mellow: Cake, Beck, The Ramones, and Van Morrison!

This morning, I was excited to play a couple of new CDs given to me by a friend; Marlene Dietrich and Edith Piaf! I absolutely love that old music. Like a cafe/coffee house!
The funniest thing happened with Marlene Dietrich: I found myself imagining I was Madeleine Kahn in Blazing Saddles, loathing across the stage in the most hilarious fashion, singing to the boys, "I'm zo ty-ud, ty-ud of pwaying ze game..."

Try some of these different styles and see what affects you in a creative way, gets you singing along, and lifts you up.

I'd like to hear what makes your paint brush steamy!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pinups from a pinup!

I thought I would step out of the spotlight a little this week, because I'm getting squint wrinkles, and I think I may need a new prescription for sunglasses.

This month, some others and I want to spread the word about our favorite online venue, Artfire, and the great artists within it's virtual walls! Writing about other artists is an easy thing to do, since I am continually in awe of the remarkable talent out there. So today, I'm writing about my very talented friend and prolific portrait artist, Christy DeKoning.

Christy is an Aussie, transplanted to Canada. I am sure I would be charmed by her accent, one I can only imagine as we are net buddies. (I don't know if She knows that Americans are particularly taken by an Australians.)

She has a way, you might have noticed, of capturing the personality of her subjects, and she has captivated quite an audience worldwide for this special ability. Let me tell you, I'm speechless! (ok, I must go on)

I've been following Christy for a couple of years now, since we met on eBay. Her popularity has been growing at a remarkable pace, as I've witnessed by visiting her various selling venues..

These pinups are her newest mini obsession. She does work in all sizes, but quite a bit of her work is in miniatures, and these dainty gals are ACEOs, which means they are 2.5"x3'5", small enough that you don't really have an excuse not to pounce on them; they'll fit anywhere! Try a really large matt..that's 'hyper' cool (pronounced 'ee-pair) to show off little bits o' bliss!

Try sending her your own photo; a cat, a kid, a car, whatever, and she will capture the sweetest essence in that, too. Custom portraits in watercolor is her specialty, but her brush is certainly only one weapon in the arsenal which compliments this amazing talent. She's a singer, dancer and musician, too! Some people get it all! (we have so much in common)

I wanted to interview Christy the old fashioned way; a quiet, inconspicuous lunch. So, I booked a table right in the middle of the room at New York's Famous Tavern on the Green, next to Dennis Hopper and Martin Scorsese. Christy couldn't make it, something about Paris. So, I took the web approach and that worked for her. Here's what she had to say about Art, life and Artfire.

R: Christy, it's so great to be able to get in your head! Thanks for letting me interview you. First off, what role does your art play in your life?
Christy: Art is a vital part of my personality - I wouldn't be "me" without it. I was always happiest as a child with a new pad of paper and fresh sharp pencils, and I still feel the same rush almost 40 years later when I walk into an art supply store and see all the goodies. Although I started drawing portraits at a very early age, I never considered it as a valid career choice until recently.

R: So, how did you get started then?
Christy: My art career started in the Performing Arts as a classical ballet dancer in Australia. When I moved to Canada I studied Makeup Artistry at the Blanche MacDonald School of Design in Vancouver. While working as a makeup artist I also played guitar & sang on the Vancouver music scene during the '90s. It wasn't until I moved to Ontario in 1999 that I finally concentrated my career in Fine Arts as a portrait artist. I've completed over 300 commissioned portraits worldwide since then and I learn something new with each new painting - that's what keeps it fresh and exciting for me.
R: Dang, you are good!

R: So, you live in Chatham, Ontario. What's that like?
Christy: It's in an area of Canada that is named after Kent County, England - we even have a Thames River. It's nestled between two Great Lakes - Erie and Huron - so the weather gets very hot and humid in the summer, but at least the beach isn't too far away.
R: You told me your favorite supplier of paint is Daniel Smith. You know I'm from Seattle, you're not trying to butter me up, are you?
Christy: Never! They make the most beautiful watercolor paint, and their prices are great!

R: You run the gamut in the talent field. Is there some artform you haven't tackled that you fancy?
Christy: Glassblowing. I love colored glass, and it is such fun to paint with watercolor, but I'd love to learn how to do it myself. My husband isn't quite ready to surrender his garage to me for a furnace, so this might be a long-term goal.
R: Well, a man has to have his cave, and you probably already own the rest of the house!

R: So, since this article is in support of the new bad ass selling venue, Artfire, tell me what are your goals with your ArtFire studio?
Christy: To help promote it and the ArtFire community so that it becomes THE place to shop for handmade. I've been promoting ArtFire to my regular clients by offering new art exclusively on ArtFire first for a few days before I list it on Etsy. That way they'll know that the "hot" shop is ArtFire.
R: That's a great way to promote the site. I do look there first to see your work, which always blows me away, btw. I guess it's working!

R: It's funny how the inspiration for our art comes to us. Where do you receive yours, in general?
Christy: Sunlight. Or to be more precise, shadows cast in the sunlight. I know that sounds funny but whenever I'm out in the sun, I get distracted by the play of light on objects, especially faces, and that inspires me to paint.
R: It really shows in your work! The shadows really bring your portraits to life!

Q: I just have to ask, since I'm also on Artfire, who are your favorite ArtFire artists?
Christy: Smellyrhinostudio, KarenFaulkner, AmyLilleyDesigns, IBreak4Glass, AndyFee and Aquariann.
R: Good answer!

R: What is the best piece of advice you can give other artists?
Christy: Practice daily; Market yourself wisely; Don't take rejection to heart
R: I can't imagine you get much rejection, but I'm glad you can shake it off. Good advice, since I usually hire a hitman.

R: If you won a thousand dollar craft shopping spree, what would you buy?
Christy: Earrings. LOADS of earrings! Art from my favorite sellers; a new tea cozy.
R: I hope your husband is reading this.

R: If you had the opportunity to do something you always wished you could do, what would it be?
Christy: I would be commissioned to paint Johnny Depp. That would pretty much complete me (to borrow from Children of a Lesser God)
R: Maybe Johnny will commission a painting! I'll get on the phone as soon as I'm done here.

R: Why do children want to be astronauts? How do think you could apply this to your career?
Christy: What on earth does that have to do with the price of bread? I don't know why children want to do half the things they do, but if I had to apply it to my career i guess it would be as a great big band aid.
R: Wow, that's really profound. I think what you're saying is cover up the boo boo and never look back!

R: What do you do with bad art?
Christy: Usually I turn it over and use it for testing watercolor glazes and mixes. Sometimes I'll use bits and pieces to make ACEO cards (I used a scrap of "cloud" to create my Canadian Landscapes ACEO series, for example). Occasionally I'll amuse myself by listing it for sale, because what I consider a dismal embarrassment is sometimes just what another art collector is looking for.

Q: What food or beverage makes you really creative?
Consumables don't really inspire me, although that said I can't paint without a cup of Orange Pekoe Tea within easy reach. Music is more important to me: right now I've been listening to a lot of Lily Allen and the creative juices have been flowing as fast as her foul language. I love it.
R: Isn't it amazing how music stimulates the creative flow?!

R: Does art have to make sense?
Christy: I really hope not. Certainly a lot of my work is realism-based, but the wonderful part about Art not having any sensibilities is that I can use any color I want to represent an idea. It's my bold use of color in portraits that appeals to my client base, so let's hope that I remain totally insensible.

Christy lives with her husband, two sons, two cats and a backyard full of squirrels (but no mice!).

Christy's art is in collections all over the world, and her ACEO work has been featured in ACEO Magazine. You can also view Christy's work at ArtFire, Flikr, Boundless Gallery and IndiePublic!

For more information on Christy, visit her blog at

Hope you enjoyed my visit with Christy!
Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Interpretation of a word...

Well, I suppose it's a good thing that I don't write dictionaries for a living. You see, in August, you will be able to go to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Int'l Airport to see a cool and unusual exhibit.

The Canvas Project 2 is a massive visual dictionary of canvases. Thousands of artists received 5 canvases and 5 words to interpret, to add to the 10,000 canvas goal! Each canvas represents one word. Here's my interpretations...

The first word: Sidecar.
When vacationing in Roswell, it's important to blend in. You know, like one of those fanatical Roswell groupies, who happens to be very proficient with custom automotive work!

You can order a custom helmet with deely bobber antennae! Make sure to get a vanity plate, too, for the memory.

The sidecar is just about big enough to double as tent and has airconditioning, microwave and mobile satellite computer and TV. Let the Hulu mania begin.

#2: "Beagle"
My dog Peanut, a mutt, was named in honor of Charles Schultz, one of my favorite childhood inspirations.

When I saw that I had the word Beagle, I knew I would have to pay homage in some way again, but this time, to Snoopy!

This little beagle puppy is in training to be a flying ace, and can barely hold on to his dog house.

I would have made the eyes even bigger, but they are pathetic enough as it is!

Number 3: "Resize"
I guess it's obvious where the resizing has taken place but there could have been a little work done in other places!

Painting cleavage was hard...I had to repaint it numerous times. I didn't want to stand in front of the mirror to paint my own, since I needed to have free hands, and they would have been busy lifting and smooshing something together.

So, I started off to get some inspiration and googled 'cleavage'. UM, that's when I found lots and lots and (lots) of porn. Realizing that finding a still shot of desirable cleavage might be difficult, I hit the back button and, after considerable thought of who had a good line to paint, I googled 'Pam Andersen'.

This cleavage is hers, more or less. So, if you're wondering what a hausfrau costume might look like on Ms. Andersen, this might help..(I know this will be Bill's favorite.)

#4: "Idolize"
Since Michael Jackson died this week, it suddenly occurred to me, "It's good thing I procrastinated with this project long enough to get a subject! I had been wracking my brain trying to think of an interpretation for 2 months, when suddenly, one!

I know in the last 10 years or so, he's been VERY strange, and there was that little thing about being a pedophile.

But before all that, there was the 80's! He was a huge influence on music and he changed the industry and took performing to another level (and temporarily boosted Pepsi sales). He was over the top, but the hair on fire was completely unnecessary, I thought.

Whatever! you might say! But without MJ, the movie "The wedding Singer" just wouldn't be as funny.

Ponder that!

#5: Beatnik...I know, potentially the coolest word to get. Well, I didn't finished this one in time to postmark it today...I will get it done soon. Maybe I'm waiting for inspiration. I hope the project doesn't end up with 9,999 canvases. :)

Things to Ponder

Don't pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches. -Andy Warhol

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
-Walt Disney
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