Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lotsa This'n'That

The title of this post pretty much sums up my life in the week since the Star Wars mural was completed. I've had to mow the yard (twice), get some plumbing work done, take the car in for minor maintenance (twice), do various clean-up/fix-up projects around the house, take the dogs to the vet, and a variety of other things, some of which I'll talk about here. Most of this is the minor nitnoid stuff of daily life. I've been in the studio for a grand total of about 15 minutes. But that's the way life goes.

One of the things I had to do was a little publicity work. As a self-employed artist, I need to keep putting my name out there and let people know what I'm doing. Tooting my own horn is not my favorite activity, but like mowing the yard, it's gotta get done. So with the mural completed, I had to post notices on Facebook and LinkedIn, then on this blog, then on my web site, and finally (yesterday) in my semi-irregular studio newsletter. All of these forums seem to have very different audiences with only a little overlap. So if you've read about the mural in several places now, sorry; but my monthly publicity blitz is over and you won't have to endure it any more.

Late last week, I learned about a British street artist who's been causing a bit of a stir in the art world for a few years. He's known as Banksy, a nom-de-guerre since much of his work is considered graffiti.I found Banksy to have a sharp sense of social commentary, brilliant wit, and a very well-developed technical style. If you've never seen his work, take a look at his web site or do a Google/Bing search for his images.

On Saturday, I took a workshop on building stretcher frames and stretching canvas. Sounds exciting, huh? It's the kind of thing that only a small minority of painters would love. But I enjoyed it. I am always trying to improve my professional skills, and while my stretchers and canvases fall into the "pretty good" category, I wanted to get them to the "full professional" level. The instructor was Frank Lombardo, a painter who works out of the Marshall High studios near here. Frank is a talented and skilled artist who graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art and subsequently studied in Florence and also with the painter Odd Nerdrum. Frank knows his stuff and I came away from the workshop with a whole new approach to building my canvases.

Janis and I have watched a few movies this week. One was Green Zone, in which Matt Damon plays an Army warrant officer in Baghdad in 2003. Think of it as Jason Bourne in Baghdad - it's about as exciting (very) and about as realistic (NOT!) as the Bourne series of movies. However, some of the settings were extremely well done, particularly the scenes in and around the Republican Palace. It was almost as if they filmed it right there. We also watched Men In Black again; it was just as funny this time as it was so many years ago. And we tried to watch Whip It, a young girl's coming-of-age-with-a-Roller-Derby-team story, but it was pretty boring and we bailed out about halfway through.

Today we're doing the final preparations for a family visit. My sister and niece will be here for a few days. I haven't seen them in over two years and it's been even longer since Janis has. We're very excited about their visit. We've got a couple of things in mind for them and will be busy for the next few days. One of the fun things about family visits is that we get to play tour guide and see a lot of the sights that we don't normally see. You know how it is: when you live near something really neat, like the Biltmore House, you think "oh, I can see that any time" and consequently you never go. So we'll be tourists for a few days and then it'll be back to normal. I gotta hit the studio sometime!

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