Sunday, December 20, 2015


I try to stay away from politics on here.  This morning, though, a friend sent me a note about last night's political debate.  Here's what I replied:

I can't bring myself to watch these debates.  I'm for Bernie - he's consistently been discussing things that I think are important, and in ways that I think need to be said.  And he's not named Clinton.  Hillary's a political machine and O'Malley is in the peanut gallery.  But the Democrats, at least, are having civil discussions about substantive issues, which is more than can be said for the ongoing train wreck that is the Republican party.  

The Republican party is just destroying itself.  While that's good for Democrats, it's bad for the country.  We need responsible, civil discussion about the issues, with creative ideas, from the conservatives.  I know that there are some smart people with good ideas in the Republican party, but they're being run over by the lunatics.  Maybe the party needs to split in two, with the Tea Party wing in one and the moderates in another.  That would diminish Republican chances for winning national elections in the short term but would marginalize the freaks and provide a way forward for those who think governing is more important than posturing.

To me, it's pretty clear: the Democrats will nominate Hillary and she'll beat the pants off whichever fringe candidate is sent up by the Republicans.  The Senate might go back to the Dems while the House will stay Republican.  Hillary will prove to be a reasonably competent President but will be viciously hated by the right wing, so much so that the anti-Obama hate speech of the past seven years will seem like a kumbaya sing-along.  And their hatred might prevent them from coming up with a viable candidate to run against Hillary in 2020.  

The legacy:
Eight years of half the country hating Bill Clinton ...
Eight years of half the country hating George Bush ...
Eight years of half the country hating Barack Obama ...
Four to eight years of half the country hating Hillary Clinton.

I'm tired of all this hate.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Looking Ahead

The end of the year is one of the times when I take stock of where I am, where I want to go, and how to get there.  (The other times are the other 364 days of the year ...).  As we approach the end of 2015, I've been thinking about the balance in my life between the studio, my consulting business, and responsibilities around the family and home.  Now I don't see my family and home responsibilities changing, so any re-balancing will have to come between the studio and consulting business.  And what I'm looking at doing is taking time away from the consulting biz and spending it in on studio business instead.

This is a kinda big deal.  My consulting business has been doing pretty well for the past three years.  I've got a few clients that have routed a good bit of work to me.  It's been fairly lucrative and has paid for my studio activities.  The cost, though, has been in the lack of studio time.  I've written about this before - it's the primary reason the painting Cinderella's Seamstress took six months to complete, for example.  This lack of time, and lack of day-to-day continuity, has resulted in a scattershot approach to studio activities.  The balance has been good financially but less than productive creatively.

Changing circumstances are making this a time to reconsider that balance.  Looking ahead, I see that changes at one of my clients means that I'm not going to be doing nearly as much work for them.  So I will have to do a lot of marketing and outreach in order to develop new clients to keep the same income level.  My heart's not really into doing that.  I enjoy the work - it's interesting, challenging, and always something different - but it's not my calling.  Meanwhile, the economy in general is picking up and many artists I know are seeing increases in sales, teaching, and related activities.  If I have to do a lot of marketing and outreach anyway, I'd rather do it for my studio business.

To that end, I've been doing a bit of work already.  My online presence is growing.  I've had an Etsy gallery for a while that features drawings and other small works.  Recently I added a gallery on Saatchi Art.  This one has larger paintings.  I've added a sales section on my website that has both artworks and workshops.  And I've established a presence on Instagram (search for @skiprohde).  In addition, I've reanimated my newsletters and my life drawing sessions.  

Going forward, I'm looking to do more art workshops.  My first is scheduled for January 9 & 10.  This is a portrait drawing class that will be held in my studio.  Details about the class are on my website and you can sign up there as well.  I plan on doing many more throughout the year, with a goal of at least one per month.  They'll cover a variety of topics.  I don't know what they are yet as that will depend on what people tell me they want to learn.  What would you want to cover in an art workshop?

I've got other goals for the new year as well: more juried, solo, and group shows as well as more gallery representation.  It's ambitious.  I'll be the first to tell you that I'm not very good at marketing, but I have to get better at it, one way or another, so that's where I'm headed.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Figure Studies and Re-Working

I've been working on some figure studies lately.  They've started in the life drawing and painting sessions that I'm holding in my studio.  This one was a straightforward exercise at first:

This is actually just a detail of the initial night's work - I'm not showing the parts I messed up!  Subsequently, we had the model come in for another couple of hours and I was able to make some improvements on the figure.  After that session was over, I started making some other changes as well.  I'll post the completed painting when it's done.

Last week, we had a new model, James.  He has a very interesting face, so I did a portrait of him:

Oil on panel, 16"x12"

This was largely completed in one 2-hour session.  I came back to it the next day to make a couple of very minor corrections and sign it.  I'm really happy with the way it turned out.

One other project that was on my easel this past week was reworking an old painting from my political satire series.  I did it ten years ago as a comment on the immigration debate.  With all the current flap regarding Donald Trump and his infamous wall ("a beautiful wall ... it'll be huuuuuuge"), my old painting needed just a few tweaks to make it current again.  So I pulled it out and started painting.  And then I stopped.  Why?  Well, to do good satire, I have to get really angry and then stay in that angry stage.  I was certainly angry, but I really don't enjoy it.  Also, the end result is very time-sensitive: wait a few weeks or months and the subject is overtaken by other flaps (scandal, another shooting, the budget, you name it).  So all the anger and all the work that goes into a satirical painting is old news in a very short time.  Not worth it.  I've got better things to do.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Reality Is Stranger Than Fiction

Yes, we've all heard that reality is stranger than fiction.  It just hit home again today.  Ten years ago, I made "Pleasantville", a satirical painting about the American obsession with guns.  Here 'tis:

Most people understood that it was satire.  There were a few who didn't, though.  That always seems to happen with satire.

Today, though, I've been one-upped.  A GOP lawmaker in Nevada, Michele Fiore, posted her family's Christmas card on Facebook.  Here it is:

Yep, every one of them, except the infants, are toting some pretty serious hardware.  Even the 5-year-old in the middle.  Because nothing says "Christmas" quite like a high-powered arsenal.

Underneath the photo, she wrote: "It's up to Americans to protect America.  We're just you're ordinary American family."  Umm, no, Michele, you're not.

I posted this on both my personal and studio Facebook accounts a little while ago.  My personal account is only open to my friends, most of whom are pretty reasonable (there ARE exceptions!).  The studio account, though, is open to the public, and some of them have left very ... interesting ... remarks.  Take a look.