Friday, December 31, 2021

End of the Year Review

 Well, if you're reading this, you and I managed to survive 2021.  Don't know about you, but I'm more or less intact.  It wasn't all that bad of a year, frankly.  I've had worse.  All four years of the Trump presidency, for example.  

I have several things I do to keep myself busy.  I'm an artist doing both commissioned paintings as well as my own stuff.  I manage the art gallery for Mars Hill University.  And I write proposals for firms seeking federal contracts.  Quick recaps, starting with the last:

This was not a busy year in the proposal-writing field.  It started with a big effort for a company I've worked with off and on, in several different roles, for over ten years.  We submitted an outstanding proposal that I'm proud to have been a part of.  Of course, it's now hung up in protests that may or may not be resolved in the next six months.  Since then, this line of work has been very quiet.  I've done a few very small proposals, some of which have been successful, but it has not taken a significant bit of my time.

The university's art gallery has continued to be a fun sideline.  We've had several really great exhibitions this year.  Covid has meant that we can't have receptions, which is annoying, but the quality of the shows was generally high.  I had an unfortunate experience with one artist who cancelled out of her show TWO DAYS before we were supposed to hang it.  Long story there, but frankly, I was relieved, and we had somebody else who stepped up and mounted a good show in her place.  Right now, I'm planning the schedule for the 2022-23 school year.  I'm watching out for any of the red flags that our problem child this year showed.

The studio has been my primary source of activity this year.  I completed 24 oil paintings, of which nine were weddings, one was another commission, and 14 were my own works.  Some of those were done for an upcoming exhibition, some were experiments, and I have no idea where a few of them came from.  I also did nine charcoal and pastel figurative works, of which two were commissioned portraits.  I really enjoy working in charcoal and pastel, but spent more time in oils this year.  

Speaking of charcoal and pastel figurative works, I have some of them in an art gallery now.  The Mars Landing Galleries is a brand-new fine art gallery here in Mars Hill.  The owner, Miryam Rojas, has created a really good gallery with a lot of very strong work, despite including my pieces.  I'm really happy to be included in this stable of great artists.

One thing I have not been able to do is re-start my life drawing sessions.  I was considering it a couple of times, but both times the covid infection rate suddenly shot up.  No sense taking chances.  

Just over the last few weeks, I've been playing around with photography.  I came across a photographer working in black and white who does really stunning figurative work.  My studio computer has thousands of reference photos taken from model sessions, weddings, landscapes, and lots of other subjects.  So I've been searching through them for those that have some kind of potential, stripping the color out, cropping, and playing with the lighting.  It has been a lot of fun and I've gotten some cool images.  Here's one:

So what's up for the new year?  Well, the wedding painting business is still going strong.  I'm fully booked for 2022 with nine commissions.  The first one is tomorrow: a New Year's Day event at the Biltmore.  It's very small, the ceremony will be outside, and I am not going to be at the reception, so it looks pretty safe.  The next wedding will be in May.  Fingers crossed, covid won't be as rampant as now.  

I have a solo exhibition set for August at the Pink Dog in Asheville.  The theme of the show is a cautionary tale of what might be in our future if we don't get our collective acts together politically, economically, ecologically, and socially.  Yeah, it's a bit of a "Debbie Downer" topic, but so what.  

So at the end of a pretty stressful year, I'm happy to still be here and ready for whatever comes next.  I hope you are, too.

Sunday, December 05, 2021

End of the 2021 Wedding Season

 My 2021 wedding season is over.  I've finished three paintings in the past few weeks.  Two have been delivered and the third will go out tomorrow. They weren't finished in the order started, though, due to one start-over and one paint-drying issue.  So here they are in the order started.

A couple of posts ago, I showed an image of a blank canvas.  This was a painting that I started at the event and then scrubbed out the next day in the studio.  That happens occasionally.  So here's how the painting eventually turned out (click on the images to see a larger version):

The couple wanted their first dance and their dogs.  This was a Biltmore wedding and reception, so they were under a huge clear tent.  When I started this one over, I flipped it to a vertical orientation, stripped the tent architecture down to something more visually attractive, eliminated all the distracting furniture and people, and brought in their three dogs.  This turned out very different from most of my paintings.  It was delivered to them last week.

The second painting was one started at The Ridge, which is in the mountains northwest of Asheville.  Heck, it's northwest of Marshall, so it's way out there.  This couple was more specific: they wanted the first dance, with the doors open, looking out at the mountains, under the chandelier.  This one felt good, right from the beginning.  As with the Biltmore painting, I simplified the room's architecture to keep the attention focused on the couple and the things that were important to them.  

Oil paints dry at different rates.  Some, like burnt umber, dry overnight.  Whites are the worst and that was the case here: some of the whites took way over a week to get dry to the touch.  This is the painting that's going out tomorrow.

The final painting of the year was started at the Asheville Country Club.  I'd never been there before and it turned out to be a really nice venue.  On the other hand, I have created a painting for the bride before.  She's a real joy to work with: enthusiastic, great sense of humor, and knows what she wants.  In this case, she wanted the first dance, both families, the fall colors seen through the windows, and the chandelier and twinkle lights.  

This was another painting that was working right from the get-go.  Things fell into place quickly and I was very happy with it by the end of the night.  There was a guest table right next to me and it turns out that one of the ladies was taking and posting photos of the painting development the whole evening.  Before he left, one of the guys said "we had the best seats in the house!".  Love getting comments like that.  This couple came to the studio yesterday to pick up their painting.  I was going to get a photo of them but we got to talking and I totally forgot.

So now there's a break before the next wedding painting.  I'll be working on some paintings for an exhibition at Pink Dog Creative in Asheville in a few months.  I've got a lot of work to do!