Sunday, January 23, 2011

School Visits Galore!

I have done lots of school visits and they remain one of the most fun parts of my job. This week I will be doing a bunch. What a fun job I have.

Mountain View library with my PT crew.


 Beaten by a ten year old in a blindfold. Really. Really. Humiliating. Except for the fact that he is going to be the next grand master from NYC.
I am so impressed by him that I am gonna offer up the video:

 Brooklyn can you hear me?

 Young queens. Young kings. Young  bishops. 

 Meeting fun people along the way... MY man, Greg, THE man, Melvin Van Peeples, and, the Queen of the HueMan Bookstore in Harlem, Marva Allen.

 Chess on the floor of the gym. St. Louis has game but Jesse holds his own. Tomorrow? No guarantees.

 Chess Rumble under the Arch

High school writers in Leavenworth
Session at the SCBWI Conference in LA

 Signing with Lin Oliver, Royal Empress of Children's Literature, and Henry Winkler, Knight of the Silver Screen, the real-life Hank Zipzer, and we must never forget, Barry Zuckerkorn, the greatest lawyer in the history of human existence.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Scholastic Magazine article on Hope for Haiti

Follow the link to the recent story in Scholastic Magazine, written by the articulate Kaj Lund Olsen, son of Deb Lund, author extraordinaire, and brother of the models I used in the book.

Check out the story here.

Monday, January 03, 2011

New Portraits

What makes a portrait special? I am learning. When I first began I thought it was making look as much like the person as I could. Now, at the end, young Skywalker... oh, sorry. Brain tangent. But now, my ideas have changed quite a lot. What are the most treasured portraits in global history? Well many barely look enough like the subject to warrant a D+ in art school. And yet... By some stroke of the artist's brush, wave of the wizard's wand, we use the ancient magic and capture their ______ (Souls? Spirits? Memory?) upon a piece of canvas. Well past the lifespan of the subject, their portrait will live on. A form of eternity. 

I have spent 80% of my life pursuing artistic knowledge, impassioned with the creative drive. But only recently have I begun to learn the lesson that unravels the decades of study. I realize now that it is the portrait artist's job to give as much energy getting everything else about the painting as much attention as the likeness. For, if all you really need is a likeness, grab an effing camera, for crying out loud. This portrait is about much more than simple likeness.

Well, enough yammering.

Here's some art. There are my recent portraits. 



Tyler. Acrylic on KAPAbloc.

Ty and Phoebes. Acrylic on canvas.

Greg Neri. Ink and Acrylic on KAPAbloc.

Bradens. Acrylic on Canvas.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Loving my paintings and why I don't feel guilty.

I have been up to my ears in paint lately. The constrictions of illustration bottle up so much pressure that when all the other jobs are finished, I EXPLODE into a million pieces of light.

With the body of work I am creating right now, there seems to be cycles of discovery and finesse, and freedom. Unlike illustration, where the narrative of the story is king, these pieces can ebb and flow right out of the studio if they need to.

Ink. Acrylic. Canvas, or board, or panel, or plastic, or anything I can get my hands on mid-frenzy. (I considered the fridge doors but knew I would scare the wife.)

As I work with ink, I let the imagery out onto the canvas easily, knowing I am completely safe. If I screw up, pshhht. Who cares? I can go in with acrylics and chisel away the ink blobs until they are gorgeous representations of whatever they need to be. In fact, when I bring the canvas from ink (after it dries) over to my acrylics, I get the rare and beautiful treat of discovery. As I cut in to the territory of the ink, I am not in complete control. I, like a paleontologist or sculptor, get to find out what it is that is beneath the surface. The initial ink is only a suggestion, but often, and most rewardingly, once I begin to see into the true self of the painting to be, I get to explore a direction never intended.

I am basking in freedom.

I am basking in beauty.

I get to be stoked at how gorgeous they are. I don't have to temper my appreciation of my work because of not wanting to come off like those annoying artists who bleed on and on about their own work at openings. I mean, I know how hard I have worked to get to where I am now as an artist. I am not trying to be falsely humble or anything like that. I just normally don't have any desire to spend much time appreciating my work. I just do it and move on to the next. But this stuff... I am falling in love with it. It makes me feel amazing to be around it and just stare at it. It feeds me somehow.

I get to celebrate this work because it seems to have little to do with my skills or abilities. I am using fairly crude techniques to unearth brilliant visions. What I am celebrating is the healing power of art.

I can get used to this.

(Oh, and I realize the irony of this post, having posted no images of the work. Well... Maybe later.)