Monday, December 14, 2009

Xmas Party at the Gallery

Christmas and Hanukka and the holidays in general can be challenging times, and yet through it all bursts a golden seam of pure, joyful creativity. I'm not sure why this is, but perhaps it has to do with the recurring goal of making smallish items, affordable to folks that can't spend on big "real" paintings and artwork. There is a freedom and pleasure to such informal production!

Each year we make batches of ornaments to hang on the gallery tree, and they change from one year to the next. I'd like to think that this makes them wildly collectible, which of course only time will tell. This year Cosette and I decoupaged tapa motifs onto rectangles and squares, while other artists in the gallery decoupaged miniature prints of flowers, mermaids, rabbits, dogs, cats, and Frida Kahlo.

Here's Tuko's invitation for our party this Friday afternoon/evening.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Weekend in Kohala

Nikko attended a retreat with Rimpoche Anam Thubten, a young Tibetan teacher, up at the Starseed Ranch in Kohala. I went to the introductory talk at the library in Waimea, and even though I liked the Rimpoche a lot, I decided to use the weekend to paint the landscape up north. Since the ranch is very close to the end of the road, I set up my first canvas at the Pololu overlook which is the classic Kohala scene. Then the next day I did it again! I'm attaching some of the "in progress" photos for a look at the technique which I learned from Roger Montoya which is such a great method that I can't seem to find a better way to start a painting. To cut to the chase you just apply the paint right out of the tube before smearing it around with solvent. The trick is to pick out paints that will mix together to give you a mid-range tone from which you can remove highlights and add darker details with a minimum of fuss.

I hooked up with Mary Sky Schoolcraft, a plein air artist who has established a very successful new gallery in Hawi, the Living Arts
Collective. We spent the usual long period of stopping at various locations before finally settling on a view down at Keokea Beach Park. I painted the distant headlands which at first had a clear shot of Haleakala mountain on Maui in the far horizon.

The next morning we trundled down the coast to a spectacular cove called Kapanaia, which was formerly much harder to get to over badly rutted dirt roads. Now it's paved and graded and we could drive right to the overlook. In every direction was a splendid subject for a painting, so I decided on another vertical cross-section of a deep vista from the foreground water to the distant summit of the Kohala Mountains, with the gap of Pololu Valley slicing in from the left.

A big shout out to John and Prakash Flynn, my friends of decades, who own a beautiful, fantastic shop in Hawi called Elements. They were wonderful hosts to Nikko and me and a constant source of inspiration for the professional way they organize and run their gallery.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October News: New Artists!

Our jewelry cabinet is glittering with treasure these days, with two amazingly talented young women displaying their masterpieces that must be seen to be believed. Dawn Wallace-Gadd comes from a family of very successful and gifted artists, and we are lucky to have her work in the gallery. Amy Flanders studied with Dawn's parents, and her jewelry is similarly astonishing in its rich variety of ideas and precious materials.

Rick Ryken is now showing some of his paintings in the back room and over the front entrance. He started painting a few years ago, studying with Steve Irvine and David Hubbard, whose influences can be seen in his exuberant colors and wild paint treatment. Rick has retail experience from owning a gallery in Alaska, and so it will be good to have his energy and knowledge on board.

Bonnie Sol's not really our new artist any more but she continues to be the most productive, surprising us with rich and well-painted landscapes, florals, and still lives. I particularly like her moody depictions of the in-between times of twilight and late afternoon.

Other new artists I'll write about soon will be Lino Laure and Steve Irvine.

We'll be featuring these talents on November 6, first Friday and "Black and White Night," which is a chance to go gallery crawling and enjoy Hilo after dark.

We had a clean-up day on Sunday, bringing the gallery up to snuff. I personally spent the whole afternoon in the bathroom cleaning and polishing everything and then repainting that pink peach color on the walls. I guess the rest of the gallery is sparkly clean too, but being near-sighted I don't notice a huge difference. I'm told that we could eat off the floors now but I don't believe it.

I heard from Lauren at Fine Art Associates that everyone liked my mural for the St. Regis Princeville Resort, Hooray. Here's a shot of it in the now cleaned-up lobby space. I'm told that the St. Regis chain is one of the most exclusive hostelries in the world and that this was actually a phenomenal boost for my career!

I finally sent off this portrait of Danny, the son of my friends Paul and Mike. He's a really cute kid, but I'm sure that by this time the portrait is a historical rather than contemporary document. I must learn to just project and trace like other artists, so it's not so arduous to get a likeness!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

A Fine Young Model

Caroline gave me a whole set of brand new "magic pencils" which are my favorite drawing implement these days. Usually I just use the one that has yellow-blue-red leads all together in one pencil, or else the one that has yellow-red-orange. But yesterday morning to celebrate the new pencils I used all of them, including one very wierd one that has fluorescent yellow, blue and orange. It showed up on dark brown paper. Zack was a great model for studying musculature, although he had a hard time holding still. I'm asking him back for next Friday's class, since our focus is on joints and muscle connections.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Final Portrait Class

I'm afraid my demonstration sketches, with all their quick and facile realism, are by no means the most interesting paintings to come out of today's portrait session. We used Alizarin, Ultramarine, Ochre and White on a celadon green toned gessoed paper. It was hard to conquer the green and give the paintings a warm cast, but in spite of that we got a whole line-up of extraordinary portraits of Tolli and Christine!

Classes in October will be on Fridays from 2 to 4:30. We'll be going back to the basics of figure drawing and painting.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

St. Regis Princeville at Last

For some reason, as my friend Neil and I approached Kaua'i's north shore in our white rental Xterra, the promenade theme from Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" was playing on my inner iPod. You know, the one with all the trumpets and the stately melody. When we entered the St. Regis Princeville Resort overlooking Hanalei Bay and the mountains of NaPali, the serendipity of this musical selection became clear. The designers of this new version of the old hotel have stripped down and re-created the space into something very much worthy of trumpets playing.

Amazingly enough, my painting is the central focus of the entire grand lobby area, a fact that was never quite conveyed to me. Perhaps it's better this way as I would have been frozen in nervous terror at the responsibility. Fortunately I do think that my Hi'iaka and Lohi'au canvas has enough drama and iconic nature in spite of its quirky details to stand in this space and even add to the legendary qualities. Now I appreciate why the designer, Rhonda Rasmussen of the WATG design group was so hard to please during this project. Well, I hope she's OK with it now, because Neil and I worked our butts off getting the piece restretched and in place!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Portrait Class #3

I love our portrait class. It's extraordinary for me to see folks of all abilities and experiences tackling one of the most difficult art projects and accomplishing such wonderful pieces! Craig, Rick and Elijah are three friends of widely differing appearances who were willing to come and sit for us. We moved from a single color to a triad of colors. Next week, our final portrait class will use three colors plus white on a tinted ground.

We'll be meeting on Friday since I'll be on Kaua'i for the week, helping to restretch and install the big mural I just finished for the Princeville St. Regis Hotel.

(Shown below, my class helper and artist extraordinaire, Tuko Fujisaki)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Princeville St. Regis Mural

With the help of my amazing temporary assistant Neil, I painted and repainted and tightened up edges and covered errors to the point where my big Hi'iaka and Lohi'au mural was ready to be photographed by Robbyn Peck, who has the giclee printing business Island Giclee in Hilo. Then I rolled it up and packed it in cardboard, and did the same to the stretcher bars and the plywood backing, so it can be shipped to Kaua'i! I'll breathe a big sigh when it's finally installed, which I'll go over to help with next week.