Viking Spirit!

Ahoy, avast, and all that. It recently occurred to me that it had been a year since I stepped aboard the Draken Harald Hårfagre, a Viking great ship built in modern times, on September 1, 2018, while it was docked at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia. This educational visit prompted a 6- to 7-month (painting) voyage on my part, and I realized it had been about as long since I had completed it– without yet sharing it here with you. Lest anyone wonder, it wasn’t a solid 6 months of painting, but rather 6 months or so from start to finish. Sometimes I let her (the painting) sit docked, as it were, for a few weeks while I worked on other things & thought about what to do next. Also, this painting is not of the Draken, but it is decidedly inspired by the ship. I found the deep red sail of the ship particularly striking and thus chose a red color for my painting.

Here is the irrefutably concise–in comparison to a 6-month, day-by-day version–travelogue of this painting’s development. Medium: tempera & acrylic. 

1. An acquaintance had given me a sizeable twice-painted-over painting on hardboard (with hanging wire already installed) that she no longer wanted. I sanded and gessoed over the old image. (Photo might be of the second layer of gesso. Gesso is essentially a primer.)

2. Next, thumbnail sketches (drawn in the car during a road trip).

3. Starting to add base colors/underpainting. The painting was too big to do on a table or my easel, so I propped it against a bookshelf.

4. Adding local color & developing water. I like a number of qualities about the water at this stage– there’s a looseness, an energy, the play of light & dark–but somehow as the painting continued, it got tighter, more controlled, and, because the green water seemed a little too tropical for a Viking voyage, darker & bluer. If I ever paint another version, I’d like to try to keep that looseness.

 

5. Bringing focus to the ship itself, including the sail. Somehow, over the several months, the visual line/direction of the composition changed  from something more linear to a kind of whirlpool. The water in the above photograph is constructed in an angular/zig-zag manner up to the ship; over time I embraced the whirlpool or vortex spiraling around it. 

6. Completion. I took this photograph outside (because my apartment does not have great lighting), so the colors look a bit different than in the other photos. Somehow it also seems flatter…but it gives a lot of depth to the corner where it hangs in my apartment. Curious contrast. 

Ready to cross the North Atlantic?

Aeronautical Pandas

As promised in the previous post, here are the latest Pandagrams I was commissioned to paint. You will see that they have an aeronautical theme. (Click to enlarge.)

For the above painting, I used the Supercub I drew 2 years ago for a colleague’s relative as the model for the airplane. 

“Geronimo!”

Just in case anyone is seeking a little clarity, the pandas appearing as card sets, Pindas, etc., are part of the official Pandagram series. Any commissioned original designs in the same style are not part of the series proper; thus they will not be made into cards & such.

For fun, I’ve included some exploratory sketches. You can see some ideas that took flight and others that were grounded, so to speak. 

Ladies and gentlemen, we have now arrived at the end of the post, where the local time is now. Please take all your valuables with you. Thank you for choosing Pandagram Airlines. We hope you’ll fly with us again soon. 

 

P.S. I’m testing out another client for sending notifications about new posts. Please pardon any duplicate messages while I learn the ropes.   

Spring 2019 Shows: Recap

Since my last post, it’s been a very active spring, artistically and otherwise. I was scheduled to do two art fairs (April 28 & May 5); it was my first time doing an outdoor fair, so preparations began well in advance. I also completed 2 new Pandagram commissions this season, prepared for (translation: “practice, practice, practice!”) and gave 2 carillon concerts, and traveled to China and Japan. (There will be paintings! Not to mention the 1,000+ photographs.)

4/28 Art Fair: Communiversity 
Wow, this was a lot of work for one person for one day. It didn’t help that my car’s trunk wouldn’t open, but with a little ingenuity, a lot of determination, and an immediate schedule to keep, I packed everything except a big painting of a Viking ship. (I did fit it in the car for the second show.) Logistically, the event could have been better organized for set-up and take-down. The streets were packed, so I lost at least 30 minutes of set-up time due to traffic and someone else parking in my booth space to unload; consequently, I wasn’t able to put everything up that I intended, including a hanging display across one side of the tent. Also, take-down was surprisingly short. Fortunately, the staff sent a post-event survey to solicit feedback. Despite various challenges, I was glad for the opportunity to test the waters and, surprisingly frequently, to improvise solutions. There were a number of adjustments I would have made at the May 5 fair the following weekend, but it was cancelled due to a heavy rain forecast. (Good thing, too–the forecast was incontestably accurate.) 

 

Click to enlarge photos. The second photo shows the side of the booth, not the front. I left the side wall rolled up to make the space more open, but left it hanging down a bit to dissuade people from hastily cutting through my booth to get through the crowds. The white circles on my shirt are Pindas.

Can’t do a booth without Pandagrams. 😉

Come back next time to see the two new panda paintings mentioned at the beginning of this post. ‘Til then, cheerio. 

Spring 2019 Shows

I’m pleased to announce that I will participate in two outdoor fairs this spring:

Communiversity, Sunday, April 28, downtown Princeton, NJ, 1-6 pm

Handmade Hopewell, Sunday, May 5, Hopewell, NJ, 10 am-4 pm

Both are 1-day shows (a gentler introduction to showing outdoors than a 2-3 day show or a week-long art fair) and are no more than a 10-minute drive away! I look forward to the short commutes. They will be very pleasant after the many less favorable long hauls I had to attend conventions in the fall.

I haven’t done an outdoor show before, so, like the times I was preparing for my first few conventions, there is a lot to think about and do. One of the first tasks was finding a suitable tent for the space. (I bought 1 that, to my durpride ended up being nearly 60 pounds — too heavy for me to tote & put up alone! That one got returned, & I found a lighter Undercover tent. (For any artists and tent-seekers out there, it’s the 10′ x 10′ Super Lightweight Tent: https://getundercover.com/product/uc-3-10×10-super-lightweight-popup-shade-wheel-bag-spikes. I purchased it from Hayneedle.com & also a set of sidewalls for a combined total of less than $200.)

I had to do some rearranging in order to put it up. Always best to do a trial run before the event.

=)

I’ve also been thinking about inexpensive but effective display ideas. Come back for a future post to see what I try out.

February 2019

Happy New Year, happy Presidents Day, and everything in between.

My art adventures took a little holiday during the holidays, and I traveled a bit as well. Between everything, I’ve quietly and slowly been working away at a handful of things on the drawing board (or, rather, the drafting table): a painting of a shipwreck from my trip to Oregon & Washington in August, custom Pandagram paintings for a client, a large painting of a Viking ship, and just a little bit of illustration for the long-time-coming John Churchmouse. 

While I work on those, please enjoy this painting from my Oregon trip (meaning the subject matter is from the trip–I painted it after I returned). Click to enlarge.