Beginning Color Drawing Spring 2011 Group Project

Once again, my Beginning Color Drawing class at the University of Missouri has created a large work together as a capstone to the semester. Seeing these big drawings happen has been a very rewarding aspect of my teaching.

This one is obviously a copy of one of Chuck Close‘s self portraits. And below is how it looks from the hallway. Click on the images to see them in larger glory!

These are mostly fun, low-pressure way to create something unifying after spending the whole semester developing and practicing skills. I love  this project. Click here and here to see some past efforts!

Situation and Circumstance Overcome

Situation and Circumstance Overcome. Oil on panel, 16 by 20, 2003.

I painted this for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Luckily they didn’t want it. It’s a touchstone; so deferential to my old heroes, so sentimental and fundamental in statement. The original hangs in our home here, near the main door – it’s a reminder. I’ve painted many copies of the work, as it’s one that seems to resonate with many viewers.

Perhaps the bricks are more important than the flora, after all.

IU Fine Arts Student Association Submission

IU’s Fine Arts Student Association recently solicited postcard sized works from alumni, like myself (MFA, Painting, ’05). Below is what I sent them.

Water From a Stone (Ballou, 2011 – For IU), ink on moleskin page.

Here’s a link what a fellow IU alum, Stephen Cefalo, submitted. The whole thing is to support FASA’s “Making Art Work” symposium on careers in the Arts. Click here for more information about it.

Inspiration: Natalie Hellmann

Natalie Hellmann, a wonderful ceramist and person, is holding her MFA Thesis Exhibition this month. She has been an absolute joy to work with over the last three years, and I know I’ve learned much that I would never have known if not for our discussions.

Aarik Danielsen talks to Natalie about her trajectory as an artist in this feature in the Columbia Daily Tribune.

And here’s a link to a shorter article about her and her show.

I was asked a number of questions about Natalie and her work for that short article. Obviously space didn’t permit them to publish all of my thoughts, so I want to include them here as a way to honor Natalie.


Interview Question: “What do you enjoy most about her growth as an artist since you’ve met her? How has she grown?”

My response: “I am most impressed with how Natalie has held onto the core things she has cared about for many years while at the same time found ways to grow in her understanding of the materials and integrated relationships of form, content, and emotion with which she has worked while in grad school. Practically, this means that she has made numerous attempts to invest her project with fresh investigations, often working with different forms, structures (and orientations of these two) in order to determine what felt right. In many ways what she presents in this Thesis work seems inevitable, as if it all just had to be. But this is not the case. Natalie has studied her own work and intuitive expressions while also looking to other artists, writers, and philosophers who seek poetical understandings of human experience rather than just rational, direct, closed meanings in that experience. Natalie’s work is thus not meant to function as didactic communication first and foremost. Instead, it has grown to become a kind of emotional sounding board, wherein viewers may, if they are inclined, examine themselves via the suggestions of the forms. The work is more about awareness of being than declaring some specific message. I enjoy the fact that I got to participate in her exploration, be around her welcoming spirit, and grow in my own apprehension of what art can do through my time with her. “

Interview Question: “What do you think her viewers are going to enjoy most from her exhibition this coming week?”

My response: “I think that viewers who allow themselves to intuitively consider the objects and arrangements in Natalie’s show will find a resonance in their own past experiences of feeling, seeing and being. What I mean is that, to me, the strength of Natalie’s work has always been in its gentle invitation to participate in awareness and emotional connection to shapes, colors, and surfaces. Being with Natalie’s artworks is something akin to standing by a stream and looking at the smoothed stones beneath the undulating water – if you’re in the right frame of mind, your emotional and psychological experience can become one of calm awareness. I think that’s the “repose” that Natalie suggests in the title for her exhibition. I hope that viewers will both experience and appreciate that quietude and tenderness; it’s something not often seen in art.”

Thank you, Natalie, for your work, your spirit, and your presence.

On Intuition and Analysis

My latest essay, On Intuition and Analysis, is up over at Neoteric Art. Click HERE to take a look… and leave a comment there if you’ve got thoughts to add to the discussion!

“The ways that the human mind manifests itself in creative activity are vast and various. People have theorized about and argued over modes of creative impetus for millennia. Artists and lovers of art are constantly attempting to plumb these depths, always looking for some elucidation of the mechanisms and maneuvers our minds utilize when we are in that universally recognized but seemingly undefined state that is creation.” Click the link above to read more…

Inspiration – George Tooker

George Tooker died this week. You can read the New York Times obituary here. There’s also a wonderful short documentary that captures his gentle spirit here. And here‘s a short survey about the artist.

His work was evocative, awe inspiring, and it deeply affects those who explore it. He’s a part of the artistic lineage that I claim, particularly since I see myself as a symbolist.

““Symbolism can be limiting and dangerous, but I don’t care for art without it. The kind that appeals to me the most is a symbolism like a heraldic emblem, but never just that alone: the kind practiced by Paolo Uccello and Piero della Francesca.” – George Tooker

Sleep well.