Obligatory Year End Lists

People make year end lists at the end of every year. They are the throw-away columns of many a blog, magazine, and newspaper. Rather than protesting, let’s just make a few of our own. For mine, I shall embrace my own sentimentality and opinions – which is really what’s going on in all of the other lists anyway.

Here we go.

TOP CNC ROUTERS OF 2015

  1. X-Carve by Inventables. Follow this blog for more projects coming in 2016.

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Above: a bit of debris from a recent routing job.

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LIST OF STAR WARS FILMS AS OF 2015 IN RANK ORDER WITH LETTER SCORE

  1. Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back ~ A
  2. Star Wars Episode 6: The Return of the Jedi ~ A-
  3. Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope ~ B+
  4. Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens ~ B-
  5. Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace ~ C
  6. Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith ~ D+
  7. Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones ~ F

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MOST BULLSHIT EVENTS OF 2015 (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)

  1. Bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan (by illegal coalition [i.e. US] forces, continued after multiple calls for cease fire).
  2. Death of Sandra Bland (unarmed and in police custody – no indictments).
  3. Death of Walter Scott (unarmed and running away, evidence planted, caught on video).
  4. Death of Freddie Gray (unarmed and in police custody).
  5. Charleston, SC church massacre.
  6. Mass shootings ~Roseburg, OR; Chattanooga, TN; Planned Parenthood, CO; San Bernardino, CA; Paris, etc, etc, etc…
  7. Donald Trump.

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Image above by Brandon Loving. Click the image to see his website, or check out his stuff on Instagram here.

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BEST MUSIC I DISCOVERED THIS YEAR (MEANING IT COULD BE FROM OTHER YEARS, YO)

  1. Hiatus Kaiyote. “Breathing Underwater” is the money track.

This band is worthy. Go Listen.

PILLAYO

2. Dubb Nubb. “It’s Weird in This World” is the album. “Sister’s House” is the song. Check it out here – then buy some tracks. Good stuff.

3. The Go Round. “Hard Tellin’ Not Knowin’” is the album. “Headless Horseman” is the key track. Get to them here.

4. Tie: Wolf Alice – “Blush” / St. Vincent – “Cheerleader” / Timber Timbre – “Magic Arrow

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TOP PHYSICAL DISTRESSES OF 2015

  1. That time I had chest pain and went to the ER and they took an awesome ultrasound of my heart muscle and valves.
  2. That time I was forced to rest for 3 solid days because I threw my back out and, perhaps, finally herniated a disc (this item is ongoing).

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BEST WIFI/BLUETOOTH CONTROLLED LIGHTING

  1. LIFX. I tried out a few competitors, but absolutely love these for teaching my classes and for use in my own work. See some examples below:

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Above and Below: Two different setups I made this year with my LIFX bulbs.

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 11.36.29 AMFile Dec 29, 11 33 33 AM Above: An in-class demo figure study I made using my iPad and Adonit Jot Touch in Sketchbook Pro. The scene was lit with my LIFX bulbs. Click for enlargement.

Below: Two drawings from an LIFX setup. The first is by Mitzi Salinas Dominguez and the second is by Bri Heese.

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BEST WIFE

  1. Alison. Long-suffering. Helpful. Sees the grace and the good. Seeks to bless others. A fruitful teacher. A forgiving mother. None of these years would make sense without her.

On the Easel, on the Web

Now that the semester has ended I’m making some finishing touches on a current painting that’s been on the easel for a while. It’s a part of a growing body of work centering on interrelationships of angle and shape. Click here to see that group of works – you can see the piece I’m finalizing below. It’s oil on panel, 24 inches in diameter… it’ll be in the final stages for a couple more weeks. I’ve got four other artworks in progress and am feeling more refreshed in the studio these days… feeling like I can instinctively pivot and shift. I’m hoping for a fruitful, evocative summer.

One of the paintings from this group, a work titled Resonators, will appear at First Street Gallery in NYC this June and July. Click here to see that painting. I’m pretty happy about it, particularly since the juror who chose the piece was Dore Ashton; it was an honor to have my work selected by her.

I’ve also been framing and staging things for my upcoming show at PS Gallery here in Columbia, MO. It’s been fun to coordinate that 20 piece show – I hope you’ll be able to come see it – click here for more info about it.

Finally (after about 2 years), I’ve updated my main website. I futzed with the colors and layout, and added some more work… Check it out here.

Lamentations 3 Series Complete

This weekend I printed and framed the last of the Lamentations 3 Series. I’ve talked about it before here, here, and here. It’s been a long journey: 20 months, lots of rocking on the mezzotint deck, the production of beautiful coppery glory, and a ton of revision. Tonight I pack them up for the trip to the Gordon College show. Here’s a preview of the last two, freshly finished (click for larger view… sorry, close up viewing is a little blurry; look for a super clear set of the whole 16 mezzotint series in a few months):

Lamentations 3, Verse 16

Lamentations 3, Verses 19-20

Shades of Gray: Drawings in Graphite

Ridderhof Martin Gallery
SHADES OF GRAY: Drawings in Graphite
January 21 – February 25
Preview Reception
Thursday, January 20, 5-7 pm

Included artists:

Lea Anderson
Matthew Ballou
Gianluca Bianchino
Elaine Kaufmann
Darice Polo
Lana Stephens
Christine Weir

Show Statement:

Shades of Gray: Drawings in Graphite presents the work of seven artists from Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, and Washington, DC while exploring a variety of ways that graphite is used by contemporary artists.

In the past, graphite was relegated to use as a medium for preparatory studies that would later be reworked into more finished work in other media. However, due to a renewed interested in drawing among contemporary artists, it is no longer only a means to an end. The use of graphite provides a surprisingly common ground for the realization of each artist’s vision despite such diverse inspiration sources as architecture, contradiction, filtered memories, irony, isolation, obsession, phobias, scale, scientific inquiry, and social consciousness.

Above, one of the works I’ll have in the show, Established (Job 38, Strapped), graphite on paper , 2008, 16 inches in diameter.

Some Current Projects

A (detail of a) commission in graphite…

A (detail of a) commission in charcoal…

Continuing my Lamentations 3 series of mezzotints… Verse 4 is above (reversed to show how it’ll print).

And framing a drawing for friends; I created the drawing (in 2008) as an illustration for a poem.

Orientation?

My most recent completed work is an oil painting, 48 inches in diameter, titled Certainty. Because of the nature of the ideas involved in this piece, it was constructed in a manner that did not allow for an “up” orientation. I actually never painted it from the same picture-plane position twice. I frequently moved my model and altered my position of observation with each session.

The work has any number of “correct” reading orientations, but I’d like to settle on one or find a way to spin the work slowly so that many possible positions are presented to different viewers. Click the image below to see a large GIF of the piece. The GIF shows 14 different “stations” of the painting (give it a few minutes to load fully). What’s the best way to view it?

Current Shows, Catalogs, Essays

A lot going on these days.

The show I’m in at MANIFEST in Cincinnati has just released the catalog (cover below, click it to order one – it’s volume 43, bottom of the page).

Also, I’m included in a show at McNeese State University. Click here for more info. If you’re near Lake Charles, LA, go check it out!

I’ve got an article in the Columbia Daily Tribune up as well (and keep on the lookout over at Neoteric Art for my upcoming essay on Art and Subjectivity!). Click here to check out the Tribune piece. Below is one of the pieces I talk about (click it to see more about the image at the Brooklyn Museum):

Collograph Prints

I’m beginning a series of collographic prints based on the angles of the pentagonal sides of dodecahedrons. Here are images from the first few.

All are in a range from 6 to 12 inches in diameter. I’m conceiving of them as tondos or ovoids, but haven’t decided on the orientations or how I’ll use light with them, since it’s so important to how they’re seen.

None of these prints have pigment of any kind on them.

Click on each image for a larger view.

Iconoclast, Stage 12 or 13

ballou iconoclast stage 12 detail

Well, I’m still moving forward on the Iconoclast painting. It’s now rounding the final corner and I’m feeling the tensions and densities that I was aiming for coming out. Above is a detail showing the working, building, statement and restatement across the structures of the head and upper body. Below is a full shot of the piece. I’ll add some statement regarding the reasons for the piece and what I’m aiming at with it once it has announced its completion… probably a couple weeks.

ballou iconoclast 12