Sunday, 04 December 2011 at 14:12

Painting the Surreal

If you read the last post, this one is a good one to review in sequence, just for the heck of it.
I had in mind to do a colored pencil drawing of the surreal concepts I was asked to do for the ES of Music’s Summer Session materials. I have been concentrating on oil painting now for a couple years and wanted to continue to grow and learn in this media. After studying the frame proportion and primary image use, I secured the correct size gesso panels and other materials necessary to complete the paintings

From the sketches then drawings of variations of the presented idea, final art was in motion.

To really get some strong summer color, oil on panel was chosen as a medium and style or approach. Inherent issues of drying times make it difficult to produce on a tight deadline. The folks at the ES were great and allowed me to expand my time to experiment with the process. The result is connected to, yet a more narrative approach, than most of my personal work. It is very connected to what I did and loved doing out of college in the early 80’s — a little rock and roll surrealism in the surreal summer in Rochester, at the Lake, and at the ESM.

I spend about a month working these three paintings up from the initial concept sketches to finished layered oil glaze paintings. Thank goodness I found a spray dryer to apply between layers     to speed the process. Each color dries at a different rate.

Although I started with the idea of making the paintings super realistic, the more I worked with them and the feel of how the painting was laying down, a more Marguerite like frozen in type stylized realism emerged particularly with the mallet beach balls floating over the Xylophone/dock. The clouds for the sandals and cloud dream was influenced by NC Wyeth and his heroic storm cloud dream narrative paintings.

It is so nice to find a client that loves illustration and its ability to provide a visual language that transcend cultures, language, and social economic condition...and let’s one dream.














Monday, 28 November 2011 at 14:23

Summer Dreaming

I should really save this post for the dead of Winter but my schedule is the one of the communications industry. I was commissioned to create 3 illustrations focused on how the Eastman School of Music students, feel about their Summers here in Rochester New York, home of the Finger Lakes, Great Lakes, and located just across the water from Toronto, Canada. The Eastman School is world renown with an amazing track record of producing international talent and a history that few music schools can match.

The focus of the Summer Sessions at Eastman are no less rigorous that the traditional school year, just that those lovely summer breezes, the smell of open grills, and watchful cloud formations slowly change as the day dreamily moves along, puts music making in a bit of a surreal context. What are those clouds really saying?

Its been great working with the people at the Eastman School of Music It is so refreshing to work with a client with a vision and thinks about using illustration and art as a way of expressing it. Music/Art...seems like a good fit. Rochester is such a photo driven town its difficult to find such projects or bold clients.

Shown here is the actual sketch for the concept for the core identity pieces of the summer campaign. The art focuses on what is perhaps, on the minds of Eastman students during the summer session. When I saw the sketch and I got a chance to talk to the communications team, I felt right at home with the subject and approach. Since I was a kid I was taken by the surrealists and how their work and approach played out particularly through the raw artwork of record jackets and the music industry. The idea of time frozen in a dreamlike moment always seems to appeal to me.

As an illustrator and artist it can be easily put a distance from the work, when a client hands them a sketch to go out and do. To do a great job, one must own the concept and make it personal. What was different and really nice in this case, is the enthusiasm of the client and some really good idea starters that the team was willing to develop together and alter. The specific approach and fine tuning of concept into finished art were also left open, which was really nice. Shown here is the client sketch.

So far I have revealed the concept evolution.
Final paintings to come; stay tuned!


Wednesday, 08 June 2011 at 16:52

Empowerment Takes Root

I got an inquiry about a year ago to create a 30th Anniversary Poster for a wonderful organization in Trenton New Jersey called Isles. This non profit is run partly by a great friend of mine from back in Tallmadge Ohio days growing up.

It did not surprise me to find Marty working in inner-city Trenton New Jersey with an organization (Isles) that focuses on education, green living life choices, community building, and to support all of it through wealth creation. It did not surprise me to find Marty as a founder of Isles, making use of his Ivy League education helping others rather than looking to make his fist million.
As fate would have it, Marty called late in the game, after the organization had received their 30th Anniversary logo from another artist and found that it was not appropriate for a commemorative poster. With less than 2 weeks,  could I develop one — including printing?. A  great project, no usual.

After seeing the recently developed identity system and learning core principles of Isles I set out sketching and thinking. In order to create something really utilizing the strengths of illustration and design, I thought of a kind of surrealistic approach. I literally began to interpret the positioning or theme of the anniversary and Isles in general. The theme line given was  “Empowerment Takes Root”.This idea and the concept for their new logo is a tree with the emphasis on the strong roots. Since the non profit is trying to introduce this concept through their identity I though it would help to extend it to the poster. I did shift the emphasis to the fruit of the tree in relation to its roots. I them wanted to humanize the tree to make the literal connection to a person, very humanistic. That gave me the opportunity to explore a kind of surrealistic album cover sort of image that is charged, empowered, and very unique for the non profit sector. I though it might be cool to use such an approach on an ongoing basis making Isles communications pieces look like little album covers, using a kind of surrealism to inform and educate. I used this approach with the tree as branches become arms then hands that hold icons representing the 4 tenants of Isles 1) education  2) green living  3) building communities  4) wealth creation or power. The entire tree/figure reach upward raised up by the word EMPOWERMENT. Creating the type font and intertwining it with the tree figure was challenging.

Besides the group of images showing the development of the poster concept, design and art, I have also posted a progression of stages of the poster showing where the traditional approach crossed over to the digital threshold. The fist large singular image is the scan of the art. Due to the deadline, I could not get the painting to dry fast enough in the time frame to be smooth and saturated with color. The second image shows the scan with digital airbrush work to smooth and saturate. Then I added a wire frame around the type, a border and rule to add clarity, detail and pop. The drop shadows on the type and rules adds a dimensionality and a bit of a digital feel to the very tradition look. Stayed tuned on the studio store. We are looking at different ways of getting poster produced of this art.


Digital Airbrush



























Tuesday, 17 May 2011 at 20:34

Isles - Art from Tallmadge Little League Teammates

About a year or so ago I was connecting to an old friend of mine from our shared hometown of Tallmadge Ohio. Marty and I played on Tallmadge’s first Little League Team to play in the State of Ohio tournament. Although we lost to a big, tough Youngstown Austin town team, we generated considerable noise in the local Akron paper. We were like media stars for a couple months. Both Marty and I will never forget it.
We recently connected through facebook. Marty went to Princeton and currently runs a nonprofit with his wife called Isles. They have been running this great organization who’s mission is to foster self-reliant families in healthy, sustainable communities or 30 years.
Marty saw my Studio website and sought me out to create the 30th year commemorative poster for Isles. The theme for the 30th is “Empowerment Takes Root”. That was my direction as well as the 4 core areas that Isles focusses on: building strength is assets and wealth, green sustainable growth initiatives, building communities, and education. I’ll show, in another post, how, in a short time line, I was able to create an oil glaze painting look with a touch of a digital feel, to the final poster design.


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