Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend

Gulpha Gorge

Yes, I went on vacation (a small one) again. I went to one of my favorite places in the world, Hot Springs, Arkansas. Its one of the greatest vacation spots ever. I know it like the back of my hand, and, its close to home. What more could you ask for?

You're looking at pictures of the creek that runs through Gulpha Gorge camp ground. No, I didn't camp out. For me, camping is a miserable experience. I've never been camping when I enjoyed it. My definition of "roughing it" means staying in a hotel room with no mini-bar and no room service. I stayed at a Best Western on this trip. So, I was definitely "roughing it".

I do enjoy nature and I love the scenery around the Ouachitas so I couldn't resist a little hiking excursion. I lugged the camera along but these were the only two pictures I took at Gulpha Gorge. I had a friend with me so I was all about being a tour guide. I pointed out the amphitheatre where Jim Ed Brown hosted a "Nashville On the Road" episode when I was a kid. I commented how Jerry Clower was a real jerk to little kids. And, I was disappointed that Wendy Holcomb was older than me and didn't have pigtails when I met her.

We also toured Bath House Row. I have pictures of that I'll share someday. We went to the Mountain Tower and practiced overcoming our fear of heights (I was the brave one). That was a memorable experience. We looked out on the scenic vista of verdant forests and while we were "oohing and ahhing" a nauseous toddler threw-up nearby. It was a lovely and serene moment until just then. It really killed the mood.

We stopped by the Grotto on Central Avenue across from the art galleries. We tried to be adventurous by sampling the experience of the "oxygen bar". Hmmm, how shall I describe it? Imagine sniffing cheap air freshener while hyperventilating and then being charged $16 bucks for the effort. Its not something I would recommend. The most enjoyable part of the that deal was the friendly and attentive college-age hottie that hooked up the air supply. He was real easy on the eyes, if ya know what I mean.

Of course, the high point of the trip was the visit to the galleries. The first day there we visited Gallery Central. Good work there, but a little stuffy and sterile. We visited a new gallery featuring Allison Parsons. Allison focuses mainly on watercolors and acrylics with Hot Springs landscapes and architecture as the subject. I like her work very much. Its vibrant, brilliant, and she treats the subject with a lot of love and affection. Allison is a sweet lady and took time to visit with us about her work even though we weren't buying that day.

On Monday (Memorial Day) I was finally able to make my pilgrimage to my personal artistic shrine, Blue Moon Art Gallery. I almost ran back to the Randall Good section and stared holes into every piece on the walls. Pat and Dishongh each gave me a big hug and made me feel like family. That's why I love that place. The folks at Blue Moon not only love art, they love art-lovers. There was an artist about to bring in her work yet they still took time to visit with me. I'm the proud collector of three beautiful Randall Good drawings, but I assure you I'm not one of their biggest spending clients. But still, they treated me as if I were the most important person in the room. I was touched.

I have my eye on another drawing. It complements the Icarus/Daedalus pair of watercolors I have. Its a much larger work and I want it badly. Its a drawing of the "fallen Icarus" (or is it Daedalus weeping over his fallen son?). Its the most unique composition. I won't describe it here. We'll wait until I've acquired it. Pat tells me there has been some interest in it. But, she kindly said she would give me a call if anyone gets serious about it. I've got first dibs on it, in other words. I just love that lady.

Then, I stepped over and quietly lusted after the Debilynn Fendley drawings. What is it about drawings that get to me? There are two of her pieces that I'm in love with. However, the subject is the most beautiful, titillating male nude. I'd have a lot of explaining to do to any visitors if I acquired those. But, I'm madly in love with the pieces and almost willing to take the risk.

Simply put, Memorial Day was memorable.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Youth with Lillies

This is another image that gained some comment on the Flickr album. I even had one viewer express interest in acquiring it. I followed up and haven't heard back from him. I guess he's just an artist tease.

I call this painting "Youth with Lilies," a bland but descriptive title. I don't feel like it is complete but I did abandon work on it. I achieved a combination of color contrasts and textural brushstrokes that I thought were interesting and then I stopped. This work is based on old 19th century photographs by a European photographer who went by the moniker of Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden (I don't think he was truly part of any nobility, it was an alias). I also enjoy the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites. Since von Gloeden was making his photographs during that same time, and posing his models in a mythological/Mediterranean theme like the Pre-Raphaelites, I've tried to combine the two styles into a new medium. I'm not completely satisfied with the result yet, but I want to keep at it.

From what little I've been able to find about von Gloeden on the Internet, I take it he was gay. That would be understandable. Most of his photographic subjects seem to have been male. I can imagine that would have been a scandalous situation in his day and age. It can still be scandalous today in some places. But, there are a few websites that have some biographical and historical information about him that acknowledge his artistic talent. Perhaps one day his work will be viewed credibly.

This painting is starting to grow on me even in its unfinished condition. If it doesn't sell soon I may frame it and stick it on a wall somewhere.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Flickr Hits!!!

Wow, I've just had a lot of new visits and a few comments on my Flickr! album. Over the last few weeks I've posted some very nice pictures of my trip to Vegas and my flowers in the front yard. I have had moderate interest. There were fewer than 10 visits to each of those pictures. Then, over the last few days I posted photographs of my paintings and drawings. You know the ones, right? My favorite subjects, right?
Lo, and behold, my hit count on those pictures jumped very noticeably. This guy to the left, who I affectionately call the "Gridiron Warrior" received 39 hits in just two days. Wow!! I knew he was good looking but I never realized just how much. I've always felt this was one of my better paintings but I never expected such a response to him from the larger audience. Yes, I'm excited!
In addition to the increased hits to my photos, I've received an email from a Flickr member that has requested I paint his portrait. He is a very fit athlete with a great physique. He wants me to use one of his photos as a reference for the artwork. Wow! that's even more exciting. Wish me luck.
I guess its true what they say, "Sex sells!"

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

More books!

I'm sure there is some type of pathology I suffer from. Perhaps those of you smarter than I can figure it out. I just bought another couple of art technique books today. Regrettably, out of the hundreds of dollars I've spent on books, magazines, and various artistic media, I've never sold a piece of my work. Of course, I'm displayed on the walls of family and friends who love me (or feel sorry for me). I think its the adult equivalent of having your work put on the refrigerator door. You know, when the kids' drawing really isn't good enough to frame and stick on the wall, it temporarily goes on the refrigerator. Same here. I realize I'm not up to professional level yet, but, I keep trying.

I haven't bought near this many books related to my profession. Can you imagine how good I would be at my real life job if I studied it as much as I do drawing and painting. Perhaps I should think of it this way. Art for me is a stress reliever, a distraction from the daily grind. Its a means for me to stretch my imagination, explore and create in a medium that is completely unrelated to my career. I guess it could be argued that it makes me better at work because I have a hobby, a diversionary interest. My hobby may be expensive, but its a heck of a lot cheaper than therapy, huh?

Therapy, huh? I did that once, ya know? Can't say it helped as much as painting. And I enjoy painting a whole lot more than the therapy, too.