sketchbook writing

August ’21 Studio Update

Things are beginning to turn the corner and art production, while only existing in the deep past, seems to be building towards happening again soon. Writing, sketching and a mural make up the bunch of my workload this month.

I’ve started work on a large mural on the side of the building that houses my studio. With the blessing of my landlords, I’ve carved out a 12’x30’ space facing St. John Avenue for a mural. It is inspired by a 1941 land use map of the city of Kansas City hanging in the Central Library. It’s been a long time since I’ve taken on a large painting project. While things are progressing pretty fast, I forgot just how physical a job of this magnitude actually is. Working on brick with uneven mortar is proving to be a devilish endeavor. Depending on the heat and my own time constraints, it should be wrapped up in a relatively quick couple of weeks. It’ll be a nice sense of accomplishment when its all done.

1941 Land Use Map Kansas City

My classes have now officially returned to 56% of my pre-pandemic average. My schedule seems a lot busier because of the returning classes. New students are very enthusiastic and its adding a layer of normalcy in these otherwise unstable days. I’ve noticed how much some of my per-adolescent students have grown over the past year and a half. It’s a shocking reminder of just how much time has passed since the pandemic began. 

I spent the first few weeks of August decompressing from the robust social life I enjoyed for a few weeks in July. In that time I’ve continued to work on new sketches for paintings, filling page after page in my sketchbook. I’m still caught up on my old loves of twisting bodies against natural settings. All the new sketches I’m doing follow similar mannerist tropes in past works. Natural women, militarized/laboring men, armed with flags, pikes, shovels, swords. Set in natural environments filled with lush greenery, flowers, flowing streams and bountiful skies, its easy to pick out what is intruding on what. 

Writing Relating to Painting

Writing has also started to come around a bit, and I can never emphasize enough the importance that writing plays in my art making. My ideas and thoughts are processed in a mannered way outside of visual art making. Most of the writing that I do ends up on this website. Because of that. there’s a certain performative nature to the work. I always write for myself first. Knowing there will be an audience for it makes me worry more about editing and refining my thoughts a bit more than usual. 

It always feels like my artwork takes a big leap after finishing a lot of writing. I’m not sure about the physiology behind that, but it seems like there’s a larger clarity and focus in my painting and drawing afterwards. Maybe the writing editor becomes a visual editor afterwards, making quicker, more intuitive decisions about themes, composition, and tone in my work. 

So I’m at a pretty weird spot- running through one of the largest painting droughts of my life in perhaps 20 years, but feeling oddly optimistic things are coming together for a big dramatic finish during the final stretch of 2021. I’m really hoping I can finish off the 14 paintings I have ‘going’ in my studio before 2022. I’d also love to be able to bring my sketches to fruition, even if its strictly painting them for myself. 

And there’s that mystical concept again – shows. Over the past twenty years I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by the resources I needed to put together a show on a whim. Due to a bunch of circumstances, that ability is lot harder to achieve. I’ll figure something out when the time is right. In the meantime, my painting rack will continue to fill up with more finished work