Friday, August 17, 2018

Floral Sketch

One of the greatest options in the history of art, the still life. Flowers are always a winner when your not quite sure what to draw or paint. Their combination of both hard and soft edges (see King Richard's book, chapter six) and their lost and found shapes make them a challenge. One that is usually informative. Draw a still life with a mechanical pencil and make your brain go "weeeeeeeeeee!"

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Four Reasons To Buy Art

Do it For Your Soul  -  Collect the art that impacts your soul language and trade your money for it so that you can enjoy the visual poetry over a lifetime.

Do it For Your Bank Account - Ignore the art and pay attention to the rise and fall of an artists prices.  I'm sure that, as in stock investing, there is a good amount of due diligence involved here.

Do it For Your Ego - Listen to what the important art people are saying and do what they tell you to do.

Do it For Your Decor - I'm not even going to go here, but I understand...  I understand.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Experiencing Art

In the early 90's I attended a national portrait conference. It was the first art event, other than the Kentuck Festival, that I had ever attended. There was this bold, idealistic thought in my romantic brain that becoming a portrait painter was my destiny. After watching the likes of Daniel Greene, Everett Raymond Kinstler, and others wow the crowd with their mastery I became convinced that "destiny" was much too strong of a word.

At the back of the room, there was a vendor selling reproductions of works by Nicolai Fechin. Artists were gathered around the table blushing over how wonderful his paintings were. So I took a look. Immediately it became clear that these onlookers lacked aesthetic taste, loved flat jumbled shapes and were on the payroll of whoever brought the Fechin reproductions. How could anyone consider this guy to be a great painter? I was in my twenties. A decade later I became convinced, that at that moment, I was a naive idiot.

My education came while I was wandering through a gallery In Sante Fe New Mexico. I came to a small hidden corner near the offices where there was a small 8x10 painting of a Native American girl.  It was a Fechin. A visual poem. A masterful array of paint, color, opacity, transparency, scratches, finger painting, brushwork, and edges. An unforgettable experience without parallel.

With the exception of sculpture, graphics and possibly pen and ink, art does not reproduce well. Paintings don't reproduce at all. There is some speculation that with 3D printing we are on the edge of being able to exactly reproduce most works of art.  Not a Fechin. The passion and poetry of that Russian soul are in the original marks themselves.

Enjoy the art that lingers in your memory, collect the art that impacts your soul. If your an artist, strive for the visual poem.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Follow The Elf Part Two

Should I explain? Circumstances will lead you to try things that would never have been possible without them. Taking care of others has led to a choppy schedule.  Sketches don't require large time commitments. Sketches from my head require nothing more than a place to sit down and a cup of coffee. Am I pleased with these? Not very often, but I'm learning. The greatest value I derive is the meditative experience. No pressure. No right or wrong. Just a dancing pencil.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Visual Poems

Several months's after you have been to a museum there are only a few works of art that you remember.  I spent a week in Sante Fe ten years ago and I only remember a few paintings. Some were in a show by Daniel Gerhartz (because he was my hero at the time), a peeled orange by Loran Speck and a small painting by Nicoli Fechin. I also remember the painting I bought, which is always the best way to always remember a work of art.

Why do we remember so few? I didn't remember the thousands of works of art that week because they weren't committed to memory and therefore only the paintings that were remarkable to my soul remained. When you experience a work of art as a visual poem you remember it and often carry the experience with you throughout your life. These poems connect the artist and the viewer on a metaphysical level by aesthetic means even if those means are not particularly skilled.

It is the visual poem within a sculpture, drawing or painting that draws you. It's a soul thing by means of an aesthetics thing. It is the meaning in addition to or in place of the ostensible surface meaning. It is the voice that speaks in a language that can only be heard by the soul. They are rare. They are remarkable, though finding words that properly "remark" on the experiences always fall short.

Have I ever created a visual poem? I'm not sure. The viewer is the one who decides. Modern focus on the "artist" flies in the face of this, but unless your an art investor why would you care? Enjoy the art that lingers in your memory, collect the art that impacts your soul language. If your an artist, strive for the visual poem.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Defying The Almond 001

In 1989 I had a very small circle of friends that called me “Jake”.  This nickname came as a natural result of my larger circle of friends occasionally referring to me as JK (John Kelley). The name never really took hold but there was a strange surge of enjoyment every time it was used. For thirty years I have toyed with the idea of introducing myself as Jake and essentially changing my name, but who does that?  Apparently, I do that…I’m John Kelley, my friends call me Jake.

Though there is no real value, other than my own pleasure, this is almond brain experiment number 001.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Couple of Apples 5 x 10 Oil on Panel

This little Korean Tea cup has been a little friend of mine since I first started to paint back in 1998. My father in law was stationed in Korea in the 50's and, if I have my story straight, purchased it while there.  If you've followed me long enough (I tend to remove paintings from the internet after 3 or more years) you may have seen the teapot from this set show up in quite a few paintings as well.  Old friends I enjoy painting. Recently sold this painting via a friend sharing one of my Facebook posts on his feed.  Different world from when I first started doing this but a fun way to have someone find out about my work.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Dried Flowers 10 x 5 Oil on Panel

I got stuck in the studio last week due to various family care issues and lack of planning on my part.  Even though the weather was fantastic I was stuck inside with very little painting time.  It doesn't always go the way you want it to, but often a forced change of routine allows the brain to come up with creative solutions.  This little painting was a surprise.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fall Tree's

We have had no rain in Tuscaloosa for over 8 weeks. Bad for the plants, great for keeping the extreme color contrast of blue and orange in check.  I certainly enjoy the bright colors of fall, but the dull colors this fall, in my opinion, make better paintings. Here is my shot at if from last week.

The magic painting hat at work.

Friday, October 14, 2016


Not even really sure why I painted the Buoys.  Their red, which is always fun and the light was interesting, but it wasn't exactly the type of painting I expect people to respond to.  The best part or the experience was my middle daughter drawing with me while I painted.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Black Warrior River Color Studies

I really hope there are some artist who read this blog.  I am a painter with life circumstances that make my free time almost non-existent.  So when I do have time, I paint.  This leaves me very little time to dialogue about painting which I've always found valuable. So I may be talking to cyber-space, but this post has artists in mind.

When painting on location I am trying to keep my values between a dark mid-tone and white. Obviously, this isn't about a finished painting, it's about learning. Specifically, learning how to make contrast changes with color rather than dramatic value.  It would be easy if the world were full of bright color changes but the reality is that the world is full of grayed down color. You might not believe that at first. You can see just how grey it is by taking a small strip of cardboard or paper and painting your purest primary colors in stripes along the strip.  Take the strip outside and place it in the same light thats falling on your landscape.....grey, gray, grey!

The studies below are all either 6x10 or 6x8.  Each was done in about an hours time.