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Lately I have been doing a lot of monotype prints. I purchased a gelli plate a while back and I’m trying to get the hang of it. I’ve taken about four semesters of printing when I was in college; one in J.C. was an introduction: letterpress, offset, relief, serigraph, that sort of thing. Then, at Art Center I took printmaking twice and a class focused on letterpress. The into at J.C. was focused on preparing us for working with presses in publishing; strictly commercial stuff. It was the late ‘80s and the same teacher also taught desktop publishing. There were several presses in the shop and I remember the offset press the most. It’s called that because the plate is forward reading, and when inked it transfers its image to a roller which is what comes into contact with the paper. I also had to create a color separation of an image by hand. I picked a picture of a friend of mine. We cut out cyan, magenta, yellow and black transparent acetate images and when they were laid on top of each other they made a full color picture. Mine came out pretty good.

The letterpress class was a logical extension of this. We set type by hand. I made a book of my poetry, illustrated by linoleum block prints I made for them. I bought bookbinding materials including hardcover bookcloth that I got from a special store in L.A. and bound several copies for people for Christmas that year. I was really proud of them. It was a lot of work. Like many professionally handmade things, they come out looking like they were made by a machine and people never realize how much effort went into making them.

The printmaking class was about the art of printmaking. Stone Lithography, etching, drypoint, aquatint, things of this nature. I loved it. I wrote a short story for a friend whose father had died, as a way of trying to comfort her. I illustrated it and gave it to her as an unbound folio. That was the second semester. The first semester was the stone lithography (which was pretty hard, no pun intended. I don’t know how Mucha did mulitcolored prints, but that was the process in those days. I did aquatints of the holy grail, and some other things that were of no consequence. For the illustrated story the second semester, more aquatints (the story was Marina about the life of a raindrop and aquatint was perfect) the text was a photo etching of plate made from high quality prints onto acetate.
Since then, linoleum prints have become a part of my regular artmaking process, I haven’t done etching since school because it requires a press (I use a rolling pin for the lino prints) and acid baths and resin and I don’t have the space for that right now. This gelli plate doesn’t require a press either and I thought I knew enough about printmaking to give it a go. It’s soft, so it’s easy to print on and then can be cleaned and used over and over again. Because it’s soft, you can’t use hard tools to scribe, but there are plenty of soft tools to use nowadays.

Most of my prints are fairly abstract, which is ok with me because I love abstract art. You can use any kind of paint or ink and most of the info I’ve seen suggests acrylics because it’s fast drying and can be cleaned up with soap and water, and then is permanent when dry. I like Golden Open the best because it dries slower allowing for more clean up time. However, most of the acrylics I have are not Open, because for painting with acrylics, I prefer creating several layers very fast. This is also why the gelli plate is good for acrylics. It’s very hard to get a good monotype from one layer, but several can create really interesting textures.
I usually run sets. I do several prints with the same base color, then by the time I’m done, the first print is dry and ready for the second layer, and they I run through layer after layer until I have several prints that have been through the same process. The prints are all original however as any image has to be created from scratch and the plate is inked each time. It’s a learning process for sure. My latest batch is a group of winter nocturnes that look kind of like Rothko’s and that’s ok with me.

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This blog was originally posted at my website, here:

I was sitting at home the other day looking through some of my art books. I have a giant Degas book that was a gift from my parents, that came from the Norton Simon Museum (the book, not my parents.) I love Degas and the way the application of chalk or paint (he can do both with equal effectiveness) can communicate the transitory quality of a fleeting moment. It adds an intimacy to the piece as if we were there as the washerwoman yawns while she works (presumably from being overworked and raising a family)

This quality, as well as his use of cropping the frame like the relatively new medium of photography, incorporating patterns in a similar fashion to the Japanese wood block prints that were popular at the time, and employing as subject matter, working class women (instead of upper class subjects or religious or classical subject matter that pervaded previous art genres) are indicative of post impressionism, that includes Degas’ contemporaries, Van Gogh, and Cezanne, as well as the original impressionists Monet, Manet and their buddies.
But my work doesn’t really look anything like Degas’.



I do use women as subject matter, but I look for what I believe would be strong women role models for a future daughter. I believe that our culture has a deficit of depicting strong women role models and I want them to be there for my daughter if and when she is old enough to look for them. There are plenty of women for her to look to, but they are not commonly depicted in popular culture. This is part of a vicious cycle where women remain in the minority of leadership positions or few are considered cultural heroes, and so girls grow up thinking that the best option is to get married and have babies, (which is of course an option, but women should have more choices. that’s the point.) In any case, as an artist, I make the conscious decision to promote strong women role models.
This is a big enough subject that is should have its own separate blog post, so I won’t say anymore about it here.
Back to influences.




I have always cited Michelangelo & Da Vinci as huge influences, and I really love their work; especially the Pieta and the Madonna of the Rocks. I love Leonardo’s use of Chiaroscuro and the glazing techniques that combine to give depth and texture to the beautifully rendered figures. I love the way that Michelangelo poses and renders his figures. These poses are a precursor to Mannerism.
My work doesn’t look anything like these guys’ work.

I also love Rembrandt, & Rothko, Homer, Hopper, Franz Kline, Sargent, Courbet, & many many others. I love illustrators like NC Wyeth, Arthur Rackham, Leyendecker, Rockwell, Frazetta, Lee, Gorey, and many many others. My first influence was Charles Schutz. Then came my love for comic books; Spiderman, Batman, Xmen, etcmen… Maybe I have so many influences that it’s hard to discern any single one. Maybe I’ve been drawing and painting for so long that I’ve developed my own way of doing things. Maybe I’m such a crappy artist I can’t even copy my heroes very well. 
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Music to Create To

I listen to a lot of music when I create. I lean heavily on it to keep me in the mood I’m trying to convey as I work on technical aspects of the work. Mostly I listen to sacred music. Often Eastern music. Indian or Sufi is best, but I also listen to Medieval Christian music. It is fairly important that any vocals not be in English as that would distract me, particularly if I’m writing. If I’m painting, it’s not as big a deal to have English lyrics but they rarely are. Donna De Lory’s music in mostly in English and that’s ok. Her music is wonderful. Anonymous4 is a favorite too. I hope the spirit of the music keeps my spirit focused as I’m concentrating on mixing a particular color or trying to paint a representation of the Goddess, or otherwise caught up in some technical aspect of work that is necessary but could distract me from imbuing my painting with the spiritual energy that is my goal in the first place.
Lately I have been writing the story of Robin Hood and that requires a different approach. I still like to listen to music, but in this case I will listen to music that sets the period for me. The piece is set at about 1100 ad, so music actually from that era is a bit hard to come by and when one does, it can be; shall we say, an acquired taste. More Anonymous4 is in order. There is a French album of music dedicated to the Madonna that is really 14 century. More on the money is “Origin of Fire” which is music by Saint Hildegard circa 1000 ad. The fact that it’s German and that “La Bele Marie” is French and Robin Hood is English doesn’t bother me. Loreena McKennitt is faux period and English language to boot, but it’s so ethereal that the language isn’t a problem. This kind of New age, Medieval crossover works ok because Robin Hood is widely regarded as a fantasy although there is no magic in it and it takes place in history. My version has a bit of New agey fantasy aspect, but not really. It’s similar to the amount you find in David Gemmell’s Troy series, but with less “K”s.

If I am making a Halloween card, I may listen to Halloween like music. This can be tricky because I am not interested in the Monster Mash. At least not over and over again. The same goes for Christmas music when making Christmas Cards. I want a mix of Standards, Classical and Modern (like Sting or Annie Lennox) Throw in some Vince Guaraldi and there’s my Christmas mix.
Speaking of Sting and Annie Lennox, Soundtracks like the Lord of the Rings can be very good, but invariably the Bridge of Khazad Dum comes on at the wrong time. Don’t get me wrong. I love that piece. I should just put it with the Halloween music. ; ). Last of the Mohicans is a favorite also.
When I’m painting landscapes I sometimes like to listen to jazz. I like Charlie Parker best. My jazz world basically centers around Bird. My favorite is Bird with Strings. I also love Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. One of the Best selling jazz albums of all time, the musicians were paid a standard session fee of $10 a day each. That kind of thing really chaps my hide.
I hope this rambling tour of part my working process helps you to find a groove to work to. Or at least provide you with some musical ideas to listen to.

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The Faerie Ring

Violette had been practicing for months. The Summer Solstice Festival was coming on Thorsday and she was going to be singing. Everyone was going to be there: Pansy, and Lily, Poppy, Lavender, & Rose. And there would be boys there too! Ursus the bear, Salamander, Puck, and Jasper. They had all been rehearsing together and the day was finally coming. All the faeries in the valley would be there.
At first Violette had been nervous. She had been given a difficult part and it was important to get it right. The Summer Solstice was sacred to the faerie folk and the Music of the Spheres was the most important part. It didn’t just signify the delicate and intricate symphony that permeated and sustained the Universe; it WAS that symphony. Everyone had to play their part and the Fey valley’s was during the Summer Solstice. Violette was so afraid of making a mistake that she couldn’t sing.
Then Aisling had given her the ring. Aisling was Violette’s favorite aunt and a Pillar of the Circle as well. When the Faeries of the Valley met, they gathered in concentric circles. The priestess was at the center surrounded by her council, and there were Pillars to keep order in all the rest of the circles. They were like the standing stones of the Fey circles of the land: dependable, honorable, wise and without bias. They were the leaders of the Valley and it was a great honor to be chosen by the council to be a Pillar.
The ring was a magical musical instrument. It was wrought of pure gold, and when struck however slightly or hard it rang with a sustaining tone; The root Sound of the Universe. The ring was ancient and bore inscriptions of long dead tongues upon it. If the ring were turned so the wind could pass through it, the Root sang like a ghost. With the ring to guide her, Violette couldn’t go wrong.
She quickly became adept at playing it and everyone who heard her admired her skill. She never tired of it and spent long hours coaxing the ring’s secrets from it. As the days grew longer and the cool nights bore witness to the stars circling the sky, the Fey looked forward to the festival.

They practiced in late afternoon sunshine. It raked across the landscape, touching the trees and the rocks, filtering its way through the leaves and casting long, blue shadows in a patchwork across the wild grass. Jasper had had enough for one day and decided to see if he could get a reaction from Violette. He had been slowly, nonchalantly making his way around behind her. His wings fluttered nearly silently in the still air and he floated up behind Violette. He ran a finger gently up the edge of her shimmering, gossamer wing, which he knew from experience tickled. She jumped and turned and as he propelled himself backwards up into the trees, she laid down the ring and chased after him. Lily saw and pointed and followed to see. Jasper, flitted around the elms and the birch, his ruddy, earthy brown clothes blending in to the woods, making him hard to track even for the other faeries.
Violette would not give up easily and chased him up and around, banking ever on his left to drive him rightward until he almost flew into a briar patch. He stopped to face her and they nearly collided.
“I give up!” he said, hands raised defensively. She closed in on him and pummeled him with her tiny fists, laughing. They were both breathing heavily from the chase. The other faeries gathered around laughing and the cool breeze carried the sound of their laughter through the leaves of the trees to the brook, which giggled along.
They heard the bell for dinner and they flew off to sunset hill where the faeries had their communal dinner each evening as the light of the day slowly faded. Lisa heard the dinner bell, and tore off running for home. She didn’t want to be late again, or she would catch a whuppin for sure! She glided over rocks and wove between trees like the wind itself. She came to the brook and grabbed her skirt by the bottom and gathered it up and leaped the stream in one graceful bound. She could only be this way in the woods. when she was around the other children, she was awkward and shy. She had few friends and longed to tell someone all her ideas and questions. Even if the other person thought they were silly, she wouldn’t care as long as they listened. She came to a small clearing and was momentarily confused. She hesitated for a moment, and in that moment, she lost her balance, tripped and fell.
There, laying on the grass in front of her, slightly hidden was a golden ring.

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Handmade Books Coming Soon!

I’m working on handmade books written and illustrated by yours truly soon to be available on Etsy! (and here!)I’ve written and illustrated books before, but never had any success getting them published (my dream of dreams) for me, it has been a long drawn out process: I was taught to have the entire manuscript done (which I did in two cases, but have several others under construction, which can be seen here.) Then send it in to ONE publisher, which was chosen through careful research to determine the most likely to buy your unsolisited manuscript, then in 6 weeks to 6 months, when it returns rejected; as it will (longer than 6 months is a rejection also) you then repeat the process having eliminated the last publisher. The only way to get a manuscript solicited is to have an agent who can only be gotten by being already published: Yay!

Anyway, I recently discovered that Etsy has a book section (most of which is journals, sketchbooks, repurposed books, and used or vintage books. But there are a few actual original books that are professionally handmade, and I will be adding myself to that category.

I’ve made books before, so I know what I’m getting into. They won’t be cheap, but they will definitely be worth it!

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Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Hello all! I recently read an article which encourages people to narrow their focus to gain success. The impulse is to expand and the author says that confuses potential customers. I am going to give this a try. I have been struggling for a while, couple this with the bad news that my gf & I didn’t get accepted into the craft fair we had applied to, and I’m looking to make improvements. Some things take a while and improvement is something all businesses must constantly look to but it’s hard not to get discouraged. I wonder if I’m marketing on the wrong site; Etsy is primarily handmade stuff, and while all my products are derived from handmade art, many of them are printed out of a computer. I love Etsy and am going to stick with it. I may have to figure out a better production system.
So, to narrow my focus, I’m going to make less greeting cards. Although initially greeting cards was my main focus, they were always just an outlet for my art. I never said, “What can I paint to make a good birthday card?”, I always said, “What kind of card can I make from this painting?” (Of course, I made many Christmas cards just for Christmas with that in mind, but sold none…) I know there are many factors at play but I’m going to give this advise a try. It comes from Handmadeology, which I respect alot.

What I am going to focus on is art prints. Mostly spiritual. I have a total of 21 Saint related product. This is not counting non Christian spiritual products of which there are 12. There are an additional 12 that are motivational or sober related that could be grouped into the spiritual catagory. That’s 45 and there’s still some Easter cards I didn’t count because they have the Easterbunny instead of a spiritual theme to them. I have 83 products total so the remainder are landscapes, dino prints, and other non spiritual products. Now just to be clear, all my Christmas stuff is down, or there would be more of both catagories. Aren’t you glad I’m telling you all this? My hope is that others going through the same struggle will be able to get something out of it even if it’s just commiseration.

So I added some new prints along those lines. I’ve completed 3 more paintings in my “saint” series and I love them all. I’ve listed them as prints on their own, or as posters with some text to go with them. I’ve been visiting the gf’s family and some old friends, so I’ve given up alot of creating time for that. I hope to redouble my output to keep offering great things to people.

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Patchwork Art Fair!

My girlfriend and I have applied to be in the Patchwork Craft show in Santa Ana this May. We haven’t received word that we’ve been accepted but the best strategy is to act as if we have so we can be ready. We are going to label all our stuff, and make displays. It is our first show. We will be sharing a booth. We don’t have a lot of money, but we want to be sure to cover all the basics. We could get a cash register for about $100, but I think that we can do with out it this first time until we can get an idea if this will prove profitable and how difficult it would be to deal with out one. We plan on having aprons with pockets to keep cash in. I think this will serve. I want to get a calculator with a printable tape to give as receipts. This can be had for $15, which is more doable than the $100 register. It cost $80 each to apply and our merchandise ranges from about $4 to about $50. I figure people coming to a street fair style craft show are probably not prepared to spend more than that in cash any way. We could also get a credit card reader for our phones ostensible free when we agree to a processing fee for each transaction. Again, I would like to start simple and complicate things as we become accustomed to what we are doing. I plan on keeping my prices the same as in my etsy shop. I would appreciate any advice or stories of experience you guys may have.
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On Top of Everything I have a Cold.

Well, the holidays are over and I made it out alive. I didn’t have a great Christmas retail season, but my business is still in the learning stages. One piece of mine on Etsy was chosen to be in 8 different treasury lists by the people who curated them. Several others were also in treasuries. I think it’s because I joined a team called “Etsy on Facebook”, or EOF. There are thousands of members, many of whom are buyers (not just other sellers) anyone can join, & they have “discussions” where you post your listings and you favorite someone’s listing and hopefully someone will favorite yours. Your favorites (and theirs show up as people browse through Etsy while they shop. the more of your listings are favorited, the better chance someone will who might buy it will see it. Another piece was favorited 14 times the first night I posted it.

That listing is an original landscape I painted specifically to sell as an original on Etsy. Many of my paintings were originally meant to be illustrations for cards or stories, & I don’t really want to sell them. So I decided that I should create some originals to sell at moderate prices. Night landscapes are my favorite non religious subject to paint, but as I am painting to sell, I’m painting things I think people are looking for. I will continue to do night landscapes and spiritual paintings, as well as block prints, but I am trying to expand my repertoire. Landscape (regular day landscapes), and I decided to paint woodland creatures too. I originally wanted to do a painting a day, but that is a tough goal to keep. I’ve painted a couple of paintings that didn’t come out because I didn’t give them enough time or have the right reference to work from or whatever.

To this end I purchased a poshod box with my Xmas bonus (thank you San Clemente Art Supply) it is a Sienna brand that I have had my eye on for some time. I got the medium [there is no small apparently; it’s like Starbucks; ) .] It fits in my new backpack that my girlfriend, Rose, got me for Christmas. I also got a tripod with a gift certificate that I got. (A poshod box is like a French easel that attaches to a camera tripod or can be used on a table top without the tripod) I got my first opportunity to use it today and went out to the hills near my girlfriend’s house. I could never have painted in that spot without the poshod box. As a watercolorist, I have talked myself out of getting it for a long time because any flat surface can be used to paint on (like a much less expensive TV tray for instance.) but on this hillside, I doubt I could have even set up a French easel which isn’t as adjustable as a tripod. The painting came out O.K. I guess. I was irritated that at the end I nearly wrecked it by putting in to heave a brush stroke on a branch of the tree in the foreground. Then I erased half the tree when I wiped it off. It was late in the afternoon and I had to get home, it was getting dark too, so I was really short on time. I fixed it pretty quick which was good, but also irritating because it took me all day to paint but only a minute to fill in what had been wiped away. Still I’m happy with it over all.

Finally, I am also creating bookmarks. One I made specifically to be a bookmark & another I made from an existing illustration. I hope all this begins to pay off soon. I really hope to begin to learn how to make this into my livelihood. This is the year to realize that the artists I know aren’t superhuman, their work isn’t any better than mine (mostly) and that I am just as much of an artist as they are and I should start acting like it. My next move will be to join the San Clemente Art Association.

Wish me luck.

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abstract = spiritual? (add a question mark to cover your a**)

My past 2 endeavours have been at abstract paintings. I’m trying to get a more immediate spiritual impact with my viewers. Also, I feel like abstract paintings (if done successfully) have some kind of fine art legitimacy that my regular illustrative paintings may lack. I used to want to create “abstract representational” paintings. I haven’t tried that in a long time and at least the nightscape is an attempt to get back to that feel. they are both just in progress. so I’ll let you know how it goes.

The second painting has some subtractive elements, I haven’t been able to utilize in watercolors before thanks to a brush called a scrubber. It’s very liberating!

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Saints Above!

OK, I think I’ve figured out a routine. I paint, I post, I blog. I bet that sounds cool in Latin. This week’s blog is going to be about saints. I have made several paintings of saints and my newest one is of Saint Hildegard. More on her later; right now I want to talk about paintings of saints and saints in general. As I have stated in previous posts; I like painting saints because I consider it like a meditation on a holy subject. I study the saint, I spend time and energy concentrating on the saint and his or her actions even as I paint the picture. I also feel like the resulting painting might bring someone some kind of solace to see it or to have a copy for themselves.
There is certainly no shortage of paintings of saints in the history of art. The Church has been a major sponsor of artists throughout its existence. In fact in pre-renaissance times, art music and writing had to dedicated to the church or the reining monarch of the land. Of course there was art created that was not and we call that folk art. folk art is usually considered less refined and less valuable than fine art.
With the rise of the merchant class and education among the laity, the demand for secular art rose. Then further, with the advent of Protestantism, even representation of religious subjects evolved. Landscapes became metaphors for creation and holy things. Religious wars caused a reliance on coded paintings; ie, lilies represented the Resurrection, and roses were a symbol of the Virgin Mary. These symbols existed previous to these times but became more prevalent due to religious persecution and the evolution of art in general.
As art continued to evolve throughout the ages, religious art changed accordingly; the baroque through modern times have their own symbols and styles specific to themselves. In today’s post modern world, I open art magazines and visit galleries and museums and it seems that artists are free to follow their preferences. I see no overarching movement that artists have to conform to or be part of to ride the popular wave of the times.
My paintings are generally in watercolor, though I often then run them through photoshop, their style is simply marked by habits I have formed through years of painting. As I said I research the subject and try to put it in the proper time; ie, costumes and the like. There is a long tradition of clothing biblical characters in contemporary clothing and local scenery and ethnicity. Sometimes I might employ these techniques for the purposes of making a point to the viewer, but in general it seems like you’re doing your homework if you take pains to use proper context, and you’re not if you don’t.
As for my new painting of Saint Hildegard, I decided to do another saint painting as a friend of mine has expressed interest in having a collection of them. St Hildegard was a lady who lived in the early 12th century. She had seen visions since she was 5yrs old. as the 10th child and perhaps because she was sickly (her visions were accompanied by migraine headaches) her parents tithed her to the church (they get a 10th of everything you own, you know). She became a Benedictine nun when she was 14, and became abbess when she was 39. When she was 42, her visions commanded her to write them down. She also was an herbalist, and a composer of sacred music. This was all very prolific for a woman of her times. I first heard about her through a recording of her music made by Anonymous4, a favorite group of mine. At a sacred book shop, I stumbled upon a book of her work; Scivias, just as I was looking for a new project. I was blown away by the poetry and beauty of the imagery.
I set the painting in a forest near the first abbey she was stationed at and depicted her as a young woman. She is usually depicted as older because that is when she began to chronicle her visions, but she had been a nun since she was a teenager, and a visionary since she was five, and I felt like this period of her life is often glossed over. She is shown in the midst of an ecstatic vision, and the forest represents one of her major themes; green nature. my reference material is actually of the forest her abbey Disibodenberg was situated in.
There are also many saints of India and many other cultures around the world. If I can, in some small way through my art and through my actions, I would like to put them all under one roof and demonstrate to the world that all the paths lead to the same source.