Tag Archives: acrylics

Saturday, 4/30/11: John Fisher

Thanks to guest writer Cameron Hawkey for today’s post.

Today I briefly met with artist John Fisher. Working with a swift efficiency, he was already laying down the finishing strokes for his painting when I sat down to speak with him. “I have to leave pretty soon,” he said to me in a easy manner as he dabbed at the canvas. “I have to go pick up my son from soccer.” Being a father is a full-time job, true, but he’s also the art director of Sockeye ad agency. The man doesn’t dally. When he has time, though, he paints. As a painter of mostly landscapes, his understanding of weather is quite good, along with his consideration of light: a storm cloud envelops the land in his painting, and yet a little remaining afternoon sunlight still seeps through the cloudbank onto the field below. The sunlight was his final addition, made with a liner brush. Stepping back, he gave the landscape a final appraising look, and then called it a day. He signed the painting, put away his paints (M.Graham acrylics), folded up his easel, and stepped out into the afternoon to attend a soccer game.

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Friday, 4/29/11: Shannon Mayorga

Shannon bases his work on symbols and references with personal meaning or appeal.  Some of these references are visual and some are word associations. The images and ideas that find their way into Shannon’s paintings often refer to his ethnic heritage, memories from travels, and objects of natural history.  Shannon works primarily in oils, but often builds first layers with acrylics (especially when he needs to complete a painting more quickly) and finishes with glazes in oils.  Recently, he has been incorporating more mixed media elements into his work by collaging bits of ephemera that he has found or collected.

Shannon started today by building a scumbled background with rich, dark earthtones.  Onto this background, he collaged some bus tickets from a trip to Mexico, an illustration of a crown (corona) from an old label, and in the center, an illustration of a cross section of the brain (corona radiata).  Shannon brought the shell of a horseshoe crab and a small animal skull as visual references.  He painted almost ghostly depictions of these objects onto his background, positioned in each corner of the canvas.  The final elements he added were characters from the Mayan alphabet, imagery that Shannon uses frequently in his work.

Shannon starts his paintings with specific visual references in mind, but does not usually have the whole composition planned out in advance.  He allows the objects he’s chosen to suggest ideas as he works.  Although he doesn’t mind explaining where his ideas come from and the specific meanings, if any, that the objects  in his paintings have for him, he wants viewers to make their own associations with the imagery and the relationships between the parts.  The nebulous backgrounds and floating imagery in Shannon’s work create a mysterious quality that invites viewers to ask questions and imagine possible answers about the ideas and feelings his paintings convey.

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Thursday, 4/28/11: Spencer Hawkes

Thanks to guest writer Kinoko Evans for today’s post.

Spencer Hawkes arrived at Muse armed with several pencil thumbnail sketches, fully prepared to take one image to the final stage.  “I draw all the time when I’m sitting around,” says Hawkes. In a crisp combination of M. Graham and Golden Acrylics, Hawkes fleshed out his newest robot portrait. With a playful shade of orange, this robot expressively strategizes over a game of chess. Painting mechanical figures offers Hawkes the creative freedom over anatomy. This allows him to invent whimsical, stylistic characters that don’t challenge predetermined expectations viewers have when a figure is human. Hawkes says that his love for robots came long before his recent stay in Japan. Having only just returned to Portland a few months ago, Hawkes was delighted to share stories about his adventures that include sketch book drawings of riders on Japanese Rail and of learning to play bike polo with Japanese cyclists.

Having been raised by a father who is a professional illustrator, Hawkes talked about his early exposure to the practice and world of narrative image. Being taken to midnight showings of Star Wars with his dad has been added to his list of early influences. Having illustration artists brought to his attention at an early age gave him an awareness of styles and he mentions John Ford and James Gurney artists that he has drawn inspiration from.

This summer, Hawkes will be living in Portland where he enjoys bicycle culture, drawing comics and drawing observational details of the city including its food carts. In a few more months, Hawkes will be moving on again, this time to Utah where his will be returning to Brigham Young University in order to complete his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art with a Major in Illustration.

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Wednesday, 4/27/: Jennifer Mark

Thanks to guest writer Mesha Koczian for today’s post.

Jennifer Mark prefers to use Golden Fluid Acrylics in her work. She extends them with Golden gloss mixed with water to get a transparent look. She was once asked to paint a series of works on old nautical charts for a global cruise line depicting scenes from the Pacific coast. She saw it as a fun challenge and hasn’t stopped even though she no longer works for the cruise line. An era is passing in the way of old charts. GPS is used on almost all boats now and the charts may not be required on board for much longer.

First she ages the charts to give the old look. She says, “I love researching and learning the history of the areas I’m painting. I learned about lead dropping and how it was used to get the depths of the ocean for the ships to sail safely. The most people have died around Astoria doing that job, giving it the nickname of the Graveyard of the Pacific.” After her research, she picks a scene and projects it onto the chart and traces the outline in pencil. Then she slowly layers up the colors and adjusts according to the color on the map. She wants the chart showing through, but not so much that it distracts from the scene. The gloss mix helps achieve this by giving vivid color and transparency. Her last painted layer is the fine lines of the rigging and sails. She uses a “rigger,” a brush invented by sailors to draw rigging on ships, and a pen against a straight edge for a crisp, clean line. More recently, she’s been experimenting with hiding things in the water because of all the hidden places under the ocean. “There are so many hidden treasures under the sea,” she explains. If you look close, you might see a face peeking out at you from one of her works.

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Tuesday, 4/25/11: Liz Walker

Liz Walker brought her creative energy to Muse today to work on an acrylic painting with elements of printmaking and collage.   Liz likes to bring a lot of pattern and texture into her paintings and tries to avoid large areas of plain solid colors.  Along with her paints and brushes, Liz brought some paper scraps and wallpaper and fabric swatches with her.  She cut and painted small pieces of paper and collaged them into her painting to add a bit of texture and dimension to the pillows on the couch.  She used the texture of the wallpaper and fabric pieces to print and stamp patterns onto her painting with contrasting colors of paint.  To get the blended and scumbled look she likes, Liz says she’s also been incorporating more gray tones and neutrals into her paintings and juxtaposing them against brighter colors.

Liz enjoys painting figures in everyday settings.  The shapes and colors she chooses give her  scenes balance, order, and visual interest that would work equally well as abstract compositions.  “I work from chaos to order,” Liz says as she builds the layers of her painting.  She finds that getting started with a painting is the easy part, but proceeding to the point of knowing when and how to finish is the real challenge.

Liz teaches beginning watercolor painting as well as acrylic monotype at Multnomah Arts Center and Village Gallery of Arts.  In addition to the An Artist A Day event this month, she is participating in an upcoming show at the Village Gallery of Arts in which 100 artists will exhibit four 6×6 paintings.  More of her work can be seen on her website, lizwalkerart.com.

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Sunday, 4/24/11: Brent Wear

Thanks to guest writer Kinoko Evans for today’s post.

Brent Wear’s painting of a bird in a pink rabbit suit hosts the elements typical of his paintings plus the candy fun part of having been painted on Easter. Birds in disguise or just peeping around fulfill the subject matter of Wear’s work. He has also been working another set of paintings that are exclusively abstract. Enjoying the paint and the process, this gives him the evolved textures in color he often places characters into. The backgrounds are rich with washes and under painting that he mixes by paring acrylic paints and house paint. After long experimentation with the practice and process of oils and some with spraying paint, Wear has focused on solvent free, water based mediums.

When asked about all the birds, Wear says that he likes them. He considers himself an amateur bird watcher. Recently, a murder of crows has befriended Wear. Ever since he fed them peanuts, they follow him for blocks.  Wear knows a lot of Crow facts too, like that they can memorize garbage removal schedules and that they can problem solve and use sticks as tools. Some of Wear’s painted birds are crows. Some are smaller and red.  Sometimes the birds are painted with antenna ending in pink poms. Occasionally People tell him that those birds read as aliens. Sometimes the creatures are just creatures. Brent Wear’s paintings are plucky, mysterious and narrative. Currently, he is working on a children’s book and his paintings will exhibit in August at Equilibrium in NW Portland.

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Friday, 4/22/11: Shannon Wheeler

Thanks to guest writer Kinoko Evans for today’s post.

Portland’s strong community of cartoonists boasts a string of significant artists. Shannon Wheeler is among them, especially noteworthy for his comic character Too Much Coffee Man. His comics have been published by The Onion and more recently in The New Yorker. His collection of single panel comics, titled I Thought You Would Be Funnier, that is up for an Eisner award this year, and he keeps busy, currently working on five, yes five, new book releases, including a new book of Too Much Coffee Man, a Bible with Top Shelf and Grandpa Won’t Like It, that is scheduled for release in October.

Today at Muse, Wheeler set aside drawing long enough to paint out a bright, new portrait of his character Too Much Coffee Man. The recognizable image brought passer bys into the store for a closer look. In Golden brand acrylics, Wheeler popped out Too Much Coffee Man’s red suit and dappled on the highlights of his beloved pot of coffee. This crowd pleasing image has coffee drinkers in Portland smiling about the uniting ritual of coffee.

After years of Too Much Coffee Man, the character still resonates with many readers, and Wheeler is far from ready to quit creating. He discussed the marathon of producing daily and weekly comics. Taking the day to paint is a treat. Producing ten panels, at least, a week, alone for The New Yorker keeps Wheeler quite busy with drawing. He’s been working hard, and he proves it with the list of published works, upcoming books and a portfolio New Yorker panels he brought with him to Muse. Each panel comic is inked in black line, grey scale is added with alcohol marker or ink washes and a number penciled to the side of the page helps count and track the pieces. Wheeler politely comments that he has been enjoying exploring with ink washes, expressing that he can communicate more with a minimal ink wash. While the panel cartoons with ink wash add grace and value to his line art, Wheeler’s work is overall fun and the iconic finish of Too Much Coffee Man on canvas is signature to his work.

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