Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"playing his last game with the moon..."

Grasping color was as far as the distance of the moon.

My first successful painting was in black and white.

Recently I was interviewed by a writer from Southwest Art Magazine for an upcoming article in the February 2014 issue. During that interview I was asked several questions about the road of my becoming an artist which of course lead to my college years and my inability to paint. Towards the very end of my senior year I had finally created to what I consider to this date my first successful painting and that painting always hangs in my studio to remind me that every obstacle can be met, tackled and eventually with patience overturned.
I majored in Communications Arts with a concentration in Illustration so all of my work from college revolves around illustrating stories. To this day I am not sure if I choose this particular book or if it was the professor but I illustrated the story  "The Distance of the Moon" by Italo Calvino which was in his book “Cosmicomics.” I later went and illustrated the cover as well in color which I felt was okay but not as strong as the interior black and white illustration for “The Distance of the Moon.”

"The Distance of the Moon"
Alkyds on Illustration board

I would have to read the story again to tell you what it was about since it was so long ago but I can quote the passage that the painting was inspired by only because I highlighted it in the book with a note, "this is the piece!"
"And I recognized, we both-the Captain's wife and I-recognized my cousin: it couldn't have been anyone else, he was playing his last game with the moon, one of his tricks, with the Moon on the tip of his pole as if he were juggling with her."
Some of the imagery for this scene came from a previous passage where they describe the "pole" that was being used to juggle the moon.
"It must have been made of bamboo, of many, many bamboo poles stuck one into the other, and to raise it they had to go slowly because-thin as it was-if they let it sway too much it might break."
So from these passages my first successful painting was created and to this day I believe it was because it was in black and white. Color adds a whole new dimension to creating, which I understand today but just couldn't grasp back in my college days. Incidentally the man in the illustration is a college friend of mine who is quite the artist himself and I have started to see new figurative works by him recently that as they did back in school, just blew my socks off.

Below is the color cover illustration that i created a few months after the one above. My father, being the proud parent of an artist hangs this in his home office and every time I see it, I cringe.

Alkyds on Illustration board

Sometimes it good to walk down memory lane, it reminds us that what we now see as easy once was as difficult as what we have before us today. That is why "The Distance of the Moon" always hangs on my studio wall.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Like minded individuals...

Adventure in Tanzania 2013! Part 1

It has been two weeks now since my return from Tanzania and I am still processing  all that I saw, felt, touched and yes smelled. I took 15,964 photos while on safari this time and it will take me some time to go through all of them to organize and revisit the memories of the actual events. Such great moments from seeing hippos in Silale swamp, apparently this is the first time in 13 years, to a great big bull elephant , that we got extremely close to and our surprise visit to Ngorongoro Crater.

Hippo in Silale swamp, Tarangire NP, Tanzania

I had the privilege of spending 13 days in Tanzania with eight world class artists and what a great time it was to spend every moment with like minded individuals. We were up every morning at 5:00am, in the Land Cruisers at 5:45 and at the park gate promptly at 6:00 am when they opened. From there we went ALL day most of the time note returning back to camp until after dark. It was not uncommon for us to eat breakfast, bush breakfast in a box, at 10-11:00 am and our lunch around 3:00pm which was also a bush meal. We would have to be out of the park promptly at 6pm each evening and let me tell you we pushed it to the very last minute, driving as fast as we could because we didn’t want to leave that particular animal with the brilliant lighting until we had too. We would get out the gate just in time and then because the camp was another half an hour through the bush we would continue to squeeze out every last minute of sunlight that we could. Some of us would even continue long after the lighting turned well….. not usable for reference. “Hapana jua” - No Sun

The other artists and I were in all invited to participate in this trip by African Wildlife Trust and it’s founder Pratik Patel. We are all AWT Artist Ambassadors working to help AWT in it’s mission to help protect and bring awareness to the ever growing problem of Elephant poaching in Tanzania as well as the welfare of other African wildlife. Each of the artists will be creating an original piece inspired from this trip that will be given to AWT and then auctioned off with all of the proceeds from the auction going directly to AWT and the African Elephant! Below is the list of the the AWT Artist Ambassadors from this amazing adventure in Tanzania!

Photo courtesy of John Agnew
Artists from Left to right: Sandy Scott, Tony Pridham, John Agnew, Jan Martin McGuire,
James Gary Hines II, Robert Louis Caldwell, Paul Dixon, Julie Askew, Dale Weiler