Dec 24, 2014

Painting Evolution

One of my favorite uses for a blog is to track the evolution of paintings. I am intrigued with the changing versions and documenting them makes it easier to paint over moments of a painting that I like but that don't make for a good whole-piece. This one isn't finished so there will probably be several more versions.

And here's the thumbnails I started with: sketchbooks are awesome!

Dec 23, 2014

Jim Donnelly and the Mechanical Paradox Orrery

I forgot to post the article I wrote about Jim Donnelly who makes 18th century scientific demonstration apparatus in his own machine shop. His story was very inspiring and reminds me how life can give us opportunities to discover what we love and get more and more involved with it despite any reticence we might have. Here's the article, Conversation Orbits. And here is Jim's web-site if you want to get directly to the business of viewing Mechanical Paradox Orreries, Napier's Bones, and more.

One of my favorite sections was cut for space reasons about how Jim and his circle of friends inspired eachother's learning. They each have their own shop and would occasionally use eachother's tools. "There’s a special artifact of that process...” Donnelly says, “ The synergy of the different needs and skills of this little group of people have contributed to our collective ability to do more than we ever imagined was possible” 

I love that quote. For the technically inclined the specific story he used as an example was how "Mark wanted to use my mill to make circuit boards, that involves cutting very thin lines into copper.…well Mark really pushed the envelope for what my machine can do and then he stumbled across the idea of adding a high speed spindle to the mill so we could turn a bit much faster. That led to a whole new chain of learning about how you cut metal in small dimensions which has revolutionized what I can do in the shop, that’s partly where the Napier’s bones engravings come from." 

It was also wonderful to be reminded that we never know what amazing things our neighbor's might be up to unless we ask. I waited on Jim at the restaurant I work at. I never would have known he builds orreries except he came in one day with a large, extra nerdy looking book that I had to inquire about. I hardly ever see people with books anymore, much less sciencey-looking books. I'm so glad I asked and then had the opportunity to share his story with the community.

Dec 2, 2014

Giving Tuesday

It's giving Tuesday, the perfect day for me to finally commit a percentage of my art proceeds to charity. I've been meaning to do this for a while since I have more art than extra income and thought I should wait until I am better at marketing so I could make a more meaningful contribution. But we all know with money it's easy to fool ourselves into thinking its never enough and I've realized that giving is a skill one can practice to get better at.

There are a lot of organizations I'd like to support, from now until the end of April I'll be saving for the Corvallis Environmental Center. I love that they work to protect the environment, educate the community, feed less fortunate folks and connect school kids with healthy, locally grown food. I'll start the pot out with some tip money from my part-time serving job and add to it 15 % of all sales of cards and paintings from my web-site. I will also add 20% of my portion of sales through other parties, like galleries, shops and print-on-demand services.

Dec 1, 2014

Sketches and Struggles

I felt a little disturbed at the text to image ratio here on Weight of a Crow and decided to post some process pictures to even it up. These are studies for a new illustrated poem book I want to make.

Actually I made this poem into a book a long time ago but wanted to revise it, here's a couple photos from the original:

And here is the current state of treescape 55, I am struggling with it and tempted to paint over the whole thing and start over. I totally enjoy working on it even though I can't figure out how to make the background as woodsy as it really is without overwhelming the foreground.

Nov 30, 2014

Upcoming Shows...

From December 3rd to 31st my my art will be part of the Something Red Art Walk in Salem, Oregon. You can find the paintings I have on display along with their locations here.

On December 18th from 4pm - 7pm I will be showing with Temporary Artist's Guild in Corvallis at The Advocate Loft, 425  SW Madison, as part of the monthly Corvallis Arts Walk.

For the month of May I will be showing my installation Choreography at The Arts Center in the Corrine Woodman Gallery, Corvallis, Oregon.

Nov 7, 2014

Corvallis Art Center Preview

I wrote a preview of the upcoming season at The Art Center in Corvallis for The Advocate but the article is so much more than a list of shows. I interviewed Cynthia Spencer, the executive director of The Arts Center about all the services the Center provides the community, the challenges of running an arts organization and the necessity for optimism and arts education in the community. Spencer has an impeccable attitude. For her optimism is not a pair of rose colored glasses, it is the understanding that enthusiasm and a willingness to work hard and extend oneself to to others yields results.

Here is the article:

Oct 8, 2014

Art Fair Confidential

This is my favorite painting from Forest of Arts last weekend. It was my third art fair and I decided to bring my paints along so I wouldn’t be staring at customers all day while they look around my booth. I started out reworking an old treescape that didn’t feel finished but in the heat of the day my attention span dissolved and I started painting abstracts and experiments (below.)

Deciding to participate in art fairs happened suddenly. I had been interested for years but always came up with reasons why it wouldn’t work. Then I was interviewing Jennifer Lommers about the opening of her new shop Studio 262. Afterwards I asked her a technical question about putting her work on-line as prints. In the course of her answer she said, “I was willing to make mistakes.” I’ve heard the sentiment a million times that we need to be willing to make mistakes to learn and reach our goals but in contemplating starting a business I was hampered by an irrational fear that any less-than-professional impression I made would be instantly and permanently imprinted world-wide. Something about Jennifer being a real and inspiring person instead of a personal-growth book triggered a complete rewrite of that program and I found myself immediately impatient to go out and make mistakes.

I had to remind myself of that eagerness many times while I tried to make a nice booth set-up on a limited budget. Because I know a few basic carpentry skills I assumed I could build display walls…someone should have filmed that slapstick. Two art fairs later, my set-up had no remnant of my original construction. I was tempted to feel bad about wasted materials and time but remembered the importance of mistakes. It’s no different than a painting. They tend to be better when there is some struggle and revision involved leaving mysterious under-layers, textures and edges. There was nothing to do but be happy I finally took a risk and then turn the table-saw on to rip all that wasted lumber into framing material. 

At the first fair I looked around at other people’s booths and realized that most of my efforts were somewhat unnecessary. I was so afraid of doing things wrong I did a ton of research on-line and developed some high-standards for myself. Other artists who were starting out came up with nice displays with just folding tables and crates and such. If I had that sort of willingness to jump in I could have started doing art fairs years ago and while that might not get me in to the high end art fairs right away, who cares? Starting out small then growing seems like a sane and natural way to get into a financially risky endeavor like selling art.

I have one more fair next weekend in Newport. Then I will take a break, work on paintings and make a schedule for the application deadlines for the fairs I want to get into next year. 

Here's my booth from Forest of Arts:

Sep 21, 2014

Shoe Box Studio

I’ve been organizing my studio today, aka one side of my bedroom where I have two tables a bookshelf and a closet. Sometimes I think a need a whole room before I can really work. I do think it’s important to take my art seriously enough to give it the space it needs to flourish but I have a hunch that making do with what I have is the express route to a bigger space in the future. Right now I feel obligated to cherish the space I have, so many people work harder with less. 

There was a time in my own life when I lived in a tiny bedroom in New Mexico and my studio was a shoe box under the table next to my bed. Inside was a sketch book, pencil, pen, colored pencils, and set of oil pastels. I treasured that shoe box more than any material thing before or since. My situation in New Mexico is a whole different story but imagine that it was intense and not exactly positive. Every time I got that box out it was magical, it was the place where I got to be myself and hold my sanity. It was so nourishing I remember that time of my life as a very soulful one and am still puzzled at the paradox.

I love the image of a much treasured shoebox under the bedside table as an inspiration for my current work space. There are plenty of pictures out in the world of amazing, charming, quaint, and glamorous studio spaces but it’s the practice that makes the space. Instead of waiting for the day I have a separate room dedicated to art I work at making a dedicated practice, dedicating time to paint, to sketch, to look for opportunities to share my work, to enjoy my creativity at its most earnest— loving the things I love no matter how silly. I’d like to believe I don’t even need a shoe box. A sketch book and pencil would do…the camera and recorder on my phone…anything that motivates me to observe and record.

Honestly when I do have a separate studio it probably still won’t be enough space. Sometimes when we think we want more space what we really want is a feeling of ease in our surroundings and that is more surely developed through patience and organization. I’m curious to see: how would my art practice change if I also dedicated more time to cleaning up and putting things away? It’s a romantic idea for me, like a Zen monk calmly chopping wood and sweeping the floor, totally in sync with the turning earth and the twinkling stars. I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime I’d love to hear your thoughts about studio space. 

Aug 29, 2014

Bicycle Birding

I wrote an article for the Corvallis Advocate about birding on bicycles with the Corvallis Audubon society.

Check it out here!

Showing at Main Street Art and Craft Fair in Portland, Oregon!

I will be at Main Street Art and Craft Festival on September 6th in Portland! I will have original paintings, intaglio prints, illustrated books as well as cards and recycled art envelopes.

I'm looking forward to it, come visit me there, SE 45th and Main.

Here's my booth from last weekend at CIMA.

Aug 4, 2014


I will have a booth at this year's Corvallis Imagination Music and Arts Festival Aug 15-16 in Starker Arts Park! I will be selling original oil and acrylic paintings, intaglio prints, and greeting cards. More information about CIMA here.

Aug 3, 2014


I am now part of Temporary Artists' guild in Corvallis. Check out their Facebook Page...lot's of wonderful art there!