Tag Archives: Illinois State University Post Card Art

Busy as a Bee

Well it has been many weeks since I’ve checked in here, so I’m going to cover some ground and get caught up.  Life have been hectic!  Work has been busy and frustrating over the last month or two.  Things at home seem just as busy and in between all of that I manage to squeeze in some art time.  :-\

The Raven painting got shelved… I got so irritated with the center black book that I had to stop before I killed the entire thing.  It’s been sitting facing the wall in timeout at my studio for about as long as I’ve been neglectful of my blog here.  People ask me about it, and I’ve finally got back into the mood to continue work on it.  My time will be split between The Raven and some commission work I’ve started.  I need to dig in and really get some painting done.


Speaking of art, I was recently invited to speak about my work at the Eaton’s Studio & Gallery http://www.eatonstudiogallery.com/  Herb and his wife Pam have been most generous in giving me the floor during one of their Wednesday Gather at the Gallery meetings.  I enjoyed talking about my art and how things have evolved over the last four to five years for me.  In addition to this opportunity I was able to whip up a few small paintings for the Friends of the Arts 5th Annual fundraiser for the College of Fine Arts at Illinois State University: http://finearts.illinoisstate.edu/support/postcardart.shtml  I donated two small postcard sized watercolors:  ‘Sunglasses‘ and an untitled painting. Both are 4″ x 6″ postcard watercolors.

ImageImageI’ve come to enjoy working smaller, but it is very difficult to develop the details I savor in my larger work.  I have to truncate a lot of the subtle variations in light and color while trying to achieve the effects I love to show.  I was unable to attend the opening so I don’t know who went home with my work, I hope these little paintings find a good frame and a cozy wall or corner to reside in.  I also finished another smaller painting which is the fifth of my fruit series.  I named it “Intermingling”.  I’m pretty satisfied with these smaller pieces but its time to move on to other subjects.  I’ll probably work in more smaller paintings while I hammer away at large works I have to do.

ImageThe first quarter of 2012 has brought me a few festival and exhibition rejections.  This has been the third year I have applied to the Peoria Art Guilds Fine Art Fair. That is $105.00 in application fee’s out the window.  I won’t be applying again, enough is enough.  I don’t know what they are looking for, I wish I did.  I have friends who get into this show year after year.  I have been around long enough to know my craftsmanship and technique is just as strong, my booth shots just as clean and professional looking.   My work should speak for itself…  I didn’t make the Missouri National nor the AWS.  I missed the Transparent Watercolor Societies deadline, so I’ll still keep trying next year.  I think it’s time to send in some portrait type of work instead of the still life subjects I’ve been shopping around the watercolor society shows.  Just ahead is the IWS’s small waters exhibition, the NWS and Watercolor West’s  juried exhibitions.

“Yes John you can apply to all of these shows, you just need to produce some new work!”

Next weekend is the opening of the Illinois Watercolor Societies 28th National Watercolor Exhibition.  My painting “Made in China” was juried in.  I took a little road trip up to The Next Picture Show Gallery in Dixon IL last Sunday to drop it off.  I got a sneak peak of the other paintings and I must say I am pretty impressed.  I have a few favorites I think are going to pull in some awards.  I’ll be in good company for sure.

The SpringBloom Art Festival came and went.  It was in a new venue this year.  It is a small local indoor show I like to attend because it gets me back into the festival mindset.  I re-learn how to put up my erector set of a tent up while I get insights on improving and tweaking my presentation for later shows in the year.  I am thankful for the help my wife Jenny gives me every show.


Without her and some muscle from Ed and the other kids, setting up and tearing down would be an ordeal.  My festival agenda is spotty at the moment.  I am on a few wait lists and may get moved onto another.  I hope things pan out so I can attend my hometown outdoor festival and perhaps the 4th Street Festival in Bloomington Indiana.  I was close to the wait list in Columbus this year but I’m getting short on time and unless they call soon, I won’t make it there in June.  Time will tell.

By next post, I hope to have finished a new large commission and have resolved the challenges with The Raven.  More to come!


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The Little Art Exhibit

A friend of mine stopped by a few weeks back and asked if I was interested in participating in a little post card art exhibit designed  to raise grant money for art students in need at the university here.  Somewhat enthused I said yes.  We chatted a bit in the studio and as the conversation went on, I became more interested in attending the entire affair.

I had about a week to donate a small post card sized painting so I started rummaging through a lot of my old photos.  One sprang to mind; it was a shot I snatched with my phone that was one of those right time right place photos.  This image has been lurking in the back of my mind since, begging to be brought back to life in watercolor.

Normally I like to work larger, but I had already scaled down to a few 7” x 12” sized paintings and I figured a 4” x 6” would not be too different.  To my surprise, painting this was fun!  There are some interesting techniques to painting small and there is a mastery to be achieved even at this scale.  I’d even argue that smaller art demands more attentiveness and precision.  I got the post card done and turned it in on the last day.  Fast forward to the artist reception.

4" x 6" Watercolor

4" x 6" Watercolor

I was a bit nervous, and didn’t know what to expect.  There were some familiar faces in attendance and it didn’t take too long to get into a mingling mood.  There were 100’s of post cards hanging and I recognized a few and liked about a dozen more.  Two hours later I had strolled the exhibit several times, had a few glasses of wine and even got to vote on my favorites.

Fast forward again to the event opening.  Dressed in business casual, I strolled in last Saturday with a bit more confidence and felt an equal as far as the artist factor goes.  Sixteen of the highest voted pieces were picked out to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.  An entry ticket ran $60.00 but it guaranteed you would walk out with an original piece of art.  In addition there was an open bar and a great selection of Hors d’oeuvres.  I had about ten votes on my little painting, which was well above average but not enough to get on the spotlight auction.

About 100 people attended, there was instrumental live music, plenty of wine and food and things got going once the bidding started on any painting that had more than one claim sticker on it.  The bidding was intoxicating and it was very tempting to just run with it in the excitement.  I had my eye on three pieces, so I put my bid number stickers on all three.   Two of the three had other bid stickers on them, which meant I had to out-bid my competitors.  If you were the lone sticker on a piece it was yours for your ticket price or 50.00 if you had subsequent stickers on additional art.

I had stickers on a figurative watercolor depicting a horses head, a photo of a classic car zoomed in tight on the reflections around the passenger mirror and windows and lastly a vivid landscape crafted by a local artist name Jeff Little.  I lost the bidding war on the horse, was unopposed on the car photo and had more competition on the landscape which was last to be bid on as far as my stickers were concerned.  Jeff Little’s painting finally came up.  He’s a great artist  http://www.angelfire.com/art/wiredjeff/ that has been in the craft for a long time.  I am drawn to his work because it is detailed and tight but also displays great color expression and depth.  All his landscapes are well composed, meticulous and very vibrant.

Bidding opened at 60.00 and it jumped very quickly to 100.00.  I opted in around that time and held on till it hit 150.00 before I had to contemplate what the consequences may be for buying art when we didn’t budget for it.  The four glasses of Malbec said to keep bidding, but the “You’re going to get your ass kicked when you get home” told me to put my bid card down and not challenge the 200.00.  Wiser in my old age I had to watch my favorite painting go to another buyer.

The best thing about this was the fact that I met Jeff and got to chat for a spell during the event.  I also met several other people and got to talk to some (yes you Karen!) that I had only been introduced to before.  The Post Card Art show was great, and I’m glad I attended as well as submitted work.  I’ll be back next year for sure, hoping to exceed the $160.00 my picture brought in this year.

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