Tag Archives: Madison

Marble Madness!

meI remember playing marbles back in the 70’s when I was a kid living in Michigan.  We played for “Keepsies” on occasion and I lost a few Cats Eye’s and Steely’s.  I ended up trading back for those most of the time, but it always cost me more junky marbles.

It was a different time then I guess.

My two sons didn’t  play marbles growing up, and I don’t think to many kids play these days?

Anyways between serious big wheel races, melting my army men down to slag with matches and Lysol, and just running around outside all summer I lost all my marbles.

So… I’ve been looking for some new ones for a while now.  I struck gold when I bumped into Phillip Nolley an artisan glass blower at the Columbus Art Festival a year back.  We had a nice conversations that day and I bought a few pieces from him.  I also asked if he would do me up some nice large marbles.  Boy did he come through!  I guess I should let him know his marbles are flat and in watercolor now.

Check these babies out!


Marbles don’t paint nearly as fast as some of the other smaller

paintings I have done, so these four new 5″ x 7″ paintings took me a long time.  I got better as I went and the last one is my favorite.  There will be a large epic marble painting in my future.  :]

Marbles4 Marbles2

Marbles3 Marbles1

I have not figured out names, I’ll probably go with Marbles I-IV, yes I know very original.

OK shameless plug here:

These new originals will showcase at the Spring Bloom Arts Festival coming up Saturday March 30th at the Bloomington Interstate Center.  They will be framed and double matted @ $225.00 each.  If your tax refund is burning an art hole in your pocket, you can be the proud owner of all four original paintings for $800.00.  My last batch of 5″ x 7″ fruit paintings sold in about 45 days, so don’t sit on the fence and miss out.

Talk to you Thursday.

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Summer Art

Summer has been good here at Madison Art.  I’ve not been painting as much as I like, yet the watercolor train is still moving, albeit slowly.  I finished another small painting, which sort of tops off my interest in fruits as a subject to paint.  The newest edition to my collection is “Lunch in the Sun“.


A small little 9″ x  12″ with a lovely Glasswing butterfly.  These are beautiful creatures native to Central and South America.  And yes they have transparent wings!  It’s a shame they can’t be found around central Illinois.  If you are curious about them check out TwistedSifter for some amazing photos.

I’m ready to move on to other things.  There will always be a special place in my heart for still life paintings, and I’ll probably continue to produce them but it’s time to mix in some figurative work.  I’ve been longing to do this since I did the Pulp Fiction of Oz painting for a friend of mine.  Since then I have has some good conversations with my friend Daniel Vangeli about painting people so I’ve been exchanging some ideas with him.

My wife and I were out to dinner the other night and I was lucky to catch a father and his daughter sitting together waiting for a table.  This beautiful girl was so animated with her dad it was endearing to watch.  I looked over at Jenny and said “You know those two would make a great painting.”  She agreed and I snuck my iPhone up from around my glass of beer and snapped about ten photos of the two.  They turned out great and I am really looking forward to using these as reference for a new painting.  I can’t wait to share it.

Oh yes, I joined the PWS:  Pennsylvania Watercolor Society….

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Too Many Letters…

My Lord of the Rings Book Collection

When I took the photo of my Lord of the Rings Book collection back in October of 2007, I thought how great it would be to be able to paint it.  I knew then that I didn’t possess the skill to pull a painting like this off.  It was the letters that seemed impossible to ‘not’ paint.   Jumping forward three years, having finished this endeavor, I learned that my initial instincts were right.  I spent as much time on the letters or trying to work around them as I did painting everything else in the painting.

My best guess on time invested into ‘The Collector’ is approximately 100 hours.  Worth it? Yes now that I’m done.  During the process as the weeks turned into months I was sick of the painting and wanted it to be over.   I began the painting on June 20th working at the same time I started ‘Liquid Gladiators’.  June 20th!  It is almost December 20th… six months & 100 hours for one piece.  If I was a general that would be a pyrrhic victory wouldn’t it?  Hard to make this a living when it will generate me $1200.00 assuming I sell it.  Well, the hell with the math and time, it’s about the process and this one taught me some things.

First and foremost, letters are a process in and of themselves.  If anything requires ultimate precision it is lettering.  We are so used to typed print: Word, Photoshop, Illustrator, and the perfect text we see in almost everything we read.  I tried to hold myself to that standard with my hand and a paintbrush.  Close was the best effort I could muster.  After staring at the picture with a 0 & 00 round brush trying to paint a font that was maybe 8pt in size things just got blurry and I had to take breaks and take off my glasses due to the strain.  It’s hard to believe that the delimiter of my painting is going to by my eyes and not my willpower.

As much as I pride myself on being a transparent watercolor painter, I had to resort to opaque paint (gouache) to get the job done.  I relied upon this with about half of the books, and used masking for the other half.  White was also used to add in some highlights and it helped to compliment the metallic watercolors I tried out.  Overall I’m happy with my work and based upon early feedback from my friends and people on Facebook, this seems to be a very successful edition to my portfolio.

If I was a digital painter, I think this painting would have further benefited from what you can do with lighting effects.  It is very difficult to simulate sunlight on metallic lettering at such a small scale and make it believable.  The painting is a small step closer to who I am as an artist.  The subject itself speaks some truths about me though the image isn’t very narrative of anything particular unless of course you know me well enough, then I think the revelation manifests.

Hopefully this small step will be a turning point for me in moving my artwork into a more personal, thought provoking direction.  I’ve always had a strong interest in fantasy illustration and really letting my imagination come to life on the 2D.  The Collector skims the surface of a deep ocean of ideas I have.  There will be fantasy paintings in 2011, and I think there will be an audience for them just as I’m sure this painting has already.  Maybe then something deeper will be revealed in my work.  It is December 5th and the Spectrum 17 just hit the shelves and it is a swirling mass of painting ideas wrapped up in one book.  I get the itch to move over to fantasy every time I pick one up.  It is one of my favorite things about December each year.

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