Tag Archives: Sugar Creek Arts Festival

Treading Water and Watercolors

Well I’m overdue again for some news but better late than never right?  🙂


High School Graduation

Let’s see, since my last post here, our basement flooded and our upstairs bathtub drain decided to leak into our kitchen all on the same day!  The basement sump stopped working during a torrent of rain and it only took one hour to flood our entire basement with about one inch of water.  That ordeal set me back about 30-45 days in cleaning up and getting the basement back in order.  Such a pain in the butt.  The icing on the cake was the fact that after my first art show back in April I brought all my paintings to the house and put them in the basement… Yes, the basement.

Fortunately I had them wrapped in plastic wrap with bubble corners on all of them so nothing got wet.  Anyways, after a lot of wall painting, new carpet and a new sump everything is back in order.  Then we tackled the upstairs leak and decided to gut the bath and remodel.  Add another 30-45 days of tear out and work and contractors and we have our new bath upstairs.

The next big deal was the decision to move out of my downtown studio and setup the garage so that I can paint from home.  With the kids being older going back to a home studio makes more sense.  Before I could consider that, we had to get a shed built to make room for an art studio in the garage.  Thanks to Jenny; who deftly handled that all by herself, it got done in between two weeks of almost daily rain.  It saves some money and gives me enough privacy to work yet be close to my kids.    Speaking of which, my oldest son Ed is leaving us for college in about 40 days and it bums me out a bit that he is going to be gone.  😦

I’ll adjust but it will take some getting used too.  Ed graduated last May and now my boy has become a fine young man, who must figure out his own life and destiny, without me hovering over.  We will always be there for him, but we are both entering a new stage in life.  Thinking about an empty nest has been on my mind a lot lately, even though I have two younger children still at home.  It’s weird how quiet the house has been on days when they are all out socializing and visiting friends or swimming.  They are all pretty active and I already miss them.

Anyways, lots of new painting projects going on.  I have a big car piece I’ve just finished drawing out, two new little paintings to bring to the Sugar Creek Art Festival this coming weekend.  Booth N27 if you care to stop in to look.  Three commissions I am starting on: Gayle’s glass piece, Dr. Dave’s piece and Daniel’s book cover.  I also plan on going back to a glass piece I started before the floods, and yes that shelved Raven painting to see if I can salvage it.  If only the garage would clean and organize itself so I can feel like I’m working in a functional studio.

See you after Sugar Creek!

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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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Losing Momentum

Well January is gone and I missed all of my art goals for the month.  The first painting: ‘Reflections in History’ is not done, nor is the book I’m only a hundred pages away from finishing.  On the show and festival front I have mixed results.  I was accepted into the Spring Bloom Arts Festival, which will be my 2011 show opener and second appearance, but I was turned down for a big Kansas City show in Missouri.  I applied to two more fine art festivals, one near St. Louis the other in Columbus… still no word yet.  I still am waiting on jury results from the Missouri Watercolor and Transparent Watercolor Societies Nationals as well as Splash 13.

Coming up fast is Sugar Creek and about three to four more fine art festivals I need to send applications out for.  Lastly I have not even been close to drawing daily.  I do have some legitimate reasons for not getting the painting done.  I am working with a photographer to develop a time lapse video of me completing the painting I’m presently stalled on.  I lost about a week to week and half because the battery died on the camera I have on loan.  Had I had that in my hand I could have continued the photos and painting but I just managed to meet this evening to get a fresh battery from the gentleman.  I should be on track to finish by Sunday.

Next up on the workbench will be a commission piece and a second swimming painting followed by a large batch of smaller works.   Other than that, things are good.  I’m a bit disappointed that in my first month I didn’t complete what I set out to do.  I can still make good on this and press on with new art.  Until then, keep the paint flowing on the paper.


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The Art of the Art Festival

Well I’ve been away from this narrative for a few weeks now, and it seems like it’s been years since I wrote something.  Since my last post I participated in my first outdoor art festival and it was a great experience.  I took two weeks off of work: the first was spent preparing for the Sugar Creek Arts Festival, the second was getting out of town to visit some good friends.

I spent so much time painting that first week and nearly all night framing some originals and prints that I had little to no sleep the night prior to the show, which will never happen again.  If it were not for the adrenaline of art festival I would have collapsed around lunchtime.  Never again will I try to mat and frame 16 paintings the evening before a show… live and learn.  Oh that reminds me, I need to extend a huge thanks to my son Ed for all his help that night.  I’d have been sunk without him.

The festival was good and I learned a great deal from it.  Better preparations are a must and I have to devise a system in which I setup and tear down.  I felt my work was strong in comparison to other artists at the festival but my total presentation lacked some.  The product range I had for sale was on the slim side and my print offerings were marginal.  By the time I setup for my next two shows in August, I will hopefully remedy the print numbers and have a better setup with more new art.  My goals then were to finish three large scale originals and fifteen small 5” x 7” originals.  I finished one large painting (which I will post along with this), got another half done and started two of the smaller pieces.

I did receive a lot of compliments, many from people who don’t know me.  This was a big boost in confidence and it really helps in self-assessing my work.  I’ve always been a pessimist, especially when it comes to my art.  Having complete strangers praise my work was a great feeling and a nice shot in the arm of positive reinforcement.  It is not the easiest thing to put all your work out there on the wall and allow thousands of people free reign at it.  I’m sure there were plenty of people who thought my work was amateur.   Perhaps they are right, I’ve honestly only been painting with serious intent for two years now.  I believe there is a piece of art for everyone, and I think the seeds have been planted for my art to grow and find a following that appreciates the style and medium I so much enjoy creating.

The next two shows; the Washington Fine Art and the Lincoln Art and Balloon Festival are coming fast: http://www.washingtonfinearts.org/News_and_Events.html on August 14-15 and http://www.lincolnillinois.com/ABF.aspx August 27-28.   My goals are to double my sales numbers from Sugar Creek, which were pretty modest so I think there is a good possibility of success.

Now on to the meat and potatoes.  ‘Liquid Gladiators’ is the third in my little wine series.  I like how it turned out and really didn’t have too much trouble getting to the end result.  All the process and planning came pretty easily and there wasn’t much technically that was challenging.  I am ‘wined’ out though and don’t plan on returning back to wine bottles for a long time.

I’m about ready to start back up on ‘The Collector’ a painting I really wanted to show at Sugar Creek but simply ran out of time.  This is or will be the second of my book paintings.  So far, at least technically, it’s my best work to date.  I’ve purchased some Daniel Smith Iridescent metallic watercolors and they really are the icing on the cake for this painting. I’ll be posting up progress later in the weekend.  For now, it’s painting time.

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