Monday, August 9, 2010

Spirit Series: Rain, Moon, Mountain

Maybe because I grew up in the West I have an affinity for Native American art, especially the geometric shapes and the bright colors. The Spirit Series drawings reflect that appreciation. Here are three examples, all made with Prismacolor markers:



Spirit Series: Rain

14" x 11" custom matted & framed
Not currently available for sale


Spirit Series: Moon

approx. 9" x 12" watercolor paper
$350.00 unframed

Spirit Series: Mountain

approx. 9" x 12" watercolor paper
$350.00 unframed

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Photo-Graphics - Introduction

Before the invention of color film, important black and white photographs were painstakingly colored by hand with oil paints or watercolors. When motion pictures first became popular, the audience would often see hand-colored lobby cards enticing them into the theater, although the movie they would watch was in black and white. But it's no surprise that when color film became affordable and readily available, hand-coloring (or "hand-tinting" as it was often called because of the subtlety of the colors) fell out of favor.

I've always enjoyed hand-colored photographs. I appreciate the work that went in to making them and they seem to have a magical quality that I find fascinating. I first became interested in the look when I was a child. In my grandparents' home was a beautifully hand-colored photograph of my mother, in profile, at the age of five or so. It now hangs in my home, still in its antique oval frame with convex glass, and still quite a mesmerizing work of art to this day. Years ago, when I decided to turn my attention to making art on a regular basis, naturally I was eager to try the hand-coloring process.

Using Marshall's Photo Oils and pencils, I began by working on vintage portraits, my own family's and many found at antique stores and photo collectible shows. The original photo was never touched; a matte-finish black and white copy would be made for coloring purposes. Copying also allowed enlarging the image when that was desirable. Many vintage photos have a sepia tint; copying removed that so that it wouldn't interfere with the coloring. Here's an example that shows how a vintage photo can be altered by hand-coloring:


Original sepia-toned photograph.



Black and white copy.



Hand-colored.

I love the ethereal quality that hand-coloring gives the picture. I like to keep vintage hand-colored images as close as possible to the integrity of their source, including using colors that I think are appropriate. But when I make reproduction prints of my original contemporary photos (and those made with my partner, John Semper Jr.) that I've hand-colored, occasionally computer-enhancement may be added to create significant changes to color balances and other more dramatic alterations with filters.

There is a selection of Vintage, Classic and Contemporary Photo-Graphics available on greeting cards in my Red Bubble shop. Original Classic and Contemporary photographs are being posted individually on this blog with links to order greeting cards and prints on each post.

Please feel free to comment or e-mail if you have questions about the hand-coloring process.

Communion


A meditative moment captured in a beautiful botanical garden. The original photo was shot and hand-colored in the 90s. Computer enhancement was added later to increase color vibrancy. This has been one of my most popular images and is a favorite of mine, too. The hand-colored photo was also a winner in an exhibition in Colorado in 1994.

Two of four remaining originals.
Price available on request.
Order prints and cards at Red Bubble.

So Far Away


A thoughtful, almost melancholy image taken on a chilly beach morning. The original photograph was shot and hand-colored in the 90s. Computer enhancement was done later for added color vibrancy. The original hand-colored photo won an award in 1994 in a Burbank, CA, gallery show.

SOLD
Order prints and cards at Red Bubble.

Green Haven


An inviting scene in a lush botanical garden. The original photo was taken and hand-colored in the 90s. Computer-enhancement was added later for great color vibrancy. I enjoyed working with so many different shades of green in this almost tropical image.

SOLD
Order prints and cards at Red Bubble.

The Modern Mandala Project

Throughout history, looking at a work of art has often been used as a way to focus the mind for meditation. However, I’ve often found that the process of making art can itself be a meditative experience. In 2004 I decided to embark on an artistic adventure and make a commitment to create a new, original drawing every day for one year as my daily meditation practice. I called this adventure “The Modern Mandala Project.”

The process began on April 18, 2004 and continued through April 17, 2005. Each Daily Meditation drawing was created using Prismacolor pens on 6”x9” watercolor paper. Each finished work was initialed and dated on the front. The drawings are shown with a black border for display purposes only; they are not matted or framed. Here are two samples:






The connected lines and geometric shapes used in these unique drawings reflect our universal, very human need to define relationships and create order. The bright colors are a joyful affirmation of life. Making the drawings helped to focus my mind; it’s my hope that viewing them will give you the same benefit. In that way they can become “Modern Mandalas.”

If you are interested in purchasing a Daily Meditation for a particular date, please contact me to see if it's still available.

Each drawing: $40.00

Waiting


The original black and white photograph was shot in 1970 by my partner, John Semper Jr. I hand-colored it in the 1990s. Each brick was individually hand-colored with Marshall's pencils. Further computer enhancement was added only recently, making the image more vibrant and compelling.

Price available by request.
Order prints and cards at Red Bubble.

The Corner


The original black and white photograph was shot in 1970 by my partner, John Semper Jr. I hand-colored it in the 1990s. Each brick was individually hand-colored using Marshall's pencils. Further computer enhancement was added only recently, making the image more vibrant and compelling.

Price available by request.
Order prints and cards at Red Bubble.

Glow


The original black and white photograph was shot in 1970 by my partner, John Semper Jr. I hand-colored it in the 1990s. Further computer enhancement was added only recently, making the image more vibrant and compelling.

The sky was a flat, light gray in the original photo; I added a dynamic treatment to complement the minimalist image.

Price available by request.
Order prints and cards at Red Bubble.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ghost


The original black and white photograph was shot in 1970 by my partner, John Semper Jr. I hand-colored it in the 1990s. Further computer enhancement was added only recently, making the image more vibrant and compelling.

There's something fascinating to me about derelict buildings. What life did this old place have in the past?

This photo and "The Landmark" are two of my favorites. The originals are framed together and hang in our home.

Price available by request.
Order prints and cards at Red Bubble.

The Landmark






The original black and white photograph was shot in 1970 by my partner, John Semper Jr. I hand-colored it in the 1990s. Further computer enhancement was added, making the image more vibrant and compelling.

I like the reflections in the window. I always think that the customer is probably a landmark, too.

This photo is one of my favorites. The original is framed together with "Ghost" and hangs in our home.

Price available by request.
Order prints and cards at Red Bubble.

Angles



The original black and white photograph was shot in 1970 by my partner, John Semper Jr. I hand-colored it in the 1990s. Further computer enhancement added later made the image more vibrant.

The sky on the original photograph was a flat, light gray; I created something more interesting to match the drama of the image.

Price available by request.
Order prints and cards at Red Bubble.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Question: But Can She Draw?

Answer: Yes, a bit.

It was 1991 when I decided to devote my time to making art and I thought I should see if I could still sketch. Granted, I'd made only a few portrait drawings in my lifetime and was never formally trained, but I always felt I had a knack for art because I knew I had inherited the talent from my artistic father. He had also taught me the basics, from proportion to perspective, when I was just a kid. So I grabbed an album cover with jazz composer and singer Michael Franks on it and made my first five-minute sketch. I figured that imposing a time limit on myself would prevent over-thinking it. I was pleased that I was able to get at least a very rough likeness that quickly.



Also in 1991, I saw a photograph of a Noh actor looking at his mask prior to a performance. The intensity of his concentration as he got into character was fascinating, so I decided to make a drawing. This time it was my artistic partner, John, who explained the concept of volume to me.




I love this little girl's freckles! This quick sketch was also made in 1991 and was my first attempt using colored pencils. I discovered that adding the element of color to a drawing would require a new way of thinking.





In 1992, I made this sketch of our young friend, Sophie, who lives in New Mexico. I find it hard to believe that so much time has passed. She will be thirty in just a couple of weeks.





Soon I turned my attention to making other types of art and sketched rarely after those first few years. But I was a fan of "American Idol" and thought it would be fun to draw the irascible Simon Cowell. Coincidentally, I also had the pleasure at that time of meeting all of the "American Idol" judges and the final "Top Ten" contestants at a Television Academy event -- this was way back in season two (2003). It will undoubtedly come as a surprise to many people that Simon Cowell is a very charming gentleman in real life, quite unlike the guy on screen during the show. This drawing depicts him suffering through yet another horrible audition. I enjoyed trying to capture him in colored pencil using an experimental swirly mix of color. Looking at it now, I'm quite tempted to refine the technique.





I've made only a few portrait sketches since then and will try to track them down to post. It's probably time to draw more, too; I seem to make a few new ones every decade! I wonder sometimes what might have happened had I studied art seriously and worked on realistic drawing and painting. It's never too late to learn, so maybe I'll find out. . . .