As printed in the December 2012 Issue of COLORED PENCIL Magazine – www.coloredpencilmag.com
I purchased my first set of colored pencils in 2004 and immediately took them for a test run through a mix of available drawing papers in my studio. Years of working exclusively with graphite pencils and pigment pens abruptly ended as I began shifting all of my energy into mastering the new medium. Colored pencils have proven to be the perfect fit for my artistic style (contemporary realism) as my career unfolds.
My third journey into the river systems along the eastern shoreline of Minnesota was amply rewarded with a spectacular display of scenery along the Gooseberry and Temperance Rivers. Unseasonably dry conditions set the stage for a unique mix of fall landscape colors, massive colored rock formations along the river bed, and hundreds of river pools of every size, shape, and description with a river current low on volume but exquisite in movement and flow. My creative side, filled visually to capacity, longed for time and space to begin sketching and documenting this outstanding collection of images.
Every artist aspires to find that unique subject that excites the soul, inspires the creative process, and challenges his or her skills. In my case, I’ve been fortunate to find a comfortable venue that is priceless and available throughout the world. There is a magical feeling in finally putting together a medium, a subject, and a style that fits my personality and talent.
Creating a new image is a time-consuming and ever-changing process for me. Prior to the start of a study, a timely review of all existing available subjects and settings of current interest is explored and evaluated. This selection process includes areas of focus or interest, composition strengths, and my mood and personal feelings at the time.
In recent years, I’ve begun adding an additional challenge to the selection process by often incorporating two or more subjects into a final composition. This approach has the added value of pushing the creative process along and setting a format for experimentation and risk. My goal as an artist is to create drawings that are unique in style, meticulously rendered in detail, and visually appealing in form, content, and composition.
Once a composition has been selected, I begin with a rough gestural sketch to frame in the image. This first step, developed over years of training and practice, provides me with a primitive map that will be used for the study. I usually start working at the focal point of the image and work outward from there. This allows me to direct my energy in a productive way as my interest level changes from session to session.
As an image develops, my emphasis is on details and foundation planning. Areas of special interest, highlights, and negative spacing are reserved for later stages. My color treatment typically begins after line patterns and shapes are sketched into the paper. I use a progression of color overlays that moves from light to dark with the noted exception of dark burnished colors often developed early in the study foundation. The middle stages are spent restating alignments (e.g. shapes, textural areas, etc…) and adding secondary and primary layers of color.
I view the initial stage and closing stage as critical in the life of a study for several reasons. Early planning basically provides the mapping structure for the work, while the closing stage is responsible for pulling all of the elements together into the completed composition.
Once the drawing is finished, the image is documented [digital camera], catalogued, prepped for framing, and sent to an agent for scanning and Giclee printing. I’m a firm believer in the Giclee printing system and support the comments raised by marketing consultant Calvin J. Goodman that the Giclee process is a good value for the consumer [“Art Marketing in the 21st Century” by Goodman – 7th Edition].
I consider myself to be a professional artist who embraces the fundamentals of sound business practices. Time is continuously allocated for business planning, marketing, inventory control, finances, correspondence, and creation.
My studio environment includes two drawing stations with Verilux Natural Lighting, several supporting bases for my equipment, storage areas for supplies, business reference files, a sizeable pencil storage rack, and a sound system. A secondary area is reserved for framing supplies, shrink wrapping equipment, packaging materials for transportation/shipping, two matboard cutters, and a large working station. My base equipment includes a large inventory of Prismacolor colored pencils, Strathmore Bristol 300 and 400 Smooth Finish Papers, and a cast of supporting materials from electric sharpeners to General Miser pencil extenders.
Drawing sessions vary for me through the day and New Age music often provides a backdrop while working in the studio. I learned to take regular breaks and include jigsaw puzzle time, computer work, reading, cooking, jogging and marsh walks for time out periods. I’m generally the juror and judge for my studies and will spend as much time as needed to finalize a drawing. My reward for finishing a study is to sign my name. This simple act symbolizes acceptance, closure, and the opportunity to move toward the next project.
As an artist, I’m involved in a number of activities supporting my profession that includes limited teaching experiences, seminar training, speaking engagements, selected commission assignments, juror duties, solo and group exhibits, and consultation services. I’m a graduate of the Fine Arts Department at Central Michigan University and a former MFA student at Eastern Michigan University.
My professional memberships include the Colored Pencil Society of America, the Colored Pencil Society of Detroit, and the INTERNATIONAL Guild of Realism. A typical year has me competing in 3 to 4 national competitions and exploring marketing and representation opportunities in new markets, and traveling to various regions of North America for research material.
The internet is quickly becoming the vehicle of choice for society and I wholeheartedly support this venue for my art business. Correspondence, submissions, artist domain web publishing, image exchanges, Facebook business activity, are just a few of the internet activities that now engage my time.
I’m currently represented nationally by … the M Gallery of Fine Art in Charleston, South Carolina…
I currently reside with my wife, Mary, in a studio/residence along the shoreline of Lake Huron in Northern Lower Michigan.