Painting portrait art

I have been painting a lot of portraits over the last several months and will gradually start sharing them with the world. I normally feel excited to share my art with people, but portraits seem a little more private and personal—for somewhat self-evident reasons, I suppose, since they are a direct interpretation of my experience with another human being.

I did a residency in Paris in the winter of 2015-2016 at the Cité Internationale des Arts, and I was making a lot of portraits while I was there. That series of portraits was of Syrian refugees who were displaced to Paris over the last several years, some of them arriving during my residency, some who had come to Paris at the beginning of the revolution in 2011, & everything in between. Those images are not public yet because I'm still working on a more wholistic product that combines image + written (non-fictional) stories they told me as we got to know each other during my months at the Cité Internationale des Arts. But... if you ask nicely, I'll share a preview!

So, back to this portrait.... your fun fact of the day is that I am twin (we are fraternal). I made this for her as a gift for her. Although at times, it felt like I was making a self portrait. Weird.

Painting portrait art is so fun once you are past the frustration. The tiniest details make all the difference. In the most frustrating portrait I've painted, I did 5 unique underdrawings to get his likeness, 3 versions of a so-called "final" painting on nice paper, and I am still going to re-do the final painting a third time because I'm not satisfied. When you have so many almost-but-not-quite-perfect drawings in front of you, it's a real puzzle to figure out which parts of each should be brought into your final image. I don't want my portraits to be photographic because I don't believe in that concept... people photograph so differently from photo to photo anyway. So why should portraits be perfect? What is perfect?

For the portrait above, I only did 2 underdrawings before I was satisfied with the likeness (or, technically, one drawing since I just erased the first one and drew on top of it...) and only one final painting. Maybe the fact that she's my twin made it easier... Or maybe I'm just getting better at this!

And yes, I am accepting portrait commissions. Email me.

Art at Denver International Airport

If you're passing through Denver International Airport (DIA) between now and June 2016, don't go through the crazy security lines... take the Bridge Security on level 6. Not only is it more relaxing, but you'll get the joy of checking out a breathtaking exhibition by local artists Wopo Holup, Heather Patterson and Mindy Bray while you and your luggage traipse across to TSA. It's a series of abstract interpretations of the Colorado landscape.

Denver International Airport Mindy Bray

If you're still killing time, head down to the newly-constructed Westin Hotel at DIA. On the bottom level where the train comes in is a giant mural, also by Mindy Bray, entitled Strange Continents. Mindy photographed splashes on the Platte River (which runs through Denver) then traced the shapes as vectors and recombined them into this 150-foot long, 14-foot tall composition. She then projected the composition onto many sheets of butcher paper, traced the shapes by hand using colored chalk, and used squeegees to rub the shapes on the chalked-up paper onto the walls at the hotel. With that stage finished, it was then an enormous paint-by-number endeavor. Because of the scale of Strange Continents, Mindy hired me and two other local artists, Lynn Suyeko Mandziuk and Brian Napier, to help with the production stage in the fall of 2015. It was a fantastic team, and a very...shall we call it entertaining?... setting with construction noises happening all around us and curious people walking through. We also had to wear safety goggles the whole time, which is nice for safety, but quite the obstacle for painting detail work.

Denver Art Museum Installation Gig

Over the last few weeks I had the pleasure of working alongside Denver artist Hadley Hooper (her website is at the Denver Art Museum to install an actual masterpiece Hadley designed during the first few months of 2016. The installation, titled Tableau, transforms an entire room into a magical land, crossing the lines between a theater set and a pop-up book... and the best part is, you're meant to interact with it! There are benches and swings and holes to peer through and photos to be taken. We brought the entire piece to life using wallpaper paste to meticulously glue over 500 individual sheets of 30 X 20 inch copy paper to the walls and wooden creatures. 

Denver Art Museum Tableau by Hadley Hooper
Denver Art Museum Tableau by Hadley Hooper 2

Tableau will sit on the second floor of the Hamilton Building (the crazy pointy building) at the DAM for the next year. It's sophisticated, but it's also fun. Go play with it.

Denver Art Museum Tableau by Hadley Hooper 3
Denver Art Museum Tableau by Hadley Hooper 4

Check out the Instagram/Twitter hashtag #TableauDAM to see more. Opens to the public on May 8, 2016.