Thursday, July 28, 2016

politically inclined roundup

Last night I attended the late July Takoma Park city council meeting as part of the "Politically Inclined" project, inviting artists who are currently on exhibit at the Takoma Park Community Center's "Stylized Notions" art exhibit, featuring works from local, DC-area cartoonists and comic artists who participated in the Cartoonists Draw Blood blood drive events. In addition to myself, Bill Brown, Art Honduras, and Eric Gordon participated. Unlike Eric, Art, and Bill, all residents of Takoma Park, I drove out from Sterling, VA, and it was interesting to participate in some small way, and contribute something to the democratic process that is a City Council meeting - something I've never done before. In addition to being in good company, and hanging out with some great fellow artists for a little bit, I also wanted to try something slightly new and different with my Splotch Monster art. 

Up until I got there last night, I only had a vague notion of what to do or how to approach things artistically. I decided to employ the use of speech bubbles in the seven pieces I made (see below) - something I've never done before. Of course, with speech bubbles you need some kind of reference point. That's where the public came in. I tried my best to listen for sentences or comments spoken from the resident of Takoma Park, both on stage and in the audience, and extract fragments of speech into the bubbles. It's important to note, I made the paint splotches (or Splotch Forms) beforehand, and later chose what to use and how to approach them during the meeting, of which I stayed for about three hours.

The event was recorded and shown live on the Takoma Park TV channel, as well as on their Facebook page. During a brief intermission, the artists spread their work out on the stage for folks to see, and it was great seeing the variety of approaches everyone took, and witnessing the positive reactions from the people in the auditorium. I think it was a great, positive experience for us artists as well, and afterwards, Eric high-fived me and suggested we make this a regular thing. What a fun challenge that would be!

A big big thanks goes out to organizers Marilyn Sklar and Chanthi Chandra-Sekar, Carolyn Belefski for the heads-up, and to all the artists and folks who participated in last night's city council meeting. In the meantime, there's talk of possibly having a little exhibit featuring last night's work. I'll post more, if anything more comes out of it.

Monday, July 25, 2016

powhatan cartooning camp featured in the winchester star!

A big thanks goes out to the Winchester Star for featuring the Powhatan Summer Camps in their paper last week. The article gave me and my cartooning classes and students (and splotch monsters) a nice shout out as well! Also, thanks to my good friend Linda for mailing the article my way.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

splotch monsters come alive at camp dogwood!

Had a great time doing a Splotch Monster-making workshop at Camp Dogwood yesterday. This is my third summer visiting Camp Dogwood, and it was so awesome seeing what the kids (and counselors) created! Some of the kids and counselors were even brave enough to present their art to the group, along with stories and vivid descriptions. Until next summer!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

more splotch monsters (and more!) from camp

As a teacher, I never get tired of seeing what kids are capable of creating when working on some type of art. This applies to the classroom, workshops, and in this case camp. My Creative Cartooning students at the Powhatan Summer Camp were a great bunch to work with, and while I most likely will never see many of them again, I'm hoping they had as much fun as I did. It's interesting - the contrast between my older students and my younger ones: the older ones quiet, calm and lazer-focused on their work, while the younger ones are all buzzing with crazy creative energy. Either way, we made some great art. Here are some more of their Splotch Monsters, as well as comics. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

join the cloud, sold!

Another piece at the current GWU exhibit has SOLD, this one being Join The Cloud. The mighty cloud has officially left the building, and floated off today to it's new home and owner, Diane, in Missouri. Thank you Diane!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

splotch monsters invade camp powhatan !

Yesterday I finished teaching a five-day-long creative cartooning camp at the Powhatan School in Boyce, Virginia. It's hard to believe my first week there has already come and gone, and after a nice week-long break, we'll start up once again for another week at this wonderful school. Last Spring I held a cartooning workshop at Powhatan, along with local artists Paul Zdepski and Robin Ha, and this summer, the school wanted to know if anyone was interested in doing a cartooning camp. So, here I am, having fun on this new endeavor, introducing the kids to a variety of approaches to cartoon and comic-making. The first group I worked with was a great little crew of eleven kids ranging from first-through-fourth grade. Each day I would introduce a couple of new lessons, focusing on different techniques and approaches to creating characters, story-lines, and generating ideas. Of course, one of the things I had to introduce to my group was the making of Splotch Monster characters. Since we are holding our class in a nice big, carpeted, naturally-lit music classroom, painting with watercolors wasn't really an option. That was fine though, since I had made a bunch of paint splotches on paper for the kids to work on ahead of time. The focus was on adding faces, facial expressions, physical characteristics, and some kind of scene, setting and scenario. Some of the kids really ran with it, including Sydney, a third-grader (above pic) and Reagan, a fourth-grader (below pic), the latter student's work shown in sequence, from its early stages, to the final results. Impressive stuff!

Our Counselor In Training, Ewan, who is in eighth grade, had a ball with the Splotch Monsters as well, taking them in new and very interesting directions (below pic)!

It's good to see the kids get into this type of thing and really tap into their imaginations and explore the creative process. It is always amazing what people come up with when presented with these random splotches of paint. Looking forward to seeing what my new groups will be doing with these during week two!

Friday, June 17, 2016

"family reunion" sold, at gwu!

Today, this piece, aptly called "Family Reunion" went home with a lucky art collector and enthusiast named Dani. I don't always post when works sell, but I think it's good to celebrate these things, especially when you know they go home with such wonderful, kind and encouraging individuals like Dani. I asked her what she liked about the piece, and she said it simply made her smile. It's a response I hear often, pertaining to the Splotch Monster art, and in turn, it makes me happy as well. In the brief time I got to speak with Dani, it was obvious she had a knowledge of art and recently had become interested in supporting work by lesser known artists, or those who she believed could get bigger. What a nice compliment! Anyhow, now that the "Family Reunion" has found a new loving home, tomorrow I'll drop by GWU to replace the piece with another. In the meantime, thank you Dani! :)

Friday, June 10, 2016

splotch monster art exhibit now up at gwu!

As of this week, my Splotch Monster art is now hanging at the George Washington University Science and Technology campus, at Innovation Hall, in Ashburn, Virginia. It's an excellent space to see the art work, with lots of natural light. 

While hanging my work, I got to meet one of my former students named Andrew,  from way back when I first started teaching out this way about fifteen years ago. It was so good to see him again, and to see he was still making amazing art work! Andrew, who said I was a major influence on his work, as well as Banksy (wow, sweet!) even gave me a beautiful drawing he made for me (see below), since he works at GWU and knew I was coming by to hang work. That definitely made my day, despite feeling pretty under the weather. I joked and told him that incredibly drawn, broken-down robot really captured how teachers feel right about this time of year, before summer break begins. Almost there!

In the meantime, the show will be hanging throughout the month of June, and possibly longer. A big thanks goes out to Dova Wilson for setting up this exhibit. Hope you can stop by to check it out!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

new splotch monster work at gwu

Here are some details and pics of a new piece I completed today called "Join The Cloud", which will go up tomorrow evening at George Washington University's Innovation Hall, at the Science and Technology campus in Ashburn, VA. Unfortunately, the Old Ox Brewery exhibit ends tomorrow as well, but the good news is my friend and fellow artist/educator Brian Kirk will have his amazing rust prints hanging there soon. In the meantime, I'll post more details and pics of the exhibit soon!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

new splotchwerk on the horizon

I actually made the painted splotches about two summers ago, while at the annual Feed Your Soul artist/art educator retreat in Portland, Maine, but I never really knew what to do with this cloud-inspired piece until recently. In fact, I didn't even know what to do with it, or how to approach it until I left it on my studio table for a couple of days, looked at it, slept on it, and started working. The first thing I saw were two big, orange eyes, and a place for a mouth and nostrils (at least when things finally began to "click" for me), then I took it from there, adding multiple faces within a cloud-shaped face. I've added a little bit every night over the past few days, and by this weekend it should be done.  We'll see where it takes me in the end. Sometimes, however, in order to get started with something, you simply have to get started.