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Shadowland Emerges...

 I created a group of characters one Sunday in church. 9.7.03 to be exact. What happened after that became a fourteen year journey to finally release the characters from their entombment in a body of words I created, yet left captive unintentionally. I created so many characters that I eventually had to come up with a reason for their existence; thus, creating Shadowland, a Mayberry-type town with all the charm of Halloween-Town. With such wholesome characters as Miss Willie and Flo to some not-so- trustworthy ones such as Dr. Simon. 

Although Shadowland has been a continuing story, for now, I have decided to sell off the entire remaining inventory and merchandise with the publication of the book. All originals and prints will be sold at a special price. There will be a final run of the original "Greta" t-shirt available at the book signing/release party. Several other t-shirts have been planned for the future release of the "Epilogue" but the "Greta" shirt will be retired permanently and will not reprinted. So join the many people who have signed on to the Shadowland cult and pre-order yours before it's too late!   

Finally, the Shadowland story will be told! I apologize to all the fans who waited so long to find out about their favorite character but hope it was worth the wait. I am currently waiting on a physical proof. Once received, I will have several scholars read and make any final edits. Then, it's just a matter of logistics. 

Keep up in real time on our Facebook page. 

 

 

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The Upstate Book Project 2.0

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The Upstate Book Project 2.0

The Upstate Book Project is a collaborative art project connecting artists throughout the Upstate area to write and illustrate a book one page at a time. The idea is that one artist starts a story and illustrates his or her page then hands it off to the next artist to continue the story and illustrate their page until the project is complete. Artists are juried in by a panel of judges. Selected artists then have 48 hours to submit their story line via email and four weeks to submit their illustration to a designated drop-off point. The story submissions are then edited for content. The artwork is photographed and compiled into book format and uploaded to a cloud publisher. The final product is a book in bound magazine format containing the entire story, written and illustrated by a group of artists/writers that may have never even met. More info at theupstatebookproject.com

The first Upstate Book Project was launched in October 2012. So, here almost five years later, I decided to do the project again. With that said, I called the usual suspects; Jim to help me with the major issues, Ian to photograph the work, Steve to edit and promote, and Susan for outreach and connectivity. I also brought in Nikki to handle a few updated technologies. All were on board with version 2.0 of the project. Technology has advanced a lot in five years, thus calling for an updated approach to several aspects. Just like last time, we had regular working lunches to try to pull this together by October 1st. It’s a good thing I kept the mainframe and Google Docs from the original, because the first time around it took us almost two years to put it together.  The exhibit is dropping Saturday,  April 8th, at The Hub City Tap House.

We said we would do the project again, then we said we would never do it again. Then, we did it again. I said I wouldn't do it again, again. Jim said he wouldn't do it again before but now thinks I / we should do it again because of new elements. I got interested at that point. So I think we will regroup and approach it better next time and do it again. Maybe. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lighten Up, Spartanburg

Several months back, I was asked by the Spartanburg Art Museum board to be part of a project called Lighten Up Spartanburg. For the project, 25 six-foot tall fiberglass light bulb sculptures have been commissioned by the Museum and will be given to local and regional artists, architects, and designers to paint, sculpt, or otherwise decorate or re-imagine.  Once the bulb sculptures have been turned into works of art, they will be installed in outdoor spaces throughout Spartanburg.

The first three artists were hand picked by the museum board. I was honored to have been one of those artists. Being a muralist, I came home excited. I grabbed a pen and paper and started brainstorming. I sat there rolling through possibilities. For at least 30 minutes I had nothing! All of a sudden it came to me! I started drawing out my first (which would be my only) idea. I was going to turn this light bulb into a hot air balloon with "drawing manikins" riding in the basket, while drinking champagne. Brilliant, yes? Maybe?

It was easy as pie to draw out and imagine, but I wasn't painting on a wall. I was painting on a round, tall, multi-proportioned surface. Now I have painted pools, walls, vans, ceilings, floors, grass, glass and even a person, but this was different. It was cumbersome to say the least. It was hard to maneuver; up and out, in and down. Not to mention, painting a basket on the raised, rolled surface of the base of the bulb. What I thought was going to be a couple of days of work quickly turned into almost a months worth. For the balloon surface I decided to paint a park scene of the Shadowland Characters (Remember them? We will get back to them later.) playing on the yellow brick road while hot air balloons raced in the background. Once the 15 coats of everything I painted were complete I sat back and appreciated my creation. You should always remember that some of those "that will be a breeze" jobs, wont be.

The first 3 bulbs should be installed in downtown Spartanburg by late October or early November. If you see bulb on a weekend venture or out meeting friends after work, please come back and let me know what you think of my effort. I am really proud of this piece!

 

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I Really Need a Bra!

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I Really Need a Bra!

Several weeks ago someone posted a website on my FB page as a joke or maybe a dare. I don't really know which but I clicked on the link and it was The Painted Art Bra Project  So I checked it out. Well hell yeah I'm gonna paint a bra for Breast Cancer Awareness and a fundraiser. So I walk into the house and ask my wife if I could have a bra. Well, she looked slowly up at me with a somewhat worried look and said nothing. I said, "I want to use it to do art". She replied, "Of Course you do". With that response I explained what the project was about and she graciously gave me a canvas. Being an artist gives you opportunities that you would not get in other professions. So I painted the twins from my Shadowland series on the bra connected by the pink awareness ribbon. It was the profile picture for a week on their FB page. Bra, donated. Talent, free. Doing something you love to do for an awesome cause? Priceless.

 

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So Im an Artist, Now What?

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So Im an Artist, Now What?

So continuing with the "Help me, I Want to be an Artist" blog. A collection of things I've learned that help my students and maybe yourself be a better artist.      Art is like love, when its there you cant deny it. When its not, you cant force it.

You can only create what you are creating now.

Your eye is one eye length away from the other.

Trees are grey not brown. So are squirrels.

Your eyes are the same size your whole life.

Rust is not brown.

Figure out what color a shadow is.

You can only be the artist that you are. Don't try to be anybody else.

You don't choose to take a break from art, it chooses when it wants to take a break from you.

You can draw without lines.

If the piece hasn't sold in 10 years, paint over it. (I'm gonna get some flack for this)

You can draw a picture without a pencil, but not without an eraser.

 Move on! Don't get trapped into a style or subject. Variety is the spice of life.

You are only as good as your last work.

Enjoy the journey not the destination. (You don't rush through your vacation, why rush through your painting?)

Perception is reality. Be perceived professionally.

Stay in touch with those that support you.

Take every class that you can.

Try different mediums. Give them a chance.

And never sell your art for less than it cost you!

 

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Splatterpunx Invade U.S.

So, a year later, we have recorded the album, made a few videos, set up the venue and recruited the sound engineer and videographer for the performance.  We have planned the stage show, called in a few favors, made the T-shirts and designed and printed the album cover.  Also, we  bought the CD cases, burned the CD's, set up a web page,  put the CD's together (no two alike), and  secured the venue.  We've advertised, called in a few more favors, and disrupted three lives for band practice for two months, all for a 30 minute concert and my dream of actually having my own album released. Geez! All that aside, the lesson is, if it means something to you and you want to see a dream come to fruition, you have to put in to it what you expect to get out of it. So when you watch the video, hear the songs, listen to the album, or watch the DVD, know that a year's worth of work, planning, sacrifice, and friendship went in to making a single complex art project. Progress takes time..... and passion. Join us for the Splatterpunx CD/MP3 release party at The Showroom at Hub-Bub Saturday, February 28th from 6-9. It will be a once in a lifetime experience. Trust me!
 

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Toto, We're not in Kansas Anymore

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Toto, We're not in Kansas Anymore

 

 

So during the website transition, X amount of my blogs were lost. But through the power of technology I was able to recover about 50% of them. I will be posting them on and off to re-establish. So if you see posts that seem familiar you will know why.

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The End of an Era

I have always based my art exhibits around a central subject, a theme you might say. Recently I have realized that doing a series puts pressure on an artist to stay consistent. But by the laws of experience you get better with every painting, therefore making it hard to stay consistent or to keep the subject alive. With that said, I am conscientiously leaving the realm of "series" art. I want to discover what random pieces I can put together to form a cohesive body of work . Not to mention that the broader the subject matter the broader the audience. I will depart from consistency with a series called "Deserted" which is a body of sculpture and paintings experiencing the sensation of being lost in the desert.  I intend on this being my final "theme" show.  I feel totally liberated in this decision and hope it proves to be an advantage to my audience and career.  Yesterday is gone!  

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Se7en

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The reception for "Seven" was outstanding! "Something for all the senses," as someone described it. Food for the taste, incense for the smell, music for the ears, art for the eyes, and hugs for the touch. It was a turnout of epic proportion. Over 200 people came and went as the night progressed. Friends from Atlanta to Virginia came to see this exhibition. I hope those of you who attended were as pleased with the art as I was with the turnout. Without an audience, I have no stage.

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Crackpot History and the Right to Lie

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 Several days after my art exhibit "SE7EN" went up in the Artist Guild Gallery, I received several emails asking why I had put up green paper on the doors. I responded with, "Hell no, they didn't"! My exhibit had been censored by the very entity that stands for personal expression. I understand that the students had an art exhibit also but if I didn't deem their work appropriate, would I be allowed to put paper over their work? No! I would not. The minority rules now. Especially if they have a dollar that will help the cause. If this had been at a public mall or a church, I would understand. But an Art Museum? Really? When did the artistic community abandon their rights and integrity for a dollar? If money is what it is all about then we as artists should abandon all hopes of creativity. It will become nothing more than a commercial for what the system deems appropriate. Then we will all be forced to bow and kneel to the standard of what the general public thinks is appropriate. After all, is this not why we are artists in the first place? To express ourselves? I create for me, and if no one wants it, well, I stack it against the wall and I keep doing what I want to whether it sells or not. If our creative outlets such as art museums don't stand up for artists' rights, then who will? Just saying.

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Trapped By The Need To Create

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OK, so still waiting on my upcoming show, as usual, I have already started three other, well, maybe four other projects. As the artist's mind works, I am constantly looking to top the last thing. It's only great for a few minutes, like the news headlines. It's sensational today but what do you have to do the have a lasting effect on your audience? New headlines, of course. I don't just keep doing things to keep y'all entertained. I keep exploring to keep myself entertained and challenged as well. Just like in the music industry, the art industry is you are only as good as your last creation. Like an archeologist, a new find is a new lover. Something to keep me interested until the next comes along. As artists, we can never rest on our laurels. We have to keep our audience as well as our selves hungry for more. Luckily, I'm at no loss for creativity. That works for both of us. As long as I keep exploring new territory, we both have something to learn. I hope you, as my audience gets the best experience from my excursions and discoveries and keep coming back to be fed. I know when I was an upcoming artist, I wished I had a resource like this to turn to to help me get a handle on things I might not have been aware of. I guess what I'm saying is art is never complete, it's like life. It's a journey, not a destination. So keep creating, challenging yourself and growing as an artist because if we are really good, we leave a legacy that will last longer than great-grandchildren ever will.

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SE7EN

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I will have an exhibit of my new body of work entitled "SEVEN" in the Artist Guild Gallery located at the Chapman Cultural Center / Spartanburg Museum of Art during the month of April. The show goes up March 30th and will be on display through April 28th. The reception for this exhibit will be Thursday, April 21st from 6-9pm at the Artist Guild Gallery. This is a joint venture with Aaron Troski who also did SEVEN pieces based around the number SEVEN.This body of work is a departure from the fantasy type of work I have created in the past few years and returns to the sculptural polished style I started with. Influenced by photographers, master painters, new techniques, models, and my love for surrealistic application, I have executed SEVEN paintings based around the number SEVEN, the number of the universe. As a figure drawing instructor, I am constantly challenged by the human form as artists have been for centuries and needed the challenge of the ultimate subject matter-the human body. As I worked, the paintings evolved. I went from tight and safe to loose and experimental. And ya'll know I don't do "loose". Letting go of that "control" was good. It let me grow. So come see the exhibit and attend the reception, April 21st at the Directions to the Artist Guild Gallery  in downtown Spartanburg from 6-9, if possible. It's gonna rule!

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Pencil Portraiture Class

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I will be teaching a Pencil Portraiture class at the SAM Art School during the winter term. This class will teach both beginning as well as novice students to measure facial characteristics and use new techniques to achieve a realistic likeness in portraiture. Students will work from photographs as well as magazines or books. Preferred mediums are graphite and colored pencil but are not limited to these mediums. Come explore your talent with new and exciting methods based on the teachings of Leonardo Da Vinci as well as my own technique, "Drawing Without Lines". Register online or in person at the Spartanburg Art Museum located at the Chapman Cultural Facility in downtown Spartanburg.

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Help Me, I Want To Be An Artist!

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 People ask me for advice all the time on how to be a successful artist or how to get ahead in the industry. Sometimes its, "How do you make a living as an artist", sometimes its, " how do you get that effect, how do you do this and that", etc. With this said, I have complied a list of things to make you a better artist as well as to see things from an artists perspective, or at least mine. The list is as follows:

Paint what you feel not what is popular. You will get much more satisfaction out of what you do.

Study the Masters. It is always good practice to re-produce master work.

Be yourself. Nobody is interested in a facade you have created for yourself.

Don't be a copycat. Everyone has seen Thomas Kincade, don't try to be him.

Listen to old people. They have something we don't have. Experience.

Don't explain yourself. You need no explanation.

Go see art shows you don't care about. There is something to be found in all of them.

Go to work with a fellow artist for a day. Realize that someone else's art is just as important to them as yours is to you.

Go to other towns and visit the "art" district. Embrace their culture. Make it your own.

Don't feel like you're selling out if you do commercial work. If you make a living as an artist it doesn't matter how you get paid.

Every now and then you are going to do a shitty piece. Accept it and move on.

There's nothing more valuable than experience. There's nothing more expensive than regret.

When you work, turn off all of your gadgets. Distraction is the devil.

Tell your parents what you are working on. They care.

Build a website you are proud of. Then maintain it.

Stay on the art scene. Don't let your ego destroy you.

And Never think you are the best. Even if you are.

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What We Wanted and What We Got!

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 I've been reading a number of artist magazines for years now and I have to say there are very few worth my time. I read one after the other and the main articles are how to paint a watercolor landscape or a bowl of fruit. Really? Is this what we pay to learn? I mean, we can take a class at your local art school. to learn these techniques. Last Christmas, my sister-in-law gave me a few artist magazines and after reading them, I thought damn, there is hope. They were full of diverse art and techniques I have not seen. The information was relevant to where I am in the industry and actually gave me information I could use. As an educator, I am expected to be able to accommodate the current art trend. Whether it be comic book and anime art, calligraphy, or stop animation, I have to be educated on popular mediums whether I use it or not. With this said, I look for resources such as trendy art magazines for guidance in these fields and have found that as an industry, for me, the artist magazines are not doing what I look to them for. We need more innovation from these resources. I mean, would it really hurt them to get out of the comfort zone and tell us how to turn paragons into characters in Photoshop? I mean, come on, lets get diverse. As artists we should voice our opinion to our resources. We shouldn't send them emails telling them how much we liked their article on such and such, we should email them and tell them what we would like to see instead. Just Saying.

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Stupid Artist Goes to College



 Recently I have had several of my peers ask how I'm still making a living as an artist when they constantly struggle with everything they attempt? I ask them if they are maintaining a public accessible presence? And the reply is always, "What does that mean?" Many artists set out to make a presence and commit to contacting galleries, building a website, starting a blog, doing a workshop, etc. The problem is that they don't follow up. Usually this is because we live in a world of instant gratification and the payoff isn't quick enough. The issue with this is, progress takes time! Just because you don't see immediate results doesn't mean it's not working. If you set up a blog and no one responds, it doesn't mean it's not being read. Do you know how to use Google Analytics? Do some research and see how to work this angle http://www.copyblogger.com/step-up/ A lot of artists submit work to a few galleries and get mad or give up because they haven't got a response in a few weeks, that doesn't mean the gallery is not interested. If you are contacting galleries, do your research. Don't send abstract work to landscape galleries and follow submission guidelines for each gallery. If the gallery wants photos first, don't include a cover page. They will assume that if you can't follow the guidelines then you aren't the artist for them. http://bit.ly/SDPsM Others have a great idea for a workshop but never get past proposing it. Others set up a website but don't maintain it and wonder why no one returns to it. The artist who says "I have a website" to potential clients but hasn't looked at it themselves in a year shouldn't wonder why they didn't get hired.  If you are working on a website, commit to only one page at a time. Otherwise you will get scattered and will get nothing done. Prioritize! Building a fan base is hard work. So to address these problems, follow up on whatever project you have chosen this week! Maintaining all of the above on top of the daily stresses of being an artist can be overwhelming. First of all, commit to one project at a time. Multiple lists lead to multiple complications.  Following other people in your industry is always a good idea. And don't be afraid to ask for advice. Utilize your resources. What's important here is pay attention to what you are doing. If the commercial isn't interesting to you, it won't be interesting to anyone else. Sell yourself as you would be sold. Now quit wasting time and go get on it!

photo by Ian Curcio

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Stolen Sculpture Shows Up At My House

 Several weeks back I went to an art trade show. You know, the kind where IBM, CBS, and other giant three letter companies show up to buy art for their 200,000 square foot lobbies. I was impressed at the quality of work I saw there. Not just your typical "artist in a gallery" stuff, I mean "I've seen that artist on 60 Minutes" kind of stuff.  As my friends and I walked around the last corner, I was blown away with a body of sculptural works made from clay. They looked so real that you thought they were going to speak to you. Now coming from an artist who was raised on Bernini and Michelangelo, this is saying a lot. I took pictures, with the artist's permission of course and came home completely inspired. My mentor always said, "a good artist doesn't borrow, he steals." So with that in mind, I decided to do my own interpretation based on this artist's work. Much in the way that Vallejo simulates Frazetta. The sculptures are based on tribes of the Omo valley in Ethiopia. I researched the ornamental style of the jewelry as well as ceremonial headdresses, tribal face paint, and piercing rituals. I have made the jewelry from purchased and found items, woven mussel shells into hair which I obtained from a local restaurant discards, (the shells, not the hair) and had a great time experimenting with different methods of executing facial paint. I have not only grown as an artist but gained a wealth of knowledge I wouldn't have been exposed to all because of another artist. Who knows? I may actually seek gallery representation for this stuff. And ya'll know that story, right? I will post new pieces on the Artistic Expressions as I finish them. Please return to see inspiration happen.

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Metal Baby Born During Artistic Process

 

I have been working on a series of nude paintings from live models for about a year now and at some point I was reading International Artist magazine and came across an artist using gold leaf as a medium in his paintings. Well immediately I was going to do this. My own way, of course. So as usual without experimenting, (my way of doing things) I decided to do an entire series out of it. I started adding the leaf to all of the paintings and doing something different with each one. The series is to be exhibited in the Artists' Guild Gallery at the Spartanburg Museum of Art in April of 2011. This was the "let's see what we can do with it" piece. As you can see, the mind changes dramatically as the creative process evolves.

 

 I'm working with gold, copper, and silver leaf in my oil painting process. Placing the leaf on the canvas and using reverse finger painting technique by lifting the light out of the paint. Here, I'm gilding the leaf before I apply the paint. The medium is rather hard to work with as the leaves are as light as ash and can be blown out of your hand by as little movement as someone walking past you. There is no room for mistakes because once you apply the leaf to the surface there's no moving it. You have to work with cotton gloves and powder on your fingers so the leaf doesn't stick to your skin or tarnish. I'm  working on several other applications with this medium and will post updates as they progress. Check out the video process at  http://www.vimeo.com/14940354

 

 So here is the first draft of what I thought was going to be an OK painting. As you can see, I changed directions several times before coming to terms with what I wanted.

 

 

So then I decided it would be more affective as a reverse shot, which of course required another session.

 

So then I added a breakaway effect to mix up the separation. And added fragments of silver leaf in the side ground. Which would be followed by fragments over the body to give it a 3-dimensional feel.

 

Finally, I added overlaps of silver leaf to give it that "over the top" feel. In my mind, this was the "throw away piece". It turned out just fine. In fact, it might be the best one of the series.

 



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You Gotta Start Somewhere

 

 

 

Some artists feel that they are not good enough to do certain projects and turn down potential career- building jobs. The point is that you have to start somewhere. Don't be afraid to fail. My first mural was awful. Someone in my sculpture class was talking about painting a mural in their kid's room and I said, "'l'll do it!!" Not realizing I had no idea how to paint, and had only painted one picture in my life, and that was in the tenth grade. I realized that it was time to step up to the plate. And I didn't. (As seen above, my first mural compared to a recent mural.) Luckily, they were happy with it. Amazingly, her friend loved it and hired me to do her child's nursery and then again in their new house, and yet again in the next house. So you never know where your first job, good or bad, will lead you. That was thirteen years ago and now I can paint anything! What I'm trying to say is, "You gotta start somewhere." When I started, I had confidence but no skills. But by painting more murals, I got better. Like I said, "Progress takes time!" So don't fizzle your art for your confidence...or ego, just go, learn, do and get better. It will happen.

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