30 May 2009

The Studio Plunder...A History, Part Eight


The better part of 2000 - 2001 (artistically speaking) I spent behind a camera. I have always been a bit of a photo bug, and to this day I average about 20 to 25 shots a day. Digital has made that much less expensive. Although I miss spending time in the dark room manipulating the shots. But the photos are for a different set of posts.

While I wasn't shooting things I was practicing my drawing skills. I have always preferred women as a subject. Women are pretty. All the shapes, sizes, and curves...Yummy! 

I do have a tendency to use my animals for subject matter as well. Cats are great. I love their personalities. 













29 May 2009

Nikon, What Have You Done? Please Tell Me This Is Ashton's Fault...

As many of you may know, I am a devoted fan of all things Nikon. Especially the cameras. I have multiple 35 MM bodies that I have been using for more than 20 years. The lenses are fabulous.  Every where I go I always bring one of the compact cameras with me. For almost ten years now I have been using the Coolpix in a variety of versions. I use them to death.

Until yesterday I would have said that Nikon makes the greatest cameras, In. The. World. Bar none.

You see, yesterday I needed to replace my compact Coolpix L11 because after more than 10,000 photos going through it, it has stopped keeping track of file numbers. Every time I turn it off it resets back to DSCN 0001.jpg. It's really not that big of a deal until I try to download them to my laptop and it tells me that those files already exist.

Anywho...I automatically went to my local camera dealer to find a new Nikon Coolpix. After careful consideration and playing I picked out a Coolpix S220.

In less than 24 hours I have come to dislike, no hate, ok, that may be harsh. No, I hate it! Passionately!

I should have know as soon as Nikon started using Ashton to sell their product that something was wrong. 

In all my years of LOVING Nikon products, they have soured me with this one. The Coolpix S220 is by far the worst camera I have ever taken a photo with. No, tried to take a photo with. Even the disposable crappy ones from a 7-11 take a better photo.

The picture quality is horrible. Grainy, blurry, fuzzy, crap. In addition, the movies are choppy and the sound doesn't mesh with the image. The battery life is a terrible 140 photos per charge. I hate the rechargeable batteries. When shooting video, the battery dies before the memory is full.

The size and the price were attractive, but that is where the attraction stopped.

I have tried all of the settings, all of the features, in doors and out. Day and night. They all suck. I have yet to get a decent photo out of this abomination. 

 As soon as I get a chance I'm returning it. Nikon, you have hurt me. I feel used. And I may *gasp* look at a Cannon or Sony.

How did this poor excuse for a camera ever get out of testing? Shame on you Nikon.

25 May 2009

The Studio Plunder...A History, Part Seven


 One of the things I have always found important is how the negative space is used. I think a lot of artists over look this. So often I will practice on works that focus on the negative space. One of favorite ways to practice this is to work on black board with white pencil. Or, I will paint in ink to cover everything except what I want to be left white, which to me is a bit more difficult. You will see a lot of that later technique in following posts.

These three were studies from 1999.

Frank Sinatra - This is actually the second version of this study. The first I gave away. It went to a friend, but I always wished I had kept it. The first one was better. Oh well, it went to a good home.


Miles Davis

More Miles


A couple I photographed on the beach.

24 May 2009

The Studio Plunder...A History, Part Six


So, with the last entry of part five, I realized I got a little bit ahead of myself. I realized this as I was digging in my studio again last night and I found my design portfolio. 

While I was in school, my main focus was design. Graphic, packaging, furniture,  industrial, public...

My personal preference was graphic. I specialized in logos and corporate identities as well as way-finding systems for hospitals, hotels, malls as well as advertising.

Starting in about 1990 I was already in business for myself. Many of my school projects were actual paying jobs. I managed to land jobs for O'Neill, Catalina, OP, Disney. There were a lot of local companies that had me do there print advertising, which I loved.

Most all of my work in the beginning was pencil,and markers. I didn't start painting in oil until 2001.

So here is a big part of my portfolio:



This was me. (sort of) The bottom had all of my business information on it.

Many of my portfolio pieces were compositions used to show clients a concept. The wording is done in what's called "greeking". (I think that's what we called it. If you look close it's just gibberish. but it looks good.






A few of the logos. 




The concept page. This is what a client would get shown at the second meeting. Then we would narrow it down and start on the rest of the company identity. Letterhead, cards, golf carts, you name it.



I can't remember who I designed this deck of cards for. I have two different designs.



Signage for the I & T Department on campus. It's done in pencil.



One of my Disney gigs was to design logos for a new line of swim wear for kids. This is what I showed them. I don't know why but the project was canceled before we met again. Many of the bigger companies would change things on a whim and no explanation. 




I used to have a great collection of Disney tee shirts and tank tops that were never put into production. We would do the designs and print about a dozen samples. I always got to keep many of the sample works. It was really cool having Disney clothes and knowing I was one of only three people in the world that had them.


I really miss doing the design work. I loved the whole process. Even 19 years later there are a couple of my logos and designs I still see around town. It's amazing. It always makes me smile.

22 May 2009

In The End...

Everything will be alright in the end.

If it's not alright,

it's not the end.

21 May 2009

The Studio Plunder...A History, Part Five

2000 turned out to be a big turn around for my art. I started taking a sketch book with me every where I went. I started spending much more time on each drawing or painting. Simplicity was my objective. I was shooting a lot of photos as well. I was fascinated with high contrast.

James


John


Marilyn - unfinished


I loved sketching places that I spent time. In this case it was the restaurant. When ever I got a break I would sit on the fire escape in the alley and draw.




This was a tough night. This is drawn on the back of one of our menus.



I always wanted to do murals. One of our servers asked me one night if I would paint her apartment. After we talked I realized she wanted a scene, not just a paint job.

This is what I came up with.


This is the one we decided on. It was 8 1/2 x 12 feet, in full color. I painted it on her bedroom wall across from her bed. It took me a couple of weeks. About three weeks after I finished she was forced out by one of her room mates and she painted over it to get her deposit back.
It was still worth it. I love doing things like this. About half of the places I have ever lived I have painted murals on.

20 May 2009

The Studio Plunder...A History, Part Four

The late 90's were a difficult time in my life. The personal trauma that comes up can be more than some can handle. I didn't deal with mine very well. I had started to spend most of creative energy on photography. The time spent drawing and painting had become experimentation. I wasn't sure what mediums I wanted to work in, what style, what subjects.

I let my sorrow dictate most of my work. They were dark and heavy most of the time. I stopped rendering eyes open with few exceptions.  I was searching for direction but had no idea of where I wanted to go.

This is the first of the "Sorrow" works. The morning after I painted this my life was turned upside down and inside out. All of those memories are now attached to this work. I have thought about getting rid of it, thinking that maybe if the painting were gone, the memories would go with it. I look at it and I can still feel all of the pain. 


This was on the cover of a book. I saw it and this boys face was burned into my brain. One morning I woke and had to get it out. 


I was always a fan of colored pencils. The graphic designer in me. When I was a student all design work was still done by hand.

These were my take on high contrast photographs I had taken. In case you don't see it, it's a reclining female nude.


I have always like Pop Art. Romero Britto is one of my favorites. I started following him before he was the international superstar he is today. These were done in oil pastels. A wonderful medium that I still use.




Markers are also a medium that I use quite often. More of my design background. They are great for quick studies in color. This is called "Race to Naked"



It was 1998. I had been in the gallery side of the art world for about 10 years already. It had beaten me down. My luck being what it is, I had managed to work for several of the sleaziest people in the art world. It was breaking my spirit. I was questioning my own beliefs. I need a new path. That was the year I decide to become a chef. I left the gallery world and started volunteering at a local cooking school and ended up with a job in one of San Diego's most decorated restaurants.

From the end of 98 until mid 2001 I trained and cooked, learning everything I could get our executive chef to teach me. Cooking really is counter culture. Late nights, long hot hours, lots of drinking and drugs. And I loved every minute of it. Cooking is and art after all.  It was just what I needed and it turned me around and gave me the direction I had been looking for.

19 May 2009

The Studio Plunder...A History, Part Three

This is from 1992. It is the only work I have ever done in a 'primitive' style. It was created in the frame shop of Turner Fine Art in Denver. It's marker on craft paper. I have very little memory of what was happening at the moment I created it but I have always liked it.


The fire I spoke of previously, took most of my work prior to the 90's. In part it was also responsible for a lack of work in the mid 90's. In part, the fire I speak of was not so much an actual fire as it was a partner that was very insecure, and did not understand or support my need to create. I was a different person then and I gave in. Because of that I went for years with out ever drawing or painting.

The following works were created in those years. 91 to 96-ish. She resented my desire to be an artist, even though that is what I studied in school. But I would at times of need, sketch something. I never thought of myself as an artist until I met someone that encouraged and supported me. It meant everything to me at the time. I know now that I was then and always will be an artist. Good or bad. Success or failure. It doesn't matter any more. It's what I am. It's what I need to do and be.

This is my oldest niece at about 4 or 5 years old. She was dressed as a princess with a beautiful green dress.


A girl on the bus that I had a secret crush on. She didn't like my sketching her either. Even after I showed her this, she thought I was some kind of weirdo.


A version of a Milton Greene photo of Marilyn Monroe. She has always been one of my favorite celebs to draw or paint. Something quite remarkable about her. And working from photos doesn't get you thrown off the bus.


Greta Garbo, another favorite. I love that era.


Priscilla Presley. This was actually before she turned herself into a freak. It's not even close to good but I kept it for some reason. Maybe the purple. I love purple.


Another Marilyn.