Back to work!

Summer is winding down and for the first time in my life I am looking forward to some rainy days.  All the lovely sunshine has kept me busy outside with chores and fun.  The horses are sleek and fit, the pasture is mowed and the garden is having it’s last gasp at producing heirloom tomatoes.  I’m caught up and full up with camping but the studio has grown some cobwebs and a fine layer of dust.  The rain will keep me indoors and back to the business of being creative.

I did manage to spend a day whipping out an idea (which will be in the post, but not until the end, so stick around) as well as sorting through some old art I wanted to share. I used to love pen and ink, prior to discovering oil paints, it was probably my medium of choice.  Before there were rapidograph and Stabilo pens (which I love) I learned to use India Ink and a crow quill pen. Crow quill refers to the nib, a very small tip that doesn’t hold much ink but makes thin, sharp lines.  All the following pieces were done with the old dip and scratch method.  Very messy and time consuming.  I’m not sure what the attraction was… haven’t used that technique in years.  Perhaps it was the ink itself…  India ink is very very black and opaque.  I always liked my blacks to be deep and dark.

pen and ink supplies

Thank you Smithsonian for this image.  Want to know more about pen and ink?  Go to http://paleobiology.si.edu/paleoart/prentice/pages/pen_and_ink.html

 

I’ve done so many pen and ink drawings, I really should sort them all together.  But instead they are scattered in several portfolio cases and inhabit odd corners here and there.  I like to think I’m organized until I see my work helter skelter.  Maybe this winter I’ll get on it, but for now, here are a few that caught my eye for posting:

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

If you are clever, and have a good computer you will see my name from my youth.  I prefer Sky, but wasn’t born with that name. Changing my name may be the subject for another post… it’s personal and somewhat of a story, but the short version is, I didn’t like it, so I changed it when I got married since I was changing my  last name anyway.  You can be who you want to be as far as I’m concerned.

Next on the hit parade:

Mother Tiger

Mother Tiger

Boodhound

Bloodhound for Joe

The Chipmunk. (Cute little sucker!)

The Chipmunk

And for some fantasy fun:

Hypocampi

Hippocampi

As I was sorting through the Pen and Inks, I came across some designs I did for a T-shirt company.  My first job out of college was for a screen printing company and I have hundreds of designs that were printed on shirts.  But some of the best were freelanced while I was in grad school.  Here are some personal favorites that were printed by the Goldsmith Company in Portland, OR.  I don’t believe they are in business anymore, but it was fun to be one of their “stringer artists”.

Here are most of the floral designs I did for them.  The ones on black are actual screen prints.

Here are most of the floral designs I did for them. The ones on black are actual screen prints.

Close up of a proposed design.

Close up of a proposed design.

I always thought these kaleidoscope designs were fun for a shirt.  Not high art, but still, not everything has to be mind blowing and thought provoking.  Sometimes art is just fun.  And now that we are talking about fun… I started this post with the title, Back to Work. I did “go back to work” and finished a new painting.  My plan was to do a 2-D version of my “Winged Chair” so I outlined it (in orange as usual) then began filling it in with color.  It was awful.  I hated it and left the studio to work in the yard.

We had a day in August where the rain blew in so I made my way into the studio to finish or destroy the hated painting.  Destruction was on my mind, but instead I began to embellish and before I knew it, the painting went from staid, awful and cartoon-y to something wild and awesome.  So, as promised… the one new piece:

Wild Chair Oil on Canvas

Wild Chair
Oil on Canvas

I think I would be a little apprehensive about sitting in this particular chair.  It doesn’t look tame…  and maybe even a little scary. I still kinda like it.  It makes me feel dangerous!

Dark Shadows

Being outside heals me.  Outside is bigger than all the sadness in my head. Getting out of my head is a good thing.  I spend far too much time in there.  -Me

 

Dear readers… this next post is personal.  Since my blog is The Work and Ideas of Sky Evans it seemed time to post some ideas.  But maybe it’s more of a confessional?  Either way, if you like my art more than words, and you want to skip this wordy post, rest assured you aren’t missing much in the way of visuals.  The art I used to illustrate this post is from my early years.  Not very good IMO, but interesting to see this other side.  Having said that, bear with me while I try something new.  Not instructional, or piece specific musings but thoughtful, as in full of thought.

 

I can't remember when I did this dragon in the clouds... but I kinda like it!

It was 1983 when I did this dragon in the clouds… I never really cared for it, but for some reason I kinda like it now!

In the past few weeks I had the art show in the vineyard and summer time visits with relatives, (both most enjoyable) but lately the weather has rolled in HOT HOT HOT which makes it hard to get much done if you don’t get up early.  I like the cold, it sharpens up my brain.  Hot weather has me laying around with sweaty glasses of ice tea clutched in my paw, moaning about the heat.

Okay, so it’s not that bad.  But the day after the show I did wake up and sigh.  Not a “oh woe is me” sigh, or “damn I am about to be evicted” sigh or even a  “the world is fucked and my life is ruined” sigh.  Just a soft, weak, puppyish whimper… (I invoke the puppy image hoping to come off as cute instead of pathetic).  It was a “what now” sigh that I have come to associate with the let down after a long slog uphill.  The long slog was all the effort and energy getting ready for the show.  Which was good, and productive but definitely falls in the “uphill” category.

My display at the show.  All the hard work paid off.

My display at the show. Doesn’t look like that much hard work, but still….

Eight days later and it’s still not all put away. I seem to be having trouble getting my rhythm back after revving my engines for a week in anticipation of that 5 hours at the show. The hot weather does not help.

A thought and this post has been percolating away in my head since waking up with a “what-now-blues” feeling.  It’s about temperament. Specifically, artist’s temperament.  Somehow, somewhere, I picked up the notion that there was such a thing.  And that kind of temperament meant that artists were moody, prone to jags, hard to get along with and somewhat bi-polar, though in the old days, we called it manic/depressive.  As far as old days go, I am, literally, a child of the 60’s.  Andy Warhol and Peter Max were household names.  Jackson Pollock’s death and eccentric style was still in the forefront, and the music of the era included Don McLean’s famous “Vincent” which sparked a fresh look into Van Gogh and his famous mental illness.  (His work is among my personal favorites.)  Maybe these kinds of artists perpetuated the idea of the “artist’s temperament”.  Regardless of where it came from, I somehow grew up with the notion that there was such a thing.  And I was determined to prove it all wrong.

I Am The Endless Sky 1985

I Am The Endless Sky 1985.  Gravity defying tubes of paint and the cosmos.

Determined is a good word to describe me.  Not the only word, but a good one.  It irked me that artists were considered touchy and had to be “handled” for some reason.  Fuck that shit, I was as normal as normal could be.  Wasn’t I? With a flip of my locks, I would snort derisively.  I was determined to be happy, healthy, smart and together!  Reasonable, logical, empathetic, someone who was kind, a good person.  I wanted to be the best person I could be… I would not be a stereotype.  No dark shadows here!!

If I was reading this aloud, here’s the part where I would laugh.  Knowingly.  Maybe even sarcastically.

Because no one is really normal.  Normal doesn’t exist.  Decades later, I am finally coming to the realization that normal is an average and averages are made up of numbers that are added together and divided by themselves.  How can people be normal?  The world is a crazy place (watching the news will prove that) so normal must be crazy.  Maybe we should just embrace the crazy and applaud those who manage to cope and thrive amidst the chaos.

So then, is there an artistic temperament?  For a long time I didn’t even want to admit to being an artist. Even after I had a degree in Art, one in Art Education and had been an art teacher I was in denial.  I think I was denying the stereotype… but often stereotypes exist because they ring of truth.  Sigh. So okay, here goes.  Here’s my truth: I sometimes dance on the edge of depression.  Not a  “dancing with the stars” thing, but a little tap dance. I don’t believe I qualify for a full blown depression as outlined in the DSM-5 (not that I’ve read the description… I’d actually rather not know to what level I may rate) but little dark clouds have been a part of my life for a long, long time.

My Life, circa 1984

My Life, circa 1985

It’s my version of normal, those little dark shadows. When I was a pup myself, it was like waves of sadness.  In my childish mind, I could image I even heard voices whispering to me.  Nothing bad, but lonely and very sad.  I told my mother about it once; bless her for not minimizing or ridiculing me in any way.  I felt safe telling her about it.  But that was as far as it went.  Which may have been a good thing as it set me up to believe there wasn’t anything wrong about it and so, I didn’t worry about being sad.  My coping technique at the time was to sing.  I memorized the words to the Eagles song, “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and would invoke it whenever those shadows came a calling.  It always worked.  One run through and my brain was back on track and feeling peaceful and easy.

 

The inside part.

The inside part.

 

Well, I grew up and out of my imagined whispering and as life got busy and hectic, the shadows ebbed and were kept at bay with activity.  Alcohol in judicious amounts is also a tool for ignoring those small voices.  I never was much of a drinker though, I have a fine line for it’s toxic effects.  I’m basically a cheap date. Instead I hiked or rode away the sadness.  Being outside heals me.  Outside is bigger than all the sadness in my head.

 

The Zoo 1985

The Zoo 1984 In this piece, the protagonist is covered in flowers, she’s an exhibit in an alien zoo. She wants to escape her companions, the fuzzy slugs. But at least she’s OUTSIDE!!

 

But here’s the funny thing about little dark clouds.  They come back around when you aren’t looking. You wake up in the morning and there they are raining on your personal parade.  They leave you with a low grade sadness that is aptly named “The Blues”.  As a color, I like blue, but as for “The Blues”, well, they fuel my passion for leaving them behind.  If I get up and get moving and do something I can outrun them.  Maybe that’s why runners run.  I’m not a runner, but I can paint.  And when I paint, or create, I get out of my head.  Getting out of my head is a good thing.  I spend far too much time in there.

Fishes and Wishes Oil on Canvas 12"x16"

Fishes and Wishes
Oil on Canvas
12″x16″

 

In effect, I create because I have to.  So maybe there is something to this Artist’s Temperament after all.  Am I an artist because I have the temperament or do I have the temperament because I am an artist?

Either way, it’s also telling to me that I spend the most time with people who I believe fall on the low end of the crazy spectrum.  I can do edgy people, but only in small doses. But if indeed it is normal to be a touch crazy, then that puts me in the small doses band for everyone.  In other words, I can only “do people” in small doses.  Which makes me an introvert.  And indeed I do need alone time just to recuperate from normal social interactions.  Sometimes trying to stay dry under my own clouds is about all I can manage.