Fall 2011 Color Drawing

Every semester I have to make more posts about how awesome my Color Drawing classes are. 

Above: Marissa Valentino’s amazing Colored Pencil drawing of a head from our group project.

Students assembling one of our large group drawings.

Hannah and Vincent hard at work on a final figure work for the course.

Emily Armstrong’s 44 by 30 inch figure drawing in progress on the easel. You can see our parachute stage setup there behind. We love that parachute!

Above and below: A selection of drawings from the second half of the semester we pulled out for a group crit – some in progress, others complete. Overall a great effort by my students this year!

India Watts working on her Matisse master study.

The final group project installed in one of the stairwells at the University of Missouri.


Visiting Ocean Park

Recently I visited Fort Worth to experience the retrospective of Richard Diebenkorn‘s Ocean Park paintings. I have spent the last two weeks trying to process what I saw and what I think about what I saw. I’ve loved Diebenkorn’s work since my first encounter with it. I had to wait nearly 15 years to get the chance to really see the work in context. I’m in the midst of writing my reflections; they’ll appear over at Neoteric Art sometime in the next month or so. For now, check out some pictures of me and Marcus taking in the majesty of Ocean Park.

Marcus sketching from Ocean Park #30.

Marcus scrutinzing Ocean Park #135 – that’s the corner of Ocean Park #93 above his pencil.

Me taking in the glory of Ocean Park #40 from across the gallery.

Here I am considering Ocean Park #79.

And jump here and here to see some pages from my notebook written/scribbled during my time in the exhibition.

If you can’t make it to the venues the show will travel to over the next year, be sure to see this nice photo essay from the current iteration of the show.

A Submission to Delights

“A constant comfort of that place – apart from the foliage, springing paths, and multitude other charms – was my mug. Handcrafted and ergonomic, it felt then as it does now: a real weight in the hand – substantial, truthful. It declares by its heft the worth of what it holds. It is heat, a vessel security blanket, a confirmation of time. And of course I carry the time with me physically even now as I use the mug emblazoned with the O and the X (hugs and kisses from the past to the future) almost every day. It reminds me of 2am munchie runs and awesome weekend breakfasts, of wind swept evenings and overcast middays. Its circle pleases me and my mouth conforms to it easily – a submission to delights.” – from A Mnemonic of Longing, an unpublished essay, 2002-2009.

On nights like these – remembering Ox-Bow and my mug of that time – I think also of drinking port with Lex up the slope behind the Inn. One late afternoon, both of us moving toward that state of mellow so frequently found that summer, we debated art and ideas. I had my prized Odd Nerdrum book with me and, in a sequence of events not without mystery and malevolence, the tome found itself flipped off the deck and down the hillside. I keep the book broken away from its cover to this day in remembrance of my time with Alex.

Photo: My second Ox-Bow mug today. I got this mug at the same time as the one I speak about in the text above, but that first mug – my primary mug, the one that I had used every day for two years – was stolen from my workplace in 2003. Now I keep the second mug as a commemoration and never drink from it. Both mugs were made by Becky Wehmer, long time Ox-Bow-luminary and an artist/educator at Waterstreet Glassworks.

Thirteen Years

I met my future wife on August 20th, 1998 in Indianapolis, Indiana. She was 16 years old. 13 years later she’s been the most important human being – other than my mother – I’ve ever known. Everything I am I owe to the grace of God she’s been to me. Everything I do – all the different hats I have to wear, every competency I have or try to have, every correct comma – I owe to her. She’s 29 today. And still freaking awesome. I love you, Alison.

Here we are in Assisi, Italy in 2005, just a few weeks before our 2nd anniversary.

Here we are in McCormick Creek State Park (near Spencer, Indiana) on our 5th anniversary.

Miracles: Sovereign Movements Indistinguishable From Chance

Mary, above left, was born on April 30th, 2010 in Ethiopia. Miranda, right, was born on April 30th, 2010 in Columbia, Missouri, USA.

Moving across the earth to a town just north of Chicago, through sovereign movements that are indistinguishable from chance, Mary and Miranda made their way to each other – to play, and run, and explore their world.

It was a joyful, heartening meeting. In spite of the machinations and vices that rile our world, here we see some glint of the true purpose for humanity… and we can thank God.

Photos by Matt Ballou and Melissa Lancaster.

The Ox-Bow Studio

“Image-making in this place seemed axiomatic. You live to make. Or, at least, in living you make. Let us take the ninety-degree turn twice and go back to where we once were, shall we? It was fun, challenging, and worthy; the most worthy and real thing I did that summer. It is the most abiding thing I did, even now. Alas, all the rest is dust, chaff, and stubble – ‘which are burnt and which the wind drives away’ – though it all was so beautiful while strewn on the ash pile there. And we, like the old pagans, went down to color it and cover our nakedness with it.” – from A Mnemonic of Longing, an unpublished essay, 2002-2009.

Above: the studio I used during the Summer of 2001 while at Ox-Bow on a Fellowship Residency. Click for larger view.

Below: a sign one of my fellow Fellows left for me one day. I’ve saved it all these years. I have a feeling who left it on my chair that night, but was never sure. Click for larger view.

Sense of Place

There is a great Bad At Sports interview with long time Ox-Bow cook and Director of Chicago’s Roots & Culture gallery Eric May. It’s awesome. Check it out here.

Above: Eric in his grilling glory, summer 2001.

A lot of what Eric talks about in the conversation with Claudine Ise reminded me of my favorite parts of Ox-Bow life… it creates its own micro-cultural climate, its own peculiar and special sense of place. Here are some of my thoughts on it…

“It is interesting that the wonderful mixture of scents is always with you: air, fire, dirt, grass, and water. There is the staleness of cigarettes, the pungency of weed, the hoppy brews left after the parties. There are dinners of steak, shrimp, pork chops, Portobello mushrooms and ever-present feta and peas. There are soups, fish, teas, deserts, additions, and all; delights each and every day. All manner of body odors redound. The lesser animals also make their presence known, as does the mildew. Rain always works its strange rejuvenations to counter the constancy of the Lagoon. There is the rotting wood, the wet leaves, the morning mists, and my hair with its own unwashed, unkempt glory.” – – from A Mnemonic of Longing, an unpublished essay, 2002-2009.


I Keep Your Picture Close to Me

Let’s keep going, ok? These pictures have been in my wallet for about eight years. I take them out to show to students and friends. And I frequently look at them myself – so thankful and appreciative for who you are. I want to see how these pictures look in another eight years, and another eight after that, and after that. I love you, Alison.

*see little Miranda Grace Ballou’s first bow there? I keep that in there, too:)

And here’s the link to last year’s remembrance