Friday, August 31, 2012

Summer Lake Series

Summer is beginning to draw to a close, Labor Day seems to mark an end to the season and I return to facilitating a studio at Archeworks next week.  It has left me feeling a bit sad about the inevitable end of the warm months in Chicago.  I'm so glad that I've taken time to sit by the lake this summer and paint because winter in Chicago tends to curtail the opportunities to paint outside.  There is, of course, great delight in sitting in my studio with a hot beverage and painting while snow falls outside, but this is not the same as sitting at the lake on an early summer evening.  It was so pleasing to make this painting on an early evening in late August at Foster Street beach.  A storm had passed and the sky was changing rapidly.  I made this painting of the pier on which I have frequently run with the evening sky in the distance. 

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer Lake Series

These paintings are from a weekend camping trip in late July to Illinois Beach State Park in Zion.  It was my first trip to the park, which is only 40 miles north of Chicago.  The campgrounds are located directly on Lake Michigan and as always I marveled at how different the Lake feels outside of Chicago--bigger and cleaner perhaps.
We spent nearly a full day on Saturday, at the beach, alternatively lounging on the beach and dipping into the refreshing water.  It was a perfect opportunity for me to continue my summer lake series.  It was a beautiful day, beautiful skies, which changed throughout the course of the day.
These three paintings were quick sketch paintings I made that day.  I painted them on illustration board (I typically paint on watercolor paper).  I enjoyed experimenting with the paint on the smooth, slow drying boards. 
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Monday, August 13, 2012

Summer Lake Series

I made this painting in mid-July sitting at North Avenue Beach before playing a volleyball game.  The sky was dark, appearing as though it might rain and the lake reflecting the dark clouds appeared almost inky in color.  I made this painting using a generous amounts of paint and water, which is not typical of my controlled painting style.  It was a fun painting to make.  Each time I paint the sky and the lake I think the beautiful paintings of Winslow Homer, whose beautiful nature paintings, which continually inspire me.   
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Friday, August 3, 2012

Featured Artist

Kevin Budnik
Long time blog readers will recall that I presented a series featuring the work of other artists in 2010 and 2011.  I have discontinued the regular series, but hope to continue to share the work of other artists from time to time.  This week I am very pleased to present the work of Chicago artist, Kevin Budnik.  Kevin is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago with a BFA in Illustration.
    He was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, in a modest apartment in Rogers Park. He has very fond memories of school play rehearsals, papier mâché Halloween costumes, and Friday taco nights.
    He spends most of his time drawing noodle-armed characters, writing meticulous to-do lists for himself, and he finds walking through the city at night calms him down.

You wrote the Yale Press Blog about "how to think like a cartoonist" and your daily cartooning for a year. How would you describe "thinking like a cartoonist?"
I would say in order to think like a cartoonist, the best place to start is by figuring out how to tell your story in a way that the reader will easily decode it. It's important to realize that cartooning is an advanced form of semiotics - symbols and signs. One of my earliest lessons came from a cartooning by Peanuts cartoonist, Charles Shulz. He outlined a lesson where the artist will practice drawing simple objects in groups of three, as quickly as possible. It was meant to teach the reader how to break down everyday objects into the language of cartoons. by deciding the simplest way to draw a phone, say, your audience will see that picture and immediately register the lines and shape as "phone." 
     Beyond that, there are the elements of composition that every visual artist needs to live by. Composing a panel so it can be read quickly, while still keeping in mind that you are trying to tell a story, and that your characters need to be conveying the emotions and actions that the words cannot.

I love the illustrations in your "my year of worldly possessions - items from my bedroom" series.  What drew you to this particular daily practice?
My daily drawings came out of the daily journal comic I kept up for a while. It's really important to draw every day, no matter what it is. Like any muscle, if you don't exercise your urge to draw, it will shrivel and die.
     The objects were simply what I had at hand, and I've always been fascinated with objects. The things people choose to keep in their homes, close to them, or what to keep and what to discard, are interesting to me. They can say a lot about who we are and our personal aesthetic. I like the idea of an artist building their space, surrounding themselves with things that represent their inspirations. It's almost like a workspace or a home can become it's own work of art. I like nesting.

Are there new themes, media, experiments you plan to undertake in the future?
As far as new themes or media go, the next project I'm working on is going to be a change from my usual comfort level in that I'm moving on to fiction as opposed to autobiography.
I've started work on a short series of stories that will focus on a small rural town and its inhabitants. I'm hoping to include some of the real-world locations and culture that inspire me. Additionally I'd like to have the stories all have a similar feel of humanity, while all being told from different view points. I've never tried to write something that wasn't in my own voice before.

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