Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Australian Christmas

In 1994 I was invited to be in a Christmas themed art show at our World Trade Center, at the foot of Canal Street - across from Harrah's. This small exhibit was on one side of the front lobby. The other side had the traditional large Christmas tree, train and traintrack that encircled the tree.

Since the show was at our World Trade Center, we were asked to select a country and look up information on how that country celebrated Christmas. For this show I chose Australia. First of all it is summer down there at Christmas. The beach is a popular place to be. There is "Caroling by Candlelight" on the beach. So, I focused on the candlelight tradition. Painting in an Aboriginal style, I used dots to capture the effect of lights - candles and stars. An aunt who is often critical of my work told me she was buying it. It now hangs in her kitchen.

Besides the sale, I had a lot of positive feedback from artists and non-artists when it hung in the show. In spite of all that, I did not pursue making more dot paintings. There were other methods I wanted to try first.

acrylic on canvas, 12" x 16"

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Aboriginal Influence

Twenty years ago last May, I graduated from Mississippi State with a BFA in Graphic Design and other emphases in Photography and Painting – meaning I had twelve plus hours in both areas. The jobs I had after graduating were in pre-press. As for my fine art, I did a lot of experimenting with the techniques I had learned in school. Many of them were rooted in “happy accidents.” Generating unexpected imagery was more exciting to me than planning one out and then simply executing it. My blogs mind places and slingin paint cover the majority of the artwork I created between 1984 and 2000. The dot art was not a high priority. It has something that I’ve come back to at different times.

By 1993 I did some substitute teaching at my old school. My former high school art teacher had me substitute for him. Another art teacher had swapped with him in order to teach high school. She had become interested in the art created by Aboriginals and she had her students painting with enamel paint pens on canvas. Also, she was working on her own painting using the same method. It was at this point I had a chance to view a book of Aboriginal Art.

Suddenly I was excited about trying the method myself. Around this time I became interested in art that had a primitive expressive edge. In attempting dot painting I was determined to do something that was more connected to New Orleans, since it is where was born and have lived all my life – except when I was in Starkville, MS for collge. It happened that an art association was having a Mardi-Gras-themed art show, so that became my opportunity to try out the dots. My dots became sequins. Below I have posted one of three I painted. The title is "Five Masks in Blue."

acrylic on canvas, 16" x 20"

Monday, August 20, 2007


This was a project from my Painting I class at Mississippi State. All the projects for the course were painted in oils. I painted this one in the spring of 1984. We were instructed to use dots of pure color and place complementary colors adjacent to each other. We were using the Seurat Post-Impressionistic approach.

I had enjoyed playing with Impressionism in high school art classes. When this project came along I was thrilled.

I used an old photo of my grandfather and his cousin picnicking on the levee for my composition. I had to imagine color for this shot. At the time I did not have color levee photos to aid me.

The painting project that immediately followed this one consisted of collaged imagery. We were asked to be more personal in subject matter and to choose how we would render the piece. I mention the project because I had painterly water like Monet. Recently I posted the painting "Cat Slide Water" on my blog, mind places.

oil on canvas, 27.25" x 35.75"

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Shaped by Impressionism and Post-Impressionism

It was spring of my high school sophomore year and I completed my first impressionist painting in egg tempera. The piece hung in the front hall of the school. Next thing I know the drama teacher told me she had to have it. I let her. Around that time she had become an administrator. Soon the piece was framed and was proudly displayed in her office.

My source material was a black and white photograph of big oak tree and shadows cast on the grass underneath. So, I had to invent colors for the image. Shortly after that I had a request from someone in the front office to paint another impressionist painting. In the next two years I painted several more impressionist landscapes. Between my junior and senior year, I traveled with five other students and my French teacher to France. The last five days of our five-week trip were spent in Paris. Naturally I enjoyed seeing the impressionist paintings at the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume. The museum is now dedicated to photography. Also while in Paris I also saw some Vasarely paintings. His works are in the abstract geometric direction – usually with cirlcles.

Here are three pieces that I painted during this period. Although these images were from my head, they show the influence of impressionism and later post-impressionism on my work. Previously I had painted more in the Monet tradition, but now I was headed in the Seurat direction. By now my brushstrokes were more like dot dabs of paint. Although I loved Vasareley’s work, his influence on my work didn’t come until much later.

acrylic on canvas pad, 12" x 16"

acrylic on canvas pad, 12" x 16"

acrylic on canvas pad, 16" x 20"

Friday, August 10, 2007

An Early Dot Drawing

On October 7, 2005, I arrived back in Metairie after my evacuation to Memphis. My family had contractors tear out moldy walls in the basement of the home where I grew up. Some of my art was stored there. I was informed that I needed to go grab the art that did not get soaked during the flood. The portfolios I retrieved have been sitting in my art storage room at home. I knew from past browsing that the majority of my kid art perished.

Last week I decided to see what actually survived. This is a drawing made before I started Kindergarten. When I used to visit my father’s sister, I’d draw and she would hang my art on one wall of her kitchen. It was the “great art wall,” if you will. Of course my sister and brother had art on the art wall too. They never pursued art, but they created some nice work too.

My family says that the trail of dots is supposed to be ants. As for the “H-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h” – my guess it means “H-h-h-h-h-h-e-l-l-l-l-l-l-p!” Anyway I thought I’d post an early example of my “dot art.” I altered the temperature of the picture so the drawing is easier to see. Needless to say the paper has turned brown, the rubber cement is showing through and there are obvious tears that were scotch-taped.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


This afternoon I added the finishing touches to these three paintings. Whew!

I'll take a breather tomorrow. A lot depends on what pops up. Today was over-scheduled. In the meantime enjoy these.


acrylic on canvas, 5" x 5"


acrylic on canvas, 5" x 5"


acrylic on canvas, 5" x 5"

My Dot Art is Featured

Today, one of my fellow bloggers featured my artwork on his blog,
P J LightHouse. His blog concerns sharing hope around the world through articles, photos and quotations. Click on home to view the front page.

Monday, August 06, 2007

My Other Art

The dot artwork didn’t really come together until 2002. So, what did I do before that? Well, twenty years ago I graduated from Mississippi State with a BFA in Graphic Design. I had other emphases in painting and photography. The art professors who instructed me pushed traditional academy art; however, many of them shared their experimental methods with us as well. Prior to going to college I had become jaded about my art.

In high school, a drama instructor told me I painted like Henri Magritte and gave me a book on him, as a gift. I painted several murals for stage sets. In college, I worked more abstractly. The art professors weren’t always sure how to guide me. Their own experimentations were usually for backgrounds. So, since I graduated, I’ve worked somewhere between totally non-objective and surreal. My college experiences made me more excited about making art than I had been since middle school.

Remember when you see impressive fireworks and exclaim “ooh” and “ahh?” Well, that’s how I felt about my art when I graduated from college. Suddenly I had numerous ideas and techniques I needed to try. At any rate I’m still trying methods and media.

workshop adventures

Here are the blogs that cover my other art:

mind places

slingin paint

graphite only

dance energy

Then there are these works that have come about in the course of developing my “dot art.” Teaching art had an effect on my process and my experimentation. Prior to Hurricane Katrina I got into a more random mindset. The anal teaching environment helped push me there.

got grid

c’est collage

art at random

random wood

My dot art has been my focus since Hurricane Katrina and the flood. It is selling more consistently than my other work. But I do hope to take some detours again. Often the galleries have picked on me for pursuing so many artistic directions. Well, I suffer from visual boredom very easily. Surfing the Internet has only multiplied the number of ideas buzzing around in my head. OK, I need to finish some art. Stay tuned . . .

Wednesday, August 01, 2007