The Comfort Zone, and taking risks

I get the impression that many artists from experience know pretty well what each pencil or brushstroke will do.  They’ve mastered their particular medium, and they can create without too many surprises.

Every so often,in the artist forum, I read about artists talking about the Comfort Zone.  This mastery is what I think they mean by it.  Very little surprise, a perfect drawing or painting every time.

Sometimes I see people advocated to leave the Comfort Zone, take risks, and see the results.  Most of the time people are thrilled with the results.

For me, I don’t think I’ve ever found the Comfort Zone.  I still experiment, and maybe at this stage of my career that’s wrong….I should be working for a more consistent style. Most of the time, anyway, I’m pleased with the results.

However, not being in the Comfort Zone,experimenting and taking risks can also lead to failure.  Learning to accept this is hard, one wants to succeed all the time.

So it is with the large version of “Sunny Chair Paradise”.  I plan to do it over, more consistent with what the small sketch looked like.  As for this piece, I’ve put it aside, to see if I look at it later, I can salvage it, or that I like it better.  For now,it’s a dud, and it’s not worth the effort to photograph it.

Such is life.

Here is an example of another time I took big risks, and wasn’t sure I liked the results. I still don’t know if I do.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s called “Creativity”.


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Lazy Day

Been a busy week, and now I’m having a restful day.  Did a little work on Sunny Chair, but I’ve put a hold on it for a while.  I’m too tired to really do a good job.

So, I thought I’d show some odds and ends of work I’ve done but never featured. 

As usual, you can see more of my work at



This was a sketch for the window reflection in “Sentinel”.


Here’s a commission I did for a young man.  It’s designed to go on a black t-shirt.



Another commission for that young man.  This is for a white T-shirt.



An ACEO (art card) of St. Patrick’s Cathedral



And a quick-sketch portrait of Richard, my bf.

Will post more, some other tired, lazy day.

Ode to Oil Paint

In trying to get together the live action painting business, I invested in some oil paint sticks.  They’re oil paint that you can actually roughly draw with.

So just to see what it felt like I tried one.  What I didn’t expect was to be so affected by the aroma.

As with everyone, sometimes a certain odor will transport me back into time.

The smell of oil paint took me back to my student and early career days.  It brought back all the enthusiasm and hope.

I think at some point, most artists have worked in oil.  The exception is digital art.  For me, I worked painting nude figures, a typical part of an artist’s training. The smell of the paint took me back to the Art Student’s League, when both art and New York City were new experiences.

Also, oil paint makes me think of my former teacher, Freda Dreany, probably the most selfless person I ever met.  She took me under her wing, and taught me a lot.  She supported herself doing portraits in different media.  Her home always smelled of oil paint and turpentine.

In fact, her home was a stopover for a lot of creative young people, needing a place to stay.  With all those artistically minded people around, it was a stimulating time of my  life.

So, such are the memories of the smell of oil paint. Of course, I did not pursue painting in oils for a number of practical reasons.  But oh, the smell.


It’s been a cloudy, lazy weekend.  I took advantage, and got some rest.

I have been working on Sunny Chair, though.  It’s evolving.

At one time, I used to start out a picture with an exact idea in mind of what I wanted it to look like, and work towards that.  One thing that I found, is that what works in your imagination, doesn’t necessarily translate well onto paper or canvas.

As I was working on this, for instance, I changed the color scheme to something that I thought would work better.  I thought I would continue with a lavender shadow, and bright yellow surrounding it, the way I had the picture in the sketch.   This is one example of finding something that worked better once I was in the middle of the drawing.

So here it is.  Not the best photo, it’s cloudy out.  I took the picture in incandescent light, which makes a yellow-gray cast to everything.

But, it’s evolving.



In the Place We Live 2012

Last night was the reception for the show.  It was a lot smaller than it was last year, and the AC actually worked this year!  I was delighted that the manager from my job, Dave, and his lovely wife Kelly came.

There was a lot of interesting work from local artists from Western Queens.  I thought that the theme of the show was to have work relevant to the area..evidently I was mistaken.  It was a really eclectic selection of art.

Thought I’d show some pictures…


This is the outside of Gallery M55, where the show was held.  The picture was taken before the show actually started.


Here are my two pieces hung in the little entrance hall.  The entrance hall seemed to be the place where smaller works were displayed. 

So I was not hung over the punchbowl this time.  In fact, there was no punchbowl, but in the entry was a bucket of beer, some wine, water and potato chips.

I was annoyed by one thing, though.   In the entry form I received, they said there was a size limit of 20 inches on a side, framed.  So I did not enter my more finished, larger works.  When I got to the show, I saw there were some pictures that clearly were larger than the limit.


Here is the main room of the exhibit, still early, while people started to come in.



Here’s another picture from the outside, once the show really got going.

The art at the show was all very good, I must say.  I don’t know if they’ll do it again, next year, but I’ll try to enter again.

Doing some hard work

After taking a day off, I’m hard back at work.  I’ve decided to do a large version of Sunny Chair.  This time, because it’s such a simple subject, I decided I would really work with different textures and pencil strokes to create interest.

In this work in progress, you can see I’m starting out with a technique known as circulism, something I don’t normally do.  Instead of making hash marks, you make small circles.  A lot of people use it for portraits, if done right and very delicately, it makes a good texture for skin. 

I did it a little roughly here.  I thought it would be a good way to imply the texture of the upholstery.  It’s time consuming, thank goodness for my ipod!


What is also on my mind…how to explain how satisfying doing artwork is. Often I’ll come back to work after time off, and people will ask how my weekend was.  Well, to tell you the truth, many such times I have spent hours doing artwork.  It makes for a good time for me, but it’s awful to describe as small talk with others.


My artwork, my words. Enjoy!