Tag: sketches

30-Minute Abstract Art Sketches

June 30th, 2011 | 2 Comments

Lately I have been experimenting with time-based abstract art sketches. For 30 minutes at a stretch, I attack a given composition with all I’ve got, working to produce something visually compelling under the pressure of a time limit.

Because the clock is ticking as I go, I have to work fast, and I have no time to second-guess myself. I am forced to “turn off my brain.” My intuition takes over. I go into a zone where some of my most creatively satisfying work happens. Things just happen.

abstract art sketches
abstract art sketches
Two recent abstract art sketches: I am in the process of refining these sketches into compositions that I will eventually paint. Going forward, I will be careful to honor the spirit of the original sketch — in other words, not tinker too much.

These 30-minute abstract art sketches also offer me a format for keeping my compositional skills fresh. It’s almost like how baseball players take batting practice every day, stepping into the batting cage and hacking away, working on the mechanics of their swings, trying to relax, and not to force anything, in the process.

Ideally, just like batting practice, I’d like set aside time each day to make a sketch, working on one specific design motif or geometric element per session. Unfortunately, I haven’t quite found the time to do this every day!

Another benefit of the 30-minute approach is that it prevents me from tinkering with a composition until I reach the point of diminishing returns, something I have encountered in the past. In fact, last summer I produced 24 different takes on the same composition! Results varied by the end, anyway: Once I started painting, the painting took on new life, deviating from the original sketch in significant ways.

I should add that I started experimenting with 30-minute sketches four years ago. The spontaneous art that followed, part of an art lottery project, eventually resulted in paintings such as Corporate Wellness Program.

We’ll see, indeed, whether my current batch of abstract art sketches will metamorphose into paintings in the physical realm.

Abstract video art: In the studio January 27, 2010

January 27th, 2010 | No Comments

As an experiment, I thought I’d start recording my screen as I sketch new designs for paintings, then time-lapse the process a bit. The result is kind of like abstract video art.

I just think that something gets lost when the progression of a design is not recorded step for step. Also, on the way toward the “goal” of producing a new design, many accidental designs-within-designs can spring up. Video offers a way of listening for that kind of thing. It’s like an art equivalent to watching a game film — if I may employ a sports analogy.

Perhaps this will help me develop variations and remixes for future painting ideas. Like every experiment, we’ll see where it goes. I’m pretty sure I’m hooked on this idea, though.

Special thanks to my friend Chris Sietsema, a most capable digital marketing consultant, for encouraging me to start doing this.

One last thing: If you’re curious, the above design started with a mental picture (as always) that entered physical reality as a paper sketch:

abstract video art

New designs for possible paintings

January 1st, 2010 | 5 Comments

Happy New Year and all, friends! ‘Tis a perfect moment for bringing back The Verve’s “A New Decade” … “the radio plays the sounds we made / and everything everything seems to feel just right.” Maybe we can get this decade right … is that asking for too much?

On that note, I’ve got to congratulate my father on turning 84 today. Big ups to my pops. Happy Birthday, Jack G. Wiggins, Ph.D., Psy.D., you incredible psychologist man!

And to my primary reason for this entry: I’ve finally had time — to make time — to hash out new designs (digital sketches) for paintings. And in the spirit of openness and optimism that I am sensing at the threshold of this new decade, I would like to share my new designs with you. Mind you, these are just sketches … some glitches are present here and there.

new designs
new designs
new designs
new designs
new designs
new designs
new designs
new designs

If you dig these, that’s cool — would love to know your reaction.

A slew of sketches for the Cream Gallery mural

June 14th, 2009 | 20 Comments

Moments ago I finished a set of preliminary sketches for Spencer Hibert’s much-anticipated Cream art gallery / video arcade / coffee shop / vegan donut emporium. Spencer is looking for something that he calls Aztec Atari.

With those two concepts to guide me, I produced the following set of sketches. The colors are fairly arbitrary and don’t really matter at this point; they can be changed in infinite ways. I view the process of choosing colors as a separate project anyway.

Regardless, whatever doesn’t wind up in the mural will probably land in a painting, or two, or 14 … who knows! It’s not the end result I’m concerned about, it’s the process … and I’ve had a lot of fun making these. I found the project very challenging.

Grant’s note of 16 June 09:

I just tended to version 2 by employing Spencer’s guidance (see comments). The first image shown below represents my interpretation of his guidance (version 2a). Below that, I decided to shake up the colors a bit, just to push the idea further (version 2b). Enough versions already, right?

Version 2a

Version 2b

Version 2c

Anyway, here are the original 7 sketches:

Version 2

Version 1a

Version 1b

Version 1c

Version 1d

Version 1e

Version 3

Do you, fair reader, have a favorite? Your insight is welcome.

Now it’s break time!

In the Studio: 6 January 2009

January 6th, 2009 | No Comments

This post may/may not interest you. It’s one part Norm Abrams, another part Bob Ross. If it does not interest you, I cordially invite you to visit one of the many far more interesting websites on the Internet, such as this.

Sanding Stretcher Bars

Kidding aside, I would like to convey to you what I’m up to, and what my goals are for this week. Over the past couple of days, as time allows, I have added an additional 2.5 inches of depth to already-assembled 30-inch-square stretchers.

The strips I attached will give this painting a 4-inch depth, or “cradle,” allowing me to paint the sides. The design will wrap around the edges, which is a pretty cool effect. I produced a “proof of concept” a couple of weeks ago — the painting called Circuit (via my flickr page):


Once I sanded the edges, I stapled poster board to the side, and sealed the seams with tape. This way, no surface variations will be present on the sides of the stretched canvas:

stretcher bars covered

This is the best alternative I know of for creating a deep-cradle painting. I have built my own deep-cradle “box canvases” before—with a panel of MDF mounted atop strips of wood. I primed these wood/MDF boxes, then painted over the priming. Problem is, those box canvases were heavy! And if I bumped or dropped them, the wood instantly dented.

Using canvas, however, the weight is reduced (cheaper to ship); there’s only limited potential for dings and dents; and there’s the benefit of a “tooth” to grab the paint ( = less brush strokes showing = more flatness).

That said, my goals for this week are to complete two of these paintings, both of which I will enter into an upcoming juried show. The first piece will be Circuit 2.0; the second will be Civvik 2.0 (a larger version of the painting below). Also I hope to produce a couple of works on paper. It will be a busy week!


Also, I’ve started to write poetry again, for the first time in years. Not just in my head, but actually conveying the lines to paper. I do not know where this is coming from. But it feels like a good thing.

I have long harbored an idea to write a book called 2600 Poems by John Ashbery, which would neither have 2,600 poems, nor be written by John Ashbery. Quite possibly, these poems would land in that book, which ultimately might have a different title.

Poem titles I thought of last night:
1.) All of the Factors, Including the Fact That
2.) The Size and the Structure
3.) Cheer You Up with a Turkey Sandwich

Here’s the opening lines of “The Size and the Structure”:

More or less,
Things are becoming
More or less

That’s the way I see it,
At least.

I’m not sure where to take the poem from here. It’s not much, but it’s a start. It’s all about incremental progress in 2009!

Space loops: Inspired by space art

March 15th, 2008 | 2 Comments

I have my mind set on a new series of paintings, a series of “space loops.” The original concept for this series entered my mind in December 2006. I produced one study, but shelved the idea. The painting FF0000uturo took its place.

Now the loops are back. Below are just a few sketches. The color combinations are seemingly infinite. But that’s what makes this a series.

space art space art
space art space art
space art space art

As I think about it, the loops kind of remind me of the space colony illustrations that NASA produced in the 1970s, as shown at right. Those space art images captivated me as a kid! People living inside giant cellophane tires filled with synthetic rivers and forests … and weirdo architecture! But the space loop composition arose independently of those; I mean, I didn’t have them in mind as I was geeking out the sketches. Guess I’ve been carrying those glorious illustrations around in my unconscious for years.

On that note, speaking of loops, I bumped into a great-looking book last night titled I Am A Strange Loop, by Douglas Hofstadter. It’s exactly about what I’ve been studying lately: the notion of self. When we refer to ourselves as “I,” what do we mean?

Lastly, yesterday on Science Friday there was a panel discussion about utility-scale solar power projects in Nevada and Arizona, which have the potential to meet all of United States’ electricity needs. The idea is this: Utility companies would shoulder the burden of investing in, and producing, large-scale solar farms out in the desert — instead of homeowners having solar panels on their rooftops. The discussion of utility-scale solar was introduced as if it were such a novel, new idea. But this morning I bumped into a speech that Isaac Asimov wrote 30 years ago, titled “Our Future in the Cosmos: Space,” in which he wrote: “If we could get millions of photovoltaic cells (a kind of silicon cell that sets up a small electric current when exposed to light) and stretch them over half of Arizona (I only mention Arizona because there is usually a lot of sunshine there), we could perhaps supply enough energy for America’s needs.”


14 art sketches

November 13th, 2007 | No Comments

Here are 14 art sketches I’ve made recently. Some from this week, others go back to late August. Not quite sure what the future holds for these images, but I thought I could let them out and fly free for a while, until I figured what to do with them. The color schemes are more or less random. Having a thing with van, airplane and semi-truck stripes lately. Then again, I’ve always loved stripes.

art sketches art sketches
art sketches art sketches
art sketches art sketches
art sketches art sketches
art sketches art sketches
art sketches art sketches

In other news, I finished a couple of paintings over the weekend … ones I had been working on for the past 10 days. I’ll post images of those on Friday. Haven’t had the chance to take pics of them in good sunlight. But I’m trucking along.

In the studio: November 3, 2007

November 3rd, 2007 | No Comments

Today is a beautiful day in Tempe, Arizona. High of 89. Winds light and variable. Not a cloud in the sky. Got the windows open and the sun is shining through with all of its splendor!

Today I’m working on finishing touches of the painting I started on Thursday night, shown at left. And at right is a sketch of the next painting I’ll start. An ongoing exploration of the wavy shaped-pattern.


On the stereo is Piero Umiliani’s Musicaelettronica 2, which absolutely blows my mind, like so much that Easy Tempo has released over the years. Particularly I’m digging the jazzy track titled “Scoop.” I’m also into Budos Band’s new release, the aptly titled Budos Band II.

Thursday night’s painting gig at e4
in Scottsdale did turn out to be a good bit of fun. Met some cool people who offered lots of good encouragement — they appreciated what I was working on much more than I imagined. I think it’s good to get out of the studio and paint in public occasionally. A studio environment can prove hermetic.

Sketches for vintage geometric prints I’d like to make

August 12th, 2007 | 1 Comment »

Here’s a new set of sketches for vintage geometric prints that I’d like to make. I developed these patterns this morning and afternoon: Just throwing more ideas around, messing with shapes, letting the creative process do its thing.

My inspiration for this proposed set of vintage geometric prints is a set of bed linens that were in my family (still have ’em) as I grew up. The color combination is what you see below: light blue, deep blue, light olive green, and violet). I love vintage geometric prints!

vintage fabric patterns

Hope you enjoy. Let me know what you think … I welcome the feedback!

New sketches

August 2nd, 2007 | 1 Comment »

Here are a few sketches I came up with last night, just letting the designs happen. No rhyme or reason to the colors.


Sorry I haven’t posted much lately … had a lot of freelance writing work going on. Things are getting back to normal. I’ll do my best to get more up here soon!