Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Hal Sherbeck Commemorative at Fullerton College

On August 31, 2015, Fullerton College dedicated their football field to the memory of legendary coach Hal Sherbeck and honored him with a day long celebration capped with a fabulous life size bronze statue by Don Treadway. They made commemorative posters based on my portrait of coach Sherbeck and set me up under a shady tent to sign posters for all who were interested, which was right at 500 posters. It was a terrific day where I met old friends like Tom Teeple, Jerry McFarland and Marty Reichman and made many new pals. Another great event hosted by Bob Jensen.

I'm usually skeptical when people monkey with my paintings, turning them into something different, in this case a poster. This time I was pleasantly surprised with what was done. Someone named Todd took my traditional piece and made it look current and dynamic while providing information they needed to convey. Great job!

It was fun to see so many people so enthusiastic about the portrait. They already had the poster and still took pictures on their various electronic devices. I dug it.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Bob & Sandra Jensen

I know I keep saying what an honor and whatta treat is to do this and that, but it's really the truth. This portrait is of Bob and Sandra Jensen given on the occasion of Bob retiring as Dean of the Fullerton College Art Department. I was commissioned by the Fine Art Department to do this piece and worked with Sandra on selecting the reference photo and painting size (so it wouldn't be too big to fit in their house). In an art department filled with terrific artists it is really something to have been selected to do this portrait. I got to know Bob while doing the dishes with him after a faculty party and he's quite a great guy... and behind every great man is a great woman, so I genuinely enjoyed doing this piece. I don't usually frame stuff, but since this was a surprise and to be presented at a retirement dinner it needed to be framed. Tim at Leon Picture Frames in Anaheim framed all the paintings for the Fullerton College "Hall of Fame" and Bob had picked those frames, so we did this one in the same style that he picked for the campus library. It really sets off the painting. The presentation went well and everyone seemed happy. At the end of the night Bob & Sandy loaded all their gifts in their truck, but this one went on top.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Dance

I really enjoy portraits. Some portraits are very formal and some are very fun. I was very happy to get this gig. Ken Rhoads commissioned this 16" X 20" oil painting as a surprise gift for his wife Becky's birthday. Ken emailed this dyamic (but low-res) image to me as a reference photo. I've had to work from some pretty poor images, once from a 1920s newspaper photo, and they pose some real challenges. Ultimately you have to shift your approach away from any detail and focus on overall gesture. I've had two opportunities to portray Becky (who is one of my all time favorite people) and sadly both have been from poor reference pictures (see "The Rehearsal").  One of these days that will have to get corrected. 
Ken also wanted this lyric from Mr. Tambourine Man to be included someway. I don't do this kind of thing very often, although a lot of the great artists do. I do include a lot of lettering in street scenes and race car sponsor stuff over compound curves, so I'm not bothered by lettering, but typically I'm copying something that already exists. Here I get to figure out the font, the color, the placing and spacing of the whole thing. It needed to be elegant but not a hard-to-read script, big enough to read from a distance but not so big as to overpower the image. Painting is problem solving. I liked this combo and Ken supported my decisions with glowing reviews.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Tipo Latino

This painting was done for Charals Haagen, owner of this terrific Ferrari 212. It is chassis number 219EL and built in 1952. While working for Carrozzeria Vignale in Turin, designer Giovanni Michelotti would do these fabulous renderings of exotic shapes and they would be interpreted by Vignale's craftsmen into three dimensional form. Vignale labelled this car "Tipo Latino" for reasons beyond my knowledge.
 I have followed this car around for almost thirty years and have a ton of reference shots of it from when Paul Forbes had it. There are so many unique features and this is one of the few cars remaining today that still have original paint and interior. This is not the product of what a restorer thinks it should look like, but actually the way it was designed and built 62 years ago.
Here I  did my best to emulate Michelotti's drawing style in the background. Then the actual car is presented in full color if front of the rendering on old blueprint type paper. The car is pale yellow with grey side panels. Although very unusual (and doesn't sound that great on paper) it is strikingly beautiful in person. Italians historically have a brilliant sense of design and color.
I just love this thing and was delighted when Charals asked me to do its portrait. We were introduced by Steve Beckman many years ago and that resulted in Charals buying my original painting "Obsessed". Since then ideas have been percolating in our brains and this is what finally came to boil. Tipo Latino in oil.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Fullerton College Centennial Portraits

During 2014 Fullerton College is celebrating it's one hundredth birthday. It is a big to-do, and rightly so, it is is the oldest continuously running community college in our state. The college has included me in their "Art Legends" gallery show and I am one of a few artists who have been asked to do portraits of significant players in the college history. Last year I did the portrait of a gal named Esther Litchfield Hatch, the first female dean at the college, back in the 30s. This was followed by Leon Leyson (you can scroll down to older posts and find these pieces featured) and now the final four have been delivered.

First Lady Pat Nixon
She was fun to paint, nice doo. It amused me to do portraits of both Pat Nixon and Wavy Gravy in the same year. I wonder how they would have got along.

Coach Hal Sherbeck
I didn't get much reference material on Hal but this shot was irresistible. I got to use the stage lighting effects I learned from studying Frank Lisciandro's photos. The blue and yellow on the shadow side of his face are the school colors.


Leo Fender
Leo's guitars and amps are legendary, but there aren't a lot of photos of the man himself. I was happy to get the cooperation of the Fender museum to get some seldom seen images for reference.

California Supreme Court Cruz Reynoso
Cruz is a Brea boy. We had a nice visit and he was given the opportunity to be portrayed any way he wanted, and this was his choice. His role in civil rights is definitely something to be proud of.

All these were fun to do, each with their own challenges and rewards. Thanks to Bob Jensen for getting me the gig and making the business part seamless.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Fullerton College Art Legends

Deborah Davidson, Jon Bush, Dave Maestrejuan, Scott Drake

"Fullerton College Art Gallery presents Art Legends 2014. The Art Department celebrates the Fullerton College Centennial by inviting back alumni and former faculty who have made an impact in the art world." That's what the announcement says. Lo and behold, I'm on the list and my work is on the wall with some real heavy hitters. Whatta treat! 

Back in the day, as a teenager, I went to LA Art Center and then took classes at UCI and then on to Fullerton College to use up the rest of my scholarship money. Scott Drake used to drive me to school because I was usually under the influence by class time. We took Don Treadway's life sculpture class at 9 a.m. (the first college class Don taught), he's in the Legend show too. Also took other classes and not sure how I got home. 

Jump ahead a few decades and I decided to go back to school for art classes. I looked around and found Fullerton College still had the best art program and took up residence there for several years, learning skills and earning accolades. As an aside, its there I met Deborah Davidson, the best art teacher I've ever encountered. She is a BIG reason people succeed at Fullerton and deserves the title of legend as one of the only faculty who is a working artist and as a former student. I am honored to be considered her peer in this show.

The opening party was terrific, everywhere you looked was a prominent figure in art. Nixon Borah, cousin Justin Sweet, Kate Johnson, Jon Gothold, its a long list. There was music and BBQ and of course the art exhibit in the gallery was beautifully done by Carol Henke.

While growing up in Brea I was surrounded by artists of all ilk. Superb musicians were all around us. Scott Gladden, Bill Jacobi, Broc Smith and I were all into drawing and painting. Scott Drake and Ken Ford were masters in ceramics. Jon Bush found success by going into glass. We had quite a little cult of creators and all shared in each others journey. Not everybody chose to go to school, but the ones who did were prominently recognized in this exhibit and I'm honored to be one of the crew.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Under the Lights

A couple months ago I had the opportunity to run under the lights at the Perris Flat Track and its really a different experience from day racing. Since I'm interested in old motorcycles, I've taken to reading old magazines and occasionally find a compelling photograph. This one had elements I like to portray and made good use of photographic effects, like blurred ground and lights. These aren't necessarily visual components, but unique to the camera's eye and I don't use them very often. Here I felt like they were appropriate, helped convey the struggle of controlling the bike and the illusion of speed. The original photo was grainy b&w. I used a very limited palette here, lots of earth tones and ultramarine blue, a touch of red and green with high contrast for the subject help make it snap.