Exit Within: the Gallegos Blog

Bi-weekly musings, artwork, art-talk, and randomness.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Still and Not-So-Still Lives

I've greatly enjoyed painting still life paintings the past couple of years, and have endeavored to make them a more regular part of my work. They are great as experiment labs and also low-commitment ways to explore lots of subjects. Lots of happy accidents can happen, they also result in art that is a bit affordable, at least when contrasted with more full-sized, fully-realized studio paintings.

Traditionally, the subject matter for still life paintings tended to revolve around common objects found in the pre-industrial age. Because that consisted of centuries worth of paintings, the objects portrayed in those paintings became synonymous with still life painting: flowers, food, small household objects, etc.. And since those objects still exist, they still provide good subject matter for still life paintings. For instance, my painting of mistletoe painted during the past Christmas holiday season was received well by the jurors of the Oil Painters of America, who selected it for their Annual Salon. It will thus hang and be available from May 13th, 2016 at the exhibition held at Southwest Gallery in Dallas TX.

"Come Here, You" 6x8" oils on linen
(purchase information / larger image)

But still life painting has and should continue to include new items and objects, as new items and objects are created. I'm not one who thinks the old should be abandoned, but definitely if new things come up, artists should paint them! To that end, my Hearts for Hardware series has been my contribution to the broadening of the scope of still life by including these modern objects.

"The Standard: True Colors"
8x16" oils over acrylic on canvas
(prints available)

But what of objects that aren't portrayed as being still? While any artist could observe objects in motion, and through repeated observation could try to cobble together the impression of motion, now with photography we have lots more options. By combining photographs with imagination and having the objects present to work from, there is also I guess what one might call not-still life painting.

"23d" 8x8" oil on masonite
Available through Every Day Original

Friday, April 15, 2016

Lost in the Trees

4.5 months makes the longest break I've had on my blog in 10+ years. I'm ok with that. Blogging gurus always say don't apologize for breaks, just pick up and move on. Ok.

That the past few months have led to that break is not surprising, in retrospect. 2015 was a very difficult year in many ways. At least half of the difficulties were very good things, indeed, like my shows at Indian Road Cafe and then my first legit solo gallery show at Krab Jab Studio. Moving to beautiful wine country in Northern California. A lot of the other half was due to the downsides of good things: the incredible amount of time and costs involved in seeing those things through. "Boo-hoo," I guess one could say. I agree, but it's been harder than it sounds in ways I don't need to write about.

(L:) "Flowerbed" 8x10" graphite and acrylic on toned paper

A couple of years ago, not completely intentionally at first, I started wandering a bit, artistically. I've always had personal projects here and there, usually one-off paintings I'd do between assignments. Meant to fulfill some creative need, or a hole in my portfolio, these were not done as often as I would've wanted. Each piece was a temporary detour off the long path I've been walking, creatively, since I started illustating 22 years ago now. But I never let myself get so far off the path that it might be tricky to find my way back.

And then I kind of did. Again, not really intentionally. At first it was just a large-scale 4x6' painting. But while off the beaten path for awhile pursuing that, I encountered a squash. Curious, I followed further down another gully. At the bottom of it was some old discarded video game hardware. Across the gully and up, I got a glimpse of where I was going to be living next and lo-and-behold, there was this gorgeous vineyard....

I'd come across some really amazing things while wandering off the path. I made mental notes about the locations of each thing I found. I wanted to be able to return to these places easily in the future. It's always hard to remember where on a trail you turned off and ran across something amazing some distance in.

(L:) "Thymiama" 8x10" graphite, white charcoal and acrylic on toned paper

And so I've spent the last couple of years traveling back and forth between all these varied places. Artistically it's been exhilarating. And I started putting together some plans to make this back-and-forth thing viable. But establishing these new routines is anything but easy and quick. Like having to plant my own food between these spots so I can make sure I'm fed--it takes a bit for that to mature to harvest, if it does. In the meantime, it's been a bit nerve-wracking trying to establish this new pattern.

And lastly there is what I feel is a duty I have to those who have followed my work all these years. A duty to continue to amaze you with the things I find in my travels. I know not every group attracted to each thing I'm doing will have an interest in the other things. My hope at least is that the other things in themselves will not be turn-offs.

But it means it's taken a lot more time to get anywhere. And it means that my website no longer reflects what I'm up to; technologically it's ancient and decrepit now, and I haven't been able to decide how to rectify that. So I've started blowing up a couple of parts of it. Eventually I'll blow it up to the point where the site is a simple 1-2 page "placeholder" for a rebuilt home for my work. In the meanwhile, I've been posting regularly at Instagram, and that's also probably been a demotivator to posting here. But I get that IG has little patience for context, which I can provide here.

Where I am currently, however, is a place where returning to updates here on this blog is probably possible again. Maybe even advisable. So, see you soon.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Decidua / Arctis

A couple of months back I was assigned a regular slot on Every Day Original, a great site for finding new original art daily, for $500 or less. If you are new to collecting original art or have been thinking about getting into the game, it's a great site to dip your toe in.

My assigned day is the 28th of each month for now. Unfortunately, this falls right into the dead space following the two major end-of-year holidays! Ah well.

I've thought about trying to use my art for EDO as a way to advance personal projects through small originals, or maybe preliminary works on larger studio paintings.

When we last spoke in October, I was between a slew of events that devoured a couple of months. The last of them was a one-two punch of IlluXCon and the annual painting retreat I've mentioned here a few times before. As I've said before, my goal with those painting retreats has been to work on non-commissioned works there, and this year was no different. I was once again behind the ball heading in. Last year, I barely managed to get it together to begin working on "Glossai Pyros." This year was no different as the retreat began the very day following IlluXCon, which itself had begun just a few days after showing at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo, where I had my Hearts for Hardware work on the road. Whew!

Working on "Decidua" at a retreat. Photo by David Palumbo

What I thought I'd work on at the retreat wasn't to be as I ran into delays with the model I was working with. So very last minute I had to call an audible. And by last minute I mean one day before leaving to IlluXCon. I knew my EDO post would be going up the Wednesday of the retreat, but I'd have no time until I got there to work on it.

So I dug through my Artist Proof sketches and pulled out the scan of the one at left, which was done on the back of a "Dryad's Caress" card awhile ago. I had the reference photo for it still. I also had a 6x8" canvas prepped so I went about redrawing it in paint straight on the canvas with tweaks and corrections. I did an underpainting, put an isolation coat on it and packed it. I also did an underdrawing of a small Hearts for Hardware piece, then packed and left!

Arriving at the retreat Monday after the show, I immediately unpacked and got straight to work. I usually do anyway because it's plenty inspiring being there and I want to work a lot there. In the midst of so many talents, I can paint all day long with very little fatigue that might set in at home on my own.

Long story short, I burned the midnight oil and photographed the piece to post on time. Having chosen an autumnal theme to the color version, I brainstormed some titles with Daren Bader late one night and arrived at "Decidua."

"Decidua" 6x8" oils on canvas
Available through Every Day Original
 As I enjoy working in series, I also chatted with Daren about doing so, and decided to go for it. Winter would match with my December offering, but as snow came early this year and I was plenty excited about continuing the series, I did the next one for November. Thankfully, "Arctis" brought snow in real life and we had to cancel primary Thanksgiving travel plans. On the one hand a snowy getaway would've been wonderful, but I was once again behind heading into Thanksgiving week and I didn't relish the thought of bringing my tiny setup with me. So I was able to stay home and work on this piece in warmth and comfort. I took a number of photos in-progress this time and made a little movie I posted around social media.

I'll naturally follow this with same-sized harbingers of Spring and Summer. The plan is to have them ready for late April and May, respectively, whether or not I'm still contributing to EDO.

"Arctis" 6x8" oils on canvas
Available through Every Day Original

Thursday, October 01, 2015

"Level Up" Solo Exhibition

Let's get to business before I ramble: this show ended October 3.

Now to the fun, bloggy part.

Hanging along with 30-some odd drawings and paintings are two special pieces from my closet. It was great timing moving back to CA this past June since it gave me access to art from when I was young, some of which I've saved. As the title of the show was, "Level Up," it meant that some of this art had to be included, as it went with the overall theme, including how I continually mine the same sources of my youthful inspiration, whether I mean to or not.

When I was a wee lad, I lost my mind over Star Wars. This was long before the intertrons, so I had to chase down Star Wars things in real life, and this included a vinyl LP audio version. We listened to that over and over and over, but it was years after the first time I saw it in the theater at almost 4 years of age until I saw it again on VHS. In-between those years there were comics and toys to keep us occupied. And two more great films.

In those days my older brother and I would make our own comics made from folded 8.5x11" sheets, stapled. We would hastily scribble these things out and then sell them to one another once a week or so for a dime or whatever. One of my series was a retelling of the Star Wars story. I don't think I got through the entire story before this phase of our lives ended, which was probably most of a year or so, which is a looong time when you're like 7 or so.

I decided to frame up this page as it features a Stormtrooper. At my exhibit, it hung matted and framed beneath the most recent work in the show, TK-60918. The oldest and the newest, side-by-side.

Pretty much any pop-cultural thing I was involved with that had art in it was an opportunity for me to draw, either inspired by or by simply copying the awesome art already present. In this way I taught myself how to draw, since I could measure my results by an objective standard--the thing I was copying. My brother and I both continued drawing, supporting and competing with one another (in a friendly way) through high school, after which my brother chose other paths and I continued with the art.

From around 11-12 years of age I was crazy into Transformers, after which I got crazy for the NES and Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. I believe I've posted one of my Transformers drawings here before, but I included another in my show. What's interesting is the prior one at the link was earlier, so it's also a bit clumsier of a drawing. But, apparently I got into graphic design as those drawings went on. I was also into calligraphy so had these calligraphy pens I used to help me create that killer diagonal banner.

As these pieces were not available for sale, they will come home with me as the show ends. They've lived in boxes for years and years, but these two I'll leave framed and will hang somewhere in our new place. It's kinda nice to look back sometimes; while I vividly remember making some of my comics I don't particularly remember drawing that page, but the Transformers piece I do recall drawing some parts of it. I've often said each drawing and painting is like a time capsule for me. Every piece I do has wrapped up in it some part of my life, some hours recorded and whatever else was going on in my life as the context for those hours.