Where Line and Paint meet with Jerry Shawback


Jerry Shawback is the most dedicated artist I know. His daily practice can rack up 500 sketches a week. Add to this his paintings, and we have ourselves a full-time talented artist. His line drawings capture depth and powerful expression with the strength of their minimalism. His self-portrait paintings always leave me craving to know more. As I flip through his flickr site I often ask “who is this artist – really?”

Then sometime over the summer, I notice something different happening in Jerry’s paintings. Lines familiar to me in his drawings started to appear in his paintings. I was hooked. I kept slipping back and spying from just off the side of the screen to see what he would do next. Finally, I mustered up my courage and asked if I could interview him for a dedicated feature here on Creative Potager. To my delight he said yes. So get your favourite cup of something warm and pull up a chair….

Born in small town Streator Illinois about 80 miles outside Chicago, Jerry lived in town but there was also a family farm. After the divorce of his parents when he was eight years old until he was sixteen, South Florida was home. This was followed by some time in North San Diego country where he completed high school.

Los Angeles is the only long-term love Jerry shared with me and the city has been his adult home since college though he spends a chunk of time in Nevada where he has few distractions and gets most of his painting done these days.

Jerry Shawback’s art:

Q. What is your training and background?

A. I went to Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design, a division of the new school for social research and studies communication design and illustration. Otis had a great foundation year program where all the students from different disciplines all took the same classes giving everyone a solid understanding of the basics of art as well as forming relationships between the different departments.

Q. Is there any particular aspect of your formal training which is fundamental to your current creative process?

A. Only one class in art school really stands out. History of graphic design was a brutal course. In 3 hours there were 200 slides and continuous lecturing. The following class there was a test on one of the slides. We covered the entire history of design and how it related to the broader world of art. When I got out of art school is when I really started focusing on my drawing. I found some great workshops and spent most of my available time drawing.

Q. I am curious about what got your thinking about drawing with paint? Do you remember what got you thinking about this?

A. There can be a disconnect between painting and drawing. I see it in the work of artists all the time. There are some artists whose finished pieces I find lifeless and uninteresting but when I can find an oil sketch or rough drawing it is just delightfully.

I went to the national Gallery in washington DC and saw several pieces by Toulouse-Lautrec. These oil on cardboard drawings, of women in various stages of undress are, for me, one the most thrilling experience viewing art I have ever had.  The Lucian Freud show which brought me back to painting again after a long hiatus would be another. I may do up to 500 drawings in a week in many different styles. This allows for experimentation and results in some very spontaneous work.

Q. How did they end up separate in the first place?

A. Unfortunately I think they have always been separate for me and what I am working on now is trying to integrate the two.

Q. What process or guides do you use in choosing your colours when painting.

A. Painting a color and drawing the colors I see with line are very different things.

I never put a color on the canvas that I do not think is wonderful on its own. That does not guarantee that it will work with the other colors on the painting. But it is a good start. I enjoy the process of mixing colors almost as much as I like making the marks with them.

Q. What has life taught you about your creative work?

A. All of our experiences good or bad make us who we are and, if we are open to it, will come out in our work. Art, just like any other kind of work, requires effort and discipline and is not something that just happens on a whim.

Q. I often experience a sense of loss or sadness edging into your work. Can you tell us a little about this?

A. We often hold our emotions just below the surface in a very quiet way. This is revealed when we are less guarded. I try to capture this. I think every one has a certain amount of sadness and loss as well as joy and hopefulness. If you are sincere as an artist, it comes out in your work. I work with the human form so it may seem more obvious but this would show if I was painting landscapes as well.

Jerry Shawback’s plans:

Q. What is next?

A. Continuing to learn and grow as an artist.

Q. Five years from now?

A. It would be nice to be involved with a gallery who could market my work a year out and the most difficult thing would be getting the work done in time for the shows.

Q. Ten years from now?

A. It would be great to have an exhibit / workshop space so I could have an environment for developing artists to show as well access to space to work.  I have come across so many terrific artists that could benefit from somewhere to work in a group environment  with other artists on occasion as well as show their work.

Thank you Jerry. It is always a pleasure to have you here on Creative Potager.

Jerry Shawback’s Sprout question: What two things are you working to integrate in your art or life?

Pssst! dear readers, to do your own spying on Jerry Shawback in the corners of cyberspace, you can find him:

On flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/shawback

And at http://www.thewhole9.com/jerryshawback

And you can  follow him on twitter at http://twitter.com/jshawback

GOOD LUCK! 🙂

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Over eighteen thousand visitors

Yes, over eighteen thousand creativity seeking visitors have been to see Creative Potager since the beginning of the 2010. To be exact, there had been 18,086 when I checked and 8:00 am PST this morning. After 141 posts and 2, 262 comments it is time to pause, celebrate and offer thanks to these regular Creative Potager supporters…

Laurie Buchanan: I don’t think Laurie has missed even one sprout question. She has faithfully come by and offered her heartfelt answer no matter what the question. Laurie has cheered, encouraged, engaged and inspired me to reach and stretched. We have been connecting online even before Creative Potager existed – in fact for years now. I consider Laurie a colleague and a friend though we have never sat across a table from each other in the same time and space. Thank you Laurie for being Creative Potager’s most regular sprout responder. You can read Laurie’s even day posts at Speaking from the Heart where there is a Colour of Wellness class under way.

Jeff Stroud: Jeff is here leaving comments and sharing almost as often as Laurie. He is a soulful and thoughtful photographer that never takes the easy road just because it is there. Jeff introduced me to the redbubble storefront through his photography a couple of years ago. Jeff has his own growth question for contemplation on each of his post at The Reluctant Bloger that will add another boost to your creativity.  He is a passionate practitioner of Julian Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.

Kathy Drue: Kathy is a blogger extraordinaire with her Lake Superior Spirit blog receiving 64,311 visits since the beginning of the year. She often appears on the front page of WordPress and is interviewed from time-to-time about her blogging experience. Writing is Kathy’s passion and photography her supporting anchor. I am proud and thrilled that she finds the time and interest to drop in to Creative Potager.

Sam Juliano: Sam, like Kathy, is part of the blogosphere elite with his Monday Morning Diary posts at Wonders in the Dark sometimes receiving over 2,000 visitors in one day. Oh! Fair warning, horror films are the focus of current reviews. Remember it is make up. Each week, from almost the beginning, Sam has visited Creative Potager and reported back with a live link to his readership. Not only that, he did a full interview post Artist and Nature-Lover Terrill Welch: Mayne Island’s resident ‘Creativepotager” this past August. Sam will always be noted in Creative Potager’s hall of fame for his generosity, warmth, intellect, and inspiration for the arts and in particular film.

Jerry Shawback: A self-portrait artist, Jerry doesn’t always leave one of his reflective and thoughtful sprouts but I find him everyday in my tweet stream. He is passing along the latest post or just mentioning Creative Potager as he goes about retweeting from his outstanding list of artist and writers. Jerry is one of the reasons that about 40% of Creative Potager visitors come from Twitter. Some of these visitors leave comments but many more simply read, then tweet the link out to their tweet friends. Jerry is an important part of that exchange. Jerry is another artist and painter that I feel a deep resonance with and you can see some of his work at his profile on TheWhole9 website. His dedication is inspiring and his work shows this commitment to daily practice.

Leanne Dyck: Leanne is a fellow Mayne Islander who takes every possible opportunity to send a “shout out” on her website OKnitting.com or on her blog Author Leanne Dyck about Creative Potager or my recent solo art exhibition. She leaves sprout comments as time permits as she is a full-time writer meeting deadlines for manuscripts and revisions with publishers. It is a joy and a pleasure to have someone who lives just down the street drop in online, connecting my virtual home with my physical home.

Kimberly Grady: Kim is a butterfly sprout responder that brings her transforming presence as she is inspired. It might be here or it might be a comment on Facebook but wherever she shows up, I am always glad to see her and enjoy her unguarded reflections. She may visit her blog Butterflies Are Blue if you leave a comment…but again, she just might drop by and comment on your blog instead. Whatever, happens I know Kim will be inspire you to be genuine, to be yourself and to be creative.

May I request dear readers is that you visit these generous and gracious  individuals and leave them a comment of thanks for helping make Creative Potager the inspiring garden of creativity that it is?

Thank you, dear friends, for hanging out with me in my creative kitchen garden.

Sprout Question: Who would be the top seven on your list of creativity supporters?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Talking Bread Loaves

“Talking Bread Loaves” PART 1 and artist Jerry Shawback

Self Portrait (18″X24″) by Jerry Shawback

For many of you that regularly read Creative Potager and its “sprouts,” artist Jerry Shawback’s contributions are a familiar sight. There is no direct connection between “Talking Bread Loaves” and Jerry Shawback. I am simply impressed with his work, his community building and his support of artists. Later in today’s post, Jerry is featured along with a few more images of his work.

“Talking Bread Loaves” will be told in three parts over the next three days. I am considering it for inclusion in my new book Mona’s Work.

Mona’s influence is multi-generational. My mother, Mona’s daughter, learned the art of amusing children, while she was cooking, from her mother. This is how I end up knowing about talking loaves of bread. At the age of five my family and I lived eighty miles from the nearest store. We went to town for supplies once a month. Good homemade bread was a staple. It was also my favourite food, particularly still warm from the oven, cut thick and slathered in butter with wild raspberry jam dripping off the edges and running down between my fingers.

Each week my mother would use her “magic “to make eight fresh loaves of bread. The reason mom needed magic was mostly to keep me amused, not because it was necessarily part of making bread…

Wrestling my way out from under a mountain of covers, I make my way to the kitchen. I know bread is going to be made by the bowls and pans already on the counter. Mom has the yeast set aside to soften in a very large, heavy bowl. The melted lard and yeast are floating on the warm sugar water. Standing on a stool, I stick my nose right over the bowl. I can smell the beginnings of bread. Mom makes a crater shape out of the flour on the table.

I put my fingers in the flour but mom scolds “Ahk! You will make the dough run out and spoil the magic.”

I knew that to spoil the magic meant the loaves of bread wouldn’t be able to tell her when they were done. So I take heed, carefully twisting my fingers together to keep them out of the flour crater.

Continued in PART 2 …

Sprout Question: How do you use your creativity to arouse the imagination of others?

Bonus: I connected with Jerry Shawback through his twitter account and was blown away by his generous “retweeting” of links tweeted by artists he is following (his support of Creative Potager tweets has been incredible). Sometimes I spend an hour or more just viewing the links he has sent along. However, one of my challenges has been getting to see Jerry’s work because his tweets about his own work are minimal. This is one of the reasons I asked Jerry if I could feature him on today’s post. I want us to pause and take note of Jerry Shawback’s art as we recognize his support of other artists.

sketch by Jerry Shawback

sketch by Jerry Shawback

More of these exquisite daily line drawings can be viewed in Jerry’s flickr portfolio. I suggest watching them as a slideshow.

Self Portrait (11″X18″) by Jerry Shawback

On March 13, 2010 Jerry’s portraits will be shown as part of the Gallery 9 “FACES” exhibit. Gallery 9 is affiliated with thewhole9.com, an international community for creative people where Jerry is a recognize community builder and active participant on the site.

p.s. Who is Jerry Shawback?

“Self portraits have the inherent ability to expose the depth and breath of human nature.” – Jerry Shawback

The artist’s self portrait series explores identity through multiple approaches to the same subject matter. Stylistically varied, they reveal the strange and vulnerability essence of the human condition.

His affinity for people, observation of life and strong draughtmanship is apparent in his depiction of the human form and informs Jerry’s painting. Other influences include: Rico Lebrun, Egon Schiele, Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud and his mentor Cornelius Cole III.

After studying communication design in Los Angels at the Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of design, a division of the New School for Social Research, Jerry worked as a freelance designer, commercial artist, and animator for the entertainment industry.

In 2007, after a ten year hiatus from the art world, Jerry returned to painting as a primary focus. He is currently working on a series of self portraits encompassing various artistic motifs, while maintaining an underlining vision, cohesion and emotional honesty. Jerry also produces works on paper documenting the lives and experiences around him, and his continuing study of the human form. His work has been featured in shows throughout Southern California as well as in private collections.

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada