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

Only the SEA


View full resolution and purchase print of painting here.

The original has been sold to Annie Q Syed and now hangs in a sun-filled apartment in New York City. To learn more go to Annie’s post “The Soul of the Sea.”

It’s me. It’s me. The sea, it’s me, it’s me.

Calling, calling, calling.

Winds blow clarity into my being, while the sea continues to call. Every ounce of my earthly body is drawn forward… heaven-ward. I remind myself – it is only the sea.

This wee painting of a mere 8X8 inches on gessobord mounted on a 2 inch birch cradle has only one image… the final image. The painting spilled onto the surface like a wave coming to shore. No effort really. A simple whuuwwwwiiisssshhh! There it was. Well, actually hours had passed but I didn’t notice. I didn’t stop. I painted. I remembered to breathe. That was all.

Sprout Question: What will mesmerize you?

Note: Creative Potager has a new page Artist Biography and a post announcing my solo exhibition “SEA, LAND AND TIME.” Please share both as appropriate.

© 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

Salish Sea painting series

I’ve never been one to do a series of paintings on any subject. But I find myself wanting to now. I have three water miscible oil paintings in what may become a lengthy series of seascapes about the beautiful and mysterious Salish Sea.

The first oil painting in the series you have already seen as it is “Winter Sun

The second is painted on a 16X20 inch gessobord in a birch wood cradle 2” deep. It is the first time I have painted on a hard surface other than finished plywood. I used a palette knife and was so involved in the painting there are very few shots of the progress.

A start…

working to bring the blue forward…

And now for the finished painting…

View and purchase full resolution print of painting here.

For now and maybe forever it is called “Salish Sea 2

On Thursday I will show you “Salish Sea 3” which is an 8X8 inch gessobord in a birch wood cradle 2” deep that is an abstract oil painting… or at least more abstract than most of my other work…. You will have to wait until Thursday to see though.

Sprout Question: If you could sail the Salish Sea with me what might you like see?

© 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

Winter Sun Oil Painting

There is something about the late dawn of winter sun, a bruised heaviness that seeps across the sky. I started this painting thinking it might be abstract and lighter, maybe even cheerful, but my subconscious seems to know where to take the brush. Though the quick marks of paint give impressions rather than detail… it is clearly not an abstract painting. And though colourful, I am not sure it is cheerful. In fact, I’m sure this painting is deeply melancholy with bittersweet recognition that the sun is rising… lifting, lifting, lifting us into another, and possibly, better day.

I started by brushing water (it would have been spirits but I’m using water miscible oils) and linseed oil onto the canvas. Then I began adding colour, an underpainting of sorts…

I never let it completely dry but kept working the paint into the canvas as I added more colour.

Using a good sized brush (10) I swished the sky and clouds on and softened them with a cloth and feathery brush. Then I flipped the rocks and sea loosely into place and left them like that.

I came back yesterday and tidied up a bit … as I listened to kd lang’s performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame induction of Leonard Cohen in 2006.

You might want to do that too as you take in “Winter Sun

18X24″ by 1 3/4″ water miscible oil painting on 100% natural cotton canvas

There are a few more small edits which I will make and then replace this last image, but it is close enough to complete to share with you.

Sprout Question: What has been your latest personal discovery through your creativity?

© 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

Creative Community

As I mentioned on Monday, I have been reading about Camille Pissarro and admiring his work and that of other impressionist painters that were part of his community. There was Monet, Manet, Renoir, and Cezanne to name a few. The influence of these fellow artists in Pissarro’s work is sometimes mentioned when author Linda Doeser discusses a particular painting.

Ah, to have been part of these passionate (and at the time unacceptable notions) about rendering the quality of light by exploring the spontaneity and immediacy of lively colour and rapid brush strokes with no hint of drama or sentimentality.

“spring salad” photograph rendered coarsely in oils – view full resolution and purchase here.

Then I thought about Creative Potager and those of you who regularly through your comments and my connections to your own sites are part of my creative community. To name just a few…

The use of line and creating greater connection between drawing and painting. Jerry Shawback http://www.thewhole9.com/jerryshawback

Always giving our best and writing from a place of showing rather than telling. Laurie Buchanan. http://holessence.wordpress.com

Bringing the flow of her everyday into focus for the rest of us. Kathy Drue http://upwoods.wordpress.com

Sharing the exquisite world of film as a creative medium of expression. Sam Juliano http://wondersinthedark.wordpress.com

Discusses the practicalities of promoting and selling art work. Itaya http://itaya.blogspot.com

Shares her studio process and her success while celebrating and acknowledging yours. Martha Marshall http://artistsjournal.wordpress.com

Sprout Question: With whom are you presently discussing your creative ideas?

© 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

Possible

Creative possibility comes from getting it wrong.

Studio mess – my home – time to de-clutter. 8’X11″ charcoal quick sketch.

“Oh, I could never draw or paint like that.”

“I’m not a writer like you.

“My photographs don’t compare to yours.”

If I had a dime for each time I heard these comments or others like them, all of my creative work could be used for charity fundraising because I would be independently wealthy. The sad thing is these statements are not true. They are lies we come to believe because we compare our attempts with finished products rather than the process that lead to their creation.

Here is a best kept secret: creative excellence comes from getting things wrong. Yes, wrong. As I commented on Coffee Messiah’s blog this morning, one of my drawing teachers, Glenn Howarth, was fond of saying things like: “It is the shoulder or wrist you struggle to draw that teaches you the anatomy of an arm.”

This is why I have committed to showing you my first morning “awakener” sketch. These first sketches are to engage me in the creative process. My sleepy eyes begin to frame, compose and dig at the relationship between elements I am about to sketch. My stiff arm and hand begin to respond to these relationships. In these first sketches, few mental barriers about “getting it right” have been erected. My judgment is left aside – these are not “keepers” they are “awakeners.”

In a three-hour drawing class, I often do 30 quick sketches that progressively increase in length until it is time to settle into the last hour-long sketch. When I am doing a photo shoot, I may take 150 images with maybe three becoming “keepers.”

Hours and days of exploring “that which is not yet quite right” leads to the creative possibility for success. This is where we discover our unique creative expression. This is where we learn our craft. We learn what is possible by getting it wrong.

My first quick sketch of the day is to inspire you to say to yourself – “hey, I can do that!” And you can.

Here is the last of my chosen three out of 150 shots of mist…

View and purchase full resolution image here.

Sprout Question: What do you do to strengthen your creative possibility?

p.s. Glenn Howarth was the most outstanding art instructor I have had the pleasure of working under. I am forever grateful for the few short years I was in his figure drawing classes. Glenn Howarth died last year at the age of 62. Very little of his thinking and work is on-line but here is an article he wrote that was published in  Canadian Art and Art Resource Directory: “Pictophile – Plein Air Painting”


© 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.

What Is

Today I woke with a feeling of being surrounded by sludge as thick and slimy as yesterday’s latte left on the counter over night. I’m on day five of my recovery from a common head cold – well enough to be grumpy and think I “should be doing things” when all I really want to do is be a caterpillar – munching and moving slowly from one comfortable place to another.

Long-time “tweet friend,” massage therapist and intrinsic coach Fred Krazeise, from Washington D.C., reminded me “Just let the day come to you Terrill!” With only a little resistance, I have. What is “is.” Or…. it is what it is. Sounds simple but I have spent much of my life resisting the sludge when it wraps around me. I tend to want to fight back as it feels like giving up or giving in. Yet, I know the harder I fight the tighter the sludge holds me. So I am going to follow Fred’s gentle advice. I’m letting the day come to me.

Here is this morning’s sketch of our window seat looking east into the side yard where the Tibetan flags hang on the six feet tall deer fence.

8″x11″ artist waterproof  Indian ink quick sketch

And here is another photo from Sunday’s photo shoot in the mist….

View and purchase full resolution image here.

May you enjoy and embrace what is – even the slimy sludge days.

Sprout Question: What do you do on you slimy sludge days?

© 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.

Winter Studio

Quick sketch of trees as seen from studio window.

For the month of February, the Creative Every Day challenge theme is “home.” Leah does an outstanding job of hosting creative development. I decided for this month the theme was perfect for Creative Potager and I’m going to play along. The reason it is perfect is because I have too much stuff. My home is ruling me with its perpetual care and clutter. Yet, if I wait to draw, or paint or take photographs until it is the slim Zen-like space I desire my creativity will come to a standstill for far too long.

Here is my plan:  The theme will be “home” in some form or another while I create, clean and clear everyday for the month of February.

During the winter, I have my studio in the main house as the studio building is not insulated. This year in particular it has been important that I was in the house. I may not even move my working studio back to the other building in the spring but keeping it as a display store instead.

As you can see, my winter studio space is small but with a good-sized east facing window which I like because I am a morning person. However, even at 8:00am this morning I needed to use back lighting to be able to show you this space.

I like that I can see down into the rest of the house from my desk.

I am doing a morning sketch every morning Monday to Friday for February. These are not keepers they are awakeners (my made up word).

These quick sketches are to awaken my creative brain to thinking about light, space, and composition.

There will be no excuses – if a morning sketch means putting my art apron over my nightgown and slipper clad feet – so be it!

May your home be a space that inspires your creativity.

Sprout Question: Have you noticed if the physical space of your home impacts your creativity?

© 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.

Stuck

I’m stuck. The painting above is about half to three-quarters finished and somehow I have become attached – invested. The arbutus driftwood, sandstone and tide pool have drawn me into a deadly web of “don’t touch it!” When I’m painting with watercolours, more than with any other of my creative processes, I must work from a place of detached emotional clarity. Watercolors are transparent like steps in the sand. Every move shows until you start a new sheet (or the tide comes in).

Sometimes, if I wait for a few days the next step will become clear and release me from the fear of “ruining everything.” I’ve waited two weeks. Nothing. Sometimes, if I move the painting to a new location and see it in different light I can decided what is next. Still nothing. In fact, I’m even more attached than before I took the darn thing out of the studio. Yet, I know the painting is not finished. This means only one thing. I must push through allowing my intuition to guide me into new learning.

I must firmly say to my self: “It is water, colour pigment, and paper. That is all.”

If a muddy puddle of coloured water with mushy paper is all that is left by tomorrow, I shall compost it in the flower bed. If I end up with a finished painting, I will consider it the first in an exhibit I’m building about the arbutus tree. Either way, I shall take a photo of the results and share them with you.

Sprout Question: Has there ever been a time when you were stuck and finding it difficult to finished a creative piece? What did you do?

p.s. If you hear little from me until late tomorrow, I’m painting…or possibly composting.

© 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.