Thursday, August 27, 2009

White Oleander Flowers with a Bee 1

I took a few photos of this shrub in bloom while walking the other day. I didn't get a photo of the bee's head. I think it was trying to hide from me.

White Oleander with a Bee 1 Painterly


Single White Oleander with Bee 1 Painterly

White Oleander with a Bee 1


Single White Oleander with Bee 1

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Today's portrait of Gerardo is from a photo I took of him while we were waiting for a ride to a new house party. The background was not very attractive so I wanted to really cover that up. I decided to first experiment with a painterly version and then I made a regular portrait with some of the previous background and then I made the sepia version.

Gerardo Waiting 1


Gerardo Waiting 1

Gerardo Waiting 1 Antiqued


Gerardo Waiting 1 Antiqued

Gerardo Waiting 1 Painterly


Gerardo Waiting 1 Painterly

Reply to Create to make a statement or sell? The great debate.

This is an interesting question. Each artist will have a different and usually very emotional answer.

Here, in short, is my answer to this question. I create for the sheer joy and pleasure of creating. I create for myself. For me, the creative process is spiritually personal and is a meditation. Being still and meditating allows the creative juices in me to start flowing. Creating my art allows me to be in the present NOW. I focus only on painting and allow all else to fade away. Worries, plans, I should do, etc. I attain a level of peace that I get no place else. Creating is a selfish act most satisfying. I create for me.

That being said, I humbly offer my paintings for others to see and hopefully enjoy. It is my wish that they find in my painting a sense of  beauty, peace, something that moves them, and a feeling of  'wow, I really like this' or 'jeez, what was she thinking?' I would hope the first reaction is obtained. Although, whatever one feels about my artwork is OK. They were moved in some way.  They may or may not purchase my work. Either is fine. If they do, I am always very pleased. If they do not, that is beautiful too because that was not the painting's purpose.

Casey Shannon

Create to make a statement or to sell? The great debate

I have heard many times from artists about creating a work of art that will sell or create a work that will express a feeling whether it be a bad feeling or a good feeling.

Artists are emotional, sensitive beings. They wish to create something that will speak for them. Art that will enlighten the viewer and bring awareness to a subject that wasn’t made aware before. Most of the time creating is an emotional response to something.

But what if you also would like your work to sell? An artist then can second guess their initial response to the subject matter and thoughts of reducing the impact of the art occurs. Are artists then selling out? Down playing their natural abilities to put emotion and excitement in their work? For fear of having their art ridiculed, of being negative and something that wouldn’t be hung on anyone’s wall or placed on a pedestal in a Den?

I have heard many stories from artists that paint animals and the great dilemma of painting to please a ‘would be’ collector. Or painting what is really there and what the artist really feels about the situation.
In the real world, many animals may seem like they are being abused, by the equipment used to train them or with what is used by someone to control them. And even the types of fencing that is used to hold them in an area.

I’m not looking for animal rights activists to start chiming in here, as I am still on the topic of art. Portraying that equipment and the emotions on the face of that animal in a piece of art is what is being addressed here. If you include barbed wire in a painting, if you include the stressed look on an animals face, will that art sell? Or make a statement, or both? Some may see the animal as stressed, while others would see it as excitement and the beauty of that particular breed. And the barbed wire may have a negative impact on the viewer and they feel sorry for the animal behind that wire, but on the other hand, this art is creating a response, an emotional response. Isn’t that what the art is created for in the first place? To create responses, whether good or bad, and to start a dialog for the artist to open up a little more about why it was created?
Creating the “explosive, emotional response art” is a great learning tool, for not only the artist who created the work, but also for the viewer. The viewer should be validated that their response is good and that it is ok to feel the way the art is pushing them to feel. Though these collectors may not want to display that work of art in their home because of a negative feeling, they will go home with a feeling. A piece of art helped them to feel and to have an honest feeling about that subject. Maybe it will help them to change something in this world for the better. Isn’t that what art is about?
So next time you create something from fire and emotional excitement, keep going with it. Don’t squelch it with that question “Will this sell?”

Artists, go with your heart and your emotional response to what you are creating and don’t lose sight of why you are creating it. Whether it be art that delights or art that creates a great controversy, or both!I have heard many times from artists about creating a work of art that will sell or create a work that will express a feeling whether it be a bad feeling or a good feeling.

Artists are emotional, sensitive beings. They wish to create something that will speak for them. Art that will enlighten the viewer and bring awareness to a subject that wasn’t made aware before. Most of the time creating is an emotional response to something.

But what if you also would like your work to sell? An artist then can second guess their initial response to the subject matter and thoughts of reducing the impact of the art occurs. Are artists then selling out? Down playing their natural abilities to put emotion and excitement in their work? For fear of having their art ridiculed, of being negative and something that wouldn’t be hung on anyone’s wall or placed on a pedestal in a Den?

I have heard many stories from artists that paint animals and the great dilemma of painting to please a ‘would be’ collector. Or painting what is really there and what the artist really feels about the situation.
In the real world, many animals may seem like they are being abused, by the equipment used to train them or with what is used by someone to control them. And even the types of fencing that is used to hold them in an area. I’m not looking for animal rights activists to start chiming in here, as I am still on the topic of art. Portraying that equipment and the emotions on the face of that animal in a piece of art is what is being addressed here. If you include barbed wire in a painting, if you include the stressed look on an animals face, will that art sell? Or make a statement, or both? Some may see the animal as stressed, while others would see it as excitement and the beauty of that particular breed. And the barbed wire may have a negative impact on the viewer and they feel sorry for the animal behind that wire, but on the other hand, this art is creating a response, an emotional response. Isn’t that what the art is created for in the first place? To create responses, whether good or bad, and to start a dialog for the artist to open up a little more about why it was created?
Creating the “explosive, emotional response art” is a great learning tool, for not only the artist who created the work, but also for the viewer. The viewer should be validated that their response is good and that it is ok to feel the way the art is pushing them to feel. Though these collectors may not want to display that work of art in their home because of a negative feeling, they will go home with a feeling. A piece of art helped them to feel and to have an honest feeling about that subject. Maybe it will help them to change something in this world for the better. Isn’t that what art is about?
So next time you create something from fire and emotional excitement, keep going with it. Don’t squelch it with that question “Will this sell?”

Artists, go with your heart and your emotional response to what you are creating and don’t lose sight of why you are creating it. Whether it be art that delights or art that creates a great controversy, or both!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Watercolor Painting with a limited palette

I painted the Rum River Bridge painting after taking a class on mixing colors in watercolor. The course taught me about using a limited palette of the three primary colors, red, yellow and blue to create all the colors in the painting.   The advantage of this method is that all of your colors are unified and you have greater control in color mixing. To start using a limited palette, first you must experiment with your paints.

Rum River Bridge Poster at Zazzle



Discover which three primary colors mixed together will create a true grey or a shade of brown.

Begin by selecting your truest red, yellow and blue. Then, start making a color mixing chart, labeling each color as you mix. Mix red with yellow to create varieties of orange, yellow and blue to create varieties of green and blue and red to create varieties of violet.

Then start mixing the compliments to create varieties of Grey, which are used for the shadow colors in your paintings. Mix orange with blue to creates shades of orange and blue, mix green with red to create shades of red and green and mix violet with yellow to create shades of violet and yellow.

Below is my limited palette color mixing chart that I created using three different reds, Cadmium Red, Brilliant Red & Crimson, three different blues, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue and Phalo Blue, and three different yellows, Medium Yellow, Lemon Yellow and Yellow Ochre. As you can see, each has their own strengths and weaknesses, it is up to you to decide what colors to add to your palette.

When you have discovered your limited palette choices, you are ready to get started.

Rum River Bridge Poster at Zazzle

Rum River Bridge Postage

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Snapshot of Rebecca Reeder

In a world filled with chaotic voices shouting “Me, Me, Me!”, I hear one voice beckoning, “You can help, they need us.” The certainty comes from a lifetime of giving. The voice belongs to Rebecca Reeder. As a young girl, Rebecca was constantly raiding the refrigerator to feed strays and takes bites of food to the animals at the animal shelter. In high school she had a big stuffed orangutan on her bed, and while reading National Geographic magazines stories she learned about women working with great apes. Rebecca had an inner feeling that she, too, had to do this. She supported the foundation for Koko the gorilla and was fascinated with the decades long study with her. She related to Penny who dedicated her life to Koko and she understood that to Penny, Koko was her child.

Today, Rebecca is a poet and a photographer(her favorite media). She loves art and has always been creative, usually in writing and photography and designing cards. Her grandmother and a great, great grandfather were published poets, also. Rebecca has a Zazzle gallery, many of her products are designed with her photographs of her kids, orphaned orangutans. Rebecca supports numerous charities for impoverished schools and needy people. She also donates her profits from her sales to help wildlife and domestic animals. Her primary focus is the Orangutan Foundation International. Please keep Rebecca’s Zazzle gallery in mind while selecting gifts and cards for loved ones. I know if I received a present that helped one of these precious animals I would feel doubly blessed.

I asked Rebecca if there were a story about one particular orangutan she would like to share with us. She answered, “Each orangutan is so unique, just like humans and children, so it is difficult to know where to begin. Since the orangutans at the OFI Care Center are orphans, they all tug at one's heart strings. I think mostly-blind Omre might be our favorite because he has incredible odds to overcome when he is released into the rain forest to live out his life as a wild orangutan. Omre's loss of eyesight is due to injuries; one can see where the side of his head was hit above the eye that is totally blind. He has very limited vision in the other eye. Some of the baby orangutans are missing hands or parts of an arm, the result of being literally cut out of their mothers' arms when the mothers were killed during destruction of rain forest or when the mothers entered a palm oil plantation in search of food in cleared areas. By the way, in my Smilebox slide show (on the home page of my Zazzle gallery) , Omre is the one in the second slide. There are two photos, jumping onto an assistant caretaker's back and then kissing him. Also, that is Omre in the "Blind Baby" card.”

Rebecca travels to Borneo, an island in Indonesia, for an extended visit, at least once a year to help care for the orphans. She helps get and prepare their food and she gets to interact and care for them. Orangutans don’t live on the ground in the wild, so they are encouraged to climb trees and swing on vines. They love swinging in tree tops and use the breezes in the tree canopy to cool off. Did you know that orangutans have a body temperature higher than humans?
Here is an adorable video of the orphaned orangutans:
Cute Dancing Orangutans on Youtube

To help the endangered orangutan specifically, you can become a member of the Orangutan Foundation International and you can foster orphaned orangutans. Also, you can donate money to the Orangutan Foundation International and specify that you want it to be used to buy land to set aside as protected areas of the rain forest. They are a registered charity and contributions to the Orangutan Foundation International are tax deductible in the United States. No donation is too small. People can make a difference. Also, Orangutan Foundation International offers two opportunities for people to volunteer as part of month-long work groups. If a person is adventurous, this might be an opportunity to apply for. It is rigorous, but truly a rare opportunity. OFI hopes to have one group each July and one each August. Dr. Birute' Gadlikas, the founder of OFI, is there, and still actively involved! Dr. Galdikas is one of the three so-called Leakey's Angels, along with Jane Goodall and the late Dian Fossey. Many people know Fossey's life story from the movie "Gorillas in the Mist." You can see the OFI Care Center in Jeff Corwin's episode about Borneo's Orangutans (filmed a few years ago) and an even older documentary starring Julia Roberts. Check out the October 1975 cover of National Geographic to see Dr. Galdikas and considering reading her book REFLECTIONS OF EDEN.
Rebecca Reeder’s links:
Website: www.RebeccaReeder.com
Online Stores: www.zazzle.com/Rebecca_Reeder (also on Cafe Press -but very limited)
Guest editor/blog at: http://ofitoday.com(Orangutan Foundation International )

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pink Wildflowers 1Flores Silvestres Rosas 1

I took photos of several wildflowers blooming in the nearby (about 5-6 blocks) park a couple weeks ago when walking to the tianguis. Unfortunately I dropped one of my bags (bolsas de mandado) on the way there so I had to put all my vegetables in the other one which made it extra heavy.

I fixed the lighting as best I could and made the background painterly. I think I sharpened it some too. I really am good at forgetting what I do. I don't want each floral artwork to look like the one before.

Pink Wildflowers 1


Pink Wildflowers 1

Pink Wildflowers 1 Antiqued


Pink Wildflowers 1 Antiqued


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jorge 1 PortraitJorge 1 Retrato

Jorge, Jonathan's father posed for me for a couple minutes at the party on Sunday. It was the first time that I've taken his photo so he looked a little nervous. I hope he likes it. I'm really happy with both the color and antiqued versions of his portrait. The only difficulty was deciding how many wrinkles to keep and how many to get rid of. They can make a man look distinguished or old. I'm hoping you'll find him more distinguished.

Jorge 1 Portrait


Jorge 1

Jorge 1 Antiqued Portrait


Jorge 1 Antiqued

Repeat after me: I am an Artist!

Even though artists like Rembrandt and Da Vinci, Monet and Matisse, Picasso and Pollock set the stage for greatness in their spheres, there is still a view that artistic pursuit is not as important as other academic or physical pursuits. Artists still have the stigma attached as struggling, art educators still have to wrangle in order to get the necessary resources to teach children and adult alike and they still have to lobby so that their art program isn't cut from under them.

It can be very discouraging for a young artist trying to establish himself, especially in this tough economic climate to be told that maybe he should try another avenue or get a 'real job'. I have had experiences where  kids in my art classes started doing poorly because they were made to feel that what they were doing: creating new and innovative things was not important or they thought that it was nothing big so they came in and caved when they realised the level of discipline being an artist requires. Even as professionals we allow ourselves to be seen as whimsical and dramatic so that we can be 'seen' but unless we demand it, our chosen path is hardly taken seriously by the wider world. (Of course I must interject here that not every one views the arts as unnecessary but not enough see it as important).

The importance of our place as artists can get lost. Lost in our becoming brainwashed into thinking that we are just 'artists' (as if it's a bad word); lost in the hustle of trying to get 'there' wherever there is.
I guess that's why for my first ever art blog post  (yes I do have my own blog but you have to admit, writing an article on art for a very public audience, is another thing entirely) I wanted to remind us that what we do as artists cannot be discounted.
As artists we play a pivotal role in society's wellness. Ours is to supply the beauty in the midst of all the ugly, the voice to express the feelings of anxiety and chaos that is felt but can't be expressed (Hey even Munch had his place and purpose). We are the pictorial historians of days and life gone by and the balance that provides a base for all other subject matter to make sense.
The bottom line is believe in what you do and who you are. You are an artist and no matter what, your role is a crucial one. What you do is meaningful. Some may say that I'm overstating the fact but there had to be a little artistic flair in Eddison for him to come up with the design for the lightbulb.
Cheers!Even though artists like Rembrandt and da Vinci, Mone and Matisse, Picasso and Pollock set the stage for greatness in their spheres, there is still a view that artistic pursuit is not as important as other academic or physical pursuits. Artists still have the stigma attached as struggling, art educators still have to wrangle in order to get the necessary resources to teach children and adult alike. It can be very discouraging for a young artist trying to establish himself, especially in this tough economic climate and the importance of our place as artists can get lost in the hustle of trying to get 'there' wherever there is.
I guess that's why for my first ever art blog (yes I do have my own blog but you have to admit writing for a very public audience is another thing entirely) I wanted to remind us that what we do as artists cannot be discounted.
As artists we play a pivotal role in society's wellness. Ours is to supply the beauty in the midst of all the ugly, the voice to express the feelings of anxiety and chaos that is felt but can't be expressed (Hey even Munch had his place and purpose). We are the pictorial historians of days and life gone by and the balance that provides a base for all other subject matter to make sense.
The bottom line is believe in what you do and who you are. You are an artist and no matter what your role is a crucial one. Some may say that I'm overstating the fact but there had to be a little artistic flair in Eddison to come up with the design for the lightbulb.
Cheers!

Genaro 1 - PortraitGenaro 1 - Retrato

Genaro is a young man and he loves to sing and dance however I wanted to give him a more serious dignified look in his portrait. He is wearing a white polo shirt and eyeglasses. I made three different versions, normal color, color with sepia, and antiqued: black and white with sepia.

Genaro 1 - Portrait


Genaro 1

Genaro 1 Sepia - Portrait


Genaro 1 Sepia

Genaro 1 Antiqued - Portrait


Genaro 1 Antiqued

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Karina 2 - PortraitKarina 2 - Retrato

The second portrait of Karina. I tried to get her face a little lighter, but that has made her skin look a little too light. I might make it darker after I get her feedback. If I make it darker, this preview will also change to match the update.

Karina 2 - Portrait


Karina 2

Monday, August 17, 2009

Karina 1 - PortraitKarina 1 - Retrato

This is my first portrait of Karina who is one of Gerardo's cousins.  The original photo was a little washed out looking from the sun and the location wasn't the best so this and the next few portraits I will post are lacking the dramatic shadows I enjoy. Karina is wearing a pretty pink crochet blouse and a shiny piece of jewelry.

Karina 1 - Portrait


Karina 1

Karina 1 Antiqued - Portrait


Karina 1 Antiqued

Jonathan 2 - Portrait Jonathan 2 - Retrato

I did this second portrait of Jonathan in three different versions, one "regular", one with sepia on color, and the other is my antiqued style which is black and white with sepia among other changes.  My favorite is the portrait with a sepia cast over the color.

Jonathan 2 - Portrait


Jonathan 2

Jonathan 2 Sepia - Portrait


Jonathan 2 Sepia

Jonathan 2 Antiqued - Portrait


Jonathan 2 Antiqued

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tips for having a successful ZAZZLE store

For those of you who don't know, Zazzle is an online site that allows you to open a gallery, put your own design on products and when a product sells from your gallery, you get a royalty. I have done some research about marketing my Zazzle store, applied many of these techniques and have been steadily selling! I will share some tips I've learned and hope they help you get steady sales with your Zazzle store.

ONLINE MARKETING ~

There are many ways you can market online. One way many zazzlers find helpful is to make lenses on Squidoo. You can make a lens about your zazzle store and link it with other zazzlers on there. It's very simple, sign up for an account at: http://www.squidoo.com/ and start adding info, pictures of your products, descriptions or whatever you fancy adding to your lens. You can also go onto other zazzlers lenses and rate their lenses with 5 stars and add a comment. It's always best that we help each other.

Another way to get you gallery listed is to add your store link every so often to Google & Alexa. The link for these are: Google: and Alexa: www.alexa.com/site/help/webmasters.

A great and easy way to get your gallery noticed on the web is to add your store link as a signature to your emails, or signature to your posts in groups that you regularly post to on message boards.

Many people make blogs and include pictures of their products which is very helpful. Facebook,  Myspace and Twitter are also ways you can post your work or make fan pages for your gallery.

OFFLINE MARKETING ~


You can also advertise outside of the web in addition to online advertising. Make up some creative and appealing business cards with your Zazzle link & description. You can do so many things with these business cards. Keep them with you and you can put these on cars in parking lots, on bulletin boards in grocery stores (wherever you travel), in a library book (you never know!) or any other place you can think of.

A little trick that takes very little time & is polite also, is to post a thank you to the customer when you find out you sold a product(s). This is kind to the customer and also get's your name out there that this product sold. Anywhere you can get your name out, is more publicity and more traffic.

There are sites you can join, get your name online even more in return you post their logo on your page. Pretty simple and the logo is discreet. A few of these websites are: Traffic digger, link referral and ringsurf. There are many others, just what you're willing to put into it time-wise to sign up for all these different sites. I sign up for only free sites and choose not to have my gallery cluttered with logos. I feel that's distracting to they potential buyer, but it is helpful to choose a few.

I think to make many sales, you have to also look at what is popular. I frequently look at the Zazzle page and see what has sold recently, notice the themes. I also look at what has sold well in my gallery and try to figure out what people search out to buy. An example of being observant of what to make is before the election this year, I sold TONS of political merchandise. It was hot! I made it for both candidates & tried to make the designs crisp and creative yet somewhat unique. If a holiday is around the corner, pre-think this and make Halloween designs 2 months before Halloween.

Tips:
  • Stamps are great because people buy in bulk & may come back for more! These are usually bulk sales. This is an example of what people need in bulk: wedding stamps, 40th birthday pins, etc. - good to keep in mind when creating!

  • Tags! I always use as many tags as I can and use words I think people would look up if they were looking for my product! I go overboard with tags, but feel like if someone is searching for a soccer shirt and types in search bar "blue kids soccer shirt", if I have a product to match, they'll find it!
  • Make your gallery personal (colors you like). Make sure you put some of your best work on the front page, pieces that are crisp and easy to read, yet in some way powerful. Also, make sure the gallery colors are appealing and don't clash! If someone opens your page and it hurts their eyes, they're not going to stay long and shop around.
  • Change the front of your gallery to fit the season. Ex. around Christmas time post some Christmas items, Hanukkah items, New years items etc. Remove any Halloween from front page of your gallery during this time. Have your gallery front be somewhat pertinent to the season.


The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Liberty Bell postcard I've sold 124 of. I took this picture while visiting Pennsylvania & decided to design into a postcard. It's a great idea to take pictures of your travels and think about what you can use for photo's on Zazzle products. Be sure to add many products, the more products you have the greater chance at selling!

With a little thoughtful work put into your gallery, you can sell, sell, sell!

Happy Zazzling all!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sumi-e and Haiku

Last post, I left you with the thought that the art of Sumi-e was directly related to the art of Haiku. Let's take a closer look at this concept. Since Sumi-e is minimalist painting and Haiku is minimalist writing, it would be reasonable to say that the two art forms would naturally support one another and often be studied and exhibited together.

In Japanese, haiku are traditionally printed in a single vertical line, while haiku in English usually appear in three lines, to parallel the three metrical phrases of Japanese haiku. Such as :

The fragrance!
Though I know not
Whence it comes.
~ Basho

Previously called hokku, haiku was given its current name by the Japanese writer Masaoka Shiki at the end of the 19th century. The typical length of haiku appearing in the main English-language journals is 10–14 syllables and have a  symmetrical line arrangement such as 5-7-5 or 3-5-3.  Some haiku poets are concerned with their haiku being expressed in one breath and the extent to which their haiku focus on "showing" as opposed to "telling".  Therefore haiku is concerned with showing minimally as is Sumi-e.

Now let's look at the undesputed master of the haiku, Matsuo Bashō, an Edo-period Japanese haiku poet. Bashō's poetry was quickly recognized for it's simple and natural style. Sumi-e is recognized for it's simple and elegant brush strokes. A natural combination.

Let me show you an example of how I have used haiku in combination with contemporary sumi-e. For me as an artist, usually the haiku inspires the sumi-e. This results in a simple creative expression and profound experience.  However, I have occasionally painted the sumi-e first and then combined the result with haiku. The following haiku is considered to be Basho's most famous haiku of all.

At the ancient pond,
a frog plunges into,
the sound of water.
~ Basho

Sound of Water by Casey Shannon




Monday, August 10, 2009

Fantasy Fairy in the Woods 3Hada en el Bosque 3

After finishing Fantasy Fairy in the Woods 2, I decided to make another version where my fairy is more strongly presented in the work so I cropped the background and made him fit about half of the space where the eye would normally focus. This is more in line with the way my masculine male fairy was presented in the first work in the series only this time I feel I did a better job of the wings and the pose is the same as in the second version. I make no apologies since this series was my first attempt at doing any fantasy art and wings are not very easy to do.

Fantasy Fairy in the Woods 3


Fantasy Fairy in the Woods 3

Fantasy Fairy in the Woods 3 Antiqued


Fantasy Fairy in the Woods 3 Antiqued

Fantasy Fairy in the Woods 2Hada en el Bosque 2

If you remember a while back I made my first fantasy artwork which is my masculine male fairly. I did it because I was tired of miniature fairy people that were either only female or they were extremely feminine males typically very boyish looking even though they seemed to be adults in overall shape. I was also very tired of fairy people always in bright high-key light playing wind instruments or dancing. I really don't think that is any more accurate than saying that Americans are always eating hot-dogs and that Mexicans eat everything with chili peppers. Generalizations are just that so in my quest to break the mold here is the next two works in my Fantasy Fairy series with male fairy art.

Fantasy Fairy in the Woods 2


Fantasy Fairy in the Woods 2

Here's my "antiqued" version which is sepia enhanced along with a few other details.

Fantasy Fairy in the Woods 2 Antiqued


Fantasy Fairy in the Woods 2 Antiqued


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Painting -101

-101. I say this number with a negative, because much of painting can begin in the artist's head before a canvas is primed or a brush is even picked up. Many artists have what I call "fear of the white." By this, I mean a paralysis that can overcome the artist upon having a new, fresh, clean, white surface to work with. They fear making mistakes. They might ask themselves, "What if it turns out wrong?" In this short essay, I will detail what I do and why I NEVER fear the white. Make friends with the unknown.

I have never feared the white. It doesn't intimidate me, because I know there is a painting (or drawing, if it's paper) just waiting to come out of the surface. My methods might sound far out to many of you, but it's what works for me, and if even one person who reads this never fears the white again because they try my method, then this post is very worthwhile. This technique is primarily used for any imaginary, abstract, surreal, non-classical type of painting, but I have also consistently applied it with realism, i.e. life drawing, with much success.

Before you even begin to look at brushes or colors, pick up your canvas and put it on your easel or table, whatever work surface you have. Humor me, and try this. Place your non-dominant hand on the canvas (for most of you, this will be your left hand). Close your eyes. Move your hand around in a circular motion, perhaps a figure 8, whatever feels comfortable to you. At some point, your hand will naturally stop. Before you open your eyes, remember that feeling! Capture that defining calm and make it part of you. Every canvas you do will have a different location like this. Open your eyes, remember the spot, and go mix your colors. When you're mixing, remember that feeling you had when you stopped on your canvas. If this method doesn't work, try to paint or color your surface a different hue based upon the dominant background color of your work, and make it uniform.

If you don't want to burn a canvas or make an error, simply try this exercise with a piece of paper and any instrument you choose (pencil, pen, paints). Free yourself, play around and have fun. That's what art is all about anyways; enjoy your passion and don't let fear of the white mess with your joy!

Artist Thoughts about the art of Sumi-e

As an artist, for me, ink painting is a meditation and a creative process. I concentrate on trying to capture spirit as the ink is transferred to the paper with the stroke of the brush. The brush is pushed across the surface of the paper quickly. If your intention is correct, the object in the picture seems to 'breathe and take on life'. This unseen yet felt breath begins to fill the page with spirit just as it does in all of nature which surrounds us. The special power of the painted form shines and appears through the ink and the white page. The white space surrounding the painted form becomes as important as the object itself. The ink painting represents soul, spirit, elegance, and beauty all at the same time  in concert.  Sumi-e exemplifies the concept of 'Less is More.

'Kokoro tadashikereba sunawachi fude tadashi'.
If your mind is correct, the brush will be correct.




The example of an ink painting that I have created and included above is called Branch of Persimmon.
Expressed in words by my Haiku:
" juicy ripe, branch of persimmon, gently live."
- Casey Shannon

Sumi-e is closely related to the Japanese haiku. Haiku is minimalist writing and Sumi-e is minimalist painting. They naturally support one another and are often studied in tandom.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What is the ancient art of Sumi-e?

Sumi-e expresses the character and soul of the artist. It is a meditative process and spiritually personal. Understanding this concept has been at the center of my art. I have been a student of Western painting and of ink painting. Ink painting called Sumi-e has captivated my spirit and soul. I am continually trying to increase my understanding of the secret of beauty and grace and elegance.

The Sumi-e art form is steeped in Zen Buddhism. In Sumi-e or ink painting, you have to 'become one' with the object in the painting. When you understand and/or experience how the simple and bold lines of the brush strokes and various shades of the ink are transformed to create a powerful spirit and energy, then you will have a sense of what these philosophies and paintings are all about.

Below is an example of a contemporary Sumi-e by Casey Shannon. I have used the traditional sumi (ink) for painting the flower. The red chops or artist seals are very common for Sumi-e painters. The sumi-e painting is not finished until the chops are applied by the artist.  Here the large round chop translates into 'be well'. The square chop is my name 'Casey'.  And the small round chop above my signed name translates into 'spring'.     More to come..........

Flower of White
Flower of White

Linger in the Moonlight 1

This artwork is a digital collage although it does have some painterly qualities. A couple days ago I got a call that one of my friends had passed away so after a day of feeling loss, I made this work dedicated to those who have a passed away.

Linger in the Moonlight 1


Linger in the Moonlight 1

May your memory linger in the moonlight like these ghosts dancing in a dark forest with the moon to light their path. Rest in Peace dear friends and family who are and will be missed.

Linger in the Moonlight 1 Antiqued

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tree of KnowledgeEl Arbol de Conocimiento

Here's a little overview about how I created a piece of art.

While playing with the computer fractal program "Apophysis" I came up with this little design:



Actually I can't find the original that I started with and it was much cruder than this copy and what you see is the result of a significant amount of time tinkering with all of the variables to get the tendrils, overall shape and color the way I wanted. I saw potential in this design and wanted to develop it further. I rotated the image to put the tendrils on the right side toward the bottom.

When I'm playing with digital art programs, if I see something of interest I save it into some category I've decided upon. For Apophysis one of those categories I use is 'Leaves'. I save anything that might look like a leaf into that file so that I can use it in the future. I do that with any art program, so I have tons of little files with the seeds of an artwork or a composite in them. Most will never be used but it's a terrific aide when needed. It's a good way for me to store artistic concepts for use as a possible future artwork. So I opened the Leaves flame file and picked out a few that I liked from my stock. Since Apo lets you copy colors, I took the color from the original design and applied it to the leaves. Then I adjusted the colors as I saw fit.




I imported everything into Photoshop into separate layers, erased parts of them, added more leaves onto other layers, and adjusted their size and position. When working in Apo, I had saved each Apo image for this artwork as a transparency so that working with layers in Photoshop would be easier. Several of the Photoshop layers were too washed out as a result. To cure that, I simply created duplicate layers which intensified the look of each layer. It also intensifies any noise and so it requires some careful erasing.

What I was trying to create was a fractal-looking tree. I decided to go biblical and name this artwork "Tree of Knowledge", therefore I needed an apple. So I created an apple with another 3D program. I wanted the color to be apple-like, similar to the tree color, but different enough to make it stand out. I also didn't want it to look like a fractal, but neither did I want it to look like a picture perfect apple. So I created the apple and then fiddled around with its size and the best spot to place it. I had to alter the tree design slightly and place a little leaf branch for the apple to hang from.

The apple needed a bit more, and so I decided to give it a little focus with some background radiance made with Apo. I tried several sizes, looks and color variations until I came up with something that supported the appearance of the apple but also fit in generally with the color scheme. It also made the edges of the apple appear not so hard against the background. The end result is that the apple seems to have some energy or life force.

It isn't particularly a great idea to put a significant focal point so close to the center of a piece of art, but in this case I think it works.

For the overall art, I tried different color backgrounds, but black seemed to work best. I don't really care for plain backgrounds so I reviewed some of the background images that I had previously saved. I picked one out, copied the color from the tree, adjusted the Apo variables until I got what I wanted, and saved the result as a transparency. I then copied the file into Photoshop and tweaked the size, position and layer transparency. I wanted just enough variation in the background to keep it fom being plain without detracting from the tree. I liked this background because it almost looks wooden.

Tree of Knowledge by Ed Kinnally


Tree of Knowledge

Monday, August 3, 2009

Jonathan 1 - PortraitJonathan 1 - Retrato

Gerardo brought his brother (ok, half brother) over to visit yesterday so I took the opportunity to ask him to pose for some quick photos to make his portrait.

If you live in Mexico City, you can make an appointment to stop by and have me take your photo for a portrait or you can send me high resolution photos to use (contact me on Facebook or Twitter for my e-mail address).

Here is the first in the Jonathan series which is a close up of his face. I tried to keep it simple.

Jonathan 1 - Portrait


Jonathan 1
Estoy disponible para hacer retratos digitales. Si te encuentres en México D.F. o en el Estado de México, haz una cita para tomar tu fotos.


Roots 1 - Plant ArtRaíces 1 - Arte de Plantas

If you haven't noticed by now that I have a passion for plants, I'm glad you're reading this post!  I really love plants.  Of all the kinds of art that I've done, I keep going back to working with plants from their flowers down to their roots. Of course, taking photos of roots can be invasive so I took advantage of the opportunity to make art with some vine or trailing plant cuttings I've had in water for a couple weeks.

Roots 1 - Plant Art


Roots 1


Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Artists' Spotlight - Ginette Callaway, Dawn Sebaugh, Wil Moore

This will forever be the age old question, "What is Art ? " Here is one definition, "the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance." (www.dictionary.com ). This then leads me to ask why is one artist's work of a straight line and twisted colors or a splash across the canvas appealing and a detailed portrait may get just a simple appreciative nod? It is all stated in the above definition, art is extremely subjective, though an artist may put their all in a project, it is the viewer that determines it's popularity. Trends, schools, movements, techniques, styles, politics sets the tone for art appeal.
When one thinks of Impressionism, Monet comes to mind, Surrealism, Dali, Cubism, Picasso.
Here I will feature three separate artists in style, and genre, I have selected each one for the appeal they have on me and my taste .  I have my favorite artists, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Goya, Dali,  these names will forever be equated with art greatness, the beauty of art is as long as there is life it will never lose it's appeal or fade.  Art is life and life is Art.

Okefenokee Sunset by Ginette Callaway

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Abstract - CASINO by Dawn Sebaugh

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Desperation by Wil Moore