I have been drawing since early childhood. My dad was an artist and I remember watching him draw scenes of houses and churches in pen and ink. He showed me how to use a Crow Quill pen and from there I was on my own.
When I graduated high school, I went to work for Rand McNally, engraving linework for maps. This is the job that took me into the printing/publishing world. I learned about masks, overlays, pre-press and how to use a copy camera. I learned how to develop large format film and how to prep them for 4/c press runs, leading me into a twenty-plus year career making maps, pre-press and all aspects of printing.
In the eighties, I taught myself how to airbrush with acrylic ink and watercolor. I have worked with airbrush, wood block carving, oils, acrylics and watercolor.
I’m a self-taught artist and my only source of instruction was through books. I have also always had difficulty with perspective. I have a stigmatism that makes me draw horizontal or vertical lines that either run downhill or they lean in at an awkward angle. Because of this, I rely on my drafting tools for straight lines and the use of templates for curves.
One of the difficulties most artists face is getting what you see in your mind’s eye to the paper or canvas. I would have an idea for a drawing, but my skill level and lack of knowledge hindered me in translating those ideas to paper.
Since I was not happy with the results of my airbrushing work, I made the decision to go back to the basics of drawing. I bought Gary Greene’s book on how to create textures in colored pencil and Betty Edward’s book, “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.” I read both of them through and to this day, forty-five years later, I still refer to these books, especially when I hit a slump.
In the eighties, the internet and social media wasn’t available—personal computers were a thing of the future. The only option for marketing my work was to take my art, large portfolio and all, and go door-to-door from gallery to gallery to promote my work.
Fast forward forty years and opportunities for artists have become a virtual smorgasbord of options.
With the advent of all the digital programs that are now available, the art field has been opened so much that almost anyone can create a work of art. The art field is now flooded with images that are done by people who have no training in design, balance or flow which is one of the biggest challenges that traditionally trained artists face in the coming decades.
I embrace my learning and I am slowly teaching myself how to use digital manipulations in my previous art to give them an updated look for the future. I am seventy now and lots of water has passed under my bridge, but I still can learn. I have also found that I have a calmer approach to my work and life. I don’t rush my art; I let it flow from me to the paper.
Art Buying Decisions Are Carefully Considered You know this from experience. Art doesn’t sell itself. Original artwork is rarely a spontaneous purchase. That’s because it requires discretionary income. It is something the buyer will own for a very long time. Most often involves spouse/partner approval. Moreover, it will be on display as a constant reminder […]
A brief look at Hip-Hop and Contemporary Art in conjunction with America Now
In first grade, my class was asked to draw our favorite birds. I finished my drawing of a robin and the girl who sat next to me noticed it and asked me if I would draw her a bluebird. After I finished her drawing, she gave me a kiss on the cheek. It was at that moment, I knew. I was going to be an artist.
I took art all through high school and attended the Rochester Institute of Technology, majoring in painting. In my junior year, life took a turn and I became a young father. This forced me to drop out of school.
I eventually ended up in the army and after serving my tour, I embarked on a career as a tattooist in order to stay connected to art and still earn a living.
I painted as time would allow and in 2006, at the urging of my wife, I began to pursue my painting career again. In 2010, after showing in a number of group shows I felt my work was becoming contrived for the sake of entering shows, so I pulled back.
For the next seven years I worked to really identify my impetus for creating and to define a style for my art.
Growing up at the tail end of the atomic age exposed me to a wondrous cacophony of comics, cartoons, movies and advertising. During my time at art school, I discovered pop art and was immediately drawn to it.
All of the bright colors and bold images that seemed playful on the surface contained a sarcasm that appealed to my own sharp wit.
Jackson Pollock, Richard Diebenkorn and the abstract expressionists were another discovery during my time at school. I became obsessed with finding a way to merge the two art forms into a cohesive body of work.
A myriad of painting ideas flood my brain at any given time. Some have deep meaning—political, social, cultural, etc. Some only have a vague meaning behind them and I just paint the subject because it sounds pretty damn cool! A lot of my art centers on the iconography and the film, TV and musical stimuli from my youth during the late 60’s and through the 70’s into the 80’s.
I primarily paint in acrylic, but have started to use oils, as well as mixed media. I’ve also begun to explore integrating digital art into my traditional painting process. The explosion of digital painting has introduced a whole new level to pop culture art and what it means to be an artist in the 21st century.
Artist Shawn Conn invites you to follow him on Instagram.
If you didn’t get a chance to purchase one of the Crucible curved card scrapers, you can make your own with a dry grinder and an existing card scraper. It takes about 30 minutes.
Download and print out the following template. It’s a hand-drawn version of Chris Williams’s scraper, which is where our design started.
Cut it out and affix it to your card scraper with the help of spray adhesive. Or make a cardboard template and trace its shape on your scraper with a permanent marker.
At your grinder, set the tool rest to 0° – parallel to the floor. Dress the wheel of your grinder (we use an #80-grit wheel, but a #60 or #100 will also do) so it has a slight convex shape. This convexity in the wheel makes the scraper easier to shape.
Get a bucket of water and put it by the grinder.
(Hey wait, where are the step photos? I’m in a hotel room that’s 400 miles from my shop. You are going to have to use your imagination.)
Place the scraper on the tool rest and start grinding the excess metal away. Don’t work on one part of the scraper for more than a few seconds. Keep moving around the perimeter. After 10 or 15 seconds, try to pinch the scraper with a finger and thumb. If….
… you can pinch the scraper with no pain, continue to grind.
… your fingers reflexively jump away, cool the scraper in your water bucket.
… you smell bacon, also cool the scraper in the water bucket.
Once you have ground down to your line, you will have become pretty good at grinding flat shapes – congrats. Now you need to remove the grinder marks from the edges.
Use a block of wood to hold the scraper at 90° on a coarse diamond stone and stone the edges. Remove all the scratches from the grinder. Then move up to a #1,000-grit waterstone (or soft Arkansas) and then up to a polishing stone. Then you can proceed with normal scraper-sharpening procedures.
This is exactly how I made all of our prototypes. I promise that you will become emotionally involved with your scraper after putting all the work into it, and you might not ever want to buy one of ours.
So be it.
— Christopher Schwarz