Sunday, December 6, 2009

Commission Work

I've done a few commissions lately and I'm feeling the need to expand that feeling of working regularly. (Okay, and getting money for my work doesn't feel too bad either.) Here is my most recent endeavor...

A friend at work wanted to give a unique gift to a friend for her birthday. He had seen my pen and ink work on facebook and asked if I could do a portrait of his friend's dog. I said sure I'll give it a try. I had never really done anything like that but I thought it couldn't hurt to give it a shot. Here's the result...

I think it worked out pretty well and it was fun to do, as well! That's always a good feeling. So, if you want to commission me for paintings or pen and inks of, well, whatever, give me a shout. It's fun trying stuff outside of the comfort zone.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

One Mermaid Down...

...and NO more to go! (For now anyways.) I have finished the mermaid! Praise be to the muses who all but abandoned me for the last two months. This little underwater nymph has been KILLING me with the details. "Should I put in more fish? Should I change the color of her top? WHAT COLOR SHOULD HER HAIR BE?" That last one was KILLING me for the last month. I have changed it numerous times, the largest change being a deep dark brown to a more blondish brown (which I did to more match the birthday girl for whom this painting is intended). But none of them worked! Finally today, I got Lady Paintmonkey to put her movie on pause, and come give me her advice. She was a little hesitant to tell me what she really thought but she finally managed to get out that she liked it better darker and with red in it. Literally ten minutes later I got this:

It worked! It was perfect. Yes, it looks more like Disney's version but I don't care. That's what my niece likes anyways! I don't know why it wasn't more obvious to me. She's 4. She doesn't care what sort of artistic variation I put on the thing. Her uncle painted her a mermaid. Ta Daaaaa! Sometimes I make things much more difficult than they have to be. And I'm only a month late with it, so I've got THAT going for me...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Old West Style

As promised here is another set from Lady Paintmonkey. These were taken on a trip to Fort Worth last year. She's tinkered with them a bit, but the end result is much neater than the reality. The reality was, at the Fort Worth Stockyards they have daily "cattle drives". These are done for the tourists (re: us) and are kind of fun but judging by the looks on the cowboys and livestock alike, there are many things they would rather be doing than entertaining the likes of us. But it's interesting in that there are cowboys and big dumb cows on the streets of Fort Worth.

Lady Paintmonkey took a ton of pictures and has been fiddling with our actual perception of the reality and formed in these images what they SHOULD be. The looks of boredom and simmering resentment towards anything in shorts and sandals pointing a camera at them magically become the looks of rugged tiredness and exhaustion from being weeks on the cattle trail. Cattle who are probably just lazy show animals become range hardened beasts who only stay put because they are worn out from hundreds of miles of eating dust on their way to the market.

Without further adieu, the next series...

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

At Long Last: Lady Paintmonkey!

As promised, I am going to put up some of the works of the talented Lady Paintmonkey. I know these are from a series she's been working on of flowers. Some of them I recognize, most of them I don't. But without further adieu, here they are:

I know I recognize this one from Texas...

From here on out though, I don't know when she took them.

Aren't they great? Remember you can order copies from us! Just send us a message here or on facebook and one of these beautiful images can be yours!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

2010 Goals and More Pen & Ink Goodness

Our main goal at Paintmonkey Studios lately is trying to prepare for doing some art festivals in 2010. This takes a lot of work and preparation, both of which I am terrible at. Thankfully, the smarter half of Paintmonkey Studios is amazingly organized and really good at that sort of thing. But it is still a lot of work for both of us as we attempt to take this new step into the realm of traveling art show. A tent, display materials, and how to actually take money are just a few of the start up problems we are facing and that's not even getting into when we are to get our art done and ready to sell.

However, we have decided we are going to do it a little differently (don't we always?). We are going to do art festivals as well as some local rodeos. Our work seems to fit into that arena a little better than most art festivals and we just like going to them anyways. However, we don't feel like the average rodeo fan goes to the arena thinking they are going to purchase a higher end-costing piece of art. So we decided we will fill that gap by making prints and cards to sell as well. I have already posted on here before some of the pen and inks I am thinking of making into cards but I have been working diligently on making some more.

Here are some of the new ones:

This one came from an old picture I took at a rodeo in Athens, Ga. a long time ago. I promise you, I could not find anything that looked like a left arm in the picture. I did not realize that until I had started the drawing, but I liked the composition so much, I just left it as is.

I just felt like I needed to break up all of the bullriders I've got going in this series.

Another bullrider. I liked the dynamics of this one.

These guys were at the Fort Worth Stockyards doing demonstrations. I took artistic license and cut out any building skyline from the original.

And one more bullrider just for good measure.

So for right now that's our plan. Hopefully in the next few days I can get some samples of Lady Paintmonkey's photos up that she is planning on selling. (They're AWESOME! Don't tell her I told you.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Anger=Funny...I hope

More and more lately I am enjoying the mental ventilation of doing my little "political" cartoons. Anything that irritates me, I can think of a way to make it funny and get it down on paper and then it's gone. Voila. And I am no longer irritated by it. No fuss, no muss. Unfortunately, there is a LOT in the world that irritates me. So I continue to try and get it down.

This cartoon applies to all politicians. I don't really believe ANY of them when they make all those promises. I am sure they WANT to keep them. But for whatever reason, they don't. Usually even if they do somehow manage to keep those promises, they screw it up somehow. It's why I am not holding my breath on this whole healthcare cluster. Even if they manage to stop behaving like a bunch of cliquish middle school twerps, they won't really make it better. I HOPE they make it better, but keep in mind this is the same government who paid $600 for a toilet seat. And that was what was going on 30 years ago. I'm pretty sure they've done nothing but de-volve in that time period.

Which brings us to our current president. I like Obama. I truly think he wants to do what he thinks is best and by and large I think he's done okay. But good lord, he is one man up against the United States Congress. The most convoluted bunch of partisan, politics playing, pin heads that we could ever vote into a position of kind-of power. Even with a majority of seats, he will not be able to force things through. That was the whole point when the founding fathers put this little experiment into action. Checks and balances. If Republicans would take a breath, step back and look at a little historical facts they would see something. Jimmy Carter couldn't get through a bill if it promised kittens dipped in milk chocolate to every man, woman, and child. Was it because he faced a Congress full of abrasive and contrary Republicans intent on destroying his legacy and making fun of his rabid rabbit seeing, lust filled heart? Nope. It was controlled by Democrats. Granted, they may oppose him based on their own selfish little reasons, but they will oppose him.

But that's all a rant which I have been having with conservatives for a long time and moves away from the point of my cartoon. I thought this worked particularly well simply because Obama is SUCH a good public speaker. Everything he says DOES sound magical, and possible, and maybe even true. But it's not. Not because he won't try. He will (on most of it, I assume). Not because I think he's a starry eyed optimist. I believe he is a realist and will make concessions where necessary. It's not true simply because in the system we have created, it just isn't possible. (Man, I AM a cynic.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Finally. I am done with the first of my commission pieces. I say that like I've been dragging on with this for months. Almost a full month but not quite! Ha! Take that, procrastination. I think I probably COULD have gotten it done a little faster but with complete and utter exhaustion taking it's toll on me, I think I did pretty well. I hope the client likes what I've done. I know I have certainly enjoyed working on the piece.

It's not dead on portraiture but I think it captures the feel of the moment quite well. And I think I have come quite a ways from having actual terror at the thought of trying to paint people. It's why I really only worked on animals for so long. There is a familiarity that people have of faces that they apparently don't have for animals.

As far as confidence goes, mine is pretty high right now. There is always a certain amount of uncertainty and questioning that goes on when you attempt something new and this piece was definitely a step away from what I am used to. But it has helped me discover that you don't have to be completely comfortable with something to find out you can do okay at it. (Jeebus, I sound like an After School Special. Or South Park. "You know, I learned something today...") Oddly, I had already figured that out as far as my life goes but for some reason I had never applied this philosophy to my art. Well, now I am. Along with the mermaid, I have another commission. This one is a landscape of a hotel in Scotland. A coworker of my wife, a native Scot, has a favorite vacation spot back home and would like a painting of it. It's going to be an odd size (4"x10") but therein lies the next challenge. I don't have the odd size ready for the hotel so I may post about the mermaid next but we'll see. It is going to be an interesting month or two.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I did promise mermaids...

...and I am delivering on them. Sarah, make sure sneaky little prying eyes aren't around. This will be a first look at the birthday present.

First of all though, I am still working on the Fisherman commission. I have gotten it 95% done, but what little bit I did to it today is not enough to worry with a new picture so I am just waiting on the final product before I post him one last time.

On to mermaids.

As I said before my sister in law asked for a painting of a mermaid for my niece's birthday in November. I have been thinking about it diligently for six months even if I haven't been WORKING on it. I did get some sketches in...

I took the idea for this one from the Disney version of Ariel on the rock with the waves crashing...(maybe a little "From Here To Eternity" thrown in).

This was one I thought of while at work. Just a quick sketch to denote the speed and grace of mer-folk.

But I kept thinking that it wasn't EXACTLY what I wanted. I wanted something that was kind of a snapshot of a mermaid. Something that seemed more suitable for a painting's composition. So I turned to the internet. I found several images that were sort of what I wanted so I combined a few of the better ones and came up with this...

I decided this was the one I wanted to do, so today after working a little more on my commission piece, I got started on a mermaid. Keep in mind, this is VERY rough but it's coming along. And my wife insisted I put it on here because she liked it. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Time to make the doughnuts...

Okay, I am back at my easel working diligently(?) on my commission piece. I've got another one in the wings but it will not be documented nearly as much as this one has been.

For those of you who wondered what I was talking about when I said last time that "Coming soon: mermaids!", well, I still don't have a mermaid ready to display yet but I AM working on them. I have a request for a mermaid painting for my niece/flower girl/cutest thing in the world (right next to her little sister), that will be given to her for her birthday. Her birthday is in November which is a heck of a lot closer than it was 6 months ago when the idea was first put forth to me. So I am pulling out all of the preliminary sketches I've been playing with for six months and seeing which compositions work best, what kind of style I want to zzzzz.... What?!? You don't care about all of that technical artsy crap? Don't blame ya'. It's fun to do (for me anyway) but talking about it is for teachers and know-it-all art students. But I may get a few of the better ones and see if anyone has an opinion on the overall look of the mermaids.

Back to the now. Here is the latest work done on my fisherman. Hope you like it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Brief Respite...

I am not stopping work on the painting out of laziness. (Maybe a little.) But mostly, I just need to let it sit for a day or two so I can finish it up. Some of the oil paints don't dry that quickly and if you don't let them dry a bit, you just end up pushing them around the canvas for no reason. So for right now, it might be a day or two before I can update with any significant changes. Sorry for any disappointment this may incur but don't worry. Coming soon: mermaids!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Coming up with titles for these is tedious...

Seriously. This message is for anyone else who commissions a painting: I probably WON'T put up an update every day. This gets monotonous. Plus it takes away time I could be painting. I'm still new to the whole marketing myself bit, and according to those in the know it actually does take up quite a bit of your time, energy, and money to market yourself. I'm much more okay with that than I used to be but really I don't think I will post with daily advances on a painting. (Unless there is a mass protest to see my process in action. But I doubt it.)

So here is the next step in my Fisherman oil. The client had actually said something about doing away with the boats in the background to make the surroundings more natural, but I don't think I like that idea. The beauty of this photo is it is a family icon. The picture itself. Not even the moment really, because I'm pretty sure that none of the rest of the family was there. (Client was probably WAY too young.) So therefore the actual photograph is what is embedded in the families mind. A photo of dad youthfully basking in the pride of a giant honking lake fish. So enjoy the next evolution of a painting.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Commission Part III: The Reckoning

I have to post my most recent progress on the commission as I don't want the client to think I'm goofing off. Okay, maybe that and the title of the post are a WEE bit over dramatic. I just want to try and post something every day I have done a bit to the painting, even if it is just a little. So here you go.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Commission process: Part 2

I am making an attempt to fully document the process from blank canvas to fully realized painting. So for the next few days or so, I will be posting my friend's commissioned piece here as it slowly comes together into the finished product. Here is what has been done since yesterday:

I think it's coming along nicely.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Paintmonkey Studios Is Now Taking Commissions!

Yes, for the first time ever, Paintmonkey Studios is accepting commission work. For whatever reasons before (uncertainty of my abilities, afraid of taking on too much at once, not broke enough), I am now ready to tackle any and all customers who would like a Paintmonkey original of their very own.

I was actually very uncertain of my own abilities for a very long time and only allowed myself to paint within a very narrow frame of reference and comfort. But recently as I've allowed myself to expand my view of possibility, I have realized that there is nothing I am not willing to try artistically.

Last night I started my first commission for a friend. She had a photo of her dad she really liked and wanted me to reproduce it in oils. This is the first days' work:

Not bad for an hour's work. And it was actually a lot of fun. So if you have an idea of something that you have always wanted for a painting, leave me a comment or get in touch with me through The Paintmonkey Studios fan page. I will be glad to talk and see what I can do for you.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pen and Inks

I've been working with pen and inks for most of my life. Whenever a relative who doesn't spend that much time with you hears that your interest is "art", generally you get a bottle of india ink and a quill pen of some sort. I used to get aggravated at it (I mean come on, I've got a bottle of ink NOW that I've been using for close to 10 years. I just don't go through it that quickly.), but now I'm kind of glad that I got all that ink lo those many, many years in a row.

For one thing I can whip out pen and inks in a fairly short amount of time. They became kind of my fallback "when you've got artist's block" way to shake loose the old creativity. Any time I am stuck for inspiration, I can always go do a pen and ink of anything and it usually helps me get started on something else. Throw out a couple of nice little pen and inks and you've started looking at the world in a compositional kind of way again.

And the second and most important reason is simply this: I like pen and inks. I always have, I always will. I am drawn more to an artist's drawings and ink sketches than to full blown paintings. I like the paintings mind you, but more than likely I will probably like the planning stages more. It is a view into the artist's workings that you sometimes can't see in the polish of a finished painting.

So I decided to post a few drawings I've been working on lately (and a couple that aren't THAT recent) because I've gotten a little burned out on painting in the past couple of weeks and wanted to get back to the basics. I had fun doing them and I hope you like them.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


I am, by most accounts, an angry person. Through massive personal work I am not just randomly angry however. There are usually good reasons for my outbursts, and I try to find creative outlets for them. (I'm not sure if screaming obscenities at the gals on Good Morning America for covering another "news" item about Michael Jackson counts as a creative outlet, but hey, cut me some slack. It's early and I have to go to work.)

ANYHOO, one of the outlets I have used in the past and try to still use periodically is doing my own editorial cartoons. I discovered the beauty and anger of these in high school when I first read a book of Doug Marlette's Pulitzer prize winning cartoons. He was wonderful. The absolute joy and savagery he took in publicly destroying these puffed up hypocrites was bliss. He was one of the first in the nation to start questioning Jim And Tammy Fay Bakker when he worked at the Charlotte Observer. He took on evangelicals and politicians with equal force and woe unto you if you ever were caught in his crosshairs.

While I was in high school, my local paper was good enough to give me a shot at creating my own editorial cartoons. There was only one tiny little problem...I had absolutely no idea what was going on in the world or really how I viewed it. I was a teenager. Everything I was mad at then was completely irrelevant to the world at large. So, they weren't exactly what most people (outside of my mother and my grandmother) would consider "good". In fact, they were kinda terrible. Hopefully, my worldview is a bit more educated and broader now, so what I'm angry about makes a bit more sense.

Without further adieu, here is my latest attempt at chewing away at the last vestiges of any respect we give to public officials.

And if you have any questions about what's going on, just google the words "Sonny Perdue and fish". It's a remarkably stupid story.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Recognition

In the world of art there exists two different groups of people. There are the creators obviously. We are the ones who according to most everyone else "see a little differently". And then there is the other group. This group is made up of our supporters and defenders. Without this group, we the creators would be hopelessly lost and continuously ripped off. Mrs. Eleanor (Ellie) Frazetta belonged to this group. Mrs. Frazetta passed away on July 17th after a year long battle with cancer. As wife to the preeminent fantasy artist of, well EVER, she made it her mission to protect Frank, his work, and his legacy. And according to all reports she succeeded at all of these beyond anyone's wildest imagination. She was married to Frank for somewhere between 52 and 53 years.

I never had the chance to meet her and that makes me sad, not just from the loss of the opportunity, but because according to everyone who had been to the Frazetta museum it just wasn't that hard. By and large for the most part, almost everyone who went met her either at the door or at the very least in the gift shop selling her husband's work.

I send out my condolences to the Frazetta family and the wishes that all of us could experience what they had: a devoted mother, the fiercest of protectors, and most important for Frank, an inspiring soulmate. We'll miss you Mrs. Frazetta.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Search for Inspiration Marches On

Some days even with the time available and materials at hand there is a problem figuring out what to do with both. On these days I am trying to figure out if I should force the hand of creativity and just try and make something or if I should go outside and find something that will force open the creativity for me. I tried both today. I could not think of any subject matter that moved me enough to start a new painting and all of my paintings I have been working on are at stages of waiting for paint to dry. So I went outside. I grabbed the camera and the car keys and wandered down streets in my neighborhood that I have not seen before. I looked up and down, high and low, and came up with...nothing. None of what I saw helped. So I turned around and headed back in. On my way back to the house, I realized that even driving slowly in the car, I was still IN THE CAR. I decided that on my next day off I was going to load up the camera and head out on my bicycle. So on Wednesday, I am heading off into the hinterlands of the bike trail and wherever else my bike may take me in the search for inspiration.

So I came back in and looked through my photographs again. I've been wanting to do a lighthouse, and it seems the Hilton Head lighthouse is a fairly popular landmark, so I went with a pretty decent shot of it and started throwing paint down. Here's the first day's effort.

Next time: bicycle inspirations (hopefully).

Monday, July 6, 2009

Always looking for inspiration

As I get back into doing my art again on a regular basis, I find myself looking for not only subjects to work with but also other artists to draw inspiration from. As I said in the post below, I have revisited acrylics. The bull rider in the previous post is my first effort at them and this is my second.

Not bad, I don't think. My new attempts at these cantankerous paints is due in no small part to my friend at work, Tim. Tim has been building a birthday throne for children's parties we have at work (we work at a natural history museum). He actually built the throne himself, and is decorating it with his own paintings. Tim has also been working on this thing for several months and just finished it about a week ago. Lots of people have been giving him grief over how much time he was taking but I think you will agree, it was time well spent. This first is the overall throne.

Next I have some details of the back of the seat and the footrest.

And finally, the sides.

He may kill me for posting these, especially since these were taken about 3 weeks before he was even done, but if he has a problem I'll take them down. But I thought someone should put it out there how good he is. He doesn't have a website or a gallery representative yet which absolutely kills me. I like what I do and I feel like I'm pretty good at it and getting better. And I certainly don't ever compare myself to other artists (that way madness lies). But if I were to put a metaphor on to our styles it would be this: If we were automotive vehicles, he would be a 1959 Ferrari Testa Rossa while I am that lawn mower Forrest Gump rides around on. I'm not knocking myself. I think he is just that good.

Friday, July 3, 2009

In progress, questions abound

I am still debating this painting. I decided I would try some paintings using acrylic paints. It's been awhile and as I've progressed in my work I felt I should revisit some old mediums. I even try watercolors again every now and then but that stays a disaster. But acrylics always seemed within reach even though I was missing a key element.

I think I found it.

Speed. Not the meth kind, but good old fashioned brushwork. I think the problem before was I treated acrylics like painting with oils. Oils are much slower and I can take my time. I have to treat acrylics like a colored gesture drawing. Quick. To the point. Get the idea down and if you need to, wait five minutes and go over it again.

Here's the first effort. I don't think I'm done with it. But I don't think it's a bad start. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What's New

I'm still new to documenting my work, so unfortunately it takes awhile between posts. Hopefully soon I will figure out the balance between documenting, marketing, and actually DOING the work. Hope springs eternal...

Anyways, I just got a new painting posted on etsy. It's Piggly Wiggly Water Oak. A few weeks ago Jenn and I went with some friends to Hilton Head. While shopping for dinner fixings one day we went to the local Piggly Wiggly. Right next door is a beautiful little stand of water oaks which also happen to surround a small cemetary. While my wife and friends went inside to shop, I stayed out and took a lot of photos of this beautiful little scene.

I find myself doing more and more landscapes these days. The two small pieces I'm working on right now are a small sunset beach scene and a field with a few barns on it. I used to shun landscapes. But more and more I find myself being drawn to the quiet simple parts of life that move us. Certainly when I was younger I was more attracted to the vibrancy of movement and explosions of form, and I still am. I suppose as I get older though, I am more open to slowing down and appreciating ALL of what is around me, not just the loud.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Paintmonkey Studios 101

This is my introduction to Paintmonkey Studios blog. PaintmonkeyStudios consists of myself (John) the artist, and my wife (Jenn) photographer and computer genius extraordinaire. This will be a semi behind the scenes look at the creative process and another place to update people with new images of our work. We welcome everyone to our virtual studio and we hope you enjoy yourself.

The name of our studio comes from a painting and a one man showing I had years ago that had the same name, “Monkey With A Paintbrush”. I had in the back of my mind for years that I wanted to start my own studio with the name “Monkey With A Paintbrush Studio”. Once we started seriously thinking about getting my work online we had to come up with a name. I had used a shortened version on emails for awhile and we knew we had to go with that name since all of society is in too much of a hurry to focus on more than one or two words in a title. Hence, Paintmonkey Studios was born.

And one more thing. I know the image in our logo is an ape. I know what the difference IS between monkeys and apes. But the word “monkey” is one of the funniest words in the English language. If you have a problem with that, sorry.