Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sketchbook Scratching

Here's a glimpse into my Field Notes sketchbook, where some time ago I scratched out my thoughts and ideas for the Tulip Festival painting. I usually write down or sketch as many ideas as possible. Some are quite random and rarely get used, but sometimes even the smallest idea or thought can make an impact on the finished piece. Ideas can feed off one another and it sometimes take the concept in a new direction.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

75th Tulip Festival Commission

Yesterday, the announcement was made that I have been commissioned to create the commemorative artwork for the 2015 Tulip Festival celebration in Orange City. It's the 75th anniversary of the festival so it makes me feel even more honored to be selected.

The theme for the 75th festival is Remembering our Roots.  I've been busy painting and am excited to reveal the finished painting in March. Here is a link to the official press release.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Good Soil - Part 3

Here is the completed painting. I titled it Good Soil for a few reasons. We are blessed here with some of the best soil in the world. Good is an understatement. The richness of the land is portrayed in the vibrant and vivid colors in the painting. The size of the barn is large, a sign of prosperity as well. The young farmer is deep in thought, or prayer. He as well is soil, as the soil in the parable of the sower found in the Bible where the seed falls on different types of soil.

The farmer has much on his mind. His crop, the livestock, his family and many more things. All are in need of good soil.

"But the seed on the good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a good crop." - Luke 8:15

As the painting progressed, I took short video clips of the progress with my phone on an app called Cameo. It is a 2 minute video, and you can watch it here.

Below are a couple of photos taken after installation in the lobby of the bank. The painting has a great location in the new lobby area via the west entrance to the bank. Stop and take a look in person if you can.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Good Soil - Part 2

Here are some photos from the the progression of the painting. The large 5'x8' blank canvas was built by my Dad. I then added the base coats of gesso, which is an acrylic base coat. As you can see in the first photo, that was done in my garage.

Looking at a blank canvas, especially one this size, is always exciting to me–to imagine all the possibilities and color that will be layered on it to make it come to life.

The next photos show the painting at various stages that took approximately two months to complete.

The dog was added at the request of the bank president. He had a similar dog when he was a boy.

My knowledge of cattle is pretty limited, but it was fun painting the rich reddish browns of these herefords.

My oldest son, Joe, served as the model for the farmer.

The farmers cap was later turned to green and gold. I'm pretty sure there are a lot of farmers who would prefer it to be red. More posts to follow.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Good Soil - Part 1

I spent the last few months working on another large commission. I thought I'd try to post a couple things from that, and how it progressed.

The painting was for the lobby of a new addition to American State Bank in Sioux Center. American State Bank is one of Iowa's largest lenders in agriculture. Thus the farmer and agriculture were to be a primary focus of the painting.

The owner of the bank, and the interior designer had both seen the painting I did for the Northwestern College Learning Commons, and liked it. They wanted this piece done in a similar style. Below are the original two concept sketches I submitted. I took the sketches into Photoshop and superimposed them on the stone wall where the painting would hang, to give a good idea of the scale and effect they would have in the lobby environment.

After reviewing the sketches, they preferred the version with the younger farmer, but wondered if I could incorporate some livestock as this is also a significant portion of their business. I went back and came up with what became the working composition below.

I'll soon be posting some photos of how the painting developed over the course of the summer. I started painting the beginning of July and finished it the end of August.

Monday, January 13, 2014


The paintbrushes have been taking a rest–or I suppose in all honesty, I have.

This is another small painting of candy that I just finished. The Bit-O-Honey candy has always been somewhat underrated in my opinion. Maybe it is because it is wrapped to look like a candy bar, but when you open it, it is more of a taffy. Is that what you'd call it? Whatever it is, I have always liked it.

Invented in 1924 and currently made by the Pearson's Candy Company of St. Paul, MN. Here is a look at what the wrapper looked like back in 1969.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Starburst Fruit Chews

Just in time for Halloween, a candy painting. I think it is a combination of my love of painting, graphic design, pop art and of course candy.

Over the years of posting to this blog, there have been paintings of a Reeses Peanut Butter cup (my personal favorite candy),  a Twin Bing, a Hershey's Kiss, and a piece of Double Bubble. Add to the list a pack of Starbursts.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Rembrandt Revisited

Of the many paintings I have created over the years, this one has always been one of my favorites. It's a painting of an old building that sits on main street in Rembrandt, Iowa which is about an hour east of where we live. I painted it in 1995 based on photos I shot on a backroads Iowa road trip taken nearly 20 years ago.

Even in 1995 the building had already seen its better days. The main street businesses that once may have thrived behind these doors and windows were gone. All that was left was the wear and tear from passing years of neglect, but it still stood straight and tall trying to maintain some sense of dignity.

Rembrandt, Iowa - painted in 1995
Well, this past summer, Denise and I spent a day cruising the backroads of NW Iowa and we happened to pass through Rembrandt once again. The building is there but it looks a bit different these days. Below is a photo as it looks today.

photo of the same building in 2013

While it basically looks the same in many ways, there are many details that show additional signs of aging and of use. I'm guessing it has primarily been used as a building for storing miscellaneous  "stuff", but each rotting window, patched board, and stored artifact has a story to tell. That's what I love about the original painting, and now many years later, it has new stories to tell.

I painted it way back in 1995 and it still hangs in our living room and I never really never tire of looking at it.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fire Truck Graphics

Something a little different this week. It was Fire Prevention week recently, and the Maurice Fire Department just had their open house this past Saturday. The fire trucks were outside so I snapped a few photos with my phone.

I designed the graphics for the trucks when they purchased a new truck a couple of years ago. At least  I think it was that long ago. Time does fly. I created the graphics on the computer, and then my brother Bruce cut and applied all the vinyl lettering.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Learning Commons - Part 3

It's worth mentioning that I painted this in my garage, rather than in the studio. It would have fit in the studio, but I have to say the garage was a really great place to paint.  I cranked up the tunes and spent numerous hours sitting in a lawn chair contemplating the next phase as the piece progressed. Here is a panoramic photo with my son, Jack, taking the spotlight.

The installation in the new Learning Commons went great, due once again to the efforts of my Dad who was up to the challenge of building and stretching this large custom built canvas. Also to my brother Bruce who is a wiz when it comes to installing large works like this.

This is a photo of the finished painting taken just after installation.

So here is a little more in depth description of the painting, and the symbolism contained in the work.

It is titled "The Storehouse". Obviously, a corn crib is a storehouse for grain or corn, but it represents the new Learning Commons which is a storehouse for books and knowledge. It also represents the students and Christians as storehouses for knowledge and truth. As Christians, we believe all truth is from God, and you'll notice that there is only one way to get into this building from this viewpoint.­ It is the window above, so we are to look up, or look to God alone for guidance as we fill our storehouse.

The grasses are all blowing to the right and the clouds are moving to the right. This represents the things of this world pushing us in a worldly direction. Even the corn crib itself is not centered on the canvas, but has been pushed to the right. The shadow of the cupola (cast by God as the light) points us back toward a life centered on Christ.

Click on the photos for a larger view.

Here is a  photo that shows a little broader view of the space.

This view is as you walk in the front doors. I think this give you a sense of some of the geometric lines that are evident throughout the structure. If you get to Orange City, stop and take a look. It is easy to find and is one of the first things you will see as you enter the building.

The dedication for the new Jack and Mary DeWitt Learning Commons takes place next week Friday, September 27. I consider it a privilege to have my work as part of this wonderful addition to the campus.