Thursday, May 29, 2008

Painting an "Inchie"

When you make hundreds and hundreds of one-inch-sized works of art (inchies), the question inevitably arises--what do I do with these? A friend suggested I make large paintings of them. Sounded good to me, so today I made a 12 x 12 painting of a 1 x 1 inchie.

Here is the 1 x 1 inchie:

And here is the 12 x 12 painting (due to the size of my scanner, you aren't getting the full painting, but this is pretty close:

I liked how it started to look like a landscape painting, so I decided to leave out the diagonal yellow lines, even though those are what attracted me to this inchie in the first place.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Howells: The evolution of a painting


Acrylic on canvas board
11 x 14
May 2008

I've been wanting to do a series of Oregon City paintings, focusing on industry, business, and decline. I'm really attracted to the retro signage and buildings we have all over this little town. I've already photographed several of the subjects I want to paint, and I completed the first painting yesterday (above). Here is the evolution of the painting:

Here you see the painting in its very earliest stage, as well as the photo I'm working from. At this stage, I have roughed in the basic shapes and lines.

In stage 2 (above), I'm thinking more about volume and color, trying to work the entire canvas simultaneously.

In stage 3, I realize the perspective is off for the building roofline. I'm going to have to make some changes to the lines that are holding up the sign. I'm worrying a lot about how to make the lines and the metal look like lines and metal.

Here again is the final painting. I'm really happy with the composition and the sign itself. Not thrilled with the way the metal finishes turned out, but it's enough this time.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Ya'll, I am obsessed. I first heard about inchies on They are little one inch square pieces of art. You can pretty much make 'em any way you want, but from what I can tell, most people use a collage technique. Right away, I wanted to try making some. So I made a set of about 100 using a map of the Pearl District (Portland's arts district), some scrapbooking paper, and some handwritten messages I collected from the women who were with me at the scrapbooking weekend. Here's a sampling of the result (affixed to a notebook with brads):

Once I got into these, I realized they are all about RANDOMNESS for me. So much of my art is about control--making the image perfect--making the line just the way I want it--trying to get the light right. But the way I make inchies, I have no control over the final image, and each little square that comes out is a little miracle of composition, line and color. Of course they don't ALL turn out that great, but out of 100, you might get 25 really great images.

So I made some more (4 of 100):

And then some more (4 of 100): Then, I went to Chicago for the GREAT ART WEEKEND (more on that in a separate post), where I collected found paper all wekend, and created some more. In fact, if you look at the first picture on this posting, you will see approximately 540 Chicago inchies in progress. Here are a few complete Chicago inchies:

If you don't get it by now, you probably never will. But that's okay; I'll be making enough for both of us. However, if you want to make some, here's a tutorial on craftster:;topic=211483.0;images

Mommy and Son Project

Duncan has been home from pre-school a lot this week. On Tuesday, I suggested we make a Robot. I was thinking about some construction paper and glue. But no. He had a particular Robot in mind--the one from a book his dad likes to read him called Le "Manitoba" ne Repond Plus by Herge (he's the same guy who does Tin Tin). So, we find the book and start making the robot. I cut out the shapes while Duncan picks out and glues on the buttons for the eyes, nose and mouth. Sometime while we are working, Duncan says, "Let's make all the stories that the robot is in." After some clarification, I realize he wants to make the whole picture, not just the robot. So, we get started on the porthole with three fish (he mostly glues it together while I do the drawing and cutting), the boy, and the girl. Duncan lost interest about 1/2 way through the girl, but I compulsively had to finish her anyway. Now, Duncan says, "we still have to do the monkey." Here's what the actual book looks like:

Slow Going Part Deux: Still Going

I am still working on the painting for my handy man friend (though he has probably forgotten my name by now). It is for his daughter Sophie, so my little hippo (who will be wearing a tutu en fin) is named. . . wait for it. . . Sophie. It's a terrible photo--blurry and the color's too green, but at least you can see the progress since the previous slow going post. Jeremy, if you're out there, I'll try to finish it before she graduates from college.

The Little Trailer that Could

This trailer was sitting by the side of the road on my drive home. Everytime I passed it, it screamed out to me, "Notice me, photograph me, paint me." So I did. About one week later, after having sat there for years, the trailer, along with all the other accumulated detritus in the yard, disappeared.

I've since taken photos of several trailers on my street, just in case there is a trailer Rapture in which all the quirky vehicles on Livesay Road suddenly disappear into the heavens leaving patch after patch of dead, yellowed grass where they once stood. Here are just a few: