Validation?

I was lucky enough and honored to be included in the annual juried show at the Emmanuel Gallery.  

Disclaimer: the following words are intended to be humorous  

As an artist I think it could be considered a serious validation that I was able to take garbage from the street and local parks and literally put it in a gallery. This is somewhat funny to me even though the message of these art works is intended to be powerful.  

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Topographical Map of Detritus installed at the Emmanuel Gallery

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Butts installed at the Emmanuel Gallery

Downtrodden

Everyday life can go on and unless we are constantly reminded of the negative aspects going on we may not even realize it. This painting is about the everyday life that goes on around us (the upper portion) and how down below I am consciously thinking about the environment. The thoughts are about changing my habits to be better or being aware of the daily things I do, good and bad, that affect the world around me.  

I definitely am not the only one conscious of these things but the idea of thinking about it everyday and what I can do to make a difference can be quite a burden even though I am not alone. 

Underneath the metaphorical and literal surface there are always occurrences that relate to us. Often times, because we do not see where our trash goes or the pollution we produce we can forget about it.  

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“Downtrodden” 

Acrylic on canvas (48”x60”) 

Underpainting

The purpose of an underpainting is to establish a uniform feeling to the entire painting. This is done by using one color which will show through in parts through the entire piece. It also helps to finalize composition and values before you go in with other colors.

So why choose a color like orange? The color can be difficult to look at especially in large quantities such as this.  It also has connotations of being toxic partly because of the color of pesticide. It is also thought of as being unnatural when it is heavily saturated. So that is why I chose it... because it just looks toxic 😷 

 Working on the underpainting 🎨 

Working on the underpainting 🎨 

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day 🌎♻️

Today we (my fiancé and I) gathered about 20 pounds of trash. Since the start of us gathering trash we have collected around 150 pounds of trash and recyclables. The recyclables are taken to a recycle center as we separate it while we gather it. 

150 pounds isn’t too much but it is a start and hopefully we have made an impact on the people walking by and the people we share our stories with!  

Keep it Wild is also a cool group which is based out of Arizona, but groups spread across the country. They organize large groups for trash cleanups and have collected thousands of pounds of trash from parks and natural areas.  

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Some trash gathered on Earth Day 🌎 

The Journey

Though I have a goal everytime I sit down to paint, changes always happen. The changes are necessary to improve the final product. Anyone who saw this painting in the early stages probably saw the sold sign across the left corner, which is no longer there. People often read too much into text in paintings so I felt it needed to be changed, hence the barcode. 

As a painter it is important to enjoy the process of painting because otherwise nothing would get done. Seeing a painting come together is really satisfying. When spending anywhere from 3 hours to 8 hours at a time on a painting it is almost more important to enjoy the process than enjoying the finished piece. 

There are many different ways to get to a destination so it is vital to enjoy the journey. 

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Working in the studio

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Adaptation

Adapting is a process that happens naturally over tens of thousands of years, and happens within just about every species known on Earth. But what if every species in an area was forced to adapt over a shorter span? What would that look like?

This painting explores this idea, which I think really needs a whole series of works (hopefully to come later). But if cacti have to adapt to hold out water what would happen? If cars became useless would boats suffice? How plants and animals as well as humans would adapt in a natural crises like floods or major droughts, really any natural disaster, is interesting to me. Which species would survive? Would porcupines natural defense of spikes benefit them in the case of living in a sea of water? Obviously probably not, they would need to adapt and develop a better defense from predators, like having turbines for feet!   

If the idea of cities being under water or places drying up seems impossible you might want to rethink that. Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, which isn’t permanent but ocean levels rising could put cities permanently under water.  

As for drying up, there were hundreds of wild fires across the western U.S. last year. Why are lakes and rivers west of the Rocky Mountains drying up? California has been having water issues for a decade, at least, so what happens when Colorado starts using more water as our population booms? Less for California... and their growing population. 

 “Adaptation”   2017 (48”x48”) acrylic on canvas

“Adaptation” 

2017 (48”x48”) acrylic on canvas

Practicing What I Preach

The environment and being green is something I think is very important, obviously. Hopefully this comes through in my paintings as well, but I don’t just paint to make a statement about the environment or bring attention to issues regarding pollution or extinction, etc. I also think it is even more important to practice what you preach.  

The easy things like recycling and riding the light rail should be things everyone does, in my opinion. Recycling has just gotten so much easier these days even if all you have to do is take it somewhere, you should. Outside of that I try to make more of an impact because, to me, that is not enough. 

My fiancé and I often go to parks or go on walks and pick up trash and recyclables. This is something we do on a Saturday morning, instead of watching cartoons. My fiancé is part of a group called Keep it Wild which works to clean up areas around the world.  

Someday I also hope to donate money to conservation efforts and other programs like that, especially with sales of my art.  

I saw a post the other day about artists and musicians, celebrities, etc. who preach all of these things but really don’t make an effort the change the world like they say. So this is my argument to that as I do try to make a difference outside of my artwork.  

In a way the gathering of trash could be looked at as an art. I am helping to create a world in which we all would like to live in.

 Photo of gathering trash 

Photo of gathering trash 

Northern White Rhinoceros

Today the last Northern White Rhino has passed away. This is likely the end of the subspecies as there are now only two females left of their kind. It is sad that he had to be guarded 24 hours a day by military from poachers. Money blinded them from the fact that he would be the last of his kind. 

I won't go into too much detail, but if you are interested in reading more the button will take you to an article by National Geographic. 

Irony

There is something ironic about Coca Cola using a polar bear as their mascot. We all know Coke products use plastic bottles for a lot of their beverages. We also know that Coca Cola is a multi billion dollar corporation. In the U.S. only about 30 to 40 percent of plastic is recycled and that’s up from years prior. But that means 60% likely goes into land fills or litters our streets and parks.  

Polar Bears are one of the animals that are in danger of becoming extinct due to their home literally melting. It has made them use more energy since they need to be swimming more and produce more heat for their bodies. With a loss of food, they also have a harder time eating.  

Plastic is a big pollutant due to the manufacturing process. So when it is not recycled more needs to be produced. Coca Cola is contributing to the destruction of their mascot’s natural habitat which I see as sadly ironic. 

Could Coke’s mascot eventually become extinct? It would be like having a dinosaur as a mascot but if we all witnessed the dinosaurs going extinct.  

There are too many problems to have only one answer, but recycling your plastics is a start. And Coke, well every other bottle manufacturer also,  please make your kids recyclable as well dammit! 

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“Refreshments” 

2017 (48”x60”) acrylic on canvas

20,000 hours

“Wow, how long did that take?” 

Artists, I’m sure, get this question a lot and I know because, well, I’m an artist and I get that question a lot. The answer is simple but really unmeasurable. 

The painting took me 30, 40, 50 hours from start to finish, maybe longer. The truth is there is a lot that goes into a painting, but there’s so much more that goes into art.  

I have spent countless hours developing ideas, a style, or perfecting techniques, but if you’d like to put a number to it, I’d estimate close to 20,000 hours so far. So how much time is that? It’s over two years straight, though the time has been spread out over about a decade, so I’m not even counting the hours I spent as a young child drawing.  

So to answer the question correctly... How long did that take?  

It took 18,545 hours to complete this painting because without those first 18,500 hours I would not have been able to create this painting.  

There ya’ go, there’s the answer, at least the sweetened and condensed version 😁

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Shot of me working in my studio 🎨 

American Dream

The American Dream carries with it a connotation of hope, maybe nestalgia for some, but some people have argued that the American Dream no longer exists. 

Elephants for a long time have been looked at as a commodity, at least by some. The people who poach them for their ivory horns look at elephants, and rhinos as well, and see dollar signs. Much like people from all over the world see America... the land of opportunity. 

The domestication and efforts to save animals is somewhat interesting to me because we are saving animals from ourselves. Though it stems from different individuals, people are generalized and put into one broad category. So even though we try to save animals from our direct poaching, we forget that the house we live it, the streets we drive on, the food and resources we consume all have effected animals in the areas we inhabit. The relationship we have with our surrounding nature and the constant building, developing, expanding, etc is a growing issue that seems to go unnoticed in comparison.  

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 “The American Dream”

2017 (48”x60”)      Acrylic on canvas

Scribe for my Subconcious

Painting is almost like a meditation. Thoughts leave my mind and my hand becomes a scribe for my subconscious. Even though I am the one creating the painting, it almost seems as if I am not entirely aware of what I am doing. The mixing and application of paint becomes almost mindless. Though technique can be learned and taught, it seems the art that comes from something deeper is not teachable, but something that needs to be discovered. My thoughts about my subjects are translated into images because words can not describe the thoughts as effortlessly. 

When artists paint I think there has to be a reason to create a painting, whatever that may be. Painting has its own language which is why we as viewers have to interpret it and why artists need to learn to speak it.

A piece of me, my soul, spirit, mind is put into every piece. In a way every painting I create is a part of me, but in the essence, like if a thought could be seen in the same plain that we exist. 

 Working in the studio

Working in the studio

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Work in progress (Feb. 2018) 

Why the Ear Tag?

When I first began planning out this painting I had initially wanted to make this snow leopard into a stuffed wall mount. As I was painting though, it seemed the idea was too over the top and lacked the intellectual challenge some of the other paintings have. An ear tag was just a concept that came to me and originally had a number painted on it. The number; however, added something viewers could read too much into whereas a blank ear tag leaves you pondering. 

Barcodes are a symbol of consumption and commerce because we see them on nearly everything we buy as we check out, at least in stores. This is why I titled the painting a literal barcode as in a series of lines that vary in thickness. Our impact and presence is felt almost everywhere as we leave a trail of bread crumbs where we visit. Only instead of bread crumbs we leave trash, devastated habitats, or polluted waters and lands. We are attempting to turn our actions around which is a great! Hope is key and the future is dependent on what those actions are. 

This painting is now available as a limited edition print. You can find it in my shop! 

 "(Barcode)"    2017 (36"x48")     Acrylic on canvas

"(Barcode)"    2017 (36"x48")     Acrylic on canvas

Butts

Haha Butts... 

The word carries a connotation of something we see as sexy but in this case is rather disgusting, which some people might think butts are too I guess. All the cigarette butts in this piece (around 800) were gathered and picked up off the ground in areas around me. For example, I collected some from local parks near my house and some from the Aurora Campus. 

The piece itself does not look too appalling, yet the smell in person and image of me, the artist, picking these up as I go about my day is what is interesting. There is also something intriguing about the contrast between a pristine white box filled with something most people would deem gross. 

 

 Cigarette Butts, wood, paper, pins, glue, and wood (48" x 48") 2017

Cigarette Butts, wood, paper, pins, glue, and wood (48" x 48") 2017

Fetch

Hurricanes are devastating storms, but even more devastating when there is three major hurricanes in one year that hit the Unites States alone (2017). This painting was inspired by the increasing number of cities underwater.

This painting was inspired by the three hurricanes that hit the U.S. last summer. Hurricane Harvey, Maria and Irma were all devastating to different parts of the U.S. This painting is part of my current body of work which depicts dystopias, which could be interpreted as futuristic, a representation of the 'now' or just a surreal image of a dreamlike idea. 

This piece is now available as a print! You can find it in my shop on chrisallenart.com

 Acrylic on canvas (48" x 60") 2017

Acrylic on canvas (48" x 60") 2017

Rhino

This painting is now available as a print! You can find them in my shop and also let me know what you think of this piece in the comment section. I'd be happy to answer any questions about the painting.

Rhinos are poached for their ivory horns, and despite conservation efforts over the past couple decades are still on the endangered list. The ivory ban I'm sure has helped and hopefully will eventually end the poaching of these animals. The text that is tagged on the rhino's back relates to art as well as sustainability and environmental concerns. 

 Acrylic on canvas (48" x 48") 2017

Acrylic on canvas (48" x 48") 2017