I love how my art grows and progresses, so I wanted to start sharing the artistic process and the ideas and methods of my art via this blog. However, none of it makes sense without a little background story of how I started and how I got to where I am now.
How it started
In 2012 I was ready to quit my job and my wife was ready to start work again. So we switched roles. I was going to take care of the kids, while she went to work.
However, with the kids at school from 9 to 3 I had time on my hands to do something else, but given that most part-time jobs either don’t pay well or have hours that don’t match school hours I decided to pick up my art where I had left it behind; after high school graduation. I decided I wanted to learn an art form that allowed me to make a business out of my art, where the art isn’t only aesthetic, but also has an alternate purpose, because I thought it would be easier to sell than through an art gallery. I considered tattoo art, but dismissed it, because I couldn’t see myself being an apprentice in a tattoo shop, cleaning up after the master artist until he or she deemed me ready to learn their art form. That’s OK when you’re a young, but as a more mature person I don’t have the patience for that kind of thing.
Another art form I always liked was airbrush art and I found via Craigslist that Rat Art Studios, by Mel Fox in Denver offers airbrush classes. Mel is an old school airbrush and pinstripe and lettering artist, as well as a talented cartoonist. You can’t get a better teacher. Pinstriping and lettering was never my thing, so when I hit the ceiling of what he could teach me with the airbrush I quit classes.
I decided on a name for my venture that described exactly what I did: Airbrush-Portraits. At the time I was airbrushing one pet portrait after another for different clients, with the occasional horse and person portrait in between. Sometimes there’d be other projects, a scooter, mailbox, guitar, goalie mask.
I moved away from the automotive solvent based paints I learned to airbrush with and started using acrylic based paints, because the fumes of the solvents and thinners gave me a persistent cough, even using a respirator. Also, automotive paints do not typically have the range of earth and natural colors I needed for my pet portraits.
More goalie masks started coming my way. As a hockey goalie, I have the network in the Denver area.
Unfortunately goalie masks require a strong clear coat to be sprayed over the artwork to protect it from the impact of pucks. All of those sprays are highly toxic and almost all respirators do not protect adequately from that. Although I will still airbrush goalie masks on request, I don’t actively market that work to limit the number of jobs for my own health.
From airbrush art to fine art
Then, in 2015 we took a trip to Santa Fe, NM. I was so impressed by the bustling art scene, which is so different from the Denver art scene, which boosts great artists, but is so scattered all over the city and only livens up during special days like First Friday art walks. In a town like Santa Fe, the art scene is busy every day, all year long!
I did notice however, that the majority of paintings in the galleries I visited were oil paintings. I had dabbled with oil paint before, so I decided that I wanted to create a series of oil paintings with the goal to exhibit them in an art gallery in Santa Fe.
The Native American women series
I wanted to stick to the Southwestern/Native American theme, so, being a portrait artist, I decided to create a series of portraits of Native American women in oil paint.
To get inspiration I put an ad on Craigslist and a Rosebud Lakota native woman responded, so she is one of the paintings I’m working on. I also attended a Pow Wow in Denver where many women in traditional clothing consented to having their picture taken. Many of whom I plan to paint a portrait of.
Specific to my painting method, I use the airbrush for the under painting, but the process of oil painting is slow, alternating painting and drying periods. Also, it takes months for a painting to be dry enough to varnish. That means I will be exhibiting these oil paintings in the Fall of 2015.
The Dutch series
Therefore I needed material for immediate showing in the Denver area. So for another series I’m working on I went to my own roots by painting a series of Dutch themed paintings, starting with a painting of a pair of clogs. I will follow that with a painting of a Dutch bike leaning against an antique lamp post and I have inspiration to paint a typical Dutch flat bottomed boat. These paintings are in acrylic paint, which dries much faster. I still airbrush some of it, but primarily the initial under painting and some special effects that work better with the airbrush, but other than that I only use traditional brushes.
So interestingly I’ve gone from wanting to create art with an alternate purpose for a specific group like pet lovers or hockey goalies to creating fine art with a goal to exhibit and sell through art shows and galleries to art collectors. It is also for that reason that I decided to progress away from my trade name Airbrush-Portraits to my new trade name Art by Bas…