Reading Between the Lines. Draw More.

 

Drawing has always been a BIG part of my life.  My love for drawing started when I was quite young.  During those early days of my engagement with print media, I was mesmerized by the Hardy Boys illustrative Classics and Archie comics, and I started to draw “childlike” creations of what I was reading. My love for drawing remains true till this day, and it is the basis of my illustrative paintings – and let’s think about it, every great painting begins with the act of drawing to some degree.

While in school, I learned to utilize my ability to sketch and draw to my advantage. Essentially, I was able to encapsulate the large volumes of information presented during lectures in sketches, and sometimes in detailed drawings. One had to be “quick on the draw” to keep up. This led to a personal discovery of my most astute ability- my visual/spacial intelligence.

A recent post on Fast Company highlighted recent research done by the University of Waterloo, Ontario that discovered that drawing is particularly beneficial for older adults regarding memory. This is so because certain regions of the brain dealing with memory remain intact in spite of aging. As human beings age, the brain deteriorates; oftentimes leading to diseases that affect memory like dementia and Alzheimer’s, so episodic memory is directly affected. What is interesting however, is that while structures like the hippocampus in the brain (thanks Fallout 4) that deal with memory retrieval and coding may deteriorate, regions associated with visuospacial skills remain mostly intact, and this is what aids in the memory retention despite the effects of aging.

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Illustrations by Adrian Blake.

There are myriads of studies that prove the positive correlation between drawing and memory development and retention. Each individual has unique skills and talents, and I know that not everyone will become famous artists and illustrators. However, if only for the fact that drawing promotes memory retention in humans as they age, or simply just passing the time without the guilt of wasting it, it is a good enough reason for everyone to explore their creativity and simply draw more. For as Paul Klee said: “A drawing is simply a line going for a walk.”

 

 

 

 

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On The Easel Today.

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On the Easel Today features a painting that boasts some of the most powerful imagery yet in my portfolio. This piece, still untitled contains the image of two figures: a male and a female- with the male figure laying in languid repose and the female figure closely embracing him in her lap. The idea behind this piece suggests that her embrace is one filled with sorrow- but is it only, as she holds him with her hand over his face? What could she be feeling or saying to you the viewer?

As with other paintings I have done before, I leave the door open for interpretation. You can decide if he is alive. You can decide what she may be feeling based off the emotion on her face and body language. I will leave it up to you to have a story in your mind as to the possible explanation of this piece.

 

 

 

 

The Black Artist And The Negotiation Of Identity.

Many more black artists could have been recognized and even celebrated as the traditional masters of the art word are today, had it not been for the color of their skin. Black artists try to penetrate the stereotype and show that despite the difficulties, we deserve recognition and praise for continuously navigating challenges to our breakthrough and longevity in the art world. We oftentimes end up negotiating our identity, rarely breaking the glass ceiling to success and even stardom as a result of the compromise we are ushered to embrace.

Adrian Blake-When the Rain Comes.

[When The Rain Comes- Adrian Blake]

The struggle to define oneself being a black artist, and to find one’s identity in the art world that will propel us on a global scale is not something that is taught or even attained via a degree from a prestigious institution. I believe that success is innate in us, but suppressed.  It is manifested eventually through embracing our black history, applying knowledge from our experiences and understanding the minutiae of our existence and individual calling as black artists. But more importantly, having the desire to change the disproportionate balance of power that has played a role in our endeavors.

The negotiation of identity for black artists is far more complicated however, because we are constantly being steered towards what is commercially profitable or towards social acceptance. That is the experience of the black artist. It does not necessarily point us toward our own talent and freedom of expression; which if widely accepted, would be a conduit to the fulfillment of being revered as great artistic minds throughout history. So many black artists nowadays are embattled between simply being refered to as an artist and being identified as a black artist, as if being referred to as just an “artist” gives a subliminal validation of acceptance.

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[Kehinde Wiley. Photo by Chad Batka]

Artists such as Kehinde Wiley challenged “the visual vocabulary and conventions of glorification, history, wealth and prestige” – kehindewiley.com  using images of black and brown men and women throughout the world. He being the consummate modern day (black) master portraitist, surpassing the archetypal role of black artists throughout history, sets the bar high, because of bold and historic artistic statements in his works. His initiative to educate those like him to aspire to greatness through self discovery and acceptance is profound. He refused to negotiate his identity; embracing his black history, applying his knowledge and understanding that his existence as a black man is in need of representation in art.

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[Artwork by Kehinde Wiley]

As we evolve as artists, especially black artists it is our duty to counter those longstanding stereotypes and break the glass ceiling that cripples our creativity, in hopes of changing minds and opening doors that have long been kept shut. Remain steadfast in your creative freedom, refuse to succumb to the pressure of creating mere ‘popular’ art and art for arts sake.

A mash-up of Universes.

Photo illustration 1

[Photo illustration @robyniko]

Recently I stumbled upon a post by Mark Wilson of Fastcompany.com titled “ Famous modernist homes get horrifying Thomas Kinkade makeover”. Architect @robyniko explored the dramatic effects of the worlds that Thomas Kinkade creates with the addition of modern architecture by creating a series of “Kinkade mash-ups”. The title of the post caught my attention, for in this case the use of the word “horrifying” may just be a bit too harsh of an assessment.

Photo illustration 2

[Photo illustration @robyniko]

The fusion of modernism and traditional art is becoming increasingly important in the 21stcentury. Thanks to Cara Greenberg who coined the phrase mid- century modernism for her book Mid-Century Modernism: Future of the 1950’s tremendous strides have been made in the movement, and since then artists and painters like myself have become increasingly more open to ideas of fusion of the differing aspects of each method of art creation. There is however the question of aesthetics and its importance- and furthermore the impact that will be had if or when modernism is introduced.

Photo illustration 3

[Photo illustration @robyniko]

In my own assessment of each piece, I believe inharmonious is more suitable. As much as the editing to create each piece was masterfully done, based on what we know of Kinkade’s work, the introduction of modernist architecture is not as seamless as the innate aesthetic of his original creations.  This is a fresh, new take on artwork that has been a part of many homes worldwide for decades. Needless to say however, the reactions to @robyniko’s work have been mixed. The works have been well received by a wide audience; despite being almost polar opposite of Kinkade’s romanticized downhome feel.

On The Easel Today.

On the easel today July 15, 2018 features yet another painting that explores my appreciation and reverence to the female figure- exploring sensuality and feminine sexuality. In the piece, a rather scantily clad model lays flat on her back with her legs raised, supported by a flat surface. In an apparent state of comfort and ease, her body relaxes; arms showing carefree abandon to her repose as the essence of her femininity is captured in a single moment.

Adrian Blake

    Artists for centuries have sought to capture natural beauty, whether governed by ideological status quo or by accurate observation and representation. In my painting, her body- curvy and mature in womanhood, shows her self-confidence unapologetically, and puts on display her natural beauty regardless of ideological interpretations. She represents the beauty that comes with age, timeless experience, failures and blissful triumph. A true woman of character displays that triumph by simply bearing it all for it to be appreciated, for as they say “true beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”.

2017 Year in Review.

It is hard to believe that yet another year has gone so quickly. It still seems like it was yesterday I was entering my first art exhibition in high school. 2017 was a year of new and valuable experiences. I was apart of four exhibitions, got introduced to gallery operations and the exhibition process and was even tapped to be as a guest speaker. With a few goals in mind, the ball got rolling fast, and the entire year proved to be a very productive one for Adrian Blake Fine Art.

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The year began with the creation of one of my most visually compelling illustrations, “When the Rain Comes”, which proved to be a favorite in the exhibitions I was apart of. My first solo exhibition Freedom in Creativity turned out to be a tremendous event, planned perfectly to fall on my birthday, so it was a two-in-one celebration. The turnout surpassed my expectations and the support from those who attended made it even more special.

Adrian Blake-When the Rain Comes.Doors kept opening after my solo exhibition, and I ended up in three other exhibitions that year: The Introspection Art Exhibition held in Cleveland Ohio, the In the Margins Exhibition held in Athens Ohio and Majestic National Juried Exhibition in Nelsonville Ohio. At each of these exhibitions I had the privilege to interact with some extremely creative artists, most notably Robert Peppers- art professor at Ohio University, who curated and also displayed works in the exhibition in Cleveland.

 

 

 

Adrian Blake

Adrian Blake, ASU Presentation 2017

The opportunity to be a guest speaker at the annual African Students Union Gala at Ohio University presented itself, and I embraced it with open arms. At the event I spoke about taking the responsibility as creative individuals; being aware of the things taking place in our society, and realizing that we can directly affect change through our creativity. This end of year event along with the completion of my Beauty Strength and Grace series of paintings culminated one of my most memorable, productive and inspirational years as an artist. 

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2018 has begun friends, and with it new challenges and opportunities will be faced. I give a big thank you to all who supported Adrian Blake Fine Art in 2017, for with each of you I create more confidently knowing that I have earned that support through art that connects with each of you in their own unique way.  

 

Beauty, Strength and Grace, A Series.

 

“Dipped in chocolate, bronzed in elegance, enameled with grace, toasted with beauty, my lord, she’s a black woman.” – Dr.Yosef Ben-Jochannan. Dr. Ben said it perfectly, echoing some of my own thoughts when it comes to the Black woman. Skin color and culture aside however, my series of paintings titled Beauty, Strength and Grace express my feelings towards the traits I believe the ideal woman possesses and demonstrates.

Complete Surrender

Complete Surrender

Beauty. “ True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul.”- Audrey Hepburn. As much as beauty can be superficial, and be defined through outward characteristics, it should be more of a combination of factors that aid in the realization of the essence of true beauty. In my painting Complete Surrender my subject represents that outward beauty, but also that inward beauty that makes what the eyes see so much more appealing.

 

 

 

Adrian Blake-Blissful Reminiscence

Blissful Reminiscence.

Strength. “She’s been through more hell than you’ll ever know, but that’s what gives her beauty an edge”. – Alfa. This trait manifests itself well when one is under duress, and to some extent is the defining characteristic of a person’s existence. Throughout my life I’ve seen strength demonstrated by the two women who have helped to make me into the man I am today, my mother and grandmother. Their sacrifices, sweat, tears and resilience are represented in my painting “Blissful Reminiscence.”

 

 

Adrian Blake-Finally Free

Finally Free. 


Grace. “
Grace is the beauty of form under the influence of freedom.”- Friedrich Schiller. In Finally Free, my subject has found her liberating force, and in doing so puts on display that gracefulness a woman develops when she finally knows who she is, despite adversity. That moment of acceptance of who she was and the realization of who she truly is meant to be as a result of her triumph.