Portrait of St. Leo (Usain St.Leo Bolt).

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Who is the fastest man in the world, do you know? If you are into sports, especially track and field this question is easy to answer: Usain Bolt. When I say his name it brings chills and goosebumps to me. Why, you may ask? It’s not only because he is the greatest sprinter in the world, and its not only because he has broken his own world records multiple times either. It’s because he has transcended the term “track and field icon”, and the fact that he is Jamaican makes it even sweeter. Usain St. Leo Bolt is not only the fastest man in the world currently, he has been so for quite a long time now, and will possibly stay that way for decades to come, possibly forever.

Usain is one of us. When I say that I mean, he is one of us Jamaican boys, having dreams of being like the sports icons we admired growing up, or one of the many people who have made a positive and permanent mark in this world, like Marcus Garvey did, and Bob Marley. Growing up in Jamaica and running around barefooted, playing football (soccer) outside with the other children in the neighborhood…just being rowdy island boys is the norm, and to think that Usain came from such humble beginning, to now being one of the biggest names in the entire world, words cant really describe the feeling it gives. When he shattered arguably the most iconic of all records, which he set a few years before at the IAAF World Championships, clocking 9.69 seconds in the 100m sprint and claiming the gold medal, a new identity took shape- a new identity for not only him, but for us as Jamaicans- for us as Jamaican men.

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Coming back in 2009 and outdoing what he did a few years before to clock a blistering 9.58 seconds, which to most was the most unbelievable thing they ever witnessed in their professional career, and in reality, ever, Bolt set in stone his mark on this world, and a mark for Jamaicans everywhere. A standard was set. A standard that makes Jamaicans everywhere walk with their heads high, flags high, and voices send out. For this small country, no bigger than Colorado to feel like it is the biggest country in the entire world, with the proudest and most patriotic people in the entire world, it causes chills and goosebumps. This is why I wanted to show my appreciation for him by doing this portrait. In this portrait, I aimed at capturing his intensity in profile and also this silent charisma, that plays well with his bravado.
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On the easel today.

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On the easel today features my newest painting, and my first sports figure piece. From the picture you may already have some idea who it may be. In case you were thinking that it was JT Barrett from Ohio State, you were right. I chose to do this painting because of the performance of JT, and the Ohio State football team so far in this 2016 season. There is an interesting element to this piece though, as most of my paintings do contain. This painting is not only a portrait of JT, celebrating his successes as a player for Ohio State, but it is also an iconic representation of one of my favorite Ohio state Players, who is now apart of the Dallas Cowboys. You guessed it, Ezekiel Elliot (Zeek).

Zeek had a signature style about him while he was playing for Ohio State, and that signature style is what I incorporated with the portrait of JT. I wanted to tie in the representations of both of these two great OSU players, and create something unique, that is identifiable with them and their legacy.

Artistic battle royal.

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Have you ever heard of the name Stewart Davis? How about Clarence Weinstock? Well if these names are familiar to you, you may be aware of the dialectical back and forth between them regarding their views about abstract art and representational art. Davis was a painter whose work tended towards abstraction, even though he rejected the art-for-art’s sake position. He addressed the economic condition of American artists during the period of the Depression, and was a prominent figure in the Artist’s Union.

Weinstock, assistant editor of New Masses and subsequent editor of the Artists Union bulletin, published by the WPA federal art project group in 1934, had his own opinion about abstract art that contradicted those of Davis- while expressing his support of representational art. This exchange sheds some light into left-wing artistic debates in the 1930s in the United States. Davis’ introduction to the catalogue of an exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, February to March 1935 states his defensive stance of abstract art. Davis’ essay was placed in Art Front, by then magazine editor Clarence Weinstock (vol. 1, no 4, New York, April 1935).

Weinstock shot back with a response stating his position, which claimed that figurative art alone could adequately address the conflicts of the modern world. I am sure at some point in your life (if you enjoy looking at art) you have asked yourself while looking at an abstract piece, what is this saying? Or what is it supposed to mean? For me being an artist that enjoys looking at art, and who understands it, I have asked myself this question numerous times as I view an abstract or semi- abstract piece. This is normal I’ve come to realize, because to understand abstract art one has to understand how abstract artists view their medium of expression.

Davis, in defining abstract art highlights that the definition would vary, depending on each artist’s opinion as to what abstract art is to them; however he says that there is a general concordance of opinion that supports the generative idea of abstract art as a living thing that changes, moves and grows like a living organism. This outlook on art far exceeds that of any that I have ever heard before, and one that is important to remember when talking about any piece of art, abstract or representational. To an extent it defines how many artists see their work- and shows the personal value that it has to the artist.

Weinstock retorted by flipping the script a little, saying that ‘any painting may be considered abstract, at a certain stage of analysis’. His opinion here has some truth to it, where in that stage only the color-form categories are being highlighted for study. He furthermore stated that even the most abstract painting could be seen as representational to certain viewers, whether in simplicity or complexity based on the person’s perception of arbitrary space relations. His take is very compelling and adds a very different outlook on the perception of works of art.

Weinstock in his rebuttal of Davis’ opinions made some very exceptional assertions, that makes this debate one that will forever go on. At any rate, the battles of words over the years between the ideas of abstract artists and representational artists have helped to evolve our beloved craft. Now in the 21st century we see a culmination of ideas that pair both the usage of abstract and representational art to create new works of art, that cohesively intertwine the alluring aesthetics of both mediums of expression.

This cohesive relationship is seen widely in graphic design and digital illustration. We see that as the world advances technologically artists have evolved as well, and discussions are not so much now about the contradictions between the artistic expressions, but the fusion between them that will unlock ultimately a new frontier in art in the future.

The Essence of Woman Exhibition.

“Throughout time, women have been a favorite subject of artists of all mediums. There is both mystery and awe to be found in their femininity, fertility and the curvature of their bodies”. The Essence of Woman Exhibition was held on Friday May 20, 2016 at the Garrett Museum of Art, in Garrett Indiana. The juried exhibition featured a collection of works from a broad range of artists locally, nationally and internationally and boasted different works of art, from paintings and photography to sculpture.

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The gallery itself was a wonderful venue, with large exhibition floors both upstairs and downstairs, that accommodated all the pieces that were accepted for the exhibition. This was a great opportunity for me to be apart of an exhibition in a town where art is valued and appreciated, and gain exposure as an upcoming artist. Seen above are two of my three entries in the exhibition: ‘Blissful Reminiscence’ and ‘Finally Free’.

The exhibition kicked off with a silent auction May 19th, honoring Dekalb County Domestic Task Force- raising awareness to domestic violence victims. I donated one of my paintings for this cause, which ended up being purchased by a collector who happened to stop by the gallery that day on a business trip.

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The following day the exhibition officially opened with an artist reception, featuring a local jazz band, which set the tone for the evening. Hearing all the artists and patrons mingling and engaging in art talk was the highlight for me, as I not only got to meet some very interesting people, but I also engaged in discussion about my work and my creative process.

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Gallery director Jim Gabbard (seen above) along with his team did a wonderful job at curating, and ensuring that each artist felt at home there at the gallery. The painting in the background titled ‘The Star Maiden’ was done by yours truly, specifically for the exhibition, and received the honorable mention award at the show. The exhibition went very well, and at the end of the reception I was surprised to know that one of my entries was selected to represent the show in the Journal Gazette (here), a local paper there in Indiana, and the hard copy was presented to my by Mr. Gabbard.

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This was a great experience for me, and many of the other artists who participated in the silent auction venture and the exhibition. I’m looking forward to future exhibitions at the Garrett Museum of Art, and working alongside their team as I grow as an artist and continue on this splendid journey fulfilling my dreams.

On the easel today.

On the easel today July 24,2016 features my newest painting, Muhammad Ali. The world seemed to hold a solemn moment of silence upon knowing of the death of this great human being on June 3, 2016. I sure did have a moment of silence. In this piece the aim was to capture the likeness of Ali in his youth, expressing his kingly character. The representation of Ali in this light signifies his dominance and even his own personal outlook about himself. His bravado and bravery mirrors a confident and unapologetic persona, that captivated the world and stood as a beacon for individuality  and personal belief.

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Ali, famously known for his brash comments in press conferences, and confidence in the ring is represented as how I see him; a cultural icon. There is a special relationship that works of art share with a person’s culture, and I see men such as Muhammad Ali as kings in my cultural beliefs-hence his representation.

In this piece you will see an aspect of my style that is evident throughout most of my portraits and representational work; the faint glow on and around the figure. In my paintings depicting figures, I use this to represent the personal aura of the figure or portrait that I am depicting. It speaks to the contained spirit that gives off its own unique light, as we do through our personality. I did run into some difficulty with this piece, seeing that I was using a black canvas, (I’ve come to prefer these) however, they worked themselves out eventually.

I don’t intend to create “art of the times” I aim to create art that shows an understanding of the integral relationship that is shared between art and my ethnic group; not just ethnic group though, but my perception of males and females of my race.

Despite the maxim: Everyday something new, which seems to define the creation of art in the modern era, because of the accessibility to more information from around the globe, I want my paintings to stay true to the idea of my art being about the relationship between its aesthetics and my cultural beliefs, rather than an emotional response to the happenings of the world.

Notable Commissions.

In Loving memory I.

This commission was done for a family who lost their son to an ailment. The family requested a piece be done that would always remind them of how they saw their son, as an angel, who loved the beach and being in nature.  This painting is primarily set around being in a warm environment (similar to that of their family unit), with a beautiful backdrop landscape and the waves rushing on the beach. Their son’s representation is in a peaceful environment, which symbolizes the peace that his life brought to theirs. This painting captured specifically what the family had in mind, and it is now their personal piece that they all cherish in their home, in loving memory of their son.

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In this painting the subject matter is very similar to the one above, as this was the second commission done for different members within the same family unit mentioned above. Despite the similarity in subject matter the environment is different. My clients requested this difference in order to add a contrasting dynamic from the first commission. What made this unique is the difference in atmosphere. The colors are cooler, and the moonlight hitting the waves adds its own visual impact in the piece.

Portrait

This drawing was done for a client who was interested in having a professional portrait of her daughter done for her daughter’s birthday. This portrait was to capture her childlike innocence and personality. Both my client and subject loved the piece, and it made for a wonderful gift that they both cherish to this day.

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One of my favorite things to do is draw portraits. To draw a portrait and represent the sitters likeness is no easy task. It takes a very different level of seeing and hand eye coordination. The difficulty increases even greater when the portrait is done live, in real time. This portrait was one such piece, and the likeness of my subject was captured wonderfully and presented to the family members who requested have it as a part of their personal collection.