On The Easel Today.

On the easel today July 5, 2017 features my newest painting titled “Complete Surrender”. This piece culminates a series of work that I have been brainstorming for some time. The title of the series is: “Beauty, Strength & Grace”, and features two other works, which you have possibly seen a time of two before: “Blissful Reminiscence” and “Finally Free”. All three paintings embody the essence of the title of the series; yet stand alone in their individual meanings.

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In this painting, my subject is adorned in a warm, radiant light, which envelops her in a rather intimate fashion and crowns her with a halo. Her posture and subtle expression is that of complete surrender, as her stark beauty is glorified. I challenged myself with this piece, as I do with all my paintings. This challenge was creating transparency and softness in texture in the fabric that adorns her. Those two aspects of painting are two of the most difficult for any artist, but in trying numerous approaches I am at the brink of accomplishing what I intend to.  There is more work to be done however, in spite of the current successes throughout the piece. My paint is still wet, and my brushes are eagerly waiting to be summoned.

The Irony of our time.

Isn’t it ironic that everything we do these days revolve around digital media, or more technically, algorithms? Over the past decade there has been more and more intense debate as to what direction the world is headed. Is it headed to artificial intelligence at our beckon and call like in I-Robot, or simply outright destruction because we can’t seem to stop going down the slippery slope of technological advancement? In my illustration, I raise these questions, because as a millennial, I find that not only is everything easier to obtain and create, but I also realize that some aesthetics are being lost, and at a very rapid rate.

The Irony of our time

The Irony of our time. 

As an artist, and one who enjoys the fine arts, especially the traditional painting styles where the artist has a connection with his materials – paint, brush and solvent, I often wonder if those aesthetics will become something of the past one day. The beauty one can create based on his natural born talent, without the use of a mathematical calculation behind a screen is something that is tremendously special. Nowadays, that beauty in creativity is somewhat lost, for the challenge of finding and developing that innate talent is substituted by the help of technology. Yes, the graphic arts are engaging, exciting and colorful, but there is a sense of being out of touch, especially in comparison to the traditional fine arts. That is the greatest disparity I identify between the digital age, and the age we are being ushered out of since the invention of print media.

Certain things that we have grown up with and experienced as children – story books, comics, magazines and the like, will they become obsolete in a decade or two? Will we be looking at issues of National Geographic and The New York Times as antiques that should be preserved? Many in the print media industry have faced this very issue, where there is a consensus that print media is dying, in so much that some companies have left the business entirely to become solely digital. The essence of a collector’s item will be lost, for everything is on a screen and can just be wiped away with a click. I think about this when it comes to my art. Will the emergence of digital art mean the death of fine art? Where will the real beauty lie?

I often wonder what changes will affect the arts, and artists in another twenty, thirty, or forty years. When I consider that many artists do not get the deserved recognition for their talent until they are considerably older in their careers, say thirty years after they have begun; what then will it be like for artists in the future considering that technology is dominating every aspect of artistic creativity? What of the traditional aesthetics we learn of from the masters of the Renaissance and Baroque period?

The relevance of these points cannot be understated, for we see the changes around us every day if we are aware. Following some of the assertions of the avant-garde artists, a big part of my job as an artist is to keep you socially aware, whether it be through my two dimensional compositions and the messages contained in them, or through my thoughts put forth in writing. Your engagement is priceless, because art is never just about the artist, but more about the message we convey – and for me, the traditional aesthetic beauty that aids the message.

On The Easel Today.

This edition of On The Easel today March 27, 2017 features my second installment in the Boots and Bricks series. This painting is a little different from the first in the series. How different you wonder? Well in this piece, the bricks are those of Athens Ohio, and the shoes are different. In my description of the first painting in the series, I highlighted that it was created for the town of Nelsonville, and represented what the town is historically known for: its bricks and Rocky Boots, which headquarters there. In this new painting the bricks of Athens Ohio are immortalized by my hand, and the representation of the culture and people are in the style of shoes I placed in the composition.

Adrian Blake

Similarly to the rugged work boots which represent the hardworking and blue-collar workers who built the town of Nelsonville, the youth and modernity of the culture in Athens is represented by the shoes in painting. The Converse brand of shoes is a common sight around Athens, and in my interpretation of what best symbolizes the predominant age demographic in the town; it was fitting to use this idea. In all my paintings I aim to have you be apart of the piece, not just be an observer, and this piece is no different.

The seemingly magnified view of the elements in the painting is done to visually engage you in the artwork, bringing you close to what I actually see every time I look at the bricks while walking down Court Street on a rainy day. In painting this, I told myself that I wanted my viewer to not look at the bricks the same again. I want you to see the history, see the work put in to lay those bricks, and how similar those bricks are to the people in the town. A brick by itself is just another brick, and no two bricks are the same.Yet when put together, they create something special, and make a place that more historic based on what they created.

 

On the Easel Today.

This edition of On the Easel Today Tuesday March 7, 2017 features my newest painting titled ‘When The Rain Comes’. As many of my other pieces, this painting contains a particular mix of symbology that encompasses my interpretation of a number of feelings and situations in my life; and on a broader scale, topics, ideologies and feelings that many people face in their own lives every day.

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Upon analysis of the work, the imagery is in your face, bold and detailed in its presentation. My palette was deliberate, and specific to the overall mood I intended to capture. I tackled the topic of ideology and its emotional effect through my depiction of the figure in the piece. I’m confident that in your initial analysis, you will think of this figure as a black Jesus, but let us take that interpretation a step further from the norm of the popular Western religious ideology. This piece explores the system of ideas and ideals that cause us to all have such a first impression, and aims to broaden your thoughts beyond what you have come to so easily interpret at face value.

Particular elements in this piece serve to engage you in the significance of the ideas I propose. This work is not only about being black, and facing insurmountable challenges as a result of our affliction, but also about being human and apart of a system that causes one to sometimes feel crucified based on ones personal ideals, feelings and simply the day to day challenges, that sometimes outweigh the good that happened in your life a short time ago. The point of view in which the work is done is very intimate, and symbolical as well. Looking from a birds eye view down on the subject gives the you an observative perspective, similar to looking through a magnifying glass down at an anthill with the curiosity and fascination of a child.

Throughout the painting there are raindrops, and this is the basis of the title. Metaphorically the raindrops represents the aforementioned challenges of ideals and feelings that seem to fall like rain on us when life is, needless to say, tough. Those challenges are what oftentimes put me ‘in the shoes’ of Jesus, in the story of the crucifixion. The detail in the piece is done to involve you emotionally in the work, bringing a greater understanding to your period of seeming crucifixion and personifying it. So many people are soaking wet from feeling that rain of challenge and despair, while knowing that some go through this life seemingly impervious to those challenges that countless people face every day, and are subsequently incapable of empathetically relating to the feelings of others facing those challenges.

This painting is geared at allowing people to understand perspective, and as Bob Marley famously said in one of his songs “some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” So in your observation of this painting, keep in mind perspective, challenge yourself to let empathy guide your perspectives, and never forget to feel the rain, not just get wet by it.

 

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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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.

My art collection: Beauty beyond the pane by Adrian Blake

Adding pieces to an art collection provides a thrill like no other. It’s like finding that perfect pair of shoes– you just know you have to take them home. I recently found my latest bu…

Source: My art collection: Beauty beyond the pane by Adrian Blake

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.

 

On the easel today…

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Today 4/29/16 On The Easel features my newest painting. Inspired by my love of figurative art and the female form, this piece explores the anatomy of the voluptuous, athletic female figure. I intended to create a mystical dreamlike effect that enveloped the form and add a unique sense of emphasis on the figure in the composition. I intend to incorporate the use of delicacy in the background as I create the mystical surroundings, but at the same time use the power of strong skin colors that highlight the muscle structure and form of the figure. Creating subtle details in the background i want to allow the colors’ layers to create depth in the piece, which will pull the viewer into the piece beyond the figure.

Upon completion, this piece along with two other figurative paintings I created will be apart of an exhibition at the Garrett Museum of Art in Garrett Indiana.