A View into My Studio – Making Original Artcards

With the galleries and boutique shops that carry my original abstract artcards closed for now, I’ve received several requests for them directly from my art fans. So, since my inventory is low, I’ve been ramping up production in my studio and want to show you a bit about how I make them.

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David Castle original artcard (oil and metallic silver watercolor).

I started making original artcards a few years ago as a way for folks to keep in touch with family and friends “the old-fashioned way” – a hand-written note sent snail mail style right to their mailbox. And, the artcards are designed to be ready to pop into a favorite frame and added to the art collections of your family and friends. Or maybe they’ll be simply displayed in your kitchen as refrigerator art or in your office on an inspirational bulletin board. I think it’s a pretty versatile little piece of original art!

My most recent “batch” of mini abstracts starts as a larger painting on paper – typically 12 x 16 inches – in my layered oil and metallic watercolor style that I call my Pacific Rains Series.

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Artcard original paintings… ready for varnish and the chopping block.

After a good week of drying/curing (the solid oil paints I use contain a wax component that allow them to dry quickly), they get a few coats of spray varnish to set the metallic watercolor layer and protect the painting from light damage.

Once the varnish layer has dried, I’m ready to cut the larger painting up into my mini abstract squares – each measuring 2.5 x 2.5 inches. I just use my artist’s eye to gauge where to make cuts so I end up with mini square abstracts that I like.

Finally, on some, I add a bit of acrylic paint to finish each abstract. Now they’re ready to glue-mount to blank cardstock. I use Italian-made Fabriano Medioevalis cards that I think present the abstracts nicely.

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Mini abstract artcards… mounted, signed and ready to send.

 

Just Popped This Mini Abstract…

I just popped this mini abstract into a fun, silver metal frame and love it! This’ll be a hint at another blog post to come about my mini abstracts that I mount for original artcards.

I haven’t been liking much of what I’m doing in my studio since the lockdown started nearly 2 weeks ago, but loved this mini so much that I just had to share today! And, the cool colors remind me of the now-closed Oregon coast beaches that I love so much.

I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy!

Mini David Castle Abstract (Oil and metallic silver watercolor)
Mini David Castle Abstract (Oil and metallic silver watercolor)

Back to Elementals…

It has really been too long since I’ve posted… but, over the holidays I did spend some good time in my studio going back to one of my old and favorite painting styles.

I occasionally feel the pull to go back to my roots of pure watercolor paintings after having spent the last few years exploring my mixture of oils and metallic watercolors. Fueled by this pull and the interest in submitting some work to the upcoming Western Federation of Watercolor Societies annual exhibit in Boise this year, I painted two watercolor abstracts in my “Elementals” style in December.

I rediscovered how a very steady hand is required for painting my Elementals! And how this is mainly achieved through lots of practice and patience, both of which I’ve been a bit out of while painting my oil abstracts. I consider my oil abstracts much more “gestural mark-making” while my Elementals are a more exacting and technical painting process.

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“Three Autumn Trees”, watercolor on paper, 28 x 20 inches.

I painted two Elementals to submit to the Western Fed exhibit, one (above) in a more representational style of autumn trees and the second (below) in a more true abstract style. I submitted both, so we’ll see what response they get!

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“Cliff Dwellings”, watercolor on paper, 20 x 20 inches.

 

I Dreamt of Trees and Sky… and Painted This

Did you know that I dream my paintings before I actually paint them? Well, I do — whether a daydream among a stand of rustling trees, or a dream while I slumber under blackberry skies, I see my next paintings vividly in my head before they ever hit my paper canvas. Huh… just like Vincent van Gogh who said simply, “I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream”.

And, if we’re talking about how my process is like the Masters, Picasso explained it in more detail this way:

“How can you expect a beholder to experience my picture as I experienced it? A picture comes to me a long time beforehand; who knows how long a time beforehand, I sensed, saw, and painted it and yet the next day even I do not understand what I have done. How can anyone penetrate my dreams, my instincts, my desires, my thought, which have taken a long time to fashion themselves and come to the surface, above all to grasp what I put there, perhaps involuntary.”

Here’s a large format painting I made after dreaming of trees and sky:

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“Dreamt of Trees and Sky”, oil and metallic watercolor on panel, 52 x 52″, $5,400.

Dog Days of Summer, 2017…

I think we’re officially into the dog days of summer here in Portland with temps expected to rival our all-time high of 107 this week. Even though it’s summer, this is one of my least-favorite times of the year. Heck, I’m hot if the temperature is above 65!

The good news is that my studio is air-conditioned and cool, so I’ve been working on larger and larger oil-and-metallic-watercolor abstracts. But, I think the psychological effect of the heat outside is impacting my success since I’ve recently failed at two attempts of a 52 x 52 inch original… each has clear process mistakes in them and the overall finished paintings just failed to come together. And, due to my unique process of layering oil paints and metallic watercolors, these aren’t “fixable”.

I must keep trying though, as I must finish a spectacular 52 x 52 inch painting for a special exhibit that starts in September… the dog days are ticking!

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My studio set up, ready to start another 52 x 52 inch original!

The Story of My Painting, “Pooled on the Horizon”

Once in awhile I complete a painting that is especially meaningful to me. I just finished such a painting, “Pooled on the Horizon”, and thought I’d share its story with you.

One scene in our natural world that inspires my paintings is the horizon line between sky and ocean. I’ve spent many hours watching the horizon line as presented by the Oregon coast over the last 30 years. It is always a seemingly simple line, but is also full of the infinite complexities of the sky and ocean that extend far beyond my tiny vantage point.

One of my Pacific Rains Series, “Pooled on the Horizon” is my capture of a moment in this simple-yet-complex oceanscape.  A moment when the sky is raining down silver rivulets and “pooling” upon piles of clouds resting heavily on the horizon line. And the sea? All quiet, calm and clear below but with the evermore movement of the waves and tide in and out. It’s a gray day for sure, but the colors are infinite. Lots of dark and bright metallic silvers in the sky and deep indigo and frothy whites in the sea. Studying this painting now in my Portland studio transports me instantly to this scene on the Oregon coast.

As I worked on this painting, I referenced some of the countless photos I have taken of the Pacific coast over the years. Each photo puts me at that vantage point where I can soak up the horizon and everything above and below. Now completed, I love this depiction – what do you think?

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“Pooled on the Horizon”, oil and metallic watercolor, 30 x 30 inches, $2,000.

Record October Rains Helped Me Paint This

I love my art-making process – it’s my favorite part of being an artist. And, I’ve worked for more than 12 years now to hone the processes I use to make art.

We had record October rain here in Portland. I thought alot about my process as the rain came down and I painted several new originals for my Pacific Rains Series. You might have noticed that I now mount my original paintings onto “cradled” wood panels. I love both the process and the finished result and have shared snapshots of both below.

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After mounting my paper “canvas” onto panel, I’m ready to trim the edges.
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“Through The Forest”, oil and metallic watercolor, 30 x 30 inches, SOLD.

All original paintings on my website are mounted on panel like this with crisp, finished
edges. Check out what’s available to add to your collection
by clicking here ==> www.davidcastleart.com.

I love them… I love them not…

For the last month and a half, I’ve been working on a large commission triptych project for a client’s office. Today I’ll apply the final coat of varnish, so the project is nearly complete. And, my client loves these paintings, so… yay!

However, the last week of finishing these paintings up has me stuck between loving them… and not loving them. In general, I love my birch tree paintings and, with this particular set, think I captured (from left to right) a solid feeling of Summer, Autumn and Winter. In fact, I wish I was sitting smack in the middle of the Autumn panel right now!

So why am I sometimes feeling that “I love them not”? Is there something wrong with my composition across these 3 panels? Is it just my usual feeling of depression that I experience whenever I finish a painting?

What do you think?

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“Tall Birch Trees – Summer, Autumn, Winter”; oil and metallic watercolor on panel (middle panel is 45×18″).

Painting the Sea and Sky Like This Calms My Nerves

This year has been a struggle for me as I live my artist’s life with ongoing depression and rising anxiety. Some might say I’m just another “tortured” artist, but it has taken me 20+ years to become accustomed to what “normal” feels like for me. And how I feel has changed alot this year for me.

So, as I work to get back to my own normal, one of my trusty therapies is my painting process. And besides trees, the sea and sky is one of my most favorite subjects. Painting the expansive sea and the ever-changing sky along with a nice, crisp horizon line holding them together almost always calms my nerves.

See what you think (and feel) with my latest sea and sky painting below. It’s titled No. 6 but is the only larger sea and sky painting to date that I’ve completely finished and mounted on panel. Click the painting or the link below to view it on my website.

Sure wish we were there in No. 6, don’t you?

Thanks for looking and for supporting my art!

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“Oregon Coast Sea and Sky No. 6”, oil and metallic watercolor on panel, 12 x 12 inches, $400 (available on my website).

I Painted the Orlando 49 – Into the Light

The horrific events in Orlando have taken over my creative process in my studio since it happened nearly two weeks ago. As an artist, I paint what I’m thinking and feeling – first I paint in my mind (often while I’m supposed to be sleeping!) and then, ready or not, I put paint to paper in my studio.

As a gay American, tragedies like Orlando impact me deeply. My own family has rejected me on this “issue” and I’m saddened that hate and anything but complete acceptance, still fills many people on this planet.

So, I paint. And then I paint more as I process what happened in Orlando and the 49 young people who died. The painting below, one of my Pacific Northwest Rains series, is one that I finished this week. I’m conveying the lives of 49 colorful people (as the stripes on the bottom) who are being transported through a black line into whatever silvery “light” is above and next for them.

I’ll never forget what happened in Orlando and will be painting many more as I try to make sense of people like the shooter… and my own family.

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“The Orlando 49 – Into the Light”, oil and metallic watercolor, 12 x 12 inches.

Here’s what I think rain looks like

Have you ever seen rain streaming dramatically down a window like it does in the movies? In those fat, silvery rivulets? I could sit in my comfy studio armchair and watch rain rivulets all day here in Portland.

Instead, I started a new series of oil and metallic watercolors called Pacific northwest rains. Water – especially rain – makes me feel cool, calm and balanced. Do you feel the rain in these abstractions, like the new one below?

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Why Do I Love to Paint Trees? Here’s a Hint.

I feel like a caterpillar.
After 12 years of my artist career, I’ve kicked off 2016 by examining everything I do:

Why do I paint?
What do I hope to share with you, through my art?
How do my inspirations guide what I put on paper?
Why do I love painting trees?

As I “metamorphosis” on these questions and more, I will share my discoveries with you this year. Right now, I can share a bit about those trees I love to paint so much.

As I travel my life’s path, I create idyllic places for me to “hide” — to keep me safe, and to belong — and all of these places always have trees.  Trees that shelter, that protect, and that cool. Evergreens and aspens from the mountains of my native Colorado, and towering hardwoods in the forests of southern Belgium. Trees that have trunks with those crisp lines that I love.

How could I not paint these trees, in those idyllic places?

 

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Large trees (aspen or birch?) are in progress in my studio (oil and metallic watercolor).

Winter Aspens: Making Oil and Watercolor Mix

I’m continuing my quest to master mixing oil and watercolors successfully and just might have a new series emerging: winter aspens. Or winter birch. I’m a bit torn since I love the aspen trees of my native Colorado in winter, but also love the birch found in the Pacific Northwest where I’ve spent many months painting in the winter over the last decade (and now live).

Here are two of my most recent winter trees – layers of oil paint (I use oil sticks such as Winsor & Newton Oilbars), followed by layers of watercolor paint (some traditional paints along with my own mix of metallic pigment powders).  At just the right time, I scrape the tree shapes out with an old favorite tool: pieces of cut up credit cards.

I’m loving these early results… what do you think?

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“Winter Aspens No. 3” and “Winter Aspens No. 5”, oil and metallic watercolor, 12 x 12 inches, $350.

Well, Oil and Watercolor DO Mix After All

I’m finally calling my experimentation from the last month or so a success!  I’ve experimented with various methods of making oil paint and watercolor mix and love my results.  I mix layers of oil paint (using oilsticks such as Winsor & Newton Oilbars) and metallic and traditional watercolors, working on paper and then I’ve mounted the paper onto cradled panel.  More about my techniques another day…

"Forever Gone", watercolor and oil mounted on panel, 6x6x1.5".
“Forever Gone”, watercolor and oil mounted on panel, 6x6x1.5″.
"Golden Era", watercolor and oil mounted on panel, 10x10x1.5".
“Golden Era”, watercolor and oil mounted on panel, 10x10x1.5″.

Following a 20 Year Dream: Moving to Portland, OR!

I’m following a 20-year dream and moving to Portland, Oregon!

I’ve soaked up lots of inspiration on my many trips and painting sojourns to Oregon over the years and am finally making the move in June. So, I’ll be closing my Columbus studio at the end of May and need your help to lighten my moving truck.

Through the end of May, all of my original art is available for 40 – 75% off regular prices.

  • Purchase online at DavidCastleArt.com and use Savings Code “PDX” at checkout to instantly save 40%.
  • Visit my Columbus Studio on Saturday, May 23rd (9am – 5pm) to browse hundreds of paintings at 40-75% savings.
  • Contact me to schedule a private Studio visit anytime through May 28th.
"May Flowers", watercolor and acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12 inches, $300 regular price ($180 after 40% savings!).
“May Flowers”, watercolor and acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12 inches, $300 regular price ($180 after 40% savings!).

My Gift to You: Mini Fine Art Prints With Your Purchase

It was kinda quiet around here at David Castle Art (and Chop Shop Wear) over the frantic Black-Thursday-Small-Biz-Saturday-Cyber-Monday shopping weekend.

Now that we’ve all survived the last few days, I decided to share some love with my fans and collectors who make a purchase from David Castle Art or Chop Shop Wear through the end of December.  For everyone making a purchase, choose one of my mini fine art prints as your gift from me (while supplies last – I have about 50 of these mini prints in stock!).

Just visit www.DavidCastleArt.com and www.ChopShopWear.com (my one-of-a-kind pocket wear fashion site!) to browse lots of great gift options for those on your list.  After you purchase, I’ll then be in touch to give you a choice of a free mini print (see a glimpse of some below)!

And, if you’re not on my very-occasional email list, be sure to sign up using the link on the top of my homepage!

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Preview of My New “Rama” Series at First Community Church in Grandview Heights, OH

I just hung over 25 paintings in the Brownlee Exhibition Hall at First Community Church in Grandview Heights (Columbus), Ohio.  Like many progressive churches, First Community has a great art program and embraces artists in the Columbus area.  Their Exhibition Hall is quite a large space (so my studio walls feel rather empty!), and I used one wall to hang a preview batch of paintings from my new series called “Rama”.

One of my most favorite science fiction novels is Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke. My new series of abstractions, begun in early 2014, is based on Clarke’s vivid descriptions of Rama, a massive, cylindrical spaceship that purposefully enters our solar system. Inside Rama is a landscape of zoo-like plots from different alien species – no aliens are present, just plots of their very different and bizarre landscapes.

I imagine such a massive spaceship must have an impressive operations center to monitor and control the thousands of alien landscapes (like watering the grass on the Earth Plot or lighting plutonium lanterns on Planet Z’s plot). Imagining these operations centers and the variety of control panels, monitoring panels, and power grids is the inspiration for my Rama Series. The shapes, colors and textures from these thousands of alien landscapes are what I’ve painted.

Here’s a sample!

"Rama Control Panel: Blue Sector 1", watercolor mounted on canvas, 30 x 30 inches, $1,200.
“Rama Control Panel: Blue Sector 1”, watercolor mounted on canvas, 30 x 30 inches, $1,200.

 

 

Give Some Hearts Away to Someone You Love…

Each year I paint a bunch of my Hearts mini-paintings for the Valentine’s Day season.  This year, I’ll be painting them “to order” when you order one from my website (last year I sold out of the ones I had painted in one day!).

I’m also offering a cool palette of blues, greens and purples and a rather sophisticated palette of black, grays and silver if pink isn’t your Valentine’s color!  Check them out on my website: www.davidcastleart.com and get yours ordered now!

"Blue Hearts", watercolor on paper mounted on stretched canvas, 6 x 6 x 3", $150.
“Blue Hearts”, watercolor on paper mounted on stretched canvas, 6 x 6 x 3″, $150.

Four Hearts #1 and #2… Gift for Sweetest Day??

I was reminded by a friend that Sweetest Day is coming up on October Saturday, October 19th.  Sweetest Day is apparently a tradition that started in 1927 just north of me in Cleveland, Ohio.

Whatever its roots, I have two “Four Hearts” original paintings that might make someone in your life smile on this years Sweetest Day!  Just leave me a comment here if you’d like one of these paintings and I’ll be in touch with details.

Four Hearts #1; watercolor on paper, mounted on stretched canvas; 6 x 6"; $75.
Four Hearts #1; watercolor on paper, mounted on stretched canvas; 6 x 6″; $75.
Four Hearts #2; watercolor on paper, mounted on stretched canvas; 6 x 6"; $75.
Four Hearts #2; watercolor on paper, mounted on stretched canvas; 6 x 6″; $75.