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.

 

The Arctic Circle Expedition – Part 1

Well, since my last post, I’ve been fully outfitted, made all of my preparations… and have actually GONE ON MY ARCTIC EXPEDITION!

Most folks are more interested in the actual trip and what I experienced while in the arctic circle than all of my preparations anyway. So in a multi-part series of posts, I’ll be sharing my most favorite images and observations of my travels in and around Svalbard (Norway) and the Arctic Circle.

I did have some fun trying to pack up all of my cold-weather gear and art supplies, but finally got everything down to a manageable size and packed up!

After a day and a half of travel, I arrived in Longyearbyen, Svalbard which is about 78 degrees (north) and 800 miles from the North Pole. I would spend the next 2 weeks aboard the tall ship Antigua, sailing the arctic circle around Svalbard, soaking in the frozen landscape and painting my abstracts.

Here’s a snapshot of the first glacier we visited… and, after a nice hike, that I actually got to touch!

And here’s me looking (and feeling) pretty darn cold (it was in the teens and 20’s most of the time throughout the Expedition).

Finally, here’s a snapshot of the tall ship Antigua that I spent 2 weeks on, along with 27 other artists, 4 guides and 7 crew!

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).

TBT: “Purple Day”

One of my all-time, most favorite paintings I’ve made is “Purple Day”. Finished back in 2005 and sold right here in Portland at the Art in the Pearl festival, I miss this painting every time I think of it.

As an artist, I have many of my own paintings that I rotate on my own walls at home and a few – maybe five – that I consider in my “permanent” collection… “Purple Day” would have been a fine addition to that collection!

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“Purple Day”, watercolor, 18 x 18″, 2005. Fine art reproduction prints available at http://www.DavidCastleArt.com

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″.

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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Save Me From Destruction: “Fossils No. 2”

For the last several months I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable with this Fossils painting still hanging around my studio.  So, I’ve decided that I will schedule this painting for destruction-by-saw on May 15th, 2014 UNLESS someone saves it first by naming your best price.

I know that was a rather abrupt announcement, so let me briefly try to explain what’s going on here.  Over my 13-year art career, I’ve destroyed very few of my original paintings.  It’s not that I’m so good that nearly every original I’ve painted is perfect, but I’m a sentimental and nostalgic guy at heart and like to hang on.  And maybe someday I’ll do something with the pile of paintings I have in storage that have never been seen by anyone.

"Fossils No. 2", watercolor on paper mounted on canvas, 36 x 36", Regular Price $1,600.
“Fossils No. 2″, watercolor on paper mounted on canvas, 36 x 36”, Regular Price $1,600.

“Fossils No. 2” is an exception that has become rather glaring over the last several months.  I really like this painting – one of the largest of my Fossils Series that I ever painted.  It has many great “fossil” shapes that I created with the polished Oregon beach stones that I used.  And, tons of glowing gold and copper metallics in with the purples and reds.

The feeling I have with Fossils No. 2 is like a bubble inside that just wants this painting to finally be free from me.  To escape the captivity it has endured for years in my studio or locked away in storage.  I saw only two solutions: destruction-by-saw or someone will save it by naming your best price to purchase it.  So, if you’d love to have this painting, comment here or email me before the destruction date of May 15th, 2014!

"Fossils No. 2" - scheduled for destruction on May 15th, 2014 UNLESS someone saves it!
“Fossils No. 2” – scheduled for destruction on May 15th, 2014 UNLESS someone saves it!

FREE Flapjack Mini Abstracts Are Back!

Many of you will remember my fun Flapjack events in my studio in Denver, and now that I’ve settled into an awesome new studio space here in Columbus, I’ll be hosting my first Open Studio and Flapjack giveaway!
On Saturday, April 26th (11am – 2pm), come tour my new studio at the 400 West Rich building in the Franklinton Arts District just across the river from downtown Columbus. There will be many open artist’s studios and a fun Farmer’s Market going on and if you stop by my studio, each visitor will get to choose their favorite “Flapjack” mini abstract to start your David Castle Art collection. All I ask for in return is for each recipient to sign up for my very-occasional art email list. So, bring your family, kids and friends!

Event: David Castle Open Studio
When: Saturday, April 26th, 11am-2pm
Where: 400 West Rich Street, Columbus, Ohio

And for my fans outside of the Columbus area, be sure to watch my blog here or my David Castle Art page on Facebook, because I’ll be giving away a few Flapjacks online through the end of April, too!

"Flapjack" mini abstracts by David Castle.
“Flapjack” mini abstracts by David Castle.

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.

 

 

From My Archives: “Jewel People No. 3”

Part of getting settled into my new studio at 400 West Rich is unpacking my archived artwork that I last saw when I packed it up for our move from Denver to Columbus two years ago.  I have quite a few wonderful paintings in my archives – many haven’t been introduced to the public.

So, here’s one from my Jewels Series: “Jewel People No. 3”, watercolor on paper, 22 x 30 inches (unmatted/unframed).  Regular price is $800, but I’ll offer this up for Name Your Best Price!  Just comment here or email me with your Best Price offer and I’ll let you know if I can accept your offer.

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Jewel People No. 3
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Jewel People No. 3 – detail

 

 

 

Musical Studios…

Back in January, I was excited and relieved to move my studio from our home basement to a studio space at 400 West Rich in Franklinton, just across the river from downtown Columbus.  In a bit of musical studio maneuvering, I’ve now moved from my original studio upstairs to a larger space on the ground floor and am extremely happy.  I’ll still be settling in over the next few weeks, but am set up enough to continue working on my new Rama Control Panel series – so look for snapshots of works in progress very soon!

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My move at 400 West Rich from upstairs to downstairs.
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Larger space on the ground floor.

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.

Name Your Price: “Heavens”

I’m bringing out original paintings from long-term storage that I just don’t have the room for. So… Name Your Price! I’ll post a snapshot of original paintings along with details and let you name your best price to purchase the painting (tax and shipping not included).

Email me or leave a comment with your price – no reasonable offers refused!

Here’s one of my popular 12×12″ originals on black paper – glowing metallic in silvers, blues, greens and rose.  “Heavens” is an original watercolor on paper, mounted on dramatic 3″ deep, gallery-wrapped canvas.  All sides of the canvas are painted and finished, so no frame is needed – it is ready for that perfect spot in your home!

"Heavens", watercolor on paper mounted on stretched canvas, 12"x12", regular price $300.
“Heavens”, watercolor on paper mounted on stretched canvas, 12″x12″, regular price $300.

Name Your Price: “Pacific Sunset”

Here’s one of my abstracts of a sunset on the Pacific, inspired by my time on the Oregon Coast.  Vivid reds, oranges, purples and greens with lots of great metallic coppery highlights.  Name Your Price – email me or leave a comment with your price – no reasonable offers refused!

“Pacific Sunset” is an original watercolor on paper, unframed (no mat).

"Pacific Sunset", watercolor on paper, unframed; art image is 18"x18", regular price $550.
“Pacific Sunset”, watercolor on paper, unframed; art image is 18″x18″, regular price $550.

Name Your Price: “Five Over Black Bar”

Here’s one of my Jewels Series in some of my favorite blues.  Name Your Price – email me or leave a comment with your price – no reasonable offers refused!

“Five Over Black Bar” is full of rich, vivid blues and blacks.  Framed traditionally with a crisp, white mat and a modern black frame.

"Five Over Black Bar", watercolor on paper, 22"x28", regular price $850.
“Five Over Black Bar”, watercolor on paper, 22″x28″, regular price $850.