Sunday, December 20, 2009

What makes an White Elephant

The standard definition of a White Elephant is something that you have received as a gift that clearly demonstrates that the giver has absolutely no idea who you are and/or that the giver is seriously out of touch with the basic concepts of quality and good taste. There is also the possibility that the giver lives deep inside a world of their own making.

The unwrapping of a truly bad White Elephant gift often shakes the social etiquette of the receiver as a flood of emotions, questions and helplessness washes over the receiver's face. This often resulting in stuttered statements such as "Oh my, how very interesting." "Wow, where in the world did you find one of these?" " You made this yourself, No, Really?"

Surprisingly we often remember those White Elephants more clearly than most of those really good gifts we have received over the years. A backpack made from old dirty smelly blue jeans, The Jolly Monk, who pees in your face when you open his robe, the box full of juicy mold that was at one time a loaf of banana bread...

Above is a seed picture that I did using lentils, rice, and mustard seeds. It was created for the Gorham's Traditional White Elephant party. A party where all the guest are encouraged to regift some of the their more painful receivings. Among this years offerings/dumpings was an indoor dog poo pad, a portrait of a Spanish conquistador on black velvet, and and baby juicer (the kind that you use to actually juice babies with)

So be happy this new year.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Drawing app for iTouch

I read an interview in Art in America with David Hockney. He talked about his new large scale paintings of the English landscape, and how some of the original drawings were done on his iPhone. I have downloaded 3 apps to my iTouch: Doodle Buddy, Fountain Pen Free, and MyPaint Free. Each are fun to play with. The above drawing was done with Doodle Buddy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Our Printmaking Workshop is just around the corner

Well the Holiday Card Printmaking Workshop is this Sunday. Susan and I have collected all the supplies. We are going to make a couple of prints this week just so we'll be on the same page with the instructions and any possible printing issues.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Artist Made Holiday Cards

Halloween has pasted and even though Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away I feel it is safe to say that I have already designed and test printed this years holiday card. Don't get me wrong, Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday, but making Christmas cards is a Smith tradition that goes back 56 years. And this year Susan Giller and I will be teaching a workshop at the Creative Arts Center on hand made holiday cards using a quick and simple block printing method. For more info you can go to the CAC web site.

Posted on

Friday, October 30, 2009

Designs for this years Holiday Card

The Smith family has a tradition of making holiday cards which was started by my parents while attending OU way back in 1946. Over the last 56 years at least one person in the Smith family has maintained this tradition. Last year, I regrettable did not make a card, but this year I am going to make up for it by teaching a workshop with my friend and fellow artist Susan Giller at the Creative Arts Center. The workshop will focus on a quick and easy block printing method. I'll blog more about it later. Above is a sketch of this years card.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Things Look Different in the Morning Sun

It has been a long spell of rainy and overcast days here in Dallas. 2 weeks without a decent patch of sun shine anywhere, and for a thick blooded Texan like myself, it's been like spending 2 weeks buried under a compost heap. I was feeling damp, moldy and pale. But this morning, the clouds parted, and the sun pored into my studio filling it with light, shadows and contrast.

Friday, September 25, 2009

After Sketching: Evening #4: Draw, Drew, Drawn

For the last night of Sketching in the Galleries at the DMA the group was kind of small so we drew from artwork in the All the World's a Stage exhibit, focusing on a selection of small works on paper, most of which are not put up for displayed very often.

We discussed local galleries like Public Trust, Dunn and Brown, Mighty Fine Arts and art magazines such as Art On Paper, Juxtapoz, Hi Fructose that focus on drawings and works on paper. Also places that offer figure drawing sessions and other museums that have drawing from the collection programs such as the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (Sundays @ 11:30). The Nasher and the Crow Collection say they have drawing programs but those are never reliably listed, so no body know when to attend. The Meadows and the Irving Art Center are rumored to have programs, but I see nothing listed.

We also talked about next weeks program, the first Thursday Night Multi Media program held in the Center for Creative Connections. There was a lot of interest in this program, although nobody had any hard info on what was happening there next week. So I looked it up this morning.

The artist hosting the month of October will be Mitch Rogers, who among other creative things, has been fabricating body parts, bloody nubs and meaty bits for TV and movies for about 20 years. I assume he will be giving instructions on mold making, life casting and spurting buckets of blood. Just in time for Halloween! It sounds like it will be a lot of fun.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sketching in the Galleries @ the Dallas Museum of Art: Evening #4: The last

11th Century Durga, from the DMA collection.

Tonight is my last night to lead the Sketching in the Galleries program at the DMA, and it is the last night that the DMA will run this program. Starting next Thursday there will be a new multi media program that will bring in artists from a wide variety of disciplines such as fashion design, animation, and writers to use their unique talents and skills to interpret the collection. I think it will be a really neat way to learn about materials and meet other artists.

As for the last night of Sketching in the Galleries, I am not sure what we will be focusing on tonight because I am not sure how many people will show up. The fact that it is the last night could mean that there will either be a lot more people showing up or a lot fewer people showing up. So if it is a big group we will work in the Southern Asian galleries drawing from the sculptures, focusing on light, SHADOW, and mass. If it's just a few people, then we will draw from some of the smaller works in the All the World's a Stage exhibit.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

After Sketching: Evening #3

This time for Sketching in the Gallery at the Dallas Museum of Art, we worked from a small retrospective of paintings, drawings, and lithographs from the Dallas Texas artist Edward g. Eisenlohr (1872 - 1961). The exhibition is situated so that most of the artwork is seen for the first time from across the gallery, about 60 feet away. We stopped at that distance to study the artwork, to focus on what we could see, to study the big shapes, the big blocks of color, light and shadow. We then stepped forwards about 25 feet to see what was now in focus. Then we walked up close to examine the details.

When viewing Edward's artwork in this manor it is very easy to observe the changes that distance has on your perception of a painting, and how subject matter can often overwhelm the experience of looking at art. I also used this process to demonstrate how to drawing the big shapes first, to lay out your composition, and work slowly up to the details.

The next meeting will be the last for me to lead and the very last meeting of the Sketching in the Galleries program. I think the DMA is making a mistake by canceling this program, but I don't run the museum, I just like to draw...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sketching in the Galleries @ the Dallas Museum of Art: Evening #3

Tonight at the DMA we will be drawing from a great little exhibition of paintings, drawing and lithographs from the little known Dallas artist Edward g. Eisenlohr 1872 - 1961.

According to the history books, this Oak Cliff artist holds the record for producing more drawings and paintings of Dallas than any other artist, and is considered one of the pioneer landscape painters of Texas.

His artwork often reflects the artistic trends and styles of the times, a little impressionism, a little romanticism... But he is a fantastic draftsman, and it is clear that he really loved to draw.

Shown here is"The Water Hole Dallas" 1932, one of the many drawings that the Valley House Gallery has in their inventory.

Friday, September 11, 2009

After Sketching: Evening #2, The end of Sketching in the Galleries

Well the class started with Stacy and Tracy announcing to the drawing group that this will be the last month that the Dallas Museum of Art will host the Sketching in the Gallery program. After September 24th there will be no more drawing program.

This was a shock to all. And for those that have been involved in the program for years and years it is the end of something very important. Of course the DMA is stating that the program is not ending, it's being transformed into an artist lead multi media program to be held each Thursday in the Center for Creative Connections. This sounds nice, but the people that like to draw from the collection will more than likely not participate in a multi media class room setting. It is apples and oranges, oil and water, beer and ice cream.

The removal of the Sketching in the Galleries program will remove a very strong public display of people actually using the museum and it's collection as a tool to study art. When the public sees people sketching from the collection it causes them to slow down and take a second look at the art. It validates the life of the collection.

I do realize that the Sketching from the Collection program is not a big public atraction or a money maker for the DMA. But it is a consistent program where the group usually numbers around 10-22 people EVERY Thursday night. It is one of the only programs in Dallas where creative people can consistently meet and interact with local professional artists. I know I have used this program in the past to meet artists that I was otherwise be to shy to introduce myself to.

Lastly, unlike the programs held in the Center for Creative Connections, Sketching in the Galleries pretty much runs itself. On the first night of the month a member of the DMA staff introduces the artists who will lead the program for that month. After that, the artist runs the program totally by themselves for the rest of the month. Total amount of DMA staff time, about 10 minutes.

Well, I did go on and on about this, but I deleted it because this program has always been close to my heart, and I was just going into an emotional tyrant about it. I still have 2 more nights of drawing to go, so we'll make the best of it.

Please join us if you feel like a bit of sketching.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sketching in the Galleries @ the Dallas Museum Of Art: Evening 2

Tonight is the 2nd in the 4 nights that I will be hosting the Sketching in the Gallery program. Last week was a lot of fun. A few people even stayed after class to show me their other drawings and to ask my advise about drawing. Now if that sort of thing is not a big artty ego boost you must be dead.

Tonight we will be drawing from a few of the Degas pastels that are in the current show All the World is a Stage. The photo above is not in the exhibit, but it is the same style and subject mater that we will be working from. The focus will be on how Degas warped space to create drama.

Friday, September 4, 2009

After the sketching class

There were 22 people in the group last night. Some were the core group that comes to most of the sessions, some had attended a few times, and some were first timers. There were a few that were new to Dallas and were looking for ways to connect with the Dallas art scene.

As stated in the previous blog, the drawing skill level of the group varied a lot. But everyone seemed to really enjoy the slow looking that copying a painting offers. This act revels how beautifully complex the composition of the paint was. One person commented that he had never noticed there was a wagon sitting on the hill, and that without the wagon the sense of perspective falls apart.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sketching in the Galleries @ the Dallas Museum of Art

Tonight is my first night to lead the Sketching in the Galleries program at the DMA. I will be leading the drawing group for the next 4 proceeding Thursdays from 7-8:30. The group is usually around 10-25 people, with a wide range of drawing skills.

This will be my 4th time in 4 years to lead this group. I always love doing it because I love being around people that are excited about drawing.

Tonight we are going to be focusing on shadows. I have selected 4 paintings in the European gallery to work from. Alfred Sisely - The Lesson, Daumier - The Print Seller's (very semular to the one shown here), Pissarro - Apple Picking, and Villon - Society. All use large areas of shadow in a graphic and dramatic style.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Happy Birthday Video is getting a lot of plays

I posted my video just 24 hours ago and it already has 124 plays. It is amazing what family, friends and a little dog butt can do.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Happy Birthday to my Big Brother

I just finished this little video in honor of my Big Brother's birthday. You can see it by clicking the image below or go to my Youtude site which is a bigger formate and contains all my other videos.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Substitute Life Drawing Teaching at Creative Art Center

Tonight I will be leading the life drawing class at CAC. I am very excited about this opportunity to talk about drawing the figure and about the way your mind often tells your eyes what they are seeing. To heighten that phenomenon we will be drawing a lot of posses that focus on foreshortening.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Substitute Drawing Teacher @ the Creative Art Center

My very good friend and a really great artist, Susan Giller has asked me to substitute for her while she dashes up the Boston for a bit of northern culture and eating.

The class tonight is called Quick Draw. It focuses on the exploration of all forms of drawing, but leans a bit more towards still life drawing. I'll be carting a few boxes of junk up there to have the class draw from, plus a stack of books too.

Friday, August 7, 2009

5X7 2009 is coming to Dallas

August 14th! Mark that date on you calendar! It's the Dallas edition of the 10th anniversary Arthouse 5X7 fundraiser.

The event will be held once again at the Dunn and Brown Contemporary. The postcard states that the event opens at 5:00 and the sale starts at 5:30 but that sounds kind of early to me and the Arthouse web site has not been updated yet, so I plan on being there at 5:00.

With all the personal cutbacks that we have all had to submit to this year, I predict that when the bell rings at 5:30, it is going to be most frantic, ravenous art buying frenzy that one will ever hope to see.

And that's the whole reason I'm going. It's good for my artistic soul to see a room full of art collectors behaving so very badly, to see people of class and sophistication getting so whipped up about a small work of art that they forget their cocktail demure and start pushing and shoving so they can snag that one irresistible art gem.

It's art buying like you will never see in real life. I wonder sometimes what it would belike to have this kind of excitement and energy at one of my art openings.

Well here is a link the all of the artists that have art in this years 5X7.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Reflections from VSC posted on Art & Seek

This posting about my posting on Art & Seek is a bit late. I've had a lot to catch up on sense getting back to into town.

Anyway, Here is the Art and Seek link to my follow up article on the Vermont Studio Center.

You can also see more photos of VSC at my flickr page.

Friday, June 26, 2009

End of the Third week at VSC

It's not quite the end of the third week, but things are going so fast around here that by the time I post this it will be dinner time. Eating being the most common way of telling time at VSC.

Above is a figure drawing that I did at one of the daily figure drawing sessions. I am not trying to render the figure in terms of proportions or scale, but in terms of mass pushing against mass. The pencil is used as a sculpting tool to dig out areas and push material together. You can see more of the drawings at my Flickr page.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Houston Public Art Proposal #1001

This is one of four video for an imaginary Houston Public Art Proposal. the other three plus other videos can be seen on my Youtube page

Rodin @ Vermont

This is a fresh on the wall photo of the Rodin project that I am working on while at VSC. It started with an old art book on Rodin. I removed the photos and then mapped out the sight lines found in each image. Using these sight lines as a guide I created new forms. To see more photos of this project please go to my Flickr page.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

New posting on Art & Seek

The great people at KERA Art and Seek posted my article on the first 14 days at the Vermont Studio Center. Below is a draft, or you can click here to read it and see all the photos on Art and Seek.

Johnson, VT. -
You would think that without the distractions of job, family, and phone, making art all day would be a piece of cake. Well, it is sweet, but it is also a strangely surreal experience. Large blocks of time are consumed in focused bursts of creativity that leave you staggering back to your bed hoping to grab a few hours of sleep, but then you come across a some comrades sitting on the front porch, and you find yourself engaged in conversations about art, books, and movies, swapping silly stories, and laughing that kind of painful gut wrenching “Stop! Stop! I’m going to pee in your pants” kind of laugh that is so very rare and so very, very good… Then you find it is once again 3AM.
This is my second week at the Vermont Studio Center, and I am just now getting around to writing about my experiences so far. The days here are full, quick and exhausting. Trying to schedule them in the same fashion that I would while at home is not possible. That would be forcing a structured regime onto a world where the only real passing of time is measured by when to eat.
So, here is a little info on the Vermont Studio Center. It is an Artists Residency program located in the small town of Johnson Vermont. Each month 50 artist are set up with a private studio and a house that they share with a few other artists. All meals are provided in the Old Red Mill. There is always desert served after dinner. The artists here are either writers or visual artists. I am of the latter, but hanging out with a bunch of writers has been a novel and wonderful experience. The VSC web site explains the program in detail; so check it out because I’m going to focus on the more ethereal aspects of this experience.

On the first day of residency, one of the staff members shows you to one of the old wood-framed houses that will be your new home. Then it’s over to your studio, which contains a chair, two sawhorse tables and your boxes of art supplies that you shipped up from home. The studios are large, clean, and very white. Most of them have windows with wonderful views of either the river or the wooded hills. Then, with a “see you at dinner” you are left to your own devises.
In fact, being left to your own devices seems to be the unwritten motto of VSC. They provide you with food and shelter, plus a calendar of optional social events and lectures. From there you are free to go in whatever direction you wish. You can dig deep into your creative physi, or spend your days in the coffee shop down the street reading trashy tabloids. There are no expectations for what you do with your time or for the creation of some end product. You are free to let whim and whimsy run amuck. Of course, this freedom creates a scenario where things can get a bit surreal.
A quick survey of my artistic comrades reveals that the first thing we loose track of is the days of the week. Monday, Wednesday, Saturday, they all feel the same. At this time of year in Johnson, the sunrises at 4:30 AM, so by 5 it is so bright that your internal clock skips a beat and then stops. Soon, sleep only happens a few hours a night, or more likely while attending one of the numerous slide lectures or readings. Note to visiting lecturers: The snoozing audience seated before you is not bored, they are exhausted.
The first week of residency is all about adrenalin and remembering. You are in hyper drive to get started on a self-centered creative adventure, while at the same time desperately trying to remember the names of all 50 artists you have just meet. A few of my personal stumbling blocks have been finding I did not pack the right computer cords, but I did pack a two year supply of pink highlight markers. I also keep misplacing my dental floss, and the nearest store to get moisturizer is 20 miles away. (I need the moisturizer because I am working with plaster, which tends to dry my out hands… and I like having baby soft skin) As for remembering names, I suck at it, but I am really good at remembering art and creative ideas, so the names have been slowly falling into place.
Referring again to my quick survey, the second week begins with complete exhaustion. The adrenaline is gone. Only twelve people show up for breakfast on Monday morning. By 11:30 you might find a few people shuffling around listlessly in their studios. Dark circles under the eyes seems to be the trend of the day. Over the next few days, the amount of dirty coffee cups at breakfast is three times the amount of dirty plates and bowls. If asked how things are going in the studio, the enthusiasm of the reply is usually tempered by the amount of coffee just consumed.
The second week is also an emotional rollercoaster ride, where the creative struggles in the studio start to clash with personal expectations and perhaps a wee bit of delayed stress syndrome. Personally, I am flip flopping from what I feel is either a creative brake through or just arty dabbling and then back to visions of grandeur. I also have a stack of very sophisticated novels that I am completely ignoring, opting instead to downloading audio books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, which are filling my head with images of Pellucidar, the World at the Earth’s Core.

Friday was the first Open Studio Night, which means everybody got the chance to visit everybody else’s studio. This created a frenzy of activity that kept the creative juices flowing for the last three days.
It is now Sunday night. I know that because the Red Mill only serves brunch and dinner on Sundays. There is an unspoken realization in the air that the residency is now officially half over. How that will affect the dynamics of the third week I can only muse upon.

Please note, this posting should to be taken with a grain of salt, as it is based solely on my personal and by now somewhat surreal observations. Each person’s experience at VSC is different. Some are actually getting up early to jog miles and miles through the lush green hills of Vermont, or spending hours in yoga posses that would cause me to spit blood. Some people are even eating right and going to bed on time.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

On our way to VSC- Day 11

Day 11 found me waving goodbye to my sweetheart while she drove back to Boston to catch a plane back to Dallas. 

I had a suit case full of very dirty cloths, and two boxes of art supplies waiting for me at VSC. My month long artist residency starts at 1:00.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

On our way to VSC- Day 10

Saturday was our last full day of our trip to VSC. We spent it driving the back roads up to the city of Burlington with a stop at a fruit wine tasting room, and one at the Ben & Jerry's ice cream factory. The ice cream was much better than the fruit wine.

Burlington was having a jazz festival, so as we walked along the board walk we could hear the music of drums and trumpets. Burlington is another nice Vermont town that I would like to see more of, but we had to get up the Johnson, to the Vermont Studio Center

After checking in to a BnB, We ate that night at the Winding Brook Bistro. It was very good, but I must admit that I was so nervous about starting my artist residency at the VSC that I can't recall what I ate. 

Friday, June 5, 2009

On our way to VSC- Day 9

Our goal for the day was to hike, hike hike. We knew that we wanted to do some of the Appalachian trial, but I also wanted to see some water falls, so we stopped off at Hamilton Falls, The deadliest falls in Vermont. After a three mile hike we came upon this wonderful, multi layered falls. The photo really does not show the scale and beauty of this place and how tempting it is to climb it's deceptively deadly banks.

We linked up with the Appalachian trail just out side of Woodstock. It was a lust walk through bolder strewn woods. We stayed in Woodstock which is a sky resort town, so it was a bit expencive and not have as charming as Brattleboro.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

On our way to VSC- Day 8

Day 8 found us in the town of Brattleboro Vermont. We drove across New Hampshire on the interstate making only one stop at the Pisgah State Park where we were eaten to a slightly dizzy state by swarms of monster sized mosquitoes.

But in the town of Brattleboro we found The Latchis, an art neuve movie theater/hotel, and across the street was a local pizzeria that hand made pizza using organic produce and local cheese. Plus they had beer. The town had lots of galleries and an art supply store! A way groovy town. I am going to have to do more research on Brattleboro. 

On our way out of town we saw our first cover bridge. It had big timbers that were held together with big wood pegs.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

On our way to VSC- Day 6 & 7

On Wednesday we headed out to the airport to pick up our rental car, then we drove back to the city to the Institute of Contemporary Art to see the Shepard Fairey show. It was a way better show than I thought it would be. In fact I found it inspiring that he could go from a street bomber to having a studio that employs several interns and still produce work that is fun and edgy. One sad note, the food at the ICA was expensive and not good.

Anyway, we spent so much time at the museum that we were late getting started on our first driving tour of the New England coast line. We were hoping to take highway 1A all the way up to Portsmouth New Hampshire but we only made it up to Ipswich. We stayed at a BnB that was listed in the New Hampshire state tour book, Kaedebb.  It was a historic building with a Japanese infusion. 

The small towns along 1A were all very quant, and the rocky beaches were wonderful. I would have been happy to spend the next few days exploring tide pools and eating steamers. I was also amazed to see so many really old cemeteries. It seems that the life an old sailer is very short.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

On our way to VSC- Day 4 & 5

The 6 hour train ride to Boston was wonderful. Trains allow you to see the country and mentally realize that you are dramatically moving from one part of the world to another. Unlike airplanes that reduce travel down to it's most unbearable elements.

after saying that, once we stepped out of the Boston train station, I instantly lost my sense of direction, so we ended up walking a few more blocks to our hotel than we needed to. 

Later that night we met up with a friend from Dallas who is finishing up his fellowship at Harvard. Wine, Tapas, and good conversations.

The next morning we hit China town, a few galleries such as Barbara Krakow -wonderful Terry Winters prints. and  Judi Rotenberg Gallery  -a wonderful show of works on paper. Then we  walked around China Town. Dinner was just off the Paul Revere historic trail in the Italian part of town. Good wine, good bread, and calamari in a spicy tomato sauce.

Monday, June 1, 2009

On our way to VSC- Day 3

After two days of good food, family bonding, evening wine on the patio, and a few more trips down to Pooh Corner, Monday morning found us heading downtown to catch the Amtrak to Boston. 

The photo is of a large wall sculpture at the train station that poetically illustrates the history of the human spirit. 1893. I didn't get the artists name but I love this end bit with children carrying models of a train, a paddle wheel steam boat, and lastly, a small infant with no dipper carrying a zeppelin.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

On our way to VSC- Day 2

After walking the two hairless dogs down to Pooh Corner to pooh, the four of us humans loaded up the car and headed out to George Nakashima's studio. He died a few years back but his family is still creating wonderful furniture using George's designs. 

The 9 acer compound is a mix of small purpose designed buildings. One for cutting and milling the ruff lumber, one for turning spindles, one for applying lacquer, an office, a show room, living quarters, and a kitchen/dinning area. All were designed by George and reflected his connection with natural materials and simple forms.

Below is a design for a walnut table they are creating for the White House.

Friday, May 29, 2009

On our way to VSC- Day 1

We decided that instead of flying directly to the Vermont Studio Center, we would take a couple of days and to a New England road trip. 

Day one: we landed in Philadelphia and headed to my brother and wonderful sister in law's house. The above photo is a close up of one of their two hairless dogs. 

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Packing for the Vermont Studio Center

Packing. How do you decide what to take to a place you have never been? This reminds me so much of packing for my first summer camp. I was about 8 years old, and I was both excited and scared. What to take? What if I forget to pack that one thing that is totally necessary for this experience to work, like underwear?

Well, I've done lots of research, and I have also had the luxury of talking to some local artists that have been to VSC; Sally Warren and Billy Hassell. They both said it was a totally wonderful experience on all levels. 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

5 X 7 Arthouse fundraiser 2009

The 5 X 7 Arthouse fundraiser is happening in Austin this Friday. These are the two works that I put in this year. They are my usual organic shapes that have been camouflaged with a gritty umber texture and then cast into a pail blue cube. The image becomes visible only when the object is tilted towards the light. It's a nice work but it's probably not eye catching enough to stand out in the 5X7 arena.

There is a big group of Dallas people going down for the event. Unfortunately I am staying here because all of my travel bucks are tied up in going to the Vermont Studio Center next month.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

More On Hall of Fame

Here is another entry for the More On Hall of Fame. This is a close up photo of the back leg join from a very hansom oak arm chair, circa 1890.

This leg join  has three kinds of glue on it, dried stripper, Four split wood dowels, four 3" long nails and five 3" long brads.

Here is the probable story of this chair.

It was originally constructed using wood dowels and animal skin glue. Over time the glue started to let go, this caused the chair to squeak when someone sat in it. To "fix" the squeaking, someone squeezed more glue into the loose joins, this acted like a wedge that helped to spread the joins further apart. Then someone added a few 3" large nails, which they pounded directly into the solid wood. This split the wood and caused more glue joins to fail.  Later someone submerged the chair into a strip tank. This removed the painted finish that someone had applied to the chair and also filled the all the joins with paint stripper.  With all the joins now loose the person refinishing the chair shot every join with enough 3" long brads to kill the squeaking. 

All this chair ever needed was to be simply dismantled, cleaned, and then reconstructed with animal skin glue. Basically, a day at the spa.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Vermont Studio Center, Making the decision

When I applied to the Vermont Studio Center way back in June of 2008, the economy and my life style were a bit different.

When I was granted a partial grant to attend VSC, it kind of threw me for a loop. I knew I would go to VSC if I received a full grant to attend, and that I would apply to some other residency if I didn't get a grant. But it never occurred to me that I might receive only a partial grant, or that our family income this year would be cut by half.

So for the last few months I have been walking the fence. Should I go, or should I put off doing an artist residency for yet another year?

Well, the VSC deadline for the deposit is next week. I have been filling up pages with pros and cons, and having long talks with friends about the extended finical hardships that this month in the woods would create.

Then a patron of the arts, who will remain anonymous, made a generous donation to the Send BFS to VSC fund. So now the issue finances have been reduced to a less head pounding red beacon, and I can now focus on the art related merits of this a enterprise.

What do I want to accomplish with this opportunity? Well that answer is in the pages and pages of notes I have been generating for the last few months. Hopefully VSC will be just the place to flesh out some of those ideas.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Speaking at the Texas Library Association Conference

I've been practicing on my portion for the presentation "You have a What? Preservation of the Unusual Objects in Your Collection." 

This is one of the programs for the Texas Library Association 2009 Conference. I am presenting with Carol Roark who is the Archivist at the Dallas Public Library.  The program is being hosted by Michelle Mears who is the Archivist at UNT.

I am speaking about the importance of knowing what your items are made from and on the effects of slow damage. That's a lot of info to cover in just 20 minutes. So lots of slides and quick talking. 

There are some slides posted on my web site as well as a list of resources.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Just Below the Skin comes to a close

Just below the Skin closes today. I'll start dismantling the installation and filling all those tiny nail holes on tuesday. The opening had a great turnout with Steve having to flick the lights at 9:30 to get people to leave. 

I am hoping that I will get another chance soon to install Just BElow the Skin in other locations. Because of the way this project is made, it would be a new experience in each new location. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Art & Seek, Artist Studio Tour video

Art & Seek is continuing their exploration of Dallas Artist's studios. Last week Besty Lewis stopped by my studio and shoot a few few feet of video. They have now posted that on their web site. Click HERE to see it.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Just below the Skin a River Flows

I have a new wall installation in the Mighty Fine Arts Project Room. The opening is Feb 21st and it runs throw March 22.

This new project is basically a layman’s representation of the epidermis stratum (human skin). It is constructed using a stack of old watercolor paper, a pair of scissors, a hole punch, a color copier, some nails, a bit of string, and a 9 foot long wall. There is a complete artists statement at

Friday, February 20, 2009

Make Space for Artists at the DMA

The Dallas Museum of Art asked me to be one of three judges for the Make Space for Artists: Design a Studio competition. I'll be handing out cash prizes tonight.

Above is my attempt at using Google Sketch Up to create a 16 X 16 foot studio. It fills up pretty quickly.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

La Reunion TX Second Annual Tree Carving and Open House

The tree is done and lots of people showed up for the La Reunion TX open house.

Here is my artist's statement for my tree:

 The tree was toped off leaving an 8 feet tail trunk. All the wood above that height was cut into 16" long logs. An 8 foot long cradle was constructed on top of the trunk, and the logs were placed on top of it in chronological order. 

Viewing the sculpture from the ground displays the weight and mass of an average sized a tree. The view from the patio focuses on the stacked wood. This allows the viewer the unique opportunity to see the progression of the tree's growth and the historic impact of the traumas that the tree has endured. 

which gives the viewer the opportunity to clearly examine the growth rings will give tour guides a unique visual aid to discuss how trees grow.

 to supports a stack of logs and branches. This lumber make up what was the rest of the tree. 

The tree is looking really close to the original drawing. I did in up using 2X4s for the cradle instead of tree branches because of the weight.  

Friday, February 6, 2009

Video of La Trees on Dallas

The reporters form the Dallas Morning News came out to La Reunion TX and shot some great video of the trees. Fortunately I was not there so I do not have to suffer watching myself talk, but there are some good shots of my almost completed tree.

Monday, February 2, 2009

la Reunion Tree Carving: Day three

It was a good day out at the La Land. Almost everyone showed up to work on their trees. Lots of neighborhood kids sneaking about trying to figure out what we were up to. I wasted a bit of time trying the rental chain saw again. Big Double Thank Yous to David again for letting me use his chain saw while he was doing math.

Friday, January 30, 2009

La Reunion TX Tree Carving: Day Two

It my not look like it but this is the result of 4 hours of work. Of corse I did spend a lot of that time struggling to get the chain saw that I rented from Home Depot started. If David  had not shown up with his beautiful chain saw it would have been a total wast of a day for me. Thanks David!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Coming soon to the Mighty Fine Arts Project Room


A new installation by Brad Ford Smith at the Mighty Fine Arts Project Room.

February 21 – March 22, 2009

Reception 6-9 pm, February 21

This new project is basically a layman’s representation of the epidermis stratum (human skin). It is constructed using a stack of old watercolor paper, a pair of scissors, a hole puncher, a color copier, some nails, a bit of string, and a 9 foot long wall.

The project began when Veronica Tosten asked me to do an installation at Mighty Fine Arts. Instantly an image of a multi layered splattering popped into my head. Usually this sort of spontaneous imaging is just a reactionary response to a new project or material. Usually I enjoy the sensation and then dismiss the image as being a flashy, thin one-liner. But this time I wanted to explore what subconscious response created this image. What internal links were connected when this opportunity presented itself?          

This project also had the unique bonus in that I had three months to play with it before the installation date. This gave me and the image time to ferment, to spend equal amounts of time at the drafting table and in the backyard daydreaming. The image grew organically as it sifted through daily input…           

finding a stack of my father’s watercolor paper… sorting through the estate of an old dear friend… watching another friend cope with her second risky pregnancy… visualizing good health… discovering all my scissors dull and rusted… organizing 1000 Asian auction catalogs… flocks of grackles in the backyard, swarming of bees… body armor… fishing line… sanded wood… art lectures… art fairs… art blogging… coping with public dyslexia once again…

The result is a wall installation that is a hybrid of influences and experiences, a free association construct, a kind of diary portrayed in a low-tech, obsessive format.

It’s the continuous struggle that we all make just to keep inside of our own skin. 

Mighty Fine Arts 
419 N. Tyler Dallas, TX. 75208 
Gallery hours 12 – 5 Saturday & Sunday

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

La Reunion TX Second Annual Tree Carving and Open House

I was selected as one of 11 artists to participate in La Reunion TX's Second annual Tree Carving and Open House.  This years artists are:


The La Reunion Tx property is 35 acres of over grown woods. Part of reclaiming the land is having artists come out and inflict their creative urges on selected non-native or dying trees. The objective is to transform these trees into a sculpture that will remain in place, exposed to the elements, and part of the natural cycle of decay.

Above is the drawing for the basic idea of what I will do this year. I will cut a tree down to a tall stump. Then build a platform on which the wood from the tree will be stacked.

I did a tree in last years open house. Basically I turned a cedar tree into a flat botanical specimen similar to pressed flowers. 


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Barcelona @ Christmass

It was kind of rainy most of the time, and yes this is the ugliest building I have seen, But the 10 day in Barcelona was wonderful. I would happily go back just to eat more of their wonderful food.