Monday, December 10, 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fall Risk

There is nothing quite like having a "Young Person" give up their set in a waiting room and address you as Sir. That is until the nurse straps a big yellow band across your wrist that states in all capital letters FALL RISK. What a day. Think I'll go back home and curl up with a big glass of prune juice.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Blog Post Number 200: A Small Detail

This work of art has been on continuous display the longest of any of the art works in my house. It's a mosaic created by my father, Samuel Lee Smith.   Really it's a slab of cement reinforced with steel rebar and covered with small shards of stained glass. I think it's titled Beach Towel Bather.  I appreciate the humor  because even though it's shaped to look like a beach towel dangling from two pins it actually weighs a good 30 pounds.

My Dad completed this mosaic art work sometime before he and my Mom finished building their dream house in 1956.  The piece was installed in the front bath and as far as I know has been removed only twice in its lifetime. Once then the bath was repainted and again in 2002 when I remodeled the house and studio.

Of course after the house renovation the mosaic went right back to its original location but I added molly bolts. That should keep it on the wall and withstand any of the small earthquakes we have been getting here.  Though looks like I might need to address the wall paint again.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

BFS Blog About To Hit 200 posts

The next BFS Blog posting will be my 200th posting!!!

but first a bit of reminiscing, old photos, and rambling...

I started blogging on December 28, 2007.  It was all about my Yucatan Adventure. Unbelievably, my first time south of the Texas boarder. That trip was visually overwhelming.

For the past 5 years I've rambled on and on about things that comprise a Brad Centric Universe.  A universe focused on looking at art, making artwork and wallowing in new inspirations plus a bunch of other stuff that randomly shows up on my radar.

Often my posts are short series about art projects I'm working on . . .  Aurora 2011, The Privet Sculpture Project, and The SculptCAD Rapid Artists Project.

I've also highlighted topics such as Drawings, Sculptures, and Wall Installations ... revealing some of the ups and downs of making art.

And over the years I've had the opportunity to work with some great art organizations such as Art and Seek, Art Con, Pecha Kucha Dallas, TED/SMU, the Dallas Museum of Art, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Creative Arts Center, and The CADD Bus Tour.

These ventures into public presentations inevitably expose insights to what happens when a quiet artist like me encounters a moment in the spotlight. 

The BFS Blog maybe a Brad Centric Universe but it is also a universe filled with many other wonderful artists.  My blog has given me the opportunity to shine a light on some of them like Debbie Ballard, Mark Birnbaum, Tracy Hicks, and David Bates.

I was talking with a good friend today who asked if I every have problems thinking of things to blog about?  Nope.  Really I wish I could blog 5 times as much as I am.  I have a big bucket of topics that I could easily expound on.  Though not sure everyone could handle so much misuse of english grammar.

The reality is this show is being run by a kinda-scruffy opossum resembling rambling artist who has time management issues and a loving spouse who keeps reminding him how much he needs his beauty sleep.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

PBF.05: Fare Thee Well My Sweet Buttercup

Originally I posted my cartoon without an explanation, thinking it pretty clearly illustrates a tongue and accompanying taste buds being left behind on the dock.

I drew it while getting juiced up at the Glow Factory.  My fellow glow worms and technicians all found it worthy of a chuckle. 

Once posted here however, it caused a lot of head scratching, emails about the etiquette of disease, and even lead a few people to drop their subscriptions to the BFS Blog. 

So to clarify and prevent any more cartooned based rumpus, I have prepared the following caption:

"With the ability to taste only kerosene and styrofoam, I have decided to leave my taste buds on dry dock.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

PBF .04: One Word Says It All

Originally I was going to create a photo montage of all the fantastic dishes, dinners, and desserts that have been devoured in the name of Project Bear Fat. The montage would have been a very LARGE montage. PBF has developed into a kind of moving banquet, a non-stop Thanksgiving feast. Friends and family coming together to enjoy good food and conversations, raising glasses, diving in for second and third helpings. A fridge filled with heat and eat TLC.

Now for the stats: Two weeks of PBF has resulted in 5 additional pounds of bear fat. Granted I feel like I have put on a good 10LBs. But, 5 pounds, when you think about it is pretty damn good. Pants are tight, moving in the right direction without causing my heart to explode. 

With all the ads for diet pills and low calorie snacks, it may sound un-American to say that it would be a real health issue if putting weight on was fast and easy.

A BIG THANK YOU to all the PBF supporters. You are Shadalicious. That is, you have all helped to take something not so pleasant, such as small stinky fish and turn it into something special.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Project Bear Fat .03: A Cascade Of Sweat

The Project Bear Fat not only encompasses the consumption of lots of tasty food, it also incorporates various methods of reawakening long dormant muscles, therefore I am now a legitimate member of the Tom Landry Fitness Center.

This week I attended my very first Yoga class. The room was darkly subdued, there were soft mats scattered across the floor, and there was the sound of flutes coming from the CD player. The instructor suggested I remove my shoes and socks, and then quietly escorted me to a mat. I innocently confessed that I have seen pictures of people doing yoga, but had never personally done this sort of thing before.

With a smile she turned to the class and suggested that we take our places and curl up into a ball. I thought to myself, Well now, this is the kind of exercises a bear could do all day.

From there we went into the Downward Dog position, which turned out to be the gate way into a host of agonizing poses that caused fountains of sweat to cascade from every pour of my skin. As I tried not to laugh out loud at the burning pain generated from my overtaxed underutilized muscles, I thought, This is definitely NOT the natural habitat for a bear.

Next week I think I'll switch to jazzercize or perhaps one of the over 65 classes.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

New Face To An Old Website

I am VERY, VERY, VERY happy to announce the launch of my new website! features my artwork AND it looking really great! There are still some tweaks and blank spots to fill, but it looks so clean and it's so easy to manipulate.

A BIG THANK YOU to all the people that responded to my many inquiries about their websites.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

Project Bear Fat .02

Project Bear Fat is off to a great start, 3 pounds in just the first week. One of the highlights was a lasagna handmade by my friend Heather. The before baking photo shows the snowcap of savory cheese and one of the red bell pepper hearts that covered the surface.

I was going to take a photo of it after baking, all golden brown, but the aroma was so compelling that I simple forgot about anything other than serving it up. Later, after a third serving, I really couldn't do anything other than stair into space like a contented cat.

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Project Bear Fat .01

Project Bear Fat was created upon the advice from a person of clout and persuasion. Project Bear Fat is all about eating, a thing that I enjoy doing several times a day, but, Project Bear Fat takes the consumption of food to the level of actually putting on and maintaining some serious weight.

Of course my first impulse was to gobble down a few boxes of cookies, eat ice cream after every meal, and switch over to eating peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwiches for breakfast. But sugar based fattening is not what I am necessarily after here.

Project Bear Fat is a bulking project that needs to come mostly from savory dishes high in protein. This means I will be eating a lot more meat than my flexitarian diet usually includes, and just to make Project Bear Fat harder, I am working out at the gym three days a week in order to re-awakening some of those mussels that have been asleep for several years.

Fortunately I am surrounded by family and friends who are exceptional cooks, and who all have special dishes guarantied to turn event the most scrawniest toothpick into a substantial red wood. To each of you, I savor every bite and the love there in.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Shifting Ambitions

The photo of the migrating Grackles is there just so you will have something of interest to look at while I test the Blogspot connection on this newly migrated blog.

Recently, some of you received one massive email blog post that included every blog post I have done in the last 5 years. This was not an ambitious posting on my part, but rather it turns out Feedburner wouldn't let go of that old nasty Wordpress blog without sending out one massive blog post.

I am so glad to be unhooked from that managerial mess!

Now, onward to rambling on and on about art, oddities and misguided insights...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Simplicity Is The Order Of The Day

It's been a bit of work to get to the point where I decided that the bells and whistles offered by Wordpress were only making everything harder. (Note that I am writing this post on Blogspot)

As an artist all I require is the virtual equivalent of a white box gallery. Clean simple pages that focus on the artwork with a bit of room for description... Also a simple blog page.

So, with that in mind I have been searching for a fine art web host. There are a lot out there, but have you seen them? Most are trash. Most are over hyped crap that require you to crop your artwork to fit their templets!!! WHAT!!!


I did come up with a few sites that are very nice. From those I choose Icompendium. Simple, clean, and RESPONSIVE.

So, please excuse the blips and burps that are sure to follow as I dismantle myself from Wordpress AKA: Time Sucker Extraordinar.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Debbie Ballard: Alter Ego at the Valley House Gallery

I went to the exhibit Debbie Ballard: Alter Ego (Resent Sculpture) at the Valley House Gallery expecting to see resent work based around some sort of alter ego narrative. Turns out, this show is not about an alter ego, or resent work. Instead, it's a straight forward survey of an accomplished sculptor's creative path over the last ten years. A sculptor who's works of art quietly depict those moments when interior thoughts become illustrated in the body's posture.

Sure, depictions of rage and anger are easy, that's not what Debbie is doing here. These figures are caught in those spaces where the outer world dissolves, as thoughts begin to fold back upon themselves. These figures sit, stand and sometimes congregate in poses that reflect a certain amount of self absorbed melancholia.

Yes, these sculptures do tap into my secret fondness for the Pre-Raphaelites, except here, Debbie has stripped them of all the flowers, tapestries and silken hair. What remains is very moody and modern.

The Vallie House has done a wonderful job of curating this show. The newest works are found in the main gallery space, along with some really wonderful drawings and sculpture studies. There a dozen more sculptures scattered throughout the 6 acre, heavily wooded sculpture garden. These works range from 1993 - 2012.

All combined, this exhibition is a wonderful and unique opportunity to see an artist develop. And to see a clear illustration of an artist thinking, reasoning and quietly showing the world who she is.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Texas Museum Conferance Awash In Tepid Waters

Each year the Texas Association of Museums conference (TAM) has an official theme, this year it was Navigating the Raising Waters of Change. And then there is the theme that develops as the attendees converse.  Last year it was "Yes, Our budgets and staff have been cut back, but we are optimistic about finding new ways to deal with it".  (TAM post 2011)

As the 2012 Texas Association of Museum conference in San Antonio progressed, it became clear that those strong hearted souls from 2011 were feeling the toll of yet more cut backs, lay offs and reduced funding.

For some reason beyond my comprehension. Texas supports the elimination of all funding for the arts. Texas supports deep cuts in funding of public education and public programs. Texas also supports reducing the taxable write off of donations.

Eliminating funding for the arts will not only get rid of that non-profit museum down the street that only shows conceptual installations involving string and hot glue, it will also close the doors of the hundreds  historic museums in small towns across Texas.

With the cut backs in art funding, most museums, big and small, have turned to developing their educational departments as a way to make ends meet. Now, with education funding under the gun, museums, libraries, community centers and historic sites are wondering where to turn next...

Perhaps the community! Perhaps they can fill that financial gap with donations?!  Unfortunately the taxable write off for donations made to non-profits has been reduced yet again. This reduction has persuaded the community to hold off on giving away their hard earned money.

Last Option: Raise the ticket price for admission.

Result: The community cries foul! This museum is an elitist institution that thinks its to good for people like me!!! So the doors shut.

Fortunately, most art museums are high security structures that can easily be converted into prisons. With all the cuts in education and public programing, we'll be needing a lot of those real soon.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Talking About Art Conservation at the TAM Conferance

The Texas Association of Museum (TAM) conference starts on Tuesday. This year the 5 day conference is being held down by the River Walk in San Antonio.

I'll be part of the NTAAC session Conservation Roundtable. There will be 5 art conservators sitting at 5 roundtables. Each conservator will be addressing questions that pertains to their field of expertise:

Paper- Tish Brewer - the Center for Art Conservation, Dallas TX
Paintings- Anne Zanikos - Anne Zanikos Art Conservation, San Antonio TX
Textiles- Melanie Sanford - Textile Preservation Services of Texas, Dallas TX
Photographs- Corinne Dune - DBA Photogragh and Paper Conservation Services, San Marcos TX
Furniture- Brad Ford Smith - Studio Six Art Conservation, Dallas TX

Very excited to be on the panel with this group of art conservators.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Drawing A Few Good Books

While teaching the Drawing Fundamentals class at CAC I used several books to help demonstrate the various elements of drawing. Since then a few people have asked for a list of those books, so here they are.

The War of Art, Steven Pressfield
Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain, Betty Edwards
Cezanne and Pissarro Pioneering Modern Painting,  Joachim Pissarro
Cezanne In The Studio Still Life In Watercolors, Carol Armstrong
The Paintings Of Jakuchu, Money L. Hickman
Impressionist And The City Pissarro's Series Paintings, Richard R. Brettell
Vincent van Gogh Drawings and Watercolors, DMA publication 1967
An American Pulse: Lithographs of George Wesley Bellows, San Diego Museum of Art publication 1999
The Art Of Drawing, Bernard Chaet
American Drawing The 20th Centery, Paul Cummings
Daumier 1808-1879, National Gallery Of Canada publication 1999
Matisse Drawings and Sculpture, Prestel

Friday, February 24, 2012

Drawing The Pieces Together

Raku Kilns at the Creative Arts Center
For six weeks we have been focusing on drawing by breaking the practice of drawing down to it's basic elements; contour line, mass, mark making, negative space, relationships, gesture and composition.

For this last class of Drawing Fundamentals, we are taking all those elements and applying them to a larger scale view. This shifting from still life to landscape tends to bring about a regression of drawing skills, but all the drawing elements apply in the same way. The objects in the landscape are the same as the fruit in the still life. Apply the elements to flatten your view of the world, all the objects will become a flat pattern which is transferred onto the page like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

Ceramic Class Room
Of course the trick is to stop thinking in 3D. You know the bucket is round, but in a drawing its a rectangle with curved ends.

When drawing landscapes you do need to acknowledgment the horizon line. The line that marks the separation of seeing the tops of objects and seeing the bottoms of objects. In the drawing of the Ceramic Class Room, you can see the tops of the buckets on the floor, but you can't see the tops of the objects on the top shelf.

This horizon line is your grounding straight line. All lines angle off of this line. Angling more as you look higher up or lower down. It tells you what the angle of perspective should be for all the other flat shapes.

Sorry, that's probably more confusing than it is enlightening. That's the nature of perspective. You just have to be there and do it to understand it.

Anyway, This was the last day of class and my last day to teach Drawing Fundaments. A Big Thank you to the Creative Arts Center for this opportunity to fill in while the instructor was recuperating. I really enjoyed the experience of getting back to the fundaments of drawing.

Next week: I'll blog about something new.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Scribbling The Night Away

For this Class on Drawing Fundaments I began by show examples of famous scribblers from the past; Matisse, Cezanne, and yes, Daumier. You might not know it, but Honore' Daumier is a fantastic scribbler. All of these artists drew with speed and passion, never letting the fear of getting it wrong slow them down.

The scribble allows you to react and respond to the subject intuitively. You make decisions about composition before you have had time to think about composition. The scribble involves your whole body, not just your fingers.

So, tonight, working from one large still life, we drew like devils. Starting out with several one minute drawings, then 2 minutes drawings, then 5 minutes, and finally finishing the night with a 30 minute drawing. Here's a montage from the class.

Next week- Pain Air Perspective.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Filming At LRTX With Mark Birnbaum

I spent a crisp Sunday morning at La Reunion TX with the filmmaker Mark Birnbaum. You might recall previous posting about his videos on this blog.

He was there shooting footage for a short film that will highlight the natural setting of LRTX.

And how the artwork is integrated into the landscape. I was there to mostly carry his tripod, but also to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about the art of filmmaking.

Panning the horizon, the sun cut beautiful blue holes in the cloud cover turning the dry prairie grass into a field of shifting gold.

Back at the studio, with the raw footage downloaded into one of the dozen backup hard drives, Mark cuts and splices the best of the footage and sound recordings, then adds a few lines of text. We watch the results over hot cups of coffee and homemade oatmeal cookies. The video will be posted on the LRTX website soon, I'll let you all know when that happens.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

First Steps To A Wall Installation

Here's a quick snapshot of a wall installation in the mud and plaster stage.

My sketchbook is getting filled with drawings of elongated forms that often have knobs, forks, and horns. I am turning some of these into small ceramic sculptures that will eventually be installed as a random scattering on a wall.

In the photo above, in the bottom left corner is an oil clay model on a 5"X 7" MDF panel. The white block next to it is a plaster mold cast from one of the oil clay models. Above that, to the left is a plaster mold filled with clay. Next, shows the extra clay cleared away from the mold surface. On the blue board are the clay sculptures after being removed from the molds. 

From here the sculptures go into the kiln to be bisque fired, then glazed, and then high fired. The ones that survive this torturous trial will become part of a large wall installation.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Dark Side Of Mass

In tonight's class on Drawing Fundamentals we focused on describing mass, volume and shadow. Starting with a simple still life of fruit laid out on the table under a bright spot light, we drew quick sketches to get our eyes adjusted to seeing the subtle changes in shadow and high light. Then moved on to a few longer drawings.

To push the eyeball exercises a bit further, we switched over to drawing with white pencils on black paper. This switch means that you are now drawing the high lights instead of the shadows. Your marks relate to the brightness hitting the surface. We did two of these, and with all the groaning/conversation they took longer than expected. Seeing the light is much harder than following the dark.

Our long draw for the night was only about 20 minutes. It consisted of all white objects, related to the human head, and lined up against a white wall. The spot light accented the mass and the positive and negative shapes. Even though the drawing above is not finished, notice how your eye falls into that black void.

Next week, it's time to get down and scribble.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Building A Vocabulary Of Mark Making

A common issue faced when drawing from life is the frustration cause by a lack of a mark making vocabulary.

Drawing is the language of describing the 3 diminutional world on a flat sheet of paper, and doing it without the use of letters or words. Drawing uses marks, scribbles, dashes, smears... hundreds of variations. If you approach a drawing with only the mark making language used in hand writing, your drawing will reflect that lack of knowledge. It's like reading Moby Dick at only a Dick and Jane reading level.

So, tonight's Drawing Fundamentals class focused on building a vocabulary. We started by copying a few Chinese landscape drawings, which are loaded with mark making variations. In the drawing above, you can see that Clayton is exploring how to reproduce those marks.

We then moved on to drawing from a still life. Clayton is now using his pencil to a much fuller extent. Creating marks that describe light, texture, weight, and volume. These variations are the nouns, verbs, and adjectives that create visual poetry.

Next week we will be exploring the Darker Side Of Mass.