Monday, June 18, 2012

Let's be honest...

     As artists, we see differently. How many times have we been in conversations with friends or family about our work and they just don't seem to get it. Or we overhear someone commenting on our work and realize they've missed the whole point. They just don't see... they don't understand.
     So we carry on, sad for those who don't possess the superior insight, the penetrating wisdom, the mastery of life's hidden mysteries that we are burdened with. Like Uncle Andrew Ketterley from C.S. Lewis' The Magician's Nephew:

Oh, I see. You mean that little boys ought to keep their promises. Very true: most right and proper, I'm sure, and I'm very glad you have been taught to do it. But of course you must understand that rules of that sort, however excellent they may be for little boys - and servants - and women - and even people in general, can't possibly be expected to apply to profound students and great thinkers and sages. No, Digory. Men like me, who possess hidden wisdom, are freed from common rules just as we are cut off from common pleasures. Ours, my boy, is a high and lonely destiny.

     Unfortunately, we forget that engineers see things differently than us non-technical folks. And our car mechanic may not ascribe to us the glory we may feel we are due, but he certainly knows what that funny sound is and why it's killing my gas mileage. Or the owner of the plumbing company that repaired my broken pipe. Or the grocery clerk that made sure my eggs were placed in a separate bag from the juice bottle. Or the bank teller. Or the insurance agent.
     And especially the pastor.
     When presenting the concept for an 8' x 14' illustration that was to grace the wall of our church, my pastor loved what he saw. And then, looking a bit longer, he got uncomfortably silent. Sheepishly, he asked if I could make a change that would tell some of the story more clearly.
     "Sure," I replied.
     To say he was relieved was an understatement. He was prepared to hear a litany of reasons why I knew better and that he was one of the uninitiated who just didn't get it. The truth is, he knows the people he serves better than I do. And the bottom line is that he and I are in this together.
     Does he always get what I do? No. Do I always understand what he does? Definitely not. Have we promised to work at understanding one another, knowing we won't always be spot on? Absolutely.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

So... what's going on with this Kingdom Heart thing?

The blank canvas. The empty page. 
You're inspired. You know where you want to go. Kind of.
You hear the song. See the image. Know the main character.
And once you start, it begins to have a life of its own.
And so it is with this event. 
Meetings. Connections. Discussions. All with a desire to let God direct the process.
Never wanting to make this just another conference.
"Wow, that was great! Life changing! Where are we going for dinner? Wanna grab a movie? This morning?... don't remember, but it was great!"
There is a desire to challenge and commission people. To view the arts not as something they do but an extension of who they have been created to be. Men and women funneling their passions into something resourceful while at the same time living lives characterized by Biblical integrity and healthy relationships. 
Ultimately, mentoring and discipleship are about helping members of the next generation find their individual callings. Mentoring and discipleship are the tonic for purposelessness, one of the most spiritually debilitating and painful conditions a person can experience. As spiritual fathers and mothers, there are few joys greater than helping them find their direction. This is one of the strengths of business... Mentoring and discipleship do more than address negative issues. They create opportunities, internships, apprenticeships, and they model success. — Robert Fraser, Marketplace Christianity
Obedience, not excellence, is the standard. Excellence will flow out of obedience to Jesus Christ. We want to speak to the whole person, not just their gifts, talents and activities. A place where one can begin, continue, or help others through the process of forgiveness, reconnection, and creativity.
August 11, 2012. Elim Park, Cheshire, CT.
More to come...

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Kingdom Heart of the Artist

The existence of any Christian life together… will remain sound and healthy only where it does not form itself into a movement, an order, a society, a collegium pietatis, but rather where it understands itself as being a part of the one, holy, catholic, Christian Church, where it shares actively and passively in the sufferings and struggles and promise of the whole Church. —Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
What would a creative community look like that... 
...esteemed the truth and beauty of God and His word above their own talents and ideas? 
...could honor one another, challenge one another, and spur one another on?
...could truly communicate and embody the Kingdom of God rather than dressing up a dying culture with a Christian varnish?
...could collectively receive and translate ideas from God like Moses received the patterns for the tabernacle?
...could truly learn to forgive one another, connect with one another, and experience the power of creativity that goes beyond personal catharsis?
...wasn't trying to be some new movement or society but understood itself as being part of the whole Church, sharing in its sufferings, struggles, and promises?

On August 11, 2012, creative people from all over the NorthEast will have an opportunity to gather together in Cheshire, CT to engage one another around these and other questions. The Kingdom Heart of the Artist is not intended to be another event or conference. Nor will it be a place to showcase one's craft or learn new techniques. The hope is that it will become a community of creative followers of Christ becoming who we are called to be in and through that community.
Through various social networks we will begin to build connection ahead of the August meeting. Details will be coming soon. Please put the date on your calendars and let others know.

Monday, April 30, 2012

A Change of Course...

An August conference...

Creating in community...

Practical advice from a conspirator...

Narnian wisdom...

Rethinking catharsis...

...Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

2012 Klingberg Auto Show

What better reason to finally publish a new post than to display the graphics for this year's Klingberg Vintage Motor Car Festival. This year will be the 20th annual show, which is a fund raising event for the Klingberg Children's Center

Based on the design from last year's event, the cars featured in this year's promotions are a 1960 Buick Electra, a 1935 Ford Brewster, and a 1939 Ford Woody Wagon.

In the process of researching for reference material for the illustrations, I stumbled across some internet gold. Someone has put together a site (The Old Car Manual Project) containing thousands of car manuals and brochures. I was actually giggling (what a nerd!) poking through brochures and photos. A real feast for any car lover or for someone who wants to take a stroll down memory lane. Check it out.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Finding beauty in the details

This past June I brought my camera to the Klingberg Vintage Motor Car Festival in New Britain, CT. While so many people were taking snapshots of the exquisite autos at this show, I became fascinated by the beautiful lines and shapes in the details. Standing just a couple of feet away from a fender, a young lady asked me what I was shooting. It reminded me of realizing how odd I looked standing inches away from a giant sequoia, taking pictures of the beautiful red bark. Hope you enjoy these shots... and are encouraged to look for beauty and design in the details around you.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Emma Sings Sinatra

When Emma was born so many well meaning folks tried to comfort us with stories of how the pain of having a special needs child never goes away. In some ways that is true, but the joys of life with her eclipse the struggles. I often tell people that Emma doesn't know she is supposed to be limited by Down Syndrome. Donna certainly doesn't believe it, and she does everything she can to give Emma the hope and reality of a full life.

Emma has always liked memorizing movies and music and performing them for us, especially at dinner. So many times a phrase would come up in conversation that reminded her of a scene in a movie. She'd jump from her chair, quickly get herself in character, and perform the scene, often making up words as she went along (Friends, Romans, countrymen… let me in your ears!). 

Luckily Natalie had a camera on hand for this one. This was not practiced. Friends Slate and Rachel Ballard had given everyone at their wedding a CD of their favorite music. "I've Got the World on a String" was one of them, and turned out to be a favorite of Emma's as well. This was recorded back in 2004. She was only 5 years old at the time. Hope you enjoy it as much as we have.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

eklektos on

Lately life has been very full with teaching, making plans for a school, working, hanging out with my family, and working with some folks to help me build a bigger client base. Part of growing the business now includes several portfolios on So far I've been really pleased with their customer service... no taking your credit card number and then forgetting who you are. Let's see what comes of it...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Little Man

My daughter, Lydia snapped a great picture of Levi, my grandson, as he was looking out our kitchen window. "What a great subject for a drawing or painting" I said to myself. So here it is. Seven inches square on Arches hot press block, all in Winsor & Newton burnt sienna with #6 and #3 Kolinsky brushes.

Friday, March 4, 2011

I Love to Draw!

After posting an old pencil drawing last week I decided to return to my first artistic love. No matter what medium I work with, when I draw I want to shout my own rendition of Eric Liddell's famous line from Chariots of Fire... "When I draw I feel His pleasure!"

This past summer, my daughter Natalie snapped some great photos at her older sister's baby shower. One of those photos was of Hannah, a young lady for whom both Natalie and Alayna were babysitters. Hannah's piercing eyes and focused expression were the perfect subject for this seventh portrait.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Teaching two classes and being very busy with work leaves me very grateful but with little time to finish a portrait a week. So, it's back to the archives.

1983 was a very productive year. I was hoping to make my way as a portrait artist, and that year I must have produced dozens of portraits in watercolor and graphite. I had a number of friends who were more than willing to let me draw/paint them or their family.

A friend from high school, Tom Brennan, moved from Hartford to a tiny town called Fletcher, Vermont — so small you had to go to the next town for the post office which was in a general store. Here is a graphite portrait I drew of him and his first daughter, Erin.
My signature style then was to have a rectangular background with the subject breaking out its frame into the blank page.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

So, Can I Do It Without The Computer?

That was a question I asked myself since I will be taking commissions for portraits at the Six Summit Gallery. I know some people might not want a print, feeling it was not an original. Technically, the print is the original since the file is a digital file. I don't think the digital vs traditional argument will ever be settled.

So, I set about finishing the portrait of Lydia by printing the outline I had drawn and posted last week. I printed it on watercolor paper and then painted and drew directly on the paper... no separate layers, no scanning and assembling.

I'm pleased with the piece, but not ecstatic. I don't like the texture of the paper for drawing. I'll have to experiment on a hot press paper to see if I get better results. Also, the colors are not as dynamic as they are when printed on my Epson 7880. I'll keep plugging at this, and maybe even offer a client the choice.

Anyway, here she is... portrait number 5... my daughter Lydia.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

To Dad, Christmas 1978

Once again my week has gotten away from me. I'm grateful that I've been busy with design and illustration work. I also started teaching a class this week. I have a new portrait started, but won't get to finishing it until next week. So, once again, I dig into the archives. Today I'll share the drawing that was a turning point for me in realizing the drawing skills with which I had been blessed.

I don't remember who the subject was. It was from a photo I found in a magazine. But it looked like something my father might like. I'm sure I was pushing myself to impress my rugged, machine-shop-working father. He never said much, but the picture was always hanging right above his rocking chair in the den until he died.

I didn't know that there was such a thing as acid-free paper, or that there were other pencils besides your generic yellow number 2 model. But I was surprised and pleased with what I was able to do, and it started me on a path for many years creating very tight pencil portraits for myself and others.

By the way, here's the start of a portrait of my daughter, Lydia. Hope to post the finished piece next week.