Thursday, January 31, 2008

Getting that Monkey back on my back

The ArtWhino Show opening went well, as did the Dr Dremo's DC Conspiracy. All in all it was a good reminder of why I put myself through the agony of being a painter (as opposed to the agony of being a Set Designer)

One of the lessons learned between these two events was that...people love monkeys. I know that this is hardly a "revelation", but it is certainly an affirmation of some of the practices that I have been questioning. You see, I had a bit of a crisis recently, because of some notion in my head that I needed to reconnect with making art with people in it. This is something I have struggled with because I have all sorts of hangups about narrative, and specificity, and "illustration vs Art", and timelessness, etc...which has got me scared shitless about making any sort of art that has people in it. But I was going to start to overcome all that with a new set of work, and the primed piece of cut wood from the previous post was going to be its opening shot. But just as I was about to set sail on this new body of work, I was confronted with a far more basic problem. I didn't have any models.

You see, I have found that my work has a "cartoonishness" when I don't have a reference to paint from. This is rightly so, because cartoons are a distillation of experience into a shorthand that can be easily grasped by the viewer. So naturally, if I am filling in the blanks, the work looks stripped down, because I am not recording what I am seeing, I am translating what I remember. The more direct the reference I have, the greater the detail, the more realistic the result. So this is a crisis for someone who (with the above mentioned hangups) has to create pictures of people, if you don't have people to look at. But its not just people, its poses... Well, you say, why don't you just go to the interwebs and lookup pictures of people to use for reference? I have tried that, with mixed results. What happens is that I get approximations, and then I collage them together in photoshop. This somehow has a deadening effect on the finished product. I cant really explain it, but somehow the collage of images renders the painting obsolete. Why go through the process of transcribing this collage, when you have done all the work already? (this is also not to mention that painting from photographs can look just like that, painting from can see when it has been done in the same way you can tell when someone has traced something and when they drew it by "eyeballing"...)

So, long story short, I dun thunk myself rite outta bizness... But not before I made a sketch for the piece I was going to make. So, I share it with you in order to let you know that I am not abandoning the project altogether, just cooling my heels in order to regroup...

Worst Case Scenario sketch
11"x14"Color Pencil on Black Paper

So after all that, what did I resolve? Yep, people love monkeys. For some reason, if I don't give a shit about the outcome, I am perfectly capable of making paintings that I enjoy, and other people connect with...This is really on of the biggest tensions in my life. When I try to think my way through a painting, I get bogged down; but when I don't think about it (and say to myself "fuck it") good work just piles up. I think that is partly why I have been making these monkeys. They represent a primitive, messy, chaotic side of me that just wants to have a silly laugh at things and run around without pants on. I don't know if they will ever be in the Louvre, but they somehow feel right...

So, I saw this picture of a guy in an old movie usher outfit in a fashion spread...and something just went off in my head about him looking like a monkey. So I knocked out this color study in 20 minutes,

Color Study for "monkey usher" painting
8"X10" Acrylic on watercolor paper

Which lead to this full sized painting, which was painted over the course of two days.

"Monkey Usher" (working title)
16"X20" Acrylic on Board

So, needless to say, I think I will make a few more of these monkey stay tuned.

The other developments of the past weeks has been that Yuri's Night is 85% certain to happen at ArtWhino this year. I just need one more piece of reassurance, and then I will be promoting this puppy full bore!

Additionally, I have accepted the task of designing the set for the Musical Comedy "Zombie Prom". Its being done outside of Baltimore somewhere, but regardless, I'm going to give it the 'ole college try!

And lastly, I am sorry to say that I do not have any pictures this year from "pushing debutantes" at the "Hinkley" hotel in Washington...but I did do it with a 101.7 degree temperature, which is a first for me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Its been more than a month...

I would like to apologize for not posting anything for more than a month. The holidays are a really stressful and action packed time of year, and this one was no exception for me. Lots of things happened, and lots of things didn't. KT's grandma passed away just before Xmas, which caused no end of disturbances...then things started to go in slow motion around the holidays. Without a Lobsterboy Revue for NYE, I was practically adrift. So a teensey bit of "depression" set in, namely inactivity and sloth...I am like a shark; give me lots of blood to swim in and I am happy. Once my calendar has no significant deadlines, I am dead in the water.

I must say that it was not entirely unproductive...I did get lots of things up on the $0.10 EBay listings over the new year (I even sold a few MR. TIKIHEADS) and, Oh yeah, Scientology pageant opened and closed...enjoy some pictures and a link to the review
The set in its pristine state...without child actors!Prince Xenu and the Robot get down!

All in all, it was a really great production. It left you with a warm glow...then again, that could of just been the theatans...(or is it engrams?)
Some of the good news about Landless Theater is that they have begun to find their audience. I think that they are capable of becoming one of the awesomest theater companies in the DC area. I believe in them so much, that I have agreed to be one of their "Associate Artists" for another year (which means that I will be designing Debbie Does Dallas the Musical, in the spring...and much more in next years exciting season)

Yuri's Night 2008 is in a bit of a holding pattern right now. It may be a small may be a big show...or it might not happen at all...The next few weeks will determine what will happen...Stay tuned...

One of the things that started to trip me up over the holidays was making work for the Dirty Show in Detroit. It turns out that "erotic art" is a bit of a stumbling block for me. I guess that most of my experiences with erotic art have been from, lets face it: PORN. So I feel that its really much more of a photographers medium...try as I might, I couldn't seem to get any erotic paintings off the ground. This was a major contributor to my aforementioned sloth/depression.

But, undaunted, I threw myself into some work that would hopefully get me moving in a new direction artistically. I developed a sketch and then I made this to paint on:

More about this new direction my work may be taking later...

On a "year in review" note, the going out gurus listed Art in Heat as one of the top 10 art shows in DC in 2007...

This Saturday, you should get your butt to Dr Dremo's and swing by my table for the third annual DC Conspiracy Counter Cultural FestivalThey have a Myspace Page for the show, as well as a plain old website

Below is the blurb about the Art Whino show I will have some work in...Opens this Friday!

Please Join Us!


A Dream Remembered, An Endless Pause: The Solo Show of J. Coleman
and Art Whino's Collaboration Featuring 18 New Artists
Alexandria, V.A. Art Whino ( launches a DOUBLE FEATURE: A Dream Remembered, An Endless Pause: The Solo Show of J. Coleman and Art Whino's Collaboration Featuring 18 New Artists, The opening reception takes place on January 18th, 2008 from 6-12pm, and will include music by DJ Mikel Panda spinning from 6-9pm and a Live Band Performance by Brooklyn based band "Object" and Live Painting performance by J. Coleman beginning at 9pm.

A Dream Remembered, An Endless Pause: J. Coleman Solo Show
Twenty eight year old artist, J. Coleman, lives and paints in Washington D.C. Coleman has been showing consistently for six years now and has been featured in multiple exhibitions. After earning his degree from the University of Mary Washington, Coleman apprenticed under D.C. painter, Matt Sesow. Since then he has quickly become a prominent figure in the D.C. art scene. His work has been shown in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Wilmington, DC, Brooklyn, Baltimore, and has recently had portraits purchased by the UNC museum for their permanent collection.



Art Whino Permanent Gallery
Art Whino adds 18 new artists to its Permanent Gallery bringing the number to 100 participating artists and over 400 pieces of art on exhibit. New work from this show will be available online at ( starting Jan 21st.


Adam Russell, Arisu, Benjamin Floeter,Brandi Read, COL, Grim Arts, Iceberg Slick, Jared Davis, John Powell


Jazirock, Michelle Caplan, Nate Frizzell, Nishi, PaperMonster, Phoneticontrol, Rick Beaupre, Tika, Yoskay

DJ MIKEL PANDA performing in the Front Gallery 6-9pm

DJ Mikel Panda is a Deep House/ Tech-House/ Techno/ Breakbeat DJ originating out of Washington, DC and the surrounding area. However, Dj Mikel Panda, the name, originated in Richmond, VA. He has been Djing out for over a decade in places such as BUZZ, FIVE, The Edge, and more in Washington, DC. He started the outdoor and FREE event, ROBOT ROK four years ago. He has played on the FM Dial six times, as well as festivals, retail shops, international restaurants from Norfolk, VA, Richmond, VA, Washington, DC, and Baltimore, MD clubs as well.

Object Band Performing in the Back Gallery 9pm

Object resurrects the brain-dead with more than a few jarring songs wrought with pure emotional violence expressed in the form of an equation that balances only two members. From Brooklyn, with love, the duo possesses a kind of innocent demure that is only shattered by the deafening blow of their post grunge anthems. Above all else, Object have pushed their way into the collective consciousness and sit there on the merit of their music. Finely crafted hard rock that recalls the likes of Failure, Fugazi, Foo Fighters, Jeff Buckley and Nirvana, with a raucous live show that flaunts fearless semi-demented yet thoughtful tunes and a mess of beautiful noise that could make your head explode. Object wants you to open your eyes to the possibilities.