Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Chris Rovillo 1951-2010

In a business full of egos the size of Mount Rushmore, with maybe a few deserved, I don't think I ever saw Chris Rovillo have an egotistical moment. He was a kind, compassionate, friendly, talented, funny, guitar-playing man.
Chris died last night. His health had been questionable for some time, but I think only those closest to him received the news without being shocked. The old adage "the good die young" has applied to every eulogy, memorial, whatever these are, that I have written since this blog began. I have to add Chris to the list of Don Punchatz, George Toomer, Bill Ross and Monte Wade. I hope I don't have to add anyone else for a long time.
Chris' graphic design work won many awards, and it is certainly one of the primary reasons the Dallas area has long been considered a major design force. I had the privilege of working with him on a few projects, including this poster for the Neiman-Marcus Adolphus Hotel Children's Christmas Parade. The whole thing was Chris' idea, I just fleshed it out. I was glad to hear that whenever he exhibited the poster he spoke well of my contribution. The illustration was included in the New York Society of Illustrators 44th Annual Exhibition.
Chris was also kind enough to buy this painting, "Sub-Marina", for his wife Jeanne's collection of mermaid images.
Another life well lived. May we all have that thought applied to our own journeys through this often bizarre, usually great visit to Earth.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Still working on the "Neo-Retro" illustration style, in this case an attempt to make it a bit cleaner and more "commercial", if I may make such a confession. But it is illustration, after all, and illustration exists in a commercial universe.
The background is a mix of watercolor and photographic collage elements. For example, the rim of the swimming pool is a photograph of a concrete surface.
One might think the young lady enjoying the pool (and yes, if you see a resemblance to Roy Lichtenstein's "Girl with a Ball", there may be one) is a little on the pale side, especially for such an obviously ardent Sun worshipper. Her whiteness balances the great expanse of white at the top of the image.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ah, the bluebonnet...

There is probably no subject more riddled with cliches and less revered by artists than the bluebonnet field. From good, classic landscapes, like those of Julian Onderdonk to really bad Sunday painter versions (not that there's anything wrong with being a Sunday painter; anything that brings someone pleasure and satisfaction is fine with me) the really beautiful Texas State Flower has been placed in an unfair and undeserved position. I think it's still possible to create a representational image of bluebonnets that, even if not designed to overturn the Social Order, can still be enjoyed by people who think they hate bluebonnet paintings. Whether this one qualifies I don't know and I'm not the Decider anyway.
My late San Antonio dealer Monte Wade, who left us last year, told me I should make a bluebonnet painting, as there were always people coming through the gallery looking for them. I actually had my version of a bluebonnet landscape already hanging there for several months with no response (it has subsequently sold, I'm happy to report), but when I pointed this out to Monte he said, "Yeah, but it needs something else, like a big ol' Longhorn or something. People like to have something they can lock onto".
Like a focal point?
So I delivered this piece to the gallery last week. It's dedicated to Monte in thanks for his long support of my work.
I titled it "Icons", since it has not only bluebonnets, but prickly pear cactus and that focally pointed Longhorn, as well.
As always, it's acrylic on canvas and it's 18 by 24 inches.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


"Moonfish", acrylic on canvas, 12 by 12 inches.

"Moonfish" is my contribution to an exhibit at the Bath House Cultural Center in Dallas, with an opening reception 7 - 9 pm July 10 and continuing through August 7. The show is titled "Fictional" and is in conjuction with the Festival of Independent Theatres.

According to the Bath House press release, the show was "conceived as a collaborative project between the Bath House gallery and the 12th Annual Festival of Independent Theatres. In the same spirit as FIT, which strives to celebrate the talent of local independent theatre companies, the exhibition also has as its main goal to provide a showcase for the innovative, transcendent and thriving art created by local and regional artists."

Based on elements of the plots of eight one-act plays presented as a part of this year's festival, invited artists chose from a list of single sentence "blurbs" to create images. Interestingly, knowing too much about the plays themselves was discouraged, as to avoid work that "merely illustrated the literary works" (hmmm...). The preferred approach was for "the artists to consider the short blurbs for their own inspiration merit in order to create personal, unique and independent interpretations of the phrases." *
Okay, works for me.

I chose "The Boy, the Girl and the Moonfish" from other possibilities including "Reconstructed Alice in Wonderland", "Bible Heroines", "Mystery Girl Scout", "Transforming Muses", "Snake Urban Legends", "A Day Spent in Purgatory", and "Pontiacs, Trains and Disneyland". I knew exactly what I wanted to do from the moment I read "The Boy, the Girl and the Moonfish", which doesn't happen that often.

* The best examples of illustration do just that, but that's a discussion for a different context.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Favorite paintings

John Fincher is a Santa Fe based painter whose work I've admired for twenty-plus years. His textures and paint handling can only be seen "in person" to be fully appreciated.
His subject matter ranges from expansive landscapes, such as "Los Ojos", oil, 48 by 36 inches, to intimate objects like shaving brushes, "Arch Brush No. 5", oil, 10 by 8 inches.

A series based on branches shows a more minimalist, abstract approach to natural world objects.

All images ©John Fincher