Thursday, April 22, 2021

Earth Day inspired -Resignation Painting

I created Resignation using various brands of colored inks from bottles and fine tipped Koh- I-Noor Rapidograph pens on primed wood. I started it in early December, and after a lot of binge drawing, finished it up early 2017. 

Lately, I've been looking for more unique or interesting ways of framing my art. I have framed many of my pieces with traditional type frames myself at a friend's framing shop (Mark Wood, Chalet Arts in Starkville) or had them framed there. But I've wanted to do more interesting framing since I was young. It was only recently that I purchased a table saw, a decent jigsaw, and a miter saw to potentially create some more unique frames. Also, I randomly keep an eye out for interesting old frames that might be used in conjunction with some of my art. Indeed, that was the case here, as I found the frame used for "Resignation" at a local pawnshop. This frame, and two others, were mirror frames, and it took a bit of bartering before the owner sold me the three mirrors for a decent price. The next day, I started two pieces for these frames: "Resignation" and "Love Thyself." 

Of course, when I start a piece of art, I have no idea of what I am going to do. At best, I may have a simple design in mind, but usually not even that. In the case of Resignation, I wanted a strong piece with perhaps some intrinsic meaning to pair with the over-the-top gaudiness of the mirror frame, that likely would have found its way into the bedroom of some double wide trailer. I cut a piece of wood to fit the place once occupied by the mirror, and then I added a couple of coats of white Kilz primer. Priming was done unceremoniously with a cheap ass house painting brush from Dirt Cheap. I don't smooth dried brush strokes out, because I like the random textures created from my casual brushing. 

After the second coat of primer was finished and dry, I began randomly applying colored inks from bottles (assorted brands). I brushed the ink on with different sized brushes and poured ink directly onto the wood. While applying inks, I let it flow about, moving the wood to aid in the flow. Before ink was dry, I used crumpled pieces of paper towel to blot areas and create patterns in the ink. I like the way ink moves on the primed wood surface and how different types of inks react to one another while still wet. As with similar pieces, I apply the color inks in many light, almost transparent/translucent layers, letting each layer dry before doing the next. This process takes many days, but I like the end result. 

Typically, I work on several pieces simultaneously. At some point, I look at the piece, and start seeing shapes, so I start drawing with my fine tipped pens with permanent black ink. The drawing part is very time consuming because the pen is easily clogged on this primed and inked board. I have to basically caress the picture with the pen. Thus begins the back-and-forth process of drawing areas and adding additional color where needed. At first, the image is an amorphous soup of green chaos with no direction. But, gradually, one thing leads to another, and shapes begin to coalesce. The picture basically draws itself. A story unfolds as I simply hold the pen. This takes place over many hours at various times of day and night. I don't need inspiration; I simply need to time to let it flow out. Every once in a while, I take the picture and stand it up elsewhere, looking at it from afar, to see what's growing. 

Although I don't start with a particular idea, all of my pieces represent the myriad thoughts I have. And obviously, as an entomologist, and someone who has studied nature since I was a kid, there is a strong connection to science and biology represented in my artwork. However, this connection has little to do with where I work, as I was doing similarly styled images as a young kid. More likely, I work where I do because that was my interest to begin with. 

Resignation, ink on wood, by Joe A. MacGown

At some point in time, a somewhat saddened face emerges from near the center. This guy–me–you–the composite face of mankind–becomes the focal point of the picture. He's concerned but resigned. About what? Well, whatever is in my head I suppose? Currently, we have leadership of our state and country that is anti-education, anti -environment, anti- science, etc., and mostly concerned about personal gain at the expense of everything else. My having studied nature is certainly a big part of this picture and others as well. Life is chaotic, but ever so interconnected. Every single thing we do has some repercussion, be it good or bad. Our planet is being filled to the brim with people. We are dead set on destroying the planet, wiping out forests, destroying aquatic life, killing off species daily…this can't go on indefinitely. Of course, many people do things in the name of one religion or another. It is easy to not take responsibility for something when you believe in a fantastical god who could make everything perfect in a second if he or she or it wanted to (and apparently does not want to). Many people actually believe everything happens according to some incredible plan and that among the gazillions of star systems, there is only one god and only one planet with life and we are special, and we are loved by god and he will take care of us and we can continue screwing up the planet because it is our toy. Unfortunately, we are truly causing serious problems with life on this speck of a planet in the vastness of the universe. Too many people, too much greed, too much everything. Resignation. Mother Nature, Father Earth, God? What would they say if they could? If they existed?? Mutate, reproduce, absorb, integrate, segregate, accumulate, intertwine, become one, become none–life. All life is dependent and interconnected with other life and the inanimate. Perhaps, even with some other spiritual system in another dimension. Who knows? Viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms abound. Perhaps the results of mankind's folly will be good for other life forms. Maybe we are but a small part of the bigger picture. A larger flow. Let the ink flow where it may. I'm resigned to my fate, whatever it may be. Meanwhile, I rejoice in the greenness that is left. 

Resignation in a gnarly frame

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Finished up a few pieces this week and of course progress on others!

Some of my art takes a long time to do because of the ridiculous amount of details I enjoy adding. It is not unusual for me to start a piece of artwork and then put it away for years before coming back to it. In many cases, I come back to working on it multiple times. This week, I have more or less finished a few older pieces and plan on framing them this week! Also I finished up a new commission that was pretty fun and full of bright ink colors!
This joker is almost done! 
"Emma's World",  about 4 feet tall, inks on wood.  This piece was a commission and so it is already sold. I will make prints of it.
Boo! Watercolor and ink on cold press illustration board
"Floaters 2", ink on cold press illustration board

"Chaos", ink on clay coated board

"Microverse 1", ink on cold press illustration board

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Covid, Art, and Change

 Wowzers! What a year. I retired from my job as a scientific illustrator/research technician on July 1, I got remarried on October 10 to Jennifer, a wonderfully creative lady, and we have made lots of progress on building an art retreat at our property located in Sessums, Mississippi. 

Joe and Jennifer MacGown

Yep, I have long wanted to create an art retreat of some type where people can come look at art, create art, participate in art and music events, to enjoy and learn about nature, and even to start an artist in residence program. The idea sounds a bit crazy, but I believe it is feasible. 

the front of our art house

living room area with art on wall and art border


We plan on turning the existing house into a place for resident artists to stay while visiting and using other rooms as inexpensive sleeping options for various guests who may be at an event or something. We will be building a small cabin near the pond to live in, which gives us this amazing option! If all goes well, we are hoping to be ready by the fall of 2021. We already have a functioning studio, are about 80% complete on a cool art cabin/studio, have started building a gallery/workshop, and have a cool pavilion on the pond, which would be perfect for musicians to play on! 

pavilion on a snowy  day

art cabin

gallery/workshop started



One goal is to have an artist in residence come stay for one to three weeks, with perhaps 3-4 artists per year. I would like each artist to leave their footprint on the property in same way such as creating a sculpture, painting a mural (or helping), doing a painting, or some other expression of what they do. Also, I am hoping to have artists conduct workshops in the gallery/workshop building that I recently started building. 

a fun view of studio and pavilion from pond

painting in the canoe! 

I am looking forward to completing these projects so we can get started on hosting art events as well as showcasing our own art! 

current work

love my inks

some of Joseph's whimsical ceramic pieces

Happy new year! 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Selling Art During a Pandemic

Wow, it has been a crazy spring with the Covid 19 Virus Pandemic effectively shutting down many businesses either temporarily or permanently. Of course, all festivals, art walks, and gallery and museum exhibitions have been canceled or postponed. This has made selling art difficult. Fortunately we have social media. Never has there been a time for an artist when social media was more important than now, and boy I have been posting a lot of art. And guess what, this spring has been my best art selling year ever, already! So, thanks very much to all of our great followers, supporters, buyers and others who have helped during this difficult time.

Here are some fun shots from my studio from the last week. Many of the originals in the photos have been sold! No worries, I have plenty left as does Joseph. But if you want something, don't wait, cuz it moving. Thanks.

Almost everything in these pictures was framed at Chalet Arts! If you are an artist around here and you are not framing your work there, then you are making it more difficult to sell your art. A great frame that showcases your work makes it much easier to sell and showcase your art. And the staff at Chalet Art are fantastic about working with local artist. Talk to them and form relationships. You will thank me later.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Arthrobryozoic Naiad heads to the Meridian Museum of Art

So I entered the 46th Annual Meridian Museum of Art Bi-State Art Competition, 2020 and got my Arthrobryozoic Naiad piece accepted. This is a fun piece I did last year that can be viewed at different angles and has lots of cool layers. It is 24 x 48 inches and done entirely with blue ink on primed birch plywood. 

I often enter this competition and have had some luck with awards. It is always a great show with lots of talented artists from Alabama and MIssissippi. As in other years, quite a few art faculty members will have art in the show, which is great! 

This year's juror is Stephanie Smith, an artist, printmaker, and educator. She earned her B.F.A from the Atlanta College of Art and a M.F.A. with Distinction from the University of Georgia in 1997. Smith is a Senior Lecturer at the University of West Georgia where she teaches drawing, 2D design, printmaking and book arts as well as serving as gallery director. In 2005 she co-founded the non-profit arts organization the Atlanta Printmakers Studio and served as President for the first five years. I imagine selection of accepted pieces was not easy with 322 entries by 114 artists entered. At the end of the day Smith selected 65 works by 51 of those artists. 

Definitely come check this show out and the historic museum itself. Exhibition dates are March 10 - May 16, 2020. There will be an awards reception from 2 to 4 pm on Saturday, May 16, 2020. Please come and join us for what I am sure will be another great show. I personally am looking forward to the reactions to my piece, which could be considered a little risque. 

Arthrobyrozoic Naiad

Arthrobyrozoic Naiad, upside down

Arthrobyrozoic Naiad, detail of top area

Arthrobyrozoic Naiad, detail of central area

Arthrobyrozoic Naiad, detail of bottom section, upside down

Arthrobyrozoic Naiad, detail of bottom left area 

Here is the  list of artists who will have work in the competition/exhibition: 

2020 Meridian Museum of Art BiState Artists

Abreeza Thomas
Addie Louis
Andrea Kostyal
Anne O'Hara
Barbara-Ann Carver-Hunt
Bo Kyle
Brittany Davis
Carolyn Norton
Cecelia Moseley
Charlotte Wegrznowski
David Diodate David
David Stevens
Debra Eubanks
Dee Falls
Euphus Ruth
Gail Morton
Gary Howse
George Ann McCullough
Hanna Lewis
Hannah Wegner
Jill Hammes
Joan McRaney
Joe MacGown
Joe Morzuch
Joely Corban
John Bateman
Leslie Burns
Maria Hughes
Mark Brown
MarySaphrona Grey
Melissa Thorson
Michelle Jones
MJ Dobbins  Morgan
Pat Brown
Pat Gavin
Rachel Strain
Randy Hayward Jolly
Rick Anderson
Robert Gibson
Rowan Williams Haug
Sadako Lewis
Susa Nawrocki
Thomas Nawrocki
Tiffany V. McPeak
Tom Wegrzynowski
Victoria Nichols
Virginia Rougon Chavis
Wesley Ortiz
Whitson Ramsey
William T. Dooley

Thursday, February 6, 2020

2020 Upcoming Art Activities for MacGown Art

Whew, 2019 was a busy year, so busy I did not do much with this blog even! 2020 is shaping up to be no different. My son Joseph MacGown who is in his senior year (or should we say first senior year?) and I have numerous festivals and art walks coming up.

If all goes well and our application is accepted, our first outing of the year will be March 21 in Starkville at the Queer Art Market, which is part of the PRIDE event. We participated the first year, but missed last year due to a conflict. The next Saturday, March 28, we are hoping to be a part of the Hub Fest in downtown Hattiesburg, MS! Then on Saturday April 4 we will be setting up two booths at the Threefoot Festival in Meridian, MS. It is not too late to enter this and registration fees are reasonable ( Also in Meridian, I entered two pieces (Arthrobrozoic Naiad and Surreal Tree of Life) to the Meridian Museum of Art's BiState Competition! Wish me luck.

Arthrobryozoic Naiad
Surreal Tree of Life
We will take the second weekend of April off, but will be back at it on April 21 in Starkville with two tents at the Cotton District Arts Festival. We have lots of cool art stuff for sale including originals, prints, tapestries, books, metal prints, postcard, ceramics, and more! You won't want to miss this one!

Then the next weekend on April 28 we will be at the Double Decker Festival in Oxford, MS. We did this one last year and it was fantastic!

Of course our awesome once a month Sunday Funday starts back in May and will run through October. Big changes this year as I stepped down from my two-year term as Director of the Sunday Funday board and artist liaison, though I will still serve in an advisory sense. The new director is Robert Camp, who is a large reason that Sunday Funday is even an event to begin with as it takes place in Starkville's Cotton District, which is primarily owned by the Camp family. We asked Josh Herrington of Dunkington Art to take over the artist liaison spot and he will be amazing. This guy is full of knowledge and enthusiasm. So look for us to be there selling art this year, but look to others for details on participation. I will gladly send inquiries their way!

In other news, we have been in the process of restoring the old pond at our place in Sessums, just outside of Starkville. We built a cool pavilion and pier, which will be ideal areas for hosting art and music events. We are currenting building Joseph a small studio/cabin and in the future plan to build a small gallery to showcase our work and do workshops. Our  studio is located on the property as well, but it's so jam packed with art it is difficult to properly show our art to folks!

A view of the in progress studio/cabin we are building

A view of our studio

Looking across the pond toward pavilion and studio
Pavilion at night

Another shot of studio (left) and pavilion. Check out the beach!