This is a wood cut built out of an old book page and a piece of a letter. From time to time we a reminded that our days on earth our numbered. Thankfully we do not know the number unless we are on death row. My mother died very suddenly when I was only 10 years. Death was all of a sudden very real. The good side of all this morbid thought is the way it brings you to the notion of an after life, the big "then what?" Could it be that our life here is a wonderful and painful preparation for an eternal after life? And if it is a preparation, then how is it going? I make drawings in the process of making paintings. The drawings are sometimes lovely but they don't hold a candle to the final painting.
I think it is time for another painting of Shepherd. This one here was done four, may e five years ago. Shepherd is my my only son among five girls. He is now thirteen years old and shifting from a boy into a man. Sometimes I wonder if making paintings of my children is what I should be doing and I remind my self of Morandi and his bottles. At some point an artist must decide what he is about and just faithfully work there. The great French painter Degas said, "All I ask is for my own little corner where I can dig assiduously." having children and living lives with them that is tightlynwoven pulls you into a powerful mystery. They are very like you and yet so very different. You are in in part responsible for their very existence. (what if I never asked Brenda for that dance back in the spring of 1985?) They are mortal and yet in God's new heaven and new earth they will live forever. The paintings all circle around these puzzeling mysteries and they could easily keep me pondering and painting for the rest of my life.
This is a new illustration done for the magazine Christianity Today. I don't know if I ever spent this much time creating a block before. I was inspired by the artists Edward Hicks who worked with this theme many times during his life time. Hicks was a 19th century Quaker minister and folk artist. The idea that where God is there will be peace is why Jesus was called the Prince of Peace. I am always interested in events that pull unusual clusters of people that would otherwise not want to be together. I find that it is at events like this that God seems to be particularly present and I am not talking church buildings here. Creative happenings whether a music event or art happening, places where you see multiple generations comingled along with rich and poor people and different ethnic backgrounds.....this is when it gets interestingly weird. The Peaceable Kingdom, bring it on!
This is a funny little water color I did this week anticipating our band The Wealthy Orphans show at a large local micro brewery
(Large/Micro, that sounds odd.) The show went really well. The process of making art tends to be a very solitary and private affair. The act of performing music on a stage with a band in a large room full of people eating and drinking talking and dancing is very different. I think that the two balance each other out some how. In fact it is as if the one makes the other more potent. I am always looking for ways to blend music together with visual art and this little drawing is a move in that direction. You can download our music here http://thewealthyorphans.bandcamp.com/
This is a painting by the artist Amy Hill who shows with Ann Nathan Gallery in Chicago. This is piece is from a series she has done called bohemians. I really love the way her paintings deeply rooted in the past and at the same time clearly connect with our times right now. I love the attention to detail in her painting As well as how much variation she has from painting to painting as she develops her themes. I would love to add one of her paintings to my collection eventually. See more of her work here
I get into the studio by about 9:30 every day. I do not always feel like getting started but I do anyway. Chuck Close has said that inspiration is for amateurs. What he means as the pros just go to work wether they feel like shit or not. I have taken this to heart because it works for me. Kurt Vonnegut said that when he goes to work at his writing he feels like a armless, legless man with a fat crayon in his mouth. The paintings I do inch along at a snails pace. Some times the improvements are imperceptible to anyone but me. I have been listening to "Glitter and Doom" by Tom Waites this week. Music helps me to make art.
This is the limited edition wood cut print we gave away at our Beehorst Family Spring Art Show last week end. My family sometimes watches me get carried away with some of the books I read. What happens to us when we read? How do books effect us differently than say watching a movie made from a book? I have a theory that a book may be more powerful than a movie for the way it releases the story more slowly like medicine that comes in regular doses rather than one big hit all at once. Perhaps the power of reading has also to do with the way we create the images in our imagination while we read that makes it even more personal. The print is printing the image onto paper. When we read a book we are like the paper that is receiving the image. We are left with an impression on our lives, forever changed.
The back ground of this particular painting was done from 100 year old German post cards that were found in a dumpster here in our neighborhood. (The penmanship of the cards all in German and beautiful fountain pen script.) The blue coat was vintage an kind of dirty, and what is with the sea shells that keep showing up in these narrative portrait paintings? Good question! I think the shells refer to the long slow process of anything that is created. The slow accumulation of layer on layer, the way an oil painting is made, the way a shell is made, the way a life is made. Shells are also homes as well as protection. These portraits are of children well rooted to a place. They are at home. They are protected and flourishing even with the frustrations and hard ships they live with and endure. What do you think the spool of thread may represent?
We are counting down the days to the next Beerhorst Family Art Show happening the first week end of May. Paintings have been photographed and reconsidered. Drawings and prints have been organized and priced.
The shrinky dinks have been shrunk, pot holders woven, rugs crocheted, and now the walls are being hung and the house cleaned. This opportunity means a lot to us for the chance to see what happens when people come in contact with the things that we have made. Not only is it the art and crafts themselves but it is the event itself which becomes the context where all of this will happen. The event is something we crete with you as you participate. We so want for you to come and help us remember why we do this. We need your presence to make the experience potent and meaningful. Without you it is less and you know who you are.
I am working on a new wood block for the print we will be giving away to the first ten people who come to our Beerhorst Family Spring Art Show each 3 days. If you are wondering about the painting reproduction on the easel, it is a flemish painting from the 15th century that I happen to love. It has been clipped out of one of my art history books. I surround myself with beautiful images while I work on my paintings and blocks which keeps me inspired and connected with my mentors. Inspiration as a word that is related to the word inhalation. We must create environments for ourselves that enable us to "breath". I firmly believe that the art we create enables people to live their lives breathing more deeply, living more deeply connected with all that is meaningful and life giving.
I have been thinking a lot about how to make my art more accessible to people for purchase. Some of my paintings, the ones I call narrative portraits, have become very expensive. They run between $3,000.00 all the way up to $15,000.00. Some of the older paintings I have had around for several years are less. I also have paintings that are abstract with collage elements that are in the $400-$800 range. I have wood cut prints that sell between $10-$200. Original drawings like the one pictured above go for $150-$300.
What I am exploring is the business sphere of my studio practice. As far as developing the business I have only done enough to get by. The way the economy has been going here in MI the past few years this half baked approach is no longer enough to keep the Beerhorst art/family ship above water. I have been reading business books all winter long. I have hired an NYC artist named Brainard Carrey who works with artists to help them create income strategies. I do not want to compromise my artistic vision in any way as I pursue this tact. In fact I believe I am on my way to making some of the best work of my career. I know I need to do some things differently in order to make more money as an artist. I am prepared to change the things I can including the way I think about what I do. If you have any suggestions on how I can lower the barrier for people like you to become an art collector with a Beerhorst on your wall please let me know what you are thinking. Share you insights and help me continue to grow.
We are now in the process of getting ready for our next Family Spring Art Show. This year Etsy.com is coming from NYC to make a film about our family to go on their website. They contacted us last Fall regarding their interest in making a movie and we have been excited and nervous ever since. Etsy has been a big help to our family in reaching beyond our own geographical region. We have our open houses as a way to stay deeply rooted in our own city community. We have Esty to take us out into an international community. So far it feels like the best of both worlds.
We have been a family with out it's own automobile now for going on six years. Last night we were out to dinner at Ann Willey's house (Ann's etsy shop). They came to our house with two cars so we could transport our family of eight. We had a great time at their cozy little house in the woods by the stream. As it was slipping into dusk we watched big turkey's going to roost high up into the trees from their living room window. Not having a car is sometimes inconvenient but it forces us deeper into working it out with our friends.
I am looking for the city of my dreams. I live in Grand Rapids Michigan. I was born here. I have left and come back. I want to see the art and culture of this city bloom because I want to bloom with it. What do I mean by bloom? I would like to see a gallery that does not have a frame shop connected to it. I would like to see full fledged art criticism happening right here and I am not talking about a nice little right up in the paper that simply describes what was in the show. I want to read an in depth look into what the art is about and wether it succeeds or fails, especially if if fails and why. I want to see dynamic relationships happening between UICA and GRAM and the DAAC. I want to see fluid and symbiotic relationships between the art community and the business community. I want to see more artists making a living from their work. I want to see a more dynamic interaction between the artists that are here so that we are really working together and helping each other develop our work and continuing to challenge each other to grow and take risks. Please help us make this happen.
We are going to take the Wonder Wagon all the way to Detroit and we will walk it there. Ya wanna come? We plan to take 2 weeks to walk there. It is 167miles to the Hamtramack neighborhood where the Power House which will be our final destination. We will have many opportunities to share our visual art and music along the route. There is slow food, this is slow travel.
This is a painting I began when our family was living in Brooklyn NY. It is painted on a wooden panel mounted into a mirror frame and gold leafed. I really like the reflective quality of metal leaf. The composition is based on a traditional icon of Mary the Intercessor. My wife Brenda prays every day for the welfare of our family. This is a type of family portrait.