On The Easel Today.

On the easel today July 15, 2018 features yet another painting that explores my appreciation and reverence to the female figure- exploring sensuality and feminine sexuality. In the piece, a rather scantily clad model lays flat on her back with her legs raised, supported by a flat surface. In an apparent state of comfort and ease, her body relaxes; arms showing carefree abandon to her repose as the essence of her femininity is captured in a single moment.

Adrian Blake

    Artists for centuries have sought to capture natural beauty, whether governed by ideological status quo or by accurate observation and representation. In my painting, her body- curvy and mature in womanhood, shows her self-confidence unapologetically, and puts on display her natural beauty regardless of ideological interpretations. She represents the beauty that comes with age, timeless experience, failures and blissful triumph. A true woman of character displays that triumph by simply bearing it all for it to be appreciated, for as they say “true beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”.

2017 Year in Review.

It is hard to believe that yet another year has gone so quickly. It still seems like it was yesterday I was entering my first art exhibition in high school. 2017 was a year of new and valuable experiences. I was apart of four exhibitions, got introduced to gallery operations and the exhibition process and was even tapped to be as a guest speaker. With a few goals in mind, the ball got rolling fast, and the entire year proved to be a very productive one for Adrian Blake Fine Art.

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The year began with the creation of one of my most visually compelling illustrations, “When the Rain Comes”, which proved to be a favorite in the exhibitions I was apart of. My first solo exhibition Freedom in Creativity turned out to be a tremendous event, planned perfectly to fall on my birthday, so it was a two-in-one celebration. The turnout surpassed my expectations and the support from those who attended made it even more special.

Adrian Blake-When the Rain Comes.Doors kept opening after my solo exhibition, and I ended up in three other exhibitions that year: The Introspection Art Exhibition held in Cleveland Ohio, the In the Margins Exhibition held in Athens Ohio and Majestic National Juried Exhibition in Nelsonville Ohio. At each of these exhibitions I had the privilege to interact with some extremely creative artists, most notably Robert Peppers- art professor at Ohio University, who curated and also displayed works in the exhibition in Cleveland.

 

 

 

Adrian Blake

Adrian Blake, ASU Presentation 2017

The opportunity to be a guest speaker at the annual African Students Union Gala at Ohio University presented itself, and I embraced it with open arms. At the event I spoke about taking the responsibility as creative individuals; being aware of the things taking place in our society, and realizing that we can directly affect change through our creativity. This end of year event along with the completion of my Beauty Strength and Grace series of paintings culminated one of my most memorable, productive and inspirational years as an artist. 

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2018 has begun friends, and with it new challenges and opportunities will be faced. I give a big thank you to all who supported Adrian Blake Fine Art in 2017, for with each of you I create more confidently knowing that I have earned that support through art that connects with each of you in their own unique way.  

 

Beauty, Strength and Grace, A Series.

 

“Dipped in chocolate, bronzed in elegance, enameled with grace, toasted with beauty, my lord, she’s a black woman.” – Dr.Yosef Ben-Jochannan. Dr. Ben said it perfectly, echoing some of my own thoughts when it comes to the Black woman. Skin color and culture aside however, my series of paintings titled Beauty, Strength and Grace express my feelings towards the traits I believe the ideal woman possesses and demonstrates.

Complete Surrender

Complete Surrender

Beauty. “ True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul.”- Audrey Hepburn. As much as beauty can be superficial, and be defined through outward characteristics, it should be more of a combination of factors that aid in the realization of the essence of true beauty. In my painting Complete Surrender my subject represents that outward beauty, but also that inward beauty that makes what the eyes see so much more appealing.

 

 

 

Adrian Blake-Blissful Reminiscence

Blissful Reminiscence.

Strength. “She’s been through more hell than you’ll ever know, but that’s what gives her beauty an edge”. – Alfa. This trait manifests itself well when one is under duress, and to some extent is the defining characteristic of a person’s existence. Throughout my life I’ve seen strength demonstrated by the two women who have helped to make me into the man I am today, my mother and grandmother. Their sacrifices, sweat, tears and resilience are represented in my painting “Blissful Reminiscence.”

 

 

Adrian Blake-Finally Free

Finally Free. 


Grace. “
Grace is the beauty of form under the influence of freedom.”- Friedrich Schiller. In Finally Free, my subject has found her liberating force, and in doing so puts on display that gracefulness a woman develops when she finally knows who she is, despite adversity. That moment of acceptance of who she was and the realization of who she truly is meant to be as a result of her triumph.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sketching: The shorthand communication of Artists.

Several years ago in high school, as I sat in English literature class listening to my instructor talk about writers, and how they made it an art form to jot down bits of information quickly using shorthand writing, I was instinctively sketching the entire classroom. After the class ended, I analyzed the sketch and discovered all the actions that really took place in that moment in time, and how in the blink of an eye scatterbrained boys who simply wanted to get on to the next class forgot them. My sketchbook told a story.

In later years, I came to understand the importance of sketching. Similarly to how writers use shorthand writing to document quickly, artists use sketching to the same effect. Not only is it a form of documentation, but to the artist it is an intimate language that communicates more than just what is rendered- it also communicates who the artist is, and what better words to hear from an artist than “go ahead, take a look,” as he/she willingly allows you to enter their mind through their sketches.

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Aspasia (sketch) by Eugene Delacroix.

 Artists like Eugene Delacroix filled numerous sketchbooks with drawings and journal entries, and even said: ” Perhaps the sketch of a work is so pleasing because everyone can finish it as he chooses,” and how right he is! For when one peers into that window of the artist’s mind through the sketchbook, one gets to somehow be apart of that creation, without actually being apart of it. Delacroix further said: ” The artist does not spoil the picture by finishing it, for in abandoning the vagueness of the sketch he shows more of his personality by revealing the range but also the limitations of his talent.” This leads me to say, it is important to develop your sketching ability.

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Study of War: 1833-37 by Eugene Delacroix.

INCREASE YOUR ABILITY

Try not to worry about the subjects you draw at first. Just draw, focusing on expression and capturing the essence of the subject quickly. Do so through practice, and even the willingness to make it your own art form. Make sketching fun. Treat it like a pastime, rather than a chore or task. Just like how writers use shorthand, which is oftentimes very personal, use sketching as your personal shorthand to record visions, or translate your opinions, as many artists have throughout history.

TYPES OF SKETCHBOOKS

There are so many different types of sketchbooks out there on the market these days, you only need to browse through the aisle of say a Hobby Lobby to see the ever growing types, sizes and styles to choose from. But consider these three factors when purchasing a sketchbook:

  • Shape: Portrait (vertical with horizontal binding), landscape (horizontal with vertical binding) and square. There are a great many variety in these, and the sizes will vary as well.
  • Binding: Stitched (hardbound or softbound), spiral bound, or tape-bound. Artists who keep illustrated sketchbooks oftentimes prefer the hardbound sketchbooks, primarily for comfort, but these can be tricky, for writing/ drawing close to the binding can pose a problem because it isn’t flat. Spiral and tape-bound are far more common. These are more flexible, and oftentimes are perforated as well, so the artist can remove pages easily if needs be.
  • Paper: Paper type and quality can never be underestimated or overstated, for it can dramatically affect what the artist creates. A great many selection of sketchbooks containing acid free, recycled or speciality papers are on the market today. If you sketch in soft mediums, and smudging is a pet peeve, I recommend sketchbooks that have glassine interleaves between the sheet. Most sketchbooks are intended for mixed media, but if you work in water media, use sketchbooks with heavier papers, such as watercolor paper that can handle the saturation. If you desire heavy, high-quality drawing paper with tooth, try sketchbooks with hot pressed watercolor paper.

Get hooked on it. Develop a habit of sketching. Use the process to channel your creative side, warm you up and get you loose, even if no one ever sees them.

On The Easel Today.

On the easel today July 5, 2017 features my newest painting titled “Complete Surrender”. This piece culminates a series of work that I have been brainstorming for some time. The title of the series is: “Beauty, Strength & Grace”, and features two other works, which you have possibly seen a time of two before: “Blissful Reminiscence” and “Finally Free”. All three paintings embody the essence of the title of the series; yet stand alone in their individual meanings.

Adrian Blake painting

In this painting, my subject is adorned in a warm, radiant light, which envelops her in a rather intimate fashion and crowns her with a halo. Her posture and subtle expression is that of complete surrender, as her stark beauty is glorified. I challenged myself with this piece, as I do with all my paintings. This challenge was creating transparency and softness in texture in the fabric that adorns her. Those two aspects of painting are two of the most difficult for any artist, but in trying numerous approaches I am at the brink of accomplishing what I intend to.  There is more work to be done however, in spite of the current successes throughout the piece. My paint is still wet, and my brushes are eagerly waiting to be summoned.

Introspection Art Exhibition.

Yet another exhibition is under my belt for 2017, and this one was particularly full of fresh experiences. The Introspection Art Exhibition held in wonderful Cleveland Ohio at The Shinn House Gallery featured works from three artists, myself, Robert Peppers and Kevin Daniel. Each artist had a very strong body of work, and each of us brought unique experiences to the exhibition as artists with varied styles and mediums of expression.

Introspection

My medium of expression, as you know, is painting. The display consisted of most of my newest works from earlier this year, and works from 2016. Kevin Daniel had a very interesting body of work with his photography, through his experimentation with compositional elements, particularly atmospheric lighting. Robert Peppers, who curated the exhibit and being the most experienced of all in the exhibit, displayed a number of sculptures, which boasted intricacies in design and mastery in technique. The gallery space accommodated us well, with three rooms dedicated to each artist.

Adrian Blake and Robert Peppers

Being in Cleveland for the first time was a wonderful experience (considering that no one at the exhibition knew I wanted the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA championship). A tour of the city was on my agenda, and of course a visit the Cleveland Museum of Art. That was a must. The opportunity to showcase my work to a different audience, along with collaborating with one of the most well known Black artists in Peppers, and talented young artist in Daniel, is something of tremendous value. The turnout and feedback at the opening of the exhibition was pleasing, and the conversations about each work- not only about my own, but also of my fellow exhibitors awarded me broader artistic knowledge as I navigate my way to my successes as an artist.

Introspection Art Exhibitors

Freedom in Creativity Solo Exhibition.

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“The Studio is a laboratory, not a factory. An exhibition is the result of your experiments, but the process is never ending. So an exhibition is not a conclusion.” – Chris Ofili.  In quoting one of the most inspiring black artists of the age, I want you to understand how I see my art, my career and my ambitions in being an impactful artist. Freedom in creativity comes from that gut feeling you have to create based of pure emotion, thought and love for what you believe in; your god given talent to effectively communicate visually.

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My first solo exhibition Freedom in Creativity was held on April 6, 2017 in Athens Ohio at the Arts West building. That day was special for a number of reasons. Not only was it the reception of my first solo show, it was also my birthday. It was a day I will never forget based on those two things primarily. Tremendous thought was put into the title of the exhibition, where I wanted to convey my thoughts on not only my art, to those who were to be exposed to it, but also my thoughts about art in general, and the challenges artists face as we journey along our individual paths.

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In speaking to the guests who attended the exhibit, I raised the point about artistic freedoms being challenged, even trampled on: “That which we create is born from inspiration, which come to us in countless forms. A double standard prevails however, that inhibits that full expression and sometimes hide what we create.” This was the meat to my exhibition that Thursday evening. My intent was to open eyes to my varied interests as an artist; never to be labeled as a particular kind, or be constrained to doing one type of work. Artistic freedom should prevail, especially in a societies that sometimes unknowingly confine artists to particular types of expression.

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For the exhibition I partnered with one of the most important organizations in Athens Ohio, Passion Works. This partnership arose from my interest in what they provide for special needs individuals in Athens and surrounding towns. Some of their artworks were on display, in order to raise awareness of their efforts with special needs, and also inspire further support of their members. The exhibition was a success in every aspect. From my experiments, I created- but the process continues. This exhibition was not a conclusion.

On The Easel Today.

This edition of On The Easel today March 27, 2017 features my second installment in the Boots and Bricks series. This painting is a little different from the first in the series. How different you wonder? Well in this piece, the bricks are those of Athens Ohio, and the shoes are different. In my description of the first painting in the series, I highlighted that it was created for the town of Nelsonville, and represented what the town is historically known for: its bricks and Rocky Boots, which headquarters there. In this new painting the bricks of Athens Ohio are immortalized by my hand, and the representation of the culture and people are in the style of shoes I placed in the composition.

Adrian Blake

Similarly to the rugged work boots which represent the hardworking and blue-collar workers who built the town of Nelsonville, the youth and modernity of the culture in Athens is represented by the shoes in painting. The Converse brand of shoes is a common sight around Athens, and in my interpretation of what best symbolizes the predominant age demographic in the town; it was fitting to use this idea. In all my paintings I aim to have you be apart of the piece, not just be an observer, and this piece is no different.

The seemingly magnified view of the elements in the painting is done to visually engage you in the artwork, bringing you close to what I actually see every time I look at the bricks while walking down Court Street on a rainy day. In painting this, I told myself that I wanted my viewer to not look at the bricks the same again. I want you to see the history, see the work put in to lay those bricks, and how similar those bricks are to the people in the town. A brick by itself is just another brick, and no two bricks are the same.Yet when put together, they create something special, and make a place that more historic based on what they created.

 

On the Easel Today.

This edition of On the Easel Today Tuesday March 7, 2017 features my newest painting titled ‘When The Rain Comes’. As many of my other pieces, this painting contains a particular mix of symbology that encompasses my interpretation of a number of feelings and situations in my life; and on a broader scale, topics, ideologies and feelings that many people face in their own lives every day.

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Upon analysis of the work, the imagery is in your face, bold and detailed in its presentation. My palette was deliberate, and specific to the overall mood I intended to capture. I tackled the topic of ideology and its emotional effect through my depiction of the figure in the piece. I’m confident that in your initial analysis, you will think of this figure as a black Jesus, but let us take that interpretation a step further from the norm of the popular Western religious ideology. This piece explores the system of ideas and ideals that cause us to all have such a first impression, and aims to broaden your thoughts beyond what you have come to so easily interpret at face value.

Particular elements in this piece serve to engage you in the significance of the ideas I propose. This work is not only about being black, and facing insurmountable challenges as a result of our affliction, but also about being human and apart of a system that causes one to sometimes feel crucified based on ones personal ideals, feelings and simply the day to day challenges, that sometimes outweigh the good that happened in your life a short time ago. The point of view in which the work is done is very intimate, and symbolical as well. Looking from a birds eye view down on the subject gives the you an observative perspective, similar to looking through a magnifying glass down at an anthill with the curiosity and fascination of a child.

Throughout the painting there are raindrops, and this is the basis of the title. Metaphorically the raindrops represents the aforementioned challenges of ideals and feelings that seem to fall like rain on us when life is, needless to say, tough. Those challenges are what oftentimes put me ‘in the shoes’ of Jesus, in the story of the crucifixion. The detail in the piece is done to involve you emotionally in the work, bringing a greater understanding to your period of seeming crucifixion and personifying it. So many people are soaking wet from feeling that rain of challenge and despair, while knowing that some go through this life seemingly impervious to those challenges that countless people face every day, and are subsequently incapable of empathetically relating to the feelings of others facing those challenges.

This painting is geared at allowing people to understand perspective, and as Bob Marley famously said in one of his songs “some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” So in your observation of this painting, keep in mind perspective, challenge yourself to let empathy guide your perspectives, and never forget to feel the rain, not just get wet by it.

 

Portrait of St. Leo (Usain St.Leo Bolt).

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Who is the fastest man in the world, do you know? If you are into sports, especially track and field this question is easy to answer: Usain Bolt. When I say his name it brings chills and goosebumps to me. Why, you may ask? It’s not only because he is the greatest sprinter in the world, and its not only because he has broken his own world records multiple times either. It’s because he has transcended the term “track and field icon”, and the fact that he is Jamaican makes it even sweeter. Usain St. Leo Bolt is not only the fastest man in the world currently, he has been so for quite a long time now, and will possibly stay that way for decades to come, possibly forever.

Usain is one of us. When I say that I mean, he is one of us Jamaican boys, having dreams of being like the sports icons we admired growing up, or one of the many people who have made a positive and permanent mark in this world, like Marcus Garvey did, and Bob Marley. Growing up in Jamaica and running around barefooted, playing football (soccer) outside with the other children in the neighborhood…just being rowdy island boys is the norm, and to think that Usain came from such humble beginning, to now being one of the biggest names in the entire world, words cant really describe the feeling it gives. When he shattered arguably the most iconic of all records, which he set a few years before at the IAAF World Championships, clocking 9.69 seconds in the 100m sprint and claiming the gold medal, a new identity took shape- a new identity for not only him, but for us as Jamaicans- for us as Jamaican men.

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Coming back in 2009 and outdoing what he did a few years before to clock a blistering 9.58 seconds, which to most was the most unbelievable thing they ever witnessed in their professional career, and in reality, ever, Bolt set in stone his mark on this world, and a mark for Jamaicans everywhere. A standard was set. A standard that makes Jamaicans everywhere walk with their heads high, flags high, and voices send out. For this small country, no bigger than Colorado to feel like it is the biggest country in the entire world, with the proudest and most patriotic people in the entire world, it causes chills and goosebumps. This is why I wanted to show my appreciation for him by doing this portrait. In this portrait, I aimed at capturing his intensity in profile and also this silent charisma, that plays well with his bravado.
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