Category: painting

Jesse Reno

“From Nothing”: There’s something to be said about particularly prolific artists, especially when they have produced over 1,500 works that are equally engaging. And Portland, OR mixed-media artist Jesse Reno is not only flush with ideas and talent, but self-taught as well. His work – often featuring figural subjects, graffiti-like scrawling and a technicolor blend of hues – is reminiscent of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Discover more on his website:


“Portrait of a Singer”: The enchanting oil paintings of German artist and former art teacher Michael Sowa (born 1945) feature a varied cast of whimsical animals, who seem to share a secret with their human companions, keepers and owners. If Sowa’s style seems familiar, you may have seen two of his creations brought to animated life over the headboard of the title character in the 2001 film Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain: the two portraits conspire about Amelie’s love life while she dreams.

Kent Williams

“Studio Arrangement in Blue and Rose” (2010): Kent Williams is an oil-painter from Los Angeles whose studio studies evoke both a decisive moment and a kind of voyeurism. The bodies in his arrangements are imbued with their own subjective narratives, which speaks to Williams’ use of his favorite models, friends and the artist himself engaging in the process. Then there’s that playful clumping and smearing of paint on the canvas – abstract compositions harmoniously sharing space with the realism of his subjects. Williams has also delved into the world of graphic novels: his 2006 collaboration with film director Darren Aronofsky on The Fountain has been well-received. Peruse his online gallery here:

Gene Guynn

“Leeloo” (2010): Gene Guynn is not just a super skilled painter working in California (honing his skills at the Academy of Art University in SF and now working in LA), but also a fellow lover of filmmaker Luc Besson’s cult characters. On his oil-and-wood works, Guynn’s visceral and broad brushstrokes harmonize with those signature multicolored lines and shapes; elsewhere finely-rendered faces stand out on flaming, dripping backgrounds. The horned creations that Guynn chooses to frame his paintings with are art in themselves. Enjoy his gallery online:

Scott Marr

“Amnesia” (2010): The history of image-making with natural materials is as old as humanity itself, and vital to the cultural sustenance of certain groups like aboriginal Australians. Fellow countryman and artistic alchemist Scott Marr (born 1976) works with an incredibly rich source of natural materials – the above piece includes bark wash, ochres, wattle flower wash, and charcoal – and also utilizes pyrography: using heat and fire (like soldering irons or pokers) to made decorative burn marks. According to the description of a short video about Marr, the artist boils barks, leaves and mosses to leach organic dyes; he crushes native berries to producing a surprising array of watery washes; he powders locals coloured stones in a coffee grinder to form a palette of ochres. Watch the video and the artist at work:

Lee Misenheimer

“The Great Masticator”: graphite-and-gouache artist Lee Misenheimer is soothed by the repetitive line technique he uses to create his drawings. He is inspired by Japanese imagery, and in his own words, “organic/floral/natural textures… mushrooms… plus many ideas about air/wind/breath”. I am enchanted by these dragon-like figures, which evoke ancient mythology and are perfectly executed. Misenheimer hails from the Carolinas, is currently based in New York and on occasion uses the pseudonym ‘Destroy Rock City’. More here:

Shawn Barber

“Tattooed Self-Portrait” (2008): Los Angeles denizen Shawn Barber (b. 1970 in New York) is a seasoned oil painter who has been widely recognized for his portraiture. Barber explores and transgresses traditional portraiture through his depictions of tattooed subjects – often skipping over one’s face and instead copying details of their inky marks in his signature style. No longer just a scholar/reflector of tattoo culture, Barber picked up the needle and opened his own tattoo studio in 2010. See more of his work here:

Jeremy Geddes

“The White Cosmonaut” (2009): The oil-on-board paintings by Melbourn-based (New Zealand-born) painter Jeremy Geddes send a veritable chill up my spine. The eerie images of dangling astronauts – fallen angels in bubble-top helmets, their stories and vital signs unknown – suggest ever-increasing alienation. Geddes is methodical in his preparation of these large-scale paintings, going through many drafts before beginning a grisaille underpainting. Grisaille (French for ‘grey’) works are entirely monochrome, and then layers of colors are may be added. After attending art school, Geddes worked in video game development and has been painting full time since 2003. See more seriously stunning imagery on his website:

Victor Rodriguez

“16 Eyes”: Victor Rodriguez (b. 1970 in Mexico City) is an especially sophisticated oil painter living and working in New York City. Recurring themes in Rodriguez’s work include eyes, Rubik’s cubes, and naked women stretched lithely across the canvas (he also pays homage to Edouard Manet’s ‘Olympia’ painting, that historically tantalizing subject). I am impressed with Rodriguez’s skin tones, interesting compositions and indisputable skill with a paintbrush. For more see his site:

Wayne White

“Poon”: Step into the absurd text-and-image landscapes of painter, puppeteer and production designer Wayne White, whose lauded Word Paintings are known for their satiric and irreverent messages. Bold typography dominates reproductions of banal, vintage-looking landscapes, creating a juxtaposition that triggers a comedic or thought-provoking response. “Poon” is a fairly straight-forward example of White’s project, but other phrases jostle the landscape for space, often bending to his whim or disappearing into the horizon lines of the tepid nature scenes. These are the kind of images hanging on grandparents’ walls, and the kind of half-baked quips you hear in passing conversation. The combination of the two is wonderfully unexpected, and all in the name of poking fun. White writes, “I’m often as frustrated at the world as most people are. But I think frustration is hilarious. One of my missions is to bring humor into fine art. It’s sacred.” Wayne White is also known for his work as a set designer on Pee Wee’s Playhouse and his direction of music videos. Don’t take anything too seriously as you peruse his website:

Mike Maxwell

“In Expectation of Finding Balance” (2010): Mike Maxwell is a self-taught San Diego artist (born in 1979). In addition to painting his signature blue-faced historical-looking figures on various surfaces (some of my favorites are on smooth, rotund gourds), Maxwell hosts a weekly podcast called Live Free in which he interviews other creative types and talks about the current art scene. From his artist’s statement: “The work has a lot to do with his personal re-education & a desire to learn & understand things that are so prevalent in our society but are often forgotten by the masses”; one can almost see Maxwell working through an American history text and reinterpreting many of the characters, crimes, and triumphs that he discovers there. He has an upcoming solo show at the Subtext Gallery beginning mid-May:

Andy Kehoe

“Under the Gaze of the Glorious” (2011): Welcome to the forested dreamscapes of Pittsburgh, PA painter Andy Kehoe, a BFA graduate from the Parsons School of Design in NY. Kehoe’s distinctive palette of autumnal hues color this world of childlike wonder, where bearded dragons have chance encounters, flower-laden trees reign supreme and monsters definitely exist. Gorgeous stuff from an artist to keep an eye on:

Gabe Leonard

“God Forgives, I Don’t”: As a young struggling artist in Los Angeles, painter Gabe Leonard began selling copies of his work on Venice Beach, and has since graduated to art festivals and gallery exhibits. His work revolves around the fringe worlds of the Wild West, pirates, mobsters and famous musicians. Most of the subjects are stoic and armed, hardened by their hard-knock existence and unaware of the cinematic cult following these archetypes inhibit in our world. I especially like the backgrounds of these images: morbid-looking paint drips and ingenious smoke-filled blending. See more at his website:

Sea Hyun Lee

“Between Red-46” (2008): Sea Hyun Lee is a South Korean artist (b. 1967) whose captivating series Between Red depicts the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. Lee describes being in this area during his military service: “I would wear night vision goggles, which coated everything in red. The forests and trees felt so fantastic and beautiful. It was unrealistic scenery filled with horror and fear, and with no possibility of entering.” Despite the monochrome effect of the red washes on white canvas, these images are incredibly detailed and evocative of a nostalgic Never Never Land on the sea. Enjoy more of the Between Red series here:

Zach Johnsen

“Stressed 3” (2009): The unsuspecting worker bees in Zach Johnsen’s ‘Acid Over Easy’ series are secretly suffering from inundation of cubicle culture until they reach the point of combustible explosion. Johnsen, an illustrator and mixed-media artist in Portland OR, used graphite, watercolor and coffee to compose these startling images. I adore the juxtaposition of the perfectly executed graphite bodies with the unleashed catharsis of color. Johnsen’s entire repertoire is worth browsing at his website: