Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Crow Paintings: Series Four...

We moved the shop back in April and have been making improvements as time and budget allows. There's still so much that we'd like to do. Really, will we ever be done? It seems like there's always one more project. I started these backgrounds back in April to help with the fundraising efforts to offset the moving and improvement expenses. After the first three series, I didn't know if I'd ever make anymore. I decided to squeeze in working on these in between other projects. I have to admit, some of these are my favorites!

These and more of my original artwork is available at Allegory Gallery.









Saturday, November 30, 2019

La Befana...

The folklore of La Befana, also known as the Christmas Witch, hails from parts of Italy. Flying through the air, La Befana delivers presents and candy to the good children and lumps of coal to the naughty. She's basically Santa, but an old woman riding a broom (that has the power to sweep away the problems of the previous year). Hold the milk and cookies. La Befana prefers wine and cakes.

Some depictions show her as a filthy, soot-covered hag who wears rags and a scowl. I decided to paint my version. She's usually shown dirty, because she can fly down chimneys. But, I figure, if you have a spell to slip through heating ducts, you must have a spell to keep clean. I wanted to show her as colorful and benevolent, as the stories about her. I've added this painting to my Society6 shop and have uploaded several different products with this painting on it. Take a look! There are also several other different holiday themed pieces in this collection.
"La Befana" by Andrew Thornton, 2019

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Magic Keeper...

I started this painting a few months ago, but really, it has origins that stretch back much further. When I created this piece, I first built up layers of my old collages. Some of them were made over a decade ago. Even though you can't see them, they are there and are underneath everything. They change and influence how the painting is made on top. It's kind of like our own histories; you can't necessarily see all that has come before, but those experiences have shaped us to be who we are today. It certainly makes painting more challenging, as it isn't an even, smooth surface. I think that extra texture adds something though, even if it's a subtle thing. 

It's a larger painting than I've made in awhile. It measures approximately 16"X20" and I've worked on it a little at a time as time allows since August. I wanted to bring together a lot of different painting styles that I work in. It actually harkens back to a series I started in college of a mysterious, unnamed redheaded woman. I even got a little bit of jewelry design in there! Isn't funny how things come back around?

If you're interested in purchasing it, you can CLICK HERE to visit the Allegory Gallery online store. We are also doing limited edition prints of this painting on metallic paper that are available HERE.
"The Magic Keeper" by Andrew Thornton, 2019

Friday, November 22, 2019

Ivy Portrait...

I generally make things in "seasons". I can't always do this depending on my existing commitments, but this is the way that I work best and I have learned over the years to just hitch my wagon to the energy and see where it takes me instead of trying to fight it or direct it too much. I have different stations setup and I flit around like a pollinator and move to the project that most captures my heart and imagination at the moment. 

Right now it's all about the paintings! 

I've always really loved portraiture. Whether they're real or imaginary people, I enjoy looking for the humanity captured in the brushstrokes. I feel like there's a certain level of magic in distilling a person's energy out of paint and pigment. It's an illusion and I think the best illusions are ones that tell a story. I have a soft spot for the Pre-Raphaelites and Botticelli. I like Frida Kahlo and Jan van Eyck. I like the heavy-lidded ladies and soft cubism of Tamara de Lempicka. I like contemporary artists like Kehinde Wiley, Elizabeth Peyton, and Chuck Close too... just to name a few. 

I've wanted to do a series of portraits for awhile now. I made a few for the Strange Botany show, which was fun, but I felt like they had to be more... well... strange. But I wanted to make a series of just people. Sometimes there's a subtle hint of something or another extra, but for the most part, I just wanted to paint a person and let that be enough. 

I think this one is called, "Ivy". She looks like an Ivy to me. I referenced different photos and paintings while I worked, but this isn't based off of anyone in particular or any one person. I had this idea that I'd make an entire series of these types of portraits and have a big show of them, but I don't think that's in the cards right now. Maybe one day. William and I are working on some big plans and I'm saving up to make them happen. So I'd love to find a home for this piece. The painting measures approximately 6"X8" and is made up of layers of acrylic paint and gesso on wood paneling. I'm happy to part with it for $215, plus shipping. If you're interested, let me know or you can CLICK HERE and find it in the online store.
"Ivy" by Andrew Thornton, 2019

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Holiday Sugar Plum Fairy...

What's this?!?! More holiday themed artwork? Yep! This time I delved into the world of the Nutcracker. I decided to create my version of the Sugar Plum Fairy and added new products to my Society6 page. I am really intrigued by the performing arts. Dance is one of those alchemical processes that transforms hard work, practice, and physical endurance and turns it into something graceful and ethereal. Good dance can engage the space and transport the audience. If you want to see the products with this painting on it (and other holiday-themed pieces), CLICK HERE
"Sugar Plum Fairy" by Andrew Thornton, 2019

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Holiday Abominable Snowman Yeti...

Who remembers the stop motion animation, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"? It was a holiday classic when I was growing up. One of my favorite characters was the Abominable Snowman, Bumble. Who doesn't like a reformed Yeti? I've always had a soft spot for this cryptozoological creature and thought that I'd add to my holiday offerings in my Society6 shop. CLICK HERE to take a look at this piece (and others) in the new Winter Holiday collection.
"Abominable Snowman" by Andrew Thornton, 2019

Friday, November 15, 2019

Holiday Krampus...

I didn't grow up hearing stories about Krampus, who originates from Central European folklore, but when I found out about him, I became smitten. What can I say? I love anthropomorphic creatures that punish the wicked and deal out justice to the naughty. LOL! I created this painting to celebrate the season! And now you can find all kinds of fun Krampus-themed products perfect for the holiday season! (Well... perfect for those that like a little less saccharine sweet holiday season. Though I think my version of Krampus is pretty dang cute!) You can find the new Krampus products (including greeting cards) on my Society6 page AND other new collaborations by CLICKING HERE.
"Holiday Krampus" by Andrew Thornton, 2019

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Still Available Kitty Companions...

Not long after Paulo's dental surgery, we had to take him back in for blood in his urine. He had to undergo lots of tests and received intravenous fluids. Apparently his bladder was still inflamed from his previous blockage surgery and his bladder walls were thicker than normal. He had to go on another round of antibiotics and go on an even stricter diet with specialized food.

It all adds up really quickly. On top of all the vet bills, his food bill quadrupled. Mr. Paulo's grocery bill is more than two male human adults (that like to eat)! (We've also adjusted the diets of the other cats too, so that they don't end up with the same problems Paulo has.) But what can you do? If it comes to the health and wellbeing of my cats, I'll work harder. They have given so much to me and enriched and bettered my life in so many ways just by being in it. They're like my children and what wouldn't you do for your children if it were within your power?

As of Thursday, November 14th, these are the Kitty Companion Mini Paintings that are still available. The sales of these pieces will help offset the extra vet bills and food costs. I thought it might be nice to post a better picture of each. Of course, if you follow the link, you can see more details. CLICK HERE to check them out in the Allegory Gallery online store.















Sunday, November 03, 2019

Kitty Companion Mini Paintings...

I've always loved cats. For much of my life, I've always shared my home with a cat. One of my earliest and fondest memories is of repeatedly bumping heads with a grizzled old stray that we called, Blackie. They've always been there for me in the defining moments of my life. When my brother went missing, there was Persia. When we moved from my childhood home, there was Willow. And when I had cancer, there were Paulo and Babette. I've always had an angel cat companion just when I needed one the most. They were there in my most loneliest of times and I confided all my secrets to them. They listened without judgement or disapproval. (Okay, well maybe a little disapproval.) We had adventures and made up elaborate stories and over the years they've brought me so much joy. 

Recently our baby boy, Paulo, had to undergo a surgery for a blockage in his bladder. It was really startling and we weren't really prepared. Luckily with the help of friends, family, and supporters, we paid for the expensive operation and he recovered from that. While he was at the vet's office, they did discover that some of his teeth were bad and that he needed dental surgery. While he was recovering from the first surgery, we tried to save up money for the work on his teeth. Unfortunately, life can be unpredictable and he needed to go in earlier than we would have liked. I knew that we needed to make up the extra funds somehow and set to work making this series of cat-themed miniature paintings. They are ACEO (Art Card Editions and Originals) sized and are made on Artist Trading Card-sized watercolor paper. The backgrounds are made by layering washes of paint with salt and then when everything is dried, they are sanded and painted on top of. Each one is different. They are all a little whimsical and some are certainly more fantastical than others. Once I finished painting them and adding metallic pigments and iridescent paints, they are sealed and signed. The sales of these paintings will help offset the costs of the recent surgeries and help us take the other cats to the vet for check-ups as well.

The Kitty Companion Mini Paintings are available in the Allegory Gallery online store, which you can find by CLICKING HERE.




Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Phoenix Paintings...

One of the projects that we're working on is buying out a gem and mineral shop. Generally speaking, the bead business can be very feast or famine. The idea behind the buyout is that we want to diversify our offerings while still keeping them in line with our current inventory and established mission statement. The hope is that by doing this, we can attract more customers and when the bead business is slower, hopefully compensate. And maybe if we're lucky, we can gain crossover customers.

In an effort to keep our prices low and remain somewhat competitive, we run on slim margins and whatever money we do make is invested back into the business or is saved for when times are tough. We're celebrating eight years in business and this model has worked so far. With the exception of a few little luxury items every now and then, William and I live pretty humble lives. Usually when we do splurge it's in support of another small business or artist. That might not sound all that appealing to some (and indeed it can be nerve-wracking at times), but it is what's right for us right now and I couldn't imagine it any other way. It's a good life and one dedicated to beauty. But sometimes when big opportunities come up like this, it can certainly test our resolve and force us to think creatively. Because in the end, whenever there's been a roadblock or a setback or a challenge, when I've dug deeper and embraced my creativity, there's always been a solution.

To help offset the expense of the buyout, I've created a new series of work. This new series includes six new paintings made by me. Each of the paintings depicts a phoenix. I've had a fascination with them ever since I was a little boy. Whether it was in mythological stories or on the pages of comic books, I was drawn to this mythic creature. I think what appealed to me the most was that endings weren't really over. When most stories end, the phoenix's journey began anew. What was lost could be found again. What was broken could be mended and remade. And when everything and everyone else said to give up... there was still hope. There was still this rare and beautiful spark of hope that the impossible could be made manifest. From the blistering fire and the ashes of the past, it was possible to rise... to rise and to fly and to soar the skies.

The process to make these paintings is similar to the way that I make the crow paintings. To start, I  create layers of paint and salt on heavy watercolor paper. When everything is dry, I sand down the surface and remove all the crusty bits. This technique makes a really cool patterning that looks like starbursts. I can thank the cold Pennsylvania winters for this technique; one day while shoveling and salting the sidewalks, I noticed the residue and patterns left from the night before. I loved it! When I did more research, I found out that this is actually a technique commonly used with watercolors. On this star-speckled surface, I add more layers of acrylic paints, iridescent pigments, and metallic paints. And when they're done, I seal them. Each painting measures 5"X5" and is signed and dated by me.

If you're interested in getting one, they're available in the Allegory Gallery store here: https://agbeads.com/phoenix






Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Crow Paintings: Series Three...

I started these paintings back in April while we were in the middle of the move. I worked on them in different batches. Each series contained thirteen paintings except for this one, which had six. I had plans to finish these much earlier, but life got in the way and we've been busily working away. I finished these on a recent trip to Asheville where I had a little bit of creative time with the family and Candie Cooper. We hung out for the weekend and went to the gem shows and had a really great time. So much so that we're planning to do a retreat together next year.

I originally created these crow paintings as sort of a fundraiser to help recoup the costs associated with the shop move. You'd be surprised how quickly your budget can get out of control. (Or maybe not depending on if you have experience with these sort of things.) We are still paying things off and doing what we can as time and money allows it. We recently installed built-in shelving and added bookshelves and card racks. Up next is a new sign. We bought the brackets for them already, which had to be specially made. It's basically two metal poles with mounts on them, but since it is for a retail small business, the price tag was quadruple what I thought something like that would cost. A friend said that it's kind of like a wedding cake. Cake itself isn't really all that expensive, but the moment you say it's for a wedding, the price goes up. Apparently the same thing goes for metal poles.

A lot of people asked about the different symbolisms behind the paintings. Of course, being the cryptic person that I am, I said that they had to live with them and let the paintings reveal their secrets on their own. But it's more complicated than that. When I work, I'm very much like a magpie. I collect bits of poems, snatches of images, interesting textures, and things that excite my curiosity and I grind them up and let them percolate in my subconscious. Everything sort of stews there and ferments and grows and changes. In my dreams, these ideas sort of manifest and sometimes they come out fully formed and sometimes they're gentle hints that have to be realized as they're being worked on.

You'll see repeating motifs like crowns and adornment. There are keys and hearts and bits of flora. Certain color combinations emerge on a regular basis and of course there's this twilight quality, where the sun has set, but it's not quite dark and the stars start to reveal themselves. I try to capture the undulating movement of nebulas and spiraling galaxies. This manifests itself in the dot patterning. There are so many different cultures and styles that implement this technique, but I am most moved by Aboriginal artwork where there is this almost obsessive dedication to repeating patterns and mark-making.

The crows themselves are messengers. They get a bad rap sometimes. There are those that believe that they are omens of death or bad luck, but I don't agree with that. It's like the old saying goes... don't shoot the messenger. Crows and ravens and other corvids, depending on the culture, have a wide and varied folklore. Some people believe that they are symbols of magic and mystery. I've found that they are extremely intelligent creatures and can recognize different people and use tools and can even be gift-givers. I love stories about people who befriend them and how the birds bring them presents to show their affection and gratitude.

To make the paintings, I start out by creating layers of paint and salt on heavy watercolor paper. Once everything is dry, I sand down the surface and remove all the crunchies. It creates a really neat patterning. To that, I add more layers of acrylic paintings, iridescent pigments, and metallic paints. And when they're done, I seal them. Each painting measures 5"X5" and is signed and dated by me.

All of them have found homes and are flying out all across the country to find their forever perches.

I've always loved crows and ravens, and actually collect a lot of artwork featuring them, but it seems like they've been appearing more for me this year. While I had intended to move on to something different after these were done, I don't know. I still have more ideas and I'm not tired of them yet. So who knows. I might paint more. I might not.






Thursday, June 13, 2019

Pride Bird...

It's June and that means it's Pride Month! There are a lot of ways to observe this celebration. For me, I am drawn to how I can help. I asked myself, "what can I do to benefit the LGBTQIA+ community? How can I promote tolerance, equality, and kindness?" The answer has always been my creativity. I decided to do a painting inspired by Pride and create prints. A portion of each sale will go towards The Trevor Project. They offer suicide prevention and promote life-affirming programs for LGBTQIA+ young people.

 I've been doing crow paintings lately and continued this motif. The crow is clutching an olive branch in its talons; the olive branch is a symbol of peace, friendship, and diplomacy. It also signifies victory. In its mouth, is a rainbow ribbon. The Pride flag was invented by Gilbert Baker in 1978. The colors of the Pride Rainbow represent, "red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, blue for harmony, and purple for spirit." On top of the crow's head is a little crown. Love conquers all.

The open edition digital prints are made in-house with archival inks on acid-free Moab Entrada Rag Natural paper with a lovely matte finish. Each print is signed and dated by me and measures 4"X6". Thank you for supporting us and allowing us to give back to the LGBTQIA+ community. If this resonates with you, we would appreciate it if you shared this post and help it reach as many people as possible. Thanks again and Happy Pride Month! CLICK HERE to get your print.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Inspired by Reading: May 2019 Reveal...

We have a book club at Allegory Gallery and it’s a lot of fun. It’s called, “Inspired by Reading”. In a lot of ways, it’s like most book clubs; we read a book and then get together once a month to talk about it... but our book club has a twist! After participants finish the book, they are asked to make something inspired by what they read (or in my case, listened to on Audible)! It could be food or jewelry or anything really. One time a person made beer and another time, someone else embellished a pair of shoes!
"The Radium Girls" by Kate Moore.
For May, we read, “The Radium Girls” by Kate Moore. Almost everyone agreed that the book was fascinating and well-written, albeit disturbing. It was made all the more disturbing knowing that the book was based on real people! I don't tend to read a lot of non-fiction for pleasure, so I was pleasantly surprised by the way that the author was entertaining without being flippant and did a wonderful job fleshing out the characters. She did a wonderful job making them seem like the real people that they were.
Shine Bright Earrings by Andrew Thornton.
I had a lot of ideas of what to make, but not a lot of time. So I decided to make a pair of earrings and focus on the verdant green from the cover and the idea of the luminous, glowing quality of the radium.
Shine Bright Earrings under a UV black light.
I had these vintage German glass cabochons in a lovely, glowy shade of green and I decided to bezel set them. In the book, the author mentions that several of the characters are of German descent and I thought that using the German glass was fitting. Before I set the cabochons though, I painted the interior of the bezel that I made out of sterling silver with glow-in-the-dark paint.
Shine Bright Earrings in the dark after being "charged up".
I then smashed an antique Czech glass “Vaseline” bead and used liquid polymer clay as a binder to glue the glass crumbs in the bottoms of the bezels. The cabochons were set on top of that. Some vaseline glass is made with uranium salts. This gives a unique, vibrant yellow to the glass and under a black light, they glow! (Don’t worry! They’re not dangerously radioactive.)
On the backs, I stamped, “shine bright”. Since the book has a darker theme, I wanted to stamp something that was relevant, but a tad bit more on the positive affirmation side. I thought about doing "Lip... Dip... Paint." but then I thought that if I ever wanted to sell these, that maybe that was a wee bit too specific. The set cabochons were then dangled from sterling silver lever back earwires.

To see all the other delightful creations inspired by "The Radium Girls" (and all our other book selections), CLICK HERE to visit our Facebook page for the book club. CLICK HERE to see all of this year's selections. Up next for June is "Parable of the Sower" by Octavia E. Butler.