Josh DeSmit Art Blog Attack: Post I, The Artist Returns/Silver Falls

Back in the Game

I love to art, to creatively express experiential knowledge through physical media, the act of arting. Making art is an outlet for stored emotion and has been a staple in the scope of my mental health to release these stores in a cerebral and physical manor.  Ten months ago my wife, Kelley, and I were gifted by God a wonderful baby, Elouise. Like all parents, we have found time subtraction through this joyous addition to our everyday lives.  By want and necessity our time has deviated to Elouise's side of the graph.  After Kelley's maternity leave was up, Elouise spent days with a family friend and work schedules remained similar to those of prenatal life.  I was in full artistic swing knocking out commissioned works and personal wall hangers for art fairs and shows.  Grand plans of art based apparel hung in the balance of design and trigger pulling.  Like death, one thing we humans can always count on is change, and damned if we don't like to avoid it.

If you have followed my work for some time you might have read my scribblings about "liminal" life, or being in transition.  Not unlike my art, which attempts to visually illustrate overlapping spaces, experiences, and attitudes, life provides literal switcheroos to one's program on a regular basis. Long story longer, I am now a stay-at-home dad four days a week.  It's beautifully rewarding, yet taxing, and has halted much of the momentum my art game had in the first half of 2017.  Though I wouldn't trade my time with Elouise for anything, I am yearning to pick up the pieces of Josh DeSmit Art and this is why I write today. 

While creating new work has become a challenge, writing is something that can be pecked away at during nap time.  It is also important to reflect on one's processes and results, and mine have certainly gone in a different direction over the last twelve months.  My goal is to shed light on where I have been, what is happening now, and what I hope to accomplish as I decipher the puzzle of time management under a new schedule.  Look for one to two posts a week that take closer looks at individual works, influences, fatherhood rants, and liminalistic existence.  

POST I: Silver Falls, An Ode to Marsden Hartley

A major change in my work over the last two years has been an emphasis on painting.  I am not a trained painter, but in attempts to add another layer to my process I took to brush and decided to explore acrylic paint.  My college studies were focused on printmaking, drawing, and working with spray paint plus a healthy dose of art history.  I was never quite satisfied with finished products solely in these fields and found ways to combine reductive and additive processes to create mixed media art. With access to a printing press no longer relevant, I utilize stencils cut from my drawings to satisfy reduction and now painting has taken over as a mainstay in the additive portion of my artistic equation.  In my mind there is something necessary about having an idea (drawing), stripping it down (stencil), and rebuilding it (spray paint/acrylic/paint pen). This process allows me to maintain recognizable form while simplifying the subject matter to the most important lines and shapes. It also allows me to work fast and slow, calculated and reactionary or emotionally within the same piece.

I have always had an affinity for modernist painters from the turn of the twentieth century, and have emulated artists from various movements as I attempt to gain skill as a painter.  Many of these individuals were masters of creating universally recognizable and simplified form. Examples of these painters range from the ultra famous Van Gogh and Picasso, to North American artists like the Group of Seven out of Canada, Stuart Davis and especially Marsden Hartley, both American. In general, my mark making is derived from a graffiti-esque hand style, blocky and hard.  With acrylic, I have found that I can maintain this mark making, though the medium softens the result and provides a nice balance with the usually rigid, stenciled spray paint.  

 A.Y. Jackson (Group of Seven),  October Evening , 1934 oil on canvas 73.9 x 81.4 cm Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery Gift of Chief Justice G. Tritschler, G-74-30 © Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa

A.Y. Jackson (Group of Seven), October Evening, 1934 oil on canvas 73.9 x 81.4 cm Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery Gift of Chief Justice G. Tritschler, G-74-30 © Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa

 Stuart Davis (1892–1964),  New Mexican Landscape , 1923, oil on canvas, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, © Estate of Stuart Davis/ Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Stuart Davis (1892–1964), New Mexican Landscape, 1923, oil on canvas, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, © Estate of Stuart Davis/ Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

In researching my favored modernists, I stumbled onto Marsden Hartley's work.  His landscapes really struck me and at the time I seemed stuck in a rut of subject focused work, like fish.  I was inspired to create work about the places important to me and my adventures afield. After focusing on Hartley further, I discovered a show at The Met Breuer called "Marsden Hartley's Maine". Though not able to make the trek to New York to see it first hand, I was able to get the jist via their online content.  Hartley had a deep connection to his native Maine, and it was somewhere he went back to mentally and physically in his life and work. I felt a parallel in my own life in my connection with Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  Though not my home state it was for much of my family, and multiple yearly trips to the cabin to hunt, fish, and escape have cemented it as a necessary pilgrimage for me and my subsequent creativity. 

 "Silver Falls", 16"x20", Spray Paint & Acrylic On Canvas, 2017

"Silver Falls", 16"x20", Spray Paint & Acrylic On Canvas, 2017

 "Smelt Brook Falls", Marsden Hartley (American, Lewiston, Maine 1877–1943 Ellsworth, Maine), 1937, Oil on commercially prepared paperboard (academy board)  The Met Breuer, 2017

"Smelt Brook Falls", Marsden Hartley (American, Lewiston, Maine 1877–1943 Ellsworth, Maine), 1937, Oil on commercially prepared paperboard (academy board)

The Met Breuer, 2017

My 2017 work "Silver Falls" recants a snowy spring morning of steelhead fishing during runoff, and the raging falls we encountered near Lake Superior.  The piece is an ode to Hartley's "Smelt Brook Falls" which I was drawn to in researching the artist.  Like many of his later works concerning Maine, "Smelt Brook Falls" is stark in contrasts.  The works narrating the complexities between his sexuality and worldly ramblings, and the conservative, rugged life of Maine.  Hartley's piece exhibits darkness and light, cold and warm, and is blocky in execution while describing something as fluid as running water.  I wanted to offer similar feelings in "Silver Falls" as the woods were wet and dark, while the river's gap in the trees provided illumination to the forceful, cold water raging due to spring's warming thaw.  The turbid yellow water looks more like solid blocks, or even figures, rumbling through an evergreen theatre as the viewer takes in the opening scene.  Perhaps Hartley was under the spell of the old adage that "a man never crosses the same river twice". His scene looks to be set in the fall, a time of nostalgia and great change in the natural world, and the flowing water is ever new and refreshed over aged rocks.

Like Hartley's relationship with Maine, my affair with the U.P. is ripe with angst. I know that I can never live there while making a living and raising my family, but I yearn for it's wilds while operating in an urban existence. For this, I am reserved to days, weekend trips to rumbling falls and pine woods that revive like moving water.  The U.P. will likely remain a place of in between for me. Somewhere to exist, not in permanence, but between the bookends of a bustling life. 

The Moonlit Hex T-Shirts Have Arrived

I've been at the art game for a while now, mainly creating for individuals via commissioned work, small companies per request, and through tangential wanderings of my own mind.  All the while becoming more immersed in the fly fishing community, as this is the meat of my artistic toil. When showing art I'm often told that my work and style could be transferrable to products, and that it might be worth looking into.  Well, here it goes.  In recent vintage I took to creating a pair hunting hat designs that went over fairly well.  I learned that there is a lot of work and upfront expense involved in this product creation, though, it has not deterred me from the process.  I want my art to be shared and appreciated in many fashions, and to keep it affordable when possible.  It has been a long time coming and finally a shirt design will be available to all, but especially my main audience, the fly fishers. This is the first design under my own name and brand, so I'm looking to the consumer to give me feedback and reason to create more wearable, functional art.  The end goal is a full product line, but need to see how the first steps go before making that investment of money and time away from the canvas.  I hope you enjoy the Moonlit Hex Tee and thank you for the continued support. Head to the Print Shop to purchase

Moonlit Hex:

If you've ever hit it right on a balmy summers eve in the midwest, or other select parts of the country, then you know. You know that the big mayflies start there dance as the last light fades, and the big brown trout aren't far behind. The clouds of bugs form and the chubby, golden fish slurp and slap into the night. For the fisher person, nature's night light aids as casts are flung to splashes and boots get stuck in silty river edges.  Hopefully the Moonlit Hex Tee will bring you back to those adventures had after dark. 

 

Shirts are made using direct to garment printing and are Fruit of the Loom 100% High Density Cotton. Sizes Small-5X.

Head to the Print Shop to purchase

 

 

New Additions

I wanted to share these two pieces thatI have just added to the shop section of this site. There just may be a discount if you contact me directly or through social media.  instagram @joshdesmitart & facebook.com/joshdesmitart1

 

The first is a winter stone that i like to fly and it doubles as different bugs as the spring comes on.

 Winter Stone

Winter Stone

 

The next represents the flavor of Great Lakes steelheading, namely Superior.  Chunky stones, scrambled eggs, and awesome looking fish.

 GLSTLHD

GLSTLHD

Recent and Semi-Recent Work

Hey all, just wanted to share some things that I've completed recently...or even semi-recently.  Some are commissioned works, some are for my own mental necessity.  Please, get in contact for your own commissioned work.  I can make anything you'd like come to fruition in my style, and that includes non-fish work.  Also, I am capable of doing prints in many sizes on paper and canvas, and more.  Feel free to drop a request. Thanks!

 Hipster Carper

Hipster Carper

 Brookie Commission

Brookie Commission

 Northwoods Comission

Northwoods Comission

 Raining Bow Commission

Raining Bow Commission

 The Big Pink

The Big Pink

 Mickie Commission

Mickie Commission

The Green Drakes

The Green Drakes

Over the summer I had the pleasure of taking a very special trip to the area where Idaho meets Wyoming meets Montana. We fished and filmed, and as the mornings waned and the clouds rolled in, the drakes began to pop. The hatches never lasted long, but they brought up the biggest fish from the small mountain streams. It was amazing to fish to 12-20" cutthroat that we could see nosing out of the water.

 The Green Drakes, 11 1/4"x 17 1/4", Spray Paint, Acrylic, Paint Pen, Wrapping Paper, on black board, 2015

The Green Drakes, 11 1/4"x 17 1/4", Spray Paint, Acrylic, Paint Pen, Wrapping Paper, on black board, 2015

This piece aims to capture the beginnings of the hatch. After a good, long hike up the mountain under crisp morning skies, we had left any trace of the crowds. Around 11 am, when the water had warmed, cloud banks would begin to saunter into the canyons. As soon as those clouds would block the sun the green drake mayflies would begin to emerge from the bottom of the stream. It didn't take long for the fish to churn. In the image you can see the breaking blue skies and the ensuing cloud cover. Light beams filter through, here and there, alluding to the idea that the water has been heated throughout the morning. The water is a boiling red, and thick black arrows guide the flies upward. It's a long dark path for a hatching mayfly. 

A hatch in the mountains is like rush hour for flies, fish, and fisherman alike.  I chose this imagery to be bold and chaotic as during a hatch the visual stimulation heavily increases for the fisherman/viewer. The flies rely on water temps and preferable conditions and make a break for the surface en masse. The fish key in on easy prey and jockey for feeding position, exploding about the surface to consume bugs. The fisherman finds himself in a euphoric, yet stressful state. Picking out a fish to cast to, the right fly, and then another fly, and then one that might work; good casts, bad casts, tough casts to the donkey behind the log. The whole ordeal is a cauldron of energy that cannot be portrayed lightly. My imagery is heavy on the eyes, laden with color, and expresses the nervous energy of the river's traffic jam.

I set out to make this piece during quite a funk in my creative process. I was feeling very uninspired to start works, and I was feeling as though I had become stale from catering too much to what I thought the public might like to see. This piece was an attempt to expel the demons, and it did just that.  Maybe I had been lazy, caught up in hunting season, or maybe it was the blue-hair filled craft fair I set up at to make quick cash that had me down. I explored past mental space, called on experiences in fishing and art processes I had been putting off, and went for it making happy mistakes and fighting through it. Not all art will be easy to make and my best work usually comes through amendment.  Expression of  time well spent mixed with that feeling in your stomach when you can't find your keys formed the basis of this piece and a good start to a few other projects I had been lax on.

Stuart Davis, Hot Still-Scape for 6 Colors.

Friend, and fellow artist, John Piacquadio (@twincitiesurbanfly) turned me onto American modernist painter, Stuart Davis. After viewing many of his works on the Google, his influence definitely crept into this piece in color and fragmentation of shapes and imagery.  John is moving to Mexico with his wife, Karen for the winter months. We will miss him at tying nights, and I hope he continues to send rad artists my way to help shake off the dust.

 

Happy 20 Fifteen

I am so very excited for the coming year.  I've got a brand new wife, and very soon I am taking a plunge by stepping away from the grind of the day job to begin creating extensively.  With my new work I will embark on a tour spanning the mountainous, western half of the U.S. hocking my wares.  Hopefully, I will get to fish with some of you on that grand adventure.  For now, I am honored to be featured in the latest issues of both American Angler and H2O Fly Fishing Magazine(Italy)! A big thanks to those publications, be sure to check them out. Trying to keep pace, I am moving forward with lots of commissioned work and slowly piecing together other originals to share with the masses. Stay tuned for a pile of new stuff in the coming months...I think you folks will dig it.  

As the cold keeps creepin' try to stay warm with these beauties.  New warm water prints available in the shop.


Irons In The Fire


 raining bow

raining bow

Its all about works in progress this week, as the start of a productive phase kicks in. I was lucky enough to join a couple of sweet dudes in Memphis for a four day collab session a few weeks back, and it was great.  They are launching a couple of super secret clothing lines that are sure to make some waves.  These undisclosed  gentlemen flew me down, cooked for me, took me fishing on the Little Red, and all I had to do was use the creative side of my brain and come up with fancy doodles.  We had a blast!  If you get the chance, go down to Arkansas and fish the Little Red River and stay at Fat Possum Hollow.   Maurice will take care of you, and the cabins are lights out.  Anyhow,  we got to creating some sweet stuff and upon my return home I have felt the urge to pump out art. Couple that with a trip to the Minnesota Institute of Arts/Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and we've got a recipe for some trout on acid. Some of this is commission work, but some will be open season once completed.  


Influences of the Week: 

I have always been captivated my modern art, especially impressionism and expressionism.  I was taken by the work of early 1900s artist, Ersnt Ludwig Kirchner, while visiting the MIA. His use of intense and unusual color is moving, while fat black lines speak to the heaviness of his world. The way Kirchner portrays society as dark, ominous, monstrous, and rigidly paced speaks of a time of change. I aim for this uneasiness in my work. Quick assertive line and vibrant color are aids to the vision of a public amassed in overstimulation . This quickly changing reality is seen both in the early 20th and 21st centuries.

 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Musically I have been jammin' on Classixx. This duo reminds of the time when the 80s met House music...during a game of laser tag. I'll admit it's not for everyone, but if you've got some art to finish it seems a good remedy.

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All in all, it feels good to be busy with something you love doing. Even if it's after work and on weekends.  Here are some pics of what has been going on in the laboratory.

 

First off we have some lovely fish heads!  These are heading to Ed Anderson's gallery, Fulton Street Showroom, in Boise Idaho.

brookie head.JPG
brown head.JPG

 

 

 

Next up is a three piece series highlighting conservation.  I will write a full post describing the meanings of these once they are all completed.  In the meantime here are the two that have been completed.  Enjoy!

golden 4.JPG
steel 5.JPG

Drake Mag

I have been blessed. One of fly fishing's most respected publications, The Drake, has included my work in its latest issue.  Big thanks to Josh Prestin for a wonderful article that nutshells some of my personality, and sheds light on a bit of what my art represents.  You can read all about it on pg. 96 in the "Rod Holders" section. Shout to my fiancé, Kelley Duffey (@kelleyduffey) for her photos making the cut, as well.

 

image.jpg

 

image.jpg

I create because I love to, and because it's the best way I know how to tell my stories.  Though most of my work reflects the way I remember a specific moment or feeling, I hope that my imagery resonates through the memories of other people.

The fact that folks are buzzing about what I'm putting on paper is truly an inspiration. Since the release of The Drake I have witnessed a flurry of social media likes and some orders to boot. I want to thank all who have given support over the last month, and especially thank those people who have helped me the whole way through. I have a long way to go, even to make this a full time job, but thanks to some press and a lot of great people I'm taking steps to get there. Stay with me on this journey as I grow as an artist, and as a human.

I have been working hard to create new content. Follow me on Instagram @joshdesmitart, and my Josh DeSmit Art Facebook page, for images of my latest work. 

  "blue collar"   11"x17", spray paint, paint pen

 "blue collar"

11"x17", spray paint, paint pen

Thanks! 

Josh

Promo Redo

So my web site has launched, but I feel that in some of the excitement the print promo was executed in lackluster fashion. I'm going to try this again.  I will continue on with the four "Cosmics" archival print pack , but will lower the price to $40 for all 4! 

 Cosmic Trout archival 4 pack.   

Cosmic Trout archival 4 pack.

 

To help fool trout one must have flies...so I will be running an archival 4 pack of my Hot Spot fly series for $40 as well.  Get them now as I will pull these promos by the end of January!

 

 Hot Spot archival 4 pack. 

Hot Spot archival 4 pack. 

This Is A Blingnobyl.

New Fly Piece

image.jpg

Hi all, I hope your Christmas and other holidays were wonderful, and nobody got injured whilst shopping.

I recently finished this little beauty. It's called:

"This Is A Blingnobyl"

24"x36" , spray paint & paint pen on canvas, 2013

 ...Fabulous title aside this piece was inspired by the minds at flyfishfood.com.  They knock out some pretty sweet flies, and utilize a lot of the contemporary materials that are making chuckable bugs better.  The goal of this piece is to elude to recent innovations in fly tying, as well as the twisted brains that are coming up with shiny, pink nuclear ants.  

The viewer should gain a sense of the cerebral side of fly tying when looking into this piece.  The depths of the brain and flaring imaginations have created some rad stuff as of late, and most of it works beautifully.  Consider the science behind the articulation movement, or the durable nature of many synthetics.  Someone had to latch this stuff to a hook. Kudos to these tiers. 

Look for a few more of these fly pieces as my gears continue to grind.

 

Happy New Year!

Josh

 

 

 

 

Website Launch Promotions

After months of blood, sweat and tears coupled with patience from my pal Josh Brand, the new website is a go.  Thank you for checking it out!  This site is aimed at sharing my adventures in art from start to finish.  I will be frequently updating this blog with brand new works, process shots, and some sweet deals on my artwork.  Please, check back often and follow me on Instagram @joshdesmitart and on Facebook 

 

PRINT PROMOTION

Buy four Cosmic Trout for the price of 2.5, get 'em while they are hot! 

ORIGINALS PROMOTION 

10% off select originals

 

Visit my store for great deals.