Growth Spots in Occidental Park Seattle

September 12, 2014

This summer (2014) I was given the opportunity by the City of Seattle Department of Arts and Culture to work on a temporary installation in Occidental Park in downtown Seattle. The department enjoyed the installation I did last summer, “Welcome…Bon Jour” and asked me to participate in their ArtSparks program in Occidental Park. At first I was going to do another tape installation. I spent a few days coming up with various designs to put around the lamp posts in the park and even went down to the park and started taping off the poles so I would know which colors went on each pole. The very next day someone had randomly come by and taken down all the work that I had started. With the ease that it could be taken down I decided it was time to switch gears, do something bigger, more challenging and out of reach. I wanted to create sculptures. Something I had never done before.

My girlfriend Gina Coffman and I had been eying some large Styrofoam blocks that were left over from the highway 99 project and it was time to figure out how to acquire and use them. A few people down at the construction site let us know they were there for the taking. After finding a space to work I got started hacking away at these giant blocks. Handsaws, serrated knives, an electric Sawzall, files and an electric sander were all the tools I needed to sculpt. At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like this process. It was hard on my body and seemed to be very slow. I also tried out a resin coating that I had never tried before which sometimes took days to dry and sometimes only took a few hours. I couldn’t seem to get the mixture right and it was wasting my time and materials. So I decided to go with a simple solution and treat them like three dimensional canvas pieces. I coated them with Gesso, painted them and then coated them with a high-gloss wood acrylic to protect them from the weather. Once I had gotten the process down I was able to make the pieces much faster and things began to move smoothly.

Quite often in my work I start with a vague idea and flesh it out as I discover where the piece takes me and listen to where I am in life. I knew that I wanted to make pieces that looked like organic shapes growing on the lampposts. I had also been thinking a lot about relationships with people and what it takes for each of us to grow and have a positive relationship. I focused on the themes of Balance, Love, Integrity, Communication, Attachment, Relationship and Compromise. I also created two more pieces that may appear in another version of this installation that focus on patience and independence within relationship.

These pieces were on view from August 7, – September 30, 2014.

Special thanks to:
the City of Seattle Department of Arts and Culture,
Gina Coffman, Chris Rugh, Elijah Farrell and James

 

Compromise

Compromise: A little bit of one way, a little bit of another.
Compromise takes us to new places we never thought possible by being something
completely new.

Relationship

Relationship: The two dots (one hidden by the flowers) represent bodies in relationship to one another. The lines represent the obstacles between them. With a little work, those two dots could come together.

Love can feel warm and gooey and often feels protected like a womb.

Love: Love can feel warm and gooey and often feels protected like a womb.

To have integrity we must stand as tall as we can, tell our absolute truths and follow up on all loose ends.

Integrity: To have integrity we must stand as tall as we can, tell our absolute truths and follow up on all loose ends.

Each of these pieces represent an idea that one is trying to convey to the other. We can see from the outside that the ideas are  similar and at some point they may come  to an agreement.

Communication: Each of these pieces represent an idea that one is trying to convey to the other. We can see from the outside that the ideas are similar and at some point they may come to an agreement.

These two pieces are of different sizes but are coming close to being equal. As we all know, it takes a lot of work to get our balance just right.

Balance: These two pieces are of different sizes but are coming close to being equal. As we all know, it takes a lot of work to get our balance just right.

Attachment

Attachment: Like a screw, attachment burrows away at our expectations and keeps us in one place. Releasing expectation allows us to be a lot more mobile.

 

“Welcome…Bon Jour”

October 9, 2013

This summer I was awarded a grant to install a temporary installation here in Seattle. My installation, entitled “Welcome…Bon Jour” was constructed from 1” blue painters tape and ¼” white electrical tape. The tape was laid into a pattern that spanned the length of two and a half blocks on a handrail that started at First and Marion and led to the ferry dock at Alaskan and Marion. Installation took eight hours with 10 volunteers. It became a piece dedicated to ferry passengers as a greeting and farewell to their day. To see a video of the entire installation click here: http://youtu.be/QWoCuYkh3VU

As with any project that has multiple people working on it I was able to take the position of project manager. This meant that as I was installing in one area I would need to check on my volunteers periodically to make sure there were no problems and help them adjust their process when necessary. Because of the various skill levels of the volunteers involved in the project sometimes conversations of the same idea needed to be expressed in different ways until I found a successful way of getting my point across. This also led to slight variations in the design. For some artists this may have been a problem but I found it to be part of the art and the process as well as a learning experience with communication.

During installation we had several people stop and ask us what we were doing and everyone who was informed was happy to hear about the project. Some folks even thanked me from their cars about how much they liked it. A few times pedestrians asked in a suspicious and slightly aggressive tone as if I was doing something wrong but when I explained to them what was happening they seemed to be fine with it and continued on their way.

During de-installation a few people were sad to see it go. One man who sells “Real Change” at First and Marion said that he heard people remark positively about it all the time while another shouted from his car that he was sad to see it go.

After de-installation I was left with a giant tape-ball that is slightly smaller but weighs more than a basketball. The object has a wonderful feel to it.

Overall I was very happy with the results of the project, the assistance of my volunteers and Marcia Iwasaki at the Office of Arts and Culture. I feel that the project went smoothly and was fun to be part of. Thanks so much to Gina Coffman, Michelle Boshart, Kelly Owens, Ben Reagan, Mackenzie Ryan Durst, Liz Rudisill, Romi Epstein, Farley Harding and Steph Cone.

 

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Broadway Mural

August 13, 2012


Recently finished my largest painting on Broadway and Denny on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. Check out more photos here.

The most common questions I got while working on this mural were, “How did you get this job? Can anyone just paint on this wall? Etc.” A few years ago I applied for a grant through Sound Transit and was accepted to take part in the art that got to decorate the wall. When I received the grant I was told that I would be able to put up a piece sometime in the next four years.

I was able to give Sound Transit an inspirational sketch with the caveat that the mural would look a lot different from the sketch. I didn’t want it to be a production piece where I stuck to the sketch and produced a large version of my sketch. It’s good for me to have some inspiration and guidance with room for internal conversation and inspiration from the space itself.

I’m going to take a minute to tell you about my process and the various self-conversations that come up when working on a piece.

First, I start the piece with some large movements and set the color for the first layer. At that point I’m either really excited about what’s come out and I almost want to stop or I’m feeling the need to continue based on either that I have certain things to accomplish with this painting or I’m not yet satisfied with what I’ve started and I realize it needs more work to continue. Usually both are true.

As it develops I’m continually looking for balance within the piece. I can’t even allow myself to work on one side for too long because I will feel unbalanced. The urge to balance the piece becomes very strong. There’s almost a sense of panic if I look around the rest of the painting. So it takes me a bit to relax and realize that I will get to it eventually.

Then there is the issue of confidence vs. no wrong mark. In the school of thought that I subscribe to it’s said that there is no wrong thought, it’s just different and it is what it is. This really shows up in this process of painting. If I make a mark on the canvas without confidence or I’m not sure if I should make that mark, it shows up as such and I usually don’t like the result. I don’t treat it as wrong though, it’s a little lesson within the painting. A lesson that says, “you didn’t paint with confidence.”

Usually at some point during the process I have a small panic attack. I feel like everything I’ve done is wrong, it’s not going to turn out, I don’t know what I’m doing, I must be crazy, I’m just a monkey making a mess and someone needs to take the paint brush away from me. When that happens, it usually means it’s time to take a break, ask for a second opinion or just sleep on it. After that happens I usually have a small breakthrough and the next step just bursts right through. I’m relaxed, I’m excited and I know what needs to happen. That’s when it feels like I’m really in the flow of what’s going on and know what I’m doing. It’s a great feeling. This time that panic moment only occurred once during the process so the whole thing felt smooth and I’m pretty happy with the result.

When working on an abstract piece there is a question of where to stop. At any point it could be done. Most people could look at this piece at many of the stages and say, “it looks done.” And I could agree, so how do I know when to stop? Well, I stop when I find a stopping point that I’m happy with. Just like anytime anything else is worked on you know when to stop. It’s like making cookies. You could stop at the dough, because the dough is really good and you love eating dough but you don’t have cookies and you want cookies. So you put them in the oven for just the right amount of time and then you have cookies. If you leave them in for too long you have charcoal. OR you could take those cookies, crumble them up and put them in ice cream and put that ice cream into a cake and put that cake as a layer in an even larger cake and so on and so on.

With abstract painting it’s the same. If I were to continue working on this I would have to go much further until it’s quite a different thing altogether. So whenever I have stopped it’s usually because I’m at a point where I’m satisfied and have accomplished my goals for the piece.

A new piece Finished!!!

July 11, 2012


This piece was commissioned by Jennifer Morris for her newly acquired, in the process of remodeling, home. This piece was quite an adventure. After the initial consult with my client we decided on a general feeling and it was up to me to go from there. I had recently found some old wallpaper that I incorporated into the piece. When I was at at stopping point I showed it to my client who was not a fan of the pink and purple elements so we had a conversation and I reworked the painting to her satisfaction.

Painting for Eli Muir

March 22, 2012

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I created this painting for Eli Muir.  This painting was quite a struggle for me to find satisfaction. I didn’t have a plan, just a vague idea that kept changing and developing as I worked. Whenever I work, I’m always trying to challenge myself. In my head that means I need to do something different every time. While working on this piece I realized that it’s ok to do what I do best and expand in new ways of doing that thing I do best.

How one improves their art, skills and craft is by fine tuning the things they do best. Really exploring a genre until mastery has been accomplished. I know that I have a long way until mastery but I’m not daunted by this. The process is the art. To be on an uphill climb is always much more exciting than a plateau. A plateau can be comfortable for awhile but it never feels like progress so new boundaries must be found and challenged.

I am really loving this exploration of painting. With each commission I am extremely thankful that my fans and friends have allowed me to do this. To have my vision supported is really gratifying, validating and amazing. Thank you Eli for supporting this piece.

Each commission that happens this year is going to be in a show called, ‘Sam Trout, Sold Out!’ It will be a show full of commissioned works where the art on the walls is only on lend and not for sale. If you’re interested in helping this show come to fruition please consider commissioning a piece for yourself. I would love to create for you. Each person who commissions me becomes my muse. Giving us the chance to connect on a level that is very satisfying and intimate. If you’ve never commissioned a piece before I would love to walk through the process with you and create something for your home or office.

Commission for Nic Launceford

February 8, 2012

Just finished this commission for Nic Launceford. As a true patron of the arts Nic allowed me to create a piece for his living room while working on my new direction in painting. I’ve been inspired recently to work in the abstract. This direction allows me to let go of all common icons and create from a space of feeling, color, depth, and movement. This process becomes a self-conversation about what the painting needs and weather I have enough confidence to take it in that direction. The boldness of this direction calls for a lot of concentration and clear vision. At times I can work on a piece for hours because I know what needs to happen. Then I take a break and let it marinate a bit, let the ideas flow into place and figure out what needs to happen next.

I also have been exclusively using house paint to create this direction. It’s glossy and sometimes a bit crude and unwieldy so I have to be patient and work out the details carefully. This piece is 3’x4′ on canvas.

Commission for DJ Krispy

February 8, 2012

The door for DJ Krispy's personal music studio.

DJ Krispy aka Chris Haines commissioned me to decorate the door of his music studio. It’s a solid wood door so it was REALLY heavy. I painted the door a deep silver that helped accentuate the doors solidarity. The door came together with a bit of an old-school vibe because of my roots in college radio during the ’90s. The headphones are modeled after the ones I’ve owned for years and the reel to reel machine brought me back to the days of making promo after promo for KRUA 88.1 FM Anchorage. Of course I’m also the type of person who grew up making mix tapes and using tape players with equalizers. The side on the right is the outside of the door and the side on the left is the inside of the door.

Commission for Becky Kerman

February 2, 2012


Recently I was commissioned to create a piece for my long-time friend and muse, Becky Kerman. Last year she moved into her new condo and has been enjoying the decor process. I am thankful for being part of that decor process by creating this piece for her entry way. She was thrilled with the end result and it really brought a lot of color into her home.

This piece took a couple months. Lots of brainstorming and slowly adding to the painting. I knew that Becky was a woman with particular tastes and has a real eye for style. Which also makes her a good art director. She wasn’t afraid to say she wanted more of one thing or less of another. That’s great, it pushes me to problem solve and come up with something that was going to work for both of us. I always want to create something that’s worth looking at for a long time and she wanted something that was really going to satisfy her for years to come.

The piece measures about 3’x4′ and is painted on two heavy wooden painters panels. This was the first time I have ever painted on wooden painters panels. I really enjoyed the process and am looking forward to doing it again in the future.

Body Heat Classcadia Flyer

October 12, 2011

body heat flyer

(Click on flyer for enlarged version)

It’s another flyer for Classcadia! This one is for their new monthly night called Body Heat featuring Tanner Ross. They’re really bringing some good music to their nights. I can’t wait to check out what else they bring to their events. It sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun.

I really went for the cinematic look on this one and will try to stick to that idea for future Body Heat flyers. I really like how this one turned out. What do you think?

IF ‘Ferocious’ – Flyer for Classcadia

September 30, 2011

This is the second flyer for the Classcadia series at the Electric Tea Garden. I’m really enjoying putting these flyers together. I think I’m going to continue the series as sort of a pin-up comic style. Click on the image to see a full sized version.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.