Monday, July 20, 2009

Don Coker

Don Coker
Georgia artist Don Coker found himself at a crossroads this year when the round of cutbacks and layoffs sweeping the newspaper industry (which is being hit by both the economic downturn and the changing paradigm of how news is delivered) caused him to be laid off from his long time position as a newspaper illustrator, cartoonist, caricaturist, art director and designer.

Coker had for a couple of years been following the “painting a day” phenomenon, and was particularly inspired by its originator, Duane Keiser, and an early practitioner, Julian Merrow-Smith (see my posts on “painting a day“, Duane Keiser, and Julian Merrow-Smith).

Coker decided this was an opportune time to explore that avenue, and started a painting blog called “A Daily Curmudgeon“. The intention is to do small oil paintings in the format common to painting a day blogs, 5×5 or 5×7″, but to indulge in his fondness for whimsical character studies rather than the usual small still life or landscape subjects that are the staple of the genre.

Coker says his painting process is to start with a blank canvas or gessoed illustration board and to take a small brush loaded with burnt umber and just start pushing and pulling until an image begins to suggest itself. This has led so far to an array of odd characters as well as a portrait of Shakespeare and a homage to Van-Gogh self portraits.

Be sure to click on the images in the blog to see the large version, and Coker’s technique, which can be painterly or smoothly refined as subject dictates.

Something tells me that Coker’s interests and multi-faceted talents will lead to a wider range of subject matter and approach in the future, but in the meanwhile, his small painted characters are a delight (and a steal at the auction prices he’s asking, I don’t think anyone knows about his blog yet, he just started a few days ago).

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