The Year 2020

The Year 2020, winter, spring, summer and fall


The Year 2020, 12″x 12″, acrylic on a set of four 6″x 6″ canvases (making the painting 12″x 12″ if/when hung together). 2021.
This painting, part of my spontaneous geometric series and done on four small canvases, was inspired by the continual craziness and “ins-and-outs” of the year 2020.
Each canvas is visually connected to the others much like the many crazy aspects of the year 2020 continued to impact other parts of the year. Though painted to be displayed together, each small canvas (representing winter, spring, summer and fall) was composed and signed individually for being displayed separately if fate takes the work in that direction. Whether this work continues to be kept together or each canvas ends up in separate locations is being left completely to chance, much like the many aspects of the year for which it is named.

~ John Essex II is a retired art teacher, a two-time Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellow and an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Arts Fellow. He is also artist/owner of EssexArt ABC, LLC through which he keeps busy creating his own fine art, creates commissioned art, does caricaturing by commission and at special events, conducts private painting parties and is contacted regularly to play the bagpipes (yes… play the bagpipes). Essex also maintains two online print-on-demand stores where patrons can acquire gallery quality prints of his art as well as other products that feature his work. To view what Essex does, and/or to shop his online stores, go to: 
https://society6.com/essexart,
http://bit.ly/TPublic_EssexArt
To keep up with Essex and what he does at EssexArt ABC, LLC, follow him on:
Facebook at, https://www.facebook.com/EssexArt,
Instagram at, https://www.instagram.com/essexart_abc (@EssexArt_ABC)
Essex is also listed in the Arts Council of Indianapolis artist directory at:
http://www.indyartsguide.org/artist/john-essex-ii/

An Annual Caricature Commission

My most recently delivered/presented commissioned caricature.
Murat Shriners 2021 Potentate Tim Whitaker, 11”x14”, archival ink and artist quality Prismacolor color pencils on acid-free paper, 2021.
Every year the Hendricks County (Indiana) Shrine Club of Murat commissions me to do a caricature of the outgoing Potentate of Murat Shriners. As I’ve said many times, Shriners are among the most fun people to have as subjects for caricatures. Of course putting anyones varied interests into one drawing can make for a fun image.

~ John Essex II is a retired art teacher, a two-time Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellow and an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Arts Fellow. He is also artist/owner of EssexArt ABC, LLC through which he keeps busy creating his own fine art, creates commissioned art, does caricaturing by commission and at special events, conducts private painting parties and is contacted regularly to play the bagpipes (yes… play the bagpipes). Essex also maintains two online print-on-demand stores where patrons can acquire gallery quality prints of his art as well as other products that feature his work. To view what Essex does, and/or to shop his online stores, go to: 
https://society6.com/essexart,
http://bit.ly/TPublic_EssexArt
To keep up with Essex and what he does at EssexArt ABC, LLC, follow him on:
Facebook at, https://www.facebook.com/EssexArt,
Instagram at, https://www.instagram.com/essexart_abc (@EssexArt_ABC)
Essex is also listed in the Arts Council of Indianapolis artist directory at:
http://www.indyartsguide.org/artist/john-essex-ii/

Happy Saint Nicholas Day

On this St. Nicholas Day I unabashedly proclaim I believe in Santa Claus. Like the editorial in the New York Sun stated in Sept. 21, 1897, “He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist…”.

As a child and brought up as a Baptist (I still am) I was not exposed much at all to the “Saints” other than in the sense of the biblical agreement that all believers are saints. Of course there were some exceptions to that in the cases of Valentine and Patrick, but neither had the special place in our home and lives as Nicholas (in the guise as Santa) did. My earliest favorite depiction (among many favorites) of St. Nicholas was, like so many kids in the early 1960s, the Coca-Cola Santa (on the right in this group of three) illustrated by Haddon Sundblom. Of course I, at that time, had never heard of Sunblom but as children we appreciate the illustration not the illustrator. Later I appreciated the work of political cartoonist Thomas Nast and his portrayals of St. Nicholas in the 1880s which were undoubtedly inspired by the poem from 1823, “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (more commonly known as “The Night Before Christmas”) by Clement Clarke Moore. As an adult artist when I became interested in the art of Orthodox Christianity icons, various depictions of Nicholas, like this one from the 13th century, became those to which I was attracted. As yet, I’ve not “written” (as icon production is called) one of St. Nicholas, but I intend to someday.

Finally, on this day dedicated to St. Nicholas, I would encourage everyone to take some time and ponder the place that saint had and has in all of our lives. Read about the life and good deeds of that early Christian bishop of Greek descent from Myra in Asia Minor, and how his life has inspired what is real joy seen in the eyes and children of all ages every December. Then understand that all the generosity and love that was the personality of Nicholas was only because of his love and devotion to the teachings and examples Jesus of Bethlehem.

Have a wonderful Christmas Season.

~ John Essex II is a retired art teacher, a two-time Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellow and an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Arts Fellow. He is also artist/owner of EssexArt ABC, LLC through which he keeps busy creating his own fine art, creates commissioned art, does caricaturing by commission and at special events, conducts private painting parties and is contacted regularly to play the bagpipes (yes… play the bagpipes). Essex also maintains two online print-on-demand stores where patrons can acquire gallery quality prints of his art as well as other products that feature his work. To view what Essex does, and/or to shop his online stores, go to: 
https://society6.com/essexart,
http://bit.ly/TPublic_EssexArt
To keep up with Essex and what he does at EssexArt ABC, LLC, follow him on:
Facebook at, https://www.facebook.com/EssexArt,
Instagram at, https://www.instagram.com/essexart_abc (@EssexArt_ABC)
Essex is also listed in the Arts Council of Indianapolis artist directory at:
http://www.indyartsguide.org/artist/john-essex-ii/

Next Time I’ll Paint Larger

It had been a while since I had taken my oil paints out to do some painting en plein air… or painting on-site… and for the life of me I don’t know why I waited so long.
Sure, we all get busy with the everyday, often mundane, aspects of our lives and that can keep us from taking time out for ourselves, but we should not neglect that which makes us happy. Painting en plein air, among other things, makes me happy. It’s an enjoyable experience. It’s some “me” time. For me, I have no doubt that painting en plein air releases endorphins… and that’s a good thing.
There’s a fairly new park near where I live so I decided to do my painting next to a creek there. I chose to work small, only 6″x 6″. I also chose to work later in the day which meant that my light was not going to be around for long. It wasn’t. Consequently, though so small, I had to set up on-site on two different days in order to finish my painting… which was not a bad thing.
If there is a message I’m wanting to share here, and there certainly is, seek what makes you happy. Indulge yourself in those endorphins. Of course, moderation in all things being a good rule, never neglect your responsibilities. Just consider your own well-being and happiness one of those responsibilities. In doing so, it’s highly likely you’ll find even your approach to those other responsibilities recharged in a way that increase your ability to handle them, and handle them well.
Hmmm… I got al that out of doing a small 6″x 6″ painting. It’s settled then. Next time I’m using a larger painting surface.

~ John Essex II is a retired art teacher, a two-time Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellow and an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Arts Fellow. He is also artist/owner of EssexArt ABC, LLC through which he keeps busy creating his own fine art, creates commissioned art, does caricaturing by commission and at special events, conducts private painting parties and is contacted regularly to play the bagpipes (yes… play the bagpipes). Essex also maintains two online print-on-demand stores where patrons can acquire gallery quality prints of his art as well as other products that feature his work.To view what Essex does, and/or to shop his online stores, go to: https://www.facebook.com/EssexArt,
https://society6.com/essexart,
http://bit.ly/TPublic_EssexArt
http://www.indyartsguide.org/artist/john-essex-ii/

John’s Pass Pelican

A blast from the past.
This 11″x 14″ ink and watercolor was the result of a trip to John’s Pass, Florida near Treasure Island. I was sitting under the boardwalk where the shops are and was observing this pelican. Having come to this location to capture something with299358_10151241027930030_458027654_n-1 ink on watercolor paper, I was prepared to sketch as this big bird hung around at the dock. He didn’t seem to mind me doing this sketch of him however I sat as still as I could so as not to scare him off. Being able to do the entire sketch on the spot, I added the watercolor back in my hotel room.

~ John Essex II is a retired art teacher, a two-time Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellow and an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Arts Fellow. He is also artist/owner of EssexArt ABC, LLC through which he keeps busy creating his own fine art, creates commissioned art, does caricaturing by commission and at special events, conducts private painting parties and is contacted regularly to play the bagpipes (yes… play the bagpipes). Essex also maintains an online print-on-demand store where patrons can acquire gallery quality prints of his art as well as other products that feature his work.
To view what Essex does, and/or to shop at his online store, go to: https://www.facebook.com/EssexArt,

 

The Walls of A Studio Show A Careful Hand

The Walls of A Studio Show A Careful Hand, is the title of a very small (2.5 inches in diameter) paper collage I did using magazine pages. I created the collage in November of 2019 at a collage workshop at Indianapolis Contemporary (former the Indianapolis Museum Of Contemporary Art) which closed last April after 19 years in operation. I had made a larger collage at the workshop and did this small one intending to use a button maker Indianapolis Contemporary had to turn it into a button. Alas, the button maker was broken so the button was never made. Nevertheless, I liked what I was inspired to create (this little saying) and wanted to make use of it. Unfortunately the glue sticks provided at the workshop were along the line of what might be used in elementary school (please don’t consider that an editorial statement) so the finished collages were not necessarily of a permanent type. However, taking photographs of them provided much more use of the images than the actual works themselves provided… plus it gave me an opportunity to sign my works in a inconspicuous way.
77085486_10157814959000030_5781944205769179136_n
Not long after I took the photo of my small collage I uploaded the image to my online store where I am able to offer it as art prints, on coffee mugs, T-shirts and even throw pillows… which brings me to why I started writing this blog entry in the first place. Thing is, I really like the words and design of what was originally just my simple secondary artwork. So I bought the throw pillow version of my little collage so I could have it in plain view on the couch in my studio.
Now that the pillow is on my couch I am continually reminded of what a magical place an art studio is (and should be). Of course I could just as easily absorb the ambiance of the environment each time I enter, but just like you dear reader, I sometimes take things for granted. Now, even when I get too busy to take time to smell the roses, I’ve got a little pillow to remind me of the magic and wonder of being able to work in an art studio is (plus it is really comfortable for when I take naps there).
Do you keep little reminders around to help you get inspired or to help you not take things for granted? If so, what are they? Feel free to leave a comment. Who knows? Maybe what you do will be of benefit to someone else.
The Walls of a Studio Throw Pillow

~ John Essex II is a retired art teacher, a two-time Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellow and an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Arts Fellow. He is also artist/owner of EssexArt ABC, LLC through which he keeps busy creating his own fine art, creates commissioned art, does caricaturing by commission and at special events, conducts private painting parties and is contacted regularly to play the bagpipes (yes… play the bagpipes). Essex also maintains an online print-on-demand store where patrons can acquire gallery quality prints of his art as well as other products that feature his work.
To view what Essex does, and/or to shop at his online store, go to: https://www.facebook.com/EssexArt,

 

I Heard An Angel Weeping



Okay, I’m not a poet nor do I remotely claim to be. However I read something so incredibly baffling to me today on Facebook concerning the current pandemic best practices we all should be doing… and the blind-eye turned toward them by some… it inspired a poem.
Sometime my muse leads me into strange territories.
•••••••
I Heard An Angel Weeping
~~~~~
I heard an angel weeping,
and I asked her why she cried.
She said she had been sent to earth
when a little baby died.
~~~~~
Mother and father couldn’t save him,
no matter how they tried.
The nurse and Doctor both worked hard,
they sit exhausted… and sighed.
~~~~~
Someone had endangered baby
while living with selfish pride.
That person wouldn’t change her ways,
knew precautions… still denied.
~~~~~
Needlessly touched surfaces,
where a virus did reside.
Then at a store touched
items on which it went to hide.
~~~~~
Poor baby later grabbed an item
where that virus did abide.
The carrier was on her way,
ignorance with each and every stride.
~~~~~
I heard an angel weeping,
and I asked her why she cried.
She said she had been sent to earth
when that little baby died.
•••••
John Essex II, 4/15/20
~ John Essex II is a retired art teacher, a two-time Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellow and an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Arts Fellow. He is also artist/owner of EssexArt ABC, LLC through which he keeps busy creating his own fine art, creates commissioned art, does caricaturing by commission and at special events, conducts private painting parties and is contacted regularly to play the bagpipes (yes… play the bagpipes). Essex also maintains an online print-on-demand store where patrons can acquire gallery quality giclée prints of his art as well as other products that feature his work.
To view what Essex does, and/or to shop at his online store, go to: https://www.facebook.com/EssexArt,

 

Another Book Review (but I promise this really is a visual artist’s blog)

Here we go… another book review. I’ve not written this many book reviews since I was in the eighth grade… and this is only my 2nd in as many months.
I just finished another book by yet another Florida author. As it happens, this is the second book by author Ron Base that I have read. Honestly, I was much more impressed by this book titled, Bring Me The Head Of The Sanibel Sunset Detective, than I was by the other book I read in this same series. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the title of the other Sanibel Sunset Detective book… because all the titles in this series contain the words Sanibel Sunset Detective.
Though I don’t see this book winning a Pulitzer Prize of any sort, it has definitely won me over to being a fan of Base’s Sanibel Sunset Detective series. Now I am on a quest to read all of them and there are about ten, if the titles are any indicator… and I know I’ve already read one other (but like I said, I don’t know which one).
The main character in Bring Me The Head Of The Sanibel Sunset Detective, Tree Callister, is a former “old school” reporter from Chicago who is now a private detective working out of (of all places) Sanibel Island, Florida. One could safely assume a private detective on a south west Florida barrier island known best for sea shells and expensive real estate would not be busy much with assignments other than finding lost pedigreed poodles and securing recipes for coconut encrusted grouper. However Callister, in a bumbling sort of way, gets mixed up in a case involving a missing person, some short tempered local police, questionable FBI agent(s), a spiteful ex-spouse, international intrigue… and professional “hit people”. As if those were not enough to pique ones interest, author Base spins this tale in a way that (appears to me at least) seems an amalgamation of humor that might come from a brainstorming session between Jerry Seifeld and Mike Royko (okay… the Royko reference might be telling of my own age… but it’s one that fits… and frankly, I weep for you if you are not familiar with Royko).
As far as star ratings go, I’d have to give Bring Me The Head Of The Sanibel Sunset Detective a 3 1/2 our of 5 stars… but that is not actually a clear description. If a reader is a fan of easy reading, subtle humor with a hint of American neo-noir detective film references added for additional flavoring, I’d have to go 5 out of 5 stars.
Take what you want from the rating. As for me, I’m on the lookout for more Sanibel Sunset Detective capers… and hungry now for coconut encrusted grouper.
88069237_2962649647186144_6163028132728143872_nMy daughter and I with author Ron Base at the Bimini Bait Shack… which is mentioned in the book. 🙂

~ John Essex II is a retired art teacher, a two-time Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellow and an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Arts Fellow. He is also artist/owner of EssexArt ABC, LLC through which he keeps busy creating his own fine art, creates commissioned art, does caricaturing by commission and at special events, conducts private painting parties and is contacted regularly to play the bagpipes (yes… play the bagpipes). Essex also maintains an online print-on-demand store where patrons can acquire gallery quality giclée prints of his art as well as other products that feature his work.
To view what Essex does, and/or to shop at his online store, go to: https://www.facebook.com/EssexArt,

 

Something Different, A Book Review (and it’s not even an art book)

Here is a little something completely different from my other posts here, but I figured, Why not?Untitled

Having recently finished Randy Wayne White‘s newest novel, Salt River, my wife encouraged me to post a review to he Facebook book review page Reviewed For You By Pam (http://bit.ly/PamReview)… so hold on to your seats.
It’s no secret that White is my favorite author and I jump at the chance to (almost annually) get an autographed copy every time he produces another mystery in his Doc Ford series. I do have another highly favored writer who has a great series with a particular couple of of unique characters, but since Arthur Conan Doyle isn’t writing any new ones, I find myself waiting impatiently for White’s newest creations.
First, let me say one of the things I like best about all of the books in the Doc Ford series (and I’ve read all 26 of them) is the way White has a way of creating an environment where one feels familiar and aware of the surroundings and the people in it. Perhaps that’s true for me mostly because his main character, Dr. Marion Ford, a marine biologist with a black-ops past, operates out of Sanibel Island and southwest Florida is a place I enjoy. Consequently I’m at least somewhat familiar already with the kind of places (and many of the people) described in Whites novels. Having said that, I think White’s Doc Ford series will appeal to many who favor the mystery genre but have never even been to Florida, much less the south west part of it.
The plot in Salt River surrounds the end result of the other main character, Tomlinson, and his past college-days penchant for making deposits in a bank that is not set up for receiving money. The years have sped by and now his child Delia and her half-siblings have planned a gathering to meet each other and learn about their “Dad”, a latter-day sarong-wearing hippie who lives aboard his sailboat in fictitious Dinkin’s Bay of Sanibel Island.
Of course other plots abound and are intertwined. Those include recovered gold treasure, thievery, shady Bahamian government and US operatives, fast women and slow Freemasons. Yeah, quite the potpourri… but White makes it work and work well.
Five out of five stars.
Now I wait for Doc Ford novel #27.

~ John Essex II is a retired art teacher, a two-time Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellow and an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Arts Fellow. He is also artist/owner of EssexArt ABC, LLC through which he keeps busy creating his own fine art, creates commissioned art, does caricaturing by commission and at special events, conducts private painting parties and is contacted regularly to play the bagpipes (yes… play the bagpipes). Essex also maintains an online print-on-demand store where patrons can acquire gallery quality giclée prints of his art as well as other products that feature his work.
To view what Essex does, and/or to shop at his online store, go to: https://www.facebook.com/EssexArt,

Multi-Person Caricatures… Fun Multiplied

Pote Scott's Noble Family
Something I’ve been doing annually now for a few years is commissioned multi-person caricatures. I suppose there could be a another name for them, like “group” caricatures… but I’m kind of fond of the term multi-person. I think I like that term better because it speaks to the fact there is an individual nature portrayed with each person in the caricature which, in my mind, is the very heart of what I try to present.

But enough of what to call these 2 dimensional fun-fests made of paper, ink, and colored pencil, I’d prefer to focus on what is so appealing about them. For starters, all the multi-person caricatures I’ve been commissioned to do were of groups of people that had a strong bond whether by fraternal ties or long term friendships. Groups like that already have a sort of group dynamic that increases the fun of seeing that dynamic in a fun way via caricaturing. Something I’ve always done with these commissions is make sure everyone in the group receives a print of the finished caricature which expands the fun of them. The original hand colored multi-person caricature usually goes to the person who commissioned the caricature or to the person in the group that is targeted to be honored or surprised by the group caricature.

Though information about the individuals in the group for the multi-person caricature is shared with me, as are the characteristics that makes the group a particular dynamic, the end result is always one of surprise for those featured.  Primarily, I suppose, because I do not let anyone in the group see my work before the time it is to be presented or delivered. Additionally there are so many ways to include particulars about the subjects, and how a caricaturist interprets them, that the person who worked closest with the caricaturist as well as the individuals caricatured in the work are invariably surprised… and pleased if I do say so myself.

Every artist hopes their patrons enjoy the artwork they have commissioned for many, many years to come. In my own art career I’ve been fortunate enough to have had positive feedback long after my own fine art commissions have been received. But something I’ve noticed about caricatures, and I realize this is purely anecdotal and not scientific, there seems to be an additional level of joy or appreciation for the work because of the way a moment in the life of the subject is captured. When that moment includes those with whom the subject shares a particular bond as in a multi-person caricature, the additional level of joy or appreciation appears to be a bit deeper.       Yeah… I love my job.

Clarksville

~ John Essex II is a retired art teacher, a two-time Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellow and an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Arts Fellow. He is also artist/owner of EssexArt ABC, LLC through which he keeps busy creating his own fine art, creates commissioned art, does caricaturing by commission and at special events, conducts private painting parties and is contacted regularly to play the bagpipes (yes… play the bagpipes). Essex also maintains an online print-on-demand store where patrons can acquire gallery quality giclée prints of his art as well as other products that feature his work.
To view what Essex does, and/or to shop at his online store, go to: https://www.facebook.com/EssexArt,