I walk a lot.  I have posted this fact many times.

Today I walked down by a very scenic part of Tacoma, Wa,  Ruston Way.

I took a bunch of photos and since I was tired after the walk, I drew “me” walking.

The proportions are off, but I do not think it is to bad.  The first full body person I have drawn in a very long time.


Walk it off. Walk off your problems, walk away your worries, walk your way to a solution.

Walking is very therapeutic, in my opinion.  You can walk as fast or as slow as your mind allows.  You can solve problems, create ideas, or just empty your head.  Walking is also pretty good for exercise (why I went today.)

My body is invigorated, yet tired, and my mind has relaxed and not stuck on one problem.  All because I got off my butt and went for a walk.

In addition you get some of my cellphone pictures.  Hope you enjoy them.  I enjoyed taking them. 🙂


Mt. Rainier from Ruston Way in Tacoma, Wa


Picnic table in a field of flowers. Cute little place to eat a picnic. Ruston Way, Tacoma Wa.  I really like how this one turned out.


Ruins of a mill or dock along Ruston Way. I think sunset photos will give a much more interesting lighting to these decrepit buildings.


Different Strokes

This year I set up some pretty good goals for myself. One of the goals was to do 12 pieces of “fine art.” A sub-goal, that I did not post, was to try different styles so I could learn. This post is the result of reaching that goal.

On dark and foggy morning... I took a photo with my cell phone.

On dark and foggy morning… I took a photo with my cell phone.

In the foggy depths of my morning commute to work (walking,) I took several photos. One was a view of a street on the other side of an over pass. It had this ethereal quality to it, like the lights might wink out at any moment, or maybe start moving, like some sort of foxfire torches in a parade. There was very little color and the trees made a very nice dark screen to complete the mood.

Once I had a good moment to look at the photo I took I decided I would paint it. Not just paint it, but try a different style. I had just been reading about Van Gough and thought that a “Starry Night” treatment could work. I did a teeny bit of research on Van Gough’s brush strokes. I wanted the feel but not the look. It still needed to be mine.

The second painting would be in my normal style, with a color treatment to the lights. Streetlight yellow is to boring for me. Blue would be a neat color and I have an awesome blue that looks great when blended with black or white.

Let’s do this!

I really wanted to do both on 2 panels, but I only had 2 that were the same size. I chose to do the Van Gough version on the two panels and mine on the single panel (probably would have been easier to do it the other way around honestly.)

Street Lights.  Lots of motion and vibrancy for such a foggy morning.

Street Lights. Lots of motion and vibrancy for such a foggy morning.

I started with the Van Gough version. I did not expect the intensity that came with the shorter strokes. “More, MoRe, MORE!” was all my brain and body kept shouting at me. I had such a hard time focusing on the strokes. “Faster, FAstER, FASTER!” My heart was racing and my arms were shaking. I had to stop every 10 – 15 minutes to get control of my mind and body. I have a new respect for anyone who paints with short strokes or in pointillism. It is challenging.

In the end it I think the piece looks like Van Gough ran into Seurat. Globs of paint that slide a bit and stop, then jump to the next. I have not officially named it, I am calling it ‘Street Lights’ for now. I am not sure I even like it. It was very challenging to do, and I learned while doing it. I doubt I will do it again though. I did not like the way I felt while I was painting. Frenzied is the best word I can think of to describe the actions. (It affects me even now, as I type. Frenzied words come from my fingers and my heart is racing. Strong stuff.)

Now my style! I like things calm and smooth. I like to relax and meditate over the strokes. I like to have through blends (where appropriate) and things should flow from one area to the next with little interruption and as few bumps as possible. It really reflects my personality and is probably why I had such an extreme reaction to the other style.

Eldritch Lights Nice and clam, a wee bit creepy, and much more like a foggy morning.

Eldritch Lights
Nice and clam, a wee bit creepy, and much more like a foggy morning.

I ended up doing this version (officially named’ Eldritch Lights’) three times. The first time the matte varnish was clumpy and very streaky. Something I have had issues with in the past, but I was hoping a new bottle would resolve the problems. Nope! I painted over it and tried again. I used a semi-gloss varnish on the second one and it cracked around the spots the other varnish streaked and pulled much of the paint away from the thick areas.

Third times a charm!

I stretched a new canvas and started from a clean slate. It may not look like it, but the trees are full of “fiddly bits” that are time consuming to paint. They require lots of concentration and control. 10-15 minutes of work and I had to walk away to relax my arm and mind. I got it done and I will not varnish it until I can find one that will not mess it up.

In the end I learned while on this project and I got 2 paintings out of one photo (and a LONG blog post.)

Thank you for reading and enjoying my work.

Different Views: A Photography Review

My spouse and I both enjoy photography.  We both have nice cameras and the required experience / education to use them correctly.  The main difference in our photography habits is why we took a specific photo. I have two photos that my spouse took and I will be using them as references to demonstrate what I am talking about.

I usually take photos to remember a scene or as a reference.  I occasionally will take a photo because I like how light hits a shape and the shadows or textures that show up.  My spouse looks for overall composition, coloring, theme and mood.  The same stuff artists look for when they are creating a piece.  In essence photographs are more reference material for me (like a book) and a form of art for my spouse (like a gallery piece.)

I am using some photos my spouse took today.  He went on a photo shoot and took photos that he thought I would like, as reference pieces, but that he liked as art pieces as well.  I have pulled two that illustrate the different reasons we like the same piece.

WeldingTorch, DavidCarnahan

Welding torch, photo by David Carnahan, 2014

I love this photo.  I like how the metal disk glows red, but the blue flame of the torch contrasts.  Making you wonder if it is really hot, or cold.  I like the contrast in the shape of the disk and the shape of the torch, round heavy looking puck of textured hot metal, vs the sleek cool streamlined torch.  I did not even notice the flames coming off the disk, until I was done looking at the contrasts in shapes, textures and colors.

My spouse likes the photo because of the action.  The torch is pushing the flame out onto the disk. The flame then rushes across the disk, leaving the yellow streaks.  The flames are rising to the top of the frame.  There is intensity in the actions of the flame, fire and therefore the user of the torch.  He likes the negative space created between by the torch, flame and disk.  How they balance out, even though there is more action on the left of the photo. He did not notice the colors until he had finished looking at the composition of the piece.

FlamesonDisk, David Carnahan

Flames on Disk, photo by David Carnahan, 2014

I am not as big of a fan of this one as my spouse. There is more flame and it reaches higher.  He feels there is more motion with the flames reaching up and around the disk.  I think that this one may take more knowledge about welding and how the flames will interact with various objects to understand how there is more motion or action.

The only thing I really like about it is that you can see how the lip on the disk makes the flame distort, and that you can see the teeth inside the disk.  The blue flame from the torch is hidden and that reduces the color interest for me.  The shape of the disk vs the shape of the torch are not as defined either.

It is very interesting how we can see the same image, and not really see the same image.  I am seeing the colors and textures before I see the composition of the image.  He sees the composition and shapes before he sees the colors and textures.  Another person may see the color and shapes before seeing the overall composition or textures.  There really are a myriad of ways to see these images and they are all correct ways of interpreting them.

Another thing this demonstrates is that knowledge about a subject will influence how you see it.  As I pointed out for the second image, it is less interesting to me, but my spouse finds it more interesting.  He is more knowledgeable about welding and what it entails and gets more out of the second image than I do.  We run into this on a regular basis.  One of us is more knowledgeable about something in a photo and it impacts us more than the other.  Even after it is explained the image is still more meaningful to one of us.

Every time my spouse and I talk “shop” I am amazed at how differently we see the same things.  It serves as a reminder that everyone sees things differently.  Even if it is the same image that you see, they interpret the information presented in a different manner.  Some will see the composition first, others the colors and still others the shapes.  None of them are wrong, and we should be happy that they are seeing it in various ways.  It just means there are more ways to enjoy one image.

Have a good week!

If you wish to see more images from my spouse, check out his facebook. He posts most of his work there.

A Better Whine

Today is one of those days where I wish I was better.

I wish I was better with Photoshop.  I wish I was better with Illustrator.  I wish I was better with code, so I could be better at web design.  I wish I was in better shape.  I wish I was better at being motivated to do stuff.  I wish I was better…

stop whiningWishing is not going to make me better at any of the things I want to be better at.  Doing them will.  Doing is much harder than wishing.

Honestly I would much rather be painting instead of working in Photoshop or Illustrator.  Unfortunately I need a nice clean digital image for a poster I am working on.  That means Photoshop or Illustrator.  That means headaches, backaches, numb butt and lots of clicking and cursing.

Through this endeavor I will get better at digital illustrations (and I rolled by eyes after I typed that.)  I love digital illustrations or computer graphics as most people call them.  I just do not want to be the one creating them.  Give me a photo to put into a design and I am a happy camper.  Make me make one and now I am crabby (posting on WP instead of working on it…)

Alas, I cannot find a suitable photo for my poster.  Now I have to make one.

I doubt I would get so crabby if I did not sit in front of a computer all day anyway.  Now I have to spend my free time in front of a computer NOT killing electronic representations of fictitious and mythical beings (World of Warcraft for me,)  I have to W.O.R.K.

WHHHHYYYY can’t the image be available (and free?)  That would just be to easy.

Alright.  I am done whining.  I will get to work.  I might even post my finished product.  Hopefully it will be done next week, AFTER PAX.

A little whine and back to the grind.



Take a Picture or Paint?


Designed by me, printed on an old school press (lithography press) so the image quality was AMAZING. If you have a printing company you work with ask if they have a litho press and us it for important jobs. The images are always much better, think vector quality smoothness.

Today I picked up my business cards from the print shop.  I am super pleased with how they turned out.  One more thing to cross off my to do list. 

On my way back home I stopped off at the Mat Hat Tea House for a cup of Earl Grey (my fave.)  While I was waiting for my beverage I talked to the employees about tea and another customer joined in (add a 1/2 tsp of sugar to 8-10 oz earl grey to bring out the floral notes.)  Luck would have it he was looking for artists to put some work in a show.  Within 10 minutes of getting my business cards I have a new contact, a possible client and someone that wants to show my art (go me!)

On my way home I got to thinking about the different kinds of picture artist.  Digital, abstract, surreal, realistic, photo real, photographers, paper cutters and so many others.  I was thinking about what makes them different and similarities, the different skill levels and view points that make a person choose to do the different types.


I took this photo with my cell. I wanted to remember the peace I felt at the end of my walk. What does it make you think of?

This came to mind as I thought about the pieces I could do that express my artistic vision, skill and fit within the topic requested. I wanted to plan something that shows my skills as a photographer and painter.  I paint mostly in a surreal style, incorporating a lot of feeling and instinct into my images.  When I want express a view of reality I take photos, when I want to express a feeling about reality I paint. I think that an artist has more control over the image if they paint it themselves.  Because photos rely on technology, the photographer and the subject they can come out unexpectedly.

Even if I were to take a photo and make it into a painting the response would be very different.  Photos are a way of showing the world what you see, with your eyes.  Capturing a second in time that is meant to invoke an emotional or logical response (depending on the photo’s subject) as the viewer process the image.  Paintings and digital art make attempt to invoke an emotional response, before the viewer finishes looking at the piece, a gut reaction or instinctive reaction.


If you are not familiar with color psychology I recommend looking into it. More than the shape of something the color a shape is can make us feel a certain way about it. Red shames are going to make people edgy, while blue shapes make people relaxed. There is a reason why hospitals were green for a long time. Schools used to be a mix of yellows and blues, depending on the subject being taught. It is really interesting and worth research.

As someone who is also interested in marketing, I am VERY interested in how people respond to colors and shapes.  I plan everything I do when I paint or create a graphic.  Photography is about the only time I do things on impulse.  You only have a micro second to get that amazing shot, and our brains are already a few seconds behind.  Even though you can think and plan a shot (usually still life or landscape) the second you bring moving objects into the mix you have to know the area and the movement patterns of your subjects. Once you know and understand the key elements behavior you can go on instinct to get those good and quickly paced shots.

Painting is significantly different.  You get to plan the whole thing, start to finish.  Composition is key to get the response you want.  Using shape, color, flow, and all the other “rules” you can slowly create a masterpiece that will last for ages.  Ultimately you have absolute control when you paint.  The only restrictions you have is your skill level. 


Reach, acrylic on canvas. I wanted to show my desire to move beyond where I was to a new level. Plants grow and these guys are growing from a dim, dark place to a vibrant and exciting blue place. Who knows what colors are past the blue.

 I like to include my view in my paintings.  Even though they are of real things, things I have seen in photos, I add the twist of what my emotional  response was. The painting to the right was done out of a desire to be more motivated.  To get out of a rut and move on.  It is a fairly straight forward image.  Even though everyone is going to interpret it differently, most people will get the idea that is is meant to show growth, transitioning from darkness to light.  An image like this would be very difficult (for me anyway) to do as a photograph.   Being restricted to real things can be a problem sometimes.

I could go on about this topic for a while.  I have been typing for an hour now, trying to get my abstract thoughts and emotions into clear words that have an understandable flow.  Sometimes it is hard for me to put the images in my mind into words for others to read and think about.

I want to spark  thoughts in your mind.  What do you think, feel and understand when you create things?  What messages are you trying to convey with your creations? 

Art does not have to be thoughtless. You can control some of the responses that your viewers experience.




Go for a Walk

This world we live in encourages us to get from point ‘a’ to point ‘b’ as fast as we can. We have no time to dawdle, no time to see the world around us and no time to interact with people. All things that are important in society and to artists.

Driving is the fastest way the average person can get to where they are going. Driving also allows us to take things with us, “in case” we need them. It also keeps people at a distance; it is hard to communicate to another person on the highway through tinted windows. Driving alone has become a shelter to some people and a cage to others. There are people that will drive the 20 ft to their mailboxes or drive 3 or 4 blocks to get to work.

As an artist I walk where ever and when ever I can. I walk so I can see things in this world.

2015-01-15 06.34.54

One of my morning walks in the fog. A street light is filtered by the fog and a tree.

I walk in the summer to see the flowers in bloom, fighting with the concrete and brick for space to grow. I walk and see the people in their summer cloths, squinting into the sun and dancing. People who say hello to everyone they pass on the streets, the light thawing their hearts and letting their light out to compete with the sun.

I walk in the fall to see the leaves change and fall. To see the way the angle of the sun changes how the trees and buildings look. I walk and see how the openness of people changes when the weather is colder. Once happy outgoing people now shrug into their coats and nod as they pass. Their light once again covered by the clouds.

I walk in the winter to see the bones of the forests. The way the light changes and the ingenuity we humans have in creating artificial lights to line the streets. I see the generosity of the people that are warm to the people that have less; their light shining, no matter how dimly, once again.

I walk in the spring when new life starting to find its place amongst the cracks in the sidewalks. I see the businesses become bright and shiny again and people start truly coming out of their winter shells. I see how “new” everything is too many people.

I also see how things remain the same or show age. I see how the new curtains and awning of that shop hide the rusty struts or how the new paint only covers the public facing sides of a building. I see the hope in people’s eyes that this year will be better.

I can see all of this and more, just by taking the time to walk, to see the world around me. You cannot see the world speeding down the highway, taking the road well traveled. You cannot see the world through tinted windows that separate you from the other people on the road.

2015-01-29 16.08.20

Taken on my way home on 30Jan2015. I was running behind and would never have seen the sun interact with the trees like this if I had been “on time.”

You cannot connect to the world if you are not willing to take the time to do so.

Go for a walk. Look at the ordinary things. How well maintained is the fire hydrant on your block? Is it red, silver, yellow or blue? Is the paint new? Is there trash around it? How about the street lights?

Go for a walk. Look at nature. Is nature winning and growing out of the sidewalk? Have the birds set upon the wires in an interesting pattern? Is the light hitting something and changing the colors? Did the leaves change color in an interesting way?

Go for a walk. Look at the people. Are they having fun? Wearing interesting cloths? Do the shop owners look happy? Do their goods look good? Are they standing in unusual positions to look at things?

Take a camera, if it will help. You can document your view and refer to them later. The camera will also help you see in a different way.

* ALWAYS ASK people if you plan on using their photos, it is the courteous thing to do and may prevent legal issues later.*

I strongly encourage people to walk. Not because of the health benefits or environmental benefits. I encourage people to walk so they can truly see and experience things.

Go for a walk.

2015-01-11 15.58.14

Just an interesting design created by the drying wood. I took this while I was walking at a local beach in early January.