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Hot Tamale

Posted by Don Michael, Jr. on March 16th, 2012 in Eye Candy Series

For the past year I have been treating my mask Fenix (shown below) like a hot potato. Every time I’d prepare to use her as a model for one of my paintings I’d find a reason to work on something else.

Fenix – ©2011, Don Michael, Jr.

Now, she’s a Hot Tamale

Hot Tamale – 5″x5″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 3/15/12

©2012, Don Michael, Jr.

Here we are with March half over and this addition to my Eye Candy series is only the second painting that I’ve completed this month. For the first time in a long while I took several days off from painting. It wasn’t something I planned, it just happened. During that time I also found myself away from most of my social media outlets. As I listen to the birds chirping outside my window and smell the blossoms in the air I come to the conclusion that I must be experiencing a full-blown case of Spring Fever.

Speaking of Spring Fever, here’s a painting I did using that name several years ago…

Spring Fever – 20″x24″ – Acrylic on canvas – Created 3/13/08

©2008, Don Michael, Jr.

(Hey! I just realized that I finished this painting 4 years ago this week. Hmmm… it’s amazing to me that 4 years can seem like a lifetime ago while seeming like it was just yesterday.)

Anyway…  Spring Fever can be considered a ‘stepping off point’ in my painting progression. She was one of the first paintings in my mask series that was larger than 8″x10″. She was also a fun color experiment that had me looking at my masks in an entirely different way. I’m glad I pulled her out of the archives to give her another look. I guess a bad case of Spring Fever can sometimes be a good thing…

Happy Creating!


Posted by Don Michael, Jr. on February 22nd, 2012 in Eye Candy Series

About a year ago I started creating some masks to use as ‘models’ for future paintings. At the time I had no idea where this might lead me, but I knew I needed some new inspiration and thought that it could be fun to create my own. The paint had barely dried on one of these masks when my online artist friend, Robin Samiljan, decided to add it to her collection…

Swirls – Acrylic on paper mache’ mask – ©2011, Don Michael, Jr.

As I had done with all of those new masks, I took a bajillion photos of Swirls before I sent it east to its new home. I often looked through the photos I’d taken, but had put off creating a painting from any of them. (Go ahead, you can add chicken sounds here…)

Anyway… a few months later my explorations with these newly created masks led to the beginnings of what was to become my Eye Candy series of palette knife paintings. When I posted about the 60th of these paintings recently, Robin asked me if I had used Swirls in an Eye Candy painting yet. Well, at that point I knew what I had to do. In the infamous words of Barney Stinson from the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!”.

Please welcome number 61 to the series…

Heath – 5″x5″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 2/21/12

©2012, Don Michael, Jr.

FYI, after I had painted almost 1/2 of the swirls in this painting with my palette knife I decided that I had shown off long enough and used a brush to finish. My eyes thanked me…

Happy Creating!

Gum Drop

Posted by Don Michael, Jr. on February 10th, 2012 in Eye Candy Series

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been doing some rearranging in my studio. Thankfully, I can now get back to my easel. Goody, goody Gum Drop!

Gum Drop – 5″x5″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 2/8/12

©2012, Don Michael, Jr.

Happy Creating!

Cherry Sour and a Cool Video

Posted by Don Michael, Jr. on January 18th, 2012 in Events, Eye Candy Series, St. Jude Hearts

Tonight was demo night for me over at the Michael’s Arts and Crafts store where I teach classes. It was a nice respite to get out of the studio for a few hours. Even though I was still painting, a change of scenery is always nice. I just wish the music they have playing over their intercom was as great as the music that blares out of my i-tunes. Oh well, the things we’ll suffer for our art…

Anyway, back to the business at hand…

The little palette knife painting below is what I started on during my demo – and then finished once I got home…

Cherry Sour – 5″x5″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 1/17/12

©2012, Don Michael, Jr.

When I sat down at my computer to write this post I checked my email first – as is usual – and found a cool little video had been posted to my facebook page. The video features Niki J. Sands, who is spearheading the collection of Las Vegas artists painting the Ginormous Hearts for our chapter of St. Jude’s Medical Research Center. If you click on the heart below (painted by Niki) you’ll be able to see the lovely Niki at work and talking about this wonderful event. You’ll also see that she snuck yours truly into the video, as well as most of the other participating artists. Great job, Niki!

Niki J. Sands’ Ginormous Heart for St. Jude

I’m getting really excited about the progress I made today on my heart. I’ve still got a ways to go, though, so I’d better get back to work…

Happy Creating!

Mounds of Progress

Posted by Don Michael, Jr. on January 13th, 2012 in Eye Candy Series, St. Jude Hearts

As promised a couple days ago, I added a little something to my Ginormous Heart to give it that “Don Michael, Jr. was here” look…

Ginormous Heart for St. Jude

I’m calling this side of the heart 95% done – which basically means that the entire heart is only 47.5% done. So, I still have a long way to go before I can have this ginormity ready for delivery. I have a whole two weeks left to get it done in, so I should probably get busy.

But, first…

In between sessions with the heart I worked on a new piece of Eye Candy. Here’s what my trusty palette knife whipped out for me…

Mounds – 5″x5″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 1/12/12

©2012, Don Michael, Jr.

For my first painting of 2012 I completed Almond Joy. As soon as my wife heard the title she said, “Now you’re going to need a Mounds as well.” I knew right away she was right (there’s a first time for everything) and I started planning. Here they are together…

Almond Joy & Mounds

©2012, Don Michael, Jr.

I worked on Mounds while I was doing my demo last night at Michael’s. One of the associates came by to watch me for a few minutes and asked me if I had a title ready for the painting yet. When I told her yes, and what it was she said, “You know that Mounds is the female of the pair, right?”. I had to smile as I remembered the punchline to that joke from when I was a child. Crass playground humor obviously doesn’t go out of style…

Happy Creating!

Almond Joy

Posted by Don Michael, Jr. on January 3rd, 2012 in Eye Candy Series, St. Jude Hearts

I always like for my first painting of the year to include some other ‘firsts’. It’s a tradition I started two years ago and is now as important a part of my New Year celebration as black-eyed peas. The firsts for this little Eye Candy painting are: a new mask (this is the first time I have painted from this mask I created) and a new palette (I have never used this combination of paints together before – Cerulean Blue Deep, Pyrrole Red Dark, Cadmium Yellow Dark and Titanium White). All-in-all, I’m quite pleased with the results…

Almond Joy – 5″x5″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 1/2/12

2012, Don Michael, Jr.

Now I’ve just got to get used to typing and writing 2012. So far, so good…

For those wondering, yes I am working on my Ginormous Heart for St. Judes. It’s been a slow process and I’ve allowed the holidays to make it even slower. I know that’s no excuse, but it’s the only one I have, so I’m going with it. Anyway, here’s what I’ve got done so far…

St. Judes Heart shows a little progress

Now that everyone’s schedule is pretty much back to normal around my house I can’t use them as an excuse anymore. So, I guess I’d better get back to work…

Happy Creating!

Cherry Cordial New Year

Posted by Don Michael, Jr. on January 1st, 2012 in Eye Candy Series

With one son working and the other out of town my wife and I decided to spend New Year’s Eve together in my studio while our daughter alternated time between my studio and her room. While Laura enjoyed a good book and Christina enjoyed some TV, I put my palette knife to work on my last painting for 2011…

Cherry Cordial – 5″x5″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 12/31/11

©2011, Don Michael, Jr.

When 11:50pm arrived the three of us sat down together to watch the festivities going on in Las Vegas on TV, which culminated with a wonderful 8 minute fireworks display at midnight. The best part of seeing all the festivities on TV is the fact that we didn’t have to fight traffic for hours afterwards. All we had to do was shut everything down and head to bed.

Happy New Year!

The Year in Review & Grape Zotz

Posted by Don Michael, Jr. on December 30th, 2011 in Eye Candy Series, Eye Candy: Zotz

As another year draws to a close it’s impossible not to reflect on where I was at the beginning and where I am at the end.

Personally, it was a roller-coaster ride of emotions with some severe lows balanced by wonderful highs. All-in-all, my family and I know that we are truly blessed as we enter 2012 healthy, whole and still in our home. God is good.

Professionally, I started 2011 as an artistic nomad. I was in the middle of a transitory period that found me floundering around as I searched for relevance in my artistic endeavors. Not being one to sit idle even when at a loss, I continued to experiment and explore – creating many pieces, but few that truly felt ‘right’. One of those experiments was to design a few masks using blank pre-made paper mache’ masks that I’d found online. I’m really glad that I did, because those home-made masks would become a conduit to something new and exciting for me – my Eye Candy series of palette knife paintings. (more on that shortly…)

I believe that there were three huge game-changers for my work that occurred during the first half of 2011.

  1. The painting I did for my brother, David’s, book cover, The Door to the Sky. This was the first major ‘non-mask’ painting that I had done in several years. It was a fun challenge that ended up informing several works as the year progressed.
  2. Painting the two hearts for St. Judes. Most of March and April were spent painting those two hearts, but all that work ended up being not only a blessing for our local St. Judes hospital, but being a blessing for me and my family. Little did I know at the time that I was ‘tithing’ forward… (The blessing I refer to was a huge one and can be read about here.)
  3. The painting I did for the event called Circus Couture (which can be read about here) was probably one of the biggest of these game changers. The painting I did for them, Dare to Believe, solidified a direction I was considering for my Over the Under-Schmeerings series.

As 2011 progressed I found that all of the experimenting I had done while in my search for artistic relevance had been laying the groundwork for something bigger and better in my Over the Under-Schmeerings series. I have since done several major pieces in this series and have ideas percolating for several more. I’ve never been more excited by a series and I cannot wait to see where it all takes me.

In May I did a palette knife painting of one of my own mask creations on a 5″x5″ canvas that would start something that continues to this day. I titled that painting Butterscotch because of her coloring. Later, I realized I had discovered a new naming convention that I could use on a few paintings – titling them after different types of candy. When I posted the fourth of these paintings my friend Celeste left the simple comment, “Eye Candy”, and voila! the series was titled. On a personal note, I am so glad that I had started this series because when my family and I went through some dark times in July it was these little treats that helped to keep me painting and sane. (that story is referred to above with “tithing forward”.) After happy times returned and as the year has progressed I continue to create these tasty treats and am proud to say that the one posted below is the 50th in the Eye Candy series – and the 3rd in the Eye Candy: Zotz sub-series…

Grape Zotz – 4″x4″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 12/30/11

©2011, Don Michael, Jr.

All-in-all I would consider 2011 a successful year as an artist. I painted almost every day. I shared my love of painting in my Michael’s/Grumbacher workshops. I created several book covers. I did some design work. I created several masks. I got into some shows. Most importantly, I fellowshipped with art friends all over the world.

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year’s weekend. Party well, but party safe!!! I want you all back for more art chats in 2012…

Happy Creating!

Orange Zotz and Others

Posted by Don Michael, Jr. on December 28th, 2011 in Eye Candy Series, Eye Candy: Zotz

Well, I finally awakened from my Christmas stupor and headed back into the studio for the first time in over a week. I think that’s the longest break I’ve taken in nearly 4 years and I was starting to go through withdrawals…

Part of getting back to work entailed heading out to Michael’s Arts and Crafts store to do another demo to promote my upcoming Acrylic Workshops. Happily, I walked out of there with a new addition to my Eye Candy: Zotz series…

Orange Zotz – 4″x4″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 12/27/11

©2011, Don Michael, Jr.

As I was preparing Orange Zotz for posting I realized that I had forgotten to post about another Eye Candy painting I completed last week. I had originally intended to use it in my Christmas greeting post, but completely spaced it out. It probably has something to do with all those holiday spirits… 😛

Crimp Ribbon – 5″x5″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 12/19/11

©2011, Don Michael, Jr.

Oh yeah… I also realized tonight that a piece I had started on early this year is actually finished. (I originally wrote about it here.) All I needed was the title and it came to me just seconds after I decided the piece was indeed complete. All I had to do then was sign it, date it and add a clear gloss finish…

Keeping An Open Mind – 12″x12″x4.5″ – Acrylic and Paper Mache’ on canvas – Completed 12/28/11

©2011, Don Michael, Jr.

This was originally an experiment which incorporated both my 3D mask paintings with my Over the Under-Schmeerings paintings. As you can see, the 3D is actually UNDER the Under-Schmeerings and there is nothing OVER the Under-Schmeerings, but who’s really keeping score? Since it’s really hard to get a sense of the 3D element from a straight on photo, I thought I’d include a sheet of multiple views…

Keeping An Open Mind – alternate views

©2011, Don Michael, Jr.

Now it’s time for me to go rest my eyes after a happy, long, and fruitful day of creating. I anticipate even more fun tomorrow – oops, I mean later today…

Happy Creating!


Last Thursday I started on an Eye Candy painting during my demo at the Michael’s in North Las Vegas. I wasn’t able to work on it again until Monday because of having so many irons in the fire. One of those irons was the Acrylic Workshop that I had scheduled for this past Saturday at that very same Michael’s. Below you can see my class getting ready to get started…

Of course, I forgot to use my camera during most of the stages of painting, but at least I remembered to get a shot towards the end while they’re all still hard at work…

And, thankfully I remembered to get a shot of them with their finished paintings…

Thanks, Ashley, Elle and Joe for being such good sports. You all did a GREAT job with your paintings!

The rest of my weekend was spent with several non-art type projects that kept me from the studio. However, on Monday, once I got the family all off to school and work, I was finally able to settle back into the studio and get some painting done. I completed the aforementioned Eye Candy painting which you can see below. It is named after one of my favorite candy bars, the Zero bar, which is the only thing that I will allow to pass my lips that has peanuts in it. (In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I HATE peanuts – and especially peanut butter. Bleck!!! But in the case of the Zero bar the almond flavoring masks that grotesque peanut flavor pretty well.)

Zero – 5″x5″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 12/12/11

©2011, Don Michael, Jr.

Then, tonight (Tuesday) I gave another demo at Michael’s and came away with the following almost completely done. I just had a few minutes of work left on it when I got back to my studio…

Apple Zotz – 4″x4″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 12/13/11

©2011, Don Michael, Jr.

This is the first in what will be my new Eye Candy sub-series, Eye Candy: Zotz. I’ve never tried Zotz candy, but I do like their name. There will be 6 Zotz paintings before the sub-series is complete.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) I’m going to be working on something totally none-art for most of the day and will probably be wiped out by tomorrow evening. But, I hope to still find a little time to do a bit of painting. We’ll see…

Happy Creating!

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