My blog is about talking about my artwork and also some of the lessons I have figured out on my way to becoming a self-taught painter.

1. What am I working on?

Right now I am working on an two acrylic paintings now the first one depicts fresh snow on a tree branch. It is from a digital photo I took on my way home from work during a blizzard this horrendous February (I still have to paint the snowflakes). I am happy with it, I would say it is seventy percent complete, this one is not taking as long as the others. The second painting is of this aquarium scene, this painting has been taking forever to complete I have been working on it on and off for a year. I like the three dimensional quality it has and I am very excited about it.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I try to put my own personal spin on whatever I am working on and don’t try too much to see what other people are doing. My style is somewhat realistic but I try to put a lot of emotion into my works for maximum visual impact. My goal is not to necessarily make it as realistic as possible but rather to capture an overall ethereal effect.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

I create to entertain myself. There is only so much TV I can watch! I also like to be always improving with my artwork, it is a great way to get away from everything and feel like you are actually in control of something. Also I want to always be evolving as an artist by taking on different subject matter in my paintings to test myself.

4. How does my writing/creating process work?

I just get bits and pieces of ideas as I go about my day, I jot them down on my Iphone and put them altogether when I get home to my computer. Music and caffeine helps a lot. As for my paintings it is all about my digital camera and selecting shots that I think would make good paintings, I also alter these images in photoshop.



Acrylic Koi Painting

pink fish artwork artist

“The Knowing” “54 x “26 acrylic on canvas_2002

by Robert Conway

This is my favorite koi painting so far, I remember when I was working on it, I had one of those moments where I was thinking that this was the one I had always dreamt about painting, color, composition, mood and overall trippy effect are all right on the money. (Of course I want to do better now). It was also the hardest one to paint, working in acrylic was a real stretch, I didn’t know any better at the time. I used a lot of flat sponges I bought at Pearl Paint to get the proper ethereal effect, many layers of thin, watered down paint were used to even things out. I am going to paint another one of these, but with oil paint, which is much better for blending, takes less time too. it is the largest painting I have ever worked on and I can remember that as I was painting the fine details I had this feeling the whole time that I was actually laying on top of the water, just floating on top of the koi fish. The luminescent feel of the paintings can be attributed to the fact that I was lousy at fixing the pond filter. Nobody left me an instruction book on how to clean it, believe me it was major league gross in there, and I never could get the water looking crystal clear. The ‘earthy’ particles in the water would partially block the light reflected off the koi fish softening any hard edges and giving the images that ‘spectral’ quality, which I altered more in Adobe Photoshop. The digital photo I took for this one happened right after a thunderstorm, The sun had just come out and the light had this strange quality to it. The fish slowly came out of their hiding places and seeing that the storm had passed, eased back into their daily rituals.

June 6, 2014

Koi Painting: The Mind Brothers

orange koi fish swimming in garden pond

“The Mind Brothers” _ oil painting on canvas _ 24″ x 8″ 2004

by Robert Conway

This oil painting, titled “The Mind Brothers” is from an art show I had named “The Garden of Christopher Noble”. I can’t resist naming my paintings from obscure science fiction references, so the title of this painting comes from a tripped-out, futuristic spy thriller from 1967 by author Peter Heath. I also wanted to refer to something cerebral in this piece, that was my theme, like ideas ever-flowing like they were water. Yep, a little out there I know, I may have been partying a little bit during this stretch, natch.

I did not have to do any photo manipulation or Adobe Photoshop tricks on this artwork which I am particularly proud of, it was just one straight shot I got on my digital camera one a beautiful morning in my backyard while sitting on the bench by my water garden. This image is of our favorite butterfly koi named ‘Solomon” and his pool mate affectionately referred to as ‘The Big Orange One”.

I have painted two versions of this painted artwork, one in done in acrylic and one in done in oils and sold both of them, I have been itching to paint another one except this time twice as big, maybe I will break out some of my Japanese bamboo painting brushes which I have stashed away for just a special occasion.

May 30, 2014

The benefits of working on your painting upside down

robert conway artist at work by Robert Conway

– Are you continually painting the same areas over and things are still not making sense?

– Is your painting turning into that impressive work that you had envisioned? Or is it just “meh”? -Are you tilting your head to one side and squinting when you are looking at your painting? – Are unsure as to what your next move is going to be? – Are you just jabbing away with your paint brush like a punch drunk boxer just hoping by chance that you are helping the situation? These may be a signs that things are not moving along as planned. You may have to change your battle plan. And it is a battle indeed, a battle in your brain. When they refer to modern warfare in the twenty-first century they always refer to an “ever-changing” strategy to meet the evolving tactics of the enemy. I like to apply this ideal when it comes painting. I want to be open to change as it all goes along. Each piece does create its own unique set of problems because each one is a lesson in itself. Also, as you are painting, you are going to run into challenges and discover things along the way that will alter your original approach anyway, so why not? This method will make you start reevaluating your approach and that is the most important thing. Tilting your head when you look at your work may be a non-verbal signal from your brain telling you to just rotate that thing. You may want to take the whole painting and your reference materials(layout) and flip them all upside down. To add another military analogy, just think of it as a possible exit strategy from the quagmire you presently find yourself mired in. I am always turning my paintings around. I just would not be able to finish one if I didn’t. To me there are just not enough clues there right side up to make it all work, no pun intended, I just never see the whole picture. Solutions to obvious problems right in front of my nose elude me because I am only studying everything from one vantage point. Here are some of the benefits I have found from turning my paintings upside down: • It will make you perceive everything differently. When you have to refocus, you are naturally going to pick up on different things, and the more visual clues the better. This exercise will force you to update your plan of action even though this means that you are going to have to burn up more brain cells than you had originally intended. Isn’t that always the case? • You are most likely going to find a lot mistakes that would of never occurred to you. Now in the end this is a good thing because you know where the problems lie, the bad news is that you will have a laundry list of things that need to be fixed. • You get to approach the painting with brushstrokes from a different angle. This can breath new life into a work that has been turning into a burden for you. I am most comfortable with a brush stroke that goes from left to right as opposed say from top to bottom, so by turning it upside down you will be able to take advantage of brush strokes that you might feel more confident with. • Elements start to make more sense. It will increase your understanding on how your composition functions as a whole. It will alter your perception as to how the elements in your piece interact with one another. You might suddenly realize that your favorite area in your painting is the one single thing that is screwing up the whole works. That happens to me all the time. • It breaks you out of a routine. The same old same old is never a good thing. • It challenges you out of your comfort zone. It may help push you to greater heights as an artist by waking up your survival skills. This may me be the thing that renews your excitement in your painting. Also, why go down the same road? Why not cover new ground? As artists don’t we always want to be improving? • It may aid in you in finding that one crucial element which has been eluding you that would tie everything together. Wouldn’t that be the bee’s knees? • You will have better access to those hard to reach places that you have been ignoring. You have to face them sometime and now would be the time to give them your attention. That may be the whole problem right there. When you are fine with the way you have painted upside down, turn it back right side up to check your progress. Hopefully your composition will have tightened up and you have got a better understanding of how all elements in your painting work together. May 22, 2014

Red and white acrylic fish painting


white fish artwork acrylic

“The Playful One” 9 x 12 acrylic on canvas_2004

by Robert Conway

This red and white fish in the painting was quite an entertainer. When my wife and I used to go hang out at the bench by the pond at night, this little fellow used to put on quite a show for us. He would swim around the koi pond very fast, doing these crazy figure eights and when he passed by us he would flick his tail, giving us a little spritz. The others would make their appearances silently, gradually revealing themselves from the the shadowy depths just to see what we were up to. One creature who never liked to show himself was this huge frog that I named Goliath. I have only seen this creature about five times and only very briefly. Every time I went out to the fish pond at night I would here this load splash, like someone threw a brick in the water. It appears that he too liked to hang out at the bench and when we showed up he would take this six foot leap back into the pond. The only times I could manage to get a look at him was when I had been out there for a while and my would eyes adjust to the dark. He would be hiding among the rocks motionless, staring, just pretending he was just another rock.

May 8, 2014

The first painting: ‘Solomon and Platinum’

two koi fish swimming painting

by Robert Conway

Here is an oldie. Actually it is my first painting from late 2001 I remember that specifically because I really started to paint because I wanted to get my mind off thinking about 911, I needed a diversion. You see we lived right across the river from that even and we all had ringside seats there in the Mile Square City also known as Hoboken NJ. Needless to say we were all going bonkers living so close to that smoldering crater and this seemed like the best way to get my mind off things.

Funny to see how my style has evolved from this early start this painting looks like primitive cave art to me now or maybe some type of naive American folk art, yes indeed. The two fish in this acrylic painting, were my two favorite pets from that time, you could say muses, their names were Solomon (orange butterfly koi) and Platinum (white koi fish) and they ended up in countless paintings of mine from this time. I really do like this painting and I keep fighting off the urge to go fix it, well specifically I want to go repaint the white fish which I don’t think I really captured in my first try. perhaps someday.

April 24, 2014