Abstract art, why do you escape my grasp?


The struggle with abstract art continues – I simply cannot get the hang of it. I’m very literal, direct, straightforward – I try to keep things simple, and most of all logical. With all these characteristics, how does one loosen up and create something that is pure feeling and pure visual “nonsense?”

I have never understood abstract art and I can’t seem to get any meaning out of the majority of pieces I come across. I don’t want to shut myself out of an entire arena of the art world, but maybe it’s just not my style. . .

If you haven’t already seen it, the piece I’m having the worst time completing is this piece I blogged about in an earlier post called, Abstract crap. I blogged about it in 2010, but probably started on that painting back in 2007/08 and have painted over it…hmmm how many times now?

Let me count; it started out as a landscape painting, but I gave up on that and started dripping bright paint all over it which I morphed into a possible nuclear holocaust piece, but I [again] gave up on that, painted it black, put a kokopelli on it and smeared white gesso all over [which is the stage you see in Abstract Crap], afterwhich I decided to scrap the kokopelli and painted over it [yet again] in dark green which I intended to be the background for a grotesque interpretation of the correlation between modern models and Jews during the Holocaust, and now. . . well, see for yourself. . .

An unfinished abstract painting by Sara Kerr

What. a. mess.

So, that’s four times I painted over an idea I wasn’t making progress on. Based on my previous idea descriptions you can tell all my ideas are actual plans – I don’t know how to convert the specific images I have in my head into a generalization without those specific details.

Like I said, I’m direct: if I want to paint a tree, it’s going to be a tree. Why beat around the bush? The most direct route to the message I’m trying to portray is to “spell” it out with clear imagery. . . Maybe illustration and story telling is where I belong.

Currently I’m using hairspray bottles to spray a light shade of brown over it, leaving bottle caps on areas so some of the color shows through. I’m leaning toward titling the piece, ‘The Turd‘ since it has turned into such a piece of shit and my brain is seemingly constipated when I try to come up with something to do with it [my heart isn’t set on that title – It just seems like a suitable moniker at this frustrating point in time].

I’m thinking the next thing I’ll try – if The Turd fails – is burning this cursed canvas and starting fresh! [because painting over it time after time doesn’t seem to solve my problems. . .]


Art Projects Potpourri!

It seems like ages since I last blogged! Well, maybe not ages, but it has been about 4 months. Much too long! I’ll just have to summarize all the latest Kerrminator projects to catch you up!

Gifts Galore!

Wind chime made of metal disks, copper pipes, hemp, and leather.As much as I’d like to make all my gifts for everyone, I just don’t have the time. However, I do try to make something for at least a couple people for either birthdays or Christmas. I had been planning on making some sort of wind chime using some metal disks I purchased from Doyle Hardware in Utica, NY before it closed a few years ago. They were practically giving stuff away to clear out the store and my mom and I scoured the back rooms for interesting things to use in art projects. Needless to say, we came across tons of interesting metal bits and bobs, but that’s a hole other story entirely.

The point is, I finally made a wind chime with my brother in mind. He records a lot of random sounds to create music with and each year I find it simpler to make him a gift. So far I’ve made him a ceramic ocarina, gave him a collection of weird sounds, made woven fabric canvases that make an interesting drum sound when wet and now the wind chime. I still have no idea what the metal disks are actually for, but I think they got put to good use and I still have plenty more to make another.

Ryan Noel logoIn addition to my brother’s gift, I also made my ‘manfriend’ a gift for Christmas in the form of a website. Ryan is an aspiring actor and had mentioned previously that it would be nice to have his own website. So, I created a site for him to display his acting resume, past and current head shots, modeling portfolio, and other miscellaneous skills. You can view his acting website,, to have a look at his skills and [obviously] see the site I designed. My web building skills are improving as we speak, and I’d like to eventually update his to be more modern and fresh, but it’ll do for now.

Colored pencil portrait of three women.A few other gifts I’ve made in the past year include a frame and custom matting for Ryan’s most current head-shot, a portrait of a bald eagle for my dad and a portrait of three friends for their birthdays. The bald eagle portrait is actually an interesting piece because I painted it on a cross section of a tree my dad cut down at the Bronx Zoo over 30 years ago. I don’t have a photo of it yet, but I’ll update this post once I get one.

In my last blog post I mentioned joining a site called I got one project through them so far, which is more than I expected since I was given a lead shortly after joining. A woman contacted me wanting a memorial pet portrait of a dog named Missie. Missie had died and the woman ordering the drawing was having it made for a friend of hers who the dog belonged to. I posted a few updates of the drawing on my facebook page as I was working on it. Friend me on facebook and be in touch when I have updates on new art projects and blog posts!


Ryan Noel wearing P.A.N.T.S. t-shirt printed with pants logo designed by Sara Kerr.P.A.N.T.S. is an acronym for People Acting Not Too Seriously. P.A.N.T.S. is the improv comedy group of Portland Community College and Ryan, is a member of the group. “What does this have to do with anything,” you ask? Well, I’ll tell you! I have been practicing my stage photography at their performances and recording clips occasionally so that the members can watch it to improve themselves as well as for them to post on their facebook page to attract potential patrons. In addition to the photography I do for the group I also created a logo for them which they use on their handbills and had printed on t-shirts.

Art For Sale!

Pastel drawing of a man playing the piano by Sara Kerr.It’s a little disappointing to have art sitting around, not being seen by people. Ideally, I would like to have my art in galleries, but personally I don’t feel that I have many pieces worth displaying to the general public. However, there are some pieces that I’m especially proud of.

It wasn’t until the end of my senior year and about a year after graduation that I started to create some really great works. I have to admit though, not having a ‘destination’ for a piece makes me rather unmotivated. What I mean is, when I was in high school I was creating not only for grades, but local competitions. Now it seems like I only get really involved in a piece if it’s FOR someone else or it’s a commission. I haven’t created something entirely for myself in a long time. I want to keep growing as an artist, but motivation is key.

Hand crafted clay whistle by Sara Kerr.One of those drawings I did [after high school] was a commissioned colored pencil drawing of four Harley Davidson Motorcycles which I have featured on my website. I have giclee prints of the motorcycle drawing available for purchase. [I had them up on ebay for a while, but you can contact me directly if you’re interested.]

In addition to the motorcycle prints, I also have several dozen hand crafted ceramic whistles looking for homes. I made them a few years ago and just haven’t done much with them. My intentions were to sell them at craft fairs, but I simply haven’t had the time. Each is different in size, pitch and glazing and you can contact me directly to purchase one.

So, that pretty much sums up what I’ve been doing the last few months. 🙂

A Work in Progress

I have wanted to create a huge drawing based off this photograph since I was in high school and I’ve finally started working on it! To give you a bit of perspective, the photo is 4″ by 6″ and the drawing is going to be 23″ by 35″. Here is the progression. . .


I have been enjoying working on dark backgrounds with various drawings and paintings so, I decided to use colored pencils on a dark, chocolate-brown, linen embossed paper. I’m planning on a monochromatic color scheme, but we’ll see how it goes. . .

The outline isn’t complete yet, but once I finish it, I think I’m going to switch to coloring sticks and try a looser technique to make an attempt at not be so tight with the detail as I usually tend to be . . .

Outline of colored pencil drawing of an old man lighting a pipe________________________


I finished the outline yesterday and I managed to get a better representation of what color the paper is. There are a few errors,  and I can likely fix them once I start shading, but I don’t think they are going to matter all that much . . .



I started on the shading yesterday and had to stop when it was too dark to work anymore (I have my easel setup in the garage). Typically, I would dive right into the picture and draw all over the place: put color down on the foreground and background, focus on one area and complete it, leave some areas completely untouched, etc… I started to do that this time, but I’m trying do the background first, then go into the subject. I’ve been told it’s the proper way (background, then foreground) but I always seem to stray from that.

Another thing I want to try to achieve with this piece is a depth of focus, like in photography. I don’t have as much experience with cameras so I hope I can better achieve different focal effects with a pencil than I can with a camera. Ideally, the left side will be very blurry and out of focus, the figure will be focused and the right side will be mostly focused, though not as much as the figure. We shall see. . .

Drawing of a man smoking a pipe________________________


Not a whole lot changed from the last update, just a bit more of the background is filled in on the right side.



I think I’m still putting in too much detail, but it’s hard omitting elements when I’m used to drawing as much detail as I can. I rely a lot on the photograph. Maybe I’ll try to look at it less. That way I won’t spend as much time studying everything, trying to get each element exactly “right.”



I’m trying to shade in a base color that I’ll be using primarily for each section. I recall taking a class back in high school at Munson Williams; the instructor taught me to choose a warm color and a cool color to paint a wash over the warm/cool sections of the painting. It gives you a base color to start with, helps determine the main elements you want to be most prominent and also with determining your lighting.

In this case, I’m using it to assist me with choosing which tones of brown will be used for each element so the drawing doesn’t wind up lacking dimension and depth due to the shades of brown being too similar.



So, about that whole “not being very detailed thing”. . . I need to practice on that a bit because I’m still doing it. 🙂

I’m always happy with my pieces when I look at how realistic they look so, I know I’ll be satisfied even if it turns out to be completely detailed without the desired blurry effects I describe in a previous update. My “break-through” piece simply may not be this one.



I’ve been filling in the collar and shoulder and I’m liking the results; Lots of depth and dimension.



Well, after about 7 months of letting this drawing sit around, I finally picked it back up again last night while I had M.A.S.H. playing on the TV. However, I didn’t do all of this last night; I worked on it for 5-10 minutes here and there for the last few months. I hadn’t completed any significant amount of work to bother posting an update until now.

On a side note, I hate setting deadlines for things because it will only set myself up for disappointment since I rarely meet a deadline I set for myself. It’s different when someone else is relying on me to finish something, but when it’s just for myself I tend to be more lax about getting it done. . .

As you can see I’ve filled in the majority of the left shoulder and sleeve of the jacket. I’m having a bit of a hard time with the hair since it’s so white. Its going to be a little more challenging trying to make it not look like a white blob. I’m also not looking forward to the hands, though I’m sure it won’t be as bad as I’ve convinced myself it’ll be.

Hand drawn pencil portrait of old man smoking a pipe.________________________


This update is long over due and there’s still quite a lot left to do, but progress is obviously being made. I took this photo inside, at night so, the colors are a little off.

I’m very happy with the way it looks, but I’m dissatisfied with the fact that this is only challenging my patience, not my skill. I already know I can recreate scenes, photographs, images, etc with amazing detail so, I’m still trying to figure how I can make this piece help me grow, and develop something new.



The primary changes in this update are the accomplishments with getting the hands nearly complete and the smoke is starting to come to life. I am determined to get this drawing done in less than 2 years!!! Oye…



Almost done!!! I think is will be the final “update” before the final piece is reveled. YAY! So, the main differences in this update are some changes to the hair, the smoke now looks more transparent, I added a few highlights to the hat brim, and the wood on the left is a tad blurrier to give it an unfocused effect.

Site Update & Scholarship Opportunity

I’ve been working on updating my site for the past several weeks since it’s in dire need of some content other than photos. I’ve also stumbled across a site using one of my images who shouldn’t be, seeing as I didn’t give them permission to do so. Oddly enough they don’t seem to care that the image has a huge watermark across it that says “THE KERRMINATOR.” Anyway, I’ll likely be emailing them soon to give them a piece of my mind and to first ask them nicely to remove it. If they don’t I’ll just have to chew them out and rip them a new one. In the mean time, I try to focus on making my site interesting, operational and useful.

On a different note, on one of the forums I like to browse around on I came across someone’s post for a scholarship opportunity through the site, I hadn’t heard of it before, but I decided to go ahead and enter three pieces of my art just to see what will happen. I didn’t enter expecting to win, but it would be nice 🙂 The bad part about the initial stage in the competition is it’s basically a popularity contest. You can read about it on their site, but basically people vote via text message and the top 50 entries get judged and chosen for the prizes. A lot of people don’t like the idea of texting in votes for fear of a scam looking for cell numbers. I couldn’t even vote for myself, or anyone else for that matter, because my cell carrier won’t allow it for whatever reason I’m not privy to. At any rate, the first stage of voting has more to do with how many friends you can get to vote for you, than it does having actual high quality art. There are still 22 hours or so left of the voting, and I’m currently in the top 50 and that’s all I need to be considered. If I get any of the prizes I’d be thoroughly pleased with myself. 😀

I do like the site, it seems to have a lot of decent contests and opportunities so if I like the way this goes, I’ll likely recommend the site to other people. For now, I sit and wait to see if the votes come in.

For anyone who’s interested, the contest I’m entered in is

…and if you read this before the voting is over (and would like to vote for me) 😉  my submission page is

…or to save you a step, just text  PHHEM6  to  53295

*crosses fingers*