Inspiration & Exploration

My last post was about how a trip to the ruins of Pompeii became my starting point for my series “Ripped”. As with my first painting “Pears”, I begin my process with a few copies of my reference photo.  Then the fun begins. I start ripping the copies into different size pieces and reconstruct the image.





It usually takes 2-3 versions before settling on the final reference piece.  While reconstructing the image, I’m thinking about my original inspiration. Trying to find the play between the fragments, time, protected…etc (this is where you need to write this in your terms). Once the reconstructed image is taped back together, I transfer the drawing onto my panel and painting can begin.



As I progress with the paintings, I will need to find ways to push the series. I do know that I want to make fragments. It will take “shaking the tree” to see what falls out. I’m excited to find where this exploration will lead and hope you will follow along.

Finding Inspiration

Often I’m asked where I find my inspiration, so I thought I would share the impetus for my “Ripped” series.

IMG_8933Ripped Pear | Oil on Panel | 12 x 12 | $700

For 6 weeks in 2009, I was in Pompeii as a visiting artist on a college archeological dig to see the ruins first hand. We had the advantage of accessing areas that were off limits to the general public.

peristyle garden excavationIt was amazing. There was a recently excavated villa which contained some incredible frescos. I clearly remember seeing some parts of the frescos where they had been protected from the weather and other places where time and deterioration were very evident.  It was unbelievable that areas of the fresco were as beautiful and new as the day it was painted.  Pumice and mud protecting some places while others showed the ravages of weather, time and the eruption.

Those memories, almost 6 years ago, have become my inspiration for this series.  Not wanting to paint the literal ruins, I began to see how I could use fruit to show all the faucets of the ruins.  I want to explore the fresh & new, fragments, protected & unprotected as well as, the effects of time. While most artists struggle for inspiration from time to time, luckily for me, it was a place of ruins that I found mine.

pompeii_three_graces_fragment “The Three Graces”, Wall Frieze, Pompeii, circa 60 AD

The three graces, all sisters, are the daughters of Zeus and Euryeome or Hera.

Ripped Grapes #2 by Dennis Crayon


Ripped Grapes #2 12 x 12 oil on panel | $7oo

When I finished “all my grapes in one basket” I knew that for the next four pieces I would set up a few ground rules to consider

  1. Have the top layer of ripped paper have ragged edges and not have a straight border around the whole image.
  2. The back ground layer would be gray with muted gray and a little hint of color
  3. Scotch tape needs to be added to the image.

I would like the viewer to wonder if the top colored pieces were falling off and that is what remains. Or if the pieces had been taped back on and reassembled in the same way that fragments are reassembled and the area around the fragments is a suggestion of what use to be there when the piece was whole.


All My Grapes In One Basket


All My Grapes in on Basket | Oil on Panel | 11 x 14 | $900

Way back in 7th grade, one of the first pieces of art that I made was of grapes and coffee cans. The charcoal drawing is long gone. But I have enjoyed painting grapes ever since. I would guess that grapes and eggs are two subjects that I have painted the most.

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Picking Berries- daily painting still life a painting a day

Picking Berries | 7 x 7 | Oil On Panel

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When I was young my brother and I would go berry picking. We would get together with the neighborhood kids and go to the abandon farm behind our house and pick the red and black raspberries that grew on one side of the field. Mostly we would pick enough for a pie which my grandmother would bake.

One year all the neighbor boys got together and we decided to have a berry stand and sell the berries. We got our quart containers and went door to door that summer selling the berries in the neighborhood. I think we made a whole 15 bucks total that summer.

Later when we were a bit older my family tried canning the berries for jam. We didn’t quite have the recipe correct and the jam was more like slurp. In a lot of ways that turned out better because we had enough Blackberry sauce to put over vanilla ice cream all winter.

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Dennis Crayon Realist Contemporary Realism

I work in oils on canvas and panels, using color and position to convey contemporary composition combined with a classical painting technique. Each of my paintings features extreme attention to detail, especially the effect of light as it hits objects. I recognize the value of craft in my painting and continually work on my technique and style. My influences include Caravaggio and Vermeer, as well as contemporary realists Claudio Bravo and Scott Fraser.