Art I Collect – Alex Chaney

The Art I Collect Series is in conjunction with my previous Collecting Art – What I know post which answers some frequently asked questions about collecting art.

In this post I highlight work by Alex Chaney.  Over the years I have acquired several pieces of Alex’s and love them all.  His use of color is wild and energetic.  The technical skill and intense detail of his pieces captivates me.  It must take great patience to complete some of these pieces:



LSD, Oil on Canvas, 30"x40"


LSD Detail

LSD Detail


LSD Detail

LSD Detail



LSD Detail

Mega Growbot

Megagrowbot, Digital Print, 11"x17"


Untitled Portrait of an Artist

Untitled, Acrylic on Paper, 12"x16"


Untitled Painting

Untitled, Acrylic, Ink on Paper, 9"x16"


World Wide Monster

World Wide Monster, Oil on Canvas, 30"x30"

I highly recommend checking out his website at for more awesome paintings.  Also, take a look at a previous post with some of Alex’s earlier pieces.

Thursday Night Figure Drawing at the Artist Alliance of Central Pennsylvania

I love love LOVE figure drawing.  Its one of the few things I can do to really get into the ZONE.  Since moving to the State College / Lemont area I’ve been searching for a weekly figure drawing group. I just joined the Artist Alliance of Central Pennsylvania and found one on their website: Open Model Nights.  The sessions cost $10, go from 7-9:30pm and are running every Thursday until November, but there is a  possible extension.

Shaking off the rust:

Gesture Drawing


Gesture Drawing


Figure Drawing


Figure Drawing Arm Study


Figure Drawing in charcoal

Collecting Art – What I know

Most of us are constantly bombarded with images daily.  After awhile it becomes a blur and we let our subconscious censor images out of our attention.  I have found that having unique artworks in my home has allowed me to see the importance of a single image.  In each image I can associate a conscious thought or feeling.  I can also relate personally to the artist through their imagery.  With advertisements it is hard for me to connect to the creator on the other end (unless it is very well done).

I find that collecting art enriches my life and want to share what little I know about this interest.  Future posts will feature artists’ whose work I collect and enjoy on a daily basis.

Your First Purchase

Many people love art, but are intimidated to buy it.  They think “I don’t know anything about art” and can be scared away by high price tags.  If you know that an artwork, strikes, inspires, intrigues you profoundly then you know enough about art.  Money is tight these days, but most artist’s and dealers will work out a payment plan to help you purchase the piece.

Artwork Upkeep/Maintenance

There are tons of different media out there, some good, some bad.  Ask the artist or dealer about how they made the piece.  Is the paper archival? Is the painting varnished?  Is the sculpture meant for outdoor or indoor use only?  Also ask if they have any advice for maintaining the quality of the piece.   Some general tips:

`If possible keep paintings and paper works out of direct sunlight.  Sunlight blasts artwork with radiation that will fade colors.  If artwork is in sunlight considering framing with a UV Protective glass.  Its expensive, but will save the work many years down the road.

`For paintings, if it is unvarnished and artist recommends varnishing the work then have it done.  Oil paintings must wait between 6-12 months after completion before varnishing.  Acrylic paintings around 5 days after completion.  All varnishes are removable and act as protection against scratching and other damage.  Plus it can make the painting really pop!  Ask the artist or find someone who has the right materials for varnishing to do the work for you.  I recommend Liquitex’s Soluvar Varnish as Damar Varnish tends to darken with age.

`If you run out of wall space and need to store artwork I suggest storing it vertically.  Have something to cushion it on the ground such as a strip of carpet or cardboard.  Also place the artworks face-to-face and back-to-back.  This way hanging hardware won’t scratch into frames or paint.  Acrylic and Oil paints can stick together if there is enough pressure and time so place strips of cardboard in between each piece.  Make sure that the leaning edges are both flush against the wall (or whatever surface you are leaning the pieces on.  This prevents warping which really sucks and can mean needing to have an entire canvas re-stretched. For 3-D work, use bubble wrap and place closer to the ground.

Collecting Artwork as an Investment

I don’t know much about collecting artwork to resell it years later and make a profit, frankly I’m not interested.  Having worked in art galleries it was often recommended to not buy art to make a profit later. Buy an artwork because you love it and it strikes you/means something to you.

Support the Arts and Community

By purchasing artwork you are not only fulfilling your desire for that freaking awesome statue or painting. You are also supporting the arts.  Arts inspired and can fuel Communities.  From the sneakers you wear to your favorite album artists are involved in every object in your life.  They help communities thrive and provide creative solutions for difficult problems.  I don’t think it is far fetched to say that by supporting the arts you are supporting education, a strong economy, a conscious community, and yourself.

Forest Spirits in Central PA

One thing that really strikes me about Pennsylvania is its Forest.  An endless sea of green.  Every patch of wood has its character which grows and changes with time.  The whole region of Centre County is lush and verdant.  This has of course inspired new artworks.

Young Sappling

Young Sappling

In addition to the vibrant growth in State College, Lemont, Boalsburg and surrounding areas, Hayao Miyazaki’s films are partial to my fascination with life.  In his film Princess Mononoke the Forest Spirit is the physcial manifestation of this life energy.  His other films are just as brilliant, if you haven’t seen them I highly recommend them.

forest spirit princess mononoke

The Forest Spirit

Art in State College

State College is definitely a unique place. Its nestled in a valley surrounded by forest and farms. It has a cornucopia of hiking trails and for the plein air painter it must be a dreamworld.

Traveling Spore

Traveling Spore

In the rocky mountains there is often a deception of space as distant mountains can appear crisp and close because of the lack of atmosphere. Not so in State College. The atmosphere is thick and misty. Forests and Clouds merge together in song day and night week after week.

Mutual Relationships



One big difference between Milwaukee Wisconsin and State College Pennsylvania is the air quality. Even Milwaukee’s lake cannot blow off the brown bubble. Where my art studio is located in Lemont up on Mount Nittany the air is so clean. Walking outside in the morning, before the rays of light pop over the mountain and shed their light into the valley, it smells like camping. The air is so fresh. It is such a peaceful motivation that this area lends to art making.

Color Theory – Understanding Color

Color Theory is relative to each artist and viewer.  There are many factors that contribute to the overall effect of a colors in a piece.  Color temperature, color relativity, color value, and color relationships can create a vast array of effects.  Color has always been a mystery for me, difficult to understand and use powerfully.

Many other artists struggle with color as well and I found this color exercise extremely helpful.  In a previous post I mentioned Richard Schmid’s color chart exercises.  Doing these charts will help you develop your own personal color theories and, ability to mix paint, use a palette knife, and judge values.

Color Charts – Steps to Understanding Color:

Colors Involved (links to recommended brands, all in Oil):

Titanium White (by Utrecht) for mixing values

Cadmium Yellow Lemon (by Gamblin)

Cadmium Yellow Pale (by Windsor Newton)

Cadmium Yellow Deep (by Gamblin)

Yellow Ochre Light (by Windsor Newton)

Transparent Iron Oxide Red (by Utrecht)

Terra Rosa (by Windsor Newton)

Cadmium Red Medium (by Gamblin)

Alizarin Crimson Permanent (by Utrecht)

Viridian (by Utrecht)

Cobalt Blue Light  (by Rembrantd)

Ultramarine Deep (by Rembrantd)

Mars Black (by Windsor Newton) NOTE: Richard Schmid doesn’t use black in his chart series, I only added it because I wish to understand black.  Many contemporary artists mix their blacks purely from color, as you will see from these charts there are many beautiful combinations of extremely dark psudo-blacks possible.  Treat black as a color, not a darkener.  It has many possibilities and I recommend adding black to your chart and see how  Black based greys compare to color based greys.

You can apply this exercise to your own color choices. This palette is recommended because it can achieve a huge range of colors including difficult to mix unique colors such as Cobalt Turquoise, Sap Green, Prussian Blue, Naples Yellow, and more.  Richard Schmid mentions that he occasionally uses additional colors that mixtures of this palette cannot achieve such as: Cadmium Orange, Cobalt Violet, Cadmium Scarlet.

Start the Charts:

The exercise is to mix a total of 13 charts.  The first Chart begins with a row of all the pure colors.  Each color is tinted down to a near-white color.  All 5 swatches should have equadistant values.  So the first color is pure, the second has a little white, the next color a little more, and so on until the last color is close to white.  Take your time with this, make sure all of your colors are equally far apart in value.  To make it easier 1) have a lot of light where you’re working 2) SQUINT!  Squinting is an invaluable tool that will cut out visual distraction and allow you to compare values. Is one swatch of color too close to another in value?  Is it too far apart?  Compare swatches in 3′s. How do Swatches 1,2, and 3 compare? 2,3, and 4? 3,4 and 5? Darken with pure color or lighten with white as needed.  TAKE YOUR TIME WITH THIS.  It will enhance your mixing abilities dramatically.

Basic Color Chart to understand color

The next charts each feature a dominant color.  You mix 2/3 of the Dominant color into the sub-dominant color.  Referencing your base chart (shown above) you go down the line; in Chart number 2 Cadmium Yellow Lemon is your dominant color, mixed one by one with all of the other colors.  Chart number 3 is Cadmium Yellow Pale, number 4 is Cadmium Yellow Deep and so on.  Below are what the completed charts look like.  After all of the charts I give some suggestions on materials and methods for constructing your chart.  Once you start these you will begin to notice each pigment’s strength, consistency, personality, and even texture.


Cadmium Yellow Lemon (by Gamblin)

Cadmium Yellow Lemond

Cadmium Yellow Pale (by Windsor Newton)

Cadmium Yellow Pale

Cadmium Yellow Deep (by Gamblin)

Cadmium Yellow Deep

Yellow Ochre Light (by Windsor Newton)

Yellow Ochre Light

Transparent Iron Oxide Red (by Utrecht)

Transparent Iron Oxide Red

Terra Rosa (by Windsor Newton)

Terra Rosa Chart

Cadmium Red Medium (by Gamblin)

Cadmium Red Medium

Alizarin Crimson Permanent (by Utrecht)

Alizarin Crimson Permanent Chart

Viridian (by Utrecht)

Viridian Green

Cobalt Blue Light  (by Rembrantd)

Cobalt Blue Light

Ultramarine Deep (by Rembrantd)

ultramarine blue deep

Mars Black (by Windsor Newton)

Mars black

Note: This exercise is to be done slowly, it will take awhile, weeks definitely, maybe months.  Just stay focused on getting those value mixtures right and you will come away with a certain expertise in color.

Constructing your Color Theory Charts:

Once you finish these charts you will want to keep them.  They make great references while painting.  They should be lightweight, mobile, and well constructed. If you live in the State College/Lemont area of Pennsylvania I recommend supplies carried locally by Uncle Eli’s Art Supply.

Materials Needed (Links to recommended products):

Heavy weight mat board 0r Gessoed panels

Acrylic Gesso (if you use the Heavy weight mat board)

Artist’s tape (I suggest 3/4″)

Palette Knife

Ruler, Pencil, and Exacto Blade

Lots and lots and lots of rags (old clothes).


1) If you are using Gessoed Panels than skip to the next step.  If you go with the Heavy weight mat board then you will need to give it 3x coats of Acrylic Gesso using a hardware brush.

2) With the Ruler and Pencil measure out 12x 1″ sections with 3/4″ sections in between each 1″ swath.  Next, measure 5x 1″ sections with 3/4″ gaps perpendicular to your first line of marks.  Measure the last two sides to form your rectangular grid.

3) Place strips of your 3/4″ Artist’s tape in the 3/4″ gaps on your grid. This will give you nice clean edges.  The charts will make for great, well crafted references with this technique.

4) This step applies only to Heavy weight mat board users.  Use an Exacto Blade and your Ruler to cut out your taped up gridded rectangle.  Tip: On edge of mat board (where you will not be cutting chart out from main sheet) create a small loop/handle with the tape for ease of removal.

5) Mix up your mixtures with your Palette Knife and make sure to clean it regularly.  If you cross contaminate colors scrape it off and re-mix it.  The Palette Knife  method makes for an easy clean up and makes it effortless to scrape off wrong valued colors and start over.

6) Peel off tape and set to dry!  If you want to be super classy you can wait 6 months and varnish your charts for extra protection.

I hope you find these charts as useful as I did!

Artists in Central Pennsylvania

I am often reminded on a daily basis the importance of face to face communication.  Between artists this is necessary for a strong artistic community.  I always have more success selling artwork, beginning collaborations, and getting feedback on work in person.  So before I made the transition from Milwaukee Wisconsin to the State College area of Pennsylvania I was nervous.

Internet searches told me little about what was going on here.  A few crucial groups such as the Artist Alliance of Central Pennsylvania popped up and Uncle Eli’s Art Supply Store.  Other then that it looked like an artist dead zone.

Its been almost two months and my fears are put to rest.  There are many inspiring artists and organizations that can only be found through word of mouth and seeking out.  The Internet has many blind spots.  Cecilia Lebitz and Brittany Roob are two intriguing artists who, in our frequent conversations, fuel my drive to create.

The Farmland Preservation Artists of Central Pennsylvania merge beautiful plien air with the important cause of preserving local agriculture.  In Lemont the Artist Alliance of Central Pennsylvania, every time I bike past they have something going on.  They hold art classes daily, exhibits, and have a gallery of items for sale next door.  The Surface Cooperative in Lemont has beautiful jewelry, artwork, photography and wonderful studio spaces.  In addition to the plethora of restaurants and coffee shops that display local art there are several art galleries I really enjoy:  The Green Drake Gallery in Millheim, Ion Gallery and Douglas Albert Gallery in downtown State College.

I have been more productive here than ever.  I love Milwaukee and the sense of city, but for now I am loving making art in a more rural area of Pennsylvania

central pennsylvania

Fuck Monsanto

This painting accurately represents my beliefs on the ethics of Copyrighting Genes (Life), releasing genetically modified genes into the environment on a massive scale, monopolizing agriculture and food, and the corruption of the Federal Department of Agriculture and other higher offices in U.S. Government.  There are many documentaries/articles on this issue, I recommend starting here to learn more about Monsanto: The World According to Monsanto.

Fuck Monsanto

Purchase Print of Fuck Monsanto


mono cropping

bonded dna

fuck monsanto

liberated farmers