Sunday, October 14, 2007


One of the most profound but scary learning experiences I ever had in my art training I had while studying with Barron Storey back in the late nineties. Mr. Storey would challenge my understanding of the picture-making process, push me to my limit and simultaneously catapult me light-years ahead of what had been my current art-making path. Studying with him taught me that there are teachers who better serve the student at different phases of their academic tenure. For me, Barron Storey happened at the perfect time, a time when I had the skills and professional experience to match his challenging assignments and the maturity to value his meaningful lessons. I would not have been prepared for him four years earlier and would have missed the wisdom of his words and may have ended up down a completely different path.

I had already finished my bachelors degree and was safely working in a corporate design/graphic art related job market not two years out of school. Safely behind the paycheck and benefits, and freelancing by moonlight. Life was good. I was snug, happy, in-love and all was well living in the booming Bay Area of the nineties. But creatively I was at a stand-still.

The good-life can be disastrous for an artist if not careful. When life comes too easy, without a challenge mentally or creatively, nothing can send the creative mind spiraling into a static-pit-of-hell faster than sleeping in, late breakfasts, extra cash in the pocket, and too much drinking with friends. The spirit of the artist comes from suffering, angst, emotional roller-coasters and good ole desire, passion and pain. The stuff that great art is made of.

I had been trucking along, secure in what I thought would be my comfortable artistic style I had been noodling for years, secure with the many talents I had strapped down during my undergraduate studies in the illustration program at San Jose State. I had pinned down a solid foundation, craft, and professionalism but was completely lacking in the development of a personal statement, artistic vision and direction. However, to the credit of my undergraduate study, these things do take time!

I have always been the kind of artist who prided himself on skill, craft and above all delivery. These have been THE key ingredients to being a professional, holding down a job as a creative person, and running my own business. But at that phase of my early art career... I was missing the essential rational for even wanting to be an artist... the voice, the vision to lead the talent and skills to a higher plane of understanding, mental aptitude and even greatness. Higher education and family influence had bread in me the survival instincts but not even touched on the "WHY"- I wanted to be an artist, or "WHAT"- I wanted to say with my art.

This was a scary feeling for someone that had pushed himself to be so focused for so long, remaining dedicated to his studies, responsibilities and grades; only to end up lost. But I was missing direction, a voice, and felt like I was going nowhere! This was when my true artistic education would begin, after college, on my own, and every day since.

But this part of my art education, and my attempt to not be lost, began with my return to San Jose State to study with Barron Storey. I decided to return to night-school to try and re-invigorate myself and to get a closer look at the mind behind such great artwork. Barron Sotrey arrived at San Jose State during my bacheloric study and began teaching classes that unfortunately I had already taken. I never had a chance to study with him as an undergraduate. But now, trapped in the throws of corporate working life, I was thirsty and Barron Storey was just the quencher I was looking for. He soon had me thinking about the responsibilities of being an artist and illustrator, the human soul and conscience that is laid upon him or her who dares to bring it out, to show the people their inner thoughts and perversions, and that Illustration as a mass media artform has an even TOUGHER RESPONSIBILITY than that of the self-indulgent fine artist; requiring a greater awareness and read of the cultural climate, history, prevailing attitudes and reflections and that illustration, good illustration, is fine art!

I would begin to dig deeper on a more personal level and investigate my approach and process, beginning with technique and medium. This piece seen here was a testament to the new "ME". It depicts the (then) current-day political scandal of the Clinton administration and the alleged romantic interludes that would penetrate the White House. Mr. Storey challenged us with setting a current day scandal with a back-drop of a fairy-tale or fable. I set President Clinton out to be Icabod Crane in the classic Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Kenneth Star, the prosecuting district attorney, plays the feared Headless Horsemen chasing down Icabod(Clinton) and throwing the alleged names of the women Clinton had had affairs with while in office (initials carved in the pumpkins). The press is lurking behind the headlines waiting for the frenzy to start. While all the while, Monica Lewinsky is seen winking in the moon and benefiting from all the publicity. A complex set of characters and moral judgments with an even more twisted plot.

Ok, maybe a stretch... but it was an exercise and an experience that would shake down the art-making bedrock I thought I knew so well. Not so much in the comparisons, but in the process of making the picture. Anybody that has studied with Barron Storey knows what an incredible experience it can be and you can either be shut-down by it or embrace it. I chose the latter. I will never forget the feeling I had the night before I would return to class to turn-in this fragile piece.

Wanting to make an impression on my hero, and to have is ultimate acceptance of my efforts, I had spent days building up the surface, tearing it down, rebuilding it up, only to tear it down again. Drawing after redrawing, I poured out the sweat on this canvased battle-field and worse, I felt completely lost by it's completion, or even if the piece was finished. I didn't know "what" or "where" I was as an artist. LOST AGAIN! My vision of was all over the place, filled with passion but un-able to see it's fruition in a way that made any sense to me. I had been inspired by my teachers work and demonstrations but felt I had missed the mark completely. I felt I was the world's worst Barron Storey student!

I walked into the classroom that evening holding my piece low and keeping it in my bag and out of sight. When my turn came to show my pathetic efforts, I held it up in complete anticipation of what promised to be a guaranteed rejection in front of a bunch of lesser experienced classmates. Mr. Storey stepped up with hurried anticipation and said to me...


I was shocked. All along I had felt he didn't understand the pain I was suffering in trying to re-define myself... coming from such a well structured education and formal training... to crawl out from the middle-class life I had been raised in, by parents that would always teach me to play it safe and to not take uncharted risks... But he did, he did understand! All along he had been watching me peer out from behind my safe, likable, romantic, realistically painted images waiting for a chance to challenge my own soul, and to brave the bigger, desperate, uncharted waters that is the creative depth of the artist. I was certain I was to be swallowed up by the jaws of criticism and misalignment, but instead, he was there to champion my courage and the results. This changed my life forever. I would come to realize the results of what I had put down didn't matter in this case, it was that I challenged myself for real. I faced those demons of insecurity and kept trying anyway, and that this was the beginning of something new for me. A door had been opened.

I have spent the better part of everyday since that evening in class, trying to brave the big waters once again. Day after day, painting after painting, drawing after drawing, illustration after illustration, ambitious hope after ambitious hope; always keeping that scary lesson in the forefront of my mind. Mr. Storey said someting to us (his class) that semester that I have never forgotten. It isn't all that unusual, but he made it real for me in that class. He said,

"You are not truly growing unless you are afraid."

And though to him that evening in class may have seemed like any other with just another student, just another class, just another critique, to me it remains the beginning point of my art education and the torch that keeps the path lit in the darkness of the soulful creative depths. For I learned something about what it means to be an artist, to put yourself out there, to be yourself, to take chances and to see your potential. I could have easily fallen on my face that evening, played it safe.... or maybe not, but at some point if I ever do fall, I can rest assured I'll have fallen on my own and with courage.

©Copyright 2007 Trey Gallaher

Image: "Icabod" ©Copyright Trey Gallaher
12x14.5in. mixed medium on illustraton board

Sunday, September 16, 2007


I was fortunate to have studied closely with Murray Tinkelman throughout my entire graduate residency at Syracuse University and I owe him a lifetime of gratitude. Mr. Tinkelman has a great student illustration exercise that he has given out for years (normally to undergrads) but challenge me with equally. It teaches students how to paint and compose like the great illustrators. It goes something like this...

1) Pick four consecutive decades.
2) Pick four well known historical figures from the same profession or area of study
but each must be a representative from their respective consecutive decade.
3) Pick four successful illustrators - one from each of those same consecutive decades.
4) The Assignment: illustrate a portrait of those well-known people from the same profession but in the style of an illustrator from their respective decade.

4-Consecutive Decades, 4-Famous Persons, 4-Famous Illustrators (styles), 1-illustration student assignment.

This was a real learning experience and a fun exercise. It not only teaches the student (through their own research and investigation) about the evolution of style and vision of varying artists over consecutive decades but also about the finer points of medium handling that students may not have explored on their own. Imitation can be the biggest and most humbling form of flattery.

For myself I picked American poets of the 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's.

THE 20's: W.C.Wiliams illustrated by J.C.Leyendecker

William Carlos Williams was a famous American poet who came out of the twenties and was a huge influence on my favorite poets of the forties and fifties. One of my absolute all-time favorite illustrators was Joseph Christian Leyendecker. A god! His craftsmanship and graphic nature was untouched and long before it's time. A true legend and picture maker. He did it with style and class and was very successful in his own time, but most notably in the twenties for his Arrow Collar shirt adds.

THE 30's: e.e. Cummings illustrated by John LaGatta

e.e. Cummings was a revolutionary poet who changed the poetic playing field entirely. His structure and word play across the page were radical, penetrating and challenging, a true original. An illustrators work that I had not even discovered until doing this assignment was John LaGatta. Only now years later do I find myself going back to his work over and over studying his drawings and use of pastels. His imagery was sultry and fashionable for women of his day. He was once awarded the title of "Best Womens Be-Hind" painter in the business. In my book he is the Degas of the illustration world. He too was prolific, successful and respected in his own time.

THE 40's: Theodore Roethke illustrated by Al Parker

Theodore Roethke was not known to me before this assignment so it was a learning experience to research his work. He grew up around a greenhouse as a child and used a lot of natural imagery and rhythm in his work. He experienced several family deaths as a child that would shape his psyche and writing style. He was most notable for his work in the forties. He would influence a great many writers like Kurt Vonnegut and his book Slaughterhouse Five. Another big influence in the forties illustration world was Al Parker. One of the fathers of American Illustration and graphic design in general. With a style that would change over the years from decade to decade, Parker always found a way to ride the edge. A true innovator with many talents.

THE 50's: Allen Ginsberg illustrated by Austin Brigggs

Perhaps my favorite poets of all time were the Beat poets of the fifties. Both on the east-coast and west-coast alike, this group of young men and women were really coming into their own as writers, artists and visionaries. Perhaps their spiritual guru and leader was the young poet Allen Ginsberg, most recognized for his ground breaking poem Howl that was read at the famous reading held by Kenneth Rexroth, October 7, 1955 at the Six Gallery in San Francisco. Austin Briggs is another legend and innovator of his time who would see tremendous success in this same period. A master draftsman and painter from the comics to the pulps to the covers of magazines and advertising campaigns Austin Briggs was a giant. It was hard to narrow down a specific look of his many talents that would summarize his efforts, specifically in the fifties. Quite literally he could do it all!

For more Information on:

J.C. Leyendecker click -> HERE
John LaGatta click -> HERE
Al Parker click -> HERE
Austin Briggs click -> HERE

All Imagery: ©Copyright Trey Gallaher
Work of those artists as labeled here by their appropriate names are protected by the parties that represent the estates and ownership of those artist's work.

Monday, August 27, 2007


I recently picked up the latest Dave Mathews Tim Reynolds cd LIVE at Radio City Music Hall (I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT, it's a little more of the "old Dave" sound we have all missed). The acoustic disc took me for a nice little stroll down memory lane listening to some great now-old-songs mixed with a few fresh acoustic originals and a couple nice covers. Towards the end of disc two, one of my favorite Dave originals Dancing Nancies hauntingly summoned up several flash-backs with Dave posing the question...

"Could I have been... anyone other than me".

This got me thinking... professionally (for money) I have been a lot of things other than an illustrator and an artist, some I am proud of some I am not... some were easy as pie and some I will NEVER forget... here are a few I was humming to Dave's playing...

Could I have been...
A door to door Fruit Salesman...
Could I have been...
A animal Poop-Scooper
Could I have been...
A Landscaper and Grass-Clipper...
Could I have been...
A Car-washing-detailer
Could I have been...
A Dish Washer and Grease Trap Dumper...
Could I have been...
A Pizza Delivery Boy...
Could I have been...
A Cook in a restaurant
Could I have been...
A Graphic Designing Artist
Could I have been...
A Musician in an acoustic rock band
Could I have been...
A phone-answering Office Assistant
Could I have been...
A home-audio Salesman
Could I have been...
A Sandwich-making Deli-man
Could I have been...
A Retail Bookseller
Could I have been...
A Dark-Room Film Developer
Could I have been...
A Bar-Back and Beer-Poorer
Could I have been...
A Retail Customer Service Representative
Could I have been...
A Substitute Teacher
Could I have been...
A Print-Production-Layout-Binding-Specialist
Could I have been...
A Waiter and a Bus Boy...
Could I have been...
A College Professor
Could I have been...
A Heavy-Shit-Lifter...

Could I have been anyone other than me? The answer is still NO! But I am sure the list will go on...

Lets admit it... we've all got our own list of what I like to call "SHIT JOBS", but making drawings and paintings is the only thing I do better than everything else and I would be lost without it. To this day I still struggle to do it in the capacity that I dream about, but guess it's what keeps a guy going...

A true artist-inspiration of mine once said to me when I was feeling frustrated and distracted by having to spend all my time trying to survive and not being able to make art (and it always kept me going):

You "ARE"(defined by) the first thing you think of and the last thing you think of in a day, and the rest is a just what you do cause you have to.

The image was one I did a long time ago for a class assignment while studying with Barron Storey. We were illustrating a short story by Annie Proulix called Heart Songs. A quote from the text read "tall trees are my jail bars".

Image: ©Copyright Trey Gallaher

Sunday, August 19, 2007


This was a sketch I did for a full color poster design for a spring fashion show. The poster was to be quite large and fill a kiosk display in a large public area. After settling on the initial project deliverables, the organization then decided they wanted a low budget black and white flier to hand out in casual venues like coffee shops, breakrooms, the street etc... We were set on the core graphic from this initial sketch for the use of the poster, but there was no budget left for further design. I allowed them the use of this actual initial sketch for a smaller black and white flier design. It worked like a charm, kept the consistency of design, stayed under budget and made the client very happy.

To see the finished poster illustration click --> HERE

Image: ©Copyright 2000 Trey Gallaher

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


August 1st is Jerry Garcia's birthday. I celebrate it every year by writing it in my calendar and to reflect back on all the great music he left behind. He is sorely missed by all the loving fans that new him, his music and the love he and the rest of the Grateful Dead gave to their fans through their music. I think there is a lot of mystery about what the Grateful Dead were really all about, and most people get it wrong. It is my opinion, they were best as a performing band and have many wonderful unforgettable archived recordings out there to listen to. Find one you like and before long you will hear Jerry's old familiar guitar licks and voice come haunting you from the past like it was just yesterday at the Filmore. You will miss a true legend in American culture and San Francisco history if you don't learn about the music of Mr. Garcia. Few people even know of his bluegrass work outside of the Dead which to me is some of his best guitar picking and vocal work ever. Unfortunately we only heard the beginnings of his range. Jerry has been with me for years in my studio and will continue to be a big inspiration, serenading me as I paint.

I did this piece back in my undergraduate studies at San Jose State University in my very first illustration class. I was learning to use pastels, and after pulling an all-nighter to finish it for class, my next door (dorm room) neighbor Steve-O stumbled in all sleepy eyed, scratching himself, still waking up and says... "hey man nice picture of Kenny Rogers...". We still laugh about it to this day.

Image: ©Copyright 1994 Trey Gallaher

Sunday, July 22, 2007


I was recently asked by a great graphic designer and friend of mine who started a blog about artists studios, if I would make a contribution and entry. After a discussion about all of the creative people we know and have worked with over the years, their methods for working and unique styles, I agreed to it and started actually looking at my studio from a fresh vantage point. What makes my work space unique or any different than the next joe-shmoe artist these days? Usually, as artists, we are all compulsive neurotic types of some sort, how different could I be? In looking at my studio and all the inspirational material I keep laying around, it got me thinking about my biggest creative influences and inspirations as they have cleverly sculpted my outlook on the life, my creative mind and therefore my pictures.

I started with my bookshelf and soon I had a huge list. It could range from Kerouac to Klimt! So then I realized it wasn't gonna be that simple. I was gonna have to really narrow it down to those few individuals who's work has sculpted the framework of my creative mind and spirit, really stuck with me, next to my drawing table through thick and thin, faithfully, always providing inspiration and companionship. So after painfully hashing it out (and there are so many missing), here are my

Top 20 Artistic Influences (almost chronologically):

1. pirates - scared the piss out of me ever since the Caribbean ride at age three, and demonstrated for me the power the imagination can have over you that no book, painting or movie ever will, imagery that won't let you sleep at night.

2. Choose Your Own Adventure - These books were an essential ingredient during early grade school literary visions and imagination. They had great first-person written stories with cookey mysterious drawings in them depicting secret agents and time travel.

3. Norman Rockwell - His illustrations were the artwork that hung in our house.

4. Artemisia Gentileschi - Taught me that I could really say something with my work. Her work deeply affected me at a crucial point in my early artistic development. Check out Judith Beheading Holofernes, powerful and exalting.

5. The Doors - I got lost in their music in my adolescent life, and it took me someplace very personal in those days. I learned a little about vision, pain and the importance of exercising your demons on the canvas.

6. Jack Kerouac - Probably the single largest spiritual influence on my life next to Jesus! He once described the Beat Generation movement as "sympathetic". Think about that for a minute! Also his list of Essentials for Belief & Technique for Modern Prose writing.

7. John Coltrane - What else is there to say! You have to experience it! It makes my heart ache... He was a gentle spirit, possessed with a vision.

8. the Chinese people - Have touched me deeply and taught me the meaning of compassion.

9. men with beards - My dad and Santa Claus both had beards, I think it started there somewhere... The greatest beard of them all though was Walt Whitman! A mad man with a great mysterious beard!

10. Gustav Klimt - Design has EVERYTHING to do with it! Long live the Austrian Secession!

11. John Singer Sargent - Will always make me want to paint! One of the Gods!

12. Barron Storey - What the fuck? We will never reach him! But I will never grow tired of studying his pictures.

13. Robert Weaver - You can't teach that! Perhaps the best, and most honest draftsman ever...

14. N.C. Wyeth - Sculpted the imaginations of multiple generations. A genius at story telling and picture making. Also gets the best "departure" story! You couldn't write a more surreal and sad ending to a great man and father figure.

15. Ben Shahn - Art can have a literal message, be important, and be recognized in it's own time, serve as fine art and illustration simultaneously, and be seen in galleries and the cover of Time magazine in the same week.

16. Andrew Wyeth - Another one of the Gods! Might just drive you insane if you stare hard enough, long enough! Continues to give me faith in watercolors and works on paper. Could it ever happen twice in one family?

17. Edgar Degas - Can you say "touch"? He had the touch. He actually found a way to get line into a value painting. It has really taken me a long time to begin to understand how he may have done it. Degas definitely sits on the elders council adjacent to Sargent as commander-in-chief. His pastels make me all wabbly in the knees, gooey inside, and jealous as hell!

18. Japanese Woodblock Prints - So thats where graphic design really got it's start... I will forever be blissfully mesmerized looking at these... over and over again!

19. Bob Dylan - What an amazing body of work, part poet, part singer-songwriter that influenced everybody from the Beatles to a punk band somewhere in Japan and all the people in the world between them. I can't give entire credit to Bob Dylan without mentioning Woody Guthery, Ramblin' Jack Elliott (two of my dear favorites) who were instrumental in Bob's early years and sent him on his way. Death to country music... long live cowboy songs, the west, and the folk revival.

20. Winslow Homer - Perhaps the most instrumental and first artist to give Americans a fighting chance in the art history books. A true, true, renaissance man. I find something deeper and deeper every time I look at his work. He was an illustrator before he was a painter. He is one of the Gods for sure, but will most likely be least recognized.

* Honorable Mentions: Albrecht Durer and Vincent Van Gogh - Durer for his craft! Flat out, craft! I don't think there has ever been another like him since! As for Van Gogh I was never a huge fan as a younger artist. To me he seemed a cliche, but as I get older, perhaps more dumb-founded and simple-minded in the density of my knowledge and experience, and the more I stare at those sunflowers, I see that he may have just encompassed it all. But most importantly, he lived it!

Well thats the list for now. I am probably forgetting someone or something essential, in which case I will be back to substitute out for one of these names. But until then, as I look back strictly on my direct artistic influences, EXCLUDING TEACHERS, FAMILY, countless other important artists, and so many other innumerable people that have influenced me in other aspects of my life (many of which have rolled into my work), I give you my Top 20 artistic influences.

If you are interested in pictures of my studio space and others like it click --> HERE

or go to:

Image: ©Copyright 2007 Trey Gallaher

Friday, July 6, 2007


Summer is here! Time to hit the coast! I recently took a road trip as I usually end
up doing once a year about this time and this year it was to the beautiful central coast of California for some wine tasting. For those of you who know me, it's no secret I'm into wine. This blog is dedicated to my artwork both drawings and paintings but every once in a while I like to throw in a little something that conveys my other passions and interests. I have been into wine since college, but didn't really get serious until about six months ago. I've always had some red or another sitting around my kitchen to go with an evening of dinning in or having friends over, but towards the beginning of the year I started reading more about wines and became fascinated with it's complexities and the efforts that go into merging man's science and nature's elements together.

I gravitate towards the reds for full flavor and body and have discovered I really like Pinot Noir and Grenache, and of course Cabs, Syrahs and Cuvee too. Not a huge fan of Zin though, which is too bad cause it is thought to be California's best wine. The Santa Ynez Valley is dominated by Syrah and Pinot in the reds department with a lot of Chardonnay as well. Here are some of the beauties I brought home. In a few short days I had sampled over 85 wines. My database is filling up quickly.

I approached the Santa Ynez Valley from the southern Santa Barbara side up Hwy101 and was immediately refreshed as I entered this lush agricultural haven. Before you crest the valley's edge you pass by Gaviotti State Beach. Not the greatest beach ever, but a point of interest for us Sideway's fans. Remember this? It has this tremendous train trestle that was a shipping port early in California history.

The crawling vines are everywhere and that was just fine with me. They were healthy and prosperous. I felt a warm blanket over me as I rolled on past the endless green fields. It was beautiful, simply beautiful.

The flowers were amazing, roses everywhere, almost at the end of every row of grapes. Then I found out why. Roses are an indicator of insects. They attack the roses BEFORE the vines and are an signal of when to spray. There were so many kinds and they were all in full bloom.

I thought of George Harrison as I hummed... Two of Us "... on our way back home".

Los Olivos Cafe... look at these sleeping beauties! Great food and perhaps the largest wine list you'll ever find.

Everything was in bloom. If you go I recommend the spring. The berries are young, but the colors and air are vibrant!

How is this for bellying-up-to-the-bar! DAMN! Don't mind if I do... (Sideways Note: this was Frass Canyon, but is actually a very famous winery called Fess Parker.. named after the actor that played Daniel Boone in the Disney Movie.)

A classic "must see"! The mother of wineries in the valley, was perhaps the largest and most beautiful. FIRESTONE! A lot of reds here too..... oh yeah!!!

Look at this old timer! I was touched.

Now a famous eatery. I met the local personality Willie (or Gary the bartender in the movie) while having the most beautiful steak of my life at the Hitching Post. He was sharing a wine next to me at the bar that night as he has long since left his station behind the counter. He filled me in on the movie madness that has invaded the valley.

Stopping off to visit some old friends!

Where to next? Towards the tail end of my trip I swung through the Edna Valley and tried some delicious wines at some great wineries there too. Kynsi was my favorite. What Pinot! It got warmer but it was worth it! Mmmmmm!!! The whole region uses signs like this, and as long as you are not in a hurry... it's simply a matter of decisions, decisions...

Home to S.L.O. and Morro Bay ... to eat a delicious meal with friends and to share all this great wine! What a great evening. This salad was made by my sweet friend Erin, she used fresh oraganic strawberries, pecans, fresh organic figs and goat cheese..... WOW! Simply amazing! My buddy Brandon manned the BBQ to cook the pork and fresh organic vegetables. And did I mention we had wine with that too? Lets eat!

There are a lot of magnificent places in this world, but there is no place I would rather live than right here, California! THE LEFT COAST BABY, the BEST COAST BABY! All things considered there is no other place on earth like it. With all that it has to offer. Something in the light, the dry air, ocean breezes and fresh food... it's sacred. So lets take care of it people, and give back by cleaning it up and defending it! If you ever get a chance to visit the central coast of California there is buried treasure there and it calls to you. Go ahead, be safe, and get a little sideways.

Friday, June 8, 2007


Snoop has always had a great face for rap, angular, sleek, and what mysterious EYES! He definitely makes my list of great faces. Did this quite a while back now. Just a little fun exercise for class, and STILL havin' fun!

Image: ©Copyright Trey Gallaher
14x17in. acrylic on illustration board

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I recently jammed with this awesome drummer Dante pictured here in action at a colleagues performance and jam session. Being a folk and bluegrass man I rarely get an opportunity to play my guitar or blow my harp with drummers... let alone jazz drummers like Dante here... man it was fun! As usual it was those blues that brought us all together. I also had the opportunity to draw musicians performing... in action, one of my favorite things to draw! It was a very fulfilling evening that went very late.

Image: ©Copyright Trey Gallaher
8.5x11in. charcoal on paper

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Though it sounds cliche', never forget the power of "play". As I am sure any artist will tell you, making something creative involves playful activity somewhere in the process. Play makes art-making fun activity and not all work even for the most experienced of professionals! Oh yes, it can be serious business too, as many hours can be poured over a canvas with the most delicate of finishing touches, but almost always the process starts with the itching desire to throw some paint around, to experiment, get messy and play. PLAY! Sometimes when we play we spark new ideas we could never have dreamed up on our imaginations alone. Who knows what we might come up with in the world if we just have fun first! In this case a playful portrait.

Image: ©Copyright Trey Gallaher
14x17in. gouache on bristol

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


(The following was excerpted from my essay to my niece Cassidy for her Flat Stanley class project)
Upon Flat Stanley’s arrival to San Francisco and my studio in the Polk’s Gulch district of San Francisco, I was struggling through the dreaded yearly task of completing my tax preparation for the fast approaching deadline of not five days away. Stanley arrived just in time to help me through this difficult and timely process. He was able to point out which deductions I hadn’t yet considered for my return. I am not sure where Stanley learned so much about tax deductions but perhaps in his previous travels he picked up some valuable information that saved me time. YES!

After arriving to the class and getting set-up I introduced Stanley to the drawing students letting them know that Stanley was there to help them with their perspective drawings that day. The class felt reassured and more confident knowing Stanley was there to help. Soon we were diving into the lecture and began to discuss the days drawings, the challenging Grid-Floor Drawing and the Two-Point Perspective Drawing. Stanley was excited and so were the students. One of the more skilled students befriended Stanley and was grateful for his help. Her name was Flat Lequisha. They had a fun time talking about the drawings together.

[...and later]
Stanley helped me set up for the Painting Club, where I was to complete a demo on acrylic painting. I introduced Stanley to the club members who were pleased to have Stanley join us for the demonstration. Stanley helped change my paint water numerous times and was a big help. He asked a lot of great questions and learned a lot about color theory and what brushes were best for painting with acrylic paints. Stanley watched carefully by my side as I painted a portrait of the famous pirate Black Beard. The students had a lot of fun with Stanley and were hoping he would come back someday to paint with them.

The club meeting ended about 7:30pm and by this time Stanley and I had had a long day in the city of San Francisco. We grabbed a quick bite to eat for dinner with another teacher at the Soluna CafĂ© on McAllister Street and were soon back on the 19 Bus headed home towards Polk’s Gultch. We quickly checked the mail box on our way back up to the studio and discovered the long overdue book on Cecilia Beaux the American guilded age painter, written by Alice Carter that had arrived by mail. Cecilia Beaux was a contemporary of John Singer Sargent and perhaps the greatest American woman painter of all-time.

[...and later still]
Before calling it a night, Stanley and I carefully studied the new book and the work of Cecilia Beaux and learned a great deal about her importance in the history of painting, not just in America but throughout the world. Her use of color and soft brush strokes captured a romantic view of the turn of the century (1900a.d.) that was like no other. Stanley and I had a wonderful day working together to help the future animators of the world become better at drawing and painting, and had it not been for Stanley’s help I may not have finished my tax return on time. So here is to Flat Stanley, though he may be flat on the outside, he is far from flat on the inside!

Photos: ©Copyright Trey Gallaher
To learn more about Flat Stanley click --> HERE

Friday, May 4, 2007


When I returned to graduate school after completing my thesis research on such great illustrators as Robert Weaver, Jack Potter, Harvey Schmidt, David Stone Martin and Mia Carpenter; I immersed myself into my love of drawing again. For years I had been concentrating on painting and medium, but when I finally quit my job of four years working for a well known corporation and all of it's perks, I figured if I am gonna go down to the depths of student life again, I am gonna go down swinging with my heart in it at
least. Graduate school for me was not an easy time. Leaving behind the steady paycheck, losing the love of my life of an almost a seven year relationship with my college sweat-heart, and alienating myself from all that was comfortable, I moved from sunny San Francisco to snowy Syracuse and started all over again, and it felt that way. But I had the feeling that if I could survive this, I could survive anything and I would come out the other end sharper and more experienced than ever. The following year and a half changed me in someway and remains stamped on my heart like a badge of courage. I did this drawing of myself back then in my lonely frozen apartment flat off Wescott Street. I had lost a bunch of weight eating as meagerly as I did and was homesick worse than ever. I was reading the biography of N.C. Wyeth to stay inspired.

This week I was talking to a student about the struggles they are feeling living in a cold abrasive city (like San Francisco can be at times) and feeling shut-in, having left behind the safe ground they had known all their lives in search of a dream, in search of hope, and I couldn't help but harken back to my own experiences in Syracuse. It's a struggle I feel everyone must go through at some point in their lives; to be "beat", to be "all time low down, sadness..." as Kerouac put it. It's part of testing what you didn't know you were capable of, to hit rock-bottom and survive it. It is something we can carry within ourselves throughout the troubled times in our lives to remind us what Jerry once sang out, "we will survive...". I am here to tell you as living proof, that you can make it, do not give up the fight but to keep your dreams in front of you and relish the warmth they give you. Remember, the good stuff in life is not whether you become rich, successful, or popular but that you made it count along the way. It's in the little accomplishments, and when you look back you will surprise yourself with just how far you have come.

Image: ©Copyright 2000 Trey Gallaher
14x17in. charcoal and acrylic on paper


I did this as demo for a class last year about the same time I completed an illustration called Family Unit. I was trying to contrast the modern definition with a more historical context. After researching American Indian culture for the illustration I discovered there is a universe of wonderful inspirational material and relics to draw from. I also realized I have a fascination for garments and historical clothing. Everything seemed to be made so much more robust and I have always loved the way clothing reflects the cultural climate of a society. Hats have always done this as well and is one of the reasons I love to draw and wear them. Like a painting they provide a glimpse into another time.

Image: ©2006 Copyright Trey Gallaher
11x14in. watercolor on Arches

Friday, April 6, 2007


Just a little watercolor demo I did for an animation background class a while back. I worked from a couple of photos I took while hiking in Golden Gate Park. There are some truly magical places in those woods. It's hard to believe that you are surrounded by a city when your in the middle of them. I love to hike around in that park when ever I get a free weekend. I feel like a kid again. When I was in elementary school, we took a long field trip there to visit the Natural History Museum that has since been torn to the ground and is now being rebuilt. I remember being chased by girls in my class through the giant trees and ferns that grew along the endless network of mysterious pathways that disappeared deeper and deeper into the woods. That scary excitement would make my heart pound the way it does when you are a child, not knowing what evil might be lurking in the misty shadows of your imagination. It was a magical enchanted place to a nine year old that left me with many wonderful memories and dreams ever since. But then so did a certain sweet natured little blond haired blue-eyed girl with freckles.

Image: ©Copyright Trey Gallaher 2006
9x12 in. watercolor on coldpress

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


"You only live once" as the saying goes and yet it seems that we are so rarely able to reflect on our lives with such graceful measure, always complaining about what we don't have or haven't accomplished yet. In my life, I have been blessed with three strong grandmothers (no grandfathers) who each has lived well into their later years that I owe a mountain of gratitude. I would not be who I am today if it weren't for their faith in me and for the time they have always made for me. Ever believing in me, even when I didn't believe in myself, they would offer that gentle ear, picking me up with sweet nurturing hope and sending me back on my way. Each, in their own unique way, has taught me many lessons in life like humility, patience, and gracefulness, but most of all hope. To these three maidens, I dedicate my dreams.

Image: ©Copyright 2005 Trey Gallaher

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


DJ VON was in the house for the spectacular event, slingin' the up-tempo ultra smooth jazzy-fresh, low-down, dope-phat-beats to get the butts out-da-seats. The Painting Club's FIRST SHOW! Everyone piled into the gallery at 1172 Market Street, San Francisco at the Art Institute of California - San Francisco just after 5:30pm for this exciting new event. The food was well provided for (thanks Gigi) and the students and faculty were in attendance.There was dancing, twister and a lot of support and love given out to the club.

All seven of the exhibiting artists in the show worked hard over the last six months to get these paintings finished in addition to their full load of classes and work. I am proud of them all and their efforts paid off. For some it was only their second or third painting of this level of focus and yet they all came out beautifully.

The hours rolled on and so did the shrimp cocktail. There were a lot of great questions being asked like, "What medium did you work in?" and "When is the club meeting next quarter?", "Did you paint that?" and even "How can I get in on the next show?". In-between chuggings of Barq's rootbeer and engulfing of cheese wedges I managed to meet a few proud parents and some impressed colleagues were surprised at the depth of talent pooling in our midst. There were process books off to the side table that allowed for everyone to see what went into the making of these works like; preliminary studies, color comps, photo-references and research.

Three hours later the gallery was left empty, all the cookies were gone, and the floors needed a serious mopping, but it was a great success and I want to send a big PROPS out to the members of the Painting Club for pulling this off (we almost didn't) and more importantly for working hard and staying true to what you believe in, namely yourselves.

DJ VON's website -->DJVON.COM
photos: ©Copyright 2007 Trey Gallaher