Many days, artist and illustrator Graham Franciose sits down with watercolor, gouache, and a small sheet of cotton paper to paint a whimsical scene or surreal moment. A skateboarder carries a tree in a backpack, an anxious figure peeks through a colorful monster mask, and an oversized lion snarls at an approaching man. “I like to do these first thing in the morning when I am still not fully awake and start with a blank slate and no preconceived idea,” he tells Colossal.
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Dreamlike in style and subject matter, the works are part of an ongoing series simply titled Morning Coffee Paintings. Since Franciose began the ritualistic project in 2019, he’s created about 450 pieces, which reflect a range of moods through mysterious scenarios and quiet, contemplative figures. “I put my phone on the tripod and start the timelapse camera and just start drawing. I’ve noticed that by filming them it keeps me from second-guessing myself or spending too much time deliberating about choices like color or composition and forces me to just trust myself and my practice,” he shares.
An exercise in experimentation and releasing perfectionism, the paintings are also a visual diary of the artist’s practice and unfiltered emotional states. “Sometimes recurring themes, symbols, or concepts will come up in different ways, and they do evolve and change over time,” he says.
Franciose is currently based in Seattle where he runs Get Nice. Gallery. There are still a few of July’s original paintings available on the series’ site, and you can shop prints at Sebastian Foster, Austin Art Garage, and Bloom. If you’re in New Hampshire, you can see some of his pieces in the Enormous Tiny Art #33 at Nahcotta Gallery early next year. Otherwise, follow him on Instagram for updates on new paintings.