Selective Memory?

After a friend recalled bullying experiences He has endured through the years I neglected to remember until hours later insidents in my life.

In my late teens studying electro-mechanical drafting a classmate routinely, quietly verbally assaulted me and one day waited till just the right moment to slam a door in my face. That completely shocked and hurt me so much so that I finally reported him. The Instructor sympathized but made me feel that I was on my own to deal with it, telling me to be strong. Soon the bully wanted to be my friend. I accepted his apology but did not encourage the fiendship. 

Amazed that I'd forgotten that period. Growing up in liberal Rhode Island I had an easy time of being gay, for the most part. The first in my family to go to a public high school where I was voted Most Popular....I saw myself as someone on the outside looking in. Not much has changed. 

 We're still here! With John, Summer 2016.

We're still here! With John, Summer 2016.

What A Great Day.

Have been away from my blog for a while, not intentionally just caught up in life and forget to post. Not away from social media, quite the contrary.  I miss  blogging and the pressure of saying things I might regret and the ever present challenge of not sounding dumb. Imagine if everyone just let it rip without editing, it might be better...but maybe not. Keeping it about art is infinitely safer for this attention who're. We will let autocorrect have the last word...this time. 

 This is a new painting that I'm still playing with. It's 43"x48".  

This is a new painting that I'm still playing with. It's 43"x48".  

Positive Energy

Three from a group of six from 2014 that are available. 

 Positive Energy 1, 2014, oil on wood, 22"x22" 

Positive Energy 1, 2014, oil on wood, 22"x22" 

 Positive Energy 2, 2014, oil on wood, 22"x22" 

Positive Energy 2, 2014, oil on wood, 22"x22" 

 Positive Energy 3, 2014, oil on wood, 22"x22" 

Positive Energy 3, 2014, oil on wood, 22"x22" 

Paintings on the wall, Small works, watercolor.

Oil is my medium of choice. Lately I've been using watercolor and gouache on paper. It is easier to deal with when away from the studio which has been the case. A less toxic medium, using water as opposed to solvents and not having to wear gloves is a nice break. One similarity with the two mediums would be my approach, traditional watercolor technique Rule No. 1: Work light to dark. I usually start with a light ground and then throw the rules out with both mediums. Sound practice is important from an archival standpoint but my dream is to be youthful, using anything in my art making and not think of its longevity. In practice, I am old fashioned but there is always hope....

 Imaginary country landscape, 2016, watercolor on paper, 7"x10"  

Imaginary country landscape, 2016, watercolor on paper, 7"x10"  

These two images show my simple technique rather well. The immediacy of watercolor is a definite attraction. 

 Abstract ideas, 2016, watercolor on paper, 7"x10",  

Abstract ideas, 2016, watercolor on paper, 7"x10",  

Moving the paint around, working abstractly.

Working abstractly can be freeing or like inventing the wheel. I always remember the darkness and seldom the moments of elation. The intense personal glory afterwards when convinced you've made something worth looking at. All of this forgotten when facing a clean sheet of paper or canvas. 

Currently I am making small abstract landscape works on paper using watercolor. The rules of the medium, working light to dark do not always apply. My main medium is oil and one might say I handle both mediums similarly. As a young person I looked at watermarks as a sign of failure in my watercolor work. Today I embrace where ever the paint wishes to travel and dry. Which brings me to one last thought about the medium. You don't know what you've got till it is dry. Usually for me that is the next morning. Like receiving a surprise I love revisiting the work. 

 Untitled Landscape 1, 2016, watercolor on paper, 7"x10" 

Untitled Landscape 1, 2016, watercolor on paper, 7"x10" 

Figurative work is a different experience in that you begin with some plan. Granted you must execute the thing knowing that it has already been done by brilliant people. It helps to have the artist ego telling you that you will bring something New. Sounds like fun, right!?  It is. 

 detail, 2016, watercolor on paper, 7"x10",  

detail, 2016, watercolor on paper, 7"x10",  

Art on Paper 2016, Check It Out!

I am pleased to have work included in the Lawrence Fine Art, booth of the Art on Paper Fair, located at Pier 36 in NYC. My Artist Book seen below can be viewed at the fair. 

 Artist Book, clam-shell box containing 50 works on paper. 11"x14" each. Priced individually. 

Artist Book, clam-shell box containing 50 works on paper. 11"x14" each. Priced individually. 

The group seen below are part of the box. There are other small groups with the box containing mainly individual paintings, each in a protective cellophane envelope for easy viewing. 

 Earth Series, (group of four) 2013, oil on prepared paper, 11"x14" each

Earth Series, (group of four) 2013, oil on prepared paper, 11"x14" each

The painting below, Blue Variations, 2004, oil on prepared paper, 14"x11" is one of four paintings from 2004 contained in the book. 

 Blue Variations, 2004, oil on prepared paper, 14"x11"  

Blue Variations, 2004, oil on prepared paper, 14"x11"  

The painting below titled Ocean is also included in the Artist Book. 

 Ocean, 2013, oil on prepared paper, 11"x14"  

Ocean, 2013, oil on prepared paper, 11"x14"  

This last image titled Ocean, came from a group of explorations with full weighted color. It was one of my larger groups of oil on paper to date. The smooth paper surface and accelerated drying time are advantages I had not considered till then. 

I am attending the opening night reception, I hope to meet You there! 

Work on paper, Explorations with watercolor.

Working abstractly can feel like throwing things in the air and seeing where they land. The beginning of the process especially, then things happen and more deliberate decisions are made. A blob becomes a thing. 

 Explorations 1, 2016, watercolor on card stock, 7"x7"  

Explorations 1, 2016, watercolor on card stock, 7"x7"  

In the past, I dreaded the notion that one of my paintings looked like a pattern. Not today. I have fond memories of my six years in the garment district. And it's all pattern, it's repetition that may be undesirable...or not. 

 Explorations 2, 2016, watercolor on card stock, 7"x7"

Explorations 2, 2016, watercolor on card stock, 7"x7"

 Explorations 3, Landscape, 2016, watercolor on card stock, 7"x7" 

Explorations 3, Landscape, 2016, watercolor on card stock, 7"x7" 

This last one immediately felt like a landscape. My mark making vocabulary can be limited and when I go in that direction I accept that this may be the result. I like that approach to painting, the palette suggesting the subject. The goal is to expand my vision, and not make my same composition. All the while being gentle.  

Paintings on the wall, Untitled, Pink.

Some paintings happen easily some fraught with anxiety. This one brought up more than the average amount of doubt. Luckily it doesn't seem like those feelings come through. 

 Untitled, Pink, detail, 2015, oil on canvas, 26"x24" 

Untitled, Pink, detail, 2015, oil on canvas, 26"x24" 

So much of my explorations feel un-chartered. Although I look to the past and present of Art, in the studio I'm alone, as it should be. 

I've made paintings that felt New only to discover that they were a style strongly associated with a famous artist. So you put those paintings aside and move on. In the moment it's sad because you want to show something that feels new. I've learned that it is always best to push the pause button before clicking the send button...the hard way. 

From the Archive, details of two small works.

These two details from different paintings, are part of a group of five small works, each 21"x19"...

STUDIO NOTE: My studio practice involves working with canvas rolls of varying widths. For this group I used a roll of 96" wide canvas. Stapling the canvas over 96"x96" panels, I then decide what the painting dimensions will be. It works out that one 96"x96" piece devides up to  sixteen, 20"x20" paintings. 

 Abstract No. 1, detail, 2012, oil on canvas, 21"x19" 

Abstract No. 1, detail, 2012, oil on canvas, 21"x19" 

...The paintings in their first stages were dark with an all over jade feeling. When I photographed them I felt they lacked luster and needed a punch.

 Abstract No. 2, detail, 2012, oil on canvas, 21"x19" 

Abstract No. 2, detail, 2012, oil on canvas, 21"x19" 

Adding jewel tones and varnish made them sing. It amazes me that a group of colors planned or randomly placed can evoke a landscape. Paint is powerful. 

Paintings on the wall, Traveling the landscape.

Until a painting leaves the studio it's fair game for being re-worked. This painting that is horizontally orientated is one that was re-visited a year later and I feel made stronger. 

 Traveling the landscape, 2015, oil on canvas, 38"x72"

Traveling the landscape, 2015, oil on canvas, 38"x72"

A large studio might explain my work getting larger over the years. Like living spaces, the more room the more stuff you accumulate? They don't seem large till the time comes to stretch and install, then reality seeps in.  

Large work does excite me. (Sonia Sotomayor just accepted my fb friend request) I love diving in or pondering the first mark it's all scary and exciting at the same time. Luckily my sales to large works ratio is not bad which helps me justify making monsters.

Recently, working small format I've felt the intimate power of that scale. Being able to travel from one end of the paper to the other in seconds and focus on all of it at the same time. Large, small it's all good and I've found one feeds the other. 

Paintings on the wall, Dusty Trails.

This canvas began as a solid pinkish ground in 2015. The cast was more coral than I like so it sat in a 'to be re-worked' stack until early 2016. 

 Dusty Trails, 2016, oil on canvas, 36"x44"

Dusty Trails, 2016, oil on canvas, 36"x44"

I work on unstretched canvas stapled to the wall. When small to medium works are dry I find it is easier to flip through and move stacks or piles. If there is interest or an exhibition I will stretch it up. Until then, stacks of paintings make sense.

One day while flipping though paintings I realized the pink ground was the problem. Actually in summer 2015 my Rhode Island Gallerist,  Cade Tompkins visited the studio and she delicately pointed out that it wasn't one of my better pinks. She was right of course, I knew it. So finally I stapled it up and thinking of a particular painting that sold rather quickly, I got to work. 

From the Archive, World Series, Group 1

In 2013 I made a group of five paintings that were titled World Series. For their small scale, 22"x19" each, they felt grand so the title seemed fitting. Also, a nod to baseball coming from a family that loved the game. 

 World Series, Group 1, No. 1, 2013, oil on canvas, 22"x19" 

World Series, Group 1, No. 1, 2013, oil on canvas, 22"x19" 

There was a thread running through the group, common in my work of a swirling circular motion.  This positive, circular feeling appeals to me on many levels, leaving the door wide open. The freshness and immediacy of this group reminds me that good things can happen when I listen to my inner child. 

In 2014 I revisited the idea which will be featured in a future post. Thanks for stopping by! 

Paintings on the wall, Up the Garden Trail.

Shown here is a cropped image of "Up the Garden Trail". A large format painting that came to completion in mid 2015. Many emotions went into this light and airy canvas which is common but always feels like the first time. My roller coaster ride.

 Up the Garden Trail, 2015, cropped, oil on canvas, 94"x86" 

Up the Garden Trail, 2015, cropped, oil on canvas, 94"x86" 

The goal was to use full weighted, clean color. Aproaching the canvas with purpose, picking up the color, putting it down, stand back, observe and repeat. 

For me, it is easy to push the paint around, draw on the canvas, risking dirty color. Here I wished to achieve clean, pure color....accept where I did not...of course in the moment, all bets are off. 

Paintings on the wall, Cosmos.

Shown here cropped, a large format oil on canvas painting, from early 2015. With the paint dry for eight months and the surface recently sanded, soon I will apply varnish. 

 Cosmos, 2015, cropped, oil on canvas, 94"x86" 

Cosmos, 2015, cropped, oil on canvas, 94"x86" 

During the process I've had a troubled relationship with this painting. I have embraced its size but for a period considered cutting it down to four smaller works. I find with large works there is the possibility of some areas being stronger than others. One focus while working is to strive to make all passages interesting or hopefully beautiful. Color has that ability, it's not magic except it is. This painting made me nervous. But I've learned that if I am nervous I'm involved and I have to trust and let go...or cut it up. 

Paintings on the wall, Koi.

This image is a detail of a large painting on canvas that is currently hanging in my studio.  It has an open feeling that I am trying to retain while adding more structure, the delicate balance that is painting. 

 Koi 2016, detail, oil on canvas, 94"x78"

Koi 2016, detail, oil on canvas, 94"x78"

What began as an abstract exploration, with plans of keeping the color weights medium and soft for a neutral effect, soon changed. While applying corals and cool green blues a fully formed large Koi head appeared,  instead of rubbing it out, I engaged. It seemed fresh, just vague enough with underwater movement, I could not have planned it better. In the past there have been similar instances when imagery seemed to appear and because it was not my 'plan' I would rub it out. Sometimes to my regret. So this time the Koi lives with the painting evolving around it. Allowing me to use elements in nature that I love, without reference material, just me. The POV is from above, shadowy branches and leaves shape the left side and top. This detail, the beginnings of a rock wall is the lower portion of the painting. The self imposed break from the painting allows me to think about the story and approach it fresh. This painting that was not planned, but must now be carefully planned. The pleasure and pain. 

This painting evolved over the period of one year.

Some of my paintings happen quickly, some evolve over time, this one took time. Part of a group of eight, this cropped painting is one of my most mixed media paintings to date.

 Abstract Landscape, (detail) 2015, oil and mixed media on wood panel, 22"x22" 

Abstract Landscape, (detail) 2015, oil and mixed media on wood panel, 22"x22" 

It was to be one piece, originally envisioned as two rows of four horizontally hung panels.  As I worked on them separately it became apparent that they could hang alone. This individual approach made for a more interesting group, I feel.