Wednesday, July 31, 2013

In the Studio: Dogs on my Mind

I have been painting a lot purely from my paintings, no reference in front of me.  And a shape that keeps presenting itself is dogs.  You probably can't tell but there are five dogs in these three paintings. 

 I think maybe I like the challenge of painting a dog that isn't cute, that holds the complexity of relationship you can really have with them -- and trying to get that right.  The painting on the wall isn't working and is about to be completely changed, I feel the urge to cover coming on but this post is a little homage to my girl.  She's especially on my mind today as we found out she has a torn acl and needs about a billion dollars worth of surgery.  Dog paintings with a cone head here we come?  I hope not.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Pick: Thoughts on Paint

Today, I was sort of begrudgingly sitting down to my computer to put up my Sunday Pick.  Usually I am excited to share but this week no particular artist has been on my mind so much as one particular thought.  And then I had the epiphany that I write this blog and if I feel like changing it up, then I will.  So there.  My arbitrary, self-imposed categories are only as good as my own interest, so this week I am writing about something a little different.

Georges Braque,  Baluster and Skull, 1938
I mentioned that I visited the Braque show a few weeks ago.  That is where this kernel of thought first presented itself.  I was very taken with the surfaces of his paintings, thick, thick piles of paint in certain areas, and felt a strong link in that to something I have been seeing in some favorite contemporary works.  Then last week I read this post on Painters' Table by Brett Baker.  He writes about the third room in the show housing works from the 1930s saying: 
". Most striking are the surfaces - extreme examples of Braque’s method of adding sand to his paint. The sand’s heavy grit creates a surface that both reflects the ambient light and deepens that within the painting. In combination with the gentle outlines and washes with which he paints the objects, the sand creates a surprising fullness of space..." 
And his observations, sort of gave validity to my thoughts or at least renewed an interest in me to do the exhausting work of parsing out what all was sitting in the back of my mind. 

Still Life with Palette, 1943

 In person, it really was quite extreme what was being done with this thick paint.  For example with the painting above, the white squiggles on the outermost parts of the canvas operate as the illusion of a tablecloth's wrinkles or a twig branch in sunlight in the way representational painting functions but equally and confusingly also as that actual thing. The paint is so thick that parts become actual objects, relief sculptures that function not as an artifice but as a thing in themselves.  Like in the first painting, there is a painting of a wood table, but simultaneously also the actual surface of a table.

Now a contemporary example.

Jason Stopa, Watermelon with KB, 2013
 I really love this painting.  When I first saw it I couldn't stop thinking about it.  And then after the context of the Braque show, I felt like I really knew something of what was so engaging to me about it.  It is a painting of a watermelon, and yet it is also and perfectly equally a green thick circle of paint and also, the sculptural equivalent of the rind of that fruit.  

It's an idea that is so simple in a way that it is hard to wrap my mind around.  And also an idea that has been realized and analyzed before but it feels again new, like there is something to chew over here.

Trudy Benson, N, 2010

Sarah Faux, Hands on Hips, 2012

(those red fingernails!)

These paintings are bridging the gap between abstraction, representation and sculpture in a way that is positively electric.  Its the notion that these paintings can at once hold representations of the world, and actual real things that are impersonating nothing at the same time.  And they can sit comfortably together in one painting.  It feels like the right thing to say at this time, in painting.  Everything is at once masquerading as something else and also authentic in doing so.

I don't have much else conclusive to say, but hopefully it is enough of a thought to take away and look around with.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Warped Grid(Floor of Swimming Pool), Photograph, Sam A. Harris

Summertime is in fact one word.  And after verifying that in Merriam-Webster for the title of this post, I would have to put the image above next to it as the definition.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday Pick: Paul Higgs

Check out this beautiful collage work by Paul Higgs.  These images courtesy of Stella Downer Fine Art, where many more examples can be seen and enjoyed.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

New Things

I got some new things!  The first is a $5 necklace that I wear as a bracelet.

The second is paint, glorious paint!  This is my first time buying Old Holland.  I have always wanted to but until now always talked myself down a notch.  However, Blick was having an online sale and I knew exactly what I needed so I went for it.  Can't wait to try them out today.

And lastly, I got a great used book of Matisse drawings.  Its called Femmes and Fleurs but its in German so I can't read a stitch of it.  But I don't care.  The shop is a great little place in West Philly called The Last Word Bookshop (40th and Locust), its owned by one of my former student's father.  Check it out. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bowery Gallery Show

I'm happy to share that one of my paintings has been included in the Bowery Gallery's 22nd Annual Juried Show.  Joan Snyder was the juror and I couldn't be more thrilled.  The opening is August 1st from 6 to 8 pm, if you are in NY.  

Above is a video from James Kalm, who has a wonderful youtube channel of visits to ny gallery shows.  In this one, he visits Joan Snyder's 2010 exhibition at Betty Cuningham.  Check out her moving work in this second best way to view art.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Pick: Gastone Breddo

One of my recent Sunday Pick artists, David Holt, was kind enough to be in touch and give me a few artists he thought I may enjoy.  Sure enough, they were right up my alley, especially Gastone Breddo (1915-1991).  Breddo was the head of the Florence Academy in the 60s, 70s and 80s (where Holt studied -- always connections between great painters it seems).  He was born in Italy and spent most of his life there in Tuscany and Venice.

I spent a semester abroad in Florence studying art.  I remember wondering how it would be to have a career in a place that has such a long history of art and such a strong identity.  Of course I was only an undergraduate student but I felt almost paralyzed to make my own work in that context.  

I love seeing Breddo's work which filters Italian painting through a personal perspective and also relates to so many other favorite international still life painters.  I learned from my teachers in Florence immensely but what an experience it would have been to hear from a painter like Breddo and look at his paintings in person!  Just a few years too late.  Still I am very grateful to David for introducing me to the work, even if it is only virtually for now.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sunday Pick: Brian Ballard

This is the work of Brian Ballard, an Irish painter who has been painting for many years.  The confidence in his gestural marks is beautiful.  I love the way he uses a light source to create flat shapes of color.  The harsh contrasts are a welcome change from paintings of the same subject matter that ooze atmosphere and flittery marks.  His work is some I've been looking at a bit recently in an effort to push my own work.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Second Look: Pierre-Eugène Montézin

The Window, 1943

Pierre-Eugène Montézin (1874-1946) deserves a second look for this painting.  Around age 70, just three years before his death, this painting is out of control fantastic.  The abstraction that is going on in the glass cups, patterned plates and drapery put Pollocks of this time to shame.  Gorgeous, gorgeous painting.