Friday, February 27, 2009

Show Update, pics

The show at Susan Maasch Fine Art is wrapping up this week. I made it just in time to take some installation photos so you can all see what prime real estate I had for the show. I dropped by announced, and caught them unpacking next month's small works show. The gallery will be still be exhibiting these paintings upstairs, so if you missed the show you can visit them next month.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Snow Day

I know you're all wondering if there are snow days in Maine. Well, schools are closed when the snow is so sticky that you can't read the signs. You just wander around lost, bumping into trees that blend into the snow.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Big prep

Okay, I nearly dropped off the blog planet this week. Here's a little of what I was up to. With all those years of panel painting, I forgot how much work it is to stretch canvas and add three coats of gesso. As I mentioned in the followup comments, the stretchers work very well.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

PT3: Twin Brooks Stretchers

I was asked, "What makes these stretcher bars so special?" And so I felt compelled to give a review:

I heard about Twin Brooks Stretchers a while from my colleagues, and they came highly recommended. While I can paint a figure like no body's business, I admit, I'm not the best carpenter. I wanted a museum-quality support for my new work, something that I could feel comfortable selling with confidence. I was also in a hurry to make the most of my sabbatical and found, to my great joy, that they could have my stretchers ready in a few days.

When I arrived yesterday Chris Polson and Joe Calderwood greeted me. Chris gave the full tour and the shop was quite impressive. Again, I'm no woodworker, so I won't embarrass myself trying to recount the details of their superior setup. Here are some photos instead:

I will try to explain the basics. To the laymen, a stretcher is the basic skeletal support that a painting is put over. It is "stretched" over it like a drum. Accordingly, in our comment usage, we refer to any underlying support as a "stretcher." To the aficionado, a true stretcher is movable support that can expand and contract with a painting to compensate for the natural expansion that occurs with environmental temperature and humidity. (The sense of stretching comes from behind, not over the top.) Most of what contemporary artists are taught to make are simple unmovable frames, or “strainers” that are glued together at the seams. Building an actual stretcher is beyond the knowledge I care to achieve, when I can leave it to the experts.

Chris patiently explained the mechanics of not only the assembly to me, but also the manipulation. When the canvas is stretched to be primed, the stretcher is pulled together at the corners by these nifty fasteners. As the primer dries, the canvas loosens. This often creates a floppy surface, leaving the artist with the simple frame-strainer with the longing, “ if I only pulled a little tighter during the stretching.” Sadly it’s only fighting against nature, and as Chris explained, those using linen should expect even less ability to pull tight, and more slack after drying. With these stretchers, the corners can be expanded after drying to pull up the slack to as tight a surface as is desired. I’ll spare you further detail, but they can also be shifted to compensate for almost any type of natural warping or torque.

I assembled all three of my new 58 x87 inch stretchers today, and the process was completely painless. Although I admit that I enjoy the challenge of assembling Ikea furniture, this was much, much easier. It took maybe two hours, and I didn’t have to wear protective goggles. or worry about the safety of my fingers. So three cheers for Twin Brooks!

I'll let you read about their Eco-friendly Aspen for yourself, and see photos of the nifty hardware:

PT2: Shop of Horrors Continued.....

Some more pictures for the dollhouse fans...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Road Trip P1:Camden's Shop of Horrors

I took a road trip up to Lincolnville, Maine on a quest for some of the world's finest stretcher bars. I had placed an order for the makings of what will be three new 58x87 inch canvases. I'll post some pictures of the shop and more information about this shop tomorrow. Right now, I couldn't resist sharing a few shots of my drive up, which I'll stretch into my professional blog here as "research/inspiration:"

The drive was snowy and bitterly cold, but I couldn't resist a few stops to take some pictures of the frozen lakes. Anyways, I pulled over on my way back trough Camden to record what I though was a remarkably spooky looking tree, and noticed a much scarier house across the street. I was stopped in my tracks on the way back to the car buy these dolls posed in a window, which is something I usually stop for when I have my camera. Then I noticed through the darken interior another doll looking out the opposing window. Backing up, as you can see, there are dolls posed in every window. I was freezing, the light was fading, and was parked illegally, so I took as many pictures as I could. No doubt the people in Camden must know the story behind this perpetual salute to halloween and are no longer impressed, but I found it very amusing.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Gallery Newsletter

The gallery sends out a .pdf newsletter each month. Looks like I got top billing!

Thursday, February 12, 2009 updates

I've been the portfolio site all morning:

*new \Nocturnes (works on paper) section under \Paintings
*3 images posted to \Paintings\Nocturnes
*update to Paintings\Fictions: 2 paintings posted
*high res (1600 pixel) images available on both

I have also been updating my "links" section, which is getting quite extensive. If you haven't been there, I list a selection of contemporary and historical artist websites, links to museums and galleries, as well as a growing Amazon "Bookstore" section where I post reviews of books and CDs that I recommend. Of course, I do get a whopping 4% commission for any items bought there, which is always spent on more art books which I'll review.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


What a difference a tripod makes...
I finally hauled the tripod back to the studio which I've been lugging around Portland, at night,
in the snow, to take study shots.

I've only fiddled with the sky and trees since the last post, but the focus on the image is much improved.(Click image for full resolution.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pesky Macaws

Finally finished the rework of the parrots tonight. I'm taking new shots of the recently completed paintings in natural light tomorrow to update the website.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Opening Tonight

The opening is tonight at Susan Massch Fine Art 5-8pm. I'll see if I can sneak some pics; otherwise, I'll be too busy to post.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

In the show

These are the paintings that are going in the show. Remember, you can see better versions of them in the "Portraits" section.