Tuesday, June 30, 2009


A story about a scary branch: for over a month, I've been more than a little afraid to paint the branch. I've always known one had to be there, but have been wrestling with what form it should take. After about four hours of smearing lead white around, I've settled on this. It will get a little more texture and depth, but this painting is nearly finished.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Panels

Just purchased eight more panels, custom made by Patrick O'Rorke, a fellow artist from the studio building. The are the same dimensions as the fictions that I have been working on which will allow me to expand the series. I'm not sure that the picture shows the excellent quality of these surfaces but the craftsmanship is impeccable. It's nice to know when I finally land an exhibition for these paintings that I can be 100% confident in what I am showing.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Another layer of sky

Added to both light and dark. The blacks are appearing darker while wet.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Breaking It Open

After a brief hiatus from blogging and the studio, I've returned with ideas to wrap up a few paintings. The luxury of working business hours in the studio during sabbatical has been rewarding but the working rhythm has been difficult to establish and all too easily broken. My normal working method during semesters is on a paint-when-able basis, consisting of a few hours here, an hour there, and even thirty minutes when I can take it. I teach literally next door so I run over whenever I can even if its just to eat lunch and stare at my paintings.

I may have mentioned that I don't have an end idea for paintings when I start. It can make the painting process daunting or slow-going to say the least. You could say I've grown to depend on resting intervals to come back and see things differently. It may be cliche, but I often do strike out quickly with a solution in apparent bolt-from-the-blue inspiration. Far from being a true mystic, I recognize inspiration, like intuition, as a cultivated faculty. I believe in the mind's back-burner, the thoughts that simmer, and the value of periods of gestation.

The big reason I went to Indiana University, aside from the scholarship, was to study with Robert Barnes. What little I knew of his narrative paintings I liked, and we seemed to share a decided non-academic bent to representational imagery. Well, one thing Barnes would talk about was "breaking a painting open." At 22, the last thing I could stand was timid or even careful painting so it wasn't much of problem back then. I had no idea how to finish a painting. Now, this current series is lending itself towards resolution, I can't bare to make it too easy. When I take some time away from the studio, I often have to come back and make a significant change to get the ball rolling again. (Sometimes regret tells me what to do, like the time I added the cockatoo to a finished, but boring, self-portrait after it sat around for a year.)

Today, the break was an insane amount of red highlights. I also found an old coat to reference the lapels I'd been imagining and brought it in. I've know for months that there was no consistent light in the painting, and that the coat was a big violet void between the hand and face. At first, I was convinced I liked that void, so common in medieval painting. Then I tried the red highlights, which didn't work, so I painted them back out. So a few hours ago, I scrapped some aging red paint off the palette, muddied it up with some phtalo, and I could just feel the wool. Okay, so I am a bit of a mystic. We'll just have to see how it strike me in the morning.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Polar Dispatches

I checked out the Portland Museum of Art's exhibition, The Coldest Crucible: Arctic Exploration in American Culture which will be closing June 21, 2009. If I missed something so thematically pertinent to my work in my own backyard, I would have felt professionally negligent. It's a small show, mostly consisting of old prints, but I found it interesting. On the same floor is "Polar Dispatches, an installation of 19 contemporary works by 6 artists..." who all recently took trips to the Arctic or Antarctic. My first question is, "how do I
I get that gig? There's a big painting on paper by Alexis Rockman that I dug.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

En Plein Air

If it's not clear, I'm not much for painting outdoors. I love nature, but it's usually for a walk, some pictures, and back to the studio. Aside from being allergic to sunlight, my position on my own painting is opposed to painting from life. If I'm not outright making things up, I'm using a reference in service of mood and abstract composition. (I'll get back to my theory behind that last bit on some other day.) That said, I credit all of my imaginings from years of intense life study, so I allowed myself a bit of an indulgence in Stonington to the following results:

As this doesn't neatly fit into my current series, it will have to be a "blog only" secret....

Saturday, June 6, 2009


One of my paintings last week was featured on stage in a performance in Warsaw, Poland.
A performance of The Mimes Studio of Stefan Niedzialkowski entitled "Anxiety" ran during the International Mime Art Theatre Workshops for three nights on May 30,31, and June 1. According to their website, "The performance "Anxiety" shows anxiety of human being, especially anxiety accompanying the artist in his artistic work and difficulties of daily life. " I am very proud to be small part of their work. Apologies to the lack of notice for the international travelers out there. I hear all three nights went very well, and my congratulations to Stefan and the actors of the Mimes Studio.

The painting featured was a gift to Stefan and his wife, Ela, a few years back. It's exciting to have some work shown anywhere, but especially outside the gallery context, although it's not the first time I've had a painting on stage: For the pre-blog record, I produced a painting for another play, American Midget, written by Jonathan Yukich, for its debut in Los Angeles in 2007. It was directly relevant to the plot, so maybe that's why I was never mentioned in the reviews... Theater is close to my heart, so if there's any directors out there, I'm always open to an interesting collaboration.

Friday, June 5, 2009


Back from Stonington late last night. Turns out that the town was founded as a granite quarry, has plenty of rocks as you can see. Beautiful place, surrounded by water and islands.

It was a productive trip: I took spooky night photos around the the house, I painted in the woods, and I painted on on the porch. I made little use of Stephen Pace's to-die-for studio, other than using it as a base of operations. In all a great trip and I'll post photos of the paintings shortly. The house is a wonderful gift to the college and I offer my deepest gratitude to the Pace family for their donation and making this experience possible.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Retro 05: Old Studio

Help! It's 2003 and my studio is a wreck!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Time Travel

With any luck, I am now in Stonington, far away from any sort of internet connectivity. It's a perfect opportunity for me to try out Blogger's feature of being able to schedule posts, allowing me to write this on Sunday morning and publish it tomorrow. While not exactly being time travel, I do find the ability to play with the perception of time fun. In the spirt of this, I will future-post some some retro images each day at various times until I return on Thursday to amuse my faithful readership, which I like to call "The Eleven." When I return, I will then re-edit their time stamps, burying the images under their correct dates in the past, allowing them to be only found by following the "retro" tag under the post, assuming you can find a retro entry with said tag to begin with, or by happening along the post randomly by selecting from the archive menu. Confused yet? Good. Meanwhile, send good thoughts as I experiment with painting outdoors, something I have yet to attempt.