Sunday, May 31, 2009

Prep for Stonington

Leaving in the morning for a few days to paint in Stonington, Maine. A house was donated by Stephen Pace to the college a few years back, and I was finally offered the opportunity to go. He is a painter, so there's a studio I should be able to use. As you can see, I've been priming surfaces all week in preparation.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Nesting Jays

A pair of blue jays started nesting last week outside my bedroom window. They were scarce for a few days so I thought they moved on to greener pastures or higher boughs. Very excited they seem to be digging in for the long haul. I wonder if they will terrorize the neighborhood with swooping. Ah the suspense.

View of the paint drying on the sky panel. After banishing the figure, I'm seriously considering Eric's wishes to leave it just as a skyscape to serve as punctuation in the show I'm envisioning. I won't let it go without a couple more layers.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Red Insoles

Another nocturne. I'm excited about the images but let's face it; the daily text and titles are especially----unmemorable. In blog tradition of describing the painful minutia of daily happenstance, I may start titling my repetitive entries by trivial, but still genuinely autobiographic, details.

The story: Today I bought some red insoles. I change shoes when I enter the studio like Mister Rodgers so that I don't accidentally track lead white across the living room at night. Upon leaving the studio, I was struck by my glowing insoles, nearly as mysterious and deep as the velvet curtains in Twin Peaks' Black Lodge. Regardless of they feel, I'm sure the inner fashion of it will keep me floating. With a teaser like that, I knew I'd have to provide an image. Sadly, the ambient tungsten light is taking away from the effect.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More Snow

As you can see, it's taking me a little longer to resolve the figure than the dog. Added some core dark values tonight then started inventing snow that had settled on the coat, legs, and shoes. More snow on the hills and ground was added as well but that's a pretty subtle difference to tell from the little image.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

plus Figure

I'd always imagined a figure in this one; she still may be changed/removed- part of the process.

Friday, May 22, 2009

How to Paint a Dog

Papillon in four easy steps:

Seriously, there's a little more to add, though the changes will not be as dramatic.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Crow

Don't think I've shown this one since I put the crow in for keeps. Terrible glare in the photo, but it gives you some idea of the impasto-relief of some areas. So close to finished....

Monday, May 18, 2009

All the World is Green

Another perfect spring day, cool and overcast. Took a hike on Mackworth Island and had to appreciate the deep greens of the new undergrowth. Maybe I'll be psyched up for a Spring painting by January.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Daniel Craig?

No, I was inspired by a model for this one. (He's, in fact, a collaborator.) I often suspect my imagined protagonists are created by the culminated imprints of successive movie nights. I once feared the "Night of the Hyacinth Macaws" was a subliminal product of Clive Owen and Nosferatu, but I was told by others that they didn't see it. It was a huge relief. By the way, this painting is a little farther-from-finished as of yet. I have no idea where it is going other than this fellow is crossing some sort of iced-over marsh.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Flowering Trees

While I am truly sad to see Winter depart, I can stop and smell the trees on a day like this. It was foggy and a crisp 51 degrees on my walk to the studio, my idea of perfect weather. The air was full of fragrance that would be impossible to paint. I lack the patience to even try painting all of those petals, so photos will have to do. Click any for a better view.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Small progress

I'm still working away on the small nocturnes. Both of these still have a bit to go, but the core images are there. The top is linen on panel and the one below is rework of an older one on paper.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is exhibiting "Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice." Although the show closes August 16, I was eager to see at as soon as possible. I am most acquainted with the Titian and Veronese paintings on permanent display the Met in New York. I've always guessed the Veronese works there as damaged by fading color. My mind's eye holds Veronese as a master of color and this was upheld by the beautifully preserved and restored paintings at the MFA. Tintoretto was the relative unknown to me as I've always been a bit shy of reproductions that lead me to connect him with an overwhelming amount of visual information and an overt display of perspectival acrobatics.

As usual, a show offer this a chance to change perceptions and witness work that would otherwise stay in Venice, or that long been separated from its native context. On example is a very sweet double family portrait by Veronese that is normal split between two distant museum connections. Past the introductory salon, the exhibition illustrates the rivalry of the three masters in separate galleries organized into galleries of sacred themes, female nudes, portraiture, and each artist's last work. Evidence of technical innovation, or theft, are shown by juxtaposition. About in the middle, a curiosity piece from Tintoretto is featured in its own corridor. A literal Frankenstein's monster, the painting is a sewn together mishmash of bits reworked by different artists and the curators invite the audience to participate in how this puzzle is put together in an interactive display. It is mentioned that much of the Ventian style was never intended to be seen so close, certainly not at the nose to canvas distance I prefer, as broken brushwork and Veronese's optical color mixtures really only come together at a distance. In this sense, each painting at the show offers the viewer to play scholar or archivist and see how the paintings are constructed.

As expected, I did make some personal discoveries. Tintoretto work really only makes sense in person. At a reduced scale, his work rivals the intensity of some contemporary graphic novels, a dense overload for the information age. When the figures are larger than life, they provide a restful axis for all the activity and multiple layers of depth in the painting. David Hockney posits in Hockney on Art that Northern Renaissance painting encourages a longer read of a painting across multiple levels of space like his photo collages, while later Baroque painting strove to create a single, frozen moment like modern-day snapshots. Tintoretto's Tarquin and Lucretia would seemingly prove this point, as a broken string of pearls is frozen in midair. However at the roughly 70x60 inch scale, the eye is drawn to one pearl and then the other, following them to the floor where you can all but hear them dropping. Like Northern Ren. paintings, there is simple too much high-focus detail going on in so many areas of the painting to absorb at once, encouraging the viewer to sit back and soak it in slowly like a suspense film. Of the three, Tintoretto seems be the most visually innovative in large scenes. His Susannah and the Elders is downright weird and utterly fantastic. Less interesting observations include Titian use of dark red undertones to flesh, with only yellow and white making up the flesh. I could not see any cool tones in his nudes, something I never noticed and markedly different from my own use of color.

In summary, if you can make it to Boston this summer, see the show. The show only enhanced my regret that I squandered too much of my one day in Venice roaming the 1995 Biennale. If you make it to Venice, I suggest you first admire the city and the sea, then see every Ventian painting you can. The MFA show is actually showing the tiny, portable, stuff by comparison.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

From Boston

Just arrived home from Boston. I spent the day visiting galleries that were open on Tuesday including two of my regular haunts, Alpha Gallery and Gallery Naga. Alpha is showing Scott Prior, an exceptionally tight realist and landscape painter. All of his work is carefully planned and painstakingly executed. I was most partial to the newest work, particularly the snow scenes. There was an incredible one of a snowy village receding into the mountains that is not on the gallery link and the snowman painting was not present-- but you get the idea. Gallery Naga's current show features George Nick. Imagine Edward Hopper's colors with the Lucien Freud's brushwork and you'll know that the website images don't relate the vibrance or depth of the real thing. If you haven't been to Gallery Naga, it most certainly is one of the coolest galleries to visit on Newbury Street as it is located within a neo-gothic Presbyterian Church building. Also caught Udo Noger in Walker Contemporary located at the SoWa. It was quite striking to enter a gallery filled with these white, luminescent, silk-skinned paintings and be greeted by a majestic Great White Pyrenees. No insult to Noger's fine work is intended, but this dog was fantastic:

My blogless Monday was spent in the Venetian painting exhibiton in the Museum of Fine Arts. I'll make up for it by posting my review of this blockbuster show Wednesday.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cloudy Sky

I was working on this panel last thing before I left last night. I probably should have stayed working for another four hours or so-- I couldn't get to sleep until well after three. I was having rolling visions of clouds, overlapping passages of paint, and wet brushwork. It was quite hellish, on par with the repetitive nightmares you get after playing eight hours of Tetris just before bed. I know the image is still very abstract and without figure for the moment. Think moonlight sky at night and you might see it also.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Saturday Night

I was working on the second big painting tonight. It's been a while since I showed my progress on this one. I applied the first oil layer Sunday and Monday before the PMA event. Tonight I blew some snow across the foreground. I enjoy it when the studio building is mostly empty; I rocked it out to Radiohead. The downside is the walk home through the wild streets of Portland. This town is crazy on the weekend, especially when it just starts to get balmy. I forgot my disguise and some people were shouting my name.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Even more PMA shots

Tuesday is still being blogged about by Avery and Martha Miller. I've nearly put my studio back together.

See all the usual crowd at First Friday art walk round Portland tonight. There's a couple of new galleries I want to check out, Two Point and Compositions at 13 Free Street.