Thursday, February 25, 2010

More Fun with Pigment Sticks

This painting was started at the R&F pigment stick workshop I attended in November 2009. Right outside the studio where class was held were some active freight train tracks, which I have to admit, I found really exciting. Freight trains were common when I was growing up, but now I rarely see them wending through New England towns. I started the painting in response to the trains. There were tracks and wheels and boxcars and so forth, but I was unhappy with the outcome.

Later, back in my own studio, I scraped away at it , reworked it, letting go of the image of the trains and just getting into the material of the paint. I experimented with heating the paints in places and watching the colors run.
By loosening my attachment to the image of trains, I feel like I got closer the the feel of trains: the motion, the noise and vibration, the corrosion of the metal surfaces, the landscapes the trains travel through. It is not a pretty painting, but then, freight trains aren't really "pretty" either.

This piece measures 16x20 and is on canvas

Next, I launched into this piece. It is on gessoed paper that measures 18x24.
It is an imaginary flight over some kind of neighborhood. There are rooftops and parcels of lawn, maybe a pool of water or maybe just sidewalks. Don't get bogged down in being too literal. It is that jumble of colors and textures of an unplanned community viewed from a vantage point that was not considered as the structures and space evolved.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Skaket Beach, Off Season, 2009, mixed media on paper 9x12

This piece was selected by juror Nina Nielsen to appear in Members Juried I: Painting & Sculpture 2010 at Concord Art Association. The show was in January, before I had this blog, but I still wanted to get the image up here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Size Matters

I usually work small. There is something intimate about small pieces, they don't overwhelm you, they draw you in. On a practical note, they are also are easier to deal with and less expensive to make. They are manageable, but maybe art isn't something to be "managed". Other artists almost always admonish me to work larger. This painting, which I did in the summer of 2009, was a response to that. It measures 36x36. Not REALLY large, but a big jump up for me. I am pleased with it up close (click on it for more detail), but I don't feel it is as successful from across the room. This work was done with acrylic paint and dry pastel on paper mounted on board. I call it "Over the Roar of the Falls". Like many of my paintings, it was inspired by the natural landscape/environment, without being about an exact place. "Over the Roar of the Falls" therefore, becomes about the experience of a waterfall, rather than what a specific waterfall looks like.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Because it is a little gloomy outside today, I feel like posting this painting I did in the Spring of 2009. it is oil pastel (different than the oil stick or pigment stick I wrote about earlier) on mat board, measures 10x13, and I call it A Place to Rest My Head. The composition is simple and translates immediately as a landscape: green field, blue sky, distinct horizon, but when more fully observed, the layers and luminosity of the oil pastels interject other possibilities. Is that a meadow or a couch? Are those clouds or windows? It is both and more. It is an Idealized space, calm, comfortable, and conducive to day-dreaming. It is A Place to Rest My Head.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

show announcement

I always try to remain philosophical about juried shows and competitions. It is just one person's opinion at one point in time, but it sure does feel good when something you have made gets selected by someone you respect! I just got word that two recent drawings of mine have been selected by Dana Salvo of Clark Gallery, Lincoln, MA to be included in the Concord Art Association's show, Members' Juried II: Photography, Drawing, Crafts, and Graphics. This on the heals of having a painting selected last month by Nina Nielsen for the equivalent show for painting and sculpture. It feels like a touch on the shoulder reassuring me that I am moving in a good direction. This is one of the two selected drawings, I actually like the other one better, but I don't have a photo of it yet.

Abiogenisis, 1, 2010, 6x6, graphite, charcoal, and conte crayon on gessoed panel

Show runs February 13- March 21 at Concord Art Association, 37 Lexington Rd., Concord, MA
opening reception, Thursday, February 18 6-9 p.m.
more information: 978-369-2578
view show online (after opening) at

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

R&F Pigment Sticks

The weekend after Thanksgiving, 2009 I went to a pigment stick workshop at R&F Handmade Paints. You may know pigment sticks as oil bars or oil sticks. They are essentially oil paint mixed with some wax to render a solid, tubeless cylinder of paint with which to work directly. I had experimented with them before, but had been frustrated by their extremely wet nature. I couldn't figure out how to build layers. My efforts would turn to goo. And if I happened to like the goo, it would take ages, much longer than conventional oils, to dry. So off I went with the hopes of learning some techniques for using these gorgeous, unctuous paints to their full advantage.

I came away with mixed feelings. I still have the highest regard for the quality of the products that R&F make. And I did learn about using an absorbent ground rather than a traditional acrylic gesso, and it was fun to try all the available colors. I thought the instructor was a little cavalier about using them directly on paper. If you want your work to last, I would not do it.

I decided to relax into the transient nature of things and did the painting above rubbing the pigment into paper with a bit of mineral oil (his recommendation). The result is rich, but thin color. No goo.

Myra's Dream, 2009, 22x30 pigment stick on paper

Sunday, February 7, 2010

more from 2009

This painting started life as a mono print. I reworked the whole thing by painting with acrylics on top of it. some of the gray areas are made with a micaceous paint that Golden produces which imparts a fine, gritty texture and a slightly metallic sheen. I also experimented with some iridescent medium, which prompted a friend to ask, "so what's with the shiny stuff ?" Okay, maybe he didn't use the word "stuff". I'm not really one for glitzy and slick, but I think it is good, at least in art-making, to venture into territories that feel a little out of character once in a while.
This piece measures 12x14 and is as yet, untitled.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"The Lake, Night" 6x8 oil pastel on panel, 2009
"Interior" 9x12 oil pastel, 2009