Sunday, November 27, 2011

Late Afternoon

Just finished up with Late Afternoon. It's been a rather challenging piece.  Originally, I had planned to utilize a faux encaustic technique that would make the figures recede into the background in a mysterious fog like way , but my Matte Medium was littered with dry white chips and of course this wasn't discovered until after it was applied and had dried over night. The fact I was down in Herford with family and it was Thanksgiving pretty much meant I needed to change direction if this piece were going to be submitted for a group showing this week.

I decided to play with the golden daylight of the afternoon and revisit the color scheme of Minority. It's also created from crowd shots that don't focus on the faces.  The figures become completely anonymous. I feel this speaks to the reality of walking down the city streets though.  When in a large city on a particularly busy street I find that I'm not looking into people's faces I'm looking down and figuring out where to cut in between others and obstacles (sign posts, newspaper machines, and gum). Other times I'm looking up above people navigating, which street to go down. Either or my focus isn't upon making eye contact or relating with the people around me more than I have to.

It's that same anonymity that Edward Hopper captured in his work, but using a different strategy to achieve it. I have to own up though that when I was taking photos last year in Union Square area in San Francisco I was simply trying to be a little covert about snapping my photos or snapping before I'd finished framing the shot.  The main reference photo was really a mistake or at least thought to be. It was the same for Chill. It wasn't until latter when I saw the motion the fact that the absence of a face or just a partial glimpse addressed not only the anonymity of a crowd of people, but helped me the viewer become part of the crowd. Just call it a "happy accident".

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Just finished up Jaywalking. Nothing left, but the final coat of varnish. It will be another work that will be delivered up to the Lanning Gallery on Monday. I love the warm foreground played against the cooler background.  I've also have be pushing to further explore the loose almost caricatured background with the more realistically painted foreground elements. This concept is most evident within the works of George Bellows and Thomas Eakins.

I have also been busy devouring books on John Singer Sargent.  His paintings in Italy are just astounding. The economy of brushstroke and mixing detail with abstract shadows and light leave me speechless. I find that I just flip through the pages repeatedly visually digesting each work.  I particularly like the Venice street scenes. After I had completed Chill I headed to the library to pick up some John Singer Sargent books. I realized that I was in some regard naturally gravitating to a color pallet similar to his Venice works and wanted to compare notes. That's the timelessness really of art to me.  The fact that I'm deeply touched by his paintings created in the 1880's and find them as relevant today as the day they were painted is a testament to the power of art. With any luck over a hundred years from now another artist will look at my work to compare notes.

Today Feels Like a Sunday

I can't say why, but today feels like a Sunday to me. Maybe it's the overcast sky. It's supposed to rain and granted it did feel like rain this morning, but it seems to have changed it's mind. I like it when it rains, because the humidity helps my paint stay moist and blend better.

Above is a progress photo of Jaywalking. It's been a fun little painting to work on and continue working on some of my new color theory ideas. In this work I'm playing with cool background elements with warm foreground elements using a master color mixture of burnt umber and Payne's gray. I've been mixing in splashes of strong color as well.  It's a tricky balance to keep the subdued color pallet, but allow some stronger colors in. I'm accustomed to working fairly monochromatically in shades of grey, but the night paintings have caused me to rethink the strategy a bit.  One of the challenges I've experienced with my normal mode of working is that I paint everything grisaille using black, white and grey.  With the night works the dark areas lack the depth of field that I desire.  So far my Burnt Umber/Payne's Gray mixture is working like a charm.  It's still grisaille, but with a different base. I like the luminous quality the mixture creates.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rainy Monday

It's a rainy Monday. Granted it has only sprinkled with wind and clouds, but I have a feeling more weather is coming. I performed a few touch ups on Chill and finished Minority and Night Crossing. I have a feeling that Minority is one of those the oddball of the bunch.  I personally feel the painting is a breakthrough piece compositionally. I also know that giving the birds distinct personalities humanizes them to some extent. I haven't dealt with the animals that live within the urban environment before, but they may sneak into another painting somewhere down the line.

Night Crossing has put me closer to nailing down the "night painting" color scheme.  I usually approach my work starting with only black, dark grey and white, but that strategy doesn't particularly work with night paintings.  So the challenge is to come up with a good pallet and color recipes that will work better. That's what is great about being an artist.  No matter how long you've been at it there is always something new to do and learn.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Almost finished with Minority. It's been a really fun painting.  It's been nice to focus on painting the birds.  In a way it really doesn't feel that different from painting people, but the variation of the feathers and patterns has been a welcome departure. I also like the how the landing birds in the background give a sense of depth by not being painted in detail.  There are a lot of elements in this painting that I need to implement into future work.  I also realize I need to keep expanding what is deemed my subject matter. The urban environment in an unlimited source of material to paint from, but like most urban painters I focus on only a small part of it.