As a creature of habit, trying new things can be frightening. Doubts, fear, and nerves always taking over whenever I embark on a new project. Regardless of my unease change is needed to aid growth. At some point you have to try something new to get you to the next level, and I found that change in Monotype printing.
I had tried Monotype printing in college, during a time when I was very interested in painterly aesthetics, and was told that this type of printing lent itself to that. I soon learned why out of all printmaking techniques this was the favorite of painters. The process was shorter and the outcome more immediate.
(Touching up a monotype after printing)
Years have passed after that one semester at the Hartford Art School, to be honest I forgot about that short period of time when I experimented with Monotype printing. Then, early last year it all came back after attending my first Monotype party at the Salmagundi Club. At the moment I was hungry for something different and was also in need of a little socializing among other artist while making art in the same space.
On my first night excitement and nerves were all there as I looked at this zinc plate cover in black ink. What happens now? My first experience with Monotype years ago was more of an additive process. It was easy to lay down colors to create abstract compositions that created a dialogue with the large abstract paintings I was working on at the time. But the subtractive process of Monotype was new to me. What sort of image could I come up with in this little 5 x 7 inch plate?
Looking through my sketchbook for ideas I came across a drawing of a moonlit landscape, an idea I had for a series of small 9x12 paintings. It seemed like the perfect image for this type of technique, and so I began to take away ink with q-tips, creating clouds and and moon as I revealed the reflective surface of the zinc plate. It was quite magical to see an image come to live by taking away ink. Even more so after the plate was put through the press and the paper pulled away form it to reveal a print.
From that night I have been hooked, and once a month I go back to the Salmagundi Monotype Parties to take away ink from a plate and put it under the drum of the press. Every time a new print surfaces I want to do more.
I think I have a found a new passion, one that it's very different from painting, but also one that will help the creation of my works on canvas. It will be nice to see both paintings and prints next to each other and see how they talk to each other.
Images of my Monotype prints coming in the near future. Stayed tuned!
For more images on past Salmagundi Monotype parties, and other events, please visit The Salmagundian.
Pumpkin Patch, 2014-15, oil on linen, 13 x 18 inches
It has been a few slow months of painting, that's the reason why this blog has been unattended for so long, but I am happy to share with you my most recent painting. I started work on this landscape over five months ago, at the time I was trying to get my juices going one late night when the painting I was working on was not coming out the way I wanted. To get my mind off that sort of thing I start new paintings, laying in loose brown and grey paint, not so much in hopes that it would turn out to be a great piece, but more as an exercise to help me loosen up. In this case, that late night exercise turned out to be a painting I enjoyed working on, and that I'm proud of.
Paint application on this painting is different than in my past work. This landscape focuses on build up of scumbled layers, creating optical textures I have not seen in my previous paintings. In addition to the layers of paint, the mood and color choices are very different than most of the landscapes I have painting, where the color green is more prominent. In this overcast day type of painting I wanted to focus on more neutral tones, represented by the texture and color of grass as it begins to dry out when cold weather approaches.
Now that this painting is done I can focus on the larger landscape of Ireland sitting on my easel. Maybe, in no more than two weeks, that painting will be finished as well.
For the last two months I have been working on this painting of Ireland, which began out of necessity for an exhibition. I thought I would have a month to complete it, but after receiving the email with the details for the show I found out that I had two days to submit images. I was not going to give up and I thought I would get it done in two weeks, but as usual it is taking longer than anticipated.
The original canvas was a 20x24, but something about it didn't feel right. I think it was too cramped. The composition was developed from a quick sketch I did on site in Ireland, and from a reference photo. I took both made a drawing which I then gridded, and transferred to the final canvas.
After two days of work I was confident that I would get this painting done quickly. The looseness of the paint was a nice change from the tighter, more controlled way I tend to work.The images above show the progress of the first two days, when I felt I was on a roll.
Soon, things changed and I began to get more detailed. The main focus has been the depth of the horizon and the clouds above. They have been reworked a number of times.
Above, I began introducing pale grey rose tones in the clouds. I was trying to warm them up since I had used too much blue and not much else to bring variety to the colors and shades. By this point I have also reworked the horizon line, again! The blue hills in the back are less round and they blur out a bit more.
I reached a point when I can't work on the background any further, and have made my way to the middle ground and foreground.
After seeing a Constable painting that's on loan to the Frick Collection I became more inspired and kept thinking about it constantly as I worked on mine. I thought that adding a Constable like tree on the right side of the painting would help the composition, but after a few days of living with it I decided to paint it out. Again I found myself working on the clouds and background, trying to cover the tree. I have taken a break from this painting in the last week, it's always best to set things aside and look them with fresh eyes before you end up killing the whole thing. Let's hope it doesn't sit around in my studio untouched for another year! More to come.
Installation view of my two paintings at Denise Bibro Fine Art
It has been a very busy end of year, I'm still trying to catch my breath from all the happenings, which were all good and I'm very thankful for. In November I had a solo show at the New York Public Library (115th St branch), followed by a group exhibition in December at Denise Bibro Fine Art, which is up until the end of this month. Two weeks ago I had three more paintings up at the Salmagundi Club for the yearly Juniors Scholarship Members Show. While getting the work ready for the three shows, negotiating a couple of sales and dealing with the craziness of the holidays, I've managed to stay busy with the creation of new work. I'm hopping to finish a larger landscape in the next couple of weeks, which I'll be posting about its progress in the coming days. Another painting is in the works as well.
In the meantime I want to share some photos from opening night at Denise Bibro Fine Art. Exhibition runs until January 31st, so there's still some time to catch if you haven't had the time to do so yet. Denise Bibro Fine Art is located at 529 West 20th St 4W, NYC 10011. If you have any questions contact the gallery at 212.647.7030
On left: Tree Near Block House 2014, oil on linen, 14 x 8 inches. On right: Overcast Morning in Olivebridge 2014, oil on linen, 10 x 14 inches
A quick thank you to all my family and friends who attended all three shows. Your support means a lot and your believe in me fuels my desire to keep pursuing my painting career.
I am pleased to announce that I will have two paintings in a group exhibition, Selected Junior Scholarship Members of the Salmagundi Club, at Denise Bibro Fine Art in Chelsesa.
This small group exhibition will feature the work of James Stuart Adelman, Naimh Butler, Devin Cecil-Wishing, Jennifer Gennari, Seth Ruggles Hiler, Marshal Jones, Ian Marion.
Opening: Thusday December 18, 6-8pm
Show dates: Dec. 18th - Jan. 31st
Denise Bibro Fine Art is located at 529 W 20th St, Suite 4W, New York, NY 10011.
Hope to see you there!
Tree Near Block House, 2014, oil on linen, 14 x 8 inches
This is perhaps the last plein air painting of the year, that's unless for some odd reason we get a few warm days in the coming weeks. Wishful thinking though, since it has been getting cold and we're only getting started. Lord help me, I can't deal with another hard winter like the one we had last year. Back to the studio it is for the next few months, but that's not a bad thing since I have plans for some larger landscapes based on sketches and reference shots I've been collecting over the years. I'm very excited for the new pieces I'll be working on. More updates to come in the new future.
Fall Afternoon in Olivebridge, 2014, oil on linen, 10 x 14 inches
These are two recent paintings from my last weekend trip to Olivebridge in the Hudson Valley. The leaves started to turn and the Catskill Mountain would glow orange, red, and violet according to the changing light of the day. Mother nature can put on quite a show in the fall, and as a landscape painter these visions of light and color are the things I live for. There is only so much one can do with a brush and paint to reproduce this sort of display. Being a plein air painter can be humbling, standing in the middle of a field trying to capture a fraction of my surroundings not only is it a joy but also a frustration because no matter how hard I try or how long I spend on a painting I know that I will never do nature justice.
Overcast Morning in Olivebridge, 2014, oil on linen, 10 x 14 inches
These two paintings, along with ten others are current on view as part of my show, Recent Paintings, at the New York Public Library 115th St. branch.
I'm very excited to announce that I will be having an exhibition of recent work at the New York Public Library, 115th St Branch. There will be twelve plein air pieces from this summer. Everyone is invited and I hope you call can make it. More work to come.
Olivebridge Early Morning, 2014, oil on linen, 8 x 12 inches
I don't think there was a better way of spending the last weekend of summer than to paint in upstate NY. Temperatures dropped dramatically on Saturday morning; my body was not ready for it. It was in the high fifties, perhaps very low sixties, but by the way that I froze while painting this one landscape it might as well have been in the thirties. The intent was to capture the fog covering part of the field bellow, which I have witnessed in person earlier in the summer, but on this morning the effect was the opposite. Heavy clouds and fog loomed right over the Catskill Mountains, and as I painted, the thick sheet of dark grey clouds broke away, letting some of the morning sun shine through. There is magic in the light of the Hudson Valley, it is no wonder that a big school of painters found their inspiration for countless masterpieces there.
Esopus Creek, 2014, oil on linen, 9 x 11 inches
The day got better and the sun came out by the time I set up in the second spot in Esopus Creek. It was no longer cold. As a matter of fact I had layered two sweaters on top of a long sleeve shirt and doubled up on my socks just to stay warm, but to my surprise the afternoon warmed up and the soft sun cast a light glow by the water. Everything was quiet, just like Kelis sings in Acapella "the silence was too deafening." I heard every leaf fall around me, and little frogs jump in and out of the water. This city boy is not used to the sounds of the country and I must say I did not put on headphones just so that I was aware of any little creature that might approach. Scary silence or not, I was in heaven.
Olivebridge Sunset, 2014, oil on linen, 9 x 11 inches
The third painting was a last minute impulse. I didn't think I would have enough time to paint on Sunday afternoon, and as the minutes rolled by the light kept changing and enticing me. In the back of my mind I guess I was waiting for the right golden glow of the Hudson Valley sunset, which I did get and I had to jump on it. Knowing that I had very limited time forced me to focus and to make decisions faster and run with them. Again, the light in this area of New England is incredible and I was happy to get to experience it one last time for this summer.
Ashokan Reservoir, 2014, oil on linen, 10 x 12 inches
Last weekend I spent a few days at a friend's house in the Hudson Valley, and when there I can't pass on painting the scenery near by. The Catskill Mountains can be seen from most places, but no better view than from the Ashokan Reservoir, which is one of two reservoirs in the Catskills that provide NYC with water. The views from this place are breathtaking, trying to find a spot to paint was difficult since the options were so many. There is something in the air and light that make the mountains look very blue from afar. I think this was the main effect I was trying to capture in this painting.
Ashokan Reservoir, Upper Basin, 2014, oil on linen, 10 x 12 inches
As the afternoon progressed it became overcast, and although I could not feel it, I cold see the humidity set in, creating a thick layer across the water. The blue mountains became slightly more grey and values were too similar, making it hard to differentiate most of the shapes. As I continued painting the afternoon sun was trying to break through the heavy clouds, creating a beautiful soft glow. This place was peaceful and it was very hard to leave. More trips to this area will take place in the near future, definitely.
"Anything under the sun is beautiful if you have the vision-it is the seeing of the thing that makes it so."
- Charles W. Hawthorne -
"One of the functions of art is to remind us of common humanity. The artist, like the priest, can sometimes remind us that we are bound by an obligation to one another stronger and more lasting than the bonds of politics or economics."
- John Manchip White, Diego Velazquez: Painter and Courtier -
"To defend an artist as original says little about his work except that it is in some way different from what preceded it. As such, originality itself is rarely a strong defense, for it is born more of admiration for audacity and perseverance than necessarily of understanding." - James H. Rubin, Manet's Silence and the Poetics of Bouquets -