Monday, July 25, 2016

New Plein Air Paitings

Prospect Park Lake, Three Islands, 2016, oil on linen, 10 x 16 inches 

These two paintings are from June, and I'm finally getting around to posting them.  Lots of going on during the first half of this year which has prevented me from doing much painting, but things are slowing down and I'm getting back into the groove.  This painting (above) is another one from Prospect Park, Brooklyn, a place I'm enjoying to explore.  This part of the park was ideal, it reminded me of something Monet would have painted.  Not that I'm comparing myself to such a genius, but if you come across something Monet would have enjoyed painting then why the hell not give it a shot?  It turns out I'm very happy with this piece, and I may go back to the same area and make a few more paintings.  There are some grander views of the lake if you were to move back from this spot and look towards the right.

On a Cloudy Summer Day, Olivebridge, 2016, oil on linen, 9 x 12 inches 

As always, this view in Olivebridge never gets old!  There are so many colors in this area and they keep changing as the day progresses.  Just like in this painting the clouds above float in such a majestic way, sometimes they seem to come down and engulf the mountain to the point that it becomes invisible.  The different qualities of light according to the seasons changes the color of the mountains.  Sometimes they are an intense blue, other times earthy orange with lavender, then deep grey on rainy days, and on a day like this one the mountains were a crisp blue green.  It's hard not to keep painting this scene when it is constantly providing so much inspiration.  I'll be back there in two weeks, can't wait to see what other surprises this mountain has for me.  More to come.

Friday, July 01, 2016

June Monotypes, Part 2

When Evening Falls, 2016, monotype, image 6 x 8 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

These are my latest prints, all accomplished during the all night Draw-A-Thon at Salmagundi Club last friday.  It was such a fun night, even better to see such a great turn out of artists who worked through the night on figure drawings, portrait painting and monotypes.  As with any monotype party at Salmagundi, I went into this all night event with a goal in mind.  Get as many prints done as possible.  A few days prior I was able to make a print per hour, so I figured I could do the same on this night, which would put it at a total of nine prints.  But early in the night I could tell that it would be close to impossible, so I lowered the goal number to six.  Mission accomplished!
Olivebridge Nocturne, 2016, monotype, image 6 x 8 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches

Not only did I go in with a number of prints I wanted to finish, but I also wanted to print with a warm black ink, something similar to what I had done on a previous print.  After asking for advice I was told that the black ink I was looking for was a mixture of black and Van Dyck Brown.  Not sure why I hadn't thought about it before but I was suggested that I should play around with different ink mixtures…again, why has it taken me two years to figure this out.   
Colorado Hike, 2016, monotype, image 9 x 6 inches, paper 11 x 8 1/2 inches 

I mixed Charbonnel Soft Black and Sepia and the two created this rich, deep, beautiful brown black which yielded these very moody prints.  This was not the original color I intended to work with but I'm glad I arrived at it.  I have been working continuosly with straight Sepia in the last six months that it was time for a change.  
Tuscan Hills, 2016, monotype, image 6 x 9 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

Changes are all around, I used to consider myself a painter but recently I added printmaker to my artist description on my Instagram account.  It felt strange because this is still new but I know that making monotypes will remain a big part of work.  The thing is that I'm also having a hard time with this because the monotypes are being well received by people, sometimes better than my paintings.  I feel like I'm cheating on my painting and the new mistress is offering that something that was missing in the relationship.  I'm not painting as much as I used to, to be honest it's sad to see the last few brushes I used either on the easel shelf or studio floor, abandoned and unclean.
Country Landscape, 2016, image 6 x 8 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches

The great thing about being an artist is that you are constantly evolving, growing, and one thing in your current work takes you to another idea or discipline, and eventually they all start communicating with each other.  I know that these monotypes will eventually bring another layer to my painting, but for the moment they are not seeing eye to eye.  Only time will tell if they will meet half way or will they keep on their separate ways.
Arbolado, 2016, monotype, image 8 x 6 inches, paper 11 x 8 1/2 inches 

Friday, June 24, 2016

June Monotypes, Part 1

River Scene, 2016, monotype, image 6 x 9 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches

June is shaping up to be a very productive in the printing department.  These are three prints and ghost prints I made three nights ago.  To be honest I'm not sure how I feel about them, I think there is too much contrast and I'm having a difficult time liking them.  I am enjoying the ghost prints better though, I guess not all is lost.
River Scene, 2016, monotype (ghost print), image 6 x 9 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches

Tonight I will be doing some printing and will play around with the ink a bit more to see if I get the desired effects.  I think I also found the right type of black ink that will give a warmer and softer tone to the prints.  Let's hope it works out for me tonight.  More monotypes coming in the next couple of days.
Bend on the Road, 2016, monotype, image 6 x 8 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches
Bend on the Road, 2016, monotype (ghost print), image 6 x 8 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches
Grassy Field Near the Beach, 2016, monotype, image 5 x 7 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches
Grassy Field Near the Beach, 2016, monotype (ghost print), image 5 x 7 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

2016 Bowery Gallery National Competition

At the Edge of the Charles, 2015, oil on linen mounted on panel, 9 x 12 inches

Great news! At the Edge of the Charles has been selected to be included in the 2016 Bowery Gallery National Competition exhibition.  Thank you to juror Martica Sawin and to Bowery Gallery for this honor.  Exhibition details below: 

Exhibition dates: August 2 - 20, 2016
Opening Reception: Thursday, August 4, 5 - 8 PM. 
Bowery Gallery
530 West 25th Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10001
Tel 646.230.6655

Hope to see you all in August!

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

New Plein Air Paintings

An Afternoon at Nellie's Lawn, 2016, oil on linen, 10 x 14 inches

Summer is here and plein air season is off to a good start.  As I had mentioned in a previous blog post, Prospect Park has become my painting playground and it has been an enjoyable place to work in.  Unlike Central Park, this place is not overflowing with tourists, which can make the park unbearable, especially when you become NYC entertainment for said tourists and they start to get in front of your view to take pictures, or worst yet, they stick their heads in between you and the painting without asking.  Once a I had a guy breathe on the back of my head, I had no clue he was there and when I turned around because I sensed something funny behind me I almost kissed him.  I was so startled that not only did I jump but I also let out a little scream.  With no apologies he walked away and continued with his friends to enjoy their tour of Central Park.  Perhaps the worst was when a group of little kids wanted to play and run all around me, and little by little they became more comfortable with me being there, realizing I was no harm to them one decided to attack my easel and shake it as I painted.  Their mother?  She was a few feet away watching the whole thing not caring for her offspring.  She was more worried about her picnic and engorging herself.     
Walking Path, Vale of Cashmere, 2016, oil on linen, 10 x 14 inches 

After an hour train ride south to Brooklyn, that's if MTA is cooperative, the experiences have been good so far.  I have been meeting my new friend and painting buddy Charles Basman at Prospect Park in the Vale of Cashmere, a place he is very familiar with.  This secluded European inspired garden is a great spot for anyone who needs a quite moment away from the craziness of New York City.  Whether if you are a painter, a bird watcher, a thinker, or someone who loves to stroll this area of the park can be ideal.  Not only is it tucked away from the main areas of the park where all the locals hang out, but it also can provide shade and coolness when the sun is strong.       

Vale of Cashmere, 2016, oil on linen, 10 x 14 inches 

According to the Prospect Park Alliance, "the story of the Vale of Cashmere, which occupies the northeast corner of the Park, actually started about 17,000 years ago when a buried chunk of the Wisconsin glacier began to melt, collapsing the soil and leaving a divot surrounded by steep walls of earth."  The original designers of Prospect Park, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert B. Vaux, created an area in this location where it was more kid friendly, with a pool where they could sail miniature boats.  In the 1890's the space was redesigned to what we see now, but over the years the Vale of Cashmere has fallen into disrepair.  The granite balustrade is not longer in place, the only hints of its existence are the end columns that stand alone as witnesses to a grander past.  The fountains have been turned off and nature has taken over by replacing water with overgrowth.  Regardless,  this little corner of the park retains a charm that is difficult to find in an ever changing city such as New York.  

Friday, June 03, 2016

New Monotypes

Marsh Off Kripplebush Rd., 2016, monotype, image 6 x 9 inches, paper 8 x 11 inches 

These are the latest additions to my monotype works.  A big thank you to my very good friend Robert Szot for not only buying a press but also for letting me come over and print.  An artist's studio can be somewhat of sacred, private space, to let others in, especially to work, can be a bit hard for some, reason why Rob allowing me to come and use his press means a lot. Thank you buddy!
Barcos en la Orilla de un Rio, 2016, monotype, image 6 x 8 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

Hopefully we'll get to print more often, it was a fun experience to work and chat.  The studio can be a lonely place sometimes, having a like minded person was a nice change.  More to come!
Barcos en la Orilla de un Rio, 2016, monotype (ghost print), image 6 x 8 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Two New Monotypes

Untitled, 2016, monotype, image 8 x 6 inches, paper 11 x 8 1/2 inches 

These are the latest additions to my group of monotypes, which is growing faster than my paintings.  Something has to be done about that this summer, I'm making sure of it.  As always the challenge is to come up with new ideas, very different than plein air painting because you don't have a location in front of you to aid and inspire the work.  Lots of little studies are made in my sketchbook to get ideas going, a good thing since it has forced me to draw more often.  
Rising Clouds, 2016, monotype, image 6 x 8 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

I'm not sure how long I will keep working with the sepia ink though, maybe I'll stop when I run out of the grey Rives BFK paper I've been using.  I'm thinking this summer I'll moving into color...we'll just have to see what happens.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

New Plein Air Painting

Lullwater Bridge, 2016, oil on linen, 10 x 15 inches 

Spring is here, we were off to a good start with very warm temperatures a few weeks ago, and then all of the sudden things cooled off.  Regardless, warm days are under way and that can only mean one's time to paint outdoor!  Two weekends ago I was able to paint in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, a place that is not very familiar to me but it has been on my painting radar for a long time.  I finally made it there and I think I found my new painting destination in NYC for the summer!  The park was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, the mastermind behind Central Park.  Many years ago I read somewhere that this was Olmstead's favorite park he had designed, and I can see why.  There is something more organic about Prospect Park, which in the end yields more surprises as you explore it.  This painting is the first of my Prospect Park series, and to be quite frank I think this is one of my strongest paintings yet.  I can't wait to see the work I get done by the end of summer.  More to come!    

Friday, April 15, 2016

New Monotypes

Single Tree, 2016, monotype, image 8 x 6 inches, paper 11 x 8 1/2 inches, Private Collection 

These are the most recent monotypes created during the Salmagundi Monotype Parties in March and April.  As always these can bee challenging to make due to limited time, but they are even more fun to make than anything else.  I am offering these, and many other monotypes, on my Etsy shop.  Unlike paintings, these prints are more affordable, and they are still one of a kind images.  So what are you waiting for, get yours soon!
The Fence, 2016, monotype, image 6 x 8 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

A Lake in Goodwin, 2016, monotype, image 6 x 8 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

Young Birch Trees, 2016, monotype, image 6 x 8 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Progress Report

I have been working on the large landscape I began in January, and although I have managed to get a lot done in a short amount time there is still plenty more work to do.  What has been taking me long are the clouds, I have been obsessing over them, trying to get them to feel natural and with some color variations in them, but at the same time retaining some of the cool darkness.
At this point in the painting (pictured above) I thought I had a break through and was happy with that night's work.  Looking at it the next day I felt more needed to be done, but I know I was in the right path. Something was coming to the surface, textures were building up and the looseness of the paint application was more apparent.  There are few things I'm doing different with this painting, to start with, the size and format of the canvas.  As I had mentioned before I have not painted this large in over twelve years, and the panoramic format brings a lot of challenges that one does not come across a regular rectangle.  The linen I'm using has more texture which has made use larger hog bristle brushes to be able to create some texture.  I normally use smoother linen with small sable brushes, and that has worked perfect for me with the smaller work, but this is a whole other beast and I needed to switch up my routine.   
This is a close up of the mid section showing the clouds, which have been developing organically.  Things take shape as I work and move paint around.  I have been looking at Constable a lot, his buildup of paint and surface has been the one thing I have been after.  In his clouds he was able to capture movement and light, there is a lot of energy to his brush work and I'm trying very hard to capture some of that.  
Recently I became obsessed with a show from the BBC, Fake or Fortune, and in it leading connoisseurs and art historians try to authenticate lost works of art by masters.  There is a lot of research involved, provenance is traced back to the creation of the works and each painting goes under scientific analyzes.  In one of these episodes two paintings by John Constable were featured.  In this episode the conservator mentions the fact that Constable used egg whites with his oil paints, that's why his whites have a chalky aspect.  The use of egg whites or yolks in oil painting is not a new idea, it's a practice that goes back centuries but it's not commonly seen.  I've read somewhere that it is believed that Rembrandt may have used egg yolk or other type of protein to create textures in his canvases.   After hearing that bit of information about Constable I decided that night to crack and egg and mix it with paint.  About two years ago I attended a weekend workshop with the George O'Hanlon and Tatiana Saytseva of Natural Pigments.  I saw firsthand how Tatiana mixed pure egg yolk with premade oil paint and automatically the mixture thickened to form an impasto like paint.  Being an art materials geek, I was mesmerized!      
Just to make sure I was doing the right thing, that night I went online to see if I could find more information about this.  I don't want to run into any problems in the future because I acted on an impulse without having the necessary knowledge.  I found different types of recipes, most were the traditional egg oil emulsions which makes oil paints workable with water.  This is more of an egg tempera application, which is not what I was after.  I finally found a simple recipe which call for equal parts of stand oil and egg yolk.  I have been using sun thickened linseed oil for this painting and used that instead, not that it matters much since both stand and sun thickened oils are made of linseed, just a different process of polymerizing them.  But I like to keep consistent so sun thickened it was.  The thought process behind the yolk and oil mixture was that the paint film would be a little more flexible as it ages due to the oil.  Yolk alone might prove to brittle the paint latter on, at least this is the problem that another painter online encountered.  I used the mixture as a medium with Lead White, which was too transparent and I needed it to become more thick and "chalky" like Constable's white.  After a few minutes the mixture began to set and the lead white became fuller and more opaque, and I was able to use a palette knife to spread it on the linen, giving me the opacity and texture I was looking for.  Because the yolk acts as a drier and lead white is a fast drying pigment on itself, it was imperative that I use this mixture on the first layer, and not in between because the different drying rates of the oil paint layers could cause this whole thing to crack in the future, and as Whitney once said, crack is wack!  
I have continued work since the egg yolk night, I'm actually getting more details done in the landscape bellow.  The image above is a three picture collage of the painting as it looked last week.  Progress is going steady and more has been done on the foreground.  I'm finally starting to see this thing come together nicely.  More to come.