Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Back at it Again!

It's been a busy summer, it feels like I have barely been around, which means that trying to get work done was hard to accomplish.  But now that summer is done, at least in the calendar, monotype sessions at Salmagundi Club are back in session.  Last night was the first time we all gathered to make some magic happen on our copper plates and it's almost as if I had not missed a beat.

Look at that shinny copper plate!  I purchased this plate in Barcelona when I visited earlier this month, I was not looking for a copper plate, I was only looking for cool watercolor books, maybe leather bound, and this guy basically jumped off the shelve to come home with me.  It's a great size, 6 1/2 x 9 7/8 inches, perfect proportions for landscapes.  I think I will get a lot of use out of this one. 

The first image to go on my new copper plate...I'm really loving this size, can't wait to see what sort of things I make with this one. 

Moving on to a familiar size, my 6 x 8 inch plates...

None of the landscapes from tonight were planned out ahead of time, as it has been been process recently I'm coming up with compositions as I go along, letting the ink and reflections on the plate guide me.  All of the sudden a moon appeared on my second plate and I went along with it.  

Plates two and three done and ready for the press.  The a-ha moment when sometimes you are pleasantly surprised, and others the final print shows you all your mistakes and you just have to live with it.  I will post images of these prints in the next couple of days. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Single Fare 4: The Show

 My set of three MetroCards hanging 

Last week was the opening of Single Fare 4, a show that has gained a lot of popularity over the years.  There were thousands of cards submitted, not only nationally but from across the world.  With all these great pieces of art hanging on the walls with big crowds trying to get a glimpse of each tiny painting, I was grateful that not only were my three pieces hanging together, but they were also hung at eye level towards the beginning of one of the walls.  I was equally pleased when I found out that the all three had sold at the beginning of the night.  Thank you Single Fare team for the hanging my trees where you did and for all your hard work.  Below are some images of the show.  

Dina Brodsky
 Alonsa Guevara

 Adam Cross

 Riko Colin Chock

 Anders Fernbach

Melinda Whitmore

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Metro Card Paintings, The Finale

Tree at Daylight, 2017, oil on metro card, 3 3/8 x 2 1/8 inches

My three paintings for Single Fare 4 are completed and submitted.  It was fun working on them and they served as a good way of working out ideas and approach for other paintings.  For starters I'm working mostly from imagination these days, and it works for me when only dealing with it in drawings or monotypes.  Color is a whole different thing, you can't fake it, everything has to fall into place and look natural.  When work began on these metro cards I hoped I could achieve what I have with my works on paper in color.  
Tree at Dusk, 2017, oil on metro card, 3 3/8 x 2 1/8 inches

In the beginning I wanted do a good job with these in hopes to stand out from the crowd of talented artists who will be exhibiting, but soon as I had all three cards on the easel and began work they started to come alive.  Ideas started coming and it was more about challenging myself and meeting my expectations and vision.
Tree at Moonlight, 2017, oil on metro card, 3 3/8 x 2 1/8 inches

The biggest challenge was to paint my very first night-scape, or nocturne, and as it turns out it was not as hard as I thought!  With this painting I'm ready to develop a new group of paintings I've had brewing in my mind but never had the nerve to start.  I think it's time to make paintings of all those dark, moody monotypes.
Single Fare 4 opens on Saturday Sept. 16, 5 - 10pm. at Highline Stages - 441 West 14th St. NYC.
Exhibition will be on view Sunday Sept. 17, 12 - 6pm., hope you all can make it.  

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Recent Paintings

Autumn Sunset, 2017, oil on linen mounted on panel, 12 x 12 inches 

Painting has been slow recently, mostly because I've been stuck on a rut about trying to figure out the purpose of my work.  To say that I'm bored with it sounds terrible, but at this point I need a new direction, I need to figure out what's the next step but nothing comes to mind.  I'm not pushing it too much, it will come to me as I keep working.  The only thing that I can say is that by looking at the paintings completed this year I can see growth when it comes to execution.  I hate the word realism, or when people say "oh looks like a photo," that is not my intent because photos are flat.  I do see a more detailed way of handling the paint, and the funny thing is that I'm not striving for detail.  I'm actually moving around more paint than before, sometimes blobing and sculpting it.  The paint application seems to be getting thicker, this is due to my switch to hog bristle brushes which I am loving.    
By the Lake, Prospect Park, 2017, oil on linen, 10 x 15 inches 

Another little change has been the introduction of Cobalt Blue to my palette.  I've used this color in the past, I'm not new to it, but never to this extent.  Also, Ultramarine Blue has been my go to color for everything.  I'm using it in mixtures to achieve my darks, slowly moving away from using black which I only used sparingly to begin with.  
Overcast Day at Hyland, 2017, oil on linen mounted on panel, 14 x 11 inches 

I have been looking at the Impressionists more, their color sensibility and paint handling seems to speak more to me than earlier landscape schools.  Don't get me wrong, I love Constable, Corot, and painters from the Barbizon school but the Impressionists have that modern element that is still relevant to contemporary painters.  
Spring in Goodwin, 2017, oil on linen mounted on panel, 11 x 14 inches 

Speaking of Impressionist, earlier this spring I was able to catch the Alfred Sisley exhibition at the Bruce Museum in Connecticut.  His work left my friend Charles and I banging our heads against the wall saying "damn this guy!"  The show was inspiring for us both, which I believe has directed me into this new way of seeing and using color.  
Summer Reflections, Prospect Park, 2017, oil on linen, 10 x 15 inches 

Funny, here I am talking about looking for a new direction in my work and it seems I have already found it, I just didn't realize it! I just needed to write about it for it to become clear.  Color, color, color, that's what I need to focus on more.  I think we are on to something...back to the easel! 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Metro Card Paintings

Work is underway on three metro card paintings for Single Fare 4, an open exhibition using NYC Metro Cards as the "canvas" for the art.  The concept was created by artists Michael Kagan and Jean-Pierre Roy back in 2010, and since then the popularity of the exhibition has grown.  Over the years important artists have part taken on the event, which brings an element of whimsy and fun to an over stuffy art world.  
I created three little drawings for Single Fare 2: Please Swipe Again, and I must day I was not prepared for the incredible work that was exhibited that year.  What do you make in such a tiny little space?  I was not sure back then and so I did quick little sketches of subway riders.  This time I'm trying my hardest to stand out because on year two I felt I fell flat on my face.    
I'm making three landscapes, (what else would I make?) on the metro cards, and my approach is similar to my monotypes.  I covered the cards with a mixture of burnt umber and burnt sienna and began to wipe out areas, just as I would with an inked copper plate.  This will serve as the underpainting, which will eventually get covered with color. 
I don't have anything specific in mind yet, I'm just feeling my way through it and I'm just going to have fun.  Although the pressure is on because I'm off to a late start, the images are due in less than two weeks and I just started last night...yikes! 
I've known about the show for a while and I was not intending to submit any work, I feel like I'm running around complaining I have no time, and this would have been one of those things that would have added unwanted pressure.  Besides, you can't find metro cards lying around the floors of subways stations anymore.  A few years back the MTA began charging for the metro card every time you had to get a new one.  The idea is to save money on the little plastic cards, while keeping the stations clean because people used to just throw them on the floor after they were used.  Now you keep your card and refill it.  I think it was a smart move, but it did make it a little difficult to find metro cards for this exhibition. 
Thankfully my friend Kyle came through and gave me three metro cards he was not going to use.  He even gessoed them and had them attached to a plexiglass for easy painting.  Thank you Kyle, I guess I can't back down now!

Here's a short video of the beginning stages for all three metro cards.  This is the first time I'm working on multiple paintings at once, who knows maybe I'll make a habit of it. 

Monday, August 07, 2017

New Monotypes

Al Borde de un Bosque II, 2017, monotype, image 8 x 10 inches, sheet 11 x 13 inches 

I present to you the latest group of monotypes, all completed in my last session at the Grand Army NYC.  I continue working with spontaneity and imagination, letting things happen as I go along.  I hope you like this new group.  
Al Borde de un Bosque II, 2017, monotype (ghost print), image 8 x 10 inches, sheet 11 x 13 inches

Arbolado XIV, 2017, monotype, image 8 x 6 inches, sheet 11 x 8 1/2 inches 

Arbolado XIV, 2017, monotype (ghost print), image 8 x 6 inches, sheet 11 x 8 1/2 inches

 Darkness & Trees, 2017, monotype, image 8 x 6 inches, sheet 11 x 8 1/2 inches 

Darkness & Trees, 2017, monotype (ghost print), image 8 x 6 inches, sheet 11 x 8 1/2 inches

Soñando Caminos I, 2017, monotype, image 8 x 6 inches, sheet 11 x 8 1/2 inches 

Soñando Caminos I, 2017, monotype (ghost print), image 8 x 6 inches, sheet 11 x 8 1/2 inches

Soñando Caminos II, 2017, monotype, image 8 x 6 inches, sheet 11 x 8 1/2 inches

Soñando Caminos II, 2017, monotype (ghost print), image 8 x 6 inches, sheet 11 x 8 1/2 inches

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Recent Drawings

Untitled, 2017, graphite on paper, 14 1/2 x 6 inches 

These are three drawings completed in July.  As with all the tree drawings from earlier in the year I keep exploring compositions I arrive at almost by chance.  After toning the paper, loosely with some sort of dry media, usually the powder remains after sharpening my pencils on sandpaper blocks, I begin to work with some of the random shapes that appear.  From there I carve out the image and let things happen as I go.   
Untitled, 2017, genuine sepia ink, pastel, and pen on paper, 14 1/2 x 6 inches 

I like to mix different elements in the drawing to create depth.  In the drawing above I used Genuine Sepia Ink, an item not found in regular art supply stores.  Genuine Sepia comes from the ink pouch of the cuttlefish, which it releases when it feels threaten.  The pigment is made by extracting the ink from the fish and letting it dry.  The dried ink is then ground up into a powder which is then used in different binders to create various types of paint.  If you would like to get your hands on Genuine Sepia, either in powder or in ink form, call Kremer Pigments.  
Untitled, 2017, graphite and pastel on paper, 14 1/2 x 6 inches 

No Sepia here, just old your old fashion graphite pencil and pastel.  Unlike the drawing with ink, the graphite creates a more subtle contrast, almost like mist.  So far I'm only drawing with a limited range of materials but I am beginning to get some ideas on mixing other things on different types of papers.  Nothing has been started yet but things are brewing.  Stay tuned for more. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Monotype Day - The Grand Army

Saturday was a day of monotype printing.  I can't believe I haven't touched a press since May, that's the longest period of time I've gone without printing in three years.

I've missed working on montypes, especially at Rob's studio.  The light is right, the music is going, and I get to drink tea while trying to make some magic happen.

I always get asked how I obtain some of my marks, there's no magical tool, just some hog bristle brushes of different shapes.  The brush above is a da Vinci brush for plein air painting, series 7707, size 6.  The bristles are long and flexible enough that they create the long grass effect when you swipe upwards. 

The first couple of prints and their ghosts chilling on the leather couch.  I love this shot!

Above is a short video of how I use a clay shaper/paint eraser to wipe away areas that need harder edges. Eventually I go over some of the areas with a soft synthetic bush to soften them. This tool is perfect for drawing, in this case the texture of tree trunks.

Above I'm working on another plate, getting that grass effect with da Vinci plein air brush series 7407, filbert. After years of use this brush no longer looks like a filbert, it has now turned into a bright, which just like the round helps to create grass effects.

This is the moment of truth, putting the plate through the press and crossing your fingers hoping that the print will turn out alright. Sometimes the paper doesn't absorb all the ink you get very light spots, sometimes the opposite happens when it absorbs too much and it prints extremely dark causing the loss of details. In this case, I was very pleased with the outcome. The prints from this session will be posted next week, come back and check them out.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Watercolor Making

I enrolled in a watercolor making class with Kremer Pigments which took place last night.  I had learned from a watercolorists years ago how to make watercolor but I never wrote anything down, fast forward ten years later and I definitely needed a refresher.  Turned out to be easier than I remember, well at least in concept, you still needed a lot of elbow grease to make things happen. 
I was able to play with beautiful historic and Kremer-made pigments, like this Burgundy Red Ochre Deep.  Pigments are so beautiful in their purest form.  
Grinding the Burgundy Red Ochre...color deepens but still retains a beautiful saturation.  Love the look of paint being moved around.  
We got to play with the colors as we made them, although the time to make fourteen colors was very limited so I didn't get to play with them to much.  I could only lay down quick sample swatches in my watercolor book, and of course label each color with the pigment product number, very important if you want to get the same color again in the future! 
Here I'm mixing Moroccan Yellow Ochre before grinding.  You have to make sure to wet all the pigment before running it under the muller.  
 Mull away!  Such a beautiful color, don't you think?  The focus of last night's class was on historic and Kremer-made pigments, which are mostly natural earths and minerals.  For those who have never worked with pigments before, earth colors tend to be gritty, some more than others, this is the nature of the pigments.  Some color making companies grind the hell out of pigments to make them all uniform across their paint lines and to make people feel "safe."  You can certainly feel and hear the pigment grind under the muller. 
Meet Russian Green earth, in pigment form this is a beautiful pale bluish green, when wet it becomes deeper. 
Have you ever seen genuine Lapis Lazuli in pigment form?  Or have you played with it?  This one is from Chile, and there was so much of it! We didn't get to make this one ourselves, I think everyone was to scared to mess up, so we had Rachel our instructor mix this up for us. 
This one is Jarosite from Cyprus, some people call it Lemonite, and yes it is pretty!  I love ochres, actually I love most earth colors, so for me to be playing with all these last night was just incredible. 
This is the fruit of my labor and I can't wait to play with them in the studio!  Color swatches of these coming up in the next few days, till then have a good one and may you have colorful dreams.