Friday, January 30, 2015

Work in Progress

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.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Happenings

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.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Denise Bibro Gallery group show

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!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

New Plein Air

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.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Recent Plein Air Paintings

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.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Recent Paintings Exhibition

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.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

New Plein Air Paintings

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.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ashokan Reservoir Paintings

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.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

New Plein Air Painting: Stone Bridge, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

It was long over due, after ten years of living in this city I finally made it over to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, and what a place it is! I waited too long, most of the flowers had already bloomed and gone, but even so, the different gardens were great. There were few spots I loved and I will have to go back before it gets too cold. 
Time was flying and I had to set up quickly, to my luck, I found this stone bridge while walking a path. This bridge was very nondescript while walking through it, but soon as you stepped off the path and walked around you got to see it's structure hovering above a little stream. Something about it said "paint me, paint me!", and usually I go with my gut, this spot was a no brainer.
By setting up on this spot I took on a number of challenges. The first challenge was time, I was off to a late start and not only did I have to try to work fast before I lost all light, but I also had plans right after. This was enough to make me work fast! 
The second challenge was dealing with the light. There were moments when the sun was shining bright, and then at times clouds would roll in. To those who don't paint this may not seem like a big deal, but to plein air painters it is, because the amount of light and it's direction changes the colors of the setting. You can spend a whole day adjusting the colors according to the shifting light, but that is not working smart. Choices need to be made from the start to make things easier, and so I chose to paint the golden bright light and focus around that choice. 
The third challenge was how to deal with so much green. It has been said in the recent past that I paint too bright, that perhaps I should tone down my colors. I have always wondered why since I think my perception of color might not be too far off from what others see, but I know in all honesty this is not the case.  While starting this painting I decided I was not going to hold back and I was going to paint what I saw and if brightness is what I see and what I feel, then so be it. Also, it helped that one of my favorite painters recently published a blog post about this matter, and his take on it, not to mention his amazing work, was enough to make me keep working with a brighter palette. 
Stone Bridge, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, 2014, oil on linen, 10 x 12 inches

The finished painting is this explosion of greens and foliage. I will leave you with this quote from Marc Dalessio, the painter I mentioned above:
"First off, I should mention that there are many people whose opinions I highly respect that think my greens are terrible. Acidic, garish, too bright, too yellow, etc… That said, I try to honestly paint what I see and I like my greens. I was always partial to the story of John Constable who, when painting at a time when artists would cover their finished paintings with brown violin varnish to make them look Old Mastery, took a violin and laid it on the bright green grass to show the difference between the accepted pictorial norms of his contemporary artists and the colors of real life.

Enough said. 

Monday, August 04, 2014

New Paintings

Ball Fields in North Meadow, 2014, oil on linen, 10 x 12 inches

These are four new, small paintings started on site and finished mostly in the studio. It seems like I'm back to painting buildings, which I have stayed away from for two years. Not sure why I shied away from it, but this summer I was back at it and to be honest I think I'm getting better and it adds something more interesting to the paintings. I am a contemporary painter after all and why not show contemporary life in my work.
The Hudson from Fort Tryon, 2014, oil on linen, 9 x 12 inches

Aside from painting more buildings I have also noticed that my color sense has changed since I started working in plein air. There was more brown in my greens, everything seemed more earthy, but since last year my use of color has opened up more. Everything is more chromatic, another welcome change I would say, since many of the paintings I have been enjoying looking at have been by amazing colorists and I would like to think that they are rubbing off on me.
The Cloisters, 2014, oil on linen, 8 1/2 x 12 inches

Sheep Meadow, 2014, oil on linen, 8 1/8 x 12 1/2 inches