Monday, December 31, 2007

For the New Year!

2007 is gone, it happened so fast and so much happened in my life. It's been a crazy year and I'm happy that it's over and that tomorrow a new life starts. So here's to new beginnings! I'm starting out the year as an artist should, by painting. I started working on my yellow tomato painting again. Having a hard time with it. I knew it was going to be a challenging piece but not to this extent. I've been working on it here and there for months now, and I can't wait to finish it. The towel has proven to be very difficult to execute. But I have to keep working until I get it right. 2008 will be more about art and my commitment to it. Happy New Year everyone and lets make it a good one!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sepia Flows

Sepia Flow I, 2007, genuine sepia ink on paper, 10 x 8 3/8 inches
My investigation of water media continues. I decided to test out shellac ink and see if it could run like watercolor. I've worked with this kind of ink before but in a more direct application. This time I approached it in a different way by dropping ink on wet paper and/or puddles of water. I discovered that ink is much heavier and doesn't run as easy as watercolor. You literally have to push it around.
Sepia Flow II, 2007, genuine sepia ink on paper, 10 x 8 3/8 inches
This did not stop me since the main idea behind this process was to learn and, yes, to have fun.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Seeing Red

For Mikey I, 2007, watercolor on paper, 7.5 x 8.5 inches
It has been a color constantly making its presence known throughout my work and life. Red is everywhere and to many different people it may take on a different meaning; perhaps love, passion, emotion, or even something as generic as a Coca Cola sign.
For Mikey II, 2007, watercolor on paper, 9 x 7 3/8 inches
In my work Red pops up when painting tomatoes. It is obvious that tomatoes are of a certain color and as a representational artist I will recreate them in their true form, but the intent is not to represent a tomato per se, but to bring about the color Red. In life Red has always had some sort of impact on my subconscious. It manifests itself as a patriotic symbol for my country of birth, Peru. In art it hypnotized me as the color Vermilion and how Caravaggio would use such pigment in dramatic scenes and make it a focal point of his color scheme.
For Mikey III, 2007, watercolor on paper, 9 x 7 3/8 inches
Now Red has taken on a new, more powerful meaning. It represents the existence of a person, it stands for the life and intensity of a special man who always seemed to be surrounded by the color Red. There is no separating the two because when he comes to mind I see is a sea of Red.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Prints for Sale!

The holidays are here and everyone is now thinking about what gifts to buy for the special people in their lives. How about art? It would be great if most folk could afford an original piece of art by their favorite artist, but we all know that most working people can't. So here's an option. Purchasing fine art prints. Through Imagekind.com I am now able to make my work more attainable to most people. On this site you can buy a print of any painting on my gallery. All you have to do is choose a size and paper, and if you like, matting and framing. It's easy and affordable.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

At The Wadsworth

Portrait of Mademoiselle Henriette Ferre after Millet, 2007, ball point pen in Moleskine sketchbook
I made an unexpected trip during my Thanksgiving break to Hartford's Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. This was the place where my first interests in art began and the place where I got a taste for 17th C. Italian painting. After all, this museum, which since 1842 remains the oldest public art museum in America, was the first to acquire a Caravaggio. The Ecstasy of Saint Francis has always made an impression on me. So much that I started a copy for one of my studio courses in college. But on this visit the Italian paintings collection was not on its designated gallery. The Wadsworth is very proud of this group of fine works by Italy's biggest artists, and you can't miss them as you walk into the museum. I was on the hunt for this collection thinking they had been moved to another temporary location. On my way there I passed through the first galleries, featuring 18th and 19th century French paintings. And there she was. The "Portrait of Mademoiselle Henriette Ferre" by Jean-Francois Millet. I had seen this piece many times and I was always disturbed by the unprettyness of the sitter. Her sad face always made me turn away. But with age comes wisdom I assume and on this day I was able to look past her face. For the first time the colors in this painting jumped at me. What I always thought to be a very dark and colorless painting now had a finely tuned sense of color sophistication. It's all in the dress, how could I have missed it? Her dress was an orchestration of deep and light greens. Some could even be described as muddy yellow greens, but they worked. Dashes of color ran through her garment, nothing was tedious modeling, it was all about pure painterly strokes. The more I stood in front, drawing her, the more it seemed like I had just encountered this painting for the first time. Or it could just be that after spending so much time painting in the past years I'm able to pick up on subtle painting approaches, little details that make great art what it is.
Saint Sebastian after Anonymous Florentine 17th C. Painter, 2007, ball point pen in Moleskine sketchbook
Moving along the rooms of the first level of the museum I came across an area very familiar to me. It was more Italian art. This small collection of about four rooms held pieces from Medieval Times up until the 18th century. As I made my way to the last room another painting I knew so well was hanging on a corner. Saint Sebastian, a small painting by an unknown Florentine 17th C. painter, had been separated from the main group of works I was after. It was then I realized that maybe the Italian paintings were on storage, and some on loan. The Wadsworth has been going through some renovations in recent years and at one point most of their greatest hits were sent on a national touring exhibit. Knowing I didn't have much time left before closing time I quickly began sketching the small piece. This painting has always been one of my favorites in the collection and I was glad that it was still on view. I can't help but to think of Guido Reni every time I see it. As most paintings from the time this work has that sharp contrast of light and dark, a technique made popular among Italian and Spanish painters by none other than Caravaggio. But the soft features of the the Saint's face and treatment of flesh are very Reni.
Closing time came just I was finishing the sketch. I put my pen away, closed my sketchbook and walked out with a sense of relief knowing I had come back home.

Monday, November 19, 2007

New Painting!

Broken Wings, 2007, oil on canvas, 10 x 9 inches
Yes it has been a while since I've actually finished a painting. Was getting worried if I should still call myself an artist or not. I feel good today, not just because of the finished piece, but because this painting made me realize something. It made me realize that I am very happy to be an artist. Things in life will always change, events will arise that could shake the very ground one walks on, but the advantage as an artist is that no matter how much life may change art will always be there. The drive and the passion to create will never stop. Painting is getting me through some changes at this moment and it's such a good feeling to find myself helping me get through it all by painting some more.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Abstract Studies 2

Abstract Study No.4, 2007, watercolor on paper, 7 1/4 x 9 inches
It's back to work again. Last night I needed to let loose and have some fun. What better way than to keep working with a relatively new medium for me. It's hard to let go and try new things. I keep trying to do what I used to do with oils a few years ago. But I was glad that I didn't get to precious with these studies. I let the paint run and do it's thing.
Abstract Study No.5, 2007, watercolor on paper, 7 1/4 x 9 inches
I love painting still lifes, there's a sense of connection to tradition that makes me feel good. But it doesn't compare to rush that I get when dealing with abstraction. With this kind of language you can only rely on the color and the shapes you put down and somehow make them work. There's nothing in the physical world that can be used as comparison, so the creation of an abstract piece or study is much harder yet rewarding.

Abstract Study No.6, 2007, crayon and watercolor on paper, 7 1/4 x 9 inches
It was liberating to push and splash paint around. It could be frustrating too, especially dealing with the runny nature of water but you just work at it until you make it work. More to come soon.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Damien Rice "The Animals Were Gone"


What can I say, I'm a sucker for love songs, and this little painful number gets me all chocked up!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Nazarine October

Senor de los Milagros, 2006, New York, NY
Another year that goes by, and another year that the Peruvian faith manifests itself in the streets of Lima. It's a long tradition spanning hundreds of years and breaking many geographic barriers. The Nazarene, the Black Christ, the Lord of Miracles, once again makes its way through vast crowds that accompany him day and nigh. With hopes of receiving a miracle, many flock to the colonial painting of the a Crucified Christ, originally painted by a black slave of one of the of Lima's slums. Said to be the biggest religious procession in the world, the Lord of Miracles brings together over half a million faithfull from all walks of life. Celebrities, Politicians, Clergy, and laymen all unite under the Peruvian sky to the beat of drums, turmpets, and singing maids.



Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Studio Visit with Pat Lipsky

The sun was out and the temperature was as pleasant as the first days of spring. Hurrying to the train so that I could make it in time to my appointment with Pat Lipsky I could not help but to enjoy the the calm touch of the New York fall breeze. This was an important day for me, partly because the artist I was going to see had been a mentor in school and I admired her affinity and sensibility to color. It was also my first studio visit as a young painter to another painter's domain, and I could already foretell that it was going to be a rewarding night.

Am I supposed to bring something or not? That was all I could think about, especially when the person being visited payed attention to small details. Was I going to look like a fool for not bringing something like a basket of fruit or wine? Unfortunately I didn't have much time to shop, so empty handed I hopped onto the subway train on my way to Chelsea.

I arrived and knocked on the door, and her voice invited me to "come in." There it was, the studio I've been interested in seeing for quite some time. Nothing to it but a humble painter's space with paintings in progress on the walls and two tables with paint tubes and containers of mediums and other tools. To the normal social visitor making the rounds to their friends' and family's they would hope to find so much more than just too lonely chairs. But that was all the studio had to hint at some kind of human comfort. The two old chairs, painted with a matte white resembling gesso, drew me into the heart of the room. To me their simplicity was very inviting, they testify to their functional purpose in a working artist's space.
The air was full of the smell of paint as it welcomed me. We sat down side by side facing a large canvas in progress and talked about different things. It was all about catching up, but there is always something to be learned. Even though she may not have been teaching I was pulling as much as I could from her in hopes of learning how to be a successful painter. It was a great experience sitting next to an artist with a long career in New York, an artist who overtime rubbed elbows with the biggest and finest in the art world. As we talked I couldn't help looking at her new large painting, not yet finished but revealing her signature use of color. A Renaissance inspired abstraction standing tall in the room overlooking our conversation as a quiet guard to the wonderful gates of Lipsky's studio.
Wide eyed I looked around the space as we conversed. Beautiful works on paper on the walls gave way to her thinking process, the seeds of her large paintings. Couldn't help getting lost for a few moments at a time staring at a simple vertical painting using black, red, blue and grey; color combinations she explored in her series of nine paintings tittled "Red River Valley." Hanging on the wall next to her large painting it glowed in the warm light of the afternoon. It was a study centered on a large bone white piece of paper with notes and smudges. "That's what I need to be doing!" I told myself. "More paintings on paper."
The stimuli of our conversation and the presence of her work had me on a high. As our meeting drew to a close as we walked out of the studio into the streets of Manhattan, I could not help but to feel rejuvenated. It can be done. Reaching that high level of creativity and success needed only hard work and commitment.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Caravaggio Painting Discovered

Caravaggio, The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew, The Royal Collection, London, England
Doing some image research online I came across a couple of articles reporting that a new Caravaggio painting had been discovered, or attributed.The painting, purchased by Charles I in 1637, has been in the Royal Collection and up to the point of attribution last November the piece was believed to be a copy of a lost original. The subject matter comes from St Mark's gospel (1:16-18): Jesus saw Simon (later called Peter) and his brother Andrew fishing by the Sea of Galilee and said, 'Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.'*
After sitting and collecting dirt for more than 350 years in storage at Hampton Court Palace, the painting was due for a cleaning that took about six years to complete. Caravaggio experts were invited by the Royal Collection conservation staff after a some cleaning tests to review the piece. Several of the Caravaggio experts became convinced that this was an original. From then on test were conducted to prove the authenticity of the work. X-Rays revealed what they all hoped to find.

It is known by scholars and others in the field of Art History that Caravaggio executed his compositions without the use of preparatory drawings. Instead he made incisions on the wet priming layer to mark specific points in the painting, along with loose sketching called "abozo." Many such incisions are visible in this work, around the ear of St. Andrew and around Christ's head, shoulder line, eyebrows and lower sleeve.* X-Rays also revealed that Caravaggio made changes to the painting's compositions as the work progressed. Such changes are not normally found in copies.
Other characteristics of that lead experts to believe this was an original Caravaggio was the execution of priming and it's use in the overall painting. In this painting Caravaggio used a warm brown ochre as primer which is left exposed in some areas of the painting as a middle tone. It is also the use of Caravaggio's high constrasts of light and dark which made it an ovious orginal. Before cleaning the layers of dirt had neutralized these tones to soft monochromatic shades of brown, but as soon as the varnish and grime were removed the paintings true colors revealed it's identity as a painting by Caravaggio.
"There is no record of Caravaggio painting such a subject, so the Royal Collection work can only be dated stylistically. The brushwork is deceptively simple, giving an extremely convincing impression of form from a distance. The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew seems to belong in the period of 1602-6, before Caravaggio fled Rome, a period when the sensuous surface detail of his earlier work gradually gave way to a spare, dark and expressive manner."*

*The Royal Collection, London, UK

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

GLAAD OUTAuction 2007

Vine Ripe Tomatoes, 2006, oil on panel, 9 x 9 inches

This year I have been selected to participate in GLAAD’s upcoming annual art event – outAuction . I was very pleased to find out that I am one out of one hundred artists to participate in this event. I hope you will consider joining me on 10/21 for a night of cocktails and great art - all for a good cause. This year’s art includes pieces by Herb Ritts, Steven Klein and Ryan McGinness to name a few. Past celebrity participants include Tom Ford, Susie Essman, Patricia Fields, Eva LaRue and Junior Vasquez. In the next couple of days GLAAD will be releasing more fun updates. Last year’s event raised over $121,000, with over 500 people in attendance from the media, philanthropic and entertainment communities. To view this year’s event information, purchase tickets, join the Host Committee, please go to:
http://www.glaad.org/events/detail.php?event_id=127
Thank you for considering to support this event and I hope to see you at outAuction NYC!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Still Working

This is what I've been up to in since my last post. Put the yellow tomato aside once again to dedicate time to this new onion painting. I'm enjoying this piece and falling back in love with the texture of canvas. This piece began as a feel good painting and it continues to bring that satisfaction time and time again when I sit to work on it. You can't beat that feeling, so just go with it when it comes right? Here's a little taste of where this new painting is heading, although by now it has developed a lot more. I'm hoping to finish it by the end of this week. Till then cheers!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

On the Easel

It has been a long and enjoyable summer. But all the fun kept me away from the easel, distractions left and right made it hard for me to get any work done. But now that I have a new space to paint in work has resumed. It's time to get back to work again and the ideas and possibilities are many at this moment. I'm picking right back up where I left off, continuing with the yellow tomato painting I left to collect dust. Well, not so much since I worked on it here and there. There was a point, very recently when I thought I wouldn't finish it because I was getting bored with it. But now I'm seeing it in a whole new light and have started to rework it and becoming excited about it again. I guess we'll see where it goes.
I've also started work on this new onion painting. I can't wait to keep working on it and see it develop. I already have an idea as to what I want it to be, but I'm not revealing that just yet. Once again, we'll see where it goes.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fresh New Look

While I was away this past weekend Mikey came to my studio and shifted everything around. This new arrangement has revitalized my painting habits. I'm no longer painting in a corner of the apartment, which made it too cramped for me to work. Everything is now placed against a wall and set at angles so that all tools are within reach.
There's more room for me to breath, and there seems to be more light, making it a better painting environment. This new awesome studio space has made me want to paint more, reason why I now get up at 6 a.m. to paint and enjoy a few quiet hours before heading to work. I guess this is what I needed to stimulate my brain and get some work done.
For the moment I'm working in two paintings...man this must be a real good change since I don't usually work in multiples!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Working Out Ideas 3

Sometimes it's hard to keep up with all the ideas that pop into my head. Throughout the day images of possible paintings come to my head, but unfortunately I'm always in the middle of work or something important. So the ideas go away for a little while as I hope that I'll remember them again when I sit down to start a new painting.
Sometimes I'm lucky enough that ideas come at the moment when I'm ready for them. So I grab my pen and sketchbook and draw them out. Sometimes I may jot down some notes on composition and color choices. What seems to happen often is that when I'm cooking or someone else in my house is cooking, things come together to form the perfect painting. Both sketches above and below were done as Mikey cooked some burgers one night.
Other times I think about how I can change a subject that's already been dealt with. Like the first sketch below, a different composition of the Three Peaches I painted not so long ago.
There are times when I grab a camera instead and take multiple shots of groupings of objects. I have a collection of both prints and digital images of future painted still lifes. But nothing beats the creative feeling of drawing them, whether from observation of imagination. The feeling of the pen running through the paper is unparalleled. If I could just now find the time to execute all these ideas!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Lime Halves

Lime Halves, 2007, oil on canvas, 6 x 6 inches

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Scarred Tomato

Scarred Tomato, 2007, oil on canvas, 6 x 6 inches

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Quick Portrait

Mikey, 2007, oil on canvas panel, 8 x 6 inches
Reluctantly I started working on this quick portrait sketch of Mikey. Had in mind to paint a head of garlic, but after I sat in front of the TV with Mikey next to me my plan changed. I was not sure what was going to come out. I have only done two portraits in my life and those took a lot of work and patience. Creating a portrait in about two hours was something I didn't think could be done, at least for me. But I pushed forward and took my time with it not worrying too much about making mistakes since in the end this was only practice. For a first timer in quick portraiture I don't think this is bad at all.

Monday, August 27, 2007

What a Mess!

It used to be a tidy, clean watercolor box, but not after my lesson on how to work with puddles. Apparently my watercolor box is too new, therefore mixing colors was a pain, water would bead up not allowing me to see the actual colors I was mixing.
"You have to season the box" miss Carol said. Lesson number two was how to make an enamel surface workable with water. By applying thick layers of watercolor and letting them dry slowly the glossy surface of the white enamel wears out to the point were pools of water don't separate. Of course nothing is as easy as 1 2 3.

I'm going to have to keep applying more layers of color, let them dry, wash them off, and repeat the process until water no longer beads up. I don't know how many more times I will be doing this, if at all, but at least the first layer is done and over with.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Watercolor 101

Behold the Kremer Pigments watercolor box set! With these fourteen colors I have been trying to get a better handle of the medium. Heavily pigmented pans of color make it easy for an oil painter like me to work with them due to their opaque thick quality. But watercolor is not meant to be opaque. It's beauty is in its transparency and ability to run all over the paper.

As a beginner in the medium I needed all the help I could get. After showing my first paintings to Carol (Paris Breakfasts) she agreed to teach me a few tricks on the trade. Watercolor 101 began on Friday afternoon.

The whole idea about this lesson was on how to lay down color on pools of water. Dropping the brush loaded with some color and allowing it to do its own thing. For a person like me who likes control this was a bit difficult, but I think I got the handle of it. I think I did. I guess she would have to be the judge of that.
The main thing I learned is that paper does make a big difference. I was working with the Moleskine watercolor book, which is nice but for some reason it did not allow the water and colors to run. Instead the colors just sat there and I would have to push them around. This I noticed after I worked with some of Carol's watercolor paper she buys from New York Central.
I was left on my own for a little while to practice. The end results are these puddles of color. Wonder what she'll try to teach me next.

Keep Those Lemons Coming!

Lemon on the Left, 2007, watercolor on paper, 5 x 8 inches
While staying at my friend's Manhattan apartment this week I developed an obsession with lemons. Well to be honest, just his three lemons I found in his refrigerator. They are the most beautiful trio of lemons I've see. Let me tell you it's no joke that Manhattan markets get some of the most beautiful produce, try finding this stuff in Queens!
Lonely Lemon, 2007, watercolor on paper, 5 x 8 inches
It has been a fun few nights painting lemons. It's also a learning experience working with mostly yellow. How can you make tonal variations with yellow? To top that, how can you make tonal variations with yellow watercolor? It's been a challenge but an enjoyable one none the less.
Two Lemons, 2007, watercolor on paper, 5 x 8 inches
At this point of the night I was feeling a little more confident about laying down pools of color and creating different temperatures of yellow. Now that I have a better handle of the medium I think I will keep working with it from time to time.