Monday, July 23, 2007

Drawings in Motion

Sleeping on the E, 2007, ball point pen on Moleskine sketchbook
As an artist it's not a surprise that I would be looking at everyday life with more attention to detail. This is what makes us artists special, we are able to capture magical moments that happen in the world which most common folk don't even see. I always go through life paying attention to random little things in the street, at home, and everywhere else. This way of seeing created an itch to draw while I was in motion. Riding the subway trains of New York City can be an experience to remember. You will find all kinds of people from all walks of life: homeless people, construction workers, families, people dressed in formal attire, and street entertainers to name a few. So what is one to do in a long train ride with so much stimuli?
Just Looking Down, 2007, ball point pen on Moleskine sketchbook
Get the pen out and draw! I've never sat anywhere in public to draw strangers because I don't want to weird them out if I look at them too much with a pen and sketchbook. So as I sat in the train last week I had to pick my random subjects in a systematic way. I would see how long they were in the train for and if they didn't move at all from their original pose than I would chose them. If they fall asleep in the train even better! These drawings are part of my growth, I'm venturing outside the walls of my apartment to practice my art. What's great about drawing in the train or bus is that it creates a control exercise for the handling of the drawing tool, in my case the unforgiving pen. Every jerk and turn of the train could possibly create a disaster on the page, so drawing with so much motion allowed me to concentrate more than usual and really think about the places where I was laying down the lines. A challenge is always good and this one seems to have awoken a new interest. I think I'm hooked!
Tree, 2007, ball point pen on Moleskine sketchbook
Are there trees underground? No way! But they are above ground. As I was riding the bus the other day I couldn't help but to get this tree off my mind. Boredom and a long uncomfortable bus ride made me think of open spaces filled with beautiful trees. So there I was drawing again while the bus jerked around. I was not sure if drawing an imaginary tree would be a success but again, concentration took over and a tree was born. I wonder what else will go down in the sketchbook on my next train ride?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Kremer's New Look

Let there be color! And that's what Kremer Pigments' new window display offers to all who pass by it. Nothing but color. It has been a while since I updated the store's window and it seems to have been screaming for a make over in the past couple of weeks. So it was time to put myself to work after hours to come up with this new display.
The main feature has always been pigment. The presence of these wooden racks containing small glass jars filled with all the different pigments had to continue on the window. But this time around it needed to be more edgy and dynamic, so they were separated in half to flank the edges of the window area.
After the main feature was up it was time to add the hot sellers, such as pigment sets, the water color box, brushes, mullers and more pigments.
For better use of the space this book shelve was placed on the window and filled with books and more jars of color. The idea was to make it resemble an artist's studio, and if it looked old world even better!

A new concept we are trying is to expand the display section into the window by placing a feature table in front of the store. Our sketchbooks, brushes, and sets have found a place in this table. This is the first positive change of many more to come to this store, and I am very happy to be a part of it.

See previous post on Kremer Pigments here. A special thank you to the little angel who helped me with this project.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Progress Report

I just wanted to share the beginning stages of this new painting I'm working on. I'm very excited about his small panel painting, I have been wanting to paint it since last year. Not sure how long this is going to take me but I know it will be a while. Taking my time with this one since I want it to be perfect, or at least as close as anyone can get to perfection.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Unexpected, spontaneous things are the best people say. And I couldn't agree more! I didn't get to go into Manhattan to see the 4th of July firework display as I had planned. The day was overcast and by the time I started getting ready it started raining.
So far it had been a relaxing day in my Queens apartment and I just didn't feel like leaving my comfort zone. I also didn't want to deal with large crowds. At the last minute Mikey and I decided to walk towards the East River, at the edge of Queens facing Manhattan hoping to get a good view of the fireworks.
Little did I know that the view from this part of Astoria was so beautiful. Everything was picture perfect; the water, the lights, the city and the bridges. At that moment I couldn't ask for anything better.
After finding a good spot among the many families having cookouts, with about five grills to each group, the sky light up with explosions of beautiful colors. I hope you enjoy these shots which can not compare to the real thing. Happy Independence Day everybody, although one day late!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Allison Gildersleeve

Allison Gildersleeve, Sticks and Stones, 2007, oil on canvas, 54 x 48 inches
Good art is very hard to come by these days. Young and well seasoned artists seem to find themselves caught up in a game of who's more daring and who's more "experimental." Dealing with new views and approaches to art making is not a bad thing, on the contrary it is what makes new art so fresh and exciting, but with so many options in materials, and lack of information on the use of such, works of art could many times have disastrous outcomes. So every now and then it's a very welcome feeling when good art by a young artist hangs on the walls of a Chelsea gallery. On a recent excursion through the gallery wonderland of New York I was very shocked and pleased to find the work of Allison Glidersleeve at Michael Steinberg Fine Art.
Allison Gildersleeve, North of Stonington, 2006; oil, enamel, glitter on canvas, 60 x 60 inches
Immediately I was enchanted by this young artist's bold use of lines and moving compositions. All paintings in the show spoke to me in a way that I haven't experienced in a long time. Each canvas was a playful pairing of abstraction and representation. When at times you think you know what the image is about suddenly elements withing the piece knocks you one step back and becomes a sea of vigorous non objective color compositions. Morphing forms found in the real world into abstract visions can be a tricky thing for an artist. Sometimes the end result is a cliche campy thing found hanging on the wall of a local dentist office. But Allison Gildersleeve seems to resolve that problem with sheer confidence and sensitivity.
Allison Gildersleeve, The Trees Were in Rows, 2006, oil on canvas, 64 x 64 inches
In the gallery's press release, Gildersleeve's work is an "exploration of the interaction of time, memory, and loss." Yes this could be true, many artists like to use these kinds of "tragic"ideas to give the work more meaning and edge. But what is found in Gildersleeve's paintings, at least for the author, is a celebration of suburban nature. An endless high level of energy expressed through loose applications of oil paint. Sticks, rocks, and other natural forms take shape as each painting reveals its hidden views. At no point did I see "loss," a very depressing term to use in the description of such moving work. Most paintings in the show were about exploring hard edges and angles which is why it was a pleasure to see It All Came Down among the group. This sensuous black painting exploits the thin runny abilities of oil paint. The stain qualities of the paint is a close connection to the Color Field Painters of the sixties. Artists like Helen Frankenthaler quickly come to mind, but artist Allison Gildersleeve has managed to breath more movement and live to her paintings.
Allison Gildersleeve, It All Came Down, 2007, oil on canvas, 54 x 58 inches
When logical progression through time and space is hijacked by
memory, there is a certain collapse of what was there, and out of this
disintegration, a third distinct place emerges as a physical presence. My
work pieces together this place, combining the familiar with the unfamiliar, the
past and the present. What results is a hedge inside a room, a table leg
in between branches, an armchair sitting inside a deserted pool. Space
is restructured by the emotions it houses and what might have been a linear
internal narrative becomes a topography of recollection, uncertainty, loss, and
Allison Gildersleeve

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

One Down, More to Go

Two Onions, 2006, ball point pen on Moleskine Sketchbook
It was a year ago that I first started using a Moleskine Sketchbook. When I was introduced to it before that time I didn't think that it was right book for me due to its very narrow small size. But it all changed as soon as I started drawing in it, and more possibilities opened as I began to draw across and on back of pages. I became very attached to this sketchbook, and because of its portability it was easy for me to take it everywhere I went. Keeping a sketchbook was not my thing. Through out the years I've started many sketchbooks but never seemed to finish them. My approach to them was totally wrong, thinking that every time I put down something on the page it needed to be a masterpiece. Disappointment lead me to drop and trash many sketchbooks.
Study of an Onion, 2006, ball point pen on Moleskine Sketchbook
But there was something about this specific sketchbook that allowed me to use it more as a learning tool. Not only as a place where I could make small thumbnail studies but also as visual journal. Somewhere I could jot down ideas as they came to me. It was the right time to start this sketchbook since at that moment I was in the middle of rediscovering my painting. New exciting experiences living in the city among other things new made it easy for me to put myself in a new frame of mind about sketchbooks. They no longer needed to hold masterpiece drawings, they just needed to be recording tools. And with pen in hand I started drawing whatever I found stimulating as I went about my daily life.
Magolino and His Sons (detail of sculpture) after Carpeaux, 2007, ball point pen on Moleskine Sketchbook
Portrait of a Man after Workshop of Velazquez, 2007, ball point pen on Moleskine Sketchbook
Many times I've enjoyed taking my sketchbook to my favorite place on earth, the Met Museum. It is here where a lot of learning takes place. There have been many times when drawing and note taking happened all at once as I absorbed as much as I could.
Saint Francis of Assisi in His Tomb after Zurbaran, 2007, ball point pen on Moleskine Sketchbook
I have had the opportunity to see traveling shows which brought to New York works of art I would never have seen unless I took a trip to Europe. This was the case with the show at the Guggenheim early this year, a large survey of Spanish painting from El Greco to Picasso. I got to see amazing Zurbaran and Velazquez paintings, and such a special exhibition needed to be recorded in my sketchbook.
Lecture Notes, 2007, ball point pen on Moleskine Sketchbook
Looking through the pages of this sketchbook I can see some of the growth I've done this past year. As an artists this book was a big step in terms of confidence, using a pen was not normal for me but now it seems like there's nothing else I would rather use. Not interrupting the flow of things a second sketchbook was begun recently and I look forward to seeing what things will fill the pages of my next Moleskine.
Greek Sculptures from the Met., 2007, ball point pen
For more images of all the drawings of the first Moleskine click here.