Saturday, March 31, 2007

I'm Still Here

It may seem like I have dropped out of the face of the earth, but the fact is that I'm still here sitting at the side lines watching all the artists around me. After completion of my last painting, On the Lid, I took a little break from painting. Major changes in my life have been taking place and I'm still trying to get used to the newness of it all. But work must resume. Picked up my brushes, laid out some new fresh paint on my palette and painted my night away, well almost the whole night. I am very excited about this new painting since it will be the first one in a long time where the composition is not focused on a single object. Not to mention that this will be my first time painting apples since the year 2001. The famous apple, a subject very widely used by still life painter throughout history has been a topic I've stayed away from since then, intentionally. The way I saw it was, how many more times can one paint an apple, or pair as a matter of fact? But I'm ready for it now. In the back of my mind I'm keeping Caravaggio as a source of inspiration, in hopes that his work will guide me to make this apple still life stand out.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

It was about time!

On the Lid, 2007, oil on canvas, 10 x 9 inches
It has been long over due! Finaly the first "show" piece since October. I have been painting in the months since then, but it has all been small oil sketches. As many of you know it was a very hard time for me during the last couple of months of 2006 all through February of the present year. As soon as the dust settled I set up my studio space in the new apartment and started work on this painting, which was originally intended to be a smaller egg tempera on panel piece. Not so long ago I realized that I was not a tempera painter and decided that it would be best for me to stick to what I know and do best; oil painting. Not producing these more finished paintings for a while resulted in many doubts. I ran into some problems after starting this canvas and I was not sure if I was going to finish it. I thought I was heading for failure. But as stubborn as I am I kept going at it until I saw something that would please me. Things started to click and once I got an idea of where I was heading with this piece there was no turning back. Now that I've completed this small painting I feel so much better. I'm very excited to start working on the next painting. There are so many ideas I have been storing since last year that I don't know where to start. What ever it is I do next I'm sure I'm going to have fun with it, now that the fear of "Oh my God I forgot how to paint" is gone.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Halved Tomato II

Halved Tomato II, 2007, oil on canvas, 6 x 6 inches
This was another last minute sketch completed right after I finished work on a "show" piece. It was a great weekend for painting, I spent most of last evening focusing on my art and it felt good to do so. It's been a while since I've devoted that much time to my art. I'm off to a good start now, since I know I'm going to want to keep the flow going.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sneak Peek

Trying something new didn't really work for this painting or for me. I thought Indigo Blue might bring a breath of fresh air to my work but I guess I was wrong. Before using the color I should have studied different mixtures that may have been suitable to the color harmony I was trying to achieve. But as always I skip steps and applied the paint blindly, all leading for me to crash on my face. Recovery time needed to be put into this piece that I have been working on for quite a while. Who knows, maybe I have been thinking about it too much and just needed to let loose. When in need of help I turn to my roots. Spanish painting has always been at the heart of my use of color since I first picked up a brush. It has always come natural to me, the use of earth tones in high contrast to the subject. That influence is at its highest point at this moment. Since moving to the city I was exposed, through the amazing collection of the Met Museum, to great Spanish painters like Velazquez, Murillo, Ribera, and Goya. But it wasn't until the past couple of weeks, after seeing the Guggenheim show "Spanish Painting from El Greco to Picasso: Time, Truth, and History," that it was made very clear to me that this aesthetic is my identity. No matter how much history I learn and to how many different styles and schools I'm exposed to I will never shake off the brown tones. Now that I have figured out the direction of this painting my focus will be to give it that Spanish feel but keep it modern. Problem one resolved, now moving to problem two.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sliced Onion

Sliced Onion, 2007, oil on canvas, 6 x 6 inches
I have to thank my roommate for this painting. I had been thinking all day as to what was I going to paint, and by the time I got home I still had no clue. As I looked over the kitchen counter there it was, a left over onion half from his dinner. This would be the first time I paint an onion that has been chopped, sliced, or cut. I usually tend to keep my subjects whole, and this was a good chance to step away from that. I also loved the outer skin that remained from the missing half. Once the painting was done my roommate claimed it for himself, and since it was his onion I painted I accepted his wish and let him keep it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Robert Hoover

Robert M Hoover, Luis Colan, 2006, acrylic on canvas, 11 x 14 inches
Me, an inspiration? I never thought that day would come but it did, so it seems. Robert M Hoover, a New York based artist, saw a self portrait I posted on Flickr.com and decided to use the photograph as a reference for this painting. In 1976 Mr. Hoover graduated from Binghamton University and has been working in the magazine industry, he currently works for Hearst Magazines. "He has been painting seriously since 2003. His creative endeavors consists of abstract, portraits, still life, collage, dealing with his emotional and sensual experiences. Creating art has become his whole life and has electrified his senses. He tries to keep an open mind, spread his wings, continue to work at his craft. He is inspired by all the art forms and believes they are all intimately connected. "Luis Colan" is a good example of the direction Robert wants to go with modern portraits, but abstract is his main passion. He works in Manhattan and lives on Long Island.*

*Statement provided by the artist.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Study of a Tomato

Study of a Tomato, 2007, oil on canvas, 6 x 6 inches
This colorful tomato found its way to my shopping basket late one night this week as I shopped for food. I was very happy to find it among the other tomatoes, since the color was lush and its shape was almost ideal. I had to have it since it was the only one of the bunch that was very unique. I think I might do more studies of the same tomato in the coming days. I'm hoping to dissect it as much as I can.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Making Oil Paint

It was a last minute itch! I had the time, so why not. Although it had been a long time since I made oil paint, and all instances leading to failure and learning experiences, I was ready for it again. After all, I got my marble slab back from storage. Since this was a moment of impulse I didn't have any pigment with me, at least not a color I was interested in working with. Then it came to me that I had a special badge of Synthetic Indigo.
I got my tools ready. Nothing fancy, all that's needed is a muller, cold pressed linseed oil, a palette knife, a marble or glass slab, and pigment of choice. I remember the first color I ever ground in oil was Cadmium Brown, a color no longer being made at that time. What was wrong with me, messing with a toxic pigment for my first oil making session? Oh well, I survived.
After making a little mound of pigment and dropping a few drops of oil in the middle I start by mixing it with the palette knife, trying to get it to a pasty consistency. At times I have too much oil, that's when I start adding a little pigment here, a little pigment there. There are no exact measurements or proportions when it comes to mixing since different pigments behave and absorb oil differently. Everything is by eye balling and by feel, and if you are someone who has worked with oils for years then you know when you have the right body.
This is when I start mulling the mixture. The palette knife alone won't bind all the pigment particles, that's the purpose of the muller. By applying pressure and by stretching the paint thin on the flat surface the pigment and oil form a strong bind, this guarantees from the paint to crack and chip of from a final piece.
I proceed by gathering the paint into a pile and then re-mulling it, watching for the right consistency and adding the components as needed to get the best paint. After getting it right I gather all the paint and scrape it off the muller and marble. If a lot of paint is made you can store it in empty collapsible tubes, but for this nigth, I transfered it to my palette since I made eunough for the painting I was working on that night.
And here's the debut of the the Synthetic Indio Blue in my painting. Like always, I changed the background, letting the paitning lead the way and tell me what it wants to be. Not sure what color the background will be next. I'm hoping to stick with this color.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Drawing a Model

Henna, 2007, pencil on paper, 24 x 18 inches

It was time on Saturday to dust off my drawing materials and skills and put them to test after three years of no practice. I recently enrolled at the Art Students League of New York, a place I have always had my eyes on since a junior in high school. As a student in an Hartford public high school thumbing through the pages of the Art Students League catalog in hopes of being there was a far far dream. At that point I did not have any plans on moving to New York. But I wanted to be part of the League, and reading about the who's who in American art history who attended the school during it's hey day made me more determined to make it there some day. At first I thought it was a four year college and I was ready to apply until I found out that it was not. I needed to do my undergrad somewhere else since the League it's a learning place for artists to feed from each other's talent and intelligence, without the grades or degrees. The League to me became more of a myth through the years. After moving to the city I had set my mind to take a couple of classes there. But due to intimidation I didn't. Through working for Kremer Pigments I met a few of the students who took classes at the League, a bunch of dedicated and very talented young artists who want nothing more than to learn about and fine tune their craft. Intimidation aside, a couple of weeks ago I made the phone call and gave my check card number and had them add my name to the roster. After a few years of dreaming about what it would be to study at the Art Students League, I'm now one of many eager students wanting to expand and challenge my skills. The drawing above is the first of many to come.