Thursday, January 31, 2008

Urban Molecule

After almost a year's worth of ideas, planning and running around, Urban Molecule launched into cyberspace tonight. The brainchild of editor in chief Christopher de la Torre, UM is a new quarterly webzine that will focus on modern culture, with emphasis on the visual arts, fiction, poetry, music, film and how all of these aspects of todays generation have been affected by technological advances such as the internet. This online literary journal will push the envelope and question our generation's way of life. Featuring great thinkers and fresh new voices in the arts UM is sure to develop a great following in a short time.
As an artist it is a great privilege to take part in this project, and the first issue of UM features my work as cover art. Henna Seated is a figure drawing I did while attending the Art Students League of New York early in 2007. "At long deliberation, Henna was chosen for the launch cover because in many ways it represents the publication, perhaps most seen in its pensive nature and raw quality", Christopher states in the UM blog.
Please take the time to follow the links and explore this new publication, and please voice your opinions to the the UM staff, which happes to be composed of many different talented artists.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Some time ago I gave myself a challenge. One that would take my painting to the next level. My still lifes needed that it factor to make them stand out from the rest of the other still lifes out there. Compositions needed to have angles to allow the eye to move around the whole picture space. I do love painting single subjects, like one tomato, onion or even a pear; and the contemplative effect they get does satisfy me, but there needs to be more to my painting. One day I became a little daring and decided to include a kitchen towel on one of my still lifes. After it's completion, Yellow Onion in Bowl became my best painting yet. There was light, angles, tension, and the texture of the towel. I was not sure how I ever finished that piece, a lucky shot I thought. No matter what, I found what I had been looking for. Now I had to execute a follow up. It took some time before I got to work on a piece that would rival the Onion painting. I got my act together, put my fear of failure aside and started work on Yellow Heirloom Tomato, which is still in progress.

After spending some time with this new painting, which has been months, I keep putting it aside. Every time I start working on the texture of the towel where the heirloom tomato sits on, I get scared. I keep thinking of the onion painting and ask myself "how the hell did I do it?" I wish there was a straight forward answer to that, but there's not. There was no special technique I used. I just kept plowing away, piled paint on top of paint, rubbed it off, added more paint and then some more until I got it right. I thought about it for a moment and realized that I went through the exact pain when painting the first towel. I have to just keep painting until I get it right. But how can I recreate the texture of a towel without getting too cheese?

Henri Regnault, Salome, 1870, oil on canvas, 63 x 40 1/2 inches, Gift of George F Baker, 1916 (16.95), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
I needed some guidance, and went in search of inspiration to my sanctuary, the Met Museum. I was on a mission to look at a Vermeer painting, but as I searched through the galleries for useful information I ran into Henri Regnault's Salome. This was not the first time I stood in front of this painting, it is actually a very memorable one due to its lush use of golden yellow. The illusion of gold satin or some other shimmery fabric is impressive. But I was not there to look at satin effects, although it wouldn't hurt for future reference. I was there to look at rug treatments and other rough textiles. But there it was, before dismissing the painting I saw the treatment of the rug below Salome. Regnault had piled so much paint on the canvas that the mounds start taking on the feel of a shaggy rug. Looking closely I could see that he did not do it in one sitting. There were many layers of paint. This made me wonder if he had a special technique or did he work at it until he was pleased with what he saw? By the looks of the layers of paint, he worked at it until it felt like a rug.

Henri Regnault, Salome, (detail)

Vermeer, Young Woman with a Water Pitcher, ca. 1662, oil on canvas, 18 x 16 inches, Marquand Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
My main reason for visiting the Met was this painting by Vermeer. It's easy to see why I needed his hep in solving my texture problem. Vermeer and other Flemish painters of his time had a great interest in Oriental rugs. The designs and color schemes offered a great way of creating amazing compositions with bold patterns and colors, and yes texture. But there is a way that Vermeer used to treat his paint when dealing with rugs and other textiles. There's always a subtle touch, a mixture of broad shapes of color and little dabs here and there. Unlike Regnault, Vermeer did not use the physicality of paint to recreate the texture of his rugs. My admiration for Vermeer's technique is the way he juxtaposed different hues here and there to create the desired texture. The surface of his canvas always remains some what flat, only with a few touches rise from the surface if at all.
Vermeer, The Art of Painting, c. 1962-68, oil on canvas, 47 1/4 x 39 3/8 inches, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Probably Vermeer's greatest masterpiece, The Art of Painting, displays all of this master's abilities. Layers of different elements come together to form this great work of art, and to the forefront of all of these elements is a richly painted hanging tapestry. It must be breath taking to stand in front of this painting and witness first hand the mastery of paint Vermeer possessed. The handling of his medium is very delicate, there is no need to pile texture paint here, all is color against color. This soft touch is what I need, but we all have to find our own means of executing our work. I will keep working on the towel, and although I've built so much paint in some areas already, I will keep Vermeer's soft touch in mind.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dried Up Lemon

Dried Up Lemon, 2008, oil on canvas, 6 x 6 inches
No pain no gain! Very late in the night, after getting home from a friend's, I had to force myself to paint. I was thinking of doing a warm up run, a small quick painted sketch that will get my juices going for the rest of the week. The quick session of painting turned out to last longer than I expected. I had to go to sleep soon because I had to be up early but I could not let the brush go. So I kept on painting until I was done.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Gallery Night in Chelsea

Judith Bearnstein @ Mitchell Algus Gallery
Chelsea, the gallery district on the west side of Manhattan becomes a party neighborhood on Thursday nights. This is because most gallery openings occur on this night, when free wine and beers fill endless cups and glasses for the art aficionados. There's always a good vibe as you get close to this district on gallery night. People gather outside on the sidewalks and mingle about art among other things.
Jusith Bernstein @ Mitchell Algus Gallery
The different classes, just like in other parts of New York, come together in one small area. Young artsy kids with Converse shoes and torn tight jeans stand side by side with big shots and fashionistas. A fun thing to watch as they socialize. It's nice to see the art on the walls but most are there to network and connect. I'm a novice at this game but I'm slowly learning.
Leemour Pelli @ Daneyal Mahmood Gallery
One of the highlights of this night was this show of Leemour Pelli, tittled My Heart Is In My Stomach, at Deneyal Mahmood Gallery. I was drawn to the scale of these paintings, and what I loved the most was the monochromatic scheme in the series. There were some elements in these works that I usually don't like in others but these had a presence. They had something that clicked in me and I'm still trying to figure out why. I think it all comes done to some of their abstract shapes which at times become grid like.
Leemour Pelli @ Daneyal Mahmood Gallery
The imagery for these paintings are about people in different situations, but instead of portraying them in a traditional manner, the artist used the human skeletal structure. The rib cage was prominent in all of the pieces. Some of the black paintings took on the feel of anatomical studies. It felt like I was looking at chalk boards with drawings of the skeleton in a lab or biology class. A touch of whimsy doesn't hurt every now and then it seems.
Leemour Pelli @ Daneyal Mahmood Gallery
It was a good night for looking at art on Thursday, the shows that I got to see were not bad at all. Bellow are some images from two other galleries.
Michael Salter @ Jeff Bailey Gallery

Judith Bernstein @ Mitchell Algus Gallery

Michael Salter @ Jeff Beiley Gallery

Thursday, January 10, 2008

First Visit of the Year

Saint John the Baptist Preaching after Mattia Preti, 2008, ball point pen in Moleskine sketchbook
I made my first trip of the year to the Met this past weekend. It's been a while since I've visited this museum, the place I call my sanctuary. For a Saturday night the place was very crowded. My main reason for being there was to look at a couple of Vermeer paintings and study his treatment of fabrics. But the galleries where these paintings used to hang were closed off. Later on I found out that they were part of a current show at the museum, the Rembrandt show. So I made my way to the exhibit only to find it impenetrable. I couldn't believe the number of people jammed packed in this show. There was barely any room to walk through. I can't deal with huge crowds in museums, too many people, too much noise, they are all too distracting when it comes to looking at art. Especially when multiple people try to squeeze their heads in front of paintings. So I got in and got out. Walked right through the whole show. I walkde back to the European Paintings galleries on the second level, away from the crowd. Looking around I came across a large painting by Mattia Preti. Not sure if this is a new addition to the collection or if it's a piece taken out of storage. But I do know that it's a great painting.
Marble Head of Herakles, 2008, ball point pen in Moleskine sketchbook
After looking at Spanish and Italian art I went down the stairs to the new Greek and Roman Galleries, the pride and joy of the Met. Here you will find many artists with big and small sketch pads lost at work in front of the sculptures. And why not? The court is a relaxing space where you can hear the running water from a fountain in the middle of all the marble statues. I became one of the lost artists that night, drawing and relaxing until the time a guard came up to me letting me know that it was closing time.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Is it Spring?!?!

We all would like to think so! On Monday, January 07, 2008 temperature rose to 62 degrees. It was a beautiful sunny spring day in the middle of winter. What the hell is going on? Global warming or not I welcome this kind of weather. I opened my window and left it that way for most of the day. I enjoyed the breeze coming into my bedroom as I did a little early spring cleaning.
This is what I needed. I caught a cold during the weekend and on Sunday night I was coughing my lungs out. Although I was sick on Monday I didn't mind because the sun and the warm weather lifted my spirits. Nothing like a nice fresh sunny day to do some cleaning and change things around. Especially right after new years. It was too bad I couldn't go out and enjoy my day out since my cold held me hostage. But I still got to enjoy the sun coming through my window.

Friday, January 04, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

I recently just got tagged by artist Bob Martin. This means that I have to list five little known facts about myself, and then tag five artists. I hate talking about myself therefore this will be no easy task, but I'll give it a shot:

My facts:

1- I'm a creature of habbit and I'm always scared of change and of the unknown. What a way live right?

2- When I was young I wanted to be a writer and not an aritst. Lately I've been on a writing mood and have done some but mostly for personal purposes.

3- When I sneeze it's not just once but about five to seven in a row. It runs in the family I think since my sister's the same way.

4- I hate pattern in dishes, that's why all my dishes are white.

5- Many years ago my ex's friend told him that she saw my future, that I will move out of CT to a big city in the North East (I'm now in NYC) and that this city would bring me to California. Ever since then California has always been on my radar, especially this past year San Diego has been following me every where I go. Do I believe this future seeing woman? Yes because two out of three things she said have come true since then. So should I take the hint and move? I don't know, I'm still not done with NYC yet, but I can't stop thinking about the beautiful weather and beaches of San Diego! (Yes I did visit in May 2007)

5 Tagged Artists:

Rene Beeldendkunstenaar

James Neil Hollingsworth

John Beder

Michael Naples

Joanne Mattera