Thursday, April 30, 2009

Stefan Annerel at Galerie Kusseneers

Stefan Annerel
Stefan Annerel, one of the artists I featured in the Pulse New York 2009 post, just informed me of a group exhibition he will take part in at Galerie Kusseneers. The show, Teasers & Pleasers, will run from May 7 - June 27, 2009. If anyone is in Antwerp during the time, stop by and have a look at Annerel's beautiful abstract work. Others in the show are Katharine Bernhardt, Eddy De Vos, David Goldbold, Andrew Graves, Tobias Hild, Curtis Mann, John Phillips, Bob and Roberta Smith, Wolfram Ullrich, and Maarten Vanvolsem.
Wolfram Ullrich
Curtis Mann
David Godbold

Galerie Kusseneers
De Burburestraat 112000 Antwerp Belgium
Ph. + 32 (0)3 257 24 00
Open:Wed. - Sat. 2 till 6 pm

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Plein Air Painting

Today marks the 3rd year of the creation of this blog. It has been a long ride since, it's gone by fast but as I look back through the pages of this blog I see how much I've grown.
New things are starting to happen, such as plein air painting in Central Park. I have been thinking a lot this year about painting outdoors in spring and summer, and I dove right into it yesterday morning.
I am taking a summer monthly class with Robert Zeller, a talented New York artist and teacher. He's very knowledgeable and his guidance will help me understand landscape painting better.
For my first day of class I had to paint a landscape using only Raw Umber and Titanium/Zinc White. I don't do well with grey scales, my paintings seem to lack, as Robert says, "tonal structure." And he's right, when I take pictures of my work in black and white they read grey. Rich darks are always missing.
This is my first try at a grisaille landscape. It was hard I must say, things flying into the wet canvas, the sun reflecting off my white t-shirt onto the painting, and the light of the day was washing out the colors, no matter how dark I applied the color, the sun made it seem it was not dark enough. But in all it was a great experience to be out in the open painting.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Juan Luis Guerra "A Pedir Su Mano"

As the weather heats up, the summer vibe and mood take over and makes you just want to have fun, and maybe dance. At least that's my mood this weekend. So here's to some fun times with a little tropical music from the Dominican Republic.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Starting a New Portrait

I'm off the wall, since my Caravaggio copy is taking up most of the wall painting space, and working on a table. I have been thinking of getting into egg tempera again but I remembered my last experience with it was not positive. But I do like the slow detail process, and working with a wood panel in one hand while holding a brush on the other, some how it feels more intimate. Wanted to put to use the new technique I'm using with the copy on a small portrait. So far I'm liking what's happening.
I usually make quick painted sketches using Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber to figure out proportions on the canvas or panel, but I never go into details. I start building with color very quickly after that. With this portrait I'm starting a detailed underpainting of browns and white. From there I'll glaze colors. I've done this with egg tempera but never with oil, and I'm hoping this might be a good change.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Progress on Caravaggio

Change can be a good thing, and not having a laptop to work from on unfinished pieces can be a huge change. While I figure out whether I should make the change to a Mac or stick to PC, I went ahead and put up the Caravaggio copy I started last summer. Up until the last time I worked on this canvas I had given the composition two tries. I failed at both.
Two nights ago I started working at what is now the third try. I started by applying white paint and bringing out the highlights in the composition. I took the advice of a fellow painter who told me that he's now creating beautiful flesh tones by applying thin layers of white in a dry brush manner over a sienna, or red earth ground. This time things are going better, since I'm in no rush or under a deadline. This was meant to be my sister's wedding gift in August after she requested me to paint her the Last Supper for her new home. Who is she kidding? I'm no Da Vinci and was not even going to make the attempt at a thirteen character painting. Although I did try by making a few sketches. But I thought the idea of the Last Supper hanging in her dinning room was a little too much of a cliche. Latin people sure do love their Last Supper hanging over them as they eat! My way out of the cliche was choosing Caravaggio's Supper at Emmaus.
I worked into the late hours of the night, trying to get the right proportions and angles. Pictured above is the first try of the head of a saint (forgive my ignorance but I'm doing my research on the characters in this painting still), followed by the third try, in the middle of the image, which was all wrong. The fourth try is in progress and the first outlines of the head have been placed with white paint. As I work I'm starting to read a bit on Caravaggio's painting technique, which differs from build up of glazes in his early career to more impasto applications towards the end. The main idea behind doing this copy is not to end up with a product that looks like a master painting but more to learn about the process of one of my favorite painters.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Computer Crash

To my misfortune my lap top crashed about a week ago, reason why blog posts will not be frequent, at least for a little while. This is also a set back on my painting since I became dependant on my computer while working, putting up reference shots on my screen as I painted. I have other older images and ideas I can work from while I get this situation worked out. Enjoy the coming warm days and see you soon.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Justin McAllister: Mirror-Signals

Installation view of Justin McAllister: Mirror-Signals at Josee Bienvenu
Mirror-Signals, a collection of works by Justin McAllister, brings forth a new way of seeing and dealing with the landscape. In his first solo show at Josee Bienvenu, McAllister brings together a small group of paintings ranging from small to medium sizes depicting the romantic landscape of northeastern Pennsylvania.
Justin McAllister, Fire Works, 2009, oil on canvas, 12 x 16 inches
It is not hard to see that McAllister's work follows in the tradition of the Hudson River School, the beautiful fiery sunsets and lush green life and expansive acres of land are all there. But his landscape does not fall into the provincial mode of plein air painting found in the the pages of Southwest Art and American Artist. There is a concept here, the human hand at work amids the wonders of nature.
Justin McAllister, Relay League-Farm, 2009, oil on canvas, 8 x 10 inches
By accident I came into contact with these works, and timing could not be better. A night, or two before, I had read an article on Larry Groff's blog Painting Perceptions, in which he compared the two disciplines of landscape/plein air painting. Perceptual Painting is a term I've never heard before, but it makes sense, and McAllister's group of landscapes fall under this category.
Justin McAllister, Relay League-Hudson, 2009, oil on canvas, 8 x 10 inches
Unlike the more traditional style of landscape painting, in which the artist represents and celebrates nature untouched by man, the modern landscape of McAllister offers a view about us, human nature, and the world we live in and how we interact with it.
Justin McAllister, Relay League-Truck, 2009, oil on canvas, 8 x 10 inches
The focus of the paintings are on the "controlled burns" set by the artist during the summers of 2007 and 2008. "Burning garbage (couches, La-Z-Boy chairs, piles of tree limbs and paper waste) is a common practice in rural communities" states Josee Bienvenu's press release. But are they "joyful bonfires?"
Justin McAllister, The Conjuring, 2009, oil on canvas, 34 x 46 inches
In The Conjuring, the tall blaze seems more menacing than a joyful bonfire where people might come to gather around for "bonding and exchange." The site of fire in the middle of the woods could make anyone cringe and think of the risks and outcomes they might have. Being one with nature is completely out of the picture, literally. Instead we have a visual of man's capability, and perhaps hunger, for destruction.
Justin McAllister, Hill Top Lights, 2009, oil on canvas, 26 x 30 inches
Could McAllister's paintings be a subtle hint of our sense of ownership of earth, and how this way of thinking has landed us at this crucial moment when being green is a matter of life and death? Are we looking at ourselves through a painted mirror and taking the hints, the signals? I'm not sure what McAllister's true concept is, and if it has any dark undertones, but one thing that is apparent is that nature is still being celebrated. By pushing pigment and oil over a few pieces of linen canvas, the artist captures beautiful moments of light during summer days.
Justin McAllister, Relay League-Adirondacks, 2009, oil on canvas, 8 x 10 inches
Mirror-Signals runs through May 9, 2009 at Josee Bienvenu, 529 West 20th Street, NYC 10011.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Working Some More

Warm days are around the corner, but to many it seems like spring is taking its time to get here. It has been raining every other day and cold wind makes it feel like it's still winter. But at least we have longer days, and spring light is always welcome in the studio. I have been working steady on a couple of paintings. In the past few weeks I've been using a gel painting medium similar to Maroger and it's working great. After a few minutes the paint becomes short and almost dry, great for adding multiple layers in one session. One thing I'm still trying to deal with is the smell of it, it's pretty strong. This is not the first time I've worked with this medium, but for some reason last week I began to feel light headed from it. The smell was stronger than other previous times. But I haven't experienced that effect since.
I began working on the landscape again. After covering it with Burnt Sienna and bringing it back up I started to follow my old pattern and soon the painting was looking as messed up as it did before. I set it aside for a while as I worked on the last two still lifes and came to think that I would have to start from scratch. Take the canvas off the stretchers and stretch a new piece of linen. I came close to doing this many times but something kept stopping me. Before making my final decision I started working on it and so far I think I'm getting the hang of it. I'm still dealing with issues on mixing greens but I think I'm getting a little better. I'm also beginning to enjoy the surface of this painting. After so many layers of paint, texture is starting to be very apparent, the hand at work, the history of the painting is very obvious and I like that.
I have also began to add color to this painting. I had left it alone after the first night, I guess I was trying to gain courage to start something so big and complex. What I have realized is that I have to take my time with things, I can't keep rushing these paintings, but I do have to remain consistent.