Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Portrait of Jarod

I recently started a portrait of Jarod. This will be my most ambitious portrait yet, not only in size, but in composition. As the painting develops I will show just what I'm talking about. So far I've blocked in areas in the background, but I have been focusing more on the face. I started by doing a white and grey underpainting, and it was a bit scary because poor Jarod looked like a mime!
It's been hard trying to capture his features and his smirk, maybe the most difficult part has been rendering his eyes. Jarod has perfect elongated ovals for eyes, but if I were to paint or draw perfect ovals it would end up looking like a cartoon. I had to look closer at how light and shadow played with the shape of his eyes. I was finally able to see some angles and strait edges, this made painting them a bit easier.
Jarod's smirk was another element in the portrait I started having minor problems with. I didn't want him to look like he was giving me a full smile, but I also didn't want him to be too serious. I was able to capture his mouth somehow, one corner up, the other straight and then down. I'm very excited to see the end of this piece, and I hope to submit it to a show or two in the future.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

In Memory of Stephen Pat Brown

Stephen Brown, Self Portrait, oil on panel
With great sadness I found out yesterday afternoon that Stephen Pat Brown passed away on October 21, 2009. Stephen was one of the few who touched my life in a special way while attending the Hartford Art School. His work was something to be admired and it was a standard that many wanted to attain. This kind and loving man was adored by staff and students alike, and it was because he was happy doing what he did; painting. He used to tell us how amazing it was to wake up in the morning and make a cup of coffee, and with that in hand, to walk in the studio and begin painting. Good painting does not come from random inspiration we all need to wait for; it comes from working hard day in and day out, he once said. It was discipline, determination, and love all in one. Even on days when one didn't feel like working, it had to be done!
Stephen Brown, Onion on Bowl, oil on panel
I met him on the second semester of my freshman year of college. I was running late, and I remember going up a long flight of stairs to get to the room where he would teach me foundations drawing II. My tardiness kept recurring and disapproval came from his direction, but he was never mean or cold, he just made sure to push me harder. I would get frustrated from time to time because I felt he was picking on me. I was told by one of the students that he pushed me because he saw a lot of talent. As the semester came to a close, on the last day of class, we all sat and he went around the room and telling each student, one by one, what their abilities were, and how their character could make them into better artists. Stephen had an ability of getting close to his students, something other professors weren't able to do. He knew how to respect his students as artists and adults, he was able to see what each individual needed to reach his/her full potential. As his finger moved around pointing, it landed on me as he called my name. I'll always remember what he thought of me, with a little more focus I could be a damn good painter. I had a talent he wanted to see flourish into something great and I just needed to believe and work hard at it.
Stephen Brown, David, oil on panel
A drawing or painting could always be made better, and when I showed him an 18 x 24 still life, I had painted outside of my assignment load, he said that it was good, but that I needed some cools in the shadow. For Stephen it was all a play between warm and cool, and he made sure to ingrain that in his students. I liked the man, this six foot something guy who wore the funkiest shoes I had seen to date. Red Clarks clogs were not a regular thing where I come from, but there he was, wearing them with a few specks of paint, a pair of light washed jeans, a shirt under a sports jacket and a baseball cap. He always had a smile, and if approached, he didn't mind spending a few short, or long, minutes talking about just anything. He was open, and enjoyed chatting in his office about his school years, about his family, about his painting. Stephen loved his family to pieces. He always talked about his wife and kids with such joy. There was a time they visited him at school and he was so ecstatic to see them. They were his world, something that can be witnessed in the portraits of his son, Rush, and other family and friends.
Stephen Brown, After the Rain, oil on panel
Stephen was a kid at heart. His class was the fun one, notorious for going out to play dodgeball or frisbee in the park. It was one of those random things when the day was bright he would ask "who has a car?" I can fit this many in my truck, who can take the rest. And off we all went to Elizabeth Park. He would run, laugh, and play like a kid among his students. This was his way of connecting with us on a personal level, it was a learning experience for all parties, and it was a way of sharing the happy, simple things in life. This is what made Stephen the special human being he was.
Stephen Brown, Portrait of John, oil on panel
Stephen enjoyed life and wanted to share that with all. He genuinely wanted to learn from others, to have some sort of meaningful exchange. It is no wonder that three years later, in his advanced painting class, he would read to us part of the introduction to Hawthorne On Painting, and from there on it never left my life. I made the first sentence of that introduction the theme of this blog in 2006, and now I shall copy bellow the first paragraph in full and dedicate it to the man who changed my way of seeing and painting:
Anything under the sun is beautiful if you have the vision-it is the seeing of the thing that makes it so.The world is waiting for men with vision-it is not interested in mere pictures. What people subconsciously are interested in is the expression of beauty, something that helps them through the humdrum day, something that shocks them out of themselves and something that makes them believe in the beauty and the glory of human existence. (Charles W. Hawthorne)
Thank you Stephen for being a part of this earth, thank you for allowing me to experience the beauty and the glory of your human existence!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Sandpit

The Sandpit from Sam O'Hare on Vimeo.

This beautiful video of "a day in the life of New York City," as New York Magazine calls it, was created by artist Sam O'Hare. Using tilt-shift photography, O'Hare was able to capture one of the grandest and greatest cities in miniature. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cocina de Mama at Gourmet Garage

My small scale solo show with Woodward Gallery is now on view at Gourmet Garage in Soho, 453 Broome Street, New York, NY, 10013. If you're in the area please stop by and have a look at the seven windows containing my work, on view 24/7. Bellow is a statement from Woodward.

L U I S C O L A N
Cocina de Mama
March - May 2010

Woodward Galley welcomes Luis Colan’s original, oil paintings at the Gourmet Garage, SoHo windows at 453 Broome Street, NYC. This is Colan’s first solo exhibition in New York.

This recent body of work reflects traditions from Luis Colan’s childhood in Lima, Peru. The paintings speak of warmth and home and sincerity. They fill our senses with a feeling of comfort. Some of Colan’s “bite size” canvases may be perceived as delicious samples from his mother’s kitchen, cocina de mama.

Colan reflects, “It was part of everyday life, the routine of going to the market late mornings to buy the freshest groceries for that day's lunch and dinner. This is how I grew up, accompanying my mother to one of Lima's open air markets, Limonsillo, to help her carry bags of meats and vegetables. Soon as we got home you could hear pots, pans and wooden spoons moving and shaking on top of an old stove, all in a hurry to get everything ready for noon or one o'clock. The smell at first was always the same sweet aroma of onions, garlic, salt and pepper. This is the ‘base’, as my mother calls it, for everything you want to cook… My onion and tomato still- lifes are self portraits of different stages in my life.”

Luis Colan was born in Lima, Peru. He graduated in 2004 from
Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, Connecticut. Colan went on to attend the Art Students League in NY, and the Teaching Studios of Art under the guidance of Founder and Artist Robert Zeller in Brooklyn.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

New Painting: Steve in a Tank Top

Steve in a Tank Top, 2009-10, oil on panel, 12 x 9 inches
It was time tie loose ends last night, and so I was determined to finish Steve's portrait. I began work on this 8 x 10 last summer, and from the start it felt good. That was until it was time to paint his face. I think there might be three different faces underneath, but I would not give up . I decided at some point that making a drawing would help out. After completing the small drawing I left the painting untouched for a number of months until last night. Fresh eyes do help, I started to see what was wrong and it was smooth sailing from there on.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Three Studies

Garlic, 2010, oil on canvas, 6 x 6 inches
Here they are, the last three paintings for the upcoming Gourmet Garage show. These three studies will complete a grid of sixteen PAD (Painting a day) paintings from the past. Forming a 24 x 24 inch grid of still lifes, the group will take up the space of one window.
Tomato Study II, 2010, oil on canvas, 6 x 6 inches
I haven't worked on these 1 hour studies for a year, and trying to get back into it was a bit hard, especially when using paint that's more wet than what I'm used to. For these I decided to try new paint, M. Graham & Co.'s walnut based colors, and Schmincke's Mussini line of paints.
Tomato Wedge, 2010, oil on canvas, 6 x 6 inches
I find it difficult to work with Graham paint, it's just too runny, and for this alla prima style of work I need something with more body. That's why I love using Williamsburg and Old Holland. Schmincke's Mussini has a good body, but I don't feel right working with paint that has dammar included in the binder. I remember talking to a conservator years ago, and he said that if artist could do without using dammar in the painting process all the better. Dammar darkens, and according to this conservator, who works for the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, is the leading cause of old master paintings' discoloring. It's alright if dammar is used as a varnish, since the layer sits atop the paint and it can be removed. But once dammar is in the paint film there's not much one can do. I hope Schmincke knows what they're doing and that their paint won't darken over time.