Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Painting: Astoria Rooftops

Astoria Rooftops, 2010-11, oil on linen, 10 x 8 inches
I began this painting as a plein air study last August from the rooftop of my building. It was one of those impulse paintings when you don't care about the time or place, you just have to do it. After getting home from work one evening, I went up there and loved how Astoria looked from above at sunset. Because it was so late in the day I had limited amount of time and light, and so the painting was left unfinished. Later through the fall and winter it became a studio piece, but I never fully committed to it, at least not until the last couple of weeks when I decided I couldn't drag this one out any longer. I got to work and was able to finish it last night. The painting is a bit more detailed than I originally intended, but I didn't fight it. I'm proud of this little piece, and I think this may have sparked a series of Astoria rooftop paintings.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

New York Makes History!

It was what we've all been waiting for, what most of us didn't think would happen, but it did! Last night the state of New York said yes to gay marriage and it couldn't have come at a better time. Thousands of LGBT people in New York City were out on full force kicking off Pride weekend, and just in case the bill was passed, they did not want to miss out on the celebration. At almost 10pm at night, my partner, a friend, and I were at Boxers Bar eagerly awaiting for the vote, thinking what an amazing thing it would be for us not to go out of our state to get married, and that we could take part of this historical moment. As we got ready to order our first round of vodka tonics in the last few minutes of open bar the DJ turns down the music and announces that all votes were on our favor, it was now legal for us to join in marriage.
A loud cheer broke out as we raised our hands and let out some emotional howls. Hearing the DJ's voice saying "it's official!" was moving and I will never forget the look of my partner's face as he got teary eyed smiling at me. My partner and I have been engaged for over a year, and the question of where we would get married always loomed over, but we had no clue as to where to go. We really wanted to marry in our city, with our close friends and family, we didn't want to go to some random, meaningless place. Now we don't have to, because after 30 days we will be able to marry in New York City. This has been a long fight, lots of people were involved in the fight for us to get this right; people such as my friend, comedian Adam Lehman, who was always emailing and texting trying to get people to call our local representatives and press them to pass this bill. To all of those people who gave up so much of their valuable time we, the LGBT community of NY THANK YOU, from the bottom of our hearts!

Mindrelic - Manhattan in motion from Mindrelic on Vimeo.

Empire State of Mind played a few short minutes after the announcement, the ever changing New York made history, and this is why we love where we live. We have the privilege to live in one of the most amazing cities in the world, an ever changing concrete jungle that you love and hate, but like the song says:

In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made, oh

There's nothing you can't do, now you're in New York

These streets will make you feel brand new

Big lights will inspire you, let's hear it for New York, New York, New York

If you don't feel love for NYC yet, perhaps you need to watch the amazing video above...this is my home town where I am proud to say that I have equal rights!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Central Park, Summer Dusk

Central Park, Summer Dusk, 2011, oil on linen, 8 x 10 inches
Last week, a day before leaving to Colorado, I went to Central Park to get some painting done. It was a little late in the afternoon, which makes it harder to paint since light changes faster at that time of day. This is the product of that afternoon's session, a piece a bit more moody than my previous plein air landscapes. I want to start introducing more color to my sky, I figure a good way to do this is to paint when the sun goes down, and all this is being influenced by my recent purchase of a landscape book, A History of American Tonalism 1880 - 1920. Most of the paintings included in the book are mesmerizing, and they are helping me fuel the fire in my stomach to create beautiful work. The large tome helped me find out about Charles Warren Eaton, a painter I am ashamed to say I didn't know about. Better late than never, now I can't get enough of his work. More to come.

O Beautiful For Spacious Skies

Welcome to breathtaking Colorado! I just got back last night from a week stay in the land of "spacious skies", and it was a great tour. The first thing I noticed about Colorado is how the sky meets land, never have I seen such huge clouds hovering so close to the ground, and since there is nothing but open space, the sun never seemed to be hidden by them.
It amazes me how people live in the middle of nowhere surrounded by so much open land, but having a landscape such as the one above as your backyard, it kind of makes sense.
Mountains can be found all around, the Rockies, the Sangre de Cristo, and other monumental mounds. The image above is a little creek leading to the Natural Water Slides of the San Isabel Mountains. This was a tremendous hike, one that if you're not careful and don't watch where you step you might get killed...I almost did! That didn't matter much to me, I was surrounded by beautiful views from every point.
Destination spots for hikes and other natural outings are many, but the great thing about Colorado is that you don't need to go very far to experience the greatness of the land, you can just drive for a few minutes and encounter landscapes like the one above.
A nice surprise was going to a dessert like area, known as the Great Sand Dunes National Park, located in Alamosa. The dunes, the tallest in North America rise from the floor of the San Luis Valley and stretch to the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The dunes also feature a number of small streams coming down from the surrounding mountains. This little bit of water makes it a fun alternative to a beach, you can dig into the sand and water comes up to the surface creating pools.
When the sun goes down the dunes become more beautiful with rich colors. The San Luis Valley (bellow) also comes alive, and to see it all happen is pure magic.

Driving away from the Great Sand Dunes you can see more of the spectacle of the surrounding landscape. I believe that everything at sunset looks more beautiful, but nothing has been as beautiful as the vast landscape of Colorado at sundown.

As I mentioned before, driving from point A to B can still provide the traveler with captivating sceneries, such is the case of the view above, a drive at sunset from the Sand Dunes back to the town of Pueblo.
More mountains and grasslands can be seen on your way from Pueblo to Denver, and the scene above, again at sunset, was quite stunning.
This is Denver, the Mile High City, a beautiful town that offers its residents the best of city and outdoor life. A quick half hour drive from downtown Denver puts you at the foot of the Rockies. My short stay in Denver made me realize just how high above sea level we were, it almost felt like you could touch the clouds, something that was amazing and freaky at the same time.
The Colorado sky is something this city boy has never experienced before, it opens up, becomes heavy with clouds, and it opens up again, and then colors change, and so on...it's a dance of colossal scale.
Even from the heart of Denver one can experience the beauty of the Colorado sky, and the picture above can explain it better than I can. It is no wonder that America the Beautiful was written high atop Pikes Peak overlooking Colorado.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Studio Clean Up

It was time again, the much dreaded studio clean up. This week I spent two whole nights cleaning and straightening up my studio after many months of neglect and junk pile ups. I always come back to the same spot, where so much clutter takes over my space to the point that it is impossible for me to think and work. There was no floor room, piles of clothes, supplies, and mail covered much of the room; but I had enough! I made room on my studio desk for books , exhibition and auction catalogs, and my laptop. I cleared out some shelves for canvas storage; I keep buying stretched linen and I had run out of space to store them...so I thought.
Now that the space is tidy, my supplies can be displayed in a better, pleasing way. Having them in neat stacks, like my drawing paper above, inspires me to work.
It didn't take long to get started, now that I have more moving room painting has become less of difficult task. The clean up helped me uncover some unfinished pieces, some that had no hope what so ever, and some like the piece bellow, that have great prospect.
I had begun work on this cityscape a year ago, shortly after my move to the new place. I had worked on this from the roof top of my apartment building, and has now become a studio piece, working from reference shots taken on that evening. A year ago this 8 x 10 canvas was a challenge, today I see it as a fun painting I can't wait to see it completed.

Friday, June 10, 2011

One More Landscape Please!

Astoria Park, 2011, oil on linen, 10 x 8 inches
It's been a busy couple of weeks, I have been painting more and enjoying the summer heat. This is the fourth plein air landscape in two weeks, that is a whole lot more than what I accomplished last summer. I feel more motivated this year, and I have set some goals for myself this summer, one of them is to paint at least two landscapes outdoors per week. It seems to be working so far! I'll be going away for a week in the coming days and I'm not sure if I'll be able to get any painting done, this means when I get back to New York I'll have to make up for days missed. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Living Craft

I am very excited to announce that Tad Spurgeon; a gifted painter I admire, has just printed his first book on artists' materials and precess. This volume is perhaps the most comprehensive study of a the painter's craft that has been published in years, and I think it's a must have for all artists who respect and care for their profession. I have been following Mr. Spurgeon's blog for a number of years, and his vast knowledge of mediums, grounds, paints, and theory, never ceases to amaze me. I'm sure there will be something for everyone in this book, and perhaps many questions might also be answered in the pages of this book. For more information on Tad Spurgeon's Living Craft: A Painter's Process, click here.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Painting in Hartford

Hyland Park, 2011, oil on linen, 10 x 8 inches
This is the third painting I completed while visiting my family during Mermorial Day weekend, and it happens to be of a little park half a block away from my parent's home. This was a late afternoon painting, and as you can see the sunlight coming through the trees was spectacular. That's one of the things I miss most about living in Connecticut, sunset colors are so intense and beautiful, from the back of my parent's house you can see the orange, blue, and alizarin sky as the sun goes down, turning all the trees into a deep green and everything seems to glow. So far I started out this summer on the right foot, I'm getting more time off, I'm painting outdoors more, and it finally seems like I'm enjoying life...after all, this is the summer of fun! More plein air landscapes to come.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Painting in Central Park

Bow Bridge, Central Park, 2011, oil on linen, 8 x 10 inches
Here's another plein air landscape done over Memorial Day weekend, it is Central Park's iconic Bow Bridge, the inspiration of many paintings, photography, and movies. I love painting in Central Park, it is a magical place and during the first few weeks of warm weather the park has such a positive energy unlike I have ever seen any where else. People come out for walks, jogs, bike rides, picnics, and to catch up on their tan. Everyone seems to have a smile on their face, something hard to see in one place in New York City. I began painting in late afternoon, when the sun was not beating down on me, this time of day has the best light and it brings out beautiful, intense colors on the grass and trees. This is the moment I was trying to catch, a time when everything seems peaceful.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Plein Air Season

Goodwin Park, 2011, oil on linen, 8 x 10 inches
Cold weather is out the door and hot summer days are here! This is the time of year I enjoy most, having been born in tropical climate, east coast winters kill me. I don't think I need to say any more about how unbearable this past winter was, and with Memorial Day weekend's nice heat wave I kicked off plein air season. I spent three days painting outdoors, the small landscape above is from day one, done on site at Goodwin Park in Connecticut. This park is located a few blocks away from where I grew up in Hartford, and although it is mainly a golf course, it holds nice memories of my time growing up there. A little concrete path winds its way through the whole park allowing runners and bikers to enjoy the open space, I know I did when riding my mountain bike under the afternoon sun. I've experienced this park in many ways, going to the public pool in hot days in middle school, or skinny dipping at night with friends in high school. This park also proved to be a an enemy when school brought us there to run and it would leave me in pain days after. Some other good memories are the tennis matches and practices that took place there after school in the spring, now I go back there to capture it's magic with paint. More to come.