Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend Painting

Spent the long weekend in Connecticut, where I grew up.  Went to Goodwin Park and took my new palette out for a spin!  I love this New Wave Art palette, it's the most comfortable hand held palette I've worked with.  One more for my collection…time to let the paint build up!
Saturday turned out to be an excellent day for painting, was not hot, and after a cloudy start to the day the sky cleared up and I had beautiful crisp light through the afternoon.  
Not a bad view don't you think?  Sometimes I feel very lucky that I get to enjoy life this way, out in the sun at peace with the sound of the wind and birds.
Late afternoon and the light begins to change.  I prefer this light, things begin to glow and it almost seems like there's magic in the air.
Second day of painting was a bit colder than expected, but you have to deal with it, once I'm in the zone I tend to forget about the heat or the cold.  A few hours later though I'm reminded of how cold it is wen my hands start to numb and tingle for the chill in the air.  That's usually a good time to stop.  
Again, I'm left alone among the trees and if feels like the world stands still.  These are the moments when I feel the most alive and at peace.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Michelangelo Coming to New York!

Michelangelo Buonarroti, Archers Shooting at a Herm, ca. 1530, red chalk on paper, 21.9 cm x 32.3 cm, Royal Collection, UK

Earlier this month, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announce that it would present a historic exhibition on the work of Michelangelo Buonarroti, a titan of the Renaissance and of all of Western Art.  Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer is scheduled to open on November 13, 2017 and run through February 12, 2018.  This unprecedented blockbuster exhibition will no doubt bring art pilgrims from across state lines, if not international as well.  About 150 drawings, three marble sculptures, The Torment of Saint Anthony (Michelangelo's first known painting dating to the time when he was twelve or thirteen), and one of his wood architectural models for a chapel vault; will all give viewers an insight into the creative process of this Renaissance genius.
Michelangelo Buonarroti, Young Archer, ca. 1490, marble, H. 37, W. 13 1/4, D. 14 inches, lent by the French State, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY 

Michelangelo's work holds a power and grandiosity that has captured the attention of people through the ages.  Many artists have used his imagery as inspiration and as a starting point for their own work.  Now in the twenty first century New York and it's visitors will understand why his contemporaries called him Il Divino (The Divine One).
Michelangelo Buonarroti, Studies for the Libyan Sibyl (recto), 1510-11, red and white chalk on paper, 11 3/8 x 8 7/16 inches

For this exhibition work has been pulled from fifty four public and private collections from the US and Europe.  One of the drawings that I anticipate will be on display is this study sheet of the Libyan Sibyl, an image that captured my admiration for Michelangelo, one that I obsessed over since the age of sixteen when I first came across it in an art book in my high school library.  This was the moment I realized that man can achieve greatness beyond the rational, that talent and vision will always live beyond time, and that artists are touched with a gift that can elevate art to the realm of the divine.      

Monday, May 22, 2017

April at the Grand Army

Our monthly printing get togethers at the Grand Army keep going strong, as a matter of fact we met twice in April…not bad at all!
I keep exploring the larger format, still some kinks to work out but there is some progress.  Above a 12x18 copper plate is placed neatly on the bed of the press and it's ready to roll under the drum.  
A second plate is ready for the press, sometimes I wish I could keep the ink on the plate and let it dry and treat it like a painting on copper.  I love the way light reflects on the red cold tone of the copper.  It adds some drama that gets lost on the paper.
Fresh off the press…I'm happy with the result, but still it lacks the luminosity of the copper.  
Giving a big plate another go on the second day.  I lucked out with this one and was able to attain a glow on the final print, one that I have not seen on my previous prints.  I guess it was one of those things that only happens once and you have to be happen that it did than for it to have happened at all.  
Another moon nocturne image, I think a new series is happening here…this would be the third moon themed landscape this year.  Let's see how far I can go with this.  
Two prints done and drying.  I have been enjoying the process of most of my recent prints, the images come about organically without the use of reference photos or sketches.  It can be challenging trying not come up with different compositions and trying not to repeat myself.  So far things have worked out nicely though.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Back to Prospect Park

The sun is shinning and summer is quickly approaching, and this can only mean one thing...plein air season is here.  Recently my friend Charles and I met up at Prospect Park to pick up right where we left off last summer, painting views of the lake. 
I love this area, given the right day and time, this little piece of land and water can make you feel like you are no longer in New York City.  Sometimes it feels like we are painting somewhere in France, standing in the same places that Daubigny had.  If only I had his talent can dream.  
It was a beautiful sunny day, a little windy at times but no big deal.  We knew that there was a chance of rain in the afternoon, but couldn't believe because it was too damn beautiful.  And about ten minutes before 3pm the clouds started moving in, and moving fast!
One smile for the camera before it was time to pack up and try to beat the rain.  It rained twice that afternoon.  We barely made it out of round one.  Luckily a few yards away from where we set up there's a burger place where we usually end our painting days and catch up on life and painting.  
Then round two came pouring down fast as we walked out of the park.  We thought we were done with the rain but I guess mother nature had something else planned for us.  Good thing I paint in oil and not watercolor, I can't imagine a day's work being washed away by the rain, can you?!  

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Landscape Drawings

Untitled, 2017, charcoal, graphite, pastel on paper, 14 1/2 x 6 inches 

There are times when painting comes to a stop.  It's become a pattern that after a successful year or two of painting I tend to hit a roadblock that causes me to stop painting for weeks.  I have not been able to figure out why this happens, I know I have written about it in past blog posts.  Not painting can affect my mood, I'm not the happiest person to be around during these periods which only I can pull myself out of when I have cleared my head enough to sit in front of the easel.
Untitled, 2017, graphite, pastel, sanguine oil pencil on paper, 14 1/2 x 6 inches 

Luckily this most recent painting drought has not been too bad and that's thanks to new interests in my studio practice.  Monotypes have become a major focus of my recent output, but what has been a welcome change is drawing, and I'm not talking about my little sketches in my sketchbook.  These are proper drawings which are closely related to my monotypes.  My interest in drawing was sparked by a drawing material's workshop I will be teaching in the near future.  In preparing myself for it I began dusting off my chalks and pencils, and began reading about the history of paper which has been very interesting.
Untitled, 2017, graphite and sanguine oil pencil on paper, 6 x 14 1/2 inches  

You can't teach about something if you don't feel comfortable about the subject, so I went to work and decided to have some fun and see what would come of it.  I know how precious I can get with my projects, and in painting sometimes it can hinder the final work.  Spontaneity is of importance to me when looking at art created by other artists and it is quality that I try to bring to my work.  This is why I picked a Stonehenge pad measuring 6 x 15 inches, a long format which would force me to think about composition differently than the standard rectangle I usually work with.  By the way, these beautiful pads of cream color Stonehenge spiral bound pads were discontinued this year,  so I had to grab as much as I could for future use.
Untitled, 2017, sanguine oil pencil, pastel, pen and ink on paper, 14 1/2 x 6 inches 

The second part of the challenge has been to use different dry media within each drawing to achieve different effects and colors.  I saw a beautiful Michelangelo drawing recently online made with charcoal, white and red chalk and ink, and the effects he achieved were incredible.  This specific drawing has been on my mind for a couple of months and I know this was the reason why I have been approaching these drawings the same way.  To clarify I am not saying I am as talented as Michelangelo, to insinuate that I would have to be delusional.  I am only inspired by his genius and I am only paying my respects.  Lastly, my approach on these has been very similar to my monotypes.  Instead of covering the plate and pulling out shapes according to patterns left by the brayer, I tend to cover the paper with the powder remains of either the sanguine, pastel, or charcoal pencils after I shape/sharpen them on a sandpaper block.  I rub on the powder and begin building on the random shapes created by my hand or stomp after spreading it.
Untitled, 2017, graphite and pastel on paper, 14 1/2 x 6 inches 

I am looking forward to see where these drawings take me, so far they exist on their own without any plans of using them for anything specific,  and for the record, these are not supposed to be "finished" pieces.  These are more exploratory than anything else.  More to come soon.