Wednesday, January 30, 2008

'In the Summer, In the City'

The hoped for two hours of additional work today, ultimately turned into about three and a half, but the work is complete! Finished image size is 15" x 16" and it will go into its frame in a few minutes.

And, I wonder if anyone will know the basis for the title, 'In the Summer, In the City'? First correct guess gets five points! (Don't everyone jump at once!)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I have some errands to run and things to do before dinner time today, so studio time, for now, is done for today. Might work a bit after dinner, but most likely will wait till the morning to finish this one up. There is about another two hours or so to go on this one, so should be finished up tomorrow and ready to frame by the afternoon. Then, it will be on to the next work!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Before I head out for a late afternoon hike, wanted to post yesterday and today's work on the piece. It's getting there!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ahhh . . . the joys of sign painting! And, especially joyful on a brick wall.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Yesterday's work. Not too much time in the studio yesterday as other things were going on.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

As promised, finally posting the beginnings of this current work. And yes, I have been at work on it for the last several days and yes, it may not look like an awful lot has gone on . . . but, that would be a faulty assumption! Lots of layering so far to get the intensity of darks and lights and mixtures of textures. And trying to be careful about possibly smudging so I am working on different areas of the piece.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Another slight divergence off the path today as I want to spotlight an artist whose work I have been enjoying for about eight or nine months now; not in the flesh so to speak, but virtually, on line. I 'discovered' his works on a group web site . . . . . . back then and have been enthralled with his work since. I love his compositional take on things and since I spoke yesterday of the photorealists, I thought talking about Stephen Magsig today would be a good follow up.

I think his work fits right in with that of the likes of Estes and Goings, with his focus on detail and interesting view points, reflection and light and shadow. I was first taken with his daily paintings, small, post card sized works seen on the group site and also on his blog - Then, I dug further and found links to several of the galleries that carry his work and found larger scale, more detailed paintings of New York City street scenes and was further blown away.

As an artist, it really excites me to see other artists focusing on similar subject ideas and compositional designs. The fact that Magsig and I are contemporary in age is also an interesting 'connection'. I am really taken with his choice of view, especially in his daily painting works where he seems to find some small detail in the grander scheme of his subject to focus in on, exploiting the minute possibilities and giving us a view that might otherwise be overlooked in passing. I guess that is something that I often try to do in my work as well and so I am naturally 'drawn' to others who see the world in a similar fashion.

And then there is the way he uses light and shadow and textural differences, bringing the viewer in close enough to almost see his subjects in abstraction, but again doing so within the confines of a figurative approach.

I just might have to break down, one of these days, and bid on one of his small scale, daily paintings!

I promise to post what is going on on my drawing board tomorrow!

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Photorealists

OK . . . I am going to diverge a bit again today as work progresses on the drawing board on another of the pieces for this summer's show at the Woodson. This one, which I will post an in progress shot of tomorrow (when there is actually something to see!) is a rather large scale work, for me, 'weighing in' at a mighty 15" x 16". OK, that may not sound terribly large to you painters who tend to work in the dimensions that are usually measured by feet! But, for me, that is a good sized work. And this one is especially 'large' in the sense that it is quite involved and full of 'stuff'. Actually, when all is said and done, there will be very little of the paper surface showing through, so a lot of graphite will be layered on this one.

In any event, on to what I want to talk about in today's posting . . . the Photorealist painters of the 1960s and 1970s.

Not a completely, unique American genre of work, Photorealism took hold here during those two decades and I have to say, influenced me quite substantially, whether I knew it at the time or not!

As I have mentioned in earlier postings here on the blog, when I was in art school, I had been convinced that I was going to become the next Picasso and my work, in oil at the time, emulated not only the influence of Picasso but any number of the other Abstract Impressionists of the time. Figurative work was the farthest thing from my mind, at that time, and I can look back on those days now and be quite bemused at my stubbornness and total immersion in abstraction (often much to the chagrin of my painting teachers!).

But, it is now quite obvious to me that other influences were tickling the back of my mind, stashing themselves away for future reference. Fast forward to my work today!

Lately, I have been revisiting the work of many of the prominent artists of that period of time, the late 60s when I was in art school and the early years of the 70s when I was working in Manhattan and visiting galleries and museums and 'taking in' what was going on in New York City and the art circles there at the time. Even though Hopper was a bit earlier in his output of impressionist/realist painting, visiting the National Gallery showing of his work a few months ago, really set this all in motion for me; got me thinking and rethinking about the influences on me as a young artist growing up with all the splash and clashing of art movements from the late 50s onward.

And, the upshot of all that 'thought'? . . . I was more influenced by the Photorealists than I could have possibly known or reacted to at the time when I was in school and shortly thereafter. It all has come to some fruition now, in my graphite works.

The realist aspect of my work, as I have commented about here and elsewhere, does not, I believe, override the fact that I feel that I am still working within some boundaries of abstraction on many of my works, especially the body of work that has been in 'the works' for the forthcoming solo this summer. By introducing the man-made into my work, something which I had not done nor was I of the desire to have done, say six or eight years ago, has given me a means by which to add that bit of my 'old artist self' to my current work and use light and shadow and textural differences and variation in view point and focus, to meld all that I was as a young artist to all that I am now as a mature artist.

Presented here, today, are several examples of Photorealist artists whose work has absolutely inspired me, influenced me and subconsciously been there within me for the last forty or more years. There were many who participated in the movement back forty years ago, but these three artists rise to the top of my short list of major 'influencers'. Above, Audrey Flack and her colorful crayons! And immediately below, two terrific works by Ralph Goings.

And then, there is Richard Estes, perhaps one of the best known and my favorite of the group.

And so, I shall, I guess, continue to reach back into the recesses of my mind, dig around for inspirations that found a place to hide all those many years ago, quiet and patiently waiting, waiting for the opportunity to come to the surface, be pulled into the light on my drawing board and take shape in my work.

Friday, January 18, 2008

'The Lace Curtain'

Finished up last night . . . this work is 11" square.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

'The Snowfall Is So Silent'

A little diversion today as we are experiencing a beautiful, quiet, delicate and soft snowfall here in suburban D. C. This is only our second snowfall of the season and it is very hard for me not to be distracted by what is going on outside my windows. I will, eventually, get back to work at the drawing board but for the moment, I wanted to share some excerpts from a beautiful poem I discovered on line a bit ago . . . .

. . . 'The snowfall is so silent, so slow,
bit by bit, with delicacy
it settles down on the earth' . . .

. . . 'The silent snow comes down
white and weightless;
snowfall makes no noise,
falls as forgetting falls,
flake after flake.'

. . . 'And wherever it falls it stays,
content' . . .

'The flakes are skyflowers,
pale lilies from the clouds'

. . . 'Snow, delicate snow,
that falls with such lightness
on the head,
on the feelings,
come and cover over the saddness
that lies always in my reason.'

The poem, 'The Snowfall Is So Silent', by Miguel de Unamuno, born 1864, Bilbao; translated from the Spanish by Robert Bly.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A good day's worth of studio time yesterday has this piece quite a ways toward completion. Now, we have the appearance of some animal life. Thank goodness for the backyard bird feeders and a ton of sparrow reference!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Revealing a bit more of the current work today . . . some weathered wood, and a stack of stones.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A sincere 'thank you' to all who have given me such positive feedback on the last work completed ('End of the Line'). A good critique is always welcome, especially when I might feel that I have hit the mark with a particular work.

In any event, something new began yesterday . . . a bit of rock, a bit of grass and who knows what else will develop! Stay tuned . . .

Friday, January 11, 2008

'End of the Line'

After long hours both Wednesday and yesterday and an hour of 'tightening up' this morning, this new work is complete. The image size is 19" x 11", fairly large in my repertoire of work. I am very happy with the result of this one in particular, as it really finishes up spot on to my idea when it all began a week ago. That does not always happen, as most artists will attest that sometimes, even with best intentions, works take on a mind of their own in process and progress, and maybe will end up being something that is slightly different from the initial idea or sketch or desire. This work will be featured in a shared, two person showing at my Annapolis gallery in March as well as being a part of this summer's solo at the Woodson Museum.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Yesterday's work . . . and now, studio time begins this morning, though I should be outside enjoying this incredible early January 62 degree morning that we are having! I doubt this will last much longer than another day, but it sure is nice to be able to open a window or two in January.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I Love Trains!

Posting yesterday's work on the current piece. As you no doubt can tell, there will be quite a bit of focus on this railroad passenger car and thus, today's title applied . . . 'I Love Trains'! I do, love trains. From the time I was just a little tyke and my family would travel, by train, out to the Midwest to spend summers with my grandmother in Iowa, I was always enthralled with that mode of transportation.

Over the years of train travel out and back to Iowa from the east coast, my family always traveled on the old New York Central Railroad out of Manhattan and the magnificence of Grand Central Station. Being just a child, the place was always overwhelming to me and the hustle and bustle of the crowds all made it such a special event. Departing late in the afternoon, we would glide up the Hudson River toward Albany where the light began to dim and the easy sway of the train would begin to lull me to sleep. Arrival the next morning in Chicago was also a 'big deal' as we generally would have a bit of time between trains to grab a bite of breakfast at the station lunch counter, another very special event in my childhood. Then, it was off on the Rock Island 'Rocket' for points west of Chicago and ultimately to the stop on the mighty Mississippi in Rock Island, Illinois where we would be met by one of my uncles in his bright yellow, port holed, Buick!

We would spend a wonderful summer with my grandmother and two uncles and I would enjoy one of my two childhoods (the other being my 'school time' childhood back in New Jersey) with Iowa friends and playmates until it was time once again to pack up belongings and head back east for the new school year to begin. Off to the little, hillside station in Davenport, Iowa we would go, to meet the eastbound 'Rocket' for Chicago in late morning for an early afternoon arrival in the Windy City and transfer back to the New York Central for the overnight run to The Big Apple.

This was the 'routine' for most of my grade school years, a few days after school was out, my dad would put my mom and I, and then my mom and I and my sister, once she was born, onto the train at Grand Central for the long, fun-filled summer in Iowa. Then in late August, we would reverse the 'routine' and head back to New Jersey.

When my grandmother and uncles resettled to northern Minnesota, around the time I was just finishing junior high, our trip took a bit of a twist, heading northwest out of Chicago instead of straight west, but the mode of transport, happily, remained the same . . . this time usually traveling on the old Burlington 'Twin Zephyr' up the beautiful shore of the Mississippi to Minneapolis where we would be met by one of my uncles, again, for the long drive north into Minnesota's Lake Country. One year we even got to ride out of Chicago on the old Milwaukee Road's wonderful, bright yellow-orange 'Hiawatha'.

As the years progressed, and my interest in trains and travel by train continued to grow, and once I began work on my own after graduation, I would set up wonderful, long rail journeys across this country and ultimately, across Canada as well. Late each summer, I would board the train in Manhattan, usually the still elegant remains of the New York Central's marvelous flagship, 'The 20th Century Limited' (and when that train disappeared from the timetables, a great trip through mid Pennsylvania on that state's namesake railroad's premier all pullman train, the 'Broadway Limited'), this time riding in the 'lap of luxury' in first class, sleeping accommodations! When I was younger, all the trips to Iowa were made in coach seats.

Over a period of five or six years, I made some wonderful trips out west, traveling on such iconic trains as the sleek 'California Zephyr'; the Santa Fe's train deluxe, 'The Super Chief'; the Union Pacific's 'City of Los Angeles'; and across the great northwestern route to the Pacific Northwest on Great Northern's magnificent green and orange 'Empire Builder'.

Several times, I went north, across the border to Canada and took the Canadian Pacific Railroad's five day journey completely across Canada on the 'Canadian'. What a way to see the country!

And so, since trains have always played a big part in my life, I now find it very enjoyable to include references to my pleasurable times 'riding the rails', in my art.

Monday, January 07, 2008

And so we are a week into this fine, new year! Today I am posting the start of a new work, this one earmarked for the upcoming summer show at the Woodson and yet another of my series of works with bridges as the theme. Now so far, it might not look very much like a bridge, but wait and see. There just might be several 'themes' to this work when it is all said and done.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Happy 2008! While sitting at the kitchen table this morning, sipping on my second cup of tea and trying to warm up on the first real cold morning of the winter, I was enjoying the birds feeding in the back yard. Since my camera was sitting on the table within arm's reach, I shot a few images . . . not so much for reference material, as I have quite a number of good images saved for those purposes . . . but I could not resist the bright red of this cardinal who just sat and sat and visited for quite some time.