Wednesday, August 24, 2016

8 New Paintings on Panels

These eight new paintings on panels are for the show I have opening this Friday at the Washington County Arts Council in Hagerstown, MD. 

The first four were completely different at one point. Many hours put into paintings that I just couldn't find a connection with no matter how much I fussed with them. So, they were sanded, more layers were scraped onto the surface and I started over finding details to enhance. I'm much happier with what happened the second time. Sometimes I just have to work through that process and trust that something good will happen. 

Everything That Ticked
Acrylic, black and white charcoal, chalk and oil pastel
20” X 20” X 2” wood panel
Just a note on this one - see the ridges of blue in the bottom section? That is the oil pastel getting caught on the uneven surface of the board. I happen to think it works to my advantage here and I like the way it looks, but if you are going to work on wood panels and don't want that kind of flaw, you may want to sand the surface to make sure it is flat.

The Soul Familiar
Acrylic, charcoal, oil pastel, gauze
12” X 12” X 2” wood panel

A World Determined II
Acrylic, black and white charcoal, oil pastel
18” X 24” X 2” wood panel

Without Pause
Acrylic, black and white charcoal
18” X 24” X 2” wood panel

Latitude of Home
Acrylic, black and white charcoal
20” X 20” X 2” wood panel

As Much As On the Air
Acrylic, black and white charcoal
12” X 12” X 2” wood panel

Sure To Me You Bring
Acrylic, charcoal, oil pastel
24” x 36” X 2” wood panel

The Whole Way
Acrylic, charcoal, oil pastel, gauze
24” x 36” X 2” wood panel

When I downloaded these to the blog I noticed a pattern of pairs. I wasn't aware of that when I was working on them. And, as usual, I worked on all eight in turns, leaving one to rest, to go to another in hopes of some answers to help resolve the problems of the previous one. 

I see now that there are two loose, abstract ones with the birds and boat/pod shape, two loose, abstract landscapes, two fanciful landscapes and two high horizon ridges with trees. I guess this reflects the different approaches I take to imagery depending on my mood. 

I can tell you that the ones I connect with the most are the first two. When I'm painting like that, I feel most authentic. It's not always easy to get there. Sometimes takes an act of desperation, like totally painting over an image on which I've spent days, which I have to tell you, is a very satisfying feeling. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

10 small paintings and one larger redux

Wanted to have some new paintings for my second trip to Chautauqua this summer. These were all worked on together on one large sheet of watercolor paper. I will mat them and offer them unframed. All but the last one which is on a wood panel.

5" X 7" Acrylic, black and white charcoal, oil pastel

5" X 9" Acrylic, black and white charcoal, colored pencil

5" X 8" Acrylic, black and white charcoal, oil pastel

5" X 8" Acrylic, black and white charcoal, oil pastel

 8" X 12" Acrylic, black and white charcoal, oil pastel

 5" X 7" Acrylic, black and white charcoal, oil pastel, colored pencil

 5" X 7" Acrylic, black and white charcoal, colored pencil

 5" X 7" Acrylic, black and white charcoal, oil pastel, gauze

5" X 7" Acrylic, black and white charcoal, colored pencil

5" X 7" Acrylic, charcoal, oil pastel

24" X 24" X 2" wood panel 
Acrylic and charcoal
This is similar to an image I did on a 10" X 10" X 2" wood panel. 
Wanted to see how it would do on a larger scale.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

5 New Paintings 8.2.16

These five paintings were worked on at the same time, so in a way it felt as though I was creating one big painting. 

Each one is on a 2" deep wood panel and I could have them all standing up in front of me, side-by-side on a table. I'd work on one for a while, then see something another one needed and move to it. When completed, they each had a different and unique thing to say.

Acrylic, charcoal, paper, oil pastel
20” X 16” X 2” wood panel

 Light Marks in the Sky 
Acrylic, black and white charcoal, oil and chalk pastel
24” X 18” X 2” wood panel

 Tarol’s Circus 
Acrylic, charcoal, ink, paper, oil pastel
20” X 16” X 2” wood panel

 A World Determined 
Acrylic, black and white charcoal, chalk and oil pastel, gauze
18” X 14” X 2” wood panel

Follow Up 
Acrylic, black and white charcoal, paper, oil and chalk pastel
18” X 14” X 2” wood panel

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

2 new paintings 6.29.16

Two new paintings, different approaches. 

The first is on a 20" X 20" X 2" wood panel. The painting wraps around the edges. I worked with acrylic and charcoal and added some paper. There is a bit of sgraffito, too. I might have taken this further, thinking that at this point it was an under-painting, but two artist friends whose opinions I cherish suggested that it was done. My paintings rarely happen that quickly and I was hesitant to trust that is was finished. So I stared at it for another couple of months, and when it didn't come back with wanting anything else I said okay, done. I do like it, but I don't have the same relationship with it that I do others that I've slaved over... like this second one...

This one is 40" square, on paper, acrylic, black and white charcoal, oil and chalk pastel, some collage. I wish I had taken pictures of this one in progress because, boy, did it change. I was painting it for a show called "Take it Outside". At first I thought I was going to do big trees, as I've done before. Then just a line of smaller trees on a ridge. Then a bunch of smaller trees on a bunch of ridges - that stage looked terribly austere and sort of Tibetan...not that I've ever been to Tibet, but it had a mysterious Asian feeling to it. At any rate, it wasn't me. I realized that I was trying to make something sort of representational for this show and my whimsical side was fighting that.

So I gave in to the play and the painting started to be mine.

An interesting sidebar to this painting is that I knew I wanted it to be less Tibet and more my home, West Virginia. While I was painting it the southern part of this state had horrific flooding. People died, homes and businesses were washed away. I didn't put that in the painting intentionally, in fact I had the watery, obscured imagery in it before I heard about the flood. But now I can't see anything else.

Monday, June 20, 2016

3rd Pillar

A third pillar. At least seven feet high, maybe more. The wood base is 20" square. It is topped with branches trimmed from an Osage Orange. The branches are glued into holes drilled into the top, everything painted black.

I approached this one differently. With the first two I followed the spiral of the paper as it wrapped around the tube, treating it like a horizon, so that a continuous scene was created from the base to the top. On this one I didn't want to depend on that line so much. I didn't want to be quite so tight with the images, either. Nothing against the first two, I love their strength AND playfulness - that combination. But I wanted to see if I could free up the quality of the painting and make it more like my flat paintings and less of just filling in shapes with color. And I wanted to treat the whole surface as a unit and not a continuous spiral. Anyway, it was another way to try to solve the challenge of the tube as a painting and I like the way it came out.

Again, this started as a cardboard cement (or concrete? - I don't know the difference) form 16" in diameter. I coated it with gesso and used a charcoal pencil to create gestural lines in the surface before the gesso dried. I painted the yellow ochre on as a base color and then, finding shapes and lines from the charcoal, added dark tones with burnt sienna, most of which was painted over with other colors.

I took all three pillars to Bridge Gallery (Shepherdstown, WV) today, where they will be part of the summer show during our Contemporary American Theater Festival, which fills our little town with wonderful people. I thought they looked pretty great in the gallery and I'm looking forward to seeing what the public thinks! This was such a fun project.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Paintings on Pillars 6.17.16

I've made the transitions from painting on paper to boxes and now pillars. These are acrylic and charcoal on cardboard cement forms. They are about 7 feet tall, including the 20" square base.

It was Bridge Gallery owner, Kathryn Burns who suggested to me that she saw my paintings on pillars and asked me to do some for her Summer Show. I had already made the move from flat paper to wood panels so it seemed like a great idea to me.

I found the 16" diameter forms at Home Depot. I first painted the surface with gesso which I scored with a spatula to create lines, shapes and texture. I then stained the piece with a yellow ochre base, added some gold and from there started picking out details from the gesso's surface to enhance with charcoal line first then acrylic paint. I started at the bottom and painted along the spiral line created by the paper wrapped around the tube, which I treated as a horizon, until I got to the top. I found creatures and structures and gave them color and credence.

The tops are wood discs in which I drilled holes and glued painted sticks. This second one also has a bird's nest I found at the barn.

Here's a detail of the top of the first one...

Friday, May 20, 2016

Guest House - showing the painting in stages as it comes into being...

"The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work."
- Emile Zola

Not sure why it is so hard to remember, at the start of each painting, what a challenge the process is - how much work is involved in bringing one into being - how often a reminder is necessary to keep the faith that it will evolve into something, with persistence, even when there are doubts.

This painting was no exception. 

This was how it started. A coat of gesso on a wood panel 18" X 24" X 2". Then, in an attempt to force a strong focal point, a layer of tissue was applied, using gel medium, within the outline of a bird shape. At first the bird was black on a white background, then it changed color a number of times.

Realizing that the bird shape was just too restricting, not allowing for the build up of layers in the background, the hardened tissue was joyfully scraped off - a very physical and satisfying activity! 

The surface was sanded, but not down to the wood, leaving some of the texture.

A new layer of gesso was applied...

...making a yummy image of white with all kinds of hidden treasures. This is when the painting really started to talk back. One thing it said was that it wanted to be horizontal.

Within the texture of the white surface, lines and shapes suggested areas for color and enhancement. The familiar boat/pod shape showed up. So far, we have acrylic, charcoal and watercolor.

(This is about the stage when the temptation is to paint over the whole thing with gesso again and start over - the trouble with that is this - the painting will reach a point, again, when the temptation is to paint over the whole thing with gesso and start over, over and over. So, it is more productive to stick with it, push through the inertia, and see what happens.)

More charcoal, then paper cut out and glued on the left edge, in flag-like shapes. The paper was created by layering a Rumi poem called 'Guest House' over a print of a previous painting. 

More details sought out and emphasized. White charcoal trees in the blue area, black charcoal trees on the white - a little house. 

In the finished painting, the landscape aspect is colored in with gold/brown acrylic wash. Chalk and oil pastels are used to strengthen areas. Another paper collage piece is added to top right corner. More teeny details just for fun and to encourage exploration!