Thursday, April 28, 2016

Saint-Emilion


Since I've been away, I have posted nothing for the last couple weeks.  But...here is a 9x12 oil on canvas of a street view in Saint-Emilion, a medieval town near Bordeaux, which seems to have more wine shops than people.  It's also surrounded by vineyards.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume


This is a 9x12 pen, brush, ink, ink wash, and pastel drawing of an alleyway in a small town in Provence called Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume.  I was there five years ago.  I love the narrow streets and old stone buildings of France.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Current State


This is the current state of the painting I'm working on at the moment.  It's the 18x24 oil on canvas version of the location at Third Avenue and 19th Street in Brooklyn.  I'm still trying to figure out what it's telling me.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Notice the Objects You Notice


A 9x12 pen, brush, ink, wash, and pastel drawing of the painting I am currently working on.  It depicts the corner of 19th Street looking under the Gowanus Expressway at Third Avenue in Brooklyn.

Here's another interesting comment from the book Art and Fear:  "To see things is to enhance your sense of wonder both for the singular pattern of your own experience, and for the meta-patterns that shape all experience.  All this suggests a useful working approach to making art: notice the objects you notice. (e.g. Read that sentence again.)  Or put another way: make objects that talk--and then listen to them."

Friday, April 8, 2016

Soaring


In Ted Orland's other book, Art and Fear, co-authored with David Bayles, these harsh words are written, "...[T]here's generally no good reason why others should care about most of any one artist's work.  The function of the overwhelming majority of your artwork is simply to teach you how to make the small fraction of your artwork that soars."

What soars in this 9x12 oil on canvas are the structures holding up the Gowanus Expressway.  It's a kind of Piranesian edifice in the middle of Brooklyn that is always dark underneath when the sun is shining, and even when the sun is not shining.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Sounds and Shadows



Another 8x10 study drawing for a painting.  It's a view from under the Gowanus Expressway on Third Avenue around 20th Street in Brooklyn.  The noise from the rumbling girders and passing cars and trucks accompanies the shadows.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Being Special


The 18x24 oil on canvas version of this view of Third Avenue near 20th Street.  The Gowanus Expressway is on the left held up by the girders.

In the book The View from the Studio Door, author Ted Orland cites a book by Ellen Dissanayake, What Is Art For?  about how long ago art making started.  He writes, "A hundred thousand years ago humans were already engraving artifacts with symbolic markings, and by seventy thousand years ago were ritualistically decorating their burial sites.  Those who embrace creationism or intelligent design might see this as evidence that artmaking is quite literally a sacred activity, guided and blessed by God and given to mankind alone so that we might understand and honor His design.  There is, however, a disturbing fly in that theological ointment: some of the early sites which hint of ritual and ceremony addressing the meaning to life and death were created by Neanderthals--an entire species doomed, every last one of them, to total extinction.  Where does God fit into that scenario?"

I've read somewhere that Neanderthals were probably killed off by homo sapiens.  With that in mind, another question we might ask, "What makes us so special?" I believe or want to believe that there's a good answer to that question, but the situation always seems precarious.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Third near 20th and Productivity


An 8x10 study drawing for the painting I'm working on now.  It's a view of Third Avenue near 20th Street in Brooklyn.  The drawing is done with pen, brush, ink, wash and pastel.

I just read a book titled The View from the Studio Door by Ted Orland.  He writes that the most important thing for an artist is "productivity."  "If you learn to live your life productively, your artwork will take care of itself...If you are productive, your creativity will take care of itself."  I was happy to read this, since I am productive.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Bend in Eagle Street


It's wonderful to paint when one has latched onto something.  This is the current iteration (I use that term only because I might continue to work on the painting, though likely not) of a large (for me) vertical, 24x18, oil on canvas of Eagle Street in North Adams.  This time at its slight bend.  What makes this short section of street remarkable is not only its narrowness, the way it receives light, but the great variety in the buildings in terms of color, shape, age, all of which lead to fascinating compositions.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Current Eagle


The current iteration of a 14x18 oil on canvas that I started yesterday.  It represents a view of Eagle Street in North Adams facing north from out of the shadows.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Light Tunnel




The 8x10 drawing and the 14x18 oil painting both represent the same location on Eagle Street in North Adams, MA.  I did the drawing first to find my way.  This section of Eagle Street is quite narrow and it bends a little bit creating a nice light tunnel in the afternoon.  It's a design I've used before: viewing the light from within a shadow.

Brooklyn in North Adams




For those of you who do not follow me on Facebook, I have installed thirty Brooklyn paintings in the North Adams, MA restaurant PUBLIC, located near MOCA.  I hope that, if you are in the area, you may visit PUBLIC and see the paintings.  They will be up through July.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Jostle on Eagle Street


This is a view of the last stretch of Eagle Street in downtown North Adams.  The painting is 12x16, oil on canvas.  I like the scrunched up view of things, where shapes all jostle together, so one has to pause for a moment to make visual sense.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Four Drawings and Equivalents





Earlier I wrote about "equivalents" within a painting, talking about forms, but not relating them to life outside the painting.  Lately, I've been reading Robert Hughes's book The Shock of the New.  He takes the concept of "equivalents" to its deeper level.

In the chapter "The Landscape of Pleasure," he writes, "Throughout this chapter I have tried to suggest that the chief tradition within which a modernist art of pleasurable sensation has been made - an art which is rigorous and intelligent, rather than the mere evocation of agreeable feelings -  is that of Symbolism: a tradition of equivalents, whereby the word (in poetry) or the colour patch and linear edge (in painting) achieve, without necessarily describing it, a harmony and exactness parallel to the satisfactions of the world.  Within the somewhat privileged space that Symbolism demands, infinite finesse is possible but conflict is not eliminated.  The artist is free to investigate the domain of feeling, not as an Expressionist splurge - the imperious I swamping everything it touches - but as a structure of exacting nuances and tonic doubts.  Such paintings cannot, by their nature, be 'movement' art.  In front of a Diebenkorn... one hears neither the chant of surging millions nor even the chorus of a 'movement,' but a measured voice, quietly and tersely explaining why this light, this colour, this intrusion of a 30-degree angle into a glazed and modulated field might be valuable in the life of the mind and of feeling."

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Hoosic River Bridge




This painting is a 12x24 oil on canvas, another from my series of North Adams, a view looking west on Route 2 at the Hoosic River bridge.  The metal structures that stand on both sides of the road contrast sharply with the surroundings.  I like the abstract quality of the bridge structures, shadows, and houses lining the road.  On a canvas, the shadow of a rail is equivalent to the line marking out a telephone pole.  The bridge structure seems to push up the mountain far in the background.