If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed that I have been acting a bit out of character lately, working on small paintings. In the past, I really struggled to translate the process and feeling of the large paintings into a smaller, more affordable package. I have a very particular way of working, and I just can’t seem to convince myself to paint any other way.

When a lot of painters work, they are editing out a lot of visual information. They are taking the complex real world and simplifying it, deciding what is important, and including only what is necessary to create a nice clean image. This is a great way to work. I don’t do it.

When I work, I generally take the biggest canvas, and the smallest brush I can find. I like to pack in as much information as possible. Instead of taking a complex area and simplifying it, I am taking simple things and breaking out every possible color that might possibly exist there. This is a bad way to work. It takes a long time and it just doesn’t work at anything less than large scale. I do it anyways.

The thing is, I really think it makes interesting paintings.

I want anyone who buys one of my paintings, whether they spend thousands of dollars on a large piece, or tens of dollars on a tiny one, to come home with a piece that I think is good and interesting. If someone buys one of my paintings, I want it to have the things that make a painting mine, no matter what size it may be. Because of this, I have not sent out many small paintings lately.

Recently, my friends at Sloane Merrill Gallery asked me to create a few small paintings for their December show. So, I headed into the pathetic small spare bedroom that is my current temporary studio, determined to come up with some paintings that I would be happy showing.

I think I finally found the right balance. Instead of trying to scale down my techniques, I just painted with the same intensity and scale of strokes that I would use on a large piece. In the case of these smaller pieces, there is just less of it. So, for the first time, if you like the large pieces, you should see a lot of what you like in the small ones.

I am interested to see how people respond to these pieces so, please head on over to Sloane Merrill Gallery for their 10×10 show next week (or any time in December), have a look at the pieces and let me know what you think. They will be hung along side a lot of other great pieces, including a few by my old studio-mate (from the infamous studio 11), Tony Bevilacqua. Official show details along with information about the opening reception below.

10by10_sloane_merrill

Twenty painters given the same dimensions

10×10 Inches

Opening Saturday, December 6th from 3-8pm! Artists include Carlo Russo, Jeremy Durling, Adam Vinson, Leo Mancini-Hresko, Matthew Saba, Jeremy Miranda, Tony Bevilacqua, Kyle Bartlett, Kelly Carmody, Nicholas Mancini, Margaret Langford Sweet, Brett Gamache, Andrew Fish, Michelle Arnold Paine, Nick Ward, Michael Compton, Aurélie Galois, Frank Strazzulla, and Jonathon Nix.

At Sloane Merrill Gallery, 75 Charles Street Boston, MA


Help spread the word, share the event page on Facebook.

South Boston Open Studios is happening on Sunday June 1st and, despite the fact that I am in the middle of moving my studio to Dorchester, I will be set up and open for visitors. This will, most likely, be the last time that I participate in one of these events for a while so, if you are interested in seeing the paintings and talking with me about art, be sure to come out!

south boston spring open studios 2014

Postcard image by Dana Woulfe

This spring, the whole neighborhood is joining in the fun, with artists opening up in The Distillery, and King Terminal building, along with a few of the neighborhood galleries (including Thomas Young Gallery and the newly opened 555 Gallery).

For more information, and a full list of participating artists and galleries, visit southbostonopenstudios.com.

There will also be a neighborhood art stroll hosted by New Art Love. They will lead a group of visitors through the galleries and artist studios of Southie and talk with artists, curators, gallerists and more. Afterwords there will be a reception at LaMontagne Gallery. It sounds like a great way to experience South Boston Open Studios so, if you are interested, be sure to check out the Facebook event page, or go to www.southbostonartcrawl.eventbrite.com for more information.

Every time I leave town, there suddenly seems to be so much fun that I am going to miss. Does anyone else get that feeling? In this case, I am packing my bags to head to Chicago for Fixation, and I suddenly realize that there are, at least, three openings in Boston that I had planned on attending. We have 99.99 at The Distillery, Kenji Nakayama has a solo show at Fourth Wall, and Thomas Young Gallery will have the first opening in their new space.

A space that used to be my living room.

A little back story. For those of you that don’t understand the nature of The Distillery Building, it is a large, mixed use building full of artists. The residents are fairly free to build their spaces to suit their needs so, it is not all that uncommon for something like this to happen. This space in particular, stretches over four floors of the building, it has nice high ceilings and is surrounded on either side by thick brick walls. It was a great space but it wasn’t quite working for me anymore. My wife thought she might want a normal apartment with a bathroom that was less than 4 flights of stairs from the bed, the dog decided it might want some grass to run on, and I started to think that it might be a good idea to have a little more separation between the work space and the living area. So we packed up and passed the space on to our friend Greg, who runs the Thomas Young Gallery. Since then we have been waiting to see his transformation of the top floor from living area to gallery.

Finally, opening day is here and we are going to miss it, but you shouldn’t. I tried to convince him that the first show should feature my paintings but, Greg though that the already fuzzy line between party in my living room and opening reception his gallery would be further blurred if the art on the walls didn’t even change so, he decided to pull together a show from his normal roster of great artists.

Here is the official info on the show:

Inaugural Address

Thomas Young Gallery presents the inaugural exhibition of their new location, 516 E. Second St. #405 inside The Distillery in South Boston.

Upon Viewing His Reflection, Raul Gonzales III, 2014, Mixed Media on Paper

Upon Viewing His Reflection, Raul Gonzales III, 2014, Mixed Media

The exhibition features commissioned portraits of the gallery’s namesake Dr. Thomas Young (1731-1777) an early physician and advocate of social, political and religious freedom in colonial America. A strong supporter of the American Revolution, Dr. Young was an active member of the Continental Congress and accomplice to the Boston Tea Party.

Featuring work by:

Briar Bonifacio, Ria Brodell, Brian Butler, Scott Chasse, Nick Colen, Caitlin Duennebier, Jillian Evelyn, Pat Falco, Raul Gonzalez III, Patt Kelley

If you are in Boston this week, check out all the great stuff that is happening and, be sure to text me some pictures so I don’t feel too left out. If you are in Chicago, come on out to the Zhou B Art Center and see me at Fixation this Friday.

I have not posted any updates in a while but, there is a lot going on in my studio.

photo

A friend of mine recently asked me to hang some pieces in the lobby gallery at the FP3 building in Fort Point. The room is beautiful and, in the back opens up into a large space with 20 foot ceilings, which makes it the perfect place to hang some of my larger paintings. I am always surprised at how nice the paintings look when they get out of the studio and into a proper environment and this is no exception. The space really gives the paintings some room to breath and, its great to see the new 5’x7′ large piece in a space that makes its scale work.

In any case, they are holding a little opening reception this Thursday from 6-8 (I hear there may be tasty snacks). So, if you are around Boston, come on out, say hello and check it out.

Nick Ward's Paintings at FP3 Fort Point

Nick Ward’s Distorted Memories
Opening Thursday November 14th 6-8pm
FP3, 346 Congress Street Boston, MA
https://www.facebook.com/events/1378107369099991/

A few days ago I dropped by Fourth Wall Project to take a sneak peak of the Street Diamonds show. The gallery was still awaiting the arrival of Faring Purth to install one of her large paintings in front but, the show was already looking great. I don’t want to give too much away but, there is one piece that I just can’t keep under my hat.

The piece is Silas Finch’s fifteen foot tall sculpture of a gown created from a discarded vintage parachute. The piece is so simple that I am having a hard time finding the right words to describe it but the visual effect is amazing. The piece as a sculpture alone is wonderful. Then he fits the dress to an actual living breathing (not 15′ tall) model and Heather McGrath uses it as the basis for a sensational series of photographs. Again, I don’t want to give away too much but, since Liz at Flux-Boston already posted this image, I will share it as well:

Heather McGrath - Silas Finch Collaboration

In any case, as much as it pains me to be the least famous artist in the room–showing pieces that are not even the biggest, brightest, or shiniest things there–this show is not to be missed.

Street Diamonds II at Fourth Wall Project

Curated by Silvi Naci

132 Brookline Ave, Boston

Aug 10 – Sept 7th

Collector Reception Aug 10 (7-9pm)

Closing Reception Aug 24(7-9pm)

Recently, I was visiting my friends over at Sloane Merrill Gallery and they decided to give their summer intern the task of putting together a short artist interview with me. For those of you that know me personally, it is obvious that this is a fool’s errand. Giving me the stage in a room full of lovely young women and turning the spotlight on me is no way to get any work done. What started as a few simple inquiries about my art turned into hours of dodging questions, intern teasing, and rambling stories (mostly stories about cows that day). While the afternoon was enjoyable, I didn’t expect many lucid or relevant thoughts to be caught for the interview.

She did, however, manage to sift out one important thought that I want to elaborate on today. When listing to music, I am often overcome with waves of emotion. These moments are very unpredictable and run the spectrum from overwhelming rushes of nostalgia, or feelings of amazing calmness, all the way to what I described as a full body tingle. That rush of excitement that sweeps from head to toe, vibrating your whole body with excitement.

I often worry that people do not experience this sort of purely emotional response from purely visual, static forms of art like painting and sculpture. Looking at great paintings is always intellectually stimulating and is quite and enjoyable experience but, those intense feelings that music so often brings out in me are missing. People tell me that paintings have the ability to stir these emotions but I just don’t get it. It should go without saying; this is a troubling realization for someone who spends so much time and energy creating paintings.

After talking about this concern with the women at the gallery, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I am always chasing this idea when I make paintings. I am always trying to create images that I think will trigger these feelings. Images of moments that we have all experienced in some form, images that should trigger nostalgic feelings, or memories of pleasure, or maybe memories of pain. I am fine tuning the colors, adding contrasting visual elements, bits of text, nothing seems to work.

Then it hit me. I have been experiencing these moments the entire time, not with finished paintings but, during the creation of them. So many people describe creating art as therapeutic, relaxing them or bringing them increased feelings of sanity. This is not at all what I experience in the studio. Making art is hard. Not hard physically but, mentally draining. It is a stress filled rollercoaster ride, like a whirlwind romance, filled with dramatic mood swings and chaos, waves of pure pleasure followed but crushing frustration.

Realizing this made me feel a little more relaxed about wasting my life creating paintings. Like so many things in life, it is more about the journey than the destination and, it seems that people can find and appreciate these struggles and emotions in the finished pieces of art. This realization also helps explain why my best paintings feature models that I know and love, even if the imagery of the piece does not necessarily reflect their personality or my relationship with them.

With that in mind, I want to show you my latest piece. It features my, soon to be wife, sunbathing. Like most of my sunbather paintings, I have corrupted an old masters representation of the lamentation of Christ but, that is not important for this blog post. What is important in this context is that I did the initial studies and photographs for this painting, a few years ago when we first met. Back before we were (almost) newlyweds, she was just a pretty stranger walking through The Distillery building, and I was just a broke artist who needed someone willing to model for free. As we started dating the creation of this piece got pushed aside as I was inspired to (somewhat obsessively) work on a large scale portrait of her instead. Now that our relationship is changing once again, I thought it was a good time to bring this piece back, to finish the painting that initially brought us together.

Sunbather #4

Now, that story has little to do with the message and imagery of the completed painting. I came up with the concept for the painting before we even met and in its world, she is just a helpful volunteer. However, in the studio, where paintings are frequently abandoned incomplete, and the (fairly simple and easy) act of rendering is turned into a dramatic battle within my own mind, having that deeper connection and interest in the model is often the difference between success and failure.

The title of the piece is simply, “Sunbather #4”. It is done in oil on custom birch wood panel and I will be dropping it off at Sloane Merrill Gallery (on Charles Street in Beacon Hill) this afternoon. By popular demand, I have conceded to make a series of smaller pieces that are a bit more affordable and, most importantly, fit into apartments or houses with normal sized walls. If you like this piece, let me know and go by the gallery and have a look. While I really love working large, I know that large pieces are just not practical for many people. So, if the pieces sell and feedback is good, I will try to keep focused on making more small pieces.

I will be participating in this event on Saturday. Read below for the official press release.

xxx

Image borrowed from Flux-boston.com who probably borrowed it from someone else.

On Saturday, June 22nd Cambridge’s historic Foundry building (101 Rogers Street) will host “The Foundry Equation,” an art initiative and open house. Presented by local art advocates FLUX. Boston, Opus Affair, Voltage Coffee & Art, and Yes.Oui.Si., this unique event will feature both contemporary and children’s art, live music and improv performances while showcasing the potential of a neighborhood landmark.

“Art plus community equals renewal that’s The Foundry Equation. In this building lays an opportunity to unite Cambridge, Kendall Square and East Cambridge, industrial and residential, kids and adults, art and music, past and future… ” said Ilan Levy, East Cambridge resident, host of Cambridge Community Television’s “The Foundry,” and one of the event’s organizers.

In addition to residents, area businesses are excited about the possibility of a vibrant community arts space, “There’s been interest in using this space to support local artists for some time. This event is a one day solution to the Foundry Equation,” said Lucy Valena, proprietress of Voltage Coffee and Art. “It’s a chance to show all the cool stuff that could be happening in this neighborhood. People could be making really great art, regularly, in Kendall Square.” Anna Schindelar, Art Director at Voltage Coffee and Art as well as curator of the event, added: “This is our vision, our take: an art initiative with the hope of engaging the community, residents, and kids in a dialogue about what they want to see happen to this space. We’re just providing an option, a suggestion to the Foundry Equation.”

Enthusiasm among community partners underscores the strength of this option: “Having access to such a large arts space in the city opens up a world of possibilities. It would create an environment that promotes collaboration, skill sharing, and the exchange of ideas. The Foundry would be an invaluable resource for the Cambridge community,” said Liz Devlin, independent curator and founder of FLUX. Boston.

The Foundry Equation is free and open to residents, arts enthusiasts, and the community at large from 11am – 3pm on Saturday, June 22nd. For updates, information, and a full list of collaborators please visit www.thefoundryequation.org and join the conversation on Twitter with hashtag #thefoundryequation.

When a new challenge catches my interest, I tend to get engulfed in it fairly quickly. Things will start out as a small side project but, before I know it, all other tasks are put on hold while I spend too much time analyzing every aspect of my new distraction. Looking at the paintings I have made in the last year or two, this pattern becomes plainly apparent. I started out making fairly loose, quick paintings playing with simple ideas. Before too long, the brush strokes started to shrink and those lose fluid strokes became the smaller and more detailed, almost pixelated patterns of my current pieces. I just couldn’t help myself, I got sucked deeped and deeped into the task of creating these pieces.

The same thing has been happening as I have had to approached promoting my shows and openings. Case in point, I have recently been tasked with organizing and promoting the annual Spring Open Studios event here in The Distillery. There is no reason this should be anything more than a simple job. But, I can’t seem to keep my mind off it. I have been talking to people about how they have approached similar events. I have been emailing blogs and newspapers trying to drum up publicity and, if I happen to succeed, I am obsessively tracking the response in traffic on the website. It has been an interesting task and, we will see this Sunday how I did. In the meantime, as an unexpected bonus of my attempts to promote Open Studios, I managed to land myself (my painting) on the cover of The Weekly Dig here in Boston. Which is a pretty fun perk.

Mirrors Eye View By Nick Ward On The Cover Of The Dig_7

Open Studios time at The Distillery is always a lot of fun. Unlike regular gallery openings, it really is a great time to meet other artists and talk about art. My studio will, as always, be open for visitors. Art will be hung, floors will be mopped and the beer will be flowing. To add to the fun, I have invited two of my most talented friends, Cassandra Long and Cai Veil, to hang out in the studio for the day and share their work so, there will be A LOT to see and do in studio 405. Keep reading for the official information and don’t forget to join the event on Facebook (and invite your friends!):


https://www.facebook.com/events/174658536030684/

South Boston Spring Open Studios at The Distillery

South Boston Open Studios
Sunday, June 2nd from noon to 6pm
The Distillery
516 E 2nd Street, South Boston

Every spring, the artists and craftspeople of South Boston open their doors to share their work and their studios with the community. The Distillery is a beautiful mid-nineteenth century converted rum distillery where artists have been setting up shop for more than twenty years. As a hub of creativity and the arts, The Distillery has housed some of Boston’s most talented artists and artisans. Located in the heart of South Boston, it includes two galleries, dozens of artists’ studios and live/work lofts, as well as creative small businesses. As you tour the building, you will notice that it comes alive with all of the creative energy and even the corridors serve as remarkable display spaces. As you explore the various studios, you’ll notice that each one is unique, reflecting each artist’s creative personality.

Come meet the artists and check out what’s new in the local arts scene during South Boston Open Studios on Sunday, June 2nd from noon to 6pm.

Visit www.southbostonopenstudios.org for more information and an evolving list of participants.