Here in Boston, we have been spending a lot of time the last few weeks shoveling snow and complaining about the weather (even more than normal) so, I am looking forward to heading south for a little warm weather. I will be in Florida for the opening reception of The Artists Gaze at Sirona Fine Art and plan on checking out as much art as possible while I am in town.

If anyone knows about Miami galleries or interesting things going on, I would love some recommendations!

Now, on to the important business. What about the show.

Artist’s Gaze, Seeing Women in the Twenty-first Century

Curated by Victoria Selbach

At Sirona Fine Art

Dates: February 21 to March 22, 2015

Opening Reception: February 21, 2015

It is always exciting to participate in big shows with like minded figurative artists and this exhibition looks like it will really deliver. Victoria Selbach has pulled together a huge group of world class artists and it will be great to have a chance to see all these paintings, let alone have my work included in the show. The show opens February 21st, if you are in the Miami area, be sure to have a look for yourself and, be sure to introduce yourself at the opening reception.

The show flyer is featuring Dorielle Caimi's piece, “The Weight.” The show flyer is featuring Dorielle Caimi’s piece, “The Weight.”

For those of you who are not lucky enough to be spending this winter in the warm embrace of southern Florida, you can learn more about the show and check out the work online in a couple places.


Poets and Artists magazine has put out an issue in tandem with the show. It features images of all the work, bios on the artists along with statements from the collectors, curators and other folks involved in the development of the show.

You can download the issue on Itunes or Magster. There are also old fashioned paper copies available on the Blurb.

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American Art Collector did a preview feature on the show in their February issue. Check that out here: https://www.americanartcollector.com/issues

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Recently, I finished a piece that I have been keeping under wraps a bit longer than normal. I think I have mentioned before that this piece is headed to Florida for a show organized by Victoria Selbach for Poets and Artists Magazine, that will be held at Sirona Fine Art this February. I am working on framing and packing the piece this week and I wanted to talk a little about my process behind making the painting. If you can’t sit through a little art talk, feel free skip to the end and just get the details about the show.

nick-ward-artists-gaze

It is no secret that what separates bad art (and mediocre art) from the good stuff is often (always?) some element of suffering. Just like riding a roller coaster, a song that tells the story of pain that we can relate to (or glamorizes pain that we will never feel) lights up our brains in the most pleasurable ways. Something about facing suffering, in a controlled manner, is just extremely satisfying. I won’t pretend to understand why this is, but if you have ever faced two similar works of art and tried to understand why one makes an impact, while the other falls flat, this is usually a big part of the answer. Good artists have a (sometime unconscious) fundamental understanding of this and that is where “the rules” come into play.

First off, it should go without saying but I am going to say it anyway, good artists are good at making art. Seriously. I am going to go out on a limb and just say that every good artist has gotten to a point in their art making where making art got fairly easy. They got to a certain level of technical proficiency, they started to understand the aesthetics of their particular artistic language, whatever… making art started to become second nature. This is where “the rules” come into play.

If good art is about allowing people to safely suffer, to face difficult subjects, and it is coming out easily, you have a problem, you are not pushing hard enough, and the final product (art) is not going to be effective. If you do not feel anything when you make it, people are not going to feel anything when they look at/interact with your art. Hobbyists enjoy making art, artists work hard. When making art starts getting easy, when there is not enough suffering in the studio anymore, artists start creating barriers for themselves — they invent rules for their art work and process to follow. Ultimately, understanding the rules that an artist has set for the creation of the art can reveal a lot about the final piece.

Are you still with me? Am I completely wrong here? If you are an artist, do you not work within a set of (ever tightening) regulations?

As I was working on the piece that I would ultimately decide to send to this show, I was posting a lot of images of my progress on my website, on Instagram, on Facebook, and I got a lot of interesting feedback. Mostly, it could be separated into two distinct groupings:

 
The people that think my paintings are kind of weird (in a good way) thought I had pushed it too far towards realism, therefore I had created a somewhat less interesting piece.
 
The people that think I am a pretty good realistic painter thought this was a step forward in my ability to paint things that look like the thing I am painting, and therefore this was a more interesting piece.
 

In my mind, both of these groups of people are missing something. I am not intending to paint people as entirely weird caricatures, I am not trying to accurately render things to the best of my ability. What I am trying to do is create interesting paintings that communicate something, while working within my own set of artistic rules, and there is one rule that all my pieces follow. One rule that really defines the look of my paintings, even this one.

If there is one thing that really makes painting images worthwhile in a world where photography is so prevalent, it is the act of painting itself. The fact that some foolish human took the time to painstakingly create an image, gives paintings a weight that photography can not achieve. With that in mind, I go out of my way to make my paintings as labor intensive as possible. I use a small brush and mix every stroke individually. I spend more time than is necessary on pieces and try to leave obvious evidence of this in the finished product. I want to push the fact that some idiot human (that’s me) just spent a month creating something that a camera could have done better in 5 minutes. Painting this way is not the right way to do it, it does not produce the most realistic results, it distorts colors and adds strange textures, it complicates things. If I was more successful, this is the part where I would make a stink about doing it all myself and not using studio assistants, but I think at this point in my career that goes without saying.

In this piece, I have toned down the textures that are normally created by working this way, and people seem to have noticed. I did this so that other distortions could take the stage. I wanted the piece to feel unstable. The skin is not as textured and the colors are more even, but I tried to play with cool and warm areas within the body, allowing some parts to push back into the blues of the background and then shifted the lines of the blanket so the figure felt as though it may also be in danger of falling forward. I wanted the figure to feel pushed back into a corner, while still maintaining a strong gaze toward the viewer. There are a lot of small things happening in a simple composition and allowing too much texture in the skin made the piece feel overly busy.

The painting is being sent off to Florida, so be sure to check out the show if you are in the area, or in Poets and Artists Magazine, if you are not. The show has an amazing array of artists, all with a unique way of looking at women in their art. Best of all, it gives me a good excuse to get out of frozen Boston and work on my sunburn in Miami.

If you want to join me there, check out the opening reception event on Facebook.

artists-gaze

Artist’s Gaze, Seeing Women in the Twenty-first Century

Curated by Victoria Selbach

At Sirona Fine Art

Dates: February 21 to March 22, 2015

Opening Reception: February 21, 2015

Featuring work by:

  • Aleah Chapin
  • Alison Lambert
  • Alyssa Monks
  • Bernardo Torrens
  • Brian Booth Craig
  • Cesar Santos
  • Christian Johnson
  • Cindy Bernhard
  • Daliah Ammar
  • Daniel Maidman
  • Delita Martin
  • Dorielle Caimi
  • Erica Elan Ciganek
  • Erin Anderson
  • Hollis Dunlap
  • Jamie Valero
  • Jason Bard Yarmosky
  • Jeff Faerber
  • Jennifer Balkan
  • Judith Peck
  • Krista Louise Smith
  • Lauren Levato Coyne
  • Maria Kreyn
  • Mark Horst
  • Mary Beth McKenzie
  • Matthew Cherry
  • Melinda Whitmore
  • Mia Bergeron
  • Michelle Doll
  • Nadine Robbins
  • Nick Ward
  • Park Hyun Jin
  • Patrick Earl Hammie
  • Reuben Negron
  • Richard Thomas Scott
  • Ryan Shultz
  • Stephen Early
  • Stephen Wright
  • Susannah Martin
  • Tim Okamura
  • Victoria Selbach
  • Wesley Wofford
  • Will Kurtz

Until recently, I never considered the impact of my studio space on the art I make. I didn’t have too. I had a big space, with easy access, in a building that housed a lot of other artists. Unfortunately, progress stops for no one and, eventually the time came when I had to leave that that big open studio space behind so it could became a few, smaller, fancier, more expensive apartments.

With that space gone, I took another space in the building. It could only be accessed by a tight stairwell that restricted the size of work I could do, and it was a bit more expensive but, it was big, open, and I didn’t have to leave the building of artists behind so I jumped right in and continued working.

Unfortunately, that space was a little rough, and the price kept creeping up so, late last year it was time to leave that studio behind to look for greener (less expensive) pastures. That search took me through four studios in the last year or so and, as a result my work really started to suffer. I started to understand the importance of having a good space to work in and saw the impact of different situations in the paintings that I was doing. During this period of studio chaos, one painting came along for the ride and saw the effects of all 4 spaces. It started out in a space that I was settled and comfortable. With good light and lots of space. It moved with me into a dark, dirty, cold basement studio that I just could not convince myself to visit during the warm summer days. It followed me when I fled to the outskirts of town to work in a little garage and it finally settled into a tiny spare room in my new house with me. It started big and bold and loosely painted, it took on strange colors when I worked in bad light and it became more realistic when the space was too cramped to step back.

Somehow, the painting ended up looking pretty good. It is definitely a little different from similar pieces I have done in the past but, I am betting that a lot of you might think it is a step forward.

Normally this is the part of the post where I would reveal the final piece but, in this case, it will be heading out to a show and they have asked me to keep it under wraps for now… but I just can’t resist giving a little teaser.

And I Realize That Most of My Wounds Are Self Inflicted

If you want to see it go through a lot of changes, some strange color choices, and a bunch of different studios check out my instagram page where I have posted some progress shots of the piece over the last few months.

For now, there is a happy ending to this story, I am settled in to the tiny little spare room studio in my new house, taking the opportunity to work on some smaller pieces while I try to figure out, what makes a good studio and, where can I find or build one in this city.

Portrait of Jessica

I have managed to get myself invited to a few shows coming up, that are both in spaces I have never shown before. First, From Motion to Stillness at Zhou B Art Center in Chicago, and now The BIG BAD at Nave Gallery in Somerville. Scroll down for more info on this show and be sure to help spread the word by joining the Facebook event page.

Read the rest of this entry »

I am putting a piece (or maybe 2) into the Summer Vacation show at everyones favorite art space in Boston, The Distillery Gallery. Also included in this show are lots of other Distillery artists and some of our talented Friends (including Caity Veil who, I just bought this great piece from). The openings are always a good time with interesting art (obviously) along with fun people and (best of all) plenty of cold Narragansett beers. So, come out to Southie on Thursday July 12th and join us.

Click here to join the party on Facebook.

Continue below for the official press release.

The Distillery Gallery Presents:

Summer Vacation

July 12 – August 31, 2012
Opening Reception: Thurs, July 12, 7-9pm
www.gallery.distilleryboston.com
gallery hours: Mon-Fri, 9-5 or by appointment

The Distillery Gallery is pleased to announce a group exhibit of works
depicting or inspired by Summer, warm weather, and/or vacation.

Generally speaking, the gallery scene slows down during the mid-summer
months. Many commercial galleries close up altogether for some or all
of this time. The Distillery Gallery, instead of taking time off, will
exhibit the “Summer Vacation” group show.

Exhibiting artists include:

Please join us for the opening reception on Thursday, July 12, 7-9pm

Originally I was planning on waiting until this painting was completely finished to post and update but – plans change. Recently I had the opportunity to talk to CNN about working with my friends at TurningArt. Since it looks like a fair amount of people are tracking me down after seeing the clip, I thought that I should post an update on the progress of the piece I was working on when the segment was filmed.

Check out the video on CNN:
http://money.cnn.com/video/technology/2012/06/22/t-ts-turning-art.cnnmoney

And then, see the painting in its current state.

I still have some work to do on this piece but, I am pretty happy with how it is progressing. Check back soon to see the final piece as well as an update on this collaborative portrait.

I jumped into this new painting fairly quickly without any real plan as to where I wanted to take it. The model came by and we ended up with this image that I loved so I just went for it. Unfortunately, I now find myself halfway through the piece with a lot of questions to answer – or maybe the painting will just take me where it wants to be? Not sure about the yellow, not sure about the way the paint is hitting the canvas but, I still love the overall composition. I guess that is always part of creating, getting lost, choosing a direction and just going for it. I feel like this piece just needs more… maybe someone will come by Open Studios this Sunday and give me some good advice.

Working on paintings is always so much like dating. The start of a new piece is always filled with excitement, I end up staying up late into the night painting and when I am forced to leave its side, I am still daydreaming of the endless potential of my new fling. Unfortunately not all relationships are like the movies, some thing are just not meant to last and sooner or later every minute is pure torture. This latest painting started out easy but, putting the finishing touches on it seems to be dragging out endlessly. While I am happy with how it has come out, I can hardly stand the idea of working on it another minute. I think that means it is time to put it aside (for now) and start something new.

While I was trying to finish this piece, and dreaming of the next painting I received some great news. I walked out to my mailbox expecting the normal assortment of junk and was instead greeted by a letter from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation notifying me that I have been awarded a grant to help fund my painting. Needless to say my idea for the next painting went from, “make some small paintings to sell at open studios” to, “make the biggest best painting possible.” So I immediately stretched myself a monster canvas and got to work. The new piece is all laid out and the under painting is nearly finished so, check back soon too see what the next piece will be.

The sun is shining, the paint is flying and it is a good day in the studio. I am pushing forward on this piece, trying to increase the range of sharp to softer areas to really make this composition do what I want.

Here is a quick image of the first of the new set of mixed media pieces. I am planning on making 4 of these in various colors with slightly different treatments of the paint. Sending this first one over to Lot F Gallery for the show opening this Friday. Check it out.