These days, when I am searching for inspiration, or trying to find my way through a problem in my work, I tend to look in music.

I have written a little about this before.

The thing is, I spend so much time thinking about painting, so much time examining the structure, and so much time analyzing the techniques used, that I have reached a point where I have a hard time turning that off. It’s hard to enjoy a magic show, when you know the trick to all the illusions. As this point, when I come across a great painting, I approach it like a scientist, like an archaeologist gently uncovering the layers of paint. It’s a great way to learn how to make paintings, but a terrible way to really connect with a piece. I often find myself unable to turn this off. So I look to something that is still a little more mysterious (to me), I look to music to find my muse.

173

There are still occasions when I come across work that I can’t reverse engineer. Sometimes I come across work that does something I cannot figure out, and does it incredibly well. I have been talking a lot about organizing a show of portraiture; and as I have been selecting artists for this exhibition, this is a lot of what I have been looking for.

13173109_10209287261596764_3036533596478294296_o

When they want to stop people in their tracks, to grab attention and pull people in, painters go big. It’s relatively easy to make an impression with the largest piece in the gallery, we know this. Getting the same response from a six inch tall piece is something different. Catherine Kehoe makes small paintings that command attention from across the room. Pieces that look great from a distance, and then get even better as you move in for a closer look. Years ago, I stumbled upon an exhibition of Catherine’s portraits at what is now Miller Yezersky Gallery (just Howard Yezerski Gallery back then), and I have been borderline obsessed with her work ever since. As I am typing this, I am staring at the tiny icons of the files that contain images of her work. Incredibly, the pieces still draw me in at this tiny scale. This is the magic of her work, not a single stroke of the brush (or knife) is wasted. The paintings walk a fine line, where the careful planning of each crisp mark is clearly evident, but somehow they still feel effortlessly spontaneous.

177

I am writing this after a long day in the studio so, this is going to be short and sweet. I plan on diving deeper into her work soon, but Catherine’s current solo show at Miller Yezersky Gallery closes next week. On the off chance anyone out there is not familiar with her work, I wanted to make sure I did my part to encourage you to go pay it a visit. Obviously, my favorites are the portraits, but she even manages to find a way to make me love still life painting.

13198465_10209287274317082_5963158059370366838_o

She will be at the gallery this Saturday from 1-4pm (and has promised chocolate snacks) so that is an ideal time to stop in and experience the show before it’s too late.

Last week I wrote a post that I was going to call “I’m Part of the Problem,” but I held off on uploading it.

If you saw me a couple weeks ago, you may have been on the receiving end of my rants about the Big Red and Shiny fundraiser. It went something like this: the only time we get more than a post or two every couple months is when they want more money. Why would anyone start an art magazine if they don’t actually want to write about art?

Now, I honestly respect what the people at Big Red and Shiny are trying to do and I would hope that at least a couple of them would consider me a friend, so I wanted to write something that took my rant somewhere a little more useful. I wanted to write a post about how the Boston art scene was “all bark, no bite” and resurrecting an art magazine when you don’t actually want to write about art on a regular basis was the epitome of that. I wanted to write about that and call some people out… including myself.

For a long time, I have been thinking about putting together a show of portraiture. Not just a show of portraits, but a show that shines a little light on ways that people are using the general concept of portraiture for something more than simply documenting faces. I am sure a lot of you have heard me toss this idea around, maybe I even asked you if you might be interested in participating, but the reality is, I wasn’t sure it was going anywhere. I think you see where the post is headed; just like everyone else, I had a solid idea, and idea that I was passionate about but…. You know I need to be in the studio, I’ve got bills to pay, I am not a curator. Just another scared puppy, all bark, no bite. I am part of the problem. You get it.

Before I uploaded this post, I decided to sit on it for a while. First off, is it really a good idea to call out one of the few organizations that might actually review a show of my work? More importantly, I was not really ready to admit that I was going to give up on my portraiture show.

Sometimes a few days cooling off period makes all the difference. In this case, I decided to put my money where my mouth is, and try to make the show actually happen. Actually… that is not entirely true, someone else has decided to put their money where my mouth is.

While I was taking a weekend off, enjoying fall in Maine, I got an email from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation explaining that they were going to give me a second grant. The proposal I sent them consisted of two parts. First and foremost, I laid out my current text message portrait painting project. This series has not even found its final form yet, but it has already gotten a lot of interest. The grant is a huge vote of confidence and means that it will happen faster, with less compromises. Second, I proposed the portrait show, not only bring together some artists working in a field I am passionate about, but also as a way to frame this new series of painting within the world.

So, now I find myself in this position, all dressed up and nowhere to go. I have an idea for the show (that I will elaborate on soon), I have money to make it happen, I even have some really good artists on board, I just don’t have a space (yet).

"Self-Portrait as Insomniac" by Karen Kaapcke

Cover image is “Self-Portrait as Insomniac” by Karen Kaapcke, who planted the seeds in my mind that inspired this (potential) show.