After a bit of a break from the studio, I am back to work on some new sunbather paintings while I plan for the next big glitchy installation. Because the sunbathers are about to make a comeback, I thought it was only fitting to send one of the pieces from the first round of this series out to Arcadia Contemporary in Culver City to spend some time in the California sun.

So, if you are in the Los Angeles area, and want to check out one of these paintings in person (along with some other great realist painting), here is your chance. The piece I sent over is Christine #2. It has always been one of my favorites from the series, and shows off more painterly brushwork than a lot of my recent paintings. Seeing this piece really inspired me to start experimenting with bringing some texture back into the next round of glitch paintings.

The show was arranged by Didi Menendez of Poets and Artists, featuring work curated by John Seed.

Opening reception this Saturday December 2nd.

Details about the show, along with a sneak peek at some of the other work in the show, below.

Susannah Martin “Helium”

Poets And Artists Show

Arcadia Contemporary

Opening:
Saturday, Dec. 2nd 6-8 pm

Nadine Robbins “Keep Calm and Eat Oysters”

On view:
Dec. 2-13, 2017

9428 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

Artists:

  • Jamie Adams
  • Erin Anderson
  • Bo Bartlett
  • Aleah Chapin
  • Carl Dobsky
  • Michelle Doll
  • Anne Harris
  • F Scott Hess
  • Jason John
  • David Jon Kassan 
  • Daniel Maidman
  • Susannah Martin
  • Dan McCleary
  • Kimberly Merrill
  • Ricky Mujica
  • Serena Potter
  • Lee Price
  • Nadine Robbins
  • Irvin Rodriguez
  • Bradford J. Salamon
  • Vic Selbach
  • Betty Shelton
  • Cynthia Sitton
  • Jon Swihart
  • Michael Van Zeyl
  • Nick Ward
  • Conor Walton
  • Peter Zokosky

Vic Selbach
“Mielikki”

Cynthia Sitton
“A Long Time Ago”

CDaniel Maidman “Leah Checking Her Cell Phone in the Studio”

Conor Walton
“The New Religion”


Finally, for those that love the sunbathers, here is your first look at the first in the next round of paintings. Still early in the process, but off to a good start!

This is a two part post, if you just want to read about my piece, head here.

I have spent a lot of time on this site saying nice things about Poets and Artists Magazine, and I am always happy to send work to the shows that they organize. What started out and one woman with a passion for the arts, has grown into an amazing community of artists, poets, curators, and gallerists. The shows always bring together an amazing range of artists. Relative newcomers (like me) hang alongside established artists, students hang alongside professors; and everyone’s work is given the respect it deserves, because it’s all damn good. Most importantly, it has given me the opportunity to meet, and share a drink or two, with a lot of great artists.

The best part about participating in these shows, is that they encourage experimentation (at least for me). This has led me to send them some of my best pieces, along with more than their fair share of flops. This time I wanted to send a piece I really felt good about, so obviously I started off on some half-baked idea with no real finishing point in site. If you have been following along, you may notice that I have not yet posted the final images of the triptych I have been working on. I think you can see where this is going. While I do feel good about that piece, I do not have any idea exactly how to finish it. Fortunately for me (and, I suppose for Sirona Fine Art), the same model had also signed on to help with one of the text message portraits, and the resulting piece is probably the best that has come from that series.

Check back later this week for a full post on that piece.

For now, here is a little more information about the show, and most importantly, images of some of the great work that will be included.

The show is called Chévere. It will hang at Sirona Fine Art in Florida, but there is also an issue of Poets and Artists Magazine, which will feature work from the show along with accompanying poems and essays. Check that out here: http://www.poetsandartists.com/store/pa77-chvere

Chévere is a group exhibition and publication showcasing works of art inspired by the Romance Languages of Latin America. Chévere’s intention is to break stereotypes. It will feature figurative, narrative, environmental, emotional, street, poetic, and history depicting works.

For anyone who happens to be headed to Miami for art fair week, the opening reception will be Saturday December 3rd from 6-9 pm At Sirona Fine Art in Hallendale.

As always, join the event page on Facebook, and don’t be shy about sharing it with anyone who might be interested.

Here is a full list of the artists (painters, poets, sculptors, photographers and essayists) involved in the exhibition, and the current issue of Poets Artists Magazine.

(I alphabetized them by first name because I have no idea how to sort by last name in Word, and seriously who can really be expected to do things right if they can’t make the computer do it for them)

Whew, that was a long one–start with Reuben Negron, or Tim Okamura, or maybe Sylvia Maier to get warmed up–then just keep clicking.

his is a two part post, if you just want to read about my piece, head here.. For those of you that are with me here in Boston, I have a local show in the works featuring these paintings, so keep your eyes open for that.

Chevere at Sirona Fine Art

This is a two part post, for information on the show that this piece is headed to, click here.

As I am finishing up the third piece in this series, I’m settling into a good rhythm. The paintings are starting to happen pretty easily, and (I think) they are looking really good. The latest piece is being send out to a great show, and I even have something scheduled that will allow me to hang a larger group of them together (more on that soon). There is really just one problem. I have not figured out a graceful way to explain exactly what it is I have been working on. And that really is a big problem.

People are always curious about artists, and what exactly it is that they do all day. So once you admit to being an artist, you tend to get a lot of questions. They generally start out tentatively, there are a lot of wingnuts out there claiming to be artists, after all. They will ask what your real job is, or maybe they will wonder who exactly would buy an art in this day and age. But once they have felt out the situation a bit, they will almost certainly ask; what kind of art do you make?

When I am faced with this question, I generally respond by glancing towards the ground, and mumbling something about portraits. If it is not already obvious to everyone reading this, that is the wrong answer.

I am not sure how aware the models are of this, but each one of these paintings really is a collaborative effort. The women that are helping with these paintings are setting off without any real direction from me. They have their own ideas about what this kind of sexy image looks like. They are not necessarily professional models, they are not people who are used to making a public display of their private moments; and they have to decide what their line is. Where does a bit of naughty fun, turn into a regret? Where does helping create this painting turn into an uncomfortable public display? I am not there to help make these decisions; and let’s be honest, if I was I would probably just push for more.

And really, this is what makes these painting work. Sure, they are just playing a role. Sure, they are only doing this because I wanted to make some paintings. But really, while the situation is obviously arranged for the sake of art, the decisions being made are real. Not only are the decisions real, but I am hanging their portrait right there, I’m asking them to own the decision.

As the father of a baby girl, I am involved a lot of new baby parenting small talk. Inevitably, this involves fielding a lot of questions about her future dating habits, and how I will scare off her future boyfriends (spoiler alert, I am not sure it is possible for me to be any less worried, and I doubt I will be scaring anyone). Now, I am not mentioning this because I find it particularly egregious. But it has given me a renewed awareness that I really am asking a lot from my models. I am only asking them to play a part in a painted story, but we live in a world where that can lead to some real world judgement and consequences.

When it comes to the power of any individual piece of art, I am not really a true believer. Art can affect people, it can be beautiful and powerful, but no piece of art is going to change the world. So I am not going to try to convince anyone that sitting down and writing this, or making these paintings is going to make the world a better (or worse) place. But I do believe that when you see something is wrong, you should stand up and speak. So really, if I am asking people to put themselves out there for my paintings, I damn well better be prepared to stand up and own my part in the whole process. I better be ready to tell the story, to defend the pieces. At the very least, I better be ready to explain the basics of the project.

So, as I am preparing to send the latest piece in this series off to Miami for an exhibition, I am preparing to discuss the painting in a more meaningful way. In order to do that, I have been trying to come up with an answer to one important question.

How would you feel, what would you do, if it was your daughter sending these sort of images, or participating in this kind of project?

And for a long time, I did not have a good answer for that. But I have realized that I don’t need an answer for that question. There is no question in my mind, that one day she will grow up and do things that (as her parent) I am going to be worried about. She is going to grow up, go on dates, get drunk, have sex, do all things that most grown up people do. So the question for me, is not how would I feel if she grows up to be the kind of girl that sends naughty text messages. The question should be; when she is going through the normal course of growing up and dating, if something goes wrong, do I really want her to feel ashamed? And for me, the answer to that question is obvious.

So I am preparing myself to face these questions head on, and to do my small part in pushing things in the right direction.

Portrait From Web, Portrait From Life (3)

See the latest painting from this series in December at Sirona Fine Art in Florida, more info in this post. For those of you that are with me here in Boston, I have a local show in the works featuring these paintings, so keep your eyes open for that.

While I have been fortunate enough to hang my paintings in a lot of great shows, until recently, I have not had the opportunity to hang a show that represents one focused concept. I have hung groups of my paintings together, but I have not started off with the seed of an idea, and finished with a fully realized exhibition.

Now that I have the chance to bring together a show of the Private Message paintings, I am trying to really make the most of the occasion. I want to make it the most interesting show that I can, so I am trying to scrutinize the project as much as I can. Honestly, it really goes without saying that I think the project is compelling, but that is only one side of the story. Since these are fairly collaborative works, whenever I know a model well enough or think she might be interested, I have offered a space here to share her perspective.


As this point, I am going to shut up and turn over the stage to Liz.

I don’t consider myself to be an impulsive person, but if you look at my track record, my history implies it anyway. I’m in no way a planner, and I tend not to weigh consequences too heavily if they’re not particularly interesting to me. That said, I have a pretty good handle on trusting myself and my decisions, so it’s not surprising that I’ve on multiple occasions, offered up my semi-naked services to my college friend, Nick Ward. My own vanity is probably another factor: what woman would not enjoy being the subject of one’s art? If baring it all was part of the deal, so be it. Immodesty posed something of a challenge to me I was certain I could bear. So I did.

To give a little context, I teeter on the line between believing strip clubs are empowering for woman and demoralizing to women. Realistically, they’re not all one or the other. There are certain shades of what these extremes mean, and of course, not all women are the same. When it comes to our sexuality, there is no one to define it for us but ourselves. An inherently terrifying and liberating task all at the same time. Again, shades of gray. 

My own decision to photograph myself naked (and also to be photographed naked) resides in both my comfort with my body and my motivation to push myself toward exposure that encourages an opportunity for growth. While I am confident in my appearance, I have insecurities that keep me from vulnerability just as much as the next guy or gal. To an extent, striking balance between what I am comfortable doing and what scares me just enough, feels ideal. So I am thankful for the challenge and excuse to participate fully in what I consider to be a mutually beneficial opportunity for growth.

Portrait From Web, Portrait From Life

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

People are always emailing me, asking about giclee prints of my large pieces. I’m just going to go ahead and say for the record, they will never exist.

I feel for people who can’t afford the expense, or space required for a large scale painting, but I want everything I put out to be a special, one of a kind, touched by human hands, piece of art. That leaves a couple options for people who want more affordable piece; reach out and ask me to make a small painting, or wait for the occasional screen print or wood block print.

For those of you that are into screen prints, I am about to give some away.

I just sent the last glitch painting to the Zhou B Art Center in Chicago for an exhibition called, “Freak Out.” The show opens Friday the 15th (that is tomorrow), with what will certainly be a big, fun, opening party. Additionally, the opening coincides with their monthly Third Fridays at the building, where all the galleries in the building host opening receptions, and artists open their studios for visitors. In other words, there will be a lot to see.

So here is the deal. The series I am currently working on is all about selfies (not really news for anyone reading this, I know). In the spirit of this series, I am asking anyone who wants a print to go find my piece in the show (which is in the main gallery on the second floor), take a selfie in front of the painting. If you do that, post it up on Facebook, or Instagram, or Twitter (or whatever), and tag me in it so I can see it, I’ll send you a print. I am going to keep the image for the print under wraps for now, but since this game is all about selfies, it will be a screen printed interpretation of an image related to that part of this series.

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Image shows my piece, hanging alongside Silvio Porzionato‘s. Silvio, by the way, also has a show up at Artspace 8.

Beyond this, the show will just be good. You can check out a little sneak peak in the Huffington Post.

Or, get more information, and download a digital copy of the show catalog at the Poets & Artists site.

One more time for anyone interested, here is what to do:

  • Go to the Zhou B Art Center.
    (you can go anytime during the next month while the show is up, but obviously opening night is recommended)
  • Find my painting in the second floor main gallery.
  • Take a selfie in front of the painting.
  • Post it up on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, wherever.
  • Tag me so I can find it.
  • Email me the address where you want me to mail the print.

Freak Out opens this Friday (the 15th) and hangs through May 14th.

I never really envisioned that I would end up a realist painter.

If you had asked 20 year old me, “what do you think of realist paintings?” My response would have probably been something along the lines of, “what is the point of doing something worse, that I camera can do better and faster?”

But here I am, painting portraits that can really be described no other way. That is not to say that I went quietly down this path. I have spent a lot more time and energy coming up with ways to make my paintings more graphic, less realistic, than I would ever spend focusing on learning traditional technique.

Lately, I have been struggling with this. Feeling a bit lost with where to take my work, feeling somewhat frustrated with the paintings I have been putting out. Not to say that I don’t like the pieces that I have done recently, but it has been a while since I have finished a painting, stepped back and felt satisfied. It has been a while since I stepped back and said, “yeah, that’s it.”

Now I am posting a piece that I really am satisfied with. A piece that I am truly excited about. A piece that is, by far, the most realistic painting I have ever done.

I finally decided to take my own advice. To get out of my own way and let the painting decide how it needed to be rendered. Instead of forcing my ideas about what makes an interesting painting, onto pieces that those ideas do not make sense for.

Portrait From Web, Portrait From Life #1

Portrait From Web, Portrait From Life #1 Nick Ward

A few months back, I wrote a post about receiving my second Elizabeth Greenshilds Foundation grant, and my plans to use a portion of those funds to help me put together a show of portraiture. Since that initial post, my focus has been more on the development of my own work, than it has been on the development of that show. However, now that I am starting to find my way through these glitch paintings (more about that soon, for now see what’s up with those on Instagram), it’s time to talk more about the show. I think the best way to start, is to introduce the artist that inspired me to consider stepping out of the studio and pulling an exhibition together.

karen_kaapcke-1

When it comes to works of art, I would like to think that my tastes are pretty varied. I try to approach different styles of work the way I would approach people speaking different languages. If you are open to it, once you can pick up a few words, you will find that new worlds and experiences will quickly open up to you. As a realist painter, I do have my biases. I don’t expect all artwork to be speaking the same language, but I do prefer work that is visually appealing. For me, successful pieces of art combine interesting ideas, with beautiful execution. So often work is beautifully crafted, but lacking a voice; or incredibly insightful, but looks like the page of a sketchbook. But there is something else. Above all that, successful pieces have the ability to force me to see something in a new way. Exceptionally successful pieces find a way to fight through my biases and change the way I think.

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A while back, there was a bit of a trend in the realist art community. Like a lot of trends, it showed up in a many different forms, but the general idea was always the same. Do a painting every day. The internet was flooded with blogs documenting peoples attempts at this challenge. Some were run by skilled artists, selling small pieces or offering demos. Others were run by students documenting the development of their work. A lot of the work that these artists were creating was beautiful, but like a lot of trends, I never found much to get excited about. At best, it seemed like a nice exercise to build some painting skills. At worst, a silly gimmick.

Every time I start heading down the path of dismissing an artistic process like this, an artist will inevitably turn up and show me how wrong I am. In this case, that artist in Karen Kaapcke. Like I said, successful pieces can find a way to fight through biases and change the way you think. When Karen and I fist met, she was in the midst of a project that had her creating a self portrait every day, starting on her 50th birthday.

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“I woke up, thinking – what to do today? What does one do when one turns 50? My paints were in my studio, but the only thing that made any sense was to sit myself down right away, and take a good honest look at myself before I had any time to think. I found a watercolor block, and my drawing box and thus began a project of drawing myself every day for my 50th year. To live 50 as a painter, taking a good look each day, whether I have 2 minutes or an hour, and whether I want to or not. And in the way that iterations are not just repetitions but change due to the very fact of being repeated, I will live the year of 50.”

Within the first five minute of talking with Karen, she had already found a way to completely flip my opinion of the painting a day projects. She had taken something that seemed like a silly gimmick and made it feel honest, given it substance.

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The more I looked at her project, the more I loved it. Each piece, in most cases, was small and simple. Some were nothing more than quick sketches, others were more developed pieces, but taken together they became something bigger. As the series grew, the individual pieces stopped speaking on their own, instead creating a chorus of voices working to deliver a more powerful message. Viewing a week’s, month’s, or a whole year’s worth at once told an amazing story.

As we talked about this project, I started thinking more about my own work (I am still an artist, so unfortunately everything comes back to my work). I am spending two months on a large portrait, while she is spending the same time creating a portrait consisting of 60 small pieces. The intent of both of these processes is to tell a similar story. Taken together, the dialog created between these two approaches adds a little something interesting to both.

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Sometimes these things just stick around in your head until you can’t ignore them any longer.

For everyone who wants to learn more about Karen, see more of her work, and see where she has taken this project, head over to her website. Her work is always interesting, and constantly evolving. http://karenkaapcke.weebly.com/

To see where the project mentioned above ended up after a year, check out the project blog: http://unprimedcanvas.blogspot.com/

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A few weeks ago, I made a decision to start doing weekly posts on my site. Not that I think everyone is really sitting around waiting to hear what I have to say but, as an artist it is important to put thought into the work you are making and be conscious of what the decisions you make with your work are communicating (or not). Right now, I have a lot going on, and writing about it is a good way to keep myself on track, and engage with anyone who happens to take an interest.

Obviously, I have already failed.

It has been weeks since I have published a blog post so, I am going to publicly state my goal so that it becomes a bit more tangible. Before I got off track with my goal of weekly posts, I started writing a little about preparing for this show but, I never finished the piece. I think in this case, putting the post off may have been a blessing in disguise because, while I have a lot to say, this show speaks best for itself.

My last text message painting is headed down to Miami this week and, will be included in a show that opens at the end of the month and includes a reception during Art Basel week. Now, I am not someone who is against the important aspect of commerce in art but, during a week when so many exhibitions will focus primarily on commerce, I am proud that my piece will be in a show that has something to say.

Details, along with a few teasers from the show below.
Help support the event, join and share the event on Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/events/1253323308027943/

Yeelen Gallery Art Basel

what’s INSIDE HER never dies… a Black Woman’s Legacy.

Nov 30th, 2015 – Feb 28th, 2016

Panel: Wednesday, Dec 2nd 1pm

Artist Reception: Saturday, Dec 5th, 10pm- till

Yeelen Gallery

294 NW 54th Street

Little Haiti, Miami 33127 954.235.4758

Patrick Earl Hammie F.B.J., 2015, oil on linen, 80 x 68 inches Patrick Earl Hammie – “F.B.J.” – oil on linen

(Miami, FL) October 2015 – Yeelen Gallery presents what’s INSIDE HER never dies…a Black Woman’s Legacy, a group exhibition curated by Karla Ferguson and in collaboration with Poets & Artists Magazine; on view through Art Basel Miami Beach week from November 30 to February 28, 2016. Bringing together a select group of like-minded artists, curators and cultural tastemakers, Yeelen celebrates the legacy and influence of the Black Woman.

“what’s INSIDE HER never dies…” will mark the three-year anniversary of Yeelen Gallery and will include a compelling body of 25 artist/activists including: Sylvia Parker Maier, Tim Okamura, Joseph Adolphe, Jerome Soimaud, and Numa Perrier. Yeelen’s annual Art Basel reception will be Saturday, December 5th from 10 pm-till attracting one of the largest constituencies of artists and influencers outside of the usual fair grounds; this gathering has become the ultimate expression of creativity during Miami Art Week.

“We are proud to pay homage to the beauty and resiliency of the Black Woman, we aim to continue to fight for her rights and equal respect,” said Karla Ferguson, gallery owner and director. The exhibit will present through portraiture, drawing, photography and installation, the beauty and the emotions of these heroines whom inspire us generation after generation.

Judith Peck - Pulled Over, 40x30 inches, Oil and plaster on boardJudith Peck – “Pulled Over” – oil and plaster on board

Artists include:

Joseph Adolphe - "Fragile" - oil on canvasJoseph Adolphe – “Fragile” – oil on canvas

Yeelen Gallery – 294 NW 54th Street – Little Haiti, Miami – 954.235.4758

Junky phone photo but, wanted to introduce this portrait of Francien Krieg. I know I have been hinting about this for a while but, I will have a full post about the project with some decent photos of the current state of the painting soon.