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!

November has been a busy month over here. Art fair week in Miami makes the perfect excuse to escape the cold in Boston, so I’ve been scrambling to finish up a couple paintings for my upcoming show at Thomas Young Gallery before I pack up my family and head south to take in scene. Before I talk any more about the next show, I want to take a moment to tell you a little more about the piece I am sending down to Miami for Chévere at Sirona Fine Art.

Chevere at Sirona Fine Art

You have seen the images of the piece, and anyone interested has read a lot about the concept for this series, but this time there is a little more to share about the piece.

It is no secret that I think one of the most powerful aspects of any painting, whether it is a realist piece or a more abstract work, is the labor that goes into making it. The simple fact that someone thought an image was important enough to invest hours, sometimes even years, of work into its creation adds an aura of significance. Because of this, I have always tried to work in ways that forces me to work slowly, deliberately, and leaves the labor of painting visible in the final piece. Beyond that, I have always hand built panels to use for my paintings.

What this all means is that I want each piece I make to be a unique and hand made object from front to back. With that in mind, I have decided to start building panels that are as special as the paintings they contain.

The new panels start out with some really nice Baltic Birch plywood. This is the very best stuff I could find, commonly used for ultra high end cabinetry, it is a big step beyond regular hardware store plywood when it comes to quality. Instead of being made of a few thicker pieces of woof with a thin outer veneer of nice birch, this stuff is made with mane smaller layers of wood, with an evenly thick outer veneer of birch. What that means for the painting is, the surface will be as smooth, strong, and stable as possible. As a nice bonus, the evenly sized layers of wood that make up the final piece make for a really beautiful edge, so I leave that visible in the final panel. In this case, I did a kind of white wash finish that keeps things looking simple and clean, but lets you catch a peak at the work that went into the panel.

panel prep

The supports behind the panel are made of maple. Maple is a nice dense, hard, hard wood. So it should resist warping as much as possible. This is the same wood that is normally used for high quality canvas stretcher bars, and I make sure to pick the best pieces I can. Once these are cut to size, I join them together with box joints. This means stronger connections with no nails to corrode over time, and also leaves a nice pattern of edges at the corners.

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The first painting that utilized one of these improved panels is currently at Sirona Fine Art. Not only am I really proud of the finished painting, but I am also pleased that the back of the painting is just as polished as the front. When it comes to hand made objects, the details that can not be seen are just as important as the ones that can.

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So, if you are in Miami for art fair week, try to make your way up to Sirona to check out the show. I will be at the opening party on December 3rd, so come out and say hello. In the mean time, check out a preview of the show in American Art Collector Magazine, or Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine, and explore the rest of the work from the show on Artnet.

For those that can not make it out to see the show in person, pick up the current issue of PoetsArtists Magazine and get the full experience there.

See you in Miami.

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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.

The nude figure is such a dominant subject in the arts. It’s hard to forget that humans, in general, are sex obsessed perverts. But hopefully we can set that aside for a minute and start this post off with a little look into one of the subtler aspects of this imagery. Clothes offer such obvious and immediate signals about the time, the place, the status, even the mood of the people wearing them. That is pretty common knowledge, and it can be difficult to look at the image of a clothed person without quickly forming some judgement about what their clothes say (or what they may be trying to say with their clothes). If we strip away the clothes, the viewer is forced to look elsewhere in a piece to find meaning. Also, humans, in general, are sex obsessed perverts that like to sneak a peek at the naughty bits.

This has always been one of my favorite parts of painting nudes (and similarly portraits). Since the context that is normally established by the subject’s clothes is missing from these images, I can start to explore more indirect ways of framing the stories told by my paintings.

Like a lot of people, I have a romantic nostalgia for the aesthetics of older technology. From the soft warm look of old film photos, to the ubiquitous sound of a guitar through a tube amp pushed to its limit, it’s hard to dismiss the beauty imposed by the analog processes of the past. That said, I am not foolish enough to overlook the signatures left by more current technologies. The noise in an image of an older digital camera, or that overly saturated, overly sharp look that people seem to love, or love to hate. The day will come when we look back fondly on the aesthetics of this era, and in the meantime, playing with these aesthetics feels like a great way to more quietly give a place and time to a composition.

So, I have always tried to find ways to make my paintings mimic, or mock, the marks left by todays tools. Over sharp, over saturated video, and photos are one of the unique looks of today. It grabs attention, it looks incredible at first glance; and I would bet that a lot of the same photographers that romanticize the cheap film of the past, probably view this aesthetic as in poor taste (at best). Honestly, those contrasting feelings are exactly why I have always thought this was a good place to play. So I looked for ways to bring some of that look into my paintings. If you look at some of my older paintings, the skin tones are vivid. They are mixed to feel real, but brighter, without using any earth tones. The look is three dimensional, but flat at the same time. I used multiple reference images with different focal points. So nothing is ever really out of focus, nothing falls back, everything is painted sharply.

Now that I have found some more effective ways to bring these ideas into my paintings, I am ready to admit that a lot of my previous attempts flat out failed. I just don’t think anyone really saw what I was trying to do, I don’t think the paintings were really communicating this connection effectively.

As I have been approaching the glitch paintings, finding ways to use the marks left by the different tools used to create the source images has been one of the biggest challenges. One painting is created from high resolution photos and live observation, and one is created from a glitchy, compressed text message image taken from a cell phone; the amount of information available in these two sources is worlds apart. So decisions must be made. Details have to be invented for the low resolution file, and obliterated in the other. Somehow a link has to be formed between these two, very different tools, so that the resulting diptych works together as a single composition.

And now I am trying to make similar connections, except using glitchy video files as a reference.

We have all seen the marks of highly compressed digital video files. The blocky fragmentation of images, the stuttering of quick movements, shapes exploding and merging when frames are dropped. Videos collect scars and the ghosts of past lives remain visible as files are repeatedly sent and saved. The degradation is not as graceful as old film, but the artifacts that develop as digital files reach the end of their useful lives can still be beautiful.

For a long time, I have been thinking about a series of paintings that would explore a single moment, and all the possibilities for the next moment. A series of images that would depict the hugely different effects and subtly different reactions possible at any moment in time between two people. The idea has tantalized me for a while, but I couldn’t find a way to make it visually interesting, until I stumbled on to this idea of slowly degrading image files. Now I have something that helps anchor the idea in time, and allows for very similar images, of very similar situations, to slowly degrade into nothingness.

For now, I only have the first frame to show you. A painting in progress that will become the center panel for this triptych. The best case scenario in this imagined situation.

vid-glitch-panel-1-nick-ward-painting-wip

And a little peak into one of the possible moments to follow.

vid-glitch-panel-2

I am planning a full post about the latest painting soon. In the mean time, I talked to Poets/Artists Mag a little about this series of glitchy paintings. I know I have talked a bit about these pieces already, but if you find yourself wondering – “WTF is he thinking with these paintings?” – this is the best place to start. Follow the link below to check it out…

EDIT: It looks like the link no longer works, so I will re-post the text below.

portraitfromweb-2-web


Please explain the process for this work. Tell us about the series in general.

This series focuses on the disconnect between our digital, and real world lives. Since more and more of our time is spent interacting online, and photographs are no longer constrained to one (or at most, a few) copies, our images are increasingly subject to misuse by anonymous strangers. This is especially true for attractive young women, who often find their most private digital moments taking on a life of their own.

For these paintings, I asked volunteers to send me a text message, or email, with an image that they would normally intend only for a significant other to see. I take this image and crop it so that their face is hidden; so their identity is somewhat lost, and sexual nature of the photograph takes center stage. Next the image file is corrupted using a script that randomly changes bits of the code. For me, the resulting image glitch signifies the end of the useful life for this image. The point where if the image had been shared, the image would no longer be beautiful enough to be forwarded along again. This version of the image is used as reference for the first panel of the painting.

Once I have started working on this panel, the model is asked to visit the studio to sit for a more traditional portrait, exposing her face so that she can reclaim ownership of the image of her body.

Working on this series has been an interesting challenge. Because, the first image is taken by the model herself, I have no real control of the starting point of each diptych. Because the image is sent to me in a text message, it is generally fairly low resolution. Finding ways to integrate the two images into a more composed piece has been problematic. Information has to be added to the low resolution text message image and edited out of the formal portrait, so that the two paintings can meet in the middle with similar levels of detail. At this point, I am starting to figure it all out, so I’m starting to be pretty happy with the resulting pieces.

Where do you see it going?

At this point, I am just happy that most people seem to understand what they are looking at without some big artist statement. I’m planning to make at least 5 or 10 of these pieces before I give up the series so hopefully, once I have a few more, I will find somewhere to hang them all together. Beyond that, I don’t know. I have started experimenting a bit with using glitched video files as reference for another related series, so you should be seeing the first of those soon.

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.

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.