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

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.

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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.

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

You have seen a lot about my piece for this show here, now it is time to shift gears and talk a little more about the show that inspired this new direction.

First off, let me give some credit where credit is due. The driving force behind this show, and a lot of others, is Didi Menendez of Poets & Artists magazine I know I mention her a lot on my site but, that is because she is doing a lot. She is a strong supporter of contemporary realist painting (and sculpture) and, while the work I make does not always fit neatly into that box, she always seems to find a place for me in her magazine, and the exhibitions she is involved in. Working in a style of art that could be described as unfashionable (or worse), it is often frustrating trying to find suitable places to show. I know I speak for a lot of artists when I say that her support, and the work she puts into these shows, is very appreciated. I am not sure how to really repay that, except to ask the people that enjoy my work, to support her in return. Buy an issue, visit a show, let her know that there are people out there that enjoy the fruits of her labor.

Check out the latest issue (that covers this show) here: http://www.magzter.com/US/GOSS183-Publishing-Group/PoetsArtists/Art/

You can find more information about the magazine, including where to buy hard copies at the Poets & Artists site.

Now, about the show.

Immortality & Vulnerability is a collaborative effort between co-curators Didi Menendez and Sergio Gomez (who runs the gallery at the Zhou B Art Center, along with his own space 33 Contemporary), and the artists involved. The way they tell it, Sergio came up with the concept, As luck would have it, this meshed with a new series that Didi had been discussing with artist Nadine Robbins.

See Nadine’s explanation of this piece here.

"Double Gulp" by Nadine Robbins “Double Gulp” by Nadine Robbins

The title Immortality and Vulnerability was given to all the invited artists about one year in advance. Artists and poets were selected from across the country to participate. Each artist and poet was asked to respond to this theme from their own point of view and with their own visual language and writing style. The ideas of Immortality and Vulnerability have been part of the human experience for millennia and have been subjects of exploration by numerous artists throughout time.

I don’t want to give too much away, because the show looks great and I want you to check out the magazine to see it all, but here are a couple more teasers:

Cesar Conde's piece for Immortality & Vulnerability Cesar Conde‘s piece for Immortality & Vulnerability
VictoriaSelbach Victoria Selbach's piece for Immortality & Vulnerability

Immortality & Vulnerability will be in Chicago at the Zhou B Art Center.

Opening reception April 17th at 7:00 pm

On view from April 17th through May 9th

I have been thinking a lot lately about where I am going to take my paintings next. Should I smooth out my colors, blend my strokes and make things more realistic? Should I just cut lose, bring even more abstraction into the pieces, really push the texture to the next level. I have been flip flopping in my mind, trying to picture where these changes might take my art but in the end, when brush hits canvas, the paintings were coming out largely the same.

Then I painted this piece:

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(read more about how this piece came together here)

I have to say, I have gotten a lot of great feedback on this piece, and overall I am feeling really good about the results… but I am still not sure that this is where I am going next. So I am going to try out a few more options.

First off,
I am going to bring back the sunbather paintings, except I am going to push the realism further. I am going to smooth things out, blend my colors a little more and really just try to use a lot more restraint on my crazy colors and textures. I already have a couple new people signed up to model for these paintings so, I am pretty excited to get started.

Christine Sunbathing #1 oil painting by Nick Ward

Next,
I am going to take things in completely the other direction. I have signed on to do a show that is Disco themed, which seems like the perfect excuse to really go crazy with some colors and cut lose with more abstracted elements. Maybe some people that have been following me for a while (a long while) will remember some of the dance club scenes I painted years ago. The plan is to bring back the feel of these pieces, except bringing a few more years of painting skill into the realistic areas and experimenting more with glitched images to bring some rhythm and color into the piece.

Danceclub study 1

Finally,
I am going to try to bring everything I learn in those two pieces together again into a few more paintings like the one I introduced at the beginning. I still want to play more with the idea of digital life versus real life and, like I said, I think the text message piece was pretty successful. It just needs a bit more development to really shine.

Two more quick notes before I go.

I am always looking for people interested in helping with these pieces so, if you have any interest in modeling for any of the ideas listed above, please get in touch.

If you are not quite sick of me talking about myself yet, I did a little interview with Poets & Artists magazine that you should check out here: https://iartistas.squarespace.com/…

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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Once again, I am about to do a longer post here to set up a new piece and talk a little about it and the show it is headed to. If you are just interested in seeing a picture or finding out where to see some of my art in the real world, feel free to skip to the end. For the few people out there that like my art AND have made it too the year 2015 with your attention span in tact, I am going to talk about the process I took to create the piece.

Creating art is always full of struggles, wrong turns, accidents and mistakes. Some artists are fairly open about the methods that brought them to the final piece, a lot more would rather keep most of the route hidden, but most would agree that the process used to create a piece of art is just as important and revealing as the finished product.

In my last post (The Rules) I started to talk a little about this and made an offhand comment about using studio assistants. I said that, if I manage to reach the level where having studio assistants work on my pieces makes sense, one of “the rules” to creating my work would be never using them. The reason for this is simple: as a painter, if you lined up two pieces of work by a painter I am familiar with, one created partially by studio assistants and one created entirely by the artist, I would be willing to bet that I could tell the difference. Maybe a studio assistant cares about keeping their job, where the artist is only focused on working through ideas, and helps make the final piece higher quality, but the fact remains that there will be differences.

A lot of artists take a similar stance about the use of photographic references.

The thinking goes something like this: the camera has already translated a three dimensional object into a two dimensional image. The camera has already taken away a lot of information that could be used to create a more dynamic piece of art. And also, isn’t that kind of cheating, do you even know how to draw? Are you just tracing that shit?

I think that the people who feel this way would give you a similar story to the one I just told about studio assistants. Line up two paintings by an artist, one done from life, one from a photo reference and they can spot the difference. I have to admit that as a figure painter, as a realist painter, I have often found myself leaning that way as well. However, the kind of paintings I am making do not lend themselves towards working from life. Compromises must be made, so I have my own set of rules for using photo references. I am about to tell you all about how I broke those rules, so let me first lay them out for you:

  • Be familiar with the subject. I paint humans, so, you know, talk to them, look them in the eyes, drink a beer with them, ask them if they feel things, etc.
  • Only use photos that you have actually taken.
  • Take photos from many slightly different angles, with many different focal points, to collect as much information as possible.

Pretty basic stuff. I think a lot of artists (who are not trying to create hyper-realistic copies of photos of banal daily life) (or whatever hyper realists are into these days) would probably have a similar list.

Recently, I have began work on a piece for what has become an annual event, a show of (mostly) figurative paintings that Poets and Artists Magazine curates at the Zou B Art Center in Chicago. This year, the theme/title of the show is “Immortality and Vulnerability”, which immediately set me off in a direction that begged for a new approach.

Because I spend an estimated 99.9% of my time in the studio surfing the internet and reading trashy news sites, it should not be surprising that when I received the information for this show, I was reading an article about (yet another) celebrity’s private photos being stolen and shared publicly. In a time when nearly every person you know is walking around all day with the ability to cheaply and easily take photos and videos of anything they like, it is not hard to see why this is happening more and more. And obviously, not just to celebrities. With photos so easy to take and share, I don’t think it is a huge leap to link the idea of “immortality and vulnerability” to the fact that so many people’s private images will be outliving them on the internet.

For a while, I resisted using this idea. It seemed almost too easy and silly to be worthwhile, but I realized that the opportunity this idea gives me to break my own rules and explore new processes mattered more than the idea itself.

So I set out to break all of my rules for using reference photos.

In order for this idea to really work for me, I would have to take a private moment from a stranger, and make it public in a way that has the potential to outlive them. Now, I don’t feel right about stealing peoples photographs, so I did the next best thing. I went online and asked people to email, or text, me photos of themselves. I asked strangers to send me the kind of images that they would normally only send to their lovers. Because of the internet, this is surprisingly easy and non awkward, and I got a lot of responses.

I picked two women with interesting faces and asked them to send me some images. First, a couple where their identity was hidden (camera obscuring their face, or cropped in a way that it was hard to tell who they were), that were the kind of images that they might send to their husband (or boyfriend or a random person on the internet, whatever) to tantalize them.

I took the images and did everything I could think of to corrupt the digital files, while still keeping the image identifiable. I wanted to mimic the sort of distortions and degradations that happen when digital files are shared over and over. I saved the jpegs over and over at low quality. I shrunk the image smaller, then blew it back up big again. I opened up the file deleted some bits of the code. I took a photo of the photo on my screen.

The process created all sorts of different glitches in the images from which I selected my favorites and made a composite that looked as glitchy as possible, while still being an obviously sexual image. I used this version of the image as reference for a painting. In the end, I used a single image that I did not take, of someone I have never met, as reference for the painting.

The idea was for the final piece would be a diptych, with this image paired with a more traditional portrait that revealed the subjects identity, and hopefully allowed the viewer to connect the sexual image with something that felt more like a real person. As I started working on the portrait, I ran into a problem. The problem was the same problem that led me towards my original rules for using photo references. The problem was I did not know this person, I did not have a feel for her expressions, I didn’t know anything about her and therefore, I was making a lot of guesses as I worked on the portrait. The kinds of guesses and assumptions that you have to make when working from photographs that you did not take of an unfamiliar subject. The kind of assumptions that lead to the kind of paintings that make people say things like:

“Line up two paintings by an artist, one done from life, one from a photo reference and I can spot the difference.”

In order for the piece to work, the portrait had to be as relatable and human as the second panel was digitized and anonymous. I did the only thing I could think of to make this happen. I called up the models and asked them to come in to the studio and sit for the portrait.

The painting is not complete but, it is coming along nicely. I still need to refine a lot, come up with some elements to tie the two panels together, and obviously finish painting the blank parts, but here is the piece as it stands:

immortality-vulnerability-1
immortality-vulnerability-2

If you want to see more images of the development of this piece, and continue following along as I finish it, follow me on Instagram.

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