Here at the studio, I am working on a second tessera canvas. This one … pictured above … is still a work in progress, but is nearing completion.
The work is composed primarily of tessera from one painting that was chopped into pieces and reconfigured into an entirely new image, but it is nevertheless a reflection of the original work. Tessera from other paintings have been added, and like bits of memories that we call on to help us when telling a story, the new bits add depth and interest to the original. So too do the traumas, and joys and grief and love that we experience add color and texture to our memories.
While working on this piece, it was struck by how this image is like my interior vision of myself. I always seem to be stitching together a new version of myself to present to the outside world. Whatever it is I piece together might look solid and cohesive, but is in fact cobbled together with bits and pieces that have washed up on the shore of my life. I would suppose that most people find this to be true. But then again, maybe not. Maybe it is just that I have the time to mull over all this existential dreck while cutting up old canvases.
This image comes from memories of trips that my family used to make on the weekends. We would all pile into the car and head off to the Blue Ridge Mountains for the day. Sometimes it was to pick peaches, sometimes to visit civil war sites, and sometimes just to explore the beautiful region. We always started really early and I recall that the light made everything sort of silvery. It was as if there were a blanket of mist covering everything.
Anyway … in those days there was nothing like the build up of housing that we see today in that region. Everything was really pretty rural and hardscrabble. The roads were not so wide, and the traffic was pretty sparse. The farms along our route were sort of rough and a step away from falling down. There might have been the occasional single pump gas station, or old general store with a wooden front porch. But remember, I am old enough that this would have been at a time when recovery from WWII meant that a lot of men had …BOUGHT THE FARM… a term that means that when the government paid death benefits to the family of a servicemen lost in war, it quite often meant that the family of the deceased could pay off any outstanding mortgage … in effect they could buy the farm. But that also meant that most often there was no longer a young man to work the farm. Hence the general aura of disrepair that prevailed.
However, the effect of that early morning light, and the misty quality of those mornings caused even the most derelict of rundown farmhouses to appear adorned in glory. I have seen the same effect when traveling through hilly terrain during the early morning anywhere the seasonal change from hot days to cool nights causes this glorious morning light. Every body raves about a beautiful sunrise, but this is a whole different thing. This is about the sky giving a benediction to the earth.
Here the effect of the pearly morning light was achieved by painting over a darker night sky and leaving the darkness to grip the morning light at the edges, just as it fades from view. I like the tension that this achieves. I also drew into the wet paint to give the details a delicate feel, in keeping with the lightness of the air. In the end this work proved to be a very delicate, but captivating image.
Many of you have expressed interest in my show of new work at the Avon Library. It is going to be up for the month of June this year. It is a joint show with my roommate from college … Ashby Carlisle.
Ashby is a sculptor and has an exciting body of work. She is currently working on wall hung sculptures that explore her fascination with the natural world of plant life.
She uses her expertise with paper, clay, and metal to create unique visions that draw one into her world. At the same time she plucks words and language from the cursive illusion of vines and roots and makes one question where words go once they are spoken.
I encourage you to go to her web site www.ashbycarlisle.com to learn more about her work.
We decided to call our show … MIXING IT UP … Our work resonates well together, and creates a nice visual treat when viewed side by side … an unanticipated melding of flavors.
While Ashby’s work is more abstract than mine, it is complimentary in her use of color and line. In addition, because her work is 3 dimensional, it creates a sense of movement and allows her to explore negative space … as do my 2 dimensional pieces.
We also discovered that we were both working toward a more whimsical artistic vision during this past year. That is not to say that the work has become fantastical, rather that it does not always present a vision of the real world.
Color has become an unexpected player in challenging ways. Line has taken on new forms that weren’t supposed to be that way.
And space has been manipulated to illustrate a different world … a world that is more uniquely ours.
It has been exciting to expand our artistic horizons in this way.
I have not abandoned representational work, but now work only from memory. This allows me to paint what is in my mind’s eye, rather than the the camera’s eye. The result has been a more challenging portfolio of images.
The show will be hung in the gallery of the Avon Library from May 30th through June 29th and can be viewed anytime during regular Library hours.
Our reception will be June 1st from 4.30 to 7.
We are looking forward to sharing our new work with you all.
HOME FROM THE FARM
Lately, I have found that i really enjoy the process of creating landscapes entirely from memory. After years of painting from reference photos, it is exciting to manipulate reality to fit how the memory looks in my minds eye.
These landscapes are my most recent, and represent three entirely different places in entirely different times, and yet they live concurrently in my memory bank of images. By looking at them next to each other it is evident that I like to simplify and rub off the rough edges and keep only certain parts of a memory. I would suppose that everyone does much the same thing, but in my case it is part of the design process.
The process of designing and creating these landscapes means that certain elements take precedence and come into prominence as the work takes shape. In most cases I am unaware until well into the process what features will become key. Afterwards I always know when it is right, because it fits the memory and feels complete, even if parts have had to be eliminated.
It is a challenge to make these memories come alive, and to be able to share them with others in such a complete way, is very satisfying. Enjoy!
SEASIDE RENEWAL – OIL/PALETTE KNIFE – 30X40 – $1800
The latest of my architectural pieces this is really fun, and has an insane depth of texture. It feels like you could peek around any corner and see the water. And, are those people on the roof looking at the view???
Seriously, the texture of buildings that have been baking in the sun and surviving the winds and rains of harsh New England winters have a unique depth of character all their own. I am fascinated by those houses and storefronts that seem to hunker down for the bad weather, looking grim and grey, and then reemerge when the sun comes out, looking festive and full of life. Nowhere else is there the same feeling that the buildings carry on a life of their own once the tourists leave.
CIVIC HISTORY OIL 36 X 48 $2,000.00
The latest of my large oils, this image went through several stages to achieve the balance that makes it so satisfying to live with.
The images below are a sort of visual journey of the evolution of this painting.
In this one the loose drawing of buildings and roads and images of living in the space have been blocked in. I used an assortment of colors to go back in and over draw areas that I felt needed to be enlarged or reduced.
Next came the blocking of colors and over painting with thin washes of color to bring some balance. During this phase there were a lot of small changes and lines were again redrawn. But the image was becoming unbalanced, and loosing some of its initial draw.
This is close to the final image, but is still rather flat and uninteresting. The background needed to be addressed. But the foreground works well, and the smaller houses all feel cohesive.
Finally it begins to hang together. Now it is a question of bringing the right foreground into sync with the rest.
TUSCAN QUILT III
OIL 24 X 30
TUSCAN QUILT II
OIL 24 X 30
Continuing the theme on the quilted landscape of Tuscany, this pair of landscapes invoke the sense of lightness and joi de vive that characterize the sense that one takes away from one’s time in Tuscany. The others that were part of this series have gone to private collections.
The use of vibrant colors is somewhat contrary to the more faded coloration of the landscape. However the horizon line fading into the foreground and having no real stopping point as it recedes is very true to the atmospheric quality of the views that characterize the area. The fact that all the different textures and colors meld together, and yet remain distinct, is so much a part of what one sees.
Though these were painted as a pair so that they could be hung together, they are available individually. Don’t forget to click on the image to see them in greater detail.
TUSCAN QUILT #4
OIL 30 X 40
The views of Tuscan farms and the fields surrounding them are lovely and comforting to look at. The structure of the buildings are held securely in place by years of repetitive planting and cultivation. The olive trees and the grapes and the fallow fields are all at rest. Only the cypress are wild and wonderful.
There is nothing so reminiscent of a patchwork quilt as the tuscan landscape. This particular quilt has the added quality of being made up of fabrics that appear in all those wonderful renaissance portraits – velvets and striped silks and tasseled hats in wonderful rich colors that shouldn’t go together, but do. I have done several tuscan quilt images over the years, but this is the only one in which I drew a parallel to the textiles used in its construction.
I really do love the timeless quality of the Tuscan landscape, and this image in particular reiterates the age of the land, and the comfort of being enveloped in the fabric stitched by generations of care.
SIMMON’S FARM II
OIL 40 X 30
Thought you all would like to know that “Simmon’s Farm II” shown on the right, is now on view at EBK Framing in West Hartford. Eric, the owner of EBK has a great eye for framing, and of course, a great eye for artwork.
The piece is one of the last of a series of landscapes that I did, picturing farms and fields in rural Connecticut. I hope to continue with more of the same this year, especially in this larger size that people really seem to enjoy.
Simmon’s farm is on the Farmington/Avon town line. It is an organic farm and is part of the open space that adds so much to the quality of our lives in central Connecticut. They also have great cows and a farm stand during the growing season. If you are in the area take a drive along Town Farm Road in Farmington or Tillotson Road in Avon, and enjoy the view.
Don’t forget to click on the image for an more detailed view of the picture.
SEAWALL WITH PINES
OIL ON GOLD LEAF 12 X 16
The paint isn’t even dry, but I couldn’t wait to show you all my latest work on gold leaf.
“Seawall with Pines” is a view out over Long Island Sound from Madison, CT.
The effect of painting trees on the gold leaf, is to keep them light and still achieve a sense of solidity. I am doing an entire series of the lives of trees, this being the third. It is a very delicate balance of paint and visible gold leaf that determines the success of each piece.
The first in the series was in my show last December (2009) and sold right away. The second one, along with this one are shown under new work on my web site.
Don’t forget to click on the image to see more detail.