So I've got a few paintings going this summer: the elevated F/G train, a small interior painting of our bedroom, and this one of our backyard. I'm thinking of starting a large studio/self-portrait painting too, which would give me another option to paint if the weather isn't good. Spring's a tough time to paint...the weather's unpredictable (alot of rain) but the colors are so crisp and vibrant, especially the green leaves that have just burst forth. Over the past year, I've done a number of paintings of our house. One reason, is that I know this space so intimately, having renovated and lived in it for 6 years now. Another, is that we will be moving eventually, and I feel that by doing these paintings it is offering me documentation and closure on such an important part of my life.
Most of these paintings are pictures of ordinary moments; the plant in the corner of the kitchen, the parlor after the kids have gone to bed, my wife lying in our bed before sleep, the backyard as I glanced up to look at the deck. They represent a quietness and introspection that develops with a space over time. I also enjoy investigating these small enclosures of space, rather than landscapes with a seemingly infinite horizon or canopy of sky.
The backyard painting is almost square (24" x 23"), which is not a size I normally work in. I like the centrality of the composition: straight, dead-on, looking at the back of our house with an elevated deck. The pathway to the stairs is flanked by a profusion of greenery, which was lovingly planted and tended to by my wife. After 6 years, it has flourished with an unbelievable lushness and density, and it's hard to believe that it was all concrete when we moved in. When I first started the painting, I loved the way the light bleached out the back wall bright white in the afternoon sun, but found the light coming through the trees difficult to paint. On an overcast day, I can see the forms better; I've yet to reconcile which light I want to paint it in. The hydrangeas will be blooming soon, so I definitely want to add those colors (violet, blue) as well. Our backyard gets so overrun with mosquitoes by mid-summer, that I'm nervous it's going to be unbearable to work back there soon. It's been such a peaceful place to paint, a small oasis of greenery in this city of stone and metal. I enjoy the squirrels scurrying around on the trees overhead, the birds chirping and hearing the church bells ring on the hour. There are times when I just dissolve into the present moment; that what my hand/eye/mind are doing blends perfectly and there is just the pure experience of seeing.
I have 8 paintings in this exhibition, with an opening reception this Friday, May 7th, from 5:30-8:00p. The exhibit will also be open Saturday and Sunday May 8, 9 and May 15, 16 from 1:00-4:00pm. Some older paintings of mine, some newer ones...all focusing on the light of Brooklyn. My work is paired with Megan Prince's gestural abstractions, and the venue is a new modernist home, Solis, in Fort Greene (174 Clermont Avenue). Here's the press release:
“The history of architecture is the struggle for light.” Le Corbusier
“Ideas are to literature what light is to painting.” Paul Bourget
Light, so ubiquitous and fundamental, we often take it for granted. This exhibit explores and celebrates light from a Brooklyn perspective, both in the venue – a newly-constructed modernist home in Fort Greene designed to maximize natural light – and in paintings by two Brooklyn artists: impressionistic cityscapes and abstract compositions.
“My Brooklyn cityscapes are done ‘en plein air’ and deal with the intricacies and challenges of working from observation. Being in front of the motif allows me to fully explore the world around me and, through intense visual scrutiny, gives my paintings the density and specificity of an observed experience. While working outside, the weather becomes a partner in the creation of the work itself and requires me to capture and respond to the effects of the changing light and atmosphere. These paintings were all done around my studio in Gowanus, Brooklyn’s rapidly changing, post-industrial landscape. The stark forms of the buildings and the grittiness of the surfaces, reveal hidden gems of light, color and pattern. By finding inspiration in the decaying structures, with their worn-out and muted colors, not only am I documenting the area, but working towards its renewal, finding beauty and elegance in a place most people tend to avoid.”
Francis Sills’s work has been included in exhibitions both nationally and internationally, and is in numerous private collections. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Syracuse University in 1996 and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Parsons School of Design in 2001. He currently lives in Windsor Terrace with his wife, Faith, and their 2 children. More information and images an be found at www.francissills.com.
“My paintings, much like how I think of Brooklyn, are the culmination of many moments suspended in time reflected to us by each new day’s light. These slow paintings with fast moments are about process and history, and are layered with the scars of applied and removed marks. Washes of color are pushed and scrubbed into a thick oil ground where organization turns constantly into chaos, which cries for simplification. Reduced to a single stoic or hazy image or even a few lone marks, these thinly-painted canvases use space, light and movement to signify time past and point to the future.”
Megan Prince, a prolific mixed media artist, has been awarded several grants and fellowships, and is currently a studio fellow with the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in Manhattan. Megan, a Seattle native, has two BFAs from the University of Washington and moved from Seattle to New York City to obtain her MFA at Brooklyn College. Her work has been included in numerous shows and also exhibited at public institutions. More information and images can be found at www.megprince.com.