Monday, October 18, 2010

Prospect Park

Here's a series of paintings I did recently in Prospect Park. I live a block away from the park, and in my opinion, it's definitely one of the greatest things in Brooklyn. I certainly couldn't have lived here as long as I have without it, and over the years I've come to know just about every part of it. Long walks by myself, with my wife, or my kids...it's given me a head space that everyone needs, especially living in the city. I also needed a break from doing paintings of the Gowanus area; more green and less garbage and filth.

I love the light at this time of year, with the sun getting low in the sky, causing those long, crisp shadows. I was also interested in painting these meandering paths which lead your eye through the space. Kind of funny that they're punctuated by garbage cans...can't really escape the trash, can you?! They're all 12" x 18" and relatively 'quick' paintings; about 4-5 hours and usually over a couple of days, which has been a nice break from the longer, more sustained paintings I have been doing.


I have a disturbing story which goes with this last painting. While I was out working one day, I had the one of the bandshell (below) leaning against a tree behind me. As I was painting (the first one, at the top of the post), I see off in the distance 4 kids (probably in high school, about 16 years old) coming towards me on the path. I could tell right away they were trouble; just loud and goofing around, pushing each other, cursing, etc... and not in school at about 2pm. So as they come up, one gets right up in my face..."Whatcha drawin?" Most of the time, painting in public can be really annoying, this being a perfect example. Just by his question, I could tell he wasn't really interested or serious, so I just pointed ahead of me and said "That" and kept working. They pull back behind me, and I can hear them whispering and snickering, and then the kid who asked me the question, runs towards my painting leaning against the tree, and boots it like a football. They start laughing, run ahead, and I'm left kind of speechless and really pissed. "Really cool, tough guy!" I say as I pull out my phone and call 911, just to see what would happen. They keep walking, the operator asks me if it's an emergency...which upon further reflection, I realize it isn't. I explain what happened, and she asks me if I'm willing to talk to a police officer. I figured by the time they got there, the kids would have been gone, and I really just wanted to keep painting. I say "Forget it" and hang up. Luckily he kicked the painting right on the frame's edge, so nothing happened to the painting, except some dirt and leaves got stuck in the paint when it landed face down. I let it dry for a few days, and washed it out with some water. Really made me mad and shook me up....what the hell is this world coming to? Now I have to watch out for some petty thugs who will kick my paintings around while I work? Let's just say I'm looking forward to working inside again as the weather gets cold.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Unveiled Faces"

"White Pines": oil on linen: 10"x15": 2010

I'll have 3 paintings in this annual Fall exhibition at Redeemer Presbyterian Church's Center for Faith and Work. This will be the third time I've participated, and I'm proud to take part in this organization's Arts Ministry. I'm out of town for the opening, but if you're in the area, I hope you will check it out.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Studio interior

   Here's the completed painting of my studio that I had been working on since early summer. Between the drawing, the in-progress version, and this one, I was able chronicle the development of this painting over several months. Nothing changed too much from my initial idea to it's completion, but the sustained observation of the scene allowed me to explore the surfaces and textures of the room to the fullest.
   My favorite part to paint was the floor. Stained with random drips and splatters from various 'projects', it began to take on an abstraction of form, with floating blobs of color, very tangible in front of me, slipping back and forth on the surface plane of the floor.  This is something that I want to explore more in the future; depicting patterns as they sit on planes in space, and how they can cause one's sense of vision to become disoriented. (I'm thinking in particular of the rug in the "Parlor" painting I did over the winter.)
   I was also able to include in a few subtle references to painters whom I admire, and have had a great influence on my work. The composition is very Alberto Giacometti, with his bowling alley-type compositions (actually an anti-Giacometti, with this one culminating in the absence of a figure.) The scaffolding and grid of the painting rack also echo the mark-making structure of his paintings. And Lucien Freud's work has been a huge inspiration for me, with his paintings about the setting and function of the artist's studio, as well as, his description of the peripheral things next to his models, like soiled rags, paint stains, and floor boards. Sometimes he also includes paintings of paintings in his painting (meta-painting, I guess?), which I did by including some previous work on the studio walls, along with my portable easel and palette on the table.
   I'm pleased with the painting's sense of light. Although my studio has a mixture of fluorescent and spot lamps, and not natural light, the constancy of it while painting was reassuring. In order to get the fluorescent tubes at the top of the painting as bright as possible, I refrained from painting over the white ground (the tubes are actually the white of the gesso.) I'm looking forward to where this will lead me next...