Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Some Figure drawings

     I've been teaching Drawing I for the past 3 years at the College of Charleston; 2 classes per semester, 2 days a week. It's been a good change for me, as I was in the decorative painting field as my 'day job' while I was in New York City. Teaching has given me the opportunity to organize my thoughts about Art (drawing) and pushed me out of my comfort zone, both by talking in front of groups of students, and also one on one. The politics of 'academia' and teacher compensation aside, I still believe that teaching is a valuable asset to my studio work and our community in general, and I keep doing it for the 3 or 4 stellar students each semester that I feel like I'm passing the torch to. I've had numerous teachers over the years that have made a big impact on me, both professionally and personally, from which to learn from.
     My favorite part of the semester is always when we get to draw from the model, which I usually save for the end. For a beginning class like this, I usually emphasis gesture and form, over anatomy and proportion. We do a lot of quick gesture drawing and short poses in order to have the students sync their eye-hand-mind together. I usually start with a demo, to try and walk them through how I would approach the drawing problem at hand. Here are a few recent ones, all vine charcoal on 18" x 24" paper:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Autumn Exhibitions 2014

Angel Oak (V)
oil on linen
24" x 36"

My painting, "Angel Oak (V)", will be included in the Painting Alumni Retrospective at Syracuse University's 914Works Gallery. The exhibition runs from October 21, 2014-January 3, 2015, with an opening reception on October 23rd, from 6-8pm
"Atmosphere" at Horton Hayes Fine Art
30 State Street
Charleston, SC 
opening reception: Friday 11/7 5-8pm

Cloud study
oil on paper
9" x 12"

Night Painting
oil on linen
23" x 28"

"Night painting" will be included in the exhibition, "I See Pattern", at the Vendue Hotel gallery, curated by Robert Lange Studios. Opening reception on November 21, 5-8pm

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

reworked self portrait

28" x 21"
      I've had this self portrait in my painting rack for about a year; never quite finished it and never quite satisfied with the way it came out. It is based on a photograph I took in my studio a few years ago. The image was striking to me, with my reflection captured in the set of double doors in my studio at night. The way the camera (IPhone) lined up with my head, obscuring my face, was an interesting self portrait, perhaps proving to be a better photograph than a painting, though. Anyway, I put it away after working on it for a few weeks, and forgot about it.   A few weeks ago I pulled it back out, with the intention of starting back into it. As I was looking at it on the wall, I noticed my reflection over my left shoulder. Same interior, but scaled out a little bit; now my whole body was reflected in the doors. Some of the elements lined up to what was already there, but for the most part I dove right in and started blocking in the new painting:

      I usually don't like to paint over old paintings, mainly because some of the painting underneath can pop through in the form of ridges and edges, which can be distracting and a nuisance to paint over. This time I didn't mind so much; the previous painting created a bedrock of paint, which I was able to add to for it's current iteration.
     I've included details and progress shots here, mostly of the figure. I like to have a night painting to work on in addition to the plein air work that I do during the day; it gives me something to work on in the studio at night a few days a week.
     I'm still not sure if it's done, but I think it's close...I don't want to paint over the looser and more raw elements. I like how your eye bounces around the painting, picking up the various reflections and different light sources throughout, and how the motif of the door/glass reiterates the implied picture plane.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Asheville: August 2014

     In early August, my family all converged on Cloud Nine Farm outside of Asheville, for a reunion. My wife's grandfather retired there in the late 60s, and it has since been maintained by Janet Peterson, his daughter, as a working farm and vacation rental. We love going there, and since we moved to Charleston, now it's only about 4 hours away. I was able to do some painting while there, usually during my youngest son's nap time. All these are oil and graphite on paper, which I've been using all summer. I decided to focus on things close at hand, rather than distant views of the mountains...a continuation of sorts of the flower paintings I did earlier in the summer. These were all done in one shot, usually about 2-3 hours. I've included a few details below the full size image:
15" x 22"

9" x 12"
15" x 22"
      For a more detailed and poetic description of our time there,  you can visit my wife's blog post and if you're ever looking for a nice getaway near Asheville, visit the Cloud Nine Farm website.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Night painting

     I've been working on this new night painting, on and off, since the spring. With the interiors, I'm able to work on a painting for a more sustained amount of time, due to the fact that the light and the forms don't change as much. Painting en plein air, you're mostly at the mercy of the weather and environment, for better or worse. Here, I'm able to take my time; pull out the painting a couple times a week and work at a more leisurely pace. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
     My initial impulse and idea for the painting came after seeing the sun set through the trees in our backyard. Everyday, as the days move into the summer months, the light as it streams through our back porch and windows, is so beautiful and golden, it just calls out to be painted. Unfortunately, that time from 5-8pm is the worst time for me to set up in our living room to paint, so I altered it to a night painting with different kinds of artificial light.
pencil, 9" x 11"
     I started with this initial sketch in pencil, to figure out the main divisions of the composition. I wanted to get not only the porch, but the long hallway that leads back to my studio. I wanted this painting to contain a 'near' space, and a 'far' space. I was also intrigued by the idea of incorporating different light sources. The porch side having the darkness of night outside, with a soft glow overhead, and the deep space of my studio, far away, but brightly lit. I also put in the bright blue glow of the TV in between the 2 spaces, as an accent and counterpoint to all the orange wood tones. I just love painting all the patterns that our house has (courtesy of my wife), and the wood molding and floor create a warm, glowing atmosphere. Also, about half way through the painting, I realized that I could turn on the string lights outside the porch to create yet another light source and pattern. The dots of small lights lead you around the painting in arcs towards the center of the composition.
     One thing that doesn't come out in looking at art online is that the surface of the paint is not apparent. While I'm working, I'm continually conscious of how the paint is sitting on the surface...is it thin? thick? was this mark part of the underpainting? How does my eye move over the surface of the picture plane? Are there 'slips' that occur where my eye moves around the image. There's the image, the motif, and then there is the paint application. After each painting session, I tried to take a picture of each 'stage' of the painting. Please forgive the uneven quality of the photos (some were taken at night under artificial light, some during the day, and some with different cameras). Here is the progression of the painting:

finished painting; 22" x 27"

Thursday, July 24, 2014

New Hampshire

     I just spent about a week up in New Hampshire with friends, and was able to get quite a lot of painting done. Thanks to a sitter for our 2 year old, and camp for the older kids, I had large chunks of time to paint and draw. I did these all in and around Harrisville, which is an old mill town situated around a few lakes and streams. The mills were initially set up over the creeks for the production of weaving fabrics, but many have been re-purposed as studio and office space. I was immediately drawn to these buildings and the series of locks used to regulate the water flow. I'm usually drawn to things in the landscape where man and nature meet, whether harmoniously, or not. The weather was perfect, so most of the time I found myself lost in what I was doing, investigating these news forms and terrain.
     All of these are on oil paper; something that I'm still excited about. The paintings were able to dry really quickly because of the absorbancy of the paper, but most of them are done in one shot, usually 2-3 hours. We're definitely planning on a return trip next summer, possibly for a longer amount of time. There was just an endless possibility of potential paintings that I kept seeing, so I'm looking forward to returning again for more time with our friends and more paintings.

apple trees and moon; 9" x 12"
goat shed and field; 9" x 12"
lily pads and rocks; 9" x 12"
reflection; 9" x12"
Abandoned cars; 15" x 22"
Mill; 15" x 22"
Waterfall; 15" x 22"
waterfall (II); 22" x 15"

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


     Recently, I've been making a conscience effort to bring some more of the aspects that I like about drawing, into my oil paintings. One of the things I like about drawing, is the ability to make a continuous mark, which for me is usually in charcoal or pencil. There is a certain feeling of 'flow' for me in drawing materials; you don't have to stop and reload a brush. There is a certain energy I feel that gets transferred into the drawing because of this. Also, the space of the paper feels different to me, than a canvas....more of a field to pull things out of, rather than an object bound by edges.
     Perhaps the first step I thought was just to start painting on paper. I knew I was going to travel this summer, and needed a painting support that could be compact and light. The local art supply store suggested a new oil paper from Arches. I bought a few sheets and decided I'd try it out by painting some of the flowers that were blooming in our yard.

15" x 22"; Oil/graphite on paper
     This was the first one I did, and I liked it immediately. When doing these quick 2-3 hour paintings, if it's going to be a good one, I always get a feeling within the first 10 minutes. It definitely happened on some of these.  Working on the paper, turned out better that I expected. I really like the absorbency of it; marks 'freeze' when you want them to and I'm able to work back and forth between the pencil and the brush. I can incise marks into the wet paint or scrap it off to reveal the paper. With the paint thinned out, I can work the surface similar to a watercolor, or go on thickly with a palette knife.
     I ended up doing 6 of these, over about a week. One a day, usually for about 2-3 hours in front of the motif. It was amazing to watch the different flowers change, not only day to day, but also through the length of the painting session. The leaves and petals are continually drooping or moving because of the light. I was able to track all these minute movements while trying to complete the painting. They were all then quickly framed up and sent to Kenise Barnes Fine Art in Larchmont for inclusion in her summer show 'Cool and Collected'. Here is a review that appeared in the Wall Street International magazine.

Hibiscus blooming; 22" x 15"
Hibiscus; 15" x 22"
Lily blooming; 22" x 15"
Lilies; 15" x 22"
Petunias; 15" x 22"