Wednesday, May 5, 2021

New Directions

 I wander into the territory of representational painting every now and then, with the idea that maybe I can explore the abstract content I so love in the context of pictures. I SO love works that walk that line between purely abstract and representational. I'm fascinated by how little it can take to suggest a whole scene from what is otherwise just shapes, lines, colors, values, marks, and scribbles that consist of material applied to a surface.

Jane Lewis's life drawings, for example, are masterful scribbles evoking all the weight and presence of the figures they represent. I see the figure, but I see the charcoal or pastel, and the gesture just as much. Material, process, subject, all have equal importance in these.

Sherri Cassell's Landscapes, countless other landscape painters, Jylian Gustlyn's vessels, Wendy McWilliams' florals, Julie Hamilton's work: these are just a few examples of artists whose work, to me, speaks as eloquently of abstract content and material as it does of its subject. 

Here are a few examples of my latest foray into representational images. Consider these all in process. They are on 18"x24" Bristol.

Thank you for visiting!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Opacity with Marble Dust

 I was investigating what happens to acrylic paint when you add marble dust. I have used it cold wax and oil media, as well as printmaking inks, to stiffen the consistency of the material. So what happens if you work it into acrylic paint?

Looks like we've found a way to make transparent acrylics opaque without adding white, which changes their value. 

From right: quinacridone magenta, manganese blue hue, Indian yellow hue, and quinacridone gold, each in their straight-up form and with marble dust added.

This is what I got from Blick.

At the top, the magenta and blue are opacified quinacridone magenta and manganese blue hue
At top on the left you see Indian yellow hue straight out of the bottle; to the right you see it with marble dust added.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Studio Work

 Here are a couple of pieces I have in progress:

48"x60" unstretched canvas. This is where it is today. Below are a couple of previous stages.

Several layers in, but establishing the stripes

More layers in, establishing the bottom section of stripes

Another work in progress, on stretched canvas, 40"x54". This is where it is today. My next task is to vary the values on the bottom row of stripes.

An early stage of the above piece

A few more layers later. It is starting to look like a pinstriped suit to me, so that is why I started obscuring the top area of stripes.

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, March 15, 2021

Free Live Demo with Q&A

 I am offering a FREE DEMO at Winslow Art Center on Tuesday, March 23. This is part of a series of freebees Winslow is offering next week, in their "Spring Fling".

Slack Tide #6, 11"x14" acrylic on paper

I filmed the process of painting this image, which I will narrate live on Zoom, sharing my thoughts on composition, as well as tools and tips. I will take questions as well. Hope to see you there.

Even though it is free, you do have to sign up for this session. See details and sign up here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Practicing Composing

 Composition - the arrangement and qualities of elements in your painting - is a topic that seems to mystify people the most about art making. This is my impression from teaching thousands of students over hundreds of workshops over the course of ten years. Here are a few beliefs that some of you might hold. The 'you' is hypothetical.

  • You want composition to be a set of rules or guidelines.
  • You think composition is something you can learn and then apply.
  • You want there to be, or think there is, a set of rules that guarantee 'good' composition.
  • You approach abstract painting differently from representational painting from a compositional standpoint.
  • You may thing of format as the bulk of composition: the cruciform, the abstract landscape, the grid, for example.
  • You think there has to be a focal point
  • You believe in a rule of thirds
  • You think of 'spontaneous' painting as different from a composition, a composed painting.
  • You think a composed painting, a composition, is planned.

Any of this sound familiar? None of it is true. Where do these beliefs and assumptions come from? I've probably contributed to some of these beliefs myself, in earlier workshops. But believing any of the above does serve as a starting point.You can begin to un-learn. You can become aware of assumptions. This is where real composition begins.

In an attempt to address these issues directly I am offering two new workshops this year:

Abstract Composition Bootcamp

Fridays on Zoom, beginning April 9.


Paint Solo #9, 22x30" acrylic on paper

In order to become fluent in visual language, you need to become aware of what you do by habit and what you can do by choice. The more fluent you are, the more spontaneity and freedom you can bring to your art practice. See workshop details here.

 100 Paintings

Online with a blog, no zoom. 10 weekly lessons beginning September 8.

Pink Shape, 9x12", acrylic, collage, drawing on paper

 Join me for one or both of the above for a deeper look at what it means to compose.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

A New Take on Stripes

 These layered and textured stripes came out of a fallow period, just after an intense six weeks of teaching. I wanted to loosen up, lighten up, and just get some paint on surfaces with no particular ideas. The first couple of days of this practice - just go into the studio and put paint on paper/canvas/panel - felt pretty unproductive, like just spinning my wheels. And it IS just spinning my wheels. But persistence paid off in the form of a new exploration in stripes.

I will be demonstrating these techniques on May 21 on Zoom.

See details of my Technique Takeaway at Winslow Art Center here.


Stacked Stripes #1, 11"x14", acrylic on bristol

Stacked Stripes #2, 11"x14", acrylic on bristol

Stacked Stripes #3, 11"x14", acrylic on bristol

Stacked Stripes #4, 11"x14", acrylic on bristol

Stacked Stripes #5, 11"x14", acrylic on bristol

Stacked Stripes #6, 11"x14", acrylic on bristol

Stacked Stripes #7, 11"x14", acrylic on bristol

Stacked Stripes #8, 11"x14", acrylic on bristol

Stacked Stripes #9, 11"x14", acrylic on bristol

Stacked Stripes #1, 11"x14", acrylic on bristol

All of these are available as prints and on products on FineArtAmerica/Pixels. 

The Bristol I am using can be found here.

I use a squeegee to apply paint in many of these. See them here.

Other supplies include Golden paints, Blick Matte Acrylic White, and Utrecht Matte Medium.

Although the pieces do not particularly feature it, some have Golden's new So Flat Matte paint in them. These are just gorgeous, lush paints, with a beautiful consistency and opaque coverage. It just became available at art retailers last month. Here it is at Blick

I am excited to experiment more with layers and textures in this new stripe format, and this confirms my hopeful idea that When In Doubt, or when I feel out of steam or out of ideas, just putting paint on surfaces - keeping my hand in it - can lead to a path forward.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

More of the New Stripes

 These ones are made from the stripes in the last post, plus some paint, collaged on bristol.

They are available as prints and products at Pixels/FineArtAmerica.

These are all 11"x14" except the square one, which is 13"x13".

Thursday, February 11, 2021

New Stripes

 I have been playing around with colors and lines on cheap paper. Looks like I'm still gravitating towards stripes, though that was not the intention. I love this paper - I use it for lifting paint, making collage papers, covering my work table (and then save those pieces for collage), and more. 

Here are some examples of the stripes:

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Leaning into Subtlety

 Do you ever feel that your art is "too busy"? You know you have too much going on, but you are not sure what to do about it? Afraid of wrecking it, or 'losing' some of the parts you like best, you get a bit creatively paralyzed over it. 

Join me for Leaning into Subtlety, Friday, February 12, 2021, at 5:00 pm EASTERN time. This is a quick (hour and a half) demonstration hosted by Winslow Art Center via Zoom.

I will demonstrate a few go-to techniques I use that keep me loose and unafraid of painting over. These techniques are about building subtlety as part of the process, but also toning down high drama, or 'editing' to bring your piece into focus. 

Here are a few examples:

This one includes tone-on-tone collage in the yellow area, plus a little spatter of yellow ochre. 11"x14" on bristol.

Tone-on-tone mark making, collage, and spatter bring a little depth to this piece. 11"x14" on bristol.

Fog, lower right, is the main technique I demonstrate on this piece. 11"x14" on bristol.

This piece has a lot of texture, but I've toned down some if it using a dry brush technique. 11"x14" on bristol.

This is another example of toning down texture. This is the "after", so the texture is considerable more subtle in parts than the "before". 9"x12" on bristol.