In the Studio #56

I’ve been working hard trying to finish the last group of five paintings I set out to complete for my show in October at the Bethlehem House Gallery and they’re all pretty close to where I planned for them to be back in May. But for having to go to my inconvenient but totally necessary job, all these works would have been completed weeks ago. I’d like to think, other than the obvious financial benefits, that having to constantly start and stop working on a piece adds some kind of intrinsic mysterious quality to the art; however, most of the feeling I get is that it’s damned frustrating.

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I’m in circumstances often where I’m challenged to search for the grace of my current predicament. It could always be worse is what I often hear, or at least you have (add the whatever the speaker thinks your not grateful enough for here). This skill set of always looking on the bright side or for the silver lining is not one I think most people are born with and takes practice to accomplish. Just about the only way I can see to get there is to be authentically thankful when it feels natural but to be constantly empathetic to others as a daily reminder of where I am, which in turn might offer clues on how to navigate life’s many challenge. And so, it is with some humility and reluctant grace that I am thankful for that job that takes me so often away from my artwork, and for the many life challenges I now am going through which I’m certain feeds and inspires my work in ways I am not fully aware of. Anyway, these 5 paintings – aside from being totally painted in carefully plotted segments of time disregarding whether I felt inspired to paint or not – were also/are also challenging for me technically due to how I insist on painting.

The all began as essentially abstract works that got covered over to produce a nice bumpy surface. This rigid erasure process that I’m committed to hasn’t changed much over the years. But, for whatever reason, as I started layering the final surface elements particularly of the “Mari’s Hospitality” works, I found my motivation very drained. It was confusing to see how the different layers of paint separated and cohered into plants , and color mixing proved to be devilishly difficult. I wasted tons of paint just trying to get the greens I wanted to sing late afternoon light. Thank goodness for gold paint. It provided just that kiss of the sun I needed to make those works work.

Motivation was all but absent when I began to paint the “At Tom and Mike’s Wedding” duo. I think painting planets all summer just seemed more fun and relevant to where my head and emotions were at. Now that I’m deep into painting these last two pieces I’m trying to channel those beautiful sunny days 4 years ago at this wedding as I move forward.

Tom and Mike are a quixotic couple for me for several reasons, an odd pairing of boisterous and reserved that’s heartening for those of us who feel like our particular oddities make us ineligible for companionship. Their wedding was held in the Rose Gardens in Allentown, which as I mentioned in previous posts, were decimated by a blight last year and have since been replanted. The oddest thing in painting this work for me was to capture that incredible humidity in the air that day that gave all the vegetation this feeling of near exhaustion and decay. What little powers of rendering I have are not nearly up to the challenge of being able to deliver such precision, it was hard enough just to place all the elements in there right locations. I do feel I got a good sense of some of that lushness, however. I love what summer does to all life around us, I can feel the earth breathing, it’s this pulse that I was hoping to capture in all these works.

Here “Mari’s Hospitality No’s 1-3” and “At Tom and Mike’s Wedding No. 1” all complete and a progress shot of “At Tom and Mike’s Wedding No. 2” nearly complete.

Mari’s Hospitality 1-3

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At Tom and Mike’s Wedding No. 1

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progress on “At Tom and Mikes Wedding No. 2”


I’ve been listening to a lot of Franz Liszt lately, I think listening to Thundercat for so many weeks put me in the mood for something classical. Here’s two of my favorites, “Les Prelude S97/R414” and “Hungaria S103/R420”.

 


My attention I think will now return to more abstract drawing and works as we transition to the Fall. I think I might have one more planet in me however, Mars is calling me and being rather insistant. I may have some sunflowers and a couple more pieces in my “Timmy’s Porch Petunias” series in me yet also. I hoping to work these last few chiming paintings out of me so I can get to some long overdue abstract pieces I’ve been dwelling on for upwards of a year. I think I’ll next blog about some drawing I’ve been working on for a while, until then do be well.

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