In the Studio #88

I’ve entered a prolonged period of landscape painting for the last two weeks. I’m relieved by it too because there were several projects that I had on the backburner that have been like little earworms borrowing into my brain. I’m relieved that I seem to be painting these pieces quickly as well. It indicates something that I’ve known about artists for a long time, and that thing is that gestation periods are necessary to create compelling work. I’ve focused lately on finishing the “Tyrone Goes to the Capital” works and finally diving into my “Sighting MLK” works. Here’s where the MLK works stand right now.

All the works I’m making now have shows that are coming up in no-time and I still have a show in April that needs some work in addition to these landscapes. I’m an artist that doesn’t like to repeat or put-up work that I consider old. This way of operating is a little crazy and makes for a maddening studio schedule. Usually what happens when I realize I have a million things to do is that I compromise and do a blend of new and new-to-this-audience pieces. 

I think what I enjoy about doing these pallet knife works is that there’s a moment when I paint these pieces that they stop being direct copies of the source materials and starts turning into living breathing paintings. Broad strokes of color left unmolested appear on the panel at this point. Shapes get defined by texture and not by directional mark. It’s at this point I hear the voice of my buddy Darrell George in my head saying, ‘Are you making a painting or a photograph?’, and I decide definitively I’m making a painting goddamn it. 

Sometimes when there a lot on one’s plate, like mine right now, the thing that brings you joy starts to feel like a job. I feel very thankful that I feel this incredible pressure because it represents a vote of confidence that I can get big jobs done. I’ve accepted an additional show in June and there are commissions in the works that will make the spring incredibly hectic for me. I feel lucky to be so busy with the economy not going always well for many artists. I also feel lucky that the ideas keep flowing. Every other day I have a notion that requires immediate attention. I haven’t had writers block creatively for a while. I’m excited that the direction I see my work going involves exploring more pattern making and maybe linking with tree or branch themes. This feels appropriate as we enter warmer seasons. Hopefully I’ll be able to follow these threads to their fullest extent so I can have some awesome works to show at one of these June exhibits.

Exciting things are happening for me commission-wise. One of the commissions I just won will allow me to do a piece honoring Teddy Pendergrass for Black Music City Philadelphia. Other commissions are still in the works but are equally as promising. These opportunities as satisfying as they are to receive means more work, the good kind of work, coming. Here are some images of the things inspiring pieces in my studio lately along with some stock images of Teddy I’m considering.

 I love how the random function on Pandora can lead me to a musical obsession that proceeds to dominate my listening. This week I fell in love with two bands, Metronomy and Mile High Club. I liken these bands to what I call “cool bro music”, “bro” for me being a catchall both positive and negative for forced hipster I-didn’t-really-mean-to-be-awesome-but-there-I’m-the-shit, groove music. You kind of want to hate these bands it but you can’t because they have that sort of nihilistic smooth jam feel. Mile High Club is especially good at this sound. Two of my favorite songs from them are “Me Myself and Dollar Hell” from their “Going Going Gone” CD, and “Weeping Willow” from “Timeline”. With war in the air in Ukraine this week this is the perfect put-your-head-in-the-sand and hope everything goes back to normal mood music. Here’s the YouTube videos of the two tracks:

War sucks. Be well everyone!

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