After a hard and busy winter I am so very happy to be in transition to the warmer season ahead. The work in my studio and recent events gave me a wonderful distraction from the relentless weather in the Northeast, but all logistics and movement are so much easier and more enjoyable with warm sunshine, no snow or ice, and planning that can be relied upon.
My solo show at Gold Gallery in Boston remains up through April 25th.
Everyone has heard how massively hit Boston was with snow this past winter, and the reports were no exaggeration. We had planned a February show, agreeing that since they had February traffic and business, we should go for it.
Sometimes I just love the expression: “Man plans. God laughs.”
After a few postponements, we did open with a reception on March 13th. It was a lovely time for me, with many in-depth questions, especially about my Affinity Series and the multiple-panel pieces.
The gallery brought my work to the AD 20/21 Fair down the street from them a few weeks later. I love the way the work pops on the grey walls.
Work at AD 20/21 with Gold Gallery
I wrote a blog post about this multiple-panel piece in the show as an example of how a new idea evolves. This piece has quite a story, involving photos of my son Tony; Maya Lin; Storm King; and many sketches and studies.
“Green Waves”, oil on canvas, 14″X82″ framed.
Edgewater Gallery of Middlebury, Vermont brought my work to the Affordable Art Fair NYC at the end of March, so I decided to attend. I hadn’t been in several years, and found the whole fair to be well-organized and accessible, a kind of bubble of positive energy. This year was very successful, not surprising with with the quality and variety of work and the good vibe.
I was meeting up with friends and collectors at different intervals for three days running, so I spent quite a bit of time there. The first day I decided to get further involved by collecting information on some of my favorite artists being exhibited at the fair in order to write a blog post about it. This is a review of the work of the five artists that I selected:
A few pieces of mine at the Edgewater booth at the AAF.
I got a first-hand look at how hard the galleriests at these events work as I returned often to the Edgewater booth, enjoying the chance to get to know Kate, Rachel, and Zoe a little better in between their many conversations with fair-goers and invoicing and wrapping sold work. The days were up to 12 hours of standing and smiling and chatting, and they had a great attitude throughout.
I have had several commissions in the first months of this year. Although I am a tonalist by instinct, over the years I have found that I like to meander this way and that with my palette. These five pieces are about as bright as I can imagine going, but I am pleased to see how “me” they look, even with more saturated color.
Installation shot of four pastels commissioned through Megan
Peter Fine Art.
“Saltmarsh in August”, headed soon to its home on Martha’s Vineyard, commissioned through the Louisa Gould Gallery.
I recently enjoyed a visit at my friend Marie Vickerilla’s studio. She had new work finished for her upcoming show in New Jersey that I was determined to see before it left her studio.
Our conversation about this body of work had a lot to do with mixed associations (see my discussion of this in the blog post reviewing the Affordable Art Fair) and complexities of surface. I have always loved Marie’s more minimalist work, and found this new series to be exciting in a different way–lost and found edges and layers; unusual color juxtapositions; and stories begun one place and and finished in another.
From her statement about this series: “Not until after the work is complete do I realize from where the painting has come. From shifting lines holding up a shape, lines and bars moving from place to place, a kind of organization emerges from the randomness, and I find a correlation to some slow-moving event in life.”
Actually, I’ll just say it, since I have before in conversation: I think Marie is a genius. It’s not always apparent to me where and how her decisions are made, but they have amazing clarity, subtlety, and depth—“unique voice” is an understatement.
May 9th: Chace-Randall Gallery (upstairs space), Andes, NY, 10th Anniversary show, 5 – 7 p.m.
A solo at Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck, NY, July 16-Labor Day, reception July 25.
The Shandaken Studio Tour, July 18-19.
A solo or duo at Louisa Gould in Vineyard Haven, MA, August 13-26:
A few new pieces:
“Perceived Acuity”, 18″x52″.
“Blue/GreenSea”, 3 panels of 12″x12″; 12″x16″; & 12″x12″
A few of my recently sold pieces:
“Skyline with Lifting Rain”, 20″X20″, Edgewater Gallery at the Affordable Art Fair.
“5 Trees”, 20″x60″, Albert Shahinian Fine Art.
“Turquoise Light”, 30″x30″, Gold Gallery.
My February workshop “Constructing/Deconstructing the Landscape” at the Woodstock School of Art managed to come off, despite terrible weather, and succeeded in what I had set out to do. A new workshop, it involved an unprecedented amount of planning for me, as I was determined to develop exercises that would lead my students into a deeper analysis of composition and color, and a more conscious understanding how the elements form the whole.
The landscape itself is so seductive that it can actually get in the way of crafting a good painting, so much so that often I see artists plateau in their skill-building, finding it hard to advance to the next level. This workshop was designed for those artists, though I think it also works well for beginners as a step-by-step.
Day #2, working with color (those touchy greens!)
I was concerned that the artists in this workshop would feel constrained by so much structure, but they all surrendered to the process and felt that they learned way more than in a workshop with more open painting time. The exercises are also really fun—I did them myself first to make sure of that.
At work on a frigid February day.
I will be teaching the same workshop in Provincetown in September, as well as these others coming up in 2015:
Woodstock School of Art, “Landscape in Large Scale” , June 20-23:
Artists Association of Nantucket, “Landscape and Mood”, July 13-15:
Provincetown Artists Association and Museum, “Constructing/Deconstructing the Landscape”, September 14th-17th.
Woodstock School of Art, “Interpreting the Landscape in Oil and Pastel”, October 17-19
I hope to see many friends and followers this spring and summer at a reception, a workshop, or my studio. Many of you have been students, collectors, and friends, in one order or another, and I love to see you show up.
April 20, 2015 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: Affordable Art Fair NYC, Albert Shahinian Fine Art, Chace-Randall Gallery, commissioned artwork, compositional studies; learning composition, Edgewater Gallery VT, Gold Gallery Boston, landscape painting workshops, Louisa Gould Gallery, Marie Vickerilla, marsh paintings, Martha's Vineyard paintings, moody landscape, seascapes, Shandaken Art Studio Tour, skyline painting, teaching composition | 3 Comments
It has been a busy, fruitful year, but I am not dwelling too much on the past! My sights are set on 2015, when I will have several shows that I am very excited about.
The first will be in March at Gold (Au) Gallery in Boston, my second solo show with the gallery. My solo in fall of 2012 was quite successful, but I am looking forward to this show taking place in a better economy. Below is the piece we have used for advance PR, just finished less than a month ago.
“Rolling Cloud”, 44″x68″.
There will be another version of “Trove”, 35 3″x5″ paintings in a divided frame—here is the one that I did and sold in 2007. This second frame is the last that I have been able to find, so only one more of these! The new one will have a weather theme.
“Trove”, 30″X48″ overall.
I am working on a new idea for a multiple-panel piece, waiting for the delivery of canvas to begin work on the final version, which will come in (framed) at something like 14″x82″. A planning stages photo is below.
Studies for “Green Waves”.
Some recent highlights have included three blog posts that I quite enjoyed writing. These often generate quite a bit of discussion on FB that I wish was taking place on the blog where more folks could enjoy it, so feel free to jump in.
Most recent, this short one about how grounding a creative process is:
Some stories that I love (and a few of you might recognize them!):
And my version of a rant about the costs, hidden to many, of making an artwork and bringing it to the public eye:
My early fall was well-occupied with this commissioned piece which was challenging in certain ways. My clients–who are also friends–wanted a piece that was most definitely in my signature style, but that also included a fairly large structure.
The small pastel looked great with some loose detail for the building, but when I got to the large oil, there was just too much of it to leave open. So I hunkered down and went after the architectural detail, surrendering to process. Then, however, the building looked too linear and didn’t fit with the rest of the painting. Finally, I made it all sit together by putting a fairly translucent layer of a lighter brown over the whole castle and embedding it with more blend into the white sky.
This is what makes each piece an adventure. I thought that the large Rhododendrons flanking the pond would be difficult to pull off/make interesting, but they fell right into place.
The reflection, however, was always going to be the star of the piece!
One other observation about process is that when it comes to a section that has quite a lot of of detail, I think of it as an abstract painting within a painting. This slows me down and enables me to focus with pleasure and patience, eventually backing up and scrutinizing how the area is working with the whole.
Below, a few recent pieces.
“Green Horizons”, 12″x48″, oil on canvas. (Studio.)
“Marsh at Dusk”, 12″x16″. oil on linen. (Studio.)
Five oil-on-paper paintings of just 3.25″x3″/ea. (Studio.)
“Affinity/Sunset Reflected”, 12″x36″. Oil on linen with frayed edges overlaid with graphite gridding. (At Albert Shahinian Fine Art.)
And this piece that I repainted last summer, brightening the color.
“Endless Sky”, 36″x72″, oil on linen. (At Gold Gallery.)
Some work that has sold recently through my galleries.
“Lifting Rain, 20″x60”. Sold by Louisa Gould Gallery.
“Mountain Sky with Mists”, 24″x30″. Sold by Chace-Randall Gallery.
“Seaside Reds”, 20″x20″. (Sold by Edgewater Gallery, to my dear and recently rediscovered friend from my year in Bolivia as an exchange student!)
“Counterlight Blues, 16″x20”. Sold by Albert Shahinian Fine Art.
“Sunset Sea with Sailboat”, 5″x14″, oil on paper. (Sold by the Julie Heller Gallery.)
My other shows coming up in 2015 are with the Louisa Gould Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard and a show exploring my most minimalist, color-field imagery with my gallery of longest-standing, Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck.
My fall workshops on in Provincetown and Woodstock were very focused and great fun. For 2015, I have two new themes on the schedule. (Contact me for a full course description.)
Constructing/Deconstructing the Landscape, WSA, February 14-16 Sat-Mon
Landscapes in Large Scale, WSA, June 20-23, Sat-Tues
Provincetown Artist’s Association and Museum, Sept. September 14-18 Mon-Thurs(Workshop will be similar to Constructing/Deconstructing the Landscape.)
Interpreting the Landscape in Oil or Pastel, WSA, October 17-19 Sat-Mon
Last comment for now is that I have been doing quite a bit of mentoring/coaching of other artists this past year and especially recently, enjoying working with both early career and experienced artists. I developed my mentoring programs years ago after meeting and conversing with many artists who had so much hope and conviction, but didn’t understand the ropes. The work is satisfying to me because I can clarify and demystify, and thus take some of the emotional weight out of the process of bringing artwork into the marketplace. I am grateful to the many artists who have trusted me to help them rewrite artist’s statements, brainstorm new series, scrutinize resumes for old contacts, and open themselves up to advice.
Happy holidays, happy 2015!
December 12, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: Albert Shahinian Fine Art, atmospheric landscapes, Cape Cod paintings, career artist, Chace-Randall Gallery, color field, Edgewater Gallery VT, Gold Gallery Boston, Louisa Gould Gallery, marsh paintings, Martha's Vineyard paintings, minimalism, minimalist landscapes, moody landscape, Provincetown Artists Association, teaching, weather, Woodstock Scool of art Julie Heller Gallery | 1 Comment
Over the top busy this spring and summer, with new galleries, a solo show in place and several other shows coming up between now and August.
We had a lovely, packed opening reception at Chace-Randall Gallery in Andes, NY. I will be updating the blog post I created about the work in the show as pieces continue to sell—but you really should see the show in person, if you couldn’t make the opening! Thank-you to Zoe Randall for the party and especially for a great job hanging the work. The show will be up through July 7th.
With the largest painting in this show, “Interwoven Stories”.
Host Tom Lavazzi pouring wine…and tons of nice conversation passing around.
Owner/director Zoe Randall and I in front of the postcard piece, “Turquoise Light”.
I am showing again at Butters Gallery in Portland Oregon— and so pleased to add this reputable gallery in a new locale to my list. I participated in the “Line” show there last winter, curated by Melinda Stickney-Gibson, and have remained on the roster. Opening June 5th is a 4-artsist landscape show, invitation below. For my work in the show, see their website:
BUTTERS GALLERY LTD 520 NW DAVIS PORTLAND OREGON 97209 (503) 248-9378 (800) 544-9171 gallery hours: tuesday-friday 10-5:30 saturday 11-5 http://www.buttersgallery.com
East / West
June 5th – 28th 2014
Opening Reception: Thursday June 5th, 6 – 9 pm
My newest gallery is Edgewater Gallery in Middelbury, VT. This happened the way we artists love it to happen—a phone call offering representation. A beautiful space and locale, I am happy to be on the walls, and look forward to events there, starting with a visit and meet-and-greet in October. I just shipped off this triptych, painted with them in mind. See their website for additional work:
“Hill beyond Hill, 3 panels of 24″x20″/ea.
Up next is my duo show (with M.J. Levy Dickenson) at Julie Heller East in Provincetown, July 18-31, with an opening reception on July 19th from 6pm on. That same night we are also hosting a reception through the gallery at the Anchor Inn with larger pieces of mine and the work of Polly Law, 7-9pm. The idea is that viewers can go from East End to West End and see both shows.
Arriving at the Anchor Inn/JHG on June 5th, this new piece.
“Entering Province Lands”, 30″X60″.
In August I will be showing with Louisa Gould Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard in a show with Louisa herself and Paul Beebe. Dates are August 7-27. with opening reception August 9th, 5-7pm. I am new to this beautiful gallery in Vineyard Haven, though I have been showing on the island since 1998, beginning with Carol Craven Gallery and most recently with Dragonfly (thank-you, Carol, Don, and Susan!). The show will include several large-formeat pieces of Vineyard locales.
Here are a few pieces hanging now in her Memorial Day show, including several new ones recently delivered.
“Lifting Rain, 20″x60”.
“Summer Sunset/Tidal Creek”, 36″x12″.
Tucked in among all of these shows with my galleries is a very sweet happening, a show called “Three Generations” at Cano (Community Arts Network of Oneonta) in Oneonta, NY. This show will feature my mother, Gerri Scheele, with the ceramics that she was so well known for and the landscapes that followed; myself; and my daughter and son Tessa and Tony Scheele Morelli. This will be a special family affair staged at the Wilbur mansion, where I did my first oil painting at age 11 and where my mother showed extensively for many years.
Heading next week to Gold Gallery in Boston, this newly repainted piece. I am looking forward to my second solo show there in March of 2015.
“Endless Sky”, 36″x72″.
Some spring sales:
“Bridge Crossing in Violets”, 12″X12″. (Sold by Butters Gallery.)
Sunset River Expanse”, 20″x62″. (Sold by Albert Shahinian Fine Art.)
“Approach,” oil on vintage blackboard, 11″x13.5″. (Sold by Chace-Randall Gallery.)
ALL of my galleries have work of mine at all times, so wherever you are or travel to among these locales, check them out!
Workshops are upcoming at the Woodstock School of Art June 23-25 and Provinctown Artists Association and Museum, September 15-18.
Abstraction and Narrative in the Landscape
Working in Oil or Pastel
Using photograhic reference, we will investigate how the elements in a landscape painting serve the whole, accessing the formal qualities of color, shape, edge, and composition to create compelling imagery. The first day we will explore these tools and how they impact the implied narrative of the painting through exercises in oil or pastel on paper. In these studies we will add, subtract, move elements around and change color using our painterly hand. Instead of painting over changes, each study will remain intact while we start a new one so that all variations can be rigorously critiqued and compared before being used as a springboard for a larger painting.
Days 2-4 will include a demo of color-mixing from primaries; more compositional studies, and pursuing fully realized landscape paintings on canvas or larger pastels. Instruction will emphasize the reduction of detail to create a strong, clean composition, along with discussion of both the abstract and the narrative qualities brought out in individual paintings.
May 31, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: Albert Shahinian Fine Art, atmospheric landscapes, Butters Gallery Portland OR, Cape Cod paintings, career artist, Catskills, Chace-Randall Gallery, Dragonfly Gallery, Gold Gallery Boston, headlights, Hudson River paintings, marsh paintings, Polly Law, Provincetown Artists Association, road at night, seascapes, sunsets, teaching, vertical landscapes, weather, winter road, Woodstock Scool of art Julie Heller Gallery, workshops | Leave a comment
liable to change.
“the mutable nature of fashion”
synonyms: changeable, variable, varying, fluctuating, shifting, inconsistent,unpredictable, inconstant, fickle, uneven, unstable, protean.
This word is by far the more important of the two, though oddly the less well understood.
unchanging over time or unable to be changed.
“an immutable fact”
synonyms: fixed, set, rigid, inflexible, permanent, established, carved in stone.
“Affinity/Winter Sunset”, 36″x48″, 2014.
This body of work explores themes of change and the eternal in the landscape, nature revealing the mutable and the immutable.
Fleeting moments of weather and light have long been my focus. Time of day or year and interplay with clouds; light and shadow on landforms or water; and serious weather events continue to visually intrigue and inspire, making no two scenes alike.
Beyond the always shifting moments of dramatic or calm atmospherics and the impact of humankind on the land is also, however, the immutable. However changing, the earth has always been there for us.
Our source of nourishment in every way, our lands, rivers and seas are the visual imprint that I work from every day, every week, and every year. Attempting not to judge but rather to see, I adapt imagery that is only sometimes classically beautiful. The paintings then become another immutable, as I have distilled that image into a moment of time, offering it to others for contemplation.
The work in the show
Choosing the piece that will go on the postcard for a solo show is always a juggle. Generally speaking, though, the artist and galleriest select a piece that is not only a stand-out painting, but also sits stylistically and thematically near the center of the body of work, thus representing it well. We settled on “Turquoise Light”, below.
“Turquoise Light” , 30″x40″, 2014.
Often when there is water in an image, I work the detail of waves and currents just enough so that it reads as such, preferring to let the eye skim over the water and settle on other spots in the painting.
One consideration is similar to having a field in the foreground: where is the viewer in this scene? If the water, marsh or field start basically at the viewer’s feet, there needs to be more foreground detail or vignetting than if the picture plane starts further off.
In “Turquoise Light”, we are sitting (in our boat, presumably!) right on the water, which is a major focus of the piece. Far from encouraging the viewer past it, the water catches the eye with an array of subtle color shifts, reflections, and movement. When I paint an area with this much complexity I look at it as an abstract painting, surrendering to the process.
I also enjoyed that the sky and water are so different, even though clearly the sky is throwing light on the water.
“Mountain Road/Fireflies”, 30″x20″, 2013. (Sold)
One of the last pieces that I finished in 2013, the vertical movement in “Mountain Road/Fireflies” plays with the implied movement of the car headlights coming towards us. These solitary scenes of rural roads evoke a common experience, often creating a sense both of looking at the car and being in it. With the vertical format and complex sky, I am drawing attention to how the mountains don’t always block the sky—they can lead our eye to it.
“Intervening Space”, 20″X20″, 2014.
The square format of “Intervening Space” is echoed in the composition, which leads the eye back into the painting with every shape and line. There is also a back-and-forth between the painterly illusion of depth created by arial perspective that draws the eye toward the distant hills, and the feel that the composition and relatively flat shapes create of the whole painting being right up on the picture plane.
I love playing with those two ways of experiencing a painting, counterbalancing the illusion of space in a landscape with the reminder that this is also a two-dimensional, abstract object comprised of areas of color.
For more discussion of the narrative and the abstract, see my post on the topic:https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/narrative-and-abstraction-in-representational-painting/
“Mountain Sky with Mists”, 24″x30″, 2014.
An interpretation of the view from the fire tower on Overlook Mountain, “Mountain Mists with Sky” reveals the transitory and the solid. Fog is a beloved subject, shifting even faster than clouds, and mountains feel eternal even if, geologically, they are not.
Mists from Palmer Hill, 12″X36″, 2014.
The farm fields that you see from Route #28 at the base of Palmer Hill in Andes are a favorite subject of mine, and no show at Chace-Randall is complete without some fresh version of this scene. In the interpretation above, we are in a lovely misty summer day, rain and fog just beginning to lift but still obscuring a mountain that rises behind the horizon of the fields.
“Interwoven Stories”, 30″x60″, 2014.
This is a most amazing view, looking Southeast as you summit Palmer Hill coming from Andes. I have painted it only once before, some years back, quite differently.
Fortunately, since I work from a combination of imagination, memory, and photographic reference, I could access all of these, since there are now many trees blocking a full view of the fields.
Of special interest is the way that the sky and the fields interact, creating the illusion both of motion that extends the scene beyond the canvas, and a compositional directionality that pulls the eye toward the center line of the mountains.
“Memory’s Waters”, 16″x20″, 2013. (Sold)
Something about the depth of the reflections in
“Memory’s Waters” brings me back to moments of contemplating water during every summer I have ever known. I was also taken with the way the sun catches on the front shore on the right and then moves back into shadow on the left in this image of Cooper Lake in Woodstock.
“Cloud over Shoreline,” 12″X12″.
A dark cloud in front of the sun over the Hudson River shoreline. These high-contrast images are both brooding and ethereal.
“Sunlit Sandflats”, 12″X12″, 2014.
While for my shows in Andes I mostly focus on our gorgeous local mountain/river/farm field imagery, I always like to include a few pieces that interpret other locales. This small piece was inspired by a photo that owner/director Zoe took from her favorite beach in Florida, and evokes for me the sandflats of mid-Cape Cod, where I spend so much time in the summer.
Stormy Sea, 12″X12″.
The most minimalist piece in the show, and very low contrast. I love exploring this terrain.
“Affinity/Return at Dusk”, 12″x24″, 2014.
We are often coming into the Roundout Creek from the Hudson at dusk after an afternoon in our small lake boat on the river. As a smaller estuary, the creek is smoother and reflects the sky stunningly (much like a tidal pool compared to the ocean), creating opportunity for the painter. A big fan of deep, dark blacks to create mystery and contrast, I love the sense of being surrounded by the shadows while moving along the softly sky-lit water.
“Affinity?Flatlands Drive”, 18″X18″.
Often with my Affinity Series I select imagery that has strong linear elements that relate to the frayed edges and overlaid gridding. This is clearly the case in “Affinity/Flatlands Drive”, the composition created by almost straight horizontal edges and two strong diagonals. If this were an abstract painting, the straight lines of the road coming off the picture plane on the lower left would be too harsh, but with the implied movement of the headlights coming toward the viewer as a narrative element, the road is instead a quirky plus.
“Affinity/Stepping Out”, 8″X8″. (Sold)
“Affinity?Storm at Sea”, 8″x8″.
“Affinity/Winter Sunset” (at top) has similarly strong horizontal and diagonal shapes, with more emphasis on the interlocking wedge shapes that I love so much. (Shape preference can be as strong a personal choice as color for the painter.)
“Westerly Sky”, 16″X20″.
I also like to include an urban landscape in my shows. “Westerly Sky” captures the view from lower Manhattan that I have painted a number of times, along with another favorite view of the West Side Highway and Hudson River.
In abstract terms the piece plays with the right angles and straight lines of the foreground buildings in strong silhouette interacting with the soft diagonals of the sky. The foreground feels very stationary against the sweep of the clouds.
“White Light/ Red Light”, 24″x24″, 2014. (Sold by the gallery on 5/14.)
I finished this piece toward the end of a long, hard winter. And yet, I enjoyed myself immensely while painting this snowy scene, which explores how the snowstorm changes the light, both ambient and headlights/traffic lights. The way that the trees dissolve into texture in the background is unusual in my work, and echoes the treatment and shape of the manmade lights pulsing at the viewer, almost leaping off the picture plane.
“Soft Summer Greens”, 30″X36″, 2012.
“Soft Summer Greens” captures the sunlit but desaturated color of a hazy summer day, using a complementary palette. it also, with the distant purple hills, creates a color bridge from the stronger summer greens that am using in some pieces in this show to the warmer palette of others, such as “Sunlit Sandflats” and “White Light/Red Light”.
The landscape that we gaze at during any given moment has, in the vast majority of cases, changed repeatedly through geological and historical time.
Even during the time that I have been painting the landscape—24 years—trees have grown up to obscure a favorite view; floods and storms have changed a stream or shoreline; or a miniature golf course gets built in a gorgous field surrounded by mountains.
And yet, gazing at what lies outside of our doors brings us a sense of the eternal, allowing us access to our more grounded and connected selves.
In the end, both the mutable and the immutable in nature combine to form an experience that mesmerizes, stimulates, and soothes.
April 5, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: atmospheric landscapes, career artist, Catskills, Chace-Randall Gallery, Hudson River paintings, lonely road, minimalist landscapes, moody landscape, Mountain paintings, oil painting, urban landscapes, vertical landscapes, weather | Leave a comment
How do we do it?
I have been working exclusively with landscape imagery since 1990, and painting full time since about 2004. I like nothing better than to be in my studio working, and since I have multiple galleries that all need work, that means a good number of landscape paintings over the course of the years.
So how do I keep it fresh, avoid being bored (which would surely show up in the work), not fall into painting the same painting over and over again?
This is a big question for artists who have a market for their work. Some do just that—paint the same thing, essentially, for decades on end, though realists and plein air painters often have a great love for minute changes in subject matter and locale and keep themselves happy and entertained with these shifts. No judgement here from me–the happy or engrossed artist is the key to good work.
We have all seen artists in the blue chip realm who disappoint with a new body of work (will Susan Rothenberg ever be able to delight me as much as she did with the early horse series?) And yet, the custom of many decades now is for an artist to work serially, ideally moving gracefully and yet compelingly from one body of work to another, maybe over the course of a few years (and often marked by the solo at their major gallery, when it is assumed that that work will leave their studio and never come back, making it easy to start a fresh series). Preferably, from the market standpoint, there is some stylistic or thematic continuity from one series to the next.
I found my true niche with my minimalist mode of landscape painting back in 1990, and a few years later felt a need for opening up my explorations. I addressed it then by expanding the range of my subject matter and palette. Initially, I had avoided anything overtly dramatic, keeping to tonalist color and flat light, and the first shift brought me into a complex sky, or a brighter, blue-sky day.
(The photos in this post may be more current examples, since I have not even begun to get all of my pre-digital slides and photos scanned.)
“Rare Summer Silence”, 20″x30″, (courtesy Gold Gallery), an example of the sort of palette and light that has drawn me from the beginning.
“Sky in Motion”, 24″X20″ (sold by Gold Gallery), which shows the kind of complex sky that beckoned a little later on.
As the years passed and I felt ever more firmly in the saddle of my approach, I dared take on subject matter that borders on the cliche for a landscape painter—sunsets, a beach path, fluffy white clouds, even a sailboat at rest. I enjoyed the challenge of painting these subjects while avoiding the melodramatic or sentimental, at first by aided by instinct and later with a clearer understanding—which I now teach—of how this can be achieved.
“Sunset Sea in Red/Gold”, 20″x60″, (private collection).
I also played with format. The first time I did a vertical landscape I had never actually seen it done, and I found it quite daring. Later, I explored extreme verticals, as well as horizontals.
“Cranberry Bog in Reds”, 48″x24″ (courtesy Gold Gallery).
The next time I felt restless, I still thought of subject matter, now manmade elements. I started with phone poles, and moved on to urban images, road imagery, and then grittier industrial imagery. In 2003 I had a show at Albert Shahinian Fine Art, then in Poughkeepsie, called “Manmade”.
“Exuberant Storm, 30″x36” (sold by Chace-Randall Gallery).
“Conviction of Beauty”, 14″x40″ (courtesy Albert Shahinian Fine Art).
“Bridge Crossing in Violets”, 12″x12″ (courtesy Butters Gallery).
A few years later, I pondered how to get my love for the grid into my work (bearing in mind that my background is in contemporary, not traditional, art). On first glance, it seemed that there were only a few ways to incorpoarate this with landscape imagery. But I decided to just get started doing these first ideas, and eventually it became clear that there were many ways to bring the landscape and the grid together.
“River in 5”, 5 panels of 10″x10″/ea., (sold by Albert Shahinian Fine Art), one image stretched over a number of panels.
“Trove”, 35 3″x5″ oil-on-panel paintings (private collection). In order to make these separate images hang together and not be too busy, I used at least some reds in each piece, and toward the end I painted six or seven very minimalist black-and-red images to create a sort of matrix for the brighter, more complex pieces. Also, some of the images had already been explored in larger pieces, usually in a different format, and revisiting them was a pleasure.
“Rainy Road/Fireflies”, 3 panels of 12″x12″/ea. (sold by Gold Gallery), three versions of the same stretch of road and close to the same moment in time, with implied movement and a non-linear nod to film.
Somewhere around 2002, once again contemplating my next move, I began to use vintage boxes and other distressed objects as my support, selecting imagery and palette to mesh with the elements already present in the object.
“Approach”, oil on vintage blackboard, 11″x13.5″ (courtesy Chace-Randall Gallery). Elements and color in the image reflect grain, texture and color present in the frame of the blackboard.
This series sometimes requires applied problem-solving in to addition visual/aesthetic decision making, and I enjoy the stretch of the brain.
Many of these pieces have been set in lovely old compartmentalized boxes, trays, or pans, which means that they also explore multiple-panel imagery.
“Mountain Fall in 6, 5″x18” (courtesy Albert Shahinian Fine Art). This appears to be an old coin drawer from a cash register. At first I thought of putting small panels within the compartments, but that obscured the lovely curve at the back. Finally, I created flexible pieces of backed linen that follow the curve. I had to take them in and out a number of times while I was painting them, since being set back changed the light and therefore the color substantially.
When I was preparing to do my Cyclone Sampler, I spent a great deal of time just figuring out what I was going to paint on before nestling the tiny panels into the compartments of the box (I settled on bevel-cut 8-ply matboard—bless my framer—that I sealed front and back with multiple coats of matte medium, since I did not want to put glass over this piece). A spontaneous decision at the end, purely aesthetic, was to leave a few compartments empty, avoiding the feel of a catalogue.
- “Cyclone Sampler”,21.5″x10.5″, (collection of the Tyler Museum of Art). Unlike the expansive feel of my single-image landscapes , this piece shows the vast energy of many twisters tightly contained within the grid.
This series has as many possibilities as the amazing things that I come across that fire my imagination, though I often have to stare at the object for up to a year before I decide what I want to do with it.
Irrigated Fields, 4″x18″(sold by Albert Shahinian Fine Art).
- My most recent addition is the Affinity Series, oil paintings on linen with frayed edges on board overlaid with graphite gridding. I don’t even remember the exact thought process that brought these into being, but it started with the idea of manipulating the support. I was enjoying both selecting and adjusting the subject matter to the individual vintage object that I was using in the pieces in that series, and was interested in creating a more specific support myself, forcing a considered mesh between it and the painted imagery.
Generally the imagery that works best with the frayed edges and gridding in the Affinity Series is either very minimalist or has strong linear elements.
Affinity/Boatyard, 10″x10″, 2014, oil on linen with frayed edges on board overlaid with graphite lines.
That I ended up with graphite gridding as an overlay was a circle-back to my longstanding interest in the grid, bringing the viewer’s eye to the surface of the piece and creating mixed associations. Some of the latter I hadn’t even thought of, like the historical use of gridding to aid with proportions while transferring a small image, or maquette, into the larger finished piece, an association that other artists have pointed out to me.
Affinity/On the Grid, 36″x48″, (courtesy Gold Gallery). In this very recent piece I pushed the gridding quite a bit, moving to black instead of graphite and actually spending more time very selectively gridding than on the earlier painting portion.
Many pieces now are some combination of these series. For example, often the frayed linen on board of the Affinity series works well in an old box.
“Factory at Work”, 7.5″x3.5″ (courtesy Julie Heller Gallery).
All the while, I have continued to paint my wide-open landscapes on linen. Doing all these other explorations makes a small new slant on a salt marsh or hillside painting feel exciting and fresh, even though I have been painting this imagery for 24 years.
“Blue Light”, 20″x60″, 2014.
I love expanding the repertoire, adding both new versions within a body of work that reflects longstanding interests and, every so often, a whole new series. In my week-to-week, month-to-month, I juggle these series simultaneously, rather than consecutively, keeping myself riveted to what is developing in my studio.
The constant is the landscape.
“White Light/ Red Light”, 24″x24″, (Courtesy Chace-Randall Gallery). Sneak peak at a new piece going into my upcoming solo, opening May 24th!
What is next? (I have several ideas just taking shape, so not sharing yet!)
March 20, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: Albert Shahinian Fine Art, atmospheric landscapes, career artist, Chace-Randall Gallery, Choose from the most used tags Albert Shahinian Fine Art art art collecting Asher Nieman Gallery atmospheric landscapes Barneche Designs Cape Cod paintings Catskills Chichester christie scheele color , cranberry bog, creating new bodies of work, Gold Gallery Boston, headlights, industrial landscapes, innovation, lonely road, manmade elements in the landscape, minimalist landscape, mixed media, new series, new work, oil painting, painting series, paintings in vintage boxes, phone poles, road at night, road paintings, sunsets, the grid in painting, unusual landscapes, vertical landscapes, winter road, Woodstock Scool of art Julie Heller Gallery, workshops | 2 Comments
“Art is not meat. It does not go bad”, to quote Albert Shahinian.
I was thinking about that comment (again!) while assembling this post because I noticed that some recent sales have been of paintings that are not at all new.
So, why does a much-admired piece hang around, sometimes for years?
Usually the answer to that is that they have had many near-misses, and that something has come up at the last minute that has nixed the sale…each time. Bearing in mind that there is always a ratio of success to failure in every business, often in this one there are more almost-sales than sales. Bringing an object into the home that is not functional or strictly decorative, and that is also not cheap is, rightly, a big decision for potential collectors.
So, to put it another way, if you don’t have lots of nibbles you are unlikely to have lots of sales.
If there are no near-sales on a given piece it could mean that the painting doesn’t have wide appeal (which also doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good piece or that it won’t sell when the right person finds it) or that it is in the wrong gallery. But all of this is another story.
Here are two pieces that are a bit older and had been nibbled on many times before they recently found their wall in a new home. I will use them as examples of what can happen along the way.
Winter Brilliance just came under discussion in a recent blog post:
I will quote from that, but before all of the below happened this past year, this piece also was sold and unsold in a day. It went out on approval for three days from my (now closed) gallery in Redbank, NJ, to an NYC apartment. On the second day they called and said that they loved it and were keeping it. On the third day they called and said that they were being transferred by the husband’s job to San Francisco, where a fully furnished and decorated house awaited them, so they had to return the piece. Since this was all within the agreed upon three day approval period, back it came.
“…the piece below, recently sold, had quite a busy time of it this year before reaching its new home. In March, it went to Chicago, where it was selected for viewing in a home. Much as they would have liked it, the piece didn’t fit the budget at that time, so a smaller piece was settled upon. Then, it was vetted for a possible swap with one of my dealers for a coveted Milton Avery print. But before I could bring it to her for her to decide, a private dealer asked me to hold it back for a likely sale through a designer. Months later and no word, I let it back out again to my gallery in Rhinebeck, and from there it went out to a home (through an architect, this time) where it looked as if I had painted it for the room in question.”
Winter Brilliance, 40″x50″. 2004.
River in 5 received a great deal of attention when I first stated showing it 2006. Not so exciting a history as Winter Brilliance, but I kept hearing from gallereists that this person or that couple had it under consideration. That was true also when it arrived at Albert Shahinian Fine art, with one collector of mine admiring both the soft monochromatic palette and the way it evoked the views he enjoyed while kayaking across the Hudson River from this spot.
Then…very quiet. Other work coming and going, but no nibbles on this piece for at least a few years…until last summer, when all at once two collectors spotted it in the gallery or on my website and were planning on buying it the next time they made it to Rhinebeck. First couple fell in love with a different piece and couldn’t manage both, and the second collector was still planning on acquiring the piece when it went out to the same apartment as Winter Brilliance and stayed there.
- River in 5, 5 panels of 10″x10″/ea., 2006.
Below, a few sales of recent pieces.
Affinity/Narrow Road, 48″x12″, sold by Gold Gallery.
Mutable Mists, 20″x20″, sold by Chace-Randall Gallery.
Wave, 24″x48″, sold by Van Ward Gallery.
Mists off the River, 12″X36″, 2013, sold by Chace-Randall Gallery.
A few newly finished pieces:
Triptych in Reds, 3 panels of 24″x24″/ea., just packed off to Gold Gallery in Boston.
Moving Light, oil on vintage blackboard, 9.5″x5.5″.
“Blue Above”, 12″X36″.
Soft Summer Sky, 30″x36″.
I have recently introduced a series of small oil-on-paper compositional/color studies in my painting workshops. I did this preliminary series beforehand, and now have others following—a wonderful way to work out placement of elements, using your painterly hand (instead of photoshop, which is a great tool but doesn’t help with the aforementioned!). I will be offering these small pieces for sale from my studio, tidbits that can be framed/hung individually or as a grouping, and are a great way to come up with an original—for yourself or as a gift—for the price of a print.
Small oil-on-paper studies, 6″x6″ or 5″x7″ or 3″x8″.
My recent workshop at the PAAM in Provincetown, with a wonderful group:
Color-mixing from primaries. (Photo credit Carol Duke.)
Last day. (Photo credit Carol Duke.)
See my blog post on how the workshop runs, with emphasis on composition:
In other news:
I am sad to announce the closing of my gallery on Martha’s Vineyard, Dragonfly, but happy for Don and Susan as they move onto the next phase for them (more time for artmaking!).
Also happy to have joined the Louisa Gould Gallery, located the next town over in Vineyard Haven. I look forward to a long and successful relationship with my new MV gallery! (And a big thank-you to Don and Susan for connecting us.)
Boston International Art Fair, with Gold Gallery, Nov. 21-24
“LINE…”, Butters Gallery, Portland, OR, curated by Melinda Stickney-Gibson, Feb. 6-March 1
Solo show at Chace-Randall Gallery, Andes, NY, May21-July 4th.
Duo show at Julie Heller East, Provincetown, MA, summer or fall, TBA
Workshops at the Woodstock School of Art: Feb. 15-17 & late June: PAAM, Sept., dates TBA
Solo show at Gold Gallery in Boston, early March.
October 16, 2013 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: Albert Shahinian Fine Art, art collecting, atmospheric landscapes, Butters Gallery, Cape Cod paintings, career artist, Chace-Randall Gallery, Choose from the most used tags Albert Shahinian Fine Art art art collecting Asher Nieman Gallery atmospheric landscapes Barneche Designs Cape Cod paintings Catskills Chichester christie scheele color , color field, Dragonfly Gallery, Gold Gallery Boston, Louisa Gould Gallery, Martha's Vineyard paintings, minimalism, moody landscape, new gallery, small oil paintings, teaching, Woodstock Scool of art Julie Heller Gallery | 2 Comments
At the height of this most lovely summer, things are going beautifully both inside and outside of the studio. I am currently busy replenishing my galleries, with recent deliveries to Chace-Randall in Andes and Albert Shahinian in Rhinebeck, and plans for another one to Gold Gallery in Boston.
During summer, I leave my studio door open and listen to the sound of the creek behind it, using my yard as an extended studio. I wish we could start all over again at the beginning of June…but plan on fully savoring what remains.
“Rare Summer Silence”, 20″x30″.
I recently published a blog post on creating an abstract painting, using three exhibitions that I attended in May-June as the basis for my discussion. I sent this out to my list of artists, but not to my whole list, so be sure and take a look if you think you would be interested. Collectors and friends have sometimes commented on how much they would like some sort of art historical/art appreciation primer. This discussion would serve that purpose in regard to the formal elements of constructing a painting (any painting, not just an abstract one).
The Shandaken Art Studio Tour was busy again this year, with the added bonus for me of my two 21-year-olds participating. We had nearly 100 people coming through, with good conversation, sales, and follow-up, as well. Below, “Rainy Road/Metal Box”, one of the last pieces that I finished before the Tour, was acquired by a friend.
Rainy Road/Metal Box,4.5″x9″, sold at the Shandaken Art Studio Tour.
Checking out my “Affinity/Waterspout” with a visitor.
These two pastels sold at the Tour to the same couple. Buying pastels unframed is a really nice way to go, since then the collectors can pick frame and mat that look good both on the piece and in their chosen spot. I accompanied them the weekend after the Tour to my fabulous framer, Geoffrey Rogers (since 1990!) to assist in picking out just the right presentation.
Skyline with Sunset, 21″x8″.
Since this is the season when many of my galleries are in full swing, there have been a nice number of sales, each with their own story. As I started putting this post together, there emerged a series of short vignettes about these acquisitions, so I am running with that. Below, a handful of pieces sold recently and some accompanying stories. (This is one of the reasons that I like to stay in close touch with my galleries—to collect all of this information on what goes on and to impart to them observations of my own. It can also be helpful to share current news from one venue to the next, since they are too busy in their galleries to get much chance to exchange notes.)
“Seaview Morning Mists”, 12″X12″, 2013, sold through Dragonfly Gallery.
A fellow fell in love with the below piece in Andes, promising to bring his wife the next weekend.
“Mists off the River”, 12″X36″.
Fortunately, he also liked other work of mine in the gallery, including “Evening Headlights”, since his wife was smitten with it, and they decided that this piece was the one.
Couples work this out in differing ways. Sometimes they feel they need to agree 100% on each acquisition. Other times they take turns selecting the particular piece, but do need to agree on the artist.
“Evening Headlights”, 10″X30″, sold through Chace-Randall Gallery.
I finally managed to get one of my larger Affinities to my Boston gallery and it was the very next thing that they sold. This piece was admired last summer in my studio by another artist as “the darkest landscape I have ever laid eyes on”. (And it WAS meant as a complement!)
“Affinity/Seagleams”, 12″X48″, sold through Gold Gallery.
“Still Waters”, below, was finished last week and sold within a few days. I had a lovely time painting it, feeling mesmerized by the fog. It is going to a collector who has long wanted a large piece of mine.
“Still Waters”, 20″x60″, studio sale/Albert Shahinian Fine Art.
Both this triptych and the even larger one sold by Gold Gallery last fall from my solo show there went to first-time buyers. That is quite a leap!
Ongoingness of Summer, 3 panels of 24″X30″/ea., sold by Gold Gallery.
“Crossing at Dusk” was recently purchased by clients of my Andes, NY gallery. Interested at first in the above “Mists off the River”, as they weighed their options they discovered a piece on my Boston gallery’s website, and this ended up being their final choice. They knew to work through the original gallery, though, and the sale was a co-broke between the two venues.
Crossing at Dusk, 24″X48″, sold by Chace-Randall Gallery/Gold Gallery.
A couple visited my studio looking for an over-the-couch sized piece with subtle color. After checking out some possibilities here, they headed over to Albert Shahinan Fine Art to look at a particular piece there. While perusing their ample holdings of my work, they fell in love with this smaller piece, below. So, following their heart (instead of sticking to a strict purpose) they left with “When Autumn Glows Softly”, leaving the larger spot to be worked out in the near future, most likely with a commissioned piece.
“When Autumn Glowed Softly”, 18″x24″, sold through Albert Shahinian Fine Art.
They were no sooner home than they had it up and sent me a jpeg of the piece installed. So nice!
“When Autumn Glowed” hanging.
Two workshops are coming up, at the Provincetown Artists Association and Museum September 16-19, and the Woodstock School of Art October 18-20th I am planning a different sort of workshop for next year that dials in on issues of composition and color with a series of exercises on primed paper. This should be great with beginners, and also a big help for experienced painters in better understanding decision-making about the formal elements of painting.
I will be scheduling a 1-day intake seminar for mentoring for career support in September or October—see link below for more info. Let me know if you are interested!
“Memory’s Waters”, 16″x20″, Cooper Lake in summer blue/greens.
August 12, 2013 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: Albert Shahinian Fine Art, art collecting, Ashokan, atmospheric landscapes, Cape Cod paintings, Catskills, Chace-Randall Gallery, color field, composition, Cooper Lake, Gold Gallery Boston, Hudson River, seascapes, selling paintings, sunsets, teaching | 2 Comments
Cloud over Castle Deel, 30″X36″.
The winter abundance in my studio is heading out for various points East, West, and North. Not only am I hard at work during the colder months, but also usually have work in the studio that comes back from my seasonal galleries in the Northeast. Then, in the spring begins the exodus, to both buyers and galleries.
All busy career artists find that sometimes work needs to move around to a few galleries before it sells. Some galleries like to keep a piece they like—and have gotten a good response to—indefinitely, while others, especially those that close down during the off-season, prefer to have all new work each year. This is typically a combination of brand new work and some pieces that have previously been in other galleries.
One galleriest who I have been showing with for many years is in the former category, feeling a devotion to certain pieces such that he wants to keep them until they sell, whether that happens in a day or a decade. “Art is not meat—it does not go bad”, he has been known to say, if someone questions the date on a piece.
There is a good deal of randomness in why a piece sells sooner or later. With my work, there are a number of variables. Size, format, palette, and locale of imagery are among them. Who stops by which gallery when, with what size wall in mind…or with an open mind? What is their budget? Do they have strong color preferences? Are they buying the piece that slays them, or a locale that they are fond of? Are they looking for a gift, trying hard to get it right?
Some of my work that I consider more accessible—often a little brighter—appeals to a broader spectrum and so has a larger pool of possible buyers. The moodier work draws from a smaller pool, but often so forcefully that they feel that they must have the piece. So, which one is more likely to sell?
Lucky for me, my studio process allows for a number of concurrent explorations, making it easy for me to ignore all such considerations while working. This is key for any artist.
Mists off the River, 12″X36″.
In recent news, I did a pop-up show in Chicago in early March, partnering with the Asher-Neiman Gallery, which included the work of Jill Ricci (see work on the gallery website, http://asherneimangallery.com/ ).
It was held in the beautiful Lincoln Park home of family friends. (See my blog post on how these home shows work, https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/open-studio-house-party/ ) Our hosts threw a lovely party, very well attended , with excellent food, wine, art (of course!), and conversation enjoyed by all.
Winter Brilliance and a small Affinity in the living room.
Changed Integrity in the second floor stairwell.
Rivergimplse and Extravagant Sky in the dining room.
Lightening Storm, one of the pieces that sold in Chicago. This one going gave me a pang!
“October Saltmarsh”, 24″X48″, looked so perfect where we hung it that it ended up staying.
I am happy to again be showing at the Thompson Giroux Gallery in Chatham, NY, with seven pieces included in a show titled “Slow Down Make Space”. Below are a few pieces that are in the show.
Spinning Clouds, 20″x40″.
Sunset Roofline, 24″x30″.
I am newly represented this year by Van Ward Gallery in Ogunquit, Maine. They, along with Dragonfly Gallery in MV and Chace-Randall in Andes, NY, are opening for the season the weekend of May 11, each with a fresh collection of my work. Final picks have not yet been made, but here are some new paintings that will be off to these galleries, as well as to the Julie Heller Gallery in Provincetown.
Seaview Mists, 12″X12″, another in my Oak Bluffs morning fog series. Off to Dragonfly Gallery on the Vineyard soon!
Continuing Progression, 24″x48″.
Sandflats in Red/Purple, 11″X14″. Since folks who have not experienced extreme tidal flats have trouble making sense of these images, this piece will most likely land at Julie Heller Gallery in Provincetown.
I taught two workshops in March, a two-day painting workshop at the Woodstock School of Art and a Mentoring Seminar in my studio with six artists from NJ, Louisiana, Westchester, and our area, working with their diverse styles and aspirations to further both work and career.
“Sandflats with Seagrass”, oil on beach-weathered fiberglass, 4″x18″.
Coming up, that I know of? The Shandaken Art Studio Tour, July 20-21, always a busy weekend for me, by which time I will have created new abundance in my studio. A painting workshop at the Woodstock School of Art June 24-26; another at the Provincetown Artists Association September 9-12; and a Mentoring workshop May 5th, also at the PAAM. Gold Gallery in Boston needs a new infusion of larger pieces, so I am about to embark on another big triptych. I will be bringing new work to them at the same time I deliver to the Vineyard and Cape Cod, the first week in May.
So…stay tuned, keep in touch, and happy spring!
March 31, 2013 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: atmospheric landscapes, beach combing, busy artist, career artist, Chace-Randall Gallery, Choose from the most used tags Albert Shahinian Fine Art art art collecting Asher Nieman Gallery atmospheric landscapes Barneche Designs Cape Cod paintings Catskills Chichester christie scheele color , Deel Castle, Dragonfly Gallery, Gold Gallery Boston, Ireland, Martha's Vineyard paintings, minimalist landscapes, moody landscape, Mountain paintings, pastels, pop-up show, Provincetown Artists Association, Shandaken Art Studio Tour, Shore galleries, sunsets, weather, Woodstock Scool of art Julie Heller Gallery | Leave a comment
Perhaps it is because of the non-winter of 2012. Maybe it reflects the variety of weather and color that we are experiencing this year. In any case, at the beginning of 2013, I looked around my studio and saw that I had a series of winter images emerging. This is not something I normally do, creating a grouping based on a season, especially one that is so…charged? Controversial?
Since we do not reliably have snow cover in winter anymore, these images vary from a minimalist snowy field with bits of reddish vegetation poking out at the top, to a view of the Walkill with no snow cover at all.
Two of them were inspired by photos posted by friends on Facebook, used, of course, with their permission. This is something that I don’t seek out, having enough reference in my studio to last me about 500 years. But when I see the right thing…hard to resist!
About half were started in 2012, but all have been finished in the month of January.
White Field, 20″x40″, 2013.
Riverglimpse in December, 36″x48″, 2013.
Winter Cloudbank, 12″x12″, 2013.
Cranberry Bog in Reds, 48″x24″, 2013.
Winter Field, 10″X30″, 2013.
Soft Snow/Approaching Cars, 12″X12″, 2013.
January 26, 2013 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: atmospheric landscapes, Chace-Randall Gallery, cranberry bog, Gold Gallery Boston, Mountain paintings, river view, snow, snowscapes, snowy field, soft-focus, Wallkill, winter in the Northeast, winter reds, winter road | 3 Comments
I have been puzzling over what makes a piece a standout within my body of work. It is not a question of “better”, nor of “favorite”. There is consensus around these pieces, and the five I have selected (more in future posts!) have also withstood the test of time—they date from 1993 to 2008.
A major attribute that makes these paintings stand out is that they all push a particular direction to the furthest point along my spectrum. There are a number of avenues of exploration that have held my interest over the course of years, allowing for many subtle permutations along the way. These five paintings epitomize the categories that they represent—signposts, in their way, whether they came early or later .
Dark Castille, 42″x60″, 1992. (Private collection.)
My plan for this piece was to do a scene of Castille, complete with red soil and olive trees. (I much later did the image with additional detail as a pastel, which I also consider a marker piece, as discussed below.) This was all before I started working on the dark ground that has long been part of my technique, so I created an underpainting with black oil to create the mass of the the large landform and used a light grey in the sky. I carefully scumbled the top line to embed the tree shapes and hill into the sky.
When I returned to my studio ready to work back into the now dry first layer, I was struck by how powerful the piece was in just black and white, and so decided to find a way to honor that simplicity. Brushing a little thin almost white into the sky created a soft vibration there, and setting the piece on the floor, I added a wash of deep green, leaving the edges of the piece black.
This piece went so far in the direction of a totally abstract, minimalist color field painting that once it was finished, I felt thoroughly satisfied and never again felt the need to take another piece quite so far in that direction. With “Dark Castille”, I managed to wed landscape imagery with the open feel of a Rothko.
Red Fields, 20″X24″, pastel on paper, 2005. (Private collection.)
“Red Fields”, hewing more closely to the original reference, pushes my palette in exactly the opposite direction as “Dark Castille”. It is not only one of my brightest pieces ever, but also has a larger range than most—quite bright blue in the sky. resounding reds, then into rusts and greens, both olive and sage. The matte surface of pastel on paper is ideal for creating a brighter and more inclusive palette that feels rich rather than jarring. Like the first version above, the treeline at the top of the hillside is the kind of focal point that I find absolutely delicious to paint. The detail and rich color in “Red Fields” makes me profoundly happy.
Rainy Road/Fireflies, 3 panels of 12″X12″/ea., 2008. (Private collection.)
“Fireflies” is simply the blurriest painting I have done to date. The softness captures the resonant beauty of a rainy summer day in the Catskills, tonalist greens and blues deepened by the low light. Since I have been doing paintings incorporating approaching headlights, I have been astounded at how different the points of light can be, depending on atmospherics. Here, they are oh-so-soft, and yet they buzz around the picture plane with a great deal of energy.
This effect is achieved because this triptych is, rather than one image divided into three panels, actually three different paintings. As I was working on them separately, I repeatedly brought them together to check on how they were interacting, establishing variation in placement of headlights, horizon, roadway, and other elements. The eye is thus invited to travel around laterally between the panels, complimenting the implied movement of the headlights moving toward the viewer..
Divided Fields, 24″X72″, 2008. (Private collection.)
“Divided Fields” sparks two of my favorite discussions. One is about the summer palette of blue sky and green field or grass, and the other is about minimalism and color field painting.
This piece explores flatness and abstraction in a manner different from “Dark Castille” . The picture plane is divided up into long, horizontal wedges within the hillside, and the sky functions partly as one horizontal shape, and partly as clouds/blue sky. The upward direction of the clouds brings the eye back down to the horizon, while their diagonal directionality creates a rhythm that helps the eye sweep along the expanse of the entire piece, almost like reading—left to right. The flatness is far from absolute, with lots of soft scumbling and hue variation to create vibration within the planes of color.
All of my pieces create mood, though I do not aim to create narrow, specific emotions so much as broad, subtle and complex resonance. Moody, tonalistic paintings are second nature to me, loving as I do weather and dense atmospherics.After some years of that exploration, however, I wanted to be able to also capture the sheer joy of a sunny summer day. The open, abstract nature of “Divided Fields” pairs strong blues and greens with the assertive lines of the field divisions to walk exactly the line that I am after—a duality of delight in time/place/season along with the pure pleasure that planes of composed color can provide.
Dark Cloud, 40″x50″, 2006. (Private Collection.)
“Dark Cloud” also has a reductive, color field affect, but departs from the pieces discussed so far in the dynamic of the cloud. There are only three shapes in the whole piece, including the negative space of the sky, and the cloud is the most assertive of them.
Clouds can be, and be painted, in countless ways. In this painting I pushed the cloud into the most dominant position of any piece that I have done, partly by creating just a single cloud, and partly by its size and color. I worked the subtle variations within and at the edges the way I do with any cloud, so that they are embedded in the sky rather than seeming to float on top of it. Yet, this cloud is clearly read as a shape that dialogues aggressively with the wedge of hillside below. The landform holds its own, in turn, by being totally black and having a tree lifting into the sky in such a way that the cloud seems halted by it. With this strong play of elements, “Dark Cloud” contains an edge of tension resulting from both narrative and formal elements.
September 12, 2012 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: Albert Shahinian Fine Art, atmospheric landscapes, Catskills, Chace-Randall Gallery, color field, composition, dark cloud, Gold Gallery Boston, headlights, minimalism, minimalist landscapes, moody landscape, Mountain paintings, oil painting, rainy road, road paintings, stormy weather | 1 Comment
From the water, at the best time of day to be on the river in the summer.
One of my versions of the view from Olana, impossible to resist. (Private collection.)
One of those bright/hazy days, softening all edges, Kingston Lighthouse on the left. The divided format creates rhythm and brings the eye back to the surface of the painting.
Like most of these, a view from the water. Sunset over the Catskills, as minimalist as can be. (Private collection.)
A spot further downstream, where the shores create dramatic bluffs. (Private collection.)
Very often I plan on including the lighthouse—they appear in so many views—but then opt not to. Here, it fits well as a sign of human imprint, along with the sailboats. This is Esopus Light, situated way out in the middle of the river, warning boats from the shallows to its west.
A view of the Newburg/Beacon bridge from the train on the east bank, with a crazy sunset gleam reflected from the girders onto the water below.
In this piece the serenity of the scene and the balance of the composition led me to omit the lighthouse on the left. The Catskill MOuntains are behind the river’s edge.
I love the river marshes just as I love saltmarshes, the grasses outlining shapes against the expanses of water.
Deep dusk, playing with a camera-blur effect in the shore lights.
Though flanked by shores on either side, the river is wide and the sky big. (Private collection.)
Moonlit river looking west from Poet’s Walk in Rhinebeck.
A snippet of river in the vertical format, revealing the gleams of the setting sun without showing the sun itself. (Private collection.)
The Hudson from the West Side Highway, nearing where it feeds into New York Harbor. (Private collection.)
December 29, 2011 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: Albert Shahinian Fine Art, atmospheric landscapes, Catskills, Chace-Randall Gallery, composition, estuary paintings, fall marsh, Hudson River paintings, lighthouse, minimalism, minimalist landscapes, moody landscape, Mountain paintings, Newburg-Beacon Bridge, oil painting, painting in five panels, river marsh, saliboat, sunsets, West Side Highway | Leave a comment