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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
A few of my recently sold pieces:
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.
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.
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.
With every mark we make with brush or a palette knife, each shape that we cut out with a mat knife or clay that we shape with fingers or tools…every object that we create with our hands that did not before exist in the physical plane, we are drawing. When our eyes follow the shapes of things around us, even when our bodies bend to a pose in yoga…we are drawing.
I asked some friends to comment on the importance of drawing, all stellar artists, most who also teach. I left the question wide open—importance how? as painters? as visual human beings?—and so received wise answers to these slightly different questions.
“Drawing, as Michelangelo said, is the foundation of all the arts. It is the means by which an artist can make what he or she does convincing. Drawing, in my opinion, is not to be understood as the rendering of forms (which alone leads to eidetic illusionism), but as the construction of pictorial space within which form can palpably exist. Drawing is not a visual equation (these marks equal this object) that is left to illustrators who always and only render. Drawing is an abstraction which evokes and reifies the phenomenon of human visual experience of the world. It puts both artist and viewer at the center of experience.”
“If we are talking about the importance of drawing relative to painting, I think it is as important as the artist needs it to be. Having said that, I see little difference between drawing and observation. Observation leads to understanding, whether the subject is material or intangible doesn’t matter. Once one has observed and understood, then one may communicate. The visual artists chosen mode of expression, be it representation, abstraction, non-objective, or otherwise, is irrelevant. How effective the communication is, is of paramount importance. Overall I would say that the more acute the powers of observation then the more powerful the expression. In the end, to quote Charles-Édouard Jeanneret (Le Corbusier), “I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and leaves less room for lies.”
“There seems to be an ease with drawing that i don’t find in any other medium, yet I find a finished drawing to be just has important as any painting .”
Drawing is where we start our creative lives and it continues to be where we take our exploratory steps into a new painting or sculpture or into almost any other medium. The immediacy of scratching lines on a piece of paper is perfect for experimenting with concepts or compositions for other works or for creating a pure, stark, honest work of art in and of itself.
I’ve always been so taken with the act of putting lines on paper, that I seem to gravitate toward drawing-based mediums like etching and drypoint. Again, it’s the immediacy.
Learning to draw well is essential for an artist. He or she can bring it to incredible levels of realism or break it down to pure abstraction…but it must first be mastered.
Drawing by definition is process intensive. The experience of drawing is also universal because everybody has at least made marks with a pencil; handwriting, a doodle or two. This is not true of painting, sculpture or filmography. There is no hiding with drawing, and also no drama. It is a simple task to just pick up a pencil and make a mark. Getting in the stream right where you are and navigating from there a pictorial impression. It will be a drawing no matter what.
Margarete de Soleil
“Drawing is the primary vehicle of visual intention and commitment. When a person gains drawing proficiency, they stand and take their first steps as an artist. Prior to that, their mark-making is like a baby that scoots around the floor on their butt- they eventually get where they want to go, but inelegantly, slowly and sloppily. Making a strong, intentional mark takes a great amount of courage- it might fail. And that fear of failure- easily remedied by making another mark, and another, and another, until confidence- gained through experience and persistence- produces the shape we see in our minds, stops too many people. And that is a shame. What is at stake here? A few pennies worth of materials, at best; some time; some self-criticism. The myth that artists tap into some deep well of innate talent and produce beautiful drawings ab ovo is just that- a myth. Most of us, our chubby child’s hands firmly grasping a crayon, made our first marks long, long ago. The main difference- we didn’t give up, we never stopped making bold marks, we learned to coordinate eye and hand, we learned to draw.”
From David Smith’s questions for students found among his papers after his death in 1965:
“21. Why do you hesitate–why can you not draw objects as freely as you can write their names and speak words about them?
22. What has caused this mental block? If you can name, dream, recall vision and auras why can’t you draw them? In the conscious set of drawing, who is acting in our unconscious as censor?
In particular, to the painter—
Is there as much art in a drawing as in a watercolor–or as in an oil painting?
Do you think drawing is a complete and valid approach to art vision, or a preliminary only toward a more noble product?”
I read these questions and loved them back when I was a student decades ago, and recommend them for any artist (link below).
I remembered #21 incorrectly in the intervening years, and so I will end with what I thought was his question, but turns out to be one of my own.
“Why, when we learn in school how to write the word chair, do we also not learn how to draw it?”