Friday, May 23, 2014

Soft Geometry




Landscape, figure and color have always been a good place to come back to when I have cornered myself into over thinking the image.  I am treating landscape and figure as separate experiences and noticing the obvious places where they merge.  This helps to focus my attention on the directness of observation and expressing marks on a surface.  The hard edge geometric work hangs on the walls in the studio waiting for a new hand in it.   Maybe I am finding a soft geometry in the landscape and figure.

studio on Thursday 5/22/14




While taking drives out to photograph and draw the surrounding landscape I have been focusing on one element I like the most.  I like the band/stripe across the middle of the page where a mountain range sits.   The top and bottom drop away to the blank page.

Graphite drawing   11 x 14"
photo from one of my drives
In our drawing group we are taking a few weeks to work longer poses.  In a recent pose the model reclines on a couch like a mountain range.  This is just as much landscape as it is figure.  After hanging this drawing on the wall next to the colorful geometric paintings I saw a way to try and express this drawing as pure color.


Oil on paper    8.5 x 11"

For now,  I generalize and abbreviate.  State the obvious.  Render color and tone into soft geometry.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Slow Looking (the practice of not making)

There is a lot to be said for “Practice Makes Perfect” but how often do we practice not doing things and just observe?

As an obsessive maker of things I am also enamored with slow observation.  This will sometimes cause me to put down all of the tools of making.  I see this in my drawing practice as I experiment with slow and fast drawing.  It is easier for me to get to the root of my motivations when I simplify the tools as I do with drawing.  Currently, my two subjects are weekly sessions with a live model posing between 1- 5 minutes poses and  landscape drawing.

A slow contour drawing from one of my recent drawing sessions

The challenge of being engaged in fast poses for 3 hours is to remember to slow down.    I tend to ride the wave of a series of fast drawing before I hit the brakes and commit to a very slow contour line.  This practice seems to fill the slow line with the energy and observation of everything that just happened in the previous set of fast drawings.



A slow pencil drawing while out on a drive

Driving out to the, larger than life, landscapes around New Mexico and attempting to render that experience in pencil marks on a page in my lap sometimes strike me as a ridiculously impossible task.  I often find myself slowing down the drawing until I just stop and look.  And than I think, it is finished as soon as I start looking and before I start drawing.  There is nothing to do here but look.  


As artists are makers, here is to honoring the practice of doing nothing but slow looking.  



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Etching an Edge

I printed an edition of 10 of this first state of an aquatint etching for the image, "Totem"  This version has a velvety black aquatint in the shape and lighter/foggy aquatint surrounding the shape.  A very thin  line was etched around the shape and burnished on the interior side of the thin line.

"Totem" ,  8.5 x 11"  1st state/edition of 10

Moving onto a 2nd state of this print I did a very light spit bite to the surrounding background but not the triangle within the shape.  I tooled the edges back down to a darker tone and re-etched a thicker line around the perimeter of the shape.


For the first step in darkening the interior of the line (burnished area) I went around with a single line roulette tool.  This got me part way there but was showing too much of the tool mark.
single line roulette tool
after using roulette tool


 I went back into the edges with a diamond tipped pen.  I used a more chaotic poke and scratch to the marks to get more of a fuzzy tone and hide the tool markings from the roulette.
diamond tip pen
fuzzy edges after tooling with the diamond tipped pen



I put down a hard ground and re-etched slightly thicker lines around the shape.
re-establishing a thicker etched line through hard ground

darker edges with fuzzy interior "glow"


Friday, January 3, 2014

2014 New Start

I am going to see if I can post more this year (2014)  Here are 2 current drawings.  The first is from the last 3 hour figure drawing session in 2013, December.

2013 figure study              liquid graphite on paper                 (3 hours of 3 minute poses)


This digital shape drawing is from the ongoing series of 778 geometric shapes.  As of January, 2014 I have started drawing/importing all of the shapes into a program called SketchUp for future use.  The aim is something generated from a 3D printer or simply cut shapes.

Digital drawing of a shape drawn in SketchUp



Sunday, June 3, 2012

Beyond Narrative Painting

Until recently I have thought of myself as a narrative painter.  It is of little concern to me weather the viewer experiences the same story that narrates in my head.  For me it has been a tool to fall back on while helping to move the process along.

I started this blog about a year ago.  One of the first photographs posted was one I took of a power line pole structure while out on a day trip.

I made an encaustic painting of that photograph.
12" x 9" encaustic and oil on paper.

I was mostly interested in introducing lines and hard edges into my painting.  Two elements that I often have avoided for no real reason that I can explain.  Both the photograph and the painting have remained on my studio wall this past year as reminders.




More recently during my flights back and forth to craft shows I started taking an interest in the lines on the tarmac at the airports.  I liked the way the lines are often painted out and repainted very close to the original markings as well as something completely different making up the new line structure.  Through the window of the plane I would get flashes and glimpses of lines which allowed me to make no meaning of them outside of these abstracted layers in my memory as they go by.  

Digital iPad Graphic from Photographs.
This is made using layers of photos of runway lines at the airport.  I duplicated and flipped images and added a few color washes using an app for iPad called ArtRage.


Digital iPad Graphic from Photographs.
The lines crossing over the vast openness of runway segments remind me of the power line pole structures.   My memory and internal imaging of both tarmac lines and power lines do the same thing.  They make slices over fast swatches of tone fields.

...and there is no story.  

No Narrative.

This has been, and continues to be, my direction.  I have a formal structure that can have numerous starting points and can be deconstructed in many ways.  The elements lend them selves to a formal abstraction without tricking my head into making up a story that goes along with it.  I read these as pure visual fields. 

The idea of setting them up as diptychs, triptychs and larger came out of making the first series of prints with Steve Ford in his studio.  He assisted me in making the first set of colograph  plates to print with and we ran a series of prints.  The drawing for the line structure of these was made completely from my memory of these photographs of tarmac lines and power lines.  They are based on the impulse of what I like about them.  This steps further from a representational aspect of the original images.  I made these prints as a starting point to paint into but some are left as purely prints. 
Diptych, 15" x 22" print

The repeats and rhythms made visual sense to me as I paired them up.  They tend to act like narrative images only in their sense of time.  To me, they are like the flickering of movie film as it hangs up in the sprockets of a projector.  Something is happening over time but the visual keeps running you back and forth over the same few frames as if to say, "just stop and look at this."

10" x 40" acrylic,gouache,distemper and ink on paper


In these days of News, Noise and Narratives I really appreciate the moments where the movie gets hung up in the projector's sprockets.  My studio time is spent attempting to make something special of those frozen glitchy moments.








Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Alcove Show 12.1


The Alcove Shows are a one year cycle of small one person 
exhibitions featuring work being made in New Mexico right now. 
The format of these Shows can be traced back to the
1917 founding of the New Mexico Museum of Art.  The Alcove
Shows were held in the gallery alcoves of what was then 
called the Art Gallery of the Museum of New Mexico.

The Museum is continuing this alcove exhibition tradition for
a one year cycle of nine exhibitions that will include 45 artists 
from across the state of New Mexico.  These artist centered 
showcases will feature new ideas, artists at all stages of their 
career.s  Each group of five artists will be on exhibit for five
weeks at the New Mexico Museum of Art.






Sunday, January 15, 2012

On The Edge

Edges carve out the objects and spaces. We see an endless variety of edges in our daily lives without really giving it much thought.  In my process of color-shape painting my attention is often moving to the place where two or more meet.  These edges can act almost like an exoskeleton of the shape.  Edges provide visual information about a shape like  strength, transparency, weight, movement, light, distance,  etc.  Defining an edge by line or by color are also choices that can effect the structure of a composition.  A harder edge tends to hold/anchor a section where a loosely painted edge or close color transition allows a more transient moment.  These things become more important to me as I consider color and brush marks.  The speed of the brush relates to the edges.  I could tape off an edge and paint fast with a larger brush or carefully paint to a line with a slow stroke of a smaller brush.  I find I am more drawn to painting that considers edges.











Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book Ends (and Beginnings.)

Two paintings representing moments on each end of 20 years.

  I found this worth looking at.  The painting on the left is from a series I did in the early 90's (roughly 92?).  It hangs at the end of my hall and I see it every day.  The painting on the right is one of a series I am currently working on.  I remember thinking the one on the left as unfinished but at a reasonable place to stop.  The new painting is still in process and likely will not end up looking like this.

  In the past I rarely could stand to have a straight line in anything.  Most of the shape vocabulary was curvy and "lobe-like."  At the time of this older painting I was also working a series of graphite and chalk drawings (snap shots below) that where very black and built out of repeated looping figure eights with many lobes and loops. Some of that process is how this painting started.  I also remember not wanting to commit to anything solid in a painting. This often meant I was also reluctant to define edges.  I liked the shifting vail of sanded surface and disappearing shapes.

me and my grandmother (mom's mom) looking
at 2 drawings.  dad in background

dad's stepmother in front of one of my graphite and
wax paintings and 2 drawings.


  Currently I am building on straight lines and hard edge shapes.  I have set up paramitters for myself in an attempt to build on lines and straight edges.  At times masking the painted edges with tape and other times carefully painting to a straight edge drawn with pencil and ruler or just painting as straight as my hand will let me.  I find the edges remain organic and as alive as the curved forms who also have edges to deal with. Edges are now compelling subject matter to me.

 In some ways these are also the same painting seperated by 20 years.



Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Good ,The Bad and The Ugly

It has been over 25 years since drawing from a model.  This was one of my favorite things to do in the practice of getting my hand to do what my eye sees.  This December I managed to find two different drawing groups in Santa Fe.  One group is a 3 hour session with the model in only one pose.  The other group is a 3 hour session with fast posses between 1 and 5 minutes each.  Like riding a bike it is all still there but with a fair amount of clumsy and awkward mark making.  Nothing all that great yet but a bunch of good, bad and ugly to get me started.  I am energized by the activity of drawing with graphite and brush.

3 hours/  brush and ink

3 minutes

3 minutes



3 minutes

Friday, September 16, 2011

Paper on Board

sanding/ outside my studio

sanding/ inside my studiio

paper mounted on board

My favorite surface to work on is paper mounted to board.  It gives me the surface of paper which responds well to multiple layers of painting and sanding when mounted to the hard surface of a board.  This current group of paintings are geometric hard edge shapes derived from my 777 shape system.  I have expanded the grid up to one inch squares and transposed the images to the board.  They start with up to 4 shapes superimposed on top of each other and I have set out to only work within the given shapes and lines.  The choices are about color, surface and line qualities.  These are painted with an acrylic-distemper recipe using PVA glue as a binder and gouache,acrylic and dry pigments.  Because of the very fast drying of the distemper paint I am able to sand a layer directly after painting it.