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Sunday, July 28, 2019

Why this- why now?

At a recent opening of my show in Rochester, one relatively sophisticated viewer pointed out that some of the paintings looked like they were by different people. The organic, textured, flowing, hot colored abstract landscape next to three muted, resin coated circles and dots bothered him. 

Tenerife.  36x72

Specimens 30x30

Not me, though. Having come to painting late, I insisted on spending a few years going through many stages of representational rendering- flowers, fish, fruit, figures- and that’s just the ‘f’s- to prove to myself that I could. When I decided I had captured clouds and sunrises and the sea, I got rid of the horizon line- and I was painting abstractly, which had been my goal all along.

Rather than experiment in style pastiche or stages I think I paint in paragraphs. A new idea emerges, it gets done again, different iterations, then I revisit what I had thought was finished. When this essay is finished, I move on. Mark Rothko and Vassilly Kandinsky both started with 
small paintings that all looked like Chagall villages. Once they reached their abstract voices,  and the collectors responded, their dealers took all the early work off the market. Rothko’s early paintings now line the walls of his son Christopher Rothko on the Upper West Side.

But an even more important question might be why do we do in the times in which we live. I wrestle with this as a painter but also as a person who does not respond to didactic art. But art for art’s sake has its own power, both for the maker and for the viewer.

The painting I’ve called Remains of the Day should indeed be taken as a warning, with the suggestion of a mushroom cloud masquerading as a tree hovering over a midwestern town. But it’s also a play on line, on the muted color of ink soaking into unprimed canvas. Cascadilla was named after the fact, because of what looks like a waterfall and an arched bridge and walls of shale- but I painted it as a play of shapes and texture. The suggestion of Tuscan hill towns among the imaginary landscapes is due to a few horizontal lines that turn inchoate color into  landscapes.

Remains of the Day


Tuscan Hills
 My most recent work, which I'll be expanding into a novella,  is probably the best example of looking like it was done by a different person. But of course, the rigor of hard edged rendering is the same skill I used in doing watercolor flowers or oil still lives. The colors are my favorites throughout all my work, blues and reds and pinks,  just covering bigger and more discrete areas.

But why go from free and flowing abstracts to these? It's the anniversary of the moon walk, which is certainly at the tail end of the last midcentury, but I hadn't thought of that. I was looking at some old futuristic world's fair pictures, and saw that the Jetsons cartoon show was only on for a year, that could have been the inspiration. I have a book on Kandinsky from  20 years ago that I looked at AFTER I had done three of these paintings, and realized how similar they were. 

But most of all, the process of doing these is one way to control chaos, to contain the political outrages that color my world view from the minute I wake up until I go to sleep. I can't change the broader picture by myself, but I CAN control the canvas in front of me, and emerge with an interplay of shapes and colors that make me feel calm, and that viewers respond to. 

I bring my own thoughts or feelings  to the paintings, but viewers see things I never thought of, or intended- which is why I do this, now.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Crazy for color

Red has always been one of my favorite colors, and I've been going to town lately. One is under resin which really makes it pop, but the completely inked painting also makes a statement. Trying to push winter away,  I guess.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Adding resin-magic!

I’ve been having a great time experimenting with resin coatings for my ink and acrylic work. I started with birch boards as a base, which is recommended, but I’ve had success with both board and tightly stretched canvas.

What I love is the way it makes colors pop! It certainly adds to the production of a piece in terms of time and technique, but it’s worth it. I use ArtResin, which is odorless and easy to mix up, though you DO have to heed the directions and wear shoes and gloves (sigh). I use a heat gun rather than a gas torch to run over the surface to remove bubbles, and seems to work. I’ve also had bad experiences using blue painter’s  tape on the sides, to keep small droplets from forming and hardening. Instead I go over the drips with gloved hands to get rid of them, then sand off the dried remainder with a circular sander.

I still alternate between work with resin and paintings on raw canvas- tension between warmth that draws you in and a cool barrier through which to view the piece.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Departures and Arrivals

So great to be showing in the luxurious space of Tim Brooks' new expo68 gallery in the Eastern Hills Mall this month. Tim has a great eye for display and quality- all good wishes on this exciting new venture.
In the meantime, do stop by before September 7.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Videos from Art Trail

Two interviews by Allison Horvath and Deanna Wetmore

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Beginning to Soar

At least it feels that way. New shows every month, out of town and at the Mink Gallery in Ithaca. Hard to balance with teaching, but not impossible;. I've made so many new friends through the gallery and paintings, I love seeing my work in new homes. Below are some "in situ" shots from the last couple years.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Winter Journey- Show at CAP Artspace through December


The first real snowfall of the year has buried the sidewalks and trees, a beautiful sight- from indoors, of course. My collection of work on display through the end of the month in downtown Ithaca's CAP Artspace is a reflection of what I feel about the season; black, white, everything in between, muted colors but stark forms, creating a mix of sharp outline and deep softness. My paintings range from large reflections of walks up Cascadilla gorge to a view at Stewart Park, to smaller works on paper, sometimes a wash of black or gray, highlighted with small pen drawings.

Growing up in Buffalo, winter was a part of life for us, not something to dread as unexpected, but a seasonal reality to embrace. Ithaca, just three hours away, has been my home for 40 years, and I continue to respond to each change of season through my work.