Barely There

January 30, 2010

14th Street, oil on canvas, 8x8 in.

This is a small urban landscape of NYC that I will have in the Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club Invitational Exhibition. It has very soft edges and the imagery is almost ghostlike. This is a direction I plan to follow up on after I finish the paintings for my solo exhibit. I like the idea of the image barely being there, and the colors and atmosphere taking over. I’m also thinking about doing a series of these in a monochromatic or earth-toned color scheme, so that they look like vintage photos.

The Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Invitational Exhibition will feature the work of current and past Board of Directors and will be held during the month of March at the Grace Institute, NYC.

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One of my favorites…

January 26, 2010

Cattano Street, oil on canvas, 9x12 in.

This is my latest painting in the Morristown series and I think it is my favorite of the lot. I like it because of its simplicity, the composition is made up purely of geometric forms that are created by the perspective of the street. It straddles the fence between abstraction and realism in almost a 50-50 balance, which is what I have always strived to acheive with my work.  My goal is always to touch the canvas as little as possible and use expressive brush work, yet to still provide enough information that you can see a representational image and even suggest some details. For me, this piece brings all those elements into play and makes the most of strong light and shadow, while retaining a strong tie in to a more abstract, contemporary approach to composition and color.

I think it is important for artists to recognize their best work (as it relates to where they want to go creatively, as opposed to what an outsider or critic might say). Recognizing progress builds confidence, which is key to staying on a path of creative development. When you critique your own work, be sure to note what IS working in addition to the things you want to improve. Remembering why something works is as important as remembering the things that fall short, build upon your strengths and address the weaknesses head on. For me, that has always been the best way to move forward.


Fountain on the Green, oil on linen

January 21, 2010

Fountain on the Green, Morristown, NJ - oil on linen, 20x20 in.

This is another piece where I did some experimentation with the underpainting color. This time, I used dioxazine purple, a color I rarely use in my work these days, although I used to use it frequently before I became interested in working with a limited palette.

My initial intent was to have a purple/green/orange predominance in color harmony, so I thought it would be interesting to start with the purple base color. What ended up happening though was I had to constantly tone down the purple with yellow ochre and Naples yellow, not necessarily a bad thing, but perhaps I set myself up for an unneccessary challenge? Anyhow, I am happy with the way it came together, but would not choose this approach again. I find I get the best results and get where I need to get faster when I work with a dark neutral such as burnt sienna or burnt umber for my underpainting layer.


Underpainting in Blue

January 14, 2010

Maple Street, Morristown, oil on linen, 20x20 in.

In this latest painting, I tried something different, I did the underpainting in cobalt blue instead of my usual burnt umber or sienna. I had some leftover  cobalt paint on my palette that I didn’t want to go to waste, so I used it. This image lent itself well to the use of the blue as an underpainting because I wanted it to have a bit more of a cool feeling than some of the others do. Having a bright sunny day and strong shadows in the image, I wanted it to still have a sense of coldness as you would experience on a winter day. Normally, the burnt sienna sets a very warm tone early on, which is desirable in most of my paintings, particularly those that have a rainy atmosphere, they need a bit of added warmth to make them more inviting to look at. However, for a sunny painting, I don’t want to run the risk of it becoming overwhelmingly warm to the point of sweetness. The cooler tones in this one give it the sense of detachment that I want in all of my work. I dislike sentimentality and would not be happy if I got that type of feeling from the piece. The cool temperature and the contrast of the shadows provide a welcome variation from brightly lit houses, perfectly manicured lawns and sunny sidewalk.


Driveway Shadows, Morristown, NJ

January 11, 2010

Driveway Shadows, MacCulloch Avenue, Morristown, NJ - oil on linen, 11x14 in.

 Another in the Morristown series for my solo show. The interesting thing about Morristown is that there is a combination of city-like downtown neighborhoods surrounded by more sedate streets such as tree-lined MacCulloch Ave. The driveway of this house had some wonderful shadows cast by a picket fence. The yellow house looked particularly vibrant on this afternoon against the bright blue December sky.

It will be interesting to see the entire series hung in the gallery. About half of the paintings show Morristown in the rain and the other half on a bright sunny day, neighborhoods are mixed and I’ve tried to include many of the town’s historic landmarks such as the Vail Estate and other lesser known but easily recognizable sites.


Semi-Abstract Study of Light & Shadow

January 10, 2010

Spring Shadows, Near NYU in New York City, oil on linen, 11x14 in.

This is a small alla-prma painting of some shadows on the sidewalk near the NYU campus in NYC. It was early evening in April and one of the first really pleasant evenings of the season. I’ve chosen very soft colors here and a softer focus, a bit less contrast and no hard edges, to capture the atmospheric feeling of the evening. I’ve also reduced the elements to their most basic forms, relying on bits of color placed properly to make them suggest cars and buildings and a shaded sidewalk.


Halsey Street, Newark

January 8, 2010

Acrylic on corrugated cardboard with a small amount of pastel, 8x10 in.

This was my demo from yesterday’s private workshop. One of my students was interested in working on an urban landscape, so I used one of her reference photos to do my demo. This is acrylic on cardboard with a tiny bit of pastel for the brightest brights. When I got the piece home, I decided to put a coat of acrylic varnish on it to see how the cardboard would stand up to it. I don’t like putting these behind glass if I don’t have to. Glass makes them less vibrant, but at the same time, I don’t want them to be susceptible to damage. I definitely should have photographed the piece before putting on the varnish, but that’s ok, it is only for discussion purposes here, not printing.

The varnish applied nicely to the cardboard, giving it a very finished look. I did have to go over the areas that I had done in pastel with some acrylic that I mixed up to match, but this was minimal as there was not much pastel on the piece to begin with. I like the texture and gritty quality of working on cardboard combined with the varnish as a sealant. I am going to try a larger one to see how it holds up, but am encouraged by the results I acheived with this small experiment.