I will be showing the landscapel below at the Harvey Milk Photo Center January 8-February 7 with Art Saves Lives, curated by Thomasina DeMaio. The reception will be held January 18th, with live music featuring the incredible Tribal Baroque! It will be an amazing reception, hope to see you there.
What: Winter Exhibition
Where: Harvey Milk Photo Center, 50 Scott Street, San Francisco, CA
Impressionistic realism has been the foundation of my art for many years, but that’s starting to change as I explore mixing identifiable forms that are relatable to abstract forms that work on a different level. Abstract art has merit, but I hadn’t pursued it until now because I struggled with how to communicate with it.
For me, the human figure is the most relevant symbolic subject in art. People are complex: outwardly transparent, but inwardly hidden. We respond to the Mona Lisa because while her body is drawn to perfection, her veiled thoughts through her smile intrigues us and draws us to this painting. So how can a painting be both approachable and mysterious?
Fast forward 450 years from Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to the 1950’s Bay Area Figurative movement (lead by David Park), when an intriguing fusion of figurative art combined with Abstract Expressionism. Painters in this school ( David Park, Richard Diebenkorn, Elmer Bischoff, Wayne Thiebaud…) had different reasons for mixing figurative representation and abstraction, but many found a dead end in Abstract Expressionism’s ability to communicate. They resisted being constrained by a formal “school”, but instead believed in taking freely from both figurative and abstract traditions.
I’m working on a series now that uses the figure as an anchor, like this movement. In one of these paintings (“Green Shorts”, below), a solitary figure stares out at an abstracted plane, resembling the sea. (or, is it a clouded sky?).
The figure is used as an entrance into this world of sunshine and contemplation. He stands on the picture plane as if an observer himself to the alternating bands of blues, violets and grays. It’s designed in such a way that his surroundings are open to interpretation: he could be in a museum (barefoot—probably not allowed!) surrounded by a large painting himself.
I had a lot of fun with this one. While the reference photo I used is in fact of a man at the beach, the viewer can have fun with this and imagine other scenarios. For example, he could be standing on flat land, looking out at distant snow-capped hills, sky, and clouds above. If you were not told this was the sea, could you see alternative realities like this for his view?
This ambiguity is what interests me, because I believe strongly that the best art requires participation by the viewer. Just as decoding the Mona Lisa’s thoughts are the viewer’s creation, I seek to give the viewer the opportunity to find their own meaning. This makes the painting theirs through co-creation between viewer and artist.
So that’s what I’m working on. It is fun creating these worlds, but not easy—art never is!
Postscript: This series will probably be shown in San Francisco at Spark Arts, in April, but specifics TBD.
San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico is a real gem. The centro’s architecture is Spanish Colonial, and the people there are wonderful. Love painting there, and finally got Mike to go on a visit recently. Here are some paintings in watercolor and oil. Enjoy!
Mike and I have planned a trip to Maui! It’s been a long time since we’ve enjoyed a vacation together, so I’m really looking forward to it. Since I don’t plan to travel with my full oil setup, I will paint watercolors plein air. I think there’s something about Hawaii and the tropics that lends itself well to watercolor–the lightness of it all.
To prepare my watercolor skills (which are minimal), I’ve started to paint the figure. It’s a great way to “kill two birds with one stone”: both learn the medium and continue to improve my drawing skills. Of course, painting the figure is the best way to improve drawing because it’s obvious when you make even the slightest error. The first two studies below were painted at a local gay bar (Moby Dick). An artist in the neighborhood thought it would be nice to have a drawing group there, and I have to say, it was really fun. It is a gay bar, so lots of pulsing music and local characters, but I ended up having a great time. It’s Monday nights (at least through the Summer )if you’re interested (7:30-10:30pm).
The last painting is just another tennis player study, in oil. I’ve been doing a seriers of these. The strong light on a tennis court makes for some very interesting color situations–especially reflected light. Enjoy!
Whether this is a sunrise or sunset depends upon your perspective, however, I think it’s a false choice. It’s not one or the other–it’s both. It’s sunset in San Miguel de Allende and sunrise in somewhere else. I find this same truth in life all the time, and I try to recognize it when it happens so I can see both sides of any situation. Enjoy!
I love painting a dramatic sky! This was painted from a reference photo I took while staying at Red Rocks for the 1st Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo. I liked the counterbalance between the drama of the sky and the distant lights of the Las Vegas Strip.
And finally, I’ve been experimenting with new materials. This oil on paper work was done with new Cobra water soluble oils. I love the idea of painting with solvents! So far I like the, although I don’t have enough colors to truly judge–and I haven’t painted on anything other than paper so far. You may recognize this study, based on another done plein air in regular oil paint.
I’m thinking of Summer, which is why I suppose I selected this reference photo to paint. I wanted to depict a sun-filled day (just as we had in San Francisco, today). Speaking of sunny weather, I’m headed to San Miguel de Allende this Friday, where the forecast is low 80’s all week. Although Mike can’t make this trip, I’m looking forward to a full week dedicated to painting with Frank Gardner. I’ll try to post from Mexico, if I have decent WiFi at the hotel. Cheers.
I enjoy alternating between painting the figure and landscape. Painting the figure hones my drawing skills, and landscapes allow me to play a bit more with form, color and brushwork. I’d love to bring that same fluidity to my figure work (and I have achieved that occasionally), but I have trouble being too loose in the figure, because I loose form too quickly. There are some artists that do this extraordinarily well, and they inspire me (eg, Dan McCaw). I’m working on a series of figure paintings for a possible show in San Francisco this year. Cheers!
I think this is the longest period of time I’ve gone without blogging! Feels weird. I’ve a a busy couple months: started a remodel at home; and was hospitalized for kidney stones. No fun! Remember to drink lots of water…apparently, that’s how you can help avoid them.
This is my first painting after being out of commission for a couple weeks. Feels great to get back. I like this enough that I can see painting a larger studio work from it. Hope you enjoy it.