“Rhapsodic, hallucinatory, it is emblematic of the painterly process of synthesizing motif and materials, visual stimulus and pictorial will”.
Stephen Maine, excerpt from "Seeing Things" catalog essay.
2019 Watercolor on paper 12" x 9"
“This piece was initially fashioned on-site as a monoprint. I applied a schmear of juicy wet watercolor on a sheet of microfoam, then pressed the foam onto the WC block as a gale whirled about. Doubt I will try that again in such blustery conditions.”
“I did not want to leave anything out, so this composition is an amalgamated montage packed jam with garden stuff. There is an attenuated view of the pond on the left. A slightly foreboding fairytale place with mouthing catfish and snapping turtles. The view from the deck is pleasantly placid and taciturn. The Bull Frog Sonata is worth a listen.”
2018 Watercolor & ink on paper 12” x 15” private collection
This piece turned out Cezanne-ish which was not by conscience intent. Cezanne and Soutine's landscapes can reveal distortions in time/space that could be considered conduits to sub-visual dimensions. Here I was interested in depicting a canopy of scrub arbors, but it became more of a tunnel-like composition, channeling the eye to a backlit glow. Perhaps a metaphor for some transcendent notion of unawareness.
“The last of this year's plein air work from Maine. Made at the end of our first session, it was the only 9" x 12" I did, and took about 15 or 20 minutes to finish. I would say it qualifies as a get reacquainted sketch.”
“I did not get one of those typically hushed, undulating fog days on this trip to Maine in August, but there was a nice translucent cerulean haze one afternoon. The shifting spectrum of ocean surface light variations are very tricky gradations to represent with chemical pigment. There seems to be some kind of metaphysical conundrum involved as the ocean's transparent body exudes a saturated, yet elusive chromatic intensity.”
From the ledges near Flye Point. There is a voluminously serene aspect to the scenery looking north towards Cadillac Mt over the narrows. As it was a hot afternoon, I took a break, waded into the shallows, dipped my cap into the icy clear salt water, and poured the elixir over my warm brow several times.
2018 Watercolor on paper, 12” x 15” private collection
From our recent sojune Down East. The dichotomy between representational and interpretive (non literal) composition represents a compelling narrative for me. Reproducing an observed landscape within the context of recognizable semiotic orientation, keys in on a hand-eye spatial evaluation tool crucial to the practice of fluid and flowing draftsmanship. However a less strictured approach to scenery allows for a freeing-up of improvisational content that may bring potent associative elements into play. The image below was actually painted at 180°, and then flipped to switch top/bottom. This reorientation occurred as way to accommodate an unseen identity that popped into my awareness; Aeolus the Greek god of the winds (frequently seen huffing and puffing on old nautical charts). Exploring the realm of intuitive mark making is nothing new in painting, but like snowflakes, no two brushstrokes are ever the same.
“From our recent Maine excursion. We took a day up at Acadia National Park's Schoodic Peninsula to partake of the big, pounding surf. This piece required some touch up at home with ink and powdered pigments to boost a dulling effect from the unsized paper.”
“This piece was done right after my previous post (View From Flye Point, hedges). I tend to work directly from scenery, then I might loosen up, and try a more interpretive gesture. Like different poses in life drawing.”
“Here is the first of about 10 plein air scenes from Maine during last weeks visit. It was more of a challenge than I anticipated. I figured I'd be ready to roll since most of my art output the last year or so has been landscapes, but Maine required some perceptual weight lifting. This was the next to last piece I did during the 6 days we were there, and due to issues with my new 18" x 24" cheap watercolor block (unsized paper which makes layering water based pigment very difficult) I finally gave up and went back to my old 12" x 15" block. I only took one day off, and painting everyday on the ledges in the hot sun was hard on my feet and derma. But overall it was a fantastic opportunity to get back and immerse myself in the Down East environment, enjoy some peaceful quietude, lobster, and a spectacular full moon.”
Very challenging environment for plein air at Domino. The scenery was spectacular verging on overwhelming. The sweeping vista of the East River surrounded by intricate architectural perspectives, was saturated by a wonderfully undulating, low hanging cloud cover. Also had to dodge a couple of heavy rain squalls. I condensed the scene a bit to fit the aspect ratio of the paper. Next time I might set up a diptych to stretch out the perspective.
Then there was the crowd; a raucous beach volleyball game nearby, many happy but noisy kids running about with loud parents trying to exercise their pergotives. Last but not least was the extremely buff, semi nude pushup performer with his video entourage doing one-handed presses on the next bench over! Although I look forward to returning, Domino is to be avoided on weekends if you want any peace and quiet.
“The narrow twisting, turning path into Dead Horse Bay has a fairy tale quality. Well worn, but overgrown with a dense jungle canopy of deciduous vegetation, likely containing all sorts of creatures lurking just beyond your awareness.”
“Schlepped out to Robert Moses SP yesterday to try and avoid crowds! (not) Gorgeous day anyway. A warm, crystal white aura saturated the windy environs. Rowdy ocean with translucent breakers that curled into a pristine gray, green earth foam, backlit by an unknown shade of softly undulating cobalt pale.” Link to:FB July 15, 2018
“My first plein air piece for 2018. I become mesmerized by oceanic theater. The visual interplay between scene and paper merges my focus. Its like taking a dip; bracing and your feet don't always touch bottom.”
Rip Rap, New York Bay, and the Battery Going Uptown (from Bush Terminal Park)
2107 Watercolor, water soluble crayon, ink on paper. 11" x 15"
Atmospheres at Ft Tilden (ship receding)
2017 Watercolor and crayon on paper. 11" x 15" Sloan Kettering corp collection
“Painting at the beach again on Sunday. Placid afternoon with undulating sky and ocean. Wind whipped up at the end, reaching gale force in a matter of 5 minutes. You have to know how to wind proof with bungee cords.”
2019 Water based media on plaster and yogurt lid, with salvaged antique toy, beach rope, wire mesh 13" x 13" x 2"
“Shout out to Jaynie Gillman Crimmins, and Sharilyn Neidhardt for including this piece in their recent curatorial gem, "SCAVENGERS" at Brooklyn Fire Proof! I'm beginning to think I've become a tad irreverent in my old age. It may be presumptuous, but this assemblage does not curry favour and accordingly seems a slovenly, loony tune, slap dash plaything. Is that so wrong?!”
“This piece is based on the charts of ancient mariners that believed benevolent half human, half sea creatures lurked at the edge of known navigational regions to guide and advise further exploration.”
2018 Water based media on paper towel, paper napkins, and paperboard. 9" x 12"
“Looking forward to our first 2018 plein air trip to Ft Tilden tomorrow. This new work on paperboard stock contextualizes an inner/indoor sensation of nature with textural inclinations, and could be considered as relating to Musique Concrète.”
“This painting crosses over from a literalistic depiction of a rocket launch, into a esoteric notion of extra-physical phenomenon. Perhaps related to Coltrane’s “sheets of sound”.
Linked to FB: August 10 2018
Self Portrait As A Negro
I really got carried away during the 1990s. A large, cheap studio, and mostly part-time work on my art moving truck, allowed for a very prolific period. In the most general terms I would describe a tendency in my chroma towards patina and chiaroscuro. I see the content as mostly abstract non-fiction, but delving into psychic theory.
“This painting was a response to my discovery of Indonesian gamelan. Not so much the shadow puppet theater, as the orchestral performances. Gamelan encompasses a sublime melodic rainforest essence, that reverberates as atmospheric transcendence. There is really nothing like it in the western canon.”
I just rediscovered this piece in my el cheapo Harrisburg PA storage room that I had not visited since 2014. I see my youthfully volatile psyche floating in awe amid the precipitous verticality of midtown.
“As I recall this painting was kind of an unexpected move out my dark brooding Brodie spell. Still heavily pigmented, but the palette was perking up. My architecture was flattening out, and morphed into little quasi-figurative paint cherubs that populate the Ceruleanville ground. “
“I recently have begun the huge task of digitizing all my old art slides. There are about 500 paintings and works on paper going back to 1974. A significant portion of them have been "recycled", but I'm glad I have images. More to come as the future reveals the past.”
“This crucifixion painting was a seminal moment in my youthful career. It's sheer physicality combined with a luminous viscosity, to counter my trepidation as a novice draftsman. I pulled it off by sensing my limitations, and then not minding them too much.”
“I only have a vague recollection of doing this plein air sketch. I'm guessing it might be of the old elevated West Side Highway, when I was in the Empire State College studio semester program at Westbeth. But then again it might be Brooklyn. I need a time machine.”
A view from the beach on Crowley's Island. Although there are a few cottages nestled into the scrub pines, this place has a wilderness feel. The massive ledges slumber in the warm summer, ensconced by one of the few sand beaches in the area.
2004 (?) Watercolor and oil pastel on paper 5” x 6”.
“I recently dug this out of a storage folder, and there is no previous photo of it in my archives. I have no recollection of when or where exactly on the Schoodic Peninsula this was done. My scribbled date might be from 2004, but who knows.”
2004 11” x 15” watercolor & oil pastel on paper (lost in Wingspread Gallery fire)
1998 watercolor & oil pastel on paper. 9" x 15" private collection
“Grindstone Neck is a boulder strewn stretch of paradise just outside Winter Harbor. It can get busy with gawkers on weekends, but remains one of the most spectacular panoramas along the coast of Maine.”