Unfinished, the Met Breuer's new exhibition raises the question - When is a painting finished?Read More
A plein air painter friend of mine recently told me about her encounter with a passer-by when she was outside painting in the West Village this past summer. This stranger pointed out to my friend, "You're a dinosaur!" In other words, this person believed that not since the late 19th century when the Impressionists launched their movement had there been any artists painting on-site. Either that, or this person was hallucinating and really believed she had sighted an ancient reptile! The fact is that even while all sorts of artistic trends have come and gone, there have always been artists interested in and pursuing their passion for painting what they see on-site, out-of-doors, and I am one to continue on that path. Sure, people are often surprised to see me with my easel in a particularly grimy neighborhood (as by the Gowanus Canal has been for years!) or even on a neighborhood sidewalk - "Are you painting that bodega, miss?!" "Are housing projects your specialty?"
We paint from life outside for various reasons. For me, it's the combination of my love of being outdoors and the challenge of capturing the colors and shapes I see before me in a pleasing and interesting composition. I do what I love, especially finding beauty in small, everyday details. And the process is meditative; I am rarely as calm yet energized as when I paint en plein air. Am I carrying on a tradition? Am I stuck in the past? Does it make a difference?
In the end, I have my own voice and make my own mark(s). Let the sun shine!
I've been meaning to write this post for a long time, a few years actually. After a painting session at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden the other day which entailed many interactions with passers-by, I thought it was time to do this. And, maybe consider getting a t-shirt made of these Q's and A's!
1) How long does it take you to finish a painting? This has to be the #1 question I am asked - ALL THE TIME. I find it to be kind of an odd question. Why would that matter? Maybe it's the easiest one to ask?
Not to be snide, but "It depends" is the answer. Mostly it depends on the size and complexity of a painting. However, there are some paintings that seem to paint themselves with hardly any effort from me; almost as if I had known all along about this painting and how to put it together. Then there are some which are agonizingly time and energy consuming. These often involve multiple composition and/or palette alterations, and occasionally I might even give up. Yes, there are paintings that I've either painted over or are sitting in a storage shelf never to see the light of day. But, I manage to resolve most of my paintings to my satisfaction. Probably the most extreme example of this is the 72"x48" Lily Pads with Two Trees. I worked on that one (on and off) for almost three years and it underwent major changes.
2) How do you decide when a painting is finished?
That's a hard one to articulate. Technically speaking, I'd want a painting to have a good balance of light and shadow, an interesting composition (although that needs to be nailed down early on, it's not something you can easily correct), and it's captured the original excitement I had when I first saw the view. There's always the tension (for me anyway) of having a painting looking done, but not over-worked. Often, I seek the input of a trusted artist friend (usually my studiomate!). Usually, I just know, partly from not knowing what else could be done and partly from liking what I see.
3) Why did you pick this scene to paint?
Now that's a good question! Also, a very hard one for me to articulate. I am attracted to a lot of different views - landscapes to close-ups, but I suppose the things that matter the most are the existence of: an interesting composition, created by or complemented by an interplay of light and shadow, juicy colors, and often the interaction of man-made and nature. I look for patterns, angles, proportions, and then the time of day and season can have a big impact on an outdoor scene. Some days I'm in the mood for urban and gritty, other days I want peace and a lot of nature. Inevitably, I find "beauty" in every scene I paint.
These are the most common three. Let me know what questions you have for me!
What I suspected to be a scam turned out to be an honor!Read More
Not all historic brownstone buildings are the same color. Mixing the right colors take practice and a lot of hard looking.Read More
Happy New Year! After an incredibly productive year, I am as grateful as ever to my family, friends, patrons, and supporters for enabling me to "Live the life you've imagined" (Henry David Thoreau). So, here I am kicking off 2015...
I spent three hours yesterday just cleaning up my studio. There were several paintings I had brought back from Brooks Brothers Manhasset (there are still several paintings there on view!) to show a buyer, plus paintings from my last solo show at 440 Gallery, boxes and foam wrap piled against a wall, and the remains of a private lesson I gave the week before Christmas. It felt good to put paintings and boxes away into my shelving units and throw out old packaging materials. It felt less good to scrape off and throw out the paint I had left on my palette - I was too optimistic about being able to get back there before all things Christmas took over my days. I should have taken some photos of the mess, but really, who wants to see that?!
A large contractor trash bag and a box of recyclable paper left the studio with me. I left one of the three commissioned paintings (all are of Park Slope brownstones!) that are underway on my easel. I can't wait to get back to painting! Once those are finished, I have another large, 4'x5', painting of waterlilies to go back to and a commission for a Rocky Mountain landscape to start. This may keep me busy until spring!
This is turning out to be easier in some ways, harder than others. Teaching an old dog new tricks is probably the adage that applies here. What do you think of this, my new 21st century website? I hope it is as easy to navigate and look at my artwork as it was previously. Many of you had commented positively about my old website. Thanks for staying tuned in!
The latest news is one that I can't make totally public -- a well-respected NYC architect invited me to hang six small and one large painting in her office in midtown. The paintings will be on loan for about six months. It is an exciting opportunity to have my work potentially seen by high end residential and commercial clients, but it is not "open to the public". I let the architect select which paintings she'd like. I was most surprised that she chose these three interiors:
And not so surprised about these three cityscapes:
And, I was most pleased that she chose this large unusual composition that I started while at the Vermont Studio Center (a month-long artist residency). I reworked it a few years later in my own Brooklyn studio to "correct" the light (thanks to looking at some Hopper interiors!).
Cross your fingers that someone will be interested in taking a piece home with them (after paying, of course!).
After years of wondering about Art Fairs (should I capitalize?!), one crossed my screen that seemed reasonably priced and not overwhelming in scale. In the midst of my solo show, Brooklyn Seen at 440 Gallery, and what seemed like one open studio event after another, I sent in my application at what must have been about the very last minute. Of course, I couldn't help wondering whether this was an Internet scam, but a little research proved that it was the real deal (as a truly cynical New Yorker, I even visited the venue to find out if the event was really booked there!). After a flurry of emails with the Exhibition Manager, I was accepted, booked, and sent an intensively detailed exhibition manual. Here's to hoping a lot of art-lovers will visit me and my three panels of artwork. I'll be showing all cityscapes. There will be at least 180 other artists from around the world, so it should be interesting. All works will be available for sale, and it'll be "cash and carry" (not literally - I take credit cards, too!), so come early for the best pickings. Hope to see you there:
Parallax AF New York Prince George, 15 East 27th Street, NY, NY Saturday and Sunday, November 17 and 18, 11am - 5pm
Check my Facebook page (you don't have to have a FB account to do this) for my location number, which should be assigned soon.
The past couple of months have been tumultuous, to say the least. I had started to despair last year about how my vision, particularly in my left eye, had been deteriorating steadily. I had to reduce the time I spent painting because the eye strain was exhausting. After visits to my optometrist, who had reached the limits of available lenses (eyeglass or contact) strong enough to correct my near-sightedness, and a couple of visits to a retinal specialist it seemed there wasn't much to be done. Finally, I decided to be much more specific about what I was and wasn't seeing at my last visit to my optometrist. It wasn't just that my vision was blurry, but I was seeing in triplicate (it became apparent when sitting on the subway staring at the lit-up strip indicating all the stops coming up, and each stop had a triad of red points!) and I was frustrated about how my paintings looked dull as much as I tried to add highlights. Suddenly, the doctor lit up, did a couple more tests and said that I might have cataracts, a diagnosis that hadn't occurred to him because I am relatively young for this. A referral to an opthamologist confirmed this diagnoses, and before I knew it I was getting special eye measurements, a pre-op health assessment and was scheduled for surgery, one eye first and the other two weeks later. I just had the second eye done a few days ago.
The results are astonishing, to say the least. I can get up in the morning and not grope for my Coke bottle-bottom eyeglasses, which I always kept nearby on my nightstand. Without them, I could barely see 8" in front of my face. The new lenses, now IN my eyeballs, have corrected my vision to around 20/25 or 20/30 (so far... they are still "setting in", whatever that means!). Equally incredible is how bright and more blue-tinted the world looks to me now. Not only had the cataracts clouded my vision, but they had created a yellow-ochre haze.
Needless to say, the first time I was able to get back to my studio after the first eye was done I literally could not believe my eyes. The blues and sunlit areas of my paintings were brighter than I had thought they were. All the colors seemed more vibrant. I kept closing one eye and then the other to compare. I had heard this may happen, but actually experiencing it was incredible. I have been overjoyed. And recently, a new studiomate I was excited about ended up having to move out after a month. So, when I got back to my studio, I hauled out these three enormous canvases I had bought almost a year ago on a whim from a friend who was clearing out her studio.
During the 3 or 4 days between the two operations, I was so inspired, excited, and energized that I started TWO (!) 4 FEET by 6 FEET paintings, the largest I have ever attempted. I had already completed two smaller ones of the Lily Pools at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It looks like I may be starting a series!
These are still in progress, but I thought I'd share them here:
I've been posting on my Facebook artist page about the progress of these paintings. Not only are my largest brushes barely big enough, after a few days (and many hours each day) my arms and wrist became tired. Working at this scale is physically more demanding!
Of course, the first (and not surprising) reference to you-know-which artist has come up, and I am trying to decide whether it is a good or bad thing. I am definitely NOT channeling Monet, and hope to make my own mark, literally and figuratively, in this particular genre, if you can even call it that.
It will be a few more days before I can safely return to the (somewhat) toxic oil paints, thinners, and mediums. Meanwhile, I savor my new vision, await the delivery of an order of cans and large tubes of paint (I am nearly ran out of most of my paints after a few days of painting these large canvases), and anticipate my time back in the studio with great excitement.
Here are the two that are finished:
I can't even imagine what it will be like when I get outside to paint plein air.