Sunday, August 27, 2023

"Plein Air" flower work

 This summer I’ve been doing "plein air" flower drawings with colored pencils. I found an old spiral bound sketch book that was empty. I challenged myself to fill it up by the end of the summer. Consequently, I work fast, getting down what I see as quick as I can. Sometimes I am holding three or four pencils at a time drawing in different colors. Letting them blend and fill large areas. I have never really worked with colored pencils much before so this has been fun, learning how to use them.

I have been going with a friend about once a week to various parks within walking distance to the studio. My friend has been working in watercolors and I, in colored pencils.

Making these drawings has given me a couple of things to think about. First is the difference in drawing from life vs working from photos. I take pictures of these flowers scenes so I can make drawings later in the studio. I find that working from the pictures I can’t visualize the depth as well, where my on site drawing I find myself working much more with it. It seems more important for me to incorporate depth into the sketch when I work on site.

I have also been thinking about textures. Recreating the textures of the leaves, flowers, and glass. I got to check out some Van Gogh drawings this summer at the Met. He had a great way of simply creating different textures of landscape with simple line work.

This work has motivated me into wondering how I could translate these into paint. The artist Joan Mitchell comes to mind as an artist that has taken this vision of landscape to some conclusions. Also I found the exhibition of Cecily Brown at the Met quite instructive and much on my mind while working on these.

Art work from summer 2023

Wrapping up another summer art season. An area of thoughts about painting have been along the lines of developing scenarios that let the paint flow, mix and develop on their own. I set parameters of color, and regions of the painting surface for mixing to happen. This system leads to abstract landscape style compositions. 
This summer 2023 I have been working exclusively with Acrylic paints. I feel that the setup and working/drying time has worked with my attention span and schedule. I have been thinning down the paints with water. I haven’t had the budget for getting any mediums. The use of old latex house paint makes the Artist grade Acrylic paint behave in some unpredictable ways. I always welcome that!
Below is a small body of work that I created using scrap wood panels that were used as painted wood grain samples. Not sure if this work is finished yet. I feel it could go in a couple of different directions. Perhaps it could be a background for something painted on top, or just a stand alone abstraction. I need to keep them around and see how I feel in the future.

Archangel Thunderbird

This group evolved from a scrap piece of plywood that was used as a table top cover. It had random paint stains left from other projects. I was using the sulfur yellow color to blend in with actual sulfur powder in a larger series of paintings about the American revolution. I cut down the larger board into smaller fragments. I was holding onto these scraps for quite a while until I found this use. The yellow sulfur color made me think about a sulfur cloud. I added wings. Imagine an Archangel of sulfur and thunder.

"Archangel Thunderbird" 73/4"x 8.5" Oil on panel

"Archangel Thunderbird" 11"x 7.5" Oil on panel

"Archangel Thunderbird" 7.5" x 8" Oil on panel

Spotted Lanternfly "Pest"

 This summer was also the year of the large-scale establishment of the Chinese Lantern Fly in my area. They are quite a striking bug with red and gray wings. They also have a cool spot and line patterns that I thought would make for some interesting abstract paintings. 

I created a number of smaller life size paintings of the whole bug flying. They remind me of a decorative wall paper.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Hessian Bayonets

“Hessian Bayonets”
Welded Steel, Canvas, Oil Stick, Acrylic House Paint, Powder Pigment, Iron Powder, Paper collage, Paper Shopping Bags Mounted on wood frame. 2019

This painting is based on local folklore. Hessian soldiers were German mercenary, “soldiers for hire” and were used by the British army to supplement their own troops. During the Battle of Long Island Hessian troops acted as a diversion to deceive the American army into thinking the main British attack was happening in what today is known as Prospect Park. Meanwhile, the true British attack was able to cut off and isolate the American troops facing the Hessians. The Americans, upon realizing this, fled towards what today is downtown Brooklyn. The Hessian troops, perhaps because of language barriers, or perhaps because of British propaganda, did not take prisoners. Instead they used bayonets mounted at the end of their muskets to kill any surrendering American solider they came across.

The painting was created using rubbings of actual tree trunks from the “Battle Pass” area of Prospect Park. Oil stick was used to transfer the bark pattern from the trees to the canvas strips. These strips of canvas were mounted to the substrate of paper shopping bags and hand forged steel bayonets were impaled into the tree bark. This painting was part of the Tides of Time exhibit at Gowanus Dredgers boat house (August 2019).

Side view showing the bayonets embedded into the painting
                            Side view showing the bayonets embedded into the painting

Installing wood frame to the wall. The painting on paper will be attached to it.
After attaching the painting

Cutting the steel bar stock to form the bayonet blades.
I created a simple jig to help assemble the bayonet parts. It was a easy build and was made by welding only three parts together.

Finished assembled bayonets ready for rusting process.

The start of the process. They rusted slowly at first.
I used a mixture of vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide and salt to achieve a deep crusty rust.

Tides of Time

The postcard for this exhibition.
I was invited to participate in the Artist Residence program at the Gowanus Dredgers Boathouse (August 2019). The Dredgers are an organization that advocates for public water access to the Gowanus canal. It so happens that my residence was planned for August 2019 the anniversary of the Battle of Long Island. This year the Dredgers have planned a couple of events that commemorate the battle. I invited my longtime friend Gerald Wagoner to participate with me. He created site-specific poems that both speak to the evolving nature of the canal environment and its history.
I created a group of four new large paintings. These painting incorporate my recurring themes of nature, warfare, process, and time. See the following posts for more info about each painting.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Gun Powder Sky

Gun Powder Sky
Acrylic House paint, Powder pigment, Iron Powder, Rock Salt, Marsh Grass, Charcoal, Sulfur on Paper Shopping Bag. 2019

This work references the painting “Battle of Long Island” by Alonzo Chappel (1828-1887). That painting depicts the retreat of the “Maryland 400” across Brouwer's Mill Pond. This painting was part of the Tides of Time exhibit at Gowanus Dredgers boat house (August 2019).

"Battle of Long Island” by Alonzo Chappel (1828-1887)

The title alludes to the great blinding noxious clouds of white smoke that were created by the burning gunpowder. Battles of this time in history were often hard to directly observe because of the tremendous volumes of thick smoke that were generated. Consequently, because the battle was totally obscured, generals of the time had a difficult time controlling the movements of their troops.

Here I layered the ingredients of gun powder and local marsh grass. White paint covers and obscures that under-structure. The paint is applied in such a way so as to let the chemical reaction of iron and salt stain and penetrate the white painted surface. Rust and decay are modern components that allude to both the past and present environment of the Gowanus canal.