Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ilya

After seeing the Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends at the Metropolitan Museum, I've been reconsidering my own stylistic direction.

Sargent's candid portraits of his friends (including Monet, Rodin, and Henry James) have the nobility of line and psychological insight that recall Velazquez and Bronzino. Sargent's subjects seem so alive, almost engaged in conversation with the viewer, probably because the artist often required at least eight sittings from his clients. Contemporary portraits based on photographs seldom have the same vitality. Sargent's paintings are visually striking and memorable even without the use of expressionist techniques.

A few days after seeing the exhibit, I found "Ilya," buried in my closet, which I painted five years ago during a workshop with Kate Lehman at Janus Collaborative School of Art in East Harlem (which has since closed but is rumored to be re-opening again soon).

At the time all I wanted was to paint like an old master - with Rembrandt lighting, dark backgrounds, and so forth. Indeed the Janus studio had a wonderful north light and a model who could have stepped out of a portrait by Zurbaran or El Greco, though in reality he was a graduate student in statistics at Columbia University.

I worked on the 18 x 24 in. painting for five days, six hours a day, but didn't quite finish it. I would have liked to work on the ear and neck a bit more but was generally pleased with Ilya's likeness and expression.

In time, however, the strict rules of the atelier method - the preparatory drawings, limited color range, uniformity of expression  - began to feel like a suppression of creativity. Indeed, the idealized aesthetic of classical realism felt escapist and somehow out of touch with how we perceive each other in modern life, with its fast pace, urban chaos, and profusion of electronic media.

I have since changed my style, appropriating the sensibilities of abstract expressionism and other 20th century movements, while exploring the limits of facial recognition and anatomical integrity.

But it was good to get in touch with Sargent, and Ilya, once again. I came to understand that figurative expressionism doesn't really exist in a vacuum, and can't work without a solid, realist foundation.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

New Photography 3

Here are some random pics from my walkabouts in New York City.  Like my first and second photography posts, these test shots are about abstraction, color, and value, rather than narrative.

I used my iPhone 6 plus rather than a professional camera. I will be uploading more pictures here.





















Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Blue Doodle

I've always considered bartering artworks with one of the many talented painters on Twitter but never acted on that idea until a few weeks ago when Marian Young, a Bridport UK artist, graciously agreed to trade pieces with me.

Marian sent me her Blue Doodle in exchange for a similarly sized portrait study, Monica. Blue Doodle is a delicately hued mixed media piece imbued with calligraphic markings that echo the works of Paul Klee, Cy Twombly, and Mark Tobey.




The painting has such a lyrical, meditative quality, and I derive much pleasure from having it in on my desk. It's quite exciting to exchange works with another Twitter artist and I hope that similar opportunities will come my way again soon.

Thanks again Marian for your wonderful painting.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

2015 Year End Exhibition



My painting Pedro will be part of the National Academy's 2015 Year End Exhibition from June 4 to July 12, 2015.

Please join us for the reception tonight, Wednesday, June 3, 2015, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, which will coincide with the opening of The Annual at the adjacent National Academy Museum.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Creative Mischief 2015


One of my paintings "John 2" will be featured in Creative Mischief, on view at the National Academy from May 16-24, 2015.

I hope to see you at the reception tonight at 1083 5th Ave. (between 89th and 90th St.), New York, NY, from 6:00 to 9:00 pm.

From the website:
The National Academy Museum & School’s fourth annual Creative Mischief exhibition will embrace more artists, a wider range of media, and more space on the calendar than ever before. On view May 16-24 (including May 18-19, when the Museum is normally closed), the constant in Creative Mischief will be the energy that epitomizes this showcase for the latest work by National Academy School students and faculty. Works from more than 170 artists will take over every gallery in the storied institution’s Fifth Ave. mansion home, as well as the Academy School galleries. Admission is pay-what-you-wish. However, for Creative Mischief, a sense of waywardness is required. 
Creative Mischief will represent the broad spectrum of artistic disciplines taught and studied at the National Academy School: abstract paintings and figurative works, site-specific installations, sculptures, prints, photographs and cyanotypes, as well as video and animation. Creative Mischief is a juried show, emblematic of the quality of the work and the artistic vision that went into its creation. 
“In just four years, Creative Mischief has become the heart of our School,” said National Academy Director Carmine Branagan. “The year-round vibrancy that characterizes the National Academy School reaches its zenith with Creative Mischief, as does the camaraderie and overall collaborative spirit of our student artists. The enthusiasm is infectious, for all of us on the staff and all who visit the exhibition.” 
Created by Academy School Director Maurizio Pellegrin, Creative Mischief began in 2012 as a one-day exhibition, in one small gallery in the school. A one-day exhibit in 2013, it moved to one gallery in the National Academy Museum. Last year, Creative Mischief became a three-day event, with more Museum gallery space devoted to it. This year the nine-day run of Creative Mischief virtually consumes the architectural gem that is the National Academy, top to bottom. 
“Our students and faculty all look forward to Creative Mischief,” said Pellegrin. “Those chosen to exhibit in this exhibition are all doing serious work, and take a thoroughly professional approach to the art. But for this show, there is more than a little mischief involved as well.”

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Figure Drawing Master Class: Lessons in Life Drawing

My National Academy teacher Dan Gheno has published a new book, Figure Drawing Master Class: Lessons in Life Drawing, a collection of his articles from American Artist, Drawing Magazine, and other publications.

Dan has been a great instructor and has always emphasized anatomy and structural integrity over any expressionist considerations in my own paintings. His book would be a fine addition to any figurative artist's library.

Check out the preview here. The book will be published in a few weeks and advance purchases are now available on Amazon.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Kinsey Art

Thank you Neil Kinsey Fagan for your blog post and video featuring some of my paintings. I am truly honored and humbled by your kind words :)