Monday, December 17, 2018

Recent paintings

I'm now at the Art Students League in Dan Gheno's Saturday morning class. It's great to be back to where I started 18 years ago (I signed up after seeing the film Pollock with Ed Harris). Here are some recent paintings, all head studies in acrylic.

Johnny, 11 x 14 inches

Patrick, 11 x 14 inches

Andy, 12 x 16 inches

Ellie, 12 x 12 inches

Regina, 11 x 14 inches

Monday, June 4, 2018

Four Freedoms

I'm pleased to announce an exhibit in Seneca Falls, NY, featuring reinterpretations of Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms by Louis Ebarb, Tina So, Chifung Wong, Lorraine Brooks, and me.
Revisiting FDR's Four Freedoms
Women's Rights National Historical Park
Seneca Falls, NY
May 5 to June 30, 2018
Here's a Q&A submitted in preparation for an upcoming article by Anita Chan in The Still Point Arts Quarterly:

Why did you accept Mr. Ebarb's invitation to join this project which is purely noncommercial in nature?

I wanted to interpret the Four Freedoms from a different point of view from Norman Rockwell, i.e. non-male, non-white, non-narrative, and based on historical figures.

Was this the first time you have used art as a means of expressing a personal belief or some abstract concepts?

No, I recently did a text-based portrait of a Latino-American, inspired by Barbara Kruger and Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. The experience was empowering and exhilirating, and I wanted to experience that again with Four Freedoms but using a different technique.

What was the biggest artistic challenge for you?

This project had several challenges, all of which diverged from my customary art practice:
  • working with a new medium (acrylic on plexiglass)
  • working from photographs (I normally use live models)
  • working in a series (rather than stand-alone paintings)
  • working with a restricted palette (i.e. black and white portraits against a solid color background)
  • working on a small scale (12x12 inches)

Do you think the project will bring anything new to your art works, e.g. in terms of subject, medium, and style?

I was able to practice using photographs as references for portraits, and also learned about plexiglass as support. The project made me aware of my ability to make a political statement through simple images.

Do you have any experience that makes the Four Freedoms concept particularly relevant to you personally, for example, have you encountered anything or anyone that makes you believe that these Four Freedoms are important?

The Trump administration actively suppresses all four freedoms among those who do not conform to its populist agenda. The Four Freedoms concept is relevant to everyone around the world today.

Tell us something about the thinking behind your 4 art works, e.g. how you chose your subjects, medium, and style. Why you think they could effectively express your idea about the 4 Freedoms.

My idea was to celebrate four women who embody the four freedoms: Oprah Winfrey, philanthropist and entrepreneur (Freedom from Want), Mahalia Jackson, gospel singer (Freedom of Worship), Angela Davis, radical feminist (Freedom of Speech), and Rosa Parks, civil rights activist (Freedom from Fear).

My composition was inspired by the graphic art of the 1960s, particularly record album covers - I've always admired the immediacy and simplicity of of this style. I used plexiglass supports because of its deep, rich colors and reflective surfaces, which would bring the viewer's image into the visual experience.

In my design, I also wanted to acknowledge contemporary African-American painters who use photo based portraiture and saturated colors to communicate larger social, cultural, and political ideas, particularly Kehinde Wiley, Amy Sherald, Njideka Akunyili, Barclay Hendrix, and Mickalene Thomas.

What do you hope to achieve with your art works in this project?

I hope to evolve into a more photo-based style that reflects current trends in the artworld. I also hope to communicate that Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms belong to everyone, not just the white middle-class.

What do you hope this project would achieve?

I hope that this project will encourage viewers to take affirmative steps to protect their freedoms in the current political climate.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Recent drawings

Over the past month I've started drawing again.

It was a nice change from painting. The focus on line and sometimes shadow, within 20 minutes at the most, was liberating and also challenging. I haven't drawn the human form in a while and it was a delight to rediscover its complexities and incomparable beauty.

Here are a few selections:




Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Recent paintings

I recently completed four paintings (all acrylic on canvas, 24 x 36 inches) at the National Academy of Design.

These paintings featured profiles and a bit more of the models' torsos, which is a departure from the large scale headshots that have been the focus of my work over the past few years.

These paintings are also more realistic, less glitchy, and in the case of the last two, I also tried to use a brighter palette and abstraction in the background.

Sadly, the National Academy has closed its doors until it finds a new location. But I will continue my studies at the 92nd Street Y next month. I look forward to a new chapter in my art practice.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Courage and Disturbance

I'm happy to announce that three of my paintings are featured in Linus Galleries' online exhibit, "Courage and Disturbance":
This is a combined online art show of two different themes: Disturbance and Courage. We feel that almost every artist comprehends and feels on a different level than most people the concept of Disturbance. It’s a feeling or thought that creates a dissonance in spirit. But isn’t that what creativity evolves out of? Disturbance can be discontent, a different perspective, a conveying of hard truth, horrible unrest, or a reporting of injustice. In this open art call we asked to see what disturbs the artist.

These are times of real courage, of strength, of protest, and resilience. We asked the artist to take those thoughts and emotions and express through their art the concept of Courage in this call for entries.
I hope that you'll have a chance to view the inspiring works in the video.

Thursday, June 1, 2017


My painting Connie 3 is featured in Top 45 Traditional Art Bloggers by Artfixed, a blog by John Thatcher.
Once a year Artfixed handpicks its favorite artists across categories. These artists stand out for their work or contribution to the arts. These are primarily artists who embrace traditional mediums and conventional tools- gouache, colored pencils, acrylics, watercolor, charcoal or ink. Although they might not limit themselves to only these tools.
Thanks John for the kind words! I hope you'll all get a chance to explore John's wonderful site.

Friday, May 5, 2017

National Academy closing on August 6, 2017

I was a bit shocked to get this email yesterday. I guess it's time to move on, but I hope that the National Academy will find a new home soon.
May 4, 2017

Dear National Academy Faculty and Students,

It was great to see many of you at this afternoon’s special meeting in the Assembly Hall. For those who were unable to attend, we wanted to share an important update regarding the school’s upcoming hiatus in preparation for the relocation of the National Academy.

As you know, in order to re-envision the Academy’s future and create a strong, sustainable financial base, including the first-ever permanent endowment in our 192-year-old history, the museum and school facilities were put on the market over a year ago. The Museum temporarily closed to the public on June 1, 2016, to prepare for the pending sale and relocation.

Since then, we have worked diligently to be able to continue classes at the school, but must now prepare to move out of the buildings this coming fall. We had hoped that a real estate deal would allow us to remain in the properties for at least 18 months after closing, but this has proven to not be possible, and the National Academy Board of Governors elected yesterday to temporarily suspend classes beginning August 6 in order to allow us time to prepare for the transition to our future home. We are sharing this news as soon as possible to give you, the students, faculty, and administration as much time as possible to resituate in advance of the fall term.

If you are a full-time and/or F1 visa student, we would like to help you transfer to another program and continue your studies uninterrupted. School Administrative Director, Mary Fisher, can provide you with information on how to apply to another local art school. The Art Students League, the New York Studio School, and the MFA Studio Art Program at Montclair State University in particular are all eager to welcome you into their programs.

As to future plans, the staff, Board, and our members, the National Academicians, continue to search for opportunities to reactivate the school during the hiatus, as well as identify the Academy’s next location while we assess and re-imagine the educational and museum offerings in this new home. These strategies are part of the Academy’s long-term plan as we enter our third century. We will fully resume activities once a new location has been identified, and very much look forward to sharing news with you as soon as we are able.

We are all so appreciative of the talented and dedicated school staff, faculty, and students, and thank you for your understanding and support as we plan our institution’s bright new future.

Sincerely yours,

Tim Walch, Board Co-Chair, National Academy
Walter Chatham, Board Co-Chair, National Academy
Bruce Fowle, President, National Academy

Here's a comment from Tom Griffin, Director of Admissions at the Digital Film Academy:

Hello Francisco,
aside from the schools listed above, our school has also been of interest especially for international students at the National Academy Museum & School. We hope the National Academy will find a new location quickly and seamlessly. In the meantime, any students interested to take their studies in a more digital media / filmmaking direction are very welcome to reach out to us to arrange a visit.

Tom Griffin, B.B.S.
Director of Admissions
Digital Film Academy
630 Ninth Avenue
New York NY 10036
Tel: 2123334013