Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Freshness

When it's cold and raining, 
you are more beautiful. 

And the snow brings me 
even closer to your lips. 

The inner secret, that which was never born, 
you are that freshness, and I am with you now. 

I can't explain the goings, 
or the comings. You enter suddenly, 

and I am nowhere again. 
Inside the majesty.

- Rumi

Thursday, July 31, 2014

New Photography 2

Here's the second installment of my photographic experiment. Like the first batch I focused on geometric abstraction and avoided narrative.

I took these pictures with my iPhone at the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney. The last three were of revolving doors at the MoMA where the blurred motion and reflections somehow reminded me of Gerhard Richter and Andy Denzler. These images gave me some ideas for future paintings.

This Saturday will be our final class for the summer at the National Academy, after which we'll have a few weeks' break before the sessions resume in September. I may take some more photos during this hiatus.

Monday, June 2, 2014

New Photography

I recently watched Finding Vivian Maier, a documentary about a mysterious nanny who compulsively took photographs on her daily walks.

Curiously, most of her pictures remained undeveloped in her lifetime. Maier's work was discovered a few years ago during a liquidation sale of her storage holdings. Since her death on 2009 her photos have received critical praise and found a wide audience though the internet and international exhibitions.

The film inspired me to try some photography during our two week break at the National Academy. Unlike Maier, I couldn't bring myself to photograph strangers on the street, not in any recognizable fashion anyway. I limited myself to abstract compositions in an effort to resolve a new set of pictorial issues that had nothing to do with figurative painting.

I have a Nikon DSLR but found it too clunky to carry around. I used my iPhone instead and online photo editing programs.

I took many pictures, deleted most of them, but thought I'd share a few images. Art class resumes this Saturday but I'll probably continue my photographic experiment. It's a new way of looking at things. I find myself mentally cropping everything I see in order to distill my daily life into its abstract essence.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


I recently watched one of my favorite art films, Love is the Devil. starring Derek Jacobi as Francis Bacon and a very young Daniel Craig as his lover George Dyer.

The film is an intense meditation on the creative impulse as an expression of the libido. While you won't see any of Bacon's paintings in the movie, the director filmed it with much distortion and strange lighting, evoking Bacon's artistic style and nihilistic frame of mind.

For our latest model, Christophe, I attempted something Bacon-esque, i.e. an abstracted head study against a dark background. I did the painting in one three hour session beginning with a drawing using acrylic on linen:

Then the application of color and, for lack of a better adjective, "angry" brushstrokes:

Here's the final image:

It was weird trying to channel Bacon. I became quite unnerved in the process but I think this was worth the exercise. I lost the drawing a bit, due to distortion, but still consider it a portrait since Bacon's portraits of Dyer weren't meant to be realistic or conventionally recognizable.

Maybe I'll try to imitate Lucian Freud next week.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

John in grisaille

Yesterday I did a quick acrylic sketch of a new model, John.

I've been thinking about cubism in the context of contemporary portraiture. I tried to express rhythm, shifting planes, and flickering light by breaking down the figure into discrete abstract passages, perhaps informed by digital glitches and pixelation.

My references included:

Pablo Picasso, Portrait of Ambroise Vollard (1910)

Gerhard Richter, Matrosen Sailors (1966)

Andy Denzler, Untitled Screen Test (2007)

Rob Sheridan, The Social Network (Soundtrack Art) (2010)

We will have the same model for the next three weeks. I may explore the same theme in color.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Creative Mischief

I received some good news this morning: my painting "Melissa" will be included in the upcoming Creative Mischief open house exhibit at the National Academy next month. I hope to see you all at the opening reception on May 15!

From the website:

National Academy Museum
1083 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10128
On view May 15 – May 18, 2014
Opening reception May 15, 6 – 8 PM

Two floors of Fifth Avenue’s historic Huntington Mansion, home of the National Academy Museum, are transformed by the international + national + neighborhood artists who study at the National Academy School. Join us to see 

  • Large-scale site-specific installations 
  • Abstract paintings and dynamic figurative works 
  • Prints, photographs and cyanotypes 
  • Video and animation 

Call 212-996-1908 to learn more.

Update: Here's a video of the installation: