Friday, May 10, 2019

Patterns of Virginia Spring

Virginia has a long, unwinding, layered spring, which I observed for the month of April as a fellow at VCCA in Amherst.  I was interested in working with multiples of new vine structures. Before foliage grew, the twisted vines were exposed, providing screens to the landscape beyond. I walked, photographed, drew, and selected compositions for paintings. I was thinking about sequence, opposition, complement, continuity as the images developed.

Honeysuckle Screen, 11x14, gouache

Vine studies, 9x9, charcoal

Drawing studies, many done with non-dominant hand, charcoal

Grid of Spring Vines, 24x36, acrylic on panel

VCCA Visual Artists Studio

Morning Light on Spring Vines, acrylic on panel, 16x16

Morning Light on Spring Vines 3, acrylic on panel, 16x16

Morning Light on Spring Vines 2, 16x16, acrylic on panel

Morning Light on Spring Vines 4, 30x24, oil on linen

When the foliage emergedt, I walked through the woods and bathed in the light and color of fresh spring. As always, I am grateful to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts for providing me with space, time, and support to do this work. 

Woods Walk, each 12x12, acrylic on panel

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Translating Drawings

I love the process of making marks freely, moving my arm, tapping, brushing, or marking the surface with graphite, charcoal, or ink until an image appears. When I look down at my paper and see a form that approximates my observation or imagination, I feel satisfied. For me, it is one of life's great pleasures.

Recently, I have been developing more complex works from previously constructed drawings. It allows me to invent, suggest, or simplify more easily than if I am working from observation or from a photograph of the subject. I've been thinking a lot about the translation of drawings into related work. 

Study for Grid, 30x30, mixed media on paper, 2019
Based on bottom right square of graphite study

Entangled Grid Study, 18x18, water soluble graphite on yupo, 2018

Most of my work begins with gesture drawings that identify the essence of structure and idea. That visual map guides me through the process of developing a more complex painting or more sustained drawing. It helps me to decide which areas to emphasize and which parts to omit. It suggests value contrasts and nuances that might be established with color relationships.

Original 12x9 sketch on which drawing and painting were based

"Propped up and Entangled", mixed media on paper, 44x30

Studio view of drawing and painting

Entangled Spring, 54x42, oil on canvas

During the translation there are many considerations. How does a dry, grainy charcoal line influence the making of a liquid paint stroke? How can an erased smudge be represented with a brush? How does the expression of a monochromatic palette shift when color is added? Each of these decisions is intuitive. Rational thought must be suspended, allowing visual response to guide the process. 

Each work has its own language, and one does not offer a blueprint for the other. Although they influence each other when developed simultaneously, each is a completely distinct and independent work with contrasting expressions. 

Drawing detail, mixed media on paper

Corresponding detail, oil on linen

Drawing detail, mixed media on paper

Corresponding detail, oil on linen

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Marking the Process

Work continues in the studio as I develop variations of entangled vines and thickets. I have completed several grid experiments in both graphite and mixed media, which will serve as prototypes for larger work.

Entangled Grid 2, mixed media, 24x24

Preliminary design (left) and mixed media work (right) developed from it.

Entangled Grid 3, 36x36, mixed media on panel

Entangled Grid #1, graphite on yupo, 20x20

Below are three small panels painted for a local exhibit. All Small will hang at the Rock and Art Gallery in Bangor during November and December. 

#1, 6x6, acrylic on panel

#2, 6x6, acrylic on panel

#3, 6x6, acrylic on panel

I have been searching for many strategies for making work in this series. In drawings below, previously completed preliminary sketches have become the first layer for more developed work that I transform by adding layers of transparent marks to the original drawing. 

Mixed media on paper, 11x14

Developed drawing from sketch, mixed media, 11x14

In developing the tangled landscapes of the southern woods, I have found strong contrasts with thickets of our northern forests, and look for ways to play one against the other. 

North, oil on paper, 22x22

South, 30x30, mixed media on paper

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Vines squared

Drawings of the Virginia wild grape have been ongoing for over a year. Considering the gestures and finished drawings help me to determine the direction of this series. Simplifying ideas, eliminating possibilities, trying new variations, and making decisions are all part of the process for moving forward. Drawings are graphite, charcoal, and mixed media.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Icelandic Variations - Ideas in Progress

During the summer I reviewed the twelve waterfall paintings that I completed while in Iceland, working to develop ideas for larger paintings, selecting favorite compositions, and playing my favorite game of "variation".  The first painting shown, acrylic on paper, was derived from several Seljalandfoss studies. This waterfall, the first I saw while traveling, made a strong impact because of it's scale, movement, and accessibility. One can walk up close and behind this waterfall, experiencing its power through the roar of the water and the mist that it produces.

Seljalandfoss, Yellow, 24x30, acrylic on paper

Seljalandfoss #5, gouache on yupo, 11x14

I experimented with how this small image would translate into larger gouache paintings on both yupo and paper. The paper absorbs the paint differently than the slick surface of yupo, giving subtle changes to the color and surface of the picture. 

Waterfall study, gouache on yupo, 20x26

Waterfall study, gouache on Rives BFK, 20x26

After painting the above images, I identified cropped sections that might provide dynamic compositions for larger paintings on canvas. 


Painting these fragments allowed me to emphasize the marks and movement. 

gouache on paper, 14x11

gouache on paper, 9x12

These small Iceland studies became the subject of a larger, more abstract variation of Skogafoss waterfall.

Skogafoss, gouache on yupo, 9x12

Skogafoss 2, 14x11

Skogafoss, gouache on yupo, 20x26

Other variations included a few collage studies done from torn gouache paintings.

Lava and Ice 1, 11x14, gouache on paper

Lava and Ice 2, 11x14, gouache on paper

This series, as well as other long-term projects involving movement in the landscape are ongoing.When I return to the studio in the fall, work on canvas will begin.