Real Surreal

October 7th, 2014 - Write a comment »

Critical MassMy recently completed painting “Critical Mass” is currently in a group show at Sandra Lee Gallery in San Francisco, California.

Real Surreal  October 1st – October 31st, 2014

Sandra Lee Gallery is located at:
251 Post Street, Suite 310
San Francisco, CA

More information can be found here.

Navigating Through It All

May 23rd, 2014 - Write a comment »

Churn

I have two paintings currently on display at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, California.

Reimagining Progress: Production, Consumption, & Alternative Economies


Statement for the show: We face an urgent problem: our current consumption patterns outstrip our planet’s available resources, and yet our society continues to produce massive amounts of cheap, disposable goods. With its complex history as a center of international commerce, radical politics, technological innovation, and cultural experimentation, the Bay Area is uniquely positioned to help solve this problem. Reimagining Progress features local artists powerfully critiquing our unsustainable status quo, exploring our society’s relationship to production, consumption, and waste while proposing alternatives that balance valuing people and planet with financial profit.

It is a wonderful opportunity for me to participate in an show so aligned with the subject matter of my artwork.

The exhibit will remain on display through September 4th.  More information can be found here.

Gimme Shelter

May 7th, 2014 - Write a comment »

Nest (Bunker)

My work is currently on display in a group show called “Shelter” presenting interpretations by artists on the theme of shelter at ArtWorks Downtown in San Rafael, CA.

The juror is Catharine Clark, owner/director of Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco, CA.

ArtWorks Downtown is located at:  1337 Fourth Street, San Rafael, CA

Opening reception is May 9th from 5-8 pm

The show will remain on display through June 6th.  More information can be found here.

Going Places

March 4th, 2014 - Write a comment »

study for Convoy

Convoy shows a swarm of aircraft and automobile traffic flowing an masse towards an unseen destination.  It’s meant to be a metaphor for our carbon-based society and the path we are choosing to take.  Our continued reliance on fossil fuels appears to be having a significant impact upon our planet, and it is unclear where this journey may be taking us.

I’m pleased to announce that I will be exhibiting Convoy at:

SKY

click here for map

Mining a Creative Vein

January 16th, 2014 - Write a comment »

A while ago I began working on a painting of an immense open pit mine.  My idea was to portray a deep gorge terraced with roadways leading to the bottom.  This pit would be alive with activity. Mining equipment would be shown drilling, blasting, and fracking into the rock.  Cranes would hoist supplies along the cliff face.  Pipelines would snake their way to the upper rim, leading to a thicket of smokestacks and refineries.  I wanted the scene to feel so vast that it would resemble a bunch of ants scurrying around.

I began blocking in the composition as I saw it in my mind . . .

FG1

Unfortunately my initial attempt felt too cartoonish.  It didn’t have the sense of scale I was after.

FG2

At this point I began to recognize the need to clarify things  before going too much further.

I did a large preparatory drawing to figure out an arrangement of roads & machinery, as well as the overall lighting.

Study for Fool's Gold

The resulting drawing made me wish I had started this as a MUCH larger painting.  I figured it would need to be over 10 feet high in order to convey the amount of detail I envisioned.  I wanted the viewer to become enveloped by the scale of the scene.

I decided to stop working on the painting and began working on something else for a while.  After a few months, however, I decided to take a look at my unfinished painting.  I figured that, since I was already invested this far with the piece, I should at least try to finish it.  I could always attempt a larger version later on.

FG4

I  reworked the scene to emulate my preparatory drawing . . .

FG5

As reference I had been looking at the work of the artist Thomas Moran.   I liked how he could create drama in his work by varying the light & shadow in his landscapes.  I wished to do this as well, so I attempted to paint areas of sunlight along the walls of the gorge.

FG6

Here’s a detailed view . . .

FGdetail

I call this painting “Fool’s Gold”.  The term derives from a natural mineral called pyrite.  It is an iron sulfide, and superficially, it resembles gold.  People would sometimes find a deposit of pyrite and mistakenly think they had struck it rich.

My painting portrays the folly of man.  Our society consumes raw materials at an alarming rate.  Left unchecked, I feel this will come to an unwelcome conclusion. We seem to be in an orgiastic race, digging ever deeper, without awareness of how this unsustainable rate of consumption is, in effect, digging our own grave.

Fool's Gold

Opening the Doors

April 8th, 2013 - Write a comment »

Dominion

Every April I participate in an open studio event with other artists in my studio building.  I’ve been quite busy over the past few months. so I will have a lot of new work on display.

If you plan to be in town, stop on by!

SpringOS

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Digging Deeper

February 17th, 2013 - Write a comment »

Artists are known to sometimes riff on the work of their predecessors.  This isn’t intended as mimicry, but as a way of paying homage. I imagine most artists have their heroes.  An artist I happen to admire is Frederick Edwin Church.  His skill as a painter humbles me.  Here is one of his most famous works.

church_cotopaxi

“Cotopaxi”, painted in 1862.

I’ve seen a few contemporary artists reference this painting in their work.  (Sandow Birk and Alexis Rockman are two that come to mind.)  I wished to reference this image in one of my paintings, but I wanted to put my own spin on it.  If I squinted at Church’s painting, I could imagine the lower half of the image as a cross section of the earth.  I recalled how, as a child, I used to draw pictures showing caves and tunnels beneath the landscape, sort of like an ant farm.  I felt inclined to return to this whimsical way of portraying this scene.  I began by creating this rough color sketch.

SadTimes0

It wasn’t yet clear to me how I was going to portray the lower half of my composition, but this sketch helped act as a guidepost from which to begin.  My initial underpainting was extremely loose.  I allowed the brushwork to determine how the image would resolve itself.

SadTimes1

I completed the surface landscape quickly.  I used a much more saturated palette than Church, as I wanted this to be the most vibrant part of the painting.  The challenge was to figure out a way to define the transition between above ground and below.   I wanted the lake to be shown as a cross section as well.

SadTimes2

My concept for the painting was to portray a world, long after human beings had become extinct.   The only evidence that we ever existed would be the remains of cities contained in the geological strata of bedrock.  The earth would be born anew, cleaning the slate, while we would become a fossilized memory in the ground.

SadTimes3

I began adding a series of subterranean chambers filled with crumbling buildings.  At this point I needed to figure out how I was going to define the caves.  How could I make the cities be legible?  Initially my idea was to fill the caves with a golden glow, but this proved problematic. I felt they could be misconstrued as bonfires, or possibly, pools of lava.  Although I liked the intensity of the gold color, it felt too overpowering.  The area below ground needed to be quiet and subdued.  I wanted the painting to reveal itself in stages.  The viewer should first see the vibrant landscape above ground. Then they would become aware of something taking place underground.

After taking a break from the painting, I returned and decided to blot out the caves and start anew.  I had to resolve how the system of caverns would integrate visually with the buried cities and surrounding bedrock.  Ultimately I settled upon making the caverns black so they would recede, and I brightened the bedrock so that it would feel flush to the picture plane.

The Sad Times

This is the final result. I suppose I am finished, although when I now look back at my initial study, I see that I haven’t captured the same feeling.  The study has a rawness about it which I find intriguing.  My finished painting seems rather funky and cartoonish.  I’m OK with that.  I just wonder if, at some point, I may decide to make another attempt at this idea, and create a painting that is more consistent with my study.

The Sad Times

It’s Nice to Be Acknowledged

February 6th, 2013 - Write a comment »

masterminds-2013

I’ve learned that I have been chosen as one of 10 finalists for this year’s Masterminds competition.  This is SF Weekly’s showcase for the Bay Area’s up and coming artistic talent.

The issue hits the stands on Wednesday February 6th.  You can also read what they had to say about me here.

 

A Long and Winding Road

January 29th, 2013 - Write a comment »

Every painting evolves differently in the studio.  Some are born easily, essentially painting themselves.  Others require round after round of uncertain explorations, followed by periods of reflection, trying to ascertain where the painting wishes to go.  The final painting may look effortless but beneath the paint may lie untold hours of frustration.  The process of creation may not always be a pleasant experience, but I find it fulfilling.

Study for Compulsive Actions

This post is about how, sometimes, the evolution of a painting is a long, drawn-out affair that may encompass years of gestation. The study for a painting shown above was made in 2009.  It was a rather unusual departure from what I was painting at the time.  I put it aside and moved on.  However, about 3 years later, I happened upon the study again as I was showing artwork to someone visiting my studio.  I became intrigued. I wanted to pursue the idea as a larger painting.

Compulsive Actions in progress

Initially the idea was to create an 8 foot wide painting using two 2×4 foot panels I had recently obtained.  This necessitated me to add a board to widen the shelf of my easel.  However as the work progressed, I began to contemplate doubling the width of the overall work to 16 feet, which prompted me to add another 2×4 foot panel to the far left and right of what I had begun.  For some insane reason I felt compelled to try to make the image of the freeway as one long continuous road, instead of a bunch of independent roads overlapping each other.  This presented its own challenge as the painting had to still feel compositionally balanced.  After the composition was lain out I began work on lighting and then the laborious task of painting several thousand cars.

CompulsiveDetail

The process of painting all the cars took several weeks.  It was a mind-numbing experience,  yet oddly meditative.  Even though I could see that I was making headway with the painting, I  felt like kicking myself for undertaking such a protracted project.  But I needed to see it through.  It seemed like a compulsion. So of course the working title became “Compulsive Actions.”

The painting is finished.  I can finally view the piece in its entire 16 foot glory.  It now seems small to me.  I have this nagging urge to paint it again, but LARGER.  Heaven help me.

CompulsiveWall