Friday, August 4, 2017

Through a Glass Darkly thesis show, March 2017

Where were we?

Here are some photos from my thesis reception at Carroll Gallery at Tulane University in New Orleans. Thanks everyone for coming out!

The show was titled Through a Glass Darkly. Since I had primarily been a plein air painter before starting grad school at Tulane, I wanted to address the use of photographs in my new painting process.  Below is an excerpt of my artist statement for this show:
The title of the exhibition, Through a Glass Darkly, refers to the use of a camera lens that first captured these images as reference photographs before human hands abstracted them into paintings. Another layer of glass (the windshield of a moving vehicle) further influenced the paintings in the passenger series. The hazy landmarks and suggested details fall into the darkness, or they are just an illusion all along. Imaginary fog, smoke, and smudges on the windshield indistinguishably meld together on the painted surface. The vertical marks made by printmaking brayers resemble pixelated digital images, in addition to a driving rain on the windshield. The ambiguity of blurred forms invites active looking, imaginative interpretations, and contextual guesswork by the viewers based on their memories.
Another reference is made to Ingmar Bergman’s 1961 film of the same title that the filmmaker adopted from a biblical phrase. The expression is used to explain having the “obscure or imperfect vision of reality,” and that “we do not now see clearly, but at the end of time, we will do so.”[1] The paintings may seem bleak or out of focus, but in each image there is light at the end of the dark tunnel. Using the New Orleans nightscapes as the subject matter, these paintings express the sense of unease, as well as fear and excitement by what may lie ahead.

[1] "through a glass darkly". The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005. Web. 25 March 2017.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Post-Grad School Thoughts on... Creating Luck and Timing

Mmmmm, the title doesn't make any sense, does it? Luck and timing are, for the most part, beyond one's control.

When a museum curator gave a talk to my grad school class, she mentioned that in order to become a successful artist, being good at what you do isn't enough. There is luck and timing involved, she said, and I completely agree with her.

I dreamed of becoming a full-time painter - that's like saying "I want to be a musician!" or "I want to be a writer!" - as I used to have a day job and only painted on weekends. But even the successful painters I've met in the past two years have side gigs that sustain them when things are tough: You need to have a savings account for the rainy day.

So going to a grad school was my introduction to painting sort of full-time (between history class and teaching a foundation course) and for two years painting was pretty much all I did.  I stopped cleaning the house and cooking. I didn't go out to eat or see movies. I didn't even have a part-time job, and it felt strange, but great. It was also difficult for sure, I mean what do you expect, right?

And I didn't try to sell any of the paintings that I made at school, and that allowed me to have a stock of paintings near graduation. Large and small, some horribly executed, others less. About a week before my thesis show was to open, a friend of mine asked me to hang 3 paintings for a group show set to open in two days. Four days after my thesis show opened, another group show opened on the other side of town that included 6 of my recent paintings. I was also invited to take part in a fundraising group exhibit/sale in that same period with two botanical-themed works. This will never happen again I'm sure. No one can plan on stuff like that and if I knew ahead of time, I probably would have said no to couple of them. But they all came at a great timing, and luckily I had enough paintings to cover them all. (And quite a few of them found new homes!)

Creating luck and timing, by being prepared, is all I can do for now. If you build it, he will come... whoever he is. I don't mean in just making a bunch of paintings. Writing about and promoting your work are also important. Having friends, colleagues and mentors that support you and your work are invaluable, and I'm extremely lucky to have met & studied with so many wonderful human beings in the past two years! I wish I had everyone's headshot...

Monday, January 2, 2017

Learning the Hard Way pt.3

My search for the best alternative paint thinner is coming to a close pretty soon. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

The latest non-toxic solvent of choice is... Art Treehouse's Biobased Artist's Thinner.

This soy-based thinner doesn't really make the traditional oil paint 'glide' like Gamsol does, but hey I've been able to paint with my windows closed. No headache, no sore throat, no need to listen to Nick Cave or Leonard Cohen. Plus, it doesn't make the paint oily or glossy. The drying time doesn't change either. It's a bit more expensive than Gamsol but I'd be happy to pay extra! 

(note: I use this thinner by itself to thin the paint for the initial layer of alla prima painting process & cleaning - probably not suitable for glazing, etc., or I have no idea how this will act with other mediums since I don't use any)

Yeah baby