My new work has morphed a bit into another series of new paintings, which I'm going to call Calando. The work is similar to my earlier series Adagio, and even the newer series, della terra, but also different. Like Adagio, Calando is a musical term, instructing the performers to lower the volume and also the the pace. In other words, to slow down, to quiet. These paintings suggest this to me, a calming. very soft effect, and thus the title. Below is Calando I, oil on panel, 24" x 24".
Its been an incredibly busy time in the studio these past weeks. Springtime is bursting. I'm definitely affected by the light. I work in natural daylight, and there is no question the quality of the light works its way into the paintings. The cool icy blues of my recent paintings are giving way to much warmer brighter colors as springtime unfolds.
I'm developing two new series of paintings, which I'm calling "della terra" and "Calando". There are starting to be enough finished paintings from each series that it will soon be time to update the website with the new work and start getting it out into the world.
Pictured here is my studio at the end of clean up after a long day of work. The wall is filling up with works in progress which are at various stages of completion and evaluation.
For me, much of the beauty and excitement in painting is the search for something new. While I definitely build up series of paintings, I'm always pushing further to explore something new, something interesting to me. Curiosity drives it as much as anything else.
Currently I am working on a new series of paintings where the surface texture and the color is central to the work. I've been adding a wax medium to the oil paints, applying lots of contrasting layers, scrapping off, gouging etc, and literally building up a painting over many sessions. I've also just started to combine "finished" panels to see if I can create larger works with interesting combinations and juxtapositions. I have a few of these now which I consider finished, and will be updating the web site soon with this new body of work.
Lately I've started to combine many very small panels painted in this textured way, to form elaborate grids. The small panels are actually different depths, which adds another layer of interest to the finished work, making the painting kind of a relief sculpture as well. This is all still being worked out, but right now it is really interesting to me and is starting to take shape.
Pictured here are some of the first grid paintings, still works in progress and laid out on the studio floor so I can see how they are shaping up. In the background, larger paintings being built up... and still a ways off from being completed.
In this new series of paintings, I'm really applying a lot of paint to the surface, often scraping off, gouging and otherwise roughing up the surface with a variety of tools in addition to building up layers of paint. I like the tactile nature of the finished pieces and the surprises that can bubble up by working back into under layers of paint. Pictured here is a close up detail of one painting in progress showing some of the surface texture that is developing in the work.
I'm experimenting with the idea of combining various "finished" single paintings to make new larger ones. Its very interesting to see what pops when trying out different combinations and relationships. I've been laying them out and mixing them around to see if something strong, unique and resonate emerges.... or doesn't. Here are two 24" x 24" finished panels I'm considering putting together to form a new 24" x 48" painting. If something works, it doesn't necessarily mean its done. I might then work on the painting in its new combined form to bring it to resolution. But so far, I'm very much liking to possibilities opening up here.
Here's another painting somewhat related to the Adagio series, but with much different technique and paint application. I'm very much liking the physical nature of the paint on the panel, very lively.
Untitled, 24" x 24" oil on panel.
Every once in awhile I like to step away from the body of work I'm currently making, to mix it up, experiment, try new materials and just see what might come up. Its really important to me to try and stay fresh, and push outside any comfort zone that might have crept in.
So currently I'm stepping away from the oil and fabric on canvas paintings I've been making for the Adagio series, and trying out some new things. I've started to incorporate cold wax medium into oil paint and I'm really liking the feel and look of it. The paint is much thicker and has a nice matte finish to it. I've been putting a lot more paint on the panels, scrapping off, gouging, troweling it on etc, and just trying to see where it might lead. Here is a first little study with the new medium.
For larger works I often will paint them on the floor. This way I can more easily get around the piece and assess it as I go along. There is not necessarily a top or a bottom to the painting for much of this time. Eventually the orientation will emerge along with the rest of the painting as it resolves. The painting I'm working on in this picture is on a 48" x 48" canvas.
A painting begins for me as an act of will. I start with intention, a plan to enter into a new work and find my way through. I know exactly what I want to do, yet have no specific image in mind. I know which steps to take, but have no idea where they will lead. In the beginning I just have the will to start. The beginning can be one the most exhilarating parts of the process.
Will is a very powerful human quality, and one that has been central to some or our greatest achievements and most horrific catastrophes. When will is connected to imagination and poetic sensitivity, it can be an amazing force which leads to truly great things.
But for me, will alone cannot finish a painting. At some point, something else must take over. I need to be motivated enough and have the will to pursue the work, but at the same time passive enough to allow myself to open up to other sensibilities. At that point, I am following more than leading, responding rather than directing. Its a delicate and curious balance. In some ways as a creator one needs to be naive, and be willing to surrender to something outside what your mind might be telling you to do.
In this way it might be said that my paintings are created out of a combination of intention, intuition and improvisation.
Here are some medium sized canvases in various stages of evaluation/completion. While I've refined my approach and motif for this particular series of paintings, I regard each one individually as it develops. When I look at a painting in progress, I hold out for a certain moment of insight/feeling to lead me to the next step. Sometimes that might take awhile to reveal itself in a particular painting. That is one of the reasons why I usually have several paintings coming along at the same time.
I am open to being surprised at what might come up; the size and position of a shape, the creation of a unique color, its relationship to the other colors. I'm looking for a certain harmony, resonance, and mystery to emerge. A painting will not be done until it does. In this way, even though there is a similar horizontal motif across the series, in the end each painting develops its own unique look and atmospheric mood.
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