In my former life making documentary films, I was very very fortunate to be able to spend time with and film various cultures in more than forty countries around the world. I remember often being mesmerized by the intricacy and beauty of the textiles and tapestries of various indigenous peoples I encountered.
Pictured here is an amazing eight foot by seven foot tapestry I bought years ago in the village outdoor market in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. It was made by an enterprising vendor who had collected huipils, (the traditional garment worn by indigenous women, each with its own unique regional pattern and design), and sewn them together into this large hanging.
I just rediscovered it today, having stored it away and forgotten about it long ago. Now, it is up on the ceiling on the office end of my studio. What is striking to me is how many of these colors and even patterns have been emerging in my latest series of paintings, "della terra". My process is largely subconscious and intuitive (with LOTS of editing along the way), but how could my love of these indigenous textiles through the years, not bubble up somehow in paintings I'm working on today?
Pictured here: della terra XIX, oil on panel, 24" x 54"
In this new series I'm developing, Calando, I've started to introduce more contrast into the paintings. They feel more dynamic with the addition of some darker tones, and I think it adds a bit of a sense of mystery to the composition. Above: Calando III, oil on panel, 24" x 24".
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.
To get new posts emailed to you, sign up here: