monday, january 19, 2009
New Year Update

 

Its very cold in Philadelphia at this time – its especially cold on the boat. This is probably a good thing because my studio is heated during the day, which makes it particularly inviting and well worth the train-ride into the lower northeast. I’m currently preparing for a group show in march – “Back to Cézanne” and another one in April – open themed. After spending the last three quarters of a year working exclusively on miniature panel paintings, I feel its time to begin opening up my work to a larger scale. I recently prepared several moderately sized birch panels (no smaller than 10 x 10 and no bigger than 24 x 24) and have started work on a larger canvas painting.

 

It’s been over two years since I worked on a canvas, and finding the springiness of the stretched canvas to be an unsatisfactory ground for my work, I decided to pull the staples out one by one and mount the bare canvas directly onto the wall of my studio - a method which I have never before attempted. I find now after working this way, that the piece is naturally taking on many of the material qualities of my dry media works on paper (I often refer to these as the “navel drawings”). I find now that while the oil paint and medium is more difficult to move than say, charcoal or pastel, with time and plenty of elbow-grease, the steel wool and sandpaper seem to move the particles of dry or semi-dry oil paint in a manner similar to that of the “navel drawings” and as a result the content of the painting is beginning to take on a very direct connection to those drawings.

 

This is a good thing. I’m looking for unity between the contents and processes involved in the “navel” drawings and those of my oil paintings, and this way of making oil painting, on body-sized, loose canvas mounted on the wall provides a clear solution to this.

 

At the same time, my waxing interest in early renaissance painting is taking me deeper into a world of firm smooth surfaces and deep, placid dream-like spaces filled with languid alabaster figures. I have no desire to compromise this world by scratching into it will steel wool any more than I would like to put a ground plane into the navel drawings and or make them anything less than ensoul-ed sheets of paper. The marriage of these two disparate ways of working is yielding some very promising offspring, but nothing so comprehensive as to supersede or replace either parent. For now these alchemical components are strongest each in their own original state, but the experimentation continues nonetheless.



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