Saturday, March 28, 2009

SOUTHWEST ART MAGAZINE and the AMERICAN ART COLLECTOR, April 2009 issues, CAC Gold Medal Exhibition

The new April issue of AMERICAN ART COLLECTOR features an article about the California Art Club's 98th Annual Gold Medal Juried Exhibition and includes an image of my self-portrait, "Looking Inward" on page 82 with a little write-up about my art.

Also, SOUTHWEST ART MAGAZINE picked me for "Best of the West" in their April issue. There is a full page image of "Looking Inward" on page 30 along with a write up for the CAC Gold Medal Exhibition titled, "The Gold Standard".

These magazines will be on newsstands this week.

I'm excited about going to the Pasadena Museum of California Art for the CAC show, "Looking Inward" oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches, will be included in the exhibition. The dates for it are April 26 through May 17. It is one of the most prestegious and collector-friendly art events in Southern California. Here's a link...

I also have a half page ad in the April issue of AMERICAN ART COLLECTOR with my painting, "Looking Outward" on page 79.

"Looking Outward" oil on canvas, 32 x 48 inches

Monday, March 16, 2009

Looking Forward

With my newest paintings, as I have mentioned in previous posts, I am working on a series of figures. This one is "Looking Forward", a smaller oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches. My goal was to place a prominent figure in a landscape that felt like one of my own paintings, and to do it in the most interesting way I could think of. There is a kind of mood with this figure and it's placement that I was going for, the piece acts as somewhat of a portrait, but with a feeling of anticipation for things to come. In my mind, she wants to move on from this place in order to grow, to start the hero's journey as in mythology. The model is 19 years old, and I remember myself at that age, my greatest desire was to leave the familiarity of home to explore the possibilities that awaited me. Hence the title.
For the painting's execution, I started with a quick sketch of the figure. I had taken my model (Michelle) to a neighborhood around Banker's Hill and Hillcrest in San Diego for a photo shoot. The light was particularly bright that day, with the sun scorching down on us. As I worked up my sketches later, I manipulated the figure drawing around in photoshop with the landscape sketch. I labored the precise compositional placement I wanted, with the figure at the end of the driveway, then enlarged my drawing to canvas. The whole underpainting was laid in with raw umber on a gray gessoed canvas, then I painted the figure. I even lit a plaster cast of a Roman sculpture to paint from, just to get the light on the head just right. I wanted a crispness with the form, a sense of reality, but slightly stylized in the manner of my sketch. The color harmony worked out well with the landscape behind her, there is a sense of a slightly hazy atmosphere going back into the distant hills, and the house at the end of the driveway is in sharp contrast. There is allot of foliage behind her, and I tried to treat it with the stylization of my own. I love the way the Renaissance painters would paint trees and foliage, or the manner in which more recent painters like Grant Wood treated plant life, I want to play around more with these kind of natural and organic forms in subsequent paintings. Over the years, I have painted many architectural forms. Including the figure forces me to add not just an organic and more naturalistic element to my work, but a more psychological element as well.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Los Angeles Sky 2

This new painting is "The Los Angeles Sky 2", oil on canvas, 20 x 20 inches. It's based on another piece that I did a couple of years ago on a larger scale. The landscape is set in an area just east of downtown by the L.A. River, just after the rain. Los Angeles City Hall is the building on the left side of the skyline. Paintings by Maynard Dixon and N.C. Wyeth inspired the stylization of the big cloudy sky. I enjoy the juxtaposition of the geometric city buildings below with the organic sky above in this piece.
I had originally started this canvas with a prominent portrait painted in the foreground, and intended to use the landscape of the bridge and downtown buildings as the "mise-en scene". Although I liked the idea very much, as the figure developed, I felt that it was too tight and photographic. I like to let a piece mature organically with a life of it's own, and although I use photos as reference for work at times, I hate for an image to appear mechanical and without a soul. So as the piece evolved, the clouds covered the portrait. I love how the finished product turned out here, although it covers up a failed attempt at another idea.
This failed attempt, however, proved to be an important step in several of my new figurative works. The current paintings I'm working on now all include figures, it's a whole new level of executing a painting. It involves allot more planning, working with models, preliminary drawings, compositional sketches, and technical challenges with paint. Entire days and weeks before even getting to canvas. Getting a harmony of flesh tones with the landscape can actually be a daunting task, I feel like it's the ultimate challenge to a painter to place a well painted figure in a space that's interesting and relates well to the setting.