St. Patrick’s Day. Red buds blooming. Listening for the return of the ospreys. Leaf buds ready to burst, with the little maple getting ahead of the others.
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An early supporter of my Las Cruces work is downsizing and wants to find a new home for “Blue Agave.” This painting is an early “Agave” work, with lots of New Mexico spirit in its free brushwork. It is instructive me to look back to see that my recent use of greens and oranges is not purely a reflection of Maryland.
Blue Agave is available from Catherine at the Unsettled Gallery:
Unsettled Gallery hours: Wed, noon to 5; Thur & Fri, 10 to 5; Sat, 10 to 4. Other days and times by appointment.
Contact information: 575-635-2285; email@example.com
Gallery address: 905 North Mesquite Street (one block south of Spruce)
Good to be working outdoors. Chilly, but signs of spring abound.
I didn’t actually base the dominant color palette on the Little Friskies can, (or scissors or tape for that matter) but there it is. . . The form is like the “antenna” that has been showing up in work for a long time. I think of it and the last posted as a Dragon Fly and go from there.
The following “abstract” is of frozen puddle outside of our front door earlier in February. Heather would love it if I could paint it.
Intent on achieving a “lighter hand” and feel here, and avoiding overworking the piece. Still lots of painterly brush strokes, but building transparent layers and limiting the palette. Also using a broader brush.
For the web-like pattering, I draped and removed wetted Melook lace paper that I had dipped in a thinned mixed purple acrylic. Once dried, the paper was used for the purple collage elements. (I tend to use acrylic color stains on un-dyed papers to minimize color fading or discoloration over time. Otherwise strange and unintended consequences may ensue.)
The palette and transparent layering are in part a response to our potted dwarf banana plant leaves as they transition from green to yellow to brown.
The overall approach and central form is reminiscent of some work from the late 1990’s:
This form in the lower third of this earlier work predates the “Agaves” I was painting while living in New Mexico.
It was made when I was living in North Carolina a few hours south of where we live now in Maryland. Probably something to the commonality.
I have been revisiting the same landscape painting over the last year, results being that it has certainly not been improved upon since a couple of days after it was started.
Last week, I decided to attempt the Dorn Method of revitalization:
When I left Las Cruces, I invited Raul [Dorn] to paint over several canvases that I just never felt were successful, and that I didn’t want to schlep across the country.
[Raul] “I did hit on something when painting over them, as the process was stimulated by having a visual history/engagement to work with and not that intimidating void of blank canvas etc. I created about three paintings over [Carey’s] work, in oils, that in the end left some of [his] imagery peeking through. I dug what was happening and felt that the pieces deserved some “remnants” of [Carey’s] layered short brush strokes here and there. . . . I couldn’t get myself to cover 100% of the reclaimed canvases.”
So, following Raul’s lead I Used white paint to over-paint, leaving remnants of the landscape. Me being me, I then repopulated most of that white space with “layered brushstrokes. . . ”
I appreciate that Raul’s reworking invited quiet spaces for the eye to meander with strong graphic elements to unify the whole. I capitulated to my own compulsive marking and layering. I will sit with resulting (below) for a few days. If nothing else this was a good reintroduction in following a process without a lot of forethought.
I have been consumed with creative activity vocationally. In art, not so much. The wonderful artist Sammy Peters quotes Picasso (he thinks) as saying “He believed in inspiration, but it better find you working when it comes.” I agree that prolific Artivity lays the ground work for an occasional breakthrough. I will also say that weeks of dabbing and pulling paint around while feeling little or no connection to the work is quietly, incrimentally demoralizing. I do think that warmer weather ahead, spending time with my Fam in April, and having a couple of museum exhibits openings behind me is going turn things around.
In the between time, here is a small painting collage from February into March:
Ohne Titel, 18 X 23,” Collage and paint on panel
Between Times, something more interesting has been going on in Raul Dorn’s studio. When I left Las Cruces, I invited Raul to paint over several canvases that I just never felt were successful, and that I didn’t want to schlep across the country.
Recently, Raul said: ” I did hit on something when painting over them, as the process was stimulated by having a visual history/engagement to work with and not that intimidating void of blank canvas etc. I created about three paintings over your work, in oils, that in the end left some of your imagery peeking through. I dug what was happening and felt that the pieces deserved some “remnants” of your layered short brush strokes here and there. I actually feel that a couple of these paintings finished last Fall were some of the best paintings of the year, and I couldn’t get myself to cover 100% of the reclaimed canvases.”
Here is the paining now titled “Shaman’s Incantation:”
Here is “Adventis” (Diptych:)
I really like Raul’s results. I will observe that I think that some of my less successful paintings are too full of incident without strong graphic/iconographic forms to bind the images together. So much as I have “goals” in my work, I think that ideally paintings should “work” from thirty feet away, and offer rich incident and texture when looked at nose to surface. Raul has pulled these together in just that way. I miss visiting Raul and his small, amazing studio. Always made me want to get home and paint. That is a source of inspiration missed.
Note to Raul:
Rauschenberg: ” . . . the newspaper was a tool for anchoring the paintings in the everyday world outside the paintings; as he explained: “I began using newsprint in my work to activate a ground so that even the first stroke in a painting had its own unique position in a gray map of words.”
The first snow of winter is falling in Shady Side this morning. This seems an auspicious moment to share the news that my mixed-media canvas Storm, Naval Research Station has been selected for the Juried MFA Winter Member Show. I’m in good company. You may view the accepted works here: Maryland Federation of Art Juried Show
This is my first showing of new work since our move from New Mexico.
I finished working on this storm painting in April of 2017. The title references the Chesapeake Bay Detachment of the U.S.Naval Research Laboratory (USNRL).
From the USNRL site: “The Chesapeake Bay Detachment occupies a 168-acre site near Chesapeake Beach, Maryland, . . . Because of its location high above the Chesapeake Bay on the western shore, unique experiments can be performed in conjunction with the Tilghman Island site 16 km across the bay from CBD. Some of these experiments include low clutter and generally low background radar measurements. By using CBD’s support vessels, experiments are performed that involve dispensing chaff over water and radar target characterizations of aircraft and ships.”
It’s all in there, right? While witnessing a Chesapeake Bay storm in spring. Chaff over Water would make a good title!
I regularly pass the lab making the hilly drive on Maryland 261, traveling the forested “back way,” from Solomons, Maryland to the Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum.
Thank you juror Kim Banister and the Maryland Federation of Art: