Sunday, December 28, 2008

Eighth installment of the ISBP: Tim McFarlane

This installation takes us to Tim McFarlane's work and studio. He lives and works in Philadelphia, and shows at Bridgette Mayer Gallery. I appreciate the controlled chaos of Tim's studio: looks like lots of activity, lots of good energy--just like his paintings.

Untitled 2008
acrylic on panel 36" x 36"

Tim writes: This is my second studio space I've had that was outside of a living space. It's in an old factory in the Old City section of Philadelphia and very raw, perfect for not worrying about paint spatters on the walls or floor. It can be disorienting when someone walks in because there's always a mix of old works and new works in progress scattered around.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

No. 7 installment of ISBP: Eduardo Angell

Eduardo Angell, or Ed, as he is known to many of us, is an artist living and working in Poulsbo, Washington. This summer, Eduardo had a solo show at R & F Paints in Kingston, NY.

Ed writes:
Unlike most dedicated artists, I didn't go to art school right away, I found a home in industry. As luck would have it, the company that hired me devoted a certain portion of production to fabricating and/or finishing art work for individuals. Having come from a family of artists and craftsmen, I guess I was genetically predisposed to work in the section of the company which handled artists and their production problems. Needless to say, this industry experience continued my love for art and gave me much of the knowledge I use in my own art today.

After fine art production, I matriculated to the film industry and started a business building props, sets, and special effects.
While I was never a film buff, this industry allowed me to experiment with all sorts materials and processes and usually on a grand scale. I would say that my studio is definitely an extension of my early training in industry. My personal pleasure in art comes from the process of construction as much as the finished image, I've designed my studio accordingly.

The work is part of a new series on architecture for 2009. This is a diptych as yet untitled. 4" X 17" X 3" (see detail below). Wood, lead, beeswax and cadmium yellow pigment. The glow between the elements is a natural color flux that happens when the pieces are in close proximity, I want to explore this effect more. The detail shot shows the placement of the cad yellow encaustic paint within the elements.

no. 6 installment of the interactive studio blog project: Ken Weathersby

Ken Weathersby lives in Montclair NJ. His work can be seen in New American Paintings: Juried Exhibitions in Print #75, Mid-Atlantic Edition, Open Studios Press (2008). I became familiar with Ken's work when I "reviewed" one of his paintings on JT Kirkland's Thinking About Art blog.

Studio wall on December 1, 2008, with notes, sketches, sources, paintings
and work in progress. The array changes frequently.

d & G Sketch #67a, digital, size variable, 2008
(a printout of this is visible on the wall in the studio shot.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

5th installment of the isbp: kirby grimes

I know pretty much nothing about Kirby Grimes beyond what he writes here. I really like this painting. Makes me wonder what his architectural work is like...
Thanks, Kirby. I like your colors, too!

�architecture is my 'work'
painting is my pleasure,
to experiment w/pigments in acrylic base &
explore my thoughts about colors.
like Mondrian, i'm not trying to make pictures,
just trying to find things out.
i like his chrysanthemum dwgs.& trees.
�my 'studio' is the bedroom floor;
a big mess.�
i sleep next to the open window.
i do some grids also.
this is a challenge for me
to show & tell.
thanks. i like your subtle colors.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

installment no.4 ISBP: El Farrell

Eleanor Farrell lives and works in San Fransisco. She is an artist of a different stripe...El is a graphic artist (disclosure: she's my sister-in-law) and among her many pursuits, works as a book designer, website designer, and is a devotee of Chinese pop culture.

El writes:
I was intrigued by your new blog post, and although I'm not an artist in the more traditional sense, I thought I'd like to contribute something in response. Here's a photo of my workspace -- an alcove inside my studio apartment in San Francisco. Kinda messy: I always seem to have multiple projects going, and I tend to let papers pile up until I get into a recycling mood. But I like having all of my computer tools, research books and finished pieces within handy reach; it feels cozy. The art piece is a logo of sorts for my new Sina blog, focusing on Asian culture and supporting my Chinese language studies. (Sina is one of the largest China entertainment and social web site portals.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Installment no 3 of ISBP: donna dodson

Here is the third installment of the ISBP. This one features Donna Dodson, a sculptor from Jamaica Plain, Mass (or JP to those in the know). I was fortunate to meet Donna this weekend in Boston at Joanne Mattera's Arden Gallery opening. Here is one of Donna's wood sculptures, El Matador. Below is a pic of her studio. On Donna's blog you'll see that she organizes a Sunday morning salon at her studio. Since May 2007, Donna has run Art Salon Boston in her JP studio for artists who work in all media from the Boston area and beyond.

Update: check out this video of Donna
interpreting a commissioned work for her client.

Friday, December 5, 2008

ISBP Installment Two: Paul Behnke

Installation Two of the ISBP has images from Paul Behnke, who has his studio at 915 Studios on Spring Garden Street in Philadelphia. Paul's statement (below) alludes to the importance of time and space in his work; the photo of his studio (space) prominently features a clock (time) above the painting--you may draw your own conclusions...

My paintings are begun with the intention that they will be soundly connected to a specific location and time. However, as the images progress from notebook jottings of experience, environment and memory, to more complete pieces, their meanings begin a steady shift from specific reactions to broad allusions. The finished works signify the faulty concepts of security, place and distance and give form to the rituals and obsessions that sprout from these notions. Paul Behnke

Astir Already
Paul Behnke 2008
acrylic on canvas 42 x 42


Claudia Waters is an artist based in Montclair, NJ. She offers us a photo of her palette, and says: "I guess you could say it's summer all year round in my studio!"

When You Were Young consists of a group of four paintings. My underwater series captures random specific moments of figures in a pool environment to relate universal themes. Using vibrant color and focused, unexpected compositions, I aim to reveal the inner essence with the purpose of expressing the universal unconscious.

When You Were Young 1
Claudia Waters 2008
18 x 14
oil on linen
I choose random images that create the feeling of being right there in the moment, not necessarily premeditated or manipulated. This image or concept reveals itself in a more arbitrary way to make a compelling, more abstract composition. When You Were Young uses a polytych configuration to elaborate on this randomness. It takes everyday moments in the pool in a way that eludes to our universal life experiences: obviously joy and fun but also buoyancy and resilience in the face of hardships in life. Claudia Waters

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Interactive Studio Blog Post (ISBP), Installment One: Deboarah Barlow, Lou Storey

Here's the first installation of the interactive studio blog post (ISBP), as I've come to think of this project. I really wish I had a snazzy title for this project, but alas, more prosaic words will have to do...

I thought it might be appropriate to start with Boston-area artist Deborah Barlow's thoughts on sharing her studio with visitors. Deborah put forth her response to my invitation to participate in the ISBP as a comment to the original post. I've included this comment because when I conceived of the idea for the ISBP, it didn't occur to me that there would be folks who wouldn't want studio visitors. I interpreted Agnes Martin's quote, "Never let anyone into your studio" as merely a quirky quote from the famously paradoxical artist. I appreciate Deborah's thoughts so I've included them here:

"This posting came right at me, like a ball that is thrown at your face without warning. From Agnes Martin's warning to your warm account of a successful studio visit with artist peers, I was caught in the crossfire of my own very oppositional feelings.
On one hand I have an artist's curiosity about how these issues are felt and dealt with by other artists. A studio is after all a fascinating place and so revelatory. And there is a little bit of voyeurism in me that is operational as well. Who can resist looking behind that curtain into the kitchen?
But at the same time I feel an intense need to protect the rag and bone shop of my own creative life. I gave up doing the popular open studio thing years ago because I feel so strongly about choosing who comes in to my space, and when. It's almost like some energy in my space is running around butt naked, and asking it to cover up and put on clothes is really, really offensive.
And yet I can imagine my attitude changing. It doesn't feel like a truism for my creative life, just a proclivity that is in full swing right now. It could change next year. Who knows?
Your challenge is an interesting one. Given my current subterranean, sub rosa mind set, I'm probably not a good candidate to participate. But I am curious about the response it engenders.
Thank you for this thoughtful and provocative posting."

Lou Storey is a New Jersey artist who is also a social worker. Lou currently works with people with HIV/AIDS. I met Lou last year when he took on the herculean task of curating and organizing an exhibit of art by social workers for an annual social work conference. The exhibit was a very popular feature of the conference, which draws several thousand social workers over a weekend in Atlantic City. Here's what Lou has to say about his studio:

"I’ve had plenty of studios (30+ years of them) and this one, built in the unfinished basement of my new home, is a keeper. I never intended to paint the floor, but the guy that helped me with the lighting insisted on the walls, ceiling and floor being white, which I hated. I need to see colors. I tried the white room for about two days (or was it two hours?) and went stark raving mad. I had some left over cans of paint from painting the walls upstairs, so I just went at the floor and a few hours later I felt the studio become livable.

Regarding letting people into my studio, I now do it carefully. Years ago a critic came to my studio (I was thrilled) and I am sure she said lots of nice things and helpful things, but all I can remember is a strange statement she made: “My, you have an unusual relationship with yellow!” For years after that when I would pick up the tube of yellow I would hesitate. But that was years ago, and it is no longer a problem, although when I pick up a tube of yellow now I am apt to say, “Well, hello there yellow, you’re looking scrumptious today!”

Bring Hope


28 x 36

Acrylic, wood, cast plastic shapes

Thanks to both Lou and Deborah. Check back in the next few days for the next installment of the ISBP. There is no deadline for this project. I'll continue to post contributions as they come in....pass it on!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Studio/Work Interactive Blog Post

Thanks to those of you who responded to my post inviting readers to send in jpegs of your studio and your work.

I plan to post the first installment sometime soon after the Thanksgiving weekend. I'll be away visiting friends in the wilds of beautiful Bedford, Virginia.

Hope all y'all have a great holiday. Check back soon!

Friday, November 14, 2008

"Never Let Anyone Into Your Studio"

I've enjoyed the recent interactive postings on Color Chunks and Thinking About Art, and thought I'd offer a similar opportunity. But before we get to all that, I thought I’d offer the following post to share the genesis of this interactive project.

Some years back, artist Susan York wrote an essay published in the NY Times Magazine about the relationship she had formed with Agnes Martin. At the time, Ms. York was a young artist finding her way. They met for many years for tea or dinner, but the relationship started with a visit by Ms. York to Martin's studio. During that first visit, and just before ushering Susan York into her studio, Agnes Martin made the pronouncement: "Never let anyone into your studio."

To most of us, this idea would seem preposterous; having certain people--other artists, gallery owners, curators, collectors, etc.--come to our studios is something we hope and work for. We want our work to be seen in the cradle of its creation, in its original context, where we have borne it through our blood, sweat and tears, in our most private space, usually away from others and other parts of our lives. A separate space, a room of one's own.

Not too long ago, I had a wonderful opportunity for a studio visit by artist friends Joanne Mattera and Janet Filomeno. After spending time at the Hunterdon Art Museum opening reception for Material Color to see Joanne’s work, meet other artists and take in all the amazing color-based work, we made a spontaneous trip to my studio, which is about 10 minutes away. I did this knowing full well that my studio, which is a 16 x 20 outbuilding in my backyard, was an utter mess.

The studio was in full bloom, so to speak, an explosion of stuff everywhere: paintings, wax, paint, tools, materials. I had several series going and every surface was covered. This is not what it would have looked like for a planned visit. I would at least have made room for visitors to walk through without having to worry about knocking into something. I might have put away all but a small sampling of work so visitors would be able to view the paintings in groupings that made sense. Depending on the visitor or the purpose of the visit, I might even have scraped wax off the floor and whitewashed the walls.

However, I was grateful for the visit, and enjoyed the interaction very much. Joanne and Janet poked around, asking questions, offering comments, exploring various possibilities of arrangement and rearrangement of work. Joanne took some pics, both of the work and of the evidence of art making. While all this was going on, I said to them: "I feel like you're seeing inside my head!" Which, of course, they were. In addition to seeing my work, my friends were seeing my mess, my jumbled process, my id, the stuff that gets kicked around before being perfected (or at least completed). Presentation-ready or not, meant for public consumption or not, it’s all me. Exposed to two very accomplished artists whose work and careers I admire tremendously.

In What Painting Is, James Elkins includes a chapter entitled "The Studio as a Kind of Psychosis".

”Working in a studio means leaving the clean world of normal life and moving into a
shadowy domain where
everything bears the marks of the singular obsession.”

Elkins talks about the artists’ studio in terms of the alchemy of art making:

“Alchemy is the best model for this plague of paint, for the
self-imprisonment of the studio and for the allure of insanity.”

OK, I know. This is rather dramatic, perhaps a tad romantic. But when I think about the mess my friends saw—and enjoyed—I can’t help but think about how incredibly personal it all is. Not just the work, but where the work is made, and what that place says about its inhabitant.

So…now for the interactive part: I invite you to send me 2 photos: 1 of your studio or workspace (in jpeg format please) that represents your process or you as an artist, and 1 of your work, with the work labeled by title, medium, size, etc. The images can be accompanied by a 50 word statement if you wish, and the URL to your website or blog. It matters not to me if you work in a full-blown mega-industrial space or at your kitchen table. I’m just interested in seeing what you feel your workspace says about you. I’ll post these over the next month or so. Please email me at

Please feel free to forward to your artist friends.

All photos except Lacuna 23 courtesy of Joanne Mattera

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Artists on Words

On his Color Chunks blog, John Tallman has offered artists the opportunity to respond to a wonderful list of words he has on his blog by writing a piece connecting one of the words to your work. Along with the written piece, John will also post a jpeg of your work.

Among the thought-provoking posts are writings by Joanne Mattera, Steven Alexander, are Kate Beck, on arrangement, effect, and chance, respectively. All the posts have been interesting and provide insight into the artists' process and approach. You can see my post on reveal.

If you are an artist who likes to think about and write about words in connection with your work, I highly recommend participating in Artists On Words.

NB: Here's John's email:

Monday, August 18, 2008

Artists Review Artists...My Turn

I've enjoyed participating in JT Kirkland's current project, Artists Review Artists on his blog Thinking About Art, and it's been interesting to read the reviews and see other artists' work. This past Friday, JT posted a review of my work, written by Daniel Mafe, who lives, works, and teaches in Brisbane, Australia.

I found his comments insightful and helpful. The painting I submitted to be reviewed was very new, and much different from my previous work. It's larger, more colorful, includes drawing elements, and is in oil rather than encaustic. This painting reflects another (and very different) approach to ideas about lacunae, a concept I had focused on in earlier work. I feel that I took some risks in finding this other approach, and I appreciate the opportunity to receive unbiased feedback on it.

Lacuna Yellow No. 1 oil on panel 36 x 48

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Land Ho!!!

Lacuna (Red Cassandra I & II)
each panel 24 x 24" 2008

Check out Joanne Mattera's blog post Gee-Oh!-Graphic for some interesting, artful images from the USGS National Center for EROS and NASA Landsat Project Science Office.

In response to this post, I am showing a pair of my paintings. As I said in an email to JM, I had these paintings hanging over my fireplace for the past month or so and kept seeing them as a sort of map or geographic land projection. When I saw Gee-Oh!-Graphic I felt compelled to post...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Old Material/New Thought: Ed Angell at the Gallery at R&F Handmade Paints

Basalt Ed Angell 2008
found lead, pigmented beeswax

The origin of the symbol Pb (lead) is the Latin word "plumbum," meaning "liquid silver." I love these terms. Ed Angell's current show Old Material, New Thought, now up at R&F Handmade Paints, uses lead and other materials combined with encaustic. These wall-mounted pieces explore process and materiality with easy elegance, in a post-minimal, poetic manner. Though fairly small-scale, and creating an intimate viewing experience, they are also suggestive of objects of a larger scale, bringing to mind certain Barnett Newman paintings. Angell's use of highly saturated, pigmented wax (such as quinacridone red) against the gray of the lead creates an intense contrast; the several pieces using black-pigmented wax offer a more harmonious relationship between wax and lead. In both cases, the viewer is drawn in for closer inspection of the construction of the pieces.

The artist's facility and mastery of materials is especially shown to great effect in the works with gleaming black tar that gracefully descends over the top of the lead substrate. This is also present in the artist's use of hard, impenetrable surfaces that still manage to invite contemplation. Tar, lead, wax: the artist's deft material handling and the relationship of the materials' origin through ancient earth processes gently suggest watchwords such as control, containment, compression. and contrast.

The work can be seen at R&F Handmade Paints in Kingston, NY, through September 20, 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Hylla Evans has posted on her July Evans Encaustics newsletter, The Buzz, an extended version of Joanne Mattera's response to my recent post on the issue of labeling mixed media paintings. Lots to think about!

To see the July issue of Buzz, scroll down to the link for newsletter archives on Evans Encaustics homepage.

Thanks Hylla!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Beauty in art: not such a black and white issue; or is it?

Steven Alexander mentioned my work and Kate Beck's work in his blog post today. He wrote a nice piece referencing the open thread discussion Why Is Everyone Afraid of Beauty? on Edward Winkleman's blog. EW's post has so far garnered 158 comments. It's a controversial topic evoking lots of passionate responses. Steven's post is thoughtfully addresses the subjective nature of beauty, using my graphite painting (black) and Kate's oil on canvas (white) as examples of another way to approach beauty in art.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

mixing it up

Lately, I've found myself edging away from using a single process/media e.g.; oil; encaustic; and experimenting with mixed media. As I work, I often think about the nomenclature for paintings that incorporate numerous materials and how to label these paintings. Mixed media sounds so mysterious, and brings up my concern about conveying to a viewer, gallerist, juror, curator, potential collector, or other interested parties that there is a material integrity to the piece. For those of us who work with encaustic, we are often faced with the prospect of reassuring folks that, no, this won't melt during the summer, and no, it isn't toxic, and no, it's not especially fragile with the proper handling that any piece of fine art or craft requires.

I've seen many paintings labeled mixed media that contain what appear to be lots of different media/materials--sometimes more than my fairly informed eye can discern. I am then left to wonder what's there, how might the different materials interact, and what are the implications for conservation. (I do buy art when I can afford to. And I do want to know what's in there.)

Conversely, I sometimes see work that has numerous media listed on a painting's label, and it reminds me of the descriptors used on menus in some restaurants: oil, encaustic, graphite, paper collage, monotype, and xerox transfer on watercolor paper on cradled maple panel. Grilled and jasmine tea smoked muscovy duck breast on cedar plank with organic dried michigan bing cherries and braised black walnuts in a reduced house-made anjou pear and port wine reduction over hand-ground grilled polenta cake. (I made it up in a caffeine-fueled fit, and to be a little over the top to make a point, but now I'm also hungry and thinking...hmmm sounds like it might be worth trying.)'s nice to know all that, maybe. And it sure would pique my interest and curiosity. Sounds appetizing--and on menus, which are marketing tools--that is the point. But might it not take away a little from the experience of discovery while eating? Or with art, from viewing? Not sure. And it leaves me with the question of how to find a balance...

While participating in J.T. Kirkland's project Artists Review Artists I reviewed a painting by Ken Weathersby that had a great descriptor: acrylic on canvas with removed and reversed area. (You'll have to refer to the review to understand.) When I wrote my review, it did not occur to me that the words used for the labeling of the media could be part of the piece, but that's what I'm thinking now, which opens all kinds of neuro-pathways in my brain.

So readers, I'm wondering what you do in your own studio practice to address the issue of labeling if you use mixed media/mixed techniques. Do you tell all? Or do you mention only the most prominent ingredient(s) when there may be many? Have you developed a specific term that fits for all your mixed-media works? And do you have a specific philosophy or reasoning for your decision? Or maybe it's not an issue for you at all. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Everyone's a critic...

...Or as Peter Schjeldahl says in the Summer 08 issue of Art Forum in Deborah Solomon's conversation with him: "Everyone was always a critic. Now everyone is a published critic." This response stemmed from DS's reference to PS being "the most durably revered critic" in an internet culture that allows so many self-fashioned critics to put their two cents in. Interesting interview.

Peter Schjeldahl also states that "As a critic, I try to remember that I'm only visiting where somebody has to live. But I'm there by invitation, and it's not a hospital zone."

It is in this spirit that I've chosen to participate in J.T. Kirkland's newest project Artists Review Artists. It's pretty simple: artists submit a jpeg of a piece, and in return, receive a jpeg of a piece from another artist. Each artist reviews the work without knowing the name of the artist (100-500 words). The review can take any number of forms. When the review process is completed, all works and reviews will be published on JT's blog along with a link to the artist's website. Follow the link to his blog for more details. JT is still looking for participants. The more artists who participate, the better the final project.

Without revealing too much, I'll tell you that I am a participant, and I've completed my review, which is now in JT's hands. The process was so fun. Generally I post about my own art or art by artists I know, so writing a review of a piece of art without knowing who the artist is, or anything about the art but the title, medium, size and date of the work, presented a special challenge. I can't wait to see the "finished" project.

Thanks, JT, for this opportunity.

Friday, June 20, 2008


From time to time I've been checking in on the submissions to the West Prize. When I first came across it after reading about it in EW's blog, there were 6 pages of submissions; when I submitted my work a couple of weeks ago there were 40-some pages, and as of this writing the total is 77 pages.

Here are some of the works I've been admiring--listed alphabetically by artist's last name. Page numbers are there for reference in case the links don't work.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Sea Has Veins: The Delaware Series; Janet Filomeno

The Delaware Series no. 3, 2007
acrylic and aluminum paint on canvas, 80" x 68"
photo: Ronald Filomeno, from the artist's studio

Long captivated by fluids and bodies of water, painter Janet Filomeno presents this latest series as an homage to the Delaware River, and by extension the ocean. Living in the area, she engages in daily observation of the river, at different times of day and throughout the seasons. The River Has Veins captures the Delaware's ever-changing disposition--force and drama, quietude and serenity. Her use of mica powder, aluminum paint, and graphite provides subtle reflection of light, and heightens the sense of life, in the water as in the paintings. As artist and writer Gail Gregg states about Filomeno and her work in the essay for the series catalog, "Her courageous paintings, so full of her own energy, require us to contemplate the eternal activity of the rocking, roiling, life-giving, life-claiming sea so critical to human existence."

The exhibit is up at Simon Gallery, 48 Bank Street, Morristown, NJ through May 24, 2008

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Fun with graphite

There's something about powdered graphite... These are recent paintings that play with the surface qualities created by working layers of the graphite into oil paint that has some tack. Though hard to capture by photo, some of the color peeks through. What can't be seen because of the straight-on photograph is the 1 3/4" deep cradles that are painted the same color that peeks out from beneath the graphite, lending a slight object-ness to the pieces.

Powdered graphite, though a rather pedestrian substance that we use daily in pencils, and one that is used for its lubricating properties in manufacturing, somehow retains some mystery as a material.

Many artists have used graphite to wonderful effect--following are a few examples:

David Schutter's graphite on vellum

Susan York's incredible sculpture and installations

Mark Sheinkman's smoky linear abstractions

Graphite with Red
Pam Farrell 2008
18" x 18" graphite and oil on panel

Graphite with Green
Pam Farrell 2008
18" x 18" graphite and oil on panel

Graphite with Blue
Pam Farrell 2008
18" x 18" graphite and oil on panel

Monday, March 24, 2008

M. Shemchuk Paintings

Meridian 36
46 x 48

About a year ago I attended an opening at OK Harris Gallery to see Joanne Mattera's Silk Road paintings. There were about 5 other artists showing as well, and one, Mike Shemchuk, or Shem, as he welcomes people to call him, had a show of his geometric abstract paintings in one of the front galleries. I was immediately drawn to the paintings, which are made from pigmented gypsum on panel. Color-saturated matte surfaces use line and form to hint at landscape and suggest an observation of immediate environment. Well-worn surfaces create a sense in Shem's paintings of a language informed by time passing, by layers of emotion, and by all that makes up a full life--in other words, a personal history.

Click here to visit
Shem's website.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Going DEEP

Untitled 726

The work in Vincent Romaniello's exhibit DEEP poses an interesting juxtaposition of earthy, intimate paintings in a rather rarified space. Up through May 18, 2008 at the Philadelphia Art Alliance satellite gallery space at the Rittenhouse Hotel, the work, which is from Romaniello's new group of paintings, the Furrow series, hangs among polished marble walls and floors in a public space outside the hotel's spa and salon and adjacent to a residential wing.

Using gesso combined with dried pigments, ground charcoal, sand, and other materials, Romaniello uses a hand-made, rake-like tool to draw along the still-wet surface, to create three-dimensional effects, or as he refers to them, furrows.

The most direct reference is of the earth seen while flying over land, capturing visions of fields that have been plowed or worked for planting. Viewing the paintings with their cinder-like texture also brings to mind the idea of the "scorched earth." However universal these concepts might be, and however process-oriented these works might be, the pieces are at the same time imbued with a sense of humanness--the hand is very much present, and Romaniello also makes a much more emotional, personal statement with
Father's Garden (below).

One final thought about the concept of furrows that resonates for me is the "furrowed brow" of one deep in thought. While this is likely not among Romaniello's intended references, the more I thought about and looked at the work and the word furrow, the more the idea stayed with me.

Follow this link to view the catalog of the exhibition written by Vittorio Colaizzi. and to find more information on the work.
Follow this link to view Vincent Romaniello's website.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Voices: totally new experience

Today, I experienced something totally new to me: I did a voice-over for an instructional video an artist friend is making. Fortunately, I'm also working as the script editor for the video, and had worked with the text enough to be familiar with it. I'm also quite well acquainted with the subject matter, which I'm not in a position to make public at this point, since we're in the middle of production.

I've long had the common experience of thinking the sound my own voice on tape is weird, on my recorded voice mail message, etc. But this was so different. The sound editor/engineer was a kind, gentle soul who knows what he's doing. He offered clear and helpful feedback and had a marvelous sense of humor.

Miraculously, we needed very few "do-overs". I quickly got used to hearing my voice in the headphone monitors, and was only marginally uncomfortable hearing the playback. I sat in a separate room adjacent to the recording console, and since we were working in a home studio, did not have one of those fancy glassed-in recording booths. I had the script, a light, a microphone with a windscreen, and the sound engineer's voice (rather soothing voice, actually) in my headphones. At the very beginning, I had a little adrenaline rush but with the encouragement and direction of the engineer and the artist, I soon settled in. It was FUN! I would do it again in a minute (and will, actually, as we proceed with the project). It was the kind of work that doesn't feel like work at all.

It was an oddly intimate experience, being directed through headphones by someone I could not see, but whose voice created a warm, safe, environment--kind of. Anything could have been going on in the recording room, away from my sight, and I would not know.

As a therapist in training, I often had my sessions taped--with full permission of the client--so that my supervisor and I could review it. I can think of nothing more nerve-wracking, and yet, it was all so I could learn. In my various professions, I've had to engage in public speaking, presenting papers and workshops and the like. Even with years of experience, it never got easy or comfortable. But here, where I am disconnected from another person or an audience, I was not the least bit self-conscious, and I was very comfortable.

So, this all has me thinking about making art with my voice--sound installation, video, performance, something like that. I've often felt that my development as an artist has been a lot about finding my own voice. And now I feel that I've found it. Literally.

Kicking these ideas around make me think of Bruce Nauman's video installation "Thank you thank you thank you". I'm only sorry I couldn't find a link to the installation.

Hmmm....the possibilities.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Origins at Penn

I’m pleased to announce that I will have two encaustic paintings included in “In the Beginning: Exploring Origins in Contemporary Art”, an exhibit of art work held as part of the 2008 University of Pennsylvania Graduate Humanities Forum, which is centered around the theme of Origins. I’ve included a link to a web page with information on the exhibit. The show runs from February 4-29, 2008, and I am planning to be at the closing reception, to be held on Friday, February 29, from 5-7.

The Penn Graduate Humanities Forum, unknown to me until recently, but in existence since 2000, offers programming across the humanities. Each year, a different theme is chosen: Travel; Word & Image; Sleep & Dreams; Belief; The Book; Time; Style; and this year's theme, Origins. Here are the paintings and related statement.

Origin: Identity, Trauma, and Memory

Lacuna, from the Latin lacuna: a cavity, a hollow; a pool, empty space, or missing letters or words in a manuscript; a gap in memory.

As a therapist working with women trauma survivors I became intrigued with the idea of “what’s missing” relative to identity formation and memory. Many survivors’ identities were formed around traumatic experiences and the gaps in those memories.

Vague, miasmic clouds of color portent indefinable occurrences. Layers of pigmented wax, once molten, form transparent layers that play against opacity to suggest clarity muddled by uncertainty. Marks beneath layers suggest the unknowable, or that which is only marginally accessible. Blank areas appear vacant—was there something there once, or never anything—or vestiges of the unfathomable?

For most survivors of complex, lifelong trauma, the very origin of their lives began around trauma, neglect, and abuse. Seeking answers and understanding through exploration of who one is and where one came from may mean emergence into pools of shame, pain, confusion. Viewed through the lens of trauma, what is present in a memory can be as painful as imagining what might be obscured or even irretrievable. These paintings seek to honor the struggle with identity, memory and healing.
image left: Lacuna 3 2007 encaustic on panel 24 x 24

image right: Lacuna 7 2007 encaustic on panel 24 x 24

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

new studio, new work

My big project for the past several months has been building and setting up a studio building on my property. OK, well, I didn't build it--a team of Mennonite carpenters did. It's a 16 x 20' wood frame building with heat, air conditioning, and ventilation--and a whole lot bigger than the nun's cell of a room I was working in. In fact it's practically palatial. I moved in the end of October and have been working in it since.

The paintings here were begun in the old space and completed in the new studio. They are part of a larger grouping of paintings that I think of as the Denouement series. They range from 30 x 30, to 18 x 18 (3, not pictured). Vestige and Harborage are oil/oil stick/graphite on panel. The rest are oil/oil stick/graphite on paper on panel.

This group of paintings represent a departure for me. I've spent the past 4 or so years working in encaustic almost exclusively. The summer heat in the nun's cell (no AC) compounded by intense heat from the wax was simply more than I wanted to subject myself to. A mentor suggested that I experiment with brighter colors and use oil stick on paper. That's how this series began, but the journey took it far from its origin. It was a nice break from wax, and a great chance to return to oil. I'm back to wax for now, but I'm already thinking about my next series in oil.

Harborage 2007 oil on panel 30 x 30"

Vestige 2007 oil on panel 30 x 30"

Moral Ground 2007 oil on panel 24 x 24"

Giving Up the Ghost 2007 oil on panel 24 x 24"

Limens 2007 oil on panel 24 x 24"

There There 2007 oil on panel 24 x 24"