Friday, February 25, 2011

Bull's Eye Bouquet

"Bull's Eye Bouquet"
oil and enamel on paper-mounted panel. 8.5" x 7.5" 2011

detail of flowers and lettering.

The successful realization of a painting that I've wanted to make for a very long time. It was extremely fun to paint, to play at being Sargent a little bit. Some of the best flowers happen in his paintings, not to mention Uglow. The phrase was originally meant as a reference to peacocks, but applying it in a more literal sense works too. One of the things that draws me to the use of text, besides a way of graphically glorifying a title, is the conceptual tension that words can play against the image. In this case, the phrase is a suitable partner to the floral arrangement presented, but it also offers a way out of the literal, as a "bull's eye bouquet" is something all together different from what we might normally think of as a floral arrangement. With paintings like this, I am hoping for an composition that allows for a variety of individual interpretations within a framework of deliberate mark-making. Still pushing a clear idea, but allowing for some thinking space around it. I don't want to say it all. These days, I measure success in painting by how much they surprise me. If they don't keep me guessing afterwards, then they probably won't be much good to anyone else either.

Work in Progress- Yellow Drum

Yellow drum painting. Currently being picked apart, sanded and re-painted for the third time.
It's a tough one. Trying to relate it to "Paradiddle" and "Black Drums" in a way that goes beyond the subject matter. Finding a balance between building and taking apart. More to come.

Black Drums

"Black Drums (un-snared)"
oil and graphite on paper-mounted panels, joined diptych. 9.5" x 16.5" 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Recent Influences- Drum Paintings

After starting the fourth painting of drums, I started to mine the library for possible reference points, or influences that I may have overlooked. Though a painting like "Paradiddle" was originally inspired by a WPA photograph of a marine drummer, the subsequent works are turning out to be something different. It's more about the idea of combining landscape with these monumental, floating objects in a way that feels natural. The way the painting asserts itself, and (hopefully) the consistency of light will make these paintings believable. I was reminded of the water-towers of Bernd and Hilla Becher last week while working on the new photo show at the MFA (Conversations). They are great to look at to get a sense of immense weight as well as the gratifying bulk of elliptical forms. This led me back to a more ingrained influence from childhood- the fantasy story of "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs". If you're not familiar with the land of Chewandswallow, it is a place where food falls from the sky and meals are dictated by weather patterns. This book is one of my earliest visual memories; the illustrations by Ron Barrett are amazing- beautifully composed with humor and a sort of epic sense of scale (pancake covers school, man lost in pea soup fog). Looking through it again, I was struck by the Jell-o mold image, as well as the hamburgers floating in the sky (see above). All objects that don't belong, set convincingly in the landscape. It's a kids book, but then again I'd consider the drums to be a sort of fantasy element as well; an instrument indicative of rhythm, order and action. As the paintings continue to develop and change, it's good to identify these reference points and for me, it's one of the more interesting parts of making art; making work and finding clues afterwards.

Study for a Halo

"Study for a Halo (After Velazquez)"
oil on paper-mounted panel, 5.25" x 5" 2011


"Un-Snared" oil on paper-mounted panel, 7" x 9.5", 2011

New in the Studio

My ideal set-up. Count the yellow things.

Recent paintings in rotation.

Little future paintings; books for gluing the paper down.