Sunday, September 30, 2012

Inspiration and frustration

In London, in the Tate Modern, there's a room devoted to the canvases that Mark Rothko was commissioned to paint for the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram's building. 

When I entered the room, warmth and ease flooded my body. I was peering into Rothko's soul, yet at the same time was witnessing the universal soul. I saw Rothko's deepest desires and hopes and at the same time I felt the universe in its entirety. The world in all of its messiness, misery, beauty and hope made sense to me for the hour I looked at the canvases.

My deepest hope is that my art will one day bring about an experience like this to someone. I want my work to make visible our energetic and spiritual nature.

I'm setting myself up for some frustration.

I have been feeling a strange combination of inspiration and frustration the last couple of weeks. Here are some of the pieces I've made over the past few days.

I've been working with dark backgrounds:

I've been working with an alizarin crimson -like background. Here's one of the first tests I did.

I feel the figurative work isn't working with this color. I thought that this color might work with a more abstracted picture. So I made the piece below. I don't know what I think yet. I'm drawn to it. But at the same time I'm concerned there is not enough to it. It may look a little airbrushed.

I've been continuing to work on the lighter background pieces also:

I'm also working on these sequence prints:

And I finished this print the other day:

This is one of my most successful pieces. There's a good balance of detail with soft, abstracted, shapes. I tried doing an encaustic version of this piece but wasn't happy with it. There's a tradeoff with the encaustic. If I want depth and luminosity, the encaustic is the medium to go with usually. But the encaustic usually loses some of the detail of the pieces. Conversely, the prints don't glow quite like the encaustic, but they certainly keep the detail in a good way. 

I've been having a difficult time blogging recently. I have nothing to say. I've been immersed in my art. And I've been wanting to post some of the work I am doing. But by the time I've photographed the work and written about it I have made another five or ten pieces. The way my mind works is that I think my newest work is the work worth writing about. There are much worse problems to have.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I was in Chicago with Erica Schwartz-Hall, our studio manager, last week. I spoke at the CUSP conference. More about CUSP tk soon.

I took these shots of the city:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On the process of a larger piece

I just finished, or gave up on, this piece:

It measures 40" x 30". Its the first time I've worked larger than 24" x 18" using the encaustic and organza process. Written down, it doesn't sound too big. But it is. I'm happy with how the art is holding up at this size.

After first applying the four layers of organza with encaustic, I noticed a uniform quilt-like pattern throughout the surface. I realized that this was from how I painted on the encaustic. At first I liked it. But it began getting on my nerves. The uniformity of the pattern was taking away from the image. So I tried smoothing things out by laying the art horizontally and putting 200 watt lamps up to it. This did a decent job. But you'll notice that there's a faint yellowing around the figure's edges. Apparently organza doesn't like sustained heat. Also, the lamps left distracting circular patterns in the wax.

I put the work up vertically and began blasting it with my heat gun. This created drips and rivulets as the encaustic seeped up from behind the four layers of organza. I knew this wasn't something I would like. But I was enjoying the process, so I just let myself have some fun. After about a half hour of doing this I stepped back to take a look and promptly threw up in my mouth.

So I put her horizontal again and began melting down the drips with my heat gun. After doing this it all just looked like a fat globby indistinct mess.

I had an urge to take a hammer to the piece. Or throw paint at it. Something. I went back to it a few hours later and decided to apply one final coat of encaustic and do my best at evening it out with the heat gun. After it cooled down I buffed the surface.

I'm relatively happy with the imperfections of the surface now. I'm intrigued with the yellow cast that the lamps gave the work.

That said, I want to make a larger piece with a more uniform surface. And this gets much more difficult as I work larger. The larger I work, the greater the heat differentials I have to deal with. And going back and forth from hot to cold doesn't make the encaustic and fabric mixture I'm using too happy.

A photo from the East Side

I was in the East 30's the other day and took this photo: