Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


“Light” Often I am asked, “How do you paint light in your work?” Well, the answer is almost frustratingly simple. “I don’t.” "The light is already there: waiting for me on the blank sheet of paper . All I have to do is paint the relative darkness of shades and shadows to allow that light to have expression - to let it really shine through.” I like to think of painting in watercolor as a “subtractive” process. By that I mean, we start off with the maximum amount of light available and already “painted” for us by the untouched white sheet of the paper itself. We then set about subtracting some of it by the addition of shapes and areas of darker value . So it is the juxtaposition, the dialogue between these values in the final painting, that give the work it’s expression and identity. In almost all my work, it is easy to spot some area that has been left completely untouched - a bit of the pure white of the paper shining through. Often this area is offset by the proximity of the darkest dark in the same work, There is a tension and a dramatic expression to be had there. Also, I tend to break down my work into three basic shapes of value : “light”, “dark”, and “mid-tones”. These abstract shapes of value can be arranged in countless ways, but if clearly and simply articulated, will almost always result in a work that is more dynamic and expressive than one in which only one or two values are seen. Like most artists , I love color. I often say I can’t go into an art supply store without “adult supervision” because I will want every tube of paint on every shelf!! But I urge my classes and myself to keep our palettes as simple as possible - and to work more in value than in color. No amount of beautiful color can save a work if the values are too consistent and unvaried - or worse - when the light is lost. For this reason, I also encourage the completion of small, quick "value composition” studies before the final painting begins. These are not always necessary, but sometimes help remind us of the dominant importance of a dynamic composition of values. And more importantly, they remind us of where the light must be saved. For once the light in a watercolor painting is gone, the work begins to die , and it is all but impossible to get it back. In music - it is the space between the notes that set the rhythm and identity of the final piece. The silences are as important to musical expression as are the actual sounds of the instruments. It is just the same in painting. It is the “negative” shapes that give voice and expression to the “positive". Without the dark, the light has no voice. And so, the areas of a work that are left unpainted are at least as important and powerful as those areas that are. In my painting “Interior - Cathedral of Girona ;Spain” - as in most all my others - I am exploring the “stories of light”. I try to provide a compelling “path of light” to draw viewers in and allow them to imagine themselves inside my paintings. There, they can begin to tell their own stories - whatever those may be.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014

"Find the Art"

“Find the Art” Even when we’re not at out easels, painters are - in a sense - always “painting”. I’m hopeless to ride with in a car or walk with anywhere at all; “Look at that! Now there’s a painting!” seems to be my constant refrain. As I remind myself - and tell my classes constantly – an interesting or beautiful scene may or may not have the makings of a good painting. In truth, a beautiful painting can just as often be found in the most commonplace or unusual of places as in the most exotic of cities. But whatever we choose to paint, I believe it’s an artist’s real job to do more than simply illustrate the precise details of what a place or thing literally looks like. We should rather do our best to discover and interpret that thing’s true nature: discover a bit of it’s essence, and tell something of it’s story. Only then can we hope to express something uniquely personal in how it inspired us in the first place. Good paintings often ask more questions than they answer. So when our paintings begin to ask these questions – inviting both painter and viewer to become involved in those stories - we begin to get closer to finding the Art that exists all around us. As with most paintings, this one began with the two dimensions of the flat sheet - height and width. With shifting shapes of various values, my painting, “Pons Fabricius–Rome” (2011) begins to suggest the third dimension of depth and perspective. But it is with the choice of this ancient structure (the bridge : one of my favorite subjects) at an oblique, dynamic angle, that I begin to tell just a bit of the story of this ancient city, as well as a little of the forth dimension – the spanning of space and the passage of time.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Masters of Watercolor International Exhibition - St. Petersburg - 20-31 January 2015

40 Russian and 40 International artists will be represented in The Masters Of Watercolor exhibition 20-31, January, 2015 at the Grand exhibition hall of The Artists Association, St.Petersburg, Russia. Welcome! Big big thanks to Konstantin Sterkhov for making this happen!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"Just Paint"

"Just Paint" I am so grateful to have received over the years some of the best advice anyone could ever hope for. Words can have great power - if we can only learn to really hear ; let them motivate us, and give us strength. The great visionary Buckminster Fuller addressed our Uni class when I was far too young to grasp much of anything he had to offer. At the end of his talk however, he said something that hit me so hard that it has stayed with me always (to paraphrase). "I firmly believe that people are capable of doing most anything they want to do. The problem is that most people never take the time or make the effort to figure out what the hell that is. So I urge all you kids to find out. Find something you love and want to do with your life - and then just go out and do it!" I was shocked. But he was right. Years later I moved to NYC to "become an artist." Well I did, but with rent and food ,etc etc. it was all a bit more of a challenge than I bargained for. I had the starving part down - but not the artist part-) Still, in time, I was fortunate enough to turn my love of painting and watercolor into a great career as an architectural artist. This was fantastic, and enough for me for a time, but eventually I longed for more - I had higher aspirations. I wanted to be a "true artist" - a painter of my own vision - not an illustrator of someone else's. So about 5 years ago, I took a workshop with the one and only Joseph Zbukvic . Never did I aspire to paint like him (I mean - who could?) , but I did hope to learn how someone lived as a real artist in such a world as this. How do they define themselves? In those days, I would never even use the word "artist" to describe myself. But one night we were talking, and after politely listening to me and all my doubts and worries and excuses, Z said; "If you want to be a painter - Just Paint - all the rest will take care of itself." I didn't know how right he was at the time. But my life changed that day - changed from the inside out. And each day since, those words are more true to me than they were the day before. Here's an older painting - but one of the first I did after having at last the courage and conviction to begin to redefine and describe myself unapologetically as an "artist". Madison Square Park , NYC - Winter ; 2010