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Archive for May, 2017

“As I Wander”- 12″ x 6″ on canvas

Getting ready for Friday’s opening of “Truth and Belief,” my solo show at the Principle Gallery. As I wrote the other day, I was a little anxious in the first day or so after delivering the show. My confidence lagged a bit.

Thankfully, that has passed and I am actually feeling very good about this show.  From a superstitious standpoint, I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing but I am truly convinced that this is a good and strong body of work. And from a few images the gallery shared with me yesterday as they were hanging the show that feeling is reinforced.

It has that feeling of rightness that I try to describe so often. And that’s a good thing.

Truth and Belief opens Friday, June 2, at the Principle Gallery in Old Town Alexandria, VA. The opening reception begins at 6:30 and runs until 9 PM. I hope you can make it. If you do, please feel free to introduce yourself or ask questions. It’s my pleasure to be there at your service.

I put together a short video/slideshow of the paintings in the show. It’s a simple and short glimpse of each piece that I hope gives an idea of how the show fits together. Take a look…

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This is a painting that is part of my Truth and Belief show that begins this Friday, June 2 at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria. It is 16″ by 20″ on panel and is titled Called Home.

This was one of the first paintings started for this show many months ago, actually back into 2016. It was also one of the last pieces finished in just the last couple of weeks. The two blocks of color, the graded blue-green of the sky and the dark red of the foreground, that make up the bulk of the picture were in place and in my mind the piece felt complete, already communicating emotion.

The interaction between the two large elements and their textures and colors already satisfied me. It was very much like a lot of my earlier work that solely relied on these factors.

I set it aside many months ago and would look at it day after day. I was hesitant to move beyond where it was by adding anything, fearing that it would alter the strong feeling it already emitted for me. I wanted to add elements that would complement that feeling and make it more apparent and accessible for the casual viewer.

I thought about going to my default icon, the Red Tree, that has a variety of meanings in itself.  But it just didn’t seem right for this piece. I settled on one of the Red Roof structures but a taller and more angular version, one that would seem to be trying to break the grip of gravity and reach upward toward infinity. The Red Chair and the path pulled a narrative together for me, one that very much falls in line with how I was seeing the painting in its early stages.

The new elements actually seem to fortify that feeling for me and now when I look at this painting, where I once only fixated on the sky and the foreground, I now see the unity of all the elements in pushing forward an emotional feeling that resonates for me.

It’s all I can hope for in my work…

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I thought for this Memorial Day a replay of the post from this day last year was appropriate and says exactly what I wanted to express this morning. We are living in strange times with a leader with little if any impulse control and a need to achieve his desired outcome regardless of the means needed to do so. I am of the opinion that if push comes to shove ( and with his knack for alienating and shoving, it’s a real possibility) he would not hesitate to spend the lives of  many of our soldiers to protect his interests. And there is a building doubt as to whether his interests are our interests.

I think that is why this Memorial Day takes on special significance. We must remember the horror of war that brought about this holiday and not gloss it over. It was not meant for glorification of war. It was a day of grieving and remembrance of souls taken much too early. Give it a thought today.

Memorial Day weekend.  It’s become the symbolic starting point for summer, a time of barbecues and partying.  Fireworks. In those rare instances when we do take the time to consider the day, many of us tend to think of it in terms of patriotism and nationalism.

But it was created from the loss and sorrow of a civil war that ripped this country and many families apart.  It was meant to alleviate the grief of the many families who suffered the ultimate loss, to let them know that the nation shared their sorrow in the memory of fallen family members.

In the nearby Woodlawn National Cemetery, where my mother, along with both my grandfathers and several uncles, is buried, there is a section that contains the nearly 3000 graves of Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War in the Elmira, NY prison camp.  Whenever I look at those stones and think of those men of the south, I always think about their families who may not have even known that their sons were suffering in a cold Northern prison.  They were mothers, wives or children who would never see or hug their sons and husbands and fathers again. People whose loss forever left a hole in their lives.

And this sacrifice was for what?  An idea, the preservation of an ideology that probably didn’t affect their day to day lives in the first place? The financial interests of the planters and plantation owners, the wealthy ruling class?

Why are we so easily stirred to war, so willing to sacrifice our own kin and their futures?

There are no easy answers.  Maybe that’s why the holiday has transformed into what it is today– it’s too terrible an image to bear when we look in that mirror and ask those questions.

So for this Sunday’s music on a Memorial Day weekend, I thought I’d play a song that asks for peace on earth with the hope that fewer families in the future will have to see this earth absorb the blood of their sons and daughters.  I know that sounds like a pipedream, a world without war.  But I have to ask  myself: Why not peace?

Here’s U2 and Peace on Earth.  Have a great Sunday and a great holiday.

NOTE: The image here on the left is a new painting, The Kinship, that is part of my show that opens this coming Friday, June 2, at the Principle Gallery.  There is a sense of remembrance in this piece for me that jibes with the real spirit of this day.

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Well, the work for the Truth and Belief show is delivered to the Principle Gallery and I can try to let out a big sigh of relief. I say try because I still have to endure the week until the show opens this coming Friday.

I’ve documented these feelings before on this blog from past shows, about how any confidence that may have grown as I was finishing the work for the show suddenly disappears once it is delivered.

It’s no different this for this year’s show. I walked in the studio early this morning and, without the reassurance from the show’s paintings that were now out of my sight, felt absolutely lousy. The big ball of anxiety was sitting directly on my gut.

I began to wonder if it was too late to become a backhoe operator. Or when the next person asks what I do and I tell them I’m a painter and they ask how much it would cost to get their bedrooms painted, I should give them a price.

But I know the routine, know it’s just part of the pattern. I’ve been experienced these same thoughts many times before and there is something in me that recognizes that I have put in the effort and been true to myself with this work.  It is a real thing.

It will work out in the long run.

Besides, I can’t really do anything else. Don’t want to do anything else. Actually, I don’t even look at what I do anymore as having been a choice. It’s just what I am now and there’s no changing that.

And that thought will carry me through the week. Oh, I’ll still feel like crap and lose every ounce of confidence I have ever known. But that’s okay because I know I will soon be back to work, being who I am meant to be.

Okay, enough of that and on to this week’s Sunday morning music. I hear that it’s Memorial Day weekend and I wanted to feature a combination of image and song that kind of fit the spirit of the holiday.  Not picnics and fireworks but the remembering part.  So many brave people have given their lives with the belief that they were defending our common values.  In these fractured times I think it’s important that we use the memory of their sacrifice as an opportunity to examine what those true values might be and how we can find common ground within them.

The painting above is from the show and is a 9″ by 12″ canvas titled So Well Remembered. The music is a short piece from trumpeter Richard Boulger titled For Souls Past. It’s a stark and lovely tune. Both have the feeling of memory that the day requires.

Have a great day…

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There are colors that really trigger reactions within me. Most people would no doubt think that the color red would be the main one and perhaps they are right. The Red Tree is certainly the thing that would come to mind for those who know my work. And Red Roofs and Red Chairs.

Or maybe one might think that it’s the Indian yellow, a warm color that was the basis for much of my early work. It creates a most satisfying peaceful feeling in me still, after all these years. It would n’t be a bad guess.

But for me, I always come back to the blues along with the purples that spin off of them. They excite, mesmerize, tranquilize, intoxicate and pacify me. They take the melancholy and anxiety of existence and mix it with the sheer joy of living and feeling to create an aura that surrounds our life. I don’t even know if that sentence makes any sense but it sure feels like the color blue to me.

An example of this might be found in this new painting that is part of my show at the Principle Gallery that opens a week from today, June 2. This 12″ by 12″ painting on canvas is titled Passing the Blues.

It’s a piece that I have been coming back to in the past few weeks, just hovering over it as I take it in.  There’s a feeling in it for me that I would describe as sweet sorrow. Kind of like the appreciation you might have for the melancholy that sometimes comes with this life. It’s not joy but it lets you know that you are are a living and feeling person.

And that, in itself, is a wonderful thing.

And that is how I see the blue colors.

Here’s a song that has that same feeling of sweet sorrow for me.  It’s a great song originally written and performed by Dolly Parton. It’s Don’t Let It Trouble Your Mind and is performed here by a favorite of mine, Rhiannon Giddens.

 

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The last few details are getting done and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am talking about the final preparations for my show that opens next Friday, June 2, at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria. These last days before I deliver the show are always hectic but also exciting in that the whole of the show becomes apparent in its finished state. Seeing how the different pieces play off each other, enhancing and reinforcing their individual strengths, is invigorating for me especially when the show reaches that level of satisfaction I am seeking.

And I feel this show reaches that level easily.

The name selected for this show is Truth and Belief.  It is also the title of the painting at the top of the page, which is 16″ by 20″ on panel. I have written a number of times here about how the chasm that has been widened in recent times between what is true and what is believed by so many people has preyed on my mind. It seems that while the truth may set you free, unfounded belief is a bear trap that holds you in place, unable to move or see anything beyond your current viewpoint. Even though you’re told information that would free you from that trap, you refuse to place any belief in it because those who set your current trap have instilled a sense of fear in you that there is a bigger trap waiting just beyond what you can see.

So you stay in your bear trap and, despite the pain, you continue to hold onto what you believe. And hope that it is true so that one day you might be free.

I don’t know if this analogy works. It’s early.

But I do think this painting works. I see the Red Tree on the hill in the distance as being Truth and the nearer one being Belief. Truth stands on higher ground overlooking everything, including Belief. It can see all. Belief has a more limited point of view but it feels like it can see everything it needs. It feels like Truth, in its own way.

But there is distance between Truth and Belief. You have a ways to go from Belief until you reach Truth.

But it’s a journey that must be made.

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The other day I received the new Summer issue of Acrylic Artist magazine that hits the newsstands and bookstores on June 6.  It contains an article featuring my work and how I arrived at my “signature style.”

I have to say that I am pleased at the way it came out. Writer Zack Hatfield did a great job transforming our interview into a well written article covering ten pages along with numerous images. Many thanks to Zack and the editors at Acrylic Artist for being such pros and for a job well done.

The magazine is available at newsstands on June 6 but if you would like a copy you can order a print or downloaded copy by clicking on the magazine cover shown here on the right.

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