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Archive for the ‘Event’ Category

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“Nirvana is right here, in the midst of the turmoil of life. It is the state you find when you are no longer driven to live by compelling desires, fears, and social commitments, when you have found your center of freedom and can act by choice out of that. Voluntary action out of this center is the action of the bodhisattvas — joyful participation in the sorrows of the world. You are not grabbed, because you have released yourself from the grabbers of fear, lust, and duties.” 

Joseph CampbellThe Power of Myth

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I was going to share another of the Multitudes pieces that will be included in this year’s June exhibit at the Principle Gallery. But I saw that I have been a little heavy on my sharing of that work as of late and was a little concerned that people might think that was the sole focus of this show.

The title of this show, Redtree 20: New Growth, refers to the fact that this is my 20th solo show at the gallery. My first exhibit in 2000, Redtree, basically marked the beginning of the Red Tree that has become the trademark element of much of my work through the years. Though many elements have entered my visual vocabulary, the Red Tree is a constant and feels new to me each time I paint it.

Now the painting I am showing today, Night Nirvana, a 30″ by 40″ canvas, is what I would call a Red Roof painting, not a Red Tree piece. But it very much reflects the evolution and change taking place in the work over the years.

The process is always changing in some way. Some colors move forward and others recede. New elements are added and some fade away. Even something as basic as the way the surfaces are prepared has gone through changes.

I think that the fact that there is this constant evolution is the reason that my friends at the Principle Gallery are still inviting me to do this show after all these years.

But one thing that hasn’t changed in those 20+ years is the underlying purpose that I hope to find in the work– a place of inner peace and freedom from a world that seems chaotic and in turmoil all too often.

A Nirvana, if you will.

I think the words of Joseph Campbell above, from The Power of Myth, sum up very well what I hope to find in my work. And that aligns very well with what I feel in this new piece which is a sense of a found tranquility that finds a peaceful order amidst the chaos.

It is the realization of self, freed from the expectations and limitations of others.

Well, it is hopeful. And that keeps me want to keep moving forward.

And that is enough.

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Redtree 20: New Growth opens June 7, 2019 at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA.

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There is an opening next Friday, February 22, [I originally said the opening was on the 15th because, well, sometimes I get confused]of a special exhibition at the Principle Gallery that marks 25 years of providing high quality artwork in historic Alexandria, Virginia. It has been my great pleasure and honor to be part of this great gallery for 23 of those years and I am pleased to have several pieces in this special show.

Like many of the artists it represents, the Principle Gallery has grown and evolved over those 25 years, becoming one of the most prominent galleries in the country with artists and collectors from near and far as well as another gallery branch in Charleston, SC.

But even with its growing influence in the gallery world, its strength remains the personal and warm welcome it offers to anybody who wanders through the doors of its location in the historic Gilpin House at 208 King Street. There is never a sense of pretense or condescension and the entire staff does all it can to make all feel comfortable. It is all about allowing the gallery visitor to experience the artwork in a way that allows them to relax and fully absorb the art in a personal fashion.

And they have done that successfully every day for the past twenty five years. And I sincerely thank and applaud hem for that. I hope that if you’re in the area you can stop in to celebrate the occasion with them on Friday evening, February 22. The opening reception begins at 6:30.

Unfortunately, I can’t make this opening. But I will be there in June for the opening of my 20th annual solo show. Hope to see you then!

 

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My annual show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, Virginia, opens on Friday, June 7th. This year is my 20th solo show there, something that seemed out of the realm of possibility when this run began with the first Redtree show back in 2000.

Nothing seemed guaranteed at that time.

I was still a fairly new artist at that point, showing my work publicly for barely five years with the last two years as a full-time artist. Still had that new artist smell. I understood that the Principle Gallery was taking a chance on me and that this show was a great opportunity for me as an artist. Solo shows in great galleries don’t just come to artists on an everyday basis and the success or failure of such a show could dictate how my career moved on from that point. I knew that all too well.

I remember my trepidation in the months before that first show as I prepared for it. I was operating in abject fear of my own failure was having trouble visualizing what success this show would even resemble. My final goal for the show ended up being that I simply hoped to not be embarrassed.

Fortunately, it turned out to be very successful. That led to the next year and the next and so forth. There have been varying degrees of success with the shows along the way but one thing that seldom changes is the absolute fear of failure that comes with each show. So, here I am, twenty years in, and still feeling that same ball of anxiety in my gut. If anything, it might even be worse because I see this as a personal landmark of sorts. I want it to be a show worthy of twenty years invested by the gallery.

I’ve been looking at some of he work from those earliest Principle Gallery shows, trying to see similarities and differences between the work then and now. To see how it has changed, to see what has been gained and lost. One that struck me this morning was the piece above from 2001 called Symphony to Joy. It’s a piece with what I would term great organic appeal. I mean that it in the sense given by the linework within the piece and the way the colors and forms play off one another. It just seems very natural.

Maybe I shouldn’t try to explain such things.

But what I am looking at is how I can regain that natural feel, that organic sense present in the painting. Twenty years of painting have straightened some lines, taken some spontaneity out of some color choices, and softened some rough edges. Experience and knowledge has taken the place of the urgency of the pure emotion found in these early pieces.

I sit here this morning anxiously wondering how to find a way to merge the experience with that emotional urgency. Hope I can figure it out before June 7th.

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Painting Workshop 2018

Like most Americans, I have found the last couple of days have been exhausting. My reasons are most likely different than most other Americans. I was fortunate in not being able to watch the proceedings surrounding the Supreme Court and instead spent the last two days leading a painting workshop up in Penn Yan.

Tiring but not maddening. I feel so fortunate.

It’s a two day workshop and these people do an amazing amount of work in a very short time. Probably too much. Working off a piece that I am painting in front of them, they basically finish two decent sized paintings in two days, start to finish. The last half of each day is a flurry of activity as each of them moves quickly to bring the painting to state of completion.

There is little time to consider each movement. Just paint.

At the end of each day I am always stunned by how well they have adapted to techniques that are not easy and require a bit of practice, more than the short time in this workshop affords, in order to have any degree of mastery. I look at the work completed and realize that what they have done is much more than I do normally do in any two days in my studio. I am not sure they even realize how much they have done.

Hopefully, they take some small bit of the experience with them. Maybe look at the pieces they’ve done and say Wow, I did that!

It was great group and I feel fortunate to have gotten to now each of them a bit more. I am sincerely proud of each of them and how much they have done in the short time we worked together.

But like I said it’s exhausting, a lot of work and anxiety for a guy whose real comfort zone is in my studio tucked away from the rest of the world. I am not sure if I am going to do it again but if I do, it will be because the folks who come each year treat me so well. I think if I do opt to do it again, we would only work on one painting and work at an easier pace where they can take more time to consider what they are doing.

But that is the future. As to the present, many thanks to to the great folks I spent the last two days with. It was my pleasure.

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Character

I am busy getting things around today for a workshop that I am leading up at Penn Yan in the beautiful Finger Lakes tomorrow and Friday. This is only my fourth year doing this but every year I say that this is most likely the last time I will do this. The words have already left my mouth this year.

I do not feel that I am a natural teacher and get somewhat stressed out doing these, much more so than giving a talk. Because the folks at the workshop are paying to be there, I worry that they won’t get their money’s worth. That’s where the anxiety comes in for me. I probably overcompensate in response to this but if it helps me feel that I have given something of value to these folks, then I can accept that.

Even though it’s stressful, I have to say that I am glad to be doing this workshop this year, given what might be happening in the next couple of days in DC. I would rather be teaching a few of my techniques to willing and friendly faces than yelling and swearing at my television.

Now that is stress.

So, I am taking a few days off from the blog. The image and Helen Keller quote at the top speak very much to the trials this country is currently experiencing. Whatever character we possess as a nation, now is the time it will be truly revealed.

Good luck to us all. See you in a few days.

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The painting above is The Sea, Watched from artist Jamie Wyeth. I came across the quote from Wyeth that is  below the image and it really struck a nerve with me, especially in the moment.

Being back in the studio after the Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery, I am conflicted by two desires. One is to just be bone lazy and do nothing, to simply enjoy the good feelings generated by the talk and my own sense of my work at the moment. The other is to dig back in with even greater fervor, to move the goalposts ahead and begin the next step towards reaching those goals. What exactly those goals are is yet to be determined but I do know they are there.

I do feel that I do have to move forward, to not be lazy and rest on the work that is out there at this point. Part of that comes from doing these talks and getting real feedback on what I have done. I don’t want to come before these folks next year and have nothing new, no advancement in the body of the work, to point to.

That is the one of the addictive parts of this painting thing– a fear of falling short.

But sometimes the lazy part is appealing. I look at the work so far and I feel good about it. I tell myself to take it easy. Relax. Coast for a while. That would certainly be easy to do.

But part of me knows that’s the wrong way to go. If for some reason my career ended today, I can’t say I would be satisfied with what I have done. I don’t feel that my story is completely told yet, that the work hasn’t yet revealed all that it has to yield.

So, I dig back in.

I was asked after the talk the other day if I planned to retire and I laughed. First, I said I couldn’t because all of the paintings I have given away at these talk represented my retirement funds. But I said I couldn’t imagine not doing this to the day I either die or become incapacitated in a way that would prevent me from picking up a brush and making a mark.

Realistically, I figure I have a good twenty five years in which to be productive. And if I am fortunate and take care of myself, maybe thirty. I notice more and more older artists working into their 90’s and beyond, producing new work that are exclamation points on long careers.

That would be good. But it won’t happen if one lets laziness creep too much into the equation. Fortunately for me, the credo, “Live to work, work to live,” is not a scary or depressing idea.

So, that being said, I’ve got a lot of work to do. Have a great day.

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Good day yesterday. My Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery went really well, with a great group of folks that made the task much easier for me. Lots of familiar faces of friends that I have seen many times before and plenty of new ones as well. They all made me feel comfortable and had lots of interesting and well thought out questions. The hour flew by and I only stumbled once or twice. We had some laughs and I hope everyone walked away thinking that it was time well spent.

I know that I enjoyed myself. That’s not something I have always said after some of these talks. I often anguish over things I have and have not said, over those folks I didn’t get to say more to, over the flop sweat that I can feel seeping out of my pores when I suddenly go blank. Things like that. But yesterday didn’t hold a lot of regrets for me.

I felt very free to be open and honest with these folks.

Thank you to everyone who was there for giving me that freedom. I can’t fully express my appreciation for the sustenance that it will provide me over the long days ahead in the studio.

And a very warm thank you to Michele and the gang at the Principle Gallery for the continuing support you offer me after the 21+ years we’ve worked together. I appreciate all you do for me but more than that, I value the friendship and trust you have shown me over this time.  Thank you, as potent as those words are, seems insufficient. But you know what I mean, right?

Hope we can do it even better next year!

For this Sunday morning music here’s something from a favorite of mine, the great Rhiannon Giddens. It’s called Hey Bébé and it has a nice, jaunty feel to kick off the first Sunday of autumn. Have a great day.

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