Monday, January 18, 2021

Back to Black (and white)

The Center City skyline of downtown Philadelphia
as viewed from a spectacular urban rooftop garden


I'm listening to AC / DC’s hit "Back in Black" as I write this because it's the perfect theme song for what I’m working on right now. During these winter months when I'm not exhibiting at outdoor art shows (and especially during a time of pandemic), I use this quieter time to work on custom painting commissions for clients.


Among a few projects that I have in process right now is a custom cityscape painting that will feature the Center City skyline of downtown Philadelphia. There are many factors to consider in a subject so complex, everything from light and atmosphere to the details of the architecture. To keep an idea like this from becoming overwhelming, I go back to basics and go "back to black." Gosh, it's almost a perfect title to pair with AC / DC, right? 


An alternative perspective of the subject  
What I mean by this is that I strip down the idea to graphite renderings in my sketchbook to work out the composition and approach. This is just a first building block. In the coming weeks, I’ll do a couple of small scale color studies for my client to review. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and these first practice runs at an idea allow me to communicate what I’m thinking to my client and also help him offer his thoughts and ideas during the process. 


There’s nothing wrong with going "back to black" to create a full-color painting!

Friday, January 08, 2021

Real Artists Ship


Plein air painting in progress

My plein air field easel with a Pennsylvania landscape in progress

"Real artists ship."

This quote, attributed to the founder of Apple Computer, Steve Jobs, is one of my guiding principles in my art studio practice. Real artists don't tinker, they deliver. Real artists don't nibble around the edges, they get things done.

This new year of 2021 has me reflecting a lot on what values and goals I want to emphasize in my art. In normal, non-pandemic times, I embraced this mantra of "shipping" while juggling the demands of outdoor art shows, commissions, and regional exhibition opportunities. Whether it was dealing with long distance travel, inclement weather, or unpredictable socioeconomic events (I distinctly recall doing an art show in New York State right after the venerable Lehman Brothers brokerage house shuttered), this principle of "just get it done" has guided me through a lot of static during my artistic career. 

During the peak demands of my summer and fall art show seasons, a beautiful, sunny day was not an occasion to knock back and relax. No, it was an opportunity to go to a nearby park and do some plein air landscape painting. And although I sometimes wanted nothing more than to launch an uncooperative cityscape painting out of my studio window in a fit of pique, I persevered until the late hours and then got back up again at 3am the next morning to finish it to my satisfaction so that it could be dry and ready to display for my next art show that month. 

"Real artists ship."

But as we enter 2021, I'm waiting on the sidelines for a vaccine before I believe I can safely travel to my favorite outdoor art shows. For a variety of reasons, it may be a while before I can receive this masterpiece of modern science.

So, my plan to start 2021 and for the foreseeable future will be to continue to share my new paintings with you online through virtual events and private Zoom showings. I'm also going to temporarily set aside this mantra of "shipping" and take a deep dive into some bigger paintings. While the hamster wheel of my usual schedule is still, I now have the time to explore some ideas that I've had sitting around for years because I was so busy "shipping." This downtime can be a blessing, and I'll do my best to share some different ideas with you in 2021.

I look forward to the opportunity to share these larger scale paintings with you. In the meantime, I wish all of you good health, safety, and happiness in this New Year.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Closing out a Gnarly Year


Coda, oil on canvas

Coda, 6 x 12 inch oil on canvas
My final "mini" painting for 2020

Wow, for as gnarly as this past year was, it still seemed to go by quickly. On many occasions, I was confused about what day of the week it was because many of the days blurred together without my usual schedule of art shows and exhibitions to anchor my awareness. But as I look back, I am extremely grateful for the work I was able to create and for being able to remain healthy.

I want you to know how much I appreciate your support of my artwork. With your help, I got through a year that sometimes seemed overwhelming and mystifying. 

Like many of you, these past months forced me to evolve and to innovate. I enjoyed showing my Knoxville studio and new paintings to you through live online shows. I upgraded my web site to offer you better ways to see my artwork. I also tapped into my old video and film production skills to share more about my artistic process and to stay connected with you via social media.

I’m optimistic about the year ahead. I have some cool, new ideas that I’ll be working on and I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to travel to some of my outdoor art shows later in the year following the vaccine rollout. Until then, please know that I’m deeply grateful for your interest in what I do. I look forward to sharing more landscape and cityscape paintings with you in 2021.