August 30, 2008

Studio Update: Summer progress

Summer is usually a productive season for those of us who teach, but inevitably some things remain unfinished because gauging the time needed to complete certain tasks, especially painting, is impossible. Nevertheless, I got a lot done.

Painting:
In Beacon, NY, I participated in Simon Draper’s Habitat for Artists shantytown residency project, spending most Mondays working unplugged in the four-by-five-foot shed he built for me. I completed twenty-five 11” x 17” data-gathering color studies (oil on cardboard) to inform my use of hue, saturation, and value in a new series of 40” x 54” paintings on canvas. My other studio is in my house, just around the corner from Mystic Pizza, and consists of a warren of small attic rooms, which seem spacious after spending time at the shack. There I work on larger-scale paintings. After making 18” x 24” paintings for the past two years, scaling up and working with an expanded palette has been a challenge. Rather than beginning rigidly with specific sketches and /or predetermined imagery, I’ve always been more inclined to let the process determine the outcome. Working bigger over a longer timeframe has increased the potential for both fruitful expansion and frustrating digression. But, on balance, the tangents have been more energizing than exasperating, especially as paintings neared completion.

Image above: My desk in Beacon. Image below: The shack in August. Image at bottom: Triad study, oil on cardboard, 11" x 17."

Book projects:
I’ve just finished drafting The Tower Paintings: Keeping Our Distance, a 50-page full-color artist’s book that reproduces a 34-panel series of paintings based on the structure of isolated observation towers. I made the paintings one by one, and by presenting them sequentially in the book, I intend to provide a visual narrative about the process of – and I hope progress in – making art. The idea is to situate each painting in the context of the whole project, and to allow readers to track and assess my aesthetic decisions. Two short essays are also included. The final version should be available in a week or two. Look for Control Number 2008907657 if you’re at the Library of Congress.

Writing:
In August I wrote about Jilaine Jones’s elegant exhibition of sculpture at the New York Studio School for the September issue of The Brooklyn Rail. Jones’s work shows that the process of “making” can indeed create deeper, more complex layers of meaning, and proves that creating permanent objects is still a viable approach for artists working in three dimensions. I'll provide a link once it goes online.

Upcoming exhibitions and events where you can see my work:
Building Consensus,” Akus Gallery, Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, CT. August 28-October 9. Opening reception with the artists, Thursday, Sept. 4, 5-7pm.
Brooklyn Rail Silent Art Auction,” PaceWildenstein, 534 West 25th Street, New York, NY. September 4: Viewing 12-6pm, September 5: Viewing 12-6pm, Silent Auction 6-9 pm.
Evening with the Artists,” Habitat for Artists exhibition and record release party for Dar Williams's new project, Tuesday, September 9, 6-9pm. Spire Studios, 45 Beekman Street, Beacon, NY. (I have to teach, so I won't be there.)
Pocket Utopia Artist Residency, Brooklyn, NY. January 2009. More details to come.

Previous studio updates:
Studio visits (July 12, 2008)
Unplugged in Beacon (June 6, 2008)
Studio shack update (May 18, 2008)
Itinerant painter (May 9, 2008)

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