Saturday, December 31, 2011

Not the Harry Potter Sorting Hat

Revisiting one of my first paintings circa 2001 when I was on a tight budget; I painted sitting on the floor and used Basic acrylic paints on cardboard. This version will perhaps show the progress I have made in 10 years of painting on the occasional weekend. (For the original painting see )

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Not A Potato

Trying to follow the advice of Ira Glass (December 22 post) and just paint a lot, mostly free-form without any sketching, planning, (not that I normally do much of any of either of those useful practices) ruminating, and looking for the right moment to waltz into the studio fully inspired and ready for action (those I do quite a bit and yes waiting around for that last bit wastes a lot of time).

Friday, December 23, 2011

An interesting goal

"...the treasure secretly gathered in your heart will become evident through your creative work."
— Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) on learning to draw.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The best advice

Monday, November 28, 2011


Trying to tone down my use of color. An experiment mixing all colors starting with a purple-brown. One hue added to create a new color. I am not cleaning my brush in between. Nice and relaxing.

Monday, November 14, 2011

And now something dark...

Yaldabaoth Phases

I'm calling you
You are not alone
I say
You are not alone
In your darkness"

T. Amos

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Reenactors at Twin Lakes

This effort is a more gift-friendly living-room-accent type of painting than I normally do, and I am working from a photograph I took which is also rare for me. Copying something is so much easier than getting an image in my brain out onto the canvas. I am really liking the abstract quality this has now, which will morph away as I add detail. Sometimes I wish I would just stop at expressive forms of just a few colors. For example, I adore the simplicity of an Edvard Munch landscape-with-people composition (although I could never aspire to show such wondrous expressive movement as he). Will I stop adding detail in time to save this painting from being true to the original object but ordinary? Who knows.

I hope mom is not watching, because this is her xmas present.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


This painting began as another figurative painting. It was based on a sort of dream/vision I had about the creative process, which involved a strange story regarding a muse and alligator babies that I fed by allowing them to suckle blood from my arms. Ok, never mind that part. But basically I converted those images into cultural quasi-religious symbols. My major aim has been to create color combinations and patterns which vibrate positively together as a unit. However as the idea for the painting is rooted in the figurative do not be surprised if the main shape reminds you of a bathtub.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Progressions of Paintings Unfinished

This post strikes me as particularly poetic.

I take progression photos for two reasons. 1.) so I have a record of what it looked like so I can be more confident about proceeding to potentially mess it up, and 2.) because while painting it is hard to remember what it once looked like and how changed the work is.

Change is not always completely good; I often miss the free untidy rough look once I get to the end of the progression, and sometimes I take it too far and the painting becomes rigid. If anyone knows how to prevent this, I welcome suggestions.

But I do also enjoy the particular zeitgeist of each panel, each in its own way.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Elixir, or, Yello Woman, revisited

This may no longer be a work in progress... or is it? This piece was subject to a poll last year when I was not sure what to do with it. See before and after by going back to posts from April and September 2009. Woah, big difference.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Final post before Open Studios: Apr. 30-May 1 noon-6

The studio is readied for a visit. I hope some of you can make it. 13 Spring St. Somerville MA.

Nearby on Central St. is the Somerville Museum, where the Artist´s Choice show is running.

UPDATE... Here is the Youtube video I made of the studio and its contents on the day of Open Studios:

Friday, April 15, 2011

Seriously down a notch, or more expressive?

I know that since my first ever Open Studio event is coming up that I should be thinking like a PR person and posting my most impressive/ serious painting. However today I find myself doing the opposite and posting the results of making art in MS Paint. For anyone who is unfamiliar, this is a clunky old program that every Microsoft user has but almost no one uses. Today I found myself feeling trapped at work and cranky for not being able to be at home painting or outside on this fine day. So I took some time (with the defense that cheering myself up would make the rest of my work day more productive) with MS Paint, which I find a rather liberating exercise, actually. Sometimes I think my paintings lack expressiveness because I exert too much control over the paint. Well, that is impossible to do in MS Paint. Enjoy.

(Note: all of these were drawn/ painted using a mouse, except for the most recent [the yellow person] I used a pen version of the mouse.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Preservation of Art: Framing Hardware

One of the most baffling things I came across once I started framing canvas was what hardware to use. Until I took a class on Care of Paintings I just hobbled things together with nails and staples. Frames themselves are a great start as they protect the canvas. Even if not noticed right away, banging canvases around will cause eventual mechanical damage to the paint layers. I was kind of mortified when I learned this, and I now treat canvases very differently.

For those of you who would like to see your work or work you collect survive beyond your generation (or even beyond next Tuesday) here is the skinny on hardware.

For framing canvases you will need offset clips of varying sizes. These will be screwed into the back to keep the canvas flush with the frame. Second you will need ring hangers which are essentially d-rings with a sturdy metal tag that screw onto both sides of the back of the frame about 1/8 of the way down. Do not be tempted to use just one at the top, or to use screw-eyes, as you risk them pulling out, sending your painting crashing to the floor. So that means using 4 to 8 offset clips per canvas and two ring hangers. Between the hangers string hanging wire that is the proper gauge. The package will reveal how heavy the wire is gauged for. Wrap the wire around itself after threading it through the ring hangers.

Here are all of the hardware pieces I just mentioned. OOK is not the only manufacturer, but is more commonly available at art and hardware stores.
Here is how they should be installed. For a heavy frame use larger ring hangers that have two screw holes instead of one.

These are examples of OOK products that are not appropriate for canvases with significant frames. Sawtooths and prongs are meant for objects of a lighter weight. The heaviest object I would hang with prongs would be foam core. I would not use a sawtooth on anything heavier than an 8 x 10 framed photograph or drawing.

These items may also be useful to you. Picture hooks are great because they do not leave a large hole in the wall, but use two if the object is large or heavy. I prefer putting screws in the wall where there is a stud because I like the security. Moulding hooks are made specifically for houses that already have picture moulding usually set about a foot from the ceiling. So what some people mistake for decoration is actually a useful method of hanging pictures. The hooks come in different shapes, as they are meant to match the profile of the moulding exactly. Glazier points are those pesky little pointy things that keep the backing of glass picture frames for drawings or prints intact. Removing them is a pain, unless they are the type that bend upward for installing the work.

I hope this was a helpful guide. Please let me know if there are any questions.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Somerville Open Studios April 31, May 1

Exactly one month from now I will be participating in my first ever Open Studios. This is because I finally have enough work AND I live in a town that has them. Somerville actually has quite the vibrant arts community. You can visit the Open Studios website here:

I have been racking my brain on how to display my paintings without putting a gazillion big screw holes in my rental apartment walls. I must admit everyone I asked came up with plenty of good and/or crazy contraptions to build, but I found these inexpensive self-standing wire grid racks that can fit 3 paintings on each side. I found them here: Gershel Brothers . This is a small company that sells displays for retail stores- and they actually called me back with answers to my questions even though I am not some large business. Blick art supplies has much nicer versions meant for art (such as the very refined art tree) but these solutions are not thrifty enough for me.

There will be at least one piece for sale: an oil painting of The Magdalene for around $400. The "studio" (a.k.a. the foyer of an apartment I share) is at 13 Spring Street and the hours are 12-6. Maps for all of the Somerville studios who are showing will be available all over town in colorful sidewalk stands, and will also be available on the website.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Backgroud painting for: Hypocondria

Here is the progress of a piece I got in my head possibly two years ago. Here I have two versions of the background, a natural scene with a tomb much like in the two Poussin paintings for Et in Arcadia Ego. My painting will have a single figure who is much more interested in himself than in the message on the tomb. The first version, started two years ago and abandoned twice thereafter, has a more yellow-green hue foliage and a pink and blue sky (and is a little further along). The second, started two weeks ago, started as a palette I created for it on (see previous blog). It also is the first painting I have started from scratch after my color class. Instead of yellow green and brown, the emphasis is on the bluish-green and toned-down red. To me, the second is more harmonious, even though it may not be as true to nature as, well, nature. The composition is also much more exciting.

I think I am going to try and complete both versions.

Very curious to hear your thoughts on the comparison.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Color Class

I have traced much of my painting frustrations lately to a particular suspect: color. I believe I do not naturally have a good sense of color and that it needs to be cultivated. So recently I took a Color Intensive at the Cambridge Center. The instructor was no color genius: I asked many of what I thought were basic questions for which he seemed to lack answers, but he directed exercises with the color wheel that I did learn a lot from. It turns out my color wheel education was severely limited- it is in fact a very useful tool and yes there is a science behind a good palette (even though some artists understand and apply this naturally). Also I have a new rule that I will never use simple bottled brown, grey or black again. Harmony is created by relating the colors on the palette together and subtle harmonious color goes a long way toward improving the painting. Brown grey and black are much more interested when created from complimentary colors.

I have also started using a new online tool which allows you to create and save color pallets online. It is called Colourlovers, and while most people use it for graphic design or just for fun, I was able to successfully apply a saved palette to a newly started painting today. When I strayed away from the palette, I quickly noticed the disaster it was creating and cleaned it back up.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Meditation 1

This is a progression piece in two scenes. They will not be hung like this, but side by side.

The sheen on the red leg is from the camera.

The subject is one of the first meditations I ever attempted when I was in high school.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


A new wallpaper collage, creating using a new glue formulation in order to lessen the acidity of the final product. A preservationist recommended this: Methylcellulose with some Polyvinyl chloride for durability.

It is interesting to me that somehow I am better with color subtlety and harmony using collage than I am with paint. Somehow the limitation to certain colors patterns and textures is helpful in my creative process and I do not experience the kind of high-stakes stress that I do when I paint.