Oblique Intention: new process, new work

My upcoming show, Oblique Intention, opens at Bryant Street Gallery in Palo Alto on September 1. The Opening Reception will be Friday, September 7 from 6 – 8 pm.

Radix 25, Mixed Media on Panel, 40×60

The paintings that will be shown in this exhibition represent a year’s departure from working exclusively in encaustic – encaustic monotype with thin layers of encaustic color in the surrounding area. For many reasons, I found it necessary to explore another media that would reflect what my work is about and the reason I paint. After all, my work has never entirely been about the encaustic surface, as beautiful as it is. I needed a change after 15 years of working with encaustic, so I started experimenting and exploring. There were many rough spots along the way, but that’s what I crave from the creation process.

Radix 21, Mixed Media on Panel, 40×40

This new body of work is a group of paintings composed of an encaustic monotype, sometimes a single fragment mounted on panel, and sometimes multiple fragments collaged and mounted together (see last Blog). In the surrounding areas, I’ve painted many thin layers of pigmented glazes, a process I learned in the 80’s from British artist, Hugh O’Donnell. He taught me how to apply paint the way he believed Rembrandt did. I love balancing this classical approach of handling paint with the resulting abstract imagery.

Radix 32, Mixed Media on Panel, 40×40

It takes an infinite amount of patience to, not only let each layer dry, but to see the subtle shifts of color when a new layer of glaze is applied. One can’t work quickly as in encaustic. – there’s a much slower tempo. Sometimes I sand in between applications of paint, sometimes I just add another layer. Some paintings have as many as 20-25 layers in order to create the quality of light and movement I need. There have been some nice surprises along the way such as a more highly defined surface versus the translucent and sometimes more distant surface of encaustic.

Radix 30, Mixed Media on Panel, 36×36

The title of the exhibition, Oblique Intention, comes from a combination of the meaning of oblique – not straightforward, more indirect or indirectly stated – and the word intention – a specific purpose, an aim, something to direct the mind towards. My work these days, always a reflection of my life and world, seems to move in those directions. My paintings have always had very subtle qualities that invite the willing viewer in for a closer look and opportunity to spend more time. This body of work is no exception. The contrast between the active and often colorful gestural work in the monotypes and the quiet color fields is a balance I strive for. A counterpoint also exists between the underlying grid/geometric format of the composition and the organic linear movement.

Radix 20, Mixed Media on Panel, 40×60

collage, chine collé, à coller

I often ask myself why I enjoy collage. What is it about assembling and reconfiguring different bits of paper – in my case drawings, etchings, and monotypes – that is so satisfying? Creating a visual perspective by connecting seemingly disparate fragments so that, hopefully, they work together successfully is like locating the missing piece in a jigsaw puzzle. It’s a pleasing moment for sure.

Some of my earlier collages were attempts to deal with my frustration with painting. Collage represented something I could do that was intimate, not involving large amounts of time or expense.

Collage 23, 17×13

Collage 24, 13×17

Collage 27, 17×13

They were fast and fun, using fragments of materials on hand. I made a promise to myself not to go back and rework them, just to keep making more, otherwise I wouldn’t see where this process was going to take me. After looking at over 30 of these, spread out on my studio floor, I decided to mount one on a panel, painting a color field in the surrounding area, a process I had been doing for a long while . I liked where it was going and continued to work on larger collages.

Radicle 6, Encaustic, 40×40

Radix 10, Mixed Media on Panel, 40×40

Radix 13, Mixed Media on Panel, 40×40

Radicle 9, Encaustic, 40×30

My eye would follow, as a musician might read a line of music: a new order and perspective was created by the juxtaposition of lines and shapes.

Sometimes I found myself focusing entirely on these intersecting black lines, as they weaved in and out of focus, sections of them covered by other lines that had been added through this collage process. Now it was getting fun.

Radix 17, Mixed Media on Panel, 30×30

Radix 18, Mixed Media on Panel, 30×30

Radix 19, Mixed Media on Panel, 30×30

Dimensional planes were being created that hadn’t appeared before, a subtle sense of depth and space, inviting the viewer to look more closely.

There are days I work on a sole fragment (my next Blog), enjoying the simplicity of one, rather than many. I feel very fortunate to be able to go back and forth working between the 2 processes with equal enjoyment and ease. Each time I return to working with multiple fragments or working with a single piece, I’m influenced by what I’ve been doing with the other and look forward to seeing where the process then takes me.

Radix 1a, Mixed Media on Panel, 30″x60″

Here’s a link to a Blog about collage which includes my work: sfcollagecollective.wordpress.com

Oblique Intention: Patricia Rovzar Gallery, Seattle, WA, July 2012

Art Access Magazine, July 5, 2012

This is my Opening Reception on July 5, 2012 of Oblique Intention at the Patricia Rovzar Gallery in Seattle, Washington. It was a beautifully installed exhibition by Patricia and Erik. Two sales were made to a lovely couple from North Carolina. A warm evening and good friends made this opening lots of fun and a great success.

Sometimes you just gotta let go…..

I’ve been working on a particular painting for 10 months, loving some aspects of it, not loving the rest. Basically, it was not working for me and I was too attached to let it go. It seemed no matter how many layers of glaze I added, I couldn’t get it right. The issue involved the size of this particular panel and the composition. In the back of my mind, I knew what needed to be done, but didn’t want to do it. How could I cover up months of hard work developing such a beautiful surface? My decision was to turn it towards the wall where I didn’t have to be reminded of this on a daily basis.

Last Friday, I decided to add a couple of collage fragments, upset the compositional balance and paint over much of the painting’s surface. It was liberating to say the least. I could actually see where it needed to go. It was like holding up a mirror and looking at myself. I include a photo of the just-painted-over surface and will update as the old painting undergoes transformation.

Even though I’ve been painting for over 30 years, some paintings catch you by surprise, totally perplex you and, hopefully, become your greatest teachers. It took me almost a year, and this is the completed painting…