I just put the finishing touches on this commission, and soon it will be off to a collector’s home.
Painting at the peak of summer has always been a challenge. The warmest days make me actually lethargic and groggy. I’m fortunate to have air conditioning in my studio. An addition that came a few years ago. And during this summer, with the extended endless days of hot sun, I cannot fathom working without cooled air at the touch of a button.
Sitting in my studio in the early summer morning, the painting I am working on was soaking up the light, so I quickly took a photo.
The colour of the painting was entirely dictated by the shifting tones in the light, a cool to warm gradation was passing over the surface of the three foot width of the painting.
These paintings are built up of thin layers of paint, even the large amount of white you see. As the light changes throughout the day and the year, I like to see how the paintings themselves seem to change as the light bounces around the room and off the painting’s surface. The mood of the work can be entirely dependent on the space they are in and the angles they are viewed and even the time of day.
I’m almost done with this piece. Then I’ll be focussing on a somewhat complicated commission.
Last week, I mentioned that I had spent much time painting typewriter keys in the past few months. So here’s an example of more typewriter keys.
Repetition, continuity, rhythm, symmetry and balance — these are all elements that drive my paintings. But also, they drive my studio practice. For centuries artists have repeated subjects, returning to the same thing repeatedly to improve upon their last iteration.
I have seen artists entirely give up on the idea of a career doing what they love because they get bored with the notion of always returning to the same subjects. The not-so-secret secret, it would seem, is to keep coming back to what you know.
Cézanne paintined Mont Sainte-Victiore dozens of times. The same view, over and over. Monet did a series of Rouen Cathedral 30 times. The precise same position and composition.
And so today, I return to painting yet more typewriter keys and other intricate details of the mechanisms that make these machines so interesting to me.
A recent commission that turned out great — which makes me happy as it is huge at 60 x 40 inches. Crated and shipped off to clients on the East Coast of the USA.
It looks simple enough, but a large amount of white space is several thin layers of paint that took days to dry while I anxiously waited and hoped no specks of dust or marks would ruin the smooth surface I work to achieve. The effect is a luminosity that changes with different light throughout the day and the change of seasons.
Four more in my ongoing series of single-clock paintings. When I began this series at the end of last year, I was moving the hands along as I went… 1:00, 2:00, 3:00 and so on. It wasn’t long before I was going around again. So I changed the naming scheme. The hands will stay at 10:10 as the paintings are on 10 x 10-inch canvas.
These four are now at the George Billis Gallery in Westport, Connecticut. You can see them closer here: No.1, No.2, No.5, No.6.
I have completed several new little clock paintings. After having a pretty good reaction to my 10 x 10 inch paintings that I started sharing at the beginning of 2021 and selling a dozen of them, I found time between commissions to send a couple of new ones to the George Billis Gallery in Los Angeles.
The plan is to continue with an ongoing series of these pieces. Going forward, the time will be set to 10:10. Here we have No.3 & No.4.
I was recently contacted by an Italian publisher who requested using one of my paintings for the cover a new book called Libro di furti by Eugenio Baroncelli. They chose a painting of mine from 2007 — which seems a lifetime ago. But you can see I have clearly stuck with the theme as my current work also features some pencils.
And The Poetry Business out of the United Kingdom (who have also used one of my paintings for their magazine) used one of my paintings — a more recent piece from 2017 — for the cover of Talking to Stanley on the Telephone by Michael Schmidt. A book of poetry that, unlike the Italian book, I can read and appreciate. Oh, how I wish I could speak and read Italian.
I have written in a journal for 29 years. Let me tell you if you dig up and read the first entry written by your adolescent self, it’s remarkably revealing. Over the years, the purpose of the writing has changed. It can sometimes be like a daily log, but the business of life means that it is hard to keep up and often pointless. So I have kept it up to write about and document significant events.
There are podcasts and radio programs where people are invited to read their journal entries from their adolescence — in front of audiences, no less. It seems like a mortifying experience, and after recently reading through the earliest entries, I am pondering ripping out a few of the pages.
I am most keenly aware of is how the early teen me conceived the passage of time. At 15-years-old, six months is like a lifetime. And now, in middle age, six months seems just around the corner.
This painting is recently finished. It took me over a month to complete, but I felt no sense of urgency. An urgency that in my 20s was always prevalent.
I listen to radio, podcasts and audiobooks while I work. I have done so for over a decade. I have noticed that when I look back at past paintings, I can instantly recall what I was listening to. This is not true for all paintings because not everything I hear makes an indelible mark. But some things have significance, and they signal a turning point or an idea that has substance and holds.
Fact: if you pose your hand holding a brush up to your painting, more people will stop and look at the image when they’re scrolling through on their phones. My hand in the photo does a few things; it offers a sense of scale and offers the sense of a human being behind the work you are looking at.
Continuing with the 10 x 10 clock paintings that I shared at the beginning of 2021, this time with a teal variation. These clocks were among the first that I started to collect about 15 years ago and remain my favourite.
“No age has a monopoly on misery,” and with that quote, the book featured in this painting starts the guidance on how to live an abundant life.
Published in 1950, The Art of Real Happiness is a reconciliation of old-age religious beliefs and modern psychology. I always try to have a book on the go, and I have been reading history books lately, and if there is one theme that is consistent through millennia, it is the collision of “old” and “new” ways of thinking.
It seems as though we are entering a new era where our conflicting ways of thinking, our myriad of philosophies and beliefs are colliding. And as a quiet observer of the world around me, I find myself straddling feelings of excitement and worry.