The final touches applied, this piece will soon be making its way to a collector in Japan.
It has been a rough few days in my house as the news of the sudden and unexpected loss of a close and important friend has left us feeling adrift.
Linda watched my career as a painter from the very beginning and took a keen interest in everything I did. She should be reading about this painting right now as she was part of my family’s everyday life, like a grandmother to my children, and like a mother to my wife — we shared a very unique and special relationship. I admired Linda greatly and it was a genuine privilege and honour to have known her.
I wish it wasn’t true that we have to say goodbye so soon. Every time I share new paintings here on this blog I will always think of how Linda would have enjoyed seeing my work. I will forever miss her feedback and wisdom.
I’m calling this The Lindstrom Chair. It belonged to my wife’s Great Grandfather Lindstrom and we are lucky to have it in our possession. It’s a great piece of furniture, sturdy and made to last. The painting just completed its journey across the continent and is now at the George Billis Gallery in New York City.
It’s a large painting, with a strong presence. This chair with books has been used a few times over the years, but never have I had a composition like this included in any of the five exhibitions I’ve had in New York.
I have now been shipping paintings all over the world for just over 16 years. Hundreds and hundreds of paintings handed over to various courier services. And every time I still get anxious while they are in transit.
I spend most of my time in the studio working inch by inch across the canvas, adding layers of paint to several paintings that surround me. Of course, I take breaks — I step away from the easel countless times throughout the day. There can be difficult passages and frustrating details to work out on a painting, and I know that a few minutes away from the canvas can be a quick reset. But there’s a trap door that is easy to fall through, and like everyone, I find myself taking a wrong step, during these quick breaks I pick up my phone and down I go into whatever app that steals my attention and steals my time.
I recently deleted all the apps on my phone that lure me away with their alerts. The irony, of course, is that I do have to sit myself down in front of my computer in order to share these images with you. The trick is to not get tangled in the weeks of social media or the news, or the horrid hybrid of social-media-news that we now have to live with.
I picked up a well-used old copy of The Lord of the Rings and that’s where you’ll find me when I’m not painting, or doing the other work related to my painting such as packaging these up to ship to the framers in New York City before they’re delivered to the George Billis Gallery.
I collect almost everything that I paint, including these vintage Penguin Classic books.
I’ve had this piece hanging just outside my studio door for the past two years. I read it about fifteen years ago. A visual reminder of the way things were, the way things are, and the way things will be.
Just put the finishing touches on this lock-down project.
Well, to be honest it was going to happen pandemic or no pandemic. I have to say that being able to focus on the tiny details of this painting has been a great way to stay grounded and focused in reality while so much seems to spin out of control.
As they write the books on this era in the future it would be interesting to know what they’ll figure we got right and what we got wrong. It’s almost like we are in the midst of a planet-sized psychological experiment.
Every subject I paint has a built-in history. This Kodak Petite camera was made from 1929–1933, precisely during The Great Depression. The little pocket camera is sitting upon a stack of paperbacks from the same time and leading up to WWII. I always find myself thinking of the people who used these objects and what their world was like. Perhaps they were not so different from us.
This painting will be part of my upcoming September exhibition at the George Billis Gallery in New York City.
I’m lucky to be a studio-based artist. For the past 15 years (maybe even more) I have become well-conditioned to long periods of self-isolation. I have spent endless hours getting lost in the details of the subjects I choose, like this Oliver No.3 typewriter from 1905.
I have another exhibition scheduled to open in New York City in September. For now, I work toward this goal as I stream radio, podcasts and audiobooks to keep me company.
Imagine my delight when I walked into the York Art Gallery in England and saw my paintings hanging in the Aesthetica Art Prize 2020 exhibition. Amongst numerous conceptual installations, photographs and television screens all over the walls, there they were… my paintings.
The editor of Aesthetica is able to see the connections and she was able to instantly tune in to how my paintings act as a bridge to the contemporary art scene with what clearly are traditionally executed paintings.
I spent many years studying contemporary art. I majored in photography at university and I’m comfortable when surrounded by conceptual installations — in fact, I myself have produced many. In forthcoming posts, I will explain precisely what my intentions are with my paintings, but for now, enjoy these few photographs of the installation at the York Art Gallery by photographer Jim Poyner.
Leading up to March 13 opening of the exhibition in York, England was obviously a confusing situation. In my part of the world, everything was already entering COVID-19 shut-down, but the United Kingdom maintained the status quo and everything was set to go ahead as planned. I had the strongest feelings that I was getting my England excursion just under the wire. It turned out exactly as I had anticipated with the added anxiety about supposed travel bans and being trapped forever and far away from my family. It didn’t turn out that way. My travel days were fine, I enjoyed a free upgrade to a more comfortable seat as I flew home over the Atlantic. I am now in the midst of a self-quarantine along with millions and millions of others.
To be very honest, little has changed in my daily life. For a decade I have set myself up in my studio for months on end to concentrate on painting. Audiobooks, podcasts, music, streaming radio from around the world — I never feel isolated or alone. I know this is true of my fellow artists and has been true of artists for millennia.
So wherever you are, I hope you’re well, I hope you’re coping, I hope this passes soon and we can get a grip on what it all means.
I have a commission I’m working on, as well as several new paintings for a planned exhibition in New York City this coming September. We shall see how this pans out. Whatever the case is, I’m positive I’ll have a body of work I’m proud of in a few short months.
The George Billis Gallery in Los Angeles is operating an online version of my current exhibition, an alternative to going to the gallery during these strange times. The show technically is up until March 28. As an alternative to going to the gallery, please enjoy these photos of the installation, and see the remaining paintings on the gallery website.
I always enjoy watching people see the paintings in person. I like seeing the reactions, and hearing what people have to say. One day we’ll be living in a stable world where we can feel free to move into public spaces again. Until then, I’ll count my blessings.