I traveled to Los Angeles to attend the opening reception for my exhibition on April 7. As a studio painter, I spend all of my time in one place working on my paintings. That’s the way I like it, but I have to admit that it’s really good to get out once in a while. It’s a benefit that the galleries where I show my work are in interesting places.
Having people see the paintings in person is really important. We’re all glancing at them illuminated on a tiny screen, so it’s refreshing to see people inspect them up close in person and really experience them. But the absolute best part is meeting people who make the time to come and see them.
I traveled to New York to attend the opening reception at the George Billis Gallery for my current exhibition. My son came along for a few days of site seeing. He turned 15 on the day of the reception and I’m glad to say both he and I had a great time.
Receptions, for me, can be a bit of a nerve rattling experience. As a studio painter I spend all of my time in solitude and concentration. Focussing on square inch by square inch on each painting. This is, of course, exactly how I want it. It’s why I’m able to make as much work as I do. I like working toward the deadline of a gallery exhibition. It gives me something to aim towards.
So after spending so much time alone with each painting, it can be an exhilarating experience to see them hanging and lit in a large gallery space. I am especially proud of the way this exhibition turned out. But it can feel a bit exposing for there to suddenly be dozens of people looking so closely. These paintings invite this close scrutiny.
The best part about the receptions is connecting with people who make it a point to come see the paintings in person. I always say that I wish everyone could see them in their natural habitat instead of on a phone, tablet or computer screen.
This painting of an Oliver No.3 Typewriter from 1907 is my contribution to the Attention to Detail exhibition at the Robert Lange Studios in Charleston, South Carolina. The Exhibition runs through February 2017.
The exhibition features 30 realist painters from the USA, Canada, Spain and England. It is an honour to have been invited to show my work beside artists who share an affinity for this labour intensive approach to painting.
I found this magnificent typewriter at Everything Old – an antique shop near my home.
For the most part, being a painter is a solitary experience. One spends a great deal of time focussing and concentrating on making the paintings, then things turn completely and you find yourself sharing the finished pieces with everyone you possibly can. It can be a little jarring to go from solitude and privacy to a public, open space.
But I’m very happy with the way the paintings turned out. And I think the gallery did a great job of displaying the paintings.
The gallery is also showing a few sculptural pieces by John A. Peralta. These exploded camera and projector pieces are fascinating. I see it as a deconstruction / reconstruction way of looking at things. Viewing these exploded objects has the same effect as my paintings – they make the viewer slow down and really investigate the object.
John’s construction of these sculptures is absolutely meticulous. True craftsmanship.
I find it remarkable that I was able to make any new work at all, considering how insane the last 8 months of my life has been.
It all started when we prepared our house for sale. We decided we were going to move 1,000 miles to a warmer climate. It’s no small undertaking to downsize your belongings after a decade of life in a house. With kids. While you’re still trying to make paintings. But we did it. We sold our house in a mere 3 days and then had to prepare to move. Another massive undertaking with more downsizing.
We hunted for a home, under the impression that we’d simply sell our beloved home and find its equivalent 1,000 miles away in a city we knew little about. Instead we ended up hunting for a suitable place to rent. Finding a place to rent wasn’t as hard as we thought and renting meant we could learn about our new city, make friends, relax and casually look for a home to call our own.
It didn’t happen that smoothly. Although the house we rented was great, the other tenant who lived in the ground floor suite was one of the worst possible tenants anyone could ever imagine living near. It shocked us. I’ll spare the gory details, but if there’s one thing I learned with the experience, it’s that you never, ever want to get on the bad side of an activist call girl (“luxury companion” as she referred to herself as) and her drug dealer boyfriend. It was bad. And my innocent, wonderfully naïve family had some major life lessons we didn’t ever expect would come our way.
And then we found a home. In a quiet, safe, wonderful neighbourhood. With a great big studio. And everything turned around. And we’ve made wonderful friends and found out things can be just as good as you once imagined.
So we packed up and moved from our interesting rental. Again, upending everything in our lives. Yet I managed to find time to do what I do best. Time to sit in my studio and quietly work on my quiet paintings.