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 is the sister painting to the baby blue Royal typewriter in a simple vignette. A red Underwood Standard Portable Typewriter to be featured in my October 2017 solo exhibition at the George Billis Gallery in New York City.
This is another painting that left me very pleased with the outcome. It’s the culmination of years of work and dedication.
This is hands down my favourite painting that I have done in the past few years. It’s a Royal Quiet De Luxe typewriter in a simple vignette. It feels good when a painting comes together in all the right places.
This will be one of 18 new paintings showing at the George Billis Gallery in New York City from the beginning of October through to the beginning of November.
This is the culmination of plenty of work and focus. I painted all throughout the summer months and a huge sense of relief and accomplishment has come over me. I have kept busy boxing up and shipping the paintings, but also stepping back from an intense period of painting and now I’m gearing up for the fall months spent following the momentum I built up this past summer.
Thirteen years ago I painted this phone for the first time. It was when I began seriously building my oeuvre. I would paint fast and furious, thinking that a quickly rendered, expressive way of painting was what I wanted to achieve. It never really felt like a natural way for me to paint, but the subject always felt like the right one.
I was painting with acrylics, and if the painting wasn’t done after an hour of work, then I felt like I was taking too long.
Over time I slowed way, way down and focused with an indirect painting technique. A very slow building of layers in oils. In person my paintings are still far more painterly than they appear on the screen before you.
Over the past several months I have experimented with paintings and tried a few different approaches. I’ll still do such experiments now and again, but I have decided to look back over the last 17 years of my paintings and will simply re-paint my own work with my new approach and technique. I want to copy my own portfolio, I want to see if I can make the paintings better, I want to see if I can learn from my own work.
In 2004 I signed up for Flickr where I have archived 740 of my paintings. Most of my works is there, including work done in 2000 as a student. Anyone who wants to see, warts and all, is welcome to browse.
Typewriters are all about ideas and writing. They seem to spark the act, I think it’s because of the physicality of them. They make this amazing noise, your words literally express themselves vocally as you tap away at the keys. You have to immediately concentrate, your whole mind and body becomes involved. You focus.
These two typewriters are a great contrast to one another – the Corona with its sleek black curves and stately design, the Royal with its crisp blue and modern edges.
I have these typewriters in my collection, and when they’re out of their cases they invite anyone around to sit down and type.
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.
Another quick glimpse at one of the paintings I’ve been working on.
I’ve spent a great deal of time working on the shadows and highlights on this piece.
As with all my work, looking at it on your screen – a computer, a phone, an iPad – it’ll look far more tight than it does in the flesh. When standing in front of the actual painting you’ll see several think layers of paint.
Putting the finishing touches on this vintage 16mm Ampro film projector. This will be for my solo exhibition at the George Billis Gallery in Los Angeles, which will feature a dozen new paintings starting on May 21, 2016.
I have a little over a month to finish up the work, so I came up for a quick breath and then I’m heading back down to focus on finishing the paintings.
Above is an early evening view of the easel as I shut down after a long day of working with tiny brushes on the details of these vintage cameras. I like seeing the paintings in different light, I grabbed my iPhone and took this quick snap as the light faded.
For over a month now I’ve been flowing along in the studio, working on numerous paintings that will be heading to the George Billis Gallery in Los Angeles for an exhibition running from May 21 – June 25, 2016.
The paintings I’ve been working on are complex and full of details, so all my focus and energy has been on the paintings. By the time I’m done a painting session I find myself a bit mentally exhausted. Retreating from social media is important when I’m focussing on painting. There seems to be this pervasive pressure to constantly share what one is up to in the studio, but honestly, I find it easier to just rest instead of coming up with something put on Facebook or Instagram.