Spring 2014 Paintings

May 30th, 2014 | No Comments

With summer right around the corner, now is a great time for me to take a step back from the easel and share with you images of seven new paintings, which I produced this spring.

Most of the following paintings are already on view in my online portfolio — the Paintings section of this site — which now stands at 220 paintings.

Everything Is a Landscape (Or Not) is my newest painting. (In fact, it was completed today!) The title refers to a statement that Richard Diebenkorn made about his own paintings: “It was impossible to imagine doing a picture without it being a landscape,” he observed, “to try to make a painting space, a pure painting space, but [the picture would] always end up with a figure against a ground.” (Brackets mine.)

Spring 2014 Paintings by Grant Wiggins - Everything Is a Landscape (Or Not)
Everything Is a Landscape (Or Not). May 2014. Acrylic on canvas. 24 x 30 inches (61 x 76 cm).


I can see exactly what Diebenkorn meant. Quite often, I will take a step back from one of my own sketches and see a landscape “into” it. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t avoid this perceptual phenomenon. However, in contrast with Diebenkorn, my approach to abstraction is informed by our highly graphic, design-oriented culture — notably product packaging. Therefore, the “landscape” I arrive at is a reflection of the landscape I live in — one that’s bestrewn with eye-catching graphic motifs.

A companion piece to this painting is already in the works. I’m considering calling it Pure Painting Space.

Looking Forward to Now was painted in mid-May, but was first sketched two months prior, with a rather sedate blue-and-brown colorway. As I embarked upon making this painting, I felt a need to crank up the colors.

Spring 2014 Paintings by Grant Wiggins - Looking Forward to Now
Looking Forward to Now. May 2014. Acrylic on canvas. 36 x 30 inches (91 x 76 cm).


The Lake A Lilac Cube was conceived as a study for a larger work that I may (or may not) make, if that makes sense! The title is borrowed from a characteristically disjointed poem, “They Only Dream of America,” by John Ashbery — one of my favorite poets — from his early book The Tennis Court Oath:

And hiding from darkness in barns
They can be grownups now
And the murderer’s ash tray is more easily —
The lake a lilac cube.

Spring 2014 Paintings by Grant Wiggins - The Lake A Lilac Cube
The Lake A Lilac Cube. May 2014. Acrylic on canvas. 40 x 40 inches (102 x 102 cm).


You, Me, and the Interface, which I made in April, is painting that hasn’t yet made my portfolio. I’m still thinking things over. This ultimately was an experimental work that features a flourish of garish colors. Quite simply, I had an idea for a composition and simply ran with it. Whether I took the idea too far is still unclear!

Spring 2014 Paintings by Grant Wiggins - You, Me, and the Interface
You, Me, and the Interface. May 2014. Acrylic on canvas. 20 x 16 inches (51 x 41 cm).


Invisible Star Redux: Made for my nephew, Invisible Star 2 is a remix/reworking of a 2009 painting. So that I wouldn’t be painting the same work twice, this time around I updated the colorway. The background is light blue, rather than white. The burgundy has a deeper purple tint. The new composition’s orange is much more vibrant, with fluorescent orange added into the mix.

Spring 2014 Paintings by Grant Wiggins - Invisible Star 2
Invisible Star 2. April 2014. Acrylic on canvas. 21.25 x 44 inches (54 x 112 cm).


Two Minimal Studies: I also painted a pair of smaller minimal studies over the course of one weekend in April. I am quite fond of the graphic motif shared by these pieces. Here, I was simply exploring my options.

Spring 2014 Paintings by Grant Wiggins - Untitled Study #1
Spring 2014 Paintings by Grant Wiggins - Untitled Study #2
Untitled Studies: April 2014. Acrylic on panel-mounted canvas. 12 x 12 inches (30 x 30 cm).


Well, here’s to summer! I’m looking forward to having a prolific few months ahead. And if you subscribe to my blog by email, you’ll be among the first to learn about what I paint next! Until then, I hope you enjoy your summer.


The Story Behind My New Painting, ‘Stop Static (Before It Stops You)’

March 9th, 2014 | No Comments

What could the conveyance of visual energy, a magpie sampling aesthetic, and reclaimed stretcher bars possibly have in common? These are all things I have been thinking about as I have produced my newest painting, Stop Static (Before It Stops You).

grant wiggins - stop static before it stops you
Stop Static (Before It Stops You). Acrylic on canvas. 30 by 24 inches (76 x 61 centimeters). Commenced on the afternoon of Tuesday, February 25, 2014. Deemed complete on the afternoon of Saturday, March 8, 2014.


The primary inspiration — my starting point — for this painting is a simple box of Bounce fabric softener, an everyday object with a design that has captured my imagination for years. I love Bounce’s logotype, especially its double outlines and undulating, interlocking shapes. You may note how the lower left curve in the logotype’s “B” forms the striped motif in the upper right quadrant of the composition. What’s more, the fluorescent orange halftone pattern in the painting echoes the halftone on the box, shown below.

bounce fabric softener
A box of Bounce: What started everything for this painting.


In honor of the inspiration for this painting, I originally considered naming this piece Bounce Rate. This title could have been a nod to my experience in web content consulting. “Bounce rate” is a metric of web visitors who leave a site within five seconds of arriving; they “bounce,” in effect. Yet, I wanted to push this idea further, so I searched for figures of speech involving the word “bounce.” While that proved fruitless, I soon stumbled upon a Bounce fabric softener ad campaign from the 1990s, which had the memorable tagline “Bounce Stops Static Before Static Stops You.”

Conveying visual energy

Considering this tagline at length, and reflecting further upon what this painting represents to me, I adjusted the painting’s title again, to Stop Static (Before It Stops You). The reworked phrase sounds more like a suggestion — to keep oneself from staying still, and continue to move forward, to keep growing. The painting can serve as a visual reminder to avoid falling into ruts in day-to-day life.

I found that the new title had much in common with a central idea that I have been developing about my paintings, as a whole — that they are conveyances of visual energy. This idea came to me when one of my patrons wrote to me about some of my framed prints, which he displays in his office:

Every day [the prints] inspire me to try to pretend to be the kind of person who approaches the world with the energy and color jumping out of those little squares.

What immediately struck me about this sentence is the word energy. This is what my paintings are all about! The experience of feeling energy is what I want my paintings — especially my maximal paintings — to embody. Energy is what I want to convey through my work.

A sampling aesthetic: Merging my favorite graphical motifs

Without question, this painting is very much an homage to — and an energetic collision involving — graphical elements that fascinate me.

In addition to Bounce-inspired stripes and a classic halftone pattern (I have always loved halftones, and can never get enough of them), Stop Static also incorporates a heraldic vair ancient pattern (found in the upper left corner of the painting), and stripes of decreasing widths (another favorite motif).

Yet, the “star” graphical element is a rising diamond pattern — called “diamond haze,” I believe — by Diane von Furstenberg. For years I have admired this pattern, and have wanted to incorporate it into a composition.

von Furstenberg’s current exhibition at the Wilshire May Company Building in Los Angeles, The Journey of a Dress, has offered a perfect occasion to do so. The diamond haze pattern can be found on many of von Furstenberg’s signature wrap dresses. It also adds a visual rhythm to the walls and the floors of the exhibition. This is a classic and timeless pattern. It’s so perfect that I wish I had developed it myself. Bringing it into my work — much like sampling in music — is a way of paying tribute.

Although this painting is very much an amalgam of my favorite things, in terms of graphic motifs, ultimately I believe that this painting asks to be seen on its own terms, free of the context I just offered. There is no narrative to be had here. There is nothing to get. This painting affords a purely visual experience — and I hope it’s an energizing one, at that.

The role of “reclaimed” stretcher bars

The stretcher bars supporting this canvas are literally more than 15 years old (from the late 1990s), and recall a time when I was first learning how to paint. The bars were originally part of a pre-stretched canvas that I acquired from a store. (I haven’t purchase pre-stretched canvas in years! So much has changed.)

The painting I attempted to make on the pre-stretched canvas never got anywhere. I abandoned it, and left it in my dad’s house, where I stored many of my early works, along with my mom’s paintings.

In attempt to clear out his house, my dad recently returned to me several half-finished canvases and untouched canvas panels. What is this?, I thought, when he handed me one canvas after another. It was so hard to look at my early work! It’s awful stuff, to be honest. I struggled mightily to paint back then, and it’s evident in my brushwork.

Back at my studio, seeing this pile of old, half-finished pieces every day was a drain on my energy. Taking the canvases off the bars and rolling them up helped clear my mind.

Left with the bare stretcher bars, I realized that I had an opportunity to start over — returning to the past, building upon the past, and being reminded of how far I’ve come in 15 years. What’s more, I could make this new painting at an out-of-pocket cost of zero, using canvas, gesso, and paint that I already had in inventory. In effect, I had nothing to lose!

In the end, it was a joy to make this painting, and I hope this enjoyment comes through in my work. There were several times along the way, as I painted this piece, when I reflected on how thankful I am to be able to paint. Painting really does give me pleasure. It’s often not easy work, at all, but the rewards are profound.


New Paintings: Circles with Corners 27 and 28

February 23rd, 2014 | No Comments

circles with corners 27 and 28
Circles with Corners 27 and 28 in the studio on February 16.


I’m extremely pleased to introduce to you my two newest paintings, which I produced on commission for — and in collaboration with — a collector couple who reside in Mobile, Alabama.

Titled Circles with Corners 27 and Circles with Corners 28, these paintings are designed to be hung on opposing walls of a hallway, as mirror images of each other.

The paintings each measure 52 x 17.5 inches (132 x 45 cm), to fit the hallway’s recessed niches.

I began painting the Circles with Corners series in the summer of 2009, as a way to explore, and extend, a singular motif through a variety of colors. As worked developed, I began to think of the series as a “fall collection” of paintings. I unveiled the collection on the first day of fall 2009, with 18 paintings. Naturally, the series grew over time.

Many of these paintings appeared at Soyal Gallery in Scottsdale in the spring of 2010. (Dozens of installation images from the Circles with Corners show can be found in my site’s Shows section.) In fact, some of these works are hanging in the home that won Pittsburgh Magazine’s “Home of the Year” award for 2014.


Paintings Featured in Pittsburgh Magazine’s Home of the Year 2014

February 22nd, 2014 | No Comments

paintings in pittsburgh magazine home of the year 2014
Paintings featured in Pittsurgh Magazine’s Home of the Year 2014 cover story include Circles with Corners 26 (hanging on bulkhead) and Still Life with Supplements and Waveforms. Photo by Laura Petrilla. Image via pittsburghmagazine.com


I’m beyond thrilled to announce that my paintings are featured in the cover story of the March 2014 edition of Pittsburgh Magazine, as a part of the publication’s “Home of the Year” awards.

cover of pittsburgh magazine home of the year 2014 edition.

Pittsburgh Magazine has awarded “Renovation of the Year” to the beautiful modern home of Betsy Wentz, an interior designer who owns several of my paintings. Read the full story on pittsburghmagazine.com.

There’s a great story behind this story, as well: Michelle Helena Denk, a longtime friend of mine from Kenyon College, purchased my painting Still Life with Supplements and Waveforms (shown above) from me as a birthday gift for Betsy last summer.

Weeks later, Betsy contacted me for more works. In particular, she was drawn to my Circles with Corners Collection. Betsy purchased five paintings in this collection; two of which (Circles with Corners 26 and Circles with Corners 27) she commissioned. These paintings are hung throughout the bulkhead ceilings of her home’s first floor.

paintings in pittsburgh magazine home of the year 2014
Circles with Corners 22 is among the paintings featured in the print edition of Pittsburgh Magazine’s Home of the Year 2014.


I congratulate Betsy and her family for winning the award. My gratitude goes to Michelle for connecting us.


’60: The Collective’ Art Show at The Walk Way Gallery in Brooklyn

February 20th, 2014 | No Comments

60 the collective, paintings by grant wiggins

On Thursday, March 6, I’ll be showing in Brooklyn, NY, in the one-night group exhibition “60: The Collective.” See the Facebook event invite.

Sixty artists have been invited to display one 12-inch-square work each. A wide range of genres will be represented, including geometric art, neo pop art, street art, and graffiti.

The show will be held at The Walk Way Gallery, located within reBar, at 147 Front Street. Hours are 7 to 10 p.m. An afterparty will follow until 2am.

I sincerely thank artist/co-curator Craig Anthony Miller for inviting me to participate in “60: The Collective,” as well as my longtime friend Patrick Kennedy for facilitating my participation.

This is the second edition of “60: The Collective” curated by Miller and Frankie Velez. The first edition, held last September, was a big hit, with attendance in the hundreds. Plans are already in the works for a third edition in early August.

The painting I will display in the March 6 “60: The Collective” will be a “game-time decision,” so to speak, to be made by the curators. The selection will be made from the following pieces (shown below, clockwise from top left): Lost in Space; The Future, Multiplied by Today; Active Receptor; and Psychoactive Snack.

60 the collective, paintings by grant wiggins

The three paintings not shown on March 6 will be available for private viewing, by request.

If you’re planning on attending, please let me know in the comments section below.


Time management and art

January 15th, 2014 | 5 Comments

Five lessons I have learned from having a goal of painting 1,500 hours in 2014

As we entered 2014, I found that I had created a New Year’s resolution for myself.

The resolution was more of a personal goal — what Jim Collins might call a “big, hairy audacious goal.”

I knew that I wanted to give my all to painting in the forthcoming year. I also knew that giving my all takes time — a commitment of time. The idea of painting (and sketching) for six hours per day popped into my mind. That’s 30 hours per week.

time management and art
Stopwatch running. (Game show announcer voice: Wristwear generously provided by George W. Stone.)


Extrapolating this figure over the course of a year, I realized I was staring at a goal of 1,500 hours of painting and sketching in 2014.

So there I was in my studio on January 2, with an Ironman stopwatch strapped to my wrist, pressing the start button when I got to work, pressing the stop button when I stepped away from the easel, and logging my progress into a worksheet, seeing how it all adds up. Call me a nerd? So what!

Now two weeks — 10 work days — into the year, I have logged 27.5 hours of creative time. Unfortunately, that’s already more than 30 hours behind my six-hours-per-day target. However, on a positive note, I have already completed three wall-worthy paintings.

Four lessons I have learned so far

As you’d expect, I’ve even more keenly aware of how I invest my time. I feel like a football (soccer) referee keeping time in a match. But I’ve also unexpectedly learned several subtle lessons.

1. Get to work. Second-guess less.

Perhaps most importantly, I’ve really cut down on how much I second-guess my work in general. I’m more likely to turn my sketches into paintings, sooner. In the past, there had moments when I have endlessly tinkered with a good design for a painting. One time in particular, a sketch went through 20 iterations, which turned out to be an exercise in diminishing returns. In retrospect, the first sketch was pretty good — good enough to be painted.

Now, by contrast, I feel like the process of working — simply sitting down at the table, computer, or easel — is more important when the stopwatch is running. Not every painting I make will be great, or good, for that matter. Yet, if I can keep working, I’m more likely to make good work, and potentially great work. Even if I make minor, sub-par work here and there, I’m closer to making something good, because I keep learning as I go. The key is to keep working. Process will take of product.

2. Tracking time fosters accountability and focus.

When the stopwatch is on, it’s all about making art. A laser-like focus develops, and distractions get pushed out of the way. Checking the twitter feed is for break time. ! )

3. Keep on keeping on.

On a number of occasions, using a stopwatch has motivated me to not take a break — to keep motoring along — especially when I’m approaching an hourly milestone in a given day. If I see that I’ve painted 52 minutes so far, I somehow feel encouraged to paint another eight minutes, to “top things off” at the hour mark, and then take a quick break.

It’s a lot like doing bicep curls at the gym. No one stops at nine. You have to go for ten.

And, when I’m staring at the prospect of working on a complicated section of a painting, that same top-things-off mentality often kicks in. Rather than be stymied by the complexity of a section, I think about the smaller goal, of painting just a few minutes to get started. In turn, the complex section seems to break into more manageable parts.

4. It all adds up.

The stopwatch has certainly helped me realize how effort adds up. In the past, I often wondered whether I was painting enough. For whatever reason, I thought I was being lazy. Now that I’m accounting for my creative time, I’m easier on myself, because I’m able to remind myself of what I have already accomplished. It’s much easier to say “I’m doing the best I can, given my resources, circumstances and obligations.”

5. Compartmentalization has its benefits.

Fifth and finally, when I take a break, or move on to other work (such as unrelated consulting services I provide for clients), I feel more able to shut out pressures related to my creative work. A football match seems more enjoyable when the creative work is on hold.

Too big of a goal? To be determined.

Ultimately, I might be overreaching with my goal of 1,500 creative hours this year. A goal of 1,200 or 1,000 hours might be more realistic. After all, I have client work to do, and there are many other things to do. I enjoy posting my work to social streams. Life in general needs to be attended to. The value of visiting with friends and family cannot be overstated.

The key is finding ways to focus, while maintaining a balance. When I reach the end of January, I’ll revisit my progress, and consider adjusting my BHAG for 2014 accordingly.

Have you experimented with keeping track of your art-making activities? Share your story below.


‘Punchline’ at The Institute Library, New Haven; Opens November 9

October 25th, 2013 | No Comments

grant wiggins in punchline at the institute library new haven
Lost in Space: 15-18 October 2013. Acrylic on panel-mounted canvas. 12 inches square (30.5 cm x 30.5 cm).


I am extremely proud and excited to be one of 13 artists showing in Punchline, which opens Saturday, November 9 at The Institute Library in New Haven, Connecticut. This is perhaps my highest-profile show in the East Coast to date.

Punchline explores the use of humor in abstraction. According to curator Kevin Daly, who is also an accomplished artist in his own right, the exhibition is “less self-consciously concerned with relevance and criticality than with the presence of the whimsical.” He cites how all of the artists in Punchline “employ playful processes or formal languages.”

Lost in Space (shown above) will be among the five paintings I’ll be exhibiting in Punchline. The title for this painting is a pun on the process of painting. As I produced this painting throughout mid-October, I definitely felt lost in the act of making. In fact, I scrapped the first attempt. On the second, the color palette changed several times, and it seemed as if I could barely hold onto the creative reigns, as paint layers built up. When this happens, a painting can go either way, for better or worse.

Punchline will remain on view through November 27. Here’s the full roster of artists in the show:


‘Think Small 7’ Miniature Art Show in Richmond, Virginia

October 15th, 2013 | No Comments

grant wiggins in the think small 7 art show in richmond virginia

I’m proud to be among the 250 artists showing in the Think Small 7 miniature art biennial, which opens Friday, October 25 in Richmond, Virginia. I will be showing Vybralta 1 (shown above), a three-inch-square acrylic painting on panel-mounted canvas. I have priced it at $75, in case you’re interested in acquiring it. (Fifty percent of the proceeds goes to artspace, which is a very good cause.)

Works on display in Think Small 7 represent an impressive variety of media and themes. No piece can be larger than 3 inches (7.62 cm) in any dimension. An evolving list of participating artists, including yours truly, can be found at artspacegallery.org/thinksmall.


‘A Show of Hands’ at Tucson Museum of Art

September 20th, 2013 | No Comments

a show of hands at tucson museum of art

My 2005 neo-pop painting, Hands, will be on view throughout this fall and early winter at the Tucson Museum of Art, in the exhibition A Show of Hands.

As one might expect, this show will bring together works of art — paintings, photography, works on paper, and sculptures — that explore the metaphorical potential of hands. A partial list of artists included in this exhibition includes Fernand Léger, Alice Briggs, Enrique Chagoya, Robert Colescott, Dan Collins, Bailey Doogan, Enrique Martinez Celaya, Christopher Pelley, Craig Smith, Buffie Saint-Marie, and others, including yours truly.

Looking back, I consider Hands a transitional painting in the evolution of my work, for it’s one of my last true pop art paintings. Following the tried-and-true path of painting what one knows, Hands is a mash-up of packaging elements from household products — including Reynolds aluminum foil, instructional illustrations on the back of a noodle packet, and the bubbles found on a box of cleaning product.

Bringing these elements together, this painting could just as easily be titled “The Pure Products of America Go Crazy” — the great opening line from the poem “To Elsie” by William Carlos Williams. It seems to ask, what if everyday products were to go haywire, in a hallucinatory way? Perhaps this painting pokes fun at the gimmickry of consumerism, and perhaps it also points the way to an imagined world where everyday products could be completely unpredictable.

This marks my sixth time exhibiting at Tucson Museum of Art over the past 10 years. In addition to participating in the 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009 editions of the Arizona Biennial, I also showed in Thanks for Being with Us: Contemporary Art from the Douglas Nielsen Collection, in 2010.

A Show of Hands opens September 21, 2013 and will remain on view through February 9, 2014. More details at tucsonmuseumofart.org.


‘Between Stars,’ a Painting for the Museum of Geometric and MADI Art’s Upcoming Fundraiser Auction

September 15th, 2013 | No Comments

grant wiggins painting for the museum of geometric art's 10th anniversary auction

I’d like to introduce to you Between Stars, which I just completed (11 – 13 September), as the Voyager spacecraft began its departure from the Solar System.

I produced this painting specifically for the Museum of Geometric and MADI Art’s 10th Anniversary Gala & Art Auction fundraiser, to be held in Dallas on October 11. The piece, which measures 20.1 x 25.4 cm (8 x 12 inches), is acrylic on panel-mounted canvas.