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A Return to Minimal Painting

February 12th, 2015 | No Comments

Over the past two months I have shifted my focus back to minimal painting, with new focus, commitment, and energy.

I embarked upon a new series, titled Reciprocal, in December. Thus far, I have produced six paintings. Below are the three larger works.

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minimal painting
minimal painting
Minimal paintings Reciprocal 1, 2, and 3. December 2014 – January 2015. Each measures 40 inches square (102 cm square) and is acrylic on canvas.


Why return to minimal paintings? Essentially, I felt like I had unfinished business to address.

I had made sketches for minimal paintings over the past couple of years, but I was merely filing them away. As those sketches formed a growing pile, making geometric, pattern-oriented paintings — what I call maximalism — excited me more.

Ultimately, I hit a wall with maximalism last September. I was beginning to see pattern-on-pattern artwork and design everywhere. I felt as if I had nothing to add to the conversation. Lacking direction for nearly three months, I painted nothing.

In early December, I turned a corner. Emboldened by interest in my minimal work from a major fashion design house, I carefully revisited that pile of unpainted minimal sketches. I began to see the sketches in a new way, and realized that they deserved to have a life in physical reality, not simply in pixels.

In 2007 and 2008, I had a remarkably prolific outpouring of minimal works, of nearly three dozen paintings. Most were smaller — each about 10 inches square, painted on panel. Looking back on that era, I realized how much flexibility those smaller works afforded me.

As a part of a new way of working, I am placing greater emphasis on smaller works, viewing them now as studies. For example, below is a trio of studies for Reciprocal 3, made on wood panels.

minimal painting
minimal painting
minimal painting
minimal painting
Three studies for minimal painting Reciprocal 3. December 2014 – January 2015. Each measures 10 inches square by 1.5 inches deep (25 x 25 x 4 cm) and are acrylic on panel-mounted canvas.


Considering the dimensions of these cradled panels — 10 inches square by 1.5 inches deep (25 x 25 x 4 cm) — I’m forced to pay attention to how the compositions will travel onto the sides of the panels. These pieces seem to be more sculptural in nature, as a result. A 40-inch-square (102 cm) canvas would need 6-inch-deep (15 cm)sides to achieve the same effect.

What I have learned from these six paintings, produced throughout December and January, is that minimal work is not just about design and composition. It’s also about mindset. I have found that my thinking has calmed somewhat. I feel more appreciation for subtlety, and I find myself “listening” to the negative space in each composition.

Perhaps this sense of calm and focus is why I have returned to minimal painting. I feel a new freedom to explore space. My mind is remaining quiet and receptive, carefully listening for combinations of line and color that excite me.

I’m not forcing paintings to happen, and it feels wonderful.

Grant Wiggins


Collaboration with Jil Sander on fall / winter 2015 men’s collection

January 30th, 2015 | No Comments

I recently had the profound pleasure of traveling to Milan as a guest of luxury fashion house Jil Sander, to view its Fall / Winter 2015 men’s collection — from a front-row seat.

Graphic motifs from several of my minimal paintings will have a presence in the sportswear and casual range of Jil Sander’s fall collection for men, which will be available in some of the world’s finest stores starting in September.

What’s more, invitations to the runway show featured a reimagined version of my minimal, 70s-inspired painting Blactan.

Blactan by Grant Wiggins with invitations to the runway presentation of Jil Sander's fall 2015 men's collection
Above: The study for my 2007 painting Blactan among invitations to the runway show for Jil Sander’s Fall / Winter 2015 men’s runway show, held January 17, 2015, as a part of Milan Men’s Fashion Week.


I was contacted by Jil Sander in December, out of the blue, to my great surprise. Quite simply, the brand’s design team had found my work online, and wished to license selections from my catalogue.

Naturally, I didn’t say no.

All the same, I have said “thank you” to the Internet a few times.

Nearly 6,000 miles (9400 km) separate my studio in Tempe, Arizona and Milan. Traveling between the two points takes nearly one full day.

But it’s particularly fascinating to me that, despite this distance, my work might resonate with, and possibly inspire, a highly accomplished designer and his team — one that’s virtually on the other side of the world from where I paint.

The world is even smaller than I once imagined.

I have long believed that my paintings could have a parallel life in fashion. Friends and family have asked me this repeatedly, “Why don’t you make clothes? Your paintings would look fantastic on shirts!” However, I never imagined that a global luxury brand like Jil Sander would get the process started before me.

Led by creative director Rodolfo Paglialunga, Jil Sander’s fall/winter 2015 runway collection for men was impeccably presented. I was immensely impressed by the overcoats, which balanced angularity and structure with luxuriousness and comfort. I can also appreciate how the collection’s palette was accented by punches of bold hues, such as vivid red-orange, which blazed down the runway more than once.

It was a thrill to have the opportunity to meet Jil Sander staff in person. The fashion house has been perfectly generous with me.

Once images of garments featuring my work become available, I will certainly share them with you in this space. There’s more to come this fall.

No excuses — there’s plenty of time to set aside some of your wardrobe budget for a Jil Sander / Grant Wiggins sweater!

Until next time, ciao ciaoooo!

— Grant Wiggins


New Painting: “A Newness Clean and Pure”

July 25th, 2014 | No Comments

a newness clean and pure by grant wiggins
A Newness Clean and Pure. 2014. Acrylic on canvas. 30 x 24 inches (76 x 61 cm).


This week’s Painting of the Week is A Newness Clean and Pure, which I finished Thursday. It’s an acrylic on canvas piece that measures 30 by 24 inches (76 x 61 cm).

Pure and simple, this painting is a mashup of graphical motifs that have interested me of late. This painting is just me having fun — trying to make something new!

The grid and heraldic vair-en-pointe waves served as the starting point for this composition. The patterns at the top and bottom were added later, in an improvised fashion. A work-in-progress photo shows what the painting looked like before I began to improvise my way toward the finish.

a newness clean and pure by grant wiggins
A Newness Clean and Pure, in progress.


The title comes from a phrase I heard in a Freakonomics podcast about Japanese residential architecture, titled “Why Are Japanese Homes Disposable?” Noting how the all-wood Shinto shrine at Ise is rebuilt every 20 years, architect Alastair Townsend points out that Japanese culture values newness as something “spiritually clean and pure.” This might help to explain why Japanese homes are torn down every 30 years. (A bigger reason, Townsend observes, might be fear of earthquakes, and a perceived need for the latest earthquake-resistant technology.)

a newness clean and pure by grant wiggins
A Newness Clean and Pure nearing completion.


Each painting is a voyage into newness. The act of conceiving a painting feels like tapping into the electricity that permeates everything, that energy that powers the creative act.

I have been putting greater emphasis on improvisation lately, as well. With the recently loss of the late jazz great Charlie Haden, I have had free jazz on my mind lately. Haden said, “The artist is very lucky, because in an art form that’s spontaneous like [jazz], that’s when you really see your true self.”

And so, obsessed with making, I continue to make. It is not a question of good or bad, or of right or wrong. To make, to improvise, this is a way of connecting with newness and seeing one’s true self.


Painting and Space: New Geometric Painting “Discovering Worlds Yet Undreamt”

July 20th, 2014 | No Comments

Discovering Worlds Yet Undreamt a new geometric painting I finished this Wednesday. The title is inspired by the closing remarks that Neil deGrasse Tyson makes in the final episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.

painting and space - new geometric painting 'discovering worlds yet undreamt'
Discovering Worlds Yet Undreamt. 2014. Acrylic on panel-mounted canvas. 16 x 20 inches (41 x 51 cm).


deGrasse Tyson says:

We and the other living things on this planet carry a legacy of cosmic evolution, spanning billions of years. If we take that knowledge to heart, if we come to know and love nature as it really is, then we will surely be remembered by our descendants as good, strong links in the chain of life. And our children will continue this sacred searching, seeing for us, as we have seen for those who came before, discovering wonders yet undreamt of, in the Cosmos.

When I heard deGrasse Tyson’s phrase, I couldn’t help but capture it on paper, thinking it would be a great title for a painting. Over time, the word wonders became worlds. And when I completed this painting, the title Discovering Worlds Yet Undreamt seemed completely appropriate.

Space exploration is something that has fascinated me throughout my life. Perhaps this may sound like a stretch, but to me, painting is like searching through space, literally and figuratively. Whether one is sitting in front of a telescope or an easel, one is exploring phenomena and cataloging insights.

Discovering Worlds Yet Undreamt reminds me of another painting that I named after a significant event in space exploration. Last September, I named a painting Between Stars, because I was painting it when the Voyager spacecraft began its departure from the Solar System.

painting and space - geometric painting 'between stars'
Between Stars. 2014. Acrylic on panel-mounted canvas. 8 x 12 inches (20.1 x 25.4 cm).


The two paintings seem to share a similar spirit. They may not be about space exploration in a literal sense — or representations of outer space, for that matter — but they both encapsulate how I feel about exploration in my art.

On a related note, a pair of paintings I made in 2008, titled Space Loop I and Space Loop II, were most likely unconsciously informed by space colonies envisioned in the 1970s by artists Don Davis and Rick Guidice for NASA. Those images of self-sustaining colonies floating through space captivated me as a child, and still do.


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.


‘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.


New Paintings: 200th Painting Added to Online Portfolio

July 11th, 2013 | No Comments

Over the course of his lifetime, Pablo Picasso made nearly 2,000 paintings — and approximately 48,000 other works — according to one estimate. Picasso was so prolific, we still don’t know for sure the total number of paintings, sculptures, sketches, prints, and other works he produced during his lifetime. The numbers keep changing, as undocumented works keep reaching the market, keeping authenticators busy.

Picasso’s lifelong relentlessness and tenacity for making new work has been on my mind a lot lately, as I recently achieved an important milestone of my own. The Paintings gallery of this site just reached the 200-painting mark, after I created pages for 13 more works.

Overall, I estimate that I have produced perhaps 250 paintings since I started in December 1994. Several paintings still need to be added to my site. And many don’t quite make the cut, unfortunately!

Regardless, the paintings I recently added — introduced below — span the Minimalism and Maximalism (Abstract) galleries of this site (what those terms mean is another blog post for another time), and have been produced 2010 onward.

Minimalism and Pattern Paintings

Maximalism Gallery

As I sit back and take a deep breath, all I can do is look forward to making another 200 paintings. Maybe one day I’ll reach the 2,000-painting milestone, like Picasso. But then again, Picasso didn’t have a web site to manage … and the glorious distraction of social media!


New Graphic Geometric Art: The Omphems Reyall Series

April 13th, 2013 | No Comments

Graphic Geometric Art by Grant Wiggins - Omphems Reyall 1
Graphic geometric art: New painting by Grant Wiggins, Omphems Reyall 1.


Graphic geometric art is really what I love to make, and it’s really what inspires me to keep innovating artistically.

My take on, or version of, graphic geometric art places emphasis on geometry — dynamic, visually charged compositions — but affords room for negative space, to achieve a balance. The result is a balance between minimalism and design-inspired maximalism.

That said, the newest addition to my portfolio is a series of three graphic geometric art works titled Omphems Reyall. The first painting in this series measures 20 x 32 inches (51 x 81 cm). The following pair is of paintings each measure 10 x 16 inches (25 x 41 cm).

Graphic Geometric Art by Grant Wiggins - Omphems Reyall 2Graphic Geometric Art by Grant Wiggins - Omphems Reyall 2Graphic Geometric Art by Grant Wiggins - Omphems Reyall 3
Omphems Reyall 2 and 3, respectively.


The invented word “Reyall” in the title is a pun and reference to Real Madrid football club, whose away jersey for the 2012/2013 season (below left; via realmadridshop.com) is the inspiration for this series’ color combination. As these graphic geometric art works began to take shape, the colors also reminded me of the paint scheme for the Subaru Impreza WRX rally car (below right; image via Ericd on wikipedia.org).

real madrid 2012-13 away shirt and 2005 subaru impreza wrx rally car

Hexagons, stripes, and geometric patterns — I just can’t get enough of them!