In the Studio: May 18, 2012

May 18th, 2012 | No Comments

in the studio may 18, 2012
In the studio, May 18, 2012: New paintings stacked among the old as late afternoon light blazes through the window. In the foreground is Variant, which I painted last November. Read about Variant.

With summer solstice just five weeks away, the daylight of the Arizona desert is growing eye-piercingly bright, white-washing everything in sight. Keeping my studio’s shades lowered is the only way I can prevent my retinas from melting!

There is nothing like desert light. It’s mesmerizing and merciless, life-giving and lethal. It offers inspiration and commands a healthy respect.

And so, with sunlight lending an added glow to my fluorescent paints, I’m giving all I’ve got to making new paintings that have a minimal pop-art vibe. I’m drawing upon all of the things that inspire me visually, synthesizing them into something not seen before, exploring as I go.

Many of these new works are based on sketches I created months ago — in some cases, years ago. If those sketches appeal to me now just as they did before, I know they are worth pursuing today.

Difficulty choosing colors for your painting? Try clear Contact paper

June 6th, 2009 | 6 Comments

For the better part of the past month, I’ve been working on a painting that I call SuperAcid Autobacs-Ambilify.

I’m very close to finishing this painting, but I’ve been very challenged lately with selecting the right set of colors for the central part of the composition.

In other words, the composition is fine, but there’s a pretty large area in the center of the canvas where I’ve waffled over color combinations.

So I had my friend Oliver Hibert look at the painting last night. I also brought a roll of clear Contact paper, and I covered the canvas with it. This allowed me to paint over the canvas, without fear of paint buildup, as we tested different colors.

Long story short, we decided to “go green.” Oliver had some mint green and a light kelly green laying around, and we gravitated toward that part of the color wheel. See below.

Contact paper is laid over the left half of this canvas, allowing me to test different colors.

Contact paper is laid over the left half of this canvas, allowing me to test different colors.

Before meeting up with Oliver, I was wary of using green, simply because I feel like I use green so frequently in my paintings. But Oliver showed me otherwise.

Oliver and I also had a good talk about how difficult it is to choose colors when you’re employing practically every color in a painting. You’d think that, because you’re using every color, it would be easy to add another.

Actually, just the opposite is true. The more colors you add, the harder it can be to pick the right one. It’s almost like building a house of cards; the more you add, the more you risk. It’s hard to explain. But do you know what I mean?

It’s almost easier to stick with an analogous color scheme. Yet, where’s the fun in that?

In the studio: March 10, 2009 – New abstract painting

March 10th, 2009 | No Comments

I’m not really into the term “abstract painting,” but since I really don’t know how to describe my art, then I have to settle with terms that the rest of the world uses. Abstract painting can mean anything to anyone. It’s almost a useless term.

That said, here’s a new abstract painting in the works. It’s called Acid Battleship Amylase, measures 60 inches square, and—thanks to a yummy fluoro yellow-chartreuse base—glows under blacklight.

The new abstract painting Acid Battleship Amylase

But wait! There’s more! Below is the original sketch for this new abstract painting. I think the blue paint I’ve chosen is a little off. I prefer the 0F72B1 that I see below.

The new abstract painting Acid Battleship Amylase

I haven’t ditched my maximalist style of painting. I may not feel like painting this way all of the time, because my mind changes and I go through phases. But when I do paint maximally, I’m out to produce the most radical structuring of shape and color possible, in my own way.

Some of my readers have suggested that they’re more interested in my maximalist style, compared with my minimalist style. I understand this … but there has to be room for both styles of new abstract painting in my creative life. I hope that makes sense. I haven’t lost anything … or given up on anything. If anything, I’m gaining; I’m working; I’m learning as I go.

Beyond that, I can’t stop listening to Ceephax Acid Crew, aka Andy Jenkinson. Check out the free downloads on his site. Be warned: The tunes are infectious.

In the Studio: 6 January 2009

January 6th, 2009 | No Comments

This post may/may not interest you. It’s one part Norm Abrams, another part Bob Ross. If it does not interest you, I cordially invite you to visit one of the many far more interesting websites on the Internet, such as this.

Sanding Stretcher Bars

Kidding aside, I would like to convey to you what I’m up to, and what my goals are for this week. Over the past couple of days, as time allows, I have added an additional 2.5 inches of depth to already-assembled 30-inch-square stretchers.

The strips I attached will give this painting a 4-inch depth, or “cradle,” allowing me to paint the sides. The design will wrap around the edges, which is a pretty cool effect. I produced a “proof of concept” a couple of weeks ago — the painting called Circuit (via my flickr page):


Once I sanded the edges, I stapled poster board to the side, and sealed the seams with tape. This way, no surface variations will be present on the sides of the stretched canvas:

stretcher bars covered

This is the best alternative I know of for creating a deep-cradle painting. I have built my own deep-cradle “box canvases” before—with a panel of MDF mounted atop strips of wood. I primed these wood/MDF boxes, then painted over the priming. Problem is, those box canvases were heavy! And if I bumped or dropped them, the wood instantly dented.

Using canvas, however, the weight is reduced (cheaper to ship); there’s only limited potential for dings and dents; and there’s the benefit of a “tooth” to grab the paint ( = less brush strokes showing = more flatness).

That said, my goals for this week are to complete two of these paintings, both of which I will enter into an upcoming juried show. The first piece will be Circuit 2.0; the second will be Civvik 2.0 (a larger version of the painting below). Also I hope to produce a couple of works on paper. It will be a busy week!


Also, I’ve started to write poetry again, for the first time in years. Not just in my head, but actually conveying the lines to paper. I do not know where this is coming from. But it feels like a good thing.

I have long harbored an idea to write a book called 2600 Poems by John Ashbery, which would neither have 2,600 poems, nor be written by John Ashbery. Quite possibly, these poems would land in that book, which ultimately might have a different title.

Poem titles I thought of last night:
1.) All of the Factors, Including the Fact That
2.) The Size and the Structure
3.) Cheer You Up with a Turkey Sandwich

Here’s the opening lines of “The Size and the Structure”:

More or less,
Things are becoming
More or less

That’s the way I see it,
At least.

I’m not sure where to take the poem from here. It’s not much, but it’s a start. It’s all about incremental progress in 2009!

In the studio: April 23, 2008

April 23rd, 2008 | 1 Comment »

Taking a pause from the Space Loops canvases, I’m trying my hand at remixing a painting I made in February 2004, called Süfnex. It was one of the first minimal modern paintings I made, veering toward minimal art after years of pop art. After all, I figure, if musicians can remix their own tracks, so artists can remix their own paintings.

The project is a rethinking of the Süfnex design, but with a red, green and blue color scheme — one that struck me when I rediscovered an image of a phone card sporting the mascot of the Japanese baseball team Seibu Lions. But the red, green and blue scheme is also the territory of Ellsworth Kelly, one of my favorite minimal painters. I decided to amp up my paints a bit, throwing in fluorescent paint into the mix, if only for a placebo effect. (If I think the paints look brighter, they must be brighter!)

Below, clockwise from upper left, are: the Seibu Lions phone card; the original Süfnex painting; and four variations of the design.

minimal painters   minimal painters
minimal painters   minimal painters
minimal painters   minimal painters

I’ve really enjoyed the process so far. It’s brought my mind back to what inspired me so long ago. Plus, it’s a series, a form of production of which I’ve grown more fond. Many minimal painters of the 1960s worked in series, propelled by a similar impulse.

Lawrence Alloway — who in 1966 organized a show at the Guggenheim called “Systemic Painting,” which included minimal painters Frank Stella, Agnes Martin, and others — described the serial process in minimal painting as “One-Image art.” Read the full essay here. Alloway explains the serial approach to minimal painting in a very powerful way, in a way that really resonates with me, as follows:

The artist who uses a given form beings each painting further along, deeper into the process, than an expressionist, who is, in theory at least, lost in beginning; all the One-Image artist has to have done is to have painted his earlier work. One-Image art abolishes the lingering notion of History Painting, that invention is the test of the artist. Here form becomes meaningful, not because of ingenuity or surprise, but because of repetition and extension. The recurrent image is subject to continuous transformation, destruction and reconstruction; it requires to be read in time as well as space. In style analysis we look for unity within variety; in One-Image art we look for variety within conspicuous unity. The run of the image constitutes a system, with limits set up by the artist himself, which we learn empirically by seeing enough of the work. Thus the system is the means by which we approach the work of art. When a work of art is defined as an object we clearly stress its materiality and factualness, but its repetition, on the basis, returns meaning to the syntax.

On that note, I will leave you with an image of work in progress — taken in my studio this evening:

minimal painters

Painting on a Friday afternoon

March 30th, 2008 | 2 Comments

Lots of cool art happened and good laughs were had on Friday when I paid a visit on my old friends Oliver and Spencer Hibert.

Because we don’t hang out nearly enough, we’ve decided to try to get together to paint / draw / doodle / hang out whenever convenient. I think I painted 12 hours on Friday: five before I went over to Spencer’s and seven when I was there.

One of the things I was working on was this pattern painting (shown at right), which is almost done. I had no plan for which color combination to use, so I laid out a few choices and had my friends choose for me. (Have to leave some room for randomness!)

Originally Oliver picked out orange, brown and light blue; but after I explained that I’ve used that combo far too many times, I switched it up to red, brown, and light blue. Long story short, it turned out to be an eyesore, in a good way.

spencer hibertoliver hibert
Spencer at left, Oliver at right, refusing to pose for the camera.

But it was really good to get caught up with Oliver and Spencer, bringing our energy together. Oliver and I have been through so much together — highs (Arizona Biennials) and lows (the disintegration of The TRA25 Capsule experiment) — and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Spencer better. Our work has evolved into very different spaces over the past two or three years, but we’ve only learned from that.

It was all high comedy, punctuated by pizza from Hungry Howie’s. (Q.: “What’s for dinner?” A.: “Any flyers with discounts hanging on the doorknob?”) Just kind of underscores how important it is for artists to have other artists as friends. Especially here in the outskirts of metropolitan Phoenix, where the culture for art is pretty … well … alienating.

One of the things we talked about was originality … how almost impossible it is to do something absolutely new anymore. Why burn yourself out trying to be new? Instead, just be yourself, and make what you like.

Can’t wait to get back together with them again, which may happen Tuesday evening.

New set of fine art digital prints added to store

March 18th, 2008 | 3 Comments

fine art digital prints
I took some time this afternoon to upload a new set of fine art digital prints to the online art shop. Some of the new prints are part of the Space Loops series I wrote about in my last post.

The store now has 14 prints and 6 paintings. As far as prints are concerned, I’ve tried to blend minimal “hard-edge” designs with the funkier stuff. Some prints are just ideas on paper; they may become paintings, they may not. Time will tell.

I’m enjoying making the prints — testing color combinations, giving designs a life beyond the screen. The process is liberating. Photographing them is a bit trickier, but I’m not giving up!

In the studio: November 3, 2007

November 3rd, 2007 | No Comments

Today is a beautiful day in Tempe, Arizona. High of 89. Winds light and variable. Not a cloud in the sky. Got the windows open and the sun is shining through with all of its splendor!

Today I’m working on finishing touches of the painting I started on Thursday night, shown at left. And at right is a sketch of the next painting I’ll start. An ongoing exploration of the wavy shaped-pattern.


On the stereo is Piero Umiliani’s Musicaelettronica 2, which absolutely blows my mind, like so much that Easy Tempo has released over the years. Particularly I’m digging the jazzy track titled “Scoop.” I’m also into Budos Band’s new release, the aptly titled Budos Band II.

Thursday night’s painting gig at e4
in Scottsdale did turn out to be a good bit of fun. Met some cool people who offered lots of good encouragement — they appreciated what I was working on much more than I imagined. I think it’s good to get out of the studio and paint in public occasionally. A studio environment can prove hermetic.

In the studio: October 25, 2007

October 25th, 2007 | No Comments

Here’s a work-in-progress shot of Invalid Input An Error Occurred While Processing This Directive, started Monday night. It’s 20 inches high by 40 inches wide. The color combination in the upper right corner encompasses light fluoro blue, vivid fluoro green and this weird mustard brown on a light fluoro red. In full sun it’s pretty hard to look at, which is a good thing, as far as I’m concerned.

pop art is over

For me, this marks a return to my pop art roots — but in my opinion, pop art has long been over. I need a new descriptive phrase to explain the next generation of pop culture and media-inspired art. I don’t know what to call this. All I know is that making this stuff is a blast.

In other news, my page for the Think Small 4 art show in Richmond, Virginia is up. Have a look at Omnicron’s Dilemma and other works or art for sale here.

I hope to have a photo of Invalid Input up on the site this weekend.

Painting Geometric Shapes

September 24th, 2007 | No Comments

Lately I’ve been very much into painting geometric shapes. As an example, the painting you see below measures 20″ x 40″ inches, and features fluorescent red, fluorescent blue, and two shades of brown. The combination of colors is exciting and jarring to me.

painting geometric shapes

While I’ve been coming up with a lot of ideas recently, I haven’t quite found the time to make them reality, sadly. I’m thinking about taking a break from minimalist painting for a while. The ideas I have are more about patterns, shapes and colors entwining and colliding. That stuff is so much more exciting to paint.

Otherwise, I haven’t been painting much, because freelance writing and home renovations have been taking over. But that’s all right … I’ll get back to the easel soon enough.