Basketball Hoop, Soft pastel and graphite
on Rives BFK, 22" x 30", 2010
What are you working on in your studio right now?
1. I'm finishing up a painting that I started before the New Year.
2. I'm starting a 38" x 46" oil painting of the George Washington Bridge that I will be auctioning off at my wife's private elementary school.
3. I'm continuing to work on a linocut series of Buffalo, NY architecture. By 2013 I hope to have completed the series of 10 architectural structures that best represent Buffalo for better or worse.
4. I'm continuing to work on my 5 1/2" x 8" pencil drawings documenting my commute to and from Washington Heights in Manhattan. The architecture in that neighborhood I find especially interesting.
Can you describe your working routine?
I draw and paint primarily as a means of meditation and way of contemplating my immediate surroundings. I typically feel the need to draw everyday, I paint when I can (about once a week), and I work on other projects like printmaking in intense stretches of two week periods or so.
Painting the George Washington Bridge
Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?
My studio is outdoors… I'm really a "en plain air" painter. That means that I bring my work and materials with me wherever I go, whenever I want to draw/paint. I can be on the bus commuting to work, hiking through a State Park, or sitting in the front yard of my apartment (I live in Nyack… a beautiful village 30 minutes north of Manhattan on the Hudson River). All those places are equally my studio. However I do have a room in my apartment where I keep all my art materials and finished pieces. But I rarely do any creating in there and it gets pretty messy.
Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.
Things always start with me having the desire to go for a walk and clear my head. Then after walking a bit I'll find a cozy spot somewhere to set up and draw or paint. Sometimes I choose my location according to a subject that I find interesting like a mailbox, a house, or a car. Sometimes I choose my location because its comfortable… I'll typically set up on a side street, in the shade, or in an area close to home. From there I begin to draw what I see. The goal when I am creating art is to immerse myself in the here and now. But in order to be in the moment and be spontaneous I have to be inspired and that means that I have to get creative in my interpretation of what I'm drawing. If I draw solely with my eyes I'll be bored, if I draw solely with my emotions I'll be thrust back into myself, but if I use my emotions and imagination to creatively interpret what I see then I working within a healthy and happy balance between the two. From that point on I'm like a Jazz musician improvising within the parameters of my subject matter. Sometimes I push those boundaries to an almost unrecognizable interpretation, but most often I work to enhance the visual qualities inherent in my subject. Almost always I finish the drawing/painting in a single session and the piece ends up taking its final shape without over thinking it.
UPS Truck, Paper mache over styrofoam, 22' x 15' x 8', 2010
What are you having the most trouble resolving?
I suppose there is a few a things. I've always been turned on by "naive" looking art… whether it was done by Dubuffet (an art world insider) or Sam Doyle (an art world outsider) it doesn't really matter. I love simplified forms, crooked lines, and disproportionate forms and shapes. But I don't like kitschy cute stuff, or art that too closely resembles children's art. So I sometimes struggle with creating work that looks simple but not too childlike.
I also love to work large. I created a 22' x 15' x 8' paper mache UPS truck while I was in my Masters program at CUNY Lehman. But other than that experiment I'm limited on how large my work can be because I paint/draw outside on location. Ten years ago in Undergrad at SUNY Fredonia I created many paintings that were 7' x 5'. I like that size but it doesn't easily accommodate walking around outside and setting up to paint on the sidewalk.
Also, I don't feel as though I'm completely comfortable with any one medium and/or material. I used to be an oil painter. But now I do a little of everything… oil paint, acrylic paint, pencil, ink brush, oil and soft pastel, mixed medium with watercolor, print making… etc. Each medium I love has its downside.
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
Like I said above… I love many mediums and materials. But don't misunderstand me, I'm not innovative with materials like Eva Hesse was. About 4 years ago or so I became very interested in learning and understanding traditional drawing and painting mediums. I find it curious that to work with something as basic as charcoal on paper can be so complicated. Start with charcoal… there is willow, vine, char-kole sticks, charcoal dust, compressed charcoal, charcoal pencils… and more. Each has its own personality and techniques that work especially well with it. But then there is paper… smooth, toothed, rough, thin, thick, watercolor, dry media, pastel, printmaking, cotton-based, wood pulp, mulberry, machine made, hand made, archival, non-archival… and believe me this list can go on forever! (By the way New York Central in Manhattan has an incredible selection of papers).
Graphite on archival paper, 5 1/2" x 8", 2012
What does the future hold for your work?
Ten years ago when I was twenty I created art in a blaze. I was never short for ideas and every piece I created I pushed my creativity to its max. I was forever anxious to start my next project and hoped to awe my audience (faculty and classmates) every time. I was also very unhappy during this period in my life and emotionally unstable. Ten years on, at the age of thirty, I create art in a slow burn. I've found an approach to art making that satisfies me. I no longer care about impressing my audience… in fact I find myself content with creating work that challenges my audience… in other words, I enjoy creating work that the audience might not find attractive. I also don't have anxiety anymore about creating work… I have nothing to prove to myself artistically. I'm totally content at the moment just drawing and painting the world around around me.
In the future, say ten years on, I see myself having created a huge body of consistent work. I can see myself fluctuating back and forth between abstract interpretation of my subjects and realistic interpretation. Also, I hope to do a few more installation art projects, paper mache and wooden sculptures, and have a few comprehensive solo shows. I foresee my career as an artist gaining momentum and hope to have a long lasting relationship with a gallery that I trust.
Driveway, Soft pastel, watercolor, gauche, graphite
on Aquabee Super Deleuxe paper, 11" x 14", 2010
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I'd like to share with your readers a few of my core beliefs about art…
Never concern yourself with being original; originality just happens.
Just because a work of art is hanging in a museum doesn’t mean that you have to like it.
The greatest art never tries to be great.
All artists have only one option: to become the artist that they are.
Great artists know how to use their weaknesses for their strengths.
Authenticity is the greatest quality a work of art can possess.
The greater the material limitations an artist has, the greater the opportunity the artist has for transcending them.
Do not take from nature, make from nature.
Honor diversity in art. The more styles and aesthetics there are, the richer their distinctions become.To be involved in a community of artists is the only way for career success.
Never pay anyone to exhibit your work.
If you aren’t being denied fifteen times a year from submitting your work for shows you aren’t applying enough