Friday, March 25, 2016

Public Spaces

On the easels, final touches.

The River Beyond


From January through August of 2015 I found myself working on a series of paintings about my home town of Fall River.  They are the precursors to the "Intersecting
Principles" series I am now creating.  (Some of the earlier drawings have been spoken about in previous blog posts.)


Fourth of July Holiday











I call this collection of paintings "Public Spaces."  They are inspired by my walks through the major public parks within the City of Fall River.  My intent was to express the hidden, often overlooked beauty of the city.  I did not create portraits of specific parks.  I worked to capture the feeling of a view, the movement of a hillside, or simply the color relationships between trees.  Efforts were made to translate the mood and essence that are fundamental to the splendor captured between the shadows and the sunlight.


A Parting of the Way








My hometown has been besieged with negative perspective and publicity.  Headlines shout about crime, drugs and corruption, but Fall River is so much more than that.  We are a community, complex and diverse.  We are authors, Artists, musicians and hard working tough minded, strong willed people.  Our public Spaces, North Park, Ruggles Park, and Kennedy (or South) Park have evolved as the city has evolved.  Those parks have been my motivation, my very muse for this collection of paintings and drawing.  Posted here is a selection of that work.


 
There is History There
Blue Pine and Shadow Play

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Intersecting Principles: Walking on Water



     This drawing is the second in the "Intersecting Principles" series.  When I travel the city of Fall River, this area somehow feels like the roots of the city.  This is where the Taunton River meets what is left of the captured and piped in mouth of the Quequechan River.  Sure the shoreline is actually about seven mile long, but this is at the base of Downtown.  This is where the Fall River Line ships moored. The life blood of the city in the nineteenth century pulsed through this area like the true blood of a man's heart.  Native Americans crossed the river here.  King Phillip's warriors fought and lost battles with the British here.

     The story of Fall River starts here.

     Today, it is the Home of Battleship Cove, Heritage Park, the Fall River Carousel, (once the pride and joy of Lincoln Park). There is a large commercial pier, a railroad yard and a few working factories. There is also a Railroad Museum, a Marine Museum, few restaurants and and bars.  The Narrows Center for the Arts with two galleries a state of the art performance space and several artist studios sits three floors above it all.  All in all a very busy place, one that I stroll between brush strokes and contemplation.  

It seemed a fitting second step.  From here I can look up toward my city, look out across the river, or take in the living history that continues.  The sounds of the traffic crossing the big blue Braga bridge echo and give surreal din to the colliding diversity and shifting priorities of a struggling city. 
Walking on Water  /  14x20 graphite on paper

So, that said, if "Church Steeple" represents family values and the beginnings of a political viewpoint, "Walking on Water" represents the principles of work and play intersecting along the waterfront, the rail yards, and the public spaces filled with high hopes and grand intentions.


Intersecting Principles is a new series of work, funded in part by the Fall River Cultural Council, a subsidiary of the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

 


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Intersecting Principles : Church Steeple

Intersecting Principles is a new series of work, funded in part by the Fall River Cultural Council a subsidiary of the Massachusetts Cultural Council.






     My purpose is to create a body of work to serve as a visual metaphor inspired by the conflicting perspectives or the intersections of moral and political principles of the diverse population of  my home town.  I hope the work inspires a discussion. Still, my intentions artistic intentions are about creating individual works of art that are engaging, inspirational, and even, maybe, pleasing to look at.

      This is an eight month long project that begins right here and now.  I will document and share my progress from this blog.

     I will first create fully rendered graphite drawings.  Each drawing will be 14x20 inches on off white Canson Edition paper, a heavy bodied paper often used for printmaking and multimedia art work.  From those drawings I will create 18x24 inches oil on canvas paintings.  This work is inspired by actual locations throughout the City of Fall River.  I have walked with my note book, sketch book and small camera, looking for interesting, (to me, at least) juxtapositions of color, light, and movement that occur at active city intersections.  I will create compositions that, while not recreating those intersections, are characterizations of those places that technically use the foundations of the abstract expressionist movement as the fundamental underlying structure to the work.

     All that said, they are simply paintings and drawings, and I hope there is some fun to be had.  I will display the entire series at my Narrows Center Studio/Gallery starting in September 2016. I will post and display each piece as they are completed.

     Let’s start here with “Church Steeple.” This is a simple straight forward expression, but it serves as a nice gateway for me.

Church Steeple



     Walking through the downtown area, passing the Church, I was reminded that many of our moral principles are born in our various religions.  With the intense back-lighting, and my dirty glasses, the building took on an ominous presence. That seemed a fitting place to begin. Our political views and our family values start during our earliest days as we gather with our families under the guidance of a religious leader in a gathering space that is solemn and often iconic so, I decided to start and end with this image. I wonder still how I will approach this one with color.


     I am inviting everyone to follow me along this path and see where we go.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Views and Hues


      As of today, it has been about 30 months since my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She fought and defeated her cancer By comparison to many others her fight was brief, but it was a fight. Near the end of her battle, we spent some time in the White Mountain National Forest in upper New Hampshire.  We love the area and it was peak leaf season.  The days were warm and bright, perfect to take our strolls along some easy trails as she regained confidence and stamina, and simply enjoyed herself.


     The colors were remarkable, and I snapped a few digital shots, sketched a bunch more and absorbed what I could, finding more inspiration and motivation than I had since before she got her diagnosis.  The leaves were just part of it.  The sky bloomed like a flower.  The sun was low and lit the world from a soft and comforting angle.  Wind sang in whispers through the ticking branches while carrying scents across the forest to rival the aroma of any fine kitchen.

 
      We rode the Cog Rail and took the Cannon Mountain Tram.  Perspectives were changed as we looked across the peaks toward the ocean or Canada.  We held each others hand and walked the rim of Cannon Mountain.  Her breath was short and each step took effort, but the views and hues drove us onward and deeper.


     These paintings are a result of those walks.  They are images filter though a healing heart.  I didn't know then how wounded I felt.  Her discomfort far eclipses my own.  But those mountainous trails led us both toward a newer understand of who we had become and what we might create.


      My wife and her recovery are as much a part of these paintings as are my years of training and exploration.  We made these together, hand in hand, during a few autumn days in the forest a few hours away from our home.  Views and Hues is a record of our journey back.


Friday, September 18, 2015

Changes

Mount Hope Bay Series




        I have a friend, really I have more than a friend, but one in particular likes to remind me that "Change is the only constant."  I don't know if he is quoting someone else, but I am quoting him, as he is the one who reminds me of it so often.  He embraces change, even encourages it. I on the other hand simply accept that it is possible and not always as bad as I fear.  Change, it seems like such a loaded word, a premise even, one we can use to our advantage when it regards our creativity.

The Drawn to Music Project


       The last time I wrote a blog entry, I was amazed by Da Vinci drawings, click back and read it.  I hope you find it at least entertaining, if not quite profound.  I was inspired by those drawings to once again explore the power of the pencil and how that might affect and influence my work.  But first, it also inspired me to change the look of  Taylespun Studio.  

       I loved the way Da Vinci looked on colored walls.  I loved the intimate feel and the comfort I felt looking at the masterwork on the walls.

        Now, I don't and would never equate myself with those brilliant precursors of my artistic lineage, I will leave that others less attached and far more objective to do, and yeah, I hope someday they will.  Hell, why not?  But I do like the idea of learning from the presentation and well as the hand and the line.  So, I came back to Taylespun Studio and picked up a brush, a big one, and a roller.  I laid a few layers of paint on the walls and changed, (that word again,) the look of my studio.
Views and Hues




       It more fairly resembles a gallery.  I still work at one end, but walking in, my work is presented, not simply hung.  I am not certain why I avoided this before now.  I think I liked the idea of exhibiting my work raw, unvarnish and simple.  But I have to admit, I like this better.  My clients seem to as well.

Public Spaces
  







  The patrons and volunteers here at The Narrows Center for the Arts who visit me and my work have expressed to me how much the like the changes.  Its funny how I return to the word over and over.  My friend is not an "I told you so..." kind of soul.  He is honest and blunt, and sometimes his bombast is as quick as his wit.  He helped me to hang my newest series of work, "Public Spaces," and as he handed me the paintings while I stood atop a tall aluminum ladder, there was a smile, even a glint in his eye, one I recognized.  He approved.



Shadows and Light
Oceanics
       









Two weeks later, he topped me.  He spontaneously got married for the first time. Now that's change embraced for sure.


Drawn To Music Project





Wednesday, May 27, 2015

It has taken 500 years for this day to arrive.


     The lighting is soft and specific, small spots trained on what is most important.  It is quiet, almost reverential, not quite like a church, but akin to a lecture hall featuring a respected speaker.  The drawings on the walls are over 500 years old, drawn by undisputed masters, famous beyond all measurements of fame or celebrity.

    500 years ago they did what I do daily.  They lived more fully with the power of a pencil.  The white mats on dark blue walls make the artwork nearly invisible from across the room.  Up close, the values, the lines, and even the paper seem to live and breathe.  DaVinci, I remind myself.  Michelangelo, I almost say aloud.  I am struck by the accessibility.  I relate to the work on a deep and personal level and I am surprised.  These are small works, sketchbook drawings with flaws and perfections.  These are studies, small steps toward some major work or idea, but in their simplicity, they are magnificent. 

     
The idea of this exhibit its focused on contrasting beauty, but it is
also filled with contrasts of line, value , time, and abstractions and in all of these ideas, this collection of drawings inspires me.  I see a bridge to cross.  I want my pencils and my paper and more time.  I wish I could buy time, or maybe trade for it.   I want to feel the pull of graphite across a sheet of paper and never stop.  

      For me Art has always been a process, the object on the wall, a recording of that process.  Looking at the objects on these walls, I am inspired to further my own process and make more objects to hang on more walls.  I find myself wanting to touch these drawings to feel the texture of the paper, to smell the passing of time absorbed between then and now, oh and of course to sit in a lecture hall and listen to these men speak.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Connections


     Every so often an artist of some sort will visit my studio and want to show me how smart they are, maybe even how much more they know about painting than me.  Art somehow needs to be a competition for so many of us.  Who am I to say? Maybe they do know more about painting than I do.  I just don't compete.  Last week, an artist shared these words with me, "Your drawings and studies are far more successful than your larger work."  To which I replied, "That would depend on what the definition of success is."

     If there is one right way to create artwork, I have not seen it yet.  I love the variety of answers I see. On the flip side, of that same day, I had a conversation with an artist that lasted nearly two hours.  This was an artist who I respect for her work, her person, and for the high example she sets.


Narrows Performance
     Two nights ago, I spoke with a young musician who found a connection to my Drawn to Music Project.  He had been studying to become a Dr.. but his passion won out, as he had dropped out of school to focus his attention to his musical journey.  He spoke from the heart, reminding me of a time when my waistline was less than my inseam, and mt hair had yet to become salted.  His energy and drive were a reflection of my earlier dreams.  It was good to feel that again.  I gave him a print he admired of two musicians in
Mid-Town Breakdown
Central Park literally playing for coin. Last night, a man who collects paintings themed "somewhat more conservatively" than my work, made some interesting comments.  This one in particular, stayed with me.  "You don't simply distort your shapes for the sake of distortion, they are abstracted with purpose.  I see movement in your figures and a life that does not come across in a traditional portrait.  And your boats, for instance, would never sail on any ocean I have ever seen, but within the context of your paintings, I can't see them any other way.  Given my usual tastes, I should not like this work at all, but I find myself loving it for so many reasons."


     I don't know if he will come back to add to his collection.  He said he would, and if the real world were not so insistent, it would not matter if he did.  His words were strong payment for the time he spent with my work,and for the food he supplied to my creative energy.  The muse needs to me fed as well as my belly, my soul, or my mind.
At Rest (detail)

     The opportunities to connect to people through my art work are priceless.  I began my career as a very private artist.  I worked in a secluded studio, and somewhat dreaded the openings receptions for my exhibits.  I worked for the sake and need of the muse and exhibited as necessary.  My time with an open studio at the Narrows Center has changed all of that.  The connections I make and the chance for folks to share my work in context has been a transformative experience for me.  I like to think it has been so for my visitors as well.

Drawn to Music Project Paintings

Taylespun Prints and Reproductions