In the Studio #38

I’m finally getting into my preparatory drawing for the sixth Pilot Set painting this week now that I’ve received long promised grant funding for the works from the Lehigh Valley Council of the Arts. I’m also simultaneously finishing up the second work in my Remembering Johnson encaustic painting set. Working on two pieces at once its a rarity for me, and in truth I’m more into the Remembering Johnson work since its so close to completion. I’m also a little scared of starting more Pilot set paintings because there are so many unknowns with the new works. Unknowns such as where I’m storing the finished works, the composition of this sixth work in particular, and my general feeling that making such large works are cost prohibitive for me even with state grant aid. I’ve decided to just move on from those fears however since I’m on a time table now that the funds are in hand. It turns out having the grant cuts through fear like a knife through butter. Essentially I don’t have time to be scared anymore.

I had a interesting conversation today with Banana Factory resident artist Stephanie Smith in which we talked about the unique challenges of being an artist at this art center. We mostly settled on the fact that we as artist need more support at the Banana Factory because its too difficult to maintain a studio – even at a subsidized rate – and maintain jobs and a healthy home life. I’m feeling this challenges very acutely now that this grant has come in because I now have an obligation to complete three large paintings while working at as many as three jobs in the spring. I don’t look forward to these future challenges, but I take some solace in the fact that Stephanie and other Banana Factory artists feel the pinch of studio maintenance along with other life challenges too. It helps me feel like I’m not alone.

One of the issues coming out of the studio lately is how to achieve a see-through effect in my works. With the Remembering Johnson pieces particularly I want to make works that look as if an x-ray machine were used to look at the bones of the works. With wax this effect is both simple and challenging because the wax does not want to accept none oil based mediums without a acrylic gel medium barrier and, those barriers crack and bubble if applied to thickly. Fortunately this isn’t happening in the work and so I’m getting a piece that feels surprisingly airy so far. My challenge is to maintain that airy feel and not overload it with too much dense mark making and I wrap it up.

The drawing is at the simplistic under-drawing phase and looks like a grid right now. I like this stage in my drawing process because it’s basically a time for me to play and not think to heavily about what I’m doing. The marks flow out of my hand organically and I’m not too concerned about composition or mark value as I just freely draw. It’s the fun phase giving way slowly to the hard long slog that’ll probably happen next week.

Here’s my progress on both works:


When I first started this blog yesterday I had a hard time finding music to share for this post, but then my friend King Rodriguez came by for dinner and now I have too many selections. So out of a list of 8 selections for today blog I’ve included the top 4 that we were listening to at full blast for dinner music last night. Here’s Janet Jackson “Love U 4 Life”, Sia’s “Cheap Thrills”, Erykah Badu’s “Umm Hmm” and finally Alicia Keys new song “Where Do We Begin Now”

Okay that’s it for today. Next time I’ll delve into some of the inspiration for my new Pilot Set painting and some installation drawings. Until then do be well.

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