Archive for the ‘ oil painting ’ Category

Goings on With the Class: Visiting the Rockland Living Museum

First of all, many thanks to Julie at OMH for making this possible, by letting me hitch a ride. Secondly, thanks to Chris Randolph of the Rockland Living Museum for being so generous with her time.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

A sculpture made of found objects, it works as a wind chime. At the Rockland Living Museum

I didn’t teach my usual class today. I actually spent the day riding down to Rockland Psychiatric Center to view that hospital complex. Mostly, I am looking to see the Rockland Living Museum. The Living Museum at Creedmore has long been the act to follow in what I do. It’s my goal at CDPC to create a peer-run art therapy program that makes meaningful changes in the lives of the students in my classroom. Through a conversation with my contact for the Art on 8 gallery shows, I learned she makes frequent trips to Rockland Psychiatric Center. There’s a counterpart to Creedmore’s Living Museum there. So, at 8:30am this morning I was standing around the OMH Central Office on Holland Avenue, to catch a ride to Rockland Psychiatric Center.

My goal here was a simple one: to see what people at larger, long-running art therapy programs were doing and learn from that. Compared to CDPC which has a capacity of about 136 people in a single building, Rockland has a sprawling campus of buildings (many of which are abandoned). Post-deinstitutionalization, Rockland is a much smaller operation than when its reputation was much grimmer. I had heard about Rockland because of an innovative art program. A little searching around the web reveals the hospital was once considered a pretty bleak and hopeless place by many locals (its location is about 17 miles north of Manhattan). As I’m researching this blog about the history of Rockland, I quickly loose interest in the more salacious bits of its history. Grim suggestions of an overwrought staff and abused and neglected population dominates a lot of commentary from those who knew it or lived or worked there. I’m not looking for horror stories, not now, though I may read up on that later.

Lately, I am in the business of looking for answers to help even the sickest of Albany’s psychiatric patients recover and reintegrate into the community as much as possible. What I do, I do to get people well and empowering them to keep it that way. I have to believe people do recover and stay well, because I need to believe it for myself. Before I taught an art class at CDPC (as I remind the students in my classroom) I sat in the same chairs they are sitting in. Art therapies are a way to bring people out, and help them recover from severe and persistent mental illness. That’s what brings me to meet Chris Randolph today.

Chris Randolf is an art therapist. Her professional profile on a popular web site shows she once worked at a private facility in the same upstate New York county I was raised in, near a hospital where I was sometimes hospitalized, all in the city where I lived in a group home for 9 months. She’s the director of Rockland’s Living Museum, and over the phone she agrees to meet with me when I describe myself as the teacher of a peer-run art class. She does this a day before my arrival. She is even unfazed when my ride calls and asks her to meet me a couple hours ahead of when the Living Museum opens.

This serves as an outdoor sign for the Living Museum, part of a sculpture garden patients are rebuilding after it was damaged by a severe storm.

This serves as an outdoor sign for the Living Museum, part of a sculpture garden patients are rebuilding after it was damaged by a severe storm.

It’s far too warm for a day in October. I tend to be extraordinarily anxious in longer car rides. Mercifully, I get a stop at the rest stop mid-way. Lately especially, whenever I am in situations I can’t get up and move around I get stressed out. Nonetheless, since we arrive early, I am offered a breif tour of the whole facility before we park to sign in at the modern main building.

The main, modern building at Rockland, I find, reminds me in an unpleasant way of a building at Pilgrim State Hospital. This isn't the best picture to show that, but the similarity is there, and the psychological effect of the imposing building is the same.

The main, modern building at Rockland, I find, reminds me in an unpleasant way of a building at Pilgrim State Hospital. This isn’t the best picture to show that, but the similarity is there, and the psychological effect of the imposing building is the same.

Much of Rockland’s Campus is a series of ivy-covered, abandoned buildings. I am treated to the site of decaying structures bedecked in color, thanks to turning leaves. Here is one of those images, but I am intending most of that for another blog.

The buildings in the abandoned portions of Rockland's campus are still accessible. A walking path on the campus goes right along them.

The buildings in the abandoned portions of Rockland’s campus are still accessible. A walking path on the campus goes right along them.

My traveling companions sign in, and in a few minutes, Chris is on her way to pick me up to bring me across campus to Building 19, where the Living Museum anchors a large room of one side of the Recovery Center. We park in a small lot at the back, and Chris begins to show me the work that takes up her day from 1-4, when the Living Museum is open. She has the help of art therapy interns to work directly with the patients. Still, she seems to have a small anecdote for nearly every object outside. Aftr seeing the garden, we get into the actual studio in which the museum’s art is created, by residents of the hospital (many of whom are beginning to transition out of inpatient care).

The Living Museum has several areas which allow patients to work, and relax, listen to music or enjoy a cup of hot tea. Art by patients decorate the room throughout.

The Living Museum has several areas which allow patients to work, and relax, listen to music or enjoy a cup of hot tea. Art by patients decorates the room throughout.

The Rockland Living Museum was developed based on the pioneering Living Museum at Creedmore Hospital in Queens, NYC. The emphasis is on a peer-run program which uses art therapy to empower patients and assist recovery from mental illness. Under the direction of Dr. Janos Marton, a 2002 New York Times profile described the mission of the Living Museum as being a place of “refuge” where “over 800 men and women shed their identities as psychiatric patients and bloomed as artists.”

Patients simply come into the Living Museum space, and without lessons, or direction, they make art. That art has been widely exhibited. It is a series of paintings by patients at the Rockland Museum that piques my interest. At the Art on 8 exhibit (which I have my own work in, as do many of my CDPC students) a conversation about the work in the show from the Rockland Living Museum results in a plan for me to visit Rockland.

My own program is a nascent one. I have only just begun working in the hospital in April. I hear many complimentary statement from students. My class is something they look forward to all day and all week. I know I can make it more meaningful and powerful for my students. I know my story is compelling to them. I was sick on and off a long time. I got hospitalized, voluntarily or involuntarily, a lot. Now, I live in my own apartment and pay my bills. I haven’t needed a hospitalization in 4 years. I know it probably seems to my students that I know something they don’t. If there’s any truth to that at all, the thing I know is this: I need all of them as much as they need me.

That I am teaching again is important to me. Also, it matters that I am teaching people with whom I share a common struggle with chronic mental illness. Its my personal belief is that mentally ill people need to create a community of mutual support for each other. That’s why I do peer mentoring. I teach art because creating art has always been a large part of my own recovery and healing from mental illness. We as a community of psychiatric survivors, –we need to do it for ourselves.

Tables allow patients to work together, although some patents choose to work at stations around the room that are solitary. Great care seems to be taken to meet patient's needs and allow them to indulge their preferences.

Tables allow patients to work together, although some patents choose to work at stations around the room that are solitary. Great care seems to be taken to meet patient’s needs and allow them to indulge their preferences.

The underlying purpose of the Living Museum is to place art therapy, not as peripheral to people’s recovery, rather creative expression is vital to real and lasting recovery from mental illness. Art groups shouldn’t be in psychiatric hospitals to keep the mentally ill busy. The purpose of art therapy is to make people well. I believe this, of course, because it matches with my own experience. The historical connection between creativity and “madness” is long and widely studied. I’m a working visual artist, as well as a teacher. I know I do much better when I make creativity and expression my purpose.

Art adorns the whole room, and even the rafters. Many objects that become works of art are donated, including tables and chairs which are turned to objects of art. Chris states her goal is to get rid of all the furniture she feels is "institutional" in nature.

Art adorns the whole room, and even the rafters. Many objects that become works of art are donated, including tables and chairs which are turned to objects of art. Chris states her goal is to get rid of all the furniture she feels is “institutional” in nature.

After Chris picks me up at Rockland’s central building, I launch on a whirlwind tour of the Rockland Living Museum. We start with its garden. Chris explains that she has about a half-hour before some other responsibility she must attend to. In a short time I have seen a lot of things which inspire me, and leave me with a great number of ideas for my own work at CDPC. I also see the enormity of the task I’m trying to undertake.

Nearly every patient who takes part in the Living Museum contributes in some way to the beauty or the tending of this garden.

Nearly every patient who takes part in the Living Museum contributes in some way to the beauty or the tending of this garden.

The garden grows flowers, or herbs and vegetables intended for use in the food at the Big Rock Café. The cafe is a locus of food and conversation for many patients, and its walls also serve to exhibit work done by patients in the Living Museum.

In the Living Museum’s garden, some patients have taken plastic bottles and fashioned them as flowers decorated in vivid colors. Some patients have decorated the ground with painted stone tiles. Another has made small seats for rest or contemplation. Still others simply tend the garden and their contribution is watering the plants and weeding. It strikes me that Chris not only knows each person and their contribution to the garden, but she seems to have found a way to match each person to a way their skills and limitations still allow them to take a meaningful part.

For those of us in the peer/consumer movement, this is what’s known as a “strengths based approach.” The medical model of treatment focused on the deficits of a ill person. Medical professionals list symptoms, and address limitations. Throughout my time in the Rockland Living Museum, the focus remains on building and fostering the skills and abilities of people in treatment. Participants in the Living Museum direct their own projects. They choose their creative medium based on their already presents skills and interests. One man, Tommy, does most of the building in wood, a large section of the room is a dedicated space where he builds benches, chairs, stools and many other projects.

Tommy, who works in wood, has a dedicated space for his projects.

Tommy, who works in wood, has a dedicated space for his projects.

Most of the spaces for the museum’s artists are individual. The space is adapted to the artist and their interests and personalities. Some artists work is crafts or jewelry. The work is self directed, and flexible. Spaces have shelves of donated books, and a small radio for listening to music.

Other artist spaces include easels, shelves of books that are donated, even a handmade coat rack on which some artists have turned old canvases into lovely and unique purses.

Other artist spaces include easels, shelves of books that are donated, even a handmade coat rack on which some artists have turned old canvases into lovely and unique purses.

A lesson in resilience: a severe storm recently damaged an outdoor sculpture garden --composed mostly of driftwood. Patients are beginning to stack the wood, and rebuild the sculptures.

A lesson in resilience: a severe storm recently damaged an outdoor sculpture garden –composed mostly of driftwood. Patients are beginning to stack the wood, and rebuild the sculptures.

In the Living Museum, Chis leads me around from one project to another. Since the space is not yet open and no artists are present, she patiently answers all my questions about her work as director. She relates how the Living Museum started. At the beginning it was just her. Chris gives me many thoughtful recommendations for my own program. Much of the supplies, furniture and other projects are donated items, or carefully gleaned from sites like Craigslist and other free resources. The Living Museum is staffed, in part, by partnering with educational institutions nearby. But primarily, Chris stresses the need to create a program which eschews the traditional therapeutic model. Instead, she insists on a program which empowers patient autonomy and choice. This maxim underlies the program here.

This is of course, something I want for my own program. Changing a deeply entrenched institutional culture is a large task.

After I have seen the actual Living Museum itself, I briefly tour the larger Recovery Center –which constitutes the rest of Building 19. I see spaces that host group therapy, vocational training, computer access, music and performance space, and display space for some of the patient created wares from the Living Museum. I’m given an overview of the other programs. There is an all-day roster of groups available to patients (patients choose their own groups, and participate in creating new groups). I meet both hospital residents and peer mentors like myself. Chris eventually has a supervision to attend to, and I go to the café for lunch.

It’s in the café that The Recovery Center feels institutional to me for the first time. Though the food is fine, and the space is well decorated with the Living Museum’s art, several people mill about the cafe or in front of it in an idle and purposeless way. A couple of the cafés patrons approach me either wanting my coffee, or cigarettes. I talk to a couple of people there, and eventually leave to photograph the wooded, picturesque grounds. Much of the hospital’s campus is abandoned and overgrown. It makes a beautiful subject for my camera, since photographing abandoned buildings is a longstanding hobby of mine.

While I am walking the grounds, seeing all the wrecked former hospital buildings, it seems the hospital campus was abandoned in stages. Nearer the road, buildings are lost almost entirely in overgrowth, and as one gets closer to the center of campus and its modern buildings some of the older buildings are being returned to use. I am not sure, but it is likely that building 19 itself, where the Living Museum is housed, began the renaissance of the older buildings being renovated. It’s speculation on my part, but meaningful speculation.

That I was pestered for cigarettes, money, and coffee in the café reminds me that the needs of the mentally ill are great. People whose needs are being met aren’t listlessly sitting about looking for an opportunity to solicit something they don’t have or have enough of. Back at home, (my work at CDPC) there are a great number of people that need to be meaningfully engaged in addressing their own needs. Those needs may be educational, vocational, or –pertinently– creative expression.

There’s a lot of work to do.

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New works, 2014-2015

Keep checking back. I am trying to start the new year off with a lot of new pieces. The newest canvases are going to be towards the top. With the majority of my work back, I am building up a portfolio and have plans to show multiple places concurrently.

Two new works started:

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New work, untitled, first sitting, 11″ x 14″ oil on canvas

Second sitting, and it got a name:

 

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“Mindfulness Through Starvation” 11″ x  14″ oil on canvas, second sitting.

And this one:

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New work, untitled, first sitting 16″ x 20″, oil on canvas

 

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“Do Hearts Find Jagged Edges?” 16″ x 20,” oil on canvas, $165.

 

Second shot, on the easel:

 

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I hope to have a chance to work on these again before I head out on the trip to Buffalo Thursday morning. I am playing a live music set out there. I am not sure how close I made it to my goal of doubling my inventory before the end of the year, but I know I am well on my way with these couple here.

 

Working on the piece:

Photo on 1-4-16 at 7.16 PM

 

Two new works started:

Started to block out the canvases,

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Untitled, oil on canvas, 24″ x 36″

 

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Untitled, oil on canvas, 8″ x 10″

 

Then both, after a first sitting:

 

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Blocking in main colors, after first sitting

 

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Second sitting, “A Maelstrom Will Love You In its Time” oil on canvas, 24″ x 36″ $345

 

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After first sitting

 

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“Stay The Oracle” oil on canvas,  8″ x 10″ NFS.

 

Canvases are piling up:

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Current work space, ’15

 


12/18/15

Started two new works today. Also, I titled one of the pieces from the previous session of painting I wasn’t sure was done. It grew on me when it sat, and I don’t think it needs to be worked further at this point. (scroll down to see “Memory Was a Predator”)

Here are the two pieces I worked on today (blocking color):

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Untitled work, Oil on canvas, 4 8″ x 10″ panels/canvases

 

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Untitled, first sitting, oil on canvas, 18″ x 20″

You notice that I this point both works have precisely the same color palettes, ultimately, you’ll see, they end up going quite different directions:

(after the end of the first sitting):

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“Teach a Man to Grind an Ax,” second sitting, oil on canvas 18″ x 20″

Got to a second sitting on two of the recent pieces today. They are both now finished. I intend to bring the works in (when the are dry, next class isn’t for two weeks) to make a comparison between different color schemes. One of the paintings ended up dominated by green/blue/yellow (analogous) and the other by red/pink, /blue/ (essentially a triadic color scheme):

Here is the first:

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“Teach a Man to Grind an Ax (He’ll Devour for a Lifetime)” oil on canvas 18′ x 20″ $155

 

 

You’ll see the other take on a loose analogous color scheme:

 

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Untitled, oil on canvas, 4 8″ x 10″ panels.

 

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“Simple X” 4 8″ x 10″ panels, oil on canvas, $248

 

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Untitled work, Oil on canvas, 4 8″ x 10″ panels/canvases

[on to earlier posts]

 

I have a particular exercise in mind with these two canvases. Something I want to experiment with myself, and then have the students in my class reflect on and talk about. When I am further along in both works I’ll get to explaining what I am doing here…

Thanks for reading.

I have two pieces I am working on today (12.5.15). I started both pieces today after the class:

 

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New work, blocking color, untitled, first sitting. Oil on canvas, 11″ x 14″

Second sitting:

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“Set to Spark”11″ x 14” oil on canvas, $205

I may do some additional tweaks on this one, but I think it may be done. I’m really happy with how this one went.

 

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New work, as yet untitled, 18″ x 24″ oil on canvas

 

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“Memory Was a Predator”, second sitting, oil on canvas, 18″ x 24″ $$185

Did some color blocking on this new one today, (as yet untitled):

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New work, oil on canvas 18″ x 24″ color blocking

Later:

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Blocking in the negative space…

 

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Second sitting, earlier today…

 

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“Just Sweep Up the Casings, We Open in 5″ (final) oil on canvas, 16″ x 20” $235

This piece, which I started a couple days ago, I think is now done:

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“Icon: Our Lady of the Dissolution” oil on canvas 11″ x 14″

 

This one came together quickly, done in two sittings. “Red Planet Psalm”

 

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Final, “Red Planet Psalm” 11 x 14″ oil on canvas $95

 

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“Red Planet Psalm” oil on canvas, 11″ x  14″ $95

 

 

A recent habit I developed is to block out shapes and color on a new canvas with whatever color is left from a previous canvas. So, when the last canvas seemed done, I took a small canvas and scratched this out.

 

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“Red Planet Psalm” oil on canvas, 11″ x 14″ first sitting

 


Blocking out canvas # 3 that I have been working on this weekend. By working on I sometimes mean just I am thinking about what needs to happen and letting it incubate. Obviously a work in progress.

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“Eat the Heart” 18 x 24 oil on canvas.

second sitting, building up color and negative space:

“(if you love a thing) Eat its Heart” oil on canvas, 18 x 24, second sitting.

This canvas seems to be failing to thrive.

Third sitting with the new piece, I think it may be done, perhaps just a little cleaning up and intensifying color:

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“Eat the Heart” 18 x 24 oil on canvas.

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on the easel

 

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Eat the Heart (todos vosotrus padres eran tótemas) 16″  x 20″ $185

Should you be translating, I am meditating/editorializing on my own role as a father/parent.

 

 

New work, “The Bloom, see pictures for details:

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“The Bloom” oil on canvas 11″ x 14″ $145

This piece slipped right out of my hands and became a very different thing than what I intended. But it just hit the done pile. It’s hanging on the wall to dry. The image isn’t great, I’ll update with a better image when I remember to use flash…

A shot of the new piece with better light:

“The Bloom” oil on canvas 11″ x 14″ $145

Started a new work. Yes I’m doing two new canvases at the same time. This is the first sitting. When this dries, I’ll start ratcheting up the intensity of the colors. The color needs to be corrected slightly. (the palette is by request). This work is not for sale.

New work NFS

New work NFS

second sitting:

New work, second sitting NFS

New work, second sitting NFS

Essentially, all I have done at this point is to outline the shapes in the image with a mixture of Ultramarine blue, ivory black, and panes grey. It is giving it the effect I am looking for, however, this piece is close to done, when the outlines are dry, it’s back to work on the shapes.

Third sitting with the new piece. The title I am leaving for it’s owner to disclose. The most enjoyable part of painting this piece was that to get the effect I was looking for I painted meticulously with very thin washes of paint mixed carefully on my palette. Generally, I paint quite heavily but this allowed succeeding layers of paint to bleed and show through. I’m going to take another look at this in the morning under natural light, but I think I am ready to call this one done.

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New work, third sitting, oil on canvas, 18″ x 24″ NFS

update 9/20/15

Started a new piece, yet untitled. I am slowly building up the paint. I blocked out the shapes a few days ago and got around to cover the canvas. It’s a small canvas (11″ x 14″). It’s starting to come together, the paint is thich in several places, so I will probably wait for it to be a little tack to being working on it again.

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New piece (untitled) oil on canvas 11″ x 12″
First sitting.

Second sitting: I loved the colors in this, but as I started the second sitting, I felt some darker colors might give the image some depth and movement, there will probably be another sitting with this one as well:

new work, oil on canvas

new work, oil on canvas

new work, oil on canvas, second sitting

new work, oil on canvas, second sitting

Update: 8/8/15

Started a new piece. I did a lot in just one session, but it isn’t done, it seems flat. The contrast isn’t deep enough, though these are the colors I decided I’m using. The piece is tentatively titled “The Murder Slug,”–based on gaming lore that the significant human told me about: one of the lord of the nine hells is described a slug like creature. Hence the name. The topic came up after a recent semi-weekly table-top gaming session. And yes, I am a thirty-seven year-old that plays table-top games and I feel no shame about it.

First a picture of the image alone, and then myself with the canvas.

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Image of new piece 16″ x 2o” oil on canvas.

In this image, an intentional optical illusion (of sorts) begins to be apparent. The devils in the lore accompaning the game are always deceptive and shifting shape, so this became something I was working on since the first sitting with the piece.

Myself, with the new canvas, a work in progress...

Myself, with the new canvas, a work in progress…

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Got to a second (then third?) sitting with  “The Murder Slug (in the house of filth)”. The piece took on a life of it’s own, especially after I told my partner I thought it might be done, and then she made a few suggestions. As I had sort of envisioned the painting the main are I wanted the viewers’ eyes draw to (ie: the murder slug) was sinking into the back ground. The color scheme remained mostly the same, but the composition wasn’t working out with the background remaining as mostly a washed out white and burn sienna.

“The Murder Slug (in the house of filfth)” oil on canvas 16″ x 24″.

After my partner’s feedback, I realized I have to go darker, and I worked in a lot of Prussian Blue and burnt sienna. This finally, not only made the sort of optical effect I had intended, but also drew attention to the center thirds of the canvas to create nice movement in the piece (remember my original comment was the piece was too flat with not enough movement.

Here are a couple images of the (hopefully finished) piece:

(third sitting)

(third sitting) “The Murder Slug (In the House of Filth)” oil on canvas, 16″ x 24″

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“The Murder Slug” on my easel.

Update, new piece, 2 sittings, “Science-Fiction Double-Helix Picture-Show” 16″ x 20″ $140

Science-fiction double-helix picture-show, on the easel

Science-fiction double-helix picture-show, on the easel

Another shot:

Science-fiction Double-helix Picture-show, 16

Science-fiction Double-helix Picture-show, 16″ x 20″ $140

Update: This is the finished piece 18″ x 24″ oil on Canvas $185, “The Sentinel”

“The Sentinel” oil on canvas, 18″ x 24″ drying on my easel.

Another shot:

“The Sentinel” oil on canvas 18″ x 24″ $335

This is my second sitting with this piece, tentatively titled “Sentinel” (until I have something I like better (oil on canvas, 18″ x 24″):

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Oil on Canvas 18″ x 24″

Worked a second sitting on the new piece (tentatively titled “The Sentinel”). It’s coming together, but my feeling is it may be getting a little too representational. It recalls, for me slightly, some of Klee’s works in that direction though it was common for Klee, if he painted a figure, for the figure to take up far less real estate on a canvas. Here it is after the second sitting (on my easel):

“The Sentinel” Oil on Canvas, 18″ x 24″

More images coming as I am working on them. Which is becoming a major part of my week this week. […] Finally, a better image of the new piece, “Specters” oil on canvas, 24″ x 36″

“Specters,” new oil on canvas

There’s still two new works that are hanging at the art on eight gallery right now, that have not been photographed yet. Hoping to add images of those soon. Make inquiries through the contact e-mail in this web-sites about section. […] The reception for the Art on Eight Gallery was this past Thursday. Thanks everyone who came to look around and see what I have been up to and the work that Ben (who shares the show with me) has done. A coupe people who were unable to attend the reception have expressed interest in trying to get in to see the gallery at another time. I will confer with my contact at the building to see if such a thing is possible. Thanks everyone for your support and enthusiasm.

“To Realize You Dropped it.” oil on canvas, 24″ x 36″

“To Realize You Dropped It” is a companion piece to “To Love a Falling Object” (the making of which is described below). The two were intended to be very similar. Both are currently on display at the Art on Eight gallery, and have gotten a lot of positive comment. As the show was coming together, I was trying to avoid hanging the gallery with too many older works so the focus would be on work I am doing now. There’s another small piece that I still do not have a proper photo of, “A Tired Script,” (oil on canvas, 8″ x 10″). For another blog, I snatched  a photo of myself next to my easel as it was drying, so you can see that here:

artist, with

artist, with “A Tired Script”

There’s (yet again) a black canvas currently on my easel. As anything happens with that, I will continue to update here. […] Update, first sitting with a new oil. First sitting with a new large oil piece. I did several new works before the Art on 8 show, but, since my digital camera met an untimely end, I don’t have images of the new works that went in the show. Also, since I don’t have any digital camera other than what’s on my MBPro. Since this is a first sitting, the colors are faint, and somewhat hard to make out in this shot.

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First sitting with New Painting, oil on canvas 24″ x 36″.

Even on a snowy, blustery winter day, I try to take advantage of what natural light I can get. The next sittings are going to intensify the areas of blues and greens, as well as the area that’s rather the focus of the piece, the side in the image that is dominated by yellow ocher. […] Started a new oil. I’m tentatively calling this “His Eye is on the Swallowed.” (2 images) This was my first sitting with this piece. Oil on gessoed canvas. 16” x 20″. After this, as I do sittings with this, I will just be fixing the color and contrast, –tweaking the image. This one came together quickly.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

“His Eye is on the Swallowed,” oil on canvas, drying on my easel.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

His Eye is on the Swallowed, drying, first sitting.

[…] Mission complete. I don’t have a firm title for this, but “To Love a Falling Object,” so far,  is the working title. It’s done, for sale, and I hope to be exhibiting it when the right opportunity arises. Trying to put those opportunities together now. Interested parties see the contact in my about section. Here’s a couple images:

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On the easel, “To Love a Falling Object” 24″ x 36″ oil on canvas.

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Detail, “To Love a Falling Object” 24″ x 36″ oil on canvas.

[more images as I worked on the piece, and other new work continue below] I’ve started new works for upcoming shows, and so on. This one is oil on canvas, 24” x 36”. Photos show how I blocked areas of the canvas into light and dark and started building up the sections. 111_4244 Starting… 111_4245 Detail… 111_4246 The work so far, (first sitting). [update: second sitting] Working on the new oil. It is yet untitled. Here it is after a couple hours this morning:

Oil on canvas, work in progress, untiltled, 24

Oil on canvas, work in progress, untiltled, 24″ x 36″

Tonight I did a third sitting with the large (yet untitled) oil. I may still do another sitting, but lightening the highlights and deepening the contrasts are bringing the piece together nicely, in my mind: Photo on 7-13-14 at 8.40 PM Photo on 7-13-14 at 8.43 PM Photo on 7-13-14 at 8.58 PM Photo on 7-13-14 at 9.05 PM … Second (as yet, untitled work): The idea for this was developed from the Tumblr.com blog Fuck-ton of Anatomy References Reborn (see here: http://fucktonofanatomyreferencesreborn.tumblr.com/post/85055323385/artists-subject-prompt-1). I began with using a sketch I had done previously, the source material for that was The Northampton Historical Society’s book: “The Life and Death of a State Hospital.” Here is the sketch (original photo by Sherer) 111_4163 Hospital Ward hallway, pencil on paper, based on the photo by Tom Sherer.

I adjusted the storyline to suit the back-drop I was creating, and made a few modification on the sketch image I had drawn. The piece is nearly done. The over-all effect is very much what I wanted. There’s a lot of detail work, and since I had some tubes of incandescent paint, I decided to experiment with incandescent copper (Golden acrylics) and incandescent gold. This afternoon I worked on it again (after this picture was taken) and the walls and foreground are much darker and look less washed out. Aside for bringing more light at the back of the hall and around the figure, I am mostly pleased with today’s progress. Also, the discarded item is another detail I intend to work on when next I sit down to finish this.

Here’s an image, from this morning:

Acrylic on Canvas, my work based on prompt 1 from the blog Fuck-ton of Anatomy References, it's a really great blog and you should probably follow it.

Acrylic on Canvas, my work based on prompt 1 from the blog Fuck-ton of Anatomy References Reborn, it’s a really great blog and you should probably follow it.

Hope to be able to post either one of these as finished pieces within the next couple days. Morning sunlight tends to give me the best light for painting. I try not to resort to spot lights in my room in the middle of the night –as I did when I was a kid. Worked on this piece, again, this morning. It’s getting there, there’s mostly details left. Also, it has a working title:

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Acrylic on canvas, “Found Where Her Tormentors Never Rested.” For sale, inquire.

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canvas 3, untitled, built around some blue and burnt umber left over from another piece.

Another New Work (Time Spent With Lesser Evils)

So, I started a new abstract piece, I just realized now, I had started it November of last year.

For a while I had considered it done, and gave it a place on my wall in the kitchen.

It started life, almost a year ago, looking like this:

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Eventually, a portion of the canvas looked like this:

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Then it sat on my wall for many months. Very lately (as in last night) I decided I needed to re-work it. Although I considered it done, there were places the while of canvas peeked through the paint. It was too reliant on a yellow ochre and red scheme that my paints trend towards without my total consent. Parts of it had gotten too blended with umber and red. I wanted to work it again so I did.

Here’s the re-finished, finished painting as of last night, drying:

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I am still unsure whether or not to call this one done. Am I done beating up on this canvas? I don’t know yet. I am going to give it a couple days.

I also did not name or date this piece. I am trying to come up with a fitting name. Normally I reference something going on in my life in titles. So, I’m thinking about that bit of it…

PS: just for fun. An old iMac sits several feet away from my easel, and became collateral damage in the process of painting last night:

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Update: as of 12/27, while I was scrambling to have things to exhibit, I decided on a title of this piece. A frind had suggested time ought to be a theme. The challenge with titling abstract works, is you want to be creative without being over-the-top. You also want it to logically register to whoever is viewing a piece. It’s hard to choose a title that makes sense with the content of an abstract piece. A friend suggested “time” as a theme. I ended up calling it “Time Spent With Lesser Evils”

More recent works

Here is some of the recent work I have been doing:

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Not the best image, admittedly from the camera, but I liked this one. One of the other assistants in the class I teach brought in the subject for this still life from her day job –which is for a company that installs sprinkler systems, or something of the sort. Occasionally, they have to replace rubber tubing that is overgrown by tree roots, which is what this is.

I like that people tell me it looks like a heart that is pierced by something, or a dead animal or skull of some sort. It was a pretty challenging subject for painting. It’s acrylic on paper.

Recently, I began working on the sketch for another idea. At Trinity Institution where I teach the weekly class, there is a series of photos of the Steven and Harriet Meyers residence. The Meyers house was once an Albany stop on the underground railroad, owned by a prominent abolitionist. The house is currently being restored to be used as a historic site. The photos of the house under restoration are all compelling, but I decided to do a pencil treatment of the following picture as a warm up to a possible larger, complete work or treatment of the subject.

Here is my (unfinished) pencil sketch so far:

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The photograph was one that I found compelling because it shows the basement staircase –the basement being place that logically would hide the presence of people not wanting to be found. The photo was compelling as well because the area of greatest light is beyond the door-frame, and the walls beyond them darken into near total darkness at the bottom of the page. It was a very well-shot photograph (when I think to I will update this with the photographer’s name).

I apologize the photograph is not very clear, it seems the next thing I may need to buy is a compact digital camera to replace my trusty Kodak Easyshare. It seems to be on its way out.

A couple weeks ago, The art class I am a part of hosted an art contest held as part of the launch of a community walking path in the Arbor Hill neighborhood. I spent most of the day handing out pencils and paper to young kids in the neighborhood, and encouraging their efforts in the contest. As I was set up, I did a quick line drawing of a tree on the property.

Ultimately, I took the rough drawing home, and finished it in pencil. Still not happy with the result, I layered the painting with thin layers of water color paint. So the piece is mixed media, on a rather large sheet of paper.

Here it is before the water color: 111_2988

And here is the finished (essentially, there is one problem I may want to correct before sale) piece:

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Arbor Hill Tree, pencil and watercolor on paper. Inquire about sale and dimensions.

And a couple recent sketches:

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“Her face was a thing of beauty, but her mind was a cataract”

So, I saw this post by Steven Archer: you have twenty-four hours to do something on this vague theme I’m giving you.

I met Steven, a good long time ago. Since I shared a stage with him in some out-of-a-way club, I have followed what he does and, admittedly, admired the guy. He’s out there, and artist and musician doing what I’d like to be doing.

So, I started painting.

After a while in, I got thinking about how I am sending Steven Archer –a dude notorious for being blunt as a fine art form– a sample of my work done over a few hours.

Fuck. I have been an oil painter without even good friends knowing it, And now I am sending something of mine off to be considered by a dude that actually went to art school, and more-over, knows what sells, –and he makes his living as an artist.

I am totally fucked.

But, I did what I do, and I rather am proud of the result. Most of my oil painting is abstract expressionism. I am a fan-boy of Jackson Pollock. With this particular painting, I channeled early Pollock. Pollock did a lot of work that was not entirely leaving off representation, but still abstract. That’s why the elongated neck in this image. That’s why no hair.

I am missing a lot of colors out of my palate, so I used charcoal and acrylic paints. It’s a mixed media piece:

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Learn to Draw Art Class at Trinity Alliance, Albany

Art work on display at Saturday’s event

Yesterday, Saturday August 25th, students in Malik Huggins “Learn To Draw” art class showcased their work at the Shop Rite store on Central Avenue in Albany. The class is free, and held every Saturday from 11am to 2 at the Trinity Center, 15 Trinity Place, Albany. The class is designed to teach basic fine art techniques and art theory and history to residents of Albany and is open to both youth and adults.

Student art work at Saturday’s event

Refreshments were served and the families of our art students got to see their work framed and displayed. I’m personally very proud of all the hard work of our artists over the past several months.


If you are interested in supporting Trinity Center’s work with a donation, there is a form on the web-site:

http://www.trinityalliancealbany.org/donate/

Your donation will help the class purchase classroom supplies. You can learn more about the class here:

http://www.trinityalliancealbany.org/learn-to-draw/

Occupy Arts

Work done for a gallery showing by artists as a part of Occupy Wall Street

From October 2011, until Occupy Albany was violently evicted from a downtown Albany park, I was a part of the occupation in NYC and Albany. I created several works of art as part of the occupation. These are some that survived the fall weather, and the eviction.

Albany City Hall, at night.

This was painted during the occupation. I set up my easel on the sidewalk and painted Albany’s City Hall.

Canvas, paints and brushes, recovered after a November arrest for civil disobedience.

On November 15th I was arrested for trespassing and disorderly conduct for setting up an artist’s easel and painting in Albany’s Lafayette Park. Despite the fact I had purposely set my easel on the opposite side of the park from where state police had come to the park to arrest protesters; police came to the far side of the park and I was arrested before the rest of the line of demonstrators. It was very clear that police did not want the image of an artist painting in the park on the nightly news. The resulting painting was little more that a wash of oil paint, since I had little time to complete the painting. I was finally able to recover the painting, my paints and brushes this past Friday.

If other people would like to contribute works for this page, I will gladly share them here. Please send an image of the work, as well as bio and info.