Artworks: A Benefit for Arts Gowanus

I’m pleased to announce that, once again, I will be contributing to this year’s ArtWorks — a benefit for Arts Gowanus!

This year’s event happens Thursday, May 11, 2017, 7 – 10 pm at Shapeshifter Lab, 18 Whitwell Place, Brooklyn, NY 11215.  I will be there!

So join me in celebrating the arts and artists of Gowanus and take home a piece of original artwork from a local artist!  I’m donating my painting Lifeworld 10 (2013):

“Lifeworld 10,” oil on canvas, 20×20″, 2013

Need I say that this is a rare and amazing opportunity to obtain one of my Lifeworld paintings at an amazing price?

By buying a ticket to the ArtWorks event you are buying a chance to “win” this fabulous painting along with 74 other great works made by artists working in Gowanus.  Plus you’ll support the critical mission of Arts Gowanus to promote, support and advocate for local artists and a sustainable arts community in the Gowanus neighborhood. Here’s a link to some of the other artworks available.

In case the art isn’t appealing enough, don’t miss the food, drink and revelry.

Tickets are on sale now, $250 single, $300 for couple, which entitles you to one original work of art… Click here to buy tickets!

Ticket sales are limited, so act fast!

Pinhole research – December chill

I’ve recently started up again with some explorations in digital pinhole photography.  How this works is: you take a digital SLR, take off the lens and replace it with a modified body cap that serves as the ‘pinhole.’  (I don’t recall where I purchased the pinhole cap, but if you Google ‘digital pinhole – Nikon‘ you’ll probably find it quickly).  Your camera needs to be sophisticated enough to have all manual settings — and most importantly, the ability to manually hold the shutter open — it’s called ‘bulb’ on my Nikon.

My old Nikon D-60 equipped with a pinhole body cap I found somewhere on the Internet. The cap is just an ordinary body cap with a hole drilled in it, covered with some film with a tiny transparent spot in the middle.

Shooting pinhole is a very different experience, and I imagine it is closer to what the earliest photographers experienced.  It requires patience and a great deal of practice.

One difficulty is that I can’t really get a good view through the viewfinder of what the shot is going to be.  It takes some practice to aim the camera body in the right direction.  Since the shutter needs to be open for a good 5, 10, 15, 20 seconds or more, one needs to be really immobile (a tripod or monopod helps).

Digital pinhole also suffers from the problem of dust on the sensor: something that wouldn’t normally happen with film pinhole technology, since each frame of film is virgin.  The digital ‘film’, i.e., the sensor, is hardly a virgin, as it gets used over and over again, and my Nikon is pretty filthy at this point.  Photoshop is a huge help at this juncture!

Prospect Park, December 2016. Digital pinhole photograph, liberally cleaned up and tweaked in Photoshop and Lightroom. A fun, ‘painterly’ process, but entirely digital.

Shooting this way is a [potentially] meditative experience.  In a recent outing, I came up with a number of really interesting shots that I can then liberally work with in Lightroom and Photoshop — it really brings photography closer to painting — and for me, provides fascinating subject matter for oil paintings I want to realize. (See Lifeworld series).  So this pinhole outing is a form of visual research.

Below are a series of abstract detail shots that were all created from the full image shown above.

Pinhole zoom-crop experiment number 1.
Pinhole zoom-crop experiment #2
Pinhole zoom-crop experiment #3
Pinhole zoom-crop experiment #4.

Which of these should I use for a painting?

Painting of the week: “Osage chiasm”

This week’s featured painting is an odd one I created way back in 2009.  “Osage chiasm” (that’s chiasm not chasm) is 20″H by 16″W, and is acrylic on canvas.  The piece is essentially a stylized portrait of one of my favorite trees: a very old Osage orange that lives on the Nethermead in Prospect Park, Brooklyn.  This painting has been in my living room for the past several years, and I look at it every day.  The photo doesn’t quite do it justice: the colors are weird and don’t reproduce well.  In the real life the blues of the sky are considerably more vivid.

“Osage chiasm” acrylic on canvas, 20×16″, 2009.

Winter approaches …

We’re in the deep-freeze here in New York, just in time for winter, which officially starts next week.  The poetry of Ryōkan (Japan, 18th century) calls for my attention:

“Returning to my hermitage after a journey
to distant mountain villages;
Along the fence, the last chrysanthemums linger”

–translated by John Stevens

“Midwinter,” reduction woodcut, 2011.

 

Featured painting of the week

This week’s featured painting is “Reach” — a triptych I created in 2012.  This painting and some other square format paintings I created then were precursors to my Lifeworld series, and should almost be considered honorary members of the series.

“Reach” (triptych), oil on canvas, 20″ x approx 60″. 2012
“Reach” detail, 2012.
“Reach” detail, 2012.
“Reach” detail, 2012.

How to start?

Starting is always the hardest part.

A good place to start is by decluttering, cleaning up my workspace.  Nothing stops the creative process more for me than clutter.  That could be physical clutter or mental clutter. The two seem closely related.  Also why not freshen up the blog format! Nice, fresh template!

Then, what to do? I was impressed by a piece of advice I read online today while at the office, found while looking for information on the book The Miracle Morning.

I can’t remember where exactly I found this:

“Create what you would like to see in the world, and then make it public.”

The author was mainly thinking about how to make money, but I was intrigued about it in a different way.  What would I like to see in the world, and how could I, as an artist, create that, or at least contribute to it?  Certainly not another gadget, app or infernal machine to distract and mislead people.  Instead, peace, love and understanding come to mind.

So I think my contribution for today will be the Karaniya Metta Sutta, words attributed to the Buddha.  This is what I hope for the world:

This is what should be done
By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who knows the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech,
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied,
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm and wise and skillful,
Not proud or demanding in nature.
Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would later reprove.
Wishing: In gladness and in safety,
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be;
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born —
May all beings be at ease!

Let none deceive another,
Or despise any being in any state.
Let none through anger or ill-will
Wish harm upon another.
Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings;
Radiating kindness over the entire world:
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths;
Outwards and unbounded,
Freed from hatred and ill-will.
Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down
Free from drowsiness,
One should sustain this recollection.
This is said to be the sublime abiding.
By not holding to fixed views,
The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world.

“One Bright Pearl” watercolor on paper, 2008.