Wednesday, June 23, 2010

step #16 ...













aqueous washes and editing ...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

hydrangea ...














clematis ...














step # 15 ...













aquarium, 7'h x 15'w, progress ...

Monday, June 21, 2010

tax time ...













details, details, details ...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

painting weather ...













studio 3 - aquarium + jacob's ladder ...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

art farm corral ...













gallery converted to work space ...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

living with work ...













living space turned ...

Friday, June 11, 2010

prima vera progress ...













studio 1 - finishing details - 5'h x 9'w ...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

lorca's granada ...




















40"h x 36"w, 6.10.2010 ...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

in defense of florence ...




















40"h x 36"w, 6.9.2010 ...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

step #12 ...










aquarium ...

Monday, June 7, 2010

step #11 ...










aquarium progress ...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

step #10 ...










aquarium, progressing - 7'h x 15'w ...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

biblical ...













Gan Eden, creation, the beginning of Jacob's Ladder, and Eve ...

Friday, June 4, 2010

step #8 ...










aquarium in progress - 7' x 15' ...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

zephyr ...













10' x 10' in progress ...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

florals + aquarium ...













four florals against aquarium ...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Logos ...


5'h x 9'w, 2010
January thru May ...

My most productive period is between April and November when weather conditions in the northeastern U.S. are generally favorable for working outdoors. It provides me with an unrestrained freedom and inspiration from being engulfed by the lush beauty of a natural habitat ...

Last year, 2009, was particularly fruitful - having completed numerous large-scale commissions and ancillary projects that advanced my commitment and contribution to contemporary abstract painting ...

November usually begins a period of critical evaluation, analysis, and cataloging notes from the previous painting season. As the cycle of development spirals onward through life and career, aspects of progress and irrelevancies become apparent ...


With the intensity and regularity of last year’s production, aspects of my approach to painting became more clarified. I have an increased interest in:

  • veiling and glazing to achieve an amorphous environment of dynamic energy ...
  • simultaneous events and intermingled circumstance ...
  • depicting the essential components of nature ...
  • creativity, thought, and nature: the process of creation, evolution, cause and consequence ...
  • the initial impulse or synapse that propels an event ...
  • the relationships our species develops with the ever-changing scope and sequence of nature’s reality ...


Though these considerations have always been a vital part of my expression, lately, I’m articulating the visual dialect more accurrately and gaining mastery over techniques that facilitate the eloquence required to convey conceptual content ...


Three developments can be sited as pivotal turning points along this progression:

  1. Views Of A Secret, a series of multi-layered translucent vellum ink drawings ...
  2. Placid Blues, a large-scale study of water; its’ rhythms, reflections, and transparent depths ...
  3. Flora, a large-scale landscape motif painted during seasonal changes over a seven month period ...


With all three projects, I was intently concerned about preserving the initial drawings, impulse, inspiration, and rhythms while adding the complexities of the concept’s morphology through development ...

Over the past thirty years, i’ve grappled with paradox - being simultaneously interested in maintaining continuity between the simplicity of essential ‘spirit’ in a thought or place while depicting more complex configurations through maturation ...


Logos began in January, at the height of research and evaluation, during a period of blizzard conditions; a time when the landscape is minimized by the neutrality of snow ...

Typically, an expressionistic drawing is applied to the blank surface as a method of imbuing the painting with the impulse of the idea while familiarizing myself with the physicality of the piece ...

In this case, I went through numerous stages of this process while glazing over previous drawings resulting in a complex network of lines and gestures that maintained the original ‘spirit’ of the piece and essence of the snow covered environment ...

Reduction to bare essentials allows discrimination toward additives - the nature of air, water, earth, flora ...

This approach rekindled my interest in the ancient ideas of logos - the spirit of place and genius loci, Aristotle, Philo, and Heraclitus, reason, and the principles of order amid the apparent chaos of nature ...

I began thinking about the notions of painting again; the wealth of information in its’ history, the Impressionist concept of painting light, the Abstract Expressionist attempt at harnessing energy and thought, Post Modern entropy, and the importance of landscape throughout ...


Logos is representative of more than a decade of living in a rural environment, participating in nature’s daily and seasonal changes while studying, painting, and learning in relative seclusion ...

Friday, April 30, 2010

logos, study ...


drawing study ...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Saturday, April 24, 2010

studio visit ... three ...

Art Garb © Shoes + Aquarium, progress ...

Logos, progress ...

Friday, April 23, 2010

once in a lifetime ...

1970 ...

I’ve been mixing down “Earth Song”; a haunting little two track melody i wrote ten years ago and later added sixteen tracks of guitar improv with Erik Cartwright ...

the composition is a three minute cycle that transforms seven times to make a twenty-one minute arrangement ...

we did eight takes of one channel each while only listening to the original melody ... individual ‘takes’ had portions of bliss, but playback of all eighteen produces a wonderfully cacophonous blend of creative energy and improvisational discourse - akin to Stravinsky and Hendrix tripping to the “Rite of Spring” ...


whatever it turned out to be - it was fun ...

i had just set up a music studio in the newly renovated barn in 2000; Erik was back from a national tour of tech’ing with the Allman Brothers Band - living up-river in Marshall’s Creek, and it would turn out to be one of the last times we would make music together before he hit the road again ... until fate reveals ...


Erik was two years older when i met him in a garage-band-type jam when i was seventeen - unknown to me at the time, he’d already achieved regional legendary status as a guitarist with major ‘chops’ - from Hendrix and Clapton, to Airplane and Jeff Beck ... all i knew is he had an ear, intuition, and hit notes that resonated to my soul ...

first time i saw him jam publicly was in ’69 with G.E.Smith - [another Stroudsburg musician who went on to Hall + Oates, SNL, and Dylan] at a free jam-fest doing some killer blues - without a bass player, mmm ...

we also shared some mutual O.C.D. behavior around our equipment - an elitism for vintage quality, reconfiguring electronics to maximize tone and volume, and an innate ability to play off each other in a jam - plenty of reason to form a band - so in 1970, we did ...

both of us had pretty much outgrown our respective ‘circuits’ by that time and were ready to spread our wings to go on the road - we were ripe for it - but the times, they were a changin’;

Nixon, Viet Nam, rednecks, and stuff that didn’t sound like rock n’ roll anymore ...

we had a renegade inclination toward loud jam-band music which was losing popularity - but managed to survive until it was time to decide to jump in all the way or wade along the edges ...

music and travel didn’t leave enough time for art so we said our existential goodbyes as i went off to college and Erik on to music ...

He did a stint at Berkley, played some well known Boston bands, then went on to Foghat ...

twenty years passed till we played again - it was like we never stopped ...

we both have a wide-ranging repertoire of improvisational skills that cross a lot of dialects - but more importantly in a jam, we share an intuition that i’ve never found in anyone else ...

others have said the same; and if it wasn’t for Erik, i doubt that i would have found the level of joy and appreciation of music ...

as we usually say;

“Take care man, we’ll do this again sometime” ...


1992 ...

1997 ...


Thursday, April 22, 2010

homage ...

Think of it as a birthday of a close, personal friend - one who has stuck by you every day of your life ... What can be done to show appreciation ...

I've included a mix version of "Earth Song" ... listen ...
and an excerpt from a piece by the poet Janice Johnston Howie ...

EARTH SONG

Relentless ... awesome,
trudging onward, an invincible monster,
vast and unseizable.

Almost mocking, but actually indifferent
for nothing we do impacts its trajectory at all.

On and on, with or without us,
throughout anything ... despite everything ...

la "machine infemale"
of which nothing can halt the serene and sinister momentum.

It orbits a cycle, then pausing, resolves ... comfortably,
with a defeatism that is not immediately, if ever, apparent.

And we, poor, deluded, pompous creatures,
with age and erosion, finally shrug in resignation,
somehow relieved by a return of the familiar,
profoundly grateful for a reprieve,
throw up our hands, raise our eyes to the heavens and sigh ...
"Ah well ... what can you do?"
as, dispassionately, the cycle mutates a little, and recurs.

Listen ... here it comes again ... on and on and round and round,
lost in the concentric circles of Dante's Hell,
the stupefying maze of Camus' Amsterdam canals,
where ring upon ring of muddy waters lurk below murky skies ...
till we have ... gratefully ... no clear idea of beginning nor end ...

as the familiar spirographs and distorts geometrically -
or takes fearful, quantum leaps into the unimaginable,
as illusions of 'control' and 'normality' recede ...
imperceptibly ...

as if they had ever been anything more than a dream.

[J.J.Howie © 2003]
partially inspired by the music of Earth Song



Wednesday, April 21, 2010

studio visit ... two ...

peeling, scraping, and sanding ...


manicured lawn ...

pretty much a repeat of yesterday's activities except that i managed to dig into a few panels that needed to be scraped and sanded in preparation for another layer ...
finally was able to get a rough mix of "Earth Song" for tomorrow's Earth Day debut - still needs a lot of work, but you have to start somewhere ...
gessoed eight new panels, worked on "Logos", did some critical writing, and manicured the lawn - second time already this year - so strange ...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

studio visit ... one ...

white-washing "Logos" - gessoing new panels ...

mixing demo of "Earth Song" - developing "Chapel" models ...

mildly frustrating, but a beautiful spring day - didn't get much time outside and didn't really paint - spent the majority of the day jumping from one thing to another - kind of like a ceremonial dance before battle; - mixing color, cleaning brushes, planning maximum efficiency - gessoing new panels to paint on ...
i worked on "Logos", but it's at a point where i'm eliminating unnecessary elements and taking the surface back to white - still a lot of concern about textures, brush flow, and consistency of paint - but just white on white ...
in between i was pipe-lining potential projects with phone calls, emails, and promotional mailings ... thinking about publishing a book - what would i enjoy reading ...
the major challenges came while things were drying - trying to mix down eighteen tracks of material i recorded with Erik Cartwright ten years ago [formerly with Foghat, and a dear friend since we were teenagers] - i avoided the project because its such a menacing task - 16 of the 18 tracks are he and i improvising on guitars for more than twenty minutes and trying to reduce it to a seven minute piece is like trying to fit the Libraries of Alexandria into a backpack ...
to offset the frustration and gain some perspective, i dremmeled my way through styrofoam working on the "Chapel" prototypes, which i blogged about a while ago ...
so that was today, and tomorrow i get one step closer to painting the 15' x 7' piece ...

Monday, April 19, 2010

uneasy feelings ...

Maybe its just the weather - or the accumulation of fragmented thoughts - or the residuals of seeing and hearing too much news and toxic displays of emotion during the health care reform debate - or maybe its the unfiltered microwave of cell phones carrying floods of pleas and cries of desperation or rage from the millions just trying to get through their day ...

or Russert's interview with Bill Clinton who says there are huge populations of people that have to walk five miles just to get a jug of clean water ...

I’m suspicious of blue skies and mild weather during seasonal transitions since 9/11 ...

Or maybe its just the dust of earth’s blood or hell settling to the ground after the eruptions in Iceland ...

or the escalation of what Thomas Moore calls ‘psychological modernism’ in “Care of the Soul”: an adjustment disorder - ‘an uncritical acceptance of values in the modern world’ ...

or shifting polarities - the inverse relationship between information and wisdom or prevailing axioms of indifference ...

What is that LHC Collider in the suburbs of Geneva doing these days ...?


Sunday, April 18, 2010

truck art ...

Check out this link: Pakistan's truck art ...

marble ...


marble + art ...

The previous entry addressed gaps between intention and experience, engagement, detachment, plus active vs. passive perceptual experience ...

To further illustrate those ideas, i recognized points worth mentioning that parallel some difficulties with understanding abstraction ...

I’m not surprised that my work is often appreciated for different reasons than intended - a discrepancy caused by my emphasis on particular stages of the object's development ...


I mutilate my paintings ...

but i take great care to facilitate the inspired expressions, apply paint with methods that best articulate the ideas, and blend appropriate colors, materials, and images to maintain conceptual continuity ...

Then i proceed to aggressively obliterate everything that doesn’t seem essential to the original idea or inspiration by over-painting or eliminating it - not in an act of anger, but with an expressionistic impatience for irrelevance - only the best survives ...

I save the ‘good’ parts by applying a resist to preserve it ...

then continue to carefully add another painting over the top - peeling away the resist - analyzing the results, sanding and scraping the surface to blend elements, textures, and color ...

this process continues over and over until a unified balance is achieved between surface appearance, motivations, concept, and energy ...

Nature is my source of inspiration + improvisational expression is the idiom ...


Despite the brutality, force, and effort that goes into the production, i’m acutely aware of the fact that they are only thin veils of paint combined that bring the inspirations into the realm of reality ...

a delicate balance which i treat with utmost care and respect prior to final presentation; by smoothing, polishing, and waxing the object - and more recently applying a thick epoxy resin to entomb the content as though it were amber ...

Rather than recognizing the causality of creative and destructive forces in the development of a piece, viewers are more immediately drawn to its unique, mysterious, and appealing appearance - and that’s fine, except that it’s an object of art intending to communicate an idea:

  • what does it mean...
  • how was it made ...
  • what school of thought encouraged it ...


Unfortunately, pedestrian habits numb curiosity; pretty, ugly, acceptable, tolerant, interesting, shocking, etc, seem to be the most common filters of engagement ...

Does it really matter if the work addresses [among other ideas]; the causality of nature, expressionism as a modern language, and our perceptual capabilities among vast fields of information - that it never relies on the immediacy of earlier abstract expressionism and that conceptual clarity is no more of a singular issue than pluralism is duplicitous - that simultaneity and specific energy quantifies reality ...

probably not - but it’s there to be read for anyone with that predisposition ...


Though i understand the scheduling disruptions as a result of Iceland’s eruptions - there’s a beautifully creative process occurring as a result ...

The Eyjafjallajokull (ay-yah-FYAH'-plah-yer-kuh-duhl) glacial volcano ... its magma is melting and blending rock at temperatures with force we rarely witness - marble is being created ...


Marble is admired for its durability, patterns, and colors, but its recipes also deserve appreciation. Shifts in the earth’s crust - tectonic plates - cause the seepage of molten rock to combine with tremendous pressure which melts limestone into large crystals creating marble - mixing with clays and other minerals produces varieties of color while their cooling rates and pressure produce patterns ... it is a metamorphic substance created by distilling and fusing conglomerates - it is a whole greater than the sum of its parts - including the unseen forces of nature and aesthetic beauty ...