Sunday, June 26, 2005


There was a palpable difference in how I engaged my work over the past week. On something of a whim, I changed my studio day schedule. Instead of starting off the day in my apartment and working my way up to the studio, say by 1pm in the afternoon, I stayed there overnight. On the new schedule, I'd spend a little time at Old City Coffee having somthing to eat for breakfast and reading a bit, then return to the studio to paint for a few hours. Sometime in the afternoon, I'd leave and come home for lunch to shower, catch up on snail mail and email. Since it's how out now in the middle of the day, this also allowed me some measure of comfort in the way of air-conditioning( I can only have fans in the studio due to the flaky electricity in the building). Anyway, around 5pm or so, I would go back to the studio for another 4-6 hours of painting.

This worked out really well for me as I felt much more engaged and immersed in the painting than previously. It was refreshing waking up with the work surrounding me and continuing the internal dialogue I left off with the previous night; was that painting still working with the changes I made? should I paint over that and bring more of this color over? should I work on some drawings today instead? and so on...

When I had to begin my regular work-week and was leaving the studio Friday night, I felt a little bummed out at having to return to being at home most of the time for the next week. I'll be in the studio a couple of times, but won't be able to stay up there until possibly Wednesday night.

The love and fun of art is in the doing and thinking...mostly in the doing, execution, creation... I can think about something, an idea for a painting, perhaps, and turn it over in my head for days, but it's not real to me until I'm applying paint to canvas. It's not real until my hands are covered in paint and the outside world seems a million miles away. It's not real until I'm standing there moving paint across the canvas and I can hear the bristles of the brush dragging across the painting's surface and it's the only thing I can hear and it's 3am in the morning. It's not real until I get to do it all again the next day.

Monday, June 20, 2005


I've been reading de Kooning: An American Master by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan steadily for the past few weeks. This is a big deal because my recent history with reading and actually finishing books has been pretty dismal. I'm about half-way through de Kooning and there's no sign of me slowing down with it.

I've been drawn to mid-century Abstract Expressionism for a long time, although, most of de Kooning's work never really resonated with me for some reason. I remember being in college and liking the works of Franz Kline, Mark Rothko, and Barnett Newman. There were a couple of de Kooning's abstract works that I liked, but that was it. I didn't have much interest beyond that. However, upon reading about the new biography, I jumped at the chance to read it and find out more about de Kooning and how the the other New York-based artists and critics he was contemporaries with helped change America's role in the art world at large.

Reading de Kooning has given me a much better sense of what was really happening at the time as well as a better sense of who de Kooning was. Not only that, the authors have done a great job of fleshing out and describing in great detail what life was like for artists in New York and how what was to become 'Abstract Expressionism' emerged from Cubism and Surrealism. Reading it, I can almost hear the arguments and debates going on in the cafés and lofts about Modernism, Surrealism, and where American painting was going now that the 'downtown' artists were begining to get recognition. It's also interesting reading about how the present-day model of the gallery system emerged and how big of a role art critics of the time played in getting the public's attention turned onto the works of American artists. Before the rise of the New York School, the artists who garnered the most respect were European.

I could go on for a bit about this, but I'll stop and get back to my own work.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


I've been friends with someone I met online for almost two years. Morgan is a budding artist living in the Washington, D.C. area. The other day, while instant messaging, she asked me if I'd be her art mentor. I was stunned and it took me a minute to reply. I agreed to do it, even though I've never done so in my life. She said she just wanted me to critique her work occasionally and ask questions.

It's going to be interesting since we don't live in close proximity to each other. I'm guessing I'll probably make the trip down to D.C. to see what she's working on from time to time. I'm still in shock over her wanting me to do this. I'm not used to being seen as a teacher or mentor since all I do is paint. I think I'm up for the challenge, though.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Catalogue essay

Bridgette just forwarded me the essay for my upcoming exhibition. The title of the show is 'Logical Progression'. The essay was written by Lilly Wei, a well-known writer and curator living in New York City. I'm pretty happy with it.

Tim McFarlane is a young abstract painter, a designation considered an oxymoron by some, an endangered species by others. McFarlane himself disregards both attitudes, more engaged in the practice of painting than theories about it. In the most recent examples of this practice, all from 2004 and 2005, McFarlane, a Phildelphia-based artist, has re-considered his syntax, his broad Sean Scully-like stripes and compositions shifting into smaller, laddered units, resulting in more disjunctive, nimble arrangements. Based on modernist grids deconstructed and deracinated, with some of the freedom of graffiti, his proliferating, superimposed systems and webs recall scaffolds, schematized skylines, tenement walls, multi-windowed corporate facades or other, undesignated urban structures. Curiously, a number of these constructs also suggest trees, or other organic entities, blending a sense of the natural with the geometric. Light in tone, the hues cool and warm, even hot at times, the primaries just off, black (for anchorage) and white (for light), color and form are tightly partnered as these exuberant, rhythmic pictures rock to some syncopated city beat.

McFarlane’s exhilarating abstractions are both referential and not—a not unusual contemporary strategy—with titles that squeeze in narrative as well as description such as Raw Nerve, Intervening Dream, A Dream Askew, Free State. Another is Pink Baby!!! (a distant relative of Matisse’s Pink Nudes) a funny, self-assembled, robot-like figure in bright pink, waving what might be arms and legs, but still more abstract than anime. Some of these paintings also refer to the artist’s earlier canvases, quoting his previous stripe paintings as a motif. Clean, complex, with lovely passages of loose brushwork and increasingly assured, McFarlane’s engaging abstractions are urban studies that depict civilization and its contents with humour, irony and above all, invigorating, blissful energy.

Lilly Wei

Lilly Wei is a New York-based independent curator, essayist and critic who writes for several publications in the United States and abroad. A frequent contributor to Art in America , she is also a contributing editor at ARTnews and Art Asia Pacific.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

It gets better...

Got word from Bridgette that two of the new paintings sold. It's nice to know that I'll be able to buy the supplies I need and not have to choose between which color of paint I need the most of this week and what can slide until next week. I don't have the check in my hands yet but the prospect of even a small amount of financial breathing room is grin-inducing.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

the creative and the personal

Can creativity and a personal life really exist harmoniously? I think it can, but it can be a difficult road to travel. I'm in a particularily fertile period right now and being in a long-distance relationship just didn't seem to be working. Most of my emotional passion and attention has been directed towards getting ready for the show in September. I'm in the studio painting consistently and pouring almost everything I have into it. There hasn't been a lot left over to keep up maintaining my end of the relationship. LDRs are difficult in any case. Adding creative pressures on top of them just makes it nearly impossible to keep things going.