Wednesday, August 31, 2005

exhibition review

The first review of my exhibition is out and the word is very good :) It's by Roberta Fallon, who writes for the Philadelpha Weekly. The same review appears on the Weekly's website and on Fallon's and Libby Rosof's Artblog.

The full review text is below:

Tim McFarlane: Logical Progression

Ebullient is the word for Tim McFarlane's new paintings at Bridgette Mayer Gallery. Jazzy abstract compositions of bright-colored ladders thrusting this way and that, McFarlane's new square-format acrylics are a symbolic expression of urban space and community. Unlike the striped walls, exquisite sky and mathematical precision of his first solo with Mayer, here the artist has lost the precision and the muted colors. He's in dreamy fly-over mode where everything floats by and you're looking down from your perch in the clouds. Bridges, buildings, roads, playgrounds-all suggested by the layered ladder forms-stream by in rhythms that evoke the flow of a river.

Also hinted at, and this is consistent with the artist's previous works, is the ebb and flow of humanity-cities crowded with people of all shapes, sizes, colors. But the message is one of togetherness, respect, coexistence and even playful snuggling. McFarlane's ratcheted up his palette into the neighborhood where Faith Ringgold, Andy Warhol and Sol LeWitt live. These are beautiful works. The show's titled "Logical Progression," and the work is that. But it's also a bold move into riskier territory by a painter who deserves a Pew, dammit.

Fri., Sept. 2, 6-8:30pm. Free. Through Sept. 24. Bridgette Mayer Gallery, 709 Walnut St., first fl. 215.413.8893.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Done! (for now)

The paintings are hung and they look great in the space. The whole afternoon went by in a flash. It took all of two hours to make decisions about which works were going to actually be in the exhibition and which ones wouldn't and where to place the remaining pieces. Bridgette and I were surprised by how quickly the installation went. I thought we'd be there well into the evening. Happily, that wasn't the case. I guess the toughest part was choosing which paintings to hang next to each other. It was like playing 'musical paintings' or something; shuffling paintings from one place to another in attempts to come up with the best combinations.

I was happy that everything was done, but too tired to show any real excitement. That came from not getting enough sleep last night. I had some last-minute painting to do on the edges of some paintings and had this elaborate plan to get up around 5:30 this morning. I planned it that way because I was having someone meet me with a van at 10:30am to help deliver the works. I needed some time to make sure everything dried in time. Well, my alarm clock went off on time and I slept for another hour and another until I finally got up sometime close to 8am. Went up to the studio, did what I had to do, and still had time to spare. I really wished that I hadn't been so paranoid about it, but I'd rather be safe than sorry and lose a little sleep.


I'm experiencing a mixture of excitement, dread, and relief at the same time. I'm happy with the work and I'm glad everything went as smoothly as it did. However, now comes the time that other people will see these works for the first time in person. I've been living with them for nine months, more if you count the amount of time I had the ideas swirling around in my head before I began painting this series last November. The thing is, the show is up and I can breathe a sigh of relief and take it easy for a couple of days, at least. There's still more to do, but that's mainly in the way of continuing to get the word out about the show. I grabbed a huge pile of postcards to hand out before leaving the gallery. I'll probably run through them in no time. The main mailing is done, so I can go crazy with handing them out.


This show is happening at a significant time for me because I feel like there's real potential for continued exploration with the new images and ideas. The last show was the culmination of four years of working within a particular set of ideas. This time, instead of wondering what to do next, I have a whole new set of artistic challenges ahead of me that I want to explore right away. I'm not taking a break from painting after the opening reception like I did last year. There are simply too many ideas swirling around in my head right now to let slip by or rot away.

Friday, August 19, 2005


I'm in the final stages of exhibition prep-work. The only thing I had to do today was to attach hardware to the back of several canvases for hanging and make a list of the works I'm delivering to the gallery on Monday morning. There are 21 paintings and 6 works on paper that will be considered for the show.

The space at the gallery isn't big enough for all 21 paintings to hang at once, so Bridgette and I will be doing some 'pruning'. I have more in the way of larger works this time and I'm hoping to get most of them up. The only thing I can do now is wait and see what happens on Monday.


In addition to adding the hardware and making the list, I had to title a couple of the latest paintings I'd finished. I sat around for a good 45 minutes before coming up with a title for one of them. I don't like leaving works untitled because after a while, I don't have a way of recalling which ones are which. Giving them a title mainly acts as a way for me to keep track of them. Sometimes, the images beg for a written/verbal identity and I can make up a title easily. Others are much harder. When I'm painting, I'm more interested in what's going on with the images and how the work is developing. Titles are the last thing on my mind most of the time.

I have made a habit of writing down words and phrases that appeal to me in my sketchbook for later use. That's come in handy a few times because I've had too many moments of coming up with a great title only to forget it in the next second. Write it down, write it down, write it down...

Thursday, August 18, 2005


The video shoot from last week went pretty well. I haven't seen it yet. I don't know if it's edited yet or not. It was hot as hell in the studio. Unfortunately, we had to turn off the fans so the camera mic wouldn't pick up the noise from the fans.

I was debating about what to wear, but wound up remaining in my tank-top and shorts that I use for painting in. I saw a video still (below) of the shoot and wasn't sure about my choice, but, whatever. I'm not really that worried about it. I mean, it is what I wear when I'm working and this is a video of me in the studio talking about my work, so why not look how I normally do?


I've begun giving out some of the show brochures and the response to the images have been really positive. The postcards have been arriving at their destinations, also a good thing. The items that remain to be taken care of are:

1. Adding the wire and hanging hardware to the paintings
2. Making up titles for some recent paintings
3. Getting the paintings to the gallery (Monday), an issue that is taken care of, courtesy of Deb and Allen. Thanks guys!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Green has been on my mind for a while now. I don't really know why, but it has. It's one of the colors I gravitated towards a lot when working on my latest paintings. Even though I'm a city person, born and bred, I love the outdoors. I've been so busy this summer that I haven't spent much time out in nature. Nevertheless, the green thing has been nagging at me for a while, just sitting at the back of my mind and poking me every once in a while. I came across this photo by German artist, Thomas Demand in the latest issue of Adbusters magazine.

Thomas Demand's work process is exacting and encompasses sculpture and photography. He builds life-sized enviornments almost entirely out of paper and then photographs them. The resulting photos are themselves printed on a life-size acale. The scenes, like the one I linked to, appear life-like at first glance, but closer inspection will reveal many small, but important details that may be missing or that clue you into what he's actually done. For example, with The Clearing, Demand made every leaf out of paper. He's done other interior/exterior scenes which also play around with perceptions of reality and the manufactured image, which sits well within the contemporary art world's obsession with irony, but that's a whole other thing I don't want to get into here.

Demand's photograph, in addition to the journal change combined to set off the spark for what I think will be a new series of paintings. All I know right now is that the color green and as many variants as I can come up with combined with other colors is going to play a prominent role. Some will be more monochromatic and others less so, I think. I was also was working on a crossword puzzle which had as a clue, "like many rain forests". The answer was 'lush'.

This is just the bare surface of an idea. I'll see where it goes from here. I'll have to file it with 'proposed projects' right behind the ten other ideas I have brewing in my head. There's just not enough time...


Received some good news from Bridgette today. The postcards for my exhibition have begun to arrive in the mail and so far, the feedback has been good. One of her clients was interested in the painting on the cover of the postcard, Logical Progression (also the title of the exhibition), below. However, he doesn't have space for it (it measures 36"x36") and wants to commission a smaller version of it. Bridgette told him before even calling me that the resulting painting won't look like this painting. It was done fairly early in the series and even though only three months seperate that the newer paintings from this one, they've evolved past the stage I left this one in.

Anyway, Bridgette and I talked about it and I thought it would be an interesting challenge to undertake. I had it in my mind to do more like Logical Progression, but wound up moving into new territory before I could pursue the idea any further. The main idea was to have mulitple grid structures dropping down from the upper edge of the canvas, flowing over each other and taking over the canvas surface. This was actually the second version of this idea. The later paintings have a less rigid line quality to them. There's still the grid, but it's morphed into something more organic looking in more recent paintings.

He only wants one, but I'm thinking I'll do two, maybe three, just to see where I can take the idea. The client is puttng up a non-refundable chunk of the cost up front and I should have it by the end of this week. A good thing, since I'll be able to use that exclusively for materials and not have to use my own money for it.

Tim McFarlane
Logical Progression
acrylic on canvas

Thursday, August 11, 2005

now you see me...

Alright, so tomorrow, or rather, later this morning, I'm doing a video shoot at my studio. The resulting dvd will be played at the opening reception for my exhibition(scroll down) in the fall. Until yesterday, I had nothing written down about what I wanted to say. I've been thinking about the work for months now, as I've been creating it. I've also been documenting my thoughts here as well. By now, I have a pretty good idea of what I want to talk about. My gallerist, Bridgette, felt that it would be good to write down some thoughts and questions just so I have an idea of what I wanted to say in a coherent manner. I agreed to do it, but couldn't really focus on writing it until yesterday and it was a few weeks ago that she brought it up.

In that time, however, I was able to run different ideas through my head, study the paintings I've done, and in less than an hour, came up with four main talking points that could have been expanded into more. I do want to keep it somewhat brief and digestible; there's nothing worse than an artist rambling on and on about this idea and that when on film. I just want to make sure my ideas come across in a clear, meaningful way.

Visual art has many layers and filters, but the main one I'm engaged in for this project is artwork-viewer-artist. I'm going with this order because most viewers of art interact with the art object and, in most cases, never meet the artist (I'm confining this to living artists for the sake of simplicity). The video will give the public a chance to see a layer in the art process that few have the opportunity to witness, that of the me discussing my work in the place the paintings were made: the studio. I think most people don't really know or understand what goes on before they see the work in a public or private space. As tenuous a connection a video of me talking about the work is, it can go a long way towards educating the public and helping them gain a better understanding of the creative urge and process.

Now, if I can figure out what to wear. Well, I know I'll have to wear something people know that I'm a serious artist ;P

Thursday, August 04, 2005


"I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming
to my own taste." - Marcel Duchamp

I love this quote. It epitomizes a large aspect of my creative practice. That is, I'm constantly challenging myself to push ahead with my work. The reason I do so is to keep from feeling like I'm repeating myself and allowing my painting to become too 'easy'. The moment I find myself not being challenged somehow by an idea or series I'm working on, I'm off trying to find some way to throw a monkey wrench in the works. Not to mess things up just for the sake of it, but to see what else I can do to keep my art relevant and meaningful to me.

One of the things I like to do while painting is to turn it over so that the image that was right-side up is now reversed. That, or I'll rotate it and look at it from all four sides to see if there is a more interesting composition emerging. I'll do this several times, even after I've 'finished' the piece, just to make sure it feels right in it's final orientation.