Tuesday, September 27, 2005

what now?

What now?

Yep, it's that time again. Before the show, I didn't think I'd have those two words going through my mind, but they are. I also thought that I'd just continue painting like before the exhibitit went up. However, that hasn't been the case. It seems that regardless of how many new ideas I've been ready to get working on since before the opening reception, the past three weeks or so have found me not doing much of anything in the studio.

Despite all of my seeming readiness to jump back into the fray, I haven't been up to doing much of anything during the time that the show was up. All of the preparations for the show-finishing paintings, having framing done, photography-have caught up to me. My mind and body have conspired to make me slow down. I'm filled with new painting ideas, but my mind is a little fuzzy. I haven't been able to get it together to focus on painting lately.

It's good though, this forced rest period. I can feel myself coming back to a place where I can work again, but for a while there, I just couldn't. I obviously needed more time away from it than I thought. This Wednesday will mark my first day back in the studio to work. There's just one thing I have to work on, so I'll do that and see what else happens as the week progresses.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Givng back

The exhibition ended this past Saturday and I'm happy with how things turned out. Made some sales and there are prospects for more, plus more people got to see the new work and that's always a good thing.

Also, on Saturday morning, I gave a talk to some children that came to the gallery as part of a church program for underprviledged youth based in Chester County, just outside of Philly. There were about 8 kids, aged 5-12, none of which had been in an art gallery before, and four adults. One of Bridgette's clients set up the trip and led the teaching aspect of of the discussion. I introduced myself and talked a little bit about myself and what I do as a painter. It was kind of hard at first, because I had to find different language to use than I usually do when describing my work. In other words, I had to make it simpler than usual as I'm not used to talking with younger students about my work.

Anyway, the students looked around the gallery, checked out the paintings and started linking images in the works to what they've seen in the world around them. They were really enthusiastic and asked a lot of questions. Later, they had the chance to do some drawing and coloring of their own and at the end, talked about what they did.


Going into this experience, I was kind of nervous since I'd not really interacted with younger students in the past. Once things got going and there was someone there handling the teaching end of the discussion (using some of the paintings as examples and asking the kids about different aspects of the images, I felt better. My reticence had more to do with it being a new experience more than anything. I've spoken to high school and college seniors about art in the past, but not younger kids.

They were attentive and appreciated being there and seemed to have a good time. I was happy to be able to give some time for this. It was really important for me, not only as an artist, but also as an African-American male who has worked to follow his dreams and has been actually living it. It felt good being an example to those kids of what's possible for them and that there are ways for them to express themselves beyond what they may already be used to.

I remember having a similar experience when I was in high school, 11th grade, I think. Our regular art teacher was out and we had a substitute for this one day. The sub was an African-American and an artist. The first thing I remember being struck by was his afro. This was the mid-80's and I hadn't seen anyone really wear one in a while. Anyway, he comes into class, big afro and bright yellow shirt, black slacks and tie. He's dragging in huge rolls of yellow paper and a briefcase. He puts his stuff down looks around, introduces himself (I have no clue what his name was), and takes roll.

With roll-call over, he begins to unfurl the rolls of paper and tack them up along the back wall. They were charcoal drawings of nudes. The drawings were of black people in various poses. Some were portraits and others were more like figure studies. I think everyone in the class was momentarily shocked, particularily the white kids. We knew about art nudes and such, but none of us had seen anything like this in the school before. I was impressed with the drawings and even more impressed when the substitute began talking about his work. At that point, I hadn't met any black artists before and there was something really powerful in how he spoke about his art and himself. That's stuck with me for a long time, obviously.

I can only hope that my time with the students at the gallery will be remembered in some form or another.

Monday, September 19, 2005

the other side of art

Last Wednesday, I talked to a group of senior art students at UArts. That Monday, my friend and fellow artist and gallery owner, Shelly Spector, asked me if I'd be interested in speaking to a group of students she was teaching. Her class is all about the side of art-making most of us don't enjoy that much: the business end of things. I jumped at the opportunity because there are too many art students who graduate from art schools without much knowledge about the administrative side of being artists. Sure, they might be talented, but can they write an effective artist statement and know how to present their resumés?

Shelly asked me to talk about how my career has grown and how I've come to where I am now. This particular session focused on building an artist resumé. I talked about how I got started showing (cafés and bookstores) and how one thing led to another through my entering various juried exhibitions and other competitions, including the Fleisher Challenge and having my work published in New American Paintings.

When Shelly asked me to talk to her students, I was flattered and nervous at the same time. I've spoken to students in my studio, but this was the first time I was going to speak in a classroom. I was out of my home base and wondered if I could still do what I needed to. The experience was good. I was nervous and it helped that I was sitting in a chair at the front of the class next to Shelly. I felt like I had something to ground me a little. It was a bit intimidating sitting there with all of these expectant eyes on me, waiting for whatever 'wisdom' I had to impart.

Even though I've come to a point in my career where I can speak somewhat authoritively about what I've done and been through as an artist, there was still that sense of 'what the hell am I doing?' while speaking? I tried to make sure I made as much sense as possible, and not stray too far from the topic at hand. The thing that helped me the most was that over the years, I've gotten better at talking about my work as an artist. At one point in the class, Shelly asked me if this was ten years ago, would I have been able to talk about my work in the same way as I can now. The answer was obviously 'no'. Sure, I might have been able to speak about what I was doing, but not in the same way I can now. That has come about only through a lot of hard work on my part and staying engaged with my life as a creative person.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Exhibition pics

A few installation shots of my exhibition at the Bridgette Mayer Gallery can be seen here

logical progression1 logical progression1

From the gallery door

Friday, September 09, 2005

good news to wake up to

I received an email from Vince this morning congratulating me for having a good review in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Of course, that meant throwing on the first shirt and pair of shorts I could lay my hands on and running to the corner to grab a paper.

Here's the link:

Philadelphia Inquirer review

Full text:

Abstract urbanism

While remaining primarily abstract, Tim McFarlane's
new paintings at the Bridgette Mayer Gallery have
moved away from the scheme of stripes and color blocks
that characterized his previous exhibition.

The new paintings, which are more gestural and look
more improvisational, create a distinctive mood of
urban complexity. Their architecture, based on
irregular, freehand grids that look like ladders or
street plans, is more fluid and spirited.

McFarlane prefers high-voltage color, so much so that
even his whites are dazzling. Strong colors, combined
with layering of the "ladder" shapes, produces a
visual metaphor for high-density urban synergy.

This effect comes across powerfully in paintings such
as Burst, dominated by intense red, yellow and orange,
and Folding in on History, in which a white top layer
pushes toward the viewer.

The complexity of McFarlane's paintings, all acrylics
on canvas, is further magnified by their transparency.
Although most are several layers deep, one can see
through the grids and "ladders" all the way to the
bottom of the stacks. This produces a lively
counterpoint between airiness and structure akin to
the most imaginative jazz improvisation.

-Edward Sozanski
Philadelphia Inquirer Art Critic

Monday, September 05, 2005

A good time

Friday's opening reception was great. I couldn't have asked for a better turnout. I arrived an hour early but by the 'official' time at 6pm, things were on a roll and didn't stop until the very last minute. People came and went but a lot hung out for a good while, despite the heat generated by so many bodies in the small space of the gallery. I was concerned beforehand about how many people might actually show up because of it being a holiday weekend, the Live Arts/Fringe festival starting and a number of other gallery openings going on at the same time as mine. Turns out I certainly didn't have to worry about attendance after all.

There was quite a bit of surprise from people who hadn't seen the new work. I received a lot of great comments about the paintings from people who know me and those that didn't, which is usually a good sign. Managed to sell one painting that night and there are hint of more sales coming. We'll see what happens. The review in the Philadelphia Weekly seemed to generate a lot of interest, also. It was interesting attempting to carry on three conversations at once.

Now that the opening is over with, I'm returning to studio mode. I have a commission to work on over the next couple of weeks and I'm gearing up for October, which is going to be a really busy month. There's the show at Gallery Siano that I'm a part of. I'm on a jury panel at the Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital for their annual 'Art Ability' show. It's an international exhibit of artwork by artists with disabililties. Next up on the 15th and 16th, is the Philadelphia Open Studio Tour. Then, on the last week of October, I'll have work up at the Affordable Art Fair in New York. My work was chosen, along with that of nine other artists from the gallery, to be shown in the booth there.

There's nothing past the end of October coming up, but I'm hoping to have my work in shows outside of Philly next year. Besides that, I'm bursting at the seams with new ideas for paintings, so if nothing else, I'll keep myself busy during the winter.