Monday, December 29, 2008

the studio in two views

There's no such thing as going into the studio for "just a minute" with me.

I went up to the studio after getting off from work Saturday to pick up my drill. I needed it to work on a couple of apartment projects. My plan was to pop into the studio , grab the drill and go home. With this weekend having been the first one after the holiday, I was feeling in need of doing something creative, even if it only meant a small drawing or something.

I get there, change clothes and get to working on a couple of things. I'm working along and in my own world and before I knew it, almost three hours had passed. I called Eva to let her know that I was coming home. I cleaned up and left...without the drill. My excitement about what I was working on completely trumped my original objective...
Over on Pam Farrell's blog, I've been included in the latest installment of her Interactive Studio Blog Posts, a project she began in November with this post. The idea is for artists to give a peek into their work spaces by sending in two photos: one showing the studio space and another with an image of artwork.

The project grew out of a studio visit Farrell had with Joanne Mattera and Janet Filomeno, of which she wrote, "In addition to seeing my work, my friends were seeing my mess, my jumbled process, my id, the stuff that gets kicked around before being perfected (or at least completed). Presentation-ready or not, meant for public consumption or not, it’s all me."

So, the ISBP is Farrell's challenge to other artists to give a glimpse into their heads, so to speak, through showing their spaces and work, ready or not.

I like the idea of this project because it makes you think about how you view your work space as a part of your identity as an artist and person, in general, as there's little separation of the two; the studio is just another conduit for aspects of our personalities to assert themselves.

When it comes to my space, I don't worry that much about cleaning up too much. I might pull out some things and hang them on the wall for better viewing and sweep, but that's about it. The paints stay out where they are usually and whatever else is out stays out. The biggest concession I'll really make is if I'm working on some new work that I'm really not sure about showing.

It depends on who is coming for the studio visit. If it's a client who is looking at particular works, then that's what I'll have out; anything experimental and considered 'not ready for prime time' is put away. If it's an artist who is visiting, then I'm more likely to have a variety of works out, to get some feedback on.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Ph 121808, 2008, acrylic on paper, 22" x 30"

Monday, December 22, 2008

how did that happen?

Ph 121808(detail), 2008, acrylic on paper, 22" x 30"

You know that high dive we all take from time to time off the cliff of creative inspiration? You take a leap of faith with whatever it is you're doing and don't look down (or back, for that matter). You don't know where you'll land, but you're enjoying the view. You're working and realize upon reflection that at some point, you took that leap and now find yourself lost in a whole new world of your making.

Sometimes, there's no warning. You look around and suddenly realize that you're in unfamiliar territory, but things feel ok, there's no threat and you continue on, enjoying your journey for however long that leg lasts. Looking back on the past couple of weeks, that's where I've been; slightly different place and not quite sure when I took that first step.

Subconsciously, I think I knew I'd chosen something different, but the ease with which I found myself there was surprising somehow. No angels singing, no bands struck up, just a "Huh, well, that's interesting..." and you just keep going. At some point, the questions start creeping in, but for the moment, you just go with it.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Just chugging away

Some works on paper in progress. A couple might be done, but others will go through some changes.

Also, this Friday, December 12th, the opening reception will be taking place for the Gallery Artist Group Show at Bridgette Mayer Gallery. I have three new paintings in the show along with new and never-before-seen works by Neil Anderson, Allen Bentley, Mark Brosseau, Charles Burwell, Kate Davis Caldwell, Deirdre Murphy, Paul Oberst, Rebecca Rutstein and Clint Takeda.

Here's the info:

Gallery Artist Group Show

December 2-December 20, 2009
Opening Reception: Friday, December 12, 2009

Bridgette Mayer Gallery
709 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Monday, November 24, 2008

Art in a poorer world

I saw this discussion on Jen Bradford's studio*blog and thought I'd share it here. A lot of good points are brought up, many of which artists and gallerists have probably already dealt with in one way or another over the years. For artist, weathering hard times is a given, no matter what.

There's little here that's really new; economy shrinks, artists keep working, some galleries close, others change marketing plans, big blockbuster museum shows get scaled down or axed altogether, etc.. However, considering the economic crap swirl we're in, its still good to have some kind of dialog about how the recession is affecting the art world today.

(*note* This video is just over an hour long. Below are some shortcuts to various topics brought up)


Art in a Poorer World

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mel Davis interview

Brian Sherwin interviews Mel Davis on the MyArtSpace blog.

The interview is interspersed with images of Davis' paintings on found wood that are really striking to me. There are more images of them on her website, under the 'paintings (2008)' tab.

Also, Davis has a one person show at Larry BeckLinker Contemporary Art that is closing soon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Recycling, part 5

Stage 10: Working some yellow into the mix to lighten things up again.

Stage 11: Added some deep reds. The blue on both sides of the middle mass needed to go. After a couple of mis-fires, the warm gray I wound up keeping felt right.

Stage 12: Only small changes along the edges were made here and that's it. For better or worse, this painting is finished. I've reached a point where doing anything more would bring diminishing returns. I'll let it sit for a bit, but I don't anticipate doing anything else to it.

During the course of working on this painting, there were things that I thought I'd try, but there's a point where a painting guides you on where it wants to go and I usually choose to follow that path to either completion of the piece or I give up in frustration and move on. Thankfully, this now feels complete.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Recycling, part 4

Stage 8: Working up a new layer of brown tones. Standing back to study what I'd done, I realized that the image is beginning to take on the look of a tree trunk, not a subject I had in mind for this painting. Though it might not occur to others, once the thought was out there, I couldn't help but want to diminish the association as much as possible.

Stage 9: So, now I've chosen to work with another color option and some changes in brush work, but it's not quite where I want it yet.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Recycling, part 3

Stage 4: Wash of light blue over entire surface, part of which was wiped away to keep under lying yellowish field visible.

Stage 5: I went with a deep brown color for this next layer.

Stage 6: After a bit of consideration and getting tired of turning my head sideways, I turned the canvas to see how it looked as a horizontal. It seems to read better this way for me, so I'll most likely show it oriented this way.

Stage 7: Thin wash of orange over the brown. More brown and maybe a couple of layers to come. At this point, I feel like I'll have this one resolved soon.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Banjo 11.14.08

Didn't make it to the studio today, but I did spend some time taking photos.

Since it's Friday, and a gloomy gray one here in Philly, I thought I'd lighten the mood a little with some portraits of our cat, Banjo, that I took this morning. Enjoy!

Maya Lin video

Maya Lin discusses her latest earthwork, Wave Field
(via C-Monster)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Recycling, part 2

Stages 2 and 3.

I needed to deal with the intense green and the remnants of the original painting, so I went with a thin layer of a light gray. Once that layer was dry, or close to it, I jumped into the beginnings of an image. I didn't have a ton of time before heading into work, so this is as far as I could go.

While waiting for that gray to dry, I turned my attention to a couple of new drawings and finishing up some prep work on a couple of small wood panels.

One thing I learned today is that I don't want to use heavy duty bristol (2 ply) for images that I use a lot of water with. When it dries, the edges curl up way too much. I turned the pieces over and wet the reverse sides which worked a bit, but I don't want to have to deal with that on a continuing basis, so I'll stick with watercolor paper or heavy printmaking paper.

Monday, November 10, 2008

recycling, part 1

Above is Blue Rush (2006), a piece that never quite reached its potential. I thought it was finished at one point, but a nagging feeling kept tugging at me, pushing me to keep working on it, but I couldn't for some reason. I even talked with a couple of people about it, but still couldn't find a solution. I was stuck, so the best thing I could do at the time was to just put it away for a bit.

Well, it's been sitting for almost a year and-a-half with no changes made to it and I'm still not happy with it so I'm moving on. It's time to put this canvas to use for a greater good and recycle it for use with more current artistic concerns. With that in mind, I thought it might be interesting to document the changes the work will go through. I don't know how many stages I'll actually photograph because it's often difficult to stop and take a photo when you're in the 'zone' and pulling a piece together. No matter what happens, it'll happen naturally, so there might be 6 stages or there could be 20 or more, who knows what will happen.

With that said, below is the first stage of the change. I went up to the studio after work to prep a couple of wood panels and get started on this, as well. I flipped it horizontally and randomly chose this bright green just as a new ground to start from.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes we did!

I've never been so happy and really proud to be an American than in this moment. It's a beginning, but what a moment it is! There's a ton of challenges ahead, but at least there's a sense of real hope for all of us.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Palin has inspired some street art lately. I know, I's like shooting fish in a barrel, but what fun!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

P.O.S.T wrap up

The open studio event went off without a hitch this weekend. This was the best event I've had in terms of visitor count since 2003, the first year I participated in P.O.S.T. Over the two days, 77 people showed up, and about 90% of those were not friends or acquaintances. I'm sure the great weather helped as did the increased visibility of P.O.S.T. in the media, most notably in the Philadelphia City Paper and through related exhibitions and events.

I met quite a few people and had some good conversations along the way. Of course, this being Philly, I wound up meeting a couple of people officially for the first time after years of seeing them around at art openings and on the street, nodding in acknowledgment but never actually knowing their names.

The only downside was that I was fighting off a cold during the entire two days. That was due mainly to the build up of stress beforehand. I didn't pick up my promotional materials until almost a week before and barely managed to get an email announcement out on Thursday. Thankfully, the cold never really caught on and I'm feeling a lot better after collapsing into bed last night.

Now, back to work...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

minimal politics?

Original link

...and then there's this from the Palin perspective which doesn't seem to get the point of Minimalism, or perhaps that's the point, after all...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Open Studios this weekend

This weekend, I'll once again be participating in P.O.S.T. (Philadelphia Open Studio Tours)

When: Saturday and Sunday, October 11-12, 2008
Time: 12pm-6pm
Studio: 16-A North 3rd Street, 4th Floor
Philladelphia, Pa 19106

Its been a while, but I'm back online and in the studio. The move went pretty well and we're settling in, slowly getting rid of boxes.

In the studio, I've begun taking up where I left off in August and moving ahead with some new works. I'll be hunkering down in the studio this winter in preparation for a show of works on paper at Philadelphia International Airport beginning in March '09 and my next solo exhibition at the Bridgette Mayer Gallery in April '09.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Passing Through

Passing Through

That's kind of how life is at the moment. Haven't had time to be in the studio lately because of our impending move, but still taking photos. Hopefully, things will settle down in the coming couple of weeks and I can be back to something of a regular studio schedule.

Sunday, August 31, 2008



Grafitti in the mix of lines and angles over Chestnut Street, center city Philadelphia



The historic Customs House in the midst of other Society Hill buildings. Southern view from north 3rd Street.



Huge sign atop what used to be (according to my research, the building was sold a couple of years ago) the headquarters of the Jehovah's Witnesses religious organization in Brooklyn Heights.

Monday, August 25, 2008


My next solo exhibition at the Bridgette Mayer Gallery is scheduled for April, 2009.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

recent work

Intersection I, 2008, acrylic on panel, 16" x 16"

Intersection II, 2008, acrylic on panel, 16" x 16"

Two new pieces completed in the last couple of weeks.

With all of the upheaval that is going on, the constant of art helping to keep me sane and looking forward. Can't wait to get back into my regular studio schedule. Having to move comes just as I'm gearing up to refine some new ideas and make larger pieces. At the very least, the motivation is there. All I need now is some open time again.

Monday, August 11, 2008

tricky times

Pool Den
Upstairs at Tatooed Mom's, South Street, Philadelphia

My posts have been few lately, but in addition to studio work and the job, I now have to find another place to live in the next couple of months and hopefully not have that impact on my keeping my present studio space.

The tanking (tanked?) economy hit home last week when I found out on Wednesday from my house mate that he has to move out of his photography gallery space he's been leasing due to an increase in rent. That means that the space in the house my wife and I share will no longer be available to us. I have some leads on other options and it might be a blessing in disguise, but in the meantime, this is also a major headache with funds and finding a half-way decent place that we can afford.

I wasn't prepared for this move yet, but when are we ever really prepared for most of the curve balls life sends our way? The good in all of this has been the quick and positive responses from friends and acquaintances. There are a few options that weren't there a few days ago and for that, I'm really grateful.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Rothkoesque found art

The wall that was covered in PBR propoganda was subsequently painted over with red paint. Unable to resist the temptation of a newly blank wall, someone tagged it with some unimaginative scrawl. I passed it again a couple of days ago to find that the tag had been coverd, resulting in the above almost Rothko-like composition.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Yeondoo Jung

I Want to Be a Singer

I'm completely taken by the photography of Yeondoo Jung. The images above are from his Wonderland series, where he did photographic versions of children's drawings. And like the source materials for this project, some of Jung's interpretations of the drawings are mimics rather than faithful reproductions. Also, check out his Locations and Bewitched series.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

the best laid plans

just beyond
Just Beyond
©Tim McFarlane

I had plenty of plans for the day in the studio and got almost nothing done that I wanted. I was going to finish up some small works in progress and straighten up for a studio visit from Bridgette and one of her clients tomorrow.
The problem was this summer cold that has gotten hold of me. The thing about colds is that they don't care about what you need to get done. They are just there. I spent more time going through sneezing fits and tissues than anything else.

The day wasn't a total waste. I managed to seal the surfaces of a couple of large wood panels I want to paint on soon. That counts for something, at least. I did the best I could to keep from being frustrated at not painting, but it was probably for the better that I didn't force it. Now, that would be a waste.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

summertime, summertime

I went looking to see if there had been any mention of Philadelphia meets Baltimore: Perceptions and Conceptions, the group show I have work in at Towson University. It appears that nothing had been written about the show in the local press. From the way this post from Suzanne Hill on reads, there doesn't seem to have been many people paying attention to the show:

Today I’ve been for the second time to the Philadelphia meets Baltimore abstract art show – called “Conceptions and Perceptions” – at the art gallery at the Center for the Arts at Towson University.

In particular I was mesmerized by the warmly-colored and intricately-detailed bead and stitching art by Baltimore fiber artist Karin Birch.

The first time I saw the show, I was the lone attendee. Today, again, I was the only person present. I asked the young art student behind the counter if the show has been crowded. He said, no, there haven’t exactly been huge crowds. In fact I was the second person that day to view the art. I shook my head in a puzzled way and he said perhaps the attendance fee kept them away [as a joke since of course there is no fee]. I’ve been asking others if they want to see the art, too, but they don’t seem too interested. The art student intoned sadly, “No one is interested in culture anymore.”

Well, I hope there have been at least a couple of more visitors on other days during the show. Hey, maybe because it's summer and no one is really around to look at the work. I mean, really, who wants to be indoors viewing serious artowrk when there are beaches to conquer (this is a college campus, after all).

All kidding aside, it's difficult at the best of times to get people into galleries to view in certain locations. Towson University is situated just outside the Northern edge of Baltimore proper and it seems that a car is your only option for getting there. So, in today's economy, do you go to see art or eat for the week or can you even afford the gas for either trip?

At the very least, I hope those who did see the show enjoyed it.


Installation shot of works in Inguiry: Five Painting Practices at Gross-McCleaf Gallery.
(Photo courtesy of Gross McCleaf Gallery)

Speaking of summer exhibitions, last week, I got to visit Inquiry: Five Painting Practices at Gross McCleaf Gallery in center city, Philadelphia. Inquiry, curated by Mark Brosseau, brings together five contemporary painters who have unique approaches to the use of line, space and structure in abstraction.

Gross McCleaf, known for its main mission of showcasing works in the realist tradition, ventures off the beaten path every now and then and has group shows focusing on abstraction.

Inquiry is a good, bold move for a summer show. The exhibited works run the gamut from the linear abstraction of Chris Burnside's cut and painted plywood panels, alongside the pointillist-like architectural structures of Rachel Wren to the mildly abstracted and fantastical landscapes of Susan Ziegler and nature-inspired near figurative forms of Heidi Leitzke. Last, but certainly not least, there are the bold, colorful spatial investigations of Jenny Hager.

All the works looked good in print, but, as with most art, you have too see it in person to truly get it. I had a feeling that I'd be in for a good show, but I wasn't prepared for just how good Inquiry turned out to be. The biggest surprise wss Rachel Wren's work. I expected that her work would be the least interesting. There was something about the forms that resulted from the multitude of paint dots in the reproductions that left me cold. In person, it's a completely different story-the interplay of color dots and thin grid lines provide just enough tension to keep the works interesting. Not only that, but Wren's work actually felt warmer than I anticipated.

The tactile nature of Chris Burnside's cut panels against the overlaid gestural mark-making provided another type of 'push/pull' tension that worked really well. By varying the concentration of cuts and mark-making, Burnside manages to inject a sense of space where you'd not expect it.

Leitzke and Ziegler share the more obvious use of nature as the main component of their works while handling it very differently. Heidi Leitzke draws us into lush, verdant scenes with hints of leaves, birds and other animals, real or imagined. In one painting, Portal, the viewer seems to be floating/flying above the earth with only small spots of possible ground seen below. Susan Ziegler also makes use of landscape in her works, but the original inspiration is much more apparent with the viewer's gaze cast out over varying geographical terrains while floating in often beautiful skies.

Jenny Hager'a approach to space is very open and loose, while being very solidly constructed at the same time. Her use of broad swaths of thin to thick color makes the at times, intangible surfaces appear to have more weight and solidity because of how she approaches composition. In Plains, for example, Hager has used the removal of paint, through the use of tape, to suggest what might be a wall and floor, but you're never sure how solid anything is because of the delicate washes of color left over. Also, there are a series of more gestural lines to the left side that leaves the space kind of under defined but hints at the possibility of being something more substantial.

There's still a couple of days left to catch the show and there's a closing reception this Friday, August 1st, from 5pm-8pm with some of the artists in attendance.

Gross McCleaf Gallery
127 S Sixteenth Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19102, 215-665-8138


Pour, 2008, acrylic on panel, 16" x 16"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

Recent photography

©Tim McFarlane 2008

©Tim McFarlane 2008

©Tim McFarlane 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Philly meets BMore

Last Saturday, I attended the opening reception for "Philadelphia meets Baltimore: Conceptions and Perceptions" at Towson University's Center for the Arts Gallery, with Alice Oh and Charles Burwell, who also have work in the show. It was curated by J. Susan Issacs of the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts (DCCA).

The show looks great, was very well hung, and a really strong grouping of works. Hats off to Susan Isaacs and her crew for a job well done.

I took a few photos before it was brought to my attention that no photography was allowed. I missed the sign they had posted in my excitement to document my work at the show and started clicking away. I didn't realize the gallery-sitter was even talking to me until she was about a few feet away.

Here are a few to give a sense of the show:

Me, Alich Oh, and Charles Burwell outside the Center for the Arts Gallery.