Friday, December 21, 2012

On art and social media-an evolution of personal proportions

So, for those of you who may have been wondering, yes, I'm still hard at work in the studio, as usual. Regular visitors to this blog (or my other social media outlets) may have noticed that I haven't posted any photos of newer work in the studio in the past few months. At some point during this past summer, I made the choice to pull back from posting so many images of works-in-progress and newer pieces because I've needed to change some things about my social media interaction as it relates to my studio practice.

I photo-document a LOT and enjoy sharing images of my work and studio with those who don't live near me and a studio visit might be out of the question. However, a lot of that sharing began to muddle things for me. The sharing of works-in-progress began to feel like over-sharing. I felt a real desire to return to the mindset that I had before having a presence on the 'net became almost mandatory for artists and others to gain an audience; just me in the studio working out whatever issues that I might be having with the work and inviting people into the studio once in a while to discuss what I'm working on and so forth.

 It's tricky for creative people because we often like to have our work validated in some way and social media is a great way to have your peers (and others) weigh in on what you are doing, even if they are miles or countries away. I know that I enjoy getting a peek into what other artists are working on. The dialogues that can happen are wonderful and can be creatively invigorating. However, I found that after a while, the self-imposed "need" to post began to over take more serious considerations with the work in the studio. For a long time, I thought about how having a laptop or tablet in the studio would enable me to make constant updates from the studio. I resisted that idea and am glad that I did.

It has been a few months since I began to change the relationship between my art and social media, but the differences that it has made in how I relate to my work recently undeniably positive. Much like having painted over years of marks and drips on the wall , resisting the urge to post every movement that I make in the studio has cleared pathways for new things to happen in ways that the world doesn't need to be privy to, at least while they are happening. All of the outside stimuli has an effect on you, no matter how small. Over time, it all builds up and one day, you are wondering how you got so far away from your original intent. The proliferation of marks on my working wall wound up preventing me from "seeing" my work and made me expend precious mental energy on attempting to block out the distracting colors and patterns surrounding works-in-progress. The same thing happened with how I used social media in relation to my art. There got to be too much other "stuff" to consider and I unconsciously created mental filters that began to alter my perceptions of my work and took me away from an honest dialogue and evaluation of it, at times.

I'm much more comfortable with where I stand now with my art and social media. I post whatever articles or links that I feel might be interesting to followers here, and on Facebook, Twitter, and G+ with a focus on art-related items, but I have released myself from feeling obligated to constantly post my own newer work or works-in-progress.  I will probably return to some form of sharing studio documentation in the nearish future, but for now, it's just me, the work, and a few cups of tea to keep warm while I figure out whether to leave this painting as is, or whether I should sand it down and start over...


"We're sorry, but the end of all that is has been postponed. Please try again in a few years..."

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sean Scully At PMA 12.12.12

Sean Scully after the talk. 
Two of the "Iona" paintings from my seat.

Four of the twelve "Mirror" paintings. These are oil on copper and 12 x 12 inches each. 

All three panels of "Iona"

Last night, I had the chance to hear and later, talk with one of my favorite contemporary painters, Sean Scully. He was at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a talk/conversation with Michael Auping, Chief Curator at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas. They discussed some of Scully's background as an artist, his studio practices, and the works on display at the PMA.

Scully was straightforward about his work, life, and views and didn't mince words. It was interesting to learn that he doesn't like Barnett Newman's work, nor the "lack of variation" in Philip Guston's colors, that he uses the "same greens and reds...". He did acknowledge owning a Guston that's above his television.

In the discussion about his work with abstraction, Scully made an analogy that resonated with me. He said that (I'm paraphrasing here) "abstraction is like music without words and can be very difficult to get along with, while realism is like music with words and is very easy to digest". I can certainly vouch for the truth in the first part of that statement, considering the aesthetic and ideological challenges that I constantly find myself up against in the studio. Although, those challenges often result in hard-won rewards in the end. Combine the in-studio challenges with how difficult many viewers find abstraction, then you can have an almost perfect storm of issues to deal with. I should also add that Scully's work heavily influenced a number of paintings of mine that I did about 15 years ago. Some of those works formed the basis for my first exhibition at the Bridgette Mayer Gallery in 2002.

Later, during the question and answer session, someone asked about Scully's choice of oil paints and mediums. He said that he likes to use the best materials that he can, adding that "you get what you pay for". He noted that he had a lot of problems with some of his works from the 80's because of economics. He has had to re-paint some of the works from that period due to various issues with paint and support materials that he used during that time. He also attributed some of the problems to having hired his brother, whom Scully described as a "geezer" who could give "fuck-all", to stretch some of his paintings.

Once the Q & A was done, I took the opportunity to meet Scully personally and asked him about his fairly recent choice of using aluminum and copper as supports and how he feels about the archival possibilities of using such slick surfaces to paint on. He said that metal surfaces are ground down to create a "tooth" which helps the oil paints adhere to the surfaces. He said that he thinks that they will probably last a thousand years. He surmised that it probably won't matter, anyway because we will be heading out to the stars and won't be taking big, bulky paintings with us. Instead, he said that "we'll just have the images available in our glasses or something while the physical works will be back here on Earth". Well, Mr. Scully, the future is now.

"Notations: Sean Scully" is comprised of the three "Iona" paintings, the "Mirror" paintings, as well as two works from the "Wall of Light" series.

"Notations: Sean Scully" is on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art until February 23, 2013

See Sean Scully's website for a more comprehensive view of the scope of his work: Sean Scully-Body of Work

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Recent photography

DL (checks)
DL (pile #2-color)

DL (pile #2-B/w)

DL (bright corner)

Monday, December 03, 2012

Something happened in the studio the other day...

Well, something is usually happening when I'm in there, but this time was different. Put simply, I painted my working wall. Not usually something worth devoting a blog post to, but it was a special occasion, nonetheless. I allowed a pretty dense field of stray paint marks to build up over time and was a point of pride at one time. It wasn't enough that I made the work, I had to let the history of the previous work done in there remain, as well. 

That wasn't a big deal at first, but over time, it became difficult to really see what I was working on, regardless of how hard I tried to mentally block out those stray marks. I finally realized what a detriment the wall had become and did what I probably should have done a good while ago. Of course, I had to document this somewhat momentous occasion...


Yes, that is a very self-satisfied smirk on my face. Fun time is over, now it's back to the real work...

Monday, November 19, 2012

DL (pile)

"DL (pile)", from an on-going series of light studies.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I intended to go to the studio today, but didn't. I had a pretty intense day in there yesterday and probably needed some time to let things settle a bit. It was one of those sessions where I could see the beginnings of new ideas coalescing into a possible body of work and feeling a little grounded after being in a period of extensive experimentation. Experimentation in the sense of going outside of my usual mode of working, letting things fall where they may and leaving them in that unsettled state. Leaving some works in a state of being raw and unresolved are really useful later. There was a time when I'd automatically discard such things (I still do, but I give it more thought these days) and begin anew. 

This year, something has changed in how I look at and relate to new works. I've made more of an effort to not throw the baby out with the bath water, so to speak. I'm much more liable to let certain marks or passages in working paintings that I'm unsure of remain visible longer and give them more thought than in the past. Over the past few years, I had begun to be much more mercenary about what I thought wouldn't work for a particular piece and either remove the offending mark(s) right away or just do away with the work altogether. I've learned that when I have a day like yesterday, where I had a feeling for what I wanted and it wasn't turning out, that it might be better to not dive right back in the next day; that it may be better to take that next day, do something else and return the day after with fresher eyes.  I'm at my most critical and less patient with my work and progress when I'm feeling less than optimal mentally because of lack of sleep, as I was today. It's days like this that it's better for me to take care of errands or chores at home and go in tomorrow with a fresher eye, hopefully.  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Day one brought out a lot of art lovers, with a few faces that I hadn't seen in a while and I made some new acquaintances. It looks like the weather is going to be great again today so let's get it started! (as soon as I finish my cereal and get dressed...)

Tim McFarlane-Philadelphia Open Studio Tours

Thursday, October 18, 2012

POST 2012

The Futility of Finding a Spotless Inch in an Artist's Studio
(limited edition prints available)

This weekend, I will once again open my studio as a part of the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours. I will have a selection of paintings and works on paper on view. If you happen to be in the Old City section of Philadelphia, feel free to stop by. 

Here's what you need to know:

Philadelphia Open Studio Tours 2012

16-A North 3rd Street, 4th Floor**
(3rd Street, just north of Market)

Saturday and Sunday, October 20-21, 2012
12pm-6pm, both days

 **Please note that this is a 4th Floor walk-up with no elevator

While you're in Old City, visit some of the other POST participants in the area:

Monday, September 17, 2012

The 100 Most Iconic Artworks of the Last 5 Years | Artinfo

The 100 Most Iconic Artworks of the Last 5 Years | Artinfo

Hey, guess what? It's a list of the "most iconic" artworks of the past five years, brought to you by the good people over at ArtInfo. It seems that, according to the article, that "mass spectacle" with the "artist as stage director" has beat out traditional image makers by a long shot. Not to worry, it's just a list that will be replaced by another one in due time...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

CFVEA Direct Dialogues: In Print

Philadelphia-area artists: Interested in finding out how to negotiate the ins and outs of art publishing? Check out the next Direct Dialogues event at the Center for Emerging Visual Artists:

Center for Emerging Visual Artists Direct Dialogues:
In Print- Publishing Information and Advice for Visual Artists

Thursday, September 20, 2012 @ 5:30pm

Speakers: David Rech, Director of Publisher Se
rvices, Scribe Inc.
John Woodin, Photographer and Adjunct Associate
Professor, University of the Arts

Interested in seeing your work in print? Want to know how to make that happen? Join us for a conversation that will explore the publishing field from the inside. Learn how the industry works and how to best pull together your materials for a competitive proposal. In addition, hear a visual artist’s perspective of how to approach the often daunting process of getting your artwork published.

Location: The Center for Emerging Visual Artists,
237 South 18th Street, Suite 3a
Philadelphia, Pa 19103

All programs begin at 5:30 pm. Each session is $12.00. Registration is required. Individuals who have not pre-registered are not guaranteed a seat. To reserve a space or to receive more information about The Center for Emerging Visual Artists or Direct Dialogues Lecture Series, please contact Genevieve Coutroubis, by phone (215) 546 - 7775 x 11 or by email

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Studio visit: Tim Eads (9.01.12)

I had the pleasure of meeting up with Tim Eads recently and spent a good part of the afternoon talking shop and getting to see some of his recent work, as well as some in-progress pieces. Tim's practice includes sculpture, works on paper, printmaking, and interactive installation. This year, Tim's work was selected as part of the West Collects competition and his work will be included in upcoming shows, including "Switched On Garden" (with collaborator, Austen Brown), a one-day art and sound event taking place in historic Bartram's Garden in Philadelphia on October 14th. Tim Eads will also have work in the Centennial Juried Exhibition at the Delaware Art Museum beginning October 20th.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Joanne Mattera Art Blog: Fifty Shades of Gray

Think gray has little or no personality? You might want to rethink that position after taking a look at Joanne Mattera's recent blog post: 

Joanne Mattera Art Blog: Fifty Shades of Gray

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Slow Art Day

(photo: Robert Michael/AFP/Getty Images)

Blouin Art Info: Slow Art Day Fights Visual Grazing With a Deep Dive Into Museums by Kyle Chayka

"Slow Art Day" sounds like a good thing to have happen. As the article (link above) points out, many museum/gallery goers only spend about 17 seconds looking at a work of art, as well as try to see everything that they can in one huge gulp.

I can understand the impetus to want to see as much as you can if the museum is in a place that you might not be able to visit again or for a very long time, but, overall, most works barely get any attention at all, even the so-called "iconic" works. Today, people look for a few seconds and then the phone cameras come out, or they are walking around with their phones extended constantly taking videos and photos while not really studying or experiencing the works in front of them at all. Here's to hoping that "Slow Art Day" catches on...

Friday, August 17, 2012


Studio Needs (9.12.02)

This week in the studio has been about housekeeping and when you move things that haven't been moved in months or years, you find things that you'd long forgotten about, like this list (above) that I found on Wednesday afternoon. It's from September of 2002 and was written a couple of months before I moved to my current space. In the lower right corner, you can see that I was ready to have a new space. 

The one I had at the time at 315 North 12th Street, just north of Vine Street, was coming apart at the seams, as was the whole building. Whoever owned the building that month wasn't going to let maintenance get in the way of a perceived good investment. It was a solid old twelve floor warehouse that housed a couple of whole-floor sweatshops, as well as artist, photography and fashion studios.  I say "that month" because in the time that I was there, about 5 years or so, there was a steady owner (based in New York), but suddenly, in the last year that I was there, the ownership changed at least three times and the last owner was obviously trying to get in on trying to convert the building into condo lofts. 

The strategy was to let the building fall to pieces, forcing everyone to move out and it worked. They had one maintenance man for the entire building and he couldn't keep up with all of the repairs that the place needed. The last straw for me was when a leak, not a small one, from the roof came through to my studio and nothing was done about it for too long. 

I finally started a search for a new space and found the one that I've been in for the past ten years. Nothing lasts forever, but I've been making sure to make the most of what I have before it's time to move on.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Vicious Appetite

Studio shot of a new painting-A Vicious Appetite, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 48 inches

The Done Manifesto

Artist/blogger/entrepreneur Kesha Bruce posted this and I had no choice but to share it with you because it's THAT good. Having trouble getting past that state of procrastination brought on by the fear of getting started or finishing project? take a moment to ponder the "Cult of Done Manifesto". You only have a moment, though, because there's sh*t to get done!

The Cult of Done Manifesto

1. There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and completion.

2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.

3. There is no editing stage.

4. Pretending you know what you're doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you're doing even if you don't and do it.

5. Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.

6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.

7. Once you're done you can throw it away.

8. Laugh at perfection. It's boring and keeps you from being done.

9. People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right.

10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.

11. Destruction is a variant of done.

12. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.

13. Done is the engine of more.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Hell Broke Luce

The video for "Hell Broke Luce" from the Tom Waits album Bad As Me. Every time I walk into the studio, I think of Tom Waits. I know it's because I was introduced to his music in painting classes that I took with Mark Blavat when I was at Temple back in the '90s. The same goes for Arvo Pärt, whose music Mark also played in class.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Studio 8.01.12: trust

In progress on the right.

A currently untitled piece. I'm usually reticent to trust my feelings about a piece just after I choose to stop working on it, but sometimes you have to live in that moment and try to trust the feeling especially if it's a positive response. My default is to question my early positive responses and let things settle in for a while.

 When I took the brush away from this piece for the last time yesterday (and stopped myself from doing anything more on it), I was quite happy with it. I'm sure that I'll look at it in more depth the next time that I'm in the studio, but for now, it still strikes a positive chord with me. 

Monday, July 30, 2012


Crest, 2011, acrylic on paper, 50 x 38 inches

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tulips (IP)

Tulips (indeterminate passage), 2012, acrylic and collage on paper, 22 x 30 inches

Friday, July 20, 2012

Studio 7.20.12: the remix

Working in the studio today, "remixing" layers of images to create a new one. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Probe, 2012, acrylic on panel, 24 x 30 inches

Monday, July 16, 2012

Star 69

Star 69, 2012, acrylic and collage on paper, 38 x 50 inches

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Summer Pop Up Gallery (Long Beach Island)

Nosios, 2012, acrylic on panel, 12 x 12 inches

Cossia, 2012, acrylic on panel, 12 x 12 inches

These are two of four new paintings that can be seen in the "Summer Pop-Up Gallery" show on Long Beach Island, NJ. The Bridgette Mayer Gallery, in conjunction with Michael Ryan Architects is presenting this summer group exhibition which is on view until August 4th, 2012. More info below: 

Bridgette Mayer Gallery

Bridgette Mayer Gallery in conjunction with Michael Ryan Architects, is pleased to present a Summer Pop Up Exhibition

Exhibition on view: June 30th - July 29th
Opening Reception: Saturday, June 30, 2012, 5:30-8pm

Michael Ryan Architects, 60 Longbeach Blvd, Loveladies, NJ 08008
 The exhibition will feature new paintings and works on paper by:  

Arden Bendler Browning   
Mark Brosseau  
Kate Davis Caldwell  
Julie Goldstein  
Tim McFarlane  
Ryan McGinness  
Rebecca Rutstein  
Nathan Pankratz  
Shelley Spector 
In the Project Room: Jill Bonovitz, Works in Clay  

 You can visit the pop-up gallery, Thursdays 12pm-6pm, Fridays & Saturdays 10am-6pm, Sundays 10am-4pm & by appointment [Randee 609-548-2000].
Bridgette Mayer Gallery
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