Piedmont Middle School Mural

Piedmont Mural Latex 8" x 22"

I noted before that I’ve been very busy with lots of side-projects lately. One of these projects was coordinating a mural for Albemarle Middle School. As part of a larger project to expose middle school kids to a variety of career options, I was given a group of about 10 students (the actual number varied over time) to produce a mural at the school over a 10 week period. I would meet with them once a week, and Mr. Ryan Howell at the school would work with them through the week to get the project done. Like the previous mural then, this was a sort of collaborative effort. The mural was finished Tuesday, and the unveiling was last night during a cap-off event for all of the career projects.

The theme was diversity and citizenship. After working with the kids on visual metaphors that support this theme, I took these elements and arranged them into a final composition. The kids then painted away. Like any long-term project, there were fits and starts (like losing four of my better painters to basketball practice). But it came together, was well received, and the kids dressed in their Sunday best seemed very proud of their efforts and posed in front of the mural like celebrities as the crowd took snapshots.

Wall 5

Wall 5 Watercolor 22" x 30"

Things are really hectic right now juggling several projects and endeavors, all art related except in terms of production. I hadn’t painted anything in a couple weeks, so when I managed to squeeze a couple hours of free time at the studio today, I knocked off a couple new pieces. Well, mostly new. I started this blog with a few “Wall” paintings, a direction that really never panned out. I’ve gone the distance since then, but I haven’t forgotten those wall pieces. I dug up a couple abandoned wall paintings stuck in their early stage and decided to finish them with some of the techniques I’ve progressed towards since.

Untitled 3

Untitled 3

This is almost the last of these jumbo watercolors, this one at 5′ x 8′. This was also presented at the McColl Center for Visual Art open house on the 21st. With these larger ones, I took the approach of applying the paint straight from the tube onto the paper support. At one point, the paper had trails of pure pigment paint running in circles and dashes across the paper surface. You can still see some of these unadulterated trails in the left circle, close to the center of the image. Once the paint was applied to the paper , I then added water to the surface using the largest brushes I could find, and paint rollers where no brush was quite sufficient. Those repetitive textures like in the lower left arc are from the paint roller repeating itself while rolling across the surface.

These watercolors came from the notion of the watercolor machines; that the medium perhaps knows what’s best and relinquishing most of that control to the medium can produce results beyond any measured attempts on my part. Of course, I did have more control here than with the machines since I dictated some compositional control in the actual paint application prior to the water application. Ironically (or maybe not) I find this to be the greatest failure of these works. The compositions don’t really go anywhere or do anything. They’re not particularly interesting or inventive. These are the first large scale non-objective works I have put together, ever. So maybe I shouldn’t stress too much on what I see as their shortcomings. Still, these were the favorites of many people, and really my opinion means nothing once I walk away from a “finished” piece. I do think there is potential here though. I would be more satisfied with a better framework to hang the concept from, if you know what I mean.

Rain Machine Video

In addition to the rain paintings and the machines on display tonight at the McColl Center for Visual Art closing house, I am including a video montage of the machines creating the paintings. Thanks for that idea, Rick. Anyway, a little out of context here, but I have posted the video to Youtube and present it here.

Untitled 5

Untitled 5

With my closing house show at McColl Center for Visual Art this Friday, time has been scarce. The week is quickly going by, so I’m jumping on to post while I have a split-second to do so. No time for chit-chat, but here’s an 5′ x 8′ that will be on display at the show. I’ll run my mouth about it later, but for now here’s a detail.

Untitled 5 detail

Untitled 2

Untitled 2 . Watercolor . 5' x 6'

This one is a little narrower than the previous clocking in at about 5′ x 6′ or thereabouts. This one came out better as a whole, but it lacks the interesting up-close details from yesterdays.

I would not call these a direction exactly. I mean, at this point I don’t see giant splashy non-objective watercolors as my future. This could change of course, but right now there is a lack of a cohesive formal arrangement in these. There a load of fun to do though, so take them as you will. But I’m driving at something with these, two works for the upcoming show on the 21st. A couple more of these and I’ll whip the final two out here. Hopefully they’ll be painted by then.

Untitled 1

Untitled 1

Part of the idea with the machine paintings is to create the conditions for the watercolor to be watercolor, to find it’s own path and create its own syntax. I have made a few attempts to apply this approach to the act of painting, where the paint is applied in slashes, strokes, splatters, etc. in patterns and forms to best facilitate the watercolors own will.

This is a heffer at 5 feet height by about 7 feet width. I utilized a paint roller for the largest strokes underneath, and tried drawing on the paper straight from the watercolor tube, then slashing through it with wet brushes. Some splattering for good measure, although I’ve never liked the results of that gimmick.

Artifact 2.1

Artifact 2.1

I framed most of these this weekend. The last posted piece is getting doubled-up with another painting from the same machine. It’s an anomaly from the set in that there is post- painting manipulation. All the rest are framed and presented exactly as they came off the machines, shredded and stapled edges etc. By doubling these in this configuration, it’s presented differently from it’s original context. For the record, this wasn’t my idea but I’m okay with it. I think it may appear too flat otherwise to the casual viewer. Doubling gives it a bit more intentionality.

In the meantime, not much rain forecast in the upcoming days, so I guess I’ll have to get back to work painting myself. However, Lucille is really working hard. Nightly dew is producing results, just nothing at full maturity. This week Bob Bickey at the Center showed me a little welding. I’m thinking about trying that for a couple upcoming machines, taking advantage of steel structures instead of wood to open more dynamic possibilities.