Friday, November 19, 2010

League Time

"Andrea at the League" oil on canvas 16" x 20" by Hilary J. England
It's been interesting time at the ASL, and I love being there.  I understand as the "newbie" in the class, I had to get my fair share of ribbing and also the worst "pole" position when it comes to our easel assignments, but I think the pranking went to the outlandish, so far over, I actually just burst out laughing at the absurdity of the entire situation:

I was basically working in a "phone booth" on this painting above.  Not in a literal sense, as we don't have phone booths in the classroom, but I was physically boxed in between three painters, all working on tremendous canvases, so I would have to step out between them and peer at the model, and then scurry back into my "cave" and paint.  This made tonal judgements quite difficult, since I did manage to position my palette out into some dim, precious light, but when I went back into the "cave," I had to rely on faith that my initial brushstroke and color/tonal choice was the correct one, since I was nearly in the dark, and painting in the dark is quite a hurdle to overcome.  

Plus, if this wasn't handicap enough, the young Spaniard behind me, working on his six foot canvas that was literally an inch from my back, began beating on his painting with a mahl stick, in some new method of trying to achieve texture, so I felt as if I was in the middle of some tribal initiation, and with this insanity going on around me, I just couldn't help but to laugh, as it truly was bizarre and funny! 

Anyway, all hurdles and handicaps put aside, I did manage to blaze out a coherent painting in four hours, with breaks.   It's called, quite simply, "Andrea at the League," and Andrea enjoyed it, and so did I. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Day of rest


Wow...I forgot how much commuting takes it out of me.  I used to drive to New York and back four, five or sometimes six nights a week when I had a young family to support, and now that I haven't done that in five years, I am wiped out from it.   But, the end result is the big picture, and working with Joseph Peller makes it worth it.

He is a tough guy, with rigorous standards, and I wholeheartedly appreciate that.  No slacking with him--but he is even and fair about it.  Even though he is strict, I can see he has a good heart beneath the gruff exterior, and that puts me at ease.  Besides,  discomfort is the catalyst to change!   If he sat around telling me how wonderful and amazing my work is, I would have absolutely no reason to change anything about it...and that's NOT the reason I am putting myself out there...I want a growth experience.  You don't go to the gym and lift the same amount of weights for years if you want to get results!

Anyway, the commute wasn't quite so bad on the way in, since I decided against sitting in the parking lot we call the Lincoln Tunnel, and went over the George Washington bridge, and down the Henry Hudson Pkwy, so it was a nice, speedy trip in.  The ride home was pretty good until the poor fellow speeding along in front of me on I78 hit a big buck that jumped from out of nowhere on the median, showering my car with chunks of bloody deer meat and fiberglass...it stunned the hell out of me, but I was able to knock the big piece off with my windshield wipers without missing a beat or pulling over, and had Mark pick the smaller pieces of deer meat out of my grill, wiper blades, etc. when I got home.  THAT is the reason I don't use a nice car to commute with.  The guy that hit the deer totaled out his car, since the deer was pretty big, full rack and all.  I felt bad for both the guy, and the deer.  Rotten timing.

On a brighter note, I got word via phone call yesterday that "Alejandro on a swiftly tilting planet" won first place in the most recent exhibition I entered it into...that is always a nice thing, and some prize money to go with the honor of it, so I was very happy to hear it.  I'll post more details as they come along. 

When I get a chance, I'll post some of the work I have completed at the League.  As for today, I think I'll take it easy, enjoy some r&r, and work at my leisure.  Have a nice day!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Up and running


I am up and running this today...actually, I got quite a bit done, which makes me feel relieved...I had a large list that was starting to grow even larger...that never sits right with me!

I dropped off my one painting to a local venue I'm going to exhibit in, and after some confusion on the part of the organizers, was able to deliver the artwork with no problem.  It is "Alejandro on a swiftly tilting planet," and it will be on display in the Bethlehem (Pennsylvania USA) City Hall Rotunda through January 9th, 2011.

As for the other two paintings that I have going from that series, they will be going first to N.A.W.A. NYC, in Dec./January, then to Red Dot NYC in March, then off to Europe and Japan for the Summer and Autumn of 2011...so, I am busy, busy, busy!

I spent a lazy night last night, lying on the couch after dinner, the house completely still--both kids upstairs either on their computers or chatting on their cells, and Mark was napping before work; it gave me time to just zone out, while Chorkie decided my fingernails needed to be nibbled and groomed...she is the funniest little dog--and she literally puts me into a trance when she goes into her grooming mode--she washes her own face with her little paws, and that instantly strikes me dumb, like a great white shark getting put into a state of catatonia by grasping it's snout...it's immediate.  She is the most relaxing mini dog to watch as she goes through her routine, and then ends up, all 6 pounds of her, sprawled on her back like she owns the couch!

I watched the old 1927 German silent film "Metropolis," last night.  It was quite an amazing film, but I think the scene that really threw me "for a loop" was the scene in which "Maria" has become the Machine-Man, and performs this eerie, spooky and erotic dance as the Whore of Babylon...it literally made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up!  Brigitte Helm had this lanky, blonde waifishness about her, and as the reincarnation of the Whore, she does this darkly contorted, pseudosexual "horror show" dance, in which she incites the men into a homicidal frenzy of sexual hysteria...it's really an astounding scene, and one that is timeless in it's effect...

I also watched "The Walking Dead," and brother, that is just a yucky, Zombiefest!  A totally guilty pleasure!

Anyway, my painting in Berlin has grown legs, and will now toddle over to another exhibition, which is wonderful.  I heard from Infantellina this morning, and I will post the details of this new exhibition.  I am also now looking forward to going to Barcelona in two weeks for the "Square Foot--Rhapsody in Barcelona" international exhibition at the Galeria Con...

So, it's been a busy and fulfilling week...even got to go to the gym with Gabs!!!  Nice....

Friday, November 5, 2010

Resistance to Change

It's been a while, yes.  The last few weeks were tumultuous, but they usually are...choppy seas rather than smooth sailing, yet the hurricane seemed to wind itself down to an afternoon thunderstorm--roared in quickly, and left just as fast...

I spent the last few days in New York, at the Art Student's League.  I was very much looking forward to taking a class with Joseph Peller, as I admire his work and can relate to it.  To me, education is an ever, ongoing process, you just never stop learning or perfecting yourself or your skills...I looked to him since I enjoy his painterly method of working, and would like to broaden my own skills with his perspective, so I very much anticipated being in a public learning setting again.

I arrived early, looking to link up with Jilly, but the weather was not cooperative...the rain was driving, and lugging my equiptment all over Manhattan made for a sort of comical, farce like atmosphere of everything, so I decided not to be an ignoramus, and rented a monthly locker, since my time at the League would last until a minimum of Spring.  Parking is also always an issue in Manhattan, so, thinking I was quite the winner of the chess match, triumphantly brandished a coupon I printed online to the local parking attendant, only to find out I was at the wrong address!  Wrong address, right company to my dismay...I was at the parking garage one block away from the one I printed the coupon for...but, the attendant was sympathetic, and decided he would honor it anyway, for a $2.00 "processing fee"  haha....his idea, not mine.  I probably would have offered him $5.00!

I was disoriented and, being the "new guy" in the class, I didn't know anyone, so I found a little nook in the corner of the cafeteria to just catch my breath and dry off.  I looked around and my heart warmed at all of the creative characters that populated the little lounge...I felt quite at home!  Everyone was friendly, and curious, so I soon met some new classmates. 

After sitting about for an hour, I got restless and decided to hop the subway down to South Ferry and meet Jilly...she would be off work soon, and I could kick around down in Battery Park since the rain had slowed to a light, foggy mist.  I decided to check out the Ferry terminal, since I had not been in it since it had been remodeled after the tragic accident on the pier.  I felt a twinge of sadness as I walked through the crowd, and looked about.  The terminal was unrecognizable to me--the old, weathered wooden benches, the throngs of pigeons that did not care about the humans, the groups of homeless that used to stay along the entrance to keep warm...where did they go?  Had they been ground into Soylent Green?  When did New York solve the homeless problem, and why didn't we share that secret with the world?  The new, shiny Ferry matches the new, shiny, hi-tech City...the feeling of the City is gone to me...it's been wiped clean and sanitized, left all sparkly and antiseptic and generic...the Walmartization of the globe....Ripley's Believe it or Not escaped the confines of it's prison...it was a disappointment.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't feel like the old problems we had as a City were something to "pine" over...but to wipe away all traces of the original flavor of a city, and replace it with "made in Taiwan," loads of rules, signs, and plasticity is Orwellian in my book, but, "my book"  is just my opinion, so it really matters NOT...

The rain picked up it's pace, and I ducked into Starbuck's for my 3rd cup of coffee of the day, and a mini vanilla scone.  Unfortunately the Starbuck's was take out only, so I was forced to find a building to hide under, with the wretched smokers puffing miserably away in the cold, wet of the day.  I thought amusedly back to the time when you could smoke without being dragged outside the walls of the city and executed...for all of our micromanaging, have we found ANYONE who can conquer the grave?  Only one, and He was the Only one! We can stop smoking, eat 100% right, do everything 100% right, and get hit by a bus...what do we do about the injustice of that?  Outlaw buses?  Outlaw cancer that strikes the health fanatic that never smoked, drank, did drugs, did anything?  When do we stop outlawing, and start being free to live our lives again?

My feet were thoroughly soggy, as the rain ran down my face in slow rivulets.  I walked around like a person in a dim dream, lost between two worlds, a ghost of an era past.  I saw the new buildings, the old skyline gone, the new regime had ordered everything well...I was a relic of another decade...that knowledge might have made me sad, but it didn't.  It stood for many things, and all of them were good.  It was a testament to time, and change, no matter how we resist.   I was flexible enough to come this far, and strong enough to endure, and mostly, that I wasn't alone, and I never would be.  That was the most amazing knowledge of all....

End of Summer

"Mountain sunset" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 8" x 11" End of Summer, and it's going out with lots of heat!...