Nicholas Baxter

Blog posts tagged “Austin”

On The Road 12: Spring and Summer Plein Air Adventures

I’ve been so busy painting in the studio for an upcoming exhibition of all new still lifes (announcements soon!) that I forgot to post about my spring and summer landscape painting fun.

Part I: April

At the beginning of April I was in Arizona, where as soon as I get out of Phoenix, I’m reminded why it’s one of my favorite nature states: so much variety of vast and mentally cleansing wild terrain! On this trip I had the good fortune of being able to paint the low desert in the south and then venture north of Flagstaff to paint the completely different high desert plains.

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Salt River, Tonto National Forest, oil on panel, 9 x 12 inches, 2016

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High Plains, Wupatki National Monument, oil on panel, 9 x 12 inches, 2016

Part II: May

In late April I headed to the motherland of classical art for some work and pleasure. First stop was Venice, where I was too busy to paint, but caught some great iPhone snaps (not hard to do basically anywhere in Italy) with my now-antiquated 5s .

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As the calendar turned to May, I traveled with friends to the lush hills of Tuscany, where I had the opportunity to experience the best views the entire region has to offer–from the mountains further inland (overlooking Leonardo’s birthplace Vinci) to the stunning Mediterranean coast–and produced these two plein air studies.

That's me underneath the arch. Photos courtesy of Luca Natalini

That’s me underneath the arch. Photos courtesy of Luca Natalini

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View From Monsummano Alto, oil on canvas panel, 8 x 10 inches, 2016

Lerici Sunset, oil on panel, 4 x 6 inches, 2016

Lerici Sunset, oil on panel, 4 x 6 inches, 2016

In between travels I managed to squeeze in a plein air session while home in Austin, on the occasion of a few artist friends being in town. We made the short drive out to one of the city’s little natural treasures, McKinney Falls State Park, which boasts some active waterfalls and a variety of interesting rock formations with a kind of outer space vibe.

Lower McKinney Falls, oil on canvas panel, 8 x 10 inches, 2016

Lower McKinney Falls, oil on canvas panel, 8 x 10 inches, 2016

Part III: June

In June I ventured to the altitudes of Lake Tahoe for the first time, and got roasted by the deceptively strong summer sun while painting the beautiful vistas of Heavenly Mountain and Emerald Bay.

Western View From Heavenly, oil on panel, 4 x 6 inches, 2016

Western View From Heavenly, oil on panel, 4 x 6 inches, 2016

Emerald Bay, oil on panel, 11 x 5 inches, 2016

Emerald Bay, oil on panel, 11 x 5 inches, 2016

On the eve of my departure I caught an ultra-quick sunset session as the haze from California wildfires filtered out some magical orange and pink rays. Since I only had time to block in a quick impression of the scene, I revisited the piece after I returned home in order to smooth everything out and push the atmosphere.

Lake Tahoe Sunset, oil on panel, 11 x 5 inches, 2016

Lake Tahoe Sunset, oil on panel, 11 x 5 inches, 2016

Part IV: July

In July I visited Ireland for the second time, but first as a plein air painter, and was excited about the opportunities for new environs. The Emerald Isle did not disappoint as I found my way into the mountains south of Dublin for a quick session, then to the picturesque Howth coastline just north of the city, which had me most nostalgic for my boyhood summers on Cape Cod here in the States.

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Keeping my painting out of the rain.

Mountain Stream With View, oil on panel, 11 x 4 inches, 2016

Mountain Stream With View, oil on panel, 11 x 4 inches, 2016

One of the only moments of the day without any tourists in the shot.

One of the only moments of the day without any tourists in the shot.

Baily Lighthouse at Howth Head, oil on panel, 8 x 10 inches, 2016

Baily Lighthouse at Howth Head, oil on panel, 8 x 10 inches, 2016

Summer Exhibitions

This has turned into quite a busy summer for me, as I have various recent paintings scattered across the globe in several current group exhibitions. Even though it’s been a whirlwind of packing, shipping, emailing, posting, and filekeeping (custom-made art inventory Excel spreadsheet FTW!), I’m honored to have my work included in these shows. Check out the list below and see if any are near you!

 

I have one recent still life included in the juried biennial of the Peto Museum in New Jersey (see recent blog post for more info).

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“To The Nadir”, oil on linen panel, 11 x 14 inches, 2016

I’m showing 4 recent paintings in Austin, Texas gallery Art For The People‘s “Off The Wall, Off The Flesh” exhibit.

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"Hand Of God"

“Hand Of God”, oil on panel, 24 x 24 inches, 2012

I have 4 recent still lifes in Rome, Italy at the MACRO museum’s “Tattoo Forever” exhibit, featuring the fine artworks of noteworthy tattooers from around the world.

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"July", oil on linen panel, 12 x 9 inches, 2015

“July”, oil on linen panel, 12 x 9 inches, 2015

 

I have a recent painting from my Apostasy series exhibiting in “Flesh to Canvas” hosted by Last Rites Gallery at the Empire State Tattoo Expo, a yearly group show featuring non-tattoo fine artworks by many of the top tattooers in the world.

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“The Offering,” oil on linen panel, 11 x 14 inches, 2015.

After it returns from AFTP’s current exhibit, my recent still life is slated for inclusion in the 11th Annual International Juried Exhibition of the International Guild Of Realism, which will happen at Gallery 1261 in Denver Colorado in late August.

"Dying In America," 2015, oil on linen panel.

“Dying In America,” oil on linen panel, 5 x 14 inches, 2015

Summer Plein Air Adventures

This summer marked my first serious foray into true outdoor (plein air) landscape painting, in an effort to deepen my knowledge on the visual effects of atmosphere and natural light. This endeavor also conveniently bridged a longstanding divide between my love for exploring the outdoors and my love of painting.

Until this year the two had been almost always mutually exclusive, routinely prompting an internal conflict on beautiful days over whether to satisfy the urge to paint in the studio or the urge to go outside. But I finally confronted my fear of alla prima painting and began the difficult process of learning this completely contradictory painting technique to the one I’ve trained in for over a decade.

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Although discouraging at times, I couldn’t be happier with my experience so far; it feels like a whole new artistic world has opened up to me…the proverbial kid in the candy store phenomenon. I feel reinvigorated creatively, which any artist knows is a joyous feeling, and I’m excited to see how this new painting discipline evolves my artistic vision.

For now I’m still entrenched in the learning curve, looking forward to each new (and challenging)

outing, where I’m slowly gaining the experience needed to bring this vast new body of knowledge back into the studio for larger and more ambitous works in my usual indirect layering technique (ala the Hudson River School methods).

So here are my favorite plein air studies from this summer, a few of them completed at an incredibly fun workshop taught by Thomas Kegler in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. All are oil on panel and sized either 8 x 10 or 9 x 12 inches.

 

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“Purple Trail”, Sleeping Giant State Park, CT

"Muddy Creek", Lockhart State Park, TX

“Muddy Creek”, Lockhart State Park, TX

"White Mountains Sunset", North Conway, NH

“White Mountains Sunset”, North Conway, NH

"Cathedral Ledge After A Storm", North Conway, NH

“Cathedral Ledge After A Storm”, North Conway, NH

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“Bridge To The Studio”, Lockhart, TX

"The Hill Country From Mt. Bonnell", Austin, TX

“Hill Country Sunset From Mt. Bonnell”, Austin, TX

Perception of Being Recap

Last night was the opening reception at Mindzai Creative for my new painting series, and so today I’ve posted all 20 pieces to my gallery. Several of the originals sold at the opening (thanks to those collectors!) and are marked accordingly in the image gallery, as are the ones still available (email to inquire on those).

If you’d like to display all 20 paintings, I have an 18 x 24 poster featuring the entire series, limited to an edition of 100. These are printed on standard semi-gloss poster paper, and are priced at $20.00 each, plus $10 domestic shipping to cover a mailing tube and postage. Email me through the contact link in the upper right corner to order one.

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I’ve also printed archival giclees of 4 of my favorite pieces on thick watercolor paper at actual size (9 x 12 inches), limited to editions of only 10 each (signed and numbered). These are priced at $80.00 apiece, plus $10 domestic shipping to cover a mailing tube and postage. Email me through the contact link in the upper right corner to order one.

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Giclee prints of images 5, 6, 7, and 19 from the series.

Thanks to everyone who’s bought posters and prints so far, and to all who came out to the opening last night, the support is truly appreciated!

 

For more insight into the series, here’s my artist statement about the work:

“Perception of Being”

New works by Nicholas Baxter

 

“The heart has a natural capacity to find the eachness of things, to experience an intimacy with each particular event. The ancient Greeks called this capacity ‘aithesis.’ Developing the capacity for aithesis allows the unique living essence that is present in all things to flow into the human through the organ of perception that is designed to receive it—the heart.”

–Stephen Harrod Buhner

 

The heart has been regarded throughout history and across many cultures as the emotional and feeling center of the human—an intelligent organ of perception. Modern science has corroborated this ancient understanding by measuring emotion-based changes in the electromagnetic fields generated by the heart, with researchers going so far as to conclude that the heart’s own nervous system is so complex and intricate that it qualifies as a second brain.

Phenomenologist author David Abram writes, “We are organs of this world, flesh of its flesh” to describe the inverse of our mainstream logic: that the world we are embedded in, indeed the entire universe, is experiencing itself through us, via our own feelings and perceptions. And so universal feelings like joy, anger, and sadness find individual expression through the unique interfaces of our own consciousnesses, completing the interdependence of the individual and the whole, the merging of finite and infinite, micro and macro, an illustration that each of us are miniature holographic reproductions of the cosmos we inhabit and are made from.

We are thus immersed in an infinitely complex yet subtle energetic field from conception until death. Under the dominant material-reductionist paradigm of modern civilization, however, this aspect of existence is often ignored and denigrated. Esoteric feeling states are what language and hard science still, after many generations, struggle to describe and convey; indeed, words often drown out the delicate perceptions of the heart, and measurements merely quantify.

Where words and numbers fail, images and symbols may begin to succeed in describing and conveying the rich ether of our interior experience, the directly felt human condition, an ephemeral shifting myriad of momentary perceptions and feelings. There comes a time in many lives when exploration and recognition of these are necessary to reconnect the individual with a sense of purpose, meaning, or simply an appreciation of their own humanity. In describing and documenting these feeling states—through whatever medium or means necessary—we move toward the truth of self-knowledge and the integration of wisdom. This state of increased awareness comprises the path towards embodiment of our fullest human potential.

This collection of paintings is not definitive nor complete, merely an attempt to portray a portion of the vast internal experience of being human, through the visual manipulation of a simple and universally recognized symbol. Each heart is situated within a field of pure white, which represents the clear, unfettered and undisturbed awareness that resides beyond the level of ego and emotion. Our consciousness and its tendencies, perceptions, feelings, and emotions are the splashes of color, pattern, and form that populate this great expanse of unconditioned possibility.

Perception Of Being

This week I’m making the final preparations for my exhibition of new paintings in my current home of Austin, Texas, getting everything framed, printed, written, and ready to go. Here’s the press release for the show, which is a two-man effort with my friend and fellow Austin artist Jeff Ensminger. Stay tuned for more information on available originals, prints and other stuff, as well as pictures from the opening party.

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Nick Baxter: Perception of Being

Jeff Ensminger: Into the Void

 

Exhibition of new works at Mindzai Creative, 2001 South Lamar #D, Austin, TX 78704

November 21 – December 3, 2014

OPENING – 8pm – 11pm Friday, November 21

 

Mindzai Creative in Austin Texas is pleased to present a dual exhibition of new paintings by two Austin fine artists and tattooers, Nick Baxter and Jeff Ensminger. Both artists have worked over the past year to create a new body of work for the show, each with their own cohesive theme and symbolism. The unveiling of these paintings will take place at the Mindzai warehouse and gallery space in South Austin from 8 to 11 pm on Friday, November 21st. Both Nick and Jeff will be in attendance, with originals for sale as well as limited edition giclee prints and posters, along with live t-shirt screen printing featuring a design from each of their painting series.

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Nick Baxter’s series titled Perception of Being consists of twenty oil paintings on board, each sized at 9 x 12 inches and depicting a lone human heart on a background of pure white. Each of the twenty hearts features a unique variation or visual effect representing one of the many complex emotional or feeling states of the human experience. Conceptually, this series references the philosophical study of phenomenology while also being inspired by modern scientific research into emotion-based changes in the electromagnetic fields generated by the heart. Nick reduces these ideas into a simple and universally recognized symbol in order to describe and document the ephemeral aspects of the human condition.

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Jeff Ensminger’s series titled Into the Void consists of eight acrylic paintings on paper and wood, ranging in size from 12 x 12 inches to 36 x 36 inches. The paintings depict two-dimensional representations of three-dimensional black holes, also known as Penrose diagrams. These diagrams capture the relations between different points in space-time to illustrate the environment of a wormhole connecting two universes. Using green geometric grid patterns atop realistic depictions of deep space, Jeff’s series visualizes the Penrose diagram in a stylized way that is highly influenced by 70’s and 80’s science fiction films and literature.

Nick Baxter has been tattooing professionally and showing fine artworks since 2000, first in Connecticut, and since 2008 in his new home of Austin, Texas. Known for his innovative approach and color surrealist style in the tattoo medium, he has also gained recognition as a realist oil painter, having exhibited two solo shows at Last Rites Gallery in New York City since 2010, as well as in countless group exhibitions around the country and abroad. More biographical information and a complete CV can be found at www.nbaxter.com or his tattoo-focused website www.nickbaxter.com. Reach Nick via email: contact@nbaxter.com

 

Jeff Ensminger has been tattooing professionally and showing fine artworks in the Texas area since 2002.  His tattoos and artwork are known for their balance of modern realism and traditional tattooing fundamentals, creating a unique aesthetic sensibility with time-honored craftsmanship. You can view his works at www.jeffensminger.com. Reach Jeff via email: info@jeffensminger.com

 

Gallery contact: atx@mindzai.net

In Review: Union of Art and Sport

The Rules of Basketball: Works by Paul Pfeiffer and James Naismith’s “Original Rules of Basket Ball”

September 16 – January 13, 2013

Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin

In an unlikely combination of history and psychology, this exhibit pairs basketball inventor James Naismith’s 1891 document “Original Rules of Basket Ball” with contemporary artist Paul Pfeiffer’s basketball themed digital works. In hindsight, the Naismith material seems like it’d be merely a passing curiosity for most, and only significant for true sports geeks and devout basketball fans, as the real philosophical and entertaining meat of the exhibit is the collection of work by Paul Pfeiffer.

This basketball-specific compilation of pieces is dominated by enormous C-prints of mostly vintage and notable game photographs whose removed logos, names, and team colors imbue them with the ghostly hollow silence of a haunted house. Interspersed among these are tiny viewing vessels affixed to the walls, where short-length video clips run in fast highlight-reel styled loops.  Pfeiffer’s knack for selecting just the right 3 seconds of game footage to convey his symbolism is evident in the same unexpected walk-through-a-graveyard, eerie feeling they impart.  Some of the images and video border on absurd, utilizing the unreal juxtaposition of blanked-out team jerseys with highly memorable sporting moments. Taking all of this in, I found myself suppressing alternating fits of amused, snickering laughter, chest-vibrating tension, and fond childhood sentimentality.

Paul Pfeiffer
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (08), 2005
Fujiflex digital C print, 60 x 48 in.
Collection Glenn and Amanda Fuhrman NY, Courtesy The FLAG Art Foundation
©Paul Pfeiffer. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

Like nearly all contemporary art, this work is primarily conceptual, deeply embedded within the theoretical realm of symbolism rather than in the organic lineage of traditional craftsmanship…what most tend to quickly appreciate as “skill.” As such, sadly, only the most informed viewers are likely to truly appreciate the full significance of what the artist has made (“Some photoshopped video clips–so what?”).  And this, of course, embodies so much of what’s wrong with art in postmodern society, and isn’t necessarily the average viewer’s fault (but that debate gets complicated, and needs its own future blog post or 7).

But, as guest curator for the Blanton exhibit Regine Basha insightfully describes, “Paul Pfeiffer frames media, spectacle, and masculinity [and, I’d add–race] in a way that sheds new light on the game of basketball.”  His clever digital work “adopts today’s frenetic visual language in order to consider the role that mass media plays in shaping consciousness,” according to the exhibit’s press release.  As such, Pfeiffer’s retouched photographs and manipulated video clips are sneakily at the epicenter of some of the most pressing and pivotal conflicts smoldering, unresolved, in the heart of our first-world empire of consumption and spectacle.

In Germany in 2000 the Kunst-Werke Berlin e.V., Institute for Contemporary Art, presented the first comprehensive one-man-show of Paul Pfeiffer, offering a beautiful description of his symbolism and process:

Pfeiffer’s digital videos are “moving still-lives,” challenging human perception as well as exploring long-standing issues of painting. Due to the accelerated repetition of short sequences, the essential codes of perception, such as the instant recognition of fore- and background, depth and surface, motion and unmoving, blur or cease to be of relevance. For example, in JOHN 3:16 Pfeiffer took found video footage of a basketball game and re-edited it in order to place the ball in the central foreground of the screen with the play swirling around it. The seeming fluidity of the image belies the painstaking nature of the production process: over 5000 individual video frames have been enlarged and repositioned to create the moving image of a ball in play.

(http://kw-berlin.com/deutsch/archiv/pfe/pfe.html)

John 3:16, 2000 (Filmstill)  ©Paul Pfeiffer

As a lifelong sports fan, artist, and cultural deconstructionist I had three inherent and unlikely leverage points with which to appreciate this exhibit.  Having long ago dissolved the barriers of the self-limiting, culturally-reinforced disparity between “jock” and “artist” stereotypes/archetypes within myself, I felt as though Pfeiffer’s work was made for–and was speaking intimately to–me. I was thrilled to stumble upon these eerily-altered iconic sports images on my recent museum trip, having planned my visit around the Blanton’s simultaneous exhibit of classic Western Americana paintings.


Fragment of a Crucifixion (after Francis Bacon), 1999 (Filmstill)  ©Paul Pfeiffer

In one short video clip that’s both instantly terrifying and hilarious, digital editing and repetition turn the post-dunk celebratory scream of a basketball player into an unnerving, awkwardly aggressive expression of rage.  What gives this art added significance to me–perhaps belying the original intent of the artist, who has purposefully removed any team, league, corporate or personal identifiers from the scene–is that I know the basketball player is former college and pro star Larry Johnson, who in Pfeiffer’s video was playing for the Charlotte Hornets, and whose promising career was disappointingly cut short due to injury.  I used to watch him enact that primal ritual on live TV as a child, reveling in his athletic prowess, imitating it in my makeshift driveway basketball court, and collecting his basketball cards. It’s in this sentimentality that the work touches a deeper human chord within me, and I feel like a participant in Pfeiffer’s visions, embodying a small part of the very unresolved conflicts that his work calls forth.

East Austin Studio Tour 2012

The 2012 East Austin Studio Tour (EAST) is in its 11th incarnation. This self-guided tour is a special opportunity to see work by hundreds of Austin artists. For several days in November, artists, studios, exhibition spaces, pop-up shows, and tons of fun art-centered events on the east side will be open and free to the public to celebrate the wide variety of art being created in our city.

My studio is #48. I will be there painting this weekend and next.

Artbook Archive

Attention: iPad users!

I’ve been included in a project called Artbook Archive. This ever-expanding digital product is national in scope, featuring unique editions for several major U.S. cities, which showcase working fine artists in each locale.

Essentially, it’s a digital “coffee table book of art.” I’m honored to be included in the Austin edition.

You can download the app in the iTunes store, then make an “In-App Purchase” of Artbook Austin for $2, to see my paintings and artist profile on your fancy device.

Artist Statement

This week I had to come up with an artist statement in 450 characters or less, for this year’s upcoming East Austin Studio Tour, an open studios event of dizzying proportions that takes over all of the East Side for 2 weekends every November.  It’s an underground artist’s and crafty person’s wet dream of local creative energy.

Here is my most concise artist statement ever (proud that I avoided my usual excessive written verbosity):

My paintings deceive with photorealist illusion to unmask deeper truths of existence. From the mystifying expanse of outer space, to the visceral claustrophobia of surgical incisions, the beautiful flirts with the grotesque. Through these unlikely juxtapositions, I urge the viewer to question familiar assumptions, piercing the surface of what we often take for granted.

 

Produced by Big Medium