Nicholas Baxter

Blog posts tagged “Last Rites Gallery”

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).

to the nadir-lowres

“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.

aftp-1

 

"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.

the_offering-lowres

“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

Pariah

"Pariah", oil on panel, 2013, 12 x 24 inches

“Pariah”, oil on panel, 2013, 12 x 24 inches

My painting “Pariah” was an experiment in contrasts between the extremes of shocking subject matter and uplifting emotions, between surface appearance and underlying symbolism. It evolved out of an intriguing and unusual backstory, and I think anyone wishing to understand the painting on a deeper level than the initial shock value that its grotesque subject might offer could benefit from knowing the story. As an artist, I like to learn everything I can about a piece of art that interests me, in order to deepen my understanding of and appreciation for it. But if you like to interpret art completely from your own imagination, without the influence of explanations, this essay will definitely be a spoiler.

I completed this painting in late 2013 after forming its concept over the previous year of working on my Apostasy series. For that original group of 10 paintings my primary source material and visual reference was a batch of surgery photos “smuggled” to me by a nurse friend who happened to assist on a highly publicized procedure performed by a world-renowned pediatric surgeon in Los Angeles.

The surgery in question was the removal of a parasitic twin body–a set of legs and arms with a partial torso of their own but no head or brain–from a young Asian boy. This risky procedure also happened to be the subject of a documentary produced by The Learning Channel about rare cases of conjoined twins. As my friend explained to me afterwards, “there were cameras everywhere,” and so many unnecessary people in the operating room that it felt like a party, not a surgery. So, she figured, as long as I didn’t depict any precise likenesses while altering and cropping the source photos to fit my artistic needs, it should be okay for me to use them.

Little did I know, the day I first saw those photos sometime in 2011 would start a still unfolding artistic evolution, in which “Pariah” is but one chapter. I’d seen plenty of photos like those before, had often used visceral flesh and blood imagery in my work, being strangely attracted to the aesthetic of their glossy surfaces, warm colors and the soft organic patterns of flesh and body tissue. But never had I as close an encounter with the source of the imagery, nor had I seen photos of anything quite like the incredibly unique and rare procedure of separating two tiny conjoined bodies.

I stashed those photos for many months, looking at them occasionally while ruminating on the themes of life and loss, health and sickness, fragility and brutality that they suggested. It wasn’t until some health struggles of my own necessitated some frustrating forays into the modern medical system that the ideas crystalized and motivation appeared, and with a solo show at Last Rites Gallery in Manhattan approaching in the spring of 2012, I got to work.

Many of the surgery photos had an ambiguous quality that made them appear quite like mysterious snapshots of a strange and very serious, even frightening, ritual. I focused on these shots while culling down the imagery for my solo show, but never forgot one photo that was very unlike the others. Its stark brutality set it apart from those and made it too obvious for the intended ambiguity of the series, but its disorientingly grotesque beauty still haunted me, whispering a vague inspiration into my subconscious.

In this photograph, the disposed bodily artifacts from the surgery were arranged neatly like ornaments on a cloth-lined tray for scientific appreciation, in the precise locations they would have inhabited had they been the constituents of a fully formed little boy’s body. Oddly distorted in shape and size by the parasitism, the tiny limbs–two legs, two arms, a chunk of torso with bulbous intestines splayed out–looked tragically angelic, heavy with dead weight yet still full of lively color and capillary blush.

That loving commemoration of a dismemberment spoke to me more as time went on. It seemed a succinct representation of what a technological society does to its citizens, all of us in some way or another, starting at birth and continuing well into adulthood. One by one, or all at once, our wild traits, impulses, and inconvenient feelings are intercepted, punished, shunned, contextualized, repressed and denied, severed and forced into an individual and collective shadow psyche. Whether done with good intentions or bad, for better or worse, the disassembling is the same. This living dissection is the process of enculturation and assimilation: the purpose of civilization.

The inescapable cultural phenomenon filters down into individual lives, in turn influencing what we do to each other in personal relationships. Friends, family, lovers alike are each cut up into traits, moods, and moments. We categorize these desirable and undesirable, rewarding the former in order to encourage more of them, punishing the latter in order to banish them from our experience. We do unto others as it’s being done to us; part instinct and part conditioning. We end up severed, ashamed of some parts of ourselves while clinging to others. And so most of us grow up with fragmented psyches craving wholeness, wanting instinctively to be put back together again in the compassionate embrace of person and deity alike.

How fitting, then, to use that image for a painting honoring the pariahs in our world, and in ourselves. I wanted to create a visual wish that those who’ve been eclipsed could wear that crescent ring of light as a halo. That the broken could be seen as beautiful in their imperfection. That the cast out, the unloved and unwanted, could all have their day of acceptance.

"Pariah" (detail)

“Pariah” (detail)

I like to paint what many people would deem ugly and shocking things because I believe the grotesque needs to be fully accepted, and even seen as beautiful, in order for inward and outward progression to occur. I believe that each and every aspect of reality has its own intrinsic value while also being a necessary part of a complete whole.

Although not obvious to anyone seeing the work, in “Pariah” I enjoy the contradiction between its subject matter and the feeling I had while painting it. In other words, the unity of dark and light that resulted from painting a child’s severed body parts while meditating on compassion and love. Like the unification of all dichotomies, I believe the intersection of brutality and empathy is a fruitful place. I wanted this painting to be my document of that, and, once the backstory is understood, a map of sorts for getting there.

“Flesh To Canvas” Group Show

FleshToCanvas_2015

I’ll have my recent painting Singularity for sale in Last Rites Gallery’s annual Flesh To Canvas group show next weekend at the Empire State Tattoo Expo in NYC, July 10-12. Please contact the gallery for inquiries on this piece or my other recent work currently in their inventory, Sacrament (Vanitas).

Singularity, oil on canvas, 18 x 20 inches, 2014-15

Singularity, oil on canvas, 18 x 20 inches, 2014-15

 

Sacrament (Vanitas), oil on panel, 16 x 20 in, 2014

Sacrament (Vanitas), oil on panel, 16 x 20 inches, 2014

The 13th Hour Group Show

This past month I’ve had the honor of my painting Sacrament (Vanitas) being on display at Last Rites Gallery in NYC, as part of their annual Halloween group show The 13th Hour.

Sacrament (Vanitas)

Sacrament (Vanitas), oil on panel, 16 x 20 inches, 2014

This year’s lineup of artists was exceptional, and I’m sad to not have been able to attend the opening reception last month. From what I saw in the online preview, the pieces in this show were top notch.

13thHour

 If you’re in the NYC area, you can check them all out in person until November 15th. My painting is for sale through the gallery until that date.

Painting Gallery Updates!

One of my smaller New Year’s resolutions was to update this website with all of the paintings I’ve done over the past two years. Well, I’m happy to say I can cross that task off the list, so please check out the new categories in the lefthand navigation column. The last time I’d added anything to the gallery pages was early in 2012 after finishing the first 10 paintings of my Apostasy series (exhibited at Last Rites Gallery that year).

Since then I’ve been blogging steadily about newer completed works, enjoying this venue as an opportunity to share progress photos, technical instruction, and to dive into the thought process and symbolism behind my paintings. I’ve fallen a bit behind on writing about some of my newer pieces in the midst of some distracting life events, and I may write more here about these paintings later on, but for now they’re all posted under the new 2013 category.

I also want to say THANK YOU to all the generous collectors who’ve bought paintings and prints over the past few months. I’ve had an extraordinary run of sales lately, selling out my aluminum print editions and parting ways with a handful of various smaller paintings completed in the last few years, placing them in collections here in America and around the world. I feel incredibly grateful for the financial support, and honored to have my creations appreciated by others…not to mention relieved to clear some much needed space on my crowded studio walls.

Of course, many of the paintings just posted in the galleries are still available (as well as various pieces from my last few series that have been posted for a while, Reclaiming and the aforementioned Apostasy), and are noted as such in the image details. Feel free to inquire if interested.

To end this on a more interesting note, here are some progress shots from a recently completed painting. I can’t post the finished piece in its entirety just yet, as it’s slated for exclusive release on a magazine cover later this year. But for now, enjoy this sneak peak into the process:

vanitasprogress2blog vanitasprogress3blog vanitasprogress6blog vanitasprogress8blog vanitasprogress9blog vanitasprogress10blog

The 13th Hour: Worlds Within

I’m honored to be part of two group shows this fall, one of which I announced previously, and now the 6th annual “The 13th Hour” Halloween show at Last Rites Gallery in NYC that opens tonight, October 26th. Here’s the press release from the gallery website, and here’s a link to the online preview.

The 13th Hour
6th Annual Group Exhibit

October 26 – December 7th

NEW YORK, NY (October 26th, 2013) – Last Rites Gallery opens its sixth annual The 13th Hour group exhibit, celebrating the spirit of the Halloween Season.

In its annual exhibit, Last Rites sets out to present a broad-spectrum representation of Dark Surrealism. Held days just before Halloween, the show is the gallery’s largest group exhibit, and features renowned artists from around the globe working in an array of mediums including painting, drawing and sculpture. From gothic elegance to finely crafted grotesquery, the beauty within the darkness is embraced and brought into the spotlight.

Artists include: Stefano Alcantara, Agostino Arrivabene, Tom Bagshaw, William Basso, Nick Baxter, Blood Milk, Matthew Bone, Scott G Brooks, Matt Buck, John Cebollero, David Choquette, Ryan Matthew Cohn, Jason Goldberg, Carl Grace, Fred Harper, Naoto Hattori, Stephanie Henderson, Jeremy Hush, Sarah Joncas, Jed Leiknes, Eli Livingston, Dave MacDowell, Chris Mars, Megan Massacre, Marco Mazzoni, Jim McKenzie, Vince Natale, Buddy Nestor, Richard J Oliver, Anthony Pontius, Michael Ramstead, David Richardson, Paul Romano, Matt Rota, Richard T Scott, David Stoupakis, Tin, Yosuke Ueno, Redd Walitzki, Jasmine Worth, Vincent Xeus, Kate Zambrano

 

13thHour2013_web

 

The image I painted for the show is a representation of the Many-Worlds Interpretation and “observer effect” phenomena involved in quantum physics research. It was actually inspired, of all things, by song lyrics from my favorite band and longtime artistic influence Catharsis, whose ultimate goal was total transformation of reality through armed resistance and revolutionary anarchist struggle. Their lyrics were oddly and perhaps unintentionally connected to the aforementioned theories in that they focused on the ability of the embattled individual to redefine themselves and change their very reality…to imagine a world of their own choosing, to believe in it wholeheartedly, and thus to fight for it passionately. Their song “Obsession” begins with the following lines:

To sow seeds in barren fields

When there’s no more fertile ground

To bear the fragile worlds within

Through the ruined one that surrounds

For many years these words have given me strength to be true to myself through hard times by holding fast to the inspired visions and emotions that populate my inner world, and working to manifest them in the outside world. They took on new significance after I started learning some of the basic concepts (very, very basic. haha) of quantum physics and became fascinated by the philosophy of metaphysics. The connection between the lyrics and these sciences is the tentative yet intriguing assertion that the world out there exists as it does only because my mind first creates it in here.

 

worlds within

Worlds Within, oil on panel, 16 x 20 inches, 2013

 

worlds within-detail

Worlds Within (detail)

 

Shenpa (Towards Healing)

My newest completed painting originated out of the photo shoots I conducted for my 2010 series Rebuilding.  The image of extracted hook with bloody gauze rag was leftover reference from that time, a powerful symbol I had always wanted to paint but ran out of time before the exhibition was to occur at Last Rites Gallery in February of 2010.

Searching for an idea to paint before embarking on a recent trip to New Mexico, I came across this reference photo and decided the time was finally right to complete the artistic thought.  New Mexico feels like a healing place to me; its nickname “the land of enchantment” rings true in the way my mind and emotions feel whenever I visit.  Happily, it turned out to be the perfect place to manifest this painting based on an ancient Tibetan teaching related to emotional and spiritual healing (especially having the good fortune of working on it while staying in my dream home!).

One of my favorite writers Pema Chodron has studied this teaching extensively, offering a very clear modern interpretation:

The usual translation of the word shenpa is attachment. If you were to look it up in a Tibetan dictionary, you would find that the definition was attachment. But the word “attachment” absolutely doesn’t get at what it is. Dzigar Kongtrul said not to use that translation because it’s incomplete, and it doesn’t touch the magnitude of shenpa and the effect that it has on us.

If I were translating shenpa it would be very hard to find a word, but I’m going to give you a few. One word might be hooked. How we get hooked.

Here is an everyday example of shenpa. Somebody says a mean word to you and then something in you tightens— that’s the shenpa. Then it starts to spiral into low self-esteem, or blaming them, or anger at them, denigrating yourself. And maybe if you have strong addictions, you just go right for your addiction to cover over the bad feeling that arose when that person said that mean word to you. This is a mean word that gets you, hooks you. Another mean word may not affect you but we’re talking about where it touches that sore place— that’s a shenpa. Someone criticizes you—they criticize your work, they criticize your appearance, they criticize your child— and, shenpa: almost co-arising.

That’s why I think this shenpa is really such a helpful teaching. It’s the tightening, it’s the urge… it’s this drive, too. This drive. It really shows you that you have lots of addictions, that we all have addictions. There’s this background static of slight unease, or maybe fidgetiness, or restlessness, or boredom. And so, we begin to use things to try to get some kind of relief from that unease.

Something like food, or alcohol, or drugs, or sex, or working, or shopping, or whatever we do, which, perhaps in moderation would be very delightful—like eating, enjoying your food. In fact, in moderation there’s this deep appreciation of the taste, of the good fortune to have this in your life. But these things become imbued with an addictive quality because we empower them with the idea that they will bring us comfort. They will remove this unease.

We never get at the root… . The root in this case is that we have to really experience unease. We have to experience the itch. We have to experience the shenpa and then not act it out.

[Chodron, Pema. “The Shenpa Syndrome: Learning To Stay.” Shambhala.org. Shambhala International, Sept. 2002. Web. 1 May 2013.]

shenpa hook

Shenpa (Towards Healing), oil on panel, 11 x 14 in, 2013

shenpa hook-detail

Shenpa (Towards Healing), detail

shenpa hook-stages

I managed to photograph the major developmental stages, though not always in the best light while traveling.

me painting

Painting in the inspirational interior of an Earthship.

Realism Techniques 6

After a few experimental forays I returned to the studio recently to continue work on The Apostasy series, which has been my major ongoing project for the past year.  Due to time and size constraints, only the first 10 paintings in this series debuted at Last Rites Gallery for my solo show in May and June.

I’m still very inspired by the themes and subject matter of these images, so it was great fun diving back in–I felt like I picked up right where I’d left off before my show.  The most recent painting I completed was a perfect example of the realism artist’s need to deviate from a strict reproduction of the reference material in order to maximize the intended symbolism or desired aesthetic qualities.

Using Reference Effectively

In this case, my reference image, which in itself had been highly manipulated from its original photographic state with Photoshop, featured a metallic instrument rather starkly silhouetted against a harshly lit background of tender skin.  I was faced with the artist’s “executive decision”: to ride the simple, graphic power of the flat black silhouette, or to increase the nuances of its surface texture in order to emphasize the effects of the hard light behind it.  Either choice works just as effectively within the overall composition, but caters ever so slightly to a different level of meaning within the piece. Power of steel instrument to manipulate the fleshly realm, or power of the light of truth usurping man and all his manipulative tools?

I chose the latter. So, this involved the invention of some extreme lighting effects on the surface of the instrument. These I hoped would more fully express the metallic nuances and form of this foreground object, as hard backlighting bends around it, creating a bit of a warm flare.  In general, I thought this increased action would add some more life to the piece. You can compare these deviation attempts in the provided sequence of photos, which starts with the specific area of my reference image, and ends with the corresponding section of the completed painting. (Image of the full painting coming soon…)

Intentionally painting the instrument too light at first allowed more control in creating subtle variations of lighting on the object.

Ultimately this entire issue is of minimal impact to the outcome of the entire image, and for those unfamiliar with the quirks of extreme realist painting, may seem like an exhaustingly trivial matter.  However, I enjoy it as yet another example of the myriad opportunities for creativity in a genre often mistakenly deemed uncreative.  Often, the creativity in ultra realistic styles simply operates at an unexpected and far subtler level than most viewers are trained to recognize.

Far from a mere copy-machine, the experienced realism painter works often with fully premeditated intention on every minuscule aspect of the painting, making a countless number of creative decisions and unique departures rarely noticed by the undiscerning eye. In fact, if the artist’ technical skill is strong enough, there’s no way that these aspects can be noticed. Like a magician, full acceptance by the audience signifies completion of the ultimate illusion.

In The Studio 1

I had these studio pictures laying around, so I figured I’d post them.  They’re from my recent series “The Apostasy” which is still on display for a very short time at Last Rites Gallery in NYC.  See the blog archive for previous posts about the series, and view it now in its entirety by navigating through the “2012” category to your left.

Thanks to the generous collectors who bought paintings!

“Baptised” in progress, with reference, November 2011.

“Baptised” palette madness.

Painting the final image of the series, “Communion” at the Paradise Artist Retreat in New Mexico, February 2012.

The Apostasy

The following text is an artist statement I wrote early this year to accompany my latest series of paintings, which opens tonight at Last Rites Gallery in Chelsea, NYC.

"Anointing"

I thought it wise to warn you, gracious reader, that the essay is intentionally provocative.  Generalizing statements are made with the intentions of eliciting the emotions contained in the work, as well as inciting critical thought and dialogue about its themes. 

It needs to be said that I don’t perceive all modern science and medicine as a negative force—on the contrary, there are a great many caring and compassionate doctors, surgeons and other practitioners trying to help people every day. In fact, in a tremendous twist of irony, the very hands I was fortunate enough to be able to portray in these paintings are those of a world-renowned surgeon performing a life-saving procedure.

But, that being said, the purpose of my art has always been “to confront the moral, religious, and aesthetic foundations of Western Civilization” (to borrow the recent words of photographer J.P. Witkin).  It is a shot aimed at the constructs and constraints of modern life that so many of us take for granted, a plea for deeper understanding, and an attempted progression towards vast new dimensions of awareness.

"Hand Of God"

The Apostasy

By Nick Baxter

A·pos·ta·sy  [uhpos-tuh-see], noun, a total desertion of or departure from one’s religion or faith.

These images represent an inquiry into the medicalization of modern society.  In our time, the specialized knowledge of an elite group has been canonized and made gospel, resulting in the learned helplessness of an increasingly ill populace. Surgeons and scientists alike have become the new priests of a material-industrial age, in which living organisms seem to be regarded as no more than an assemblage of mechanical parts.

Cultural edicts handed down have portrayed our bodies as flawed, as if still soiled by original sin and in need of salvation. So we prostrate before possessors of a seemingly divine knowledge, an authority built on the upturned ruins of the common sense that modern man has forgotten.  With nature gutted and wild instinct thwarted, a remaining paper-thin veil of scientific belief is all that divides story and reality. It is mere faith that separates benevolence from malevolence.

Shrouded in mystery, alien hands descend from the darkness. Otherworldly appendages of the vicars of the corporal levy power upon trembling flesh.  Sworn to heal, while possessing the means to harm, they are like iron fists in latex gloves.

Science is the new religion, Big Pharma is the church, the doctors are priests, pills our Holy Communion, and sickness is our only hope of salvation when diseases are dollar signs that fortify the edifice.

So this is my apostasy, my leap for sovereignty from the dungeon of a castle made of glass and steel sterility. A journey back towards wholeness in The Garden that made me. A breach of faith in hopes that I may rejoin the wild world and be healed in its immeasurable and immutable wisdom.

 

"The Reformation"

“We domesticated humans have lost our way.  We have misplaced ourselves outside of the ecosphere.  Like astronauts on a strange and foreign world, we have sought to create sterile bubbles of lifelessness in which to dwell, forgetting our interconnected, symbiotic reliance with all species of our planet’s life.  This symbiosis is the umbilicus that feeds us the nutrients of joy, fulfillment, and thriving longevity that are the gift freely given to all of the children of our Mother Earth. …. Our collective expression of health is but an expression of our relationship to the ecosphere, as we can never truly exist independently from it.”

—Daniel Vitalis

 

“Whatever medical science may profess, there is a difference between Life and survival. There is more to being alive than just having a heartbeat and brain activity. Being alive, really alive, is something much subtler and more magnificent. Their instruments measure blood pressure and temperature, but overlook joy, passion, love, all the things that make life really matter. To make our lives matter again, to really get the most out of them, we will have to redefine life itself. We have to dispense with their merely clinical definitions, in favor of ones which have more to do with what we actually feel.”

—CrimethInc. Ex-Worker’s Collective

 

“The human body is not a closed or static object, but an open, unfinished entity utterly entwined with the soils, waters, and winds that move through it—a wild creature whose life is contingent upon the multiple other lives that surround it, and the shifting flows that surge through it.”

—David Abram

 

“The word ‘health’ comes from the word ‘whole.’ In this holistic view, we can experience illness as an opportunity to generate spaces for transformation, create supportive rhythms and move towards balance.  Symptoms of illness, then, are not enemies but friendly movements that guide us again towards wholeness.  Healing involves re-balancing that which takes place in the spaces between formation and annihilation.”

“Illness should not be viewed as a curse, but as a challenge to the human spirit, a stepping stone in the process of soul evolution, a crack in the door that, when opened, reveals inspiring vistas of the mysterious workings of the universe.  The doctor can give potions and guidance, but each patient must make his or her own pilgrimage.”

—Thomas S. Cowan, MD

"Baptised"

Then, And Now 2

While looking through a file cabinet today I unearthed a relic from one of my more memorable childhood artistic phases, centered around a lively obsession with the comic book, cartoon, toy, and eventual movie franchise Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’m not sure how old I was when I produced this mess masterpiece, but thankfully my skills have developed since that time.

I often wonder, with no shortage of amusement, if the seed of my current deep appreciation for the Italian Renaissance masters was planted as a child by these cultural icons of my 80’s generation.

 

Leonardo

I find it fascinating, in hindsight, the attention I paid to more intricate anatomical details like veins, even at this young age...

The Apostasy

...considering how this focus has remained and evolved up to the present day.

Realism Techniques 2

After recently finishing my newest series of paintings for my show in May/June at Last Rites Gallery, I had a chance to revisit an experimental painting I’d started this past summer while attending a workshop by my friend Jeff Gogue, a phenomenal painter and tattoo artist in Grant’s Pass, OR.

To backtrack a bit: I convinced Jeff to lead a workshop for me in an attempt to break away from my well-worn habits and artistic routine.  I find the intentional abandonment of familiarity and comfort to be a crucial element of any learning process, and knowing that Jeff has a drastically different technical approach than I do, I knew I could round out my own knowledge and expertise by absorbing some of his.

Jeff and I in his studio.

This proved to be quite challenging and downright frustrating (perfect! or in the words of comedian Will Arnett, “that’s how you know it’s workinnng!”), as I grappled with my ingrained artistic tendencies. (Side note/Cliffhanger #1: I’m preparing a thorough explanation of this concept for a future blog post).  

I started a simple painting that week, abandoning myself to Jeff’s process, with no clear vision of what my end result would look like nor how I would get there. My stay in Oregon ended before I could see this painting through to its conclusion, and I quickly forgot all about it for months while keeping busy with other projects.

How it looked when I left oregon.

Fast forward to March, and here I am with a unique challenge of revisiting what I’d learned at the workshop in order to finish what I’d started several months prior.  I finally had a vision of where I wanted to take this piece, and I made the decision to adapt the foreign process I’d started the painting under, to my own familiar process for finishing pieces, creating an interesting synthesis of two peoples’ techniques and approaches.  A mental collaboration, with only one person executing the plan.

Here’s a step-by-step document of a portion of the painting, consisting of wafting tendrils of black smoke, being completed with my familiar glazing process.  Glazing over previously dried layers is the only way to build up smooth transparencies of color–perfect for the illusion of smoke. I’ll post the entire completed painting once it’s been properly photographed.

(Interesting side note/Cliffhanger #2: In deconstructing this process by studying the progress photos I’d taken, I realized a much more efficient method of layer buildup that I could have used, which I predict would also be conducive to even more realistic results. A compare and contrast to the 2 approaches will be the subject of a future Realism Techniques post.)

The smoke was completed in 5 stages, each a transparent glaze layer, consisting of a high alkyd-to-pigment ratio, applied over paint that had been allowed to dry completely.

Realism Techniques 1

This is the start of an occasional ongoing series on this blog where I’ll be discussing the process and techniques of sharp-focus realism oil painting.

Here’s the evolution of the painting I began at my parents’ house during a recent visit.  The phases of development you see here represent approximate divisions into layers, i.e. major progress stages of the painting (click on the image below to make it larger). In actuality, there were a few more partial layers and back-and-forth adjustments made to various areas of the piece which are not shown here, as they didn’t constitute major turning points.

Generally speaking, after the first two complete layers, it’s then possible to break off into intense development on one section of the piece if desired or needed, since at that point enough information has been recorded to establish a failsafe foundation upon which to build endless subtleties. I believe that the most convincing photorealist paintings cannot be achieved through anything other than this subtle progression of multiple layers.

This piece is part of a new series nearing completion, which will debut officially on May 26th at Last Rites Gallery in NYC.  More details of that show will be available in the coming months.

Hands painting stages

Value study, block-in, development of detail and form, final adjustments and refinement.

Begin Transmission

Welcome to my new fine arts website and blog.  Thanks for looking.

I hope to feature content related to my painting and creative process, as well as updates on shows, exhibitions, original works for sale or giclee limited editions.

Check back for behind-the-scenes updates on my current series of paintings, in progress, for an exhibition debuting May 26th, 2012 at Last Rites Gallery in NYC.