The Legend of Sekret

Oil and Modeling Paste on Canvas Over Board  2015  65 X 45 Inches

Oil and Modeling Paste on Canvas Over Board

2015

65 X 45 Inches

She blows the candle out and leaves you. Jasmine plumes fill the darkened space. She assumes her place, upon the ancient wall. Poised like a precious artifact in the depth of the pharaoh’s horde she cannot be awakened by your imperfect need. As you were dead she is alive.

She is Sekret, your guide through the darkness of time. You arise and walk. With arms outstretched your trembling palms move flatly across the wall feeling the freize carved from quarried stone in deep below the Pyramid, just a sightless man searching for antediluvian truth. You plainly remember it, as you floated behind; it was inscribed upon her limbs as she walked. You saw it in your unconscious mind, the map inscribed upon her legs showed the way, your passage through the underworld.... when you were together.


Now you move along the wall of the crypt. Your searching fingers find the edge of a baas relief, seeking the contours of her akimbo symmetric limbs. She is now but a lifeless form, a frieze yet you can sense her near, she will be forever your deepest yearning. Your weakened spirit is aroused despite passing a millennium without a heartbeat; the candle scent hangs in the air. The outlined dimension of her torso, bosom and face crystallize, manganese green blue and raw umber hallucinated in your darkened mind’s eye. You have begun to live. The meaning of your journey is slowly revealed by your hungry touch and fragmented priestly mind. Revealed upon her immobile limbs ,her Coptic whisper in your ear, from softened aloe lips and scented breath, while levitated behind her, subdued under centuries of sleep.

Your fingertips now decipher tiny brail eggs of the universe escaping from her womb, transforming into the family of man rising, sojourning up to the planets ,under the guidance of all seeing Hermes. His eye gazes down upon the western world with its primitive spires and geometry. The coming millennium will be theirs and you will preside. Teetering atop her tattooed knee Hermes illuminates the present as he gazes west. Yet the mocking dolphin nibbles at your outstretched hand. The Dolphin tending to lost celestial sailor's souls, it crests the apex of her other knee mocking the illusion of man’s supremacy.

Fauves

2012    60 x 43 x 5 Inches    Oil on Canvas Over Sculpted Foam    

2012

60 x 43 x 5 Inches

Oil on Canvas Over Sculpted Foam

 

I was indulging a universal and personal need in this picture. The caring, holding, embracing protecting nature of love. I want it for my children and wife, myself and everyone I have ever known. I opted for the colors of the forest and found myself creating a man who was built like a tree and a female that was as violet as a forest nymph. The way her left leg wraps around his one sturdy leg is my favorite part of the picture.

Copper Pages

Oil on Canvas  60X48 Inches

Oil on Canvas

60X48 Inches

‘Copper Pages’ was derived from a sketch of Magdalena reading a book while seated in a film directors chair. I re-drew the sketch on a canvas which I had adhered to a hardboard panel. It's surface was a thickly impasto’d sand applied with a large bakers palette knife with umber tones underneath. I was stilled by its appearance.So much so I left it was for several years. The panel haunted the corners of my studio, ever evoking my gaze over that period, provoking me all the while, I found myself conjuring poses.. . I like a surface to have an abstract appeal before a pose is introduced, the longer it remains the more invested my vision upon its surface. I like the picture to lead me forward as if it knows what it wants to be.This keeps me from insisting on my own preconceptions. I would compromise with what existed already and amend my pose to adapt to passages of hardened sand. The craggy surface had the arbitrary beauty of cracks in the sidewalk or an old Tuscan wall... When I set to work I did not use charcoal stick or pencil, rather I chose a thick round tortured old paint brush, I dipped it in thinned forest green oil paint; I sketched her on this canvas panel with that brush.A blunt tool allows ones primitive soul to arise. The surface was bumpy and deckled, the brush coursed over the milieu unpredictably allowing mostly accidents and invention ,only spare detail survived the original ‘seated girl sketch’ when complete. This was good. The balance of the work would be choosing which detail to elevate and carve in hard plaster shapes and then illuminate with the brilliant color . I craft painting surfaces in such a way;authenticity is reliant on the texture. (a copy machine can make a perfect reproduction of a dollar bill. It is the texture felt in your hand that testifies it’s genuine) This phenomena applies in the extreme in our epoch when all things are reproduced digitally.The striped blue pants are thick but smoothly modeled plaster and scored deeply with chisel and sanding wheel and then painted cerulean with lavender in the deep grooves. The red blouse has a ‘wet’ look to the paint emphasizing’ here and now’ . The chair elements stand up to an inch above the canvas, burnt orange which is closest in hue to the background sand. Primary colors are forward. Surface texture slows down the perceptual process- seems to allow a color or a shape to exist on their own, something luscious! A morsel food tasted alone, it reaches one’s taste bud before the rest of the sauce, not strictly as an element tamed in a composition.

Moonlight

Oil and Mixed Media on Panel  40X32 Inches

Oil and Mixed Media on Panel

40X32 Inches

A woman I know well was brushing her hair in reverse from the nap of her neck forward. She was cantilevered in such a way to allow her hair fall freely untangled.  Her long beautiful back possessed an accentuated and sturdy spine allowing a graceful arc to be possible. The knurls and irregularities in ones spine may not be thought of as conventionally beautiful. Within my aesthetic the skeletal understructure implies Dynamism.     Moonlight softly illuminating the viscera, the time of day suggests privacy and solitude. The picture locates her at a waterfall; I suppose I yearn for a time when the stream was not only a place to go for self maintenance but a place to see reflected ones soul.    My love’s hair was auburn at the time so in I felt justified pushing the muse’s hair all the way to red,. Once introduced I had to bounce the red quietly through the picture, even at midnight.   All the surfaces in the picture have three-dimensionality; the water falling vertically from the falls is thickly grooved and her body is contoured with palette knife in modeling paste creating a modest texture throughout until one discovers the stone upon which she sits is virtually real. A tromploiel surface painted upon sculpted hard foam. Something like a stage set boulder. The paintings mood and subject a touch prosaic, beg the romantic sensibility from the viewer. This in contrast to the discovery that the boulder protrudes unexpectedly 3 inches off the surface. Ive watched onlookers do a double take- at first not sure if it is protruding out or illustrated as such. The cracks and crevices are painted in detail and then ;”is it a real boulder ?”.Touching informs a counterfeit; an artistic illusion.  For me in that moment of perceptual confusion, a traditional ‘old fashion’ painting subject induces a post-modern quirk.

Madame Butterfly

41X 48 Inches    Oil and Mixed Media on Canvas Over Panel; R  esin & Objects     2015

41X 48 Inches

Oil and Mixed Media on Canvas Over Panel; Resin & Objects

2015

I wanted to create a picture of a woman floating in water with portions of her anatomy rising slightly above the water line. The ease of internal reflection is naturally enhanced for one floating in a pool. With eyes closed and blissful smile she would be satisfied with her self-awareness, of her perfect appearance, looking inward… slightly indifferent. It is essentially a dance pose sustained by floatation, accommodations made for the effect of buoyancy on flesh.

The shape that results when fingers touch toes, leaning backward struck me unexpectedly… as similar to a butterfly wing and she was already in flight.

The idea started as a sketch of course, white conte’ pencil on black paper then onto canvas. My hopes and anticipation grew exponentially. I imagined cobalt blue water deep below and fluctuating lighter cool hues on the surrounding surface. The pallet of cool ultramarine, Prussian and manganese blues, viridian and cadmium green would compliment the warm flesh tones, the mood of the picture was solidifying in my mind.. But as anticipation built I needed this picture to be more than oil on canvas.

One can paint the illusion of space or one can carve real space. I would do both simultaneously with Madame’ Butterfly. Since I was imagining water and figure very realistically and in detail, a shallow description of space and light no matter how perfect would not suffice. So I began devising another approach, which would more closely reproduce the appearance of a woman floating in water.

With palette knife in hand I began sculpting the figure up off the canvas by applying hard modeling paste (many layers alternated by sanding). This process required 10 months and a number of other paintings intervened, but I continued to observe, dream, plan and apply the marble dust/polymer paste, constantly sanding. I decided to immerse the figure in crystal clear casting resin, which would be poured directly over the painted and sculpted surface. Her shoulders chin, cheekbone, breasts and thighs would be above the water (resin) level, the balance of the figure below. Her alizarin crimson hair both on the surface and submerged.

It was spring in New York, and butterflies were flitting across my view while running Central Park, I had entirely new interest in them. I procured a species of red African Butterfly (ahhh the internet) that would strategically land in the water (resin) surrounding her(immersed in resin, permanently protected) .
The picture is framed in aluminum, which encloses the depth of the canvas and one-inch of clear casting resin.

Rapunzel

2013  Oil On Canvas  50 x 40 Inches

2013

Oil On Canvas

50 x 40 Inches

Have you ever listened to an accomplished Jazz or rock guitar player, strum upward then downward, each time slashing the 6 strings, sounding a different singular chord-note, together crafting a recognizable tune? A brushy, painterly, pleasantly inexact way to evoke the melody. This approach exists in contrast to the conventional guitar technique; one hand plucking out the melody on a sequence of individual strings, while the other hand depresses a corresponding location on the string along the fret board….all very precise.

In applying the manganese blue paint over the limbs and torso of “Rapunzel”, I chose a 6-inch wide wall painters brush, pre-stiffened slightly with dried gum Arabic (not supple and soft as normal). The brush hairs gathered in small separate clumps. More like a rake than a brush. My intent; engage the hairs on the brush as if strumming the guitar. I liquefied the oil paint and dipped the brush in blue, not fully saturating the hairs, better for allowing each pointed clump to inscribe a separate line. When dragging it across the canvas surface, it trailed a wide pattern of lines, as if scratched imprecisely but intentionally in place.

Although eager, before leaping in with wetted brush, I calculated … planning the course of each brush stroke, seeing the result in my minds eye beforehand, each long stroke intended to describe the cylindrical roundness and length of the limb (or other anatomical parts). Segway them seamlessly to one another and prickle the nervous system with the single delicious color and texture simultaneously. I wanted to keep the brushstrokes slightly autonomous from each other, careful not muddle them, each a considered part of an overall visual design at a glance. A woman’s shape slowly emerging, like the guitarist gradually assembling the notes a love song for our ears, allowing it to arise unhurriedly...For this approach to succeed it would need the color to snap, glimpsing the violet compliment underneath and through the wide light blue brush-strokes, between the lines left by stiff hairs of the brushy effect. The flat violet was painted under the manganese blue, as its ground.

Painting a body in a single color is not unlike playing or “covering” a recognizable tune on a single musical instrument. We all know the pose, we know what shapes the human body can assume, there are few surprises. Same as we know the old tune being played. The thrill is in how the archetype is delivered differently…one more time, with new poetics. Every element in the picture needs to support the blue, thus the “Rapunzel” metaphor. The rocks and crevices in background where Rapunzel clings,can be understood as abstract shapes, variations of raw and burnt umber light & dark, blended with enough ultramarine into them, to visually function as neutral.

And…this is not the first time a picture of mine has been rescued by the infinite possibilities allowed by a woman’s hair color, length or style. In “Rapunzel” her yellow hair flows through picture like a river of gold, as much an abstract component as a real one. Justifiably dominant, the downward cascading stream of yellow defines the legendary ladder to Rapunzel’s suitor and her imprimatur in the lore of love.

 

Three Stones

50x40 Inches  Oil, Flash on Canvas  2016   

50x40 Inches

Oil, Flash on Canvas

2016

 

The muse finds herself moonlit and alone, a private moment bathing near the waterfall. The pose was created without a model, allowing some distortion and elongation close enough to nature to feel real yet freehand. I first painted umber rocks, Prussian blue water and ultramarine sky, in the middle and background quietly as possible inducing a nocturnal mood. These were executed in modest detail and in subdued values awaiting a figure. When the moment arrived have her enter the stream, I mixed a deep burgundy thick oil, and added brilliant red high lights last to stand up to the blue and green behind.

Magdalena Del Sol

50x40 Inches  Oil, Flash on Canvas  2016   

50x40 Inches

Oil, Flash on Canvas

2016

 

I hope to always invent a new background in every picture I paint. I search the environments I inhabit and also the horde of my imagination for new approach. The background is definitely abstract but the feel of palm fronds arose. I continued the tropical feel with a lively pallet and finally her sombrero. The jutting shape of the legs and hat and the distortion of the upper torso allowed the darker background to work through the figure supporting the brilliant hues I chose. Each color of the 3 colors of her limbs has a complimentary color just applied underneath it. The scumbled, slightly brushy paint application allows the under-painting let the rich color on top vibrate …just a bit.

Sunflower

60 x 44 Inches  2015  Oil On Canvas

60 x 44 Inches

2015

Oil On Canvas

I feel the best poses of women occur, when the painting’s subject is engaged in an unguarded and practical act. A simple gesture may be perceived as provocative by onlookers, but innocent and unconscious unto themselves. Whether combing hair, drumming fingers, adjusting a garment, it is the viewer who re-contextualizes her natural composure with her/his own emotional response, based on their own needs. The founding gesture of this picture; a woman lifting her skirt slightly to avoid entanglement with flowers, as the path she walks narrows. The result exposes her legs and the subsequent repore’ with sunflowers awakened by her passing.

The painting evolved in the coldest week of early 2016, in my basement studio in New York City, a work of memory and longing.

Memory: having spent six weeks in Tuscany several years before, sketching a fifteenth century Tuscan village built around an Etruscan ruin, Castigliocello d’Trinoro. The fields of Tuscany were awash in sunflowers at the time. They yielded a compelling tapestry of cadmium yellow and terra Verde’ that begins at ones feet and expands to the horizon. I was stilled by a prosaic awe of timeless beauty, returning every summer...

Longing: on a dark cold day of the winter, came this painting’s inception. I wished to return to incandescent Tuscany again. The painting would succeed or fail depending on the outcome of crafting a tricky comportment; a body walking directly toward the viewer. Profile is the most efficient way of portraying movement, a frontal elevation is risky. To be in the presence of this picture one becomes aware of her self-reflective facial expression, her mood is clearly internalized, a cautious gait, expresses protective regard for the flowers she grazes. On the other hand the flowers in the foreground, can hardly contain their excitement. They exhibit wild variation in personality, structure and hues of yellow. My intent was to inject animus into each flower. They express exaltation, surprise or reluctance to let her escape, their singular encounter with a beautiful woman.

The perceptual difference of being close-up to nature, a single flower, or far away, the vast background expanse, required gradual miniaturization of flower detail. The sunflowers are full scale near viewer, reduced through the middle ground and a fine micro pattern as the field reaches the horizon…. and unto the sky. In the foreground, the texture of the oil paint varies greatly from her smooth skin and garment compared to the rendering of each flower. Her creamy complexion is intended as contrast to the thick, sculpted pedals of yellow on each flower. Some pedals are built-up ½ inch thick of oil paint, those in the background very thin. The underbrush and leaves give a sense realistic negative space and an means for the yellow to be held down by earth tones. Each flower is poised at different angles to the woman, to one another and the viewer. I wanted to portray a separate spiritual life in each of them, a moment to express a unique reaction to her, via posturing. Her smooth skin and lovely pallor were achieved by painting skin tones first in grey values over a finely sanded ground of modeling paste and later in color. When applying color I detailed her skin tones as if applying make-up to ones face and finally eye lashes rendered with a single haired brush.

Passing Ships

2016    50 x 40 Inches    Oil On Canvas

2016

50 x 40 Inches

Oil On Canvas

He stayed true to his own mind, that of a of a16 year old boy, who roamed spotlit halls of limitless imagination. Apparently a self-contained museum of wonder was placed on his shoulders at birth. He yearned to witness the northern lights; The Aurora Borealis.

A night sky would be required. He brushed a pure Ultramarine hue into cobalt violet, gradually blending, as it lowered to the horizon. There it would meet and contrast with the Prussian blue-green sea.

The painting is laid flat on the table now, he works rapidly with arms outstretched moving them back and forth quickly, blending opposite hues of mat tempera, that dry fast. He chose the tempera over his cherished oil, wanting to make a discernable phenomenological leap into an altogether different material affect. It would be required for his senses to feel the glint of magnetic ether in space. Every picture contained an experiment. He sought to invent a way to illustrate the magnetic color prism of the upper atmosphere. It becomes visible to the naked eye, near the pole, under perfect circumstances.

He determined French pastel, crushed fine ,then carefully rubbed gently over the weave of canvas, would cling to the ultra-matt dry tempera in an unusual way, like tiny particles of light, it might have the feel of star -stuff. He would need to be accurate and get it right first attempt, as the fine powder of pastel, ground down in his mortar and pistol, would stain the dry tempera irreversibly.

The powdery design quickly filled the deep hues of heaven…he exhaled. Not quite elated, liking the lime passages feeling of magnetic light. The use of raw dry pastel pigment conveyed the appearance of photons to his minds eye, something oil paint could not do. Yet something ,a possibility persisted…

Unexpectedly, the obvious occurred to him, the sea would mirror, the sky and its iridescent design. Lime-green on the water might feel redundant, its retinal function is cold yellow to some and too much yellow rules a painting harshly. Like in math or physics equation, an artist can reverse polarity seeking color escape. He reversed the lime to brilliant pink, stationed diametrically across an art students color wheel; a color compliment.

Could any color phenomena be unnatural under the Northern Light? There was inherent latitude now, when natural phenomena exceeds that of art. Color expressivity would seize awaiting opportunity. The Aurora Borealis in the sky could be a seductive abstract color painting alone,without a horizon or witness to provide a time and space reference.

As he sat and stared into the expanse of electric sky and sea on his canvas, heimagined the three masts of a pirate ship, lumbering out of the mist. On a fleeting whim, he sketched it in charcoal and poised its heading away from the middle ground ,softly floating into the color abyss.

The picture now referenced another epoch in the background, the foreground begged for a dynamic presence that would suggest present time.A temporal discontinuity suggested a dream state to him, which matched his inner needs, create an alternate reality inside each painting. A place for audience and artist escape to and meet. The foreground figure could be a dream she would need to be sculptural and in profile with only essential detail; an idyllic female form. She would be painted in thick shiny oil, seducing the viewers senses with texture as well as color. A material contrast between the dull perfectly smooth mat finish of the background tempera versus the rich luster of oil paint, applied thickly with a palette knife. 

After You Left

OIL ON CANVAS     2015    46X50 Inches

OIL ON CANVAS

2015

46X50 Inches

When I first saw this picture in my mind. It was a dimly lit room with woman on a bed; head hung back, knees and elbows up barely catching light, not unlike a mountain range in moonlight. A shadowy doorway, containing a dark human shape, stood across the room opposite her supine pose. There would be a corner in the room, deep in shadow vaguely defined, possibly the outline of a dark window shape in the wall. The outline of a figure standing in the doorway, introduces the unknown. Friend or foe, was it leaving, arriving or watching? I contemplated a light source too, a bare bulb overhead or a candle. As I sketched then charcoaled and brushed in deep hues of oil paint, the bed woman and atmosphere, I was thinking continually about the expression on her face. I warned myself that in addition to it being telling, the expression would be upside-down…very difficult. It would inform the viewer ultimately, as to her existential state. Yes, body language is powerful, but also open to interpretation. A facial expression tends to be a universal language. Her face would be closest to the viewer, I became aware it could make or break the picture.</h6>

So…determining her internal feelings would really have to precede everything else. Not that I painted her face first, actually came last. But I needed to know; for her, the viewer and myself. Was she alone, abandoned, afraid, needy, an exhibit, anticipating human contact or simply contemplatively resting, internalizing?

A facial expression, which forms as a result of Internalizing, could be subtler without an observer present, if alone she is not projecting her feelings to another person. They would simply be the result of her internal mood.

I felt the latter was more realistic and honest, it appealed to me. This allowed me to eliminate the doorway and the entity within it, hence the tittle: After You Left. With the door gone, the windows and corners were pointless and would only suggestively duplicate the rectangle of the bed and reduce the drama. The bed has many associations all of which were in-bounds. Mostly provided comfort and contrast. The encircling bed sheet folds surrounding her, give emphasis to the weight of her human form.

With the room nixed, the setting existed in a detached space and time of pure mood. This became an opportunity to increase atmosphere at the periphery allowing my brush to leap in, creating a non-objective painterly lens at the edges of the canvas.

FLIRTY

OIL ON CANVAS  50X40 INCHES

OIL ON CANVAS

50X40 INCHES

The sketch for ‘Girl Eating Grapes’ was made quickly while seated at the bar at the “Odeon” restaurant in Tribecca NYC.  Capturing the twist of the torso and crossed legs the essence of the pose. A quick sketch in a public place is a bit like writing short hand. It is useless without a remembered a visual impression to consult later.The nuances and personal features which make this someone in particular were crafted later when applying color to canvas.The quilted banquet  red at the Odeon and so are the hi-lites of Helena’s hair and her accessories at that time.    When contemplating the look of the picture I wanted movement in the background as she would be motionless in foreground; I composed an atmosphere with a looping brushwork, summer greens and neutral hues to hold them down and compliment Helena’s auburn features and crimson bag. The ground under the back ground paint is a pebbly surface of sealed in sand .For me a painting without texture is like food with out texture; taste may be there but  texture provides feel, makes it real. Ultimately the lavender which borders the blue within the torso and legs allows the violet/red vs. green compliment to have its effect without feeling to severe ;a three color composition.

Better Half

Oil On Panel  48X40 Inches

Oil On Panel

48X40 Inches

Its amazing the things you remember seeing your mother doing in the 1950’s.  Chain smoking Kent’s and Viceroy’s, chain drinking coca-colas, and ironing.   A child’s perspective is from 4 feet above the ground; I was looking up at her.    I came to understand it was more than removing wrinkles from her garments. It was her way of achieving a temporary perfection. She could control the way the world perceived her. It struck me in retrospect it was her internal way of world re-ordering the external. She had some doubts about her self while I had none about her, she was perfect. She was a self divided and she was preparing her better half.

Transients

Oil and Brass Relief on Canvas over Panel  58 x 43 Inches

Oil and Brass Relief on Canvas over Panel

58 x 43 Inches

In ‘Transients’ I returned to the same two lovers were who were pictured in “Heat Cannot be Separated from Fire”. In this setting cool water comes from above, in the other; heat and fire from below. The lovers here are in transit; an escape from an apocalypse or they are running from persecution in an epoch without love.

Heat Cannot be Separated from Fire nor Beauty from the Eternal

OIL AND MODELING PASTE ON CANVAS OVER PANEL &nbsp;  54X40 Inches

OIL AND MODELING PASTE ON CANVAS OVER PANEL  

54X40 Inches

The sketch of this pose evolved whimsically, became a challenge, ultimately an obsession. The idea; two people entwined could stand on two feet, the other feet inwardly poised to one another-soul to soul. At first glance balance doubtful yet when struck the pose had surprising stability. The embrace was assumed by two women and I substituted the male anatomy.   Particular details lend underlying meaning. Her gaze is downward somewhat concerned about the crisis at hand; pointing at smoking rocks which form a concentric circle enclosing them. His gaze is upward unconcerned with heat smoke and fire rising from  the rocks. He is looking for acknowledgment, watching for transcendent sign that the ritual enactment is acceptable and self sacrifice averted. Another reversal; his features are Caucasian but skin pallor dark. Her features are African but skin tone light. The conditions described in the picture are voluntary yet threatening, often the parameters of love.  I had just returned from working in Tuscany for six weeks and was deeply inspired by the land where neo-classicism thrived and the poetic truth of Dante’ hangs in the air.    In this picture and the one that follows” Transients “reflect a short return to a neoclassic aesthetic which always lies just below the surface in my tableau. The figures are sculpted relief. Their surfaces rise an inch above the canvas and are formed from sanded modeling paste made from marble dust mixed with polymer Re-sanded and recoated numerous times and then painted in oil later.