I felt the need to re-establish my relationship with color... once again... not sure how many times I've questioned my use of it. What I end up doing, and I guess this is, in a way, a natural solution (hopefully not overly predictable) is that I paint monochromatic images. I love form... I've always thought that the one thing that interests me above all in painting is form. The ability to convey solidity, even if it's solidity as part of a dense atmosphere, just fascinates me. And form, fortunately for me, is something that does not depend on color.

So these are a couple of paintings that are just an attempt to understand blues in relation to earthy grays. The first is a portarit of  Freud... I know... painting Freud sounds like a bad idea, almost campy, but I had to do it... a mini homage if you will. Plus I was looking at Giacometti so inevitably he got into my head too...

And the second is a portrait of my mom... I like this one. I actually feel she's in there. Kind of fragile, somewhat broken, but manages to keep it all together... a wonderful woman.



I've been feeling somewhat dissatisfied with my paintings as of late... I feel that I've become a bit too aware of how I approach my work, and it has become a static matter of me sitting down and painting what is effective. And by effective I mean something that I've noticed works in my previous paintings. I feel that if I don't do something about it, my work is going to be redundant and worst of all, predictable. And if there's one thing that I do NOT enjoy in painting is repetitiveness. I understand that the solidity of one's vision comes from uniformity, but too much work, solely solving the same problems over and over again goes from consistency to tedium.

Now, some may argue that repetition and constancy are essential to developing one's work, and it is only thru thorough exploration that one may understand the parameters in which one's work unfolds, but I feel (and I'm strictly speaking for myself), that while iteration may further understanding, it may also hinder risk-taking.

One thing I find myself repeating to my students, and ironically it is the one thing that a student of mine recently suggested to me, is that to develop one's work one should be honest. Now, when I say it to my student's I can understand why I say it and why whatever I saw in their work prompted to state such an ambiguous suggestion. But when someone recommended such a cryptic endeavor, because lets face it, it is horribly cryptic, I was caught off guard.

In a sense, I feel comfortable when I have to design a painting. Organizing all the formal elements that make up a picture is, I believe, not that problematic. But when someone thought that my work was not being sincere... well that kind of kicked me in the nuts... What the hell does it mean that an image lacks honesty??? Quite frankly, that's a really hard question to answer. I think I understand what it means when an image feels foreign... like it's borrowing from others experiences. And I guess, that is what's key - experiences. We can only paint what we know. We may be stimulated by other images, we may savior the fact that these other images may arouse or challenge us, but we have to accept the fact that we can only do what we know.

I think excitement sometimes takes a hold of us. Excitement that makes us believe that alien experiences are our own. But I think the answer, my answer, is to go back to basics, to reflect upon the simplest things, and more importantly, to solve them in a simple manner. Because in art, at least in my eyes, as complex as a painting may be, it's essence should be simple.

Honesty is horribly humbling.

(Glenn Ligon image btw...)



Here's an update on a few of the paintings I had previously shown. Props to my students who helped me in turning a nice but comfortably safe grey painting into a more exciting grey-pink one. It's funny how I try and teach them to be fearless and sometimes I'm apprehensive with my own work . Thank god I have them around to prevent my brain from becoming stagnant.


Grey Hare

This was initially going to be an underpainting... and for some reason it just begged to be kept as a grey painting. I was a bit unsure of what was going to happen with the color, so I'm glad I kind of acknowledged that the image was working as a grisaille. It's not a Black and White painting, but a Grey painting... I'm not sure if that makes sense, but it kind of does in my head. 

Not done yet, but very happy with the results so far... (sorry about the glare... but it's a WIP)

Her Bunnies and Hares

(Bunnies are obvious reference to Cecily Brown... love her.)


Figuring things out

I've said it before... At the very core, I'm an illustrator. For some reason I feel illustrators, who even though sometimes work within very strict parameters, are capable of portraying the way they look at the world in a more direct, sensitive and poignant manner. In my head (lets not forget that I'm in no way stating absolute truths) illustrations are about the immediacy of how images are digested. I can tell in a split second if I'm attracted to an image or not.

Whenever I'm working on something that has to do with gallery clients, it's clear that the painting has a very specific commercial objective. I have to work within the visual "rules" that I've created for myself that have, in turn, generated a market. When people are interested in my work, they expect it to look a certain way, to feel a certain way, to be consistent with other works that they felt were exemplary of what I can do. And to be honest, I'm fine working within those expectations, but sometimes, I feel I have to indulge on something I revel in.


And there's nothing that satisfies me more than putting the illustrator's hat on, and delve into acts solely dictated by whims. See, when I paint, I'm engaged in this serious act  where I question everything I do, where reason tries to dominate my decisions and I'm taken to a place where I usually learn a ton of things about myself, but where the painting process feels sluggishly laborious.

When I think about illustrating, I just paint and react to what I paint. It's quick paced, intense, and most importantly, fun. I looooovvveeee when painting is fun. It can be such a drag at times, that when you actually enjoy what you're doing, painting seems like the best thing on earth.

So, to make a long and somewhat existential story short, I've decided to let the world of illustration slowly creep in and infect my paintings.

These two are in different stages. The one with the chair, which is titled Rapunzel is done, although I have to put a matte varnish so it doesn't glare ( I HATE glare), and the one with my dad as a Frazetta tiger is finding its way...  Hope you guys like 'em.



Centipede (The Dickinson Girls)

Finally done with this one. It was one of those paintings that I thought would end up lacking something, but after finishing it I found it quite satisfying. It's one of those efforts that you can't truly judge until you consider it done. I was going for a sort of controlled collapsing of the stairs... They became the perfect pretext to talk about paint and edges. The more I paint the more I realize that these two aspects of painting are becoming more and more relevant to me.

The way an area of paint meets another area of paint. Ultimately, I think that's what all my paintings are about. One moment of painting leading me to another moment of painting, until the image reaches a sort of equilibrium. It's about to fall apart, but for some reason remains cohesive.

I guess I'm more concerned about decision making when painting. The way the surface tells the story of how an image was constructed. Good decisions, bad ones, attempts at correcting, strokes that were once totally off but later deemed perfect... I deeply enjoy watching a painting take shape. I even think I actually enjoy more looking at these painted decisions, than actually applying paint to try and describe something.

Anyways, hope you guys like it.

Centipede (The Dickinson Girls)
180 x120 cm


New year

First off, happy new year to everyone! I hope 2012 is full of opportunities that translate into hard work  for all of us. I've always said that a painter should be grateful if life has given him or her the chance to paint. Here's to life giving us chances...

This is a painting I just varnished today (matte varnish - wax, turps, damar). I have a couple of paintings that are also almost ready, so I'll keep you guys posted on the progress. Hope you guys like this one.

We too gave Schiele a handjob

(that's the title btw... if anyone was thinking wtf...)

Oh, and it's oil on jute (with a cotton canvas backing), in case you guys are wondering about the heavy weave...