| 11 November, 2012 12:34
This opening reception at the Front Street Gallery in Patterson, NY, had already been cancelled a week earlier because of Hurricane Sandy. In the week following we had another storm, a nor'easter that brought snow and, amidst the hurricane cleanup, gas rationing.
Not an ideal time to be trying to sell art, but I was heartily encouraged when, an hour into the reception a lovely collector couple from Danbury familiar with the gallery bought my largest painting. Special thanks to gallery owner/manager/photographer Jeremy Wolff for THAT connection. Anybody who can sell art in this climate and economy has my profound respect.
| 27 October, 2012 18:24
This is the sixth time that the Northport Arts Coalition has sponsored the Plein Air weekend but the first time that it's been held in the fall. Anthony Davis, the artist and prime mover of this event felt that some seasonal variety would be of interest to the astist, some of whom have come every year.
This was my fourth year participating and as always I had a great time painting, chatting with Northport residents and seeing what the other artists produced. Our work is on display tomorrow (Sunday) at the Lamantia Gallery on Main Street in Northport where there will be a silent auction.
| 26 October, 2012 19:08
A few of the 14 Paintings framed and awaiting transport up to the Front Street Gallery in Patterson, NY, for a two person show opening a week from tonight. The show features work by Lewis Folden and myself. The show is called Shadow and Surface. I'm pretty sure that I am shadow and Lew is surface. But it could be the other way around.
Lew's day job is that of a set designer for Broadway shows, particularly the traveling shows of some of the more successful productions of the last couple of decades. If Les Mis came to your city, then you saw his work. When we met in the spring at another show at Front Street he described some of the unusual production methods in set design, including using brooms as paint brushes. That's what I call working on a grand scale!
As for me, well, I'm a legend in my own mind.
| 14 October, 2012 17:47
Oil on a coarse Russian linen (called Odessa and available through ASW) that I am really starting to like. This is a scene I caught at dusk just up the street from Upstream Gallery in Dobbs Ferry in late spring. I liked the way the house and telephone pole poked just high enough to catch the ebbing light of sunset. It's 24 x 36 inches and it's going upstate to the Front Street Gallery in Patterson, NY, for a two-person show in November.
| 06 October, 2012 20:17
Big thanks again to Samantha, Kurt and the team at UGallery for another sale, this time of the above painting: Bear Mountain Boogie Woogie (36 x 40 inches, oil on linen, 2009) which sold to a collector in Westchester who has a thing for pine cones... sorta like yours truly.
That brings to eleven the number of paintings sold this year, four through UGallery which, ironically, is based in San Francisco.
Meanwhile I am looking forward to a two-person show at the Front Street Gallery in Patterson NY next month and a solo show next March at the Upstream Gallery in Dobbs Ferry.
And as if that weren't enough, I'm working on a private commission as well.
| 30 August, 2012 22:47
Quick sketches done on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. On a sunny day the steps are like bleachers in a ballpark, crowded with people enjoying the afternoon. Drawing them, even one or two at a time, is a challenge since, unlike artists' models, they might get up and move away without warning.
| 22 August, 2012 19:17
7.5 x 9.5 inches (irregular), magazine reproduction, various handmade papers, corrugated cardboard, tickets, string, buttons and oil paint.
I hadn't done collage in a long time but a visit to the paper department at New York Central Art Supply on Third Avenue just below 11th Street in Manhattan changed that. The white paper on the bottom layer is a handmade from St. Armand mill. The maroon on the left and the green on the right hand side are Thai Banana Kozo papers, so-named because they have "inclusions," raw bits of the plant in the paper fiber.
The paper department there is undoubtedly the most extensive in North America and perhaps the world. Exotic handmade papers from India, Nepal, Spain Africa, Indonesia. Their website says that they have over 3,000 different papers. But when I interviewed David Aldera who runs the department (I was writing a story on the place for the NY Times a couple of years ago) he said that number was outdated and that currently they had at least 6,000.
Collage is a nice alternative to painting and drawing and I suspect it sharpens one's instincts for serendpitous adaptation. I'm looking forward to doing more.
| 20 August, 2012 18:36
Yeah, that big cloud in the upper right corner just wasn't doing anything.Looked more like a big bite had been taken out of the painting.
What I enjoyed about this scene was that the shadows on the building had three different tints to them. The largest area, that of the side of the building closest to the viewer, has a warm reddish cast to it. The shady sides of the dormers have a bluish cast to them. And the shadows under the eaves at the front of the building have a warm yellow ochre cast to them. And yet they are all more or less the same tonality and represent the shadowed parts of the same white building.
I did have a lot of fun painting this one.
As to how successful I was, you can be the judge.
| 12 August, 2012 15:59
A new painting of the Transportation Depot in Douglas, Michigan, the little town where my family has spent summers for 80 years. Sometimes one of the tricky things for me at the beginning of a painting is deciding on the composition and the size of the canvas. The photo below shows my progression on this work in sketches on three canvases. In the first, at far left, I originally intended to paint most of the building including a roadside sign nearby. On the second canvas I zeroed in on the front of the building. But ultimately I decided I needed to do this on a larger canvas. The canvas on which I'm working now, far right and above, is 24 by 20 inches.
| 08 August, 2012 22:26
Horton Point Light, maybe if I can stop fiddling with it, is finished. Those rust stains under the platform were the last touch. OK. no more on this one. I promise.
| 06 August, 2012 20:30
This is a model on break at the Art Students League of New York, where I have worked as a monitor with James Lancel McElhinney for the last five years. Walnut ink drawn with a bamboo pen on handmade Indian rag paper 8.25 x 10.5 inches (irregular, as handmade paper tends to be.)
Available on Etsy. Search for my "store," vanbenth. An old rule of thumb used to hold that drawings should be priced at a tenth of what a painting would be and prints should be priced at a tenth of what drawings would be. Not sure that still holds.
| 05 August, 2012 19:24
Full disclosure: I started this painting three years ago after returning from a late spring stay on Little Cranberry Island. The town dock at Islesford has lots of these littel dinghies tied up, each waiting for the next trip out to the mooring. I liked the contrast of the brilliant yellow-orange plastic interior and the faded baby blue decking.
The painting moved along fairly well but after a week or so of intermittant work I got stuck. It was maybe three-quarters finished but had some unresolved aspects. So I put it aside.
Sometimes coming back to a piece like this after it has been leaning face to the wall for a while one can see it with fresh eyes. In this case it just took me about three years.
| 30 July, 2012 20:28
Here's another look at some progress (hopefully) on the Horton Point Light started a while ago. Still not finished but more work done on the clouds. Although I liked the raw energy of the first application there, They needed a brighter highlight.
Some more work done on the top of the tower itself. Sometimes artists just don't work logically and that is certainly the case here. A logical and more methodcial artist would have gone about putting a darker ceiling in on the underside of the roof earlier than I did. Oh well, live and learn. It is oil, after all, and can be painted over or wiped out.
Who was it that said, "Art is one brush stroke followed by a thousand corrections."
| 28 July, 2012 14:02
Above is my second attempt painting a green shingled house with awnings. I spotted it on Route 25a on the east end of Long Island. Few homes sport awnings in the summer anymore but they keep the sun out and the need for air conditioning reduced.
I still need to do some more glazing in the shadows but I am fairly happy with it.These awning paintings are part nostalgia, part abstract exploration. And if that isn't odd enough, the technique is traditional glazing in some places and part alla prima in others.
The first attempt was also, as far as I can remember, the first time I've attempted a square canvas.
I don't work on just one painting at a time. I have had as many as seven going at once but, in truth what that usually amounts to is that I have started seven paintings. Most of the time I'm working on two or three at a time.
Below is 30 x 30 inches. Above 30 x 20.
| 25 July, 2012 22:01
One's first clue that this is not an ordinary "how-to-draw-the-sphere-and-cube" book is its sub-title: "Lessons on the art of seeing." The premise is that drawing is not about recording what is there in some sort of sharp-focus, photographic faithfulness. Drawing is about recording what the artist found important when he or she saw what there was to see. A drawing is a map that records that visual exploration. Learning how to draw is really learning how to record accurately not what is there but what you see.
I will confess at the outset a bias: I have worked for the last five years as a monitor (a sort of teaching assistant) to the author of this book, James Lancel McElhinney. He's taught in many colleges and universities. Currently he teaches Foundation Drawing at Pratt as well as Life Drawing & Anatomy at the venerable Art Students League of New York. He can and has taught any number of other studio skills courses and he is one of the most formidably knowledgable working artists I have ever met. His grasp of art history surpasses that of many big-name artists working today.
The Art Students League, in particular, operates on some surprisingly anti-academic principles: There are no entrance requirements of any kind whatsoever. Students sign up for whatever classes they like, a month at a time, with the result that some sample quite a few classes in the course of a year while others settle in for literally years of work with a single instructor. All levels, from the roughest novice to the most accomplished, work side by side in the same room in a given class.
The school attracts a diverse but very committed student body, a great many of whom have already launched careers in fields tangential to fine art: layout, packaging design, art direction, fabic design and so on, and so on. What differs from class to class is how each instructor chooses to structure the study of art and its critiques.
This book is McElhinney's and the Art Students League's second to showcase a number of instructors under one cover. One has to imagine that pulling it together was like herding cats, each with his or her own immutable sense of direction.
The results are impressive and in every case instructive to us on many levels. Where we are in our own work and explorations at the point where we stop to look at what other explorations are being conducted will determine what we take from this book. But it's one to come back to again and again.
If you can't take a course with McElhinney or one of his colleagues at the ASL, this book is the next best thing. And if you can, this book is a great bonus.