Small Paintings in Studio 3/7/18

In the Studio
Since the beginning of January, I've been working on several small paintings, most of them 12" x 12". Above is a recent studio shot of works in progress. I plan to show some of these small paintings in a group show at Dolby Chadwick Gallery in December. Exact date TBA.

When I work on large works (48" x 48" and larger), I am immersed in that painting's mood and color palette for 4-8 weeks. In contrast, when working on 12" x 12" paintings, I work on three or four in a day, and I get to experiment with tone and feel from one painting to the next. I absolutely love the weeks I spend with all my large paintings (I am a distance swimmer, after all, and I know how to slip into a blissful state during a long haul), but I have to say, it also feels freeing to switch up my color palette during the course of the day.

Click here to see the contrasts in my first four paintings of 2018. 

Photo credit: Caitlin Ruby Miller

The New Print Website

Louise LeBourgeois, Point #432, oil on panel, 20" x 24", 2010
A little over a month ago, I launched my new print website through which collectors can purchase giclée prints of a selection of my paintings. I've been very pleased with the results, and especially delighted to connect with all kinds of people through this new endeavor---longtime friends as well as people who've just discovered my work through the new site.

The image above, Point #432, is loosely based on a photograph I took one ominous morning of my favorite place to swim in Chicago, the south side of Promontory Point. This painting is available as a print.

Chicago's winter is coming to an end and I'm itching to jump back into the lake, at that exact spot, around May 1. Oh, the water temperature will bite my fingers and toes, no doubt about it. But it'll be a quick dip with promise of more comfortable swims in the near future. 

Painting in the News!
In Particular, Amy Sherald's Portrait of Michelle Obama

Amy Sherald, "Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama", 2018

As a painter, I’m always thrilled when paintings make the national news and capture the public’s imagination. I’ve not yet seen the portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama in person, but I was riveted by the images, the news coverage, and the online discussion of their merits.

I am particularly mesmerized by Amy Sherald’s portrait of Michelle Obama. It’s a nuanced painting of both a particular person and the historic position she occupied as the first African-American First Lady. A frequent criticism is that it doesn’t look like her, but I would counter that Mrs. Obama has more complexity than we, the public, know about her, and that any effective portrait of a public figure negotiates the shifting roles of a person’s interior life and their public persona. I think Sherald's portrayal of these multiple facets is a success.
Here and here are essays that expanded my thinking about the painting.

Gertrude Abercrombie at the Elmhurst Art Museum

Gertrude Abercrombie, "The Door and the Rock", 1971
I saw the show “Gertrude Abercrombie: Portrait of the Artist as a Landscape” at the Elmhurst Art Museum. Abercrombie (1909-1977) was a Chicago painter whose spare imagery leans towards surrealism. I found in her work an intriguing mixture of gloom and razor sharp wit. Abercrombie lived her entire life from age seven in Hyde Park, the Chicago neighborhood where I lived from ages 14 to 26. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing oblique references in her work to a place we both knew well. There is plenty of open space and horizon in Abercrombie's work, yet these vast spaces also feel gritty and claustrophobic. This, combined with her often dark color palette, reminds me of how a Chicago winter can begin to feel in mid-February.

There's not a lot written about Abercrombie, but a recently published book, Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists by Donna Seaman, has an informative 66 page chapter on her life. 

The show will be traveling to the Illinois State Museum from March 23 to June 15, 2018.