Saturday, August 20, 2016

New blog post about a new piece of work

Diorama 3-d stage set combining sculpture and printmaking


Over on my studio blog, I've just posted a piece with lots of photos, detailing some of the intricate work involved in making a new 3-d piece of work for my next exhibition: link here.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

New Vincent Van Gogh Site on Artsy

Jpeg image of Artsy.net Van Gogh page
Artsy's Vincent Van Gogh home page
It's just come to my attention that Artsy, the online resource for art collecting and art education, has a page/site devoted to Vincent Van Gogh. I spent a few minutes looking at it and clicking through on some of the links, and it seems to be a museum-quality presentation of the life and work of the great Dutch Post-Impressionist painter, and which includes a running summary of every art exhibition at any one time that contains works by Van Gogh.

Worth looking at it if you're a fan of Vincent Van Gogh's work (and let's face it, who isn't?).

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Painter William Eckhardt Kohler at Linda Warren Projects

Painter William Eckhardt Kohler contemplates his exhibition at Linda Warren Projects

William Eckhardt Kohler is a painter who lives in New York City, though he still retains a base in Chicago where he lived and worked for many years. I met up with him at Linda Warren Projects a few weeks ago, to talk about two shows that he has installed there (on display until August 13th 2016). One is a show that he curated himself, called New York; New Friends, and it comprises one of his own paintings in company with paintings and sculptures by artists from New York with whom he shares an affinity, not so much in the handling of the medium of paint, but in their dedication to its continued expressive possibilities.

Oil painting on linen by William Eckhardt Kohler at Linda Warren Projects
"Knock", oil on linen, 60" x 48", 2015
His particular mastery of oil paint on canvas is in full evidence in the gallery containing his own paintings. Collectively titled Alchemy+Elements, his paintings are typically four feet to six feet on their longest side, and work from the first lay-in up to the final overlaying of thicker forms in a classically structured surface, despite their semi-abstract content. Go in close, and you see thin washes of paint, then more solid brushwork, then impasto, then his second and third thoughts, with scrapings-off and addings-on, all coalescing in forms that hint at representational elements (doorways, ladders, boats, seascape) but which exist in a creatively tense space between pure enjoyment of the sensuality of oil paint and gestures in the direction of narrative meaning.

Oil painting by William Eckardt Kohler semi-abstract highly colored
"The Queen's Canopy", oil on linen, 36" x 48", 2016
We talked for more than an hour about these matters, and his habit of piling up forms in the centre of the picture, and his use of high-keyed colour and contrasting black. We spoke about the Chicago and New York art scenes, the future of the gallery system, and what artists learn as they grow older. It's a long-established facts that artists don't need to be personally all that interesting in order to produce good work. But in the case of Kohler, his paintings show a mixture of intellectual complexity and directness that happen to coincide with the man.

If you live in Chicago, you have just under two weeks to experience one part of this equation for yourself.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Motorized Art

Here are some things I've been assembling in my studio for a forthcoming exhibition: large scale (up to 6 feet high) and small scale models, some of which will have moving parts with the aid of tiny motors, wheels, and pulleys.

Large scale models of factories and machinery for exhibition

Small scale models of machines for exhibition

Motors and pulleys to animate models for exhibition

Monday, July 18, 2016

Another Monoprint Class

I taught a monoprint workshop at the Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago on Saturday, and as usual, the students all produced some nice looking work. Even for people who have done some form of printmaking before, they are always surprised and pleased when they pull the first print from the plexiglass plate and see the unique marks that they've made.

First up, a contact (or trace) monoprint, in two colours:

two colour contact monoprint

Then a blazing full colour additive monoprint:

full colour monoprint of flower

Now a ghost print (printed from the faint residue of ink left on the plexiglass plate after pulling the main print):

ghost monoprint of girl's head

Bravo, students!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Going through my CD collection

I have hundreds of CDs of "classical" music, arranged alphabetically by composer on shelves in the bedroom of the Chicago apartment. My wife suggests every now and then that we move the shelves somewhere else, so I occasionally come up with schemes to justify keeping them there. My latest one is playing every CD over the course of this year, all of them in the car, because:

a) I drive every day, and that's the best chance to listen to music;

b) The sound system in the car is amazingly good. (In fact, I think back to the first stereo that I bought from my pocket money, in the 1970s, and the better ones that I got in my twenties, and marvel at the fact that the sound in the Toyota Corolla is better than they ever were).

Note that I put the word "classical" between inverted commas. It's not a term that I particularly like, as it comes with so many assumptions, particularly from people who say they don't like that kind of music. But whatever we call it (I prefer a term used by a musician friend of mine, "written-down music"), that's almost the only thing I listen to.

First observation: going through the collection alphabetically only lasted through the B's. After listening to Bach for several weeks, jumping straight to Beethoven was a profound shock to the ears. I love both composers about equally, and it was certainly interesting to realise once again just how different Beethoven's music is to the Baroque forms of Bach's music. But I decided to switch tack, and listen to the music in historical sequence.


It's good to hear music that I am familiar with, and it's better to listen to music that I haven't heard in a long while. One such is Bach's Musical Offering, which if memory serves me right can be played and recorded in varied ensembles, because Bach didn't specify the instruments in the score. The recording I have is scored for a wide ensemble of orchestral instruments, definitely not the stripped down version of the Original Instruments movement. It's similar in sound to the extract posted above. The chromatic tone row of the ricercar is endlessly absorbing, don't you think?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Water, water, everywhere ...

Last weekend, I taught a class about crafting blog content to eight participants at the Interlochen College of Creative Arts in northern Michigan. One of the participants, Brita, has spent much of the last couple of years sailing a 40 foot boat around the Caribbean. I gathered that her presence as a land-lubber at the class is only a temporary hiatus from sailing the high seas. Anyway, I asked people who took the class to send me links to any blog or blog posts they were willing to share, and Brita sent me this one, about a near miss at sea.

Hi definition photograph of moon over Caribbean and Tobago
Photo by Brita Siepker
The article also contains more photos similar to this gorgeous shot of a full moon near Tobago.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Student Images from my Acrylic Resist Etching Class

I recently finished teaching a five week course in acrylic resist etching. I and my six students explored how to make hard ground, soft ground, and dry point intaglio prints using non-toxic materials, such as floor polish for a hard ground, relief ink for soft ground, soy sauce for degreasing, soda ash for a stripping solution. Some of the students were experienced printmakers, some were first time etchers, and some were first time for both. Uniformly, they each produced some spectacular prints. They were honestly better than my first efforts using these new materials, partly as a result of my long trial-and-error research into this, but mainly because of their own willingness and talent.

Here are a few images from the class. First, a hard ground with chine colle:

nontoxic printmaking hard ground etching

A couple of hard ground images mixed with drypoint:

nontoxic printmaking drypoint intaglio

A softground etching:

nontoxic printmaking soft ground etching

A hard ground:

nontoxic printmaking copper plate etching

Finally, a hand-coloured hard ground etching:

nontoxic printmaking hard ground etching hand coloured

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