Category Archives: Inside the Artist’s Studio

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Nick Marshall: Living with Photographs

Photo studio

Photo studio

Hi, my name is Nick Marshall. My work is currently on view in the exhibition Perception of Time at Main Street Arts. Here is a glimpse into my practice as an artist.

I grew up in Canton, Ohio. I received my B.F.A. from Columbus College of Art and Design and my M.F.A. from Rochester Institute of Technology. I have taught photography related courses at Alfred University, RIT, and Visual Studies Workshop. Since 2013, I have been the Manager of Exhibitions and Programs at George Eastman Museum.

There were three important experiences I had with art in my formative years that shaped my practice as an artist.

1) In high school I was introduced to Robert Rauschenberg’s work and it changed my understanding of what materials could be used. (Anything)

2) In grad school I unknowingly walked into a James Turrell installation at the Albright Knox Art Gallery and it altered my understanding of how art can be experienced. (Physical)

3) In 2009 I saw an exhibition of Paul Graham’s A Shimmer of Possibility and it changed my understanding of how photograph’s can shift perspective. (Time)

 

From Then Until Now (I), 2009, chromogenic development print, 24x18"

From Then Until Now (I), 2009, chromogenic development print, 24×18″

My first love was painting but in undergrad I gravitated toward photography. The process of being in the darkroom and the chance for the unknown was appealing to me. In grad school I became interested in the chemical and cultural histories of photography which lead to my work with vernacular imagery. My series From Then Until Now examined the snapshot as an object that “lives” with us. It’s bends, folds, and tears tell of a tactile history while it’s chemical properties are altered due to the conditions it’s exposed to.

I have continued these investigations into the amateur and consumer aspects of photography for the past 10 years.  I’m interested in the way we live with photographs — from shoeboxes and mass-produced picture frames to touch screens and Instagram. How does the way we interact with photographs affect our memory?

Future Nostalgia, 2018-2019, gelatin silver print, 14x11" (installation view)

Future Nostalgia, 2018-2019, gelatin silver print, 14×11″ (installation view)

Collecting is an important part of my practice. I have boxes full of thrift store picture frames, lottery tickets that have already been scratched off, dead pens, and hand-written driving directions. I’m perpetually drawn to discarded or obsolete objects that carry very little monetary value but have the potential to tell stories.

Found picture frame

Found picture frame

Insert Photo Here (I), 2014-ongoing, chromogenic development print, 24x18"

Insert Photo Here (I), 2014-ongoing, chromogenic development print, 24×18″

Insert Photo Here (II), 2014-ongoing, chromogenic development print, 24x18"

Insert Photo Here (IV), 2014-ongoing, chromogenic development print, 24×18″

My work has always heavily focused on material and the physicality of objects so once I am in my studio, it’s important to touch the things around me — to become familiar with them, put them next to other things, see how they interact, break them down or destroy them. What’s inside? What’s underneath? How is this used? How isn’t it used?

In the studio with Dale

In the studio with Dale (cat on chair)

Photoshop Tools (Eraser), 2018, inkjet print, 24x18"

Photoshop Tools (Eraser), 2018, inkjet print, 24×18″

Every day I am essentially surrounded by the history of photography while at work. I see this time as a part of my practice that informs and influences the projects I take on. For instance, after exhibiting Anna Atkins’s 19th century botanical studies, I started to think about what a contemporary study would look like.

Botanical Study (I), 2016, chromogenic development print with LED panel, 12x7"

Botanical Study (I), 2016, chromogenic development print with LED panel, 12×7″

Unintentionally, the flatbed scanner has become one of my favorite tools in the studio. I was drawn to it’s relationship to photograms and to its ability to alter perception through depth of field and surface.

Touching Photographs (III), 2018, acrylic face mounted chromogenic development print, 13x9"

Touching Photographs (III), 2018, acrylic face mounted chromogenic development print, 13×9″

I hope you have a chance to stop by the exhibition before it closes. My work from Touching Photographs and Future Nostalgia will be on view until February 15.

My new website will be published soon but until then you can find me at marshallnick on Instagram.


Nick Marshall is one of seven artists featured in the exhibition Perception of Time at Main Street Arts. The exhibition can be previewed on the gallery’s Artsy page. Perception of Time runs through February 15, 2019.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Carol Acquilano

Carol Acquilano painting on-site at Linwood Gardens in Pavillion, NY

Painting on-site at Linwood Gardens in Pavillion, NY

In this place I am witness to a succession of blossoming things, an orchestra that performs to the sun and the moon, to the wind and the bees. Rushing towards a full flowering or the stout skeletal remains, this is how painting days are at Linwood Gardens. Lee Gratwick is the master conductor and seemingly has arranged her plantings for artists to take in.

The gardens and grounds were first arranged over one hundred years ago and have been carefully tended. Their original structured design has relaxed into a casual and enchanting sequence of outdoor rooms. Every season brings about changes, pruning out and planting new. This evolution reveals the ephemeral nature of time and transformation.

"Summer Growth" watercolor on paper

“Summer Growth” watercolor on paper

The bounty of the garden offers endless subject matter. Plants offer such interesting compositions, and the peacefulness is just right for getting in the groove. Looks comfortable, but don’t be fooled. It’s typically extremely hot, and the bugs are everywhere.

My portable watercolor "studio" at Linwood

My portable watercolor “studio” at Linwood

I found an old golf cart and re-designed it for carting my materials around. The large wheels work great over uneven fields, brick and stone. I can roll my materials anywhere. Working on full sheets is liberating but the paper dries fast so my decisions are made quickly. I mix paint in large batches, using brushes and also pouring techniques.

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Smaller works are completed indoors where I can relax, without the busy bees buzzing, and hot sun glaring.


Carol Acquilano is one of seven artists featured in the exhibition Perception of Time at Main Street Arts. The exhibition can be previewed on the gallery’s Artsy page. Perception of Time runs through February 15, 2019.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jim Garmhausen: Processing The Artist’s Process

A few years ago I made a rather large shift in my artmaking process. I’ve been a working artist for the last 20 years, starting with cartooning, for weekly papers; then painting and drawing, on flat surfaces like canvas, wood, metal, and glass. Ultimately I’d work on walls, in the form of murals. As I progressed in my studio work, I began incorporating collage, using ephemera, vintage book pages, old wall paper and the like; and occasionally attached found objects, like a bottlecap, a flattened piece of metal, or a run of rusty nail heads, to whatever surface I was working on.

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A page from my weekly comic strip, “Dreamland,” from the early 2000s.

Looking back, I realize I was pushing the 2D form to its limit. At the time, I felt increasingly frustrated, even fed up, with my work. As a self-taught artist, I was keenly aware of my limitations, and although I pushed myself hard to improve, there was something about my work that had me feeling like I was falling short of my intentions.

My studio, until this past year, was located about ten miles outside of Ithaca, NY, where I live. A woodworker had bought a former chicken farm with a large barn for processing chickens, and a number of outbuildings. He renovated the barn, creating workspaces for artists, and set up his own woodshop at the ground floor level.

The amount of studio space I found myself with (about 1000 square feet) allowed me to work at a large scale, on rolls of paper and canvas dropcloths meant for housepainters. As a former cartoonist, used to confining my work to small boxes, this was liberating. The barn itself was full of treasures that deepened my interest in both vintage items and the esthetics of aged materials. It also put me in proximity to a host of woodcutting tools that fascinated and intimidated me, and so I avoided them for my first few years at the studio, until my interest overcame my fear.

I grew up around tools, in a sort of DIY, middle-income household. That was a time (not so long ago), when things were only thrown away when they could no longer be fixed. I wore hand-me-down clothes that my mother sewed patches on, and played with hand-me-down toys that my brothers had broken and repaired. This mentality extended to the house itself. My father was a capable, if unimaginative, carpenter. He had a Sears table-mounted saw he’d use for projects around the house. I remember the loud whir of the motor, and the high pitched whine of the blade, as he guided a piece of wood along the cut line, his fingers inches from the blur of sharktooth metal serrations. I’d wait, captivated and afraid, for the engine to cut down, and the blade to slow and finally stop, after each cut, and exhale only when his fingers were fully away from the saw.

Despite my interest in his skillset, my father chose not to pass it on to me. He made halfhearted attempts to include me (I could press the “on” button for the table saw) but never really followed through, with either instruction or encouragement. In retrospect it would have been a wonderful way to bond with a man I ended up hardly knowing. It could be that his intention, in not taking me under his wing, was to preserve that distance.

Anything my father did with me, when I was a kid, was halfhearted. We both loved baseball, for example, but he rarely got his own glove out. I don’t remember him showing up for my baseball games, or taking me to Cooperstown, which I would have loved to visit. I don’t think he disliked me. I think it’s possible he was afraid of me. I was a sensitive kid, aware and creative and emotional and easily hurt. Probably something like he was, when he was a kid. His father, an imperious, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps, self-made success, didn’t know what to do with him, and (according to my father) mercilessly drove him to be something he wasn’t. I think when my father was faced with the same dynamic, he shrunk from it. How could he teach me anything, without pushing me to be more of a “man” about it? That was something he didn’t want to face, in himself, or in me.

Whatever his intentions, I internalized his lack of interest in teaching me as an indication of my built-in unworthiness of that information. I was the sensitive kid in a closed-mouth family, who merited both special handling and extra concern. In short, my sensitivity, my lack of being a “typical” boy energetically, left me feeling damaged and inferior, and afraid to show my lack of “male” knowledge.

So, as an adult, when faced with questions about car repair, or carpentry, or some other technical issue, I found I could not admit that I had no idea. Rather, I’d scramble to find a way to cover up my lack of knowledge. I had a hidden, unexamined terror of being “found out:” I can’t fix cars, or roofs, or boilers, or lawnmower engines. Sadly, I realized I would never be that guy fixing the classic car on the driveway Saturday morning, with the wife inside making waffles for the kids. In fact, I turned out to be the guy inside making the waffles, while my (now ex) wife fixed whatever car we had.

Hitting a wall as a 2D artist coincided with working in a space loaded with both vintage materials (old windows and hardware and indecipherable machine parts and more) and tools intended for the express purpose of reshaping wood. It took a while, but I eventually worked up my courage to ask for access to the woodshop, and instruction in how to not lose any fingers. Though it was sometimes difficult for me, I learned to say “I have no idea,” and ask for help. The results were immediate and empowering.

For my first project in the woodshop, I gathered foot high sections of raw cut trunk wood. Using a reciprocating saw, I cut off edges and rounded the “top” as well as I could, until I had a sort of fat domed plug, sitting on a flat base. Which I further rounded and smoothed with an orbital sander. Once I had a relatively consistent surface, I used an electric woodcarving chisel to bring out details: eyes and mouth and teeth, cheekbones, and the parentheses of cheek muscles around the mouth. Nose and ears I left for the moment. Finding these forms in the wood, bringing them out, working and sanding them, was an epiphany. I found myself lost in the small repetitions of bringing out details.  I let the overall face and form appear organically, choosing to sketch out only the simplest indications before carving: where the eyes would be, what space they’d need, and the same with the mouth; where would the nose fit; and the placement of cheekbones, brows and forehead.

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“Rolling Smoker”

My carving method, right from the outset, was intuitive, similar to I how work in my sketchbooks. I start with eyes, usually, and fill in around them, letting the face take shape according to whatever my emotional/intuitive response indicates. Using this technique with wood was exhilarating. Finding a simple competency with tools furthered that feeling, and began to heal old wounds, even as, Gepetto-like, I brought new forms into being.

GIAF_Jack-The-Extractor

“Jack The Extractor”

Working intuitively, rather than from a blueprint, also meant problem solving: I don’t have the wood mass to carve a nose out of the initial block, so what do I do? Searching around for items that might serve: an old doorknob, a heavy bolt, smaller pieces of wood. In the process of looking, I might find other interesting objects that don’t quite fit the purpose, but call to be used anyway. A heavy rusted hook or eyebolt would present itself, ask to be included, and I’d search for ways to do so. Which opened my process up to greater incorporation of found objects. My age-old fascination with wheels led me to fix them to the base of the heads, creating ungainly rolling toy-like things. Later I’d create pull toys, a more stable kind of vehicle, tested by my son at multiple speeds.

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Two of the first pull toys I created.

Simple train cars of old barn wood and caster wheels served as display surfaces for smaller works, including porcelain head, soft-bodied dolls I created with the help of my mother in law’s sartorial skills, a first for me, in that I handed over the creation of a specific part of my pieces to someone else. My work was becoming more collaborative, more open. I wasn’t closed off in my studio all the time. People walking through the woodshop could see my process, give feedback, ask questions, or be asked questions, about tools, or potential solutions.

In short, I was alive with the process of coming up with ideas and bringing them into being. This new direction in my art brought in another great passion: collecting. I’ve always loved rummaging through antique, second-hand, and salvage stores. Now I had a reason (excuse) to do so: finding materials for art-making. Sometimes I’d look for a specific something to fill a need, like more caster wheels, or a small box to be used as a drawer in a cabinet. Or I’d find something that I simply loved the look of, that would be placed in my studio to provide inspiration.

Jim Garmhausen

Livery Cabinet, found object sculpture

The cabinets in this show, which I’ve written about on my website, came out of my fascination with old medicine cabinets, and my habit of collecting ornate, crumbling gilt frames. They also served as display cases for the many small kitsch items I collect. Art was no longer about making something to fit in a frame. It had jumped beyond that form, out of a specific discipline, and into something more like the messy coherence of life. I was, and am, thrilled.

The results, when introduced to the world, were immediate. My first 3D pieces were accepted into the Governor’s Island Art Fair, in NYC, and one was selected by uber-artist Greg “Craola” Simpkins to be shown in the Surreal Salon 9 exhibition at Baton Rouge Gallery. There was also a clear uptick in interest on social media. It was gratifying that this new path didn’t just feel good personally, but led to work that was well-received.

So what is my process? It’s hard to explain, as it varies from piece to piece. Usually it starts with free-sketching, in my sketchbooks. I draw whatever is asking to be drawn, that moment. I take different turns, when I’m stuck. Removing a body that does nothing for the head that sits on it, and replacing it with wheels, turning it into a bizarre vehicle or robotic/cyborgian rolling thing. My guiding principle is how it makes me feel. If it doesn’t make me smile, I’m not going to translate it in wood. I don’t worry too much about how it will be received. My in-process work often has the feel of an inside joke. I’m laughing, but I have no idea if anyone else will, ultimately. I find that keeping potential responses to my work out of my head and workspace is vital to creating something, well, vital.

Part of being an artist is facing the question: what does your work mean? The answers to that question, in conversations and interviews, in artist statements, and within myself, have changed as I’ve gotten older (in both time and life experience). I’m beginning to understand that my work (like any art) is self-exploration, and for me that means going back into my childhood, and family history, using forms and objects as archaelogical indicators. I’m piecing together the mystery of who I am. This is a lifelong process, which, of course, promises a lifetime of art-making. Passions always have roots. My passions for art, for history and collecting, for old toys, for vintage materials, for the visible effects of aging on items, all are based in deep, often unexplored parts of myself.

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A five car pull toy train.

It might be cliche-ish to say it, but my art really is about me, and my life. I sometimes feel like more of a medium than a creator, and the spirit I’m communicating with is my own. It’s a powerful process, and thankfully, a very enjoyable one. Life has intervened on my art career, recently. I’ve undergone a lot of changes. My father died, two years ago, and my mother has pancreatic cancer. I broke my wrist, limiting my ability to work. My 16 year old daughter moved out, after a blowup. I lost my studio. And, worst and hardest of all, my marriage ended suddenly, due to (this will take more explanation that I can offer here, but you’re welcome to visit my blog for the more complete story) my coming out as gay, which has of course led to seismic changes to my entire universe.

There has been little time, space or energy for art, but it is calling me again, more and more insistently. I’m interested to see what comes out, when I get back to work. Changes come in the slightest shades or the greatest shifts, and it is my job as an artist to guide rather than steer that process, and not to overly influence it with what I think I should be doing. Having the chance to examine the last few years of production is a bit like examining the rings on a tree stump, or the different shades of layers of rock on an eroding cliff face. It is a record of me, set down in ways that words cannot. And I’m looking forward to the next chapter.


Jim Garmhausen is one of seven artists featured in the exhibition Perception of Time at Main Street Arts. The exhibition can be previewed on the gallery’s Artsy page. Perception of Time runs through February 15, 2019.

 

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Kathleen Farrell

Kathleen Farrell at the opening reception of the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational

Kathleen Farrell at the opening reception of the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational

I love making art from discards, lost, recycled, unwanted things. I have been looking in other people’s trash for most of my life. I can go for hours, days, just looking for objects, in search of something that will later be worked into a painting or collage. I tuck them away when another idea takes over and revisit them looking for  just that piece for completion of a artwork.  If I like the look of something or it conjures up a memory or thought it goes into my stash bin for safekeeping. I work on my art whenever possible. I have many projects going at once always in search for that perfect discarded piece of wood or partial part of a toy that will take on another life.

Discarded book

Discarded book

I love to draw and do so every day. An activity that has remained constant since I was a child. I draw in meetings, at parties, poetry readings, listening to music in bars, while watching baseball, and especially at boring meetings. More or less working out ideas, frustrations or for pure comic relief. I work in small manageable formats whenever possible keeping several projects going at once. I prefer drawing my thoughts, rather than speaking my thoughts, whenever possible.

Me drawing with two hands

Me drawing with two hands

I can work almost anywhere that has a flat surface.  As a child I would get in trouble in school for drawing in my composition books, so I would take notes on the desk top and draw in an other book on my lap or in the compartment under the desktop. Being both righty and lefty (ambidextrous) this skill set has helped me throughout my life to cope with my need to draw. I attend the Rochester International Jazz Festival each summer and do drawings of musicians and concert goers. I draw a lot when waiting in lines.

I have numerous sketchbooks scattered everywhere. I will purchase various types of sketchbooks, chosen for shape and paper.  My favorite is the Moleskine Japanese book, as it has one continuous page that usually becomes a landscape of a sort. I participate each year in the Brooklyn Art Library sketchbook project.  I have eleven sketchbooks in their library. At first it was hard to give the books up, to not have them in my possession.  Now somehow knowing that my books can be viewed by visitors at the library in Williamsburg NY almost on a daily basis feels good to me.

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Discarded book drawing

I work with just about every drawing medium under the sun.  Markers and colored pencils are my favorite. I use gouache, watercolor, pen and ink and combined all that with collage materials.  Of late I have been using discarded library books. It pains be to see such nicely bound paper go in the trash. Lately, like drawing on bogus paper, I collage,draw and paint on that surface. I have a small studio in my basement with many  and various surfaces to work on.  I listen to all types of music while working out ideas.

Two-handed

Two-handed

I was born and raised in Rochester, New York. I love to travel to see new places and ideas.  I have worked at Monroe Community College since November 1986 as the Director of Monroe Community College’s Mercer Gallery which entails administering an arts program of gallery exhibitions, artists workshops, residencies and an artist lecture series. I am a full professor in the Visual and Performing Arts Department at MCC. I teach in both Commercial Illustration, and Graphic Design programs, and teach various other courses from time to time.  I love every aspect of my job.

I teach a sketchbook class that I developed with another colleague, Jason Smith, about 10 years ago. The course has developed into a very successful course that is offered each semester with two sections.  Many of the students are not visual artists, most are studying the sciences or engineering.  It is a great course that allows these students to relax, mediate and exercise their imagination on a daily basis.

Detail of drawing

Detail of drawing

I am the recipient of the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service, the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Scholarship and Creative Activities, the NISOD Excellence Award for Teaching, the John and Suzanne Roueche Award for Teaching and the Dr. Wesley T. Hanson Award for Teaching Excellence.

I surround myself with colleagues, friends, family, madmen and poets who do not judge and will nudge me when I fall asleep.

Video of Kathy Farrell, drawing with both hands!

Click to watch the video of me drawing with both hands!


Kathleen Farrell is one of six artists featured in the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s Artsy page. The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational runs through September 28, 2018.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Faithanne Carapella

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Teacher/Artist. Artist /Teacher.

I am an artist who teaches. Drawing and teaching are methods of informing  the manner in which I learn about my self, my environment. Teaching requires that you examine and pay attention to the world outside of yourself. Teaching clarifies your ideas and makes you examine what is not quite clear. Art pulls it all together.

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I grew up in Syracuse, NY. I believe that there is a  Central New York “look” that invades most of my work. I attended SUC Buffalo and received an MFA from Syracuse University.

I draw. I draw because I find making marks to be the most immediate, the most fluid, most adaptable process for how and what I see. The marks move from my heart to my eyes, to my brain to finally to my hand. I find that drawing can move from raw, emotional and straight from the gut sensation or it can clean up to become sleek refined and elegant observational recording.

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For me, drawing always starts from  sheer observation. While I see an initial image before I even begin a drawing, the time between the beginning and end of of drawing influences the final strokes. Things change. When I start a drawing, I think know where I am headed. I am sure that I am concentrating on a form or a tangle of positive and negative space. I am looking at light and dark. I am seeing texture. I am filled with concern about a natural phenomenon. But suddenly the drawing gains a life of its own. There is a constant conversation between me and the material and the idea. Sometimes the drawing and I fight and argue. And sometimes we co-exist peacefully. We work it out.

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Obviously, I am strongly influenced by my environment. I am always aware of both interior and exterior environments. My drawings are where I live and how I live and oh, I do live inside of these drawings. The elements and images and ideas are sometimes actual events. Sometimes they are metaphorical. There are great amounts of manipulation of idea and technique.  And then again, often an audience reads them as a totally different entity and that is good. Art tells stories that allows everyone to interpret as they need. My own internal and external landscapes drive what and how I draw.but I watch and try to interpret how others inhabit the same places. I see images in my head suddenly and without warning. They germinate and marinate over time. When they are ready to happen, they know.

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I usually have 4 or 5 drawings developing at the same time. Sometimes the work just needs the time to sit and figure itself  out. I simply lay down the marks that give voice and credence. All of the images. All the memory. All of the world. All of the daily observation. It is a tangle. It is my job to unravel and make sense of it all.

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While the technical part takes some time—the tiny marks, the light against the dark—the composition knows itself immediately. The drawings are never precious. I usually let them get a bit beat up I often just rip them up and reassemble. I make great mistakes and sometimes embrace those mistakes. Sometimes I do not. I add materials. I currently have a pile of smooth clean bark that I found in a pile in the woods.

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While I’m currently working on natural environments I’ve always been entranced by the all of the spaces that people inhabit. I’ve worked with interiors that include the artifacts that people leave behind. I watch the effect that they have on spaces.

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I was that kid that grew up on concrete sidewalks. I played kickball in the middle of the busy city streets under streetlights. I sat on the curbs and watched cars drive by and wondered where the people were coming from and going to. I wondered about the stories. I always found solace and comfort in the hidden quiet nature so often overlooked in urban areas. Weeds that survived the trauma of concrete. Branches bent by forces specific to cities. Insects. Weather patterns. Rocks. Seeds. I picked up acorns and beautiful chestnuts from old city trees. I carried them in in my pockets. Dandelions were as beautiful as the city park roses. Maybe more so. I loved the darkness and lightness of evening. Stars . Lightening bugs. I collected leaves and rocks. Dead insects. Bird nests. Bones. These objects were Talismans from nature. They were to pondered and studied for shape. Form. Color. All of the concepts that I eventually learned in school I learned on the streets. Two objects placed next to each other-appeared a certain way. When you rearrange the grouping the image and feel changed.

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I am currently working on this group of drawings that center on the trauma of our earth, I think I see it as a way of earth reacting to our brutal action. We overrun and abuse the earth. We leave our imprint. Wind/Air. Water. Fire .Ice. Stone. All alive .  Hurricanes. Rockslides. Fires. Tsunamis. Tornados. I just heard of the latest phenomena this morning. A fire tornado. It is tragic,but that will be a future drawing. The earth reacts to our presence and we are now watching the result.

Recently I stumbled across a house for sale. The setting  appeared to be pulled straight out of one of my old drawings. The house is made of logs and sits in the middle of a mishmash of old trees. The ancient land is covered with boulders and rocks and moss. A winding creek cuts through a deep ravine. The environment is full of shadow and light. Drawings will happen here.

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My one consistency is that I must draw everyday. It’s a habit. In my head I need to remember the eye/hand/brain connection. Observation. Correct drawing and then I can throw it away or tear it up. . Sometimes I simply throw washes down on big paper. Charcoal and ink seem to fit as natural mediums. They seem close to the earth for me. They connect.

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I find my drawings becoming more wild. More fragmented and more ragged. Less observational, more emotional. I look around and I start adding other materials. I watch them and suddenly I know a part of will happen on that page. And then I draw. And I will continue to draw.


Faithanne Carapella is one of six artists featured in the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s Artsy page. The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational runs through September 28, 2018.

 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Mandi Antonucci

I stumbled across a quote by Henry Adams a few weeks back that struck me as indicative to my approach to art making. Adams said, “Chaos was the law of nature; order was the dream of man.” This precarious point between the two extremes is where I like my work to dwell.  

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While I will occasionally work in ballpoint pen and oils, my true love is colored pencils. I love the range they provide from soft layered colors to sharp bold edges. I love the simple buttery depth they can create and the complex layers of color mixing they enable. I love that despite my years I have put into the medium, I still learn something new about them each time I draw, like an old friend divulging new secrets.

My greatest expense and favorite obsession is trying out different brands, and experimenting with using them together. My favorite combination is using the Caran d’Ache Luminance with the Prismacolor Premier. The Luminance can pack a punch with their ability to layer, maintain color integrity, and won’t wax bloom like the Prismacolors. Yet, the Prismas have such a wide range of colors and play very nicely with other brands.  

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I often start a piece without any clear direction. I’ll be intrigued with an object, the way someone is holding their hands, or a conversation, and I will start with a rough sketch, working my way slowly to the final product. I don’t necessarily have a clear concept of the symbolism in my work until I have put more hours into it, like it’s a new friend I’m getting to know.

I often like to work alongside my kids; they provide good company and funny title ideas.

I often like to work alongside my kids; they provide good company and funny title ideas.

Nearly all of my work deals with the contradictions found within the human condition. I strive to find meanings and marriage between the two opposing forces that push our physical and emotional boundaries from one extreme to the other. In the past, I have primarily worked with the human form in some way, creating a visual commentary on the precarious emotional space in which we sometimes dwell.

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See No Evil

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Flight Plan

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For the past few months I have been making a slight change of direction from mental space to physical space. I am interested in how we interact with the space in our homes; the ways in which we fill the space, the complicated relationship we may have with the objects we keep, and the ways in which our emotions and memories for a space can change due to the external forces that dwell within our walls.

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Beneath

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My work often includes patterns as both a stylistic and symbolic choice. Patterns can be both predictable and improbable, stable and changing. We search for patterns to make sense of the world around us, they allow us to make familiar predictions, and interpret the connectivity between points. Patterns can provide reassurance in unknown situations, yet they can also create confusion at their break down. This point between familiarity and confusion is where I like my work to inhabit.

You can follow my work on Instagram @skywardagain or on my website, mandiantonucci.com


Mandi Antonucci is one of six artists featured in the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s Artsy page. The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational runs through September 28, 2018.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Tricia Butski

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My studio is based in Buffalo, NY, where I am currently a resident artist at Buffalo Arts Studio. Though my recent work is primarily grounded in drawing, I was trained as a painter and graduated with my BFA in Drawing and Painting from SUNY Fredonia and my MFA from the University at Buffalo.

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Tricia’s studio space at Buffalo Arts Studio

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Tricia’s studio space at Buffalo Arts Studio

Through drawings rendered in charcoal and ink, my recent work examines issues related to memory by exploring its limitations and aestheticizing the instability inherent in portraiture. The work I create allows the viewer to enter the subconscious space between remembering and forgetting. The figures and faces, which have been distorted through a repetitive layering process, manipulate the viewers sense of familiarity. The original image becomes fragmented through this process, a conceptual procedure that corresponds to the experience of forgetting the semblance of the face, the body, and the subject.

'Eclipse' in progress

‘Eclipse’ in progress

The process of arriving at the reference image alternates between analogue and digital techniques. The raw, unaltered source photo is physically manipulated through an additive layering process. Films, ointments, and various substances are applied to the surface of the photograph, each layer removing it one step further from its origin. The image is re-photographed constantly throughout the process as a means of collecting information. Once this analogue process is complete, I continue augmenting and adjusting the images digitally, using layers to create a new level of distortion.

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The image is then rendered in charcoal and charcoal powder using a painterly technique at larger than life scale. During the drawing process, a final transformation emerges as I adjust and reinterpret the reference image. The final image can only be realized through the activity of drawing, which creates a third representation that is neither real nor imagined.

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The medium of charcoal serves as a material analog for impermanence, fragility, and malleability. Charcoal best articulates my thoughts about partiality, longing, preservation, reconstruction and deconstruction, not only for technical and aesthetic reasons, but because of its origin. As the residue of organic animal and vegetation substances, it speaks to the preservation and re-visitation of memory. The medium consists of dead matter that is condensed, preserved, and then reanimated through the drawing process. The dust can be reused over and over. Because it is an easily transferrable substance, the medium itself exerts a level of influence over the mark making process, an intention beyond the limits of my control.

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Through distortion and fragmentation, the figures take on a monstrous form. The familiarity of the face evokes comfort while simultaneously rousing a sense of distress. This creates an intermediary form that inhabits a space both real and imagined. The resulting image is neither entirely original nor fully invented, taking form as a realistic rendering of a fleeting moment. By challenging the boundaries between representation and abstraction, and questioning the relationship between fluctuation and constancy, the works become entangled and disordered, mirroring the viewer’s innate desire for clarity and their proclivity for drawing meaning out of partiality.

To view more of my work visit www.triciabutskiart.com or follow me on Instagram at @triciabutski.art.

 


Tricia Butski is one of six artists featured in the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s Artsy page. The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational runs through September 28, 2018.


 

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Colleen Buzzard

I’ve been making art since the 1980’s.  I began at Reed College in the ceramics studio in my spare time and eventually took some art courses at Boston University and Mass College of Art. When I moved to London, England I was making large scale ceramic installations but with the birth of my second child I made a sharp turn to drawing. I loved the immediacy of work on paper and a process that seemed to have a more direct connection to my thinking.

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One day walking into the studio I had the sensation of walking into my mind. That experience gave rise to a small immersive room I call the Language Lab. A collection of found objects, art works, and drawings create a mix of order and disorder, a place where I look for classification systems and explore the rules and rule-breaking that make language so malleable and expressive.

Language Lab detail

Language Lab detail

Language Lab detail

Language Lab detail

Thinking about language led to musings about how the mind works, about the nature of thinking itself. If we could visualize a train of thought, what would it look like?  Would it be an orderly pattern like a map or a series of tangles? As I worked on these questions by drawing on paper and walls, I felt an urgent need to bring my experiments off flat planes and into the architectural space of the studio. The mysterious threshold between 2D and 3D became an important and enduring focus in my work.

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I use a wide range of materials from ink and graphite to wire, tape, and steel wool. Where possible I like the supporting mechanisms for hanging the work to function also as part of the content of the pieces. Drawn lines morph into scaffolding and reach out toward us. I think of shadows, extant or drawn, as an important element (sometimes the major element) of many pieces. Drawing in space animates the work for me, making it responsive to changing light and air currents rather than capturing a frozen moment.

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While I work I often wonder what terms like “order,” “information,” and “random” really mean. It is surprising to me that systems are often a wild mix of order and disorder. It turns out that systems that lie on the edge between chaos and order are better able to incorporate diversity and evolve, and are therefore more robust.

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A touchstone for me is an artwork by Luis Camnitzer called “Two Parallel Lines 1976-2010.” The textual part begins with: “Two parallel lines. The materialization of an abstraction. Line covering the horizon. A shadow of the horizon. Fragment of the curvature of the Earth. Axis of a corner. Narrative…” and ends with: “The slices’s slice. The superstition of territory. Instant defining a victim. Victim. The beginning of a self-portrait.”  (The full text and images can be found here.)

Origin of Matter

Origin of Matter

I like to think of grids, as well as knots, tangles, and scribbles as both mental and physical architecture. In the study of knot theory mathematicians have uncovered clues to the nature of DNA folding and other complex phenomena.

Untitled (dash line)

Untitled (dash line)

My work often circles back to the difference between matter and information.  Are they really two different things or is the distinction just an intellectual convenience?

Colleen Portrail 2017

You can see more of my work on my website at www.colleenbuzzard.com and on Instagram at colleenbuzzardart.


Colleen Buzzard is one of six artists featured in the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s Artsy page. The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational runs through September 28, 2018.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Bill Stephens

I grew up in Lyons NY.  My high school art instructor, Norm Williams was a gifted artist/teacher who was instrumental in my development as an artist.

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Still Life, mixed media, college portfolio piece

On his recommendation, I applied to the prestigious Layton School of Art in Milwaukee WI. The school at that time was under the direction of Edmund Lewandowski, a contemporary of Charles Sheeler and Charles Demuth. Layton’s innovative, strict core curriculum was based on design and provided me with a great foundation to build on. We were supported and encouraged by a gifted staff of working artist instructors.

Upon graduation, I was offered a teaching position at the new Finger Lakes Community College in Canandaigua, NY, where I taught for two years. I received a Masters in Science of Teaching from RIT and taught art for forty years in the Webster CSD.

I had a very successful career, with numerous students receiving national awards and scholarships to leading art schools. Working as an artist alongside my students, sharing artistic successes and failures, I was a positive role model.

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Sketchbook pencil drawing

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Sketchbook pencil drawing

Printmaking, painting, drawing, mixed media and ceramic sculpture are disciplines I’ve explored.

My work is process driven and inspired by morning meditation, writing, memory and my imagination. Each piece is extemporaneously developed and contains open-ended symbols that encourage personal interpretation and reflection.

The house, window, and barn symbols have appeared in my work for many years.

House grid, series of paintings, acrylic on board

The Village, acrylic on paper

I am also exploring a series of drawings using abstract, organic form. The pen drawings in this show are cubist inspired and playful.

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Hive, pen on paper

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Village, pen on paper


Bill Stephens is one of six artists featured in the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s Artsy page. The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational runs through September 28, 2018.

 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Phyllis Bryce Ely: Not My Father’s Iceberg

Joseph Loder Bryce

Joseph Loder Bryce

I began painting this series after the loss of my father, Joseph Loder Bryce, in 2015.

Loder served in the US Navy as a photographer aboard the Icebreaker USS Edisto in the early 1950s during the cold war era. His ship supported the installation of the Distant Early Warning Line (DEW Line) in the Arctic region with a mission to dramatically reduce the warning time of possible Soviet attack. The DEW Line, along the 69th parallel, was the northernmost radar system, taking my father into the Arctic region with his camera to photograph sea and air missions, life aboard the ship, and the extreme beauty of the Arctic landscape and its inhabitants.

Photographs by Joseph Loder Bryce. Caption of lower left photo reads, "Aerial view of the Edito, note the paths we made by circling about in the ice. Sondrestrom, Greenland. 5/18/54."

Photographs by Joseph Loder Bryce. Caption of lower left photo reads, “Aerial view of the Edisto, note the paths we made by circling about in the ice. Sondrestrom, Greenland. 5/18/54.”

I grew up with boxes of these photographs in my life; they were a perennial choice for “show and tell” in grammar school and I loved to share the exotic icebergs, people, polar bears, and frozen ships with my friends.

The images, shapes, places and people I “knew” but never met became a visual foundation for me. I now know I was influenced by my father’s eye for composition, shapes, and light as well as his interest in telling stories that come from landscape. These attributes have become the very context of my nearly 40 years of art-making.

"On my easel: ice formation off Greenland with kayaker, working from my Dad's photos." July 26, 2017

“On my easel: ice formation off Greenland with kayaker, working from my Dad’s photos.” July 26, 2017

After Loder’s death, I found myself engaging with his photos yet again and was struck and inspired by the old familiar shapes and simple colorless format. No longer able to hear my father’s stories about the pictures, I started a new conversation with my paintbrush. I began with no plan in mind as I painted one iceberg, then some polar bears, and then a ship…one by one the photos found their way into my studio. Working on these paintings was a form of meditation for me.

Detail of painting "Exodus"

Detail of painting “Exodus”

My first paintings were in oil on a vivid red ground I typically use when painting en plein air. The vibration of the limited, cool palette against the red quickly appealed to me; I connected with the raw edges of color as I worked, excited by how the colors created an emotional response and competing feeling of calm and urgency. I also chose to work in encaustic wax because of the rich texture and intimate scale made possible in that medium.

Photograph by Joseph Loder Bryce (left) and detail of encaustic painting "Ice Journey" by Phyllis Bryce Ely.

Photograph by Joseph Loder Bryce (left) and detail of encaustic painting “Ice Journey” by Phyllis Bryce Ely.

As I finished each painting I tucked the work away with no particular plan for sharing them,  but knew I wanted them to be together. On New Year’s Eve, I set a goal of pulling the photographs and paintings together for a show, which ultimately led to this exhibit.

"Not My Father's Iceberg" exhibition at Main Street Arts

“Not My Father’s Iceberg” exhibition at Main Street Arts

"Not My Father's Iceberg" exhibition at Main Street Arts

“Not My Father’s Iceberg” exhibition at Main Street Arts

I am grateful to gallery director Brad Butler for his early interest in these paintings, which he first saw when my first iceberg painting was juried into the Utopia/Dystopia exhibit at Main Street Arts in 2017 and was awarded “Best in Show.”

Phyllis Bryce Ely with her painting from "Utopia/Dystopia" (left); Joseph Loder Bryce (1930–2015) at an exhibition of his photographs in 2014

Phyllis Bryce Ely with her painting from “Utopia/Dystopia” (left); Joseph Loder Bryce (1930–2015) at an exhibition of his photographs in 2014

Please enjoy my contemporary consideration of a decades-old Arctic landscape that once was my father’s place in the world. 


Not My Father’s Iceberg, a solo exhibition on the second floor at Main Street Arts, presents paintings by Phyllis Bryce Ely made in response to photographs taken by her father, Joseph Loder Bryce. The exhibition runs August 3 through September 15, 2018 and can be viewed on the gallery’s Artsy page.