Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Studio,
As it looks today.
New Windsor, NY /June 2011

Over the last several years since completing this portion of the renovations we have hosted many events including open studios, weekly figure drawing and painting sessions, videos and small budget movie productions, dance rehearsals, super bowl parties and our famous annual "Pasquale's Pizza Party. Where we use the old 1790 dutch oven in the main house, a real favorite of families, artists and guests.
Hope you enjoy the images below, and stay tuned for postings this weekend when we'll be hosting "The Painting in Colored light" Workshop with James Gurney at our Carriage House Art Studios.

Exterior view
Lower Gallery Area
Lower Gallery Area #2
Upstairs books and media area, Chill Spot.
Barn Painting Studio with north light.
Weekly Open Studio sessions in progress.
Max Ginsburg stopped by for a bit of life painting. Nice!
Hope you enjoyed the adventure and if your in the area and want to learn more about what's going on at 
Carriage House Art Studios give us a call. 
Contact me on line at:
or you can easily reach me by e-mail @

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Planning and Preparing,
The James Gurney, "Painting in Colored Light Workshop"
New Windsor, NY 20011

It seems not so long ago I started renovating my little 1790 Carriage House and attached Post and Beam Barn for my Art studios, office, gallery and public gathering space.
Below are some pictures of the renovations that I started back in 1998 and took almost 5 years to complete. As most of those who know, with an old house and property your never really done with renovating, you just start in one section and keep moving around, one project after another.
Honestly, I love the creative process of transforming a space, old or new into something functional and inviting.
And especially grateful to offer it to Jim for his upcoming Workshop on July 1st thru July 3rd. Enjoy the first few pictures of the renovations in progress, not so long ago. Tomorrow, I will post images of the studio as it looks today as well as over the coming days, images of the "Painting In Colored Light" Workshop in progress with James Gurney at the helm.
Follow the progress offering ideas collaborations and suggestions,... Stay Tuned!!

As I found It 1990.
1998, Gutting began. I couldn't save much but the all the original timber frame and amazing german raised pointed stone work....Awesome!
The Foundation, problems...Problems, rotted and non existent.

The Slate Roof... Need I say more. We took it all off  rebuilt the roof and put the slate back up..
Yes Sir!
Patrick, Amazing Craftsman.. Rare breed these days!!!

Mourice, Jamaican Roof dancer, Amazing Guy!

Roof Rebuilt, Copper flashing and all .... 2.5 year mark. Oh boy!
Hip Roof for Northern Sky Light...Oh Yeah!
Slate going back up!!

Finally,. Open Space to work with.
My beautiful future ex wife had had enough!!
Digging down to make room for plumbing.
After 4 years in between deadlines and going broke off and on.. you know the story,... were almost there. 
Stay tuned for the next post including present day pictures of the my fully renovated and working Carriage House Art Studios. As well as over the coming weekend images of the Workshop with Jim Gurney!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Russians.
Detail, Ilya Repin. "Ivan the Terrible and His Son", 1885. Oil on canvas. 

This Amazing painting by Ilya Repin tells the dramatic and historical story of Ivan the Terrible. After bludgeoning his son to death he cradles his head in horror symbolically expressing in a powerful simple way the timeless story of The First Tzar and Supreme Russian Leader, now old and completely mad. Ultimately through his life, the quest for total rule and complete domination, destroyed everything in it's path. 
This incredible and powerful portrayal along with many of Repin's work I first came across as a college student years ago.  I was directed by an instructor of mine at the time to a Russian book store in NYC located near 21st and Broadway( no longer there).  I spent days combing through books on Russian Art. Maybe I had an affinity to their works since my Grandfather emigrated to the US from Russia around 1902 and I was told stories by my father of our Russian heritage.  But as an Artist what strikes me so profoundly to this day, is their abilities to master the technique of most european traditional and impressionist artists we're so familiar with and bring such depth and soul to their works expressing a narrative that speaks to the hearts and minds of the subjects depicted. The "Truth of Purpose" blended with such soul in a way that is continually compelling to me and still so powerful to this day.

Ilya Repin. "Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan on November 16, 1581". 1885. Oil on canvas. 
The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Russians.
"Not just a pretty face".
Portrait of Unknown Woman (1883)
Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoy
Here we have an amazing example of a kramskoy portrait, and clicking on the image will reveal the mastery of technique and purpose bringing all his skills to bear on a the likeness of this unknown young woman in 1883.  A tumultuous time in history with extreme class differences. For me It's not just a beautifully done portrait of a woman warming her hands as she rides by in her carriage, although on the surface of things, quite evident. The cold winter street scape behind her done in lightly contrasted colors to her dark ultramarine blue velvety outfit and elegant hat, exemplifying prominence and stature. Obviously a woman of some considerable wealth and position. The viewer is us, possibly on the street walking as she rides by. We catch her glance as if in a moment. Her expression is of gentile superiority reminding us of our place below her glance. What is truly profound in this portrait by Kramskoy, even through creating a beautifully flattering portrait, he possibly felt compelled to say more than just satisfy a commercial necessity we all know full well as working artists. But with this simple painting he makes a timeless statement expressing all the disparity of class and position. Across the spectrum of viewers it might be what one reads into a great work of art or clues to the thoughts and purpose of the visionary. Take you pick, either way, for me, she's not just a pretty face.  

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Russians
Ivan Nikolaevick Kramskoy, "Peasant Holding a Bridle" 1883

I participated in a plein air "Paint the Town" Event last week in Cranford, NY.  A wonderful amazing talented group of artist from across the US ascended on this small commuter town in central, New Jersey to paint in the open air, exhibit and sell their works.  The event was sponsored by the Jersey Central Art Studios and all about the success of this years event can be found on their website
What remained in my mind and today and what seems a lingering unanswered question is a statement made, somewhat sarcastically and purposefully by an amazing painter from Maryland named Tim Bell. Tim's work is full of color and light, an artist with the courage and grit to paint with a fresh and bold approach.
OK,... here's the statement. "I hate Realism".   Please don't misconstrue what Tim was saying. He had a point in mind which triggered a lengthy discussion.
What is the state of contemporary representational painting and which artists and works seem to be the heralded as the "Realism" of our times?  Lets just stop for a second and define "Realism" back in my early days at Pratt Inst. I minored in art history and I'm not a scholar by any stretch of my imagination, but I thought "Realism" was a reaction by many artists during the later part of the 1800's to break from the idealized form and standards established by the French Academy and paint real life scenes of everyday folk, rich or poor, peasant or ruling class. It was an honest attempt, in my opinion to express works that truly documented the times in which they lived. Some work was quite preachy and dogmatic but some works honestly expressed something quite profound and meaningful beyond just beautiful Paintings.   The works of Sargent's and Sorolla obviously come to mind among many others so I thought I would, over the next few post example some of my favorite "Realist Painters" from Russia!
Who in my opinion, took all the skills and knowledge of traditional and impressionist paintings available and created works of real artistic soul expressing the "Beauty & Truth" of their times.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Trestle Mural Project. 
The following is an example of Murals "how to" that I have completed. 
Specifically, "Archways" the Trestle Mural Project, Newburgh, NY 22 ft high X 220 ft long.

Completed in 2007 by myself and a team of 7-10 artist in a 5-6 month time frame not including presentation approvals and fundraising which added another 3 years to the project
done by a Not for Profit organization named Trestle Inc.
Be that as it may I'm prefacing everything I'm about to reveal with the most important fact. Every exterior mural project is Unique!
Site conditions, Climate, Wall surface, building or retaining wall, stucco, concrete or brick. Hight from the ground, ability to use lift equipment or scaffolding. I could go on and on.
But to keep it simple let's use the Trestle Mural Project as an example.
Which I consider a huge failure as a permanent exterior Mural which basically should have a life span of about 25- 30 years if all the prep work was done correctly, which it was not on this project by a long shot!
A moisture ridden retaining wall which needed a thick parged coating of a moisture barrier material applied consistently before we started priming & painting the mural.
It was only after we started painting the mural did we realize the City of Newburgh hired a contractor who owed back taxes to do the job and as he worked from left to right he skimped and cheated all who loved the project and now see it presently, can only imagine a beautiful work of art that should have lasted.  
I'm sorry to inform all who are interested that the Murals present condition is irreparable and large sections need to be removed.
Anyway here's how we did it.

The presentation of the design for approval and fundraising purposes.
The Fundraising: Corporate sponsorships, private donation for commemorative bricks laid on site and a NYS Coastal waters Grant, Oh yes, wall prep provided by the City Of Newburgh $?.
Mural Painting work begins on site, Scaffolding is erected, The art shed is strategically placed and all the artist working get paid and have health insurance. Yippee!

Our palettes are constructed on site using 4 x 8 sheet of plywood cut in half.  Then cutting 12 wholes around the top perimeter in order to allow for chinese soup take out dishes with lids to be dropped into so that they don't fall through. 
The paint I used on this project was a Benjamin Moore product called Impervo, Oil Based Alkyd Enamels. Very durable with light fast colors with a polyurethane binder, gloss finish. in a wide range of mixable colors.This paint is used commonly by exterior sign painters also sometimes applied to US Navy ships and industrial machinery. 
The colors I choose range from black to white and cools to warms similar to an impressionist plein air painters palette from light to dark and warm to cool. Also I like using the primary colors or as close as I can get them since I can basically mix anything else freehand simulating the illusions of light with color. No pre mixed colors for me bro! Cheep Home depot Turpentine as thinner and big fat chip brushes. We go through allot of them. 
Long flat Bristle brushes for the figures and some finish work but I stress to the apprentices and other artist working if I see you in any one spot noodling details too long your climbing high up on the scaffolding to clean brushes one at a time. 
Fast and loose is how I paint catching the lights, shadows and right details with one stroke. Sargent and Sorolla baby! I used to render when I was younger, Don't seem to have the patience anymore. Too many walls and paintings I want to do,I guess.

Amazing site along the banks of the Hudson River about 60 miles north of New York City Is where the fun all happened.
We started with the faux stone work accomplished in a fast and amazingly easy technique.

A turpentine wash of what ever color you pick on you palette mixed with it complimentary color varying the degrees of warm and cool temperature is applied to an area a wide as you can reach from left to right from top to bottom letting the paint run down creating basically an abstraction of mess and drips. Just a bit of time for the turpentine to evaporate and just the pigment is left for you to work into making sure not to over brush it.   Then cut in with a gray to white mortar lines varying you brush thickness. Think organic shapes working you negative space to create interesting stone and rock shapes. Lay in some deep cool shadows on the bottom of the stones as they appear and some high lights and variate some middle tones on top... play play play. keep it loose, and keep moving.

Wonderful Nancy Stonecypher muralist and faux finisher picked up the technique in no time flat Awesome!
Natalia Zadnovskia expressionist and theatre designer artist from Russia via Brooklyn, mastered the technique and could compete a 20 ft square section every day. Amazing to watch her.
At night we used a digital projector and lap top with our previously completed compositionally approved designs and projected the archway areas onto the wall, measured and scaled so as to not deviate from the overall schematic. One of my past students at School of Visual Arts In NYC whom is a colleague and amazing painter in his own right David Penna checks and lets us know all systems are go.
Then with a very thinned out turpentine tone we drew out the projected image onto the wall. No need to draw to much since were just trying to get accurate placement and defining where the large lights and shadows are located. Figures where drawn out by me since I was primarily responsible for their accuracy and needed to draw them out with just the right indications since everyone depicted in the Mural is from Newburgh and it was important that they would recognize themselves.
Young paid apprentice Artist Bryan Gugllielmi proved invaluable on this project and I could not have completed it without him.

He was my primary blocker in and lead me from left to right blocking in large masses of freehand mixed colors as I followed tightening and resolving
the form and accuracy. He's been painting from life in my studio since he was sixteen when his mother brought him by saying he was getting into trouble
at school and needed some direction. Bryan is now a muralist with Mural Arts in Philadelphia as well as working on his own paintings after completing his degree
a few years ago at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

We moved from left to right finishing one Archway design at a time. After a bit of a learning curve we caught our stride and were able to complete subsequent archways in about 3-4 weeks.

Here's the completed Archway #1 entitled, "Washington's Headquarters and some details to follow.

Here' s an interesting shot with Archway 2 complete with freight train rumbling overhead.
As the project gained steam and we were inundated with crowds that came to watch.

The project evolved into a performance art event on a daily basis. Bus loads  of tourist and class trips arrived and I found out we were added to their route.

Here's Bryan and I getting a breather as we finish up the last Archway #5. The best part of this   project  was to works side by side with such young talented artists creating something that would mean so much to so many and change the dynamic of a the way people see themselves and their sense of place.
Towards the end our palettes were all signed and were kept a souvenirs by Trestle Inc.
Completed Archway #2
Completed Archway #3
Completed Archway #4
Completed Archway #5
Entire Mural (Site Image) measuring 22 ft high X 220 ft long
An Amazing and wonderful project that I had the privilege to create.
Even now almost 4 years later, tragically and sadly with a good portion of it deteriorated and lots of people looking to blame and point fingers, and although quite painful to see it in it present condition, 
I still have positive feelings about and learned so much. 
#1. Don't let anyone else do you prep work!!
#2. Be careful when some one says we'll do it for nothing, you'll most assuredly get what you pay for.
#3 Newburgh, although a great small city, still has far, far to go. When the powers that be realize that the poverty industry presently gripping it's citizens eventually have had enough!, out.  There are wonderful people there and oh so much potential.

Sorry this long post but it was three years of my life and if I still have you attention and you would like to see a 4-5 minute slide show of the entire project from start to finish click here.

Thanks for taking the time to enjoy!