CIty-Wide Open Studios exhibition preview

My grandmother is 94 and I am her primary caregiver. She needs someone in the house at all times, needs help getting to the bathroom, preparing meals, shopping, etc. But she’s all right - she has a sense of humor and is pretty chill.

Here are a few facts: Her house has been my studio for the past 15 years. With her care needs I am there more than ever before. My work depends on drawing and painting from nature. It often involves new landscapes viewed while traveling. Grandma is now blind from cataracts - but likes to get a full report on plants and flowers in the yard as well as potted plants and cut flowers in the house.

This all leads to the idea of this current body of work, Surroundings. I am painting my way through the plants in the yard because:

  • I have to be here

  • I want to be working outside when I can be

  • I need to draw from life, I can’t abstract from nothing or rather, it becomes stale and boring.

  • Grandma wants a careful accounting of whats going on out there.


So here we go, the work I produced over the course of the growing season 2018 in her yard that I am including in this exhibition:

The first gem that blooms in her yard is the Magnolia Tree in the front yard. I have been drawing and painting this tree during its blooming season for many years, its gorgeous. It bloomed this year from April 26 - May 7. I did two versions of the tree - one called Magnolia Tree (Opening) and one called Magnolia Tree (Peaking).


The next major painting came in June, with the blooming of the giant overgrown rhododendron in the backyard. Most people keep rhododendron as bushes, pruned to be about 4 feet high. Not this one, it is massive, a small tree, reaching as high as the top of the first floor and wide and wild. I decided to make a really large painting, 6’ x 9’ to convey this sense of being overgrown. Painted during its peak bloom, June 4 - June 26.

  Rhododendron

Rhododendron


In July, poison ivy was growing everywhere. I did some very careful observation and sketching of the poison ivy and realized we have two varieties, Virginia Creeper and Poison Ivy, and made two paintings of them.

A further note about these two paintings - Over July 4th I painted the front door this green - I made the paintings with the left over house paint. I was inspired by the gorgeous wall paper in this summer’s Sharp Objects on HBO.


At this point, the name of the game in the yard was becoming OVERGROWN. Everything was becoming too big and too tall and not where it was supposed to be. August ended up being filled with challenges of how to stay on top of the grass and how to keep the bushes from overtaking the path, weeds growing out of everywhere. Here is an interpretation of the side of the house, the overgrown sidewalk path along the side of the garage.

  Flourishing

Flourishing


September was super busy at work preparing for City-Wide Open Studios and I had less time for painting. So I started something I could do in bits and pieces - I made new batches of homemade paper. I pressed cut flowers, weeds, and grasses from the yard and recycled the large stack of old statements and bills into new paper. I will be giving away paper at City-Wide Open Studios Alternative Space Weekend Oct 26-28.

Check out my new photos from Norway

Learn the story of my journey to Norway looking for reindeer and trolls, here.

How to hang my work

I paint almost exclusively on unstretched canvas – I find the surface perfect for my work, subject matter and style. Part of what I am going for is to really draw attention to canvas as one of the main materials. I am always surprised that when I present work in this way people marvel "o this is fabric!" and want to reach out to touch it, even though it is the exact same material they are used to seeing in traditionally stretched canvases.

It also allows me to scale up as large as I want without running into issues in the creation, storage or transportation of the work. Due to the flexible nature of working on fabric the work can also be designed for a particular location, sized and trimmed to fit any architectural quirks and enhance a particular space.

But that still leaves the question - How do I hang my work?

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  1. My Preferred Method. The most direct - nail canvas directly into the wall along the edges of the painting
  2. Scroll. Putting a pole at the top and bottom of the work so that it can be hung in the manner of a scroll. 
  3. Framed.
  4. Stretched canvas. It could be stretched using stretcher bars like a standard painting.

 

I'm in two new exhibitions in New Haven

I have work in two different locations in New Haven, CT this month:

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Shake Shack 

986 Chapel St, New Haven, CT. I have 8 pieces, some of them quite large, on the walls of the Shake Shack. This show will be up through the beginning of June. Learn more:


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Artspace

50 Orange St, New Haven, CT. I contributed this work to the Artspace Gala and Auction that will be up in the gallery from April 6 - April 28. You will be able to bid on the piece throughout that time starting with the opening reception on Friday, April 6 right up through the Gala itself. Learn more. 

Baconé and E.G.G.S.

Exciting News! I am debuting (along with my co-creator Ryan Yaconiello) a brand new weekly comic strip in the New Haven Independent called Baconé and E.G.G.S. Baconé is the brash, destructive police detective, always on the edge of losing his badge (but the city can't afford it, he gets results!). E.G.G.S. (short for Electronically Guided Guardian System) is his new by the book robot partner. 

Follow along weekly here on my website or here on the New Haven Independent site. 

Here's a sneak peak:

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Seeing the Structure

At my job at Artspace New Haven last year, I had this idea to help promote the works on paper by artists in our Flatfile. We would have a monthly (in practice every other month) digital exhibition  of works curated by a member of the Artspace team around a theme of their own choosing. 

I got to curate the first one, which I titled Brightly back last winter (take a look, here.)

Well, one of our graphic design interns, Madelaine O’Brien, just curated the most recent one, which she titled Seeing the Structure and she included one of my Flatfile works!  Check it out, here

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Menton Update!

I shared earlier some of the many sketches and drawings that I did on location in Menton, France this past spring. I wanted to share how they bloomed into paintings over the course of the year:

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Facing, Italy is the view from my hotel balcony looking east toward Italy.

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Facing Monaco is the view from my hotel balcony facing west, toward Monaco.

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The Citrus Garden 

Giant Garden Mural - start to finish

Giant Garden Mural - start to finish

The most exciting project I got to work on in 2017 was my largest painting yet. Heirloom Flats, a brand new apartment/condo complex in Bloomfield, CT hired me to create a mural for their lobby. The theme of the building is "modern farmhouse style." Think fresh organic community garden, rescued and rehabbed barn wood, living wall of plants, a giant grill-zebo, and a library stocked full of cookbooks. My project was to make a plant/garden based mural that was bright and fresh and huge.

Start to finish, from brainstorming to install the project took 6 months to complete, I just finished installing yesterday, November 9. Let's take a look at the project:

Here are my original concept sketches - I wasn't sure if I wanted to do a long skinny work or something tall and massive (I went with tall and massive). But I had been thinking of just jam packed, overgrown with flowers and leaves and plants and vegetables. 

I settled on an ultimate size (15' wide x 8' tall) painted on unstretched raw canvas with acrylic paint. I paint on the floor, so I unrolled the canvas, which covered most of the studio floor and got to work:

To help gain inspiration as I worked, I decided to listen to Walden by Henry David Thoreau as I worked. Some stand out quotes that I wrote down that felt applicable to the project at hand:

Making the yellow soil express its summer thought in bean leaves and blossoms.
Not until we are completely lost or turned around do we appreciate the vastness and strangeness of nature.
For I was rich, if not in money, in sunny hours and summer days and I spent them lavishly.
— Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Ok, now we are ready for install! It was suggested by a friend that I should hide things in the picture - his particular suggestion, an aardvark. There isn't one, or is there? 

It was a bear to install - it's so big! But in the end we finally got it up:

An Overabundance
Bloomfield Mural

Officially titled Overabundance. It is located in the lobby next to the elevators and the gym/exercise area of Heirloom Flats, located at 25 Jerome St, Bloomfield, CT. 

Sketching with Crayons in Menton, France

Sketching with Crayons in Menton, France

I went on a relaxing vacation to Menton, famous for its citrus,  the last town in France on the Mediterranean before reaching Italy. Sunny, clear skies and 72 degrees everyday. From my hotel balcony and I brought out my crayons to try to get the flavor of the Côte d'Azur. 

I moved beyond what could see from my balcony, with visits to Sainte-Agnes, a little town in the mountains, the Citrus Garden at the Carnoles Palace, Jardin botanique exotique de Menton and over the border to Ventimiglia in Italy.

Making Paper

Making Paper

I have been saving up mail for about 5 years now. Most of it contains sensitive info - mostly bills, statements and the like. My thinking was that I would "someday" get a shredder and dispose of them properly. I didn't, BUT even better, I am turning all this mail into - my own paper!

First the time consuming step of ripping up all that paper - this is definitely a work in progress as my shoe box full of old bills yields bags and bags of ripped paper.  The soaking the paper in batches, followed by pulping...

As it turns out, pulped paper looks remarkably like fruit smoothies. Once the paper is pulped I have been using a screen to pull sheets, slap them on the counter and then use scrap paper for decorative bits. They squeezing out the water, flattening, and drying.

and VOILA! finished paper. So many more bills to pulp, but I think there are lots of possibilities for making art with this paper- both in the process of paper making and with my own paper being the foundation of new drawings and paintings. 

Website Updates

 the beginning of highway 1 in Key West

the beginning of highway 1 in Key West

Snowed in for the day and thought it was a good time to clean up the website!

Florida Keys

In January, I visited the Florida Keys staying in Marathon and visiting the length of them.  I went kayaking in the Mangroves, hung out at the beach, my way through 6 different key lime pies, and visited "anything goes" Key West. I also went to the horse races and Gulfstream (twice!) and developed my new horse handicapping system - so far yielding some very positive results. 

See all my photos and read my travelogue post, here

Books

I expanded the book section on my website - you can now buy my children's book The Hic'hikers for $1.99 on Google Play or Amazon and for a limited time can download my latest book Monsters for Hire for free from Google Play. 

Katapilla Solutions

I've expanded the offerings of my business Katapilla Solutions - graphic & web design as well as social media marketing. Check out the new page, here

THREE MORE DAY TO SEE MY EXHIBITION

I have three large paintings in a show at Kehler Liddell Gallery in New Haven that closes on Sunday, February 12. Read more

Working Hard or Hardly Working: Art on the Job

I doodle a lot at work. The longer the meeting, the more extensive the drawings. 

We are having an exhibition at work about the nature of labor and work. I thought this was the perfect time to install my work drawings as an art installation in my cubicle.

Exhibition open by appointment only.

Sailboats in Central Park - mini animation

I did some sketching in Central Park in NYC last weekend. I found myself at Conservatory Water, the spot where model sailboats are sailed. I found this such a peaceful spot - you could hear the sounds of the city in the distance but in the park it was just so peaceful - leaves fluttering and little boats moving gently across the water. 

Join me at City-Wide Open Studios in New Haven, CT

I will be participating in City-Wide Open Studios this year (and working it as well!)

Tomorrow, October 7 is our opening reception, come and see a small painting of mine (as well as work by 350 artists) at the Artspace gallery, at 50 Orange St, New Haven, CT. 

Then the big show, next weekend, October 15 & 16, Armory Weekend at the Goffe St Armory (290 Goffe St, New Haven, CT). I will be showing some big paintings that I have not exhibited anywhere else... please join me!

How I spent my summer vacation - CAPE COD edition

I love Cape Cod - I've been going there since I was a little kid, went to grad school in Provincetown, so when we are back here on vacation I just need to start sketching! This is all work from the last two months since my visit in July/August. 

 Herring River, Harwich, MA along Route 28

Herring River, Harwich, MA along Route 28

 The view from Coast Guard Beach, National Seashore, Eastham, MA

The view from Coast Guard Beach, National Seashore, Eastham, MA

7day7painting challenge: Day 6....

Well, I did not manage to finish the 7days7paintings due to unexpected events... I had started this one and took an extra week to finish it - but I am pleased with the outcome!

It was inspired by this drawing...