Palimpsest Workshop at The Bonny Studio

Just last month I worked with 12 talented artists in a two-day Palimpsest Workshop I taught at The Bonny Studio in Richardson, TX. Bonny Leibowitz, artist, owner, and operator of The Bonny Studio, invited me some time back to come do a workshop and my schedule finally opened up for the weekend of Jan 24-25.

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The students arrived on Saturday morning with bags full of maps, floor plans, magazine pages, old photos and more to collage onto panels. We worked to find or create connections among the diverse materials, applied them to the panels and then painted another image or images atop the collage–in essence placing our text above other texts to establish a palimpsest. On Sunday afternoon participants got to share their works with each other and the results were impressive in quality and variety.

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A whole series of pictures from the workshop have been posted at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/theencausticcenter/sets/72157648132490563/

Studio Residency in Albuquerque

Having failed to be selected for the highly competitive art residencies I had applied for this spring, I decided to create my own. Soliciting advice from friends, former students, a few professional colleagues, and family members, I began to search for places where I might rent a studio. Since my original target was the Northeast, I focused my search on New York City. I was pointed to a great reference for sublets on studio spaces in the NYC area: Stephanie Diamond’s Listings Project. While it is a fantastic resource, it didn’t work for me–for whatever reason no one listing a studio for sublet ever responded to my emails offering to rent the spaces. As the window gradually closed on New York, I refocused on Albuquerque, where several artist-cousins live. When one of those cousins graciously offered me housing, I began looking for a studio that I could rent. I was fortunate to find one space vacant, where long waiting lists were the norm, so I snapped it up in mid-March and began making preparations to pursue my residency project  in Albuquerque.

My plan called for completing several large paintings on canvas that expanded on historical artiistic developments in space and time. Working on canvas would facilitate ease of transportation and would eliminate the complexities and costs of framing large works on paper–paper being my preferred surface.

I went prepared with some digital sketches I had developed in Photoshop, so I had several different options of images I could produce. Since I still prefer the awkwardness that comes with drawing, I printed up copies of the digital sketches to work from. I taped these to the wall or the work as I hand-inscribed various layers and features of the compositions. I had to work in layers to develop the complex shapes, lines and forms that make up the completed paintings (example provided below).


Untitled, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 30″ x 90″

The impetus for these works was to investigate the potential to capture a relativity of time, space, and environment. Since all the markings come from extant maps, there remains a residue of reference to specific environments and weather conditions, though the symbols rarely serve the same function in the paintings which they did in the maps. It is intended that emblems can be read in a number of ways–as marking time, expressing movement or velocities of movement/countermovement, and of evoking various ways of rendering environmental space relationships. There are additional optically variable elements to the works which cannot be observed in photos–they can only be seen by the human eye and they flip in relation to the direction of the light and the viewer’s location.

Recent Drawing Explorations

I’ve been producing a series of small drawings. These are conceived as part of a search. I like the three pieces shared below as drawings, though not necessarily as ones that achieve what I am seeking. Still each one utilizes particular strategies that I’m hoping lead to something more substantive. I’m completely perplexed at this point what to call these works. I gave some working titles, similar to the way a novelist might develop a temporary title for her new book. I exhibited two of these drawings in a faculty exhibition that came down at the end of October. I’d welcome comments or reactions because they can help me assess my intentions and personal reactions against independent readings.


Surface Tension (Working Title), 2013, mixed media on paper, 12″ x 9″ ©


Time Currents (Working Title), 2013, mixed media on paper, 9″ x 6″ ©


Untitled, 2013, mixed media on paper, 9″ x 6″ ©


Thought I would share one recent painting that was inspired by an ink drawing originating in Nanjing, China.

Waterfall Landscape

Waterfall Landscape Improvisation, acrylic on canvas, 54″ x 32″ ©

I came across the ink drawing in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford, England) in 2010. I sat down nearby the work and made a rough sketch in pen, thinking that one day I might do something with it. When, this past spring, I started a painting based on that sketch, much of the concrete imagery that the sketch used to evoke in my memory was gone.  A bit curious as I prepared this post, I searched for an image of the work on the museum’s website and found that much had been lost in translation–and in the upheavals the painting went through as a resolution was sought. Nevertheless, what was missing would only have been hinted at via improvisation anyway; thus the painting retains the spirit of its inspiration while capturing the vision I had for its reemergence.

Terra Incognita

I’m teaming up again with Kenny and Polly Jones for an exhibition we’ve entitled Terra Incognita. The show opens to the public today at the ACU Downtown Gallery in Abilene, Texas. The reception for the exhibition has been planned to correspond with Abilene’s Art Walk on April 11, 5:30-8:30 p.m. Below you’ll see the front of the postcard designed to announce the show.


The title and concept for the exhibition came from the practice of labeling undiscovered or unexplored lands on maps as “terra incognita”. These were mysterious places that could only be approached through the imagination, yet, if real, would eventually be explored and charted. Sometimes the terra incognita never really existed, such as the continents of Mu and Lemuria or the fabled Kingdom of Prester John. In individual ways, each of us embarks toward uncharted territory in our works; we explore a terrain that is brought into existence, that becomes a place.

This is our second fruitful collaboration on an exhibition. Several years back we developed a three-person show called Palimpsest.

Finalist for the Hunting Art Prize

I received notification about a week ago that I am one of 109 finalists for the Hunting Art Prize. Darwin and the Beagle, a 36″ x 48″ acrylic painting on paper, was the work that placed me among the finalists.

The Hunting Art Prize is a prestigious annual competition open to established, emerging, and amateur artists throughout Texas. Hunting PLC, an international oil services company, sponsors the Hunting Art Prize, the “most generous annual award in North America for painting and drawing.” The 2012 winner of the $50,000 Hunting Art Prize will be announced at a gala held on April 28 in Houston.

Submissions to this year’s competition were assessed by a three-juror panel: Eric Crosby, Curatorial Assistant of Visual Arts at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Julien Robson, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia; and Claire Schneider, Independent Curator based in Scottsdale, Arizona and former Senior Curator of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

Musical Forms

This past spring I received a Cullen Grant in support of efforts to create a new body of paintings. The goal for this new series was work that evoked musical forms.

A little over a decade ago I collaborated with a pianist, Gustavo Toloso, in a public recital where I created works of art in response to his performance of Ginastera’s Twelve American Preludes. As each of the preludes was incredibly brief, I ended up treating my on-stage role as performance art–although 12 mixed media works were made and exhibited at the conclusion of the performance.

With this experience as a backdrop, I decided to return to music-inspired works, this time confining the visual character of my paintings to the language of maps. Having worked directly from piano compositions before, I changed the tactic. This time I would focus on musical forms: the organizational structures of types of music (e.g. the sonata form). The three paintings which appear with this post are the results of this inquiry. Each indicates the musical form in its title.

Two paintings completed earlier in 2011 have been added to the Artwork page.

Etude, 2011, acrylic on paper, 13,5″ x 48″ ©

Pastoral Sonata Fragment, 2011, acrylic on paper, 10.25″ x 36″ ©

Fugue, 2011, acrylic on paper, 10.25″ x 36″ ©

Magellan’s Circumnavigation at Hilton Worldwide

In May of 2010 Hilton Worldwide purchased Magellan’s Circumnavigation for its new corporate offices in McLean, Virginia. The new headquarters were opened to coincide with the rebranding of Hilton as the international hospitality company it had become, Hilton Worldwide. The selection of Magellan’s Circumnavigation was intended to reflect the corporation’s international scope and mission. The work was placed with Hilton Worldwide by Sheryl Fiegel of Art Specialists LC.

Darwin’s Voyage

I recently completed a work (see below) inspired by Charles Darwin’s historic voyage on the HMS Beagle. History buffs are likely to recall that 2009 marked the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species, a book whose conclusions are drawn directly from the observations made on this journey, which makes the subject of this painting timely. Besides that, recent events in the news bear striking resemblance to experiences Darwin, Fitzroy and crew had on their voyage. Chile’s earthquake this past spring, parallels one that happened during the 1837 voyage which caused much amazement and wonder because there was no loss of life from the quake or the tidal wave it spawned.

On a more personal note, it was my reading of Alan Moorehead’s Darwin and the Beagle that reignited an interest in mapmaking and eventually led to this series on journeys. My knowledge of this journey was more intimate; hence, this voyage occupied a privileged position in the series and demanded a different level of conviction. Its narrative features had to be stronger and more evocative. And like Darwin’s experiences, the painting had to come perilously close to sensory and conceptual overload.

Darwin and the Beagle, 2010, acrylic on paper, 36″ x 48″ ©

This work will be exhibited later this summer at Richard J. Demato Fine Arts Gallery in Sag Harbor, NY.