When I started trying to promote my own artwork online I kept coming across other people's art that amazed or compelled me in one way or another. This blog has been a way for me to practice thinking and writing about art, as well as learning more about my peers and all the incredible art that is being made out there.

Search for an Artist on this blog (or cut and paste from the list at the bottom of this page)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Eric Aho

French Forest, 2012
Oil on linen, 52 x 48 inches

March Eight Hemlocks, 2013
Oil on linen, 36 x 30 inches

Nocturne (Apex), 2011
Oil on linen, 36 x 30 inches

Ptarmigan, 2013
Oil on linen, 48 x 60 inches

Small Lynx, 2013
Oil on linen, 36 x 30 inches

Eric Aho's work has moved more deeply into pure abstraction over the years and yet it remains deeply embedded in the landscapes that the artist so clearly loves. The line between abstraction and representation is more like a vast gray zone between two peculiar and, for my money, less interesting extremes. Magritte made it clear representational art is still essentially abstract. A painting of a pipe is not a pipe. It is a painting, an amalgam of shape, line and color. Aho makes it clear that an unrecognizable arrangement of colors, shapes and marks can still be a powerful expression of things that exist in the real world. His paintings seem to blend the old romantic landscape traditions that attempted to evoke the awe and wonder one can experience in the face of the vastness or subtleties of the natural world, with the expressive modes of de Kooning and other abstract artists. The degree to which he bridges this seemingly enormous gulf is the key to his success. JMW Turner occasionally accomplished something similar over 150 years ago before pure abstraction was even considered a viable possibility. But since then this kind of synthesis has not been particularly well explored. Which is unfortunate, since it strikes deeply into the essential truths that painting is capable of and humbles a simple narrative artist like myself.

You can see some wonderful work on the artist's website (ericaho.com). Much of it is older but it's well worthwhile to see the gradual shift in his work from representation to abstraction. For more recent work check out DC Moore gallery.

I posted his work once before way back in November2009

Monday, March 17, 2014

Steve McDonald

"Turbine #2" from the series "out of the void"
70" x 70" Archival print on Linen with hand-applied Acrylic color

"Out of the Void #5" 36" x36"  ink and water-based paints on linen

"Hillside Retreat"

"India" 60" x 45" Chalk, watercolors and pencil on paper

"The Ice-Cream Man "   24" x 24" Digital drawing with hand-applied color on paper.

Steve McDonald is an artist based in Bali that shows his art in Toronto and London. His intricate line drawings of aerial landscapes, cityscapes and cryptic machinery are executed on various scales and in multiple media, from pens, markers and paints to digital, and various combinations thereof. He also creates
numerous abstract kaleidoscopic prints in a similar vein, as well as digital paint portraiture. But it's these elaborate line drawn scenes that enthrall me the most. The mechanistic formality of the subject matter is countered with loose flowing line work that lends both machine and city a breathing organic quality. This is as it should be. Such creations may be initially designed with mathematical precision in their details but the final products are, in the act of actually building them, and even more so in using them, warped, frayed, bent, broken and patched. In the end they more closely resemble the constructs of ants or corals and other more primitive lifeforms than they do the perfectly mechanistic blueprinted plans that human beings initially envisioned. Mr. McDonald's work is wide ranging and his ideas and themes are not limited to what I've shown here.

You can see a good deal more at his website: www.steviemcd.com
But I would highly recommend browsing through his Facebook page (www.facebook.com/artbysteve) for even More material.

"View from the Tower" in progress
Pencil, charcoal and acrylic on board  72" x 72" . 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Peter Rotter

After The Storm 48×60, 2012

Spring Greens, 36 x 36, 2013

Whale Island 36×60 Oil on Canvas

Winter Forest, 36 x 60, 2012

Winter Sunset, 36 x 60, 2013

And now we turn 180 degrees from abstract conceptualism to that most traditional of forms, the landscape painting. In this field it is not always easy to pick out the excellent from the merely good. But to me Peter Rotter's work stands out from the very very crowded field. His technique combines impressionist brushwork with a photographic and sometimes even graphic sensibility. The simplicity of his compositions accentuates the strengths of his technique and the brushwork is clearly apparent even in these low resolution digital images. The paint is used to depict both the edges of physical forms and the shifting hues of light with equal and naturalistic ease. The overall effect is a powerful evocation of the northern landscapes of Ontario where the artist lives and works.
You can see more at his website: www.peterrotter.com
And he'll be having a solo show opening March 22 in Wellington, Ontario at Studi House PEC.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ellen Lesperance

My comfort zone generally runs toward representational and narrative art but I try to keep my mind as open as my eyes. Down at Upfor gallery here in Portland there's a display of work by local artist Ellen Lesperance that is worth your time if you happen to be in town. Her process is highly conceptual. Working from sweaters worn by feminist activists as well as the designs worn by Amazons on classical Greek pottery (!) she develops her own abstract pieces on hand drawn grids. Now concepts can be interesting or not, without having much impact on the visual end product. When the end product is as eloquent and captivating as these, it tends to deepen the interest, adding a layer of satisfying back story and possibly piquing the viewer's interest in those of the artist. In this case, that's the role of feminist activists who often sacrificed many other aspects of their lives to bring about necessary and still nascent changes in society. But process and intent should never be what draws you to a work of art in the first place, and they can be safely set aside until you have first taken in the finished product. Aesthetics is still the unavoidable root challenge of all visual art, despite numerous attempts to set it aside during the 20th century. These pieces meet that challenge with a startling synthesis of painstaking meticulous detail and elegant informality. The hand drawn uneven grid gives the structural aspect of the work room to breathe. The individual paintings are hung upon a background of hand-printed silks, and on a small table near the center of the room, small  statuettes of activists and Amazons cavort together across the millennia in common cause. It's as much installation as it is painting and sculpture, and it's a quietly powerful room to spend a little time in if you get the chance.
The show will up through March 30 at Upfor Gallery
You can see more of Ellen Lesperance's work at her website:

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Julian Bell

"Exercises at Imber"  2004

"Delhi Metro"  2007

"The Skylit Room"

"State Offices, Zadar"

"The Arrest at Nevada Bob's"  1999
Julian Bell is a British painter who enthusiastically embraces representation and narrative and finds plenty of fresh energy in that age old effort. He says he's "interested in the funny things people do on the earth," and that seems like a pretty good summation of his style and subject matter, both of which are widely varied, from landscapes to interiors and figures, depicted in rough gestural drawings or tight realism, rigid formal compositions or looping fish-eyed panoramas. The unifying element through all of it is a fascination with the comically vast range of human behavior and our often bizarre transformation of the landscapes around us. The human world seen through Julian Bell's eyes is neither a horror show, nor is it one of awe and wonder. It may occasionally strike you as one, or neither or both, but ultimately it is simply a fascinating place of unlikely peculiarities. 

You can see more work at his website: http://www.jbell.co.uk
or at: http://www.stannesgalleries.com/bell.html

Julian Bell is also a writer and author of the recent history of art "Mirror of the World".

I'd like to thank Chester Arnold to pointing me to his work.