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)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mark Reep

"Home Is The Sailor"  Charcoal, Graphite  5 7/8" x 3 1/8"

"Last Bell"  Charcoal, Graphite  4" x 6"

"Abandoned Waterworks 2"   Charcoal, Graphite; 11" x 6"
"Abandoned Waterworks"  Charcoal, Graphite  6" x 10"

"Point of Grace"  Charcoal, Graphite  8 1/2" x 11"

Much of contemporary art is unabashedly cynical. As a matter of fact, romanticism hasn't really been accepted as proper company since the dawn of the twentieth century (and even then it was being shown the door). But amateurs and non-artists have always been more honest about it's innate appeal even if they're sometimes unable to distinguish quality from mediocrity. I've always had a soft spot, or maybe more of large soft swath, for this kind of thing. Perhaps in this post industrial age when comic books and high fantasy have entered the main stream, the fine art world ought to take a second look. Okay, that's not going happen. But still, there's some exquisite work out there worth looking at. Case in point, the self-taught Mr. Mark Reep. Some of the work can teeter precariously on the edge of new age corny, but a rule of thumb when viewing art is to always judge an artist by your favorite pieces, not your least. What does work here is sublime. The images are imbued with narrative although the characters are locked away in their island sanctuaries or have mysteriously abandoned their extraordinary works. He creates scenes that draw us in, inviting us to imagine another place, somewhere, some other time. The drawings themselves are often tiny, the technique highly meticulous and detailed. One gallery apparently provided a magnifying glass for its viewers. That kind of intimacy can cast a very powerful spell.
You can see more at his website: markreep.net or at www.bluecanvas.com/markreep
You can aslo follow his blog: markreep.blogspot.com

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sharon Moody

Hold it, Joker!, oil on panel, 16X20 in.

Zit! Throom! Krrakkk!, oil on panel, 16X16 in.

Rock, Paper, Scissors, oil on canvas, 16 X 27 in.

Racquets and Shuttlecocks, oil on panel, 10 X 29 in.

This Is A Game, oil on panel, 5 X 5 in.
I know a lot of people really really love hyper realist painting. To be honest I actually don't more often than I do. Much of it seems to have little point except as a painstaking and tedious exercise (why not just take a photo?). But Sharon Moody makes excellent use of the trompe l'oeil tradition (french for "deceive the eye"). Her themes are games and the entertainments of childhood. Which is fitting, because the optical illusions created by this sort of work is in itself, an amusement, a diversion meant to dazzle the eye and delight the mind. There is no deep and ponderous meaning lying in wait for the unwary, nor pretentious airs. But that doesn't mean it has no significance. She simply delights in her ability to create images that seem as if they could fall right off the canvas. Her delight is nicely echoed by the subject matter, and we as viewers can share in that delight, readily and gratefully. Compared to all the inscrutable highbrow art out there that alienates so many from even imagining that they can enjoy art, delight is a perfectly fine purpose in a painting, and Sharon Moody delivers it with both wit and style.You can see much more on her website: sharonmoody.com

seen on artistaday.com

Monday, July 23, 2012

Charles Ritchie

"Self-Portrait with Night XI"  watercolor, graphite and conté crayon on Fabriano paper  5.5" x 12"  2011-2012

"Snow in Two Panels"  watercolor, graphite and conté crayon on Fabriano paper  4" x 12"  208-2011
"Composition with Summer Foliage"  watercolor and graphite on Fabriano paper  3 1/8" x 3 3/4"

"Three Windows"  watercolor, graphite, conté crayon, and white ink on Fabriano paper  6 7 /8 x 8 3/8"  2010-2011
"Kitchen Windows with Reflections"  watercolor and graphite on Fabriano paper  4" x 6"  2011

Charles Ritchie's work was included in the latest issue of New American Paintings (#100 covering the Southeast U.S.) and it immediately caught my eye. I'm always drawn to night time imagery; the atmosphere of it, the way details recede into shadow and the darkness joins large areas into obscure patterns. But I also loved the way he plays with reflected images. The night he observes is often seen through a pane of glass, superimposing multiple views, further obscuring the subject matter, adding to the mystery. Then finally I noticed the technique. And especially the scale. Now I do love large paintings. Scale is incredibly important, and the impact of a particular piece can be tremendously more effective on a monumental scale. Alternately, what might have been a nice modest painting can seem a bloated and over indulgent. But small has its own strengths and charms and pitfalls. Small is intimate. A crowd can gather about a huge painting in a gallery and feel as if they are sharing in the experience. But very small pieces insist on individual interaction. Only one at a time please. You must make a very personal connection to the work. These quiet meditative images are perfectly suited for this kind of interaction. And I can well imagine that the soft, loving, labor intensive technique would well reward the smallest investment of attention. You can see much more work on the artist's website: www.charlesritchie.com

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Santiago Caruso

"Cabinet of Wonders"

from "The Bloody Countess"

"Portrait of Crime"

"You Look Like Rain"

Santiago Caruso is an Argentine illustrator and artist with an intensely dark surrealist vision. It came as no surprise to me to find that he has done a great deal of illustration work for the writings of H. P. Lovecraft. There is an undeniable atmosphere that both share, not merely dark, but hyper-sensitive, paranoid, on the threshold of madness. The themes are myth, mortality, temptation and the supernatural. It's a rich vein of material that is more generally mined by lesser talents. Clichés are usually the norm in the genre of horror, so for anyone who enjoys that sort of thing, it is a rare treat to find material that treats it with both seriousness and originality. If you count yourself among those, then you really need to spend some time browsing his website. He has a lot of material to look through, and for many of the images he provides extraordinary detail images and process shots capturing his painstaking and exquisite technique.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sebastián Velasco

"Bajo Las Gradas del Plantío"  oil on canvas  72 x 115cm

title unknown   size unknown

"Donostiako Portua" (Post of San Sebastian)  oil on canvas  81 x 65cm

"Pasillo" (Hallway)  oil on canvas  80 x 100cm

"N-1"  oil on canvas  60 x 80cm

I stumbled across Sebastián Velasco's work on Flickr a while back. I can't find any other website or galleries with his work. But he's posting new stuff, so if you're on flickr, make him a contact. If not, well just go look. This is good solid painting, with deft, confident brushwork and solid compositions. Subtle hue and value contrasts create some beautiful lighting effects. For the most part this is simple straightforward observational work about everyday life in a mostly urban environment. The work also includes some portraiture, depictions of soccer and one study of grapes. There's no overarching themes or agendas, just the desire to capture the world in paint. He occasionally strays into stylization and caricature and this variability suggests to me that the artist is still pretty young, just flexing his abilities and trying to figure out what works best for him. I could be totally wrong, but the first of his 36 images was posted just last year. If I'm right, I'm guessing he has a long successful career to look forward to.
and for an interesting contrast you can look at his graffiti work here: www.flickr.com/photos/sebasura1
my apologies for the delay. I should have another new post later this week.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Gong Yuan

"Condition"  oil   37.4" x 43.3"

These portraits by the artist Gong Yuan make me think of Francis bacon with a better sense of humor. But where Francis Bacon plumbed the depths of pure dark emotionality, using the figure merely as a prop these are true portraits. Okay, maybe some of them or more caricature. But even so, they take caricature up to the level of high art. All of the disturbing and agonizingly recognizable qualities of real people are there lurking behind the chaos of gestural paint, but there is a tender, comic element as well. A lot of fine art tends to take things just a bit too seriously. And audiences buy into this. If it isn't horrible, dark, despairing, or at least shocking, then it must not be very important. Of course there's a whole school of artists out there, many of whom I've featured, who turn all that seriousness on it's head and trumpet the value of humor in art.  But very rarely do you see both points of view so delicately balanced, so perfectly reflective of what it is to be a human being.
There's more work here:
And the artist has a website here:
but be forewarned, it's in Chinese and you may find it difficult to navigate.

(most of the work on the Saatchi site is untitled. No sizes given.)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Marco Wagner

Like the artist in my previous post (Esao Andrews) and many others, Marco Wagner is another artist/illustrator blurring the lines between the two endeavors.The term pop-surrealist is sometimes used to describe the genre, although the more familiar I become with it the less suitable the name seems. But that's the nature of labels. Marco Wagner's work reflects the nuanced differences between artists of this sort in Europe and those in the U.S.. Much of the work in the U.S. leans towards the cartoonish, fantasy, or kitsch, often but not always with a healthy dollop of sarcasm. Marco Wagner's work on the other hand leans toward a generally more serious tone with a greater emphasis on design and technique. These are often dark images and somber themes tempered slightly by a lightness of approach.
There's plenty of both his personal work and his illustration on view at his website: www.marcowagner.net

Monday, July 2, 2012

Esao Andrews

"The Stray" 24"x 24" oil on wood. 2011

"Polished & Powdered" 24"x 36" oil on wood. 2011

"Drifters" 36"x 48" oil on wood. 2010

"Meigh" 20"x 24" oil on wood. 2010

"The Haircut" 8"x 11" oil on wood. 2011
Esao andrews is among an enormous group of contemporary artists who intentionally blur the line between fine art and illustration. What I find refreshing about a lot of them, and Esao Andrews is no exception, is that they combine a real dedication to craftsmanship and skill with unfettered imagination and a whimsical visual inventiveness. His work is wide ranging and it would be difficult to pin down specific themes, but in general I see elements of childlike innocence and fantasy combining with a darker vein of psychedelia. Not every piece works, but why should it? That's what invention is all about. Trying new things. Looking through his portfolio, and that of others like him, you're reminded over and over again that the potential for representational image making is truly unlimited. We should all be glad that pioneers in the 20th century opened up the possibilities of abstraction, but declarations of the death of representation were not just premature, they were absurd. And representational artists like Esao Andrews use elements of abstraction to enhance the inventiveness of their own work.
You can see much much more on his website: esao.net