Monday, September 6, 2010

New Work/Images for Fall 2010

Here are new images of my work. I have three new wood sculpture, including a new flag, and five new shellac paintings. I had been calling my wood sculptures shellac paintings but as they have become more sculptural and as I have developed a new series that are really shellac paintings, I have had to adjust my terminology. Hopefully, the change isn't too confusing.

This one,
On Edge, is made with the same lumber as Fear Not, Fall Not that I finished earlier in the year. As you can see, the figure is phenomenal in both, something of a cross between a curly and quilted maple. I used the direction of the curl/quilt as a rough guide for the end angles. You can't see from this image but each of the boards are slightly different thicknesses, ranging from about 5/8" to 7/8". It can hang in any of the four 90 degree directions but I've settled on this one for no particular reason.

On Edge
shellac on curly maple and cherry
28.5" x 34" x 1"

Peaches and Pears, below, is made with a highly figured board of curly maple. I thought I got such as great deal on the lumber -- it was marked down to $1.65/board-ft, which is about one quarter what one would usually pay for figured maple and which I figured was due to the numerous knots (which I particularly liked). However, what I didn't pay for in cash at the lumber yard I paid for 10-fold in labor. The figure is so intense that it was like working end grain the entire length of the board. Not only did I have to take extra care to prevent and fix tear-out, but it soaked up shellac like nothing else I have ever worked with.
Peaches and Pears
shellac on curly maple, cherry, and epoxy
16.5" x 54" x 0.5" Peaches and Pears (close-up)

I also finished a new flag. I had posted an image of this one months ago but after looking at it a while decided I the blue sections needed more contrast between each other and the red stripes needed to be more peachy so I took it apart (removing all 160 screws) and modified it. I'm happy with it now (I hope for good), I have no desire to take it apart again. I also decided I prefer this orientation.

Chevron Flag
shellac on curly maple, curly yellow birch, bird's-eye maple
53" x 34" x 1"
As you can see from the side view, the different pieces are off-set with the curly birch being the thinnest (about 3/4").

Chevron Flag (side-view)

I've also continued to explore the new shellac painting series and I feel that it has finally advanced beyond the experimental phase into something that I consider to have great potential for creating unique and interesting contemporary paintings. One of the things I love about it is how it captures the history of everything you have done up until the time it is finished. Every layer, every color, every coat remains visible in the final piece. It is very time consuming and frustrating (because it often feels like I'll never be able to finish the piece I'm working on) but I feel it is worth it because the effect is so unique. One unique effect is how it highlights the texture of the coats of gesso. By brushing each coat on at 90 degree angles to the previous coat it creates a textile effect in the final piece. Without the shellac the variance in ridge and valleys don't appear significant but as soon as you start brushing on the shellac they suddenly become visual mountains with valleys that appear to be impossible to fill. When the surface does finally become flat, it has a cloth-like look (unfortunately, I've found this to be impossible to capture with images).

I named this one,
And Most Positive, from what a Ukrainian friend was saying about the piece when she first saw it. In addition to thinking that this one has a very positive energy, she also thought it belonged in The Museum of Modern Art (she had visited it recently and was very disappointed with there contemporary exhibits). I didn't argue with her about its relative quality but I did have a hard time convincing her that I couldn't just submit an image for their review.
And Most Positive
shellac on board
35" x 29"

One of the amazing things about working with shellac as a painting medium is its sensitivity. Even after coating the baltic birch plywood with five coats of gesso and numerous heavy coats of clear shellac, the grain pattern of the plywood is visible in the final piece.

Six Yellow Rectangles
shellac on board
24" x 29"

Here is a close-up example.
Six Yellow Rectangles (closeup)
shellac on board
27" x 21.5"

Here is another example, it is much more visible in person.
Blue (close-up)

With these two next pieces that I had done earlier, my technique was a little different and the grain pattern isn't as visible.
Random Colored Lines
shellac on board
33" x 14.5"

As I mentioned earlier, I entered this piece, Watermelon, into the Art Hop's juried show. Though I was surprised last year to win with Three Days in September, I was equally surprised that I didn't win this year with this one. I think it is a fantastic piece, one might even say that it is the greatest painting of the nascent 21st Century. I'm trying to be as objective as possible.

shellac on board
44" x 44"


  1. rob, the 2nd and 3rd photo..are those holes? or knots? THAT makes it for me, love it! its so unexpected and just pops. good job :) congrats on finishing more pieces, the flag is looking good to, i can't wait to see more of that series.
    hope all is well

  2. They are holes where the knots had fallen out, filled with epoxy. Thanks, glad you like them.