Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pier Fragment Drawing

Pier Fragments #'s 16, 17, 18 & 22. Graphite, watercolor and colored pencil on paper.

In my last post I talked about the fragments of old piers I found on my visit to Mare Island. I did this drawing today of four of the “fragments”. I keep thinking of them as soldiers in a ravaged army from days gone by. At the moment they just have numbers but I might give them names.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mare Island Adventure

Broken windows - Mare Island
Usually, after I’ve finished a major deadline, I need to take some time off to regain both physical and creative energy. This month was no exception –after completing work for a show in New York AND creating new work for Open Studios the following weekend I was exhausted!

Mare Island Naval Shipyard
In my search for fun and new ideas I decided to visit Mare Island – an old naval base on a peninsula in the San Francisco Bay opposite the city of Vallejo. I had visited once before with an architect friend who had to survey the old barracks building which was slated to be turned into luxury condos. (Followers of my work may remember a series of paintings I did back in 2004 of the empty spaces I found in the dormitories, classrooms and shooting range of this rather grand Italianate building.) Since then the recession hit and most of the development on the base ground to a  halt. On this visit I was hoping to take photos of old industrial buildings and the dry docks on the East side of the peninsula where the shipbuilding industry had been located.


A friend and I parked just off the freeway and got on our bikes to explore the base. The first thing we noticed was how deserted some parts were and how “edgy” it felt. I was glad that I wasn’t alone. Old buildings stood empty – some burned out and most with their windows smashed. But in other parts of the base there were lovely old colonial style buildings on a small university campus; a beautiful wooden chapel with Tiffany glass stained windows; enormous industrial steel and glass factories which used to house the steelworks for the ship-building; and smaller scale Victorian brick industrial buildings. There were cranes galore and lots of old de-commissioned ships being taken apart. The nicest surprise was when we approached the old barracks building, as yet un-developed, to find hundreds of goats on the adjacent hill - if the sky had been blue it could have been a Palladian villa in Italy.
Barracks building with goats
I took lots of photos of general “urban decay” – peeling paint, old equipment, stained brickwork etc.

And then I discovered my next source of creative inspiration: fragments of old pier structures which had been pulled out of the water and were lined up along the roadways by the shipyards. Old blocks of concrete with rusty bolts, water stains and old wooden fixings adding a surprising anthropomorphic aspect. As soon as I saw them I knew that they would find their way into my work. I’ve been wanting to work on paper for a while and hopefully these Pier Fragments will be my springboard. 

Pier fragment - Mare Island
Pier fragment - Mare Island

Friday, April 15, 2011

New Studio Sign

My studio building, at 1890 Bryant Street in San Francisco, will be open to the public this weekend as part of Mission Open Studios. My space is at the end of a long lobby and the last few times I have opened I have noticed that some visitors didn't realize that there was a large studio full of fabulous work at the end of the lobby. I needed a sign to pull them in!

So I decided to make one..... My process was similar to my painting process except for the addition of lights. I had fun making it!

Step 1 - Under-painting on plywood panel....

Step 2 - Cut out arrow shape.
Apply text leaving background showing through...

Step 3 - Apply backing frame.
Drill fifty holes and push through fifty christmas lights....

Step 4 - Hang sign outside studio door and connect to power.

Monday, April 11, 2011

New York Show

Mackey paintings at Stricoff Fine Art - April 2011
I have just returned from a fabulous few days of eating, exploring, and seeing art in New York.  The main reason for my trip was to attend the opening of a group show in the Chelsea gallery which represents my work. The show - "Three British Painters" - included seven of my paintings. On the first morning after my arrival I went to the gallery to say hello and to see how the work had been displayed. It looked great! Large white walls have an amazing impact on paintings - they suddenly "pop". I had been living with these works for the last three months and had become accustomed to them. Suddenly seeing them in a large light gallery was like being re-introduced to old friends.
The opening that evening was fun and successful - two of the paintings have sold already.
The show is up until April 20th at Stricoff Fine Art on West 25th Street.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spring Open Studios

Joins 100's of artists for the Mission-wide

Pier Modules 4-7. Mackey Studio

April 16th-17th.
11.00 - 6.00
1890 Bryant St, San Francisco, CA 94110
(Entrance on the corner of Bryant & Mariposa) for maps and guide.

Come and visit me in Studio # 315

Accidental Painting

In the few days I've had between shipping work to New York and getting on a plane to attend the opening reception at Stricoff Fine Art I've been trying to finish some pieces for Open Studios which is coming up soon.

I was developing a panel which has been hanging around my studio for a long time - adding more poster fragments and stencils - when something suddenly started to happen. I had been playing with the hooks I managed to retrieve from an old commercial laundry in my neighborhood which closed down recently and it became apparent that I needed to do a portrait of them. This painting came together yesterday.
It needs a bit more work but will hopefully be finished for my Open Studio on 16th & 17th April.