Monday, December 31, 2012

Four Days in London

Old concrete wall in the tanks at the Tate Modern

My four days in London before Christmas were exciting and stimulating.

As promised (previous posting) I went to see the tanks at the Tate Modern. Access is from the main turbine hall. When you pass through the glass doors the temperature is noticeably cooler, the lighting is subdued, and there is a smell of damp concrete. There are three tanks of different sizes and, as luck would have it, animations and videos by one of my favorite artists - William Kentridge - were showing in the largest tank.

William Kentridge's animations in one of the tanks at Tate Modern

These new spaces provide an unusual and thrilling venue for installation and performance art in London.

Other places I visited during my stay:

Building work in the City of London

Christchurch by Hawksmoor, Spitalfields

Christmas Fair outside the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank.

Jamaica Wharf, Bermondsey

White Cube gallery, Bermondsey

Anthony Gormley's "architecture" at the White Cube gallery.

Inside Anthony Gormley's "architecture"
Rachel Whiteread's intervention on the facade
of the Whitechapel Gallery

Victorian architecture of the St. Pancras Hotel

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tanks Beneath the Tate

Under the Tate No 1  43" x 54" Oil on canvas. 1999
I'm travelling to London today and am looking forward to visiting the Tate Modern, as I do on every trip. This time the old underground oil tanks will be open and I'm looking forward to seeing them re-incarnated as performance and installation spaces. 

In the late nineties I saw some photographs of the tank interiors which were taken when the old power station was being surveyed for re-use. I was inspired to do these paintings.

Under the Tate No 2  54" x 43" Oil on Canvas. 1999

Sunday, December 2, 2012

My Favorite Bag (Drypoint Etching)

My favorite bag is made by Freitag and it is constructed from recycled tarps, tires, and seatbelts. I've had it for 10 years now and it's getting worn - the rubber trim leaves black marks on every wall it brushes against and the strap clip is getting loose. Its retirement is imminent.

Recently I had the opportunity to use a fellow artist's printing press for a day so I spent the time making some small drypoint etchings. A few of my friends will be getting this as their Christmas card this year!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Working on a commission piece....

Pier Commission  24" x 96" (diptych)  Mixed media and oil on wood panels

I've almost finished my fourth commission painting this year.

This one is long - made of eight seperately developed wood panels fixed together to "build" a pier structure. Layers of posters and color are applied to each panel before the lines of the repeated architectural module are added. When the work is finished glimpses of the collage beneath will be visible between and behind the final layers of paint. 

The photo above shows me applying the water and reflections by "stamping" oil paint onto the panels using narrow pieces of wood.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Marrakech Bakery

Bakers Tiles - Marrakech  36" x 36" Mixed media and oil on wood panel

When I was in Marrakech earlier this year I hired a guide to help me make the most of my limited time in the city. I wanted to wander the souks and alleyways in the medina and see things I might otherwise miss. It worked - I was able to get a brief  "behind the scenes" glimpse of local life.

One of these glimpses was a visit to a neighborhood baker... down an alleyway, through a door, down some steps into a low, dark room. A hot bread oven was set low in the corner and a man, using long poles, was sliding flat trays of dough into the fire. Local women had made the dough at home and had brought it here to be cooked. Each waiting tray had a symbol telling the baker where the bread belonged.

Looking at the trays lined up on the floor made me look at the floor itself.... it seemed ancient. It was poor and grubby, lined with old hand-made tiles. No tile matched its neighbor. There were gaps filled with dirt. And yet it was exquisite! The stoic subtlety of this floor with its cracked and aged patina made the new tiles for sale in the markets outside seem suddenly bright and brash. 

The painting above is a composite of my memories of a day wandering around the medina.   

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Open Studio - Fall 2012

If you are local to the San Francisco Bay area come and visit me in my studio this month. There are over 40 other artists showing their work in the same building, and a coffee bar downstairs. A great day out!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Morocco - Works on Paper

Here are some of the Moroccan-inspired pieces I'll be showing at my Open Studio later this month:

Marrakech Street. 11" x 11". Mixed media on paper

Blue Door - Essaouira. 11" x 11". Mixed media on paper

Pink Door - Essaouira. 11" x 11". Mixed media on paper

Open Studios

October 26th - 28th

Friday: 6.00 - 9.00pm
Saturday/Sunday: 11.00 - 6.00

1890 Bryant Street, San Francisco

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Development of a multi-panel painting.

I was recently commissioned to create a multi-panel painting inspired by the piers in San Francisco, the Bay Bridge, and bicycles. The size had to be 24" x 60".  Below I have shown the stages the painting went through before completion:

Posters, texture and paint applied to wood panels

Text sprayed and painted onto panels

Panels selected for the painting

Selected panels joined together with wood cradle.

Wall finish developed. Bridge added.

Walls and doors developed. Water added. Finished!
Pier with Bridge and Bike. 24" x 60" 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

For a Good Cause

I recently donated one of my Pier Module paintings to this year’s Art for Aids live auction. It benefits the UCSF Alliance Health Project. Leading up to this fantastic event, I was very excited to discover that I’ve been mentioned in the most recent Art Business News:

For a Good Cause: Art and Philanthropy Come Together with Art for AIDS’ 16th Annual Auction

September 7, 2012 By Rebecca Pahle

The San Francisco art scene will come together on Friday, September 14th for a good cause, auctioning off over 140 pieces by world-renowned artists at the 2012 Art for AIDS. Now San Francisco’s premier auction, the event was founded in 1996 by a group of Bay Area locals who decided to sell their art to help their friends living with HIV/AIDS. Sixteen years later it’s gotten decidedly bigger and more swanky—this year’s event, featuring gourmet food from local restaurants and wine and cocktails courtesy of Ketel One, is expected to be attended by over 700—but it’s still as devoted to its cause as ever: Proceeds will go to UCSF’s Alliance Health Project, which has been providing assistance to the LGBTQ and HIV communities for over a quarter-century.

A juried live and silent auction, Art for AIDS will see paintings, photography, sculpture and more by a slate of award-winning artists—including Lucky Rapp, Jock Sturges, Ross Bleckner and Catherine Mackey, whose Pier Module #16 is valued at $3,500—made available to the highest bidder. Lest we forget, there’s also the Certificate Auction for those who would rather put their money toward luxury getaways, Napa Valley winery tours, spa treatments and the like.

For more on the event, to which tickets are still available, visit More on the UCSF Alliance Health Project can be found at

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Drypoint Printing Workshop

I have recently completed a two-weekend Drypoint Printing workshop with Jenny Robinson in her studio at Hunters Point in San Francisco.
It was hard work and frustrating at first. When I paint I respond to each layer of paint previously applied and move forwards to the eventual image. With drypoint printing it is necessary to have a clear view of the final image at the beginning of the process in order to plan the different plates of color which will be printed first. Like thinking backwards - it made my head hurt!
By the second weekend I was getting the hang of it and having some fun, aided and abetted by my fellow students and Jenny's wicked sense of humor.

Here is the story of one of my prints:

First I chose an image - a drawing/collage of dye vats in the tanneries at Fes.

Then I etched a line drawing of that image into treated illustration board, pulling off the surface in areas where I needed dense shadow. I used charcoal to rub into the board as I worked to show me how the drawing was developing.
The board then gets inked up before printing......

The first drypoint print, no color underneath.

Drypoint print over two different color drops - the Yellow and the colored dye areas. The Yellow layer was still sticky when I printed the drypoint so the Black ink didn't stick. An interesting mistake. 

Drypoint print over the ghost print of the colored "blobs".

Drypoint print over yet another ghost print from the "blobs" - the color is barely discernible.

Drypoint print with layer of "Faux Chine Colle" over. This tints the white areas enough to make them different from the surrounding paper and gives an aged look.

All the prints are 8" x 8" on Rives BFK 140lb paper.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

More Morocco Paintings

It's more than two months since I returned fom my trip to Morocco and I'm still being inspired by the things I saw there, particularly in the ancient city of Fes. Here are more of my latest paintings:

Blossom (Fes) 31" x 96"
Collage and oil on wood panels.
The buildings in and around the city were covered with satellite dishes.

Fes Tanneries No 1   36" x 36"
Mixed media and oil on panel.
The tanneries are in the North West corner of the medina.

Dye Vats No 1  36" x 36"
Collage and oil on panel.
White stucco pits where the animal hides are stripped and
softened with a mix of pigeon poo and cow urine.

Dye Vats No 2  33" x 36"
Oil on panel.
Red brick circular vats, some tiled, hold the colored dyes
where the hides will be soaked for days. Each vat is about
six feet in diameter and at least four feet deep.