Friday, December 27, 2013

Urban Exploration - Kings Cross Central Development - London

 I'll be spending a few days in London in January. One of the things I always do when I'm there is explore an area that I don't know very well, usually with my good friend Geoff. This year we will be visiting the King's Cross Central Development just north of the King's Cross and St. Pancras railway stations. 

When we first explored this area several years ago we knew that it was was part of a major re-development plan which would bring drastic changes. At that time the area was a wasteland: elevated rail lines on rusting steel supports ran over old brick arches which housed all kinds of abandoned spaces. Large empty warehouses and the Victorian gasometer No 8 loomed over the overgrown sections of the Regents Canal in which we spotted turtles. The area was very edgy.

Here are some of my photos and sketches from that first visit. I'm looking forward to seeing how things look now. Stay posted.

New Painting

Pier 64 No 3. 36" x 48". Collage, mixed media and oil on wood panel.
After the disruption of moving home I finally got back into my studio and have been able to focus on a commission piece for a local client. As soon as I started mixing colors all the stress of the previous month just melted away! 
The painting is one of a series on which I am working based on an old pier on the West side of Manhattan which I drew and photographed several years ago. The pier is now gone, replaced by a waterside park.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Drawing in a Dust Storm

For the past couple of weeks I have been unable to spend much time in my studio due to an unexpected, but wonderful, home re-location. My only creative outlet, in between packing and cleaning, was personalizing birthday cards for family members - a glue stick and pair of scissors were my friends! 
This made me think a lot about how art-making is so essential to my sense of well-being, and about the times in the past that drawing has helped me to engage with the world around me.

Seven years ago I went to Burning Man for the first time and I was very anxious about whether I would enjoy being in the desert with thousands of strangers for a week. With the help of a skilled and resourceful friend I built myself an Art Cart - essentially a box containing all my equipment for drawing which could be pulled around by bicycle. This gave me way of being there on my own terms.

Here are some old photos of me being so absorbed in my drawing that I didn't notice an approaching dust storm:

I have been missing that feeling of total absorption and I am very excited about being in the studio again next week. More postings of current work to come! 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Jigsaw Puzzle Update

For those friends who have been asking about my bicycle jigsaw puzzle: HEYE, the puzzle company in Germany who are producing it, have told me that availability is imminent. In fact they will be using the image on the front of their new catalogue. Cool!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October Open Studio

Catherine Mackey - Open Studio

Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th October
11.00 - 6.00 pm

1890 Bryant Street Studio # 204,
San Francisco, CA 94110

Between my return from New York, where I opened a solo show earlier this month, and my Open Studio this coming weekend I have had less than three weeks to prepare enough work to make my suddenly-empty studio look interesting and busy. But I've done it! 

I have finished two new paintings and have retrieved several recent paintings which were showing elsewhere. But the really fun thing I have done is to delve into my sketchbooks and pull out some of my favorite sketches related to my exploration of the waterfront in San Francisco and Sausalito.  Some are studies for paintings and some are drawings for the sake of drawing. They are framed and for sale at my studio this weekend. Here are a few examples:

Fisherman's Wharf. 8" x 10". Pencil crayon on paper.

Sausalito Houseboat. 10" x 8". Pencil crayon on paper.

Sausalito Houseboat. 10" x 8". Pencil crayon & marker on paper.

Sausalito Houseboat. 10" x 8". Pencil crayon on paper.

Sausalito Houseboat. 10" x 8". Pencil crayon on paper.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Four Days in New York

I've just returned from four days in New York. I went primarily to attend the opening of my solo show "Patterns in the City" at Stricoff Fine Art in Chelsea but I managed to squeeze in some art shows, sightseeing, and lots of walking. 

The show:

It turns out that I got to New York before the paintings did!

At 11.00 am on the day before the opening the paintings still hadn't arrived. Something had happened during the two weeks transit period and nobody could say what. They arrived later that day and Michel had to work hard to hang the show and arrange the lighting in a short period of time. There were sighs of relief all around!

The opening the next evening was busy and fun, and several of the paintings were sold before the end of the event.

The Whitney:

The Drawings of Edward Hopper.
I've never really been a big fan of Hopper's paintings but seeing these drawing studies
has given me a new respect for his development of composition and contrast.
The drawings are gestural, layered and wonderful.
An amazing in-the-round video installation telling the artist's story of Manhattan.
This took me by surprise and I ended up being absorbed for at least 30 minutes.  
Walking around:
Sheep Station - Francois-Xavier Lalanne
An installation at an old gas station on West 24th at 10th Avenue
Pier 92 - NYC
Walking along the waterside on the West side I discovered that not everything
has been fixed up and re-painted. This pier will definitely inspire some paintings!
Visual chaos:
The Brooklyn Bridge approach by the old Fulton fish market.

Dia Beacon:
The view of the old Nabisco box factory on the walk from the railway station. 
Michael Heizer's Negative Sculpture
Spider sculpture by Louise Bourgeois
(I wasn't allowed to take a photo so I had to draw it.)
I've recently watched a video of her in her studio and her powerfully knarled
hands feature strongly in her work. When looking at this spider I saw that the
junctions on the legs look a lot like her hands. She is one of my favorite artists.
Richard Serra
Inside one of the four enormous structures housed in one long gallery.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Patterns in the City - Opening Reception


A solo show of new works by Catherine Mackey
Opening reception:
Thursday October 3rd  6.00 - 8.00 pm
564 W 25th St. New York, NY 10001
(212) 219-3977

Friday, September 6, 2013

Tahoe Pier Commission

I recently completed a small but surprisingly difficult commission painting for a client who lives in Tahoe and who wanted  a painting of one of the piers in the lake.

I have painted MANY pier paintings in the last few years. My works have always explored either the relationship between the posts and the industrial architecture above, or the deep shadows between the water and the decaying, salt-stained posts. The piers in Tahoe have neither industrial buildings nor dark shadows. They are generally light, clean and well maintained. To add to the challenge, my client needed a vertical painting.

On exploring the North shore I was relieved to find a pier with a wood shingle hut at the end, and some strong shadow in the afternoon light. I had my subject!

Here's what happened:

Sketches and photographs on site.
Back in my studio - collage is applied to a painted wood panel.
The client is half French so I selected some posters recently
brought back from France for me by a friend.

The painting takes shape - detail.

Tahoe Pier. 42" x 24". Mixed media and oil on wood panel.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Solo show - NYC - Save the Date!

Pier 64 # 2  36" x 72". Oil and mixed media on wood panel.

If you are planning a trip to New York in the fall don't forget that I'm having a solo show:

Patterns in the City 
October 1st - 16th.

Opening Reception:
Thursday October 3rd - I'll be there!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Stamped Ripple Technique

Evening at the Ramp #2  48" x 24"
The painting above depicts part of a large merchant ship basking in the evening sun on the Eastern / industrial side of San Francisco. We only see a fraction of the ship's hull but the reflections on the water below tell us more about the funnels above deck.

Over the past few years a lot of my work has explored waterfront architecture, mostly piers, and I have gradually developed a technique to suggest the water and reflections. My process, which I will now call the Stamped Ripple Technique, has attracted a lot of attention and many questions.

The photographs below show how I created the water on this painting:

Using oil paint I prepare several colors on my palette
which is placed on a surface adjacent to the painting.
A strip of wood is then dipped into the paint....
....and pressed onto the painting.
(The painting is on wood panel which offers stability
for the stamping pressure.) 
Different color ripples are built up, the edges of the
stamps creating three dimensional ridges which catch
the light when the painting is lit from above.
The stamping process allows me to leave parts of the under - 
painting/collage showing through the water.
“Images courtesy of Hill Physicians /Stephan Hookano.”

Friday, June 28, 2013

For James Gandolfini:

Tony's Journey. 24" x 240". Mixed media on wood panels.
 Back in 2009 I was hooked on the Sopranos - great story, great acting, and great visuals. I became fixated on the introductory sequence to each episode which took the viewer through the different neighborhoods between the Jersey Turnpike and Tony Soprano's suburban home. It was so compelling I felt I had to make a painting which described that journey.

Tony's Journey. Stricoff Fine Art - New York. 2009
Many of you will have seen this piece either in New York or at my studio. It measures just over twenty feet long. I was looking at it today and remembering James Gandolfini who played Tony Soprano - he was a great actor. But more than that he was a good man. He cared deeply about war veterans and made documentaries about their struggles, especially with PTSD. His death is a sad loss.    

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bicycle Jigsaw

One of my bicycle paintings has been selected by German puzzle company Heye for production as a 1000 piece jigsaw. I just approved the box design. It's not going to make my fortune but it's a lot of fun!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Zip Code 94109

Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason. Pencil crayon on paper. 17" x 14"
I'm taking part in a fun project with Studio Gallery in San Francisco where invited artists have one week to create art inspired by anything within the borders of zip code 94109. And this is the week!
Because the area extends as far as the water I headed off to Fort Mason yesterday to catch the shadows on the doors of the piers. The wind was gusting so I only managed this one piece on paper but will be working on another small piece in my studio during the week.

Show: May 26th - June 9th
Opening reception: Sunday June 2nd: 2-6pm.
Location: Studio Gallery. 1850 Polk St, San Francisco

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Map Making - Pier Retrospective

First stage of the map in my studio. May 22nd 2013

In the last three years I have done many paintings and sketches of the piers along the San Francisco waterfront. As much time as I have spent wandering the Embarcadero, China Basin and Mission Rock I still have problems remembering the numbers of the piers and where certain photographs were taken.
So yesterday I started creating a map using Google satellite images. I'm not sure what's going to happen next but I know I want to incorporate sketches, images of paintings, and notes, perhaps with push pins and pieces of string to link them to the inspirational location on the map. Very analog!

My only concern is that at the current scale The Ramp is going to end up on the floor!

More Wheels

My painting "Mission Wheels" (see posting from April 17th) received a lot of attention at my Open Studios last month. One comment overheard many times was that, at three feet by six feet, it was too big for the average urban dweller. I had so much fun painting it that I saw this as a great excuse to paint some smaller versions.

Here they are, just finished:

Mission Wheels #2  36" x 36"
Mission Wheels #3  36" x 36"