Tag Archives: Drawing

Meet the Artist in Residence: Sam Rathbun

Sam Rathbun, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the month of February 2019, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Sam some questions about her work and studio practice:

Sam Rathbun

Sam Rathbun

Q: Please you tell us about your background.
I grew up on a multi-generational farm in Naples, NY. After graduating high school, I pursued a degree in international development from Tulane University, however after taking a required drawing class, I dropped my major and transferred to SUNY New Paltz where I received my BFA in painting and drawing. I currently work at Salem Art Works (SAW), an artist residency, sculpture park, and community arts hub on the border of NY and Vermont.

Heimlich, paint, ink, muslin. Variable dimensions. 2016

Heimlich, paint, ink, muslin. Variable dimensions. 2016

Q: How would you describe your work?
In school I focused almost exclusively on painting and drawing and developed a method of utilizing drawn interiors to examine the boundaries of memory and perception. A few months after graduating I participated in a residency at SAW where I began working three dimensionally. During the first week of my residency, my family’s oldest barn caught fire and completely burnt down. This event changed the trajectory of both my subject matter and material use.

Currently, my work concerns processes of production, manufacturing, transportation, and marketing of goods, particularly those rooted in agriculture. I’ve found a reservoir of absurdity while examining my own ignorance as a consumer, especially considering I was raised by production.

Recently, I have limited myself to ink drawings when working two-dimensionally, but have no material restrictions when working sculpturally — although I do have a fondness for gummy materials like beeswax and rubber.

Once We Carried. Used conveyor belts, re-used and new elevator bolts, 11" x 25" x 6 ". Salem Art Works, 2017

Once We Carried. Used conveyor belts, re-used and new elevator bolts, 11″ x 25″ x 6 “. Salem Art Works, 2017

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
Research and play compose the foundation of my work. I latch onto bits of information that I read, hear, or see and store them until I find one or more complementary components. I think finding the link between these seemingly exclusive ideas or materials is the soul of my practice.

 Memory Merchandise. Fabricated steel, cast iron, paint, 14’ x 20’6” x 12’9”. Franconia Sculpture Park, MN, 2017

Memory Merchandise. Fabricated steel, cast iron, paint, 14’ x 20’6” x 12’9”. Franconia Sculpture Park, MN, 2017

Q: Who is your favorite artist?
Currently I’m really into the work of Janine Antoni. I’m most interested in her process. She’s able to transform rudimentary, visceral actions into poetry. Viewers see her sculptures as remnants of a transformation and are left to imagine the steps in between. Other artists who are constant sources of inspiration are Martín Ramírez, Mika Rottenberg, and Ambera Wellmann. Ramírez’s drawings are a testament to his need to make work and both Rottenberg and Wellmann share this absurdist humor that I obsess over.

Janine Antoni: Eureka. Bathtub, lard, soap, and Dorian, 1993

Janine Antoni: Eureka. Bathtub, lard, soap, and Dorian, 1993

Q: Who inspires you?
Within the past two years, I’ve noticed how integral reading is to my practice. Two of the most influential books that I reference are the Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard and The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. The project I’ll be working on at MSA was almost entirely conceived from a paragraph in the Jungle where Sinclair describes why slaughter houses were built vertically. Animals would walk up a ramp to the top floor and by the time their bodies came back to ground level they were completely transformed, packaged, and ready to ship.

Creamery. Ink on paper , 36.5" x 95", 2018

Creamery. Ink on paper , 36.5″ x 95″, 2018

Q: What type of music do you listen to?
I will try pretty much any type of music. I’m looking at my recently played songs and I have everything from FIDLAR to Erykah Badu. I also listen to podcasts and audiobooks while I work– I just started Murakamis, Kafka on The Shore.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I made several large wooden frames that roughly represent the layout of factories where raw goods are transformed. During my residency I anticipate creating ink drawings to hang within the framework. I also hope to add to this installation by creating a space to hold several glass and latex sculptures.

Water rehab "grassholes", Ink on paper. 36.5" x 93", 2018

Water rehab “grassholes”, Ink on paper. 36.5″ x 93″, 2018

Q: What’s next for you?
I anticipate working as Salem Art Works for another season as the Young Artist Coordinator and using my winter to participate in more residencies.

Q: Where else can we find you?
My website is www.samrathbun.com and I just started an Instagram: @sathbun.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Eve Bobrow

Eve Bobrow, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the month of February 2019, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Eve some questions about their work and studio practice:

Artist Eve Bobrow

Artist Eve Bobrow

Q: Please tell us about your background:
I grew up in Rochester, NY and have recently returned after graduating from Washington University in St. Louis. I originally went to school for design and computer science with the goal of working in the video game industry but transferred to architecture during my freshman year. Even while studying architecture I knew my real passion was for art, but the technical education gave me a whole new perspective to work from.

"Columnar" Drawing and Collage on Mylar; 24" x 36", 2016

“Columnar” Drawing and Collage on Mylar; 24″ x 36″, 2016

Q: How would you describe your work?
My primary focus in my work is the intersection between quantitative study and emotional experience. I like to draw from technical aesthetics, like user manuals, city plans, and blueprints, to legitimize the subject matter, or to explore a concept more deeply through technical practices.

"Thought Projection" Drawing on Mylar; 24"x36"; 2018.

“Thought Projection” Drawing on Mylar; 24″x36″; 2018.

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I usually start with a burst of productivity, which could be anything from intensive research to rapid prototyping. After I’ve iterated myself into a corner and gotten everything out of my system I will often step back and take an entirely different approach. Occasionally I will have an idea that requires a more precise plan and workflow, but normally there is a lot of chaotic collaging and those string maps detectives make.

"Haunted Alton"; Digital (Photocopied), Cover and 2 Pages of 28; 8.5"x11"; 2018

“Haunted Alton”; Digital (Photocopied), Cover and 2 Pages of 28; 8.5″x11″; 2018

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I’m hoping to make as much as possible! I haven’t had my own studio in several months so I’m excited to get into the space and spread out. Because of space constraints I’ve been working digitally lately, or on screenprinting projects with my friend/main collaborator Finnegan Roy-Nyline, that he is printing at his studio in Minneapolis.

"Untitled" 3 Color Screenprint; 8"x10"; 2019

“Big Thought” (Created in Collaboration with Finnegan Roy-Nyline)  3 Color Screenprint; 8″x10″; 2019

Q: Do you collect anything?
Yes! I’m a sucker for paper goods from the 60s-80s. I have a growing collection of USGS maps, old magazines, botany books, carving books, and basically any kind of craft book. My favorite is a two volume set of songbird carving books that had a little hand drawn pattern for a wren tucked in the pages. I also collect kodachrome slides, vintage electronics, and nice rocks.

"Collograph" Drawing Machine Output, Ink, Pencil, and Etching on Mylar; 24"x36"; 2018

“Collograph” Drawing Machine Output, Ink, Pencil, and Etching on Mylar; 24″x36″; 2018

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why? Who are your favorite local artists?
It’s a tie between Rueben Margolin and Mark Dion, both of them in different ways bring a scientific approach to their art practice that I’m really inspired by. Locally I really love Heather Swenson’s work, I think she’s doing some really interesting things with her screenprinting practice.

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Q: What’s next for you?
I have another residency in April and May, but until then I’m working on a couple different book projects/collaborations and continuing to apply for more things. I’m hoping to move to Minneapolis sometime this summer, but there’s still a lot to consider.

Q: Where else can we find you?
I’m currently redoing my website but you can find me on Instagram @evebobrow for updates on what I’m working on.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jim Garmhausen: Processing The Artist’s Process

A few years ago I made a rather large shift in my artmaking process. I’ve been a working artist for the last 20 years, starting with cartooning, for weekly papers; then painting and drawing, on flat surfaces like canvas, wood, metal, and glass. Ultimately I’d work on walls, in the form of murals. As I progressed in my studio work, I began incorporating collage, using ephemera, vintage book pages, old wall paper and the like; and occasionally attached found objects, like a bottlecap, a flattened piece of metal, or a run of rusty nail heads, to whatever surface I was working on.

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A page from my weekly comic strip, “Dreamland,” from the early 2000s.

Looking back, I realize I was pushing the 2D form to its limit. At the time, I felt increasingly frustrated, even fed up, with my work. As a self-taught artist, I was keenly aware of my limitations, and although I pushed myself hard to improve, there was something about my work that had me feeling like I was falling short of my intentions.

My studio, until this past year, was located about ten miles outside of Ithaca, NY, where I live. A woodworker had bought a former chicken farm with a large barn for processing chickens, and a number of outbuildings. He renovated the barn, creating workspaces for artists, and set up his own woodshop at the ground floor level.

The amount of studio space I found myself with (about 1000 square feet) allowed me to work at a large scale, on rolls of paper and canvas dropcloths meant for housepainters. As a former cartoonist, used to confining my work to small boxes, this was liberating. The barn itself was full of treasures that deepened my interest in both vintage items and the esthetics of aged materials. It also put me in proximity to a host of woodcutting tools that fascinated and intimidated me, and so I avoided them for my first few years at the studio, until my interest overcame my fear.

I grew up around tools, in a sort of DIY, middle-income household. That was a time (not so long ago), when things were only thrown away when they could no longer be fixed. I wore hand-me-down clothes that my mother sewed patches on, and played with hand-me-down toys that my brothers had broken and repaired. This mentality extended to the house itself. My father was a capable, if unimaginative, carpenter. He had a Sears table-mounted saw he’d use for projects around the house. I remember the loud whir of the motor, and the high pitched whine of the blade, as he guided a piece of wood along the cut line, his fingers inches from the blur of sharktooth metal serrations. I’d wait, captivated and afraid, for the engine to cut down, and the blade to slow and finally stop, after each cut, and exhale only when his fingers were fully away from the saw.

Despite my interest in his skillset, my father chose not to pass it on to me. He made halfhearted attempts to include me (I could press the “on” button for the table saw) but never really followed through, with either instruction or encouragement. In retrospect it would have been a wonderful way to bond with a man I ended up hardly knowing. It could be that his intention, in not taking me under his wing, was to preserve that distance.

Anything my father did with me, when I was a kid, was halfhearted. We both loved baseball, for example, but he rarely got his own glove out. I don’t remember him showing up for my baseball games, or taking me to Cooperstown, which I would have loved to visit. I don’t think he disliked me. I think it’s possible he was afraid of me. I was a sensitive kid, aware and creative and emotional and easily hurt. Probably something like he was, when he was a kid. His father, an imperious, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps, self-made success, didn’t know what to do with him, and (according to my father) mercilessly drove him to be something he wasn’t. I think when my father was faced with the same dynamic, he shrunk from it. How could he teach me anything, without pushing me to be more of a “man” about it? That was something he didn’t want to face, in himself, or in me.

Whatever his intentions, I internalized his lack of interest in teaching me as an indication of my built-in unworthiness of that information. I was the sensitive kid in a closed-mouth family, who merited both special handling and extra concern. In short, my sensitivity, my lack of being a “typical” boy energetically, left me feeling damaged and inferior, and afraid to show my lack of “male” knowledge.

So, as an adult, when faced with questions about car repair, or carpentry, or some other technical issue, I found I could not admit that I had no idea. Rather, I’d scramble to find a way to cover up my lack of knowledge. I had a hidden, unexamined terror of being “found out:” I can’t fix cars, or roofs, or boilers, or lawnmower engines. Sadly, I realized I would never be that guy fixing the classic car on the driveway Saturday morning, with the wife inside making waffles for the kids. In fact, I turned out to be the guy inside making the waffles, while my (now ex) wife fixed whatever car we had.

Hitting a wall as a 2D artist coincided with working in a space loaded with both vintage materials (old windows and hardware and indecipherable machine parts and more) and tools intended for the express purpose of reshaping wood. It took a while, but I eventually worked up my courage to ask for access to the woodshop, and instruction in how to not lose any fingers. Though it was sometimes difficult for me, I learned to say “I have no idea,” and ask for help. The results were immediate and empowering.

For my first project in the woodshop, I gathered foot high sections of raw cut trunk wood. Using a reciprocating saw, I cut off edges and rounded the “top” as well as I could, until I had a sort of fat domed plug, sitting on a flat base. Which I further rounded and smoothed with an orbital sander. Once I had a relatively consistent surface, I used an electric woodcarving chisel to bring out details: eyes and mouth and teeth, cheekbones, and the parentheses of cheek muscles around the mouth. Nose and ears I left for the moment. Finding these forms in the wood, bringing them out, working and sanding them, was an epiphany. I found myself lost in the small repetitions of bringing out details.  I let the overall face and form appear organically, choosing to sketch out only the simplest indications before carving: where the eyes would be, what space they’d need, and the same with the mouth; where would the nose fit; and the placement of cheekbones, brows and forehead.

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“Rolling Smoker”

My carving method, right from the outset, was intuitive, similar to I how work in my sketchbooks. I start with eyes, usually, and fill in around them, letting the face take shape according to whatever my emotional/intuitive response indicates. Using this technique with wood was exhilarating. Finding a simple competency with tools furthered that feeling, and began to heal old wounds, even as, Gepetto-like, I brought new forms into being.

GIAF_Jack-The-Extractor

“Jack The Extractor”

Working intuitively, rather than from a blueprint, also meant problem solving: I don’t have the wood mass to carve a nose out of the initial block, so what do I do? Searching around for items that might serve: an old doorknob, a heavy bolt, smaller pieces of wood. In the process of looking, I might find other interesting objects that don’t quite fit the purpose, but call to be used anyway. A heavy rusted hook or eyebolt would present itself, ask to be included, and I’d search for ways to do so. Which opened my process up to greater incorporation of found objects. My age-old fascination with wheels led me to fix them to the base of the heads, creating ungainly rolling toy-like things. Later I’d create pull toys, a more stable kind of vehicle, tested by my son at multiple speeds.

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Two of the first pull toys I created.

Simple train cars of old barn wood and caster wheels served as display surfaces for smaller works, including porcelain head, soft-bodied dolls I created with the help of my mother in law’s sartorial skills, a first for me, in that I handed over the creation of a specific part of my pieces to someone else. My work was becoming more collaborative, more open. I wasn’t closed off in my studio all the time. People walking through the woodshop could see my process, give feedback, ask questions, or be asked questions, about tools, or potential solutions.

In short, I was alive with the process of coming up with ideas and bringing them into being. This new direction in my art brought in another great passion: collecting. I’ve always loved rummaging through antique, second-hand, and salvage stores. Now I had a reason (excuse) to do so: finding materials for art-making. Sometimes I’d look for a specific something to fill a need, like more caster wheels, or a small box to be used as a drawer in a cabinet. Or I’d find something that I simply loved the look of, that would be placed in my studio to provide inspiration.

Jim Garmhausen

Livery Cabinet, found object sculpture

The cabinets in this show, which I’ve written about on my website, came out of my fascination with old medicine cabinets, and my habit of collecting ornate, crumbling gilt frames. They also served as display cases for the many small kitsch items I collect. Art was no longer about making something to fit in a frame. It had jumped beyond that form, out of a specific discipline, and into something more like the messy coherence of life. I was, and am, thrilled.

The results, when introduced to the world, were immediate. My first 3D pieces were accepted into the Governor’s Island Art Fair, in NYC, and one was selected by uber-artist Greg “Craola” Simpkins to be shown in the Surreal Salon 9 exhibition at Baton Rouge Gallery. There was also a clear uptick in interest on social media. It was gratifying that this new path didn’t just feel good personally, but led to work that was well-received.

So what is my process? It’s hard to explain, as it varies from piece to piece. Usually it starts with free-sketching, in my sketchbooks. I draw whatever is asking to be drawn, that moment. I take different turns, when I’m stuck. Removing a body that does nothing for the head that sits on it, and replacing it with wheels, turning it into a bizarre vehicle or robotic/cyborgian rolling thing. My guiding principle is how it makes me feel. If it doesn’t make me smile, I’m not going to translate it in wood. I don’t worry too much about how it will be received. My in-process work often has the feel of an inside joke. I’m laughing, but I have no idea if anyone else will, ultimately. I find that keeping potential responses to my work out of my head and workspace is vital to creating something, well, vital.

Part of being an artist is facing the question: what does your work mean? The answers to that question, in conversations and interviews, in artist statements, and within myself, have changed as I’ve gotten older (in both time and life experience). I’m beginning to understand that my work (like any art) is self-exploration, and for me that means going back into my childhood, and family history, using forms and objects as archaelogical indicators. I’m piecing together the mystery of who I am. This is a lifelong process, which, of course, promises a lifetime of art-making. Passions always have roots. My passions for art, for history and collecting, for old toys, for vintage materials, for the visible effects of aging on items, all are based in deep, often unexplored parts of myself.

pulltoytrain

A five car pull toy train.

It might be cliche-ish to say it, but my art really is about me, and my life. I sometimes feel like more of a medium than a creator, and the spirit I’m communicating with is my own. It’s a powerful process, and thankfully, a very enjoyable one. Life has intervened on my art career, recently. I’ve undergone a lot of changes. My father died, two years ago, and my mother has pancreatic cancer. I broke my wrist, limiting my ability to work. My 16 year old daughter moved out, after a blowup. I lost my studio. And, worst and hardest of all, my marriage ended suddenly, due to (this will take more explanation that I can offer here, but you’re welcome to visit my blog for the more complete story) my coming out as gay, which has of course led to seismic changes to my entire universe.

There has been little time, space or energy for art, but it is calling me again, more and more insistently. I’m interested to see what comes out, when I get back to work. Changes come in the slightest shades or the greatest shifts, and it is my job as an artist to guide rather than steer that process, and not to overly influence it with what I think I should be doing. Having the chance to examine the last few years of production is a bit like examining the rings on a tree stump, or the different shades of layers of rock on an eroding cliff face. It is a record of me, set down in ways that words cannot. And I’m looking forward to the next chapter.


Jim Garmhausen is one of seven artists featured in the exhibition Perception of Time at Main Street Arts. The exhibition can be previewed on the gallery’s Artsy page. Perception of Time runs through February 15, 2019.

 

From The Director: The Complexity of Drawing

Colleen Buzzard, drawing on the wall

Colleen Buzzard, drawing on the wall to complete one of her pieces in the exhibition

What isn’t a drawing? In the beginning of 2012, I taught a class at RIT on Tuesday nights called Experimental Drawing. On the first night, I started the course by asking this question and proceeded to take the students on a magical journey (a.k.a. “boring slideshow”) that chronicled drawing since the dawn of time according to Bradley Butler. It was of course a truncated version of the history of drawing. Within the slideshow there were typical drawings made with pencils and there were paintings and there were sculptures and other things that were more experimental (hence the name of the course). It was a way to show the students that classifications don’t always work in art. Just as in other real life examples, the definitions of things that seem so certain may end up being in more of a fluid state.

Installation view of exhibition

Installation view of exhibition

Our current exhibition, The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational  is a great example of a portion of that slideshow. It has drawings, paintings, collages, sculptures but all of them fit into this exhibition as drawings.

Looking at drawings by Faithanne Carapella in her studio in Syracuse, NY

Looking at drawings by Faithanne Carapella in her studio in Syracuse, NY

The large-scale works by Faithanne Carapella bounce back and forth between drawing and collage as she often uses torn paper, photographs, and found objects among her marks of charcoal and ink. Her process involves making a drawing, tearing it apart and finding a way to make it whole again, often with the other materials filling in the cracks. When I was in her studio, I found myself holding torn sections up to see the full image as they hung off the wall.

Kathy Farrell's mixed media drawings, prior to framing

Three of Kathy Farrell’s mixed media drawings, prior to framing

Kathy Farrell also uses collage. Her mixed media work tends to  walk the line between drawing and painting but her approach to making artwork is always based in drawing. Her use of line, whether made with a marker, paintbrush, or scraggly bits of press type is lyrical and improvisational and will often interact with lines or printed words found on the torn pieces of maps or other printed ephemera in the composition.

Colleen Buzzard, Untitled wall drawing with graphite and wire

Colleen Buzzard, untitled wall drawing with graphite and wire

In thinking about the use of line, no one’s work in the show best exemplifies the simple beauty of a line more than Colleen Buzzard’s  Untitled graphite and wire drawing (Colleen is pictured above drawing on the gallery wall). This simplicity is deceiving, however, because this piece is multilayered. The drawn portion, extending from the floor to the top of the wire, is imagined as being the same line that punches out through the wall into 3 dimensional space. This floating line of wire also makes a “drawing” all on its own, casting several shadows onto the wall, some of which are even more predominate than her own drawn pencil line.

Installation shot of Bill's drawings

Installation view of Bill Stephens’ pen and ink drawings

Bill Stephens gives us another way to reimagine space as well with his intimate pen and ink drawings, which depict cubist inspired architecture and organic human/nature hybrids. Many of the drawings in his cube house series have more than one orientation, which leaves you wondering which way is up.

detail of "Disconnect 4", colored pencil on panel by Mandi Antonucci

detail of “Disconnect 4″, colored pencil on panel by Mandi Antonucci

Mandi Antonucci’s colored pencil drawings are a consistent surprise for gallery visitors who assume they are painted in gouache or acrylic. Her ability to model the human form in this way with colored pencil is impressive. Beyond the dexterity with the medium, the composition and point of view she offers us is even more engaging. Faces interrupted by geometric patterns and flat color as well as homes being overtaken by glowing crystal formations are the basis of these surreal drawings on wood panel and paper.

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Installation view of “Fragments 2 and 3″, two charcoal drawings by Tricia Butski

Two distinct bodies of work by Buffalo artist, Tricia Butski are also included in the exhibition. Her Lapse series includes small overlapping linear outlines of faces with ink on paper, making us see many sides of a person at the same time. While the heavier, darker charcoal drawings in her Semblance series give us a single view but through veils of distortion and abstraction. Both avenues offer us a way to consider the ideas of memory and identity.

Overall, the goal for this exhibition is to show that drawing is a versatile medium. It can be done with a single pencil and sheet of paper (or wall) or it can be complex and exist somewhere between a drawing and a painting/sculpture/etc. See The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational before it closes on Friday, September 28. You can also preview many of the pieces included in the exhibition on Artsy and view photos on Flickr.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Kathleen Farrell

Kathleen Farrell at the opening reception of the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational

Kathleen Farrell at the opening reception of the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational

I love making art from discards, lost, recycled, unwanted things. I have been looking in other people’s trash for most of my life. I can go for hours, days, just looking for objects, in search of something that will later be worked into a painting or collage. I tuck them away when another idea takes over and revisit them looking for  just that piece for completion of a artwork.  If I like the look of something or it conjures up a memory or thought it goes into my stash bin for safekeeping. I work on my art whenever possible. I have many projects going at once always in search for that perfect discarded piece of wood or partial part of a toy that will take on another life.

Discarded book

Discarded book

I love to draw and do so every day. An activity that has remained constant since I was a child. I draw in meetings, at parties, poetry readings, listening to music in bars, while watching baseball, and especially at boring meetings. More or less working out ideas, frustrations or for pure comic relief. I work in small manageable formats whenever possible keeping several projects going at once. I prefer drawing my thoughts, rather than speaking my thoughts, whenever possible.

Me drawing with two hands

Me drawing with two hands

I can work almost anywhere that has a flat surface.  As a child I would get in trouble in school for drawing in my composition books, so I would take notes on the desk top and draw in an other book on my lap or in the compartment under the desktop. Being both righty and lefty (ambidextrous) this skill set has helped me throughout my life to cope with my need to draw. I attend the Rochester International Jazz Festival each summer and do drawings of musicians and concert goers. I draw a lot when waiting in lines.

I have numerous sketchbooks scattered everywhere. I will purchase various types of sketchbooks, chosen for shape and paper.  My favorite is the Moleskine Japanese book, as it has one continuous page that usually becomes a landscape of a sort. I participate each year in the Brooklyn Art Library sketchbook project.  I have eleven sketchbooks in their library. At first it was hard to give the books up, to not have them in my possession.  Now somehow knowing that my books can be viewed by visitors at the library in Williamsburg NY almost on a daily basis feels good to me.

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Discarded book drawing

I work with just about every drawing medium under the sun.  Markers and colored pencils are my favorite. I use gouache, watercolor, pen and ink and combined all that with collage materials.  Of late I have been using discarded library books. It pains be to see such nicely bound paper go in the trash. Lately, like drawing on bogus paper, I collage,draw and paint on that surface. I have a small studio in my basement with many  and various surfaces to work on.  I listen to all types of music while working out ideas.

Two-handed

Two-handed

I was born and raised in Rochester, New York. I love to travel to see new places and ideas.  I have worked at Monroe Community College since November 1986 as the Director of Monroe Community College’s Mercer Gallery which entails administering an arts program of gallery exhibitions, artists workshops, residencies and an artist lecture series. I am a full professor in the Visual and Performing Arts Department at MCC. I teach in both Commercial Illustration, and Graphic Design programs, and teach various other courses from time to time.  I love every aspect of my job.

I teach a sketchbook class that I developed with another colleague, Jason Smith, about 10 years ago. The course has developed into a very successful course that is offered each semester with two sections.  Many of the students are not visual artists, most are studying the sciences or engineering.  It is a great course that allows these students to relax, mediate and exercise their imagination on a daily basis.

Detail of drawing

Detail of drawing

I am the recipient of the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service, the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Scholarship and Creative Activities, the NISOD Excellence Award for Teaching, the John and Suzanne Roueche Award for Teaching and the Dr. Wesley T. Hanson Award for Teaching Excellence.

I surround myself with colleagues, friends, family, madmen and poets who do not judge and will nudge me when I fall asleep.

Video of Kathy Farrell, drawing with both hands!

Click to watch the video of me drawing with both hands!


Kathleen Farrell is one of six artists featured in the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s Artsy page. The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational runs through September 28, 2018.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Faithanne Carapella

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Teacher/Artist. Artist /Teacher.

I am an artist who teaches. Drawing and teaching are methods of informing  the manner in which I learn about my self, my environment. Teaching requires that you examine and pay attention to the world outside of yourself. Teaching clarifies your ideas and makes you examine what is not quite clear. Art pulls it all together.

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I grew up in Syracuse, NY. I believe that there is a  Central New York “look” that invades most of my work. I attended SUC Buffalo and received an MFA from Syracuse University.

I draw. I draw because I find making marks to be the most immediate, the most fluid, most adaptable process for how and what I see. The marks move from my heart to my eyes, to my brain to finally to my hand. I find that drawing can move from raw, emotional and straight from the gut sensation or it can clean up to become sleek refined and elegant observational recording.

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For me, drawing always starts from  sheer observation. While I see an initial image before I even begin a drawing, the time between the beginning and end of of drawing influences the final strokes. Things change. When I start a drawing, I think know where I am headed. I am sure that I am concentrating on a form or a tangle of positive and negative space. I am looking at light and dark. I am seeing texture. I am filled with concern about a natural phenomenon. But suddenly the drawing gains a life of its own. There is a constant conversation between me and the material and the idea. Sometimes the drawing and I fight and argue. And sometimes we co-exist peacefully. We work it out.

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Obviously, I am strongly influenced by my environment. I am always aware of both interior and exterior environments. My drawings are where I live and how I live and oh, I do live inside of these drawings. The elements and images and ideas are sometimes actual events. Sometimes they are metaphorical. There are great amounts of manipulation of idea and technique.  And then again, often an audience reads them as a totally different entity and that is good. Art tells stories that allows everyone to interpret as they need. My own internal and external landscapes drive what and how I draw.but I watch and try to interpret how others inhabit the same places. I see images in my head suddenly and without warning. They germinate and marinate over time. When they are ready to happen, they know.

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I usually have 4 or 5 drawings developing at the same time. Sometimes the work just needs the time to sit and figure itself  out. I simply lay down the marks that give voice and credence. All of the images. All the memory. All of the world. All of the daily observation. It is a tangle. It is my job to unravel and make sense of it all.

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While the technical part takes some time—the tiny marks, the light against the dark—the composition knows itself immediately. The drawings are never precious. I usually let them get a bit beat up I often just rip them up and reassemble. I make great mistakes and sometimes embrace those mistakes. Sometimes I do not. I add materials. I currently have a pile of smooth clean bark that I found in a pile in the woods.

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While I’m currently working on natural environments I’ve always been entranced by the all of the spaces that people inhabit. I’ve worked with interiors that include the artifacts that people leave behind. I watch the effect that they have on spaces.

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I was that kid that grew up on concrete sidewalks. I played kickball in the middle of the busy city streets under streetlights. I sat on the curbs and watched cars drive by and wondered where the people were coming from and going to. I wondered about the stories. I always found solace and comfort in the hidden quiet nature so often overlooked in urban areas. Weeds that survived the trauma of concrete. Branches bent by forces specific to cities. Insects. Weather patterns. Rocks. Seeds. I picked up acorns and beautiful chestnuts from old city trees. I carried them in in my pockets. Dandelions were as beautiful as the city park roses. Maybe more so. I loved the darkness and lightness of evening. Stars . Lightening bugs. I collected leaves and rocks. Dead insects. Bird nests. Bones. These objects were Talismans from nature. They were to pondered and studied for shape. Form. Color. All of the concepts that I eventually learned in school I learned on the streets. Two objects placed next to each other-appeared a certain way. When you rearrange the grouping the image and feel changed.

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I am currently working on this group of drawings that center on the trauma of our earth, I think I see it as a way of earth reacting to our brutal action. We overrun and abuse the earth. We leave our imprint. Wind/Air. Water. Fire .Ice. Stone. All alive .  Hurricanes. Rockslides. Fires. Tsunamis. Tornados. I just heard of the latest phenomena this morning. A fire tornado. It is tragic,but that will be a future drawing. The earth reacts to our presence and we are now watching the result.

Recently I stumbled across a house for sale. The setting  appeared to be pulled straight out of one of my old drawings. The house is made of logs and sits in the middle of a mishmash of old trees. The ancient land is covered with boulders and rocks and moss. A winding creek cuts through a deep ravine. The environment is full of shadow and light. Drawings will happen here.

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My one consistency is that I must draw everyday. It’s a habit. In my head I need to remember the eye/hand/brain connection. Observation. Correct drawing and then I can throw it away or tear it up. . Sometimes I simply throw washes down on big paper. Charcoal and ink seem to fit as natural mediums. They seem close to the earth for me. They connect.

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I find my drawings becoming more wild. More fragmented and more ragged. Less observational, more emotional. I look around and I start adding other materials. I watch them and suddenly I know a part of will happen on that page. And then I draw. And I will continue to draw.


Faithanne Carapella is one of six artists featured in the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s Artsy page. The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational runs through September 28, 2018.

 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Mandi Antonucci

I stumbled across a quote by Henry Adams a few weeks back that struck me as indicative to my approach to art making. Adams said, “Chaos was the law of nature; order was the dream of man.” This precarious point between the two extremes is where I like my work to dwell.  

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While I will occasionally work in ballpoint pen and oils, my true love is colored pencils. I love the range they provide from soft layered colors to sharp bold edges. I love the simple buttery depth they can create and the complex layers of color mixing they enable. I love that despite my years I have put into the medium, I still learn something new about them each time I draw, like an old friend divulging new secrets.

My greatest expense and favorite obsession is trying out different brands, and experimenting with using them together. My favorite combination is using the Caran d’Ache Luminance with the Prismacolor Premier. The Luminance can pack a punch with their ability to layer, maintain color integrity, and won’t wax bloom like the Prismacolors. Yet, the Prismas have such a wide range of colors and play very nicely with other brands.  

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I often start a piece without any clear direction. I’ll be intrigued with an object, the way someone is holding their hands, or a conversation, and I will start with a rough sketch, working my way slowly to the final product. I don’t necessarily have a clear concept of the symbolism in my work until I have put more hours into it, like it’s a new friend I’m getting to know.

I often like to work alongside my kids; they provide good company and funny title ideas.

I often like to work alongside my kids; they provide good company and funny title ideas.

Nearly all of my work deals with the contradictions found within the human condition. I strive to find meanings and marriage between the two opposing forces that push our physical and emotional boundaries from one extreme to the other. In the past, I have primarily worked with the human form in some way, creating a visual commentary on the precarious emotional space in which we sometimes dwell.

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See No Evil

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Flight Plan

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For the past few months I have been making a slight change of direction from mental space to physical space. I am interested in how we interact with the space in our homes; the ways in which we fill the space, the complicated relationship we may have with the objects we keep, and the ways in which our emotions and memories for a space can change due to the external forces that dwell within our walls.

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Beneath

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My work often includes patterns as both a stylistic and symbolic choice. Patterns can be both predictable and improbable, stable and changing. We search for patterns to make sense of the world around us, they allow us to make familiar predictions, and interpret the connectivity between points. Patterns can provide reassurance in unknown situations, yet they can also create confusion at their break down. This point between familiarity and confusion is where I like my work to inhabit.

You can follow my work on Instagram @skywardagain or on my website, mandiantonucci.com


Mandi Antonucci is one of six artists featured in the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s Artsy page. The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational runs through September 28, 2018.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Tricia Butski

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My studio is based in Buffalo, NY, where I am currently a resident artist at Buffalo Arts Studio. Though my recent work is primarily grounded in drawing, I was trained as a painter and graduated with my BFA in Drawing and Painting from SUNY Fredonia and my MFA from the University at Buffalo.

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Tricia’s studio space at Buffalo Arts Studio

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Tricia’s studio space at Buffalo Arts Studio

Through drawings rendered in charcoal and ink, my recent work examines issues related to memory by exploring its limitations and aestheticizing the instability inherent in portraiture. The work I create allows the viewer to enter the subconscious space between remembering and forgetting. The figures and faces, which have been distorted through a repetitive layering process, manipulate the viewers sense of familiarity. The original image becomes fragmented through this process, a conceptual procedure that corresponds to the experience of forgetting the semblance of the face, the body, and the subject.

'Eclipse' in progress

‘Eclipse’ in progress

The process of arriving at the reference image alternates between analogue and digital techniques. The raw, unaltered source photo is physically manipulated through an additive layering process. Films, ointments, and various substances are applied to the surface of the photograph, each layer removing it one step further from its origin. The image is re-photographed constantly throughout the process as a means of collecting information. Once this analogue process is complete, I continue augmenting and adjusting the images digitally, using layers to create a new level of distortion.

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The image is then rendered in charcoal and charcoal powder using a painterly technique at larger than life scale. During the drawing process, a final transformation emerges as I adjust and reinterpret the reference image. The final image can only be realized through the activity of drawing, which creates a third representation that is neither real nor imagined.

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The medium of charcoal serves as a material analog for impermanence, fragility, and malleability. Charcoal best articulates my thoughts about partiality, longing, preservation, reconstruction and deconstruction, not only for technical and aesthetic reasons, but because of its origin. As the residue of organic animal and vegetation substances, it speaks to the preservation and re-visitation of memory. The medium consists of dead matter that is condensed, preserved, and then reanimated through the drawing process. The dust can be reused over and over. Because it is an easily transferrable substance, the medium itself exerts a level of influence over the mark making process, an intention beyond the limits of my control.

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Through distortion and fragmentation, the figures take on a monstrous form. The familiarity of the face evokes comfort while simultaneously rousing a sense of distress. This creates an intermediary form that inhabits a space both real and imagined. The resulting image is neither entirely original nor fully invented, taking form as a realistic rendering of a fleeting moment. By challenging the boundaries between representation and abstraction, and questioning the relationship between fluctuation and constancy, the works become entangled and disordered, mirroring the viewer’s innate desire for clarity and their proclivity for drawing meaning out of partiality.

To view more of my work visit www.triciabutskiart.com or follow me on Instagram at @triciabutski.art.

 


Tricia Butski is one of six artists featured in the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s Artsy page. The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational runs through September 28, 2018.


 

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Colleen Buzzard

I’ve been making art since the 1980’s.  I began at Reed College in the ceramics studio in my spare time and eventually took some art courses at Boston University and Mass College of Art. When I moved to London, England I was making large scale ceramic installations but with the birth of my second child I made a sharp turn to drawing. I loved the immediacy of work on paper and a process that seemed to have a more direct connection to my thinking.

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One day walking into the studio I had the sensation of walking into my mind. That experience gave rise to a small immersive room I call the Language Lab. A collection of found objects, art works, and drawings create a mix of order and disorder, a place where I look for classification systems and explore the rules and rule-breaking that make language so malleable and expressive.

Language Lab detail

Language Lab detail

Language Lab detail

Language Lab detail

Thinking about language led to musings about how the mind works, about the nature of thinking itself. If we could visualize a train of thought, what would it look like?  Would it be an orderly pattern like a map or a series of tangles? As I worked on these questions by drawing on paper and walls, I felt an urgent need to bring my experiments off flat planes and into the architectural space of the studio. The mysterious threshold between 2D and 3D became an important and enduring focus in my work.

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I use a wide range of materials from ink and graphite to wire, tape, and steel wool. Where possible I like the supporting mechanisms for hanging the work to function also as part of the content of the pieces. Drawn lines morph into scaffolding and reach out toward us. I think of shadows, extant or drawn, as an important element (sometimes the major element) of many pieces. Drawing in space animates the work for me, making it responsive to changing light and air currents rather than capturing a frozen moment.

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While I work I often wonder what terms like “order,” “information,” and “random” really mean. It is surprising to me that systems are often a wild mix of order and disorder. It turns out that systems that lie on the edge between chaos and order are better able to incorporate diversity and evolve, and are therefore more robust.

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A touchstone for me is an artwork by Luis Camnitzer called “Two Parallel Lines 1976-2010.” The textual part begins with: “Two parallel lines. The materialization of an abstraction. Line covering the horizon. A shadow of the horizon. Fragment of the curvature of the Earth. Axis of a corner. Narrative…” and ends with: “The slices’s slice. The superstition of territory. Instant defining a victim. Victim. The beginning of a self-portrait.”  (The full text and images can be found here.)

Origin of Matter

Origin of Matter

I like to think of grids, as well as knots, tangles, and scribbles as both mental and physical architecture. In the study of knot theory mathematicians have uncovered clues to the nature of DNA folding and other complex phenomena.

Untitled (dash line)

Untitled (dash line)

My work often circles back to the difference between matter and information.  Are they really two different things or is the distinction just an intellectual convenience?

Colleen Portrail 2017

You can see more of my work on my website at www.colleenbuzzard.com and on Instagram at colleenbuzzardart.


Colleen Buzzard is one of six artists featured in the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s Artsy page. The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational runs through September 28, 2018.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Bill Stephens

I grew up in Lyons NY.  My high school art instructor, Norm Williams was a gifted artist/teacher who was instrumental in my development as an artist.

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Still Life, mixed media, college portfolio piece

On his recommendation, I applied to the prestigious Layton School of Art in Milwaukee WI. The school at that time was under the direction of Edmund Lewandowski, a contemporary of Charles Sheeler and Charles Demuth. Layton’s innovative, strict core curriculum was based on design and provided me with a great foundation to build on. We were supported and encouraged by a gifted staff of working artist instructors.

Upon graduation, I was offered a teaching position at the new Finger Lakes Community College in Canandaigua, NY, where I taught for two years. I received a Masters in Science of Teaching from RIT and taught art for forty years in the Webster CSD.

I had a very successful career, with numerous students receiving national awards and scholarships to leading art schools. Working as an artist alongside my students, sharing artistic successes and failures, I was a positive role model.

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Sketchbook pencil drawing

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Sketchbook pencil drawing

Printmaking, painting, drawing, mixed media and ceramic sculpture are disciplines I’ve explored.

My work is process driven and inspired by morning meditation, writing, memory and my imagination. Each piece is extemporaneously developed and contains open-ended symbols that encourage personal interpretation and reflection.

The house, window, and barn symbols have appeared in my work for many years.

House grid, series of paintings, acrylic on board

The Village, acrylic on paper

I am also exploring a series of drawings using abstract, organic form. The pen drawings in this show are cubist inspired and playful.

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Hive, pen on paper

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Village, pen on paper


Bill Stephens is one of six artists featured in the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s Artsy page. The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational runs through September 28, 2018.