Tag Archives: Oil Painting

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Anna Katalkina

I am originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, where I had my formative introduction to arts and culture. Growing up in that environment I was surrounded by two artistic worlds; the great Russo-European traditions of the city’s museums, architecture, and performing arts, but also the underground cultural explosion that came with the end of the Cold War – rockers, hippies, and a youthful fascination with the ‘new.’

Since I left Russia in the early 1990s, I have developed in several directions across  different places. I spent a few years near London in the UK, before moving to Birmingham, Alabama for six years. It was in Birmingham that my art-making began to shape up. Maybe because of the studio courses at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, or maybe because of the southern charm?

Part of my Arabian Nights series

The Fisherman and the Jinni, from my Arabian Nights series

Since 2002, I have lived and worked in the Washington, DC area.  I have painted, photographed, and completed a master’s degree at Georgetown, studying cultural diplomacy and Cambodian cultural regeneration. In terms of artistic inspiration, DC is the great place as it’s full of diverse people, world-renowned museums, and space to breathe. In addition to Washington, DC, I spend a lot of time in Paris and Brittany with my family, soaking up French arts, culture, and the joie-de-vivre along the way!

I have always been creative, but it has taken a long build to get to where I am now. At the age of 15, I bought a box of oil paints and started painting on any surface that I could find: cardboard, broken guitar backs, or vinyl. I haven’t had a moment of a single transformative art school, but I’ve learned from great talents throughout – at the UAB; at the Corcoran College of Art and Design; in the Maroger studio of artist Robert White; and by seeing countless exhibitions and museums I visit no matter where I go.

From my Candy and Mementoes series

From my Candy and Mementoes series

Over the years, I’ve worked in different mediums: narrative drawing, abstraction, photography and design, but am currently settled on a rooting in the Old Dutch Masters’ still lifes, with modern interpretation. These days I create vivid depictions of simple objects, which often convey much richer meaning than the elaborate. The style requires a large amount of layering, time, and patience, but ultimately it’s incomparable as a way of depicting still life. Making the still life (nature-morte) alive. My work expressly balances seriousness and humor, elegance and simplicity, tradition and modernity – it picks up the breezes from travel, theatre literature, and food.

Elephant on Red Jawbreaker

Elephant on Red Jawbreaker

Elephant work in progress

My inspiration is mainly in slowing down the fast pace of society and zooming in to objects with a certain meaning. I seek out and depict possible objects of desire, beauty and satisfaction – sometimes in the overtly beautiful, and often in the mundane. Candy and toys receive the same attention as fine porcelain figurines, capable of attracting the willing eye and triggering lighthearted memories and pleasure.

When preparing for a show, I tend to look for a common theme which can be explored through different objects. One of my series, Candy and Mementoes, explores the nostalgia and tactile charm that people have for childhood candy. The other, the Arabian Nights, interprets the tales from One Thousand and One Nights, merging  the cultural traditions of the East and the West.

Sinbad the Seaman

Sinbad the Seaman from my Arabian Nights series

You can find my work on my website at annakatalkina.com. I’m also on Instagram sharing photos of what catches the eye at Instagram.

See two of Anna’s paintings in Main Street Arts’ fourth annual “Small Works” exhibition (juried by Cory E. Card, former curator at View Arts Center in Old Forge, NY). The exhibition runs through January 4, 2018 and can be previewed onlinestore.mainstreetartsgallery.com. Anna’s piece, “Clay Duck and White Jellybeans” received a juror’s choice award for the exhibition!

Meet the Artist in Residence: Hunter Zelner

Hunter Zelner, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the month of August 2017, will be exploring the notion of place and memory through small landscape paintings while also continuing a series of figure-based works. We asked Hunter a few questions about her artwork and studio practice:

Hunter Zelner

Hunter Zelner

Q: Tell us about your background.
I am Arizona born and raised and have spent my life there save for a brief stint in Oregon. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t tinkering, making, and more specifically painting. I was fortunate to have an arts high school in the area so I went there. Once I hit college I scrambled through just about every major known to man and in the end received my degree in Art History at ASU. I joke but in all seriousness I was the queen of overrides and managed to take mostly studio classes and still ended up with an Art History degree.


Wolf Skin, oil on canvas, 28in x 56in

Q: How would you describe your work?
Depicting the dichotomy of visceral meat, a still unmoving form surrounding humanity within has been the primary interest of my work.

Early on in my artistic career a teacher asked the students “Have you ever seen a dead body?” That question stuck with me. She went on to explain that as a figurative painter the trick is to put a person behind the eyes. I want to paint a shell with a person behind the eyes. For this reason I primarily paint people I know. I have worked in metal sculpture, oil painting, acrylic painting, and most recently taxidermy. I always go back to oil paint.


Sister Ursuline, oil on canvas, 18in x 36in

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I am a very structured painter…sometimes to my chagrin. I typically come up with a concept, research until I can’t see straight, put the basics together in Photoshop to work out the kinks, grid my surface, underpaint, and then finally get to actually laying on the final image.

Q: What are your goals for the residency?
Like most people coming to the residency I want time and space to work. Life is wonderful but also full of so many distractions. I am looking forward to building better and more consistent work habits.

Currently I am working on a departure from my otherwise figurative work. It’s a series about place and memory but in short paintings of parking lots, alley, stairs, empty pool, etc. at night. I am curious about taking time to document otherwise transitionary places that I might forget. Beyond that, I am planning two larger figurative pieces, and some portraits for the time I am at the residency.


Landscape, oil on canvas, 5in x 7in

Q: Do you collect anything?
Yes, I have always been a collector. I like a bit of clutter when I paint and in my life as a whole. I collect a lot of random things but some of my larger collections include mounted insects, antique and vintage ephemera, and wall art. At this point I am actually running out of wall space at home.

Tucker, oil on panel, 12in x 48in

Tucker, oil on panel, 12in x 48in

Q: What advice would you give to other artists?
Lean into your mistakes. As a representational artist I have spent a lot of time fighting the standard of being a human photocopier. There are people with the innate ability to duplicate exactly what they see or those who have spent years learning old masters’ methods. Some of my favorite artists work that way, nothing against it but you are the only one who can “make” exactly like you and the mistakes you make are yours. Fight the urge to start over or cover them and try making them part of your work.

Hunter Zelner in her studio at Main Street Arts

Hunter Zelner in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: What’s next for you?
After the residency I will be applying for a MFA in Painting. I am glad I took time between Undergraduate and Graduate School but am ready to be immersed again… hense my applying to the residency.

Q: Where else can we find you?https://www.instagram.com/hunterzelner/

Hunter is teaching a workshop on painting hands (something many painters struggle with!) on Saturday, August 19 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Main Street Arts. Sign up on our website to reserve your spot!

From The Director: Re-Emerging Artists

Installation shot from the exhibition

Installation shot from the exhibition

Our current exhibition, Re-Emerging Artists features two painters who have both been making art for longer than I have been alive. Considering this fact as a painter myself, I find it so encouraging and inspiring to see two artists making such fascinating work after more than six decades of making art.

John Greene and Robert Marx met each other around the year 2000 but their history goes back to the 1950s when John purchased a print of Robert’s in a gallery on Madison Avenue in New York. Over the years, John acquired more of Robert’s work and was delighted to find out that he lived and worked in Rochester when he was in town for a meeting at the Memorial Art Gallery. The two met in Robert’s studio and immediately became friends.

Fast forward to 2017 and we have the first showing of their work together in an exhibition at Main Street Arts!

In Robert's studio at Anderson Alley. An early, in-progress shot of the painting "Solana" that is in the exhibition.

In Robert’s studio at Anderson Alley including an early, in-progress shot of the painting “Solana” that is in the exhibition.

I had the pleasure of visiting both artists in their studios multiple times in preparation for this show. With Robert, both in his studio at Anderson Alley and in his current basement studio in his home. He spent almost 30 years in the Anderson Arts building on Goodman Street in Rochester. He now has the convenience of not having to commute to and from the studio—unless you count the walk from the kitchen to the basement steps.

Making the initial selection of work for the show back in May of 2016

John and I in his studio, making the initial selection of work for the show back in May, 2016

I visit artist’s studios frequently and going to see Robert was a quick trip to Rochester. However, visiting John’s studio meant going on a bit of a road trip—he lives in the Hudson region about four hours southeast of Main Street Arts. During our first visit in May of 2016, I was thrilled to be welcomed into his home studio to see his encaustic paintings in person for the first time. I was particularly drawn to the “Dimensional Landscapes”, four of which are included in the exhibition. I had never seen a painting stick straight out from the wall before!

Dimensional Landscape, oil and encaustic on wood—John Greene

Dimensional Landscape, oil and encaustic on wood by John Greene (two views)

The seeds of this exhibition were sown in September, 2015 at an opening reception at Main Street Arts. Grant Holcomb, former director of MAG and Marcia Lowry, on the board of managers at MAG, approached me with the idea of having a show with Robert and John. Already being a Robert Marx fan—and soon to become a fan of John Greene—I quickly obliged and we set the date of April, 2017 for the show. All of us thought that 2017 sounded so far away, but here we are!

One of the sections of the show where John and Robert's work is paired together as one

One of the sections of the exhibition where John and Robert’s work is paired together as one

One of the things I looked forward to the most, besides seeing all of this work in person, was being able to curate it together in one space. I am always drawn to the idea mixing things up. Rather than have John’s work in one room and Robert’s in the other, we have sections like the one shown above, where pieces by each artist are hung as a cohesive singular installation. Other areas of the show allow for specific pieces to be highlighted on their own but for the most part the exhibition is a unification of both artist’s work.

Pictured from left to right: Marcia Lowry, John Greene, Gwen Greene, Bradley Butler, Francie Marx, Robert Marx, Grant Holcomb

Pictured from left to right: Marcia Lowry, John Greene, Gwen Greene, Bradley Butler, Francie Marx, Robert Marx, Grant Holcomb

Re-Emerging Artists runs through May 12th, 2017. On Saturday, April 29th, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., John and Robert will be discussing their work in the gallery (discussion begins promptly at 11 a.m.) RSVP by calling or emailing the gallery. More info: Artist Discussion Facebook Event

Purchase work from the Exhibition in our online store.
See photos from the exhibition and opening reception on Flickr.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Victoria Brzustowicz: One Tree x 52

Victoria’s artwork is on view in “8x8x52: Weekly Paintings by Victoria Brzustowicz”. Her work is available for purchase in our Online Shop:

In December 2015, I was looking for ways I could push my painting routine. I considered one of those painting-a-day challenges, but I knew that was an unrealistic goal given my crazy schedule and the vagaries of Rochester weather. See, I don’t have studio space, so I do most of my painting outside.

I came up with a painting goal that would be flexible enough  to accommodate works schedule, personal responsibilities, and that crazy, unpredictable weather—I challenged myself to a painting a week of my favorite tree in my garden. My ground rules were that I could paint it from any vantage or any angle, as long as that tree appeared somewhere in the painting.  I bought my 52 canvas panels and painted the first of the series on January 6th, 2016, at 9am.

8x8-01, the first painting in the series.

8×8-01, the first painting in the series.

As I worked on this series, I tried to be open to the moment for each painting. Knowing that I would be painting the tree over and over  made me freer to start with an open mind. I knew there was another painting in which I could explore some other aspect of the composition, the drawing, my palette, or my brush selection. I tried various colors to tone the canvas, tried starting with a white canvas, tried various limited palettes, tried mediums, tried to use up odd tubes of paint, and tried to see what worked or didn’t work for me and the way I feel comfortable painting.

My setup for painting #9 – you’ll see that my biggest task is editing and simplifiying what I see.

My setup for painting #9 – you’ll see that my biggest task is editing and simplifiying what I see.

8x8-09 March 5, 1pm

8×8-09 March 5, 1pm

Here are a couple of other pairs of images, showing my setup and the finished painting. Yes, simplifying what I saw was  a big part of each piece….

That morning, I wanted to capture the glow of the morning light on the foliage against the blue sky.

That morning, I wanted to capture the glow of the morning light on the foliage against the blue sky.

8x8-44 November 4, 9am

8×8-44 November 4, 9am

Here are three shots: one showing my set up, one showing the tree, and the last showing the final piece. This was painted in the evening with a floodlight illuminating the fall foliage — I knew a storm was coming and I wanted to capture that color one last time, even if it was under artificial lighting.

You can see my easel and my supplies, all lit with a small lantern; the tree is in the background, lit by the floodlight.

You can see my easel and my supplies, all lit with a small lantern; the tree is in the background, lit by the floodlight.

The flood-lit tree

The flood-lit tree

8x8-45 November 7, 6:30pm

8×8-45 November 7, 6:30pm

Victoria Brzustowicz is an award-winning  painter, illustrator, and graphic designer. She  graduated from Wells College with a BA in Studio Art. At Wells she studied with noted painter William Roberts. A native of Rochester, NY, Victoria is Co-Studio Manager at the Book Arts Studio of Flower City Arts Center (formerly Genesee Center for the Arts), where she also teaches linoleum block printing. Although she painted extensively through the years, she was recently introduced to the  techniques of painting alla prima by Carol L. Douglas. Victoria is also a co-founder and chair of the Greater Rochester Plein Air Painters, a chapter of the New York Plein Air Painters

Stop by Main Street Arts to see “8x8x52: Weekly Paintings by Victoria Brzustowicz” in our second floor gallery. The exhibition runs through February 17, 2017

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by ceramic artist Jillian Cooper.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Kathryn E. Noska

Kathryn’s artwork is on view in our juried exhibition “Small Works 2016”. Her work is available for purchase in our Online Gallery Shop:

I hold an Associates in Fine Art and reside in Pennsylvania.  I’ve been accepted in numerous juried exhibitions and have won several local and national awards.  My motto, “Take Time to Find the Unseen” is realized through Symbolism, the language of my art.  I paint mystic still life in mythic landscapes using curious compositions, representational symbolism, and philosophic whimsy.

As an artist with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, (sensitization to extremely low levels of many seemingly unrelated chemicals, pollutants and toxins), I’ve traveled a winding road to find safe, nontoxic materials that won’t trigger any symptoms.  My goal is to express my personal sense of creativity – healthfully.

Come with me as I relate this journey…

Me in my studio

Me in my studio

I was trained as an oil painter from the age of 12, but by college I had to give it up due to reactions to the solvents.  I then worked with acrylics for many years, but my symptoms gradually increased because the formaldehyde and ammonia in acrylics was too much for my body to handle.

Knowing that I could not work with any solvents or chemicals, I stopped painting altogether and for the last 5 years worked on a series of drawings.  However, being an oil painter at heart with a strong passion, purpose and persistence, I went back to research in 2015 and learned about the solvent-free oil painting method used by many Old Master Painters.

Studio with still life setup

Studio with still life setup

My journey continued as I searched for a chemical and alkyd free oil paint.  After trying the paints from several very good companies, to which my body still reacted, I discovered Art Treehouse, which makes paint with cold-pressed walnut oil that are completely free of chemicals at all stages of the processing.  Huzzah!

The Art Treehouse colors and oils I use

The Art Treehouse colors and oils I use

Now that I am working completely solvent-free with slower drying walnut oil paints, I have to make some adjustments to my familiar painting process.

Stages of my painting process:

First, I develop a detailed drawing on grid paper using a harmonic grid to aid the placement of my composition.

The drawing composition on grid paper.

The drawing composition on grid paper.

Harmonic Grid I use to create a pleasing composition.

Harmonic Grid I use to create a pleasing composition.

Next, I trace it on a panel using a burnt umber oil transfer technique, then thinly paint a brunaille underpainting.

Oil transfer onto panel and brunaille underpainting.

Oil transfer onto panel and brunaille underpainting.

Once the underpainting is dry, I apply many mechanically thin layers of color often adding a small amount of umber and/or rubbing the paint down with paper towel to help them dry a little faster.  Because walnut oil is less viscous than linseed oil, I have no need for any additional medium.  I work with straight tube paint, only adding a little water-washed walnut oil to the upper layers as needed.

First layer of color applied thinly.

First layer of color applied thinly.

Beginning to add volume and details.

Beginning to add volume and details.

Both heat and light help speed the oxidation process of oils.  I place the painting inside an insulated box using the small amount of heat from either a low 25 watt incandescent or high wattage LED lightbulb to help speed the drying time – free of solvent and sensitivity!  (Of course it still requires patience.)  :-)

Paintings inside the heat box.  I use an old insulated cooler with LED lamp.  The box is kept closed :-)

Paintings in the heat box (old insulated cooler).  If using an incandescent, keep the lid open slightly to allow air flow.  If using an LED keep the lid closed – they don’t produce much heat.

Clean up is easy.  Walnut oil is expensive, so rather than use it for clean up I use a less expensive oil like grapeseed or sunflower.  I rinse the brushes in the oil and wipe them on a paper towel repeating this several times to remove most of the oil paint.  I then repeatedly wash the brushes using an oil soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s Unscented bar soap) until the soapsuds remain white.  The palette I use is a butcher’s tray which is cleaned up just as easily by wiping with oil, then with soap and water.

Symbolism of Finished Painting:  This painting depicts going within to sweep away negativity.

Grapefruit: One’s state of mind – sour or sweet.  Broom: Change; Material and spiritual cleansing; Clean sweep.  Book: Knowledge; Wisdom; Chronicle of existence.

Mind Sweep - Sour or Sweet.  8 x 10  Oil on Panel  © 2016 Kathryn E. Noska

Mind Sweep – Sour or Sweet    8″ x 10″    Oil on Panel    © 2016 Kathryn E. Noska

“Metaphor is the path I travel to perceive, consider and understand the world.  I faithfully represent the seen, exterior of objects while revealing an internal, unseen spirit, thus transcending reality.  My paintings become a means for uncovering the veiled layers of reality cultivating conscious awareness of my life path”.

Gratefully, my journey continues!  Thanks for coming along with me. To keep in touch with what I’m doing or to see more of my art check out my website KathrynENoska.com and Like my Facebook Page – Kathryn E. Noska.  I love sharing my process on Instagram, too.  Please follow me @kathrynenoska.

Stop by Main Street Arts to see Kathryn’s work in our current exhibition “Small Works 2016” (juried by Bleu Cease, Executive Director/Curator of RoCo; exhibition runs through January 6th). Kathryn’s work is available in our Online Gallery Shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by artist Megan Armstrong.

Meet the Artist in Residence: John Galan

John Galan is an artist in residence at Main Street Arts! He’s working in one of our two studio spaces during the months of September–October 2016 (you can stop by the gallery to see his studio and works in progress). We asked John a few questions about his artwork, life, and more:

Artist in residence John Galan

Artist in residence John Galan

Q: To start this off, tell us about your background.

A: Since I was a child I knew I wanted to become a professional artist. Twenty-six years later and I’m making that dream a reality. I graduated from California Lutheran University with a Bachelor’s in Art. Currently, I work as an instructor at a paint and sip studio called Pinot’s Palette. I also work from my art studio at home in Ventura County, California. As an emerging artist, my work has been featured in local galleries including the Museum of Ventura County. I recently embarked on a month long trip to Portugal (June 2016) painting the countryside while experimenting and developing my work.

Q: How would you describe your work?

A: The art I create is a personal reflection of my life. I like to depict symbolic stories of past memories in order to trigger the viewers subconscious. Most work focuses on the human figure in the landscape. I believe that there is an inextricable connection between humankind and nature which transcends cognitive thought to a level of what some might call spirituality. I paint alla prima using vibrant high chroma hues to add a contemporary element to a traditional form of realism. Other work involves a strong influence in pattern and design in order to capture the viewers interest.

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?

A: The process of creating a work of art is equally as important to the final product. New ideas, can come from everyday life. Constant inspirations include: nature, family, portraits, and music. I like to depict moments I find spiritually fulfilling. One of the largest influences is music. Whenever I’m painting in the studio I listen to specific songs in order to evoke a specific mood which I can then translate to the bare canvas. I use the traditional medium of oil paint to create contemporary surrealistic paintings.

Q: What are your goals for this residency? Tell us about your current projects.

A: The paintings I intend to produce at Main Street Arts Residency reflect many underlying themes and motifs influenced by geographical location, seasons, and culture. I intend to continue a series of portraits I started in Portugal of this year. The paintings are based off of immediate family and how seasons can describe an individuals personality.

I am most exited about painting outdoors because this will be the first time I get to experience Autumn. I intend to explore the surrounding community of Clifton Springs

A plein air painting of John's residency housing in Clifton Springs, NY

A plein air painting of John’s residency housing in Clifton Springs, NY

John plein air painting at the Foster Cottage Museum

John plein air painting at the Foster Cottage Museum in Clifton Springs, NY

Q: What’s next for you?

A: There is so much I want to do. A priority involves creating an art show back at home showcasing all the new work from this year. I would also like to continue traveling to other artists residencies as well as go back to school for my masters in painting.

Q: Where can we find you?

A: Website: www.johngalan.com | Instagram: @johngalanart | Email: johngalanart@gmail.com

Are you an artist looking for new opportunities? Apply for a residency at Main Street Arts! Artists in residence will have 24-hour access to a large studio on our second floor (with great natural light), the option to show work in the gallery, and the opportunity to teach paid workshops. Submissions are reviewed and awarded on an ongoing basis.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Susan Stuart: In the Details – Large-Scale Painting

In The Details - Susan Stuart - House and Home

Creating Large-Scale Paintings
By Artist Susan Stuart

My process of working with oil paints begins with stretching a medium textured, unprimed, linen canvas onto a stretcher frame. This canvas is then primed with three coats of a sizing glue. This special glue is applied while hot and brushed onto the surface of the canvas to protect the fibers from the oils in the paint, which (over time) would actually disintegrate the fabric. Once dried, there is a roughness to the surface, which holds the oil paints and soft pastels.

In The Details - Susan Stuart - House and Home

The dried sized canvas is as tight  as a drum and will withstand the pressure of applying the oil paint, the pressure of rubbing the soft pastel into the wet paint and the occasional rubbing of pumice into the wet paint, as well. Because the glue is clear and because I love the natural tone of the linen, I will sometimes leave some of the primed surface showing through.

In The Details - Susan Stuart - House and Home

Once the canvas has been prepped, I begin to sketch. I either draw freehand directly onto the surface, or I may use a projector to project an image onto the canvas. The image is drawn using a soft pastel. Once an image has been drawn, I block in large areas of color. Following this, using the oil paint and a #2 round easel brush, I do a final contour line drawing on top of the pastel image. This then becomes the “bones” or underlying “structure” of the painting.

In The Details - Susan Stuart - House and Home

In The Details - Susan Stuart - House and Home

As I’m painting, I place the canvas on a horizontal surface, intentionally positioning the work so that the image is actually upside down. With the canvas positioned this way, I’m less conscious of the actual image, and, therefore, I am free to concentrate solely on the shapes and colors before me. While layering in details with the oils, the soft pastels will be intermixed with the wet paint to create subtle variations in color. Often I paint holding as many as 3 round easel brushes in my hand at one time. These multiple soft bristle brushes create an active surfaces of color and brush work.

In The Details - Susan Stuart - House and Home

Photo by Rob ONeil

This initial stage of applying the paint is the most exciting for me as I don’t know the effects of the color and brush strokes until I set the painting right side-up in a vertical position on my studio wall. Then, stepping back to look at the work from a distance, I see the image for the first time. I will continue working on the painting in this manner until it requires to be positioned vertically. At that time, the canvas will remain in this traditional vertical position as I finish the work.

In The Details - Susan Stuart - House and Home

In The Details - Susan Stuart - House and Home

Stop by Main Street Arts to see Susan Stuart’s paintings in our current exhibition House and Home (runs through August 19). View her work online at www.susanstuart.com. Contact Susan at susan@susanstuart.com.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by painter Christopher Baker.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Robert Samartino

I paint as much as I can and embrace a variety of figurative content in my work. What remains constant to my creative process is best described by the habits and rituals I use to eliminate distraction. I paint where I live and I allow the practicalities of my life to influence the direction of my work. I keep my workspace lights on and my materials are always set up to be used.

photographed in workspace

26″ x 32″
oil and wax on linen

I take and collect pictures constantly; of anything that captures my attention–this allows me to include my time away from painting into my work. I review these images routinely and allow my intuition to select and/or combine them. This improvisational state is enhanced by working on multiple paintings at once–changing the channel in my mind to remain in a trance. My sculptural work is literally made in the space and time between my palette and whatever canvas I am working on. Accretions and Inclusions grew as accumulations of paint and wax wiped off from my palette knife.  I am motivated with a fetishization of accumulation; by applying and removing layers with an unclear motive my art is grown to reflect the path indecision inevitably takes.

6" x 5.5" x 6"  oil, wax, discarded materials on ethafoam 2015

6″ x 5.5″ x 6″
oil, wax, discarded materials on ethafoam

5" x 5" x 5.5" oil, wax, discarded materials on ethafoam 2015

5″ x 5″ x 5.5″
oil, wax, discarded materials on ethafoam

Manual labor, in particular roadwork, fascinates me in its similarity to my own layering process. I began depicting men at work with the first of a three part series titled Concrete Labor. Its source derives from a scene I photographed on 23rd St. in Manhattan, the workers were positioned in front of a darkened storefront which is omitted in the translated painting. The attention becomes concentrated – their labor objectifies into our infrastructure as its utility becomes universal in the function of a roadway.

26" x 32"  oil and wax on canvas 2013

26″ x 32″
oil and wax on canvas

26" x 32"  oil and wax on linen 2015

26″ x 32″
oil and wax on linen

Stop by Main Street Arts to see two of Robert’s paintings in our current exhibition The Human Figure (runs through July 1). View his work online at www.robertsamartino.com.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by ceramic artist John Brien.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Kari Ganoung Ruiz: Small Bits

I’m back! Thank you Main Street Arts for inviting me to offer my thoughts in another blog entry; this one corresponding with the opening of the Fifty Landscapes exhibit which includes 4 of my paintings.

As nature awakens after its winter slumbering, so to does the painter feel the pull of nicer weather.  Spring is an excellent time to gather thoughts about the why and the where; to put together a map and plan as a guide throughout this plein air season.

When I started on this journey, I didn’t have a clear view of what to paint. I only knew that it was super important to paint from life; to step out of the artificially lit studio and experience nature in person. People said “paint what you know”, so I went back home to the family farm.

Shady Recess 8"x10" oil on panel, one of my very first plein air paintings!

Shady Recess 8″x10″ oil on panel, one of my very first plein air paintings!

As the painting season progressed, I got out in nature with all my gear as much as possible; attempting to capture a wide range of subjects. The big vista, a little outdoor vignette of a scene; where was I heading? Then this happened:

a pivotal moment while painting in the Adirondacks... The Flume Rocks 8"x8" oil on panel

a pivotal moment while painting in the Adirondacks… The Flume Rocks 8″x8″ oil on panel

During the 2014 Adirondack Plein Air Festival, I went to paint the Wilmington Flume, a series of awesome waterfalls along the Ausable River. I spent a while at the location, attempting to figure out how to capture it. The day was getting long and in frustration, I turned my little cardboard viewfinder away from the big scene. Suddenly, this group of boulders snapped into focus; I found my painting! At this moment I found my raison d’etre: to explore the beautiful intricacies of light and shadow in the small bits of a greater scene and find the essence of the place and moment. I was hooked!

Painting on Oak Island, Waterloo NY during the Memorial Day festivities. Photo by Lisa Duprey

Painting on Oak Island, Waterloo NY during the Memorial Day festivities. Photo by Lisa Duprey

This has continued to be the focus of my plein air and studio work. Sometimes I’ll get caught up in the majesty of a giant vista, but I’ve found that the magic is really in the subtlety of the zoomed-in scene for my work.

The big vista at Frederic Church's Olana in Hudson, NY

The big vista at Frederic Church’s Olana in Hudson, NY

At Olana in Hudson NY, I was caught by this view from the Bell Tower where Church would paint and have visitors view the sunset with him. The house and the entire property was designed by Frederic Church to take in the grand vistas of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains. (uh, awesome!) I decided to tightly crop the view and turn my panel vertically. This piece is included in the exhibit:

A Quiet Sunset 8"x10" oil on panel

A Quiet Sunset 8″x10″ oil on panel

Well, that will do it for now… it’s time to get out and paint!

Follow along with Kari’s painting adventures at KariGanoungRuiz.com and her new blog GoPaintOutside. Stop by Main Street Arts to see Kari’s paintings in our current exhibition, Fifty Landscapes (runs through May 13). Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by needle felt artist Victoria Connors.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Emily Glass

I spent my childhood outside in rural Vermont, taking care of animals and watching wildlife grow. As a kid I photographed my surrounding world extensively, always documenting, always looking. I loved art classes in high school and first worked with oil paint at the State University of New York Potsdam in 2004.  I found the challenge of oil exciting and completely engrossing.

24 by 42.5 inches, Oil on Canvas, 2015

I Discard (in progress during the residency), 24 by 42.5 inches, Oil on Canvas, 2015

I think of my work as a mix of abstraction and realism.  With it, I seek to communicate subtle narrative and commentary on our current culture. I am beginning a shift into using more plant-based imagery and questioning what it means to have a particular plant on a dinner table or in a yard.  The privileges and beliefs that come with iceberg lettuce versus arugula (or dandelion leaves versus cabbage) reveal differences in class systems and political associations.

My residency studio at the Vermont Studio Center

My studio at the Vermont Studio Center

In the Flora and Fauna exhibition, four paintings were started at a residency at Vermont Studio Center (VSC) in June 2015.

Here is an excerpt from my time there:

While parts of the country were fighting drought, the Vermont sky opened up with rain.  I would keep the windows open, breath in the wet air and paint for hours.  When the rain broke (about every two days or so), I was exhausted from painting and needed to think before beginning again. During those breaks in the rain I spent my time walking, writing and reading outside, documenting what caught my eye and turning over thoughts. Everything was so green, so rich.

Studio Workbench

Studio Workbench

It was summer but the rainy days were cold. I wore a fleece hat and kept an extra pair of dry socks in my studio for the next rainfall painting session.

I have only mentioned my working habits at the residency, which was one half of the experience.  The other half were the 45 or so wonderful visual artists and writers that were also residing at VSC and whom I shared my meals with.  The experience is one I recommend to anyone looking for a nourishing and intensive space to develop work.

My Agent Says the Neighbors are Nice, Oil Paint on Canvas, 43 by 180 inches, 2014

My Agent Says the Neighbors are Nice, Oil Paint on Canvas, 43 by 180 inches, 2014

During the year I teach painting and drawing at Rochester Institute of Technology and spend as much time as possible in my home studio, developing oily canvases and putting together plans for future works.

View Emily’s artwork online at emilyglassart.com. Stop by Main Street Arts to see Emily’s work in our current exhibition, Flora and Fauna. The exhibition is up through Friday, February 12. Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by encaustic painter Kristen T. Woodward.