From the Whitney to Coney: art

Chroma cubes at the Whitney
The palest cubes in a scale of chromatic/tonal shifts. I love how these flatten into a painting, viewed from above with the shadows cast.

My brother and I, expecting rain Friday, planned a trip to the Whitney followed by a wander up the High Line. Naturally once we got to the city, the weather had become hot and sunny. It was a good plan anyway, as neither of us had been to the new Whitney, and we saw the Calder exhibit (two of his floor-sitting mobiles pictured below), some of the permanent collection, and selections from the Biennial. Some stunning views from the High Line followed.

More High Line and Coney Art Walls after the jump.
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A treasure from Berlin!

Yesterday I received a wonderful surprise in the mail— this gorgeous piece of artwork by Luiza Mogosanu! This piece is in a celluloid frame from 1930s Germany, she told me in her note on the little card (a print of the same piece). I have already put it on the wall, next to another vintage oval frame. Thank you, Luiza!

This was a volley in return for some art I sent her a few weeks back. It’s such a delight to meet a fellow artist, and now I have an art pen pal in Berlin. Check out Luiza’s other artworks at her website! She is a gifted visualist, and full of light, of joy.

It fits in very well as I have a small collection of insects and bones on the shelf below all my paintbrushes.

Process: from manuscript to illustrated book

From manuscript to finished book: a brief process overview

This is a post about a project I’ve been participating in for a few months. It’s a noir-style children’s book in which nursery rhymes meet police procedural. A friend and client of mine, R. Andrew Heidel (owner of famous The Way Station bar), wrote True Crimes from Rhymes Square years ago and finally found an illustrator who was right for the job— Eric Hamilton. They hired me on as the publication designer.

Copy fitting process with thumbnail drawings
A sample spread during the copy-fitting process with thumbnail drawings

Eric spent months working on loads of thumbnails and sketches to work out the characters (of which there are many), as well as working out the illustrations. He provided me with no less than four thumbnails for each page/spread. I worked with the copy and layout design to arrive at a good balance of text-to-image, and Andy and I art directed during this process.

The same spread, after months of editing copy, Eric refining the illustrations, and me refining the design of the book

The book is being produced with the help of a Kickstarter campaign, and will be a sort of work-in-progress limited-edition hardcover, comprised of rough drawings, polished pencil illustrations, and final painted illustrations. It will serve as proof-of concept when Andy approaches publishers to create a series based on this initial story.

More images after the jump!

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The Museum of Hunting and Nature in Paris

Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature

In the trophy room

During my visit to this inimitable and fascinating museum, one of the featured artists being exhibited turned out to be Walton Ford. He’s a painter whose work I first became acquainted with on an episode of ART 21 on PBS, maybe a decade or so ago.
At first glance, much of his work calls to mind  zoological studies from the turn of the last century, but are often infused with a sense of humor or surrealism. They’re large, sprawling canvases, arresting in their detail and vividness.
002There were several rooms that were set up gallery style in the museum, but also a number of his works sprinkled in throughout the permanent collection; ten of them were painted specifically for this show. Perfect museum for this contemporary artist, really. A fantastic surprise.
Here is a really interesting, slightly unsettling sculpture by another contemporary artist (didn’t get the name) that resembled a giant snake so knotted into itself it has neither head nor tail, covered entirely in feathers. The feathers were all numbered.

Antler chair
Antler chair
Wallpaper in a case of pottery. The whole museum is underpinned with a kind of tongue-in-cheek attitude.
Wallpaper in a case of pottery. The whole museum is underpinned with a kind of tongue-in-cheek attitude.

Les petits dieux de misère

Small Misery Gods
Artist: Mylinh NguyenPhoto by Nico Peltier

An image from Le Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, for an exhibit I’m looking forward to. Such a beautiful form. Google’s (slightly weird) translation of the brief:

Small misery gods took shape in Kyoto in 2015, during the artist ‘s residence at Villa Kujoyama. They fit into the continuity of the creative work around the paradoxes and contrasts: Grace and discomfort, the world of the living and the mechanical…

Presented as sound installation , they are the result of a collaboration with Pablo Salaun. A graduate of Textile Crafts at the Duperré School of Crafts and the metal to the Olivier de Serres school Mylinh Nguyen specializes in filming on copper alloys.

It develops, since 2002, the creation of objects and accessories from this rare technique. In 2013 , she was awarded the Liliane Bettencourt Prize for the Intelligence of the hand.

I like that— intelligence of the hand (perhaps an idiom, they’re always difficult to translate).

A Book of Children’s Rhymes: illustrations

illustrations by Janet & Anne Grahame JohnstoneWhile in Baltimore last month, I went to Ellicott City, a little old mill town which is now is known for being quaint; antiques shops and cafes. I found (and bought) a children’s book from the 1970s, one which I quickly realized I’d had as a child. It’s one of the books that taught me how to draw (especially horses, but people, too). The gouache paintings therein, by Janet & Anne Grahame Johnstone, are fantastic. There are several more after the jump.illustrations by Janet & Anne Grahame Johnstone
illustrations by Janet & Anne Grahame Johnstone

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‘Fair Play’

I’ve just read Ali Smith’s introduction to the (surprisingly recent) English translation of Tove Jansson’s Fair Play, which I suspect will be a new favorite. Among other things, it’s about editing, in art and in life— an ongoing making and remaking of things, of days. An excerpt from the introduction:

The book opens, then, on a simple little story about letting someone change things, which becomes a story about the editing process, or about how to make art—and is for the length of the book a parable about how to renew mundane life. “Look here’s a thing of mine and here’s your drawing, and they clash. We need distance; it’s essential.” Fair Play is often an excellent handbook of advice and rules for the workings of art—but it’s never just about aesthetic wisdom. It’s also very much about emotional wisdom.

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