Rick Buttari will be showing new paintings for the month of September and F.A.N. Gallery.
We got the chance to ask him a few questions about his work.
Rick Buttari will be showing new paintings for the month of September and F.A.N. Gallery.
We got the chance to ask him a few questions about his work.
David Bottini will be showing his large landscape paintings at the gallery for the month of March. I feel like David’s paintings are a preview of spring and summer as we fill the gallery with his light infused landscapes.
KM: What is your first creative memory?
DB: It is toddler pre-memory, but my parents describe a naptime where I apparently woke-up and stood in my crib tearing off a wall collage that my mother had made – they discovered my “revision” when they checked-in on my nap … maybe I was exerting an emerging aesthetic?
I also remember loving crayons and paper – I am the youngest child, so I recall having crayons and piles of tractor-feed computer paper (my father was a computer programmer in the sixties) that I remember loving to fill with doodles and images. I spent considerable time with my grandfather (he lived with us) – so I always enjoyed the wanders into the woods and time spent in the garden with him … perhaps the seeds of my love of nature were established in those early years.
KM:How long have you been painting?
DB: I had my first formal classes at 10 … worked at my art throughout high school. Really focused and engaged in the process during college and graduate school. So … 40 plus years of working to make paintings … perhaps the past 20 where I sense I am becoming a painter.
KM:Why do you paint?
DB: The reason has changed over the past 30 plus years. I originally painted because it allowed me to engage a fascination with paint, design, and color. As the years passed, and my technical prowess became more intuitive, I have come to see painting as the primary way I can share an articulate experience of the peace and contemplative solace that I find within nature. Painting is now (excuse my cliché) a lifestyle … I cannot imagine not working in the studio, and viewing my life experience through a painter’s eye. I sense that my reasons for painting will continue to evolve as I mature physically and creatively.
KM: Do you already have an image in your mind prior to painting or does it develop as you get started?
DB: Not a specific image so much as a sense of light, and the “feel” of a place. As I work from sketches and many photos for reference, I build a painting that conveys the experience I recall from that place.
KM: Can you tell me a little about your studio practice?
DB: I work in a traditional process that begins in direct experience. I take walks or go out for hikes 3 to 5 times each week. There are always places that attract me – I am drawn to a sense of both enclosure/embrace and some path that is implied or physical that leads outside of the area of embrace.
I generally take many (typically 45- 70 images) from any given location as reference. I will usually return for some very loose sketches.
In the studio, I generally begin with loose paint sketches on paper and then, if the subject/place engages my design interest I will move to a canvas study. I often work a 5 x 7 up to 11 x 14 inch range as my first iteration. If my interest is piqued, I return to a larger (and always revised) larger scale iteration. It is not unusual for my work building a larger canvas to involve weeks of engagement as I build 30 to 40 layers of glazes.
I see a similarity between developing a friendship and building a painting, if the subject is nourishing and continues to engage my art and design interest, I will pursue and maintain a dialogue with the subject. There are places that feel almost archetypal and have had me returning to the visual theme for years of paintings.
KM: What artists do you admire?
DB: I have a wide range of artists who inspire and instruct my work in the studio. I love Andrew Wyeth’s rich low-key palette and evocative handling of a familiar Pennsylvania landscape. I continue to be moved by Mark Rothko’s luminous color and still compositional space. I am awed by the luxury and vibrant energy of Maxfield Parrish’s compositional clarity and saturated palette. Corot pulls me into his deep environmental space and carries my eye through his composition with rhythmic brushstrokes and his use of a dark and subdued palette. The American Luminists and 20th Century graphic design represent bodies of work that offer me endless hours of visual study and inspiration. There are many others – including work done over the years by my students, who often make marks that are fresh, raw, and without analytical baggage.
KM: What do you do fun or to recharge yourself?
DB: I enjoy taking long walks and hikes into the woods whenever possible. I also enjoy any reason to take a train trip as well as reading food columns to find a bartender using small batch liquors and creative cocktail recipes. Eating small plates at wonderful bars is one of my favorite luxuries.
Gregory ran into Shai Ben-Yaacov on the train one day and invited him to his show at F.A.N.. Later Shai called Gregory and asked him about his work. Recap: Gregory Prestegord, young working artist — NewsWorks.
Gregory Prestegord, “Impressions”, 12 X 12 inches, oil on panel
We are excited to show the work of so many of our wonderful artists this month. The show includes works by Gregory Prestegord, Serge Zhukov, Jesse J. Gardner, Charles Newman and Joshua Koffman. Also new paintings by Claire Haik, Kate Kern Mundie, Neil Berger, and David Bottini.
The show features figurative sculpture by Joshua Koffman. Urban landscapes by Neil Berger, Kate Kern Mundie, Jesse J. Gardner, and Gregory Prestegord. Winter landscape by Serge Zhukov. Still life and landscape paintings by Charles Newman. Rural landscapes by David Bottini and Claire Haik.
For June 2012 we welcome a new artist to F.A.N. Gallery. Evan Harrington is a Bucks County native. He received his fine art training at various ateliers here and abroad, and is a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
I wanted to find out a bit more about F.A.N.’s newest painter.
What advice has influenced you?
I am particularly interested in the advice given by musicians and athletes. They seem to experience the same situations and hurdles as a working artist, but from a different perspective. Two things stand out in my mind: practice and vision. Every time I pick up a brush or a pencil, I feel it is working towards improving my ease with the mediums. Each drawing and painting I work on, no matter how simple or complex, is working towards improving my hand-eye or hand-mind coordination. “Visual calisthenics” is what one of my friends calls it. Vision is the other major influence on my studio practice. It is important to be relaying some thought or visual idea through each piece of art. Some songwriters circle one theme their entire careers while others change it up with each piece they produce. Either way, vision is the backbone to the art I create.
Who taught you the most about art?
My father taught me how to paint and draw from an early age. My mother was instrumental in getting me to lessons and encouraging me. I had quite a few influential instructors along the way that helped me reach some of my own goals. I have always spent a good deal of time looking through books on various artists, which has expanded my knowledge and perspective of art. Of course, there is a huge component of self-discovery, which is also essential to a healthy growing artist.
Your father is an artist. Do you discuss art or your work with him? How is your work similar or different from his?
My dad, Glenn Harrington, has been working as a professional artist for over 30 years. We discuss art quite frequently. Most of the time, we bounce ideas off of each other.
It is hard for me to keep my work free and spontaneous while creating a large body of work for shows so it really helps that my father is constantly pushing me to branch out and try new ideas.
Many people do see our work as similar and some as entirely separate. I am so familiar with his work and so closely connected to mine, that I have no perspective in being able to see the differences or similarities. I rarely see him paint a still-life, and that is my main subject, so I suppose that is a considerable distinction. I can also sometimes detect our differences in brush work. One thing that I know we both share our interests in the same painters and paintings. Whenever we go to a museum or flip through a catalogue, we frequently agree on our favorite artwork.
When you are in need of inspiration are there particular things you read, listen to, or look at to fuel your work?
Every avenue of my life inspires painting. Seeing new places, meeting up with friends, a wonderful painting, all encourage me to get back to the easel. I thrive off of absorbing beauty and history while in the studio. A lot of times, this comes in the form of books. Sorolla, Degas, Kline, Sargent, Garber, and Velazquez are among my most frequently visited artists. I listen to every type of music available, it helps keep the energy and focus level up. My hobbies, which include tennis and aviation, help bring balance to my life and naturally inspire.
How did you get into aviation?
As a kid, I spent several Saturdays going to the local regional airport to watch planes depart and land with my family. Also, I was fortunate to travel a good deal when I was young, so airports have always been an exciting place for me. A year ago I went up for my first lesson and have loved it ever since. It’s a great way to get out of the studio and gain perspective. It truly feels like another world when you are 5,000 feet above the ground. I have always loved looking at maps, so the visuals of aerial perspectives fascinate me. One flight early on in my training I remember seeing New York City and Philadelphia clearly at the same time, and only 3,000 feet above the earth’s surface. This was an eye opener for me; it was probably a similar feeling for those astronauts who were able to see the earth as round for the first time.
Do you have a pilot’s license?
I do not have my license quite yet. Painting is priority, then flying. My goal is to have it done by the end of summer so I can move onto getting my instrument rating. I have quite a few friends who are pilots, so I fly with them frequently. I am unable to log flight hours with them, but I still gain the experience.
How do you hope your work will grow? Are there any other themes you wish to explore with your work?
I am not sure what direction my work will take this next year. Often I look through my latest body of work, select the pieces that I think are strongest, figure out why they are particularly successful, and then replicate those principles in my next body of work. I have practiced painting everything while I was in school and up to now, so I have prepared myself to be technically ready for whatever lies ahead. My goal is to dig deeper than the surface classifications of subject and theme and perhaps explore things like texture or pattern. The unknown is what keeps the process really exciting.
We always love good reviews of our artists. You can read about Carlo Russo’s work here:
Charles Newman will have nearly new 40 oil paintings on display this month at F. A. N Gallery. Newman’s paintings are atmospheric – giving the viewer just enough information to connect to the painting and infer one’s own meaning into the interior spaces, still lives or landscape. The paintings’ sketchy and layered paint or scraped down textures allows the viewer to discover more about the painting with each investigation.
I have been corresponding with Charles while he prepared for Charles Newman: New Paintings, March 2 to 31, 2012.
What do you think about when you paint?
The thought of painting stays with me whether I am painting or not. When painting, I try to keep my thoughts simple. Degas said he didn’t think much when he’s painting and I can relate with that. Overall, things work out better for me in the end when I keep it simple.
[When painting] I break down what I see to the basic shapes and forms. I think about the properties of the paint itself. The way one color reacts next to another color. That’s what painting is about. I imagine having a mentor looking over my shoulder constantly reminding me about these things.
Sometimes I have an imaginary dialogue with students when I’m painting, explaining how to find color tonal relationships and good paint application. However, painting is spontaneous.
When doing plein air painting, it’s a race against time. I simplify things to get the overall moment and feeling from the motif. I ask myself what’s important to include and what’s not. I usually go wrong when I think too much and too objectively about things and try to include every window or every downspout in the painting. I’m making a painting, not doing carpentry. For me, that exhausts the painting, but it happens sometimes and I have to remind myself not to worry about stuff like that. Painting is design. I recognize certain passages within the motif and if I like the way a passage looks, I let it be. If I don’t like the way it looks, I’ll scrape it back and repaint it. I heard someone say a while ago to “think slow and paint fast”, and I always keep that in mind.
Charles works for City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and I wondered if his mural work influenced his personal painting work?
Not really, I feel they are two separate practices. Working on a mural is so different for me, in fabrication, paint application, subject, etc. But one thing that influences me when working on murals is the exploration of various neighborhoods, which have elements that I’m interested in when doing my own painting. Sometimes while painting a mural outside, I look across and see light hitting the side of a house a certain way, and I think to myself, I’d rather be painting.
Who are your influences, artistic or otherwise?
I have many influences. Many are painters from the 18th and 19th centuries, and early 20th century. My wife (who is very influential and supportive) recently got me a couple of art books. One is Edouard Vuillard, who is a great influence. I relate to his work because of the direction my own work has been going in. He did a lot of homely, domestic scenes with a spontaneity and honesty within them – something I try to do in my paintings. I also love his use of composition.
Corot has been an influence of mine for a while. I used to take a book of his work, In the Light of Italy, out of the library all the time when I was going to Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. I may have had a few late charges on it. This book focuses on a group of painters who painted the land and elements of Italy during the 18th and 19th century and the importance of the oil study. In my opinion, I see Corot as one of the fathers of en plein air painting.
Two other influences include Charles Hawthorne and Robert Henri. Not only am I influenced by their work, I am influenced by their writings on teaching. Charles Hawthorne has a book Hawthorne on Painting and Robert Henri’s The Art Spirit. I feel that these are the “helping friendly books” on painting. These are books I can always go back to during my practice. So when I feel my painting is getting stale, these writings help me refresh my painting.
Do you prefer to work in the studio or plein air?
I prefer working en plein air and on location because my paintings are representational. I strive to capture the actuality and simplicity of things. I consider my French easel being a portable version of my studio that I can take on the road. It has adjustable clips to prop my painting at a comfortable height, and it has a little table with a little drawer for me to store and use my supplies, which is great. At home, the detached garage that I converted into a studio is primarily used as a workshop to prepare surfaces, frames and rocking out to music. I rarely paint in the studio.
You talk about “filters” in your statement. What kind of filters do you mean?
When I mention filters in my artist’s statement I mean direct observation of the type of light, the filtering of light through atmosphere. If I’m painting on a humid day, I’ll treat my palette differently than if I was painting on a cold day.
On a cold day with no humidity, the light and shadow is crisp and on a humid day where there is more water in the air, the light feels softer and hazier, and I’ll mix accordingly.
The other thing I mean by “filter” is the ability to simplify through seeing. Squinting my eyes helps to eliminate details and distinguishes the tonal comparisons, so I have a better idea about shapes and edge quality. It also helps me distinguish the local colors and the true spots of color.
One example [of filtering] is the painting “Lake at Croft Farms”. I am facing slightly west, where the sun is receding. With the brightness of the sunlight radiating from the background of my subject matter, the light has diffused a cool bluish glow or filter within my field of view. This enables me to block in a very large mass and easily know my local color. Local color is the overall average of the color range within my field of view. Or the color that is mostly seen within the field of view. Squinting or blurring our eyes help to find the local color because everything gets simplified and we see spots of color. The local color is usually a mid tone color within the range.
Charles Newman’s work will be on display March 2 through March 31, 2012 at F. A. N. Gallery
Opening Reception is Friday, March 2, 2012, 5 to 9 PM.