Stitches in Time

The painting below (30 x 30 cm) is one of the last I started (and not yet finished) in Israel, while in the middle of taking the house apart, dismantling paintings, contemplating the mess, shipping out boxes, and running out of milk in the process. While I was busy packing up, I developed a rather serious addiction to knitting, which has been keeping me very busy and more quiet than usual. I have happily spent many many many hours completing stitches, one after the other, teaching myself how to do it, and it has been a very therapeutic process. Just what I needed in order to face the stress of moving. I just need to sort out some particular cables and finish up a sweater, and then maybe another, and then I will get back to the paints…

Self portrait with Milk and Mug, 30 x 30 cm, oil on panel, 2011

I also recently delivered 16 paintings to Bernard Gallery in Tel Aviv, a bright ground-floor gallery space on Ben Yehuda Street, run by an elegant and savvy couple from France with enthusiasm for figurative art. Introduced by an enthusiastic art curator I met in Israel, Bernard selected several of my “messy bedroom” paintings and self-portraits from Israel, and I will post details of upcoming exhibition details as soon as I have them. If you are interested in the purchase of any of the following pieces, feel free to contact Bernard Gallery directly.

Twilight violet and lime, 35 x 40 cm, 2010
Stage 2-4, Oil on paper, 2010, 50 x 70 cm
Self-portrait Study, 2010, oil on linen
Self-Portrait in Studio, Oil on paper on wood, 2009, 50 x 65 cm
Self portrait in floral blouse, 2010, oil on panel, 25 x 30 cm
Self portrait as Housewife with Cat, 2009, oil on linen, 70 x 50 cm
Salmon Lover, 2010. Oil on panel, 35 x 40 cm
Red Pareo, 2011. Oil on panel, 30 x 30 cm
Pink Sheets, 2010. Oil on panel, 35 x 40 cm
Pink Sheets Study, 2010. Oil on paper, 50 x 70 cm
Pink Pillow Study, 2010. Oil on paper, 50 x 70 cm
Memory Window, 2011. Oil on panel, 25 x 25 cm
Memory Painting with Cat, 2011. Oil on panel, 25 x 25 cm
Implosion, 2011. Oil on linen, 70 x 70 cm
Gabriele's Trumpet, 2009. Oil on linen, 40 x 60 cm
Bathroom Laundry, 2010, oil on paper, 50 x 70 cm

On the Easel

My time in Israel is winding down quickly, and with it also my painting time. I have much to look forward to, including the city of Naples, a new home, further academic studies, getting married, seeing my family, as well as all the Italian food and etiquette I have been missing like crazy. Sometimes it can be hard to concentrate on the painting with all the things that need attention right now. I thought I would show a couple of my works in progress in their various stages of starts and restarts before I may find it necessary to pack them away and resume them again later after moving.

The sink study above was a quick one, maybe about an hour at most. I plan on doing another one, but much more “finished,” because I like both quick/sketchy paintings and more defined ones for so many reasons. They have different things to see about the experience of perceiving the space and subject.

The square bedroom ones below instead already involve many days and hours overlapping. I don’t share these because I am happy with them now as they are as a whole, but rather to share the process of what I am thinking about as I paint them and look at them. They have parts or aspects that perhaps I am pleased with or make me think of new directions to take. In the square painting below, for example, I am happy with the back left corner of the room, particularly with the cat cage and Christmas tree sticking out of it. But in order for the painting to be more representative of reality, in my opinion, the painting needs numerous other “days” inside of it, and in particular I need to work on the colors. I may prefer to make this painting more black and white.

This second bedroom start has a bit more room in the approach to the bed, and I like that. I also like the cooler and softer colors, and I am wondering if I don’t want to make the painting a bit more blurry-eyed in general. Below this top surface are, I think, at least 6 or 7 other paintings I had started, though I am not sure I can remember what they were.

This last square painting had originally been an interior one, depicting my kitchen, at least until the washing machine/sidewalk scene outside my front door distracted me so much to the point that I needed to grab the closest, least precious, most suitably sized surface available. Hence, no more kitchen painting. The photo below shows the first half hour of frenzied changes, and it has been an absolute joy to be outdoors painting again. I do this a lot, painting over older paintings, and not because I am convinced that the new painting will be better, but because the new motif interests me more. Painting is a passionate enterprise, involving impulsive actions which can ultimately lead to a failure. But you must take a breath and jump all the same.

Fausto Pirandello

“Thanks, but I’ve got my own soap.”

Though relatively unknown today in the art school and painters circles, Fausto Pirandello (1899-1975) is one of my most favorite modern artists, and one I dutifully try to find every time I am in Italy. Pirandello’s approach into different layers of reality, while also focusing on the mundane behind closed doors, strikes deep chords in me. I also appreciate immensely his very original motifs and compositions, as well as his ongoing explorations of the figure and bathers. Son of the dramatist Luigi Pirandello, he trained with the sculptor Sigismondo Lipinsky between 1919 and 1920, before turning to painting. His early work was influenced by Armando Spadini and Felice Carena, colleagues of his, as well as by Gauguin, Kokoschka and van Gogh.

After a four year experience in Paris, where he mingled with some of the more important Italian-Parigian artists of the 1920s and 30s, Pirandello returned to Rome in 1931 and was welcomed into the Roman School, distinguishing himself by his originality and solitary research. Pirandello’s painting was oriented towards a realism of daily life, including the grimy and gritty, and expressing himself through dense painting. His intellectual vision translated the naturalistic facts, even those most brutal, in a sort of magical or poetic realism with archaic and metaphysical tones, adding spatial concerns stemming from cubism, tonalism and expressionistic painting, such as in La Scala, depicting a woman ascending and descending a staircase in a brothel, or in Pioggia D’Oro, with a foreshortened female figure falling out of a domestic scene.
During the 1950s, Pirandello develops his style further, reabsorbing cubist suggestions from Braque and Picasso, and living through the difficult phase afflicting Italian painting at that time, the split between realism and neocubism.  Through expressionistic deformations, he comes up with new solutions that sit between abstraction and figuration, with paintings that refer strongly towards a cubist synthesis in the tiling of colors and in compositions which slowly lose their narrative.


(La Scala – no better resolution found)

Pirandello exhibited widely during his career, including the Venice Biennale and the Rome Quadriennali, along with solo exhibitions at the Galleria della Cometa, Galleria del Secolo, and Galleria di Roma.  After the war, he held a solo exhibition at the Catherine Viviano Gallery in New York in 1955, and the solo show “Nuova Pesa” (New Weight) in Rome in 1968.

Settling In

So, here I am, settling into my new studio in the hew house. The walls are white, which is new for me considering the pink hue that was invading the walls in our former apartment. The window faces north, lucky me, and so two days ago I began this painting. It’s small, 30 by 30 cm, but I am happy that I managed to catch a better likeness this time. It can be tough, considering the size of the face is only about 2 cm across, but I liked the challenge. I may do a few more things to it yet, but over all I like how it captures some of the serenity I am feeling about being in a new place, with a new beginning.


(click for larger view)

Before & After

It has been a busy and exhausting last two weeks, having needed to find a new home in Israel for the next five months. Our landlord had sold the apartment we were living in, and so – like good tenants – we let him sell, and that meant trying to find a new home until October. Until I had begun the search, I had no idea how hard that was going to be. Everyone in Israel moves in the summer apparently, and everyone wants a long-term rental. After a couple cancellations the day of signing a contract for a new place, we at last found someone willing to rent short-term who didn’t pull the plug last minute. It has also been some serious Hebrew immersion – at last – as we have no language in common. I think I have understood the important parts, I hope.

The new place is a house, with a sand yard and patio. Perfect for building sand castles in the sweltering heat of the summer, I should say. So much silence, plenty of light, and believe it or not, this one also has a room with a north-facing window for use as a studio. I have begun painting again as of yesterday, and it is feeling very good. To our dismay, the house had no furnishings nor appliances, so thanks to trusty Google translate and Yad2 website, we have managed to equip the house with some second-hand things and some new items, including a most amazing latex memory foam mattress topper. Visa the cat has also adjusted amazingly well, and is enjoying greatly the ground floor supervision at night.

Moving can be hard, just as it is for cats. Just as I was really beginning to feel in my territory, it’s time to pack up, clean up and adapt to a completely new situation. But of course, it is also a blessing. Things become juxtaposed in a completely unpredictable way, and thoughts become compressed, urgent even, with several different threads and to-do lists running through them. Old paintings were pulled out of corners and painted over, and I finally got a sense of just how much painted volume I now have – frightening, but not ghastly.

I am including here a few pieces done during this transition from house to house. Only the one of the refrigerator is in the new place, but I started a couple others yesterday. Though I am not yet finished with the large square painting, I did some last minute changes just before moving, and I am interested to see what of the new house may make its way inside of it.

Implosion, in progress. Please click on all images for enlarged viewing.


Portal reflection

Tre cipolle

Visa on the Fridge

Home Stretch

With summer nearing quickly, so is my time in Israel, and this is causing me a bit of a panic. Have I painted the bedroom enough? Have I painted anything enough? Two years ago, my fiance came up with a new problem to solve in the world of condensed matter physics, and two days ago he found the solution. It is an enormous relief and a cause for celebration, a marvelous achievement after an important post-PhD assignment at the Weizmann Institute – but it also means that we will be moving on to a new place soon. New problems to create and solve. Packing, moving, and unpacking. Looking for a new apartment, discovering a new neighborhood.

I can’t quite relate to the kind of relief he is feeling, even though the parallels between painting and physics are so striking. As a painter, I can spend a heck of a long time on a painting, trying to resolve it as I discover new problems along the way – but whether the official “end” of a painting refers to relief and the solution to the problem is another unknown. I can paint a ton of failures, one after the other, filling a room with them. The worst is perhaps when I paint a failure but don’t know it. Just last week, I splurged on 30 new wooden panels. They are not too large (for moving and packing) but already I have started paintings on nine of them. I am trying to balance the urge to paint more with the desire to paint sincerely and honestly and with the knowledge of limited time and impending change.


Blue Diagonal

As I paint my messy home with nostalgia of our time in Israel, I am looking forward greatly to knowing what our new home will be, knowing that it is around the corner. Somewhere and sometime soon. Although we can change countries and cultures with a mere airplane ride, I think that the memories of places stretch from one place to another, exerting themselves on how we think and what we find important, despite the distance of time and place.


Postcard Painting



Purple Blanket

Pathways to Landscape Exhibition – Curated by Dean Fisher

On a recent trip to the US, I had the enormous privilege to meet and talk at length with the artist Dean Fisher. An accomplished artist and gifted teacher based in Connecticut, Fisher recently put together “Pathways to Landscapes,” an extensive exhibition of landscape paintings by 25 contemporary artists at the Ridgefield Guild of Artists. As a survey of this nature and size is so rare today, I recommend that you run over to visit it before it closes on Saturday, March 26.

Fisher received the request to curate an exhibition after being awarded the Best in Show at the 33rd Annual Juried Show of the Ridgefield Guild of Artists. The artists he selected for inclusion – Robert Bauer, Frank Bruckmann, Hollis Dunlap, Nicholas Evans Cato, Eileen Eder, Dean Fisher, Josh Gaetjen, Christopher Gallego, Israel Hershberg, Diana Horowitz, Alex Kanevsky, Constance LaPalombara, Claire Maury-Curran, William Meddick, Lawrence Morelli, Artie Mihalopolous, Lenny Moskowitz, William Nathans, Josephine S. Robinson, Stuart Shils, E.M. Saniga, Jesus Villareal, Justin Weist, Brian Wendler and Jordan Wolfson – represent his consideration of some of the most cherished paintings available for collecting today: “If I were a collector, these are the works I would own.” Special lending arrangements were made with several galleries such as DFN Gallery, Forum Gallery, Steven Harvey Fine Arts Projects and Marlborough Gallery in New York, as well as with the artists to bring such an extensive exhibition to the public, including two or three representative works per artist. For those who cannot travel to Connecticut to see the exhibition, the following slideshow of photos provided by Fisher will offer a good peek.

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Dean Fisher is a contemporary classically oriented realist painter and has shown at Hirschl & Adler Gallery and Tatistcheff Gallery in New York. A highly respected teacher and exquisite painter of stillife, landscapes and the nude, he is a guild artist and instructor of painting at the Silvermine Arts Center in New Canaan, Connecticut and conducts workshops in Italy during the summer, including the new landscape painting program at the Certosa di Pontignano from August 27 – September 3, 2011, with details of the course yet to be announced.


Fisher, Beach-Windy Day


Fisher, Tide Pool

To view works of the selected artists in the exhibition, websites have been provided here when available:
Robert Bauer
Frank Bruckmann
Hollis Dunlap
Nicholas Evans Cato
Eileen Eder
Dean Fisher
Josh Gaetjen
Christopher Gallego
Israel Hershberg
Diana Horowitz
Alex Kanevsky
Constance LaPalombara
Claire Maury-Curran
William Meddick
Lawrence Morelli
Artie Mihalopolous
Lenny Moskowitz
William Nathans
Josephine S. Robinson
Stuart Shils
E.M. Saniga
Jesus Villareal
Justin Weist
Brian Wendler
Jordan Wolfson

Works in Progress


This painting is in about stage eight, with a ton of work to go, measuring 90 x 90 cm. My cat Visa is that grey thing that keeps showing up, and she is bound to show up a few more times, if I don’t edit her out!


These two window paintings I hesitatingly call “memory” paintings. I wake up often in the middle of the night, and on my way to the kitchen I pass by my studio door, where the window looks out on the building facing mine, lit up by some bizarre pink light.


This one is a sketch I did for the first painting, and I might take it in another direction, or leave much of it alone.


This one needs some serious work on the background, for I do see that horrible size of the door and wall treatment. Part of the problem is where I decided I needed to put the mirror: resting inside the ledge of the window, against a wire screen, difficult to ever get at the same angle twice – the wind one time knocked it over, but thankfully it did not break. So much is to be added yet and changed, but I found the size of the portrait a good challenge, with the panel measuring a total 40 x 60 cm.

Phew, Time for a Trip

What a crazy past couple months this has been, and I wonder if it’s the same all over. As I am leaving tomorrow for a much welcome trip to Italy (with a whole day in Rome to ponder Domenico Morelli and wander the grounds of Villa Borghese) I realized that I have not shared any of the recent paintings I have been working on in quite a while. The truth is, I have started so many, but they are taking longer. This has much to do with the fact that I am going through many more stages along the way where I stop, ponder, and decide to paint something else on top. So these images here are far from what I would call finished. They are moments of pause in the process, and will likely go through enormous changes before becoming yet another painting. Sometimes I have craved a rewind button, but the further I push it I find some interesting surprises happen that have very little to do with what I began. Losing paintings has become crucial to finding learned paintings.