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Coffee & Conversations with Franz K and Robert M by Patrice Drago

I knew I wanted to do a very large abstract painting about coffee, since my caffeine intake has been increasing steadily.  I started with a 48" x 48" canvas, I took a few long sweeps with a very large brush.  I felt like Franz Kline had just shown up. (below left)

I added Titanium Buff to suggest cream.  Five years ago, I bought this amazing sheet of waxy paper with wire running through it, and never had a place to use it - until now.  I love that it is heavy duty, but you can still see the brown paint underneath. (above center)

I felt like it needed a blue shape - bold but soft.  I added it, and then felt Robert Motherwell had just joined Franz and me.  The idea of the painting emerged - If I could go back in time, I would love to have coffee with these two iconic American Abstract Expressionists.  So what would we talk about? (above right)

On a very large table, I set up my supplies and pulled out dozens of magazines, books, music sheets and catalogs, and completely immersed myself in finding images and text that would imply, symbolize and directly state topics that we would cover if we had unlimited coffee and time to chat. 

Because this canvas is so large, I had to get on a ladder to take pictures as I arranged and rearranged the collage items to find the right placement. I always take pictures of paintings in progress to give me a different and framed perspective on it; for this part of the process, I took over 100 pictures, having fun with the conversation in my head. 

At this point, I knew I needed to expand the blue for a more balanced composition, but I wasn't ready to paint it, because I wanted it to lay on top of the finished collage, and I wasn't there yet.  I took painter's tape and laid it down, moving it around until it was where I wanted the final paint stroke to be.

After fixing all of the collage items, I replaced the tape with blue paint. (above left)

To finish the painting, I added white paint with large amount of pure soap, shaken to create bubbles for the froth.  I then added interference violet in streaks through the cream to signify some exciting moments of conversation. (above right)

Now I can't wait to get in my time machine and invite more great people in history to have coffee and conversation.

 

For more information about Patrice, visit her Artist-in-Residence profile

This is part of an ongoing monthly series featuring a Maryland Hall Artist-in-Residence (AIR). Check Maryland Hall's website every week for a new post. Each month we will feature a different AIR. Click here to visit the Maryland Hall AIR page.

Artists That Have Influenced My Work

by Patrice Drago

I appreciate all of the masters of early days and today, and I'm grateful for the exposure I have had both academically and independently to such a large quantity and wide variety of incredible work.  Out of all of them, there are two artists that always come to mind that captured my attention and never lost it.

When I was painting still life, landscapes and figure in oil, the single greatest influence on my work was Caravaggio.  While his paintings were often depictions of disturbing events, (see the image), it was how the drama was emphasized that fascinated me.  "Chiaroscuro" - the sharp contrast of light and dark - was exciting, and it demonstrated how to create focus in a composition with contrasting light and dark in the right places.  I remember walking into the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome, and immediately noticing - over everything else - a Caravaggio painting in the Cerasi Chapel on the left, with a tiny light on it.  It glowed and even though it was almost completely sideways to my view, it was all I could see.

  

"The Incredulity of Saint Thomas" 1601-2 by Caravaggio

For me, creating dark shadows with purple is far more exciting than black, and my art mentor at the time really pointed that out for me.  For the ten + years I painted exclusively in oil, I never once used a black pigment. I only used Dioxazine Purple for shadows, because shadows aren't really black; there is always color.  Even though I have gone back to painting abstracts, I still use dark and light contrast.  

I am and have always been in love with the Abstract Expressionist movement, making it hard to single out one artist.  But one painting had a huge impact on me, and it was Sam Francis' "Middle Blue".  When I saw it in the MOMA San Francisco, everything else I saw fell away and I felt like I was home.  The colors, the line, the white - the entire composition and the combination of colors were so familiar - it felt like a painting of my soul.  A series called "Breakthrough", which was my return to abstract after a long hiatus (since college) clearly shows Sam Francis' influence on my work.  

"Middle Blue" by Sam Francis

All of it has brought me to a place where I feel I am truly painting from what is a combination of all of my experiences.  A healthy curiosity and a never-ending desire to always learn more ensures my work will continue to evolve.  

 

For more information about Patrice, visit her Artist-in-Residence profile

This is part of an ongoing monthly series featuring a Maryland Hall Artist-in-Residence (AIR). Check Maryland Hall's website every week for a new post. Each month we will feature a different AIR. Click here to visit the Maryland Hall AIR page.

 

Interview conducted by Gallery Director, Sigrid Trumpy.

 

What projects are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on a series of six paintings entitled Body of Water. There are three large-scale paintings and three small, which depict the human form merged with water – ocean, bay and tributary. The concept is to unify the human form with these bodies of water to demonstrate how interconnected we are.

What are the primary materials that you use?
I use oil paint directly from the tube or can, occasionally mixed with plaster, wax or linseed oil to give it some texture.  I work on triple primed canvases. My larger works are up to 5' x 5' and small around 30" x 40."  In order to get the desired affect, I use a variety of palate knives and filbert brushes.

What's your earliest memory of art?
My earliest memory of art is my mother bringing home a landscape painting when I was about 5 years old, followed by her painting of a vegetable still life in oil. It was a very small canvas and tightly worked, realistic in style.  Around the same age, I recall watching my grandfather handcraft a violin.  I remember feeling in awe of him, and knowing at that time I wanted to learn how to create something from nothing.

What work of art do you most wish you'd made?
Great question.  A painting, Marc Rothko's White Center.

How do you know when a work is finished?
Something I learned early on is a work is not finished when someone else thinks you’re finished; it’s about how you, as the artist, feel. To me something is finished when I feel a connection with the work, that it’s able to communicate what I had intended it to communicate.  

How has your time as an AIR been?  Was it how you expected?
My time as an artist-in-residence has been extremely satisfying. I’ve enjoyed the studio space – the scale, the light – as well as having the opportunity to connect with the other AIRs and learn from each other.

When you work, do you love the process or the result?
I choose the result.  The process of laying and shaping paint can be tedious, followed by the tightening and enclosing of the shapes. Perhaps like designing a room, or making a paella, the assembly process is long and often wrought with challenges, but the result is well worth it.

What are your habits?  What patterns do you repeat?
I tend to repeat a combination of smooth and heavy/relief surfaces with paint. Additionally, I float the edges, providing a frame-like finish.  I work left to middle, then right to middle, using both hands.  

What is your ideal creative activity?
Painting.  Alone. Or, with a book-on-tape.

Which artists do you most admire?
Louise Bourgeois for her range of work and feministic themes.  Holding Sunday Salon's - a crit. for student's and creating the movement of confession art.  I love her spider sculpture in DC. Helen Frankenhaler for her gorgeous stain paintings and the first artist who introduced me to the color field style. Also, locally, Claire McCardle for working with marble, which frightens me.

Does anyone in your life regularly inspire you?
A childhood friend, a New Yorker, who embodies "the art of living beautifully." 

What is your creative ambition?
I would like to have a greater presence in commercial spaces. Most of my work is large-scale and lends itself to open, public spaces.

I also have an aspiration for the local arts community as a whole.  Artists are challenged to find the right environment to learn, create, and be inspired to hone their craft. My hope is someday we could identify a benefactor to support local artists by dedicating a building to studio and gallery spaces. Think the Arts Tower in Baltimore (Bromo Seltzer tower). 

What are the obstacles to this ambition?
Regarding my personal ambition, it's simply about finding the time - and mental energy- to develop a greater presence on social media in order to engage with architects, commercial builders, etc., instead of going through a dealer to form those relationships.

In terms of community outreach, Annapolis is fast recognizable as an artist haven. Given that, it just comes down to the funding. Build it and we will fill it.

How do you begin your day?
I always start with coffee and the NYTimes, followed by walking my dog, Scout.  I use that time to mentally plan how I'm going to use the studio time for the day.  I try to walk from my home in Eastport to the studio at least a couple times a week to clear my mind.

Is a creative dialog important to you and if so how do you find it and with whom?
It is important.  Painting is a singular vocation, and although I'm comfortable with alone time, I do feel outlets for shared passion are vital.  Art speak is in everything -fashion, food, travel, architecture and design.  Perhaps "Sunday Salon" needs continuance.

 

For more information about Lorraine, visit her Artist-in-Residence profile

This is part of an ongoing monthly series featuring a Maryland Hall Artist-in-Residence (AIR). Check Maryland Hall's website every week for a new post. Each month we will feature a different AIR. Click here to visit the Maryland Hall AIR page.

Maryland Hall’s Summer Concert series returns with another season of great music outside on our front lawn and labyrinth. Fun for all ages, bring your lawn chair or blanket and mark your calendar for our annual summer concerts! All concerts are free and no tickets are required. Wine, beer and food will be available for purchase. 


Sponsored by RPH Architecture
With additional support from Deborah Love in memory of Joe and Jackie Sachs.

 

Deanna Bogart
Thursday, June 18 | 6 pm
Deanna Bogart is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist and multifaceted musician. Bogart combines the best of boogie-woogie, contemporary blues, country and jazz into a splendid blend she calls “blusion.”

 

Blue Rhythm Boys 
Thursday, July 9 | 6:30 pm
Blending the blues of Mississippi John Hurt with the "hot club" swing of Django Reinhardt, the Blue Rhythm Boys have delighted audiences with their tight vocals and hot guitar playing since 1997. Tom Mitchell (vocal,guitar), Jim Stephanson(vocal, guitar), Vince McCool (trumpet) and John Previti (upright bass) bring authenticity and originality to their own smoky mix of hot jazz, blues and hokum.  

 

 

Afro Bop Alliance
Thursday, July 30 | 6:30 pm
Latin Grammy Award-winning group Afro Bop Alliance is an Afro-Cuban jazz ensemble based in Washington, DC.

 

 

Craig Gildner and The Blue Sky 5
Thursday, August 13 | 6:30 pm
Craig Gildner and The Blue Sky 5 perform vintage jazz and swing music made popular by Count Basie, Nat Cole, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw.

 

 

 

 

The Maryland arts community was stunned to learn that Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts was singled out as the only non-profit to have its funding deleted from the recently approved state capital budget.  This capital project funding was approved by the General Assembly – Republican and Democrats – to continue capability enhancements and renovations at Maryland Hall, including improvements to make the community arts center more accessible for those with disabilities.  This unprecedented action will harm the thousands of patrons, students, artists, volunteers, parents and supporters of Maryland Hall who benefit from this treasure in our community.  The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Theatre of Maryland, Annapolis Opera, Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra and Annapolis Chorale are all partners in the ongoing project to update Maryland Hall, and will be impacted from any delay caused by this significant cut in state funding.  We urge that the money be restored so that Maryland Hall can continue to enrich the community and transform lives.  We appreciate the continued support of the elected officials and community members who value Maryland Hall and regard the funding of arts, communities and education as a priority.

                                    Theatre Patron Wing                                                           Theatre Production Wing – Act 2
 

The Campaign for Maryland Hall is a five-year $18 million capital campaign to modernize and expand Maryland Hall, the region’s premier arts center.  We have already completed an upgrade of the main theatre (Act 1) and have made substantial progress with public and private funding sources so that we might soon begin Act 2 which will include the first major construction at Maryland Hall since 1932. But we need everyone’s support!

Thank you to the many community members who have already invested in this important project to expand, add capabilities and modernize Maryland Hall.  Please encourage everyone in the community to provide financial support – large or small – to help Maryland Hall engage more people.  Nothing speaks louder than action.  Over 100 individuals and all of the Boards of 4 of the 5 resident companies have contributed to the Capital Campaign just this year – demonstrating support for the planned improvements for Maryland Hall to enhance important mission delivery.

To contribute to The Campaign for Maryland Hall, click here. For more information, call 410-263-5544 ext. 26 or email capitalcampaign@mdhallarts.org

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