medium /// painting

max seckel

Now this is my kind of mess! Neon tape, bright orange construction cones, and the greenest plants I’ve ever seen. These paintings {acrylic, gouache, latex, and spray paint on canvas} are the work of Swiss born, New Orleans based artist Max Seckel. Here’s where these crazy worlds come from:

“My work aims to explore my own reactions to and perception of the world surrounding me. Informed by memories, dreams, conversations, and just plain looking around and being I assemble a world constructed of absurdities and references. Objects are clustered together and arranged with little respect to context, intending to create a sense of wonder and confusion as the viewer works to make sense of the situation presented.”

Wonder and confusion, indeed. Love.

david wightman

Acrylic and collaged wallpaper on canvas. I thought I should say that right up front since my first question was, “what is that!?”. This the unconventional landscape work of UK based artist David Wightman… now, if I could find a lemon yellow waterfall to jump off, my summer vacation would already be in the calendar!

ps. Some of David’s work is available via Rise Art.

“use it or lose it”

So, today’s episode is kind of insane. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you’ve seen the recently revealed official portrait of Michelle Obama. I honestly can’t believe she made time to talk to me, but yes, Baltimore based painter Amy Sherald is my guest today. We definitely talked about the piece of American history she just finished painting {no pressure}, but I also wanted to know everything that led up to this exciting moment in her life. Amy and I are talking about her original plan to become a doctor, the years she worked as a bouncer at a bar, and how she found the path to her own very unique style. Listen right up there under “LIGHT IS EASY TO LOVE”, or you can subscribe on iTunes.

First, a few of the costumes we were talking about. Let’s start off with the unicorn equestrian that I obviously had to bring up:

The queen is fantastic! And, I think that last one is a costume. I hope.

Next, just people being people… in a stunning, engaging, brightly colored, Amy Sherald kind of way:

Seriously, she is so good. That final piece above is the ten-year-old we mentioned, Amy’s youngest subject so far.

Oooh, and this is “Miss.Everything”… and she really is:

This is the painting that made Amy the first woman to be awarded the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition grand prize. That close-up! Her skin is gorgeous. It’s so soft-looking, I can hardly believe it’s paint.

Speaking of soft skin {according to Amy’s sister}, here is the official portrait of FLOTUS, Michelle Obama:

Sigh. Ok, I already loved this painting so much, but hearing the behind-the-scenes story directly from Amy made me love it even more. The reference to quilts {Gee’s Bend}, Michelle’s elegant pose, and again, that lovely grey-scale skin… beautiful. All of that work – the selection process, choosing wardrobe, taking photographs, going back for more photographs, and then, oh yes, painting a portrait to be hung in the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian as part of American history – definitely worth some celebrating:

And, clearly, I’m not the only one who’s in awe of Amy’s work. A two-year-old named Parker is mesmerized as well. She thinks this is a painting of a queen. Rightly so.

Finally, I can’t finish the post without this:

Awwww! I’d warm up his food too. Thanks so much to Amy for taking time out of her insanely busy life to talk to me {enjoy those margaritas, Amy!}; thanks to Saatchi Art and Create Magazine for supporting the episode; and thank you for listening. There will be more art for your ear next weekend.

Other links:

  1. Amy on Instagram
  2. Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis {Amy’s show in May}
  3. Hauser & Wirth, New York {2019 show}
  4. The soon to be historic photo of Parker & the Portrait, snapped by Ben Hines


julia hall

Doesn’t this immediately transport you to your favorite gallery… well, a gallery for those of us with a penchant for people watching, that is! This is just one series in the lovely portfolio of UK based artist Julia Hall. Ahhh yes, there’s nothing quite like sitting on a quiet gallery bench watching people from all walks of life wander by … add a little eavesdropping and I’m totally in. Here’s to women artists painting women looking at paintings… Happy International Women’s Day!

ps. I also want to mention Julia’s latest, and very powerful, series titled “If Not Now When”. Julia has been painting snippets from “the media conveyor belt, and the slow, rigorous layering of oil paint solidifies the moment, giving longevity to an otherwise fleeting event.” I was going to write a whole post featuring everything in this series, but to be totally honest, I’m having a really hard time with the constant stream of news, fake or otherwise, that we are constantly bombarded with. I find it absolutely overwhelming … I’d much rather be people-watching in a beautiful gallery. That said, I love this piece… in an “Oh no, please make it stop” kind of way. Also, it shows off Julia’s insane painting skills. Keep an eye on this very powerful ongoing series via Julia’s Instagram feed.

lorna simpson

Gasp! Just when I thought I couldn’t love the work of American artist Lorna Simpson anymore than I already do… “Unanswerable”. This is just a tiny peek at her latest work, all of which is currently hanging at Hauser & Wirth in London. I have loved Lorna’s collages for years, but these large scale, deep blue, smokey mixed media paintings are new, AND AMAZING. Here is a little bit of the show description from the Hauser & Wirth site that starts to explain the colors, ice, smoke etc…

“… In the last few years Simpson has taken up the medium painting for the first time in two decades, creating works using hazy washes of ink and acrylic over gesso. In works, such as ‘Ice 4’ (2018), Simpson layers the appropriated imagery and Associated Press photographs of ice, glaciers and smoke with nebulous washes of saturated ink which partially obscure the source material. The smoke plumes signal upheaval and discord in nature and society in reference, perhaps, to images of riots following police brutality past and present that Simpson has more explicitly illustrated in other related works. Barely discernable strips of newsprint typography allude to wider issues in society. Here, as elsewhere, the artist is sparing with colour; her disciplined palette consists of inky blacks, greys, and a startling acid blue that has only recently appeared in her oeuvre, contributing to its atmosphere of bristling movement. Deftly navigating the territory between figuration and abstraction, these paintings cut through the calculated glamour of magazine imagery with the brute force of the natural world. As the artist explains, ‘Conceptually, this is in tandem with what I’m experiencing emotionally but also what I feel is going on politically: the idea of being relentlessly consumed.’”

The show will be up until April 28th, 2018. GO.

norman gilbert

These paintings {oil on board} are the most recent work of Scottish artist Norman Gilbert. Now, when I say ‘most recent’, I mean sometime between now and 2000. The work shown on his website actually begins in 1950, as Norman is now 91… and still creating his beautiful work. His color choices, his style {that almost looks like printmaking}, and the fact that his teachers at the Glasgow School of Art considered him to be “unteachable” because he wouldn’t do what they told him to do … yes, these are all of the factors that go into making me a fan of Norman!  Watch this video clip from the BBC, and I’m quite sure you’ll be right there with me:

Norman is represented by Tatha Gallery in Scotland.

kaetlyn able

I suddenly want to spend the day watching old Westerns … and I don’t even like old Westerns! This is the mysterious, rich, beautifully crafted work of Montana based artist Kaetlyn Able. Are you wondering how she does this? Graphite? Printmaking? I’ll let her tell you:

“I create dreamy portraits based on found historical photographs. Using tattoo needles and an x-acto blade, I etch into thin layers of black ink that I have painted onto white clay panels. Traditionally, this drawing technique is known as scratchboard, or scraperboard, but I don’t love those clinical-sounding names. They don’t do the process, which feels utterly, completely and perfectly magical, any justice at all! For me the practice is part meditation, part act of devotion. I slowly build delicate layers of marks, gradually adding more and more light and life to the image, until suddenly, a character and a story seem to emerge out of the black. It’s a surprise every time. I often layer these black and white drawings with pops of colorful elements that I paint in acrylic and acrylic gouache, creating further texture, dimension and emotional resonance.”

Tattoo needles?! What a fantastic way to get these characters to “emerge out of the black”. Love.

elyse dodge

Ahhh, British Columbia Canada… fractalized into candy-colored fantasticness! This province is my home – my heart – and I absolutely love the way that Vancouver based painter Elyse Dodge has captured the beauty of this special place. Geometric shapes, celebrating each and every color that bounces off our mountains, and those trees! I love those lovely little trees. Clearly, this is her home & heart too.

andrea soos

Abstract works on paper … that make me want to drop everything, run into the studio and start making marks… alllllll of the marks! This is the dreamy work of Canadian artist Andrea Soos. She runs a beautiful studio in Victoria, called Poppet Creative, where she helps other people find their creative genius. I am so thrilled that she’s finally showing the world what she’s been doing quietly in the background! Pop over to her brand new site to see her lovely work {PS. you might want to buy a piece or two before they all sell out, or before she realizes she should put her prices UP.} Happy Monday.

“free to be”

Well, that painting basically covers everything I had on my list of questions for British artist Pippa Young. Flat bonnet-ish hats, thin red lines {which are paint, not thread btw}, weird plastic-looking stuff wrapping her subjects – what’s it all about, because I need to know! Thankfully, she told me. We talked about being free to do whatever we like, late starts, and how I can get myself to Cornwall because, clearly, it’s a creative wonderland filled with amazing artists! Have a listen right under “Self-Doubt” – how perfect is that? – or you can subscribe on iTunes.

First, some of the paintings I wrote about years ago when I first stumbled upon Pippa’s lovely/weird work:

After doing this interview, I’m pretty sure that’s Pippa’s son in, at least, the last painting above. These works also give you a little peek into the “hats” / “bonnets” I brought up right off the top. Next on my list of “what’s this about?”… tiny, delicate, beautifully painted red lines:

Gasp! Pippa told me she doesn’t do those lines freehand, she “uses masking tape”. Oh okay, super easy then. WHAT?! So precisely perfect! She explained that these tethering red lines were inspired by “The Goldfinch” – a book written by Donna Tartt, inspired by a 1654 painting by Dutch artist Carel Fabritius … now that’s a lot of inspiration. Pippa’s final painting above is, in fact, titled “Goldfinch I”. FYI… this is the cover of the book, and the painting:

Lovely. Next on my list of questions… the plastic trash bags?

Yep, there’s that plastic bag “baby” we were talking about. Her work is so gorgeous … the combination of the detailed plastic texture, with the flat hats and dresses on the girls? LOVE. It is so obvious {now} that Pippa was a graphic designer for such a long time … beautiful compositions, photographic qualities combined with flat graphic elements, and oh, that negative space. It’s all just too good.

And, ah yes, her “interventions”. I already loved them to begin with, and then to find out that these are not found images, but actually members of Pippa’s family, well, that pushed me over the edge:

Ghostly, beautiful, kinda weird… fantastic! And finally, Pippa in her studio:

Gorgeous! Quite handy to have a talented photographer brother to take cool in-studio shots, no? Thank you so much to Pippa for taking time out of her recharging break to talk to me; thanks to Saatchi Art and Create! Magazine for supporting the episode; and thank you for listening. There will be more art for your ear next weekend.

Other links:

  1. Charlotte Keates, Episode No.107
  2. Lisa Wright, Episode No.122
  3. Arusha Gallery, Edinburgh
  4. Michaël Borremans, Belgian artist
  5. Pippa on Instagram
  6. Create! Magazine – Call for Art (due Feb 28)