Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mountains to climb

Ahh, the good old days (last week) when I was too busy painting to blog. This week I was too busy to paint. Sometimes it's less frustrating just to give into it and not even try to get into the studio.  But I'm lucky, because what's keeping me busy besides the usual Work and Chores are good things, like my dear father's approaching 80th birthday, hosting a cheering section for 2 brothers who are running a marathon that's going right by my house, and planning for a hike up Mt. Monadnock.

I did these paintings in 1997 from a previous hike up to Monadnock's granite summit. The top one was used as a book cover for The Cambridge Introduction to Sylvia Plath.
I know. Classy. Cambridge and all. I would have been happy to have it used on "Mountain Climbing for Dummies" considering I was contacted out of the blue by the editor who saw it on the internet. I only needed to send a slide and cash the check. I'm getting to like sending these paintings out to earn their living, or at least their rent for the space they take in my studio.

Next week I'll wrestle with the big painting again. Now that it's May, my deadline seems much closer. Until then, I have a mountain to climb.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hanging at RISD

You know when you finish an large and ambitious painting, hang it on a gallery wall and feel that it accomplished everything you wanted it to?  Neither do I.  In fact, I'm now reworking a painting that I tried to convince myself was finished, and had the nerve to hang in my show at the Gail Cahalan Gallery in 2009. It's getting better now though, I think.

One reason I'm pushing this one is that the Art League of RI, of which I'm a member, is having its annual show at the RISD museum in June. And they're not shoving us into a little local artist corner, it's being hung in the huge new gallery space that usually hosts national shows. Since this is probably the only chance I'll ever have of hanging in the RISD Museum, the pressure is on.

So that explains the lack of blog posts lately, I'm too busy painting to write about painting when I'm home, and my day-job has gotten too busy to sneak it in at work, so there you go.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Art New England Review

I've been reviewed! The writer, Martina Windels, visited my studio about a month and a half ago and we spent a long time talking. She looked at both of the shows I had up at the time at RWU and the Bert Gallery. I would have rather she reviewd the Bert show, since that contained my latest work, but understand why she chose the longer show at RWU. Art New England only publishes every two months, so most shows are already down by the time they're reviewed. But the RWU will be up until June, so there's plenty of time to see if you agree with her assesment.

I'm generally happy with the critique, even the "They fail, however..." part. I know the large Badlands triptych was more of a transitional piece, and if I failed to convey the desolation, it could be because I found the Badlands not desolate, but incredibly rich in color and texture.  See what you think...

Criticism is easier to take if it is well thought out and informed. I know Martina spent a long time looking at my work, my website and asking questions. I'd rather get a bit of negative feedback in a review with substance than a flattering reprint of my press release. And I have no complaints about the ending!

So, thank you Martina, for a "fair and balanced" review.

(Art New England doesn't link all of its reviews from its website, so I took the liberty of *sigh* retyping the whole thing here)
Art New England APRIL/MAY 2010

Roger Williams University Law School Gallery - Bristol, RI - - Through June 2010

In this fifteen-year restrospective, the Bristol Art Museum assembles just a small sampling of this prolific painter's work.

Here one sees how Kathy Hodge intently examines a subject for a long period of time. This exhibit includes work from several series: Train, Russia, and National Park. While working on the latter, she was in an artist residency at the Badlands National Park. She captured this landscape by breaking down and patterning earth tones. They fail, however, to convey the desolate nature she tries to depict. Hodge's patchy and detailed application of small color fields work much better when she paints the hard surfaces of buildings, as in Wait. In this lively and semi-abstracted scene, half a train emerges from an old metal building. The objects in the paintings — trains, bits of building, school buses, row houses, chimneys, and power lines — are all rendered at odd and often conflicting perspectives, which make the scene both mesmerizing and perplexing.

The most compelling paintings in the exhibit are taken from the Shoemaker Series, recently exhibited at the Bert Gallery in Providence.

Intrigued by old cast-iron machinery that she discovered in a local custom shoemaker's shop, Hodge took photographs of the unusual objects. The photographs became the source of inspiration as she started with quick, unfussy, and lively watercolor sketches that captured the equipment's character. Then, using charcoal, she created more studied and realistic portraits of the machine. Workings simultaneously on several pieces and in different media, Hodge would create a third iteration of the object — a loosely composed illustration in acrylic paint, overlaid with pastels for additional color and highlights. The grand finale would be a large painting, always executed in oil, with nuanced color application and a more refined composition.

In the oil paintings, Hodge would often combine elements from different objects, splicing them at obscure angles. The more abstracted the image, the more compelling the painting, shifting the focus from content to color, shape and composition, areas in which Hodge shows her strength and confidence.

—Martina Windels
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