Art and design projects. With stories about the people, places and experiences that have shaped my

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

New Paintings 2016

Please see this very nice interview 'At Home with John Scofield,' posted by 'Unlocking Litchfield.' It shows how as a family we display and otherwise live with art and design features at home. I am also interviewed on the subject of my new book, apprenticeships and the art world 'fast-lane' of the '70s.

Paintings on canvas, paper and panel completed in late 2015 and 2016:

Triptych on paper. Each 15" x 12".

Winter light in studio, February 2016.

'Biak I' 2016, acrylics on panel, 16" x 12"

Detail of 'Biak I'

'Biak II' 2016, acrylics on panel, 16" x 12"

Detail of 'Biak II'

'Orange and Green Table, 2016
'Orange and Green Table' is a painted sketch on paper for a dining table or desk. I have been making sketches like this for furniture designs since the early '70s.

'Shunde Dancers I'

'Shunde Dancers II'
'Shunde Dancers' I and II are both photo collages with acrylic paint on panel. Dimensions are H. 16" x W. 12" x D. 1". Signed: JES - '16

In 2010 I was a panelist at a furniture design conference in Shunde, Southern China. That's where I took these photographs of traditional Chinese dancers. Our host, owner of a 2M square foot furniture showroom, put fifteen of us on CCTV to discuss the importance of creating original designs as opposed to copying. During a quite lavish lunch break my table happened to be closest to the dancers. Behind them was a huge LED screen upon which multiple images of the dancers were projected. Our interpreter said that these stunning multi-color costumes were authentic and quite valuable.

'Scott, AR Ag'
'Scott, AR Ag' is a 2015 photo collage with acrylic paint on canvas. Dimensions are H. 16" x W. 12" x D. 1". 

In 2008 I took this photo of a unique, sheet metal agricultural building located in Scott, Arkansas; about one half hour south of Little Rock. The numerous small concrete piers holding it up are truncated pyramids, not cylinders as is common today. They each had to be separately formed during construction; a detail I found interesting and in keeping with the overall design of the structure.

'Orange Willows'
'Orange Willows' is based on a 2015 photo of an overgrown paddock in Sharon, CT. It is a 24" x 18" photo collage with acrylic colors on canvas. The striking orange and yellow branches created a subtle band of color across an otherwise drab winter landscape. I have been looking at this field for years but never saw the colors as bright as this until last December.

I like to use glazes and under-painting to create interest and depth. The trick is to balance the upper photograph with the painting below in a harmonious combination. At my age I am no longer interested in unstructured or gratuitously shocking subjects or so-called political art.

An architect friend of mine, Jim Walden, studied with Louis Kahn at Penn. I'll never forget when Jim said to his irreverent, activist, son who had been working for the Marxist conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth, "You don't have to show me how bad the world is through your art. I know how bad the world is..!"

'City Hotel Landscape'

'City Hotel Landscape' of 2016 is a picture that was started two years ago. It depicts the somewhat infamous City Hotel in Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa. The place is described in some detail in Graham Green's first novel The Heart of the Matter written during WWII. Freetown was strategically important during the war as it is the largest natural port in West Africa.

In 1974 I was a Peace Corps volunteer there. On various occasions I would be standing at the City Hotel bar having a beer British-style; no bar stools. Once I happened to be chatting with a couple of Russian sailors standing to my left. They were saying how ships that were tied up at the Queen Elizabeth Quay were often vandalized by thieves at night:  "They will even pull the nails out of a wooden deck." After a few minutes one of the sailors turned sideways a little. They had sub-machine guns strapped on their backs.

 Very little had changed since the '40s. Teen-age Liberian prostitutes would sit on the front porch sipping drinks with no booze in them while waiting for customers. One day I was sitting there at a table next to them making a few watercolor sketches. That's when I took this photo of a dog on the front steps of the hotel. The Tri-X 400 ASA black and white negative then sat in a cardboard box for the next forty years. I occasionally reviewed the image on a proof sheet - kept it in the back of my mind. But until recently I had no use for any of them so they remained unprinted until now. 

Lower painted bands are from my memory of the landscape there - at once tragic, dangerous and beautiful - but stacked up and shuffled in the manner of our dreams.

Acrylic colors on photo paper. Lower portion cut and assembled collage. H. 11 1/2" x W. 9 1/2".

'Three Ausable Trout'

'Three Ausable Trout' is a photo collage with acrylic colors on canvas, 2016.
H. 24 " x W. 18" They were caught in late August with weighted nymph flies on the west branch of the Ausable River in the Adirondacks. This river flows north. The upper and lower fish shown here are brook trout. The center one is a rainbow. Photographed on the tailgate of my Ford pick-up truck; parked under a grove of tall, cool hemlocks.

'Pond Ice'

'Pond Ice' is an acrylic  painting on Arches Heavyweight paper. H. 15" x W. 11 1/4". Ice on a pond is more gentle than the shifting, cracking and moaning of thick lake ice. My daughter likes to test the thickness of pond ice by hitting it with a stick. 

'Aus. Trout'
This title, 'Aus. Trout,' is short for Ausable. Photo collage on board with acrylic paints. H. 9 1/2" x 10 3/4" x 1/2". 

'Figures in Landscape'

'Figures in Landscape' is a 2015 painting on paper that was revised and completed in 2016. Dimensions are H. 11 1/4" x 15". See a large outdoor version of this in sculptural form at the end of this post.

'Figures in a Landscape'
'Figures in a Landscape' has something that is, for me, a new feature. The upper image is a photo of a previous painting on paper, enlarged from the original. Yes, the 'painting' is a photo of a painting... The lower area is paint. A little odd; this reversal. 
H. 9 1/2" x W. 10 3/4" x D. 1/2". 

'Figures in Landscape' H. 7' x W. 12', carved poplar. These are wooden forms that could be cast in bronze, concrete, fiberglass etc. to create a curved or straight relief screen - or solid wall. For use in interior or exterior installations.
Scale: The sixteen wood pieces,'figures,' are leaning against a standard horse paddock fence.

All paintings, sculptures, designs and photographs or photos used in paintings are Copyright John E. Scofield 2016