Wednesday, October 25, 2017

"Ian and the Empty Chair" at the Lore Degenstein Gallery, 9th Annual Figurative Competition and Exhibition

"Ian and the Empty Chair"
Oil, 28" x 30"

This painting will be featured in the Ninth Annual National Figurative Drawing and Painting Competition and Exhibition at the Lore Degenstein Gallery of Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA.  It is a great honor to be in this show and I'm doubly grateful to have this particular piece accepted into it.

In purely technical terms, this painting inspired me to layer paint and glaze and scumble, working warm and cool colors into the background using a fairly limited color palette and value range.  I really enjoyed introducing elements of abstraction, mark-making and paint textures into a realistic narrative framework. 

I had started working on this painting with another concept in mind, but, as often happens when I have a visual scheme, the work at some point seemed to say another thing altogether, a more melancholy theme. It now seems to me that this painting is about loss. The empty chair used to be occupied by someone you used to be close to and who treasured you, who you thought would be there forever and who is gone.  

The young man is waiting patiently and doesn't yet realize that the person will never return.

The Lore Degenstein Figurative show is juried by the internationally acclaimed contemporary realist painter Alia El-Bermani. The show opens on October 28th with the awards ceremony at 7:00pm. The exhibition runs until December 10th, 2017. For more information, click here.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

"Portrait of My Brother, Jim" - "Familia/La Familia", Poets and Artists Publication

"Portrait of My Brother, Jim"
Oil, 30" x 24"

I'm really proud and excited that my painting of my brother, Jim, was accepted into the recent Poets and Artists' publication, "The Family Edition: Family/La Familia". You can purchase a copy (print issue or a download) of the publication by clicking here.

Poets and Artists is a platform that features artists painting figurative work from all over the world as well as contributing poets and writers. The "Family" issue is especially interesting because figurative artists were asked to provide work featuring their family. 

In a politicized art world of slick, trendy, edgy and/or commercially sensationalized images it is pretty refreshing to see some sincerity and tenderness. The jurors for the publication were noted realists David Kassan and Shana Levinson and they did a wonderful job selecting beautiful and moving work.

My brother Jim is an amazingly gifted person, highly creative, intelligent and one of the most compassionate people I know. I wanted to paint his portrait emphasizing his musical talents as well as an oblique reference to the falling leaves of a Midwestern childhood autumn. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

"Read to Me" - 'A Sense of Dialogue'

I travelled a lot during the last year and was out of town when this article "A Sense of Dialogue" appeared in last June's American Art Collector Magazine. I completely forgot to put this on my blog and so here it is.

"Read to Me" is one of my favorite paintings I've made and I like to write about it. It has so many of the themes that I like to put into my work - a person with headgear; striped fabric; a book and of course my dog. I also love to work in round formats like this one. All of these seem to be part of my artist universe since I return to certain themes over and over again.

Many thanks to Christine Egnoski and the magazine for this article.

Here's another photo of the painting, available at TH Brennen Fine Art in Scottsdale.

Monday, June 12, 2017

"Paracosm with an Injured Bird" showing at The University Club, Phoenix

"Paracosm With an Injured Bird"
Oil, 15" x 24"

I'm happy to say that this painting (which I have already written about on this blog) recently was awarded Second Place at the Portrait Artists of Arizona 7th Annual Members' Juried Portrait Exhibition and Sale. The show is at the University Club in Phoenix, Arizona until August 30th, 2017. Congratulations to all the artists who entered the show!

Friday, April 21, 2017

"Introduction to Drawing and Painting the Dog" - workshop, July 18th and 19th, 2017

"Tierra Dulce", oil (detail)

I've drawn and painted animals for years and have been putting them in my paintings more and more frequently. I'm delighted to have been asked to teach a two day workshop on drawing and painting dogs this summer.

I'm told we have a dog model who is very good at "stay" and "lie down so we can draw and paint you". This would not be my own dog, though (see painting above). We'll also be studying dog anatomy and talking about taking and using photography.

The workshop is on Monday, July 18th and Tuesday, July 19th. It's open for registration at Scottsdale Artists School and you can enroll and find out more about it at this link.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

National Weather Service Biennale 2017 - "Dust Devil" Drawing

"Dust Devil in a Pick-Your-Own-Field"
40" x 32"
Charcoal and Carbon Pencil on Canson Board

I just shipped off my big drawing to the upcoming National Weather Service Biennale in Norman, Oklahoma.  I'm excited to be in this show for a lot of reasons. I've been experimenting with large drawings for several months and it's exciting to see one get accepted into a national show. Plus, it's a big departure from my usual subject matter (figurative oil paintings).

I had to write an Artist's Statement about this drawing for the show. This is what I wrote:

  • I was in a pick-your-own pumpkin field in Arizona with my three young children on a late October day. We were startled by a sudden narrow spiral of dirt that began to whirl in the rows of withered stalks, climbing higher and growing stronger as we watched it float and churn toward us. There was nowhere to go and it happened very fast. We huddled together and covered our faces as it passed through us, blowing dirt through our hair and blasting our skin and clothes with little stones and leaves. Our visitor left as quickly as it came, leaving us energized, as if we had tobogganed down a snowy hill together, breathless and grateful for a safe landing.

It's a little embarrassing to be sending a drawing of a small dust devil and writing about my experience with it to an exhibition in one of the world's capitals of tornados. People from Oklahoma really, really know the horror of tornados. I think tornados are some of the scariest things on the planet, although tsunamis are right up there as well. I strongly suspect that the brave people from Oklahoma would scorn a little dust devil.

A dust devil seems mercurial,  unexpectedly sudden and random, no long scary music buildup, no watching the heavy sky darken and churn while you beat on the storm cellar door hoping Auntie Em will let you and your little dog, too, inside. It just zips cheerfully through the bright sky, throws some dust and debris around and then dissipates, a little message sent via air mail that anything can happen to shake you up, even in the middle of a warm, boring day.

The show opens on April 23, 2017 at the National Weather Service at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma. For more information click here.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

"Sight Unseen", Abend Gallery show, opens Feb. 24th, 2017

I'm excited to be in a new group show at Abend Gallery in Denver that promises to be an exciting event. "Sight Unseen" is a collaboration between noted artist and curator Alia El Bermani and Poets and Artists Magazine, an online creative exploration of contemporary art and artists hosted by artist, writer and curator Didi Menendez.

My painting "Here and Now" will be featured in the show, which opens February 24th.

"Here and Now", 20" x 16", oil

Around 80 of the country's most notable figurative artists will be showing work as part of the show. The common thread is an attempt to look beyond the surface of things to find hidden meanings and explore new concepts.

Personally, I've been experimenting more and more with a looser paint application and layering. For me, it is a much more tactile and meditative process which has frequent surprises.  

There's a beautiful catalog of the show available from the Poets and Artists website:  

You can order a copy of the show catalog at this link.

For more information about the show or to purchase my painting please email Abend at