Sunday, July 17, 2016

Just Add Water II @ Kirkland Art Center with Golden's QOR Watercolors, July 14 2016

The Kirkland Art Center
9 1/2 East Park Row
Clinton NY 13323

The KAC website:

And KAC on Facebook:

Whoever thought this up deserves a raise. The premise of "Just Add Water" as I understand it is that Golden Artist Colors in nearby New Berlin NY supplies Kirkland Art Center with a bin of sample cards of their startlingly effective & useful QOR Watercolor paints. Golden's produced two palette sets -- one featuring subdued earth tones, another somewhat more cartoony bright -- each with a four inch square sample of a very nice rag-type watercolor paper.

KAC (for short) then invites artists via a call to collect a sample kit or three, churn out some paintings with them with latitude to use other materials (including collage) or other surfaces provided they do use the QOR samples and the dimension is strictly kept to 4x4 inches. KAC then hangs a show of the results in their splendid gallery space, displaying them anonymously and all priced at $20 with the proceeds benefitting the Center's mission. 

Click here to visit Golden's website for the QoR Watercolors line:

And click here to visit the Golden Artist Colors website:

Pretty cool scheme, and even better at encouraging artists like myself to consider both watercolor and small scale works with renewed seriousness. Artist John Ford impressed the heck out of me at his Sculpture Space presentation back in March when he said that his table sized installation pieces were meant to help establish the significance of small things. And working on these 4x4 paintings both this year and last helped to encourage me to scale down the size of my efforts and I'm still doing it. Yes I enjoy painting on doors or mural sized facades where we can push the detail factor up.

But there is something very engaging about work on this kind of a scale and working on the projects both years led me down avenues I wouldn't have considered. I like combining projects to have the things I'm doing interwoven into a greater context linking what might be very different approaches with shared attributes which link them into a larger project. Took a while to get rolling but here's how I ended up approaching this ...

The scale of the 4x4s and relative simplicity of watercolor painting allowed me the convenience of working at home. Which was kind of a relief actually, the Macartovin studio has felt kind of cold and dank since summer kicked in, would like to witness some of it. My Utica host had provided me with a splendid enclosed porch with sunshine + trees to make use of as an office and this project lent itself well to such confines. Not much to mess up, though I did "cheat" a little and used some Golden's Liquid Acrylics here and there. Ehh.

Back in Syracuse where I tend to The Tech Garden's gallery every Monday and spend time with my mom Flora May W. Nyland, a badass artist in her own right who jumped at the opportunity to paint with me for a glorious hour in their epic back yard.

Mom's angle, with the upside down chair legs at bottom.


Found this painted on the back of one ... Aww.

Flash back to 2015's version, where I did my two entries for that show with artist Jenna North & the ever curious Shebalou one June afternoon by the Erie Canal in Utica. We even collaborated on a third  painting before I had to drive to The Tech Garden in Syracuse to remove the April show we had both been part of. One of my favorite days in this Utica saga! Should have blown off the gallery & just stayed to paint. I remember it rained lightly.

And we didn't care. That ruled.

Our collaborative painting. Should have bought it & would love to find out what became of it as that's the only time we've shared a painting surface. Feel welcome to leave a comment below or email me if you have a lead on it.

One of two (three?) works Jenna produced for the 2015 exhibit, still one of my favorite things that I've ever seen come from her brushes. Wish I could have snagged this but it had a buyer before I saw its completed form. And that's showbiz!

A little Dutch Interior, and I was informed that it did sell.

And Fun In Space #15, in the collection of the Golden family.

Now, around about the same time I'd been invited to be part of artist & teacher Audrey H. Taylor's "Big Ol' Print" event at Munson Williams Proctor Institute for the Arts, where Jenna had also been a teacher. I'd somehow missed the invitation to be part of it last year -- click here for a blog post on what went down. In a nutshell they invite a group of artists to each carve a roughly 48x52 inch slab of MDB board into a massive printing blocks. The blocks are then inked up, placed on the ground, a sheet of linen is carefully stretched over it, and then a full-sized industrial steamroller ground it into the pavement like a giant printing press. I was very impressed! and determined not to miss out on it this time around.

But there was no way I would be able to carve that on my desk while watching Space Patrol on my fone. Didn't even bother taking it to the studio, intending to work it on the living room floor. But thanks to the kindness of artist Shelley Graham Turner from Rome NY I'd been loaned a table to use for the One World Flowerfest project in the spring. Figured it just might fit, cleaned out one side of the porch and got busy.

Chalk drawing on the dark stained MDB board. I had only done prints as a child with Flora who had her own silkscreen press in the basement for a few decades & generated piles of serograph collage prints that my brothers and I were sometimes pressed into service on. So this was a learning experience and instead of just learning the technical process of how to make a print block with something manageable, let's go for a gargantuan slab of material that needs a goddamn steamroller to be pressed.

Been drawing influence from vintage science fiction artwork as of late and this image was directly helpful in finding what I wanted to carve. Taken from the jacket of a book in the "Tom Corbett: Space Cadet" series, which I found some episodes of on YouTube and watched while working on the projects. Or rather had on my phone playing off to the side, who actually "watches" anything anymore?

Carving underway but I did not know if the astronaut couple were really needed until almost the very last couple of days before the deadline.

Decided I needed to explore the composition a bit more and used one of the sample kits to work a small study. And yes, the astronaut couple was important. It's Space Boy's Hot Date to the Planet of Steamrollers. We're rooting for him.

The final carved board, titled "Planeta Steamroller" in homage of the Big Ol' Print event and low budget Italian science fiction films from the 1960s.

The resultant print on linen, approx 48x52 inches, which flipped the composition and printed it in negative. Tempted to touch up the astronaut couple, makes me think "Shroud of Turin in Space" though, which is kind of cool. Anyway, I found that crossing the two projects made sense & had a gas working on them simultaneously. Wood chips and mix cups everywhere. Looking forward to another round of both in 2017 and a blog post on the steamroller is in the works. 

For now back to the watercolors.

Fnished 4x4 works started with Flora in the back yard.

Second set in progress along with the print study. And I'm glad I took that shot as the one at lower left with the astronauts ticked me off & was completely gessoed over and redone. Screw it.

The final heap of works, with the vase study at lower right being what became of the astronauts.

While this was going on, Jenna and I were working on a show of our recent works for the gallery walls at The Dev in Utica, a music venue & gastropub that engaged me to curate their art exhibits. This is one of Jenna's paintings created for the "Star Trek Vs. Star Wars" show I'd curated at The Tech Garden in Syracuse, another favorite of her works, and it struck me as being a flexible enough image to combine with one of mine to create a publicity flyer to help promote the Dev show.

So I started with one of the works I'd painted with Flora in the back yard.

Decided to give this one a go as well as it was an early vision of what became the Planeta Steamroller carving for the MWPAI Big Ol' Print event.

Very simple cut and paste of Jenna's painting and the first watercolor.

And the second pasted on to Jenna's painting, flipped horizontally for better placement of the central pyramid feature & ironically anticipating the same effect on the block print.

We both agreed the first one worked better and this was the flyer design I whacked together.

Our opening at The Dev on Wednesday the 13th, completely exhausted but determined & it ruled. Blog post on it soon as we have time choose some pix.

Making the scene the next day at The Golden Foundation for the Arts' residency program and their monthly Open Studios event. Click here for a blog post on some of what there was to see.

Now, where were we ... Back at KAC thirty-seven minutes & half a Roger Taylor album after leaving The Golden Foundation. It is all about the driving tunes.

And we made it in to what we thought it was right opening ... Hadn't been expecting nor dressed for a formal. Which made it even more fun! Actually still confused as to whether we showed up for the right event ... ??

One of my favorite gallery spaces in Central New York, had a far out show there in January with Tony Thompson and Tim Rand that is overdue for a blog entry of its own. Wish I'd gotten more shots of the walls showing how the paintings were hung in clusters but there were so many people ...

Project complete! Emailed this to Flora and she's stoked, looking forward to showing her the rest of the album this evening.

The vase study, and if you ask me that's my single best painting so far this year. Too bad about the astronauts but there's something going on in this one that I'm very pleased with. Whoever takes it home will have something very special.

Can't recall the title, but good enough to show it again.

Why not. "Planeta Steamroller Study".

Can't recall the title. I like this one, going to use the image in another project as well.

Flora May W. Nyland
"Be Sure of What You Wish For in the Deep Blue Sea"

Flora May W. Nyland, "Garden Study".


Excellent choice by whomever snagged it, very unique palette for me and for the record I'd meant to "finish it" a bit more. Now glad I hadn't.

Dutch Interior Study. The motif is a play on the family's Dutch heritage and the tradition of interior genre paintings from the Dutch Renaissance. Been doing them off & on since 1993, the largest a 9x17 foot version that used an actual chair.

Not bad either. And there's a Planeta Steamroller study in the window.

Andrew Buffington

Andrew Buffington

Andrew Buffington

And I believe this was also by Andrew Buffington. He may have had another even. Guy is an animal.

Tony Thompson, and that is a badass painting.

Tony Thompson, who also had work in last year's show and did the Big Ol' Print event with us at MWPAI. Bloggin on that next!

Steven Specht written all over that, including the sold sticker.

My favorite painting from the whole exhibit, done by Megan King-Ratcliffe. And proof to my axiom that if you really want to sell paintings, paint frogs. Frogs sell. They just do.

Some more favorites from the exhibit below, apologies I could not get pix of more but there are SO many of them -- Please go see the show in person. And as the paintings were shown anonymously I do not know who their creators were, and am working to get a list of names for all those who took part to add to this Google searchable blog post.


Impeccable. Fantastic painting!

Barns and/or tractors in paintings = winning.

... That's kind of hot, in a weird tubular sort of way.

I need to go there and just sit. Perfect.

Love the wash effect!


Looks like the cover for a latter era King Crimson album.

I liked these, this one kind of Boba Fett. 

Interesting. Wondering if they are by the artist I suspect may be responsible, will check into it.

Back yards and watercolors go together.

Hours & hours went into that. Good Christmas ...


Go see the rest of them and take a couple home to help support KAC's mission.

This guy rules. Nicely done, Bro. 

Artist Andrew Buffington! Whom I encouraged to get some sample kits & produce some work for the exhibit. Guy went so far as to prepare his own paper squares as the supply had been exhausted and churned out what, six of them? And was the happiest guy in the place, knowing that he'd now gotten artwork on the walls at KAC, a notch on that exhibition record, and found a new appreciation of watercolors that's still being pursued. Excellent!

Jenna North with artist Steven Specht, who likewise had work in the show & had also been a part of last year's exhibit. And did The Tech Garden show in Syracuse that Jenna and I were part of last year, sort of wrapping it all together in a marvelous lattice of coincidence. Steve's work will be featured at The Dev in September of this year and it will be a hot gig, stay tuned.

Steve with whom turned out to be KAC's new Executive Director Megan Ratcliffe. Whom I had not met previously & thoroughly confused me when walking in by knowing exactly who I was, that my art was in the show, that my mom's art was in the show, and that I'd been sharing some of my progress on the project on Instagram. Had no idea who she was!  :D  Heck my brain was still looking for deer while driving back from New Berlin. But yeah, that was nice. And I hope we didn't crash the wrong party! Would have worn a nicer shirt, hadn't read the event listing over I guess. D'oh.

Anyway, with Megan from KAC and one of my works from the show wedged in there. Had to get a picture! and will be around, keep em coming.


And YES!! 

LOL awesome, now that's cool, nice surprise when looking up the street address at the KAC website. Little slideshow there with 18 works from the show including a bunch I had not gotten shots of, worth a look. Boy wait till Mom sees this! and count me in for next year.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post Steve. Really enjoyed it! And thanks so much for the acknowledgments.