Researching pt. 2

I am taking another crack at my re-researching, this time employing some helpful suggestions left in the comments of my last post. Thank you Marie and Jen! Also, I am checking out the sources that I am using to do my research.

I thought I would first start back at the blog I found previously: and the person who wrote it. In addition to the article I read before relating to my topic I did a quick run down of the other articles posted. Mr. Rodriguez certainly seems fascinated by the Dutch Golden Age of Painting. He seems to have a laymen’s expertise on the topic. I base this on my own knowledge of the period from classroom education, museum visits and research. Still, he could have gathered the his information in the same way I did.  I looked a little closer for an about page to tell me more about him, but his interests seem to remain within painting and don’t extend to talking about himself.  What to do… well Google of course!

He has a website as a professional photographer and a Facebook profile which lists the Smithsonian as his place of work.  At about the point where I was checking out his Facebook profile I started to feel a bit like an on-line stalker. Though being an artist and working at the Smithsonian are both very proud professions, I decided he was not really the professional reference I was looking for. His blog is interesting and certainly a good place to start to get image references and an outside perspective. Still, I had to take it further.

Back to the on-line Lane Library Research Database for another crack at finding some relevant articles written by people with letters following their names. I am first attempting to retry the terms I have used before only adding ‘and’ between all the terms.  First up is Dutch and Painting. So far it seems I am getting lots of relevant hits however upon closer inspection this is not the case. After filtering out the book reviews and looking for academic articles I am left with: an article about a novel about dutch painting, an article detailing an art exhibit from 1984, an interesting article about American art in the Dutch Style (interesting yet irrelevant) another irrelevant article about dutch painting and religion. Okay, clearly I need to be more specific!

I am going to add ‘still life’ to my perimeters. More reviews (some of these books look great!), more irrelevant articles.. . maybe I should take a new approach for a while and come back to this.  Just this morning I read an article about a modern artist in the MoMA newsletter, perhaps there is something similar for other museums. I am going to try the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I am starting simple with a search of ‘still life’.

Wow! The first six results are still life images from the Dutch Golden Age. The images have a catalog entry detailing who painted it, what the painter generally did and what the painting was about. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go into much detail regarding symbols of the items or the general ideas of the period. I was hoping for a newsletter or blog written by professionals who work at the Met, this is more a catalog of what the Metropolitan has in its collection.

Finally, I am going to try Marie’s suggestion of looking up Glenn Brown. So far I am loving what I see! Though Brown is painting from images and ideas of bygone eras (including Dutch) he is using reproduced images to do so. I have found a few reviews of his work and shows and a gallery that represents him.  Searching his name and interview I hope to get some of his sources directly from him, perhaps then I could go from there.  Well, he goes into a lot of detail regarding what inspires him, what he is painting about and symbols in his art, however I can’t really find anything like a reference.

I have been going at this for a few days now and for many hours, I am sure I could put more hours into it. It is especially easy because the nature of what I am researching is so richly distracting. Maybe I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for in an on-line database, but I found some interesting if irrelevant articles and learned about another contemporary artist. Often the artistic process is similar to this researching quest I just found myself on. You start with an idea then journey through a landscape of more ideas and often end up in a totally different place then you expected. From a strictly scholarly perspective I suppose this wouldn’t do however from an artistic point of view it’s perfect!



“The Metropolitan Museum of Art – Still Life with Lobster and Fruit.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art – Home. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Web. 14 Feb. 2012. <;

“Interview: Glenn Brown – Features.” Art in America. Brant Publishing, 2010. Web. 14 Feb. 2012. <;.

“Glenn Brown – Gagosian Gallery.” Current Exhibitions – Gagosian Gallery. Web. 14 Feb. 2012. <;.


Exploring Mondrian

Composition II in Red, Blue and Yellow, Mondrian, 1930

About two years ago I decided I liked Piet Mondrian’s art so much that I wanted to explore his ideas with my own art making.  Like Mondrian I have always been fascinated with form and discovering what it means to find pure or true form. For Piet that meant increasingly moving towards a more geometric and flat  style of painting, not surprising given the period he painted in(1905 – 1944)  and the influences of that time.

For me I decided to explore the idea of using a limited pallet with strong vertical and horizontal lines, but in a more lose and organic fashion. I love paint as paint and allowing, within reason, to let the paint be what it is: a liquid being effected by gravity on paper/canvas/wood.  In this situation I used a nice thin %100 cotton paper and wet it all down with yellow gouache paint. This is a series of 9 paintings so I allowed myself to play a little with each one in a slightly different way. I added black and red drips and tilted the plane of the painting allowing the paint to fall yet controlling its decent ever so much. In this way I created the basic composition of the piece.

After the painting dried, I could further develop the composition by adding darker patches to the yellow spaces. Also, I added red, black or white hatch marks to some of the spaces with conte’. The geometric lines helped reground me to my original exploration of Mondrian’s ideas. The resulting series I feel is both strong and one of my favorite small size paintings I have made recently. I continue to be inspired by Mondrian and to use the ideas I developed and crystallized in this series in my other works. If you want to know more about this series please feel free to read my statement here: atiststatement_path2

Path of Least Resistance #1, Gouache & Conte' on paper, 2010
Path of Least Resistance #4, Gouache & Conte' on paper, 2010


Learning and education require a lot of one thing: researching. You know, endlessly toiling through databases with interesting if less-than-accurate results to your search inquiry, combing the bookshelves of your schools library, sometimes googling, when that is “okay”. It all comes down to finding out information. For artists, this process continues past education into every idea we want to explore for art creation.

Recently, I re-examined Dutch Style Still Life in context to a painting I did last Winter. Feel free to page down on this blog to read it. Now I am re-researching (is that a word?) sources for my interpretation of the old masters works. I thought there would be tons of good stuff for me to find and read, alas this doesn’t seem to be the case, or perhaps I am not asking the right questions. I am using the Lane Library Research Database which accesses a variety of on-line scholarly databases. So far searches for: Dutch Style Still Life, Dutch Golden Age Painting and Vermeer have produced less relevant material then simply going to Wikipedia and typing in Dutch Style Still Life (which brings up a detailed page with a long list of cited material).

I have to admit I am surprised! What is it that I am doing wrong? When I had Physical Anthropology last term I think I spent 20 minutes researching Orangutans before I found a plethora of interesting and relevant articles on exactly what I wanted to learn on the red haired ape. I suppose another go at it, only this time I will try a more specific search parameter “Meaning in Dutch Style Still Life”… No results found.

Well needless to say, this is a frustrating process. Maybe if I move on to finding a resource in a blog. Aha!

So, I found a blog entry, and it seems the blogger agrees with me for the most part, great! Okay, now to get that pesky database to work for me. I have tried simpler: Dutch painting, and more complicated listing out a painting in particular: Still Life with a Chinese Porcelain Jar, Willem Kalf (and others). I found reviews on shows at the Met, or reviews on books written on topics and I have found “no results found”. It appears to me, if I want to get another opinion on my interpretation of Dutch Style Still Life I am going to have to walk into the library and peruse the shelves.

One incredibly useful website I found in my attempt to re-research my topic was this site for citing: . Just type in the information for what you want to cite and it will automatically create it for you in MLA or APA format. Golden!

Rodriguez, Levin. “Following Willem Kalf’s Lead….” Weblog post. The Berkmeyer Project. 16 Dec. 2010. Web. 8 Feb. 2012. <;.

Still Life with Fruit

Still Life with Fruit, Acrylic on linen, 24" x 36"

Anyone who knows me knows I don’t paint realism very often. I have this opinion that that is why I have a camera. I don’t feel like I am terribly gifted in that area, instead I am better at getting my point across with abstraction. That’s just me, I know lots of talented realist artists who feel otherwise and it shows strongly in their art.

This being said one of my latest paintings, “Still Life with Fruit” is painted using realism. In fact, I was attempting to draw on the Dutch Style of still life, which uses super-realism, extreme lighting and sometimes bends reality to a more pleasing image. I felt it was important to touch on the ideas once used in the dutch style to emphasis my own message. The abundance, the richness and the cup floweth over ideas in the dutch style, I hoped, would serve to point out the empty and desolate image in my own still life.

It was important to also emphasis abundance as waste. The paper towel with its rolls falling off the table refer to the opulent folds, shadows and subtle colors of the fabric usually seen in Dutch style, only here it is disposable and useful only once and falling wasted onto the floor.

Still Life with a Chinese Porcelain Jar, Willem Kalf, 1669

The “fruit” in the still life is actually a strawberry flavored fruit roll up, which if you read the ingredients contains no strawberry and very little fruit at all.   I unwrapped the roll-up and let it fall off the edge of the table. The tension of gravity I hope adds to the immediacy of the painting as well as reminding the viewer of the two dimensional plane of the canvas. Also, in many still life’s from the Dutch period , a lemon was often depicted peeled and allowed to hang thought to represent the bitter sweetness of life. In this case it’s the sacrin overly sticky sweetness of the candy that is the metaphor.

Finally, the empty blue bowl between the fruit and the paper towel roll. Traditionally, a fruit bowl in any still life would be full of abundant fruit, flowers, vegetables, bread and what have you. However, here I left it empty and very dark in the middle.

The crux of the idea being waste is not abundance, fake food has replaced real nutritious and satisfying food; all our fruit bowls are empty. I also hope to impart a ray of hope! This bowl is empty, but it is still there, ready and waiting to be filled. It is not just barren it is an opportunity.

Construction continues on my eportfolio. I have added a classes tab which I hope to populate with a run down of the classes I have taken and will take. Also, I have added a page with images of my best paintings over the last year. I will be adding statements and descriptions to these, but for now just the images are up for people to enjoy. I am getting over the learning curve for WordPress and expect a fully functioning and up to date eportfolio soon! Check out what I have already been doing here:

I am an abstrac…

A little about myself…


I am an abstract oil, acrylic and gouache painter inspired by nature and the search for the perfect form. I am influenced by duality, light, water movement, myths and folktales. My origins from an suburbia middle class family leave me with a lack of connection to any one culture which I find gives me an outside-looking-in perspective. I am continually driven to learn more about the art and the history of our world as well as the motivations of different cultures and the similarities we all share.

Please feel free to check me out at my website or facebook.