It's been much too long since my last post, but as always, I've been hard at work in the studio. In the past couple of months I've completed several modest-sized birch portraits, a larger image of winter light in the treetops, and a much larger, commissioned painting of midwinter sun bursting through the boreal forest.
The four 16" x 20" oil-on-canvas birch portraits above are paeans to just a few of the beautiful trees in my own yard and neighborhood--Taiga Woodlands--high in the hills above Fairbanks. I like going back and forth between smaller, more intimate canvases and paintings large enough to "step into." I also like alternating between the juicy, sensual richness of thick oil paint and the glowing, diaphanous transparency of acrylic washes and glazes. Beyond my delight in working with each in its turn, different kinds of images seem themselves to call for differing mediums and sizes.
We met a neighbor on the trail as we were nearing home on our every-other-day run yesterday, and when he exclaimed at what a beautiful day it was, I said to him, "You know, the quality of light this time of year is why Dorli and I don't expect to ever be 'snowbirds' like so many of our friends. How could we miss out on this extraordinary light?" Bright Day is about that delight.
I just completed Radiance last week--a large canvas commissioned by Mat-Su Services for Children and Adults (MSSCA) in Wasilla, Alaska. It will be unveiled in the lobby of a new building housing this extraordinary social service agency when it celebrates its 30th anniversary this spring. MSSCA provides a wide range of services for Mat-Su residents with developmental disabilities, families with children experiencing developmental delays or disabilities, and parents with questions about child safety and development. I am honored to have my work associated with the agency and will be delighted to have Radiance hanging in their beautiful space.
The selection committee for this commission expressed interest in several of the images I submitted for their consideration, but they were especially excited by several examples I provided of what I think of as my "epiphany" paintings--the bright, near-horizon sun of midwinter bursting not only out of the short, dark days, but through the tangle of the boreal forest. That light is not only a marvel to me, but an ongoing metaphor for so much of life here in the North.
And finally, just for fun, yes...LEGO bricks! The Anchorage Museum recently organized "Brick by Brick", an amazing exhibition exploring "the compelling pull and creative potential of building toys, including LEGO toys and bricks." New York artist Nathan Sawaya's large-scale LEGO brick sculptures and British photographer Mike Stimpson's photographs recreating scenes from history and popular culture using LEGO figurines are the featured items in the show, but it includes work by other artists as well, and interactive stations for museum visitors to build with LEGO bricks and use Chrome and Minecraft computer technologies to design and create.
The architectural firm Bettisworth North was invited to produce a piece for the community gallery portion of the exhibition, and they asked me in late September if they could try reproducing my 2013 painting Radiant in LEGO bricks. I was thrilled at the idea. I loved seeing images of the LEGO version of this large, 40" x 60" painting (the original resides in the waiting area of the Audiology Suite at Fairbanks Ear, Nose, and Throat Clinic) develop through in-progress photos sent by Leah Bolz, the firm's Director of Marketing and Business Development. Leah, Rebecca Rorabaugh, and Clark Yerrington of the firm brought it to life. Their LEGO version of Radiant was only on view for the opening and first two weeks of the exhibition, as the community gallery portion of the show is changing every two weeks, but the exhibition continues through mid-January.
Emmanuel Daskalos of Bettisworth North with the firm's LEGO rendition of my painting Radiant, at the Anchorage Museum's opening reception for "Brick by Brick"