2012: Another Baker’s Dozen of old paintings revised/reworked that year

by Alden Cole on June 21, 2019 · 0 comments

Portrait of Burnell Yow! • oil on 1/4″ plywood panel 12″ x 12″

My first foray into painted portraiture in many a year was inspired by a self-portrait photograph by my friend Burnell Yow! – a black & white photo in which he looked off to the right side with his index finger raised as if to say SSHHH!. I decided to play with the concept, but with changes: to paint the portrait in color rather than black & white monotone, plus turning his gaze toward the viewer, instead of looking away, which dramatically alters a portrait. An interesting experiment with debatable results that was initiated around 2008, but didn’t receive its final reworking until the spring of 2012.

Helping Hand • oil on linen canvas-board 6″ x 6″ • collection of Carla Liguori

This small painting was inspired by the Lajos Kossuth Monument, a statuary group of two figures – one standing, one seated – at Riverside Drive and West 113th Street, in Manhattan. I became familiar with this monument in 2005 as a result of being hired to help organize a NY friend, Virginia Heady, who was settling into an apartment she had just inherited from friends on the 10th floor of the 17 story building immediately behind the monument. I was in NY several times that spring unpacking, sorting, and organizing her earthly possessions. During that time I developed an admiration for the feeling evoked by the sculptural group, which inspired me to take a number of photographs from various angles, one of which formed the basis of this painting dedicated to Omar Kabir who provided a helping hand that spring of 2005.

Tight Rope Walker aka Balancing Act • oil on linen 20″ x 16″ • collection of Sharon Ivanov

Another painting several years in the making. The idea for this particular composition went back to a pencil sketch on a file card drawn sometime in the mid 90s, a nod to the challenge of developing “a heart light as a feather” and maintaining a healthy psychological balance in a world that seems pretty unbalanced most of the time. Painting was commenced around 2008, but I never brought the piece to a level of finish that I was happy with. Until the spring of 2012 which saw the reworking of a number of pieces that had been started as early as 2005.

Consolation aka Sufferin’ Jesu • oil on 1/4″ plywood panel, 12″ x 12″

Based on preliminary pencil sketches going back to my time in New York City in the 1970s, this highly emotional expression was the product of a period of feeling deeply sorry for myself that hit me in my early 60s. Art Therapy. Refocusing in this manner the negative emotions that came up became a positive way of dealing with the negativity that otherwise threatened to incapacitate me during this time when nothing seemed particularly stable in my life.

What Can I Do? • oil on the textured side of a masonite panel 10″ x 13″

In the first go-round with this painting in the early 2000s, I used letters above and around the figures to literally spell out a message four times: “WHAT can i do? what CAN i do? what can I do? what can i DO?” After living with the painting that way for some time, I decided to eradicate the words under layers of colorful impasto. This choice was based on a sensation at the time that the words distracted from the power of the image itself. This could change…

Talk to Me • oil on 1/4″ plywood panel, 12″ x 12″

Another years-in-the-making painting started around 2005; the result of an ongoing period of emotional challenge sparked by an interesting but intensely strained relationship with Omar Kabir, a talented trumpet player now living in Munich, Germany. All-in-all, it was one of the great learning experiences of my life, prompting me to keep moving onto the next level of psychological development, an ongoing life process.

Behold the Light • oil on linen, 18″ x 18″

This is one of three paintings in this posting that were not the reworking of older paintings. Admittedly the basic idea of a figure seen from the back with arms raised in the gesture of adoration and surrender is a repeating image throughout my work that goes back to the first stirrings of my art. Painted in two relatively brief sessions, this pointillist-driven painting is one more tribute to the magic of Vincent van Gogh, whose work did not find favor with me when I first encountered it as a teenager. Time has revealed his genius! Acquired tastes are sometimes the most significant influences in our lives.

Devas #2 aka I Sing the Body Electric • oil on masonite panel 12″ x 12″

This was the second visit to an idea sparked by my time in India in 2005 with Omar Kabir. While visiting the tiny Bay of Bengal town of Gopalpur-on-Sea, we were exploring an abandoned ruin that sat at the edge of town, overlooking the magnificent beach that dropped off at a precipitous angle, creating one hell of an undertow. We witnessed three Indian youths sporting in the surf, which inspired me to pull out the camera and see what I could capture. The result was a set of photos which inspired this series of paintings. A third is still in the works…

The Feet aka Barefoot in the Park – oil on linen 18″ x 18″

#4 of an evolving series – These Are A Few of My Favorite Things (Body Parts) – that I first sketched out as an idea on a file card back in the mid-80s while I was still living in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The first realization in paint was The Ear, done in the early 2000s. The Eye was next, a few years later, followed by The Mouth. The Feet was painted especially for a show at the DaVinci Art Alliance in July 2012 themed Summer in the City.

Tidal Cove, Newcastle, New Hampshire • oil on canvas 12″ x 24″

Of all the paintings in this posting, this is the one longest in the works. Started in 1985 as an in situ plein air painting while living in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The location was a lovely quiet cemetery overlooking a tidal cove in the seaside community of Newcastle, NH (seems like there’s a Newcastle in just about every state, like Springfield). I’ve reworked sections of this painting periodically since the mid-80s, the most recent revisions being made in the spring of 2012, just twenty-seven years after its beginnings.

To Hell in a Hand Basket, numbers 1, 2, & 3. Acrylic on plywood panels 12″ x 12″ each.

Playful pieces inspired by an early spin-art-type painting done in the early 2000s. These are from my Big Bang series of colorful sunbursts in iridescent paint. The first is still available. #2 is in a private collection. #3 is in the collection of Nikki Hansen.

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