Saturday, September 27, 2008


Live Oak Silverpoint Drawing (work in progress)

I just ordered another bag of Silverpoint Ground and a new silverpoint tool. It reminded me of how many people have never heard of silverpoint and seem kind of bemused when I tell them that I make drawings using a real piece of silver. The more cynical of them reply "why not just use a pencil?" When I try to explain the difference between a real piece of silver and some graphite mixed with clay, I see them glaze over and when I say it is the difference between scratchy polyester and silk pajamas I often get the response "I don't like the feel of silk!" I must be getting old...shaking my head and wondering what the world is coming to.

Following this train of thought brought on a musing about when and how I learned about silverpoint in the first place. I seem to remember everything that interests me about art! During my high school years I used to drive to school using my mother's car (whenever I could finagle it from her) and check into first period and after attendance I would sneak out and drive myself to the Philadelphia Art Museum for the day, returning for the last period to drive my friends the few miles to the field hockey practice. I never did get caught!

Those Ingres drawings! I would wander the galleries and hallways of that museum marveling and studying harder than I ever did at school. I loved the idea of making drawings with a piece of silver and later it was Ralph Mayer in the "Artists' Handbook" that the directions for making silverpoint papers and tools inspired me to try it. I learned that the silver would not make a mark on many papers, and on some the marks would be very faint. Mayer's directions for making silverpoint papers used Chinese White Watercolor (Zinc White) mixed into a slurry and painted onto hot press watercolor paper. I have since learned that this method makes a very unsatisfactory paper, and it is much better to use a traditional gesso ground which I buy in powder form from This is not hard to do, but when I tell my friends that gesso has to be cooked, but must not get too hot, I get that glazed over look again.

This particular drawing is one of my "Red Light Drawings" which I keep in my car and work on it when stuck at red lights, highway construction and horrific accidents. I have worked on this one at other times, but it lives in the car, along with a silverpoint tool (a rod of silver inserted into a mechanical pencil holder), and kneaded eraser. Having a drawing to do, music on the radio, keeps me calm and serene when others are fuming under such circumstances, and one time after a two hour tie-up for an accident, I was sad to have to go again. I must admit that I have too much time invested in this drawing and I'll never be able to charge enough to cover those hours, but I don't care. I love to tilt the piece toward the light and watch the shiny silver surface reflecting the light.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Night at the Museum!

It is officially called "Art After Dark" and is a popular monthly event sponsored by the Tampa Art Museum. I got involved with this because of a call to artists to "Sound Effects"; art inspired by music, and my two abstract paintings seemed to fit the category so I sent in my jpgs and entered the show, not really understanding what the gig was all about.

It turned out to be a traveling show that was to be a one night stand at the museum (in its temporary quarters...more about that later), followed by a stint in a gallery in St. Petersburg. A big party followed the museum show in a gallery in Ybor City on Friday night which my friend and co-exhibitor, Mary Ellen Bitner, and I decided to skip as it was scheduled to start at 10pm and end sometime in the wee hours and featured the artwork that didn't make it to the museum show.

My paintings were at the end of the big lobby...a great location until the room was packed with people and no one could see my work. Oh well, no matter, as it was a learning experience, and before the room was packed, and before the DJ cranked up the volume on the audio equipment to ear splitting levels, causing everyone there to shriek at each other to be heard, I had some nice comments on my paintings. Later I just had to smile and nod.

Today I took our paintings to Artpool Gallery in St. Petersburg where, on Saturday night, there will be another ear splitting night of music and schmoozing by the folks who like to be seen at the scene. We have decided to go, perhaps briefly as a couple of old ladies out on the town, dressed appropriately for the suburbs, are about as ridiculous as some of the getups we saw at the museum on Friday night.

While the Tampa Art Museum builds a brand new, state-of-the-art facility downtown, it has moved to temporary quarters in a dingy neighborhood and in a very dingy building, that has a kind of ominous presence that looks like an old school building from the 1920s. It was very encouraging to see that such a place can attract hordes of people who paid $10 to see a very eclectic collection of artwork presented by "Sound Effects" which was curated by photographer Mitzi Gordon, and a really dumb show presented by the museum. Was it the food (sandwiches and cookies), the Starbucks coffee, or the beer and wine, that brought on the hordes?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The End of My Solo Show

I flew to Rochester, New York on Thursday, where my friend Kit Tobin picked me up and took me back to her apartment in Corning. Friday was the designated work day at the George Waters Gallery at Elmira College, with Saturday being a reserve day for finishing up the work if needed.

I had some help during the day from another friend, Gale Wursthorn, who came from Cleveland to lend a hand. The work went well, and the intense planning I did packing up the show on the Florida end in June paid off, and work went back into the packing boxes easily. The whole thing was finished and cleaned up by 5:30 Friday afternoon. I was exhausted!

Kit reminded me that she has heard me say "never again!" more than once after a stressful hanging and opening of a show, but this one was really a killer, and I do believe that I'll not have the stamina to do this again, as it was physically hard work and my poor back is now rebelling against such endeavors.

The best part of the trip was visiting the Corning Glass Museum this morning and the Rockwell Western Art Museum (both in Corning) this afternoon. I am now on overload, having completed the packing and seen some incredible artworks.

Art After Dark at the Tampa Art Museum
"Sound Effects"
September 19 (evening until 11:00)

Theme and Variations

Larger and better views of these two 32 x 48 abstract paintings may be seen at the Tampa Art Museum on Friday night! Please come and enjoy the evening's activities.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I'm In the Spotlight on Robin's Blog

I am honored to be a featured artist on Robin Maria Pedrero's blog. I met Robin quite a few years ago and we had a nice time meeting in her studio and chatting about art. She and I come from the same area in Connecticut and I was so excited to find an artist in Florida who knew about Robert Brackman. Her work is wonderful and I consider myself to be in very good company to be on her "Spotlight". She invited me to be "featured" and tossed me the question that I had never been asked..."how has the Feeling Series impacted your life and your art?" To see my answer click on the link to her blog.

New Work to Share

Genesis: Corn Egg Tempera 6 x 8 $450

I am really happy with my newest Genesis Series Painting, Corn. It took me forever to paint it, and it was very complicated and confusing, but I feel good about the outcome. This is number thirteen in the series....yes, there are more to come. I am totally addicted to them and I have quite a few more waiting for me.


I have worked on Shame some more and little by little it is coming along. I don't have anything much to say about it right now, except that my arm and shoulder seem to be getting used to working on this size canvas and I'm not as sore after working all afternoon.