Tag Archives: acrylic paintings

Vince’s Gourmet Still Life

Vince’s Gourmet Imports is an Italian grocery store on Route 11 in North Syracuse, New York. I love the depth and breadth of the merchandise. What works here is rhythm – the repetition of shapes and color.

These are acrylic paintings on 16″ x 20″ canvas panels created by students in my 8th grade accelerated Studio in Art classes. (Chittenango Middle School, Chittenango, New York) The trick is to start with white paint, add Raw Sienna (a yellow ochre color) then add the color of your choice. One color then permeates throughout the canvas, which is pleasing to the eye and causes non-artists to say something like, “I don’t know why I like this, but I do.”

We looked at the work of Janet Fish, specifically the techniques used to create the illusion of reflective surfaces. I am so pleased with the results.

Following the Light

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



The Richell Castellon art exhibit at Wilson Art Gallery in the Noreen Falcone Library on LeMoyne College campus is a must-see. (1419 Salt Springs Road, Syracuse, New York 13214).


Castellon gives us his impressions of homeland Cuba vs. Syracuse, New York.  The landscapes of Cuba appear as an anachronism – like a sunny Miami circa the 1950s – the cars are vintage, the streets are clean and the people appear content.  The Syracuse paintings are a bit more gritty,  There’s a painting representing the underside of a rusty Route 81 bridge and another depicting a homeless panhandler holding a sign reading, in part, “the best is yet to come”.  I am assuming this is a metaphor for the artist’s life?

Because he does live here now.  According to the literature, the artist is interested in the similarities and differences between Cuba and Syracuse – the paintings are all street views, painted in the same style, yet these places are distinctly different with regard to the way he captures the light.



Castellon offers both city views in color and in value studies using an impressionistic brushstroke with acrylic paint.  The paintings seem to glow from within.  The Syracuse paintings radiate heat, especially in the way he handles the traffic lights in the night-time street scenes.  They appear to have a sort of uncanny incandescence, which is quite impressive.  How does he get acrylic to do that?



I met him at the Syracuse Tech Garden a while back – he told me then that he paints from photographs and from memory.  There is a sense that the images have emerged from dreams.  They portray a sequence of moments in time, as if they are somehow actually moving.  I think it is the combination of loose brushstroke and just enough sharp edges that creates this phasing in-and-out of reality magic.


Yeah, I think Castellon is some sort of artist wizard.  The larger originals are only $850 and the two smaller framed paintings on paper are around $300.  Very collectible!

From Cuba to Syracuse continues through March 30, 2020.  See the library website for hours of operation.  For more information, call (315) 445-4330.

















Serendipity in the Saddle


There was this Scholastic Art magazine with a Jaune Quick-To-See Smith painting in the centerfold – of a canoe.  I loved the way she expressed social injustice with paint and collage.


I had been planning a series of art projects using horses and thought her work would be a perfect fit.  And then, upon further investigation, it turns out that Jaune Quick-to-See Smith had created a series of horse paintings in this style! Isn’t that crazy???  It was a perfect fit.  Serendipity at its finest!









This year, two of my 8th grade art classes learned about her work.  What is great about this school year – my students all have I-pads now and they can research as they work.  My ultimate goal is to connect with the artist and share this work with her.  That would be a dream come true!






I taught them how to draw a horse using shapes and the technique known as measuring – all parts of a horse are actually in proportion to each other!  We created the drawings on tagboard, cut them out and used them as stencils on the paintings.





They painted in acrylic then added the horse.  Collage items from magazines that represented themselves were affixed with Mod-Podge.  Then students added more paint to create rhythm and texture.





Finished work is on display in the Chittenango Middle School library!







Max-imum Effort



I introduced the work of Peter Max to students in two of my classes. I still encouraged them to create their own style on their Statue of Liberty paintings.  Some did respond to the energy in his brush strokes.



These are acrylic paintings on 16″ x 20″ canvas panels.



I really love teaching students about a contemporary artist who is still alive.  They could potentially meet Peter Max, as he visits galleries that represent him all over the country – all the time.



Max will be in Short Hills, NJ on November 14, 2015, Ft. Worth, TX on Nov. 21 and 22, and King of Prussia, PA on Nov. 28.




Here is a link to his website – http://www.petermax.com/



20151030_125537 (1)

I was looking for rhythm and texture.  These paintings were part of my SLO tests.  New York State art teachers are required to give tests that are authentic assessments.  These were graded by my colleague.  I then grade her tests, so that we retain a more objective result.  Detail and composition were also assessed.

The only problem with this type of grading system is emotion is thrown under the bus.  The other teacher does not see the commitment, the emotional journey a student takes when learning to paint.  She doesn’t see the eureka moments and the process to create the product.  Oh well.  In the attempt to standardize, we roll with those punches.  Can’t fight to liberate ourselves from the standardization of public school.



Can you see the Max in them?

Carrie Moyer Fan


I guess it’s an understatement to say I am obsessed with Carrie Moyer.




She is well represented in the Three Graces exhibit at the Everson Museum of Art in Sracuse, NY.  I attended the opening last Friday night and I really could not get enough of her vibrant color palette, her use of solid areas including raw canvas juxtaposed with translucent layers of color and some sparkly bits!




I was especially fond of her monoprints, which I believe are a series of printing passes, one on top of the other, to create one vivacious singular print.  They are just so beautiful!  Abstraction made deliberate in a sort of Helen Frankenthaler meets Robert Motherwell brainiac-ism sensibility.




The whole time I was there, well, after I loaded up on turkey sandwiches (discarding the bread) and yummy cheeses while sharing the love of art with my friends Anne and Penny, I was wondering if the artist was in attendance.  She works in Brooklyn, NY, described as an artist who writes (sounds familiar), having written articles for major art magazines and other publications.  I didn’t know what she looked like so I Googled her just now –

Artist Studio tour of Carrie Moyer in Brooklyn, New York

I don’t remember seeing her, but I am terrible with faces.  For a visual artist, that is probably the stupidest thing I could say, right?  If you change your hair or throw on glasses, I have no idea who you are.  I’m like Lois Lane that way.  But, at any rate, Carrie Moyer will visit the Everson, along with her Three Graces cohorts Polly Apfelbaum and Tony Feher on Thursday, October 22, 2015 at 6:30pm.  It’s a freebie, a guided gallery walk with the artists where, according to the Everson Bulletin (got mine in the mail today!) they will “discuss their contemporary art practices, materials and processes, and explore the inspiration of incorporating works from the Everson’s collection in their installation.”


These works include the Morris Louis piece that was the inspiration for Polly Apfelbaum’s rugs, a Helen Frankenthaler and this amazing print by one of my favorite artists of all time, Marisol!!!!! (see below)


As Tina Fey always says (stolen from her young daughter) I want to go to there.  Oh, I am SOOOOOO there.

Find more of Carrie Moyer’s work here.

The Everson Museum of Art is open noon-5:00 pm Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, open 10:00 am-5:00 pm on Saturday and open noon-8:00 pm on Thursdays.  It is located at 401 Harrison Street, Syracuse, NY 13202. (315) 474-6064.  Contact www.everson.org for more information.

Go To Your Happy Place, Ms. Tash


I’ve been thinking about this paint landscapes thing, which led me to bring my camera on my last “walk about”.  Here are some pictures I took at Green Lakes.  It is a New York State park not far from my home.  I’m there nearly every day because I <3 it there.  There are two lakes:  Green Lake and Round Lake.  They are meromictic, which means the water on top doesn’t mix with the water on the bottom or something.  Formed by glaciers and seemingly mysterious.  Very, very deep.  I’ve heard that Round Lake is bottomless or maybe just so super deep that it can’t be measured easily.  Something like that.


It takes about an hour to walk around both lakes, about 3 1/2 miles of time to think, meditate, clear your head, enjoy nature, etc.  The other day as I walked this little kid stopped me and asked me if there were coyotes in the woods, and I said probably.  That was mean.  I don’t know why I scared that kid like that.  I’ve never seen a coyote.  Doesn’t it just look like a dog?  How scary can it be to humans? I don’t know.  I’ve seen other critters – turtles, snakes, owls, deer, fox, groundhogs, and lots of squirrels and chipmunks….


It’s really beautiful there.  The water is more turquoise than green I think, and it is probably my favorite color even though I don’t particularly use it in my paintings, in home decor or wear it in a garment.   I don’t think pictures do the place justice to tell you the truth, but at the same time, I can’t see myself ever doing a literal translation of these photographs and the fifteen or twenty more I took that day.  Maybe as an art project for school, but I think that it would be better if students used their own compositions and probably more amazing if there was a way to do a plein-air field trip.

But that is just a fantasy because when you teach eighteen or more students at once, things take way longer than you think they would if you were doing it yourself.  For example, it takes me about 20 minutes to capture someone’s essence in a portrait drawing – pencil only or crayons only, which is fun to do at parties until it gets too weird and you end up feeling like a hired clown.  It takes middle school students about three weeks to do the same work.  You kind of learn how to organize your class lessons after a while of teaching, learn how much they can accomplish in a given period of time – just saying if there are any Art Ed students reading this.

I went to high school with Syracuse artist Michael Cody.  He is known for his Green Lakes paintings, which he has done in both oil and acrylics.  He showed them in the library art gallery at my school and did a talk that illustrated the fact that George Benedict was a great art teacher, because a lot of what he talked about regarding composition and mixing paint was information I have taught to my students that came from the horse’s mouth (Mr. B.), and so he really kind of reinforced what I had been teaching.  Of course, that does not always happen with other artists who have spoken to my students.  Sometimes there is a giant difference of opinion regarding the vernacular of art.


I have this thing about figure and ground vs. negative and positive space.  I only use  negative and positive to describe form in a work of sculpture (the negative space is the void) and refer to figure and ground when discussing two-dimensional works.  A lot of art education has to do with how you were taught, as though all of the college stuff goes out the window for some reason when you teach.  This isn’t just me talking, I read it in a bunch of research papers when I took a graduate course two years ago and again when I worked on my papers for National Board Certification this past year.  I feel lucky I had great art teachers when I was growing up, but then again, someone else in the art world would be more than willing to dispute my knowledge and share their knowledge/expertise/opinions when given a platform.

So here are some paintings by Michael Cody.

Green Lake Point by Michael J. Cody





It would have been so cool if I had photos of the exact same locations – like in a perfect world I would be the super blogger of the universe, but, oh well.  I think you can see that it is the same place only so much better in Michael’s work.  Aren’t they so good?

I don’t know if he is represented in a gallery.  I will have to let him know I shared these here and he can give out the details of how you can contact him.  He is the real deal.

As for me?  My abstract landscapes are still hanging in the Sullivan Library in Chittenango, NY.  They will be there until the end of August.  I was lucky that their August person cancelled because as I told you before, I just think one month shows seem too short.  So there are a couple more weeks if you want to see them.

I’ve booked the next person for the school library show and it is Karen Kozicki.  She’s a photographer.  I’m so excited to work with her.  Booked the show a year ago!  We are meeting at the end of August to install.  There’s still plenty of summer left before then and plenty of days to enjoy the lake.

It’s definitely my happy place.  Hands down.