On Saturday, May 27th, a new show of my paintings opens at Gladstone Gallery in Manchester-by-the-Sea north of Boston.
This exhibition pairs two distinctive shapes of the sea shore: crab claws, part of the non-descript detritus washed up on the beach below our cottage in Annisquam, and the ungainly hulks of trawlers and tugs hauled up on the drydocks in Glouocester. Each is seen unnaturally. The crabs are watercolors, 15 x 22″, a subject I have been painting recently. The working boats are big oils, mostly 36 x 24, and were painted back around 2000.
The claws are rendered unsettlingly large, but at that scale their sculptural forms and subtle colors can be admired and their engineering understood, when before they were just unexceptional flotsum. The big work-boats are similarly out of their element, oddly levitating and worringly top-heavy.
While the claws are small things seen big, the boats are big things seen small. For the painter, the closer we look the more detail we see and can depict. The reverse happens as we miniaturize: the smaller the scale the more the tools of our craft force us to generalize and find the essential form. In each case the activity of painting involves looking closely at things, and often, looking at familiar things in a different way.
This show will be up through August 2017.