Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Here We Go Again

OK, I haven't done this in a while. I'll keep it short and sweet because its late and I'm feeling shitty. I would like to try and take and blog photos of this new painting every step of the way like I did for previous paintings. I'm sorry if this post tonight doesn't sound all that elegant. In fact it will be kind of half-assed because I just want to get through it, show y'all images from steps 1, 2, and 3, and get to bed.

See below. This will be a view of the Hackensack River from behind Snake Hill (that's a hint right there as to the proposed title of the work). Here goes. Can you guess how many sittings this painting will take? The winner gets to buy me a drink.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Running To Daylight

I love the New York Giants. Their stadium is pretty much centrally located within the New Jersey Meadowlands which gives me another reason why this project is near and dear to my heart. On a photo shoot in the area back in 2009 I stopped in the Vince Lombardi Service Area off the New Jersey Turnpike to finish out a roll of film. Behind the parking lot there's access to some pretty dense foxtails, with some creeks and nice views of the Hackensack River.

The image at the bottom here is my latest work, titled Vince II. It's meant to be the follow-up to another, larger, and presently unfinished work tentatively called Behind Vince Lombardi. Both of these works were painted from frames shot behind the service area. Lombardi, the man for whom the area is named, was a coach with the Giants before he was head coach of the Green Bay Packers, the tenure for which he is most know for.

Lombardi was an innovator, and was the offensive coordinator for the Giants in the mid to late 1950's. He developed new blocking techniques and other strategies, and coined the phrase "running to daylight" to describe how a running back should head towards open holes in the opponent's defense. This is significant to me, since I tend to employ the idea of running to daylight as a metaphor for how I have to seek out small windows of time in order to get in my studio as I slog through my busy life of job and family.

As I duck and dodge for the open holes, and run to daylight through the obstacles life throws in my way, I slowly churn out works like this:

Matthew Green, Vince II, 22" x 30", oil on canvas, 2013

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bare Naked

These dark canvases are hard to shoot with an iphone. Fortunately this one won't be so dark for long. It feels almost barren to me, since I'm seeing the photo, and since I know where I want this to be.

I hate this part. In my head its done, but I still have to stand there night after night to execute it. Its those nights where I'll make some moves without really noticing, and then step back and be nervous about someone seeing what I just did. I guess that's the part where artists feel like they're baring their soul.

We experience those little blackouts where we feel like we're not directly in control, but being guided by some unseen force. I'm not a superstitious person, so I know that's not really happening. Its like the illusion is extended to me, as if I'm an audience of my own work.

I had to wait for Software Update to finish so I could continue writing. I lost my train of thought. Not cool.

Anyway, here's Vince, in progress...

Friday, September 27, 2013

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Vince II part 3

Soundtrack to tonight's studio session: Simon and Garfunkel Concert In Central Park...

In northern New Jersey along the New Jersey Turnpike, somewhere near the Meadowlands Sports Complex is a rest area called the Vince Lombardi Rest Area, named after the famous NFL coach, after whom the NFL Super Bowl champion trophy is named. Lombardi is mostly known for his time spent as the head coach for the Green Bay Packers, but he is also remembered as one of the early masterminds of the New York Giants, who play in the nearby sports complex.

At the tail end of one of my Meadowlands photo shoots, I decided to stop at the Lombardi rest area to try and finish up my last roll of film. There is a photo which will become a painting I'm planning to call Behind Vince Lombardi. The painting below is being made from a photo which was one of the last frames on the roll, when I was really just snapping off frames to end the roll.

I wanted to call it Two Sticks, but that just felt kind of trite and stupid. The two branches sticking up also form a letter "V", which makes the case for the new title, Vince II. I've only sat with it now 3 times, so things can change. It's still being molded into the image I think it can be, so be patient...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I'm Unapologetic About How Bad This Looks

I've never been squeamish about showing work in progress. I truly understand that first impressions from viewers are completely misguided, simply because what they're seeing is incomplete. I can say with utmost confidence that I will work out all parts of this image to a logical and satisfying conclusion. What seems like a bad attempt at imitating a Sunday painter is really just the foundation for something inspirational.

A painting for the artist is all about seeing. When you begin building layers, levels, colors, and shapes, you begin to see the picture coming to life, as it slowly emerges from the empty canvas. You fall into it and out of it, you begin to live inside of it and grow with it. But it has to start somewhere, and what you see below is the start for this particular piece. I'm carving a space out of a blank white rectangle, and beginning a journey through the next several weeks of my life, and I invite anyone reading this to come along.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

And I Thought This Project Was Dead

Its been too long since I've posted on a regular basis. I was on a run where I was posting 3 or 4 nights a week. I stopped because I was working on a project for someone, and was not at liberty to share the progress of the work like I had done with past paintings.

Painting has become a necessary part of my income, and I predict changes. Not changes for good or bad, but changes akin to the path cut by a meandering stream. Painting has a new sense of purpose for me, and the effect on my work will be noticeable. This is not something to fret over, but rather something to embrace as a new chapter begins in my life.

Because of timing being what it is and because of what I'll call "budget restraints," I'm forced to go back into my photo library and grab images from 2009 and 2010. It looks like this Meadowlands project is back in a weird way, not as a continued exploration, but backtracking into previously overlooked images that I feel will make great paintings.

New ideas and new projects will have to be shelved for now. There was an opportunity for a possible new project along the southern Delaware Bay shore in New Jersey, but my subject matter is scheduled to meet up with the wrecking ball in the next few weeks. I had thoughts about exploring South Kearny, an area that is pretty much dominated by roads and truck depots, but being 2 hrs away and requiring film, etc, I'm afraid that will be pinched out of this month's budget.

The 3 photos below will be the next 3 paintings. The first 2 are from January 2009 taken from behind the Vince Lombardi Service Area on the New Jersey Turnpike, and was the tail end of my first attempt at a proper photo study of the Meadowlands. The next one is from January 2010 and was taken along the Hackensack River behind Snake Hill. On that trip I had slightly more focus and better planning, which resulted in some pretty spectacular photos.

In my head the paintings are already finished. That's not such a dangerous statement to make, considering that I almost always feel that way when beginning a painting, and considering that the tendency during a painting's natural evolutionary journey is for it to look absolutely nothing like what I originally pictured. I've learned to not only accept this but to enjoy the ride into the unpredictable.

Soak these in, because months from now I will post 3 paintings that may or may not resemble what you see here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

An Audience Of One

How do I price my work? I'm often asked that. It's hard to say. Demand is a key factor in setting a price. The better the reaction, the more people like a piece, the more I think I can get for it. Time is also a factor. The longer something sits around, the more likely I am to letting it go for a steal.

The two most ambiguous factors are how long a piece takes to create, and the scope, or the how complicated a painting is. Both of these are hard to gauge, impossible to predict, subjective in their value, and vague in their quantifiability. When questioned about pricing, however, most people automatically assume that how hard a painting is and how much time is spent on its creation is a logical metric to determine its cost. Time equals money, right?

I started this painting in June of this year, finished it a few days ago. The person for whom I painted it will be picking it up tomorrow. Whether or not its worth the price we agreed upon is up to him, I suppose. The value of this work lies somewhere between him and I.

Across The Void, 30" x 48", oil on canvas, 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2013

13 Pictures

This project has been finishing up now for about the last 3 or 4 months. It looks like its pretty much complete at this point. My next painting will be a commission piece for a friend of mine of the Pulaski Skyway, which is only a remotely related subject.

Five Mile From Times Square began about 4 years ago, on a cold January day. I dragged my very dear friend Willie Joe to the foot of Snake Hill. He stayed below while I climbed to the top and shot several rolls of film (film...!). I eventually wrote a grant proposal (PDF link here) which got exactly zero interest, and I was forced to slog ahead on the project without any funding or support, but hey, painting is what I do.

The only difference is that I completed 13 paintings (my goal was 10-12) in 4 years instead of 1, and I wasn't able to get any financial backing to use as leverage towards getting a gallery show. But I sold about half of what I produced, so I guess that doesn't matter either.

So now I move on, look for a different subject. What I'm left with is a legacy of 13 images, many of which belong to other people now. No size, no titles, no dates, no info, just pictures, 13 pictures.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Great Escape (official) and The Cooler King

Matthew Green, The Great Escape, 30" x 64", oil on canvas, 2013

In my last post I wrote about all kinds of meanings and parallels regarding my latest work, The Great Escape (above).

There was one reference I forgot to mention: the painting's namesake.

I've seen the movie The Great Escape only once, when I was about 11 years old, and I loved it. If you don't know the movie, it involves Allied prisoners of war in Germany during World War Two, and their plan to orchestrate a mass escape from one of the highest security prisoner of war camps on the enemy side.

The most memorable scene for me is the most climatic, where Captain Virgil Hilts, played by Steve McQueen, almost at the Swiss border, jumps the motorcycle he's riding, becomes entangled in barbed wire, and is re-captured by the Germans and returned to camp. Hilts is able to avoid execution as a spy by showing the Germans his Captain's insignia sewn to the inside of his shirt.

Hilts is dubbed "The Cooler King" by his fellow prisoners, because of his propensity to try and break out of prison. This behavior generally lands him in the cooler, or solitary confinement, which is one of the harshest punishments imposed by the Germans for the most disobedient prisoners.

Most of us are Virgil Hilts. We infuriate our captors with frequent escape attempts, only to be alienated and locked in the cooler once our attempts to free ourselves are discovered. We have no choice. Our desire to live free drives us toward the goal of liberating ourselves from the limits of civilization, expectations, peer pressure, pre-determined concepts of success, and anything else that forces us to suppress our desires and limit our effort to self-actualize.

Realizing our constraints, we dream and strive to separate ourselves from the pack and grow as individuals, try to do something that we want, to live like we want to live, to exist outside of rules imposed on us. We conspire to build our own tunnels, plan our escape routes. Most of these attempts are discovered by the guards.

Our tunnels, like those built by the prisoners in the film, never reach the tree line beyond the prison walls, and only a very select few successfully vault over the barbed wire border fence on our stolen motorcycles. Most who even get that far are usually captured by society and returned to prison to be our own versions of The Cooler King.

We can fight, conspire, dream, connive, or fly below the radar all we want, but the tentacles are almost always there to bring us back in. Once captured, we gladly flash our insignia that shows that we are still willing to comply in order to not be called out as an outsider.

So another painting, this time named after a movie about a quest for freedom, is my latest motorcycle. Will I clear the barbed wire at the border this time?

Excerpt from the film, The Great Escape
The "motorcycle scene"

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Great Escape

Formerly called "Untitled Painting," it now has a title: The Great Escape. It's oil on canvas, measures 30" high by 64" wide, and was completed in the year 2013. Its my latest and one of my most successful, which is one of the reasons behind its title.

It has significance as an escape in its reality as a landmark piece, a career milestone, an artistic turning point, a personal affirmation, and metaphorically in its subject on multiple levels.

I promised to document the conclusion of each sitting, which you can see in the series of photos below. What I did not do as promised was to blog each night's photo. I was just too busy, too tired, too preoccupied, too lazy.

It was completed in 13 sessions, considerably fewer than some I have documented in the past. I recall Xanadu, which was recorded in the same way, but took 44 sessions to complete. That was the old way. Things have a new sense of purpose now, and my priorities have changed. Hence the title.

I've been able to bridge a gap so to speak, or to parallel the subject of the painting, a miry, fecund swamp of mediocrity and meaninglessness. This painting was completed in a period of transcendence.

My previous 3 posts are sittings number 1, 2, and 3. Below are 4 through 13...

What's next?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Untitled Painting part 3

Once again, unfortunately, I don't feel like writing. I've written some interesting things in the past, so feel free to browse and read some of my older posts. Honestly, I just can't tonight. I'm tired. And I keep making typos. And I have this tiny little split on the tip of my right index finger that is making typing kinda painful. So instead of reading, if you're shy and/or lazy and don't feel like perusing my older posts, here's tonight's latest version of my yet-to-be-titled work in progress to stare at...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Untitled Painting part 2

About an hour of work. Hopefully part 3 tomorrow. I wish I had more to say, but...

Monday, March 18, 2013

New Painting, No Title Part 1

I had this idea of ending this project about a month ago, but It doesn't look like that idea is taking hold very well. Circumstances being what they are, I've decided to press on with the material I've collected over the last 4 years and keep doing paintings from The Meadowlands.

I needed to start a new painting for an upcoming studio tour, and I knew I wasn't going to have any opportunities to find a new subject to study and go out and shoot photos. I delved into some photos from the last hour or so of a shoot I did in 2010, and found some pretty intriguing ones.

I had a swatch of canvas that was enough for a painting that would measure 30" high by 64" wide, a rather unusual proportion, and certainly a new one for me. Finding a good image that would crop nicely to that size was a bit of a challenge, but I found one that captured a nice sublime moment. The geometry of the image was what really grabbed me, as there's a beautiful array of large shapes in the picture that divides the space nicely. There's also a big expanse of sky which creates a feeling of freshness and openness in the piece.

I snapped a photo after doing a quick sketch on the canvas, and I think I'll try and capture each sitting like I've done in the past. I don't feel like painting tonight. I can list a million reasons why I won't start tonight, but it will only sound like a whole bunch of half-assed excuses, so I won't get into specifics.

Here's the sketch, followed by the photo. I have no title yet. I'm probably not going to attempt think of one tonight either. That should show you how lazy I am tonight...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Golden Hour

Photographers often refer to the early mornings or evenings as "The Golden Hour," the time of day when the light is soft and warm, shadows are long and dramatic, and it all adds a special quality to photographs with rich colors and soft contrasts.

Back in January 2010 I was on one of my early photo shoots for this project, and as I neared the end of the day I stopped off at Laurel Hill Park to use up the rest of my film, after a pathetic trek 50 yard trek through the foxtails which felt like miles. What followed were some pretty stellar images, none of which had been used until recently, when my wife and I were looking for new images to hang around the house in advance of an upcoming studio tour.

I cropped some of the best ones to squares to fit some frames she had, and I found some gems, which had been previously swept under the rug until today. I may even make one of them into a new painting, although I'll have to find something that will work in a 30" x 64" format.

Scroll down and see if you agree that these Golden Hour photos are what I think they are...