I hope you will join me for an opening of a my solo painting show at Tugboat Tea Company in Brooklyn. Openings are the best, you get a bunch of people together to talk, drink wine and eat cheese, while looking at art. I have a handful of new paintings on display. A few old favorites as well!
Are you on facebook? RSVP here. And bring your friends!
I consistently try not to see the world as Nature and Culture or subject and object, but as a unified field of relationships. Dualism is an over simplification that can be harmful to our current ecological condition—when we view the non-human world as objects, it is a precursor for abusing that world as well as divorcing our self from any responsibility for our planetary impact. We are not the sole subject of the narrative of Earth. Our landscapes are woven with the stories, trajectories and agencies of human, animal, plant, mineral, idea and thing. We have a dependence on this landscape of things, alive and material, which in turn is dependent on us.
‘Pictures of You’ refers to the permeability of the self when taking this view. Where does the individual end? We are the landscape we live in. You live here? I painted you. My work is a collaboration with landscape in order to produce affects in myself and others, aesthetically and emotionally reconfiguring ways of seeing the world.
Including the sound with the paintings was new for me. If landscape painting traditionally places the ‘subject’ as the audience or the painter, I think the sounds helped to create ‘subjects’ in the paintings… “Resounding Landscapes”
Click the images to enlarge. The audio for each painting is directly below.
Landscape Resounds was my MA show contribution at Ultimate Dart – The Dartington College of Arts MA show for 2010. The installation featured 11 four foot square paintings of Totnes and Dartington. Each painting also had a ‘soundscape’ that was playing from speakers behind the canvases. These soundscapes were composed of sounds recorded at the sites depicted in the paintings. That’s the sound you hear in the video…
A bunch of the MA students are making short videos to advertise the upcoming MA show at Dartington College of Arts this July 20-22nd.
I took a time lapse video of the beginnings of a painting at 30 second intervals. I believe there are 24 frames per second, translating to roughly 12 minutes represented by every second. 5 Seconds an hour? I used the ambient noises recorded in the studio to construct the background track (except for the piano at the end).
I will be exhibiting this painting, along with many others. I’m also planning to put some of my original music behind the paintings. It could be quite cool.
I paint my larger paintings in a studio. Painting on site is a different, and somehow more complex process, with different results. I also paint in a studio during the colder times of year. I look forward to painting on site this spring as I work out my theoretical approach.
You work on large canvases, what do you like about working on this scale?
I like working on larger canvases with landscapes especially. I feel that size is important in trying to convey large expanses of space and atmosphere. I like to have landscapes that you can almost step into. I tend to distort the perspective and exaggerate in an attempt to place the viewer closer to the scene – like your feet would be standing very close to the bottom of the paintings of the milk factory and the nursery. The other two paintings have a large sky portion, which almost feels more optimistic and speaks of potential.
I am attracted to a square canvas for landscape painting as a challenge to break away from the horizontal format. It provides an interesting approach to solving compositional problems as you need to anchor all four sides somewhat equally. It also avoids panoramic views, and forces a kind of focus on a place.
My particular mark style and brushwork is well suited for larger canvases. I have a bit of a shakey hand and can’t quite paint with a fine resolution. The larger surface allows space for an energetic and chunky brush mark that coheres when you stand at a distance.
What do you look for in a site to paint?
Intrigue. I paint what I know, things familiar to me in my local landscape. I chase that intrigue and try to uncover further layers of relationships to the land. I look for expressions of culture and expressions of nature co-existing in an evolving state of tension. I am also interested in reading these sites as expressions of ideology.
I look for change and I try to make paintings that can be a point of reflection along a path of change.
Do you work from memory, sketches, photographs or a mix?
I take a lot of photographs when I find a site I like. I play around with these photographs on a computer, and when I use them for painting, I have them on screen in front of me.
I work perhaps ‘with’ memory rather than from memory, and when people who know the site respond to the paintings, they also are activated by some memory of that place. The photographs are a way of externalising the memory into a tangible object.
Many of my former teachers would be upset with this, but I don’t sketch all that much these days. Sometimes I think that my photographic work has become a sort of sketching – a sketching of ideas. I have over 15,000 photographs on my four-year-old computer, so I have become a sort of digital sketcher who can’t draw as well as he used to.
What is it you like about painting with oils?
Nothing beats them in terms of sculptural and light quality. By sculptural, I mean that oils make it feel like I carve the forms out in the painting. Light quality – the layering of oil paints is so scrumptious! I tend to layer many disparate colours on top of each other in transparent washes.
I like that they don’t dry quickly … when a painting surface is ‘alive’ you can move the colours around and mix colours on the surface in a really fun way.
I would say oils are the most eloquent medium of paint for me.
How do you start your paintings?
I block in large swaths of approximate colour with a thin wash. I like to cover the canvas as quickly as possible to get a general sense of the composition. I can then capture and refine smaller areas by pushing and pulling the colour values layering upon that initial ground. I use as large of a brush as I can get away with well into developing a painting. I work from the general to the specific. The general phrasing needs to ‘work’ before moving on the specific embellishments.
How long does the average painting take you to develop?
This is always a curious question for me. I have tried to track the actual hours that go into a work, but I inevitably enter that odd timeless period. I would estimate that I spent about 60-80 hours on each painting in this show. All I can definitively say is these four paintings took about eight weeks to complete, working at a fairly rapid pace.
Constance Merriman and I will be exhibiting Dwelling at Exchange: Emerging and Experienced Artists Come Together. The show is part of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh’s centennial celebration. 40 artists are participating and collaborating in pairs.
The opening reception is this
Friday, February 5th at 5:30 – 8pm
937 Liberty Avenue
Unfortunately, I won’t be in Pittsburgh for the show, but it is looking very interesting.
Constance Merriman and I collaborated on this photo experiment which we exhibited in the Landscape Thinks Itself In Us show in January 2010. It will be showing at the Exchangein a more intimate format from February 5th until April 17th. The exact same video file is posted below to Vimeo. I heard they have better quality video.
19th Century French painter, Paul Cezanne, once wrote in a letter to a friend; ‘the landscape thinks itself in me… and I am its consciousness’. It is this relationship between the land and us, the intertwined and interdependent relationship between the observer and the observed, the inhabitant and the inhabited, that is the focus of this exhibition.
How does a ‘space’ become something we recognise as a ‘place’? Consider the notion that our perceptions of a place contribute to its meaning and identity. What is the impact of a place’s purpose on its meaning? How does the amount of care and attention a place is given affect it? Recognise what it is not, what has been forgotten, what it did not become. Consider opportunity.
Through his paintings, Hefele investigates the symbolic qualities that places within a community may hold for its residents and how these landscapes experience change. In The Landscape Thinks Itself In Us, Hefele asks us to reflect on how change within industries that have been central to Totnes, will affect the vision of the town in the future.
Through these paintings, Hefele holds up a mirror, not only to a vision of the landscapes that surround us, but also to our perceptions of the place in which we live, and how change within these places may trigger change within ourselves.
Through contemplation, perhaps our imaginations can be let loose to create new visions of the future for these places, and for ourselves.
I am very lucky to have been invited to collaborate on an artwork with my longtime Pittsburgh friend, STUDIO collegue and fellow landscape painter, Connie Merriman. She asked if I would like to work with her for the Associate Artists of Pittsburgh Centenial Exhibition. Pittsburgh is a very special place for me, and it’s magnetic pull grabs me even while I am in the Devon, England.
The title of the show is “Exchange: Emerging and Established Artists Come Together” where 10 established artists invite emerging artists to collaborate, and 10 emerging artists invite established artists to collaborate. The show opening is from 5:30 – 8pm on Feb. 5th at 937 Liberty Ave in Pittsburgh. I also showed “Dwelling” here in Devon as part of The Landscape Thinks Itself in Us. We ultimately decided to work with photography, time and the view out our home windows. Big thanks to Tom Merriman, Jason McMullan and Ben Vernot for their valuable assistance in getting this together.
Our show statement is as follows:
It takes time to know a place. Yet location changes over time. What does it mean to understand a place within a constantly changing landscape?
We make our homes our location by the daily habits of living, by the activities of everyday life. This is grounding for us. We are observers, and we chose to study our landscapes by looking deeply over time through the windows in our homes, our dwellings. We are behind the camera, and sometimes there is evidence of us in our photos as reflections in the windows. Connie has deep roots in her dwelling. Noel is searching for roots in a temporary place.
We have teamed as collaborators before, working on environmental projects in the same studio space. Now Noel studies in England and Connie continues her work in Pittsburgh. We perceive our current distance. There is a subtle timelessness implied in distant places and when friends are separated, they take on the quality of a memory instead of the fresh engagements which occur in one location. This exhibit has provided us the opportunity to work together again, not in the same studio, but in real time.
As landscape painters, we both deal with notions of time and how it flows through space. Now we present to the viewers our ‘moving paintings’ at the size of postcards. These are views from our windows which are captured in synchronized time in two locations on the earth. We exchanged these experiences of place and particular points of view within the world with each other and the viewers in hopes to discover and share meaning in the landscapes we live in.
“Dwelling is about the rich intimate ongoing togetherness of beings and things which make up landscapes and places, and which bind together nature and culture over time. It thus offers conceptual characteristics which blur the nature/culture divide and emphasise the temporal nature of landscape.”
-Cloke and Jones (2001, p.651) quoted in Landscape by John Wylie
A shortened version of the work is below. For the exhibitions, each slide is 5 seconds long, instead of .5 seconds here.