Monday, March 31, 2008

"A Blur Defines It" - Advance Warning

(the image I will use for the actual press release/promotion will be "A Boundary, Not A Thing" - below - when it is finished)

“A Blur Defines It”, New Works by Nathan Abels

What: Public viewing and reception for exhibition of artwork by Nathan Abels

Who: Nathan Abels (artist)

When: Opening June 6, 2008 from 6-10 pm - Show runs June 6-29th, 2008

Regular weekly hours.

First Friday, 6 to 10 PM
Collector’s Friday (Third Friday), 5 to 8
Closed other Fridays
Saturdays, 1 to 5
Closed Sundays

Where: Sliding Door Gallery, 554 Santa Fe Dr, Denver, CO 80204


“A Blur Defines It” consists of new works by artist Nathan Abels. The images Abels presents in this exhibition are more brooding and atmospheric than his previous works and describe a sense of uncertainty primarily through landscape-based imagery. The places depicted in these paintings on panel and works on paper show evidence of an inevitable change through foreboding heavy clouds on the horizon or a dense settling fog. “A Blur Defines It” is a visual reflection of apprehension, mystery and anticipation.

Stay Down, Champion

I woke up this morning with light snow on the ground the song "Tall Saint" by The National in my head. I listened to it a few times on my way to work. Here's an excerpt from the lyrics that I find particularly significant,

"In my city, I didn't make a sound,
When I fell over and cracked my crown,
Heard a woman say "stay down,
Champion, stay down."

But I got up, got in a car,
Said "I don't think I'm gonna go very far,"
Just take me one time around the ballroom slow,
And take me home."

It made me think of the boxing paintings and drawings of George Bellows and in turn, re-examine his amazing landscape-based images:

George Bellows, "A Morning Snow: Hudson River", 1910 (Source: Wiki Commons)
George Bellows, "Pennsylvania Station Excavation", 1907

George Bellows, "An Island in the Sea", 1911 (Source: Wiki Commons)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Painting Progress Continued

Since Thursday, I've been trying to recover this painting. After it took such a nose-dive I was beginning to regret showing my progress on this blog - but some of you may still be interested in the ups and downs that many of my paintings go through before I'm satisfied. And sometimes my paintings get a lot worse before they get better. I overdid this painting so much Thursday that gave up and sanded it down a lot on that night, destroying much of what I worked on all day Thursday (sorry for such bad photos):

Then began the process of building it back up:
Then the smoke started to appear too solid

Then too bubbly
closer - but background was getting way too dark
Until finally I'm back to some smoke that appears wispy and subtle again:
Now I have to go back into the structure on the right side of the image, put in the barricades and sand-bags and then glaze some transparent white oil paint over the smoke to soften everything up. That's the plan anyway...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Inspiration and Painting Progress

I'm in the middle of a new painting right now, tentatively titled, "A Boundary, Not A Thing". Here's some of the art I've been browsing in books and online for inspiration and to reference for the new painting:
James Whistler, "Nocturne: Trafalgar Square: Chelsea Snow", 1876
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Caspar David Friedrich, Monk by the Sea, 1809
Source: Wikimedia Commons via Some Landscapes Blog
James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Harmony in blue and silver: Trouville (1865)
Source: Wikimedia Commons via Some Landscapes Blog
"Moonlight on Mount Lafayette, New Hampshire," by William Trost Richards, 1873
Source: Resonant Enigma Blog

J. Alden Weir, "The Bridge: Nocturne" aka ""Queensboro Bridge", 1910
Washington Allston, "Moonlight Landscape", 1819Michael Schall, Smoke Factory Malfunction, graphite on paper, 40" x 60", 2007.
Claude-Joseph Vernet, "Night, A Port in Moonlight", 1772
(last night)(still in progress)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wild Kingdom of Photographers

In the age of digital photography it seems like everyone is a photographer (myself included) - just look at flickr - nearly 4,000 photos uploaded every minute. Even animals are getting in on the action - check out these great snaps by German cat photographer Fritz (one name - like Cher). Yes - it is a real cat and he takes some pretty nice photos too (above). Here he is in action:

This relates to my recent show of carrier pigeon photographers. There seems to be a wealth of unknown one-named photographers just waiting to be discovered. Think of the possibilities! Fish photographers? Nocturnal marsupial photographers? Tree photographers...oh, wait...
But can they post-process?

Monday, March 24, 2008


Nevadaville, CO photos by Nathan Abels

Chances are you've never heard of Nevadaville, CO. I hadn't either before this last Friday when we took a short day trip along the Peak to Peak byway. The Peak to Peak byway is a road established in 1918 that was intended to connect Pike's Peak and Long's peak, but only covers the area roughly from Golden, CO to Estes Park (55 miles). It could be covered pretty quickly, but if you did that you would be missing out. Our first detour was a stop in Central City - a town far more interesting than the built-up casinos of neighboring Blackhawk, CO. From Central City, we followed a dirt road one mile uphill to Nevadaville, CO. According to, Nevadaville was once a thriving town of 4,000 residents in the late part of the nineteenth century but as of ten years ago only six people called Nevadaville home. From the looks of it, six residents is probably a high estimate in 2008. The photos I took there (above) are not much to look at, and do the setting a bit of an injustice. The photos do show remnants fo mining operations - evidence of which can be found all over Nevadaville. The town has a very short (aprox 5 buildings) main street of sorts in which a fire house/city hall rests and a few large-windowed storefronts lie abandoned.

photos by Dolores Steele

Numerous empty structures litter the surrounding hills and large deposits of the gold-gray colored dirt from mining fill the valley. It was a strange place, and since moving to Colorado this was the fullest ghost-town we've encountered in terms of standing structures. I find these time-capsules in the mountains to be quite fascinating and I'd recommend taking the Peak to Peak byway to anyone along the Front Range. It's an easy day trip with lots to see. More of my pics from the trip can be found here.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

New Work

Nathan Abels, “Deciduous” Acrylic, Oil on Panel, 24×36″

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mark Shetabi

"The Tower (after Breughel)", oil on canvas, 56" x 66", 2007

"The Ambassadors - Isfahan", oil on linen on panel, 36" x 48", 2007

"Ahmadabad (Ghost)", oil on canvas on panel, 20" x 25", 2006

These paintings by Mark Shetabi reminded me of seeing Melanie Smith's work @Belmar Lab here in Denver. Their palette is probably what is most similar, although the piece titled, "The Ambassadors..." by Shetabi is stikingly similar to Smith's aerial views.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Peter Rostovsky's "Blindness" Series

A somber and sublime series of paintings by Peter Rostovsky. His site states that it is, "A series of landscape paintings created for the occasion of the show "Blindness" at Dwight Hackett Projects in 2005."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

John Tranter: A selection of poems

Full books in pdf format here - free to read. Well written, approachable poems/prose without an air of pretension. Take a break. Read a poem.

Eric LoPresti

I love these diptychs by Eric LoPresti. On his sites, Eric writes that this new series is based on "landscapes in conflict". The juxtaposition of visual emptiness (or fullness?) with the landscapes is intriguing. To me these images present a disturbance or change in time/circumstances - as if the viewer catches a glimpse of the landscape out of the corner of his or her eye. Or the more empty half of the composition could represent seeing through your eyelids - the landscape being a blink or a pause. They present the transitory nature of landscape and its relationship to human struggles/influences. I also see these works as acts of remembrance - the kind of remembrance that has been eroded with time; in which the person remembering can no longer recall specifics or has forgotten parts of the story.

Check out his website - he even gives you a glimpse into his working methods on the diptych series by posting a couple of digital sketches for future works.


I stumbled on the website Wordie yesterday and I've had fun exploring it this morning. They have a catchy motto, "like Flickr but without the photos". As one may expect - the site is filled with interesting words, creative misspellings, and thought out lists. I've started making my own list - the list is made up of "apt descriptions for paintings made or paintings to come". I would recommend this site to artists that may be reading this as a great resource for titles/statement descriptors.

Here's what I've got so far:

abaft · absence · aura · bedlam · cerulean · coagulate · deciduous · diaphanous · distance · forebode · gravel · grey · grime · minimum · minutiae · mote · nepenthe · nowhere · pelagic · placeless · presentiment · residuum · reticulate · roam · serried · silt · simulacra · sparse · symbiosis · syncronicity · warbler ·

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Inspiration: Remington's Nocturnes

Frederic S. Remington (1861–1909) "The Old Stage-Coach of the Plains", 1901, Oil on canvas, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas

I've been digging into Frederic Remington's nocturne/night paintings again recently. I had the great fortune to see an entire exhibition of his night time paintings a few years ago. His use of color in this series is fascinating - unusual blue-greens, subtle golden-taupe-greens, and vibrant blues - frequently contrasted with the rich oranges of candle or firelight. I highly recommend the book devoted to these works called "Frederic Remington: The Color of Night" by Nancy Anderson. Even if western art isn't your subject matter of choice, I think there is a lot to be learned from the palette of Remington. The more I flip through this book, the more intrigued I've become with these paintings. My next body of work for the exhibition in June will surely be influenced by Remington's coloring.


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