Robert Stanley

Studio Happenings
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Painted in some of pastel still life I'd done in open studio, removing the central object. Scraped back in to "complete" the plate and orange. Called "Plate, Orange, and Bottle," ca 10 x 14, on Strathmore 500.

First layer of field in new piece [One True Thing] with part of Sunset Viscera, tired color sun-blob, palette scrapping that could be landscape, part of sky from another print, and a drawing of a floating figure. Don't know if figure on top or bottom. "Sanforizing" paper pieces; field color too "lovely," final composition up in air.
Also plan on using snippets of prints tested on one sheet of paper as starting point for color study. Just to see if anything is cooking. I liked the ordered shape of small blobs and large amount of nothing space.

Some decisions today about "One True Thing." [5/13] The title came as I had turned off the lights and was heading out. The one true thing will be the collaged sea and sky, a real paper object. On the other hand, the group of three figures were real when I shot them, so they could be the one true thing, although there are three of them. But, a tired sun will be true eventually in the physical world. In fact, each of the things in the piece could be a one true thing in several ways, depending on one's relationship with them. Instead of collaging part of the print "Sunset Viscera," I'm going to paint the figures. Having drawn them today, this looks like a good choice. Besides, I didn't want to just paste in stuff, even if I had created it. Also decided to paint ground into collaged objects (except perhaps the sea/sky); more integrated visually and in terms of the statement.


First go at figures in in "One True Thing," and more work on ground. No real surprises yet, but the green-yellow color mistake on the print I'm working from has crept in. I usually just disregard this color as too hyper, but some modulations may cascade into a different color relationship in this piece.

Added "random" strokes to One True Thing. Eyes closed, brush in each hand, palette in front of me--I just let 'er fly. Twice I opened my eyes and "fixed" a stroke that was too dominant. I think I'll soft-brush over all of them, leaving a palimpsest

Still mostly in explore mode. Although did some usual vein work on the world in Three Horizons (3/29), on the print text snippets page I did a peeled/reassembled orange in conte pencil and another in charcoal, floating above the apparently abstract geometries of the test rectangles. When I sat down, I thought I was going to do the unraveled spiral of the peel. The earth moves under my feet, but I don't know what's about to happen.

Finished this a bit after midnight.First the statement, then the placements really bothered me.

I found a Renaissance frame, an added it to the Botticelli girl. With the proper transparency the frame looked okay, but it was off the top, which didn't look okay. Used the rest of the tracks in the snow, but now the ground was two-tone above where I had gridded and greyed the snow. Rather than wimp out and extend the modifications, I thought about additions, and using the condensation pattern I'd recently shot came into mind. Okay, but too jarring alone. Found a drawing of a reclining nude I'd done, and somehow that worked with the idea of fluids and the shell.

The placements were still off. Hours (?) later, the shell had been enlarged and tied in with Botticelli girl, the moon/Venus had migrated up, the spied couple, down, and the reclining woman left. I had also worked on various transparencies and colors.

Still a bit awkward, perhaps that reflects the way our dreams and remembrances are.


Framing, working on study with orange peel. Fomenting ideas, which may or may not be fermenting.

Finished Harmonies of the Spheres,
pastel and ink on paper, 10 x 12 in., a piece more weighty than its size might suggest. I don't know why, having just finished it, and having let new things happen with the form (shape clash, composition strangeness) and with drawing (more prominent, more variety). Just feel something moving.
Have done some more, and changed the title of One True Thing to Three or More Relationships. That is more true. Trying to decide how undefined to leave figures, and whether to veil/build the ground.

Three or More Relationships acrylic 24 x 30 in.

Finished this piece by veiling a few spots and building up a few others. Overall, left the spontaneous mode, since it did not seem to look unfinished. Again, the only "real" things in the piece are the collaged palette scrapings. Yet are metaphors unreal? Is gestural brush work unreal? I meditate on the wonderful shifting of realities in life.

Working on Unafreud, a 20x30 in. acrylic. The start-up interests were an old piece of paper with overpaint on it, and a bunch of other things I've discarded. The pattern of the overpaint, instead of suggesting a void, came to resemble a head looking to the left. Somewhere in the picking and discarding of other interesting images, I ended up with my grand daughter's year-old drawing of herself with open arms (on legal pad paper), and a man I had drawn. He is central, with the animal-rough nature looking in from the right and the drawing being innocence/light/Apollo.
Since the drawing is quite non-archival, I scanned it and printed it with archival inks. High tech, to look simple. Artists lie to tell the truth.
The figure has been tuned several times. The dynamic/contemplative aspect has been made less evident by making the legs less large than originally painted. The gaze has lightened a bit.
Because I started this as a demo on Artrain, not having all my studio stuff with me, the first layers of the ground emerged different than usual. Decided to build on these peculiarities. Will probably do more work, since someone saw a road and a window.

Doing sorting and transporting. Mostly of works on paper into my new flat file, but also mentally because of whaterver and also seeing again many old works.
Computer piece, Waiting For, is coming along. Started with watercolor a empty hallway in doctor's office, with some coats on coat rack, then began searching for meaningful things from my visual collection. Like some of the depth, door being rocks in space, grid warping into another plane. I know it needs more refinement, although I think the punch came when I added the drawing of a figure. The figure, strangely enough, is going to need a lot of work (too illustration-like), yet I know this will work out.

Putting more balls in the air. An old watercolor that I had been using as a test bed for pastels after attending a demo is turning into a piece, even though it goes back to the Boundaries series, with its large border. The perspective of the double-hung window in relation to the rectangular border interests me. Might call it Right Angle.
Also put aside for later work a test print of the figures in Sunset Viscera, which included some rectangular color tests at two of the edges. The half-world at the bottom of Three Horizons received a collaged photo of Earth from space, but that looked wrong. Want to do something different with this area, so may use pastels and then seal with acrylic varnish. Or, may print a larger photo.

Spent 45 minutes making a download of the earth look like a download of the earth, so it would work fittingly in Three Horizons. Got it affixed, too, so that there's a "perfect," "beautiful,"partial circle peeking around it. Harkens back to the perfect circle next to the chaotic marking in Thinking.
Got so clever "richening" the gray border in Right Angle that it turned purple. Back to work on it next week. That is one ugly piece. Never liking purple and green together, this is so bad that it's not likely to lead to ANY new ideas.

Finished Waiting For. Changed out some rocks for a new find, one which was gnarly like the universe. Worked a long time on the figure peering in, getting just the right amount of color and value to be part of and yet not part of, and let the composition work. As for the Grandpa used to say, "ach ja, ja." Percentages of transparencies, noise in solids so they aren't so boringly solid, softening edges so they don't looked pasted in, and getting color and compositon just so, for themselves and for the statement--it takes so long!

Paintings delivered, paintings framed, etc. Actually got some things finished (flower for "Three Horizons"). Had to redo some things (earth moves, won't stay where it belongs). Visit of family was a challenging diversion. What's more difficult: a painting, or a 3 year-old?

Saw Magnus von Plessen's work at the Art Institute of Chicago. Good stuff. Much better than Richter and other superficials. Von Plessen is taking real phenomena (as opposed to ads, photos, "causes," cartoons, et al.) and making them more real, sharing personal insight and struggle (as opposed to being clever).

Finished Three Horizons, acrylic and collage, 70 x 24 in. The technique developed (de -developed) as I went further with the flower and vase, becoming more transparent and free. The figure had to be redrawn in parts, and then made to look spontaneous (brushed into), The face was a drawn-out affair. Decided to do a Botticelli look. Redrew on canvas about three times. Drew in sketchbook large size. Got it down, but as I was working on the painting, the face took on a character of its own, a kind of "split" look, like the bull in Seeing. I hope it haunts folks who get around to really noticing it as much as it haunts me.
The designo of the piece is to have the flower at eye-level. The viewer sees the evanescence of the real world. Looking down, the collaged view of earth suggests how a whole view of anything is necessarily superficial. Looking up, I hope the viewer experiences the human spirit.
Three Horizons, (detail)

On the way to the studio I saw what my works are about. The parked train that, in five minutes, will pick up Jane, who I left at the station back up the road. The slab tombstones in the prison graveyard, to which I am connected in many ways. The radio is telling me, "the rain will come again."

Lucky misfortune prevails. With the exhibit preparations, take-downs, studio visitors--haven't had time to work intensively on a large piece. Now have all kinds of things in progress. The strange frame pastel might go stripped in the frame. An old small computer-fresco piece (Not Mondrian), having annoyed me for a long time is going to be partly painted out and redone. I've started a 30" x 20" painting, Whispers. Two pieces of color-stained paper are going to be scanned, manipulated in the computer, and attached to some art work. Two other works on paper are about to become something. I've sized the back of a large block print, in order to attach it to canvas and start a painting. Finally, I've shot a couple images I want to use: a butterfly wing on cellophane, and a section of my studio tarp.

weird frame Not Mondrian Whispers

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Plate, Orange, and Bottle acrylic & pastel on paper 10x14 in.
Primavera archival computer print 13x12 in
Harmonies of the Spheres pastel and ink on paper, 10x12 in.
Three or More Relationships acrylic 24 x 30 in.
in progress
Waiting For 1st ver.
computer 12 x 15 in.
Waiting For
computer 12 x 15 in.
Three Horizons
acrylic and collage, 70 x 24 in.