Category: Announcements

Now I can reveal the big project that Mike Adams and I have been spending every available minute on this past couple of weeks.

A few months ago I began talking to friends like Alexey Steele, Mike Adams, Tony Pro and Peter Adams about the need for an academic and philosophical foundation for the revival of representational art, so I began working on what that would look like if my university was to get behind the project. Mike and I started talking to our colleagues there, sowing the seeds of the idea, then we began to put together a proposal with a budget, a structured timetable and researching a location for the event. Once we were well prepared we asked for a meeting with the CLU president Chris Kimball, who liked the project and gave us the underwriting we needed.


So it’s my great pleasure to announce that in October of 2012, in Ventura, California CLU is hosting The Representational Art Conference (TRAC2012), the first like it for a hundred years! I sincerely hope you’ll join us at the event.

There has been silence in the halls of academia regarding representational art in the new millennium. The success of the numerous ateliers now established in every major city in the United States indicates the depth of interest in representational art and traditional studio practices that has flourished without comment.

The Representational Art Conference, 2012, presented by California Lutheran University, offers three days of lively discussion in the delightful seaside city of Ventura, California, including keynote speakers, academic papers, panel discussions and exclusive demonstrations by prominent artists, bringing together thought leaders and practitioners who share an interest in the practice of the traditional studio techniques of sculpture, painting and drawing media in the 21st Century.

Traveler, trimmed at the top. Perhaps I'll take another couple of inches from the bottom.

Magician trimmed at the top and bottom. Much better!

After a few days of humming and hahing I’ve committed to editing the Traveler and Magician paintings from their earlier square composition. Now rectangles, the compositions look much better balanced, with the focus of attention moving down to the sun and the hand and face of the Traveler, while in the Magician the relationship of the sky to the land feels more compressed and dramatic. I’m looking forward to building the stretcher bars for these paintings now that I feel more certain of their shape.

We’ve rigged up a camera obscura in the studio. It makes beautiful softly focused images appear magically in the darkened room. I love the shallow focal length – it makes very specific areas of the image very crisp, but these quickly drop off into gently diffused areas of softness.

There’s a lot going on this week. Tomorrow I’m going to Ventura College to see an opening of figurative art, titled “Skin Deep: Artists Examine the Nude” including some work by John Nava, whose fabulous paintings were rendered as tapestries in the Los Angeles Cathedral. I’m looking forward to meeting him very much.

I’ll be at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Saturday at the Los Angeles Fine Art Show: Historic and Traditional, when I’m serving on a panel discussion titled Realism Today – Old Methods, New Visions

Saturday afternoon, January 21, 2012.  3.00-4.15 pm

Panelists [in alphabetical order]

  • Adrian Gottlieb, artist and atelier director
  • Michael Pearce, artist and chair of the art department at California Lutheran University
  • Kate Sammons, artist
  • Michael Zakian, art historian and director of the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University


Peter Trippi, editor of Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine

The quest for foliage continues, and I’ve been adding dark shadows into the foliage on the right side of the painting, building substance and getting further away from the very decorative leaves that were there before. In the photo you can see where the new edge of the painting is (regular visitors will remember I snapped a bright orange chalk line so that I could see what the new boundary was) because the thinly painted and linear work on the right contrast sharply with the dark leaves I’ve added in the last week.

We’ve also been busy getting the studio ready (read “cleaned up”) for Donna Granata to come over tomorrow to shoot photos for her impressive portfolio of portraits of artists. She runs an organization called Focus on the Masters which documents the lives and work of artists who live in Ventura County. Once the portrait is made it will be part of her traveling exhibit of photographs and also accompany an television interview that will make part of a file about my work that will be available to historians and researchers in the future. I’ll post a link when they’ve put my file on the web.

This weekend a beautiful exhibit opens at the Weisman Museum in Malibu. Strongly recommended!

The Epic and the Exotic: 19th-century Academic Realism from the Dahesh Museum of Art, which will be at the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University from January 14 through April 1, 2012.  Opening reception is Saturday, Jan 14, 5-7 pm.

Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art
Pepperdine University
24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263

The New Romantic Figure

Here’s your last chance to meet the artists and talk with them about their work.

I hope you’ll join us at the Kwan Fong Gallery at CLU for a reception this Saturday evening (10th September) at 7pm. We’ll be enjoying good company, some discussion of the paintings, and light refreshments.

The KWAN FONG Gallery is in the Humanities building up the stairs beside the flagpoles on Memorial Drive.

California Lutheran University

60 Olsen Road

Thousand Oaks, California, 91360

The Star have put an article about the New Romantic Figure exhibit and the resurgence of contemporary figure painting into the paper. Good stuff.

Please will you visit the article online and recommend it on the Facebook link at the bottom of the page so the editors will cover more articles about figurative painting?

Here’s a neat video with interviews and commentary from the artists in the New Romantic Figure exhibit.


From left to right: Michael Lynn Adams, Film Director Robert Sexton, Michael Pearce, Tony Pro, Mia Tavonatti, Alexey Steele, Jeremy Lipking, sculptor Bela Bacsi, Peter Adams (President of the California Art Club). Photo thanks to Aihua Zhou.

Opening reception for The New Romantic Figure exhibit at the Kwan Fong Gallery on California Lutheran University’s Thousand Oaks campus.

The reception was a great success, with a nice turnout of visitors, friends and of course the company of this great group of artists. I’m looking forward to seeing a short documentary video about the artists and the excitement that ‘s being generated among traditional figurative painters here in Southern California as we see continued acceptance and appreciation.

Joe checking out the Star

Stacy enjoying the Queen of Cups (Lady in Red)

My wonderful partner presented me a truly gorgeous two volume catalogue raissone of the work of William Bouguereau. It’s a magnificent work, with literally hundreds of beautiful colour plates of the artist’s fantastic paintings. Being a bit of a sentimental fellow I found tears in my eyes at the end of the introduction, which closes with this passage from Doctor Vern Swanson:

“I conclude with a story of a visit to Sotheby’s New York before they remolded their offices at York and 72nd. To go to the 19th Century department one had to proceed through a narrow corridor which T’d at its end, with the Modernist department appropriately to the left and the 19th century department to the right. Since space for art storage was at a premium each department used the corridor walls to hang pictures being readied for auction. At the end wall, right in the middle, a line was drawn so that one department wouldn’t encroach on the others space – Pollocks and Warhols on the left wall and Geromes and Meissoniers on the right confronting each other. Very interesting and something one would never see in a museum. At the end, on the line, was a large and major Pablo Picasso and an equally large and major William Bouguereau. I was shocked and almost couldn’t breathe – Modernism’s and Traditionalism’s most powerful practitioners side by side! My art history career came down to this one experiential moment and I could see Picasso’s greatness in agitating the soul and deconstructing nature and society. I could also see Bouguereau’s greatness in inspiring the soul and elevating mankind. It changed my life forever and I knew where to find solace for a suffering world.”

13, Vol. 1. Bartoli, Damien and Ross, Frederick C. 2010. William Bouguereau His Life and Works. Foreword by Swanson, Vern G. Antique Collectors’ Club and Art Renewal Center

I’m proud to participate in the revival of traditional painting technique in the 21st Century. The New Romantic Painting exhibit celebrates the inspiration of the mind and elevation of the soul – the antithesis of re-affirming negativity – I sincerely hope our paintings will inspire individuals to aspire to living a life larger than themselves, to find beauty and grace in the world and to remain focused on light, love and joy.

  I’m very pleased to publish these two pictures of The Queen of Cups and the Star as they appear in the New Romantic Figure exhibit. I love the tabernacle frames. We’ve matched the colour of the decorative trim around the Star to the Iron Oxide of the base coat so it picks up the colour of the painting nicely. The Reds of the Queen’s dress are set off so nicely against the white of her frame that I was reluctant to decorate it, so presently it’s a simple white, very classical, very clean.

I’m so happy to get this show rolling, it’s been close to my heart for a couple of years. It looks lovely now that it’s got good lighting. The twelve page full colour brochures arrived this evening, ready for the reception tomorrow night, and I have about eighty posters to give away too. Ask me for one if you can make it to the event.

The Kwan Fong Gallery is at California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, California, 91360

The Opening Reception is at 7pm on Saturday 20th August, 2011.

I’ve added the bones of new sections of window to the left of the painting in a rethink of the architecture of the painting, mostly because I dislike the small size of the window as it was, but also simply because I like the way the stained glass works alongside the red hair and dress and want more of it. Figuring out the architecture was enjoyable, with some interesting shapes to explore, then it was satisfying painting out the existing work with a base layer of ocean blue, most of which will be obscured by the glass when it gets painted over.

In the morning Tony Pro, Mike Adams and I were interviewed for a short video about the New Romantic Figure Painting exhibit. I’ll post more about it when it’s complete. It’s going to be put onto YouTube on the 22nd August, right after the show opens, including interviews with the artists, film from the opening, and shots of the paintings.