Category Archives: Margaret’s Wall

Mentoring – Artistic Insights through Teaching

I have learned over the years that it is good for me, and for my own painting journey, to mentor or teach other artists along the way. While I am giving encouragement and advice to them, as a side effect I then also benefit from the relationship and enjoy being part of their development.

Margaret Lockwood Gallery artist mentoring

Looking at another’s paintings, I begin to understand what the artist wants to express. I try to give them ways to communicate more completely. We talk about the basic elements of art—line, color, shape, movement, balance, size, repetition and composition. We talk about different ways to fill the space on their canvas or paper. Also, we discuss different media and materials to experiment with, and subjects like: how to know when the work is finished, how to frame the piece, how to stretch their own canvases, how to write an artist statement, how to approach galleries and much more!

From my library I lend them my books of the artists I sense they will feel related to in some way, encouraging them to look at as much art as they can.

We use our lower level INSIDE/OUT space for the community to use their own creative ideas to produce theater, comedy, writing. We have found mentoring provides impartial advice and encouragement, develops supportive relationships, and improves self-confidence. All positive outcomes!

When I get back to my studio I find I can be more insightful and critical of my own painting. There is new energy for me to be expressive in my work. I continue to learn from those I teach who have also become good friends along the way.

Margaret Lockwood Door County Painting

Underpainting…or Creating Light?

Underpainting, as the word implies, is an initial layer of paint that generally serves as a base for the subsequent layers of paint that we, the viewer, regard as the finished work. Underpainting can help connect color values, creating a tonal foundation that adds coherence to the painting as a whole, and can help set the mood of the painting—for example, depending on the color of the underpainting, it can create a feeling of warmth and light or a feeling of cold, windswept isolation.

There are two basic types of underpainting: tonal grounds underpainting and tonal underpainting.

  • Tonal grounds underpainting, is a single stain or wash of color that covers the entire canvas. Then, as the top layers of paint are applied, the initial layer will create “backlighting shadows that will tone the entire painting and provide contrast for complementary colors.” Not only does it create, as previously mentioned, an overall unity to the painting’s color palette, but also a vibrancy, a shimmering effect that results when contrasting colors—orange against blue, for example—are placed adjacent or on top of one another.
  • Tonal underpainting, is also usually monochromatic—comprised of one color—but in tonal underpainting, the artist maps out where the darker and lighter areas of the canvas will be, effectively creating a sketch in light and shadow of the work.

Of course, there are many paths that one may take when underpainting, and the two basic types listed above are by no means the only methods that are applied. An artist may choose to underpaint only a portion of the canvas, which will allow the canvas to “shine through” in sections, creating areas of brightness that would otherwise not exist with a completely underpainted surface. Additionally, there is no reason to be monochromatic. A multicolor underpainting was apparently preferred by the likes of renaissance masters Titian and Giotto!

As a technique, underpainting was a staple of renaissance masters. Also referred to as imprimatura—literally “first paint layer”—they tended toward a style of underpainting that is closer to the tonal underpainting technique described above, using the technique to both sketch out, in monochrome (usually a warm earth tone like raw umber), the composition and “distribute the darks and lights in order to create the effect of illumination” (see the example below). This version of tonal underpainting can be traced to the middle ages, and was practiced by renaissance luminaries such as Leonardo da Vinci, Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt van Rijn!

The Sacrifice of Isaac
The Sacrifice of Isaac, Andrea del Sarto, c. 1527, Cleveland Museum of Art

This unfinished painting shows the underpainting technique employed by renaissance painters. Notice that only the wings have begun to receive the top layer of paint while the body of the angel still exists as an early monochrome sketch.

Each artist’s approach to underpainting is different. As noted above, Titian preferred a multicolor underpainting, Vermeer a monochrome one. Also, neither of these artists created in the 20th or 21st centuries. This is worth noting, for as the number painting styles have increased over the past century, so too have the number of underpainting styles. Additionally, as personal style has become more important, most artists who practice underpainting have developed an idiosyncratic technique for underpainting that defines the character of their painting style as much the finished product that is plainly more visible.

My personal underpainting technique begins with my gessoing process. After applying a layer (or layers) of gesso, many artists sand the gesso smooth. This smoothness is something that I have come to avoid. Instead, I usually apply three layers of gesso to the canvas and sand each layer very lightly. As a result, some of the gesso brush strokes remain; they become part of the painting and create a texture that, like the tonal grounds underpainting, unifies the surface of the canvas.

Anyone who has seen my work knows that I’m not a figurative painter—or rather, when underpainting, I’m not sketching out a cherub in sepia tones like Raphael. Instead, I add a wash of bright color, which is usually uneven. The unevenness is important in that it can act as a creative starting point; a darker area can become a cloud, a thick line can turn into a tree. The two examples below show the beginning stages of an underpainting, and the finished underpainting.

As important as the underpainting is, the work I do on top, and the way the top layer of paint combines with the underpainting, is just as essential. In fact, this is how I create the interior glow that I hope accompanies each painting. Usually, the palette of the top layer contrasts with the underpainting (or vice versa). For example, if the underpainting is comprised of orange tones (as above), then the top layer (and subject matter) will be comprised primarily of blues. I generally thin the paint a little, applying several layers of paint over the underpainting. This technique allows the color of the underpainting to leak through the top layers of paint; the fewer the number of layers the greater the amount of underpainting that leaks through.

As previously mentioned, contrasting the color of the top layer (or layers) of paint against a complementary underpainting creates a vibrating effect; it creates the illusion of light shimmering from the canvas (for an excellent (and extreme) example of this effect, click here for Wall Drawing #880 by Sol Lewitt). Additionally, if I wish to exaggerate this effect, I will not paint over selected portions of the underpainted canvas. The examples below display this nicely. Both the clouds in the painting on the left, and the light that shines through the trees in the painting on the right, are areas of exposed underpainting, and these areas are what create the interior glow of each painting, they are what create the effect of evening.

At the conceptual heart of my work is the notion that I can capture the quality of light that exists at different moments in time. But, of course concept is one thing, execution is another. Underpainting then stands not only as one of the primary techniques that I employ in order to execute that concept, it also helps to create a coherent color scheme across the entire canvas, it helps to create a work that exists as one thing—a single unit that glows with the luminescence of memory.

On Form (Part Two)

Visual rhythm exists around us in all spaces and at all moments.

What is meant exactly by the term “visual rhythm?” As an abstract concept, we may perhaps define “rhythm” as the perception of patterns. In music, we perceive recurring metric patterns—that is, events in sound that are separated by spaces—as rhythmic. Of course, the greater the amount of regularity and similarity perceived between events in sound, the more likely we are to describe something a rhythmic. Conversely, a complete lack of perceivable regularity or similarity is labeled as “arrhythmic.” On the one hand, for example, the sound of a jackhammer is described as highly rhythmic because, not only is each strike of the machine equally spaced, but each strike also maintains at any given moment a nearly identical timbre (or sound color) and dynamic level (or volume). On the other hand, the composite din of a busy city street could be described as arrhythmic; it is comprised of many different sounds (people talking, cars driving and honking, radios blaring, maybe even jackhammers hammering), each sound characterized by a unique timbre, a unique dynamic level and a unique amount of repetition, which combined, is perceived as chaotic or arrhythmic.

Visual rhythm works in a similar way. It is the perception of repetition in the objects that surround us, and as a principle of art, it becomes perceivable when positive shapes are repeatedly positioned in a composition while being separated by negative space. Additionally, the conscious application of a particular visual rhythm becomes, along with negative space, an integral element in the creation of form within a work of visual art. You may remember in my last blog on form, I primarily discussed negative space and the use of negative space to create an atmosphere, to create the “feeling” within a painting. Well, if meaning exists within the negative space, then visual rhythm is the primary way in which one may organize the negative space. In fact, the two formal elements—visual rhythm and negative space—work hand in hand to create the form of any work. One cannot really exist without the other, and both play an equally important hand in directing the feeling and the atmosphere of the work.

In art, five basic types of visual rhythm are recognized: regular rhythm, alternating rhythm, random rhythm, flowing rhythm and progressive rhythm.

  • Regular rhythm occurs when positive shapes and negative spaces produce repetitive “visual beats”—or rather, the size, color and texture of the positive shapes is uniform as is the negative space between those shapes (although this does not necessarily mean the shapes and the spaces are the same) and the uniformity of the pattern becomes predictable. Perhaps the most often cited example of regular visual rhythm is that of a brick wall.
  • Alternating rhythm occurs when a visual motif changes at regular intervals (as opposed to merely repeating). Think of the black and white squares of a chessboard.
  • Random rhythm occurs when positive shapes and the negative spaces they create are not repeated or are repeated without order or any clearly planned arrangement. Jackson Pollock’s “drip paintings” could be described as primarily exhibiting the characteristics of random rhythm.
  • Flowing rhythms are created when curvy or wavy positive shapes and negative spaces are repeated. A good example of a flowing rhythm would be floral patterned wallpaper (or a painting of wallpaper, like the painting Red Room by Henri Matisse, which was discussed in my last blog).
  • Progressive rhythm occurs when there is an incremental change in the motif or visual beat each time it is repeated. Progressive rhythms are, in part, responsible for the perception of a three-dimensional perspective on a two-dimensional plane (like a canvas). Imagine looking up at the seats of a theatre or stadium—as they get further away the pattern they create gets progressively smaller.

In previous blogs (specifically Captured Moments and On Form (Part One)) I have discussed how the four separate themes that suffuse my work—water, sky, trees and birds on branches—allow me to access, to capture, in different ways the fleeting moments that continually pass through our lives. You could say that each visual motif provides in some sense a different perspective through which to view and explore these moments. It just so happens that these four motifs also roughly correspond to four of the different visual rhythms, allowing me to explore not only a unique perspective on a specific moment in time, but also to explore and even highlight a specific visual rhythm. For example, whereas the water and sky motifs lead primarily to an exploration of flowing rhythms, and at times, even of random rhythms, the birds on branches and tree motifs lead me to an exploration of more regular and alternating rhythms. Progressive rhythms exist in many of my paintings, a gradually changing color or shape usually pulling the mind’s eye into the canvas and creating a feeling of depth.

Four examples of different types of visual rhythm, left to right: Among the Oaks and In the Light of the Silvery Moon – examples of regular and alternating rhythms, Grand Finale and Imagine – examples of flowing and random rhythms

As a way of underscoring what I have just described, I’d like to look at two of my own works and view their form through the lens of visual rhythm. The first of these is a relatively recent work entitled Suspended. As an example, I like this painting very much as it shows how the conscious choice of a specific visual rhythm (or lack thereof) can help reinforce the concept behind the work. In this case, the composition of the painting is comprised primarily of a random rhythm. Additionally, because there is a total lack of progressive rhythm, we lose a sense of dimensionality—or rather, we don’t feel as though we are necessarily going into the painting. The result is a feeling of stasis, of a moment suspended. Furthermore, with this particular painting, one could not really point to any section of the canvas and designate it as “negative space.” Instead, the meaning lies not in the negative space, but rather is implied by the specific visual rhythm that I have decided to use (or, conversely, have not decided to use).

Suspended (2017)

In the painting below, we can see how two different types of visual rhythm define the different sections of the canvas; the upper quarter of the canvas could be described as exhibiting a random rhythm while the lower three-quarters exhibits both a flowing rhythm—comprised of smooth curving lines—and a progressive rhythm—the lines becoming both smaller and less defined as they move up the canvas. Additionally, the various colors that characterize those same lines become duller, or less rich, as they move up the canvas, progressively blending until they essentially become one tone. Where Suspended could in some sense be defined as a painting about slow transitions, the result here is one of contrasts, a juxtaposition of movement; the top portion of Concurrence­, filling the role of the static backdrop while the lower portion of the painting, fills the role of dynamic character—continuously moving across the canvas while simultaneously disappearing into the distance.  Again, the concept behind the title is in some respects fulfilled by the visual rhythm; two unrelated visually rhythmic instantiations—one dynamic, one static—occurring side by side, conceptually disparate yet bound together by the canvas.

Concurrence (2017)

From one perspective, visual rhythm exists to arrange the negative space; it gives form to the atmosphere that surrounds the subject matter and can intensify the emotion that is trying to break through the canvas. From another perspective, visual rhythm can define, to a greater or lesser extent, the divisions of the canvas; the texture created by contrasting rhythms, as much as by contrasting colors and shapes outlining the different sections that combine to create the whole composition. Perhaps more important than either of the preceding perspectives, visual rhythm creates varying degrees of movement. Movement conveys not a snapshot or an instant of time, but rather a moment in time—a brief period that has a beginning and an end. Visual rhythm, as much as negative space, then allows me to create and capture these moments, which exist at the conceptual heart of all of my paintings.

…meeting/introducing my influences (part two) …

A couple of weeks ago Allin and I spent several wonderful days in San Francisco. It usually rained in the morning and evening, but was sunny during the day, and as a result we enjoyed crystal clear springtime weather. We ate great food, traveled around a beautiful city, and went to see Hamilton (which was wonderful, but not quite so wonderful as I expected). However, as I related in my last blog, the main reason for going west was to see the Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibit, which is currently on view at the SFMOMA.

The exhibit met my expectations and more! While the connection between Diebenkorn and Matisse would perhaps not be particularly obvious when viewing their works separately, because of the interesting way in which the show was curated—that is, the artist’s works were generally paired, presented side by side—the influence Matisse exerted over Diebenkorn became as clear as day. In fact, as I had mentioned in my last blog, Diebenkorn collected many books on Matisse and made detailed notes about his work. These same books, as well as many of his notes and clippings (often written directly into the books), were on display at the museum and pointed directly to the long study of Matisse’s art that Diebenkorn made.

…technical influences…

With each pairing the connections between the painters was on display, and many of their similarities involved technique. For example, clear technical parallels could be drawn between the brushwork of the artists; the way in which each artist loosely layered different colors (often related, sometimes contrasting) in order to create a vibrant and texturally rich composite hue. Take the paintings below. We can clearly see a connection between the loose brushwork in Matisse’s Woman with a Hat and Diebenkorn’s Seated Figure with Hat. Additionally, look at the fields of yellow in each painting; notice the layers of paint that combine to create a rich background. Of course there are differences: Matisse layered related colors; Diebenkorn applied a layer of yellow over a contrasting deep blue or violet.

Matisse and Diebenkorn artwork
Left: Henri Matisse, Woman with a Hat, 1905
Right: Richard Diebenkorn: Seated Figure with Hat, 1967

Which brings me to color in general, and one of my favorite pairings of the exhibit: Matisse’s Goldfish and Palette and Diebenkorn’s Urbana #6 (below). With these paintings it is impossible to avoid the stylistic differences, yet there are equally unavoidable connections between color palettes. Observe in both paintings the islands of blue, the daubs of pink, yellow and orange. Also observe the geometric division of the canvas: in Matisse, columns of white separated by columns of black; in Diebenkorn, a horizontal stratification of black and white.

Goldfish and Palette and Urbana #6
Left: Henri Matisse, Goldfish and Palette, 1914
Right: Richard Diebenkorn: Urbana #6, 1953

Both Diebenkorn and Matisse were able to draw you into a painting through their use of color. In the paintings above, each artist framed the edge of the painting with strips of color (Matisse: right edge) or black (Diebenkorn: upper right corner, bottom edge), creating a foreground, middle ground and background while maintaining different levels of abstraction. In the pairing below, it’s possible to see how Diebenkorn followed Matisse, drawing the eye deep into the painting by connecting the different perspectival planes with his use of orange.

The Blue Window and Woman on a Porch
Left: Henri Matisse, The Blue Window, 1913
Right: Richard Diebenkorn, Woman on a Porch, 1958

…thematic influences…

Each pairing also reinforced the similarities between the artists and their subject matter. The first example already provided a clear example of Matisse’s influence on Diebenkorn’s choice of subject matter; both paintings depict a seated woman with a hat. However, the “thematic” similarities went further. The paring of Matisse’s Red Room with Diebenkorn’s Recollections displays not only a connection between subject matter and composition, but also Diebenkorn’s appropriation of Matisse’s use of wallpaper patterns as a way of creating contrast between a flowing visual rhythm (the wallpaper) and a geometric division of the canvas.

Red Room and Recollections of a Visit to Leningrad
Left: Henri Matisse, Red Room (Harmony in Red), 1908
Right: Richard Diebenkorn, Recollections of a Visit to Leningrad, 1965

And finally, with Matisse’s Interior with a Violin and Diebenkorn’s Interior with a Doorway, it is possible to detect an appropriation of atmosphere—that is, the exploration and juxtaposition of the cool interior against the warm exterior (below).

Interior with a Violin and Interior with a Doorway
Left: Henri Matisse, Interior with a Violin, 1918
Right: Richard Diebenkorn, Interior with a Doorway, 1962

If there were a single aspect of the exhibition that I found to be most interesting, it would have to be viewing the stylistic convergence between these artists. It seemed that as Matisse grew into artistic maturity he became more abstract; his paintings began to explore fields of color as much as subject matter (an exploration that Mark Rothko would begin extend in the late 1940s). Conversely, it seems that as Diebenkorn grew into his own, and became more influenced by Matisse, he became less abstract. The decade that saw Diebenkorn’s temporary return to representational art—between the mid 1950s and 60s—could be characterized as the period in which this convergence was most pronounced, the result of a “meeting in the middle” between individual, yet related, styles.

The Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibit was without doubt the highlight of our trip. In particular, getting the chance to inspect Diebenkorn’s technique up close—his brushwork, the way he layered paint—was incredibly instructive, and gratifying as I noticed that, when underpainting, Diebenkorn seemed to use mainly warm colors, something (I am happy to say) I do as well! Additionally, I discovered techniques that I was not expecting to see. In particular, the framing of the painting that I alluded to in Urbana #6 is a technique that I like very much and may consider using in the future.

A great adventure, a great exhibit and a wonderful art lesson!

…meeting/introducing my influences (part one) …

Toward the end of this month Allin and I will be heading out to San Francisco. Of course at this time of year it always makes sense, as a resident of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, to head toward the warm air, blossoms, and sunshine that beautiful city is associated with. However, atmospheric reasons aside, we are also going for another more personal reason: to see Matisse/Diebenkorn, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s newest exhibition.

I think it is safe to say that almost anyone who will be reading this blog will have heard of the famous turn-of-the-century French painter, Henri Matisse. I think it is equally safe to say that the mid-twentieth-century painter, Richard Diebenkorn, is less well known. He is, however, an artist who has exerted an enormous amount of influence over my personal style.

…Richard Diebenkorn…

Richard Diebenkorn was born in 1922 and lived in Portland, Oregon until the age of two when his family relocated to San Francisco. His art career began in the early 1940s, studying first at Stanford, and then, after two years in the Marines, at the California School of Fine Arts. His early works could be best described as an extension of the abstract expressionist movement. These paintings are comprised of bold colors, fluid lines and shapes, and have an iridescent quality and a vibrancy that continued to infuse all of his work.

Richard Diebenkorn Berkeley 46
Richard Diebenkorn, Berkeley #46, 1955

Diebenkorn perhaps made his biggest contribution to the art world with his return to representational art in the mid-1950s. Considered a founding member of the Bay Area Figurative Movement, Diebenkorn spent much of the 1950s and 60s painting and drawing landscapes, figure studies, and still lifes, fusing the qualities of his take on abstract expressionism with the work of Henri Matisse.

Richard Diebenkorn Cityscape 1
Richard Diebenkorn, Cityscape 1, (Landscape No. 1), 1963

In 1966, Diebenkorn moved to Santa Monica, a move that saw his return to pure abstraction as well as the beginning of his most famous group of paintings: the Ocean Park Series. Marked by a geometric division of the canvas, the Ocean Park period still retained the bold juxtaposition of colors that had marked all of his work – perhaps the synthesis of his early abstractions and the geometric landscapes that characterize the San Francisco skyline.

Richard Diebenkorn Ocean Park 79
Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park #79, 1975

…Diebenkorn and Matisse…

It was during his formative years that Diebenkorn was first exposed to the work of Henri Matisse. Diebenkorn is said to have gone to great lengths to seek out Matisse’s work in museums, at exhibitions and in private collections. Wherever he happened to be living at the time, Diebenkorn would seek out books on Matisse, buy postcards of his art, or cut it out of magazines. What did Diebenkorn see in Matisse’s work? What attracted him to that particular artist? In Matisse, Diebenkorn was drawn to his use of bright colors, his fluid lines that were often juxtaposed with geometrical shapes or a geometrical composition. He admired his figure studies, his forays into abstraction, and his willingness to change styles with his location. In Matisse, Diebenkorn found a lifetime of influence and inspiration.

The Blue Window and Woman on a Porch Paintings
Left: Henri Matisse, The Blue Window, 1913 Right: Richard Diebenkorn, Woman on a Porch, 1958

…looking inward…

I have found that, Diebenkorn may have exerted the same kind of influence over my own work that Matisse exerted over his, and of course, I am therefore very influenced by Matisse. But I point to Diebenkorn directly, because it is through his “Matisse-filter,” and through his other idiosyncratic techniques, that I can draw a clear connection to my artistic past. While I have perhaps been most heavily influenced by his brushwork, by the rich textures and vibrant colors that result from the many layers of paint that have been applied to his canvases, I have also been deeply influenced by his use of contrasting colors to divide up the canvas (a technique of mine that is equally as indebted to Mark Rothko), and to that end, by his geometrical division of the canvas. I have found in many of my own works a strong compositional connection to his paintings, to the bold shapes outlined by color and separated by texture. I have found that without knowing it, Diebenkorn led me to an atmospheric approach to space, and a desire to capture in that space the luminous and fleeting experiences that pass through our lives.

Ocean Park and Skys the Limit Paintings
Left: Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park #68, 1974 Right: Margaret Lockwood, Sky’s the Limit, 1997

So, off we go, to enjoy a warm and sunny atmosphere (or possibly a wet and cloudy one), to capture whatever feelings and experiences our trip may bring, and to capture and hold onto whatever secrets Richard Diebenkorn and Henri Matisse may be willing to share.

Margaret Lockwood Painting - Homecoming

On Form (part one)

In my last blog, I discussed the slow emergence and development of four separate themes in my work, themes that have reappeared often enough now that I refer to them as visual motifs.  Additionally, I touched on the twin roles that these four visual motifs have assumed, these motifs: 1) aid in creating a coherent body of work and underlying conceptual constant, and 2) act as a visual medium, each allowing me to capture and explore, in a variety of ways, every aspect of the atmosphere that inhabits and defines those fleeting moments in life which exist so vividly in our minds eye, but are nearly impossible to describe or convey in conversation or with the written word.

Put another way, the visual motifs that I have developed provide a concrete reality, a stable image that all viewers can agree upon. Against this backdrop of objective reality I can then attempt to create the subjective and subtle atmosphere that exists as the essence of each moment. However, the atmosphere that I choose to create and the emotions evoked by that atmosphere, regardless of its connection to a particular visual motif, do not come from the motif, but from its surroundings, from its placement on the canvas and from the subsequent space that placement creates.

Any discussion of artistic space naturally (and appropriately) leads me to a discussion of form and one of the formal elements that is perhaps most relevant to my work: negative space.

Negative space is defined as the space around and between the subject(s) of an image. I would add (perhaps redundantly) that negative space in a sense defines the subject. This is definitely true of the subject’s outline, and of course vice versa: the shape of the subject defines the outline of the negative space. More importantly, the negative space defines our relationship with the painting or image’s subject matter. Take for example one of my more recent paintings, homecoming:

Margaret Lockwood Painting - Homecoming

In this painting, the viewer will perceive first the subject matter, one of my visual motifs: trees. I have felt, since painting homecoming, that it is a painting that captures the moment when the early morning sun first breaks through the trees on a cold winter day. It could perhaps also be a painting of an early spring morning, or maybe the last rays of sunlight at the end of a midsummer day. How one chooses to interpret the moment captured in this painting is entirely subjective, but one thing is certain, the trees provide the viewer with very little in the way of visual information upon which to build a subjective impression. Below, is the same painting; the work that I’ve done to fill in the negative space between the trees has been removed.

Margaret Lockwood Painting - Homecoming Negative Space

There is a well-known statement in the art world that I’ve repeated many times when teaching: meaning exists within the negative space. I think this example clearly illustrates the principle behind this statement. Gone is any sense of atmosphere, instead what we are really presented with is a series of thick, dark lines. The negative space remains, but the “feeling” of the painting has been completely altered. In fact it is the space between and around the objects that we refer to as “subject matter” that provides us with the actual visual information as to a specific moment in time. In a painting, we cannot rely on the sound of birdsong to tell us it is morning; we cannot rely on the feel of the air on our skin to tell us that it is a brittle winter morning, or an inviting afternoon in late May. Those associations, conjured by applying (in the right proportions) specific pigments on a canvas, are created between the trees, in the negative space that is outlined by the forest.

In some sense you could say I’m attempting to flip the definition of “subject matter” on it’s head…the perceived subject matter, the visual motif, is actually not the “subject matter,” rather, the true focus of my painting is everything but the “subject matter,” it is the negative space. By removing my painting from the negative space in homecoming, the focus of the work clearly becomes the subject matter. Returning the painting to its original state greatly reduces the visual weight that one will attach to the trees. This viewpoint may seem to diminish the importance of a painting’s subject matter, but of course, like much of life, the form of a painting is a delicate balancing act, in this case, a balancing act between subject matter and negative space, each dependent upon the other; the visual motif provides an objective context for the negative space, and the negative space, a subjective context for the visual motif.

Sites in the City Sturgeon Bay Banner Project

Sites In The City of Sturgeon Bay Banner Project

Sneak Peek of the Sites In The City of Sturgeon Bay Banner Project

Earlier you saw my blank canvas, here I am sharing a little glimpse of what I have been working on. Almost every night when there is a beautiful sunset, this is what we see out our living room/ dining room window. Not a bad view and certainly provides much inspiration. I may or may not be finished with this piece, we’ll see, but I am liking the look of it so far.

We are excited about this project launched by the Sturgeon Bay Visitor Center as a way to express the community’s love and appreciation for art. “Sites in the City,” is a light pole banner project that will leave the city awash with eye-catching artwork throughout spring and summer. Read more about it on the Sturgeon Bay Visitor Center’s website here.


Margaret Lockwood Gallery construction progress

Getting Ready to Move In

As we get ready to move in, doors are being made, finished, hung and opened. 1- the sliding barn doors to Margaret’s studio, 2- the front doors to the apartment, 3- the brass stenciled coat closet doors, 4- the front doors to the gallery, 5- the old vault steel door and 6- Popelka/ Trenchard’s front doors, our nearest artist neighbors.