I was drawn to painting nocturnes from my work in NFT over that last few years. I use many neural networks, DALLE, machine learning A.I. generators to create components of many of my pieces. Those engines often produce surrealistic results that offered a sort of just-out-of-reach mysteriousness and Tonalism paintings often spoke that language. This idea of painting mood vs. subject drew me to the masters; Whistler, Dewey, Inness, Twatchman, Eaton — they all used landscapes with heavy atmosphere to depict a sublime moment in time. I’m drawn to that sense of tension of color vibrations in neutral tones. There’s an energy that comes from discerning what color looks like in the absence of daylight. Night paintings offer a blanket of anonymity, a sort of hiding of the viewer from the scene being observed, as well as offer a sense of voyeurism when looking at spot illuminations from windows, distant lights, and backlight objects. And night is that of the subconscious and of secrets. Night is a time of seeking shelter, of sleep, of feeling protected. A tugging primitive sense of danger from things we cannot see but can imagine even more vividly makes for an unease. Night is also just dark. Clarity and vivid hues are replaced by hazy shades of what they truly are. Forms blend into a new indescribable mass without beginning or end. This somewhat reflects my series the most, that sense of a dimming, morphing presence that is Provincetown itself. I’m an artist that began a journey on the shores where greats have studied and worked and like them (but not as good as them) I moved on. I live in coastal Maine part-time now as well as Miami Beach. Both could not be more different. Both are inspiring. Both have drawbacks. I’m lucky to live and work in both locations and my work will look to incorporate them. They also enjoy the blanket of night and I’m eager to study it. I’ll see what A.I. thinks of it all and we’ll get back to you.
Alden Gallery September 16th — 29th, 2022
I don’t believe in consistency other than habitual procrastination and the willingness to do things over and over again expecting something new out of it. I know both are discouraged by motivated, organized people. Despite trying now and again to change my process I simply don’t stick to it and end up going back to what I was doing before. This state of being is why I’m posting this work after my two year hiatus from oil painting now. Most of it has sold at Alden Gallery in Provincetown already and a few from my micro-gallery, Sea Hag, in Maine.
Over the last two years I started creating NFTs. When I got into it the medium it was fairly nascent, at least buying and selling digital art on the blockchain, to most. I got collected in that space originally for my take on appropriated master works, especially florals from the Dutch Golden Age, of artists Jan Brueghel the Elder, Ambrosius Bosschaert, Jan Davidsz de Heem, Jan van Huysum, and Rachel Ruysch.
So after missing a summer of art galleries openings, travel, seeing friends in person and everything else that ceased during 2020, I began thinking what I would do as a body of work after the fifty or so MacMillan Wharf studies I did from 2016 – 2019.
During that “lost year” I had gone through an enormous life change and enjoyed the craziest success of my career this far. When I started to look at the juxtaposition of those two emotional states I thought cut flowers were appropriate in both representing the end of a huge chapter of my life and as an homage to the digital medium that was a career breakthrough.
So, with that, I painted flowers — and it was joyous. I imagined all the scenarios of the arrangements and titled them to try and capture that narrative. Trip-to-Ikea vase, roadside honor payment stands, formal living rooms, celebrations, and condolences all fit the criteria of giving or buying flowers. They were loose and colorful and everything COVID wasn’t.
Lastly, as I was finishing the work, I realized these year-round painted arrangements changed the energy of a room just because they are flowers. A bit of floral cheer after such a grueling emotional struggle we all faced. That was a surprise to me since I hadn’t had a visceral feeling from painting for a while. Flowers are pretty powerful and strong for something that’s supposed to be so delicate. A fitting representation for many of us during exhausting times.
I primarily work in oil and do landscape studies. Recently I was looking at some work I had done last year that was influenced by gay culture in Provincetown. So much drama happens within a few short weeks of “season” and I thought it is more or less a landscape in of itself. The social circles of old friends, annual pilgrimages, theme weeks, and venues create a microcosm of fleeting romances and relationships — some that last a lifetime or one evening. Ubiquitous settings such as “Tea”, as well “The Pool”, offer the most exposure to meeting someone special (I’ve known marriages born from these events) to someone for right now. I chose acrylic due to its fast drying time to lay down blended color that seemed more representational of perceived recollections of these moments in the summer sun.
My fascination with Provincetown harbor has led me to observe the dramatic tidal changes that the shore experiences. Since many of the town’s residences live with close proximity to the beach, it’s of particular concern in the age of climate change and more powerful storms. These luxury residences and wharfs hosting cottages and second homes, are propped up by structures that both defy Mother Nature and bait it at the same time. I chose low tide to underscore their precarious arc over an increasing problem with the hope that they survive but also with the idea recording them for posterity if they should fall to our lack of action and an increasingly exponential threat. Their beauty aside it’s both a testament to engineering and a visible hubris of days past.
My second season at Alden Gallery has been solid and my wharf series nearly sold out. I’ve been thinking I might want a new subject to study but on this very atmospheric weekend in Provincetown (a very tired hurricane José is falling apart) I wanted to try and capture its mood. I realized I’m not quite done exploring this iconic and central structure in Provincetown as it continually changes palette through seasons and storms. Now if I could only paint the scent of the ocean I’d be legend.
A collector friend of mine saw my show up this past summer and gave me a book on Edwin Dickinson. This prolific and outstanding artist is very much responsible for helping to establish Provincetown as an art colony as well as contribute significantly the founding of the Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) which serves as an epicenter of art scene here in Provincetown today. I’m still learning the rich history of the painters, writers, and poets that have walked these streets for well over a hundred years. Reading about Dickinson underscores how humbling it is to paint here. The sheer amount of talented artists, both living and passed, serves as an inspiration that is ever harder to find in any given city/town due to priced out gentrification and over commercializing once gritty and edgy artist enclaves (I’m looking at you Lower East Side). As fall takes over New England, many will come to work on the “off-season” towards their next seasons and towards self imposed deadlines in a much quieter town devoid of many of the wonderful, if not overly attended, distractions of summer. It is the near solitude that allows dedicated focus towards a new body of work and although a tad lonely in the dark of winter is fueled by the endless supply of artist community that remains here after the ferry stops bringing in tourists daily. Although artists are still everywhere and continue to work despite a Starbucks on the corner of their neighborhood, I’m always relived and grateful to know that a place like P’town has resisted such corporate trappings by enlarge and you can still literally throw a rock and hit a fellow creative on any given day. Maybe not a rock… let’s go with wig or a feathered boa. Provincetown’s gotta be Provincetown.
This body of work was done in residency at the Bakehouse Art Complex in Wynwood, Miami this winter and spring. The wharf in Provincetown continues to inspire in it’s geometric forms, ever changing nautical traffic, palette, and mutable appearance via the weather that the end of the world experiences. I continually photograph the location and cull through it months later for a basic foundation of the series. Recently, a respected art collector and friend of mine compared a piece of mine to that of the prolific painter, and Provincetown icon, Edwin Dickinson and gave me a book of his work. Humbled, I could only can strive to reach such heights. Of interest is that the Provincetown Art Association and Museum has recently acquired a body of Dickinson’s work. I hope to see more of this legend’s work by any means necessary.
Opening reception is June 14th at Alden Gallery. Come see the work and the other great artists I’m honored to be showing with.
Hey. Been a while. I’ve been busy during my residency at the Bakehouse Art Complex in Miami since February. I have to say, it’s been extremely productive and crucial to this new work. Anyone who paints out of a home studio knows that most people think you’re just home all day. It’s very easy to get distracted and end up talking on the phone, doing a load of laundry, have someone ask for a ride, or wait two hours for a contractor that ultimately is a no-show. A studio setting is like having an affair with yourself. No one knows where you are really or how long you’ll be out. You come home smelling like you’ve been somewhere. It’s a place of nearly no distraction and the world gets on until you answer a text or lock the door until tomorrow. It’s liberating and a luxury. I’m grateful to be working well into 2018 here and with a talented pool of fellow creatives. That’s of equal importance in being in an art complex, the ability to critique and drink tequila… If you’re in Wynwood come on up to floor two and say hi. No one needs to know. We’ll do a shot. We’ll keep it a secret…
I’ll be part of a Memorial Day group show called “Wall” at Alden Gallery in Provincetown.
May 26 – June 15, 2017:
“Wall” Group show of all gallery artists
I’m also part of a group show at Alden June 16th and my work will be up throughout the year.
June 16 – June 29, 2017:
Raul Gonzalez lll, Sean McCabe, Paul Pedulla, Heather Toland
On our annual August trip to Mt. Desert in Maine this year I opted to pack my oils but had no clear idea of what I was going to do or paint. We stay with some artists in a very basic cabin on one of the lakes there and thought I might find some inspiration. Honestly, I didn’t. However, one morning while I was having coffee I picked up my iPad and looked though some of the photos I had taken. I did a couple of scrolls and noticed a picture of MacMillan Wharf in P’town I’d taken in 2012. I don’t store a lot of pics on that tablet and rarely look at the photos but I stopped on it. It was a wide shot from the beach and I became intrigued by it the more I zoomed in since it lost its recognition. I suppose the semi-abstractness of the cropping is what led me to start the series. Provincetown is awash with competent landscape studies. I wanted to capture the feeling without it being completely realistic or abstract. That idea became MacMillan Wharf (I). It seems a interesting direction from when I first starting painting scenes of Provincetown a few years ago. It feels like stepping on the first rung of a very tall ladder.
I’ve always loved walking the dog on the town beach in Provincetown. From where I live in the East end, it affords a full view of MacMillan Wharf where the ferry from Boston docks. It’s no secret the light and air play a big part of artist inspiration here at the end of the Cape. Hawthorne, Hensche, Hofmann, Hopper and hordes and scads of artists and writers have interpreted this environment through their disciplines. It has also inspired me to do a study of the wharf as a series since I find the shapes of the outbuildings, boats, posts, masts, lines and rigging to be fascinating and somewhat abstract. My palette so far is derived from a morning fog that hazy overcast that comes just after dawn many mornings in spring. I look to capture the salt of the air more than the true rendering of a sloop.
Robert Morgan and Sean McCabe
Opening reception: Friday, August 19, 7–9 p.m.
Alden Gallery | 423 Commercial Street, Provincetown
It’s been MONTHS since I’ve posted anything. Busy.
I’m part of two juried shows under my alter-ego, Sean Mick. The first is 3s Artspace in Prortmouth, NH. That show is up August 5th – September 3rd. It was selected by Christopher French for the 3S Juried Exhibition: On The Map.
In Boston, I’m part of the the Juror’s Choice at Uforge Gallery selected by Elizabeth Devlin up August 5th – 28th.
Please visit these extraordinary galleries if near by.