Art and the Collaborative Experience

"You are lost the instant you know what the result will be." Juan Gris 

When facing a canvas I rarely know what the result will be and I've come to accept that as part of the creative process. It can be scary and I can feel lost. However, once the brush meets the canvas a form of collaboration begins and I'm no longer alone in that journey.  

Over the past months I've been busy collaborating with some fellow painters and coordinating a few small group shows. Bringing work together that is different is an engaging process that opens up doors to new ideas and possibilities. Most notably though, I've had the opportunity to work with Chicago based artist/print-maker Victoria M. Barquin and her company Halftone Projects in creating a print from one of my paintings. 

As fellow artists working in different mediums, we started talking about doing a creative project awhile ago.  Bridging painting with printmaking while working remotely yet in unison to make something new has been rewarding.  (Read more below.) The print will be released this month on Nov. 9 at The Chicago Printers Guild 4th Annual Publishers Fair in Chicago.

Reflecting on the idea of collaboration and how integral working together can be to a creative process has been important.  An excerpt from writings by John Donne comes to mind... "No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent a part of the main..."  Given that context, I'm not sure anyone is really ever lost no matter what the result might be.    
Vanitas Hew ...  
"Vanitas Hew" 6"x 6" silk screen print
"Vanitas III"  16"x 20" oil on canvas
This 7 l ayer si lk screen print "Vanitas Hew"  is the result of a collaboration with Victoria M. Barquin - artist/printmaker and her company Halftone Projects, LLC.

Ms. Barquin and I had  talked about the possibilities of doing something together using one of my paintings in the context of a print.  We met, and  I shared several paintings with her for consideration. I think we had about 5 in total at which point it was time for me to step back and turn it over to Ms. Barquin to begin her work of photographing, cropping and digitally editing to see what emerged with her influence.  After some review,  we agreed on a piece that came from a series of vanitas still life's I had painted last year.  The full painting is referenced above.  I think we both related to the abstract design, colors and symbolic nature of vanitas.  

Over the past months the design has been refined and finalized to the point seen here. The trademark squiggles and unique arrangements of color often found in Ms. Barquin's work appear, creating a visual story that speaks to our respective viewpoints and interpretations.  

The piece is in production now! (Click HERE for details from the artist about that process).  The print will be introduced at The Chicago Printers Guild Publishers Fair on November 9 for $25.  To see about purchasing visit   
Ms. Barquin is a practicing artist who moved to Chicago from Boston after earning her BFA with honors at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2016. She is a talented printmaker who has won several awards, is published and through a Fellowship spent several months in Spain in an international art residency program at Can Serrat.  Currently, her work can be seen in the 2019 Terrain Biennial and Guidelines, Appalachian Center for Craft - Cookeville, TN.  For more information visit:

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Colorful Movements ...
"Colorful Movements" 11" x 14" 
Color is a collaboration of expression, and a place where my heart meets the canvas.  It's capacity for boldness always teeters on the side of taking a risk.  

The motivating force behind the development of this painting was a desire to work again with patterns, and an abundance of them.  Gathering  things from my kitchen, studio and home to pull this together I sat and wondered about the paring of bright and muted brownish hues as well as the power of stripes, and I chose to go along for the ride. 

I think this painting is a collaboration of contrasts, much like my other work and in that regard consistent.   The interesting part in the journey was seeing how random patterns could work together (knowing they might not) and letting that be part of the outcome.    Click on image for close up.
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September Mornings ....
"September Mornings" 11" x 14" (click for close up)
Along more traditional lines, venturing out toward the Delaware River Canal near Stockton, NJ with a couple of fellow painters on a beautiful September morning, proved fruitful as a joint effort.  We walked across the Centre Bridge from NJ into Pennsylvania to explore the gifts of nature waiting on the other side, a place I hadn't been before.

Entering into that lush green "studio" and partnering with the spirit of the location, each of us noticed points of beauty and intrigue before defining our respective locations to paint.  Along the quiet bank of the waterway an eclectic mix of historic homes with charm and character worthy of notation left me breathless.  Stopping here, I connected with the framework of community and a single red canoe.  There was an invitational pull and collaboration of spirit that took my eye back into the beams of sunlight, illuminating a colorful sense of passage on this special September morning.    Click on image for close-up
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Until next time!