Friday, December 10, 2010

My Visit to the Jerald Melberg Gallery

Jerald Melberg Gallery
Charlotte, NC

On Friday October 29th, 2010 I was greeted in the gallery by Janet Wall who had generously pulled out over 10 original Rutenberg pieces for me in advance. She walked me to the private viewing room and after a brief introduction of myself and why I was there, she proceeded to tell me about her experiences with Brian and his art. She came from the art business point of view and had some interesting insights, but when talking about going to Brian’s New York Studio, she said she couldn’t wait to get out. “I don’t like to get dirty” she said and from the various pictures and videos I have seen of Brian’s studio I get the feeling it gets pretty filled with paint, as it should, paint that could cover any person who may slip or trip and fall in the wrong direction.

After an hour or so of conversation, Janet introduced me to a man named Chris Clamp. He is an artist and alumni from Winthrop University who discussed Brian’s work from an artist’s point of view. He answered as many questions as he could and spared nothing, when something new came up in conversation he would go to the back and pull out yet another of Brian’s pieces. I got to see a number of his large works on linen, some of his medium sized works on canvas and paper, and then later even some of his monoprints that he made during his time at the “Atelier” program. The interesting thing about his prints is that he didn’t leave any the way they were. He made each one individual by adding an additional layer of paint to each print to make each unique.

I was able to sit down after talking with Chris for over an hour and just look at all the paintings sitting out before me and around me on the walls and on the floor and I was truthfully elated and felt as though it couldn’t be true. I was glad I dressed up for the meeting, I thought to myself with a grin.

After flipping through the Galleries copy of the book Brian Rutenberg; a book that is currently sold out almost everywhere and out of print to boot, and after taking ten and a half pages of notes in my sketch book, I got up to walk around the gallery to see what else I could pack into my time there. I saw a number of beautiful pieces, but nothing quite compares in my opinion and aesthetic to Brian’s pieces filled with an abundance of rich color.

Before leaving I introduced myself to the receptionist who had arrived after I did, thanked her for allowing me to visit, and headed on my way with a smile and a boost of motivation and passion about making art.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Art criticism

My first piece of art criticism on Pamela Winegard’s opening at Winthrop University. November 8, 2010.

In all actuality the atmosphere created by the lighting, and intense effort to hang the work in the best way possible create a powerful sense of… reverence. I use this word because of the weightlessness of the works on paper and even the two more recent triptychs in the room on the left. Each piece glows with a halo of light, symbolic of a formerly religious reference. This presentation style contributes to the work, empowering spiritual undertones, more than they would have if hung in a less dramatic way.

“Ash Pit”, 2010 – Encoustic and Mixed Media on Panel. Ash Pit speaks volumes to my imagination because of the choice of blue and cream relief sculpture behind the window of a hard wire grid cut open. The faces are anonymous yet different, they are downcast as though they are indwelt by the spirits of some of the victims passed over a half a century ago – sleeping, waking, and then moving on to another resting place leaving the faces soulless once again.

The cumulative work as a whole evolves into a more serene and masked version of itself. The two triptychs entitled “Gornisht”, 2010 encaustic on panel and “Memory”, 2010 encaustic on panel, differ in execution of line work, but remain consistent in concept. In my opinion, “Gornisht” is the more successful of the two because the color and shape of the line work cut into the purity and serenity of the white negative space unlike “Memory”. The blade-like shapes created in “Gornisht” sharply cut, speaking as a metaphor for the process, wherein the artist carves away the top layers of white wax to reveal the under layers of cool blue and green. The color choice of the blade shapes contrasts the white background not only in value, but in temperature and creates a cold and mysterious mood.
The work is serious. It is not playful; it does not make light of the issues of the holocaust or the generational witnessing of it.

Her work is now down. She has since installed “Gornisht” in the MFA show entitled Line at the Loading Dock Gallery in Rock Hill, SC. Line had its opening last night were myself and others in the program presented our work.

If you are interested in seeing or reading more about Pamela’s art you can visit her website:

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jerald Melberg Gallery

Today, I spent 3 hours at the Jerald Melberg Gallery in Charlotte, NC. I had a wonderful time with some of the most generous people there. They took the time to take out 10 original paintings on linen, canvas, and paper. I learned so much all the while jaw dropped by the fantastic art. I am so impressed by what I have seen and can not keep from internalizing it and am sure that it will change the art I make.

Now I am needing to plan a trip to New York, because they said that if I am going to be in NY, then they would ask for a meeting for me with Brian Rutenberg. Crossing my fingers and hoping.

Anyway, just wanted to share the good news.

Thanks for joining me!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A couple of my inspirations

I have found two artists with whom I am currently infatuated because of their use of color specifically and the contrast within each piece of muted vs. saturated. Mark Gould’s paintings have passages within them that are applied in a non representational way, but when made part of the whole, make sense more as an abstraction of something without fully knowing what it is. I appreciate the contrast between the recognizable and the unrecognizable. 

The second artist’s work I am infatuated with is Brian Rutenberg’s. He also deals with representing the natural world, but adopts Francis Bacon’s belief that “The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery” (Brimming Tides, Mark Sloan, pg. 4). THe way he deepens the mystery is by abstracting even more than Gould. His passages that appear non-representational take up a much larger percentage of the whole and leave only traces, a bone structure if you will, of the subject matter of the natural world.

They have inspired me to not only use more color, but be smarter about it. Using contrasts to strengthen the piece and avoid muddying the paint in the process. Using Muted areas that by contrast make the brighter saturated colors really shine. And also, I have learned from them that realism isn’t necessarily the best way to communicate the beauty of nature or of anything for that matter so long as you do what you do well. And, if you do what you do well, then no one can/should stop you from succeeding at it.


Gallery Opening Tonight in Columbia, South Carolina

Dear Friends,
There will be a gallery opening this evening and tomorrow evening at Gallery 80808 in Columbia, South Carolina. Tonight, my friend and colleague Jon Prichard will be performing a rendition of his thesis show that he will be performing at Winthrop University in early December.

Tomorrow Night (Friday October 15th) The 2D show will have an opening at the same Gallery. I am fortunate to have two pieces in the show and would be honored if anyone would see it. I will do my best to get an image of the pieces as they hang and post it for the majority who cant travel across the South East for an art show opening.

Thank you so much,
Stephen Lursen

Gallery 80808
808 Lady St, Columbia, SC 29201 Map
803 252-6134
Hello Again Friends,

I have updated my Gallery and would love for you to check it out.

Also, I just sold another painting to Starbucks Coffee Company. I hung the 8′ x 4′ piece in the Dilworth Store last Wednesday afternoon.

The store is at:
1401 East Boulevard
Charlotte, NC 28203

Looking forward to further updates,

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Today was the final critique for the end of the semester.

So here is a tour of my pieces as they were hung. They filled my studio, went down the hall, and I didn’t include the first half of the semester’s work.

In the critique it was suggested that I move the pieces around to break up the line. This is what it looks like in one formation.

Pieces inside of my studio.

More pieces out in the hall.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mark Making


"BeBop'in Buggy"
This piece is 5 feet tall by 3 feet wide on canvas. I primed the canvas and then put a thick layer of gesso (primer) on the canvas and drew into it while it was still wet. I like the effect, but it is not visible in this image.

I created this piece while listening to Jazz music. Moving with the music was really fun. I enjoyed this one a lot.

I primed a sheet of canvas about 5.5 feet tall by 3 feet wide and then proceeded to draw on it giving attention to line and the contrast that develops within a dense network of lines.
I call it “Explosion” because the fogged or painted spaces around the center looks like a fist clenching a mass made of lines. The hand is squeezing so tightly that the mass is exploding under the pressure.

This piece is the largest so far of the mark making series at 4′ wide by 7′ tall.
This piece incorporates graphite, charcoal, conte, india ink, color pencil, and sanguine on paper.

This piece entitled “Frenzy” is 2′ wide x 4′ tall.

"Arieal Dogfight in a Tornado"
This one I thought about and saw an “Aerial Dogfight in a Tornado”
What do you think?

"The Monster"
This piece I affectionately entitled: “The Monster”. Unless of course you can come up with a better name for it…

Which way does it go?

I don’t know for sure which orientation this one should have.
I’ll put it to a vote…
When it is this orientation I call it “Storm Cloud”

When it is the opposite orientation, I call it “The Chandelier”

An Explosion of Line

Yesterday I went to the print shop to buy some paper. I ended up getting three pieces of medium sized (26″ x 40″) off-white paper. I have been scribbling quite a bit recently in an attempt to create art that is not from my head. Not logical art, not “larger than life”, not necessarily necessary art for any other reason than to appreciate the value of line. I feel I am breaking out of my “box”, the boundaries I have created for myself unconsciously.

Check out my image. I would love some comments if you have any thoughts.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tribute to Mucha

If you haven’t looked at Mucha’s art recently, it is worth looking at again. I think so at least.

Here is my tribute to him. You can tell that I couldn’t stay away from the figure any longer and had to go back to work on a figurative piece.

This is an oil over gold leaf on canvas painting. Only 16″ x 20″. Small enough to be able to work quickly on.

What do you think?

I obviously add my own style to it. Some people may not even recognize Mucha’s influence, but I’m ok with that.

Here’s a pic of the studio. You get a better idea of how big (or small) 16″ x 20″ is.

Cubist Rain

This is a drawing I spent a few hours on.
Still trying to work on making art without the need for objects, but it isn’t easy for me.

Me in my studio thinking of what to do next....

Do you have any ideas?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Drawing on the wall #1

In the most recent piece, “Drawing #1″, I decided to stick to keeping it simple and just draw… Well 99% at least. Enough to keep calling this a drawing instead of a painting.

I absent mindedly started drawing like I was reading a book. Left to right methodically working away until I had reached half way. Oh, by the way, this is is a 10′ wide by 3′ tall drawing on a single piece of paper. Once it was pointed out to me that I was just drawing a landscape from left to right without much excitement or growth, I jumped over to the right side and started intentionally drawing non-representationally… to the best of my ability that is. I eventually reached a point where I had two completely different drawings on teh same piece of paper and cutting it in half would just be a cop-out. 

My first couple attempts just weren’t enough and I’m not sure that it is finished just yet.

Check it out and tell me what you think. 

I am excited to have a lot to post now!

Cara, my Fiancee, let me borrow her camera and take pictures of my pieces I have been working on.
To see them without any discussion or explanation you can easily do so by going to my Flickr account.
Thanks for reading!

Painting on the Wall #2

One touch of the finger can bring down a castle of dominoes. Victory comes way too easy when you actually do something. The obstacles of the mind are the greatest obstacles of all.

Pain is a life time companion who will never leave your side, even when you take drugs to shut him up. I think good friends could take notes. I know I do. ;) I just try not to be a pain…

This piece was originally entitled “Introduction” but as the journey of the painting carried on, even that introduction that once shown so bright, has faded from glory. Leaving me and my brushes to trudge through the journey toward the next mountain top.

So Carry on my friend, carry onward toward the prize. You know you want it, go for it. I’ll do the same.
Thank you for reading,

Saturday, February 13, 2010

New show is going up today!

The Winthrop University Master of Fine Arts Department is putting together the “Works in Progress” Show and will be on Campus this week in the Lewendowski Gallery in the first floor of McClaurin Hall. I will have two pieces in the show viewable on Monday. I will post pictures of the show Monday as well for all to see who are too far to see the show in person.
Thank you to all who are able to make it out to the show and show your support. As of right now there is no official opening party, so it really is there for all to come at their own convenience during business hours of 9 am to 5 pm.
Thank you,

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dealing with terror in our society of insensitivity...

I am working on a series of paintings about human relationships. As one studies the paintings one would come to their own conclusions about what is happening between them, but one thing is sure, it isn’t pastel flowery.

I was recently reminded of the culture I live in. A culture saturated with the stench of desensitization from the entertainment and news media which constantly one-up the previous with greater intensity and special effects. John Stuart always has news broadcasters to laugh at for making the mundane and respectful extreme and outrageous. For instance, the snow storm of this past week in the DC area has been called “Snowmageddon”, “snowpocalipse”, and “The Snowtorious B.I.G.” Everything has to be the end of the world to be watched in this society. There is no room to filter the news and entertainment through a filter of reality.

This same necessity for the extreme exists in the art world. Be done with the old and create the new, the better, the “original”. To be original is difficult. In fact the majority of artists in the world are what is called derivative artists. These artists see something they like and say to themselves “I like that! I want to do something like that!” Whether it is known or not, this type of artist has the “glass ceiling” restricting their ability to become great because they never show the world anything they have never seen before. And as previously said, it is a requirement for a great number of interested viewers, let alone fans and buyers.

Back to my project, My portraits may be literally unique, but the idea behind them and the application of the paint isn’t entirely original and therefor are a part of the process for me, rather than the end product.

Please take a look at my pieces at my account.