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Commission Completed: The “Homicide Posts”

Earlier this week, I delivered the finished project to my very happy client. (After having seen my Oxidized Macros series, she asked me to create a group of photographs based on what I call the “Homicide Posts”–the old, paint-layered lampposts outside the former Police HQ set of the TV show, “Homicide: Life on the Streets” at Fell’s Point Recreation Pier in Baltimore.)

Homicide Posts Photography Commission; Nick Rusko-Berger, May 2011. www.ruskoberger.com

(click for larger): Homicide Posts Photography Commission; Nick Rusko-Berger, May 2011

I had them printed on canvas and gallery wrapped; the sizes range from 10×10″ to 16×24″.

They now live in sunny Florida.😀

My Painting, Lately…

I’ve been surprising even myself.

Over the past two years, I’ve been in a deep…re-development/re-imagining/re-birth of my painting. For a number of years prior, painting was not fun and there was something wrong. It got so bad that I actually stopped painting for a period. I got SO sick and tired of my Bullshit. This BS mainly consisted of old bad habits, using shopworn techniques to achieve various effects–and the Big One–a deadly melange of weak and delayed/procrastinatory decision-making.

I’ll explain: the Delayed Decision problem grew out of a seeming plus (which is why I held on to it for so long). I was a pretty darn good painter, and I know my techniques. But I’d be painting, and then I’d start to play Chess with my process–trying to set myself up for future sessions. I’d know what I wanted to do in a week, month, or year in terms of what (color, value, focus-level) had to get laid down in order to paint over it, edge it, or glaze it. This meant that I was constantly doing these tiny little things that almost wouldn’t qualify as decisions, and that meant nothing ever got done-done.

I realized this, and tried to fix it in the manner I *was* painting–and thought I was getting somewhere–but nope. Same problems, same crap. Same No Paintings Done.

Other problems I had with my painting: I *really* disliked my oil paint application in numerous places. I could be the Scumble King, taking a pea-sized dab of paint and fill in a billboard with it. Or (looking back at direct-from-life paintings) I magically transported paint, via brush to the canvas. By some Feat of the Imagination, I managed to skip from viewing a subject (and choosing a paint value/color) to having it be on the canvas…with no thought as to the *application* of the paint, whatsoever. The paint was just kind of “there”.

Last problem: I always felt that, in my main oil works, there was a disconnect from all the other stuff I was doing (drawing, inkwork, etc). As I feel the oils are my main thing, this was always a conundrum for me. That needed fixing, too.

I have to go paint now, but in my next post I’ll reveal how I fixed these things. Let me just leave of by saying: it was incredibly difficult on a number of levels, it almost never happened…and, Hells’ Bells, am I glad I did.

A snippet of a new painting in the works...

My new Blog Posting plan…

I keep mentally preparing a slew of various would-be posts with the intention of making them essay-like and time-scale cohesive.

No more.

If I keep that up, I’ll never post. So, from now on, I’ll be doing more Getting Stuff out…

New Painting: “Drive-By Landscape No.1”

“Drive-By Landscape No. 1″

Oil on Board, 12 x 12”

"Drive-By Landscape No. 1"

"Drive-By Landscape No. 1", Oil on Board, 12 x 12", 2011; Nick Rusko-Berger

New Painting Start: “Anna Reclining; Hotel Chelsea”

Here’s the latest start; oil on board, about 18×24″.

Rarely do I start with a vine charcoal framework, but the exaggerated 3-point  perspective  asked for it. Even still, I just wung the drawing, and as it turns out I pushed it even further–opening up the forms–which I like. As for the underpainting… in some places it’ll be complementary, and in others the intensity could roil underneath whatever analagous-ness goes over it.

Anna Reclining; Hotel Chelsea, New York City

Anna Reclining; Hotel Chelsea, New York City; Oil on Board, 18 x 24"

Art Materials Shootout: Paper Products $

How’s that for a dynamic title? Seriously: I’m almost 42 and I’ve never priced out That With Which I Wipe Paint Off…and maybe you haven’t either…

Two of the cheapest paper towel rolls I could find at Rite Aid were $1.00 and $1.30 for about 42 square feet of 1-ply paper. But I bought the 500-pack of “Mardi Gras” napkins instead. Here’s why:

The cheap napkins cost $5.00. Each (open) napkin is a square foot, so that’s 500 sq feet of paper for 5 bux. In their naturally folded state, they’re still a useful 6×6″–plus, they’re 4-ply that way. And there are still 500 of them.

500 square feet of the *cheapest* paper towels costs double that. Get into Bounty, or what have you, and it gets to around 6 times.

From now on, it’s napkins for Nicky.

Photoshop and Me: Editing Power

I’ve always called Photoshop “the Pencil of Digital Art”, and here’s Reason # 32,359: This image is a before-and-after example of a photograph I’m working on for a commission.

The series is part of my ongoing Oxidized Macros series and comprises a number of photographs of what I’m calling the “Homicide Posts”–the old, paint-layered lampposts outside the former Police HQ set of the TV show, “Homicide: Life on the Streets” at Fell’s Point Recreation Pier in Baltimore.

In these series, I don’t do any digital painting or rearranging of elements; the only editing I do is cropping, focus and tweaking the colors.  I amazed even myself with this result–all done with Image Adjustments and Image Adjustment Layers…and again, no painting or additions. In other words, all the changes you see in the right image were extracted from the information in the left image!

An image from Nick Rusko-Berger's "Homicide Posts" commission series

Before and After: Right Image from Left image's "dormant" information. All editing using Photoshop's Image Adjustments; no painting or additions. (Black lines are a quick "watermark mask" and not part of the image.)