Friday, April 22, 2016

Changing one's Desires

I went to the doctor today and we were discussing diet.  He used a phrase that stuck in my head all day. He said, "so that's good, you desired something more healthy to eat - you changed your desires." As he repeated the phrase it just echoed more and more in my head..."changed your desires"... an interesting thought beyond culinary choices, as-well-as an excellent metaphor for life choices, aesthetic choices, art making choices...

For the purpose of this blog I will address it in terms of art making choices.

I think the urge to create art works that are derivative comes from the desire to re-create the energy from the object that originally draws our attention. Ancient small iron sculptures of discus throwers comes to mind and the incredible tactile quality of their skin, their shape, and their motion. The temptation is to replicate the small statue of a tight compact athletic shape to try to capture a similar satisfaction that fills the desire of proportion and surface.

There is a way to "use" the experience of viewing the athlete and to translate it's perfect energy into one's thoughts and formation of a work of completely different content, yet no less intensity. This is what we call  making good art. Thoughtful, well crafted, and created to stand it's ground and speak it's own voice.  That's a far cry from a seductive work, but never-the-less may require a "changing of one's desires".

Greek Diskus Thrower, bronze

Delicate Breathing, oil on canvas, 6' x 8'

Friday, October 23, 2015

Titanite or Sphene Gem

Watching cable tonight, the gem network was selling a number of stones called "sphenes".
Gotta say - the multifaceted cut was highly specialized by a  featured gemologist, but the stone was quite costly at 250.00/carat. Still one marveled at the extreme faceting, and sheen of multiple colors - red, green, yellow fire over a lovely bright amber base.

The refraction of light of gems has captured my attention for many years, first brought to my attention by the painters Van Eyke brothers Hubert and Jan. No one has surpassed the Van Eykes with their crystal clear miracle varnish that hasn't clouded their original oil medium in over 600 years. I recently obtained a copy of the new Van Eyke, Up Close, which depicts many of their paintings in close up photography. You can share my excitement of these visual masterpieces of  by viewing the Ghent Altarpeice,digitally up close:

What is noteworthy is what is NOT there in the effortless transition glazes. The imprimatura is critical in creating the middle tone and carefully used by the artist from depicting fabrics to gems, where the fall of light is critical to the surface and texture.

Understanding the imprimatura in painting is helpful to understanding design in jewelry making.
By using the paint in an incidental manner- rather than focusing on it, but rather to achieve something else such as the depiction of light, is like using metal to achieve something else - to create a feeling or concept that speaks beyond the material itself. One loses sight of metal and at the same time is captivated and mesmerized by it's crystaline metamorphorsis into an object of desire or emotion or beauty.

Soon you will see examples of  my painting and metalsmithing that should be interesting to view side by side. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

blinded by the light - chatoyancy

There appears in nature, certain stones that resemble a cat's eye. Light reflects through parallel bands of fibrous material. This phenomenon is known as chatoyancy.

Not all stones are useful for making paint, however, I sometimes find myself drawn to certain minerals for other reasons that initially may seem remote, but then  their relevance becomes apparent.

Such is the case with a stone called "Cat's Eye".
Here is a picture of it:

I have purchased this stone for my father and myself. One of it's greatest characteristics is it's ability to protect. Recently I became interested in another version of Cat's Eye, called Hawk's Eye. Hawk's Eye is red and in addition to the same guarding property of Cat's Eye, it is "very grounding". I carry Hawk's Eye with me daily, both for it's stability enhancing effect in a rough work world, and for the reminder of it's incredibly brilliant example of chatoyancy...

I enjoy staring at these stones daily. They are extremely soothing to the eyes. 

One day i was passing a wire sculpture on campus. The sculpture was capturing the light that was so pleasing and relaxing to my eyes. The late morning light was reflecting on parallel "bands" of wires and creating chatoyancy!
That is how I interpreted it loosely. But I was amazed that a similar effect was created with entirely different materials. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

an AZURED day in tom irizarry studio

Productive day in the studio. It all began with work on the blue sky in a painting.
Most of my clouds are made from azurite, a  mineral found in various areas world-wide.
I processed the making of azurite from the Congo - a gorgeous shade of deep blue with green as well as processing of a crystal stone from China which was more blue and  saturated in color.

Here is a rare example of a dazzling azurite crystal from Mexico. Stones like this are very easy to crush and make into beautiful pure blue pigment. However a specimen of this quality should be preserved,  since  it is an excellent example of pure azurite crystal formation (with exception of tiny spot of malachite). Here is the stone I am talking about (it's only 100g):

azurite crystal 100g from Mexico

Even crystal stones must be washed and purified. Here is the green blue that I washed out the purer blue pigment bowl:

let them be left
oil on canvas   18 x 22 inches  2014

Finally here is the painting, I added the azurite sky to:

Monday, November 17, 2014


I  have been working with a pigment called brazil. It comes from the wood of the brazil tree in the country of Brazil. Mixed with tempera, it yields a weird pulpy substance, a red that ranges from blue red to yellow red depending on the mordant. The dye is extracted from the wood pulp with lye. It is then precipitated with  alum to give it body, and becomes a lake. This is more like a strange pulpy lake requiring quite a bit of medium as the material seemingly expands when wet. It is also called Natural Red 24. Brazil was used in the Middle Ages in european art.

The shades of red are incredibly delicate and nuanced. It reminds me of an ethereal colorant like canthaxathin that is extracted from flamingo feathers and seashells... like a french vermillion made rosy. I wanted to capture a specific glowing light using brazil, because it's soft saturated tones capture most closely the light at dawn. The very first light of day must be a color that is warm, like home, and the heart, yet radiant beyond imagining, as it gives birth to the day.

morning's minion  14 x 18 inches oil on canvas

Sunday, November 9, 2014


An ongoing and endless upheaval of my studio took place the last few years.
The new studio is now accomplished and I can pour all the intensity into my work!

Here is a brief description of what I do:

Tom Irizarry is an historic method-oil painter, meaning he uses materials and methods that were in use prior to the Industrial Revolution, and before the creation of modern colors.

An unusually beautiful palette - historic colors consist of pigments used in 14th - 19th century European painting. Colors are made from raw materials and minerals incorporating techniques based on more than 35 years painting.

It is very rare indeed to find an artist who has an understanding of and uses methods and techniques from the 16th century. The work of art increases in intensity or vibration, and communicates on more than one level.

Elements of the earth - air and land, combine with various shapes and types of light. I aim to capture a visual and interior experience of dusk or dawn of a particular kind of light as something very intimate and personal.

Paintings vary from 9 x 12 inches on panel (large inventory) to 6 x 8 feet on canvas. Viewers describe a profound feeling from the paintings, regardless of the size. I receive many comments about the unusual colors, and feelings viewers experience when looking at a painting.

Venetian method, pigment preparation, resin mediums, essential oil varnishes, oils, lakes, tempera, mineral pigments.

Delicate Breathing  oil on canvas 14 x 18 x 1.5 inches   2014

Landscape and Inscape   oil on canvas 22 x 26 inches

Golden Echo    oil on canvas   4 x 38 x 2 inches