If you'd like to contact me directly my email address is: nvo21@comcast.net

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Besides the work I have been showing here, my drawings and paintings, I am also a furniture artist and designer, and I thought it would be interesting to show where I crossover in my creative thinking. Yes I make functional woodworking but I also think and create pieces, using these kind of materials, from a more idea base than mere functionality. If you are interested in this other persona I have, check out my website at http://www.terrybostwickstudio.com/   I also have a blog, http://www.terrybostwickstudio.blogspot.com/, where I do much the same thing as I am doing with the fine art blog - I talk about why and how I make my sculptural furniture, including some narratives and musings if you browse back through the archives.

And, yes, I make a living doing this work.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to do a collaboration with a jeweler friend of mine, Ben Neubauer, http://www.benneubauer.com/. I had always seen his work as very architectural in design. We had an opportunity to show this piece in a collaboration show at Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland. We wrote a statement for that show and I included it here because it gives you a pretty good idea about how we went about not only creating this piece but how we worked together on the concept.
the Statement:

"Three Stories"
When we were asked to do this collaboration I began thinking 
 of a number of people and their unique ways of thinking and how I 
 could find a blend with my own current design interests. Ben Neubauer 
 stood out with his extraordinary geometric forms, both in his jewelry 
 and in his sculptural pieces, work I saw as very architectural in 
 nature and I was very fortunate to find him willing and available to 
 work on this. My own interests these days are architectural as well, 
 basing much of my exploration with the Columbia Gorge Columnar Basalt 
 rock formations' relationship to architectural form, and used in my 
 furniture designs.
 It was a real pleasure discovering our outside interests also were 
 similar with each having some architects that stand out for us. We 
 both had been drawn to Santiago Calatrava's work, I shared my interest 
 in Carlo Scarpa. Ben brought my attention to Rem Koolhaas and in 
 particular the Seattle Public Library which he had visited recently. 
 These beautiful layered and suspended 'slabs' struck me as very much 
 in keeping with my thinking. This began our process.
 After a few meetings we began to formulate our 
 thoughts around the idea of balance. Many aspects of balance play 
 against each other with this piece. The obvious precariousness of the 
 slabs is apparent, representative to us of the natural sloughing 
 off of the rock slabs as they fall and create a skree at the base of a 
 rock column. Other elements of balance include the visual relationship 
 of planar with organic, hard edge with curved, the mass of the slabs 
 with the transparent and seemingly delicate nature of the sterling 
 silver geometric 'bubbles' - certainly a diaphanous support for the 
 mass of the slabs.
 The 'slabs' are torsion boxes fabricated in their compound angular 
 forms and skinned with matched pieces of Fiddleback Maple veneer. The 
 cascade of black 'color' is graphite. "
The silver spheres are fabricated from fourteen gauge sterling wire, 
and these are attached to each other with straight lengths of eighteen 
gauge wire. Sterling pegs are fit into holes drilled into the wood to 
hold it all together without glue. A coat of laccqer will prevent 
tarnishing of the silver without affecting it's appearance.
Terry Bostwick
Ben Neubauer

here are some pics of Rem Koolhaas' drawing, and some photos of the Seattle library that inspired Ben and I.
concept drawing

the library

Sunday, January 16, 2011


I am particularly fascinated with this painting. This was done in 1601, at a time when The Church held sway over the arts as much as it did on society in general. The acceptable style of painting at the time would have viewed this subject a little differently. 

What I find significant for me is that its depiction is common, plain men fascinated with an open wound, not Jesus. I don't see God anywhere, Jesus is a regular guy. The men wear worn clothes, their faces are typical men, likely guys Jesus hung out with... The inquiring finger is digging maybe a little deeper than Jesus might prefer, note he is grasping the wrist to keep him from going a little too far? Look at the finger nails, they are dirty. (click on the image a couple of times to see the details)

By comparison look at this Peter Paul Rubens painting of the same subject, from a similar time. It seems to me he is more concerned about how well he depicts those that commissioned him to do this painting...wife says she need a new frock!

I'm using this as an example referring back to my first post where I gave some explanation for my choice as an artist to follow the thinking of the New Realists (with a capital R, I talk more at length about this in that post). It obviously isn't a new idea, something some of us keep coming back to, century after century. And within the context of contemporary art my challenge is to work with traditional materials - pencil and paper, paint and canvas - but to reevaluate my early selfs fascination with finding beauty in simple objects and regular people such as Caravaggio did way back then.

Is this old thinking, is it inconsistent with post modern approaches to creativity, where using disparate and unorthodox materials, making louder and louder noises trying to find one that hasn't been heard before, is an ongoing concern for contemporary artists? I'm not reactive to this, I enjoy it even, but I'm finding it has become less 'outsider' and more the 'established' in our contemporary world. It has become a goal in itself, rather than a rigorous personal inquiry and reflection of oneself. With this in mind, having looked at and been fascinated by a lot of 'new' work for years now, I'm finding my revisiting my younger thoughts feels like I wasn't quite done yet. It feels fresh to me again, and I guess it's not up to me to decide whether or not it's relevant. 

But why wouldn't I paint a beautiful rose? Most painters spend their lives trying to perfect such a challenge.

I suppose because it's already beautiful, so why bother? I find it far more interesting and rewarding to discover beauty in my personal approach to simple things. Here's a new drawing I just finished....

And besides it makes me smile quietly by myself, irony is such a lovely creature.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Progress Shots

Here's a couple of photographs to give you a bit of perspective on the size of some of these drawings below. And also how I have to work vertically because of the size, but then I think of these as paintings anyway, and it's typical to work vertically when painting.

Here's a little series of shots showing a bit of the process doing the head for the fullsized piece below, "More Than Simply Drawn".

My Drawings

This represents my work with the figure over the last four years. I have been working with people as my subject for somewheres around 35 years, at some point I will do an archive post showing how the work has looked through the years. I am a Realist, more in the sense of "New Realism" than the more general term for representational work. If you are interested go back to my first post where I talk about what this means specifically as a point of view different from a lot fo other figurative artists.

The selection of 'the image' I work with is very important. My process involves an interaction with each of my subjects, when I am fortunate to have the opportunity I have many dialogs about what I am doing and what I am looking for. When we do a photo shoot I take many images, my attempt is to break down the discomfort we all have when having a 'portrait' done, and get down to what really matters. I am digging for something personal and evocative, a special moment, or a glimpse of part of the personality that we often don't show publicly. We have an ongoing relationship with our mirror - here is where we preen, we pretend, we sometimes assume that that is who I want the world to see. But our mirror is a liar, it says everything backwards, no matter how hard we try. And everyone else sees us differently than we do ouselves.

There are little narratives, little stories I'm telling, but they are mostly very simple, very subtle. I'm not going to tell you those stories, sometimes they are very personal in my dialog with the subject. But they are there. What I want is for you to feel some emotion with each, then make your own assumptions if you feel like it. 

These pieces are very detailed as you might notice and they take a long time, some as much as 3 1/2 months to complete (meaning as if working full time). They are very large, life sized, as noted. I wish I could work faster but I find this is my approach and I find satisfaction when I do this kind of investment.

If You Click On The Image Twice It Will Give You A Larger Image

"Dishwater, Flyswatter... thanks Jesus, but a paper bag'l do" 2111
22"w x 30"T
Graphite On Paper

"More Than Simply Drawn", 2010
70"Tx 56"W
Graphite On Paper

"I Was Too Busy Staring At You", 2010
Graphite On Paper

"Handgrenade", 2009
Graphite On Paper

"Yellow Stripes, White Sox...", 2008
Graphite On Paper

"Handgrenade" A Study, 2008 (left)
Graphite On Paper

"Specs, A Study, 2009 (right)
Graphite On Paper

"JB, A Study, 2009
Graphite On Paper

"Skullcap", A Study, 2009
Graphite On Paper

Figurative Work

The main body of my work these days is figurative. I am very intrigued with us humans, I am constantly in awe of artists working in a similar approach, but even moreso by the variety out there. I find new and obscure artists doing work that is so beautiful.

I suppose our self awareness of our own appearance, our bodies, how we affect others is a subject that fascinates me. I'm personally not interested in obviously 'beautiful' people, by that I mean those that are considered overtly beautiful in our society. It's not that I'm not attracted like anyone else, I am, but rather I don't find that kind of person challenging enough to invest the time into. My preference is to find and draw out a uniqueness, a sometimes unselfconcious image from my subjects. When I am successful at this task I find we are all beautiful and my intention is to convey beauty my way.

Here are some artists I find very powerful in some way to me. Some are well known others are more obscure. Some are painters, or others may use other mediums to depict our humanity. In some way they are wonderful artists making me feel something, make me want to see more. I'm not bound by style, but by how I respond no matter how lovely, how terrible their images are. Sometimes it is in their application of materials, sometimes it is purely evocative. This is just a few, I have a lot of heroes and my favorites change all the time. I haven't included names, I'm sorry, but I'd rather you just get a feeling from a few marvelous artists and how they choose to show us their world.

I am always surprised when I am asked the question "Why would I choose to draw or paint people? I wouldn't want to hang a picture of that person in my home, why do that kind of work? Who is that person?" Maybe this will help a little, it seems to be universal how unique and wonderfully interesting we are, once you open yourself to seeing us a little differently than you are accustomed to seeing.

Why wouldn't I?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

PSTIX, An Ongoing Series

This is a series I started working on a few ago, and it has kept my interest enough through the years that I revisit it from time to time. I had a small show in 2010 with a few of these pieces. The show gave me an opportunity to fill the story out with a variety of images and media. Here's the work from that show.

Graphite On Paper:

Abstract Watercolors (with popsicle juice...)

and some sculpture pieces:

#1 "Imbedded"
#2 "Pinned In Flight" (on black velvet, in figured maple)

#3 "Sword In Stone" (with various substances one might find on a sidewalk for natural coloration, use your imagination)

And here's the story behind all of this:
When I was a little boy I lived in El Cajon, California, a little horse town in those days near San Diego. We all had ranches, small but generally with horses and corrals. It was safe then. We'd walk to school alone through the corrals and when my Mom felt like I had grown up enough, and I hadn't picked on my little sister that day, we could walk to Stoney's Rock and Roll Market to get a popsicle or a squirt gun. Stoney's was down the road a ways so it was a big deal for a 6 or 7 year old to go by himself or with a friend. But this was mid 50's and Elvis was just becoming someone to listen to, you get the idea. It was usually hot so a popsicle was a treat, had to eat it quick or it would melt before we got home. With all of us kids going off to Stoney's all the time you can imagine all of the abandoned sticks along the path as we made our way home.

We usually had a pickup baseball game after school with the neighbor kids in the corral next door, making sure my home runs didn't hit the horse at the other end of the corral (there weren't very many but I could fantasize). We didn't have much for store bought toys in those days, we had to pretty much fend for ourselves and be creative, make our own. So back to the path on the way to Stoney's was a plethora of material for our imagination and budding woodworking skills. 

We had no need for the equipment and skills of a forge, a sidewalk sharpened our swords quite well. Of course a hammer and a nail were the perfect solution, whatever size nail was available after we raided the track house construction sites down the road to gather nails and whatever other cool stuff was left hanging around. No matter how hard I scratched my head I never could figure out why I wasn't a good enough to get those 16 penny nails to not split my popsicle sticks. And then what do I do with that big nail sticking out both ends?...bend the damn thing over. Enough time spent I got Indians to chase.

And then there was Sunday School. Creative thinking was the mother of necessity. I was raised by a Mom who was raised by a Quaker, who became a minister...and we had to go to Sunday School. It just took too much time away from important things like baseball, collecting coffee cans full of polywogs when it rained - which only happened every four score years in San Diego -  and swords. So I had to come up with creative solutions to getting out of Sunday School, never really got off on it. And besides it usually ended up meaning I had to be in a glee club performance or wearing my new suit on Easter Sunday. 

Come on, man, I got stuff to do. And Ronnie Kincaid doesn't have to go to church so why should I?

Stomach ache, head ache, stubbed toe, my sister has a broken collar bone (which I caused when I shoved her off the bunkbed, so I'm so full of remorse I can't make it to church this time)... starting to get the picture?

And then my Mom married Don. He was a big, mean, drunk son of a bitch who used to wreak havoc whenever he was around. I'll spare you the details but our sense of comfort and security got adjusted, so to speak. 

And God didn't save us, if He had I might never have played with these popsicle sticks.