Saturday, September 29, 2012


This is what I have been working on this week.  This is where I left it Friday.

painting in progress, 72"x42"

I have been working in these blues and blue-grays for several months now.  I have been looking at lots of textiles, old and new and am so attracted to these blues.

antique Japanese boro cloth

antique Japanese shibori

The shades of indigo/cerulean/ultramarine/pthalo found in traditional Japanese textiles is a palette I could explore forever I think.

another Japanese boro cloth

Then there are the indigos that are so saturated they are almost black.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

new painting

c 2010 Melanie Millar, Spin2, oil and acrylic on canvas, 58"x60"

Julie Evans and Ajay Sharma

such amazing work.  you must look at this closer to appreciate--click to enlarge.  as explained in the press release below, this is one of a series of works that are collaborations.  evans and sharma took turns passing the painting back and forth.  the image below shows this particular painting in three stages of collaboration.  if you go to julie evans website you can see more work and more documentation of the development of several paintings.

Julie Saul Gallery NY

Julie Evans and Ajay Sharma
Cowdust: Collaborative Paintings

November 4-December 23, 2010

In the second gallery, Julie Saul is pleased to present Cowdust, a series of collaborative paintings by New York artist Julie Evans, and Indian miniature painter Ajay Sharma. This is Evans third exhibition with the gallery since 2007. Evans and Sharma met in 2003 while Evans was studying miniature painting in Jaipur on a Fulbright Scholarship and they became close friends. Despite the enormous cultural differences between them, their shared involvement with miniature painting caused Evans to suggest a collaborative project creating work together over a specific period of time.


Evans went to Jaipur in 2009 where she and Sharma worked long days for eight weeks, passing paintings back and forth until each was completed. The resulting eight works are neither abstract nor narrative. They each contain a floating central form - a surprising amalgam that combines the subtlety of Evans' poured, ephemeral grounds and close attention to detail with the exquisite refinement of Sharma's precise hand. Carrying themes over from their own personal works, and challenging the other to re-contextualize them, the process reflected their very diverse cultural backgrounds and artistic sensibilities. They were able to negotiate the artistic gaps in their differing styles to stunning effect, with their separate voices distinctly evident in most places, while in others they are fluidly fused.

Julie Evans and Ajay Sharma

Cowdust: Collaborative Paintings


Sunday, October 3, 2010

new paintings

c Melanie Millar 2010, Helium, oil on canvas, 44"x48"


c Melanie Millar 2010, Rubaiyat, oil on canvas, 48"x44"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

i am going to try this chapter 2

on 8/26 i posted a painting i had been working on.  in that post i said i was going to document and post the development of that painting.  so here is the next installment.

this is the image i posted 8/26/10

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

the embellished building

the embellished building.  that is also a subject for its own blog, not just a blog post

I have been thinking about doing a post on moorish glazed ceramic tile                                                                                                      

in doing some research i came across these images of carved stone surfaces from Alhambra and decided to look at that instead of tile.

these articulated surfaces made me think about Frank Lloyd Wright's use of "textile block" in some of his projects.
this PERFECT little house is the Millard house, built in 1923 in Los Angeles for Alice Millard.  i saw pictures of this house in a back issue of Architectural Disgest from 1979 which i bought at a second hand book store in houston in the early 80's.  i was instantly enchanted and actually have recurring dreams about this house.  I say little because it is little.  it is also known as la Miniatura.

it is a three story building.  the first floor is a dining room and kitchen.  the dining room opens onto a terrace and the magnificent gardens.

the second floor is a living room and guest bedroom.  the living room opens onto a balcony that overlooks the garden.

the third floor is a master bedroom and master bath.


Wright's son later designed a 2nd building on the property with additional living space.  recent real estate fliers describel it as a 4 bedroom 4 bath house.  but in its original conception it was little.  and utterly perfect.

this isn't la Miniatura, but another example of a Wright project using his "textile-block" construction.W architectural writers have made the (lame) case that Wright's use of textile block is NOT decorative.  modernist defensiveness i say.  they say that the block is integrally organically linked to the construction.  i get that, but all that means to me is that it is perfectly integrated ornamentation.

i think its a magical and ingenious.  concrete block is transformed into delicate articulation, much like the carved stone surfaces of alhambra.

the other thing about this construction is the way the pierced blocks dapple the light in the interior. 

is this not a perfect union of light and space?
this pierced stone made me think about indian jali work or jali stone; carved, pierced stone work.  stone transformed into delicate filigree.  as much about light as about substance.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

woulda coulda shoulda


Shahzia Sikander received formal training in the tradtion of Persian minature painting in her native Pakistan.  She was in Houston in the early ninties as a Glassel Core Fellow and showed in Houston galleries.  She showed small works on paper as well as large site-specific wall installations.  One of several of my regrets is not acquiring one of her small paintings. Since then she has gained impressive international prominence. 

                                                                                                                                                                           her work draws on imagery from both the Persian and Mughal, Islamic and Hindu traditions.  In 2006 she was the recipient of a MacArthur genius grant.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

i am going to try this

this is the current state of a 40"x40" canvas i am working on.
this represents several layers of painting glazing.
in the past i have haphazardly documented the development on my paintings.
my thought is to post the development of this painting.
unless i change my mind.
it may be a little bit like finding out how sausage gets made.
you might not want to know.
or i might not want you to know.

Friday, August 20, 2010

someone tell me: how is this not "fine" "art"

These are new handmade rugs. Ravishingly beautiful in reproduction.  I bet even more beautiful in person.  there are art thinkers/writers who have described rugs as the original abstract art form.  I could devote an entire blog (not just a post) to rugs and carpets, old and new.  hhhhmmmm.  but i will for sure have some more posts on this blog on the subject.


These rugs are made from recycled sari silk. You can see more at ABC Home Ethos Collection

Sunday, July 25, 2010

guess who?

what do these two images have in common?

photo by tudor mitroi

give up?

photo by Tudor Mitroi

all of the images in this post are works by Damien Hirst

Tudor Mitroi, an art school friend was in Houston last week.  He told me about a Damien Hirst show he had seen in Los Angeles a couple of years ago.  We were talking about the decorative in contemporary art.  He used the word "beautiful" to describe the show.  I have never heard that word used in connection with Damien Hirst.  I am ambivalent about posting Hirst's animal corpses on my blog.  I think they are obscene. 

The work from the recent Gagosian show is composed of butterflies.

photo by tudor mitroi

photo by tudor mitroi

photo by tudor mitroi

once you know who made these gorgeous works, i think you re-evaluate your response.  knowing who made them, they become sinister, morbid.  whats the difference between dead mammals and dead insects?