Present Tense

Chris Grabener

Present Tense is an appropriate title for my current work. It seems to me that it is constantly moving, changing, evolving. I enjoy trying new things and learning how I can use them to achieve the effects I see in my mind.


My paintings fall into three general categories: botanicals, landscapes (including buildings) and what fellow painter Jude Lobe refers to as “mischief.” Mostly I toggle back and forth between botanicals and landscapes. Most of the work in this show falls under the broad umbrella of landscapes and they explore different surfaces and different methods of applying paint. Some of the paintings are on canvas, or linen, some on wood panel, and some on clayboard. Each of these surfaces accepts paint differently and combining their properties with different types of brushes, painting knives and painting mediums can give very different results to the same image. So after selecting an image, I consider the size, painting surface, color palette and the types of brushes and mediums for that painting. I map out a direction for the painting and begin, but I find that as I work, the painting finds its own course and often flows in channels I had not fully anticipated.

under the moo

Three of the night paintings involve the use a large, dry, mop brush to move thin layers of paint from the central moon across the surface of the painting. Winter Moon is painted on panel, a hard non-absorbent surface on which the paint moves quite freely. Under the Moonlight is on clayboard, a hard but absorbent surface. On it, the paint begins to be absorbed as it moves out from the center of the moon, taking more layers and not moving as far or as readily. Moonlight Bay is on canvas, a soft, non-absorbent but textured surface which holds paint and makes the layers thicker and with a stippled appearance.

winter moon, ssteeple

Cathedral Door is a small oil and cold wax painting on canvas. The door itself is painted with a brush and without the addition of cold wax, while the stonework is painted with a pallet knife and many layers of oil paint mixed with wax. The wax is then scraped through to create joints in the stone blocks.


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