NEW PIECES and "FATHOMS" opening

fathoms-emailheader My second New York solo show, "Fathoms" will be opening Friday, May 9th at Lyons Wier Gallery. 7 brand new pieces that I've been working on all hours since December -- if you are in the area, please come by and say hello!

Press Release from Lyons Wier Gallery:



"I happened upon Aaron Nagel's artwork while surfing the art-world blogosphere a few years back.  His images had all the makings of a great painting--wonderfully composed, impeccably painted, and slightly ominous. The work was swiftly etched in my brain and I had to find who this painter was.  Through due diligence, I learned that Nagel is an accomplished musician, graphic designer and self-taught artist.  Being self-taught added extra intrigue for me, as his painting prowess is simply astonishing.  I continued to watch Nagel's artistic growth and eventually added one of his pieces to our personal collection.  Living with the work allowed me to truly understand that Nagel's painting ability shares equal footing with his graphic design interest and skills, and that the work somehow has its own distinct yet indescribable timbre.

"Fathoms" evidences Nagel's enduring admiration for classical oil painting both in technique and composition. This exhibition builds upon his last body of work by advancing his understanding and use of light and shadow.  Working with live models and photography, Nagel seemingly sculpts the figure with brushwork and shadow play.  His renderings recall a litany of historical and contemporary painters that work with the female nude.  However Nagel transcends many of his contemporaries and comparisons in the way he encapsulates the spirit of his models with a blend of self-confidence, inner-peace and personal strength. There is a palpable sense of assuredness whereby one is immediately captivated by the conceptual context of the subjects' body language and eye contact (or lack of).

Another engaging element in Nagel's work is his use of typography as a compositional and aesthetic element. "The Accomplice Abettor MMXIV," (seen above) is not only the name of the painting but also a formal element that clearly pays homage to historical artwork as well as to the artist's skill in graphic design.  I applaud these efforts as I have always contended that if the title of the piece is an integral part of the work, it should be a part its composition."  - Michael Lyons Wier

"oubliette", 54" x 38", oil on canvas. 2014




I wanted to do quick post on how generous Jerry's Artarama has been in light of my recent purge (full story here). Jerry's Artarama is a chain of family-owned art stores on the East Coast w/ a pretty huge online e-store. I'd heard of Jerry's, but had never been a customer -- mostly because I'd gotten used to traveling to a few of my local art stores (all mostly now part of the Blick corp) for everything I needed. In the days following the loss of all my art materials, Katie from Jerry's Artarama got on touch and told me they wanted to send me a bunch of art supplies to help me get back to work. I told her what I generally use, and within a week, I had a shipment of art supplies on my porch -- from brush cleaners to paints (they carry a French brand called Charvin which I had never used before but really like). A day or two later, a utility cart, nicer than anything i've used before and built specifically for artists, was delivered. apparently there is an easel and studio light on it's way as well. let me repeat that I had no relationship with the company at all prior to all of this. i'd never even been a customer -- they just sent me all this stuff as a show of support. there wasn't even a request to help promote the company as a result (which I would have been more than happy to do). how amazing is that?! Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 1.00.44 PMSo I wanted to let you know what kind of company Jerry's Artarama is, because I think it's important.  i've gotten so comfortable paying an arm and a leg at various art store chains -- and generally assuming that none of them have any real support for the artistic community, beyond what they can readily profit from. Then Jerry's, a pretty large company by all accounts,  goes and does this for me, a not very well known artist from the other side of the country. I will be forever grateful. I was not a customer before, but I certainly am now.

So thank you Katie and Jerry's Artarama!


THANK YOU As a visual artist, and as someone who tends to get lost in my own writings; peppering them with unnecessary punctuation and run-on sentences, I'm probably not going to do a very good job thanking you for all your support this last week -- but I'm going to try. I was, and continue to be, completely dumbstruck by the level of support, both monetarily and otherwise, i've received since the moving truck was liberated from my care. I've been neck deep in insurance claims and struggling to collect what things I needed for everyday living these past few days, and although I lost a LOT of stuff, it's been so much less traumatic knowing I have so many friends and family members out there in world -- willing to send a text, leave a comment, a voicemail, or even part with some of their hard-earned money. It's really been amazing.

So thank you thank you. I cant tell you how much it means.


My renters insurance will hopefully cover a little under a third of what I lost -- which of course doesn't include anything in my studio, which was deemed a "business" (separate insurance policy required).


My policy would have topped out three or four times over with the scope of this loss though, so it doesn't much matter what is classified as what. I am certainly happy I had it at all. That indiegogo campaign, and the $12,500 (and counting?!) that people have donated to get me back on my feet (productively speaking), will really save my ass. eloquent? no. true? yes. since we put it up, I've been both thankful to tears, and wracked with guilt and embarrassment -- often both, stacked on top of each other in an uneven pile of mental instability. our $10k fundraising goal seemed anything but conservative when we started, but after doing a detailed list of all I lost, in the studio alone -- well, 12 years or so of art supplies really adds up. Putting that campaign up, and admitting to the world that things weren't great and that I could use help, was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but some very close friends and family pushed me in the right direction, and I'll be forever grateful.

I've been trying to look at this whole thing in a positive light. most of what I lost was just stuff, some stuff that I was fairly attached to yes, but mostly stuff that can be replaced. the sentimental things that can't be though; the artwork, the pictures -- losing that stuff forever is heartbreaking, but it could be worse. both my parents have been sick with Cancer within the last 5 years, my dad made it through, my mother did not. that makes losing a moving truck full of things seem an inconvenience. [perhaps even sharing that publicly is a way to assuage my guilt, offset my vulnerability, discourage sympathy in favor of empathy -- but I feel I owe a little openness.] so i'm left with "it could be worse", which is both the best option, (alternates being: obsess over cataloging every single item in that truck and never leave the house, go back to the Bay Area and drive around Oakland looking for errant u-hauls, move to Nebraska and paint bushes and trees and things.) and a necessity if I want to get back to work. so back to work it is, and again, I cannot thank you enough for making it possible.

So the new studio project starts today, and it's entirely due to your support and generosity -- I am in your debt. a


PS. special THANK YOUs to the following: Lauren Benezra, Kathryn McEachern, Paul Nagel, Dave Marchand, Danny and Black Candy Publishing, Andrew Hosner, Danny Zelig and Lisa Fowler, Pam Fanning, Monica Lundy, Gavin Castleton, Grime, Shawn Barber and Kim Saigh, and tons more.


Is putting it mildly.

Hello friends. Recently, I decided to uproot and move down to LA, in an attempt to switch things up, get out of my comfort zone, and paint in a new city. The morning after a day of loading a U-Haul with all the contents of my apartment and studio in Oakland, I awoke to find the U-Haul stolen. It was locked, and parked in a fancy neighborhood, but still...gone.

Aside from the loss of my furniture, clothes, and the usual contents of a person’s life, I lost all of my art supplies, studio gear, and everything else I need to make paintings. Ten years of brushes and paint, mediums, cameras and lights, panels, stretchers, reference material...the list goes on.

So at the behest of many close friends, family, and supporters, I started an Indiegogo campaign in hopes that one can make a small donation toward getting me back on my feet – and painting again. you can find it here:


My cat Ty and I, are currently alive and well in our new apartment in LA. We have no furniture and sleep on a borrowed air mattress, but we have our health, and there's really not much else we absolutely need.


So in light of all this, it's going to take a minute for me to get back up and running and acting like a productive artist, and I cannot wait. I'll be back with an update as soon as humanly possible, and will hopefully be back painting again super soon. thank you so much for all the support. you are the best.




Below is my new piece, "Fallen", that will be on exhibit this Wednesday, July 10th at Lyons Wier Gallery for their Summer Group Show. This piece was especially challenging, not least because I had only a little over three weeks to shoot, paint, varnish, pack, and ship it to NYC. I spent a solid week painting 8-14 hrs a day before I moved onto detail work and glazing, which freed up a bit of time to take care of my cat, and get a little sleep. The process is incredibly stressful, but I am almost always happy with the outcome when I work like this -- if I could afford it (both financially and mental health), i'd spend all my time under deadlines. enjoy! nagel-fallen-web


A huge thanks to all that made it out to the opening last weekend. I'll post some pictures of us partying in that hot little room this week, but for now, I've added all the new work to the portfolio and portraits and studies pages. If you are interested in acquiring any of the new stuff, please contact Tova at the gallery, -- or shoot me an email. thank you again and i'll be back with some pictures this week!IMG_0431


My small solo show, "Bastion", opens June 8th in the new Shooting Gallery Project Space. I'm really excited to be showing in Shooting Gallery's new home on Geary, and I'll have a bunch of new work up. All pertinent info is below -- I hope you can make it! bastion-card_web




Thought I'd do a quick post about my glazing methods lately. It's become a really important and enjoyable step of the painting process for me, and I discovered a medium pretty recently that has drastically changed the way I approach it.  Being more confident with my glazing has also loosened up the way I do the first pass of a painting -- and takes a little bit of the pressure off, as I know I can go in once things are dry and have a good shot of bringing things to where I'd like them to be. Below are some shots of a small portrait study I did this week -- I tried my best to capture a few different stages of the glazing process. the piece is pretty tiny at 9" x 12", and fairly loose, but hopefully the progression is apparent (and possibly interesting and/or helpful).


1) This is what I started with. A few days after all the paint went down, things are looking pretty dull, and there is a lot of inconsistency in the sheen; matte areas, semi-glossy areas, etc. It took me years (literally), to learn that there was a thing called "oiling out" in oil painting -- which essentially is just applying a medium to a dry painting in order to re-saturate colors and bring everything to the same level. It's kind of a no-brainer, but one of those no-brainers that is really easy to miss. The concept of adding a medium (aside from varnish) to a dry painting to accomplish this didn't occur to me for years. [I did eventually figure it out on my own, only shortly before I discovered somebody had gone ahead and named it, and that it's most definitely a thing...but it took... a while.]

The medium I alluded to above and that I now use for both oiling out and glazing is called Oleogel. I saw an article David Gluck wrote in his Painting Stuff to Look Like Stuff blog (which is FANTASTIC by the way) where he mentioned he'd been using it so I decided to give it a shot. [I'd previously been using Liquin, which I still like -- but it doesn't work nearly as well for me with light colors...and i'm convinced that stuff is made of cancer]

trevor-glazing_progression22) So this is what the painting looks like with a thin layer of Oleogel (covering the whole thing) -- I just brush it on lightly with a clean brush. This is essentially oiling-out, and let's me see where everything actually is value-wise. This painting also cracked quite a bit in some areas -- probably because I didn't use enough paint, [the temperature in my studio is either freezing or way too toasty as well, which doesn't help] so the oiling-out really brings those out as well. I will try to cover those up as I go. If I wasn't planning to glaze, the painting would be done at this point -- i'd wait for the oil-out to dry (the "oiling out" effect will diminish a bit as it does), then hit the whole thing with a temp-varnish.

The main difference between Oleogel and old-favorite Liquin, is the consistency. Oleogel is a soft jelly, so it doesn't drip and is fairly slow-drying -- Liquin is...a goop, which can travel if you're not careful and dries a lot quicker. Liquin also dries glossy, which I was never a fan of..and like I said before, the stuff is super gnarly. Coating a painting with it would be pretty unbearable. [I've also read that it can potentially seal painted layers off from air entirely, which could lead to unstable paint -- but who knows... I got cracking paint here already so it wouldn't much matter in this case -- zing!]

trevor-glazing_progression33) I then add thin layers of paint directly onto the still very wet Oleogel. Unlike glazing with Liquin (where I mix pigment w/ the medium on the palette) I don't thin out the paint at all before it hits the surface. The Oleogel makes it pretty hard to over-apply paint, but is very forgiving -- so wiping away all or some of the paint I add is easy. For some reason, the difference between mixing a glaze (medium + paint) on the palette and this method of finding my colors without medium and adding it directly to the painting (where the medium is already waiting) is huge for me. I love it.

This shot is already pretty far into the glazing, all the darks (which I do first), and a few of the lighter values. I usually won't mess with the background on these studies, but because of the cracking and because it was a little too dark, I added some lighter values. For larger paintings, I'll often let darks dry before I start on the lighter stuff, just to make sure I don't get some unintentional muddiness in the glaze -- but generally the lighter lights and darker darks aren't right next to each other, so it's not hard to keep them separate.

trevor-glazing_progression44) Here is everything all glazed up. I added a bunch more lights here, making sure not to use too much white. [Adding light values to a dry painting has always been a challenge for me -- it's easy to go too light, which makes things kind of smokey looking and can make your subject look like they're wearing zombie make-up. White is a cool color, so for the most part, you'll never need straight up white on a figure painting -- even the eye reflections: never straight white.]

Glazing goes pretty fast and is really fun -- I have to actively try not to overdo it. It's super easy for me to zone out on whatever WWII audiobook i'm listening to and glaze a painting into oblivion; i'll loose all the brush strokes (which are rare enough) and end up with something doll-like, with very high-contrast, and ...not good.

That is the basics -- no idea how I managed to write so much. I hope that helps anybody looking for new things to try, and if you know what you're doing and have some tips for me, please send them my way!

also, while I'm being wordy -- I always feel the need to mention that I am not trained in the classical sense, this is just how I do things...lately. they will surely change, and there are likely better ways to do all of this, but I learned a ton from reading about how other artists work, so I will be forever trying to return the favor. thank you for reading!

PS. I'm considering re-naming this blog, "Ellipsis Abuse with Aaron Nagel"

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Here's a final shot of the new painting, "Sundown" currently on view in the Shooting Gallery winter group show. I tried a bunch of new things with this one, most obvious of which was the use of natural light for the original reference photo instead of my usual strobe lighting setup. That forced us (myself and fantastic model, Rosie O'Laskey) to shoot in front of what natural light was coming through windows -- which resulted in all kinds of light and shadow combinations, and a much more subtle and dark vibe. Very different to paint, and something I'll probably experiment with much more in the future. anyway, enjoy! If you are interested in acquiring the original, please contact myself or the Shooting Gallery. thank you!



I have a new print release this week with the good folks at "The Pale"(below) is the first print from my show last Oct in NY and I'm really happy with how it came out. It's a little bigger than usual, and the edition is 100 this time -- but considering the last two releases sold out within a day (very cool), if you are interested, go to now and hit the "alert me" button. I really appreciate all the support, It means so much.

In other news, I will have a brand new piece in the Shooting Gallery's Winter Group show this Saturday, January 12th. I've been working on this one for the last few weeks and it's a little different -- which is fun. I was able to shoot Rosie again in LA, who modeled for much of the "Sovereign" show, and did some experiments with natural light as opposed to strobes. I'll have a picture up later this week (hopefully...I'm kind of pushing it here). until then!

From the press release:

Shooting Gallery is pleased to present the last Winter Group Show to be held in the current gallery at 839 Larkin, before our big move to a newly renovated building. Helping us go out with a bang will be a great lineup of many of our beloved artists, including Ferris Plock, Casey Gray, APEX, Michael Page, Aaron Nagel, John Felix Arnold, Hugh Leeman, Jet Martinez, C215, Ernesto Yerena, Morgan Slade, Spencer Keeton Cunningham, Adam Rozan, Lauren Napolitano and Bryan Schnelle. All of whom have shared a part in shaping the space into what it is today. The growth and success of the Shooting Gallery is a testament to the talent we’ve been honored to work alongside and the support that the incredible arts community of San Francisco has provided. Join us for the opening reception Saturday, January 12th, from 7-11pm. The exhibit will be open to the public for viewing through February 2nd, 2013.


I'm back in the studio and predominately working on studies for the time being, getting in some practice and starting to think about the next series. not much else to report, but I'm going to try my best to post as many in-progress and studio pictures as I can remember to take. Also, added a little instagram feed over to the right, so if you're not on that particular social network, it's there -- and I've been liking that one lately.


A HUGE thank you to those that made it out to the opening of my show at Lyons Wier Gallery last week. The turnout was more than I could have hoped for in a new city, and It means the world that so many people showed up.  I'll be posting shots of the opening as soon as I find some, and hopefully links to reviews and such as they come in. Showing in Chelsea was pretty rad, and such a good excuse to go to a million art galleries, the Met, and to eat fancy vegan food for four days. Can't wait to do it again. I also can't wait to get back to painting -- there's nothing like seeing my paintings on gallery walls to make me feel like I can do better.

Again, thank you so much for coming to the opening, checking out the show, visiting the site, reading my ramblings, etc...the support means a ton. More soon! a


I've just posted the new work for my show "Sovereign" -- which will open next Thursday, Oct 11th, at Lyons Wier Gallery in New York City. Head to the portfolio page to see them -- you can also hit the "2012" filter to see just the images for the show. I hardly need to mention that small digital files don't do them justice, and it's especially the case with these as they are some of the biggest pieces I've ever done. But please enjoy regardless, and if you are in or around New York next week, come by the opening, and see them on nice big walls -- and please do say hello. I'm going to try and post some entries about specific pieces and process within the next few days before I leave -- and I may even do another portrait study to bring with me. If you are interested in any of the pieces for "Sovereign", please email Lyons Wier Gallery at or just contact me and I'll put you in touch.


The paintings for "Sovereign" are on their way to New York -- and man am I glad they're en route. Now I just hope they get there in one piece. This was the first time I've had to crate and ship my own work across the country, and man was it stressful. getting all the pieces finished, prepped, and packed is one thing -- but a custom crate and shipping it to NY was a lot more involved and time-consuming than I was prepared for. I'll spare you the long version, but all culminated on Monday when the delivery truck showed up a block away from the crate (he refused to move it closer and we had to push the 250lb crate down a very bumpy alley) to find the truck was not equipped with a lift gate. I was ready to just lift the fucking thing up there, but the driver wouldn't risk his back (smart) - so I had to go door to door looking for someone with a forklift. I found a guy, who made me jump through hoops (I actually had to scribble him a release saying I wouldn't sue him if he dropped the crate) before eventually helping out. good times. so anyway, the pieces are out of my hands -- while I am immensely relieved, and now very much looking forward to the opening (October 11th, Lyons Wier Gallery), I will be fervently tracking the crate and crossing my fingers.

more very soon.


I made a little flyer for the New York show featuring the new painting, "Lie Down with Lions". It will be my first exhibition in New York and I couldn't be more excited. Please forward along to anybody you know that may be interested in coming out, I'd really appreciate it! I'm just about done painting for the show, so I will post more very soon I promise -- I have lots of progress shots of the new series. check back soon, a