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Todd Bellanca painting Always at the Window
Artists' Studio Visits at Biddington's Art Gallery

Abstract Painter

CREATIVE PROCESS interviews contemporary abstract painter Todd Bellanca.

Editor's Note: With a substantive career in commercial video and movie directing, Todd Bellanca adds film-making sensibilities to his 21st century abstract paintings. This 2002 article is updated with images from the artist's 2004-2005 series of paintings entitled "Ghosts"

Todd BELLANCA: I think of my visual life in terms of contrasts and complements.

Todd Bellanca
Always at the Window
Oil on Canvas, 2004

Todd Bellanca painting Material Stream
Todd BELLANCA: I shoot commercials with the help of a huge staff--eighty people on the one we just finished. When a filming project is done, I go into the studio by myself and paint. The quiet and the direct control are a happy contrast to the chaos of filming.

Todd Bellanca
Material Stream
Oil on Deep Canvas, 2002

Todd BELLANCA: I have always loved movies and advertising. As a teenager, I ran around with a Super-8 movie camera making horror films; even in high school, I enjoyed watching the Clios. In college I was a dual major: film and painting. Since mistakes made on canvas cost a lot less than mistakes with film, I loved going into the studio to paint. Then, music videos came along. My friends and I would hang around CBGB (a Manhattan music club) and someone would offer us $2000--a fortune--to make a video. As music videos became a big thing, I directed a lot of them. I also did a Ken Burns documentary.

Todd Bellanca large painting Red City
Todd Bellanca
Red City
Large Oil Painting on Deep Canvas, 2002
Todd BELLANCA: I returned to the painting studio about 10 years ago. My canvases usually start from architecture or the birdseye perspective from an airplane. I like the boundaries the canvas provides. I begin by asking myself: "Where am I going to put things on this field?"

Bellanca's notebook composition drawing

Todd BELLANCA: Working first in notebook renderings, I try to solve several issues. The first is composition: Does what I have in my head work on a surface? This provides my first glimpse of how I will deal with the elements and the negative space. The negative space is so important that it may actually become "hero"--with the elements there only to interrupt the field.

Bellanca Notebook Composition Sketch

Bellanca'a notebook texture

Todd BELLANCA: In contrast to the quick-cuts and pacing of my film work, the paintings are very calm. Graphics are important to me in both film and painting. In a video, after a flutter (as many as10 images/second), I sometimes alter the pace using a graphic still as punctuation.

Bellanca Notebook Composition Sketch

Todd BELLANCA: Verticals dominate in my canvases; this is a conscious contrast to the horizontal of the video screen.

Todd Bellanca oil on canvas The Porcelain Suite

Todd BELLANCA: My compositions in film and in painting are similar in depth-of-field and contrast: there is always a hero within a frame. But, in film it can change in an instant by raking focus from one element to another or moving from foreground to background.

Todd Bellanca
The Porcelain Suite
Large Oil on Canvas, 2004

Todd BELLANCA: Identifying my hero on canvas is crucial because of its permanence as a static frame. In film, I envision form and shape as specifically as possible. When I paint, I am allowed the freedom to consider form and shape unadorned--with incredible simplicity.

Todd Bellanca abstract Though Only for a Moment

Todd BELLANCA: My paintings have only what they need. The elements within them only need to hover. They don't need to run or laugh, so they can do without appendages and smiles.

Todd Bellanca
Though Only for a Moment
Oil on Canvas, 2002

Todd Bellanca painting triptych

Todd BELLANCA: These small paintings read like a series of filmstrip elements. In this group, I have been experimenting with new glazes. There is a gesso layer on the canvas then glazes of alkalyd resin mixed with pigment. For the incised pieces, I use a screwdriver or an awl. I work as quickly as the medium allows.

Todd Bellanca
MC-13 Triptych (left)
Oils on Canvas, 8" x 10" each, 2002

Todd Bellanca incised

One painting of the triptych MC-13
Showing Glazes and Incised Paint Layer

View Todd Bellanca Commercial Video

Todd BELLANCA: For film, my creative vision is driven by the overwhelming detail of realism; for me to bring that into my paintings would be redundant. People who work well in video as art are usually realizing some brilliant, simple idea--something that would not be commercially successful.

Todd Bellanca painting The World is Full
Todd Bellanca
The World is Full of Stairways and Landings, Newel Posts and Dumbwaiters
Oil on Canvas, 2004

Todd BELLANCA: Wherever I travel, I love going to the local museums. Since Buffalo is my hometown, I'm especially partial to the Albright Knox. I seek out the work of certain artists: Colorfield painters Clyfford Still and Rothko--also Franz Kline and Miro. I like the contemporary artists who do it big: guys like Damien Hirst--the stuntman of painters--and Richard Serra with pieces so big it takes a crane to lift them.

Todd Bellanca

Todd BELLANCA: In film and in art, I like a sense of the epic.

Todd Bellanca

Editor's Note: In 2004, Todd Bellanca directed his first feature file entitled "The Sickness" about the unraveling of an American boxer in the underworld of Bangkok. At the time of this 2005 update, the film was in its cutting stage.

View TODD BELLANCA paintings offered for sale in
Biddington's Contemporary Art Gallery.
Price range: $150-$5,000

Todd Bellanca painting Still Love Dancing
Todd Bellanca
Still Love Dancing in the Attic
Oil on Canvas, 2004


CREATIVE PROCESS at Biddington's is designed as a forum for watching art in the making. Usually, this process happens in the privacy of the artist's studio. At BIDDINGTON'S Contemporary Art Gallery & upmarket, online art & antiques auction--we find it interesting to witness the steps leading to the end product and to hear the artists speak about their work in the relaxed surroundings of their own studios.

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