April 13, 2017

what does success mean to you?

I'm posting this on my birthday, in the hopes that this year will be more successful than the last....

IN THE COMPANY OF WOMEN: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs is a très interesting book of interviews. The founder of Design Sponge, Grace Bonney, asks this diverse group of inspiring women a series of questions describing their creative paths.

A book like this, with artists answering the same questions over and over, makes me imagine how I would answer the questions myself. It's only natural to make those comparisons. I won't bore you with the details, but what I want to talk about is the one question I was stuck on.  

What does success mean to you?
This is, of course, a completely subjective thing but don't you find the very notion of success a bit fleeting? It seems to change with the times, at least for me. When I was young I thought fame and fortune played a big part. Recognition, accolades, raising a family, being a good person. These days any one of those things just by themselves doesn't really do it for me. I've thought about it a lot.

And then I read Ping Zhu's reply, that "when things are harmonious, even for a moment, I try to savor it." 

Paul Klee, New Harmony, 1936
That's it! That was the answer I was looking for. Success is not a concrete thing after all, it's a moment when everything is working together in perfect harmony. And if that's true, then there's the possibility for moments of great success every single day in everything we do!

I recently watched an episode of Chef's Table on Netflix. I can't say enough about this series, I absolutely love it. This one was about the Korean Buddhist nun Jeong Kwon.
Jeong Kwon used the word orchestra to illustrate the kind of unifying harmony where everything is working together. She was referring to nature and her place in it, but it's indicative of her all-inclusive philosophy about her food, her means of expressing her life, and her gratitude. Even more interesting was Ms. Kwon's notion that that very harmony was what she considered true freedom.

Hmmm.
I love this idea that maybe what success really means is true freedom. A freedom almost like a weightlessness, where all the elements are equally balanced, where nothing is too heavy or too light, nothing unnecessary or out of place, no interference, no mistakes. Even if it's just for a brief moment.

It's so simple isn't it? True freedom, true success, is the ability to get past our own selves, our own disappointments and desires. To not be burdened with expectations but to allow things to fall into place. I think the more we get away from the idea that we are the center of the universe, that life should wait for us, should adhere to our every want and whim, the closer we'll get to feeling at peace with ourselves and the things around us. Everything has a place and a purpose if we choose to see it that way. If we get out of our own way, perfect harmony can be happening all around us.

Henri Matisse, The Dessert: Harmony in Red, 1908









Success is harmony and harmony is freedom.

And there ends my sermon for the day! haha


March 24, 2017

HOW TO TELL IF LESS IS REALLY MORE

Last week feels like it flew by and I got nothing done, but as I sit here I can honestly see how "busy" is such a relative term.

I haven't been in my studio since I moved, making it two whole months I haven't painted, so it means something that I at least prepared for 5 new paintings. I also cooked a week's worth of family dinners from scratch from brand new recipes, which again might not seem very interesting except that I recently became a vegan, so it makes it more of an accomplishment. I donated a drawing to Planned Parenthood, finalized the Beacon Open Studios catalog, which I've been working on for two months, submitted work for the Dorsky Museum, and applied for twelve full time jobs. Yes, twelve. Actually thirteen if you count friendly inquiries that don't include cover letters and resumes. Oh, and I learned how to write a cover letter, which I had no clue how to do. I have been self-employed for a long time! Turns out I haven't had a boss since 1998.

Apparently I've been working hard on the less is more approach to life. Take for instance becoming a vegan. I thought it would be close to impossible to eliminate that many food groups and still be satisfied, but what I discovered is that eliminating choices has actually given me more freedom somehow. Limitation creates innovation. When you have less, you can focus more on the things you do have. Less choices populating your brain equals more space to ruminate, or in this case cook tastier meals.

Does that make sense?

Like when the designers for the Ford car company come out and say that the recent automobile regulations are what forced the forward thinking responses that led to their significant technological advancements... you start to think, well, maybe some limitations aren't so bad.

I've been trying to limit my color choices in my painting for years. I just know that limiting my palette will give me more freedom somehow, and I've heard other artists talk about this and agree. Yet every time I get down to it I start mixing more and more colors, more and more.

So now I'm reconciling this idea of getting a full time job with the hope that less time in my studio will somehow make it more precious and more productive.

not such a great photo of an old painting of mine
I watched a movie the other night, the one with Robert De Niro who plays the trainer for boxer Roberto Duran. I never would've thought boxing was like painting but it absolutely is. The trainer kept telling the boxer -
It's all in your head. It's all psychological. If the opponent gets inside your head you're dead. It's about strategy and longevity. Stay focused and you win. 
I mean, this is no joke. When Duran walked out of the ring in the middle of the fight with Sugar Ray Leonard, you really understood. It really is a test of wills. Not to be overly dramatic, but it's exactly the same with making art, except that the opponent is you. Wait, actually, the trainer, the fighter, and the opponent... all you.

It's no light thing when you decide to walk out of the ring in the middle of a fight.
Hopefully that's not what I'm about to be doing. This "change is good" motto and trying new things out, well, we soon shall see just how far it takes me!







February 21, 2017

How to Make the Most out of What You've Got

So yesterday was moving day.

Goodbye to my beloved studio.

Hello to working out of the house again.

There's something très depressing about the amount of back breaking work it takes to move two and a half year's worth of paintings, just to store them in obscurity.

Moving always makes me feel like this...

It makes me painfully aware of how attached I am to these canvases, while also realizing how fragile and meaningless these things really are. After all, a painting is nothing more than some paint on a piece of fabric, and a drawing sometimes is nothing more than a doodle. Someone says it's special, puts it on a pedestal, proclaims its genius and all of a sudden it becomes something else entirely. It's so bizarre when you stop to think about it.

So, yeah, I had my little cry moment. It'll take some getting used to, but I'm already starting to feel better about it. Who knows, this could be the greatest thing ever. Last night some new friends came to visit me. What a lovely sight to see outside my window four deer quietly walking in the snow. It made me think how nice it will be to look out into the woods and the mountain from now on.

So I guess change will be good after all. Who knows what great artwork is about to get made.

Deer, the woods, the mountain... I'd say a much better view than that way-too-blue house and ugly duplex!


By the way, my white couch is still white! So much for everyone who thought moving it to the studio would be a disaster, including me. I just washed that slipcover again and I must say, this 16 year old IKEA beauty may just be the best $500 I've ever spent. Totally indestructible!




the last paintings I was working on. soon to be worked on some more
yup, the last things to get packed. the essentials: music, toilet paper and my flask of vodka

that sign didn't really work but I'm leaving it for the next tenant anyway
See ya



January 26, 2017

Hot Selling Copy

This January it feels more like a brand new year than almost any other year I can remember.

Major shifts in thinking are taking place at every level; individually, nationally, globally.  
Change isn't coming, it's here. And for anyone who's ever wished or rallied for change, be prepared, because it's never easy or quick or painless. My father used to say "struggle is good" with the conviction that nothing earned easily was worth earning, and that without the struggle, it could never be truly cherished or appreciated (whatever the it in your life might be). With that thought in mind I feel somewhat optimistic, in spite of the challenges that artists, women and the general American population are about to face.

This has been a January of change for me as well. A newer new year than usual!

I was pleased to participate in a Small Works show at the Catalyst Gallery here in Beacon, and even more pleased to have sold several drawings and a watercolor.

pastel drawing Samantha Palmeri
sold pastel drawing, 11 x 14 inches

This Saturday I'll be participating in another group show in Newburgh, and there is a possibility for a solo show of my paintings coming up this June, which I'll keep you posted on.

soon to be my new art studio

I've made the tough decision to move my art studio out of the studio building I've been in for the past two and a half years back to my home. I've gone back and forth about it for a while, but finally bit the bullet as they say. Change is good, right??   . . .  C h a n g e   i s   g o o d . . .   C h a n g e   i s   g o o d . . .   S t r u g g l e   i s   g o o d . . .   S t r u g g l e   i s   g o o d . . .




Last but not least, I'm super excited to have just become the new Director of Beacon Open Studios, a yearly event where Beacon artists open up their studios to the public. It's a huge weekend long, city-wide celebration sponsored by the artists and community members of Beacon, and enjoyed by thousands of visitors from all over. I'm thrilled to have volunteered, but it really is a huge job organizing it all. The irony is that I'm giving up my studio right before this event and will have to look for a temporary space to show my work!

Did I mention struggle is good!

My hope (and I am hopeful), is that you all are able to not just endure the new changes in your own lives, but relish them, because the reward for your perseverance is great!

My Facebook post this morning was this:

Think Big! because from one fallen dying leaf a whole brand new plant can grow



Happy 2017!



December 23, 2016

"Gorgeous Nothings" Envelope poems and paintings

Emily Dickinson's Envelope poems



 

This morning I came across a review of the book The Gorgeous Nothings, which highlights Emily Dickinson's Envelope Poems. I was immediately reminded of the Envelope Paintings of my Facebook friend and artist Julia Schwartz, so I thought I'd share. 

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

If I could curate a show with all of these lovely pieces side by side I would! Here is the full article which was posted by Tupelo Quarterly and written by Hannah Star Rogers. Sounds like a good idea for a last minute Christmas gift too!

Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Poems Hold New Pleasures


 
Emily Dickinson’s The Gorgeous Nothings offers an incredible inquiry into the material practice of Emily Dickinson’s poetry and an argument for why we should take not just the visual culture of poetry into account, as so many new editions of Dickinson’s poetry do, but also the materiality—as both constraint and possibility.
The Gorgeous Nothings, from Christine Burgin/New Directions, edited by Marta Werner and Jen Bervin with a preface by Susan Howe, is the first publication of Emily Dickinson’s complete envelope writings in facsimile from her visually-oriented manuscripts, rendered here in full color and arranged as if they were pressed into a scrapbook. The book is no doubt the dream of poetry and visual culture scholars (very literally as it took Werner, a Dickinson scholar, and Bervin, a visual artist, to bring the book together), but beyond important academic contributions, this book is a lot of fun to open and toss through as though it was a box of Grandmother’s letters—if your grandmother was the Belle of Amherst.
The editors made great choices that allow us these pleasures: the facsimiles are collected together in such a way that we can enjoy the puzzle. The book replicates the material experience of opening an archive, while the shape of the envelope and text is detailed for legibility in schematics that reflect the envelopes’ shape and dimensions. A 252 gives us a sense of the Dickson we recognize, while adding an the extra layer of the material constraints of the envelope:
ED2 copy
What is added by knowing that Dickson met the corner of the page with the word “power,” and arranged her lines to fill the space, gives us a new sense of the space that the poem occupies and of her agility in working not only in acoustic constraints and vital rhythms, but also in another layer of formal concerns. Even a glance at the forms of the envelopes tells the reader something magical is happening in the details of the poems:
ED1 copy
Dickinson’s work has been unfolding for us slowly, revealing her mastery in new ways. First, as Howe writes in the preface, in the 1951 Johnson edition with those characteristic amazing capitals and dashes, then with the word lists of alternate possibilities, and finally, here, with the full materiality of her envelope letters. Maybe it is only now that the reading world is ready to embrace the found and the forgotten in this work, that we are really ready to revel in the glory of the envelope poems. Our own material turn is making these artworks no longer something difficult or illegible, but a celebration of the parts of her poetry that only words not born in typeface can offer.
What may not be immediately legible in the material constraints surely informed the publication choices regarding what parts of the manuscripts would be preserved. These acts of legitimation may have been a part of creating the Emily Dickinson legacy. Perhaps “scraps” (the Dickinson community’s easy reference word for these poems) did not a major poet make, particularly if they came from a woman who largely wrote for herself. In any case, the poetry universe is certainly ready for a revised visual understand of Dickinson’s work that this text brings us.
Yet another wrinkle in the story of why this is the moment for considering the material elements of these poems may be the digitization project at Amherst College’s Archives & Special Collections, which preceded this edition. Poets (and indeed humanists more generally) are being asked often to account for the effects of technology on their work. In this case, the appearance of Dickinson’s work in a digital form precedes an important account of new dimensions of her poetry. Rather than simply spreading copies of her work more broadly, as in so many digital humanities projects, a real discovery and novel way of thinking of Dickinson’s work has been revealed by its digitization. Of course, it has long been possible to imagine an exhibit (as Howe does) or color copies of these poems being created for a book, but the ease and availability of scanning may have given both affordance and occasion to study the material aspects of this work.
Bervin’s essay also leads us toward a new image of Dickinson. Rather than a poet grabbing at envelopes when she was struck by inspiration, Bervin calls our attention to the variety of ways the envelops are folded and cut, suggesting that the poet had prepared these envelops in advance for the moment when an inspiration struck. Her lines flow across surfaces that we perceive only by her attention to them: stops at corners or folds and changes in handwriting and letter size to accommodate her poems to the space the material alots, while transforming the envelope to make spaces for words which readers might not see without the poet filing them. This preparation points not just to thrift, but to how Dickinson perceived her poems as objects rendered with care, what Howe calls, “visual productions.”
This curation of the envelope poems reveals the way the poet turned the borders of the envelopes that she cut and tore into shapes to write on into constraints to complicate her poems: making them fascinating visual objects. Like metrics, rhythms, and rhymes which structure as they aestheticize, Dickinson’s envelope offered her a new method for inspiration. The folds and corners of her thrifty paper uses create new layer of self-imposed limitation which generated new possibilities for the poem. The Gorgeous Nothings is proof that one of our most important poets can still amaze and teach us new thing about the practice of poetry.
 

November 20, 2016

How To Be A Better Painter




So, this happened today. My favorite and most useful tool suddenly gave out on me. I can't even remember how many years I've had it or how many palette knives I've purchased since (that were never half as good), but it's been a constant in my painting life for... like... ever....
Blah, so much for reliability.

Samantha Palmeri, broken palette knife


Samantha Palmeri, broken palette knife

Samantha Palmeri, broken palette knife

Anyhow, in other pragmatic news today.
Do you ever have one of those moments in the studio when you realize you're standing way too far, like three feet away from your painting wall and you're thinking why can't I see what the hell I'm doing??

How To Be A Better Painter: stand closer to the fucking canvas

November 17, 2016

Chuck Close on the value of experiencing another person's art

excerpt from The New York Times Magazine article written by Wil S. Hylton

Chuck Close self portrait
Chuck Close, Big Self-Portrait, 1967–1968
acrylic on gessoed canvas
107.5 x 83.5 inches
"It seems to me now, with greater reflection, that the value of experiencing another person’s art is not merely the work itself, but the opportunity it presents to connect with the interior impulse of another. The arts occupy a vanishing space in modern life: They offer one of the last lingering places to seek out empathy for its own sake, and to the extent that an artist’s work is frustrating or difficult or awful, you could say this allows greater opportunity to try to meet it. I am not saying there is no room for discriminating taste and judgment, just that there is also, I think, this other portal through which to experience creative work and to access a different kind of beauty, which might be called communion."


November 16, 2016

Artist of the week: Susan Rothenberg

My first artist crush, Susan Rothenberg

Ah the simple pleasures of painting. All those gorgeous painterly brushstrokes! You feel and see her every movement on these canvases. When you stand in front of a Susan Rothenberg painting you become a witness to her very personal viewpoint, making it an experience rather than just a painting. She sets a stage for you to feel you are a participant in.

Thomas Micchelli
Rothenberg begins with negation, cleaving away all that’s inessential, then reaches forward and backward in time, gathering whatever she needs, probing inward toward formalism and outward toward experience, one hand in the clay and the other in the air.
In a career that spans over 40 years, expectedly there are some paintings I am much more in love with than others so here I present some of my absolute favorites...

Susan Rothenberg Dogs killing rabbit
Dogs Killing Rabbit, 1991-92, oil on canvas, 87 x 141 inches

"A lot of my work is about melodrama. I wait for Bruce to fall off a horse and then I go, 'Oh, okay, the horse’s legs were there, the fence post was there, his hat flew off there...'"

- Susan Rothenberg

Susan Rothenberg Accident #2
Accident #2, 1993-94, oil on canvas, 66 x 125 inches
Susan Rothenberg Calling the dogs
Calling the dogs, 1993-94, oil on canvas, 69 x 65 inches

Susan Rothenberg With martini
With Martini, 2002, oil on canvas, 76 x 87 inches

Susan Rothenberg Blue Flip
Blue Flip, 1989-90, oil on canvas, 55 x 46 inches

Susan Rothenberg White deer
White Deer, 1999-2001, oil on canvas, 91 1/2 x 112 inches

Susan Rothenberg Blue u-turn
Blue U-Turn, 1989, oil on canvas






Susan Rothenberg Galisteo creek
Galisteo Creek, 1992, oil on canvas, 112 x 148 inches

Susan Rothenberg Falling
Falling, 2001, oil on canvas, 84 x 72 inches


Susan Rothenberg Four color horse
Four Color Horse, 1976, acrylic and flashe on canvas, 67 x 112 inches

Susan Rothenberg 4 Kinds
4 Kinds, 1991, oil on canvas, 52 x 88 inches

Susan Rothenberg Dog and snake
Dog and Snake, 2004-05, oil on canvas, 49 3/4 x 36 1/2 inches
Susan Rothenberg Untitled (geese)
Untitled (Geese), 1999, Etching, aquatint, and sugar-lift aquatint on chine collé, 13 11/16 x 20 1/2 inches
Susan Rothenberg the corner
The Corner, 2008, oil on canvas, 71 x 57 inches
Susan Rothenberg Crying
Crying, 2003, 5 color lithograph/screenprint, 34 x 35 inches

Steak and Wine, 2000, oil on canvas, 81 x 91 inches



Susan Rothenberg painting
[I've searched all morning for the title of this painting. If anyone knows the image details please let me know]





Susan Rothenberg Hawk
Hawk, 1993-94, oil on canvas, 37 5/8 x 63 5/8 inches

Susan Rothenberg
Susan Rothenberg in her studio


Further looking and reading:
Sperone Westwater Gallery
art21
BLOUINARTINFO
MutualArt







Current Exhibition at Sperone Westwater Gallery
4 November – 20 December 2016
Susan Rothenberg