February 6, 2019

#artistproblems

Some of you already know, but just to say for the record, I have left my job at the Garrison Art Center.

That's a long story but the positive is that I've been able to get my painting schedule back and focus on full time work in the studio again.

Here's how it's been going. Last week out of sheer frustration I threw my paint brush on the floor while exclaiming, I can't believe I forgot how to paint! A few days later I was feeling like a painter again and actually enjoying myself. Hashtag artist problems. This morning I added a new painting to my website www.samanthapalmeri.com. I'm excited that work for my upcoming show in September at the Catalyst Gallery is finally well on its way.

I've decided to leave the paintbrush on the floor just to remind myself, every day is a new day.


half blurry picture of paintbrush on the floor.
palette table with that little rubber hand I won at a Funky Spunky Literature Night
I'm kinda obsessed with it. 
my newest painting. doesn't have a title yet. oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches



January 29, 2019

Kiki Smith, Art Exhibitions, Journal Writing, Inspiration, Vulnerability


from the exhibition Genevieve and the Wolves, Sainte Genevieve, 1999, ink on Nepal paper, 7 feet 8 1/4 inches



Kiki Smith


My Blue Lake, 1995, color photogravure with a la poupée inking and lithograph in colors, 33.7 x 45.8 inches


Sojourn installation image at the Brooklyn Museum, 2010

book cover



I got a great book for Christmas this year, Kiki Smith: Photographs
Published on the occasion of the exhibition I Myself Have Seen It: Photography and Kiki Smith, March 6-August 15, 2010, at the Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle. Organized by Elizabeth A. Brown.

I've been following Kiki Smith's work for a long time. I remember one of the first exhibitions I saw of hers in the 1990's of black birds and bent over bodies hanging on the wall and scattered on the gallery floor. The psychological, emotional, and physical relationships she explores: self to nature, nature to animal, animal to human, and so on, mesmerize and enthrall me. She seems to be an artist who is so completely enveloped in her work, consistently working on numerous projects at once, in complete servitude and surrender to her art.

It both inspires and intimidates me. On Christmas Day I wrote in my journal,

Kiki Smith inspiration. I am not an artist/person who lets it all hang out. I am full of fear not vulnerability. I do not photograph myself naked or give myself tattoos. I am not fearless. I am covered. I want to break through like piercing the yolk of a poached egg. I want to completely dissolve and disappear into my absolute. I wonder if this is a thing everyone is even capable of. I'm starting to think this is the thing that makes great artists, and this is the thing I do not have.


Ribs, 1987, terracotta, ink, and thread, 22 x 17 x 10 inches

Silver bird, 2006, ink on Nepal paper with silver gouache, mica, glitter, and graphite, 72 1/4 x 58 1/4 inches

Lilith, 1994, bronze, silicon, and glass

Lilith detail



Fawn, 2000, Etching and aquatint, 22 1/2 x 31 1/4 inches


Daisy Chain, 1992, steel and bronze, chain 100 feet


Untitled (red man), 1991, ink on gampi paper in four parts


Rapture, 2001, bronze, 67 1/4 x 62 x 26 1/2 inches






Touch, 2006, suite of 6 prints, aquatint, etching, and drypoint, 30 x 22 inches


Wolf Girl, 1999, etching and aquatint on paper, 8 x 11 inches




Jewel, 2004, suite of three prints, aquatint and etching, each 14 x 17 inches





Cat, 1999, cast porcelain, 3 x 3 x 3 inches





Kiki Smith


further looking and reading:

Art21

ArtObserved

Shoshana Wayne Gallery




January 25, 2019

How to: the personification of punctuation

Elizabeth Murray, C-Painting, 1980-81, oil on canvas, 109 x 114 inches

Texting is changing the way we communicate. I've noticed lately that I use an inordinate amount of exclamation points when I'm texting or writing emails.

!!!!


I'm reminded of that Seinfeld episode where Elaine breaks up with her boyfriend for not using exclamation points, and then gets reprimanded at work for using too many!! When her boss reads out loud the sentences where she used them, dramatically emphasizing each word, it's hilarious.

Dramatic emphasis is exactly what exclamation points are intended for. Yourdictionary.com states that:
Exclamation marks were originally called the "note of admiration." They are still, to this day, used to express excitement. They are also used to express surprise, astonishment, or any other such strong emotion. Any exclamatory sentence can be properly followed by an exclamation mark, to add additional emphasis.

Yes, punctuation is used to clarify meaning, however, because of the ineffectual nature of virtual communication, there is a lot of over compensating going on. The mechanisms we use to connect with each other are so detached and removed from real human connection. We're more likely these days to use punctuation to personify way more than a single human assertion. It's like there aren't enough emojis or punctuation marks in the world to completely articulate our thoughts and feelings in a text message.

Every part of texting has become a complicated playing field requiring deciphering skills akin to war time code cracking. Nothing is inconsequential, or goes unnoticed. Every word, letter, image, and punctuation mark, indicates a host of signs and secret or not so secret messages. Even the length of a text message is important. How long it takes you to text back is monumentally important. Taking too long can be perceived as a slap in the face, while texting back the second someone writes to you can either be seen as super reliable-I'm-always-here-for-you, or totally desperate behavior.

With all these underlying assumptions, misinterpretation seems inevitable. Things like ugh, ack or lol can replace whole sentences so you better be sure to use the right one. The use of ALL CAPS or all lowercase has serious emotional implications. I mean, HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE YOU TO DECIDE WHICH EMOJI YOU WANT TO USE? I'll often ask my daughter when I'm writing something if I've used the proper emoji, (which I usually haven't). I'll add extra exclamation points so it looks like I'm making a joke and then she'll say that it wasn't funny to begin with. sigh

I know I don't use punctuation properly at all. Exclamation points personify a whole slew of emotions and thoughts all at the same time for me. I use one ! as a sign that I'm being positive and have a smile on my face. Two !! is very funny. More than a few !!!!! indicates total surprise, which could be positive or negative, or it could mean don't listen to me I don't know what I'm saying, lol. I'm starting to think I must sound like an idiot or come across like I'm trying too hard, but I have this strange notion that I'll look too serious or depressed without them. hmmm.


Maybe you noticed it too.
peut-être l'avez-vous remarqué aussi?

(btw, I was just informed, nobody uses lol anymore. ugh.)




January 21, 2019

Reference images for paintings


I've spent the last week preparing canvases. Cutting, pasting, screwing, priming, etc. I have not decided how to tackle the actual painting part yet. Today I printed some reference photos as a point of departure, a jumping-off point to get me started. 
It is everyday things that I find most interesting. I catch a glimpse of something and imagine a whole world within it and around it. These glimpses can sometimes be very personal parts of me and my day. Mostly they evoke something greater than just color or composition, something I can't really articulate. One day I would like to publish a whole book of my reference photos and collages. 
 
dreadlocks. this color. 


cherry tomatoes from the garden



this is dough.


a dwarf maple tree in my backyard



 


food that's gone bad and ends up in the trash is both an ongoing challenge, and resource for my work.
stemming from my desire to never let anything go to waste and my guilty conscience when it does



spotted this giant ball of rope at a friend's studio



                                                          
clearly I'm obsessed


this is not a staged photo. the dirty dishes were really piled that high 


Some photos are from Instagram and Pinterest. Sorry some image credits are unknown. If I've swiped a photo from you unknowingly, thank you! and let me know so I can give you credit.



January 8, 2019

Pragmatic distances

There are two things I've learned over the years, from running my own business, working for non-profits, and painting in my studio.

  • One is, don't take things personally, and 

  • Two is, most answers to most dilemmas are found in the most practical details. It's usually staring you right in the face, though sometimes it's your own face that's in the way of seeing it, if that makes any sense.


Relating to my studio work, the practical details start with my work space. When I'm in the studio I'm having a physical relationship with my work and my environment. Sometimes the simplest things make the biggest differences and I have to laugh at myself for not realizing it sooner.

How I go about the physical act of painting is so important to my work. Like the distance between me and the canvas while I paint. I have had days where nothing was working and all of a sudden I realized I was standing too far away from the canvas. Even six inches too far made a huge difference. I'm interacting with my paintings as if I were swimming around inside them almost. So anything that disconnects me is a distraction. For example, I spent years wearing rubber gloves while I painted. In the summer I'd be sweating and have to change them every hour, in the winter they'd get stiff and tear. Without them I'm so much happier. I'm able to literally feel the paint, and that adds a great deal to my relationship with the work.

Stolen burnisher is second from the right. Second from the left is an antique wooden handle screwdriver that belonged to my grandfather.

Other practical details include the tools I use. I've grown a serious attachment to some unlikely utensils, like toothbrushes and old screw drivers. For unknown reasons, back in (I think) 1992, I stole a burnishing tool from my printmaking class. Don't ask me what I thought I was going to use it for. It's been floating around every studio I've had, at the bottom of every pile of things I never look at, all these years. Until recently. I don't know what made me finally start using it, but it scrapes off paint like nobody's business and I can honestly say it's my favorite thing right now!

Speaking of utensils, there's a giant icing spatula (aka palette knife) I've been eyeing at the fancy kitchen shop on Main Street for a while. It could seriously be the next best thing...

It's good to get older because you do get wiser after all. I'm learning a little more each day what works for me, and that tiny changes can often make huge strides.



January 3, 2019

Artist of the week Elizabeth Murray

Bowtie, 2000
Everybody Knows, 2007, oil on canvas, 87 1/4 x 93 inches

(the last painting made before the artist died in 2007)


To follow through with some of those unfinished posts I recently mentioned, here is Artist of the week Elizabeth Murray.


Elizabeth Murray's heroic paintings are as fearless as the life she seems to have led. A woman who wanted it all, and achieved it against all the odds; to have her children and family, and her artwork all playing center stage at once. She is a hero and an absolute inspiration. 
The Sun and the Moon, 2005, oil on canvas on wood, 9 feet 
Do the Dance, 2005, oil on canvas on wood, 9 1/2 x 11 feet
Kind of Blue, 2004, oil on canvas on wood, 9 x 11 feet
Midnight Special, 2000, oil on two canvases, 92 7/8 x 129 1/2 inches
Bill Alley, 2006, 3D lithographic construction, 35 x 41 1/4 inches
Hey Madge, 2001-02, oil on canvas on wood, 53 x 48 inches
Worm's Eye, 2002
Cry Baby, 2000, oil on canvas, 105 3/4 x 105 3/4 inches
Path/Door, 2002
Mister Postman, 1998, oil on canvas, 82 x 77 inches
for a better sense of scale: Bop, 2002-03, at MOMA

As always, I try my best to include the correct information for the images I post. In this case I was unable to find full descriptions for a few of the paintings. 

With one exception, these paintings are all from 2000-07. There are so many more layers to her work and it's nice to see the progression throughout the years, but these just screamed EXUBERANCE to me so that's why I chose them. 

Further looking and reading:

Pace Gallery
elizabethmurrayart.org
Art21
Everybody Knows, a PBS film