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




November 9, 2016

Artists are needed in times like these

I'm not quite sure how to go about my day today, November 9th, 2016.
I thought perhaps I'd just sit here for hours liking and sharing all my friend's posts on Facebook in some sort of post traumatic solidarity. Maybe go do some meditating, or an extra early happy hour at some point... I am just about the most apolitical person I know and even I cried when I saw the words 45th president of the United States. It's hard to go make art when so much is going on in the world. And then I read this post by Matthew Weinstein and I thought, Yes, that's beautiful. So rather than just share it with my Facebook friends I thought I'd share it here as well.
Artists get back to work. We are needed in times like these. Think of the artists who, in grotesque times, turned revulsion into imagery and gesture, and through acts of passionate creativity gave panicked and grieving people an iconographical mirror. And when this time is past, and it will pass, people will look back at it partially through our images. Our gallows humor, beauty lust, anger, sarcasm, hysteria and rigor can make of this time something more than one of isolation and sadness.
The act of retrenchment into one's work is an insistence that the culture of creativity, liberality and love is not vanquished. Making art is an act of love. Love for one's self, love for a world that one wants to insert one's work into, and love for a world that seems to be always just out of our grasp; that we keep grasping for, because that's what artists do.
And like all love, the love of an artist for the world, which most of the time has no need of us, can become an immense rage; one fueled by betrayal and disappointment. But within art, rage can be transformed into a benevolent model of fury; an insistence that people who devote their lives to love and creativity are fucking planted in the earth, that inventing one's reality is not an escape but a stance. We don't have to like each other's work, but we need to respect each other for making work. And we need to hang with each other.
Let's make our best work, see each other's shows, and argue with each other about things so obscure that to the rest of the world we seem like cats lunging at shadows on the wall. There is nobility in caring about things; believing in things, and insisting that the world needs obscurity as much as it needs clarity.
A work of art can be a point in a triangulation between it and two people. This is valuable.
Art can be a model of keeping love alive when love seems dead.
Let's get through this day. Let's be with each other. Let's make our best work.


November 2, 2016

Another Artist Dilemma

P A T I E N C E

I just watched a video of Eddie Martinez claiming to be one of the most impatient people in the world. Maybe that's one of the reasons I like his paintings so much!

I'm an oil painter who does not have the patience (or the time) literally, to sit and wait for the paint to dry!

P A T I E N C E . . .
Not a new concept, definitely a virtue, and for me a never-ending challenge inside the art studio and out.

Maria Popova's recent musings on the seven greatest things she's learned as the creator of brain pickings include:
#7. “Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.” 
... As I’ve reflected elsewhere, the flower doesn’t go from bud to blossom in one spritely burst and yet, as a culture, we’re disinterested in the tedium of the blossoming. But that’s where all the real magic unfolds in the making of one’s character and destiny.
Although she was referring more to success in life, I'm talking about patience in the studio. My work may be process oriented, aka 'the tedium of the blossoming', but that doesn't make me any more patient. Lately I've been forcing myself to think about it more and more. 

For the most part I'm a fast painter and I like to work on human sized canvases like four to five feet. Since I've been working on a much smaller scale lately, this patience thing has become a lot more relevant. Painting small is really tough for me. Those canvases fill up fast! There's a moment when you're painting, you get a feeling that if you don't walk away from it right that second you'll destroy it and never be able to get it back. 

Samantha Palmeri art
one of four smaller paintings still very much in progress
I've never had much success working on one single piece until I drop. I've always worked on several things at once and this is exactly why. I have to remind myself, this will not be resolved in 4 hours, or 8, or 12, just let it do its thing!

In the mean time I have a real need to keep going, be busy, keep moving, so... on to the next canvas, and the next, and back around again. 


Needless to say, I have a lot of paintings piled up. What I'm suddenly realizing, though, is this pressing need to slow it all down. I need to be more consistent, more cognizant of what's working and where it's all going. It's like when you (well I don't know if they even give typing tests anymore) take a typing test for a job and you can type a thousand words a minute but half of them are spelled wrong. It's time to slow down and get it right.


Patience would mean slowing down a lot, and being perfectly happy with that. Patience would mean standing still long enough to let the moment have its moment. That seems useful... and good. Some moments need more time. How long does this one need?

Some paintings need more time, and that's what I'm trying to appreciate. In the meanwhile I'll just keep tacking those new canvases to the wall... 
 t a c k 
t a c k 
t a c k



Here's an interesting article for further reading: Patience and Painting