October 5, 2017

September 26, 2017

WHY DO WE FOLLOW RULES?

I make up a lot of rules for myself. Rules that may or may not actually exist, that I may or may not have invented all for myself. And I follow them, maybe out of tradition or convention or fear or doubt or bad habit or laziness, or maybe because it's what I see other people doing so I think this must be how things are done. Rules that seem perfectly logical and reasonable.

But it's like WHY?? Why am I following all these rules that I may or may not have had anything to do with and that maybe have nothing to do with me.

Painting is a very traditional medium. It's been around for thousands of years now and has accumulated a VERY long list of rules. So many rules that even breaking traditional painting rules has become a rule.

I think I've been very conventional in my thinking about my work. For the most part I'm a stretched canvas, paint brush and palette of oil paint and medium kind of painter. And that's been fine except that all of a sudden it's not!

Hangover painting, 2017, acrylic and oil on cardboard


I've been very precious with these things and it's holding me back. Following these painting rules whether self imposed or not, is holding me back. It's created four walls around me that I keep banging up against. I want to feel free, like there are no rules at all, like I've just discovered painting for the first time, like a child. I especially want to feel like if something's not working I'm not forcing myself to try to gloss over it to make it better. Working through painting issues and the problems we create on canvas is all very well, sometimes even the whole point, but trying to make it work just because it's already there and because I've already spent so much time on it will never work! The only rule really should be, if you know in your gut it's not working destroy it and start over. But I also have a rule about time... I think I consider some paintings finished when they're definitely not because I feel like I've spent ample time with them. Or the opposite, where I keep working on something that may already be finished, because I feel like I've invested so much money and energy in the materials and preparation it can't possibly be done after a few hours of work. These are ridiculous self imposed rules that are clouding my judgement.

Being precious with your work gets you nowhere. I need to get rid of this way of thinking and be free to get at the thing I'm supposed to be getting at! I have no idea exactly how to do that, but recognizing the problem is a good first step!




August 8, 2017

How The Hell To Write An Artist Statement

Artist statements: a never-ending battle!

I am continually rewriting and rewriting mine. So many subjective questions I don't know the answers to, like how casual, humorous or conventional to make it, how long, how short, how specific, how ambiguous, how poetic, existential, philosophical, art historical, how personal, how formal, do I give every detail away or leave them wanting more, etc. etc.

Of all the written advice I've read over the years on the topic, I do try to remember two things: to write it out the way I would describe it in person if someone were visiting my studio, and to describe the specific process but keep the reader wanting to actually see the work in person. 

Shouldn't be personable but not longwinded also be on that list? I don't even know anymore. I'll let you be the judge. Here is the statement that's currently on my website:

some artwork to reference while reading the description!
"Momento (ribbon)", 2017, oil on paper, 33.5 x 38 inches

My work is informed by both the inward and the outward, 
by things observed, and things that cannot be observed. 
By entangled forms found naturally or unnaturally
in the body, in nature, in everyday objects; and

equally by chance and feeling.



Process oriented and gestural, these abstractions entice 
the viewer's subjectivity, while allowing me the freedom to access 
a wider range of resources both physical and emotional.

And here is the newest statement I've written:

I start a painting or a series of paintings with a simple thought or inspiration. I don't usually sketch it out first. I prefer to tackle the canvas all at once and let the materials and process of painting dictate the direction. I work on up to five things at once. I'm an observer and am usually looking at something while I paint. I try to keep myself emotionally connected to the specific object or memory I begin with, but painting has a way of prescribing its own journey. Success would mean that I've allowed the painting to take me someplace unexpected while maintaining some hint of my original intention.
I'm interested in posing a question rather than an answer, and I prefer to evoke the feeling of a thing rather than make a statement about it. I'm interested in the process of making, in paint, color, line, handwork, women's work, repetition, knitting, sewing, braiding, rope making... entangled forms found naturally or unnaturally in the body, nature, or everyday objects; and equally in chance and feeling.
My work is about connections; the intertwining and overlapping of the physical, spiritual, metaphorical. The connection of shapes and color, form to form, body to body, mind to mind.

July 13, 2017

Artist of the week: Anne Truitt


Installation view of the exhibition, Anne Truitt Sculpture 1962-2004 at Matthew Marks Gallery
Anne Truitt is an artist I first came to know through her writing. Her three memoirs, DaybookTurn, and Prospect: The Journey of an Artist, are must reads for any studio worker, especially for women and mothers.

First, 1961, Acrylic on wood, 44 ¼ x 17 ¾ x 7 inches. 
Because of her writing, when I see her sculptures I feel like I have a shared intimacy with them. Her work is such a perfect reflection of who she seemed to be. They are at once subtle yet straightforward, delicate yet powerful, thoughtful yet severe.

Watauga, 1962, Acrylic on wood, 46 x 56 x 7 inches

Spring Dryad, 1975, Acrylic on wood, 76 x 13 x 8 inches

Currently there's an Anne Truitt installation at DIA Beacon so I wanted to post this while you can still see the show. It really is just a glimpse, and I wish there were at least five more rooms full, but in order to understand and appreciate what she was all about you do need to stand in the real presence of her work. As she writes in Daybook:
"I am most profoundly grateful to have had the opportunity to see my work... Like the night at the Corcoran Gallery of Art... I walked up and down the dark corridors between their massive forms, most of which towered over me, and held out both my hands to feel them, not touching them. They stood in their own space, in their own time, and I was glad in their presence."
I could easily quote from the entire book since after reading it three times already I am still completely enthralled, but I'll leave it up to you to go get a copy and see for yourself!

Gloucester, 1963–72, Acrylic on wood, 74 x 72 x 13 inches

Morning Choice, 1968, Acrylic on wood, 72 x 14 x 14 inches

Hardcastle, 1962, Acrylic on wood, 99 ¾ x 42 x 16 inches

Pith, 1969, Acrylic on wood, 85 ½ x 18 x 18 inches

View, 1999, Acrylic on wood, 81 x 8 x 8 inches

Second Requiem, 1977, Acrylic on wood, 84 x 10 x 8 inches

Shrove, 1962, Acrylic on wood, 60 x 10 x 10 inches

View of Anne Truitt's Washington D.C studio, 1980

Seven, 1962, Oil (semi-gloss enamel) on wood, 53 ¾ x 32 x 7 ⅞ inches

Southern Elegy, 1962, Oil (semi-gloss and flat) on wood, 47 x 20 ⅞ x 6 ⅞ inches
A Wall for Apricots, 1968, Acrylic on wood, 72 ⅝ x 14 x 14 inches

Anne Truitt in her studio















 

Most of the images here are from the very comprehensive website: http://www.annetruitt.org/
I've selected only her sculpture but her paintings are also significant and worth viewing: http://www.annetruitt.org/works/selected-paintings



July 7, 2017

Artist of the week: Lynda Benglis & Arlene Shechet


I haven't posted an artist of the week in a while. Here are two sculptors: 
Arlene Shechet and Lynda Benglis. 
Although two very different artists, different mediums and approaches, they both embrace process and have a painterly, corporeal quality to them. And of course, all that luscious pouring and hand-building of color and form!

Lynda Benglis, Corner Piece, 1969

Lynda Benglis is a heroine of mine, and not just for her audacious artworld antics back in the day! I first saw her work in 1997 at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center where I worked. It was a floor piece from the 70's that I looked at everyday for the two months of the exhibition. I have to admit that at the time I really did not get it at all! 

Lynda Benglis, King Pin III, 2007

Fast forward to 2011. I was playing around with spray foam making little gold sculptures for a show I was curating, and who did I come across but Lynda Benglis and her pieces Helios and King Pin, which not only looked almost exactly like what I was making, but were way better, more sophisticated, and executed a whole decade before mine! Needless to say, I took the time to really look at her work after that. She's been creating relevant artwork for five decades now. I'm embarrassed I was so clueless when I first encountered that floor piece! but she has become one of my favorite artists..

Arlene Shechet, Blue Velvet, 2010, filed ceramic, wood

Arlene Shechet, detail, Swoon, 2006, glazed ceramic, hydrocal, concrete, steel. 61.5 x 18 x 18 inches

Lynda Benglis, Storm Pattern, 2003, Bronze

Arlene Shechet, Mountains are Aware, 2012, glazed ceramic on concrete base
48 × 15 × 15 inches

Lynda Benglis

Lynda Benglis, Pink Ladies2014, cast pigmented polyurethane and bronze

Arlene Shechet, Because of the wind, 2010, glazed ceramic, steel, glazed kiln


Arlene Shechet, detail, Not Knot, 2010, glazed ceramic, hardwood, steel, 16 3/8 x 16 1/4 x 74 inches

Arlene Shechet, Beyond Itself, 2011, ceramic and glazed fire brick, 12 x 8 3/4 x 5 inches
Lynda Benglis, Bravo, 1972

Lynda Benglis, Zita, 1972, cotton bunting, plaster, paint, glitter over aluminum screen, 44 × 15 × 11 inches

Lynda Benglis, Proto Knot, 1971 Wire mesh, cotton bunting, plaster, gesso and sparkles

Arlene Shechet, in foreground, Not Knot, 2010, glazed ceramic, hardwood, steel, 16 3/8 x 16 1/4 x 74 inches

Lynda Benglis, Untitled (VW), 1970, pigmented polyurethane foam

Arlene Shechet, Full On, 2016, glazed ceramic, painted and carved hardwood, gold, 19.5 x 16.5 x 12.5 inches
Lynda Benglis, Wing, 1970, cast aluminum, 67 x 59 1/4 x 60 inches
and EAT MEAT, 1969/75 Bronze 24 x 80 x 54 inches
Arlene Schechet, Clue, 2015, glazed ceramic, 11 × 8 × 8 inches

Arlene Shechet, Tumbling Through Time, 2016, glazed ceramic, hardwood, aluminum, steel. 35 x 18 x 17 inches
Philip Guston, Untitled, 1968, acrylic on panel, 18 x 20 inches.
Lynda Benglis Hills and Clouds, 2014, cast polyurethane with phosphorescence and stainless steel
(yeah, it glows-in-the-dark!)
Arlene Shechet, Tattletale, 2012, glazed ceramic, glazed kiln brick and kiln shelf, and Plexiglas
63 × 24 1/2 × 22 inches

Arlene Shechet, Sounds Like2013, glazed ceramic on glazed kiln bricks
107 × 17½ × 17 inches

Arlene Shechet, Glazed firebrick

Lynda Benglis next to Helios, 
1999, bronze with gold leaf, 24 1/2 x 21 x 10 inches

Further looking and reading:



What it means to be an artist and a vegan

40aprons.com
My first homemade vegan blueberry pie! 

A little less than six months ago I became a vegan. It's just occurred to me how being a vegan is sort of on par with being an artist... People tend to react in very similar ways.

When you tell people you're an artist, right away they put you into a stereotypical category that may or may not have anything to do with you. Temporarily they may start using words like artsy, crafty, eccentric and even weird, all the while recounting every family member or friend's relative or neighbor they know of who is also an artist. They will insist on giving you advice you didn't ask for and don't want, about making more money and getting more exposure, and will often exclaim how little they personally know about it and how they "can't even draw a stick figure", indicating in some degrading passive/aggressive way that being an artist is way too special* for them and thank goodness they don't have to have anything to do with it. 

*a.k.a abnormal


I think it would shock and bewilder people even more if they knew anything about what being an artist is really like. Let me get all defensive for a minute and say that artists just happen to have the hardest working, most conscientious, community minded, concerned, empathetic, risk taking will power and nerves of steel you'll ever encounter in your life! One day I would like to respond to the question what do you do with the answer; I stand in a quiet empty room by myself for 5 hours a day contemplating my existence. I build frames and staple fabric to them so I can paint pictures and argue with myself over how to properly express my ideas visually. I spend hours, days and months working on things that I end up destroying. I obsessively examine my purpose, my inner voice, and how to make even a tiny ripple in the overall world around me. I attempt to define and redefine an imaginary dialogue with artists who've lived two hundred years ago, artists who are here now, and artists who aren't even alive yet. And then I hang it all up for strangers to ogle and critique. What do you do? 

Hmmmm... Maybe this is proving that artists really are weird, but I think it's the other way around. Maybe everyone else is the weirdo in this scenario. 

Anyway, when you tell certain people you are a vegan, and it definitely depends on who it is, as "the times they are a changin'"... some people are immediately suspicious and put off, even annoyed, like oh, you're one of those* people. There are a lot of questions asked that require proper justification. And then there is, again, lots of advice that you didn't ask for and don't want. 
Humans crave the familiar, and fear the unknown, and there's just no way around it.

*a.k.a special*

*a.k.a abnormal



I became a vegan for one simple reason, to be healthier. It just made sense to me. 

I may not decide to be a vegan my whole life, but in the end, it's not all that complicated, and really, neither is being an artist.



P.S Get the recipe for vegan blueberry pie here at 40aprons.com 



June 8, 2017

The Secret to Getting Happy




Presently this doesn't have anything to do with my artwork, but I wanted to tell you about this article I posted on FB this morning. It was about the science behind getting happy. Apparently getting happy is an actual physical battle going on in our brains. Despite their differences, pride, shame and guilt all activate the brain's reward center, and worrying actually makes our brains feel better.

Ha ha on us because not only are we fighting with emotional things we can't see, we're actually fighting our physical selves. According to the website, GRATITUDE does the trick. Gratitude produces the same chemicals naturally that are found in antidepressants. It goes on to say that even if you can't think of anything to be grateful for it doesn't matter, it's the searching that counts. Just remembering to be grateful is a form of emotional intelligence, and with higher emotional intelligence, it will actually take less effort to be grateful.

I thought this was all fascinating.. I can't recount the entire article but I will tell you how it ended; of the four ways to make yourself happy, the last one was TOUCH. Apparently rejection activates the same 'circuitry' as physical pain. Touching someone you love actually reduces pain. A hug, especially a long one, releases hormones that make you happy!

In conclusion it said, "So spend time with other people and give some hugs. Sorry, texting is not enough. When you put people in a stressful situation and then let them visit loved ones or talk to them on the phone, they felt better. What about when they just texted? Their bodies responded the same as if they had no support at all."

très intéressant.. don't you think?
You can read the full article here: 

May 22, 2017

The Aftermath: New paintings

The month of May has been a crazy whirlwind!
There are so many details to tell you about, but I'll sum it up like this:
I now have a fourteen year old daughter!
I've successfully completed my first season as Director of Beacon Open Studios, which generously rewarded me with much appreciation and love from my little art community.
I've started a lovely vegetable garden for the first time in five years.
And I'm very happy to say I've finally gotten back into my painting studio!
The other day I caught myself in the garden out of nowhere with a big grin on my face. I realized that maybe the past few months have been nothing more than a simple case of lingering winter blues, and that all I really need in life is some sunshine and gratitude!


Momento (ribbon), 2017, oil on paper, 33.5 x 38.5 inches


Momento (#2), 2017, oil on paper, 33.5 x 38 inches

Momento (#3), 2017, oil on paper, 37.5 x 33.5 inches

Momento (pink), 2017, oil on paper, 31.5 x 41 inches


Momento (#5), 2017, oil on paper, 33.5 x 37.5 inches