December 14, 2017

How Much Of The Audience Should I Be Concerned With?

This is a repost of something I wrote back in 2014. It's crazy that I just stumbled across it and it's like I could've written it yesterday! 

Thankfully I feel like the new series of paintings I'm working on is resolving this very issue. I guess we'll just have to wait another 3 years to see if it still applies!

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laundry meat after a funeral, 2011, 44X44", oil on canvas
caress, 2009, oil on canvas, 54X56"

March 2014

I've always been interested in the figure, but not necessarily in figure painting. I prefer a blurry line between the figurative and abstract. I'd much rather offer a question to the viewer than a declaration. 

Although it's been a while since I made the more definitive transition to pure abstraction, lately I've been looking at some of my older figurative work with a discerning eye.

I notice a big difference in the way people respond to the recognizable versus the unrecognizable. And now that I'm thinking about it, I notice a big difference in the way I'm responding myself. It's like there was more to look at before, more of an essence. 

Most viewers had a much stronger reaction to the work that was more recognizable. I thought it was just that figures and faces were more familiar. It's also hard to experience abstract work when you're spending the whole time trying to 'figure it out' instead of actually looking, which is what people tend to do.
ugly head, 2009, oil on canvas, 54X54"

detail, in like a lion, 2011, oil on canvas, 50X76"
These paintings have a lot in common, but I do feel that there is something almost tangible in the figures that is missing in the abstractions. If I could just get that thing into the abstract paintings...

It's that human connection I've been searching for in all my work, but perhaps it was clearer to a broader audience before. 

I wonder, how much of the audience should I be concerned with? 

What do you think?

the new swimmer, 2009, triptych, 178X50", oil on canvas
skinny, 2012, oil on canvas, 30X50"



































girl with pearl earring, 2008, oil on canvas, 54X56"



snowy november, 2012, oil on canvas, 56X56"





























baby, 2009, oil on canvas, 50X84"

December 4, 2017

I do not wish I had straight hair




I want to write a cookbook very badly... I'm in the gathering stages as they say. Did you know that you cannot publish a recipe that someone else has published unless you've changed at least three ingredients and have altered the description/instructions? Unless you do that you will need to give credit where credit is due. The law indicates that a list of ingredients by itself doesn't belong to any one author, but that the way you describe something in your own words does. With that said, I would like to thank my FB friend, talented writer and photographer Alina Noir for inspiring this little writing exercise.

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I don't know how to dive and I hold my nose when I go underwater.

I don't know how to play chess.

I bat lefty even though I'm a righty because that's how my grandfather taught my father and that's how he taught me.

I am terrible at geography and have no sense of direction.

I can keep a beat and sometimes don't notice that I'm moving my body to random music in my head.

I love the smell of lemon thyme.

I fear I will never be more than a mediocre painter.

I do not wish I had straight hair.

When I was a kid I wanted to have long blond straight hair and be a secretary named Suzanne Merino.

I wish I knew how to sew my own clothes.

I'm afraid to ride a ten speed bicycle.

I'm obsessed with cucumber sandwiches.












CONSUMERISM

I am obsessed with decorating magazines. I admit it. House Beautiful, Elle Decor, Architectural Digest, Domino, Lonny, Dwell, Moon to Moon, etc. etc.
It's kind of a problem because all it does is make me want to go out and buy all the things on the pages, which is the point of course. I know ultimately it's all a farce, but I do love looking at other cultures and the way other people all over the world live. I find it inspiring. Unfortunately it also leads to sweeping generalizations about America and the way we live, the way I live.


Samantha Palmeri art
magic marker on tracing paper, 19 x 24 inches
American culture... where everything has to be brand new, pristine, shiny, and big. We think of ourselves as slightly more moral and decent than the rest of the world, dare I say uncorrupted, at least up until recently, and we like our products to reflect that. When things get used we replace them. Throw out the old and bring in the new. This reinforces our entire way of thinking and living. It's one side or the other. We don't face our problems, we either toss them completely or we rebrand them, clean them up, package and ship them out. Is this really the American ideal? If we stripped away this idea of shiny newness what would that look like?

Well, certainly the answer can't be found on the pages of a glossy magazine! But just look at that old stone cottage, Italian countryside, wild nature climbing all over it, where not one shred of anything is manufactured in China, where maybe the people who live there are as real as the materials..... I really have to stop subscribing to these things.

Lately I've been searching on the internet for things like how to darn socks and dye old fabrics, and now that it is officially Christmas season this all seems relevant...? I am NOT free from American consumerism by any means. Not all the things on my Christmas list are used/vintage (FYI I just spent a ton of money on a very shiny new kitchen sink), but I also cannot bear to buy one more product from Home Depot or Target. I have no interest in living a life that looks like a sterile hotel room or an ad in a home and garden box store circular. And anyway I can't think of anything warmer and more inviting than objects, interiors, and even people that are slightly rumpled and used.

And that leads me to what I really wanted to tell you about. I know I've gone off on a tangent, but besides my Christmas list, I really have been thinking of all this in relation to my work. If I could embrace that bit of messy nature, of wild rambling vines and the familiarity of the slightly used and rumpled... I'd be very happy.


Samantha Palmeri art
magic marker on tracing paper, 19 x 24 inches
At night while I watch TV I've been making drawings with magic marker on crumpled tracing paper. It feels very liberating. When I started to paint on paper instead of canvas last spring I had this need to not take my materials so seriously. I was feeling pressured with the responsibility of costly canvases and I wanted to not be precious with anything. I want to be free and unencumbered with my materials but also I want to make work that is more natural, less laborious and ultimately more accessible for the viewer. Although I've been going back and forth between canvas and paper, I'm approaching it differently. Less preciousness, less earnestness, less pressure, more natural, more immediate, more personal, more accessible. Nature is a wild beautiful miry mess and I'd like to embrace that, at least in my work if I can.

... off on a tangent or not, I'm planning to give everyone jarred peaches for Christmas this year, tied with a used ribbon and a handmade paper card... we'll see how well that goes over.


Happy Season to you all!
Happy Making, and thinking, and being!


art podcasts and approachability

I haven't posted anything in a while although I've been writing a lot. Sufficient to say, I'm still here... happily trudging along. Eventually I'll probably post some of these so feel free to act surprised..

Topics I've been writing about run the gamut:
no longer a vegan
cut my hair
deadlines, real and imagined
upcoming exhibits
thanksgiving dinner
new kitchen counters
messy painters
art fairs
podcasts
social media
Corinne Bailey Rae
having the flu in October and a cold in November/December...

I have been painting a lot, trying to get to a place I haven't been. Is running while standing still an expression? that's how I often feel. Oh, Google tells me it's running to stand still and they reference the current state of affairs, no pun intended. that seems about right.

Anyway, I have been painting a lot but I've also been paying attention a lot, which isn't necessarily always the case. I'm making sure to allot the same amount of time for sitting and looking as for standing and painting. this is helpful because I think painter's psyche works this way (or maybe it's all artists I don't know). We have the capacity to work instinctually, allowing the spiritual, the unknown, the subconscious to take the lead, but we're also quite cerebral and need to think a lot and sort it all out. We are in it and out of it which is a good explanation for painting being so much about the push and pull of it all and the tension between the two.

I've been talking about my work a lot lately too, which is very helpful. Abstraction is not a discernible concrete thing to be easily discussed. A lot of people don't know how to talk about it which makes it hard to know how these things are coming across. I am now making strides to add some context to my work. I've had this purist notion that the painting itself should be doing all the talking, but without accessibility there is a clear disconnect. You can't identify with something that is so unfamiliar you don't know what it is. I want to create a clearer entrance for the viewer. Pure abstract formalism has never been my goal. Abstraction has given me a broader range of meaning, but I need my paintings to say more than what they've been saying. I'm not quite sure how that will all work. It's complicated because I'm not really commenting on anything, yet I'm not interested in decoration either. I want to evoke a feeling in the viewer, a memory, a moment, and I want them to take it personally somehow. Is that valid? I realize I have to create it from a personal place to begin with, and, well, that's exactly where I am going to start..

Of several new obsessions, listening to podcasts while I work is by far the most useful. I've listened to a number of artists talk about the same exact things I've just mentioned, specifically about painting and context, and that validation is a real comfort in what is usually a pretty uncomfortable space. The studio that is, the place of refuge and struggle at the same time, comfort and conflict!

More posts on the way... For now check out my favorite podcasts: Magic Praxis, The Conversation

Further listening and reading: Should Artists Talk About Their Work