Showing posts with label intention. Show all posts
Showing posts with label intention. Show all posts

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.

December 4, 2015

How To See A Painting

According to Mallarme, "to name an object is to destroy three quarters of the pleasure we take in the poem..."

This as applied to abstract painting;
the pleasure "which is derived from the enjoyment of guessing by degrees, of suggesting it..."

My work these days is a flurry of suggestive activity on canvas,
which at times seems aimless, literally going in circles,
but certainly it's a lot more than that.

These suggestions are just as much brought to bare by the viewer as by the painter.
What does one see when looking at the activity of a painting?
The activity of a painter and her paints, color, texture, movement...?
Do you hear the song I am listening to, can you tell the mood I'm in?

My marks, my flight across the canvas,
like a spider weaving its web,
catch you in a moment of looking.
Two shapes connecting,
many shapes connecting.

As to color, which can only be related to one's perception of color,
is it universal to automatically associate red with blood, blue with the sea, brown with shit, peach with flesh, and black with death?
I'm literally running out of colors to use.
I make attempts to restrict my palette only to wind up with the same colors I love.
I make attempts to use color not for emotional purposes only to wind up doing exactly that.

When does a painting become a painting about making paintings, and who wants to see that?

Samantha Palmeri painting
Samantha Palmeri, Untitled, 2015, oil on canvas, 50 x 50 inches

I like the idea of this mass moving through space.
A tangled mass of color and line.
Body fluids and parts, thoughts, ideas, feelings, moments,
sinews connecting tissue and nerve endings.
This rattles me.
This brings me peace.
This is a journey I do not want to go on.
This is a journey I do want to go on.

"The contemplation of objects, the images
and flights of fancy arising from this contemplation
These constitute the song..."

" gradually conjures up an object so as to demonstrate a state of mind, or, conversely, one chooses an object which, when gradually deciphered, reveals a state of mind."

This is my struggle to get viewers to not see a duck or a face. I want them to recognize the work, the feeling of it. Is there a way to actually change perception? Can pink ever signify more than little girl's rooms and stuffed animals?

It's a phenomenon that people are so inclined to tell you what they think your painting is all about.

I imagine most people have no idea how many of their comments are insulting, but I'm sure that whatever they think my painting looks like, it's exactly whatever is on their mind not mine. Apparently a lot of people's minds are filled with ducks and mermaids, cartoon characters, shoelaces, and faces from their past. 

If everyone views a work of art from their own distinct personal experience and perception, how can the artist speak to everyone at once? If it's even possible at all, then the only way to do it is to start with your own. Your own voice, experience and perception.

Let's just face it, some people will love black and hate pink no matter what you do.......

October 22, 2015

MINDFUL DRAWING on a Thursday afternoon

I'm supposed to be practicing mindfulness.*
I've given myself to meditation, and occasionally, yoga. Even gave myself a trip to three day holistic retreat. I should be feeling like heaven on earth, but the more I think about it, the farther away from Zen I get. And that's just the point. I have to keep reminding myself to stop thinking.

I'm going to venture to say that 90% of my blog posts include the question why repeatedly, well probably even more than that, which maybe some of you have noticed.
It's a hard habit to break..

With that said, I'm taking this moment to reflect on what's happening right now and accept it as is. No why's in this post, no past, no future, just here's what I'm doing without having any idea where it's going or why it's happening.

New drawings everyday being made with minimal materials including charcoal, eraser, fingers, hand, paper, wall... 

*Mindfulness means being aware of what is going on around you in the present moment. Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them.
When you are on a journey, it is certainly helpful to know where you're going - but remember: the only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. that's all there ever is.
 from the little book of Mindfulness

So here is one full week's worth of mindful drawing, posted on a Thursday afternoon:

September 3, 2015

the grass is always greener

It is September again... already. I'm reminded of a September blog about Rituals 
I wrote that I thought was last year but turns out it was two years ago. This makes perfect sense as the next thing I was going to say was that my life seems to be replaying itself over and over. So it seems right on cue to want to talk about it all over again... 

My life is good, as in, I have a good life, but the critical part of me is extremely critical and always thinks the grass is greener no matter what. That annoying naysayer stuck in my head revels in an endless litany of malcontent. It matters not that this year I am settled in a new place, new location, new environment. Apparently the inward man is not affected by changes in scenery. My gut is still looking at the neighbor's lawn regardless.

I am supposed to be coming up with new morning rituals, and this seems very difficult. Afternoon rituals and night time rituals also just as difficult. I am usually so excited for September, writing new schedules and starting new classes, etc. but right now it all seems like so much work. I am slightly dreading my calendar that already has so many marks circled and crossed off and circled again I can't see the numbers of the days anymore.

I'm sure the fact that I have not been in my art studio since July has a lot to do with it. Things happen in the summer that can't be explained except to say, well... it's the summer. Even though I am so proud of all the work I accomplished last year, I want to be even better this year and even more focused.

Sometimes I think if I could only be more traditional and go about the day rigidly following lists and schedules, I would be more stable, temperate, less distracted, stop thinking so much. I would be the most focused devoted person in the world. I imagine what it would be like to be that devoted to my artwork. I'd figure out how to haul the white couch into my second floor studio so I could spend mornings and nights there and just work work work. I'd be so devoted to my family I'd hang on their every word and make every meal from scratch. I'd be devoted to goodness and God and happiness. I would never be restless, bored or irritated. And I would definitely not spend the entire month of August away from my artwork. 

Thankfully I'm able to temporarily wake myself from this unrealistic dream. A cool relief sweeps right over my thought that all those temperate, ritualistic traditionalists have it any better than me. That would be almost as ridiculous as hauling a perfectly clean white couch into an oil stained painting studio.

On the other hand, there's something to this idea of keeping rituals I can't get away from. If only there were a way to use my naturally restless character to help me accomplish all my goals. If only the very idea of rituals did not include blind devotion with no guarantee of reward. Unrewarded is a term I am not friendly with. This is something to ponder... 

Devotion comes little by little, step by step. The very notion that change can come from doing something repeatedly is difficult to grasp. But maybe it is not the doing so much as the perception of it that leads to change. If I keep doing the same thing but think about it differently?

Samantha Palmeri painting
detail, "abstract painting #5" 2014
Perhaps I can focus on what I've already been rewarded with and start from there, or perhaps stop thinking about the reward altogether. 

I love my art studio. For the first time in my life I can honestly say that in this particular case the grass is not greener. I do not want a bigger, better space. I don't visit other artists and think, oh if I only had that space what amazing work I could get done. Nope. I just want more time to enjoy it. Come to think of it, I do not want a better anything. Really all I want is to be happy with what I already have. So what if it's stupid to put a white couch in a painting studio, so what if pizza night is twice or three times a week, and so what what the neighbors or anyone else is doing with their metaphorical lawns.

This is precisely what's going on my September schedule this year: 
Be happy with what I have and who I am.

May 20, 2015

suck it up and spit it out

some notes that I took after a long weekend of open studio conversations...

view of my studio during Beacon Open Studios

how is a painting perceived?
a painting that you could see the artist stepping into and stepping out of. feeling it first and then thinking it. it's that spewing out and reeling in motion. kids do that with pool water, they suck it up and spit it out. these are two things that go together, an in and out simultaneously, but there are many dichotomies also at work. there is soft and hard, the slathering on and wiping away. the act of half destroying a thing in order for it to emerge to its full potential, and the act of knowing how to do that and how to repeat it. to purposely destroy a piece with the faith in the process that the painting will eventually complete itself. this is the most difficult thing because the potential is for complete destruction. if you're lucky, the reward outweighs the failure every time.
of course I don't actually believe in luck...

April 30, 2015

Everything is Foreplay

Absolutely Everything Is Foreplay
(given the right context of course....)

My painting teacher at the School of Visual Arts had an amazing (and scary) knack of making her students hyper aware of every single minute detail in the painting studio. In the studio, in the work itself, the easel, the brushes, the floor, the light. I remember her coming in one day and making us paint the walls white before we could begin our critique. It became quite difficult to get any work done in her class because we became so self-conscious of every little thing. You would pick up a brush and pause midway between the palette and the canvas with the thought, is this the right brush, is this the right color, is this the right canvas?
To this day everything she taught is ingrained in my psyche. I cannot go to an exhibition without obsessively considering the wall labels, their size and font and proximity to the artwork. I become aware of the floor, the walls and the ceiling without ever making a conscious decision to do so.

Foreplay is a word that implies the prelude to a main event. Before, ahead of, in front of..

You could say cooking dinner is foreplay. That is, if you're trying to get someone's attention. The tablecloth, the wineglasses, the candle in the center of the table. Changing your clothes for dinner and the music you dance to when everyone is done eating. Foreplay. All the particulars to an evening that you want to end well.

In the same way you could say opening the front door to the gallery is foreplay for the exhibition. The space, the lighting, the way the show is hung. All the details that suggest meaning and point to the main attraction: the artwork and how it is perceived.

Success would mean, in either case, that we're all turned on and paying attention.

What makes it so? Intention.
Intention. Intention. 
Even if you're the only one who knows. If you are focused and committed enough to it, that intention somewhere along the way becomes palpable. The idea becomes tangible, and you end up succeeding in creating an environment ripe for whatever climax you're hoping to achieve.

On the other hand, ignore the walls or the floor, wall labels too big, too clunky, burnt chicken, stale wine... things get a little dry, confusing, anti-climactic. Pay attention. Advance. Suggest. Preface....

Everything is foreplay.

January 12, 2015

Momentum in the Studio, continued

Thoughts on keeping momentum in the studio... 

Here's what happens when you let your paintings dictate their own path... they keep it going. 

They don't suddenly need a break after a few months to change direction. They naturally reinvent, reconfigure, and turn back around on themselves. 

You find yourself immersed in the work 
losing your way, and then finding your way.

You get lost
you find yourself
you get lost
you find yourself 
... repeat

You stumble onto a color, a texture, or a technique that takes you through five paintings, and then suddenly you stumble onto another set of colors, textures or techniques, and you forget all about the first ones you were so intrigued by five paintings ago... But then you find them again. 

abstract painting #1

You've pulled from one source here and another source there but it all becomes one long conversation. You just have to allow the work to keep going long enough to circle back around. If you hold out long enough, you'll eventually get back to that original infatuation, the thing that entranced you to begin with. 

At a certain point one has to stop dictating to the artwork and allow the artwork to dictate to them. Otherwise you end up the way I used to be, always starting and stopping a new series after a few month's time. By allowing each artwork to have a life of it's own and go off on it's own tangent, you're able to maintain a certain momentum. 
I used to think every canvas had to say everything and had to include every single idea and/or technique that I was ever interested in. I now know that that is not only impossible, it is extremely debilitating.

There's no way to recapture an exact feeling, idea, or moment in the studio, but 

if you give the work the space it needs, it will slowly unfold on itself and recapture the feeling all on its own. 

well, seemingly on it's own...

Momentum in the Studio- part I

January 8, 2015

Momentum in the Studio

Every moment in the studio is it's own fleeting irreplaceable moment. You can't get it back. You can't recapture your exact mood or state of mind no matter how hard you try. When I leave the studio for the weekend I come back to a wall full of quizzical paintings. Sometimes it's hard to imagine what I was going through just two or three days ago. It's hard to remember, and it's even harder to try and put myself back there and pick up where I left off.

Sally Mann photograph 2004

In one way the starts and stops are good because with them comes less single mindedness and a more well rounded set of thoughts and feelings. But it's also nice to feel like you're on a moving vessel and not one that is constantly jerking around.

My mother used to yell at me when I sold or gave away a painting she liked because I'd always tell her I'd make her another one but never did. I tried, but you can't go back.

With every series I've worked on, it's the same. I work for as long as I'm completely entranced. Once I lose the momentum I know it's over. I'm usually good for about 10 paintings in a series and then it's on to something else. Of course the something else is related, as most work ends up as a continuation, but it is different.

That cycle is beginning to change. My paintings are demanding much more of me... hence the quizzical looks... Things are moving at a much swifter pace than usual. Even within just the last few pieces I've completed I feel like I can't turn around or look back. I think for the first time I am letting the work do it's own thing and flow right through me. I just have to keep up the momentum and keep it flowing...

Momentum in the Studio- continued

December 30, 2014

the life of a painting

started the day finishing these two paintings...

...and ended the day with something entirely different
I guess I missed my old lines

How do you get a line to smile at you or say hello to the line standing next to it?
or "Merry Christmas" or "I saw you in the supermarket last week"?
Is this possible? Can lines exchange such pleasantries?
Should they be required to make such small talk?

There comes a moment in the life of a painting when
it's not enough to leave behind an idea that something may have just happened here.
There comes a moment when line needs to speak to line,
with color asking all the questions for a change.

This way we could all be in it together, frolicking around, acting out.

I'm not quite there yet... almost.

March 10, 2014

from the figurative to abstract

laundry meat after a funeral, 2011, 44X44", oil on canvas
caress, 2009, oil on canvas, 54X56"
I've always been interested in the figure, but not necessarily in figure painting. I prefer the line between the figurative and abstract, and I've always made work that reflects that. Ambiguity is an important factor to me and I'd much rather offer a question to the viewer than a declaration. My paintings should leave one with an overall feeling, a gesture, a curiosity. They are moments, evasive, ethereal-

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

I notice a big difference in the way people respond to the recognizable vs. the unrecognizable. Most viewers can usually make out that my work is very organic and bodily even if they know little else about it, but I'd say the majority of viewers have a much stronger reaction to the figurative paintings. 

I imagine that people just respond more to the familiar. A face is something we can all relate to because we all have one. Abstract color and brushwork, maybe not as much. It's also a lot harder to experience the work if you're spending the whole time trying to 'figure it out' instead of actually looking, which is what a lot of 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 even though they tend to appeal to two different groups of people, but now that I look back at the faces and figures, I can see that maybe there is something missing in my newer abstractions- and it's not just the familiar. There is a tangible essence, something palpable. If I could just get that thing into these abstract paintings, then I'd be combining everything I'm interested in, all the color and texture and ambiguity, but also the thing that makes the viewer stop in his tracks. That human connection.

It's that 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"

this side now, 2012, oil on canvas, 72X84"

baby, 2009, oil on canvas, 50X84"

January 23, 2014

Art Wrestling in 2014

It's been just over one year that I've been publishing my blog.

After my recent two week interlude without a computer, of all the time sucking online activities I've decided to eliminate from my life, my blog, I'm happy to say, is not one of them.

What started as a simple way to connect myself to the ever growing online community has turned out to be a very fun and useful extension of my work and life.

When I began I was just entering my second year as the owner and director of The Art House Gallery. It was a huge part of what I was wrestling with on a daily basis. Part of my intention was to expose the experience of running a gallery, and part of it was to regularly share my artwork. In fact I think my first post (which has since been deleted) said something about making new artwork and writing something once a week to start.
That of course never really happened. I didn't even post any images in the beginning. If you've been paying attention you know that I'm much more naturally inclined toward the inconsistencies of life than in rigid routines. Most of what I publish comes directly from my writing journals which I've kept for years and which are generally all over the place.

I'm a juggler, a wrestler, a mother, an artist, a thinker, a worker. I've been a teacher, a curator, a director, an exhibitor. I balance food shopping each week with stretching canvas, cooking dinner with mixing paints, cleaning the house with organizing my art studio. This is what I do everyday. Occasionally I open up a shop or a gallery or start a group, but I always come back to my artwork.

The Art Wrestler is about all of this. It's about the balance between the everyday, mundane and repetitive; and the creative and sublime.

I know there are others who can relate.

Daybook by Anne Truitt is an inspiring book of this sculptor's published journals all about raising a family and being an artist

During a studio visit I conducted back in 1999, when I owned my first art gallery, Catherine Street Gallery, I met with a wonderful artist living in Brooklyn. She had a lovely detached home at the end of the block that she shared with her husband, her kids and her dog. Her studio was in the attic at the top of the third floor, and as we climbed the three flights of stairs we passed by all the commotion and mayhem that made up her life. I remember leaving there hoping that I'd never have to juggle that many things in life to be able to do my art and make a living.
Ha.....ha, ha. How naive I was to imagine I could escape the chaos of life while still being a part of it.

Another inspiring book. If you look to the right you'll see a quote from here that's become something of a mantra for me

I don't know who's reading this, but I hope you find it worthwhile enough to keep reading. This year I'd like to include some guest writers and artists to keep things interesting, perhaps a few interviews, and more behind the scenes from my art studio.

What are some other things you'd like to read about???? Send me your comments...

I often get comments that don't end up here either by email or facebook. If you comment directly to the blog at least we can all share in the conversation.

April 8, 2013

Frizzy fly-aways!

I've been on something of a vacation from the Art House for over a week. I told my daughter yesterday on our way out how good it felt to be able to leave at 2:00, to come and go as I please, but how it won't feel so good when I can't go back at all after I close. I will miss it. I like having it there waiting around for me.

Perhaps I'll miss it the way I miss sugar in my coffee, or the way I miss martinis before dinner. Maybe I'll miss it the way I'd miss T.V. if I didn't have one. They're all nice to have but not really necessary. They're all bad habits that make you unhealthy in one way or another...

Running a public art space is like that for me, more of a vice and a guilty pleasure than it should be. Although it adds to my life in many ways, I end up spending all my time trying to make it work which ultimately takes me away from my true intention which is to paint and make art.

INTENTION is such a strong and important word. Something that should be kept at the top of every list under every category. Without it we flail about undecidedly, confusing everyone around including ourselves. Even so, I have to admit, sometimes even the most purposed intentions lead you in unexpected directions... wrestling

I wish I were a better writer and could actually control this pen in my hand. My writing is more of a purge at misgiven times. Unannounced recordings that occur the moment before they combust in my brain. I wish I could learn to corral them more successfully, I mean more intentionally. It's the same way I go into the studio with all these intentions and come out with something completely different all the time.

Reminds me of the conversation I was having the other day with Jocelyn, my good friend who also cuts my hair. When you have this curly hair that I have you don't really have control over the thing, you're just sort of in charge of it. It will ultimately have it's way no matter what. Sounds like my writing. Sounds like my artwork these days too. In fact sounds like pretty much everything these days.

Maybe all art is that way, coming and going and flailing around as it pleases. We're just the officers in charge for the day trying to corral those frizzy fly-aways!