Showing posts with label rituals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rituals. Show all posts

April 2, 2016

"Any Time Spent In The Studio Is Not A Waste Of Time"


Speaking of rituals, which I seem to do a lot of,
I was wondering what other artists do in the studio...

Yesterday I went to the studio for the first time in a little over a week and it felt like I hadn't been there in a month. I thought I was going to end up sitting on the couch staring into space and conveniently procrastinating the day away, but I totally surprised myself and got to work right away.

Samantha Palmeri painting in progress
here's the painting I worked on, still unfinished. See it finished HERE

It made me realize that there are a lot of ways to procrastinate (no kidding). But a lot of the things I used to think were taking up, a.k.a wasting, too much time are actually necessary parts of the whole process. Yesterday I did what I always do and took the time to empty all the clumped up skins of oil paint at the bottom of my paint jars. I refilled them with new colors, mixed up a fresh jar of medium, threw away old rags, and poured new Gamsol. By moving through my regular routine I was able to naturally move right back into the paintings themselves without too much painful effort. I also sat and looked for a long time which used to feel like serious loitering but is another important and necessary tool.

The truth is that sometimes just standing around doing nothing is helpful, as if simply absorbing it all in is as much of an activity as the painting itself. Regardless, I'm still glad that wasn't the only thing I accomplished yesterday.

I used to have a sign in the studio that said Any Time Spent in the Studio is not a Waste of Time, which by the way I just found out is quoted in a bizarre little book JERRY SALTZ ART CRITIC's Fans, Friends, & The Tribes Suggested ART STUDIO DOOR SIGNS of Real Life or Fantasy.

I still think it's true.. 

So back to all you studio workers, what are your rituals or routines that help you get going??



February 12, 2016

Artist's Daily Rituals

Here's a great book for artists I recently read that I must share with you,
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, edited and with text by Mason Currey.

Daily Rituals by Mason Currey
It presents detailed descriptions of the daily routines of 161 artists, mostly in their own words. It includes artists of every genre throughout history including writers, composers, painters, choreographers, playwrights, poets, philosophers, sculptors, filmmakers, and scientists.

I am so fascinated by books like this. I love to hear how other artists spend their days in and out of the studio. With all the vagaries of artist temperaments, and all the disparate ways of getting things done, what amazes me is that in the end I think we are all exactly the same, all fighting with ourselves over one thing or another, and for the same end purpose: creating. So many quirks and peculiar habits: charts and time clocks to track the time, pots of coffee and chocolate and opium and whiskey to keep us up when we should be down and down when we should be up. Rising at 3am or at noon or not sleeping at all, working in pajamas or while lying in bed or at the kitchen table. All leading up to the most important aspect of our lives, the work. I think most artists agree that inspiration is either non-existent or so constant we don't think of it as inspiration at all. The key is getting to work, whether we feel inclined at the moment or not. I love reading about an artist who lived two hundred years ago who went about his day similarly to the way I go about my day. Not to get too overly sentimental (if it's not too late), but I think it's important for artists to feel this connection, like we're continuing something important, something we can't help to begin with.

Willem de Kooning
photo of Willem de Kooning
I was thinking the other day that I can't remember an article I've read about contemporary painting in maybe the last five years that did not mention de Kooning at least 4 times. I wonder how he would feel about that. I used to imagine de Kooning's work ethic the epitome of what an artist's life should look like. Like being in your art studio 12 hours a day seven days a week was the only way to be a real artist. The man never stopped working. After years of struggling with that notion I've finally accepted my own way of doing things, which needless to say is a far cry from someone like Willem de Kooning.


Willem de Kooning
Woman Landscape XII, Willem de Kooning

Everyone needs to find their own way, so if four hours gets me to the best work I can make, so be it. 

Books like Daily Rituals confirm all my ideas about being an artist. It's wonderfully encouraging to see how other artists have been dealing with all the same issues but in so many different ways for so long...

For Like Ever, poster
for like ever.



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.











March 14, 2014

the comfort zone: spaces we create in


I had a wonderful conversation last night with my amazing friend and writer Beth Mann about the spaces we create in. It is so nice to talk to artists of other disciplines because again and again it reiterates how those of us who spend our lives creating often face the same issues, the same challenges and play the same mind games with ourselves no matter what we're working on.

For example, where does an artist feel most comfortable working? 


You would imagine their own studio, at their own desk, their own space, their own computer - but

Louise Bourgeois
perhaps the most satisfying work isn't always done in the most comfortable setting. 

Sometimes faced with the challenge of working outside one's comfort zone, interesting things start to happen. Once you get used to a situation too much there tends to follow a period of predictable and often stale proceedings. You may be going with the flow, producing the same paintings you always have, writing the same stories you always have, but art needs to shake things up. 

Isn't that the criteria of art? 


In order to shake things up sometimes we as artists also need to be shaken up. This aint fun or easy. Comfortable and complacent is much cozier, however, look what happens when we leave that comfort zone.....we surprise ourselves. We discover something we hadn't discovered before, and it's EXCITing! This is what the viewer sees and the reader reads, they feel that excitement. 

In my case, if my life hadn't been shaken up with my last adventure in owning The Art House Gallery, I would've been in a serious creative rut by now. Because I was displaced temporarily using the gallery as my studio in between customers and classes, I started working on different and unexpected projects. I was able to make paintings that would've been way too large for my home studio, as well as work with materials that I wouldn't have ordinarily chosen. Now that I'm back in my home studio I'm continuing to work with some of these materials and loving it! 

Also shaking my world up is the fact that my house has been on the market for the past ten months. This has severely altered my work habits and process of making. Because we have people constantly coming to look at the house, I've wasted a lot of my time trying to keep a neat and tidy work space, which is an oxymoron at best. Psychologically feeling stifled in my own space has been extremely frustrating, but it surprisingly has also resulted in an exciting new direction for my work, including some risk taking I wasn't prepared for.

In the end, I'm so glad I was forced out of my comfort zone because it has led to some true creativity.




February 13, 2014

Master Dabblers

Thank you to the ladies at MasterDabblers.com for publishing an article I just wrote on their blog titled The Clothes We Wear. Check it out! 
Their site is very cool with provocative kits to purchase like "Legit Kits", interviews with contemporary artists, and regular events like field trips to meet artist Polly Apfelbaum in her New York studio.










September 18, 2013

RITUALS


I love September morning rituals. It always feels like the beginning of the year. New schools, new jobs, new season, new skies, new air. Every September I write my long to-do list of new goals for my artwork, my family, my house. I make new schedules and mark up the calendar with underlining asterisks, circles and exclamation points.

It's nice to go about your day with a steady flow of self-prescribed activity. It's comforting to have some daily practices to rely on, to wake up and know exactly what you want to do without even having to think about it.

Rituals are systems of ceremonial behavior. Although defined as religious rites, rituals can also be things you do repeatedly on a regular basis. Not to be confused with habits, rituals are voluntary and non-addictive, at least the type I'm imagining. 

I read a memorable article years ago in one of those home and garden magazines. It was about this artist couple who lived on this incredibly gorgeous ranch in South Africa or some exotic location. They each had their own enormous custom built barn-like structures where they painted every day for exactly 6 hours, rode their beloved horse exactly 5 miles each morning, and heated up the claw foot bathtub every night before dinner. Although I know that everything you read in those magazines is meant to look better, sound better, and be better than anything in your real life, there's something so intriguing...about that couple and their daily rituals.

My rituals would be waking up to hot cups of tea on chilly mornings. Spending X amount of time writing or reading in the morning light, working in the studio for X amount of hours, an afternoon walk, an early dinner, et cetera, et cetera.

For some reason I cannot accomplish this. I get sidetracked midway through the morning light. I remember I forgot to pay the bills or we ran out of milk. Sometimes my studio is such a mess I don't even want to go in there. Sometimes I just have nothing to read, or write. I used to drink coffee, then I realized my coffee was drinking me. Now I'm on tea, but it gets boring. By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, all this newness seems really old. As sure as I know that the seasons will change, I know that at about the same time every year I'll start wondering how in the world I ever thought I would accomplish all the things on that list.

This year I've attempted to force the issue by signing up for a 5 week clay class in Philadelphia, my first art class since 1996! I also signed up the whole family for a month of Yoga classes. I know one month isn't much but maybe I'm slowly learning to enjoy each season as it comes.....so far so good, but then again, ask me at Thanksgiving!