Showing posts with label self reflection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label self reflection. Show all posts

July 7, 2017

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

April 13, 2017

what does success mean to you?

I'm posting this on my birthday, in the hopes that this year will be more successful than the last....

IN THE COMPANY OF WOMEN: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs is a très interesting book of interviews. The founder of Design Sponge, Grace Bonney, asks this diverse group of inspiring women a series of questions describing their creative paths.

A book like this, with artists answering the same questions over and over, makes me imagine how I would answer the questions myself. It's only natural to make those comparisons. I won't bore you with the details, but what I want to talk about is the one question I was stuck on.  

What does success mean to you?
This is, of course, a completely subjective thing but don't you find the very notion of success a bit fleeting? It seems to change with the times, at least for me. When I was young I thought fame and fortune played a big part. Recognition, accolades, raising a family, being a good person. But any one of those things just by themselves has never really done it for me. I've thought about it a lot.

When I read Ping Zhu's reply, that "when things are harmonious, even for a moment, I try to savor it",  

Paul Klee, New Harmony, 1936
I realized that was it! That was the answer I was looking for. Success is not a concrete thing after all, it's a moment when everything is working together in perfect harmony. And if that's true, then there's the possibility for moments of great success every single day in everything we do!

I recently watched an episode of Chef's Table on Netflix. I can't say enough about this series, I absolutely love it. This one was about the Korean Buddhist nun Jeong Kwon.
Jeong Kwon used the word orchestra to illustrate the kind of unifying harmony where everything is working together. She was referring to nature and her place in it, but it's indicative of her all-inclusive philosophy about her food, her means of expressing her life, and her gratitude. Even more interesting was Ms. Kwon's notion that that very harmony was what she considered true freedom.

Hmmm.
I love this idea that maybe what success really means is true freedom. A freedom almost like a weightlessness, where all the elements are equally balanced, where nothing is too heavy or too light, nothing unnecessary or out of place, no interference, no mistakes. Even if it's just for a brief moment.

It's so simple isn't it? True freedom, true success, is the ability to get past our own selves, our own disappointments and desires. To not be burdened with expectations but to allow things to fall into place. I think the more we get away from the idea that we are the center of the universe, that life should wait for us, should adhere to our every want and whim, the closer we'll get to feeling at peace with ourselves and the things around us. Everything has a place and a purpose if we choose to see it that way. If we get out of our own way, perfect harmony can be happening all around us.

Henri Matisse, The Dessert: Harmony in Red, 1908









Success is harmony and harmony is freedom.

And there ends my sermon for the day! haha


March 24, 2017

HOW TO TELL IF LESS IS REALLY MORE

Last week feels like it flew by and I got nothing done, but as I sit here I can honestly see how "busy" is such a relative term.

I haven't been in my studio since I moved, making it two whole months I haven't painted, so it means something that I at least prepared for 5 new paintings this week. I also cooked a week's worth of family dinners from scratch, which again might not seem very interesting except that I recently became a vegan, so it makes it more of an accomplishment. I donated a drawing to Planned Parenthood, finalized the Beacon Open Studios catalog, which I've been working on for two months, submitted work for the Dorsky Museum, and applied for twelve full time jobs. Actually thirteen if you count friendly inquiries that don't include cover letters and resumes. Oh, and I learned how to write a cover letter, which I had no clue how to do. I have been self-employed for a long time! Turns out I haven't had a boss since 1998.

Apparently I've been working hard on the less is more approach to life. Take for instance becoming a vegan. I thought it would be close to impossible to eliminate that many food groups and still be satisfied, but what I discovered is that eliminating choices has actually given me more freedom somehow. Limitation creates innovation. When you have less, you can focus more on the things you do have. Less choices populating your brain equals more space to ruminate, or in this case cook tastier meals.

Does that make sense?

Like when the designers for the Ford car company come out and say that the recent automobile regulations are what forced the forward thinking responses that led to their significant technological advancements... you start to think, well, maybe some limitations aren't so bad.

I've been trying to limit my color choices in my painting for years. I just know that limiting my palette will give me more freedom, yet every time I get down to it I start mixing more and more colors, more and more.

So now I'm reconciling this idea of getting a full time job with the hope that less time in my studio will somehow make it more precious and more productive.

not such a great photo of an old painting of mine
I watched a movie the other night, the one with Robert De Niro who plays the trainer for the boxer Roberto Duran. I never would've thought boxing was like painting but it absolutely is. The trainer kept telling the boxer -
It's all in your head. It's all psychological. If the opponent gets inside your head you're dead. It's about strategy and longevity. Stay focused and you win. 
I mean, this is no joke. When Duran walked out of the ring in the middle of the fight with Sugar Ray Leonard, you really understood what a test of willpower it was. Not to be overly dramatic, but it's exactly the same with making art, except that the opponent is you. Actually, the trainer, the fighter, and the opponent... all you.

It's no light thing when you decide to walk out of the ring in the middle of a fight.
Hopefully that's not what I'm about to be doing. This "change is good" motto and trying new things out, well, we soon shall see just how far it takes me!







February 21, 2017

How to Make the Most out of What You've Got

So yesterday was moving day.

Goodbye to my beloved studio.

Hello to working out of the house again.

There's something très depressing about the amount of back breaking work it takes to move two and a half year's worth of paintings, just to store them in obscurity.

Moving always makes me feel like this...

It makes me painfully aware of how attached I am to these canvases, while also realizing how fragile and meaningless these things really are. After all, a painting is nothing more than some paint on a piece of fabric, and a drawing sometimes is nothing more than a doodle. Someone says it's special, puts it on a pedestal, proclaims its genius and all of a sudden it becomes something else entirely. It's so bizarre when you stop to think about it.

So, yeah, I had my little cry moment. It'll take some getting used to, but I'm already starting to feel better about it. Who knows, this could be the greatest thing ever. Last night some new friends came to visit me. What a lovely sight to see outside my window four deer quietly walking in the snow. It made me think how nice it will be to look out into the woods and the mountain from now on.

So I guess change will be good after all. Who knows what great artwork is about to get made.

Deer, the woods, the mountain... I'd say a much better view than that way-too-blue house and ugly duplex!


By the way, my white couch is still white! So much for everyone who thought moving it to the studio would be a disaster, including me. I just washed that slipcover again and I must say, this 16 year old IKEA beauty may just be the best $500 I've ever spent. Totally indestructible!




the last paintings I was working on. soon to be worked on some more
yup, the last things to get packed. the essentials: music, toilet paper and my flask of vodka

that sign didn't really work but I'm leaving it for the next tenant anyway
See ya



January 26, 2017

Hot Selling Copy

This January it feels more like a brand new year than almost any other year I can remember.

Major shifts in thinking are taking place at every level; individually, nationally, globally.  
Change isn't coming, it's here. And for anyone who's ever wished or rallied for change, be prepared, because it's never easy or quick or painless. My father used to say "struggle is good" with the conviction that nothing earned easily was worth earning, and that without the struggle, it could never be truly cherished or appreciated (whatever the it in your life might be). With that thought in mind I feel somewhat optimistic, in spite of the challenges that artists, women and the general American population are about to face.

This has been a January of change for me as well. A newer new year than usual!

I was pleased to participate in a Small Works show at the Catalyst Gallery here in Beacon, and even more pleased to have sold several drawings and a watercolor.

pastel drawing Samantha Palmeri
sold pastel drawing, 11 x 14 inches

This Saturday I'll be participating in another group show in Newburgh, and there is a possibility for a solo show of my paintings coming up this June, which I'll keep you posted on.

soon to be my new art studio

I've made the tough decision to move my art studio out of the studio building I've been in for the past two and a half years back to my home. I've gone back and forth about it for a while, but finally bit the bullet as they say. Change is good, right??   . . .  C h a n g e   i s   g o o d . . .   C h a n g e   i s   g o o d . . .   S t r u g g l e   i s   g o o d . . .   S t r u g g l e   i s   g o o d . . .




Last but not least, I'm super excited to have just become the new Director of Beacon Open Studios, a yearly event where Beacon artists open up their studios to the public. It's a huge weekend long, city-wide celebration sponsored by the artists and community members of Beacon, and enjoyed by thousands of visitors from all over. I'm thrilled to have volunteered, but it really is a huge job organizing it all. The irony is that I'm giving up my studio right before this event and will have to look for a temporary space to show my work!

Did I mention struggle is good!

My hope (and I am hopeful), is that you all are able to not just endure the new changes in your own lives, but relish them, because the reward for your perseverance is great!

My Facebook post this morning was this:

Think Big! because from one fallen dying leaf a whole brand new plant can grow



Happy 2017!



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


July 21, 2016

Where's your studio?

So here's another question for you artists:
Which do you prefer, studio space outside your home or inside your home?? 
For two years I've been telling the world how madly in love with my studio space I am and now I'm trying to rationalize the possibility of not being able to afford it anymore.
I told myself when I got it that I'd never have a studio in my house again.
There's something about physically going to work that is so appealing. Paying for a separate space forces me to work harder and take it all more seriously. I don't think about the computer or the dirty dishes or what we're eating for dinner. I barely even look at my phone.
Having a professional space makes me feel more like, um, a professional. 
But it also has a lot to do with having something all to myself which is really important too. The problem is if I can't afford it then that something for myself turns into something else entirely.
How selfish do we artists get to be? 
Especially when there's no money coming in from the work, only going out.....

Samantha Palmeri painting
unfinished painting, oil on canvas

I'm an artist who has tinkered away in the studio mostly unnoticed for years, and I suspect that will be the case for more years to come. Not that I'm complaining about it, well, I don't mean to anyway. I know I sound like I complain about a lot of things! About rejection notices and staying motivated and burning bridges, about solitude, both the desire for it and the lack thereof. I've complained about wanting a muse after losing one I thought I had, and also about not really needing a muse to begin with, etc. etc. I'd like to think they're not really complaints so much as comments on the topic.
I think spending a lifetime making art can sometimes be confusing like this, and at certain times it does feel a little like a useless endeavor. Nobody really needs it, do they?

I used to have a slogan, pinned up in the storefront window of my first art gallery with white twinkly lights around it, that said Art Is A Necessity. One day a known local artist asked me with a quizzical smirk on his face if I actually believed that. It never occurred to me not to believe it. I think about that all the time. I don't know why, because I don't really know how it affects me one way or the other except that I've always made art because it was a necessity for me. I don't know about anyone else but I need it.

Anyway, my hesitation, anticipation and anxiousness about getting back to work in the studio tends to do this. This wallowing in existential revery sort of thing. I've been reading Philip Guston books lately like I'm studying for the next quiz. Philip I'm ready whenever you wanna lay it on me! Except reading about it and doing it are very very different. I don't want to be him anyway. I'd like to be myself if I can figure out what in the world that looks like, and where to do it.............................





July 14, 2016

The Killer of Imagination

I think I've been wrong.

Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin

What can I say. Some people who know me intimately will think that's very funny. But yes, I think I've been, I mean I know I've been overly self-conscious, which is the killer of imagination and impulse. All my musing about muses and audience can't possibly be right. I don't need more people looking over my shoulder, I need less.

We should learn to be our own muses is my new motto. 

I have been away from the studio for probably the longest stretch since moving to Beacon, NY two years ago. I've worked hard in that time, making over 25 paintings and countless works on paper, so I very much needed this break... At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin
It all started with this year's Beacon Open Studios at the end of May. I spent two full days gibbering to strangers (and friends) about my artwork. Something a lot of us who participated in the event noticed was that after a while of describing your work to people, you start repeating yourself over and over. The same descriptive words start flying out of your mouth. And you hear yourself saying things you never heard before. You're like, oh, so that's what my work is really about!!

So what did I hear myself saying all day for two days straight? That my paintings were in a transition phase, that they weren't exactly the kind of paintings I wanted to be making but somehow they needed to be made, that they were more formal and more figurative than I wanted them to be. Although I had very positive feedback, I found my own self-effacing comments very revealing. It was clear to me that that series of paintings was done with. But what to do next? And why did I need to make all those paintings that now felt forced and untruthful?

So, I've been away from it for a while.

Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin
The timing has been impeccable since I did just move, and moving as we all know, is hell. But now I'm ready to go back and I can't imagine what to do.

For starters, I've decided to refrain from sharing works in progress, so you probably won't see any new photographs for a while. In this age of sharing every second of our lives with everyone on the planet, I've suddenly found myself needing some privacy.  

I have a lot of work to do. Whatever it is that's been keeping me from the most truthful work I can possibly make has got to go! So I may need to close off the world for a bit, hole up in the studio and not come out till I figure something out. 

 
Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin



Promise I won't be MIA for too long..............




June 6, 2016

Secrets of the Muse

Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft is such a good book. Even though I don't consider myself a writer per se, most of what he talks about could easily be applied to any artist of any discipline. He may have a whole chapter on vocabulary and grammar but it could just as well be about color, line and composition. There's so much to talk about with this book. His fascinating personal history, cool background information on some of his best novels and the Hollywood movies they turned into, the realities of being a working artist, the pragmatics of writing and persevering, etc. I've earmarked so many pages I will probably have to read the whole thing all over again.

Louise Bourgeois, The Insomnia Drawing no.14, 1995
One of the major things that struck me was the idea of a muse or an "ideal reader". It's been on my mind since page 215 which was like 2 months ago. King writes,
Someone- I can't remember who, for the life of me- once wrote that all novels are really letters aimed at one person. As it happens, I believe this. I think that every novelist has a single ideal reader; that at various points during the composition of a story, the writer is thinking, "I wonder what he/she will think when he/she reads this part?" For me that first reader is my wife, Tabitha.
Gerhard Richter
The first thing I thought about when I read this was a blog post I wrote almost a year ago that started with that very person's name who said the thing about writing like you're writing to one person. I never published the post, ended up deleting the whole thing, and subsequently cannot remember who the person was either. crazy.

Anyway as soon as I read it it was everywhere. It's like every article I've read since then has some artist naming his/her spouse as their muse or "ideal reader", the person they show their work to first and whose opinion they most rely on. It's been an epiphany for me. It's one of those subconscious things that you're aware of without realizing you're aware of it. Like when you're stuck on a piece of artwork. You know something is wrong but you can't articulate it until someone else comes in and points it out. Then it's, oh my God of course, that's what I knew the whole time.

Cy Twombly
The epiphany is that I realized I do not have a muse, and what's worse, I think I need one... badly.

So what the heck is a muse anyway? King writes,
... she's the one I write for, the one I want to wow... when I write a scene that strikes me as funny... I am also imagining my Ideal Reader finding it funny... He or she is going to be in your writing room all the time... You'll find yourself bending the story even before Ideal Reader glimpses so much as the first sentence. I.R. will help you get outside yourself a little, to actually read your work in progress as an audience would while you're still working.
There are plenty of arguments about the role the audience or viewer plays in works of art. Some artists claim they don't care and only make the work for themselves. I have a hard time with that. My thought is that visual art is visual. It needs a pair of eyes on it to complete the whole process. King seems to agree, at least about writing, when he says, "if you really feel that way, why bother to publish at all?"

Louise Bourgeois
Since I believe the viewer is an important part of my  work, then it goes along that a muse might also be important.
It's nice to have someone to want to impress, and what artist can't use another pair of eyes? If not to lavish their opinionated bits on you then at least to point out the things you can't easily see by yourself. It's kind of like having an extra standard to hold the work up to. A criteria that's outside yourself. That's what makes it useful. Because as artists we are so absorbed in our own heavy heads, it's important to step away sometimes and see things from a different point of view.

So the big question is, do you believe in the muse. Is it important? Is it necessary? Do you have one? Do you need one like me, and if so, where do you find one??????????


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.



January 11, 2016

The Journey

untitled drawing, 2015, charcoal on paper, 22X30"



isn't everything and everyone a journey?
     every cell, every atom
moving from one place to another

my eyes follow
     follow
the tiles in the bathroom
outlined in grey
     cement lines that take me
from one little square to another
and another
and another
like an eternal question
     why am I never satisfied

because I'm always following
        a line
that never ends


perhaps this is why I don't paint trees

trees have a trunk, roots, and branches that end
their lines break off and turn into sky and grass
     too finite
     too decisive
they're an answer, not a question

where will I go today?
what will I do?

do the lines in my paintings have answers?
they circle one another, over and under
I want to spend more time with them
     listening
but I'm too impatient
        too restless
they say to me, look what you've done
you've taken us where we didn't want to go
and I say
I didn't know where the hell else to put you

"Save me from my desires", 2015, oil on canvas, 60X60"

viewers see all of this
they know things without knowing they know
    
because we all do
we're all connected this way
        this knowing without knowing
we're all connected by this journey
whether it's a line in a painting or cement lines between bathroom tiles
I see this everywhere, in everything
     this is me

a journey by definition
never ends
once you arrive it becomes something else
     it becomes
a destination

I set goals like destinations but I could be more grateful
for the journey I guess

I would like to paint trees
I keep trying
I would like to be the tree
     with a clear beginning and end
        bending and changing with the seasons
           but always
always the same


 
[This excerpt was written during a wonderful writing workshop given by Maya Gottfried at the Shambhala Yoga Center in Beacon. Thanks Maya and Shannon for putting this together!]

December 10, 2015

The Art of Looking

As in looking for something, not looking at something. Big difference...


Powers of observation go a long way.

Every time I'm not at home and I get an emergency phone call from one of two family members who are desperately looking for something important they can't find, I remind them that knowing how to look is the first step to finding what you're looking for. I refer to it as The Art of Looking. There is definitely an art to it since it's clear that some people have no problem with it while others (including the majority of the population) will have a life long struggle with it.

According to research, the average American wastes approximately 55 minutes a day looking for things.

The average person will waste approximately one year of their life looking for lost possessions. As one online source put it, considering that we only laugh for around 6 minutes a day, that's pretty depressing statistics.

Not immune to this problem but trained at an early age I feel I can safely offer some sage advice on the topic. Since aforementioned one of two family members is likely to read this I figured I'd get it all down now...

No. 1
Take a deep breath in, then breathe out.

No. 2
Realize that whatever you're looking for is not gone forever. No one has come to your house to steal your car keys, wallet, passport, ipad, or sunglasses. They are not lost, they're misplaced, or more likely, they're right in front of your face. You just can't see them for the hurried, frantic frustration you're currently engulfed in.

No. 3
Slow down. Rushing and looking do not go hand in hand. If you're moving too fast you've probably rushed right by what you were looking for like ten times already.

No. 4
Keep in mind that rifling, rummaging and grabbing are all synonyms for burglarizing. If it concerns paperwork, which it often does, you actually have to pick up each and every single paper separately. This is not the time to fan through the pile. This can occasionally require a bit of eye hand coordination like picking up papers with the right hand (if you're a righty) while holding them with the left hand. If the pile is that big, you're going to need a system, trust me.

No. 5
Don't assume. If you have an image of what you're looking for in your head it can actually get in the way of finding it because if we assume, we usually wrongly assume. We think the paper we're looking for has an orange letter head when in reality it has a blue letterhead with orange writing. Or we forget that the black hat actually has a huge colorful logo in front and clearly that's not what we were looking for. Without the assumption of what something already looks like, we're forced to look more closely at every single thing in the pile. How many times do we say, well that's not what I was looking for that's why I couldn't find it. Or we say, how can I find it if I don't know what I'm looking for.

The Art of Looking 



Here I'd sarcastically say, you know, Open your eyes. Maybe I should say instead, Open your mind.







No. 6
Employ only the most loyal family members to help in the search. It will most definitely grow tiresome and it's important to know where your unconditional love is coming from. Of course there are instances when relying on someone else's eyes is literally essential (like in my case), when someone who needs glasses to see far away can't find her glasses.


Well, for me that about sums it up. I suppose there's an art form to everything if we think about it. I also think some of these suggestions could work pretty well for half a dozen other things that plague us on a daily basis; if we consider that breathing, slowing down, appreciating help from others, and positively reassuring ourselves are all good things in themselves.

No doubt there's much more that could be added to this list.

If you have any other interesting insights into The Art of Looking, please send them my way.





November 24, 2015

Giving Thanks

I apologize in advance that I am going to be an absolute cliche and write this blog, two days before Thanksgiving, of all the things I'm thankful for. well, more like a little tiny snippet of all the things I'm thankful for. Starting with beautiful things..

cupofjo.com
like flowers. http://cupofjo.com/2015/11/thoughts-on-blogging/
bloglovin.com
turkeys.. http://frame.bloglovin.com/?post=4607001044&blog=3904551
typewriters
 winter berries


bittersweet vines
localmilkblog.com
fantasy dinners that look like this... http://localmilkblog.com/

books and the time to read them


husband
daughter
and me

I'm especially thankful for these three people (pictured above). not because they are flawless or perfect but because a family's love is unconditional, or should be, and mostly because we are three irreplaceable human beings. I'm thankful that my life revolves around them and that they keep me grounded even in spite of my relentless attempts to defy gravity.



























 I'm thankful that although the body ages, the spirit never does (this from one who slathered fast fix for puffy eyes all over her entire face this morning). 

I'm thankful that I have my two hands to create with and that my mind has not reached its full capacity. that there is room to grow, to learn and to prosper.

I'm thankful to God for letting me see all these things...

Samantha Palmeri painting
for my art.. http://www.samanthapalmeri.com/?page_id=415





... for web sites like pinterest and bloglovin' where most of my pictures are from.


And lastly for whoever is reading this. Thanks!