March 5, 2014

Back to black- new paintings

Here is a new series of paintings I've been working on for about a month now. They are currently untitled mixed media and all approx. between 5 and 10 inches and between 1/4 and 3/4 inch thick with a few exceptions. The materials include spray foam, acrylic and oil paint.






















  


All photos copyrighted 2014 Samantha Palmeri




February 27, 2014

new spray foam paintings

I'm having so much fun this week working on these new pieces made with spray foam and oil paint. 











View of my work table with nine untitled pieces

February 15, 2014

the making of an art piece


Here is a video I made with the help of my editor husband. 

I now know how to edit my own videos!



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCg9almatQE


This video is made in real time and emphasizes the artist's role as Hand Worker
Although we can see that it is a rope of some kind, the specific thing that is being made remains a mystery. The ruddy and fibrous wet strands of material are undisclosed, allowing the viewer's mind to wander.


Continuously working and engaging in the art making process allows for unexpected moments like this. I originally wanted to film this project to document the process of  making the rope, but I am very happy with the video as its own art piece. I'd love to see this projected on a gallery wall one day!



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.










February 10, 2014

Studio Habits: Are You Efficient With Your Time?

I have a confession to make, I do not spend eight hours a day toiling away in my art studio; 


I hardly ever get work done late into the night; and more than anything, I no longer feel guilty about it!

For as long as I can remember I've felt pressured that I wasn't making the most of my time. As a working artist this culminates into literally counting the hours that I spend in the studio. After I graduated college I started making myself a written weekly schedule that mapped out the days I'd be at my various part time jobs and the days I could spend on my artwork. Not that much has changed in all the years except now my schedule includes things like spending time with my daughter and husband, doing laundry and going food shopping. The art world has changed, though. That old model of starving artists struggling in their studios 12 hours a day is a bit outdated, but I still can't help but feel a tiny twinge of - disapproval.
I think of de Kooning who didn't even take a vacation without first procuring temporary studio space, or Bacon who reported to his cramped studio everyday regardless of relentless hangovers.

If time were a test, sometimes I think I'd fail. 

I have to remind myself that having to stop painting to cook dinner every night does not make me any less of an artist or less devoted to my work.


I usually work in the studio for about two hours straight without looking or thinking about the time. I may take a short break and then go back for another two hours or so. Occasionally I'll work for the full four hours without a break, but it's rare that I go longer than that on any given day. That doesn't include going back to look at the work later in the evening which can sometimes amount to hours of sitting and staring or writing notes.

view of my home studio



Some days I don't end up getting those last few hours in. My studio is in my home, which has many good points and bad points, one being that there are a lot of distractions. Over the years I've gotten used to spending a few days a week out of the studio. I've realized that I work best when I can come back to works in progress with fresh eyes. I've also learned how to work on smaller projects that I can do around the house while everyone's home.

Today is a typical day. I was up at 6:30 to help my daughter get ready for school. I made coffee and checked email and facebook, sat at the kitchen table and paid the bills for the week, put my painting clothes on and went into the studio. I worked for two hours, stopped to eat lunch and did some laundry. I'll go back to work for a few more hours and then my daughter will be home from school at 3:00. I usually wind down whatever I'm doing around then and clean up. I like to spend time with my daughter when she's home because I don't always have that luxury. I've worked on and off part time and full time at various jobs throughout the years including teaching and running my own galleries.

Even if I need the occasional reminder,

I'm sure that enjoying a full and well balanced life adds to my artwork in ways I could've never planned for.


Not that it's always so well adjusted, but certainly it is full.

I think the best artwork is often made out of the restrictive struggles we regularly encounter. Artists have as many unique and surprising ways of dealing with such struggles as the artwork we produce.


January 26, 2014

Finding your Niche

detail of cross stitching
Apparently finding your niche is all about specializing in your own individuality, or so the countless articles I've just read declare, including this interesting one from the Huffington Post.

My problem is I want too many things at once.
It happens in my art and in my everyday life. I just wrote in my journal about wanting to make a painting that was both lush and bare at the same time. I'm all about dichotomies; the control and repetition of cross stitching, the aggressive messiness of painting. Separately it's about trying to combine everything I know into one piece, which I already know doesn't work, but I keep trying.

I envy artists and designers who are so focused on that one thing they do well.

They've found that niche and are working it to death. 

And they're making money off it because I suppose the appearance of that kind of obsessive dedication is more appealing than a little bit of everything for every one. Case in point, I just read a wonderful, inspiring article by John Gravois of Pacific Standard all about the oddly successful niche of selling toast in San Francisco.  

Toast.  
So simple and to the point. 

Why can't I be that smart?
I have so many things I'm trying to do at the same time, if I don't have a list to check off each day I get lost. Right now I am working on two separate to-do lists, one for artwork and one for everything else. The everything else list runs the gamut from food shopping and going to the bank, getting the computer fixed, to looking for that masking fluid I'm not sure I still have. The art list includes appropriate boxes to check off each time I work on a particular project: watercolors, collages, cross stitching, laundry meat rope, & spray foam paintings. 
It doesn't seem very conducive to finding that niche but I am working hard......


works in progress. part of my cross stitch project

the plan is to attach the smaller pieces to create sculptural forms,

like I started to do here. hard to see but this is three dimensional

each piece measures about 4-6 inches



detail

detail









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 thinking, I hope I never have to juggle that many things in life to be able to do my art and make a living.
Ahh... Ha! How naive I was to imagine I could escape the chaos of life while still being a part of it.









January 18, 2014

what we do matters, even if we don't post it, pin it or write a blog about it

watercolor & mixed media collage
I am so happy to be able to write this on my newly refurbished iMac....AAHHH

For the past two weeks my computer has been on the nod. 

As in (if you didn't know), to quote the urban dictionary, "this dope is wild, it had me on the nod". Or in computer talk, it was so slow the mouse only stopped spinning occasionally to take a nap.

It has been an eye-opening experience. I cannot believe how long I have been wasting time on this thing. Although I managed to check emails and messages once a day on my iPad, which is no substitute by the way, I haven't been away from my computer for this long in, I'm sad to say, years. Even with heavy withdrawal setting in at day two and three, I can't even believe how much work I got done! I am amazed at how different life used to be, and how quickly those changes have worked themselves so seamlessly into my life. Instead of my usual habit of wasting hours every morning at the computer I actually went into the studio and got to work. Instead of getting bored around dinner time every night and browsing Facebook or some random blog post or youtube video,  I did the dishes and read a book. Gee, what a revelation! Why is it so easy to get sucked into this thing? Part of me understands this idea of showing the world everything we've been doing every minute of the day, but really...admitting you have a problem is the first step. And especially for artists, we're getting exposure for our artwork in a way that was never possible before so it becomes a little easier to justify the countless wasted hours.

Speaking of exposure, I often question my work with that philosophical question, if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it does it make a sound. If no one sees the work I do, does it exist, and more importantly is it worth doing at all?

Doesn't visual art require a viewer at some point to complete the visual nature of it?


I just read a quote by Dominique de Menil
     "stored away, objects remain inert.
     Art...needs attention and love to become alive.
     We are all familiar by now with the famous statement of Rothko:
     'Art lives by companionship'."

After two weeks without my companion, I can tell you, what we do matters, even if we don't post it, pin it, or write a blog about it. Getting your work seen is important, of course, but if you're not in the studio actually making the work, what's there to be seen?


Here's a small sample of some of my work from the last 2 weeks...
Included are watercolors, drawings and collage:


studio view