January 25, 2019

How to: the personification of punctuation

Elizabeth Murray, C-Painting, 1980-81, oil on canvas, 109 x 114 inches

Texting is changing the way we communicate. I've noticed lately that I use an inordinate amount of exclamation points when I'm texting or writing emails.

!!!!


I'm reminded of that Seinfeld episode where Elaine breaks up with her boyfriend for not using exclamation points, and then gets reprimanded at work for using too many!! When her boss reads out loud the sentences where she used them, dramatically emphasizing each word, it's hilarious.

Dramatic emphasis is exactly what exclamation points are intended for. Yourdictionary.com states that:
Exclamation marks were originally called the "note of admiration." They are still, to this day, used to express excitement. They are also used to express surprise, astonishment, or any other such strong emotion. Any exclamatory sentence can be properly followed by an exclamation mark, to add additional emphasis.

Yes, punctuation is used to clarify meaning, however, because of the ineffectual nature of virtual communication, there is a lot of over compensating going on. The mechanisms we use to connect with each other are so detached and removed from real human connection. We're more likely these days to use punctuation to personify way more than a single human assertion. It's like there aren't enough emojis or punctuation marks in the world to completely articulate our thoughts and feelings in a text message.

Every part of texting has become a complicated playing field requiring deciphering skills akin to war time code cracking. Nothing is inconsequential, or goes unnoticed. Every word, letter, image, and punctuation mark, indicates a host of signs and secret or not so secret messages. Even the length of a text message is important. How long it takes you to text back is monumentally important. Taking too long can be perceived as a slap in the face, while texting back the second someone writes to you can either be seen as super reliable-I'm-always-here-for-you, or totally desperate behavior.

With all these underlying assumptions, misinterpretation seems inevitable. Things like ugh, ack or lol can replace whole sentences so you better be sure to use the right one. The use of ALL CAPS or all lowercase has serious emotional implications. I mean, HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE YOU TO DECIDE WHICH EMOJI YOU WANT TO USE? I'll often ask my daughter when I'm writing something if I've used the proper emoji, (which I usually haven't). I'll add extra exclamation points so it looks like I'm making a joke and then she'll say that it wasn't funny to begin with. sigh

I know I don't use punctuation properly at all. Exclamation points personify a whole slew of emotions and thoughts all at the same time for me. I use one ! as a sign that I'm being positive and have a smile on my face. Two !! is very funny. More than a few !!!!! indicates total surprise, which could be positive or negative, or it could mean don't listen to me I don't know what I'm saying, lol. I'm starting to think I must sound like an idiot or come across like I'm trying too hard, but I have this strange notion that I'll look too serious or depressed without them. hmmm.


Maybe you noticed it too.
peut-être l'avez-vous remarqué aussi?

(btw, I was just informed, nobody uses lol anymore. ugh.)




January 21, 2019

Reference images for paintings


I've spent the last week preparing canvases. Cutting, pasting, screwing, priming, etc. I have not decided how to tackle the actual painting part yet. Today I printed some reference photos as a point of departure, a jumping-off point to get me started. 
It is everyday things that I find most interesting. I catch a glimpse of something and imagine a whole world within it and around it. These glimpses can sometimes be very personal parts of me and my day. Mostly they evoke something greater than just color or composition, something I can't really articulate. One day I would like to publish a whole book of my reference photos and collages. 
 
dreadlocks. this color. 


cherry tomatoes from the garden



this is dough.


a dwarf maple tree in my backyard



 


food that's gone bad and ends up in the trash is both an ongoing challenge, and resource for my work.
stemming from my desire to never let anything go to waste and my guilty conscience when it does



spotted this giant ball of rope at a friend's studio



                                                          
clearly I'm obsessed


this is not a staged photo. the dirty dishes were really piled that high 


Some photos are from Instagram and Pinterest. Sorry some image credits are unknown. If I've swiped a photo from you unknowingly, thank you! and let me know so I can give you credit.



January 8, 2019

Pragmatic distances

There are two things I've learned over the years, from running my own business, working for non-profits, and painting in my studio.

  • One is, don't take things personally, and 

  • Two is, most answers to most dilemmas are found in the most practical details. It's usually staring you right in the face, though sometimes it's your own face that's in the way of seeing it, if that makes any sense.


Relating to my studio work, the practical details start with my work space. When I'm in the studio I'm having a physical relationship with my work and my environment. Sometimes the simplest things make the biggest differences and I have to laugh at myself for not realizing it sooner.

How I go about the physical act of painting is so important to my work. Like the distance between me and the canvas while I paint. I have had days where nothing was working and all of a sudden I realized I was standing too far away from the canvas. Even six inches too far made a huge difference. I'm interacting with my paintings as if I were swimming around inside them almost. So anything that disconnects me is a distraction. For example, I spent years wearing rubber gloves while I painted. In the summer I'd be sweating and have to change them every hour, in the winter they'd get stiff and tear. Without them I'm so much happier. I'm able to literally feel the paint, and that adds a great deal to my relationship with the work.

Stolen burnisher is second from the right. Second from the left is an antique wooden handle screwdriver that belonged to my grandfather.

Other practical details include the tools I use. I've grown a serious attachment to some unlikely utensils, like toothbrushes and old screw drivers. For unknown reasons, back in (I think) 1992, I stole a burnishing tool from my printmaking class. Don't ask me what I thought I was going to use it for. It's been floating around every studio I've had, at the bottom of every pile of things I never look at, all these years. Until recently. I don't know what made me finally start using it, but it scrapes off paint like nobody's business and I can honestly say it's my favorite thing right now!

Speaking of utensils, there's a giant icing spatula (aka palette knife) I've been eyeing at the fancy kitchen shop on Main Street for a while. It could seriously be the next best thing...

It's good to get older because you do get wiser after all. I'm learning a little more each day what works for me, and that tiny changes can often make huge strides.



January 3, 2019

Artist of the week Elizabeth Murray

Bowtie, 2000
Everybody Knows, 2007, oil on canvas, 87 1/4 x 93 inches

(the last painting made before the artist died in 2007)


To follow through with some of those unfinished posts I recently mentioned, here is Artist of the week Elizabeth Murray.


Elizabeth Murray's heroic paintings are as fearless as the life she seems to have led. A woman who wanted it all, and achieved it against all the odds; to have her children and family, and her artwork all playing center stage at once. She is a hero and an absolute inspiration. 
The Sun and the Moon, 2005, oil on canvas on wood, 9 feet 
Do the Dance, 2005, oil on canvas on wood, 9 1/2 x 11 feet
Kind of Blue, 2004, oil on canvas on wood, 9 x 11 feet
Midnight Special, 2000, oil on two canvases, 92 7/8 x 129 1/2 inches
Bill Alley, 2006, 3D lithographic construction, 35 x 41 1/4 inches
Hey Madge, 2001-02, oil on canvas on wood, 53 x 48 inches
Worm's Eye, 2002
Cry Baby, 2000, oil on canvas, 105 3/4 x 105 3/4 inches
Path/Door, 2002
Mister Postman, 1998, oil on canvas, 82 x 77 inches
for a better sense of scale: Bop, 2002-03, at MOMA

As always, I try my best to include the correct information for the images I post. In this case I was unable to find full descriptions for a few of the paintings. 

With one exception, these paintings are all from 2000-07. There are so many more layers to her work and it's nice to see the progression throughout the years, but these just screamed EXUBERANCE to me so that's why I chose them. 

Further looking and reading:

Pace Gallery
elizabethmurrayart.org
Art21
Everybody Knows, a PBS film



December 31, 2018

Happy New Year

Sending you a very Happy New Year's greeting! 


Today, New Year's Eve, will be a feast with friends. Boeuf Bourguignonne, chocolate mousse, sparkly decorations, and champagne cocktails like "Ernest Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon".

A good title to lead with: Green, 2018, oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches


It's been a busy year, so much that I currently have 35 posts in the drafts folder half written and waiting to be finished. But, hey, that's 35 half finished essays I can look forward to completing.

I had a conversation with a friend recently who reminded me that all artists struggle to some degree with an often debilitating balancing act. The times when we are filled to overflowing with great new ideas and motivation are coupled with times when we can't find the energy to get dressed in the morning. We talked about creating deadlines and goals to anchor us throughout the year, and especially the winter months.

So..., I have been stockpiling ideas and materials lately in anticipation of what I'd like to be a busy art making season ahead. I've started a knitting project, a drawing project, and just bought a miter saw and tools to literally cut and paste some wonky stretcher bars together. I've been wanting to do this for years and I am so excited! I mean, I bought a saw! It's totally going to be a good year.

I'm thrilled to announce that I'll be having a solo exhibition of new work at the Catalyst Gallery in September. I am also very pleased to have been asked to be part of a group exhibition, curated by artist and owner of Theo Ganz Studio, Eleni Smolen, celebrating Women's history at the Howland Cultural Center in March.

There is so much more I hope to share with you in the coming months.

Thank you so much for continuing to read and support the ArtWrestler blog..


October 3, 2018

simple pleasures

Some of the greatest pleasures in life are the simplest. I should write a list each week as a reminder to focus on the good things and not the bad.

This week my list would include



watching green tomatoes on the counter turn pink and bright orange
a cup of coffee so good it actually puts a smile on your face
the words, you're right (aka you're not wrong) coming from either husband or daughter
closing the studio door, any hour, any day, sitting cross legged on white studio couch
spending a fortune on pink linen bed sheets and not feeling the least bit guilty about it
and finally, tomato sandwiches made with aforementioned tomatoes (must include white bread, vegan mayo, sriracha, salt, pepper, and tomatoes from the garden)










September 6, 2018

unfinished paintings; new beginnings



This morning I put on my painting clothes and sat in the studio for the first time since the beginning of August. My studio literally has cob webs and the stale smell of mildew. Every year the end of summer feels like this, a little sad for the end of the season, for all the artwork I inevitably didn't get to work on, and the momentum I didn't keep going; at the same time, excited and a little anxious for a new season, new schedules, new times. Is it insanity when you keep doing the same thing expecting different results?


At the moment I have four half finished paintings and a new box of supplies waiting for me. I have a calendar that is about to get the word STUDIO scrawled across its days. My daughter just went back to school, and my husband just went back to work... 



detail of unfinished painting






























August 10, 2018

Abject Felicity

When Not looking is as important as looking!

I was just thinking how important it is to be able to put work away and come back to it. When you're deeply involved in a painting, sometimes you just can't see it anymore and you need to be able to not look at it for a while. When you come back to it and can actually see it for what it is, one of two things will occur: you'll realize it's a mess and what were you thinking, or you'll realize how much better it is than you thought and wow, who even painted that.

The same thing happens with writing. I do the same thing with this blog. I re-read my old posts, not very often, but occasionally. Sometimes I actually put them back in the draft folder! But sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised that what I was thinking really came out in words.

Today's blog post was meant to be about something completely different, but I came across this excerpt from a recent exhibition proposal I submitted. Oh yeah, writing proposals and grant applications also falls under the category I'm-too-immersed-in this-to-even-know-what-it's-about-anymore. In this case I'm really pleased to have read it this morning and thought, who the hell even wrote that! Take a look:

Samantha Palmeri, Waste not, 2018, oil on canvas, 60 x 60 inches



Concept:
Abject Felicity is an exhibition of new abstract paintings. My work explores the interconnectedness of nature, body, spirit and metaphor. The relationship between our internal and external influences is played out through color and form; with entangled lines and texture often personifying internal struggle, or joy. The repetition of knitted braided forms unfolding through mood and chance are all obscured within the process of making, and through the filter of abstraction.
The paintings in Abject Felicity will be directly informed by my daily living as a woman, artist and mother. Specifically they will reference the discarded food that ends up in the garbage, piles of dirty laundry, and other domestic cast offs. The term abjection literally means the state of being cast off. The concept of waste is rife with metaphor and can be interpreted in a multitude of ways both culturally, regarding social change, and personally, regarding identity and spirituality.
The reference images I work with are not chosen randomly. I am not simply drawn to intertwining lines and forms, I am interested in how they are entwined and how that interaction personifies our human and cultural interaction; the moving in and out of each other. The dualistic nature of all things.

Relevance:
Painting is a means of connection. I've found that the more personal and specific I am in my work, the more people can relate to it. If I have a personal connection to the work, I'm opening up for the viewer a chance to experience a real and compelling connection as well. The only way to elevate the cultural is through the personal.
It's important to present the work in a proper setting; an intimate space but large enough where each piece has breathing room, and where the work and the viewer can get the experience they deserve.


For all intents and purposes this proposal is still active if anyone is interested...

All images © 2018 Samantha Palmeri
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