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.




March 10, 2014

How Much Of The Audience Should I Be Concerned With?

This is a repost of something I wrote back in 2014. It's crazy that I just stumbled across it and it's like I could've just written it yesterday! 

Thankfully I feel like the new series of paintings I'm working on is resolving this very issue. I guess we'll just have to wait another 3 years to see if it still applies!

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laundry meat after a funeral, 2011, 44X44", oil on canvas
caress, 2009, oil on canvas, 54X56"

March 2014

I've always been interested in the figure, but not necessarily in figure painting. I prefer a blurry line between the figurative and abstract. I'd much rather offer a question to the viewer than a declaration. 

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

I notice a big difference in the way people respond to the recognizable versus the unrecognizable. And now that I'm thinking about it, I notice a big difference in the way I'm responding myself. It's like there was more to look at before, more of an essence. 

Most viewers had a much stronger reaction to the work that was more recognizable. I thought it was just that figures and faces were more familiar. It's also hard to experience abstract work when you're spending the whole time trying to 'figure it out' instead of actually looking, which is what 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, but I do feel that there is something almost tangible in the figures that is missing in the abstractions. If I could just get that thing into the abstract paintings...

It's that human 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"

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