September 5, 2014

new works from the studio...

I got a new camera this week and am 
so happy to share some pictures of studio life here in 
Beacon New York -

it's so cool I am able to walk to my studio from home
kinda weird though that it still smells like an old high school

lots of activity going on right now
and still a few boxes that need to be unpacked-

finally put these brushes to good use for the first time in too long

and I can FINALLY see all my supplies all together

here's some of the work which right now is neither here nor there

made with spray foam and mixed materials. this one has some laundry meat stuck in there

I've been checking out a lot of John Chamberlain lately thanks to Dia: Beacon

these could be models for something bigger

or just meaningless balls of spray foam!

here's some experiments with braided spray foam

fun to make but tough to work with

the first time I did it I couldn't get the sticky off my hands for two days

taking the gloves off to get a better grip is a very very bad idea
here's a group of canvases with spray foam slathered on

hard to see the true texture from the photos

better in this one

there's about 9 of these but I don't really know what to do with them yet

and then there's my collages

in between every project, and when all else fails, there's always collages

if I could get what I like about these on a canvas I'd be very happy

they're very thick because most of the cut out papers are heavy watercolor

they're fun to make almost like working on a puzzle

So there it is, pretty much everything I've been working on lately.
There are also some canvases that I started but not picture worthy yet,
and much more to come... see you soon

July 30, 2014

brand new art studio

We've finally made it to our new home in Beacon, New York!
here's some pics of my brand new art studio

my new studio: big beautiful empty space!

empty: but not for long 

view of studio building (the old Beacon High School) & Mt. Beacon which I can see if I stick my head out the window
Over the years I've occupied a lot of different spaces: a converted garage, an unfinished basement, my one bedroom apartment, the back room of two art galleries, the third floor dressing room of an abandoned 19th century theater... but this is the first time I am at an actual artist building in a proper "artist studio". V E R Y exciting!

If you're not exactly sure what "a proper artist studio" really means, well, neither am I! A great book exploring the matter is The Studio Reader: on the space of artists edited by Mary Jane Jacob and Michelle Grabner.

June 28, 2014

on looking- part 1

photo by Samantha Palmeri

I was just reading, thanks to Max Watman, about becoming better at looking. Although he was referring to something completely different, the act of looking is still the act of looking no matter what you're looking at, or into. It is the act of getting to know something. It's investigatory and starts with a desire to know. It also requires a particular type of person, someone who accepts a position of general not knowing. Someone with an innate need to learn more, to gain a better understanding of things. And here's the most important part: it requires an open mind, one that is ready and willing to be filled.

I'm an investigator, a researcher, a reader, a thinker, a seeker. For the most part I cannot help but question all things all the time. I want to know the whys and hows behind everything. Sometimes I think it all stems from a lack of trust. Trust in rules, in laws, in labels, in business practices, in lawyers, in politicians in doctors... in anything with a boss or a bottom line. Things with ulterior motives and boundaries that are closed off and closed minded. I have my own mind that knows what it wants and what it wants is inevitably TRUTH.

Isn't that what every artist is after? Shouldn't this be what it's all about??
Only there are so many variables and so many mixed up ways of twisting it all around. It is seriously difficult to know what's real. Certainly we've all felt this way at one time or another. Just one full day of watching television could tamper with every idea of truth and reality you've ever had.

My advice is, and my only consolation- go back to that simple act of looking. Be aware. Go back to that innate desire to know.
In my last post I mentioned how "there's something about intently staring at the subject you're drawing that gives you an understanding of it in a way that nothing else can".
All it requires is a little focus, the desire for truth, and a willingness to accept what you don't already know.

photo by Samantha Palmeri

June 20, 2014

drawings at the beach

here's what I've been doing with my time off: a few simple drawings each day in my composition notebook with my trusty uni-ball black pen. the following images are of shells stuck in the sand that I observed while walking on the beach. mostly interested in the compositions naturally made by the water, and the abstract organic shapes that I can't help but see in almost everything~

drawing by Samantha Palmeri

drawing by Samantha Palmeridrawing by Samantha Palmeri

drawing by Samantha Palmeridrawing by Samantha Palmeri

drawing by Samantha Palmeridrawing by Samantha Palmeri

drawing by Samantha Palmeridrawing by Samantha Palmeri

drawing by Samantha Palmeridrawing by Samantha Palmeri
after a couple weeks of shells and broken crab legs I decided to challenge myself with drawing the foam from the waves as they broke in front of me. I say challenge because it was virtually impossible. although I made something of a game of it, my hands were never quite quick enough to capture on paper what I witnessed with my eyes. 

drawing by Samantha Palmeri

drawing by Samantha Palmeri

drawing by Samantha Palmeri

drawing by Samantha Palmeridrawing by Samantha Palmeridrawing by Samantha Palmeri

drawing by Samantha Palmeri

drawing by Samantha Palmeri

drawing by Samantha Palmeri

drawing by Samantha Palmeri
drawing by Samantha Palmeridrawing by Samantha Palmeridrawing by Samantha Palmeri

there's something about intently staring at the subject you're drawing that gives you an understanding of it in a way that nothing else can. I think I'm learning a lot about the ocean, and am starting to see patterns I've never seen before. I hope to get some of these thoughts onto canvas very soon...

all images copyrighted 2014 Samantha Palmeri

May 15, 2014


Here's a question for you:
Is there a way to have your work, your career, to climb that ladder of success, AND to enjoy your free time, your moments of solitude, family, and nature simultaneously?
Can you have your cake and eat it too?

I can hear my mother saying "all things in moderation", 
but that idea doesn't seem to go over too well in the 21st century. We are way too busy working way too hard in an effort to obtain every single thing under the sun. Every single thing, that is, except the time to actually enjoy any of it. 

As an artist who has owned several businesses throughout the years, along with trying to run my household, take care of my daughter and focus on my artwork at the same time, I have seriously pondered this one.
The answer seems to me a resounding NO. You cannot live two or more lives at once and actually have time to enjoy them all. One or more items will have to be shelved, forfeited, neglected. There are just not enough hours in the day. Here's the part I think about a lot: which parts am I willing to neglect? and more importantly whose rule book is telling me I need to even want all these things simultaneously?

illustration from The Idler 
Now let me refer you to the amazing work of Tom Hodgkinson, his Idler Magazine, and specifically his book from 2005, How To Be Idle: A Loafer's Manifesto. I cannot say enough about this book. They should be teaching it in every poetry class in the country along with every business, liberal arts and fine arts program as well. It's such a simple message that it flies right over most heads with hardly a thought, and it is this:

Take the time to actually Enjoy Living... and stop feeling guilty about it. 

According to the Idler Magazine web site, also known as

Literature for Loafers:

The Idler magazine was founded in 1993 by Tom Hodgkinson and Gavin Pretor-Pinney in order to explore alternatives to the work ethic and promote freedom and the fine art of doing nothing. In that time it has passed through many incarnations, and inspired thousands of people to cast off the shackles of corporate or bureaucratic life, and find freedom. It now exists as an annual collection of essays, published in hardback book form. The current issue is a compilation of twenty years of interviews from the Idler, and includes David Hockney, Damien Hirst, Terence McKenna, Jeffrey Bernard and many more.
It is astonishing how relevant this book is right now, and I bring it to your attention because there are a few items I've touched on here at the Art Wrestler that you might recall. It was just about a year ago that I wrote about my affair with a lounge chair and learning to relax without the guilt. There was also my post on solitude and needing time to think for yourself, being in the moment with my artwork, and most recently enjoying the pleasures of good food and drink. Although I can't agree with ALL of Tom's thoughts on rioting and debauchery, mixed messages about the bible, etc., I can concur with 99% of it.

Let's put it this way, there's a whole chapter on how to enjoy a good hangover. The man is a genius! 

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Artists are usually the dreamers, idlers, and starers into space of society, and there is a lot of animosity that goes along with that. More to the point there are things about being an artist that society is constantly trying to make us feel guilty about. Things that I have learned to accept about myself- like not having a job because I would rather stay home and paint and take care of my family. Things like spending more time reading and writing in my journal than cleaning my house, going for long walks to think about the day, not for the exercise, a glass of wine before 5pm, and spending whole days in the middle of the week lying on the beach. 
I do not frequently drink my coffee "to go" as I enjoy it in a real cup with a real saucer. I do not wear a watch because no one is waiting for me. I get most of my best work done alone, in complete silence and often seemingly staring into space, and I do not use a cell phone because I don't want my silence or staring to be interrupted. Yes, I do not use a cell phone. I admit I have one, but it stays in my bag for emergencies only. Does that count?

Anyway, How To Be Idle has a whole chapter dedicated to almost every one of these things. It is laugh out loud funny and has wonderful references to almost every historical genius from ancient to modern times. It has taught me a lot about history's warped ideas of progress, and where my own thoughts of progress and success fit in. Art is often considered a leisurely activity, a hobby, an unnecessary luxury. I of course consider it a necessity. I would much rather luxuriate in my own space with my own creativity on my own time than lend myself out to a boss who could never give me enough time or money.
photo by Stacey Kath

As I mentioned my mother, it turns out there's a few things the mothers were right about after all. Mostly all the things that required us to be patient and wait our turn, like being sent to our rooms to "calm down", like not running or talking with your mouth full, or sitting down to eat and not getting up until everyone at the table was finished. I've also heard the phrase "sit there and think about what you just did!" My mother would make us sit next to her and not move until we behaved. These days they call that a time-out. How To Be Idle is all about giving our adult selves a whole lot of time-outs,

and who couldn't use a moment to sit completely still in the midst of the turbulent tantrums of life?

I think time only goes as fast as we allow it. There are moments that desperately need to be "savoured not endured", as Mr. Hodgkinson puts it, and look at it this way, your boss is not willing to give them to you, neither is your babysitter or the daycare center. You're certainly not going to get back the time you've wasted on your cell phone, computer or TV set either.

There is no going back- so enjoy the moment right now!