Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Yesterday I went out to the "Dig" opening at H&F Fine Arts, as promoted by J.T. Kirkland over at the Thinking About Art blog and curated by Fallon and Rosof from works of Phillie artists. I like the idea of a local mid-Atlantic art scene between Philadelphia, Baltimore, and DC, because it seems more approachable than the big NYC extravaganza. I had aspirations of introducing myself to all these bloggers of whom I had read, but I got cold feet and ended up just lurking around for a while looking at the art. Plus I couldn't tell who was who. I'm not really sure the Phillie crowd made it-- I overheard someone mentioning how lost visitors were. H&F is a nice space, but it is a little off the beaten track in a transitional suburban neighborhood. The work was an interesting variety, but totalled only about 15 or 20 pieces-- a couple of pieces each for the six or seven artists. How can I possibly fit into a scene like this? Because I don't see myself fitting in to the glicee-reproductions-of-my-landscapes scene either. Tortured misunderstood artist, that's me.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I remember back in grad school a woman who did these mournful, grim prints-- she was a total giggling dingbat. For all I know she was masking a miserable childhood, but I could never reconcile her work with her persona. It's a shame, because accommodating expectations that your disposition should exactly mirror your artwork feels like a trap.
So, a dog walks into a bar and says to the bartender...
Monday, October 15, 2007
I completed Nablopomo 2006 with Pappy's blog. Looking back, I really think those were some of my most entertaining postings. I've been struggling with making this blog remotely interesting, so I am setting a few goals for Nablopomo:
- Loosen up. So far this blog is as boring as an artist's statement. I need to figure out some way to set free my snarky self without surrendering the thin veneer of dignity needed to seem a credible artist.
- Learn about selling art. I've ordered a pile of books on marketing art and hope to spend some time examining other resources. Not that I aspire to being a soulless entrepreneur; believe me I'd rather just make stuff. But I need to stoke a little fire in my belly about business if I don't want to have a houseful of undiscovered paintings leaning against every wall.
- Relearn old lessons. Although it seems a little undignified to be going back to art school drawing exercises, it's stupid for me not to. Though I've learned a lot over the past 20 years, I certainly don't draw as well as I once did. Plus cranking out a few sketches would be great material for daily posts.
- Get into a routine of painting or drawing every day.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Saturday, October 13, 2007
The landscape around Washington, DC is often lovely but isn't terribly dramatic or singular-- lotta rolling hills, lotta green. We have the monuments, which are too loaded with patriotic zeal as subject matter. We have the Chesapeake Bay nearby, which is pretty but fairly marshy and horizontal. I like scenes that take my breath away with precipitous dropoffs, or massive brooding rock formations. I used to love the quarries around Bloomington, Indiana in grad school.
When I think about nearby subjects that really strike a chord in me, I have always had an attraction to the bridges, particularly those spanning Rock Creek Park. One rides atop them on a constant basis without giving it a thought, but when you peer off the side or stand underneath these monsters they evoke the grandeur of Roman acqueducts and Piranesi prints (I was a printmaker in school, so Piranesi's prisons were a staple). They are our stealth monuments.
And what kind of effort went into building these bridges? I remember looking at a plaque on one of the bridges, maybe the P Street Bridge, mentioning that it was rebuilt by the WPA. The Roosevelt era recovery efforts are so romantic. Though the reality of those times was certainly not so simple, it's hard not to bask in the rosy glow of the benevolent ideals I was taught about in elementary school. I need to scout a few bridges. Just so long as no one ever accuses me of painting them as an allegory for my transition from something to something else. Eek.
Friday, October 12, 2007
I can't say that I'm always going to paint outdoors, but I think it is important for me to get in the habit of doing so regularly. It's a very different exercise to isolate my subject from my entire field of vision rather than having it preframed in a photo. When I cock my head a little differently, suddenly all the relationships between the objects change-- not that I'm going for total accuracy, but it can be disorienting. As I'm painting the light changes, the tides move, clouds roll in, and I have to adapt the image. I have the opportunity to examine what that mysterious hump in the shadows really is. And painting outdoors in Maine is singularly fantastic when the skeeters aren't in flight.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
In looking through the sketchbook, I realize that I really have stopped sketching since I got my first digital camera. And I miss it. My paintings kind of fill that void since I work fairly quickly, but sketches are different. For one thing, the sketches aren't really intended for public consumption and can be more of a private exploration. I'm not sure how useful I would find a return to sketching as an aid to painting, but I could probably use a brush up on my observing and hand skills.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Thursday, October 4, 2007
I came across a provocative article about art communities on the internet. To paraphrase, the author tars Facebook and similar social networking sites as a time sink for artists actually trying to sell work. A better marketing opportunity is a personal art site with a small community of visitors more expressly interested in your work. I seem to have stumbled into his idea of a decent approach, if I ever decide I'm actually trying to sell anything. For now I'm happy if I can just get into the routine of thinking about and making art.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
A great discovery of my younger years was how art was killing me by inches. I remember when our college printmaking teacher presented us with an OSHA guide telling of the deleterious effects of all of the materials we used on a daily basis. The school was conscientious enough to spell out the horrible things that lacquer thinner and sulphuric acid were doing to our young bodies, but the chemical filters in the shop masks seemed years old and the acid vats ventilated into the men's room upstairs. I remember having lively debates with ceramics people about whether our fumes were more poisonous than their lead glazes and clay dust. Hey, at least we weren't doing body painting with benzene paints like all those nerve-damaged losers from the 70's.
Over the years I've winnowed out the most toxic materials from my artistic staples, but I'm still not at all careful about handling paints. Surely Titanium and Dioxazine just can't be good for you. Although I could equip myself with some latex gloves, that doesn't fit in with my self image. That's about the only way artists are like helmetless hockey players.
Monday, October 1, 2007
I remember only one occasion where our professors alluded to selling art as a business. They mentioned that we might be spending less than half our time actually making art. Beyond that, there is the endless litany of administration-- managing accounts, ordering materials, framing, photographing art, boxing up works for shipping, talking to galleries, applying for shows and grants, and general schmoozing. You know, the stuff you hire someone else to do if you get successful.
The discussion made an impression on me since I remember it, but we fresh-faced youths didn't worry because we knew they were just embittered old fogies. Now I am an embittered old fogey, and am coming to understand a bit better.