Thursday, April 27, 2006

Artistic Risk

Julian Jones asks "Do rich artists make bad art?" I don't know if it's necessarily simply a money thing-- it seems like a much more complicated issues. I think the question is whether recognition, fame, fortune, celebrity, etc. make it difficult for an artist to keep their eye on the ball. Perhaps after entering in the limelight and becoming a celebrity of sorts, there is a tendency to loose touch with one's world. With celebrity there comes a new set of responsibilities. While any artist loves to get paid, the business people attached to the artist depend on the artist to continue to rake in the money. Once an artist becomes successful-- they become a product-- something to be marketed. Understandably some artists can flourish under these changed circumstances, and some can not.

Jones does point out several "rich artists" that were good artists in spite of being successful. What is different in these artists make up that allows them to keep creating great work? Is it that some artists care more about art than the money? Or is it a difference in thought process? Or is it that some artists are willing to take the risk of potentially alienating their business associates, audience, and critics?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

mundane events of the weekend

The highlight of my weekend turned out to not be visual art related. Friday night I ate at San Genaro in Culver City which-- despite living within blocks of it for quite some time-- I have never tried. And I won't try it again. While I like the old time crooner they had and the couples dancing on a dance floor-- it just reaffirmed my opinion that if a menu is more than 4 pages long, don't trust the restaurant. But after dinner my friend and I went to Largo where Aimee Mann gave an unadvertised performance. I have never been to Largo-- but it's now my new favorite place. Just the fact they'll kick out anyone caught with a cell phone out in the open sold me alone. But sitting at a table drinking martini's four feet from Aimee Mann as she performed any song the audience requested was definitely one of my best live music experiences.

After that, I was in a permanent good mood for the weekend. I didn't get to the Getty or LACMA as I had hoped (my to-do list contained about 3 yrs of tasks pretty much) but I did get to some of the galleries in Culver City. Much of if was nice but not relevent to what I'm doing these days-- but I did like the suburban landscape paintings by Rick Monzon at George Billis. Since there's a large landscape element to my paintings lately-- I've been taking the time to really look at every landscape approach I can for inspiration. Since then I've spent every minute reworking several of my paintings. Though I don't know if I made them better or worse right now. I've gotten so used to them being in the state they were that now any changes feel out of place. I'll keep painting on them because I find that in the development of any painting-- things get really muddy and awkward just before they become brilliant. So if I relax and just keep painting hopefully I will get there. But I definitely need to get out to the Getty this weekend to see the Courbet exhibit.

I have come to a decision regarding the digital camera problem and by the end of the week I will have a brand new one. And once I do I will return to posting pictures of what I'm working on and what I've seen lately. I've done so much and thought about just blogging about it in words-- but that doesn't really work well.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

cleaning out my mind studio

lately i've turned to cleaning and building to help usher in a new era of painting.

when i'm stressed, too stressed to think coherently about color and brushstrokes, etc., I turn to building canvases to get my restlessness out of my system. there's something about using power tools, hammers, and massive staple guns that is theraputic.

this week I'm pretty much working on a bunch of canvases. it's one of those things that you think will take a day and ends up going on for a week and a half-- and it only stops there when you run out of screws or canvas or staples. now I'm getting anxious to call it done, because at a certain point one starts feeling like they're not moving forward and wants to return to image making.

right now I'm planning a bunch more paintings. I have about 20-something ideas and I'm trying to move on them as fast as possible. I wanted to have models in the studio this last weekend but after my camera broke I got discouraged. (yes, i use photos religiously. would love to paint from models more but I have a severe lack of money for them.) so I must go and purchase a new camera by this weekend so I am not deterred any longer. but in the meantime I am preparing everything so that once I'm done with sketches, research, photos, planning, I can fly fast into the core of the painting without prepping surfaces.

my new daring prospect is that I have, for the first time, been approaching appealing people on the street and asking them to model for me. all through school it seemed I was limited to what models the department paid for or what friends I could pull out of the library and into my studio. and I was plain shy to just go after what I want.

after seeing the Sean Cheetham exhibit at Mendenhall Sobieski I was inspired to find interesting characters-- not necessarily like his. But my own characters. It perhaps is also because so many of my paintings in the past have been self portraits, and I'm rebelling against that and removing my own image from my work. I had a friend who once commented (on a painting that was not of me) "You know what you've done, you've painted yourself into the painting." She knew it was not me in the painting, but it seems no matter who or what I paint, it is always a self portrait. Perhaps I want to escape that. Though once I do I will have to face the question of what is my painting of-- if not of me? And somehow finding models farther from what I identify with will push me more to really think about what my art is about.

the other thing I'm trying to get my head around is what makes what I'm painting now unique to this time, place, decade, generation?

I honestly obsess over this since I want to push the envelope but within figurative art. I believe representational art is never out of style as long as people have eyes and enjoy looking at the world around them and reinventing it. but what is important to me is how it is done today, versus a century ago. as well as what can I add to it's development, and whether I should go after painting something new and shocking for the purpose of being new and shocking.

So many thoughts and questions. I desperately want to return to the simplicity and meditation that is stretching canvases. Adieu!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

gallery recap

There's never enough time get out to museums and galleries on a regular basis between my painting and trying to pay my bills. But I did manage to get out of the studio this last week and figure I'll give a report.

Generally I am a very selfish viewer of art. I want to see things that inspire my own work, and write off the irrelevent. Which is why I feel compelled to write notes because it makes me articulate better what I have seen and what I think about it. Otherwise I would be speedwalking through galleries and not taking the time to appreciate things I see.

Amy Wheeler/"Pretty Vacant" thru 4/22
Shoshana Wayne Gallery

From a distance I was drawn to her work. But as I got close I personally felt some of them were underworked. She uses a lot of thin washes of paint in the background with vines and leaves painted over it with carefully placed brush strokes. (couldn't pull images from the site but you can see them if you click the link.) Some used airbrush, and were more worked, others were on the minimal side. I loved the color and the composition and the design quality. I have a personal preference of being able to see layers of paint and a hint at its history and development beneath. Which may be why I felt they were underworked. I had an art teacher tell me once that a person will spend as much time looking at a painting as you spend making it. And I felt this comment was somehow relavent here.

I also felt there was an emphasis more on positive space-- painting the vines/leaves on the background instead of painting the background around the contour of the vines-- or working back and forth between the two. My painter instinct would be to work this way. Or to very pointedly avoid it.

The one painting that stood out the most was called "Silver" which I liked because the contrast between the marks of the plant and the airbrushed shadow and the paint in the background. I also liked the nuetral color ones in the smaller room, especially the way the airbrushed white plays in it.

Rosamund Felson
A Play on Action: 5 Los Angeles Artists Consider Feminism, thru 4/15

The artist that caught my eye here was Corrina Peipon. One piece, "Things" specifically caught my eye. It was simply sheets of white paper with type written phrases on them-- all realating to possessions. (Stupid me did not transcribe the text as I wish I had.) I am not sure of the background of this piece-- whether the words were written by her or taken from another source as I know another piece of hers there was.

But the reason this piece struck me-- well, to go into the background of why it did-- I have been obsessing over art containing text. I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing, though often it is not incorporated well. And I don't know if it is just me noticing it more lately or it has been popping up more often, but from my perspective it seems to be spreading like a disease. Okay, so that conjures up too negative an image I admit. (I should add I've been obsessing with it because text has been popping up in some of my own work too.) When text is done wrong in 2D art it's like the artist is hitting the viewer over the head with a bat.

But what really caught my eye in Corrina Peipon's piece is that it is entirely text and simple paper, type-writer text phrase on each page, hung on a wall. And it comes across as sort of a poem-- and the content of the text carries it-- not blatently trumpeting some message oriented meaning. But much more subtle. And this led me to thinking that it is interesting to just exhibit a poem on the wall, plain and simple. Text as art. That got me thinking, well to compare this to shift within the poetry world to read/perform the work aloud which-- in my limited historical knowledge of the genre-- was a 20th century change. But to hang up plain text flirts with the different modes of experiencing art.

I'm sure I will be stewing over this idea for a while.

I still have 2 more shows I want to write about, but it's getting late and so I will have to pick this up again later. Especially because one of them will probably generate notes the length of a novel and when I'm home I prefer to be painting than writing about painting (ah, priorities!)

I'll just end with the question that is on my mind tonight as I write this:

What role can text play in 2D art? What makes it work?

Monday, April 03, 2006

busted and broken and purple

my digital camera has broken. i feel like an artist with no legs. suddenly so many things I want to photograph and can't because if there is any white or light source in the image, it will appear purple in the photo. according to a camera repair guy who had slightly more digital camera knowledge than the guy I bought a muffin from this morning-- it's not worth repairing. then he tried to sell me a new camera package for $1000. the camera I have now cost me $700 in 2004. i've taken somewhere between 3000-6000 pictures with it. he says I wore it out. i'm still suspicious of his opinion. needless to say, i don't know that i need to spend $1000 to replace it. i could get something far superior to my broken camera for $700. and the only difference between the $700 camera and the $1000 one he tried to sell me is a longer lens and a camera bag. the camera body is pretty much the same-- and I wouldn't know the difference because i'm not doing heavy continuous shot stuff where i would feel restricted at all. and either way, it's all better than what i've been working with so i don't think it will matter at all. now the only question is do i want to spend the $700? i don't know. i feel like i should make the camera pay for itself and go photograph weddings and do headshots and stuff of that sort. but i don't know if that's my calling. i'd rather spend my weekend photographing interesting cracks in the sidewalk for free and not have to deal with people and the service issue. but needless to say, until i figure this issue out, images will be absent from this bloggie.