Monday, October 29, 2007

At Sea

It's an in between week for me. In between shows, in between paintings, kind of a no man's land of creativity. A week where nothing will happen as I am out of canvases and finished with the ones I have... and I itch for another deadline to burn myself out on. I should start planning my next pieces (before I find myself with a new and impossible deadline upon me.) But instead I've been playing rainy-weepy guitar for hours broken up by periodic trips to various bookstores to see if they have Anais Nin's Collages which I am determined to read next (even though I have a stack of other unread books right next to me. I should read those first probably....) I just read the other day that Anais Nin lived not more than 2 miles from here, and I tend to cling to any shred of literary history that Los Angeles can claim. I almost walked to her house yesterday but had to stop myself because I had things to do and it was getting dark.

I am pondering my next paintings, there are several distinct stages of painting. For me it seems the conception of paintings is separate from the actual painting. I will spend a month or two brainstorming and developing my paintings-- this usually involves sketching in photoshop, collecting reference, and just churning out the basic framework for a number of pieces. This is usually the most creative part of painting, but sometimes the physically most dull part because it involves sitting in front of a computer more than a canvas. The actual painting I love completely, because I'm on my feet in action. It becomes a sort of a dance with music blaring and my brush moving to the rhythm. I love it because it is very high energy, creative, and instinctual (versus intellectual and sendentary.) When I'm painting, I usually have a permanent high. And right now, this week is the exact opposite-- that low valley between mountains, an anticlimax.

Hopefully by the end of the week I'll find the beginnings of my next paintings, and I'll start work on some canvas frames. (Yay, woodworking time!) Perhaps the industry of cutting lumber and the rush of using power tools is just what I need. I may be fancy this time and break out my router and make my own beveled edges.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Spaceland Sketches

I've posted some fun little sketches I did at the Parson Redheads show last week at Spaceland. I kind of wish it was less crowded so I could've snagged a table closer. But instead I was tucked between the merch table and the trash can looking at the backs of heads. Spaceland is not the best place to sketch, Silverlake Lounge is better, and perhaps Bordello. Also El Rey is good (when they have the tables & chairs set up along the side) because it's easy to see over heads and sometimes the lighting guy throws up some crazy stuff. I think my new fantasy is to someday paint a large canvas live on stage with a band. I heard it's been done before, it never occurred to me it could be done. In high school during talent show time I would feel left out that as an artist I couldn't put my talent in front of an audience. But live painting side by side with music would definitely work. Some day I will find a way to do this. Meanwhile I will keep drawing at shows I go to sitting quietly off to the side....

Cigarettes and Red Vines

I saw Aimee Mann today on Vermont Blvd. I had her CD Bachelor No. 2 on repeat when I first moved to LA (along with The Who's greatest hits.) I got to see her perform at Largo last year, I was sitting 4 feet from the stage with best bud Guillermo and sipping on a dirty martini. It was one of the best live shows I've seen, despite the fact she kept forgetting her own lyrics (thankfully the audience could help her there.) Seeing her reminded me of that awesome show, and made me think of all the wonderful shows I've gone to here in LA. Here is my top list of the best musicians/performers I've seen:

1. Josh Ritter - I've seen him 4 times live and every show I'm blown away. It's partly the sheer energy, the stage persona, and the band as a whole. I think his lyrics are the most interesting and wonderful that I've heard. I'm really drawn to the images and concepts in them, and he uses the most bizarre juxtapositions and references. I had been thinking about metaphor in literature vs. painting for a while (See my painting "In The Ruins of the City" for a prior attempt.) But it was his CD "The Animal Years" that crystallized my thinking about this and compelled me to follow my instinct about using my own bizarre juxtapositions of imagery (see "The Edge of the World.") I'll probably write more about this later, since it's been on my mind again as I start a new series of paintings in the vein of The Edge of the World...
2. Mia Doi Todd - Every time I go see her I seriously float home and start painting or writing poetry furiously. Her lyrics are so plain and deceptively simple yet beautiful-- they often consist of simple observations but it takes someone like her to turn them from ordinary to an extraordinary song. I studied poetry in college with Olga Broumas, and reading poetry aloud was very important there. When poetry is read well, it has a musical quality. And Mia's music/voice somehow seems to straddle the world of music and poetry. Plus she performs barefoot and uses a harmonium, and I looove things like that.
3. Ferraby Lionheart - Another LA local, I first heard his music on the radio as I was moving my last load of belongings to my new place here in Silverlake. It took me a while to track him down online (now it's not as hard since he's starting to get some attention) but I was able to see him play solo a couple days later. I think what struck me about him is his reserved quality as well as how magical his music is. I also find something familiar about his music, and after some thought I decided that his songs feel like songs I would write myself (well... if I could write music.)
4. Aimee Mann- I loved her live, partly because of the intimacy of the venue and the casual quality of the performance. She had no set list, and I think some of her back up musicians were not her normal people and just following along. Also since I found her music during a transitional period in my life so it just holds so much extra meaning for me.


I revised my website again, and undid a few things I did late night earlier this week. I need to stop impulsively starting on projects at 2am (notice the timestamp on this blog, I am seriously crazy and should be asleep now.) So for now the artist statement has been removed, I am once again mulling it over.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Website Updated, for now.

I've updated my website so it has my latest paintings. I also reorganized the order that the paintings are viewed, so the recent ones pop up first (sort of, they're also somewhat ordered by concept too.) I also put a semi-coherent artist statement which shall be revised once I get a 1st and 2nd and 3rd opinion on it. It's still nowhere near perfect. It's hard to write one universal statement to cover every idea in my head and in my work. There's still so much I didn't get into, I feel like I could write a book. It's is additionally hard to write a statement when I'm going through a period where I'm feeling a bit scattered artistically. I had a show a few weeks ago where I saw a bunch of my recent pieces next to each other and I felt they were so different as if they were separated by years and not days or months. I resolved then to be more focused and unified somehow, even if it was just done by a unified color palette. I'm still turning this all over in my head, and I got a sort of unsatisfied feeling in my stomach. I know at some point I'll find my new direction and start a brilliant new series of paintings. For now, I'm loosing myself in music and a bit of poetry as a change of pace.

Try to compose it,
it fails
the center vanishes

the figure
in sight

or hiding under
scraps of buildings
the columns of a fallen bridge
any thing hard will do
as shield
or carapace

yet nothing stays
everything disperses
you cannot draw this
dust as it rises

excerpt from the poem "To the Far Corners of Fractured Worlds" by Susan Griffin. (from The Gift of Tongues by Copper Canyon Press.)

(I just realized I don't know the protocol for quoting poetry or other published material in a blog. Is it allowed, and how much? I have absolutely no clue, it's such a new world for me. If this has crossed any lines, please politely inform me and I'll remove it.)

Friday, October 19, 2007

bohemian night

Walking at night is lovely in silverlake, I think i could walk forever along the dark curvy roads that seemingly go nowhere. this time of year there aren't as many flowers blooming, that I missed. their scent is stronger at night and reminds me of northern Israel where there is a city I visited where the air is filled with the aroma of every flower possible and I've tried to figure out what flowers they were ever since. And I swear there are the same flowers here in LA.... But tonight the aroma was more of mulch and dirt which is pleasant in a different way. And the hills were very quiet, just the hum of traffic in the distance. I don't like to listen to music when I walk. Natural sounds are even better... the brief bits of conversation, TV, music. The constant rhythm of my feet. I steal glimpses into lit windows that feel like frames of pictures. I see vases, couches, chandeliers, framed art, books. I wonder what they read, who they are, what they do, where they go. Everything looks charming in a window, it's like a miniature stage with much quieter drama. Sometimes there are no characters at all. The roads are very narrow with little lighting and steep inclines. The homes are build into the hills and overgrown plants in a haphazard terraced manner. Some of the homes look like the big earthquake has already hit. They have crooked doors and sagging beams and the paint falls off like paper. There are vines every where, and hidden staircases and lamps meekly radiating yellow light. There are no straight lines or order, and it's almost as if you can see all the changes and incremental movement of the landscape from decades layered on top of each other like multiple exposures.

My walk ended at spaceland-- which was more a reason to walk through the hills at night than a destination. I have returned to sketching musicians and crowds. It seemed like I needed to be a bit bohemian and return to living fluidly without structure or discipline. When I draw from people (especially in a public place) there is no control. People move, stand still, turn around, block your view-- whatever is unexpected. It's nice to sketch them because I can't get too precious about anything. I see a nice moment... such as a person whispering in another's ear, a couple embracing, a person walking through my view... and it's gone. I draw what I can. Sometimes it's a figure, somtimes it's just an elbow or outline or nose. I layer the drawings on top of each other and they form a sort of messy shape of gestures. Again, it's kind of like multiple exposures. Little is recognizable, I capture the energy of a person or people moving by and it's gone. And then among all this I like to put the sketchpad down and join the picture because behind all of this is the music which always put's me in a transcendent mood and makes me skip home giddy and glowing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"Walden" 2006. Oil on canvas, 15x19 inches.

This painting was done along side of "Away." I had the idea of a girl sitting in a rowboat with no oars. Originally it was going to be set on the ocean. But then I changed it to a New England setting, out of a bout of homesickness probably. (My family has a canoe that they often take out onto the Concord River.) I set this painting on Walden Pond, mainly since I have a large obsession with Henry David Thoreau and have read Walden and Civil Disobedience way too many times. This painting was made at a point in my life where I felt I was going nowhere, and I started was asking myself what was most important to me. It was at this point where I taped the following quote onto the wall of my studio:

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

"Away" 2006. Oil on canvas, 13x16 inches.

This painting is significant to me because I painted it at a time where I was in a crossroads in my life. I wasn't really very satisfied with my life and had come to a point where a decision had to be made... the type of decision that takes 9 months to make and you don't realize you're even making it until you look back and realize how far you've travelled from where you started.

This painting is about withdrawing from one world and going into the unknown. The figure is walking away from us, and we can't see her face or what's ahead of her. I'm fascinated with painting people from behind because the first impulse when we see someone from behind is to try to see around to their face. And in this painting I deny the viewer the woman's face, and it creates a tension that pulls them in.

I also wanted to have an element of darkness in this painting. I didn't want to literally paint anything threatening into the image-- but by placing a woman into natural setting there is an implicit quality of vulnerability. Nature is wild and untamed, and dark forests hold the unknown-- the looming possibility of danger. But there is also a regenerative quality to them as well as a spiritual one. I think of this painting as sort of a fairy tale-- the moment our hero embarks on a journey into the unknown.

Because music is very much intertwined with my life and my paintings, I want to include a few songs that were in my head when I made this:

Earlimart - Treble and Tremble, "Tell the Truth, Pts. 1 and 2"
David Kilgour - Frozen Orange, "G Major 7"
Seekonk - For Barbara Lee, "Maps of Egypt"
The Dissociatives - The Dissociatives, "Lifting the Veil from the Braille"
The Shins - Oh, Inverted World, "New Slang"

Blogging my Paintings...

I've been struggling over writing a concise and accurate artist statement these days. Well months, I've been putting it off regularly. I feel my work is in state of change-- so it is hard for me to make statements on my body of work as a whole. Much of what I would say now about my work doesn't even apply to paintings I did earlier this year. And what's in my head now has yet to be seen on the canvas. So I thought I would do it my own way, and write a statement about each painting on my website (as well as all the details people ask like "How long did it take?') I'm gonna try to do this over the next week or two while I have some downtime catching my breath between shows. (Next show(s) to be announced soon, FYI. I have a couple things in the works...)