Saturday, August 30, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
acrylic and pencil on cut and folded paper, 8.5 x 11.7 in., 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Utopianism does not mean perfectionism. It means aspiring to something better. Much of our own art is OK, not perfect, but we still think it's utopian. We reinvent our lives in our art to tell a mythic story of everyday heroine-ism. We give away our autobiographical art on the street to promote our vision of utopianism--collaborative, activist, small and people-centric.
We want to show you can have your little utopia in your everyday existence.
We are living in dystopic times, and that sense of the world falling apart is what's catalyzing the urgency of today's utopianism. It's how things felt during the Vietnam War era. People are again creating utopias and collectives. The 1960's homemade candles, tie-dyed t-shirts, and homegrown food has transmogrified into today's hand-printed t-shirts, knitwear and everything else that etsy.com has to offer. The whole DIY ethic is the dream of a better and more authentic world. No more plastic.
We've noticed that more and more artists are making unabashedly utopian art -- people like Oliver Herring or like the collectives of young artists who are transforming Philadelphia's art scene with their idealism and energy.
Utopianism provides a counterbalance to the Bush administration philosophy of greed. We know we're not going to change the world except in small ways but we're going to go down trying.
Artist's On Words has been a modest attempt to give artists a platform to write about their work in a more associative and casual way. As a Visual Artist, I have found associations between my art and written language to be haphazard, fluid, temporary, and far from "perfect". That being the case, what will result when such definitive results are expected? "Statement" is such a strong word to descibe what I have experienced to be so fleeting. That is not to say the association between our work and language isn't critically important to what we do. But when requested to craft the association into the cliched and conventional structure of "The Artist's Statement", I have found the results are often, well, cliched and conventional.
This was touched upon by a comment posted here last week. It was said that it was interesting that "Artists On Words" gets beyond "My work is about...". I really hope that is the case. I have never gotten the question, "What is your work about?" from someone who really likes or is generally having a positive response to my work. I get that question out of left field from people who don't get my work and probably don't want to get it. I personally would never ask this question to another artist. Would you? When writing "The Artists Statement" and including the "My work is about..." cliche we are assuming the readers are of that same clueless frame of mind that would ask the question to your face. That puts us at an automatic disadvantage, trying to explain something from scratch to someone not very receptive in the first place.
When asked to complete an "The Artist's Statement" it's hard not conform to its conventions, and you don't want to come off sounding like a flake. It can be viewed in a strategic way and it's always important to remember you're not really "explaining" a blessed, single thing about your "work".
Thursday, August 21, 2008
The Weight of Thought
Regarding my own work and work by other artists, when I speak of 'weight' I often use the word 'lightness' as a quality I embrace. I do not mean the weight of mass, rather the weight of thought. I tend to like works that are looking as if they were made without much effort, very casual, speaking for themselves, hardly pretentious. Yet made with refinement, on the edge, maybe a bit less than just too much and with room for contemplation and imagination. Free, light, enlightened, uplifting I would consider. It is the weight of thought. It reflects the artist's habits, the artist's attitude. I like to use the term "weight of thought" also, because of my interest in perception, awareness, consciousness. Is the world what we experience only around us or is it front and foremost a reflected image in our mind? And then, what about the physical aspects of thought? What kind of matter is that?
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
Creating abstract oil paintings of size is an undertaking. They are expensive to make – materials enough to fill 35 square feet or so of surface costs quite a lot; having a large enough space to make them in costs quite a lot; having room in my life to execute this endeavor knowing that I may fail or never recoup my investment, costs quite a lot. I am 5’ 3 1/2” tall. I don’t work with two feet squarely on the floor. I have to be strong and agile and open to the possibility of physical risk either to myself or to the painting surface – and believe me, it all happens in the studio. Finally, unknowing open opinion doesn’t get it. It wants me to explain what I am making and how I am making it and why I am making. And I cannot. But I know there is more than happenstance going on. My work is not an unexpected happening. I see it coming.
My technique requires a constant attention to process. My process is very physical in nature and because I am apt to move quickly during a pour or drawing – mostly due to the manipulation of the materials – it allows me to override my mental impulses and move beyond the intellectual intention. I have found this to be truly critical to creating a credible result. I certainly don’t approach a large surface cold, without any premeditation at all. My color studies are always done beforehand. But sometimes that’s it. I trust that I have learned experience within me, in my brain and in my body, and I let that intuition guide me. Easier said than done. Accidents do happen, but I try to be careful in my preparedness so that unhappy accidents occur as infrequently as possible. It is a balance between letting go and adhering to reliable principles and methodologies which I have found to be tried and true. Anything that happens from that perspective is more natural in flow which ultimately brings me closer to the surface and the final painting. There has to be room for me. The trick is to know when to pull away; close the eyes, let go of the work. It has taken me a long time to build confidence in my process. I guess so far, so good. Probably.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Monday, August 11, 2008
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
"Untitled, 11" 2007 Oil on canvas board, 18" x 24".
Please check out Sharon Butler's website to see her great work. Being a big Melville fan myself, I just loved her "Search for Moby Dicks". The first part was called a "dickathon". While not painting, teaching or searching for Moby Dicks, she maintains the art blog Two Coats of Paint, and is a Contributing Writer at The Brooklyn Rail.
Monday, August 04, 2008
There is the most obvious matter of where I physically place my work when installing it in a given space. The work is often times inherently ill at ease; as most everything I do hovers between object and painting. Drawing directly on the wall serves my purposes but really screws the space up further still. I see all of this working in concert producing situations where the work appears to simply not know which thing it wants to be. Here you’d say it’s position is not clear.
I think all of this is fine. It pretty much sums up my experience from day to day. I consciously push the notion of position further with my color compositions. How can I take the positioning of the color to a place where the painting is almost falling apart? How can I push the pigments to heighten this? Can I position the color and it’s intensity so that the object resists being read integrally?