November 30, 2008

Damn, today was grueling.

Sunday. I do not work on Sundays. But because I am helping a friend out tomorrow and I had a little deadline, I hauled ass and got my Smaller Works on paper site up and running. Please check it out. It's a place to buy smaller works, primarily on paper, directly from me. Not trying to cut out the middle men and women, but I make a beaucoup of smaller works on paper and it seems most galleries like to focus on showing the larger works- as do I. The works on paper are like calisthenics for me and instead of stacking them in a flatfile for the rest of eternity, I'm proactively selling them. Also, as I've mentioned yesterday, I was inspired by other artists who are not sitting on the sidelines during this economy.

Tracy Helgeson summed it up quite succinctly-
"The economy is tough and those of us who (try to) make a living selling our work have been greatly affected. Obviously, I hope that if one has limited funds, they will pay for food, insurance, mortgage, etc. first, however perhaps there are still a few folks who can squeeze out a couple of bucks to buy a piece of art to enjoy or to give as a gift. If artists aren't selling anything, they are also not buying anything either or paying their bills or the mortgage and the dominoes will keep falling. I realize that not every art buyer wants to buy my art (what?) so I'd like to offer some alternatives and hopefully somebody will make a few sales, even if it's not me."

I was just really touched by that and I'm not really a group hug kind of person. Her project is The Fine Arts Department.

November 29, 2008

I am thankful even though I made some mistakes along the way

Brand Library Submissions are due. The Brooklyn Museum is also looking at submissions. I'm still at the computer. That's the I-might-as-well-focus-on-shows-since-I've-never-concerned-myself-with-sales attitude that I've had all of my adult life.

Umpteen years ago, I quietly accepted the equation, day job=money, and I never tried to "sell" my art. Not only that, I've even (silently) taken offense when people from the civilian world who know nothing about the machinations of the ART world suggest I participate in art fairs, not Art Basel art fairs but like, you know, artisan fairs. This was so snobby of me. I almost did one once. Back in 1984, I was invited out of the blue by a woman who was in charge of the Art in the Parks thing in Nashville. It may have even been the first one. I had like a week's notice. I may or may not have hung unstretched canvases from trees. I have a brief visual, but am not sure whether I followed through. I was fresh out of college and unlike the smartypants graduate of today, I had no career navigational skills. I also have a poor memory of the 80's. Briefly remember having some appointments to show work with some galleries and then grad school wiped out any modicum of desire I had to make commodifiable work. Honestly, my grad program was such an ivory tower. It falls on and off my resentment list. But I digress.

Natch, I think my work is quite handsome, but I'll admit it looks best in a white cube where it's not competing with texture and patterns and furniture and people. Thus my dilemma. Even before I was groomed in the discourse of conceptual gymnastics, I made art for myself and have assumed that people like me, only wealthier and with climate controlled spaces would collect my work. It happens, but not enough. And what's more, I'm tired of being stuck between pretending like it doesn't matter on one side and on the other, the admission that my works sells at a snail's pace at relatively modest prices. I mean, when my plumber tells me he wants to be an artist because he has an artist client whose works sells for 100,000 a pop, I want to scream.

My goals are simple: I am happiest in the studio. I just want to keep making work, make enough money to make more work, support myself through the work, have enough left over to save for a future and spread the wealth.

I've decided the whole day job=money thing needs some retooling. So this week, I am rethinking my approach. Hard. Since I'm not independently wealthy, a tenure-track professor, or a kept woman I am coming up with my own plan. A while back, I almost got my Smaller Works site up and running, but bailed and did not follow through with marketing or even word of mouth advertising. Not out of laziness, but because I wanted to believe that some gallery sales might happen as the result of a couple of fine shows and good press. One check arrived. Actually two, counting a stipend for doing an artist talk. And in looking at the domino effect of gallery closings, this doesn't seem to be the time to find additional representation, though optimistically, that's still on the to-do list.

So now I am shameless. I have been inspired by others who are selling works on websites. I am going to get off my highfalutin horse and get the Smaller Work site up and running. The work will be affordable, and I'm looking at it as an opportunity to dig deeper into my bag of tricks. There will possibly be some slightly representational and P&D work, and I know it sounds crazy, but I'm also thinking FLOWERS. Specifically, I see designs from my mom's garden club fitting in here somewhere. I'm excited. It's kind of like my version of Michael Graves for Target mixed with the FAP, but you know, non-functional and probably still a little esoteric.

Whee. Off to get that paypal button.

November 28, 2008

Why yes, I was on the computer all day niggling at my website

Revamping my website is what I do when I'm restless. I've been waiting with baited breath about a small grant I applied for, which means I should apply for more stuff and be proactive instead of sitting on my ass waiting for the postman to bring me news. Sitting on my ass and waiting also refers to standing on my feet and painting. As much as I would love to wait for checks to roll in, I still need to hustle.

November 25, 2008

Why yes, today IS Studio Coffee Break Day.

I happened upon a Professional Porch Sitters Union website yesterday and Eureka! realized that's what Studio Coffee Break Day was. I like this. I'm now thinking of merging the as of yet to be established Professional Porch Sitters Union 4343 with Studio Coffee Break.

In studio world, I've got 6 paintings in various stages of completion. I'm digging a little deeper into Romanticism thanks to my love of Ruskin and Turner and am delving into my secret past as a Transcendentalist wannabe. For a brief semester in college, I was lost. Well, actually, more than a semester. I knew I wanted to be an artist, but had no idea what media I wanted to concentrate in. The art dept threw me into Communication Design, because, and I quote, "At least you can make money." I harbor no resentments whatsoever, but my heart wasn't in it. I plodded along. Oh sure, I loved all the tools and even liked coming up with solutions to problems, but something was missing, which I later discovered was a quote I subconsciously live by in the studio: “Design is about solving problems. Art is about creating them.” I create problems. This is what I'm really good at. I excel at this.

So during this time of idealized soul searching, I got hooked on Emerson and Thoreau and eventually found my first painting class, which changed my life. Yeah, I know it sound dramatic, but it's true.

November 23, 2008

I will renew my membership to MOCA

I am not much of an activist, though on two occasions I protested the war by demonstrating all by my lonesome on the corner of Sepulveda and Culver. I'm not agoraphobic, enochlophobia, demophobia or ochlophobia. I just get flustered around semi-organized groups of people. So instead of showing physical support today at the Geffen, I will renew my MOCA membership. A couple of weeks ago, we politely informed the membership telemarketer that we were going to have to bypass the membership renewal this year. Like lots of artists and arts professionals, I have alternated which museum to support from year to year. This year, I was going to let them all lapse. Not honorable, but true.

The fact that I'm going to shell out a membership fee might seem financially insignificant, but it's not. I've been acting all hopeful about the economy, like it was maybe some kind of group consciousness that would self-correct in a few months.

I was on a roll in the studio and was beginning to think that being partially self-employed was a small coup during these times. I had already been offered a class for spring AND the summer intensive, plus I got wind that they changed the rules so that adjuncts could teach more than one class per semester and was told my name was brought up as a possibility to teach one of the additional classes. I was on the verge of actually being comfortable, optimistic and bullet-proof. I thought about the phrase, "Everyone's got to eat" and figured that without art, life would indeed be very bleak, so I was thinking to myself, "Everyone's got to have art."

Then for some reason, seeing the 'Mandatory Budget Cuts' sign posted in the fine arts dept. mail room on Saturday, along with not hearing back from a couple of people who had recently inquired about my work, and a couple of other things, triggered a dive into the abyss. Ironically, logging onto Fidelity and seeing I still had a few token dollars in what is the last vestige of my retirement account a.k.a the reminder of my 4-year-participation-in-the-civilian-world-back-in-the-90's-and-why-that-didn't-take, was actually a surprise. Not pleasant, just a surprise.

So, um yeah. The MOCA renewal is a big deal and this is a post encouraging others to join in support. Please read the Christopher Knight letter linked below.

And while I'm laying stuff on the table, I'm also looking for additional teaching job(s). Preferably painting or watercolor, but drawing's cool too. And commissions, I'm still good for these too. And if all else fails, I suppose I will paint fruit, because I'm pretty sure everyone likes fruit, although I was hoping to wait until my 70's or 80's before I trotted out the fruit still lifes. I'm only half-kidding about the fruit. The one above was done while demonstrating gouache techniques.

Open letter to MOCA trustees from Christopher Knight

MOCA Mobilization group on facebook

November 20, 2008

I discovered where the human eye can detect between 1,000,000 and 10,000,000 colors and I feel much better, even challenged.

Last night as I left the studio, I was fascinated by my use or misuse of color and was suddenly in awe that, try as I might, I had not yet exhausted the world's color combination supply. It was a good feeling cuz although my palette changes somewhat frequently, I sometimes get stuck on certain colors like a bad penny. I was at a point where I thought I had tapped the color wheel well almost dry and was doomed to repeat myself or go neutral. (Still an option). So having a little epiphany via my minor color breakthrough was inspiring and then to find out that the human eye can detect millions of separate colors nailed it.

November 19, 2008

Why can't I let this painting die a respectable death instead of torturing us both?

Oh wait, never mind.

I cannot let go and admit defeat and yet, when I look at the photograph, it's absolutely perfect. It conveys exactly the right amount of sadness and pathos that is wrapped up in that painting. I am brilliant once again and can now move on. Thank you, rusty paint cans.

November 13, 2008

Today is a two-post day. Post #1

I am always amazed at the generous responses I receive from my work. Occasionally it's from a guy, but more often than not, it's from younger women artists. I'll assume that everyone and their mother gets kudos for their work, and I'm the only one who's constantly caught off guard, but for me there's something significant in making abstract work that connects to other people, because it's not the outward stuff I talk about that people connect with and it's not the artist statement or the fumbled talks- it's the inner stuff that resonates. That's the crazy part- the stuff that's on the canvas still manages to convey, long after I've left the scene. I received a link this morning to a blog post about my work and it made me feel good about being a painter and doing what I do. Which in turn made me want to keep the goodness cycle going, so I went to the Hammer show to soak up some more paintings.

Today is a two-post day. Post #2

Oranges and Sardines, Conversations on Abstract Painting.

I'm pretty much a sucker for any painting show, but especially ones that take a critical look at abstract painting. Since my blog makes no pretense at striving to be a source of cutting edge reviews, I'll just gush over a few paintings and artists in list form. Dry, but to the point.

Francis Bacon, Figure with Two Owls, Study for Velazquez.
Those 2 owls have always looked liked pointy-toed boots to me in reproductions and I always laugh at myself for forgetting they're owls and thinking they're boots. Then again it's not like the piece is titled Figure with Two Pointy-Toed Boots, Study for Velazquez.

David Hockney, Little Splash.
Amy Sillman.
Howard Hodgkin, After Matisse.
Paul Thek, God is.
Albert Oehlen
Chris Wool (According to his list, we're art very art compatible.)
Dieter Roth
Charline Von Heyl
At this point I'm realizing I'm naming half the show.

November 12, 2008

Upward and onward

I just lovingly placed the RFQ for the Los Angeles Intl. Airport project in the mail. I don't know why organizing the elements and resizing jpegs seemed so time-consuming yesterday. Some days are just molasses. It felt productive though and I've always envisioned some of the watercolors translated into tiles, so it was doubly good to throw my name in the hat. As a painter, I'd actually like to do public art, but I sell myself short thinking that my work is too chaotic to be adapted for a public space. No more. I'm beginning to see the possibilities.

This week is going by fast.

November 11, 2008

Back to work

Brief video coffee break on Skype, followed by testing iChat for possible multi-chat. I officially prefer Skpye for audio clarity and ease of menu navigation. I almost got in a virtual fisticuffs with a friend who is seriously lacking in social skills- over an error message I was receiving on iChat, so I disengaged before I needed to apologize for anything. I don't deal well with mean people, know-it-alls, and condescending arrogant cads. I mean seriously, who does? ( I guess that wasn't very nice of me to refer to my friend as a mean person, but I'm pretty sure they'd consider the rest of the description a complement.) Anyway, enough of the hurt feelings.

I'm working on a project proposal for LAX and my ADD kicks in while working on the computer. It's an easy app- I already wrote the proposal, and the tedious part seems to be just putting all the elements together and burning a disk. Silly, because it's not that tedious.

Next up is developing a small portfolio specifically for a corporate client and then after that I get to reward myself by putting together some ideas for a solo show.

Life is good, I just need to remain focused.

November 09, 2008

Okay, so I wasn't working late at the office afterall...

Being somewhat of a geek, I'm trying to figure out how much Internet presence I want to maintain. I like keeping a blog, not because what I say is so very important or even informative, but simply as kind of a record of my process and influences, or possibly even therapy, depending on my mood, but whatever. Then there is Flickr, a place to dump images. I tried Twitter, but felt too self-centered broadcasting to no one in particular and frankly I didn't care about following or being followed. Then after ignoring several requests, I broke down and joined Facebook and feel slightly more connected to various communities since I actually know most of the people I'm friends with (at least at this point). But to be honest, I feel like I've been cheating on the blog by spending time on Facebook. Facebook knows the happy, cheerful, sound bite me because whenever I log on, I'm so excited to see Facebook. The blog knows most of my little mood swings, temporary setbacks, and victories. I'm leading a double life. One's abbreviated, the other's a recap.

Anyway, that's where I've been and it's out in the open now. No more pretending I've been working late at the studio, when really I was slutting around over at Facebook.

Except this coming week, I have a ton of stuff to do: 2-3 proposals, for starters, followed by a couple of mini-projects. That's like a full week right there. Plus remember, Tuesday from 2-3PM is my Skype Video Conference Coffee Break Which is Also a Real-life Coffee Break For Anyone Who Wants to Stop By.


November 06, 2008

So easily distracted, I am.

I am prepping 2 works on paper for shipping. Easy, though it's slightly time-consuming as I have to cut forty, 7-inch squares of glassine. But really, it's a breeze as far as prep work goes. After getting the first set done, I realized my streamlined method was neither streamlined, nor methodical. The works were a recently commissioned piece for one of my dayish jobs if you will. It's too complicated to explain the logistics, but for the first painting, I gridded it out and simply clocked in and painted each square separately. It's somewhat of a copy of an older work, except, smaller, longer, and different media. I swore I'd never copy myself, (my line in the sand) but it's actually hysterical to me that I did, and the only reason I did was that there's a possibility that the original was going to be sold as well. AND they're going to further alter it by framing each square separately. Like I said, it's too complicated to explain the whole thing. I still have some reservations about copying myself, but not too many at this point because I've discovered I really like money and find it useful in order to purchase things and pay my bills.

Plus, If you know how I paint, it's hysterical to see how I tried to reproduce coffee splatters, drips and general mayhem using a computer, a lightbox, pencil outlines, and a tiny brush. The only wild card was mixing colors. I always have to eyematch, because there's no way in hell I'm EVER going to write down some formula or even the names of the damn colors I use in my work. Anyway it was so meta.

The second piece was guided by the first piece, only I didn't grid it out, I just winged it. My experience was that for the dayish job work, I prefer being routine and methodical, but it's nice to be able to summon both of my superpowers when I have to.

November 03, 2008

The next big thing.

I've been ambling in the studio lately, so I got all social and ventured out on Friday to do a studio visit with another painter and drop off some smaller works at the gallery. While doing the studio visit, the concept behind small paintings vs. large paintings came up and he referred to his smaller paintings as "one-offs." I related, but for me the concept of one-offs function as a larger body of work in and of itself. Index, catalog, atlas, and bulletin board come to mind.

At the gallery I talked about small paintings, and tried very hard to avoid or validate the use of the word "sketches," a term several people want to use when discussing the smaller paintings. I am defiant this way. The term sketch implies an incomplete or roughed out thought, one that serves as a basis for a larger or more complete work. This is my anti-sketch point: the smaller works are complete, in their incompleteness. On the other hand, I will acquiesce to the use of the word sketch as, "a comical or amusing person or thing." The exception to this rule are the small paintings that want to be bigger paintings but can't quite seem to make it. And again, this would be the point in my world of frustrated narratives and dystopian wonderments.

I anthropomorphize the paintings way too much.

The whole point of this was really to say that I need some quiet time to think about the next big thing.

November 02, 2008

It's raining.

Actually, I've decided to bake a coffee cake rather than blog this morning.