December 30, 2008

Perhaps I will discover more time in 2009.

Twoth (2009)

I am SO behind on things, but I'm also trying to have balance, which is why I cut out of the studio after accomplishing a task. I met a buyer while I was in Nashville and we got in a nice little chat about recycled products and the green economy. I was eyeballing the English Retread purses when she approached me, and after cooing over those bags, I told her about my Used Rubber bag which still looks brand new after 10 years. One thing led to another and as we were exchanging numbers I pulled out one of my homemade memo pads, which immediately caught her eye (she's a buyer) and led us into another discussion which ended with her recommending a site for me to check out, called Like Etsy, but curated. Hopefully I'll get in. It's very design-oriented and I am anti-design-oriented, but who knows, maybe my anti-design will be considered design this year. This would be for my multiples and odds and ends stuff. I put that package together today. I make it sound like a huge deal- scanning the work, taking the pics, writing the bio, etc; It's not, but for some reason, I always have a Eureka! moment in the middle of doing something, which leads to either to an improvement or an offshoot idea, which I am compelled to implement on the spot. The printer also ran out of ink. I finally finished up that task and the offshoot brainstorming ideas that came with it, and called it a day. I am well aware I over-used and possibly mis-used 'which' in the above paragraph. My apologies to the grammar cops.

I'm behind on posting the new old stock of smaller works over at the smaller works site and I still have 4 paintings living in the studio without titles, not to mention that I've got to get rolling on those works again. I don't diversify easily.

So, I cut out of the studio after accomplishing one task, in order to make Matt a Red Velvet birthday cake. I'm still 5 days late. To be fair, his birthday was on Xmas day and I was in Nashville. It's my first RV cake and although I would rather have made it vegan, it's not my birthday, so I'm following my friend, Martha's recipe, and going full-on dairy.

I've left out the part about trying to troubleshoot a brand new answering machine from 2000 miles away.

December 28, 2008

"TV is dead. Run for your lives."

That is a quote from my dream last night. It was just a voice, but I believe it sounded like Edward R. Murrow. Upon hearing this announcement, I calmly went to my chest of drawers and tried to quickly decide whether I would be more comfortable spending eternity running in cords or jeans. I decided on the cords and woke up.

Make of that what you will.

December 27, 2008

Christmas week recap:

  • Nice Christmas. Excellent dinner with my mother at Prime 101 at Union Station in Nashville. Pricey, but worth it. Fabulous food and they made a special vegan menu for me that rocked. My mom enjoyed being there since she remembered when it was a working train station.
  • Way too many chores to list, but I got the converter box in place, the gas logs working again, a new answering machine/caller id installed and some routine housework done. It sounds pretty simple, but for various reasons, it wasn't. I am what is referred to as a long-distance caregiver. There's a lot to learn and organize. Plus she has a horse dog that's adorable but nuts.

  • Made some time to meet a couple of people for coffee, but could not fit in everyone I wanted to see. That's the tough part, finding balance. Not my strong suit.
  • Did manage to get to Radnor Lake and do some hiking. It's my little Walden.

  • Worked on some watercolor sketches of the living room furniture. I've had this thing about furniture my whole life. I think next trip I may work on larger paper and make them less sketchy. Or not.
  • Saw Keith Urban at the grocery store on the way back. I was picking up some vegan cookies for the return flight. He was buying flowers.

December 19, 2008

Get your pre-flight separation cold-weather visiting mom for the holidays travel anxiety here NOW.

Yep. Today is the day I cast aside all my other identities and focus on being a daughter for the next few days.

Fun Facts:
I don't drink anymore, so getting loaded on the plane is out.
LAX to BNA is a 3-sharpie drawing flight.
I don't drink anymore, so getting loaded once I land is out.

Okay, that's enough of the fun facts.
My flight leaves this afternoon and I'm almost done packing. I have a hefty to-do list once I arrive, but it will get done. I need to shift focus and think about relaxing and being slightly social over the next few days.

Big surprise, I am slightly compulsive about making art. I always take my watercolor travel set and sharpies. I know what my next lino cut is going to be, so I can work on the sketches for that. I don't actually sketch, so that's just a phrase I'm loosely using. One of the sketches will BE the drawing. It's more a matter of spacing issues and which time I'll nail it without using a sissy ruler.

After Christmas, I will upload some new works to the Smaller Works site. Have been thinking about trying the eBay thing, but should first try sending out an email announcement telling people about the site. I also want to put some work priced in the $20-100 range but feel a little like I'm trying to have a fire sale when I think about pricing works simply to get them out of the flatfiles. Still, the flatfiles are full, so what the hell. Stay tuned for the fire sale, without the actual fire.

December 16, 2008

Welcome to my Printmaking Factory

Let's face it, documenting me painting would be as chaotic and boring as it sounds, but the printmaking process just begs to be documented. I forgot to document the process of drawing and carving the linoleum block, but next go round, I'll grab some images of the drawing and the carving and the thing.

I have to admit, as a painter who flies by the seat of her pants, doing something that has orderly steps was a fun switch. The first batch was a little wonky because I wasn't concerned with registration or consistency, but the next batch I decided I'd make a jig using tape and go for some accuracy. I get the feeling master printmakers might be a little more concerned with those pesky details, so as a caveat, I am not a master printmaker, I am a painter.

December 15, 2008

Mary feels like facebook might be too claustrophobic and other things today.

There are some things I'd rather not have to keep repeating in my life, and on anther note, I'm beginning to feel like having a presence on the Internet is akin to going through Lacan's mirror phase, and I thought I had moved past that, too...

I was actually all set to write an lengthy treatise about privateering, but after I wrote about it in my personal journal, I decided I was having too sad of a day to want to post it in it’s entirety, so here are a few paragraphs in no particular order.

Putting a work on exhibit with a price tag attached to it is a gutsy thing to do. On more than one occasion, I have taking solace in hearing a well-known painter I respect here in L.A., say that his/her paintings do not sell. He/she has said this publicly, which is even more of an amazing thing to cop to in a world where you’re a pariah if your work doesn’t sell. People want to equivocate sales with success as a measurable yardstick. If your work is priced (I'm having some grammar issues here, pay no mind, I'm tired) the price of your work is based upon experience and works similar to yours in street cred, and it sells, but doesn’t sell out, does this mean it was priced too high? If that same work was priced at half and it still didn’t sell, what would that mean? What if you priced your work so cheap that anyone with an extra $25 on hand could buy it? And it still didn’t sell? Would you give your work away? Or conversely, what if you priced your work so incredibly cheap and it sold through the roof, would suddenly you think you were onto something? Would that mean you were collectible if you then raised your prices? I have no answers.

Another friend of mine makes ceramics. She has cultivated a collector base and mailing list since day one. Her work is not radical and she makes work priced from $15 to $130,000. Everyone bought up the $15 work at her studio sale. I would also add that she is the second ceramicist I know who set up a studio immediately after school in order to go into business. That was not my training. No one told me as a painter that as soon as I finished a work I should plop a price tag on it, set up a shop and go into business. It was about showing the work and making art that was critical. If I were to dwell in the past, I might wish that I had the benefit of more of a practical background. My experience is what is was. There are deficits and assets.

I have received way too much flack over the course of my lifetime for making abstract work. This ranges from people who say they don’t get it, or think there is something that they are not getting- to educated art world people who think that abstraction is either too elitist, too emotional or irrelevant for our current times, to most recently, a beginning drawing student of mine I overheard ask, “Does it mean anything?” This doesn’t take in account the host of people who think anyone can paint abstract work to the recent letdown of hearing that a collector was more “curious” about my work than actually interested in collecting it for reasons that deal with things beyond my control.
I have been passionate about my role as Defender of Abstract Art and Champion of Awkward Painting, most of my adult life. For me, abstraction and text are as real as someone else’s painting of fruit. Steven LaRose used the word, ‘pure’ and ‘pre-linguistic’ in conjunction with his image-based pencil drawings. That’s how I feel about my abstract work. Occasionally I will paint a recognizable object or words, but it’s all the same in my world, and it comes from the same point of love and investigation. That’s my purity.

I finally set up a site, (without the eBay auction system, so far) in order to sell smaller works. I priced the works on paper at what people have spent on them in the past. When a gallery sells the same work, they take 50%, leaving me with 50%. They take that 50% because they are the ones marketing the work, exhibiting the work and hopefully cultivating a collector base for the work. If they’re doing their job, it’s fair. It’s hard to do two things really well. I paint. I suck at selling. I would rather just make the work and leave the selling to someone else, but this is not as practical as I once thought it might be and it's why I’ve become a privateer and set up a site for selling the smaller works. I’ve made a commitment to follow through with this, not because it's a holiday gift extravaganza or only in response to the economic crunch but because it's a step toward realizing a simple goal of just being a working artist. Simply put. Of course, it would help if I would actually publicize the site, so I suppose that is next.

December 12, 2008

My short history of printmaking.

My grandfather on my daddy's side of the family died well-before I was born, so I never knew much about him other than his name was Mose and that he was an engraver for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. This has always fascinated me, as he was the only person in my family that was remotely connected with the arts as a profession.

I took a printmaking class in college. Since printmaking was closely aligned with drawing, and at the time I was not closely aligned with drawing, I did not pursue printmaking other than the occasional monoprint, lithograph or woodcut here and there. I still have all my woodcut and etching tools, and I thought I had my lino cut tools, but they may be in Nashville. I have a vague recollection of seeing the lino blades in the little green Speedball box sitting in the drawer of my nightstand last time I was visiting.

So in making the one-of-a-kind, mass-produced journals and notepads I made yesterday and today, it dawned on me that maybe block printing might be the way to go. And then I got even more excited because although the idea of block printing abstract work does not appeal to me one iota, (Scratch that; suddenly it appealed to me very much)— what does appeal to me is doing a bunch of text-based works. Perfect! Yes, perfect. I have a bunch of text-based work I've done over the years, but since on the surface* it's pretty much the polar opposite of abstract work, I've only exhibited them a couple of times. I can't really explain my new found enthusiasm succinctly in a blog post, but I'm very excited about doing some block printing.

* Regarding text-based work being polar opposite abstract work: I find it amusing that my first foray into one-of-a-kind, mass-produced items would be a journal. The slightly amusing part is that my abstract work references my day-to- day life, but obviously using the language of painting and some personal iconography, instead of flat-out words and language-based images. So, really, my text-based work is not opposite of my abstract work at all. So how funny I would choose the outside of a journal as an image. Or maybe it's an inside joke and you had to be here. I am so funny today.

December 11, 2008

First of all, I would like everyone to know that Time Warner Cable SUCKS and if my Internet ever becomes reliable again, I intend on getting credit for the entire week of spotty frigging Internet service. The recorded message says that they’re doing their best to resolve the problem. 4 DAYS and counting, and you can't resolve the problem?!!!!

Fang was doped yesterday in order to get his nails trimmed by the vet. The sedative was supposed to wear off after 4-6 hours, but it lasted almost 24 hours. I spent yesterday monitoring him and making sure he could get around without falling down. It broke my heart to see him so out of it. I love that dog so much. On the bright side, his nails are trim and he can walk without sliding around.

This morning, I thought I’d shift gears in the studio and do some monoprinting. If I’d had the right kind of paper on hand, it would have been fine, but since I’m not a printer, I don’t keep printing paper on hand and I wasn’t motivated enough to leave the house to get paper. If I sound lazy, it’s true. Last night I did yoga at home for the first time in forever and I was wiped out this morning. Good feeling, but tired. So back to being lazy... after I aborted monoprinting, I began working on some homemade gifts for my mom. I don’t know if anyone else out there has a parent who’s getting up there in age and writes EVERYTHING on post-it notes, but that’s what my mom relies on now when her memory falters. (Post-it note to self: pitch something to 3M about this.) So every time I go home, there are all these post-it notes with my mom's perfect 19th century cursive handwriting lying all over the place. And they’re not organized, at all. So I’m not sure how she knows what note is current, but apparently she does, cause everything gets done, more or less. Anyway, I decided to make some memo books for her, as opposed to getting her a new tracksuit, although I still may find her a new tracksuit. The front has a nice handy place for the dates and the back is monogrammed. I was slightly unfocused today, so lettering and filling in the letters was a pleasant activity for me and I made a bunch 5; they're actually rather labor intensive. I am going to make some to sell on the smaller works site. I make them all the time for my own journaling needs, but I thought the monogram was a nice touch. The one above was my prototype.

December 06, 2008

Really, I'm sitting on my ass now, not doing a thing.

And although I'm missing a couple of openings, I'm enjoying being relatively otiose.

Today was the last day of the semester. I didn't really put 2 and 2 together until last week, but because I was teaching on Saturdays this semester, I decided that my studio days would be M,T,W,R, and F. I can't say I was performing at 100% capacity in the studio for 40 hours every week, but I showed up 5 days a week for the last 16 weeks and got work done. The 2 + 2, well, duh factor is that last week, I hit my threshold. I heard someone say TGIF and I realized that for 16 weeks I was attempting to work a 35-40-hour week in the studio in addition to teaching on Saturdays. Only Sunday was designated as my official day of inactive nothingdom. Hence, a slight low-grade feeling of all work and no play. And on top of that, I'm also thinking that because I'm working on smaller canvases right now, I'm running through a lot of ideas at a faster clip than when I work on large canvases. It's that 'I'm a factory mentality' again.

Anyway, I'm inert now, save for knitting my tweed skirt, and next semester I'm taking Mondays off.

December 04, 2008

Win some, Lose some, Wait for some

Still waiting for a grant app.... but in the meantime, received a little more PR over at Culture Pundits.

I was out of bed at 6:17 am and yet....

The good news is that I am physically in the studio and about to scan some work. The other good news is that I ate breakfast, so I won't be grumpier and the other good news is that I can use the word, "vacuum cleaner" in a sentence.

There is no bad news, just that it's 10:41 AM and I feel like I haven't done much.

My last class of the semester is this Saturday. It was a good group for the most part. I find that students who commit to showing up at 8:30 am on a Saturday morning in order to spend the next 6.5 hours honing their observational skills are usually dedicated. Usually. Some students never really got the 8:30 AM start time down pat and a couple never understood "lunch break" meant that class would resume after a brief interval and after awhile, you realize you're preaching to the converted when you remind everyone that most drawing requires some sort of presence of mind and body, but other than that, it was a successful class.

And I just remembered I am out of white oil paint. How did this happen? UGH. I do not want to traipse across town to save a buck at Utrecht or Dick Blick, so I will pony up the extra couple of bucks and go to Graphaids in Culver City. Damn.

December 02, 2008

I'll be blunt: the new site is called Smaller Works

My studio table is clean and I'm ready to work.

As I was cleaning my studio I became annoyed with myself for "waiting" to work on large scale paintings until I had another solo lined up. How lame. I'm on the books with a collecting group for a studio visit next year and I suddenly realized how silly of me not to have any new larger works available to show them. It also made me realize that as of now, I am boycotting writing exhibition proposals. Obviously, if you work methodically or your work is so painfully conceptual that you'd fold without a blueprint, I understand. Or conversely, if you really like to write about things for the sole purpose of coming up with cutting edge ideas, that works too. Or if you're fresh out of school, I suppose it'll make your bones stronger. But I am so sick of being on the computer right now, that spending time trying to put a group of sentences together about unpainted works would be an exercise in anachronism.