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July 31, 2008

More from the influence of John Ruskin


There is No Such Thing as a General Rock
watercolor, gouache on museum board
11" x 6"


I'm having a blast with my works on paper rehab project. This was moping around the studio begging for me to finish it. I've mentioned my interest in Ruskin. I've mentioned my love of rocks. Ruskin also liked rocks. He did not believe there was such as thing as a general rock. Neither do I.

July 30, 2008

Information Overload

I was getting ready to post some words from, "What Painting Is" because I'm halfway through and there's this one paragraph that I keep thinking about.

But then I notice iTunes has introduced iTunes U—
The iTunes Store offers free audio and video content from top universities, famous museums, public media stations, and other cultural institutions...
—and I got distracted by even MORE intellectual fodder.

At a cursory glance, I came across the following:
Jessica Stockholder talks about teaching art at Yale.
A Conversation with Meg Cranston at Otis
Robert Storr on My Life as Artist
Tons of stuff from MoMA
Blair School of Music (where I studied classical piano from the age of 7- 13.)
and a lecture at MIT called Crackberry's, Exploring the Social Implication of Wireless email Devices.

So even though Apple has alienated a few people with their iPhone/MobileMe kerfuffle, I'm still a fangirl.

But back to Elkins...
p 124. second paragraph. The whole paragraph is pathetically true for me. I'll paraphrase to a point; Elkins is talking about a fixed element in a painting, a passage so successful that it accidentally becomes a cornerstone for the painting. Now, I will resort to quoting bits and pieces regarding this notion of fixation:
It is often possible to look at a painting and guess which passage was fixed early in the process....usually it is whatever is so obviously successful that the painter could not bear to efface it even when the whole painting changed around it until its very existence became a luxury.

...it wears out its welcome and become an annoyance.
...
has outlived its value and continues to exists only as a fossil of some earlier notion of what the painting might have been.
.
..Anything permanent in the imagination becomes an obstruction....
...The paintings swirls around the fixed spot, protecting and enclosing it like a bandage.


My paintings are a tireless crusade.

July 29, 2008

car talk

Yesterday I was in a car, for most of the day it seemed. I'm in Los Angeles, so this would be considered normal for many people, but not me. I didn't even leave the boundaries of Culver City and yet because I had to cart stuff here and there, I couldn't bike or walk. No wonder people drive Bentleys.

Oh and I'm giving mobile blogging a go while I'm in the studio, just for kicks and because it's forced brevity. So if a post is choppy and brief like the one below, chances are I phoned it in.

Fwd: quake


Earthquake today. I was sweeping studio patio and heard rustling fluttering noise inside studio. I didn't feel the earth shake outside. Epicenter was about 30 miles away. It was a 5 on the Richter scale.

Begin forwarded message:

From: Matthew Konicek
Date: July 29, 2008 11:50:00 AM PDT
To: Mary Addison Hackett 
Subject: quake

July 25, 2008

Paint Trolley

My todo list of exhibits I want to see:


Looky See: A Summer Show opens Saturday July 26, 6-8p. BEN MALTZ GALLERY at Otis College of Art and Design.

ANN BRIDGES at at 3875-1204 Gallery (project space for Jancar Gallery)
July 12, 2008 – August 2, 2008. Last week. I have to go.

The puppet shows at Santa Monica Museum of Art, July 26, 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and Saturday, August 2, 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. I wanted to be a puppeteer when I was a kid and I still make puppets every now and then.

The Summer Solo projects at Kinkhead Contemporary. 5 Artists. 5 Solo Shows. 5 Saturdays. July 12 - August 21. I have to go see Erik Oost tomorrow before I can see Britton Tolliver next week. Great concept, just a bit quick. Fortunately it's only 2 miles away.

ALI SMITH AND DAVID RYAN at Mark Moore Gallery. June 28 - August 16, 2008.

Then there's the 2008 LOS ANGELES JURIED EXHIBITION, which for some reason I never enter, but 500 other people did. July 31 - September 7, 2008

And of course, I Want to Believe isn't really an exhibit, but that's where I'll be Saturday night- at The Bridge Cinema De Lux, because I'll be with 2 audiophiles who think the Bridge has the best sound system in LA. The other best sound system would be the ArcLight, but if you're a sound geek, you're probably already aware of this debate.

And The Dark Knight, because Heath Ledger's performance in just the trailor is amazing.

July 22, 2008

Rehab

Your Name in Lights
watercolor, gouache, acrylic on paper

5" x 7"

I've made a lot of drawings, collages, things on paper. Some of them were in service of larger installations and some of them stood on their own. A lot of them were intentionally lame because they weren't trying to be anything other than what they were. On the other hand, there were some that I kept thinking I'd "finish" one day when I was totally bored and uninspired. So that's where the concept of rehab came in. And now because I am totally bored and uninspired, I thought I'd take some time and rehabilitate the downtrodden drawings. It's kind of like collaborating with a former self. I'm also into text again. I like text. It's so dumb.

July 21, 2008

No-tech coffee


Oh the irony.
My uber-functional automatic drip coffee maker died. It didn't really die. It more like expired, leaving it's entrails on my counter top. I love coffee. Like most civilized people, I drink it every morning when I get up and every afternoon at 2 pm. Why 2, I do not know, but I systematically take a coffee break at 2 pm every day.

I trekked over to Target and was incredibly underwhelmed with lackluster selection of Mr. Coffee coffee makers. So after going all hi-tech with my new iPhone, I decided to counteract that move by NOT purchasing a new coffee maker. I went home, dug out my old Chemex coffee pot, which makes a far better cup of coffee and forces me to be mindfully engaged while making coffee every morning. It's not exactly the multi-tasker's dream machine- it seriously lacks a 'stop n serve' feature, and the ADD is still a bit of an issue, but I set my iPhone timer to play the Marimba so I don't forget the water boiling and I'm good. I haven't figured out how long it takes me be mindfully engaged in the act of making coffee every morning, but I'm okay with the switch.

July 18, 2008

Le Petite Plateau



A plateau is nothing to be down about. I consider it a resting place after a little hike. A place to catch my breath before moving ahead.

I have 2 painting practices. One involves oil, acrylic etc painting on canvas- it doesn’t matter what size, but for clarity, 11” x 14” up to 7 feet. The other involves drawing and watercolors on paper. Again, size doesn’t matter, but generally, they are smaller. The point is that the paintings demand a different kind of energy than the watercolors. They are physical, not just arms and gestures, but twists and turns, bending, stretching, climbing, even the smaller ones move inside to outside, wall to floor, etc. For me, painting is an act of physical, condensed traveling. So, after an intense period of painting, along with a couple of exhibitions and actual time-zone travel, I’m finding myself in a natural rhythm of having arrived at a petite plateau where the physical intensity in the studio is being replaced by working on smaller more intimate things such as writing and watercoloring and drawing things.

AND.....

I’ve also been organizing my flat files in preparation for a flat file sale, which will debut on another site I’m working on. So please check back for the announcement. Soon. Very soon.

July 14, 2008

Geek out:

I love how these look like little Klimts

Before there was ART, there was ROCK(s).

The 2008 Fiesta of Gems was this weekend, featuring The Wonderful World of Agates, sponsored by none other than the Culver City Rock and Mineral Club. How lucky am I to live in Culver City? Does life get any better? Well, yes, actually it does. In an effort to— save trees, while contributing to light pollution; become ultra organized while finding my way out of a cul-de-sac; and increase my odds for carpal tunnel while sharpening my mental sequencing skills, I bought an iPhone. I've accidentally called, emailed or hung up on someone at least 8 times today but once I become the secret power user I'm destined to be, I'm anticipating the world at my fingertips.

I also bought a little chunk of Pyrite, because in an effort to feel like Superman, everyone should own a little chunk of Pyrite.And this is a nifty little piece of Epidote with Stilbite from a quarry in Gettysburg that reminds me of a little plateau, which is kind of a metaphor for my life right now. So while I'm here, I figured I might as well enjoy it.
Oh, and I guess there might be some leftovers in the fridge regarding skill, craft, rendering, and talent, that I've neglected to discuss further.

July 11, 2008

Post #2- in situ. warning: long post.

I just listed a boatload of books at my GR site, and one of my current reads is James Elkins, What Painting Is. This is a book that is difficult to read, at least for me, without wanting to put it down and go to the studio. It makes me want to pick up a magnifying glass and look at every painting as an archaeological dig. It makes me appreciate stance, position, gesture in ways I have not appreciated them before. This would be almost, the perfect book on tape. The other being my 11 hour cd of the LOTR trilogy which we listened to while driving across country 8 years ago. I do disagree with his notion that all painters mime the gestures of the brushstroke along the canvas while all critics scrutinize. My personality type is one of not drawing attention to myself— so appearing as though I was conducting an orchestra in front of a Jackson Pollock, for instance, would not behoove me.

I will probably PO a lot of forks folks by saying this, but because it's my blog, I'll go on and say it. (Mwah-ha-ha.)

This: (in response to an earlier post over at the multi-talented Steven LaRose's blog.)

I truck issues with the words, "gift," talent," or skill" and I question these values in my art. Constantly.

One- Those words are usually used in reference to representational work.
Two- I believe that many people are able to see things as they appear, and render them correctly- with and without soul.
Three- 1826. Photography. Harsh, I know, but what can I say.
Four- What the hell is skill, gift or talent anyway?
Five- a) drill, b) something given or received, c) a contest

I teach drawing. My students learn how to see and how to draw what they see. Whether they apply this is up to them. I can prod, coach, coax and challenge, but in the end, it's them and a pencil and some other indeterminate elements such as time, tenacity, motor skills, attention span, goals etc. Lots of variables, including physical conditions. And while I'm at it, whoever invented the standard drawing bench was obviously not an proponent of ergonomics.

Every semester we have an open house and each professor posts an entire wall of their students' work. Each year, my students, as well as myself, look at the other walls and marvel how perfect those drawings look. There's a moment of awkward silence as we look at 25 identical skulls rendered in pen and ink or 20 cow skulls rendered pitch-perfect in pencil. Then we look at our wall.

Our wall, at first glance, looks like a ragamuffin army of misfits. Upon closer glance, not even, for it's very obvious- our wall shows character and struggles. Our wall shows difference and degrees of ________. It happens every year. Our wall look like 20 students made 20 drawings. The other wall look as though the Stepford Wives took a drawing class.

I ask my students what they think, without fishing, but I ask them honestly what they think. I do not mention my astute observation that we are secretly comparing the 20-50 perfectly rendered drawings that are barely, indistinguishable from one another to their drawings which are quite good, but more importantly, actually interesting to view. They tell me they prefer their wall of ragamuffin drawings. They talk about the variety of techniques and skill and problem solving solutions they've come up with. They share ideas and ask each other questions. This happens every year. I come home and report it dutifully to Matt like clockwork.

Okay, that's my little rant against the idea of gift or talent. Having said that, my BFF Rhea could pick up a brush and draw circles around me with a blindfold on and I'm pretty sure she feels the same way Steven does, that there's certain ambivalence about being good or gifted at representational drawing, but wanting to explore abstraction.

{addendum} I am also guilty for telling my girlfriend that she's really talented and that she "do something with that." It has more to do with admiration for her abilities that my respect for the practice of representational art. I can be such a turncoat.

So in the end here, I'm not sure I'm qualified to talk about gift or talent, because I am not naturally gifted or talented with respect to representational work. It's not sour grapes, It's just that it's never been an interest of mine and I've never felt the need to prove anything contrary to this. I've also never felt the responsibility to cash in on this, and perhaps this is where it becomes a bit of a thorn for me, because, I think at some base level, we're been taught to believe it's more of a skill, if you will, to make something that looks like something, really, really looks like something, than to slap a bunch a paint on the canvas and call it a day. I'm being a tad sarcastic here but I think I'm making my point, although I've possibly slapped paint on a canvas, just to hear the sound of paint slapping on a canvas. Flat 3" house brush. Try it.

Anyway, I've never felt less of an artist, or less gifted because I don't draw or paint things that look like things- but if I'm around people who place a hierarchical structure on representation vs. abstraction I do either feel guilty for thinking in terms of abstraction as though that's a highfalutin thing to do or I feel my eyes rolling around. And this is where I would be continue my debate on language vs. non-language if I were so inclined to do, but I'm not.

It was a long post, and it possibly sounds like a those who can't teach kind of post, but it's not. I just have difficulty thinking in terms of representational painting, so I'm outing myself.

Today is a 2-post day. Maybe.

Almost done or not. That's not the title. I'm just warning you.

First off, I really shouldn't get in the habit of posting incomplete paintings, but I do occasionally. This one is still going through a metamorphosis, but this is the current state of the painting. It still might change. Or not. It's still uncomfortable to me. It was just so pathetic in its last state that I felt compelled to update it. Ego.

Someone asked me at my recent artist talk whether I let people see incomplete woks in the studio. I said, yes, although it might not be the smartest thing to do. But that ultimately, I had gotten to a point where I didn't care anymore whether someone saw an incomplete work or not. On the other hand, I also stated that I'd hate to be hit by a bus and have a bunch of incomplete works in the studio, because frankly a lot of my works look pretty hopeless at certain stages. I understand this part of my process now. It used to scare the hell out of me. I now look at it like the first part of a death-defying magic act.

My devil-may-care-attitude was fueled by a conversation I had with someone who was repeating a conversation they had had with someone about seeing some experiments in a rock star artist's studio that were failures. And the impression I got from hearing this story repeated to me, was that this particular rock star artist wasn't really rock star artist material since they had failed experiments laying around the studio. And my thought in hearing this, was—more power to the rock star artist with the failed experiments because at least they're interested in pushing things and trying things. And my second thought was FU people who judge incomplete works in the studio. I've highlighted the important parts for clarity. It was a convoluted paragraph.

But still. It's about ego in the end.

Which is why I've posted my completed experiment with representational painting below. And although I'm more satisfied with it as a painting, I still haven't changed my mind about it as a painting.
Not yet titled
oil on canvas
20" x 16"

And with this we shall move along to post #2, which, when I get it posted, will be an open dialogue with Mr. LaRose's post about abstraction, giftedness, and representation and a few other things. Or not. Sometimes I get lazy and can only entertain these ideas briefly.
image: Steven LaRose
image: Steven LaRose

July 08, 2008

I'm not really a stick-with-it kinda girl

I think these two are done.


Still working on this one.


My little foray into representational, impasto painting using local color was short-lived. I'm glad I can be honest here. I made my swimming pool painting and even worked on it a little more, but I think it was a single painting I did just for me, just at that moment. I know this, because I'm not driven to explore that concept anymore. So maybe in the bigger picture, it actually fits in with my ongoing daily painting series which early on stopped being daily paintings and just started being paintings about moments during my day. That works. Maybe if I had approached the swimming pool painting from that POV when I began the painting, instead of making it seems like a thing exclusive and different, I wouldn't be addressing it as I am right now.

I've continued to work on some of the other paintings I began before I left town. Except, the other paintings are not really Other. There is no other in my studio. We are all the same.

July 05, 2008

My Obsession with Peppermint Ice Cream

My latent obsession started last week when I was having lunch with a friend who owns a wonderful restaurant in Nashville. It's called Martha's at the Plantation because it's located at Belle Meade Plantation and Martha is the chef and owner. If you're ever in Nashville, check it out. Anyway, another woman dining with us ordered the peppermint ice cream. I couldn't take my eyes off of it, but ended up going with peach cobbler because cobbler is cobbler, after all and who refuses cobbler? Not I. Earlier that week, after a little motorcycle ride through some rolling hills, I rewarded myself with the blueberry cobbler at Puckett's Bi-Rite in Leiper's Fork.

Yesterday, I craved peppermint ice cream. I don't think I've ever ordered peppermint ice cream. I usually go for rocky road, toffee, chocolate chip cookie dough, etc. Flavors the average 9-year- old likes. Not adult refreshing flavors, like peppermint.

But yesterday I HAD to have peppermint ice cream. This occurred to me at the grocery store, so the first place I checked was my grocer's freezer. No peppermint ice cream. To be fair there was a 50% less fat, Safeway brand sitting on the shelf mocking me, but not full-on creamy peppermint ice cream by someone known for their dairy products. I came home and Googled, ice cream culver city. Then I made phone calls.

Cold Stone Creamery- No peppermint ice cream.
Massimo's- No peppermint ice cream.
Mateo's- No peppermint ice cream.
Ben and Jerry's- No peppermint ice cream.
Baskin-Robbins- No peppermint ice cream.
I would have called Howard Johnson's if I knew where one was.

Finally I broadened my search and found a place in Marina Del Rey that promised me they had peppermint ice cream. Marble Slab Creamery-it's just like Cold Stone, except they carry peppermint ice cream. Which makes them better.

I rode my motorbike over there, ordered a single dip just to get that out of the way and then made off with a pint in my backpack for later.

File under what I do when I'm not painting. File under slightly obsessive tendencies.

July 04, 2008

Well, it's kinda fun.

untitled, work in progress
oil on canvas
16" x 20"

I wish I knew what goes through the mind of someone who's painting something that looks like something. Like what's their motivation or reward for finishing? Being someone who paints by the seat of her paints, so to speak, I realize it's an odd question, but I'm terribly curious. My reward is along the lines of, "Hey cool, that vaguely resembles what I intended it to look like." Inevitably followed by, "Now what?"

Decisions seem to be predestined to a certain extent and then it's over. I mean, there was some excitement to it. But it happened so quickly. There was no anxiety, no "I have no idea what I'm doing," no sense of being lost, not millions decisions to negotiate, etc. Some play, quite a bit of spontaneity, even, but it didn't challenge me in the same way that abstract painting challenges me. I take that back. I did the whole thing with a palette knife and I've never done that before. I mean, I had a nice time and all, but it seemed so concrete. No pun intended.

That's the shallow part of my thought process. Again, no pun intended.

The image of an empty swimming pool.
JD Salinger's Teddy, still haunts me. The swimming pool at my mom's house that hasn't seen chlorinated water in 30 years haunts me as well. The implications of the empty pool are harsh. I'm pretty sure it's ripe for some sort of Southern Gothic extrapolation, but I'm not sure paint is the right medium. Maybe it is. I don't know. I'll push through until I decide it's too weird, boring or wrong. Or maybe it's a one-off. Who knows.

July 03, 2008

Plans

I'm thinking a plan might be good. I haven't been a "project" person for sometime, but perhaps a series or a project idea might be an interesting way to move forward now. Usually, an idea surfaces and I'll write the word or phrase down on a piece of painter's tape, slap it up somewhere and let that exist as a mantra for the work until the work takes over and becomes about something else. Or maybe it just gathers stuff like those clumps of dog hair I find when Fang's molting.

Some ideas:
  • An artist book. I've wanted to do this one for a long time, but keep getting sidetracked.
  • A series of representational painting. HAHAHAHA. No, but seriously, I saw this painting- on someone's blog and it wasn't identified and I have no idea who the artist is, although I could hazard some guesses, and I forgot the blog where I saw it, but I dig it A LOT and it got me thinking that representation might be interesting for me to seriously consider in dealing with some things that are percolating in the labyrinth known as my head. Things I had previously assumed would either need to be photographic or sculptural, but since one of my rules is that I have to paint, I dropped it. And now, just since I've written this paragraph, I think I've got an idea of what's next.
Life is good.

July 01, 2008

Ooh, ooh that smell!

I've been spending most of my time with my computer since I got back in town, but I forgot to mention that lovely smell of my studio. Mmmmm.

Well now that it's public

I accidentally deleted this post while cleaning up some unpublished drafts. Either that or I had second thoughts about publicizing it. But I figured since it was already in print in The Tennessean, it would hardly qualify as news here and I've revived it, albeit not verbatim. I probably could, but I'm too tired to try. Anyway, the gallery I work with in Nashville is closing it's physical doors. That's why the photographer was snapping pics. My mom called to tell me the article was in the Sunday paper and there was picture of me and Jodi Hays talking with Jerry Dale. (shameless self-promotion: my work's in the background.) I'm sorry to see the gallery close. It was fun showing there the last few years and Jerry Dale has been a pleasure to work with. The gallery will maintain an online presence and work is still available on the website. The September show will be hosted by Estel Gallery.