March 25, 2009

I have decided that I am addicted to the act of painting or the telling of stories.

All are still untitled, because the titling department is behind schedule.

I am compelled to paint. Once I get started I do not want to stop. Sometimes I think about the stories of the Arabian nights and feel that maybe I just keep painting in order to stave off the inevitable.

Having freshly painted the studio wall, I pulled out my laser level and hung my little 7" x 5" paintings at eye-level in a straight line. (As opposed to the pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey approach I use when I'm actively painting.) I then pulled out my tripod and shot them. I bagged on properly lighting them. I am so half-ass sometimes.

Freshly painted wall. For an exhibition, I will double the space between the paintings. The one on top is there because a screw was already in the wall.

I have completed 9 of them and am still working. Seeing them hang in a nice orderly row, I began thinking about them like chapters in a book, and then like Tarot cards. The surface contains the superficial information made up of paint, but there's bound to be more to it than that. I want to think these paintings are coded bits of information waiting to be deciphered. Why yes, I am into mysticism lately. That, and I'm a tad depressed. I know- I should be blathering all happy crap in a public forum, but I've hit a slight malaise, hence the Tarot card analogy/reading of the work.

My smudgy edges are important.

On the bright side, I am fascinated by my smudgy edges. I do not tape my edges. I taped them for maybe a year- when I first moved to Los Angeles, because everyone else was taping their edges and I wanted to fit in. I stopped because it felt dumb and because even with taped edges I managed to have drips and stains seep underneath the tape. After which, I found myself trying to repaint the edges without screwing up the surface of the painting. Some stains would not go away, so it got to the point where I was practically caking paint on the sides just to hide some drips or smudges. (Okay, there's really only one painting that is actual proof of this atrocity, but still.) DUMB. Prior to moving to LA, I had never seen artists tape the sides of the canvases, nor had I seen pristine edges hanging in galleries. A couple of galleries out here had the gall to mandate clean edges before showing work. It's a deal-breaker for me, not because I'm stubborn, but mainly because the phrase, "That's an accident waiting to happen," flashes across my mind. And yes, I consider my edges important to my work. Frame them afterward if you want, but do not involve me.

But back to my quandary. I need to step into the studio wearing nice clothes (so as not to be tempted to paint) and sit down to write about the work and title the paintings. I'm backed up in the title department. Not sure how everyone else does this, but I don't have a title log sitting around. Not to say I don't write great titles down when they occur to me, but my factory mentality stops short of cranking out titles and matching them up with future paintings. So having 10-15 or more untitled paintings in the studio is like having a pile of unpaid bills or dirty laundry- it's beginning to get overwhelming. I believe I've touched on my title procrastination before. Perhaps the titling department needs a raise. I imagine it to be a very small and cramped room with just a dictionary and some dusty books and album covers and one of those government-issued, industrial metal desks in a corner. Yes, the titling department needs some perks.

March 23, 2009

Today is Monday and it's a beaut.

I took coffee break early today. Had to open up some new banking accounts and close some old ones, catch up on accounting and other super fun tasks. Only a couple of statements left to reconcile. They can wait. I'm headed out to the studio. I'm going to re-read a book that I read during grad school, called On Longing. My reason for doing so is because of the 5" x 7" paintings and how I've been thinking about them in relationship to the 84" x 72" paintings. The idea of miniatures has always fascinated me and so it is with these new paintings.

I've got a lot on my mind.

March 22, 2009

All work and no play....

For some archaic reason I aim to stay tech-free on Sundays, but it rarely works. My father-in-law passed away this morning. I felt obligated to post that since I've posted everything else.

I had a fairly good day in the studio on Friday with some new paintings. For another archaic reason, I try not to paint on Sundays either, so I'm just kind of hanging out listening to the wind and the plants scraping against my window. I am sitting on the sofa and Fang and I are attached at the hip.

This morning I was at a brunch/project meeting with about 25 other artists. It sounds like an interesting project. Essentially there's an archaeological museum in a Ameila, Italy and for the first phase of the project, we've been invited to exhibit a introductory work in the museum. The second phase involves making something more site-specific for next summer. More details to follow.

I should probably try to do something fun soon. I could use some side-splitting fun. Otherwise, we're likely to become a scaled down version of The Shining over here.

March 19, 2009

I am back. I am very slow.

I'm back from Florida where the accident took place. My mother-in-law was killed instantly; my father-in-law is still in a coma. I'm still going through a divorce. I'm sad. That's an understatement. I've been back for a couple of days. I've slept through the morning alarm twice in a row now. Fortunately, I haven't had to be anywhere first thing in the morning. I've walked out to the studio and have noticed I have several small paintings in various stages. While at the hospital, I kept thinking what it must be like to work in a hospital. I'm not really into bodily fluids, other than my own, so I'm not sure I would make a good nurse, but for some reason I kept thinking about these people who work around sickness and injury all the time.

We brought in a Reiki practitioner one night. We pretended to understand what all the numbers meant on the monitor. We read. I learned than John Smith of Jamestown was somewhat egotistical, to say the least. I struggled with what to do with a box of See's candy I bought at the airport. Should I give it to the nurses? Leave it for other family members coming and going? Take it back home in case I wanted to eat a box of chocolates all by myself? I chose the latter.

Before all this happened, well, not before all of it happened, but some- a friend suggested I read the prologue to The Alchemist. It tells the story of Narcissus, only in the prologue, the author invents another ending, an epilogue, of sorts. In this version of the story, we read that the lake where Narcissus contemplated his beauty, is weeping for the death of Narcissus- not because Narcissus was so beautiful, but because in looking up at Narcissus' eyes, the lake was able to see its own beauty.

Tomorrow I will double up the alarm and get to work in the studio again.

March 10, 2009

I made a casserole because that's what we do.

Warning: personal. To skip directly to art content, scroll down to Paragraph Two.

I am in sadness today. We've had a tragedy in the family. Not my immediate family, but Matt's. I made some phone calls and a casserole. I haven't been able to work in the studio but I haven't been able to concentrate on much anything else either. Everyone else's life is going on, the wheels of commerce are still being greased and yet for some reason making art seems like a choice today. I don't want to make a black painting. I don't want to make a painting about death or the details surrounding it. Stepping in the studio to continue yesterday's trajectory using yesterday's palette doesn't feel right, but there's not much else I can do now either. I dropped some hints earlier, but Matt and I are splitting up, so it's a particularly difficult time even without the added weight. The bright side, if I can say that without sounding vapid or glib, is that death brings out what's important and removes the petty shit. I've been able to drop my stuff and place someone else's feelings ahead of mine for the day. Tonight may be a good night to catch up on reading and writing. I'll probably be flying across the country again this weekend.

Welcome to Paragraph Two:
I mailed my 2 little watercolors back to the Santa Monica Museum of Art for the Incognito show (May). The most creative thing I did today other than make a mac & cheese casserole from scratch was to title the watercolors. Titling is a serious endeavor for me. I don't like slapping a title (no matter how good) on a painting unless it fits the painting. So, sometimes, a month or more can go by and I'll notice that the painting has the wrong title if I cannot recall it immediately. When this happens I have no issues with changing the title if the painting is still in the studio. And needless to say, I don't like paintings to go out with the wrong title. I don't think they ever have because usually there's a lag time between the making and the showing or selling. Maybe I make too much of a big deal out of titles. At one point in my work, I had an elaborate alpha-numeric system and believe it not, knew more or less what each piece was. But then the whole thing got out of control, not to mention, it was rather robotic.

The titles I came up with today were,
"Portmanteau" and "The Girls Can Flirt And Other Queer Things Can Do." Of course, I know which is which. So obvious, right? I posted these about a month ago, but at the time they were untitled, so here we go again-

March 09, 2009

It's 5:54 PM and I still want to work, but I think I will be a human tonight.

I was up late, for me, last night. 12:30 am. I usually wake up at 6 AM, 7 days a week,  but turned the alarm off last night so I could sleep late. Woo. I sleep until 7: 15 AM today. Fang was quite patient. 

I haven't publicized it in case there's a snafu on the organizers' part, but the weekend of April 16-19, there's a large exhibit in LA I've been invited to particiapte in. Hence, I am cranking on small works. Crank is a relative term. One 5" x 7" is taking me an average of 3 or more days to complete. Who knew? I can work on 3-4 at a time, but that seems to extend the time.  I should try and document this just for kicks. But my point was- that last night I was noodling my artist statement for a catalog that will be produced in conjunction with the exhibit. I've been fairly content with my statement. My whole point in crafting it, was that it would be general enough so that I wouldn't have to rewrite it every 5 paintings,  but specific enough not to sound boilerplate. It's a teeny bit highfalutin, but not contrived. It's a fairly accurate representation of how I speak and write. But therein lies the tale: I'm sick of artist statements. I'm sick of analysis. I'm bored with explaining. But for the life of me, I feel even more contrived trying to dumb down my statement for the sake of sounding overly accessible. So last night I tried to write a few mundane sentences that would make everything sound matter of fact, but by the time I did that, it was dirty dishwater statement. And literally, my eyes were blurring and I thought I was going nuts, so I said f*ck it and copped the gallery's press release and called it a night. Kristi is a good writer and I don't say that lightly. I trust her writing. Her press release of my show was a succinct summary of my statement, but with more bling than I would have used in the first person. 

Anywhoo. I had a good day in the studio. I worked on 3 or 4 small fries; my spectacular but expensive plumber came and repaired my sink; I worked out at the Y and a looooong awaited check arrived in the mail. Today, life is good. 

March 06, 2009

I should really be more disturbed by this.

Picturerama 2

Crappy low-res shots from the studio...

I'll take better images later....They're finished, but possibly still in progress.

um, nevermind.

I'm back from Nashville. Saw a painting show at The Frist called Paint Made Flesh. My mom looked at the Albert Oehlen painting and noticed that his work looked like mine. ; ) (I hope my wink smiley face comes across.) Traded a drawing for some fine dining at a restaurant and other than that, just did some work around the house.

No motorcycle riding. 1) the bike didn't start even though it's been on battery tender and even though it has a new battery and 2) it was cold.

The abstract class I was excited about teaching is up in the air now. I have some previously scheduled shows/projects that are just now confirming and my summer drawing class is an intensive, so it seems there may be a conflict in trying to schedule a routine class. Trying to be open and available for everything is a problem especially when dates can't be locked down and so there may or may not be a workshop, and there may or may not be a class..... Sometimes these things happen for the best. I should know better. When ever I get really excited, I always have a moment of, "but wait..." I had that moment.

Wow, this was kind of a whiny post.

Okay, I'll end on a funny- Here's an email from a student in my drawing class. Let me preface it by saying I teach a 6 1/2 hour drawing class on Saturdays.

Dear Professor Hackett:

My name is ______and I have been out sick with the flu. I missed Monday and today. Would you mind if I attended Thursday's class to make up for today's absence?

I am a ________and I am taking your class to help me with the design of _______. After the last assignment I am not sure if your class is right for me. It seems like a lot of drawing.

I really like your energy and the fact that you interact with your students. I know I can learn much from you but I'm just not sure if the class format will meet my needs.

Your input is greatly appreciated.