April 29, 2009

Will someone talk me out of buying this?

Yes, this...It is a 6" x 8" Thumb Box on sale at Jerry's and ASW.

Who am I am kidding? I'm only a robot some of the time. Today I am the robot from Lost in Space. I have to go out of town tomorrow. I am still procrastinating on paperwork. blech. I'm still waiting to hear back for fall semester. I'm still slooooowly stretching and gessoing the linen canvases and I'm still making some brushstrokes or puddles or drips on a canvas while trying to sloooowly pull something into focus.

I've had my eye fixated on this 6" x 8" ThumbBox in a catalog sitting on my desk. The ultimate of diversions: fantasy shopping for art equipment I can live without.

It's the smallness of it. It's also- and this is rather pathetic- my version of a red Corvette during a mid-life crisis. Not really of course; it's on sale for under a hundred bucks. This small phase, I simply must address and rather soon. It's infiltrating my entire existence. It also appeals to my urge of taking my little paintings and working outside (maybe even 20 feet or more from the studio door) or perhaps even the front yard, just for show one day. I am also the proud owner of a white canopy. Or I could transform myself into a committed au plein air painter, only using abstraction. I already have a 1/2 french easel from when I taught a few plein air classes. And since I never used an easel until then, and since I rarely use one today, it seems like a perfectly justifiable purchase.

The mailman is here. I look forward to the mailman. I keep expecting good things to arrive in the mail.

Strictly professional post. None of that messy personal stuff. I am a robot today.

I'm in a couple of exhibitions this May. Incognito benefits the Santa Monica Museum of Art and the other is the Venice Art Walk and Silent Auction which benefits the Venice Family Clinic.

Incognito at SMMOA Saturday May 2.

Venice Artwalk and Silent Auction
Saturday May 16 Free preview.
Sunday May 17th Silent Auction.

I am still prepping linen for the new canvases. I finished a few and started working on one of them. I'll never be a perfectionist in the studio, not when it comes to spills and drips. The gorgeous clean edges of linen have already been marked by errant gesso and oil-stained washes dripping down the sides. This is who I am. There's no hiding it and it's not worth the self-induced agony of worrying that someone else might not like the lived-in look of my edges.

April 26, 2009

I'm beat. in tired. I haven't been on the bike much lately. I've been out of town a lot and it hasn't been under the most pleasant of circumstances. I'm looking forward to staying in the same time zone for more than a month...after next weekend. I go back to Nashville next weekend, but that's another post.

I meet a group of like-minded individuals who ride motorcycles every Sunday, and 4 out of 5 Sunday's, I ride my bike to meet up. Other than that, it's mostly been little short trips to run errands or catch a show or lecture. I haven't commuted to school on the bike once this semester. Today some of us rode up the Mulholland Hwy. to hang out in the backyard of a friend of a friend's B & B, The Knucklehead Inn. Quite lovely and beautiful scenery. And although it would be a decadent get-away for me to hole up in a B & B a mere 40 miles down the road, it's totally a possibility if I need a quick retreat.

It was gorgeous day full of traffic. Nary a pocket of unoccupied asphalt the whole ride home. Which is to say, I was lane-splitting and on the clutch the entire time. Which is to say, I was tired when I got home. Good tired. Which is to say it proved a successful procrastination tactic in avoiding the tiresome divorce paperwork required by the state of California.

So today, I am doing nothing. Tomorrow, I have much to do:
  1. Drop off painting for the Venice Art Walk and Silent Auction. I was hoping to drop off a larger painting from '07, but found out there was a size limit, so instead, I will be donating one of the new small paintings, titled, Shelter from The Storm.
  2. Look for additional work. I'm crossing my finger that I may have a class at Riverside Community College. It's a haul, but it's a nice department & if I'm really lucky there will be a watercolor class to teach.
  3. Figure out how to manage 3 large crated paintings in a city 2000 miles away that are now at another artist's studio when ideally they should have been shipped back here on someone else's dime.
  4. Figure out how to sell a motorcycle that is in a city 2000 miles away and whose battery is dead.
  5. Go to the bank. Cash the Traveller's Checks I was holding onto in case all hell broke loose.
  6. Write large checks to people who want money for doing things like accounting and legal stuff.
  7. Run.
  8. Write out the syllabus for the summer Drawing Class.
  9. Stretch 5 more canvases.
  10. Figure out my net worth and itemize my possessions as required by the State of California.
  11. Spend some quality time with Fang.
  12. Be grateful.

April 23, 2009

I read some Ruskin for breakfast.

I am so behind in titling paintings, but this one was bestowed with a title the other day.

Surfing Rococo: The Pleasure House Tide

But there are others. And a couple of them are getting ready to go in a group exhibition, so they need titles too. And Ruskin is a great place for harvesting titles. Or was. But today at breakfast, while reading Ruskin, instead of title fodder, I came across a new motto for the studio wall. He wrote it in all caps too. “EXCELLENCE OF THE HIGHEST KIND, WITHOUT OBSCURITY, CANNOT EXIST.”

Verily that.

I’ve been back in town for a couple of days and am hustling for jobs and catching up on work-related stuff. I also made some rounds in the bloggersphere (or blogosphere, as I would have preferred to spell it) to see what up with everyone. Carla has some fab work and will be in New American Paintings, Tracy's having a a great solo show and will go to AAF. She also has some really hot palette porn up. Steven posted a new painting that brought forth some interesting discussion regarding aesthetics and taste, or why a certain painting was a lighting rod for positive comments, more so than some other of his paintings. I've also enjoyed seeing a connection between Eva's work and a painting she posted by her mom.

I am, however, thinking of doing some target practice at the local firing range. Cheaper than therapy.

April 18, 2009

The day in pictures

Technically, I should have been working on a mission statement for some entrepreneurial ideas I have, but instead I continued to de-canvas the store-boughts and re-stretch them with linen.

Fang works hard at Quality Check.

This is my suburban boombox.

It worked quite nicely. I think I'm onto something.

Ball + Receptacle= Repeat.

Fang with Boa Constrictor Mouth.

One day I will bore of taking pictures of Fang sleeping, but not yet. He's about 12 years old.

Ta-da. Linen. hand-stretched and primed. I still have about 15 more to do. They are beautiful. I'm already angsting over the edges- to tape or not to tape? No, I won't tape... I don't think.

April 16, 2009

Apparently when I'm anxious...

While procrastinating on a variety of fronts, I came across a blog I irregularly check-in on. The blogger had announced that one needed to submit a request in order to read the more diaristic posts about everyday life, otherwise readers would only be able to read the art-related stuff.

I attempted to keep my blog about the nuts and bolts of working in the studio but that didn’t last long. Not that my life outside of art is exciting, or that I even have a life outside of art- it's just that I doubt I could devote an entire blog to exclusively discussing the actual logistics of making a painting. But never say never.

I envy artists whose studios look professional and orderly. On the other hand, I take comfort in knowing I am not alone in my wonky studio habits. I once heard Dave Muller speak about his practice as an artist. He confided that his studio was in the garage, which he shared with a washer and dryer and that he didn't have a studio assistant. He's rather high up on the art food chain, so it was refreshing to hear. I also got a glimpse of Raymond Pettibon’s studio in a video interview and it was totally trashed out. It takes all kinds.

I came across some old shots of my studio. The black and whites are from one of my Chicago studios (I had 5. I moved quite a bit.) and the color one is from my undergraduate studio cubicle in Knoxville. The gouaches are from the same studio as the black and white photographs. I am one of those artists that kept making work in spite of myself.

Undergraduate studio in Knoxville. circa 1983.

Post-undergraduate studio in Chicago. Early 90's. I applied to grad school with this work-the paintings, not the mess on the floor.

Post-undergraduate studio in Chicago. Early 90's. It's funny that I even owned a vacuum.

Portraits of stuff in one of my last studios in Chicago. Early 90's

April 15, 2009

Change is good

I changed the title of my smaller works blog. It used to be called, Smaller Works on Paper. It's now called, Smaller Works & Other Not So Smaller Works For Sale, Lease or Barter. I am my own WPA. It's a bit lengthy, but WTF, it's accurate.

I have 4 works in Nashville that did not sell during their exhibition debut, and have been sitting in their respective crates in a storage room since 2005. The gallery closed last year and since hope springs eternal, I hung on to any mention of an interested party. Fast forward to now: I have a client friend who want to lease some artwork for his office and he picked one of the Nashville paintings for his top 7. Long story short, I now need to remove all the paintings out of the gallery's storage unit asap. Aside from the cost of shipping, which the gallery was initially responsible for, but is now unable to cover, there's the issue of crates and storage on my end. Bottom line: The new mini-me is working small and has successfully detached from some of the larger works- but not detached enough to roll them up. No, just detached enough to take them out of the gallery system and make them available for rental, set dec, etc etc. Hence, the new blog title. If they don't sell, lease or trade off within a couple of weeks, I will be detached enough to roll them up, but not now.

And FYI, today was a wash. I inexplicably became quite ill within 3 sips of my morning coffee. If I hadn't been sober since 2004, I would have thought I was in the middle of a Class V hangover. I had a migraine/eye headache 2 days ago. Then yesterday was post-migraine. Apparently today was post post migraine. I've never had the after effects last 2 days, but indeed that's what happened. Warning signs were headache, weird sneezing and feeling suddenly shaky, followed by some projectile action, followed by more shakiness and a sense that portions of the room and furniture were slanted. Nice. My recovery plan entailed snacking on a jar of sauerkraut and drinking hot chocolate throughout the day.

At 2 pm some students from Oxnard College came out to interview me. They put up a video camera and asked me questions. I have no idea what I said or how I looked. I had the new paintings up and almost didn't want them photographed since they're so new, but said okay. I mean, what would be the point of saying no? Plus I never want to be an artist that has trade secrets. I'm fairly transparent. I like that about me.

April 12, 2009

Quickie Easter Post.

I'm sure I have a post draft saved from a few days ago that reveals what boring exciting things have happened in the last week, so I'll hit the publish button on that as well.  Things are good. I'm inviting as many people as I can, whenever I can, over to the studio to see the new work. So far, I've had 4 people over: 1 painter, 2 dealers and 1 civilian. I'd like to get more painters over here. This week I have another friend coming over to look at some older works for hanging in his office, so after we look at those, I'll show him the new stuff. That will count as a 2nd civilian. I also have a couple more painters in mind I'd like to ask for studio exchanges. And strangers too. Super fresh eyes. 

I haven't felt this excited about painting and my studio practice since working for the solo last year-which is kind of weird, because I thought I was already excited about painting. So far, I've gotten thumbs up for the new work, but I'm considering changing my whole life and studio around how enthusiastic I am for these little guys. I mean, major changes- like taking over a 2-seater sports car instead of driving an SUV; un-streching large paintings and selling large stretcher bars. I'm talking about making a real commitment to small. 

So bringing in some other painters is a good idea. 

More later

and PS... I titled one painting!

April 03, 2009

Rough around the edges

I probably should not post when I am in fear. I keep forgetting that the blog is available for anyone with a search engine.

But more about me... I had a second studio visit yesterday, showing the small paintings. It went well and I got some good criticism that I'm mulling over: Lose the cheap canvases. (Note: the carton of 30 I ordered, just arrived the other day.)

Prior to circa 2005, I would have scoffed at store-bought canvases, even the "professional or museum profile." In fact, I've always found the museum profile rather ridiculous, as if we need those extra 3 inches raised off the wall to make it a "serious" painting. Okay, you see where this is going; I started embracing the slacker aesthetic of cheap, store-bought canvases and their candyass 3/4" profile. So after paying my dues by building my own, coupled with the apparent difficulty I have with precision, perfection and power tools, I stepped over to the dark side. And from a practical standpoint, it also has to do with economics and my need to keep painting. (See various posts where I speak of not painting for 7-ish years in the 90's.)

So here I am mulling over materials and craftsmanship, again. Crazy how this happens. I swing to a point where I'm trying (it's a fine line here, so bear with me) to make the crappiest paintings on earth using the most godawful colors I can not think of, and I wind up making these tiny paintings that I'm packing with attention and detail, AND now I need to entertain the idea of using quality materials and stretching my own canvas or....linen. LINEN. I love linen. Linen is linen. What painter doesn't love linen? But have you ever tried to disrespect a linen surface? It's hard. Tough Love.

I unpacked the box of store-boughts, ordered some linen on sale, am tearing off the canvas and getting ready to stretch my own.


April 01, 2009

Ok, I was a little grumpy this morning.

...and therefore deleted my whiny-ass, feeling-sorry-for-myself post. Move along, nothing to see here.

Notes From The Ether

I am surprised at how little things add up into time and how much I rely on email, Internet, Facebook correspondence when I really should just pick up the phone. The phone = quick answer, simple directions, whereas email = me trying to write a treatise regarding simple request.

It was nice to get out and see someone else's paintings for a change. I always (I think I can say 'always') enjoy going over to someone else's studio. As a bonus, they stopped by my studio briefly and got a peek at the new work. I'm on the books with The Fellows in May and was wondering if the new works would be a good choice to hang in the studio. I'm usually cool with my gut reaction and first instinct, but it's always nice to get a second opinion, just in case I am crazy and have lost all ability to make rational decisions.

Yesterday I had a meeting with a friend whose agency is in the Condé Nast building here in LA. Gorgeous view. He's interested in putting some of my art on the walls, mostly from the archives, though I'd like to steer him toward the recent work. I'm wondering if it's normal as an artist to want your most recent work up or if I'm trying to curate a space when I haven't been asked to do so. He knows what he likes, is in no way a novice when it comes to fine art, and yet, I find myself wanting him to pick MY favorite paintings to hang in a quasi-public place. Time to let go, eh?

Visitor #2 will be over to the studio tomorrow. This will make the second viewing of the new small paintings. When I said, "Yes, Thursday is good," I forgot the yardmen come to this neighborhood every other Thursday. It's Fang that's the issue. Mr. Bark-a-lot. If I were a pill-popper, I would take a handful of Valium every other Thursday. It's a nut house here. So, yep, I'm hoping the yardmen are in and out before the visit, but at least the studio is somewhat shut off from the chaos.

Meanwhile, I have to step up my search for more work. I'm also considering selling off selected works using a sliding scale. (More realistically I'm considering selling like almost everything I own, but that's me just being morbid.) I saw on someone else's blog (and now I can't remember who) the idea of a Pay-What-You-Can for art. I haven't updated Smaller Works in quite a while. Not because there's no work to put up but because I got a bit discouraged by the fact that none of the five visitors I have every week are buying anything and my stick-with-it attitude sucks. I am not going to get the sales award for April if I keep this attitude up.

I was reading about gift economy and the idea of art as gift. I found the book a little trying after awhile. I believe that artists should be able to participate in the economy just like everyone else. I get my knickers in a knot when people seem to think that making and selling art is the equivalent of getting pin money. I paid $35, including tip for a crappy pedicure the other day. I didn't know it was going to be crappy. I didn't know the polish wouldn't last a day, nor did I know in advance I would be charged an extra $5 for her to use the damn pumice stone. Effing lame. But still, there was $35 of my money filtering into the economy. Would I have rather spent that on a $35 work of art? NO. I would rather have saved several $35 chunks of cash and bought a decent piece of art. I think an artist's time is valuable. But then again, I'm an artist. Someone asked me what I would charge for private lessons and when I told them, they acted a little incredulous and then said they understood my need to charge that amount- they had been a massage therapist once. They never followed through. FTS. I won't disclose the kind of car they were driving. Everyone has priorities. If a fancy car is more important than a painting, that's cool. I'd love to have a Cecily Brown in my house, but not a tiny one, just so I could say I owned a Cecily Brown, No, I'd rather have a large one, though I admit, it wouldn't be the best form of transportation, at least not to places in the physical world.

I started reading The Art Instinct by Denis Dutton. In chapter one, on the first page, we read, "The least wanted paintings are bad news for anyone hoping someday to see modernist abstraction achieve mass acceptance. People in almost all nations disliked abstract designs, especially jagged shapes created with thick impasto in the commonly despised colors of gold, orange yellow and teal."

Hmm, as I wrote this, I guess my view of the current economy filtered in. Bummer. I was in a good mood this morning, but apparently I became a little frustrated during this post. Sorry about that. Really, I am very lucky to have what I have and do what I do.