December 15, 2010

The Holidays.

There's a common misconception that just because one is an artist, one would care about all matters of design, fashion, and style. Not true. I relish really good design as much as the next guy, and while I appreciate the hand-me-down aesthetics of my home- the time, price, and effete skill it would take to overhaul my abode into a cozy, functional, modernist cube make it highly unlikely I will accomplish this anytime soon. Simply put, I'd rather spend time in the studio. And yet, I scan sites like Remodelista and Slow Home Studio as though I stand a fighting chance of living a sleek and modern life. I bring this up because I am having a tough time decorating for Christmas, or any day, for that matter. I do not have a tree. I bought a wreath. I unpacked some lights and half-assed strewn them in the general direction of  the mantel. I found my stocking. Yesterday I pumped Christmas music into the stereo while I unpacked the box of paintings which came back from my last show.
10% effort. I can do better. 
A portion of my common rock collection is on the floor behind the tinsel, and that stack of books are coffee table books which had been on the coffee table for 40 years. I was too tired to find a nail to pierce the mantel, so the stocking is hung from a bird cage stand. I thought a wreath on the fireplace screen would help, but I have not hung it properly yet; it is merely leaning. My fireplace hasn't been inspected in a few years, so I don't think I will chance a fire this winter. It beats a barren room, but I could do better. This is what 10% holiday effort looks like amidst still not quite unpacking and organizing after 6 months. A friend suggested I come up with a new holiday tradition this year, but this feels like a transitional year, as opposed to a traditional year. 2010 wasn't a bad year, as in good vs. bad, but it was a year for change and change is sometimes difficult. As far as saying goodbye, I wouldn't say I'm happy to to see 2010 go, but I'd just as soon pack it in a box and store it in the attic until I no longer need it.

I had a good day in the studio the other day, but it's taking external motivation to get to work. I took a pic of the pool as it started to snow, posted it, and an L.A. artist friend suggested I get in studio and paint. I did. I also posted a comment about an experience many years ago, walking home in the bitter cold in Chicago. I painted that as well. I thought it might be time to move past the abandoned pool, but for now, it's a fixture on my landscape and it did not feel forced or trite to paint it again. I still struggle, question, grapple, and/or ponder the delineation between abstraction and representation in my studio practice. I am not thinking as abstractly as I used to, but I'm not 100% motivated by reality either. It's like I have walked through an invisible partition and I can't cross back. The abstract work was always about something in the real world, but there was a much slower recognition process. Now I can look at nearly every brushstroke or amorphous area of color I put down and readily identify it after the fact as referencing something in the my universe. Others may still need to look somewhat harder for these references, but that is not the point. My game has become articulated almost as soon as it begins. In other words, the abstract paintings are not abstract enough, and thus my desire to paint representationally driven imagery is currently more emotionally satisfying, as though I'm going through snapshots of events not recorded in time.


Carla said...

Love the polaroid framing of the painting. So sad, spilt beer. It's a very nice painting.

Elaine Mari said...

I so totally hear ya sister, on all points. I may post a photo of my pathetic attemps at Christmas on my fireplace mantel. I have always been embarrased by my clumsy decorating skills.

Christmas with boxes, what the hell.

I Like the cold bleak painting with red coat and broken beer bottles.

My word verification is mingl, my partner's name is Ming and we often jokingly refer to ourselves as mingle ((mis)spelled mingel;)

Nomi Lubin said...

Oh, you painted dropping the beer! And there's the red wool coat. Wow.

I so wish I could paint from memory. Yes, I've tried but it is extremely unsatisfying because I have a terrible visual memory. I really really do.