October 28, 2011

Needed: assistant.

In addition to my family documenting every day life in the most banal way possible, my aunt and uncle travelled quite a bit and left behind images. They lived up the street. No kids, so it was like I had a second set of parents. I spent maybe 15 minutes checking out 1970's Istanbul, Tokyo, and a few dinner parties before overwhelming myself in the sad room today.

October 27, 2011

I install in 2 days

I am still under the weather. I "napped" for almost 2 hours when I got home from school yesterday. 
The kind of nap where you wake up not knowing what time of day it is. 
The kind of nap where you feel like you fell out of the sky and the world is really strange for a moment. 
The only reason I got up was to take care of the dog.

October 22, 2011

I can fit 17 paintings in a vintage leather suitcase. carryon.

I did a dry run for an upcoming trip. I don't like to check baggage. I'd rather drive, but its too long of a trip. I found a nice leather suitcase with linen dividers in the attic. Appropriate to transport linen paintings, yes?  It still had the Eastern Airlines luggage tag on it.

Unrelated to the suitcase drill, my show here opens in two weeks. I am titling the latest paintings today. It's going slow. 50% of the titles are rather mundane and seemingly obvious. The others desire to be insightful without feeling contrived.

I have a sense of smug satisfaction with my suitcase achievement. There's something about a hard-shelled suitcase that makes me feel more together and orderly, if not an anachronism.

October 16, 2011

This painting is hard to shoot and I need to quit obsessing about it

There's a lot of detail and I am clueless as to how many layers are in this painting. I vaguely remember that the stump and the tree growing out of the stump have always been present in the painting, as in real life. 
This is the painting before it reached 98 degrees in the studio. 

After a cool spell, I had turned the ac off in the studio thinking it was fall. Not. Temps rose and the train car studio got really hot. Like upper 90's, and when I walked in, the paintings that were on a table by the window looked like they had been sitting in the desert. They weren't cracked or anything- but the oil had been sucked out of them. If I were to personify them, I would say they were parched and screaming for oil, but being parched, their throats were too dry to actually scream. After a moment of shock, I decided to glaze them.  I'm not a glaze painter. Consistent glazes are too slick for me, but I'll throw down a haphazard glaze when I want to push some colors or build thin layers. 
After glazing, and shot under lights

Shooting glazes under lights is tricky and I start to wonder what's real. The painting under lights, the painting in the studio or the painting outside?

The Tree Within a Tree Never Gives Up, © mahackett, 2011
After deglazing in some areas, but shot in daylight. 

I went back in and dulled down some areas hoping it would shoot better- but this time I shot under natural light, changing two variables instead of one. Too flat. I went back in with some more glazes after I shot it trying to match the painting to the photograph. At this point the painting about a tree that keeps growing out of a stump no matter how much it is pruned, is becoming more meta than usual for me. In real life, the painting is a reasonable facsimile of a combination of all of these shots.  There's a lot of detail. It's not as shiny as the 2nd shot, and by glazing, I brought out some areas that were baked away in the first. If I'm to adhere to fat over thin, I legally can't go back in and add paint out of the tube in order to flatten it out. The painting is 7 inches by 5 inches on linen. I need to stop working on it before it comes to life and drags itself out of the studio. 

On the bright side, I have finally figured out the secret to shooting the small work is the highest aperture number. This might seem obvious, along with using a tripod, a remote, and shooting at the lowest ISO, but I've never set aside the time to do some aperture tests. About fours years later, I did that this morning. So much for using the automatic setting...pffft. 

October 15, 2011

The work is nearly all shot.

36 paintings properly documented today. Nice, big, juicy tiffs files. I still need to reshoot the bigger paintings from earlier this year. Still have some organizing to do. Lots, really. I'm tired. I worked a solid 9am to 4:30pm today managing the photo shoot and processing all the raw files. I feel like I've probably posted most of the paintings at various stages, but when the show opens I'll repost some images. Two paintings are at the framers. Big thanks to one of the photography students who shot my work this weekend, and to the framer at Plaza who I know is doing a stellar job on a frame for a couple of works on paper.

The show title and dates are official. I'll reveal shortly. My announcement email for stuff will go out soon. If you are not on my email list and want to be, please sign up.

Being a painter is isolating. Some days the people behind the counters are the only guys I see. I'd like to give a shout out to all the locals in my community who have had a positive impact on my life at the studio, simply by being pleasant. That might not sound like a lot, but you'd be surprised. I'm hooked on coffee you know, so my 2pm coffee break has become a social activity since my studio is away from home. And by social, I mean that I order it to go. 
  • The staff at Plaza Art supply. Totally nice and super helpful. All of them. All the time. 
  • The staff at the Turnip Truck in the Gulch. I've practically OD'd on the biscuits and I love the Drew's coffee they serve. Coffee is 50¢ if I bring my own mug. The lemon curd has pulled me through many an afternoons.
  • The staff at Fiddle Cakes, my other coffee spot. The staff here is small. I usually see the the guy who I discovered is also a painter, but the others are nice too. Had I not discovered 50¢ coffee and those Gruyére cheese biscuits at Turnip Truck, I'd be more loyal. These are my go-to peeps for brownies and cookies. Vegan options when I feel like being 100% vegan instead of 10% vegan like I am now. 
  • The guy who takes my order and rings me up at The Morning Glory Deli. He might own the joint. Whenever I become freaked out that I'm spending all my money on fancy Gueryére biscuits, Americanos, and Lemon Curd, I order a grilled cheese, french fries, and a cup of Joe for lunch. (I'm getting better at carrying my own mug around.) He throws in my mustard packs without asking. I like mustard on my fries. . 
I'll have printed postcards that should look great. If you want a hardcopy, email me your address and I'll add you to my list.

I wrote the press release, the statement, and an updated bio in like 4.5 hours flat. That's a record, for me. This is one of the first shows that I feel like I'm working up until the deadline, not because I'm behind or don't have enough, but because I still want to keep painting. I've got at least 3 paintings and titles backlogged in my head right now.

I don't feel chatty tonight. I want the spaceship parts to hurry up and arrive. Change is hard.

October 14, 2011

October 08, 2011

Honestly, I don't compose these things. They just happen. Innate formalism, such a cross to bear. 

October 07, 2011

Studio Stuff, Prep work, etc.

[31 34 paintings. Not pictured: 15+ works on paper, 6 large abstract paintings, 1 large representational painting, a few mid-size paintings and all of the alter-ego's work. I haven't done the exact count but I'm in the neighborhood of 60 or 70 works completed in the last year.] It doesn't really look like a lot, but numbers don't lie.

I have like 48 hours to pin down a show title that I won't regret. I'm usually pretty good with show titles, but I'm tired, I have a headache, and my glasses make my eyes and neck hurt. I'm shooting all of the work tomorrow, then it's onto mailing list, titles, checklist, framing, plus I need to tweak a couple of pieces. I hang the work in 2 weeks and have another two weeks to edit down the show to kick ass and exceptional. Oh, and the statement for some comprehensible press release is due on Monday. People on southern time are a bit more loose. I'm better with advance deadlines. 

When I told a friend about my upcoming show, they said, "fun." My idea of fun is being comatose on a beach in a lounge chair on a hot day with warm saltwater lapping up beside me. I think 1986 was the last time I experienced that.

I love what I do. I love being in the studio, It's challenging, physically and intellectually. I'm cool with getting messy. Lately, the dog hair and lint annoy me and I find myself making a concerted effort to cap my paints. Mixing paint is fun, but after that, I think being a painter person and trying to make a living holding down a couple of other jobs is challenging work, especially on your own. The carrot at the end of the stick is subconsciously that beach scene. To be exact, my beach scene takes place at The Pier House in Key West, Florida. Someone took me there a long time ago, circa 1986. It was actually the worst vacation of my life for other reasons, but I'll never forget that day in the lounge chair. I want that again. Screw therapy. I just want three days in a lounge chair at the edge of the ocean.

Like  I said, I'm usually good with titles. It may be time to scrap my usual cadence for something more direct.
Let's backtrack:

1992 Chromosome Paintings and Small Collages  (My pre grad school feminist paintings)
1995 Songs About My Mother   (My thesis show of quirky video work supported by fem psych theory and a Maysles Brothers-like doc that bombed with my thesis panel.)
2002 Series 100 + Spare Parts   (I'm in LA and back to painting- The show was an index of watercolor cutouts that would later be seen as the vocabulary for my abstract painting.)
2003 New Roles For Spare Parts (took the index and gave it a narrative. introduced narrative abstraction.)
2004 Klusje Van Niks (Rotterdam. I was totally overcome by Dutch design and architecture.)
2005 Scramble: A Series of Unruly Paintings and Drawings (Back in LA and showing the architecture and Dutch influenced work. still abstract. still chaos and order.)
2006 The Tornado Face Drawings ( I went on a manic tear and fervently made 33 Tornado Face Drawings. I rearranged the whole studio and bought some bargain-bin-castoffs from IKEA to accommodate this. Factory worker mode.)
2008 I Forget Now What All This is About (After reading Modern Painters, I fell in love with Ruskin's writing and reinterpreted his take on landscape and painting for my own diabolical purposes. The title was from a footnote of his.)
2010 Fluid: Elusive Chapters From the Passage of Time (Also known as the Pool and Flower Paintings and The Lost Months. Small paintings the size of paperbacks that were about losing my mom and watching my marriage dissolve all within the manageable distance of 3000 miles. Introduced representational work and fixation on singular image.)

And here we are now. A year later in Nashville I've been waking up every day to NPR and stories about the economy, revolution, natural disasters, more death and destruction, selfish, evil people, and watching the newscasters report about the locally depraved before bedtime. I cycle through my daily routine and try to achieve some balance as I go through stuff from my parent's estate all while maintaining a studio and teaching. I'm still interested in abstraction, but my approach is becoming more aloof. Abstraction is slow now. Like molasses. I need to capture things, document them as they cross my mind or before I forget. Sometimes I feel like a channel. I wonder what I'm going to paint next and become anxious. What if I've covered everything there is to paint? What then? It hasn't happened yet. I usually find something the next day, but still, it's a concern. When I was in Indiana I was talking with Carla about this need to paint things as some kind of evidence of my existence. I think I said something like that, only as soon as I said it, I thought it sounded like a Twilight Zone epilogue, so I told her not to tell anyone and immediately forgot what I said.

Here's the brainstorming list so far, feel free to comment.

I Don't Know What I'm Waiting For, But It's Not You, and Other Frustrating Narratives
Shape Shifters
Moral Turpentine
An Act of Moral Turpentine
Mondrian is My Visual Safe Word
and going back to a fictional note in Camus' The Plague, "Come in, I've Hanged Myself."
and finally,
Come In, I've Hanged Myself, and Other Acts of Moral Turpentine

The Camus reference has been on the backburner for a few years. It seems pitch perfect for a painting show, but my world of references lend themselves toward narrowcasting.

Ok, so that's not a lot of brain storming. I'll add more over the weekend.

October 06, 2011

Lady Painter was on my door step last night and as I listened to Steve Jobs' Stanford address, I cracked open Joan Mitchell's biography by Patricia Albers. The two moments coincided poignantly.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. -Steve Jobs in his commencement address to Standford

My sister is always putting the past behind her—Well I use the past to make my pics and I want all of it and even you and me in candlelight on the train and every "lover" I've ever had—every friend—nothing closed out—and dogs alive and dead and people and landscapes and feeling even if it is desperate—and anguished—tragic—it's all part of me and I want to confront it and sleep with it—the dreams—and paint it.  -Joan Mitchell from Joan Mitchell Lady Painter by Patricia Albers

I don't know what word transcends 'urgency' but I felt it last night. 

October 04, 2011

October is a good time to support the arts.

I'm pleased to be a part of Against the Tide, an exhibition curated by Sharon Butler/Two Coats of Paint featuring the work of sixteen contemporary painters whose work references water. 

The catalog with an introductory essay is available online at the Two Coats of Paint bookshop. 

Catalog excerpt:
2011// Not all contemporary (or modern) artists dismiss water as a subject simply because Henry James rolled his eyes at Winslow Homer. Perhaps an artist returned to her family home in Nashville where the pool she remembered as a child lay drained and crumbling in the backyard. Or it could be that the reference to water is completely subconscious....This exhibition, organized by Sharon L. Butler for Two Coats of Paint, presents paintings by sixteen contemporary artists who have been drawn, perhaps against the tide, to the power of water. Artists include Joel Adas, Sean Anderson, Mark Barry, Barbara Brady, Jenny Zoe Casey, Emilia Dubicki, Mary Addison Hackett, Sara Klar, Rachelle Krieger, Magnolia Laurie, Joanne Mattera, Mott McCampbell, Claire McConaughy, Wendy Small, Cary Smith, Robert Yoder and Elizabeth Zans.

A small portion of each catalog sale goes to support Sharon's blog, Two Coats of Paint, a valuable resource covering contemporary painting. And if you want to support both Two Coats and an artist featured in the catalog, inquiries about the paintings can be made to with the artist's name and "Against the Tide" in the subject line.

October 01, 2011

In the middle of the night in my dream it occurred to me that my grandmother had not been out of her room or even out of the house in a very long time and I thought she might like to go to my opening only when I was getting ready to go into her room to ask her, I realized she had been dead for about 30 years and it suddenly kind of freaked me out as though 30 years had slipped by silently and I had trouble knowing if I was dreaming or not.

I'm working on titles and framing stuff today.