December 31, 2012

Happy New Year from Process.

 [What If Money Was No Object - What Would You Do? - Time To Unslave Humanity]
[Alan Wilson Watts (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973)] Source:

What do you desire? What makes you itch? What sort of a situation would you like?

Let’s suppose, I do this often in vocational guidance of students, they come to me and say, well, we’re getting out of college and we have the faintest idea what we want to do. So I always ask the question, what would you like to do if money were no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life?

Well, it’s so amazing as a result of our kind of educational system, crowds of students say well, we’d like to be painters, we’d like to be poets, we’d like to be writers, but as everybody knows you can’t earn any money that way. Or another person says well, I’d like to live an out-of-doors life and ride horses. I said you want to teach in a riding school? Let’s go through with it. What do you want to do?

When we finally got down to something, which the individual says he really wants to do, I will say to him, you do that and forget the money, because, if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid. Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.

And after all, if you do really like what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what it is, you can eventually turn it – you could eventually become a master of it. It’s the only way to become a master of something, to be really with it. And then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is. So don’t worry too much. That’s everybody is – somebody is interested in everything, anything you can be interested in, you will find others will. But it’s absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don’t like, in order to go on spending things you don’t like, doing things you don’t like and to teach our children to follow in the same track.

See what we are doing, is we’re bringing up children and educating to live the same sort of lifes we are living. In order that they may justify themselves and find satisfaction in life by bringing up their children to bring up their children to do the same thing, so it’s all retch, and no vomit it never gets there. And so, therefore, it’s so important to consider this question,

What do I desire?

*   *   *   *

I am almost finished with the last painting of 2012, and I have had a breakthrough of sorts, reconciling the way I paint with the way I think I paint with the way I want to paint. Manna. And speaking of reconciling, I just finished August...

December 29, 2012

How it goes.

DETAIL: work in progress.

After taking a few days off to spend the holidays with some family, I am back. Allow me a few sentences to talk about the self-imposed obstacle course I have devised in order to make things way more difficult than they should be:

I have banned myself from making abstract paintings using process as a starting point. Ironic, no, considering the title of this blog. This is not new. I'm just constantly reminded  that every day I must have a loose, tangible, thinly-veiled plan of some sort before I pick up a brush. Maddening.

What this also means is that I cannot walk in the studio and dash out of the starting gate at 100 mph like I used to do. Again, this is all self-imposed in the name of difficulty. Instead, I now look around and observe my surroundings until either something clicks or I exhaust myself thinking about the overwhelming banality of what I am doing and give in to the impulse of just needing to paint something, anything.

Last night I started a painting of the dog laying on the rug. I only had a few minutes to capture the essence of his pose before he walked away bored with my pacing back and forth between the palette table and a decent viewpoint.

No one talks about essence anymore.

the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, esp. something abstract, that determines its character: conflict is the essence of drama.

Okay, so I am painting abstractly after all. I probably knew this. Intrinsically, of course.

When I started the painting, I thought, the dog, really? What's next, candy wrappers, glass prisms? Then I thought of Louisa Matthíasdóttir, or maybe I thought of Louisa Matthíasdóttir first. I can't remember. Excerpt from her bio:
1968 – Daughter Temma graduates college- Daughter Temma adopts gray cat, Kisa, and husband Leland Bell adopts Mischka a Hungarian sheepdog dog who both appear in paintings of the time
I may have posted this part of her bio before because like how important it is.

So, I'm looking at the small painting of the dog this morning, (10 x 8 inches) and thinking:
  • He looks like an alligator.
  • I managed to flatten him out so that he looks like one of the motifs in the rug pattern. 
  • I nailed his expression.
I still have to finish the rug, and I need to start another painting.

December 27, 2012

Studio Read of the Week:“What Do We See?” Richard Walker and Our Place in the World by Hearne Pardee

This week's studio read is a short review from Art Critical.

Richard Walker
Fireplace and Shadow, 2011
oil on panel
16 x 24 inches
image: Alexandre Gallery

Somewhat unrelated, while rummaging around this morning, my Uggs took a bullet for my toes. I will be auctioning off a vintage cast-iron American eagle boot scraper with sharp pointy wings of death, so fast it will make your head spin, though of course, I might paint it first.

December 21, 2012

Mystical Corn Cob Pipe Denotes World Going Up in Smoke.

DETAIL: In progress, with 0 Filbert.

If you're a nerdy painter, you might have enjoyed the juicy thread on Facebook regarding tiny brushes that I started. I thought I was suddenly inept at handling a tiny brush and I wanted advice. My brush had 3 hairs, would barely pick up paint and would not smoothly transfer paint to my surface. I was concerned. I've been using tiny brushes (0's and liners) for a few years now. Some painters saw my cry for help and answered my request. That's what I love about painterpainters. They share. They reply. In the course of the replies, I learned of 2 products: Doak's goop and linseed oil soap. And of course I learned people's preference for mediums or sans mediums. The most accurate reply for my situation turned out to be "spring." I just needed a new brush. I didn't jump to this conclusion immediately because I had forgotten that the brush didn't start out with 3 hairs. I just knew it was the smallest brush I owned and that lately it was difficult to work with. I replace my tiny brushes often, but my other 0's were trashed, so there was nothing to compare it to. I purchased a new brush the next day. The local place doesn't carry my brand, so I'll have to order a some online, but the new one was like manna from heaven. vroom. I was so excited, I was tempted to paint minute details all through the night. I caught myself and switched brushes.

I'm reworking some recent linen paintings that weren't sitting well with me. Don't ask why a corncob pipe is any more important than a lamp in front of a fictitious outdoor scene; or a chair leg is more important than a painting I copied from a slide; or a chair in front of a fireplace with a brass candlestick is more important than something else, but 3 paintings took a bullet this week. I used to be embarrassed to claim this as my MO, but it's true- sometimes I paint something and it sits in the studio waiting and then one day soon thereafter, before anyone sees it, I decide not to associate with it, and continue painting on it and it turns into something else. Sometimes I regret this, but it's always a gamble either way.

I'm still happy and optimistic and light. I've been in the studio every day and nothing is annoying me. Unbelievable. It truly is the end of the world as we know it.

December 18, 2012

life and gratitude

I have no solid reason to be feeling light and happy and yet, I've been optimistic going on 3 days in a row. Nothing out of the ordinary has happened, and in fact I listened to the news in shock trying to grasp what happened. My heart goes out to everyone experiencing grief this holiday season. 

But like I said, nothing extraordinary has prompted my lightness. I worked until 1 a.m. in the studio last night. That's like a millennium after my bedtime. I don't know how it happened. I just kept working.  Tonight might be the same. I left thinking the evening was a bust, so I'll be spending tonight as The Fixer. A few paintings recently sold. I turned in my grades and declared the semester over. I spent 3 solid days creating a new portfolio in the name of professional development and took action after creating said portfolio without  the usual self-scrutiny and second guessing. Not entirely true, but I was on a mission and I put on my big ass ego hat, the one adorned with all the chutzpah and bravado and carried on.  I paid all my bills without having a financial meltdown and tidied up my office. I went to the cemetery to pay my respects. I was sad, but did not stay sad. I've been nervous about some things- and yet, I've been optimistic since Friday. Seemingly this coincides with the semester being over, but it also coincides with taking action with recent work in the studio. I was growing accustomed to the isolation, thinking everything would be fine just staying in my studio and painting. Keeping a low-profile as it were. And so it was, but taking action and honestly reviewing the current work  felt good. The recent work has been a risk. It's smaller in scale. It no longer looks "edgy," a term which has lost all meaning to me. I no longer feel the need to write statements showing how well-read I am, nor quote a critical theorist to make sure the work is framed contextually. I've accidentally referred to my paintings as pictures twice. I laughed both times though I also did a brief refresher on Wittgenstein and thumbed through JWT Mitchell because although I no longer am inclined to look well read, I intend on staying well-read. 

I used to resent the 90's because I thought that was my lost decade. Now that I'm coming up on 13 years post-90's, I'm cool. I'd like to acknowledge some highlights from this past year and openly express appreciation for everything and everyone it takes to make this stuff happen.

Two solo shows:
Customs House Museum, Clarksville, TN
John Davis Gallery, Carriage House, Hudson, NY

Six group shows:
"About Face," curated by Daniel Weinberg at ACME., Los Angeles, CA
"Hot Paint," Weekend, Los Angeles, CA, curated by John Mills, Jay Erker
“Lineup Round 4, From The Gut, With Heart,” Sugar, Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY, curated by Gwendolyn Skaggs
“10 Years L.A. @Foundation Kaus Australis,” The Prospectus, West Hollywood, CA, curated by Carl Berg
“To Live And Paint in LA,” Torrance Art Museum Torrance, CA, curated by Max Presneill, Jason Ramos
"Modmen," Alfred Williams & Company, Nashville, TN, curated by Sera Davis Cremona

Three reviews and an interview:
Studio Critical, Interview, 10 Dec. 2012
Parr-Moody, Karen, "Thick, colorful brushstrokes evoke nature," Review. The Leaf Chronicle, 22. June 2012
Ramirez, Lawrence. "Mary Addison Hackett: The Walk." Madrona Musings. The Torrance Art Museum Blog. 28 Feb. 2012
Hoff, Chris. “Small Is Big At The Torrance Art Museum.” Review. OC Art Blog. 7 Feb. 2012

One invitational benefit show, two actually, but I can't remember the other one.
"Incognito," Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, CA

Two group shows scheduled for next year. 

I love my job. 

Collectors and collections.
Some of which happened due to the above shows and people. And yes, I used the money to pay my expenses and keep going. 

My artist friends and family who've been there for me. 
You are the best. 

Painters. dead and alive.
goldmine. I discover something new every day. 

The dog. 
I donated to his former shelter today in gratitude. 

I'm grateful for feeling grounded again. It feels like a healthy I-don't-give-a-flying-fuck-I-got-this kind of grounded. I've finally accepted that there's always going to be a small dark place after loss, and that's okay. And if you need more proof that life is awesome, I'm writing this in my pajamas at 1:50 pm sitting at my desk in my cozy office before I change into my bulwark coveralls and head into the studio. 


December 13, 2012

What to read in the studio this week.

Edward Winkleman's "Occupy Your Studio" post contains several gems including:

"What new models will emerge to clear the cacophony and confusion must be dictated by artists and their work. That's the only meaningful reason the market or the art world at large nurture the current generation of artists, so the important ones emerge and actually realize their full potential. All the rest of it, the parties, the glamor, the egos, the two-spread pages in the fashion magazines...and I indict most of the artists out there as well as the dealers, collectors, and fair organizers with those distractions...all of that is fun but ultimately meaningless."
"I'm serious. In the middle of the night, when I wake frozen in an existential panic about all the bills and stress of competition and the endless fragility of everyone involved, I gently work myself back to sleep thinking about the importance of leaving a meaningful record of our generation for posterity...what we were really like. I comfort myself with thoughts of what importance my tiny role in this process has."

Over at The Brooklyn Rail, author and painter, Richard Kalina attempts to divide painting into categories, a critical rubric or sorts, as he talks about the general state of painting in his essay, The Four Corners of Painting. Too many points to consider in a sound byte, but I leave you with this:

"We are living in an age where various forces, primarily market-driven, but also critical, curatorial, and educational, are fostering a decidedly ahistorical attitude. A willed loss of historical perspective has a not-so-hidden implication—and that is that all work is perforce new and fresh, that it springs from the artist’s absolute individuality and therefore should not be questioned from the point of view of history, although it ought to be granted the very prerogatives accorded in the modernist past to “groundbreaking” art. This does us all a disservice."

December 10, 2012

Interview with Studio Critical

Full interview at

Thanks to Valerie Brennan for interviewing me for her blog about contemporary painting.

December 09, 2012

Waxing Poetic

Wax, 2012, oil on canvas, 10 x 8 inches. 

I spent the weekend anticipating spending the entire weekend in the studio. I succumbed to peer pressure on Friday morning and put a wreath on the door and bought a trendy tabletop tree. I went to the closet where my mom kept all the Christmas decorations and decided to clear out that closet and donate everything to charity in one fell swoop. I made one trip to the donation center and filled 3 garbage bags. It sounds awful, but I was actually happy when I heard an ornament break as it rolled out of the box and onto the floor. Whenever something breaks, I feel relieved, as though my job of making decisions just got easier. My neighbor convinced me to save some stuff for a garage sale. I could have hung on to the plastic dirty flocked Easter bunnies in all their plastic dirty flocked splendor, but I didn't. Instead, I selected the candle that appears in the background of Christmas pictures dating back to the 60's and set about to paint.

(usual caveat: shot in the studio with the iPhone. Hi-res image to show up on website later.)