Saturday, May 29

Sarah Awad and Making Decisions

I found Sarah Awad's paintings today through Visual Inventory blog. These are simple paintings dealing strongly with what is sometimes so hard for me to make: decisions.

Studio Visits

I love studio conversations. I don't have enough of them. A really good studio chat usually involves some heartbreak, some navel gazing and eventually becomes a great critical discussion on current ideas. The best visits have ended up occurring when I least desire it. The visits allow me to really face up to what is being done - or avoided. Sometimes those ideas wouldn't ordinarily express themselves otherwise.

Monday, May 24

Making Secondary Habits Primary

Kevin Hartnett writes about how the writer Murakami deliberately rearranged his life to make writing work. He cites that Murakami knew, as I am figuring out too, that there is only so much writing (or painting) one can accomplish when it's a secondary activity:
He wrote his first novel in the predawn hours after he’d finished tallying receipts and washing down the bar.  His writing sessions sometimes lasted only half an hour, at which point he’d fall asleep.  Even under those conditions Murakami was able to mine the talent that would eventually make him famous.
I've never read Murakami, but he seems very deliberate. He seems very aware of how each day fits within the rest. I've always tried to aim for being so confident that I know the exact place for each day's work. But I'm pretty impatient and tend to let all those "primary" activities overwhelm me. I guess there is still something to be said for working with resistance. Would I even know what to do (yet) if each day was entirely devoted to painting?

Semi-related: Although I can't access the June 2008 New Yorker article, The Running Novelist, that Hartnett mentions... the cover to that same issue pretty nicely sums up my feelings when I see folks at work tapping a book title into Amazon on their iphone.

Sunday, May 23

"Shadowy Existence in the Studio"

Neo Rauch (via Art Info)
The most valuable art books in my studio become the ones with the most words in them. Which is funny because they're usually purchased for the pictures. I get infatuated with someone's work and the monograph becomes a way to possess it or learn it. The artist conversations inside recreate the existence of the work for me long after I first see it.

There is a great studio chat between Wolfgang Buscher and Neo Rauch in the book, Neo Rauch: Schilfland Works on Paper. There is also another interview with Ellen Alpsten. They discuss the hidden prolific drawing practice of a painter who already is known for being "uncommonly productive".

Friday, May 21

Building an Artist

Proposal for Train Jeff Koons examines Jeff Koon's CV (via C-Monster) and finds that things don't add up. Koon's legacy (perhaps like many large historical figures) seems to be blurred just by virtue of not having kept track of details. It seems Koon's mythological start on Wall Street might not be more than any other working artist's early days: a simple day job filling in the blanks. He didn't give up some million dollar career track.

Towards the end he mentions a fairly common artist trajectory:
...the very familiar arc of an emerging artist's career: art school; crap job at a museum; make crappy work; get a day job; friends with artists; failed starts with some dealers; sell a piece or two; go broke; get another day job; get in some group shows; which leads to a solo show. And the rest, we know.
Just out of school I think I was afraid to be called a painter if I hadn't been painting that morning. I was afraid I'd loose it. The reality, as a professor made clear years before, "You're lucky if you'll get 3 hours a week of painting in at first".

Saturday, May 15

Walking Six Months in the Wrong Direction

Untitled Unfinished 2010 Stephan P. Ferreira
Today I realized a painting left incomplete a half a year ago was worth revisiting. Like walking a few blocks in the wrong direction, reaching a dead end and retracing your steps.

I found a photograph taken (quickly) a few months into the painting. It changed dramatically after taking the snapshot. Then I quite and threw it out.

Wednesday, May 12

Here's the Real Thing

Even if I still take out my scarf every other's getting close to summer. Didn't much feel like being behind my studio windows today. Took a long walk. I guess I just wanted to hear the sounds of everything. More on the Flickr page.

Sunday, May 9

Hurvin Anderson: Figurative Paintings about Paint

Peter's Sitters 2 2009 Hurvin Anderson (via Thomas Dane Gallery)
I discovered the paintings of Hurvin Anderson today via the new Saatchi exhibit/book, Newspeak: British Art Now. The paintings are loud, energy filled hair-salon spaces occupied by a figure or "sitter". And before I could dismiss them and turn the page (as a large survey containing so much information overwhelms me to do: dismiss, dismiss - what's next, etc) I realized I loved them. These are paintings about paint.

Thursday, May 6

There is Some Painting Out There

Some things to see the first half of this month:

- Jessica Hirsch's Folk Feng Shui
 - House Arrest at Worksound.
- The work of MFA students from the University of Oregon, Brightly Colored Party.

- Natascha Snellman at Fourteen Thirty.
- Cut Ups by Gus Van Sant at PDX Contemporary
- Oil paintings of Barbara Sternberger at Leach.
- The 2D works of Leiv Fagereng, Sarah Horowitz & Alfred Harris at Froelick.

See also PORT's First Friday Picks.

Saturday, May 1

Books: All the Inspirational Self-Help Won't Save Me

The Studio Reader
Today I started The Studio Reader: On the Space of Artists. An interesting anthology of interviews, essays and older writings that all think forward. Put together from the Art Institute of Chicago, it has a little bit of old and a little bit of new. A book like this is always neat to pick up because it helps quell my anxiety of my own practice. But it got me thinking of all the odd inspirational books I've read and if they make any difference.

A good example from the book: artist Michael Smith's simple but true list for a perfect studio day:
Wash dishes.
Fresh Coffee.
Window with view.
Plenty of ideas.
Room to pace.