|The Studio Reader|
A good example from the book: artist Michael Smith's simple but true list for a perfect studio day:
Window with view.
Plenty of ideas.
Room to pace.
|Robert Henri's classic, The Art Spirit|
For all of us, the list may be different - but as I've grown more confident (or at least more set) in my ways - it always has included a place to think, pace, do absolutely nothing or everything - another words: space. And whether or not artists admit it, I think in our dark moments we always look elsewhere for a slight confirmation of our fears. That's why making art is so hard. You'll never find yourself in someone else's practice. You'll only recognize bits. You have to find your own solutions.
|Art & Fear|
I've just spent the last year building and settling into a studio space adjacent to a few handfuls of artists all over the spectrum. It's created as much anxiety as it has work. Both are good. But sometimes other artists appear to have themselves so figured out - or at least it appears that way. Something quoted from Frances Stark in The Studio Reader that pretty well sums up my current feelings:
There is nothing photogenic or charming about the way I do what I do, and there's no special atmosphere created by doing it. I am starting to think that, for me, being an artist in the studio is a complete fantasy. Don't get me wrong, I believe in what I do, and I even love what eventually goes out my door, but my methods have yet to form a place that feels like home. Sometimes I think my studio says as little about my work as a basketful of my dirty clothes conveys of what I look like.I'm reminded of Art & Fear, first given as as required reading in Junior-level painting. It was terrific then, as it dealt with, well, FEAR. But now in retrospect it had a motherly and justifying tone.
During college, suggested by my Illustration professors, we read Robert Henri's The Art Spirit. Also really good. But written in 1923. Apparently written for his students. I think it helped alot with the discipline of art making. There was also The Artist's Way. But this is a bit more spiritual.
|A Painter's Life|
There is A Painter's Life, a fictional diary of a working artist today. This I suspect is more of artist as a lifestyle or rockstar. Not interested.
Or also The Fall of the Studio. It takes an entirely opposite, ArtForum-like approach (or in-approachable). Sometimes it's hard to even recognize what kind of practice it's discussing. Although there is an excellent essay by Bruce Nauman on how his studio practice became about him as an artist:
I look forward to The Studio Reader, as it borrows backward and forward to examine what the studio means. It so far doesn't pretend the studio is this hip, secluded factory of ideas that aren't accessible to everyone. It also doesn't attach space to spiritual or magical ideas. I think like the purposes of all these books, it helps demystify the practice. It's reassuring to realize some of the greats have wasted years of time. It's really just about artists who've done alot of pacing to know how to work.
If you see yourself as an artist and you function in a studio and you're not a painter...if you don't start out with some canvas, you do all kinds of things-you sit in a chair or pace around. And then the question goes back to what is art? And art is what an artist does, just sitting around the studio.