Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What I love (Five)

The very top image is the center medallion of triangles surrounded by multiple borders--from a 1966 quilt made by Sally Bennett Jones, one of the Gee's Bend Quilters.

I LOVE this image, and I wish I could see the whole quilt. In particular I love the irregular/illogical cadence of the rows of triangles. The subtle periodic shifts in positioning yield some optical nuttiness intriguing to me.

I made a quick little studio drawing to figure out the shifts just a tiny bit--should make a lot more to really understand what is going on.

And too, any entity that is readily comprised of amassed pieces (and a bit fragmentary) is right up my aesthetic alley.

Moving Collider

I cannot seem to get the color corrected in the above image--so it looks right when posted online--have spent the last couple hours in frustration in front of this dang computer--endless amounts of formatting and reformatting and jpegs and tiffs--I am certifiably grouchy and in need of a walk in the rain. (Thankfully it is rainy outside.)

So I wish you could REALLY see all the red and blue in this image--Moving Collider, it took up a lot of my studio life this fall, and I am glad it is finished--and happy about it too.
(which is not always the case)

Monday, January 19, 2009

The day before...

So much is buried in the above title--

For now I write the syllabus for my 8am class--starting tomorrow.

A wonderful quote which begins my painting 2 syllabus:

"Painting has a unique capacity to illuminate how objects in the real world are experienced, because a painting, while alluding to a memory of real world objects and experiences, also conveys the memory through the medium of a very palpable material. A material which occupies its own space in the world and thus become a thing." Jonathan Lasker, Dense Fictions

And too, swirling about my head IS Martin Luther King's I have a dream speech. I listened to that incredibly powerful, poetic and inspiring speech in its entirety in my car outside the art building, and yes, I could not help but cry (real tears) with hope:

"....When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ann Gale is amazing and you've got to come to NC to see this show (yes, North Carolina, really)

Just across the street (well technically in the parking lot behind) from my art building is the Weatherspoon Art Museum--a truly phenomenal art museum specializing in 20th century and contemporary art. I ducked into the Weatherspoon just a bit ago with three of my painting colleagues--to check out the new Ann Gale show. The doors just opened today.


Here is what I am thinking about now:
1. What does it mean (and how does that translate into visual terms) to take one's studio inclinations all to way to their fruition--zero half-heartedness, ALL-THE-WAY, do not be swayed by the idiocies of time and fashion. Singular, committed vision.
2. Oil paint can be made into anything.
3. Anything can be made in an infinity of ways.
4. Does the human body actually impact the space directly around it in a tangible, perceivable manner?
5. If the answer to question #5 is yes, (Which I think Ann Gale believes, and I am inclined to agree. Well, I want to be able to agree.) does that impact lessen incrementally as space moves away from the body?
6. Is the divide between body and environment permeable and in flux?
7. Might the last three questions be a physical analogy to the body as spiritual entity--and spiritual entity actually residing (in part) in the physical body?
8. Is the human body in full actually not perceivable?

I'll be honest, I've never been interested in painting the figure all that much (well, at all in truth--apart from figure drawing classes as an undergrad which I enjoyed immensely). But Ann Gale's paintings are figure paintings that are so much more than figure paintings--they are positing of human vastness bound up in a voraciously plentiful compendium of the most amazing maneuverings in paint you're going to see just about anywhere.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Making collage material

These were made to be cut up and reconfigured into an in-progress collage, made specifically in fact for said collage. But I like them as they stand now and wanted to document their loveliness before I take them apart.

What I love (Four)

I don't think I need to say much of anything about this image.

What I love (Three)

Since I got my MFA in 2000 I've had seven different studios. I've hung this picture of Toni Morrison in all of them, and so it's getting a little bedraggled.

Toni Morrison just astounds me; I don't even know where to begin in telling you how. Suffice it to say she is a person I think about when I think about the worlds that may be made in art.

I also love the fact that THIS image--carried as it has been across states and places and years has taken on the character of a well-loved object--the mound of masking tape that keeps accumulating, the folds well-pressed into the paper, the specificity of the tear along the left hand side.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What I love (Two)

This little pile has been in my studio since July.

On the bottom is an unfinished painting, a simple beginning that has no need for finish, from my time at Hambidge this summer.
Propped on top, and completing my piece, is an upside down watermelon made by Alexander last year sometime. I love the fact that the watermelon seeds are at once watermelon seeds, a representation/abstraction of watermelon seeds, AND Alexander's fingerprints. That kind of definition shifting interests me a lot in the studio right now.

And I love the shape of the watermelon in relation to the shape of my image--they need each other to become more than their original mundane reality.

Lastly, I love the fact that the watermelon is propped on top of the painting--remaining separate in its connection nonetheless, and soooo precarious.

What I love (One)

I LOVE helping students locate their idiosyncratic voice/figure out what they want to make art about. Being involved in the process by which an individual suddenly sees that, "Yes, I have something to say, and it is mine to say, and maybe (hopefully) it's a little odd but I'm going to say it anyway!" is absolutely thrilling because my own belief in the fact that we all have something hopelessly and wonderfully unique to offer the world is affirmed yet again by that student's discovery.

On the process toward those realizations is a lot of work though--and one of the things I ask my students to do is, quite simply, identify what they love. Accumulating an understanding of what one loves visually and viscerally is like gathering up clues toward self-knowledge. So simple but so helpful.

Toward that end and being that I am in a bit of a searching mindset myself, I thought I'd start posting some of my "loves."

The first:

I love this photograph of Hella Jongerius. (taken by photographer Gareth McConnell for the NY Times)

I collect images of female artists, and this one is a favorite. The blend of austerity with subtle femininity, (shot through with a bit of purple) her evident focus, her stillness in pose, the mesh sweater half tucked in and therefore perfectly revealing the silver belt buckle and pleated pants, a work space evidently and fully considered--a woman of focus and immense ingenuity, creativity and singularity of vision--incredibly inspiring to me in the studio, but even before that is my love of what the image simply says.

Grid connections

I am thinking about ruptured connections--connections ruptured by difference, newness.
I am thinking about how one might make a grid out of piles and piles of these ruptured connections.
Haphazard comes to mind--constructed too, and once again, highlighting the point of touch.

Monday, January 12, 2009

"Found" paintings in the studio

Last week I wrapped up a painting I've been wrestling with since July.

Generally I don't spend so very long on a painting but this one was the first major image I tackled in the midst of our move to a new home (and hence my subsequent moving of my studio from the old home to my space at school.) When I move to a new studio, there is the inevitable "breaking in" time...I spend a good 6-8 months moving furniture around (working all the while) until I find just the best, most efficient arrangement. And in general I've just got to move through the stage of simply feeling a bit too aware of my body moving/working/negotiating a new space--invariably all this breaking in means a bit of a rift in studio flow. (I say all of this in mind of the fact that Christopher spent a good deal of yesterday knocking down a wall in what will be my eventual studio--a real-sized one at home where I'll move permanently come summer. Oh, another transition on the horizon...)

Finishing the painting that stuck around for six months felt like a victory--a necessary succesful outcome of the hazing my studio enacts on me by virtue of the space's newness. But this painting was also saddled with a very clear realization that something has come to an end in the work. Yes! to the paper. Yes! to the painting made incrementally--piece by piece by piece. But MORE is needed--and more must be achieved and still I am not fully sure what MORE means.

What to do? I wander. (An excellent and necessary studio activity more than periodically I believe...oh that we would ALL let ourselves wander with gusto more!)

At the end of today's studio wandering, I found myself clarifying my notion of what my expanded (more) notion of painting-making might be by taking pictures of all that seemed important/interesting/potential filled...all that I just might like to call a painting, but maybe cannot fully yet. Or all that seems to be PART of what I envision a painting to be but is still partial.

So these explain the above images. (And yes I know that artist palettes are such a cliche when speaking about painting as I am, but I will forever love them, and I do believe there is something to them, paint-a-phile that I am...)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My new studio mate

After eons of trying to figure the best place to set up a space for my son to draw, paint (cut paper, make collages, squeeze out glue) I finally just pushed my own desk over, cleaned off two small tables and set him up right next to me in my little in-house drawing/reading/writing/etc. studio. Alexander got right to work of course--and is pleased to no end about "our" studio.

All about layering

(some recent thoughts/notes from my studio notebook)

1. actual lateral layering building out from the wall as in collage--or paper laying on top of other paper, unglued

2. vertical layering--a kind of collapsed grid, mired in its own disintegrated accumulating, turgid

3. making, inventing through repetition

4. covering the whole canvas>edge to edge, acknowledging the veracity of its reality, its physical reality, installing the paint on its expanse