Saturday, August 28, 2004

Worked on nine new works on paper this evening, all 12"x12"(paper), 9"x9"(images). The work just flowed out of me. I decided to try out this new idea of having the stripped elements overlaid with a colored, bulbous shape which obscures all but the very outside edges and corners of the colored stripes. I also used variations on the grid in some of the works along with the stripes.
I challenged myself to make each image and composition different from the last. I needed to let the first layer of paint dry before adding another layer, so while that was going on, I would immediately start work on the next piece by laying out the compostion in graphite. There was very little time between each piece which forced me to think quickly and not take too long to start the next image.

Working this way from time to time helps me with generating ideas plus I can have a fairly good idea of what might work on a larger scale. I can't wait to get some more stretchers and canvas so I can take these new ideas and expand on them.
It's funny, just earlier this week I was thinking about how I felt that I was heading towards another period of feeling 'stuck' with my work. Now, I can see several new approaches to the paintings that I didn't see before, just because I decided to stay in the studio even when I desperately wanted to do something else earlier in the session.

Brian Coty never showed up. He did leave a message just before I arrived at the studio this afternoon. He was calling from a bar and said he'd forgotten what my studio address was and hadn't written it down. Now, when I talked to him earlier, around 1-something, he said he was looking for a pen, found one and took down my address. At least I thought he did...We've been playing 'studio visit tag' for a while now and it's begining to get on my nerves. He doesn't have a phone, land line nor cell, and he can't seem to remember to keep basic information like my studio address with him. I've only met him once-at my exhibition in February but he seems to be a bit flaky (no wonder, he's one of those artists who lives in their own world, lol!) I'm by no means perfect, but if you make plans to meet up with someone, then keep the contact info with you. That's what pen, paper and pockets are for. On top of that, he said in the message that he'd "call back later". He didn't.

Needless to say, even though the original plan fell through, I was productive and that's all that counts.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Yesterday's studio session was the longest I've had there in a few weeks. I was there for almost 9 hours. My recent sessions have been shorter by five hours or so. Things went pretty ok. I re-worked two small canvases that turned out much better than in their previous incarnations. I'm experimenting with my works on paper but not getting anywhere yet. I need to experiment with my painting techniques a bit more, as well.

I really need to move forward with buying some wood or other hard surface material to paint on. Stretched canvas is great but I need a less flexible surface to pursue some of the work I want to do. I live right down the street from a lumber yard and have been very lazy about picking up some stuff and having them cut it down for me. Gottta get on it! Having ideas is great, but they don't do me any good if I don't do anything with them.

Speaking of ideas, here is what's been floating around my noggin for a while in various forms:

Developing a new, solid body of large and small-scale paintings. Adopting a layering technique which incorporates both solid and transparent forms in the paintings. Currently, I default to an opaque layering ideal most of the time. This isn't a bad thing, but I've found it a bit limiting as of late. Looking back at the work I produced for the exhibition this past February, the more successful pieces had some of both techniques. There is also the scale issue; how large do I want to go with the work? Currently, my largest paintings are 48" square and, lately, 36"x60" rectangular canvases. These are sizes which feel comfortable and are easy to store, ship and carry. I do want to expand the size a little but not by much.

I've been struggling with the works on paper lately. I like my drawings, etc... to stand on their own, not merely as sketches for paintings. Sometimes I use them for that purpose, but I also do things on paper that a similarity to the paintings but will never translate as paintings and aren't meant to. So, what's the issue? Well, I think it has to do with some internal need to have the works on paper directly correlate to what I'm doing on canvas. When I work on paper, I like to work with different materials than I do on canvas. This has been very beneficial as the differences in materials , oil stick and graphite on paper, gouache on paper as opposed to acrylics on canvas, force me to deal with images and ideas in completely new ways. The work on paper has taken on a life of it's own, separate from what I do on canvas which sometimes causes some conflict. The important thing, though, is that I'm working to figure it all out, with the end result being a body of work that I'm proud of.

Then there are the installation ideas which incorporate rope and hardware. The sculpture ideas using wood and hardware. The prints I want to do and it goes on and on and on...

This is why I've been feeling the sqeeze of having a job and concentrating on my artwork. Even though my job schedule allows for an abundance of studio time, it's getting hard to accomplish all that I want to do. I could just concentrate on painting,which is really what I do already, but that's not all that I am. On top of that, painting alone can't accomodate all of the ideas I have, so I need to spread them out into other areas. I can accomplish a lot with the time I have, I just need to be a little more efficient with how I use it. This just means that I may have to concentrate on one or two things for a while, then switch materials and pursue something else for a time. That's the only way I'm going to get anywhere near accomplishing all that I'd like to do while maintaining a steady paycheck. There is still the goal of being a self-sufficient artist, but until then, I guess it'll be a juggling act, with painting as the main thing I work on. Whatever, as long as I can keep working...

There is always the possibility of coming up with a project which incorporates painting, drawing, sculpture and printmaking...

Monday, August 09, 2004

One day last week, I had an interesting exchange with one of the customers at work. He comes in once in a while with his daughter. He's probably in his mid-thirties or so.

Anyway, we greet each other and he says, "Wow, you've been here for a long time. You own the place yet?" I laughed and replied, "No".

Him: "You're a manager, then, right?"
Me: "Yeah, I've been managing here for the past 9 years or so"
Him: "Man, you ought to be ready to buy the place then..."
Me: "Nah, I don't want own the store"
Him: "I understand. You can always open your own store sometime"
Me: "No, I'm not interested in owning a store. I have my own thing going on"
Him: "Oh, what's that?"
Me: "I'm an artist. I've been doing it for the past 23 years and that's what I'm concentrating on"
Him: "Yeah, well, everyone needs to have dreams."
Me: "Well, it's more than a dream for me."

I then went on to tell him some of what I've been doing lately and how my art career has been growing and so on. I spoke to him in such a way as to there not being any doubt about my chosen path and I think that surprised him a bit. There was a distinct point where he gave me this slightly puzzled look, it wasn't real obvious, but his demeaner definately changed a little, as if he couldn't understand that I'm 100% serious about being a painter. I think some people just aren't used to artists talking about thier work and careers the way people of other professions talk about theirs.

Question: "What do you do?"
Answer: "I'm a painter"

That's it. I'll tell people that I have a job, but that's never the first thing out of my mouth anymore. At one time, I was reticent to tell people that I was an artist. The reason? Well, we all know that art isn't a viable way to make a living, blah, blah, blah...why not just do it on the side, blah, blah, blah..."Well, good luck with that"(translation: "One day, you'll have to wake up and face *real* life...BLAH, BLAH, BLAH...")

Dreams really are good to have. The difference for people like me is that we are living our dreams every day. I know I am. Every day. Even when I'm not in the studio. I've been doing so for the past 23 years with and without money and will continue to do so. I'll stop doing art when I'm dead.