Friday, December 21, 2012
So, for those of you who may have been wondering, yes, I'm still hard at work in the studio, as usual. Regular visitors to this blog (or my other social media outlets) may have noticed that I haven't posted any photos of newer work in the studio in the past few months. At some point during this past summer, I made the choice to pull back from posting so many images of works-in-progress and newer pieces because I've needed to change some things about my social media interaction as it relates to my studio practice.
I photo-document a LOT and enjoy sharing images of my work and studio with those who don't live near me and a studio visit might be out of the question. However, a lot of that sharing began to muddle things for me. The sharing of works-in-progress began to feel like over-sharing. I felt a real desire to return to the mindset that I had before having a presence on the 'net became almost mandatory for artists and others to gain an audience; just me in the studio working out whatever issues that I might be having with the work and inviting people into the studio once in a while to discuss what I'm working on and so forth.
It's tricky for creative people because we often like to have our work validated in some way and social media is a great way to have your peers (and others) weigh in on what you are doing, even if they are miles or countries away. I know that I enjoy getting a peek into what other artists are working on. The dialogues that can happen are wonderful and can be creatively invigorating. However, I found that after a while, the self-imposed "need" to post began to over take more serious considerations with the work in the studio. For a long time, I thought about how having a laptop or tablet in the studio would enable me to make constant updates from the studio. I resisted that idea and am glad that I did.
It has been a few months since I began to change the relationship between my art and social media, but the differences that it has made in how I relate to my work recently undeniably positive. Much like having painted over years of marks and drips on the wall , resisting the urge to post every movement that I make in the studio has cleared pathways for new things to happen in ways that the world doesn't need to be privy to, at least while they are happening. All of the outside stimuli has an effect on you, no matter how small. Over time, it all builds up and one day, you are wondering how you got so far away from your original intent. The proliferation of marks on my working wall wound up preventing me from "seeing" my work and made me expend precious mental energy on attempting to block out the distracting colors and patterns surrounding works-in-progress. The same thing happened with how I used social media in relation to my art. There got to be too much other "stuff" to consider and I unconsciously created mental filters that began to alter my perceptions of my work and took me away from an honest dialogue and evaluation of it, at times.
I'm much more comfortable with where I stand now with my art and social media. I post whatever articles or links that I feel might be interesting to followers here, and on Facebook, Twitter, and G+ with a focus on art-related items, but I have released myself from feeling obligated to constantly post my own newer work or works-in-progress. I will probably return to some form of sharing studio documentation in the nearish future, but for now, it's just me, the work, and a few cups of tea to keep warm while I figure out whether to leave this painting as is, or whether I should sand it down and start over...
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Sean Scully after the talk.
Two of the "Iona" paintings from my seat.
Four of the twelve "Mirror" paintings. These are oil on copper and 12 x 12 inches each.
All three panels of "Iona"
Last night, I had the chance to hear and later, talk with one of my favorite contemporary painters, Sean Scully. He was at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a talk/conversation with Michael Auping, Chief Curator at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas. They discussed some of Scully's background as an artist, his studio practices, and the works on display at the PMA.
Scully was straightforward about his work, life, and views and didn't mince words. It was interesting to learn that he doesn't like Barnett Newman's work, nor the "lack of variation" in Philip Guston's colors, that he uses the "same greens and reds...". He did acknowledge owning a Guston that's above his television.
In the discussion about his work with abstraction, Scully made an analogy that resonated with me. He said that (I'm paraphrasing here) "abstraction is like music without words and can be very difficult to get along with, while realism is like music with words and is very easy to digest". I can certainly vouch for the truth in the first part of that statement, considering the aesthetic and ideological challenges that I constantly find myself up against in the studio. Although, those challenges often result in hard-won rewards in the end. Combine the in-studio challenges with how difficult many viewers find abstraction, then you can have an almost perfect storm of issues to deal with. I should also add that Scully's work heavily influenced a number of paintings of mine that I did about 15 years ago. Some of those works formed the basis for my first exhibition at the Bridgette Mayer Gallery in 2002.
Later, during the question and answer session, someone asked about Scully's choice of oil paints and mediums. He said that he likes to use the best materials that he can, adding that "you get what you pay for". He noted that he had a lot of problems with some of his works from the 80's because of economics. He has had to re-paint some of the works from that period due to various issues with paint and support materials that he used during that time. He also attributed some of the problems to having hired his brother, whom Scully described as a "geezer" who could give "fuck-all", to stretch some of his paintings.
Once the Q & A was done, I took the opportunity to meet Scully personally and asked him about his fairly recent choice of using aluminum and copper as supports and how he feels about the archival possibilities of using such slick surfaces to paint on. He said that metal surfaces are ground down to create a "tooth" which helps the oil paints adhere to the surfaces. He said that he thinks that they will probably last a thousand years. He surmised that it probably won't matter, anyway because we will be heading out to the stars and won't be taking big, bulky paintings with us. Instead, he said that "we'll just have the images available in our glasses or something while the physical works will be back here on Earth". Well, Mr. Scully, the future is now.
"Notations: Sean Scully" is comprised of the three "Iona" paintings, the "Mirror" paintings, as well as two works from the "Wall of Light" series.
"Notations: Sean Scully" is on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art until February 23, 2013
See Sean Scully's website for a more comprehensive view of the scope of his work: Sean Scully-Body of Work
Tuesday, December 04, 2012
Monday, December 03, 2012
Well, something is usually happening when I'm in there, but this time was different. Put simply, I painted my working wall. Not usually something worth devoting a blog post to, but it was a special occasion, nonetheless. I allowed a pretty dense field of stray paint marks to build up over time and was a point of pride at one time. It wasn't enough that I made the work, I had to let the history of the previous work done in there remain, as well.
That wasn't a big deal at first, but over time, it became difficult to really see what I was working on, regardless of how hard I tried to mentally block out those stray marks. I finally realized what a detriment the wall had become and did what I probably should have done a good while ago. Of course, I had to document this somewhat momentous occasion...
Yes, that is a very self-satisfied smirk on my face. Fun time is over, now it's back to the real work...