Saturday, December 13, 2008

Certificate of Authenticity

I have started to provide buyers of my work with a Certificate of Authenticity. It looks very cool with an official embossed seal on parchment paper. I designed it and hand made it small, 5"x 7" so it is a nice size to fit in an envelope. If you look close you can just about see the seal in the lower right corner. Quite the professional, eh?!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Art is not that Easy

Dilbert so often sums it up for me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Art Exhibition and Presentation

I will be giving an Artist talk on my graduate work which is currently on exhibit at Mitchell College in New London, Connecticut.

The Color Scroll Paintings are part of that show and I am excited to see how the curators managed to display it.If any of you are in the neighborhood stop by for a visit.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thesis update

Well, three months of solid writing is finally beginning to get to me, but it's almost done. The title is Eastern Seeds, Western Soil: A Path to Transcendence. Can I talk about it before it is actually done? Is it bad luck, like seeing the bride in her dress before the wedding?

This is one of the most intense projects I've ever undertaken and I have to admit, I kinda liked doing it, I'm learning an awful lot about my work, but will be so relieved when all the t's are crossed and the i's are dotted. I am tracing Eastern philosophy in Western abstract landscape painting and relating that to my work. Yeah, I know what was I thinking! If you are going to write on a subject for three months straight it is a good idea to write about something that holds your interest.

I feel like I'm in the deep end here, mentioning the "s" word in art (spiritual). Seems like it's a taboo subject, but I have to write about it because "I am coming to understand the spiritual as the foundation for my art practice. The spiritual is not an interest, it is a way of being in the world like being an artist."

Friday, August 29, 2008

My Four Year Old could do that!

I have been practicing discussing my work in front of small audiences to prepare for the "big shooew" in January as part my required graduate presentation.

It's tough to give an artist talk even in front of a small group that admits it doesn't know much about art. Of course, I brought in my most current and challenging work to show and discuss.

The piece I brought in to discuss is shown below and is titled "Fern". I went through the whole thing about my work having both abstract and representational qualities, and how I am interested in expressing feeling and inner thought through color and gesture and that abstraction has a visual language and can explore complex thoughts and feelings and this is what I was trying to do, yahdah, yahdah. I did OK and most people seemed to enjoy the talk.

One of the comments made after the presentation was something to the effect...I don't care much for abstract art and think that "my four year old could do that..."

Oh, God the old "my four year old can do that" comment! I totally didn't expect it. I was surprised how calm I felt in addressing that comment as the question and answer part of the talk wore on. I said, "well, yes... your four year old CAN do this, but your four year old does not have the conceptual capacity to even THINK about doing this. I can't paint like a child, a child paints like a child and an adult paints like an adult.

I realized that people are still really confused about abstract art and some people hate being confused. And some really dislike abstract art. They feel like they are being conned...Gee, I wonder why they feel that way? I explained that there is a visual language to abstract art and that it is something you can learn.

Abstract art, is a challenge and in order to understand it, an open mind is a prerequisite. Being comfortable with ambiguity helps, too. Because my work walks the line between abstraction and representation, I realized I am going to get criticized because it isn't representational enough and because it isn't abstract enough.

You can't please everyone, so I'm pleasing myself. Oh, and another thing a four year old can't do is write an artist statement and give a talk on the conceptual aspects of their work. What do you say when someone says..."my four year can do that? Hey, you abstract artists out there what would you say... without resorting to obscenity? I'd love to hear it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cats can paint?

It is amazing where research can take you. I stumbled upon this tidbit, did you know that felines paint? There is a theory of feline aesthetics and a discussion of the history of feline art on this web site, Why Cats Paint.

People actually curate and critique cat paintings! They are exhibited in the Museum for Non-primate Art. The west wing is devoted to cat art. Here is a video of a cat painting...

And an excerpt from the Why Cats paint FAQ's reads "Only a very small percentage of domestic cats are known to paint. While about 60% of domestic cats (USA data), will demarcate their territory with claw marks on trees, furniture etc, perhaps only 0.001% will take paint on their paws and apply it to a surface. However, with the recent growth of interest in feline aesthetics due to the international success of books like "Why Cats Paint" and the formation of Cat Art Societies around the world, it is anticipated that more owners will encourage their cats to paint and the number of cats actually painting and exhibiting is expected to rise dramatically in the next few years."

I live with two cats: Violet was born outside in a barn and is part bengal, the other is Cashmere who is a purebred ragdoll and retrieves better than my chocolate Lab. Maybe she'll want to paint? I'll have to test her after I graduate to see if she has potential. Oh, yes there is a test to determine whether or not your cat has artistic talent. Frankly, it looks fishy to me.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

New Books

The IPhoto book I published two weeks ago came out well enough for me make two more books. I did a redo of the Oil on Copper with slight tweaking and made a new one called Color Scroll Paintings. The only thing I would advise is to learn what the program can do, so you have complete creative control.

It took ten days for me to get the book. It was shipped from the west coast, so maybe that is why it took longer than "a few days". Luckily, I wasn't in too much of a hurry. Plan ahead if you are making a book.

The second book I made is a compilation of the color scroll paintings, done for my January semester at AIB. The original color scroll has 158 paintings. I edited this book to down to 95 paintings. I am so pleased with the way it turned out. It did cost more to print than the Oil on Copper book, but hey, it has twice as many pages.

If you want an artist signed copy of the Oil on Copper: 22 Paintings book, I've tweaked it so it's not exactly the same as the downloadable PDF, it's better and a quality hard copy can be had for $25.00.

Color Scroll Paintings hold the best of my color scroll paintings. The paintings are done on rice paper and gouache over the course of six months. IMHO they are some of the best work I've done to date. This book is signed and costs $45.00.

You can download both books for a look, it's worth the wait. If anyone knows how I can publish these online for less cost AND keep the print quality high, let me know. I'd love to make more, they would be wonderful as presents or to send to galleries.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Oil on Copper Book

I have gone ahead and published a book using IPhoto and the Apple online printing site. I hope it comes out O.K. I worry about the colors reproducing accurately.

It wasn't all that easy to get the typography and images to my specifications...but hey, I'm reeeal picky. It will be interesting to see what the quality is for $20.00 plus shipping and handling. They'll send me the actual book in a few days.

The book is a collection of the Oil on Copper paintings I did last semester. You can take a look at the whole collection right now by clicking on Oil on Copper: 22 Paintings.

If anybody else has had good experiences with online printing and publishing, let me know! I tend to create works of art in series and plan on make more books.

Back to work.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Artist Statement

The Art Institute of Boston
June 2008 Residency:

Abstraction emerges as visual recognition, subsides. In painting the landscape I walk the line between representation and abstraction within the same frame. Abstract images encourage direct experience and invite emotional identification with the suggestion of imagined terrain.

My landscape painting is at once abstract and figurative and reference human forms. Land is a metaphor for our macro body, it is part of us and we are part of it. The earth is our physical, emotional and spiritual selves and I paint landscapes to elicit emotion and communicate feeling.

Non-representational landscape painting can be thought of as contemplative environmentalism. I paint new ground desiring to awaken feelings of reverence and awe; to bring attention to that which we are in danger of losing.

Below are samples from three collections:

Rice paper, ink, gouache. Title: 5. 25. 08 3"x 3"

Ink and oil on yupo. Title: Old City of Bam, Iran 18"x 24"

Oil on copper flashing. Title: Ridge 9"x 12"

*note: samples are found in the Semester Summary.

Friday, May 30, 2008

New work

Oil on denim 36"x26"

As my fourth residency approaches, I have to decide on a thesis topic. This semester I've created semi-abstract and completely abstract work. I thought I would post one of the new semi-abstract paintings. Much of the semi-abstract art will not garish as much attention as the completely abstract work, in addition it doesn't show up well online. I am writing an artist statement and sharing some of it here. Feedback is critical, please comment if you are so inclined.

I want to bring your attention to how all form comes from formless-ness into being. The collapse, impermanence and instability of form, points to the physical world as illusionary. What is real for me, is energy. Energy takes on physical form and is best described through abstract painting. I am attempting to express a quality apart from the landscape using non-western illusion of space.

How I made this painting:
The images posted are painted on heavy 100% cotton denim. I'm showing the details of a large (for me) landscape painting 36"x26". I gessoed the denim with three thick layers and sanded down each one, so the surface looks and responses to paint like primed canvas. The texture of the denim is a twill instead of the perpendicular weave of canvas and only shows subtly through the brush work.

Part of my process is to allow an image to emerge. I painted this image without drawing it first. I was playing with indirect glazing techniques and experimenting with layers. I would wipe off and put on paint and this painting is still evolving. It will change again, as it nears completion but it's close enough so you can get the idea.

upper left detail

center detail

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Mixed Feelings

Yesterday, was a gorgeous day for a trip to the Dia:Beacon Contemporary Art Museum in Beacon, NY. Lynda Schlosberg, a fellow AIB graduate student and I made the trip together. As one of the worlds most distinguished collections of contemporary art, all the names we read about in Critical Theory were on view. Some of the most successful and famous contemporary work is shown there.

Works by: Bernd & Hilla Becher, Joseph Beuys, Louise Bourgeois, John Chamberlain, Walter De Maria, Dan Flavin, Michael Heizer, Robert Irwin, Donald Judd, On Kawara, Imi Knoebel, Louise Lawler, Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, An-My-Le, Bruce Nauman, Max Neuhaus, Blinky Palermo, Gerhard Richter, Robert Ryman, Fred Sandbeck, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, Andy Warhol and Lawrence Weiner were on exhibit.

Let's see, that's five women out of twenty six artists. Pathetic for 21st century contemporary Art representation, but still better than none.

But that's not what I really wanted to talk about in this post. I noticed my mixed feelings for the art work. On the one hand, I quite enjoy the intellectual cleverness and on the other, I want more from the work. Much more and couldn't fight the feeling of being conned and ripped off. Was I really looking at five vertical florescent light bulbs grouped together in Dan Flavin's work, as art?

Hmm, let's see there is line, color, form, value, shape, space, repetition, pattern and creative use of materials. Ok, it must be art and the cleverness made me want to run to Home Depot, immediately.

The simplicity of Fred Sandbank's stringing yarn anchored at various points to create floor to ceiling planar shapes would be a fantastic way to teach budding art students about Kandinsky's point, line and plane. The physical sensation of seeing these large planes outlined with just common red yarn made me feel giddy. It was such a simple idea and I liked it.

Yet, I wondered did it belong in a museum? I wasn't alone. I watched the faces of other visitors as they wandered around Robert Smithson's large menacing blue green shards of broken glass piled in a heap

and John Chamberlain's crumpled parts of metal automotive and carnival parts welded together in sculpture.

It gave visitors plenty to think about. Luckily, for the ones unable to see past the obvious, Dia:Beacon provided nicely designed laminated cards with the artists bio, dates and accomplishments. Finely crafted artists statements and essays schooled perplexed viewers in deep philosophical thought. It was worth the price of admission, even if the art didn't grab you.

I disagree with "idea" as being the most important aspect of a work of art, as Conceptual Artists do. But, I did marvel at the supremely obsessive and intellectual systems displayed in the work of Sol LeWitt's Drawing Series. The collaboration necessary to execute LeWitt's wall drawings with sets of simple and not so simple instructions were genius. Equally amazing is that these instructions were viable without him being present, so much for the antiquated idea of the masters touch. The results of human collaboration is what impressed me along with LeWitt's quote: "One should be intelligent enough to know when not to be too intellectual."

Going from Agnes Martin's subtle canvases that whisper to Blinky Palermo screaming red, yellow and black paintings almost hurt my eyes.

Parents with children walking under works composed of neon light lined stick figures with large penises flashing on and off made me wonder what do little kids think of this work or did they see it at all?

Mixed feelings and all, I was exhausted after a fine day of looking at the best art in our contemporary world.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Spring Fever

In the spirit of improv, lighthearted fun, what happens when people do the un-ordinary and unexpected in public? It's fascinating to watch human behavior as the unexpected jolts us out of our unconscious behavior.

With the flavor of candid camera, check out this video as one of the largest train stations in the world comes to a halt. People freeze in place for five minutes in Frozen in Grand Central Station. The reaction of those not "frozen" were filmed.

The group responsible is called Improv Everywhere. They "cause scenes of chaos and joy in public places". Their mission Mobile Desktop had me laughing on the floor. Enjoy and Happy Spring everyone!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Blast from the Past

"Going down to NYC to see the WACK! Art and Feminist Revolution Exhibition was like...very heavy, man. Over four hundred female artists exploring feminist themes from the decade of the groovy 70's. Man, those chicks were pissed... complaining broads are such a turn-off ! I mean, like the girls used their bodies to make ART, if you could call it... art and..."

Ok. Ok. I'll stop. My third paper is written on this exhibition. Click on this WACK link to download the paper for a different read of this show.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Gender Politics in Art

The exhibit and artist lecture, called Female Forms and Facets: Artwork by Women from 1975 to the Present, at Central Connecticut State University was curated with the idea of giving women artists a place to say what they wanted to say and express what they wanted to express.

It featured original art work by Judy Chicago, Cindy Sherman, Judy Fox, Janine Antoni, Penny Arcade (not her real name), Lisa Yuskavage, Sara Risk, Carolee Schneemann (who spoke) and Candice Raquel Lee.

Feminism has never been an option for me, it is a survival mechanism, I was born a feminist. It is painful to watch women betray women in attempts to be competitive, careerist, sarcastic, cynical, and clever in the climb to the patriarchal top of the postmodern heap.

"Feminism is the radical notion that women are people." This is so obvious, why is it that feminist issues are up again? Didn't we take care of things in the second wave of feminism? No, then a quieter third wave is upon us.

Since Art perpetuates culture, and cultural stereotypes distract women from the real work of becoming a whole person, I will be writing more on this.

VENUS OF WILLENDORF: In ancient cultures, women had true power. The Venus of Willendorf is an idealization of the female figure, the Mother Goddess or universal mother. Suggesting fertility, and a symbol of security and success. Is this female form attractive? Is this our cultural ideal of beauty?

VENUS SCULPTURE by JUDY FOX 2004. What about this image? Notice the placement of the hands in both sculptures.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Critical Theory III "Who is Speaking?"

Critical Theory is best understood when we can relate it to our experiences. Here is a section of my second paper, a thought piece called "Who is Speaking?" You can download the PDF (by clicking on the name of the paper), if you want to read more. I stuck to the word count, so it's not that long. Any comments are always welcome.

"While traveling in Afghanistan, I was wearing a traditional Mexican blouse that was skillfully embroidered. Upon walking into an embroidery shop in Kabul, an old man who owned the shop, excitedly stood up and approached me when I came in. He reached out to examine the blouse closely. He was so enthralled with the embroidery; he cast aside strict social norms and touched the embroidered blouse at my shoulder. I was not afraid; all he saw was the embroidery. I understood his behavior and recognized his passion.

It was not only the craftsmanship, but also the stylized symbols that cause his excitement. Embroidery and rug making motifs are shared among the nomadic tribes that cross borders between Russia, Iran, Pakistan and India. The taboo of touching a woman in public was outweighed by this man’s astonishment and admiration for the folk art embroidery created by Mexican culture. Art speak across time and continents from one culture to another. Art does not have borders. Paradoxically, I was not important to either culture, yet without me, this meeting wouldn’t have happened. Thinking about this, I determined that there must be a ‘universal’ language of art. Why do primitive symbols look similar or in some cases the same regardless of time or place, worldwide?"

Monday, February 25, 2008

Art for...

As I read all this theory, I'm thinking about what Art gets used for. If you can think of anything else, I'll add it to the list.

Art's Sake (just because)

Therapy (therapeutic nature)

Pleasure (sensuousness, beauty )

Expression (the self, a group)

Spirituality (search for divinity)

Life's sake (a celebration of)

Commercialism (to buy and sell)

Fun (to have a good time)

Exploration (find the new)

Children (growth)

Adults (growth)

Education (truth)

Aesthetics (beauty)

Shocking (out of comfort zone)

Soothing (to calm down, meditative)

Healing (to feel better)

Profit (financial gain)

Ritual (to express beliefs, culture)

Experience (knowledge, what is good)

Communication (to dialog, share)

Decoration (eye candy)

Inside (personal art)

Outside (public art)

Entertainment (distraction)

Fantasy (imagination)

Exploitation (power)

Intimidation (power)

Innovation (invention)

Revolution (incitation)

Evolution (transformation)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The basement, again?

The Guerrilla Girls point out the facts. Count how many images of naked male figures verse naked female figures are displayed in paintings, in our museums.

Women artists work is being purchased by museums... and kept in the basement! Alright, not quite sure sexism, racism, ageism and corruption exists? Can you say "backlash" this and wept all you women and enlightened men artists...

Friday, February 8, 2008

In six months...

It's hard to maintain motivation, particularly when it's dark and gloomy like it has been in Connecticut, for the past week. I was looking at the dates for six months before we have to be back in Boston. It gave me a new perspective. Somehow, looking at these dates lights a fire under me.

What if someone said... "you only have six months left to"... fill in the blank. Hmm, somehow, this makes me feel like being more productive to look at it this way.

Thought I'd share it with you, we all wrestle with motivation. Note: We are done with the first column and half way down the second. Yikes!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Who Are You? Who? Who?

The article "Two Methodologies for the Interpretation of Abstract Expressionism" by Franic V. O'Connor, 1988, has a section called "The Psychodynamically Considered Creator".

Or translated, what kind of an artist are you? He writes "An artist can be understood, specifically, as a person fixated at the visual stage of early development..." Essentially, artists have a partly unconscious NEED to make things. The need to make things is "manifested in various cultural contexts." He creates a fascinating list of various kinds of artists.

Is it worth figuring out where ones work comes from? What happens if your work crossed into more than one category? What about other categories he didn't list? Are these categories valid?

  • "A shaman making a ritual object ('primative artist')

  • A "naif " making an object for personal or communal use ('folk artist')

  • A self expressionist ('romantic') using the medium to engender and project personal imagery

  • A self-suppressionist ('classicist') using the medium to contrive formal compositions that mask personal impulse

  • An academic traditionalist ('mannerist') using the imagery of precursors as self-evident and inviolable

  • A decorator ('aesthete') using the elements of a style as ends to themselves

  • And an absolute solipsist ('madman') working with visual imagery totally outside a social context."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mentor Meeting with Robert Henry

Robert Henry is my new mentor for this semester. I met with him last Saturday at his studio in Wellfleet on Cape Cod. He introduced me to his wife, Selina Trieff. Selina is currently exhibiting in a group show in Fairfield, CT. Bob has a second student he is mentoring along with myself.

I brought up my work to his large studio overlooking the quiet bay. He was very generous with his time and spot on, in his critique of my work. His suggestions were that I focus on:
  • Painting is composing (composition) and composing is Painting! Think of the whole, not specific parts of the painting.

  • Be more aware of the surface of the paint, don't lose the surface texture of the paint with too much pictorial transparency.

  • Work on more than one painting at a time and heighten awareness of color relationships.

  • Be bold and decisive as monumental space can be achieved without actual physical size.

  • Create fewer shapes and vary their sizes.
Video about Henry and Trieff:
Their Lives in Art: Robert Henry and Selina Trieff, a one-hour documentary, is the story of the life and work of two painters whose nearly 50 years of married life has been devoted to the making of art.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Third Residency: Long Reflections

“My name’s not here, there’s been a mistake! How could this be?” These thoughts made me anxiously search the 600 Beacon Street building, in semi-darkness the evening before my third residency. I was desperate to find my critique space.

Physical exhibition space is important. The critique space would designate where I spent my time for ten days and with whom. I wanted to think about the space and plan out how to display the work as I find it challenging to curate my own work. I was apprehensive about hanging and exhibiting scrolls, oil paintings and digital prints. After searching all the floors four more times, I never did find my name. I was so sure a mistake had been made; I grabbed a sheet of paper and lettered my name on it, serifs and all and attached it to an open blank wall.

Officially, the January 2008 residency began the next morning. I was sitting with members of Group Three perusing the residency schedule when someone exclaimed, “Hey, look, you’re in the basement!” “My God,” I thought, “The basement? There’s my name!” It never even occurred to me to look down there. Appalled, and at the same time relieved, I hurried over to 600 Beacon Street and tore my name down from someone else’s space. Chagrined and uneasy, I dragged my portfolio down to lowest recesses of the 600 Beacon Street building. Residencies are such an emotional roller coaster ride.

There were three other disappointed and upset students in that space, in addition to myself. It was dark, dirty, and windowless. A harsh cold fluorescent light when turned off left the four of us in complete darkness. The worst part was we were isolated from the rest of the other students. We made a group decision to make this space work. We voiced our objections to the space and suggested possible solutions. We threw ourselves into making that space work. I felt grateful to be part of this fantastic critique group.
Long Reflections: read more

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Third Residency: Artist Statement

Painting the landscape acts as a reference point and provides visual freedom to create new space. New space serves as a metaphor for personal experience and allows for the exploration of the divinity in nature. Imagery is informed by Romanticism and encompass transcendental abstraction. Digital prints, oil paintings and ink brush paintings are three distinct and related bodies of work I created the past six months.

Large Format Digital Prints: The Wreck of Ah Tar
By viewing mythology as a rich source of image making, I created a series of digital prints using a two-dimensional symmetrical glyph composed of twelve equilateral triangles. This form was built three dimensionally out of balsa wood and arranged in still life compositions. The still lifes were digitally photographed and altered.

24"x36" Digital Print

The architectural forms were wrecked, destroyed and damaged. This symbolizes the ‘wrecking’ of the feminine principle, environmental and holistic processes. These images originate from the dualism of creation and destruction. They express levels of intensity in the experience of destruction.

Oil Paintings: Gaia

The autumn trees and broken light of the deep woods visually influence me. Living in a New England woodland environment, images of densely woodland areas came out in the painting. Stylistically, I pushed broken form to its most extreme. Interestingly, the more the forms were broken down, larger patterns emerged. These patterns act as unifying forces and imply infinite order. What is underneath an image is usually pure geometric form that is unseen, yet felt.


Ink brush Paintings: Scrolls & Panels
Ink brush painting improved the gesture of my brush stroke. This is critical to the expressive nature of ink brush painting and Abstract Expressionism. Ink brush painting also put me in direct contact with Taoist philosophy and ancient Chinese painting traditions. The large rice paper panels called Categories of Line were created with traditional and nontraditional brushwork, although the abstract imagery follows the handling of space found in a traditional scroll.

I transformed the traditional scroll in to a modern one by creating a small scroll on cash register receipt paper. It is called One a Day. This scroll documents six months of daily paintings and poems. The Quicktime movie is posted here and on YouTube. It was made of one months worth of images and set to instrumental piano music.