Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Entry Points

For the artist, every drawing has an entry point. I've found it's relatively easy to get used to and fall back on the same entry points. The question is whether the fall back is merely convenient, an easy place to start, or whether it is meaningful. I am not always sure about my own entry points; when I try to shake them up, I often end up back at variations.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Thinking about how different edge quality and value/hue differentials on interlocking shapes can alter dimensional illusion.

Pic-A-Day: Shape

Pic-A-Fay: optics

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Sunday, December 20, 2009


Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Marks on Walls and Ins Space (V)

Blended Abstraction and Figuration

Color and Desaturation

Looking at Oliski and Color Strategy

I spent some time online looking at images of Jules Olitski's work. The color truly is exceptional.

I found theses quotes attributed to him:

"There is value in long years of obscurity, if one doesn't go insane or suicidal, in that, simply because nobody is looking, the habit of fooling around and trying things out gets ingrained."

And from Time Magazine, "Olitski recalls a conversation in 1965: 'I said I would like my painting to have the appearance of being just color. Then I remarked that if only I could spray some color into the air and somehow it would remain suspended, that's what I would want. Just color by itself. I thought it was amusing, and so did everyone else. But that evening, going to sleep, it occurred to me that it was a serious notion.'"

When I started painting, after getting past basic technique, and thinking about what I wanted to paint, I remember thinking that I wanted to draw/paint (translate) space between things as material in itself, without the things defining it. Color strategy affords that possibility, as Oliski's work shows. As does Olaf Eliason's work with light, mists and mirrors -- his particles in space are material, suspended as Oliski had wished for his sprays of color. But it is a different, and it would seem to me more difficult to solve, puzzle when working with the physical materiality of paint as opposed to light and as opposed to digital pixels that make it seem much easier.

Color Variation


Marks on Walls and in Space (IV)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Marks on Walls and in Space (III)

Marks on Walls and in Space (II)


Marks on Walls and in Space

The coming end of the year oddly has me evaluating where my work is heading at the onset in intention, including peripheral intentions. Today, I have ended up thinking about the way my marks seem to need to be connected to shape and form, even a single mark is part of a larger shape or form when I consider making the mark, when I place the mark, when I step back from mark. When can one properly placed mark be enough to hold a wall or space?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Choices: Creation and Presentation

Choice as an operative aspect of making and presenting art has come up a few times in the last couple of weeks from somewhat different directions.

First, an arts professional recommended an artist leave out certain work that fit chronologically but distracted conceptually from a catalogue; this I view as pure and necessary critical presentation editing.

Second, an artist faced criticism for creating confusion by choosing to hang works differing in compositional approach (formality, tightness/looseness) and media in a setting that was somewhere in between the studio and exhibition space, granted a studio visit is different in kind from working in the studio; this I view as a misunderstanding as to the setting.

Third, an art maker/curator recommended artists not waste limited time available in which to create and focus narrowly and drill down deep, as choices must be made on directions to pursue; this I view as problematic. There are so many things one tries out -- to get them out of the system, to see what happens, to momentarily distract as the mind works through a problem. While this diversion can use up limited time one has to make work, sometimes work can’t get made unless one follows these rabbits down their holes. One making work may have entry points -- visually, aurally, conceptually, emotionally, kinesthetically -- to creating the work that ultimately differ, sometimes in marked ways, from the entry points viewers are given to the work one chooses to exhibit. Yet, the sentiment of inevitable and necessary choice is factually so: time is limited and choices must be made in what one pursues as well as what one presents.

I am very much at risk of being overly diverted, unfortunately.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Outside Art Speak

I went to Hyde Park Art Center’s Open Crit today. The dialogue in this program is a valuable contribution to the art community, and hopefully, they’ll keep the program going.

Today, I was reminded how easy it can be to feel separate from the art world, at least the institutional art world, when art theory starts to be expressed. In commenting on one artist’s work, one of the moderators said, “There’s no expression in painting.” Of course there’s expression in painting -- by its very nature, painting involves making marks, which can’t help but be expressive, even if the artist conceptually or strategically tries to restrain or absent expression. Acknowledged or not, emphasized or not, expression and concept both are present in painting -- and in whatever form of art we might make.

The moderator went on to make a good point -- an artwork has to reach beyond the artist’s personal idiosynchronicities (the artist’s “feelings”), which may have motivated and informed its creation, and connect with the viewer to engage and to make a lasting impression. It cannot depend on the personal for its meaning and success, as the second moderator noted. At the same time, it can’t be generic or it'll be forgotten. Talking about the place at which the personal touches the universal or the universal reveals the personal is different from saying that there’s no expression in painting.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Overlapping Areas or Complexes

Doodling today. I find the extent to which drawings break down into overlapping areas or complexes with parts able to separate yet occupy more than one area interesting. In this collage doodle, the reddish brown stripe separates from everything above the top of it and also separates from the part below the bottom of it while still occupying both areas. Likewise, the middle green separates from the area above it while still occupying that area.

Some other collage doodles ...

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I had a long discussion about "outsider" art with some artists a few days ago; we had varying opinions on what made an artist was an "outsider" verses one using an "outsider" style. Self taught? Most artists, even those that go to school, have to self-teach technique. Remote? Maybe. But if a self-taught artist reads a lot of art theory, the artist is exposed and schooled, regardless of whether or not a teacher played the role of guide. Removed, then? That feels like a good defining point, though narrow, as long as it's more than a convenient narrative. Insane? Even more narrow; probably too narrow.

One of my former professors said it this way: once one takes a class on art, one is not an outsider (particular if the class includes any art theory/criticism) even if the class does not teach much technique (many don't). Why? What one learns changes the way one sees, and, to use a cliche, that cat can't be put back in the bag. This does not mean the work of an artist that has taken classes cannot be naive or deskilled in style --- the naive or deskilled is schooled and aware of itself.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Picture Plane/Coordinate Plane

The picture plane has the potential to be a coordinate plane that is autonomous from the world. In order to fulfill this aspiration the support--the physical object that is the painting hanging from a wall in a building--cannot be the shape the dominates the experience of its contents. -- M. Fried.


All recognizable entities, paintings included, exist in three-dimensional space, the barest suggestion of which calls up associations of that kind of space and alienates the pictorial space from the literal two-dimensionality that guarantees the painting's independence as an art. -- C. Greenberg

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Sometimes a picture finds it's own color mood.


The two images, horizontal reversals of one another, have different feels from the different entry point at the right -- we tend to enter pictures there. Both images are off balance.