Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Final Countdown

I can hardly believe it, but yes, I'm on the final leg of this odyssey called the Studio Workspace Opportunity. Still standing, folks, a little wrinklier, feet throbbing, but here nonetheless. I think it's going to take a while to process this whole experience. All I can say for now is there's no substitute for the direct confrontation of yourself alone (basically) in this city, making art. I feel like I learned more valuable lessons about myself than anything else, but that is what really counts in the long run.
For EXAMPLE--I learned that I really don't much care for working big. At least when the canvas is unstretched, as mine was, it's highly cumbersome to keep turning it this way and that unless it's on the floor. With my way of working, gestural, scumbling, dripping, wiping out, that is a challenge. You have to step into the middle of the painting without getting footprints anywhere and smearing paint. There's also no substitute for getting a painting on the wall and critiquing it from a distance. (Perching on a ladder looking down on it just don't cut it). Getting the thing up on the wall is an issue if paint is still wet esp. without extra hands. It goes without saying, that working this way makes it difficult to turn the painting upside down and all which ways in order to discern a new angle to pursue. (For those of you unfamiliar with my work, I start with an image, work on it a bit, then turn it upside down or sideways to regain a fresh perspective and therefore a more idiosyncratic image direction. I may do this several times within a few weeks' painting span in order to arrive at a startlingly [to my mind, at least] original image.)
It may have been slightly easier using a stretched canvas, at least that way it's easier to change its orientation on the wall. So, I won't really know until I try that too. I did take some folks' advice and use acrylics at certain stages in order to save money on paints.  I think using acrylics with oils is great and easily achieved once you get the hang of it. But I like the effects of wiping out an underlying oil-based image, an acrylic one just sits there smirking, forever. I much prefer using the acrylics (very dry) atop oils in order to make details.
In short, I learned that I am a heavily process oriented painter who likes to use the canvas as a punching bag of sorts--a mirror image I can heavily, easily manipulate. Here is (above) the yucky painting I almost completed as you see it: I couldn't stand it cause I felt I was being too careful, calculated. An interminable experience.
Sooooo......I cut the darn thing into four pieces, and immediately felt much better, thank you very much.  I will attach the finished pieces here; the babies of the mothership painting that sank.
This one to the above left is called Eyestix (Just Curious) a further variation on my ongoing theme of making candy out of body parts, eyes make great candy cause they're sad and spooky. The conduits you'll see repeated in other paintings came up as a subconscious response to subway maps and the gridded outlay of the city streets. I was always of course, as a newcomer, excruciatingly conscious of following these convolutions (in the real world) to get from point A to point B. The yellow and black motif is the "Caution" signage I'd see occasionally which also served as an inner subconscious warning to not get lost or on the wrong subway! It also serves as a symbol of existential angst! Always handy....
The one below that is called KnittingandEating, a sad image. I had to stop somewhere and probably if I had been at Scad and not had to pack these guys up to go home to Savannah, I may have continued to work on this one (well, all of them most likely) and it would have turned out totally different from this. But I think it's haunting and not too pretentious. I like the varying shades of gray and it was helpful to use acrylic for the details of the knitted cap. 
The piece below that one is tentatively titled OilGoil. A timely one maybe, considering the horrible recent gulf oil spill. Taking tragedy and turning it into something candylicious is a bittersweet way to deal with these mulitudinous "uneases" that happen every day in ways that range from being immensely consequential on a global level to small injustices that are only personally repugnant. The black I'm using is glossy enamel, courtesy of former savannah SCAD student Yi Hseng, who left quite a few containers of very screamin' hot  colors here in the studio.
The red character in the painting above shows how I felt walking here, in the city, as if my life depended on it, and everyone else doing the same thing. A constant urgency, a rush rush rush to get there NOW, doesn't matter where there is, but man you better get there fast. It shows my simultaneous yearning to lie down under a palm tree. It's been extremely windy here too, so I felt myself doing this extra Sisyphean thing of pushing into the wind....past the swirling trash, etc.
So, those are churren of the big ole yucky painting that some may have liked but it just felt false to me. The others l'll show are done from illustration boards I found in the efa hallway next to my studio. They are about 40x52" in size.

To the left is the finished piece. Above is a detail shot. I used Golden's Flexible Modeling Paste to create the nipples, and Golden's Course Pumice gel to get the raised rough areas. I had of course no clue as to where I was headed with making these 3-D parts, I just felt a compulsion to try something new and tactile on the flat surface, which of course those of you who know my work know I've been experimenting with this treatment but using questionable stuff to achieve. This way I think is kosher, and therefore maybe not as much of an adventure! But, it's good because it won't crack if you fold the painting for shipping or whatnot. Shall I show you one incarnation this black beauty went through before it got to its final sinisterhood?
What do you think? It felt like way too much going on, even for me, and I wanted the beauty of the raised parts to shine through. Too much of too much.
This one above is also done on illustration board, with raised relief lollipop (glowing) icons. It's called SpoiledGirl. I totally followed my nose on this one just to have something else for Open Studio, but I think it's kind of charming and fun. Those are brass tacks I stuck in the hardened modeling paste "cakes."

To make a seemingly long, at times angst-ridden  story short, that's my production this past 5 weeks. I have to say I missed the constant flow of feedback to and from my peers and profs at Alexander.  I don't think it's a great way to work, just you backtalking you, but I think it gave me the experience to know I can do it, to just persevere through the doubts, push something out, and it'll probably be OK.

Our dear Masumi showed up a couple of weeks ago. It was great to see her! Here she is waving to all of you back in Savannah. I'm sure you'll agree it won't be the same without her there.
She helped me get my Open Studio act together, my postcards, and notifying people. Above is the front of my postcard, which shows a detail from the Eyestix painting, and below is the announcement.

Open Studio was pretty quiet, with a few very nice people who showed up. My little event had to compete with the Yale Open Studios, Mother's Day, e-coli outbreaks, and about 10,000 other art events happening in the city at the same time. I'm keeping the studio open this week, though,  hoping that a few people can make it at a more convenient time.
 My dear Jon (above) made it to help with Open Studio and the next day we were able to finally just relax. We took the subway down to Union Square where there was an enormous flea market, which included lots of food stands. How oddly compelling I find these chocolate covered marshmallows....hmmmm. They are quite inspirational. Jon is browsing through art books at  The Strand, the famous used book store located in the same couple of blocks as Union Square. They have a dizzying variety of books, including many artists' monographs I've never seen anywhere else.

This is my last week here. I took a break this afternoon and walked down to Chelsea. There is always something there that knocks my socks off. Today's treat was Amy Sillman's show at Sikkema Jenkins. It's the first time I've seen her work in person (I didn't bring my camera). She really put together a solid show of large oils on canvas and lots of little muscular charcoal drawings. Other shows were pretty compelling as well by lesser known artists who are nonetheless doing first-rate work. (Jason, I thought of you while perusing John Wesley's solo show. A very witty show.) I may try to get back down there before I leave and take some pics for this blog.

1 comment:

  1. i love "KnittingandEating"...Im so glad that you had to stop!