Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Luckiest Man Alive

Change has been brewing.  Nothing seems to have stayed the same this year.  I started teaching.  I now make more money from art related ventures because of teaching than I do from working in a restaurant.  I am now a dishwasher again.  Dishwasher Pete thanks for the power.  I am married.  I have a child on the way.  My wife is starting to show the tiniest little bit and everything has finally started to settle in.  As a result I've used my number one coping resource, drawing, as a way to work through my thoughts.  I'm going to be a dad and I am so incredibly grateful and excited for it.

As long as I have been growing up in the fashion, I figured that it was about time to make some other steps.  I have begun matting my artwork.  I am excited about that too.  As my incredibly talented friend Caleb told me, it's"like a suit coat for a drawing."  My pieces have looked rad that way.

I have also been extremely excited to be working solely on index cards and circulation cards from libraries lately.  There is something very interesting to me about working completely on supplies which are over the top ready made.  I recently read an article in Art Papers mentioning Dave Joselit and his view points on authorship.  Also nestled within the article were some comments on Duchamp and his ready made ideas.  It said he considered all painting to be ready made since someone else was making the paint.  After I read that comment I determined that it didn't make sense for me to be using art paper any more, especially since my art panels are reclaimed.  I determined that I would use either twice used materials or I would use the most mass produced materials that I could find to do my artwork on.  I think the results have been really great.  I am very much into them.

The library due date cards I plan on making into several small books.  I have wanted to do 50 monsters, 50 robots and 50 birds for quite some time.  The disposable quality of these materials makes me feel more capable of working through that idea.

I hope you dig the new work.  Keep up.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

About the House

A number of months ago I started working with falling house imagery.  The idea was that everyone around me was settling into a family.  I was surrounded by families comfortably living in homes.  I thought that this family situation was something I couldn't obtain, so I began to obsess over the falling houses.  The house became a symbol for me of a prosperity that is indicative of the American populace who is paying off homes, cars and health insurance.  These are things that an artist sometimes lives without.  It is, I am well aware, not simply the artists that live without these things.  Surely service employees of all shapes and kinds suffer from the same afflictions as artists do.

My thinking has for obvious reasons shifted a little bit on the whole thing.  While I do think that some of the amenities that Americans accept as normal and necessary are completely attainable for every human being living in this country, it is obvious, especially with the most current government shutdown, that this is not the case for every citizen.  I am also now the main income for what is going to be a family of three.  Insurance is a necessity.  A reliable vehicle is a must in order to get a mother to the hospital to deliver a baby, to take a baby to the doctor and even to make it easier to obtain groceries and the general odds and ends of a small family.  I was raised in an apartment building, but I know that it would be far more beneficial to a child to be raised in a house.  Optimally that house would have a yard.  These are the things that I am now left thinking about.

Today as I was muddling through the doldrums of watching a good friend leave from his visit and trying to settle back into a work schedule, I happened upon a show in Arizona which is focused on the idea of the home.  I had started a large piece last fall featuring the raining houses.  It seemed a natural connection.  Perhaps the old imagery would work with this new line of thought? 

If anything I think that these houses are taking on more of a life for me.  Bottled up within these nuclear families are all of the anxieties that come along with being the main bread winner in a family.  I've toyed with the idea of giving up painting, finding a new shiny job which will pay for everything that my family will ever need, but then, then I start to work on this, and all of my anxieties disappear.  Well, almost all of my anxieties disappear.  I still don't want to wake up my beautiful wife from her afternoon slumber.

I am so completely excited by this piece and I am even more excited that I worked through the anxiety that I was feeling at the beginning of the afternoon.  I am not much of one for believing in art therapy, but I do believe in the cathartic benefits of repetition.  I believe that making marks for me is my greatest skill.  I take comfort in doing the things that I feel good at.  I hope that I can feel as comfortable making decisions with and for my family.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Family Totem

I have been obsessing over the art of the Pacific Northwest Natives again.  The Tlingits in the Alaskan territories are fascinating, but what I find even more interesting are some of the tribes on the Olympic Peninsula and in the present day Seattle Tacoma area.  The form lines and characters in the Pacific Northwest characters are beautiful, but the story behind the tribes makes the the topic even more rich.  As I've been checking out the artwork and reminiscing about my time in Seattle, I've started putting together my own ideas of creation and tribes.

I've read that at ceremonies the costumery which members of the tribe wear is dependent on ancestry.  If you are descendent of the person who first experienced a rainbow for instance, you would wear regalia at ceremonies and potlatches which were indicative of that moment.  This idea got me thinking about a shift in ideology.  I've used the idea of totems, a story documented from top to bottom, generally expressing the story of a tribe, creation, or parable passed down through generations, as a catalyst for using my own creatures in made up parables.  As my wife has just reached her tenth week of pregnancy, I've been wondering what spirit my father passed along to me.  My father was a forest ranger in the state of New York, Region 5.  His area encompassed parts of the Adirondack State Park through some waterfront on the St Lawrence River and Lake Ontario.  The area he was left to cover was huge.  I've always searched for a way to express this authoritarian figure that I remember from my childhood.  I've started multiple paintings, some good and some particularly awful, but have never been able to indicate the amount which I have looked to my father as this figure of guidance and as my way of learning to both assimilate and to exist independently of this world.

A portrait of someone doesn't seem to be the best way to get at the type of respect that I am looking for.  I needed something that stood for my father's role professionally and paternally.  As I was reading about totems it dawned on me that Smokey the Bear was indicative of my father's role and his profession.  Eureka.

The Mighty Lark sketch became necessary as an indication of my own influence on the baby badger that is inside of my wife.  Notice the badger to the right page of this sketch.  Originally I was thinking of keeping the Mighty Lark more Pacific Northwest in design with formlines defining the eyes and beak but I think that I'd rather keep the figures notably mine.

Here is the final drawing laid out.  I will post the finished painting very soon.

Be sure to keep up.  I'm positive that my posts will get harrier and harrier as the weeks ensue in this pregnancy.  I'm also curious what type of art I will be thinking of as I keep reading about being a partner.  That word has always kind of made me gag.  I like wife.  Wife is good.  Partner, bleck.


Friday, October 11, 2013

3 Valves, 2 Conveyors, and The Hope of Tomorrow

Yesterday I finished a large scale commission for a client.  The piece was 11 months in the making.  There were times that I hated the piece, times that I loved it, times that I thought that I was onto something new and other times when I knew that it had most certainly been done before.  Through it all there was part of me that thought that I should just spit it out and get the paycheck.  I did, however, manage to dispel this line of thought rather quickly each time it would come up.

The piece is called Three Valves, Two Conveyors, and the Hope of Tomorrow.  Within its multitude of panels there are four systems interacting.  There is the system of pipes, conveyors, drops and system of layered construction.  The pipes, conveyors and construction do not aid each other.  They are separate systems existing in the same dimension.  They do not really harm one another, but they do nothing to help the others existence.  Sometimes one system does, impede the progress of another by overlapping or being painted a particularly commanding color.  I think that perhaps it does not take too much effort to see where I am taking this metaphor.  The drops are the hope of tomorrow.  Colors coexist, rain, and permeate a new landscape.  Where there is new, there is always hope.

Here are a couple images of the construction, the install and the finished piece.

Now it is on to the next several projects, and I should probably get my plans together for tomorrow's two classes as well.  The best never rest.  Let's hope that that is true, for I can tell you that I do not get much rest.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Experimental Painting. A.K.A. Painting

I was asked to teach a weekend class to high school students called Experimental Painting.  One doesn't really think about a word like experimental until they are thrown in a lab coat or they are watching old Boris Karloff movies.  I was left wondering what experimentation even means.  What does it mean in reference to painting?  The definition seems innocent enough at first: "(of a new invention or product) based on untested ideas or techniques and not yet established or finalized."  Experiment on the other hand seems much more approachable.  Of the two terms, it certainly has all of the charisma: "a scientific procedure undertaken to make a discovery, test a hypothesis, or demonstrate a known fact."  I then was left trying to relate the word experimental to the creative process.  At the outset it seems fine.  Everyone attempts to make work that is inherently new and different, however, do any of us make things that are on the regular, "not yet established or finalized?"  Who of us has made something that does not neatly fit into some curator's little catalog of monikers? 

It does seems that perhaps a painter could experiment.  Why wouldn't we, as artists and people, attempt to make new discoveries and test our own beliefs on a regular basis?  It is part of the responsibility of being human. 

This led me to think of the word experimental once again.  I decided to break it down into its parts.  If you cut the word in half it becomes "Experi" and "mental."  I took the liberty of translating "experi" into experience since the word is almost there to begin with.  Mental already makes sense without me trying to decipher it.  This left me with "Experience Mental."  Now all that was left was to flip flop the words and I had "mental experience." 

I was left with painting leading a student through a mental experience.  This makes a lot more sense to me even if it is not what the description in the course catalog is suggesting.  Painting takes me through mental experiences on a regular basis.  I think out every important detail of my life while ensconcing myself in surface after surface.  The process is cathartic. This is not even to mention that by analyzing something, painting that thing, and then looking at the painting may make an individual realize that what they see and recognize as thing a or thing b, may not be that essence of thing a or thing b at all.  Because as we look at things long enough, we realize what we are really looking at.  Preconceived notions fall by the wayside.  Is that what I am supposed to be teaching?  I don't think so.

This piece has totally messed with my mental state.  I am love with it even though I'm fairly certain that right now it may in fact hate me.  We're fighting.  It doesn't want to be done next Thursday even though it needs to be.  My mental is experienced.  Thanks Jimi.

In other news, today I hired an artist assistant.  She will be in studio on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  This is a big step for me and I am very excited about it.  That's all for now.  So much to do in the interim. 


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

My Wife Is Sleeping Next to Me, The Story of Balance

Last week I was watching my wife's little brother.  I took the trucks off of an old skateboard of his and put them on a different deck.  The screws were next to impossible to get out, but after about a month of staring at them I determined that I was going to finish the project.  After drilling the screws out a bit I was able to finally get the trucks off of the old skateboard.  It was good to finish the project and even better adjusting the trucks to the lad's liking.

After he had tried his board for a bit, he suggested that I try.  I had not attempted to ride a skateboard in a while and even when I had attempted to ride a skateboard in the past I would never have described myself as good.  He grabbed my hands and rolled me along on the board for a while.  I am sure that this was a ridiculous sight to anyone happening on the 9 year old boy helping the large 33 year old man along on a skateboard.  It was amazing though.  Suddenly my feet seemed to better understand what was going on.  It was as if they had new, much better informed life.  I am grateful to the boy for teaching me balance.  To say that I was missing it only in the realm of skateboarding would be a lie, so I will not sit here pushing your leg.  Rather let me say that I realized that everything that I have been missing has been a result of poor balance.

I am eager to use this calm, because rally balance leads to calm, within the practice of my art and my daily life.  I already have felt much more relaxed and accepting of some of the changes that have been occurring within my life.  The next day I finished a piece that I had been working on for a bit and the day after that I started another.

The first was part of a new series that I thought of in reference to an old mail art piece that I sent and the second is a further development in a commission that has been taking me forever.  

I have a planner now.  Little Wife gifted me a daily organizer, one of the big ones that teachers used to use while I was in grade school, to me for my birthday.  It is slowly filling up.  I am feeling more organized.  The rest of the week has a lot of small tasks planned out and a series of large chunks of time devoted to finishing the commission that has been taking forever.  Organization is awesome and Little Wife is a savior.