Friday, September 30, 2011

Short documentary profile

A great video artist, Sofia Oggioni, has made a short documentary profile about me. It's part of a series of shorts about artists she is shooting.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

The week in review

Here's a blow by blow of last week:

I'm working with Linda Rolon. She's an artist/framer. She dropped off a few of the pieces she framed for me on Tuesday:

I feel these are a good first step. I'm working small for a while. There's a lot I need to learn, refine, explore and develop. Working at the monumental scale I was working at just doesn't make any sense from a budget and ease perspective.

Priska Wenger, my associate, framed these three pieces:

These feel sculptural. One of the things I've come to realize is that I don't want my work to feel like framed prints. I want them to be installations, objects, sculptures. I think this triptych is approaching this feel.

I also worked on a larger version of the "stained glass" piece:

It's composed of four layers of plastic printed on. We may have to break my "no electricity" mandate on this one. I'm just not sure how we can light these pieces other than using electricity or putting them against windows. Linda took a small mock up of one and is mulling over different ways of framing them with and without electricity.

I'm also working on refining the circulatory system for the digital 3D woman model I work with. I'm working with Joe Lertola on this. Here's a picture of the base template I created for the smaller arteries:

This template will eventually be made three dimensional, the arteries will have tapered lengths. But as a image on its own it's rather pretty, no? I did a rough test of making these veins three dimensional along the arm. Here's what it looks like so far:

I'm excited with the progress. I've been looking over old anatomy and surgery books. Mostly from the 19th century. There is such a beauty to these old illustrations that modern medical illustration doesn't come close to in my opinion. Here's a page from Atlas of Human Anatomy and Surgery, published in the 19th century.

These drawings are beautiful. So alive, and well, fleshy. This is the feeling I want in my work. How to make things feel alive without looking like something from a butcher's shop is a challenge. One thing I have learned is that I must respect the media I am working in. What works with watercolors doesn't necessarily work with digital 3D. So we're trying to capture the essence of the illustrations above. Not the look. I'm interested in the feeling. 

One thing I believe is that life is messy. Here's a photo of my workspace taken this morning:

The body is messy. The process of getting to where I am in my life has been pretty messy. That said, I do believe that there is an inherent order and perfection in the blueprint of how we are put together. But as far as the flesh and blood realities of our bodies are concerned it's a mess. This balance between the inherent platonic order, and the disorder in which this order is physically manifested is one the thing I am interested in as far as my work is concerned. 

Priska gives me a hard time about my tendency to believe that there is one truth. Or that there is one perfect solution to something. I yearn for some magic key or puzzle piece that will make all of life just suddenly make sense. I've always loved geometry. There are solutions that are perfect.

I have been working in fits and starts on a few video installations. None of them feel done. There are aspects that I find beautiful in them. There are things that I feel are strong conceptually. But as completely finished, finalized pieces there is a lot of work to be done. I'll tear into this next week. I need to give the prints I've been working on some time to breath and develop on their own.

I haven't smoked in 19 days. Last night I ate a pound of pasta. With Vodka sauce. Well, the kids had a bit of it too. I'm feeling surges of energy that are a bit intense. I feel anxious. But I do feel clearer. In fact, I've only gotten a couple of nicotine cravings today. I guess they are right; it does get easier.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Last weeks work

After having been lost in the land of color for a while I decided to focus on line, form and composition last week. Looking at my work on the wall this morning after having been away for the weekend I'm feeling inspired:

It's becoming clear to me that my work deals with the line between representation and abstraction. Finding unexpected beauty in what we are intimately familiar with is one of my themes.

From a process point of view I'm looking at the black and white work as drawing and the color work as painting. I want the final work to be one of a kinds. I'm still not sure what my final art will actually be as far as material, but I feel like I am getting clearer to understanding what it could be. The process of getting to a final piece involves lots of printing, making plenty of studies. Using multiple layers or printing multiple passes on one sheet may be part of the final work.

I'm growing aware of an interesting tension in my work. I am working with these tools, the computer and printer, that are designed to mass produce things exactly with no variation. Their goals are the opposite of my goal. My goal is in part to create something unique. I am using these tools that are geared towards mass production and replication to create a one of a kind, unique, living piece of art. I am dedicated to the process of working with the computer. So by focusing my energy through this digitally mechanized world I hope to create something that breathes and lives and has energy. It is extremely important for me that I respect the tools I am using. This means not trying to replicate another medium using the digital medium I'm working in. (I've never been a fan of using a raster application to make an image that looks like it was drawn with pastels or painted with oils.)

I have faith that there is an intrinsic beauty in all media; it's just a question of excavating and coming to find that beauty.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I'm still here

I promised myself I'd never start a post with, "It's been a while since I last posted." But this statement is in fact true. There are a few reasons why I haven't been posting.

One is that the creative explosion I experienced a couple of months ago has tapered off. I've been left  staring at the work I created. None of it feels finished. They all feel like sketches. Here's a photo of what my wall of current work looks like-

So I've decided to focus on a a couple of the ideas that I had sketched out and try to take them to completion. This has been a challenge. One of the things that terrifies me is that after all the work I will put into trying to finish something the sketch will remain the strongest piece. This is a cruel reality that I have to come to grips with. The fact is that I prefer looking at Michelangelo's sketches over his finished paintings and frescoes. There's a living breathing quality that the sketches have that I'm afraid will get lost when I try to finalize something. I'm going on faith that it is worth it.

As a result of this process I've gotten clearer on what I like in my work, in what I want to show and communicate with my work. Here's one of the pieces I created a couple of months ago that I decided to try to bring to completion:

I took the piece above and tried a few different things. I looked at the figure from the side as opposed to the front. I elongated the picture plane. This piece reminds me a bit of Campbell's tomato soup, so I played with the colors a bit and darkened up the background. I want to incorporate a more chromatic color scheme. I reposed the figure and did a bunch of test renders from different distances:

I choose a line and color scheme I liked the most and this is what the piece looks like so far:

I'm undecided whether it's finished. I'm not sure what scale I want the final piece to be. And I haven't decided what kind of paper the art should be printed on.

I have learned a few things during this process. As I was working I was finding myself struggling trying to make the work appear to glow and to have transparent depth. I wanted there to be layers that interact with the light differently. I want the work to shimmer, to almost look three dimensional on the page. I started to think about the qualities that I like in my work. They are transparency, light, refraction. These qualities are things that are within the virtual 3D world I created, these qualities are eventually represented as a flat print on paper. I began to wonder if I could incorporate these things into the finished piece of art itself.

As I was working on this piece I was looking at Turner and Rembrandt. The glow they create is amazing. The energy and the illuminated atmosphere blows me away. I know Turner applied layer after layer in his paintings. I started to wonder if I could approach my work in a similar way, using layers. So I decided to print on multiple layers of transparent plastic and lay these on top of each other. Here are a couple of photos of a few tests I have done:

I'm excited with what I am seeing. They very reactive to the light and look different at different times of day. A few people have commented that these remind them of stained glass. I love the association. I've thought that my work has a spiritual/religious connection for a bit now. I think there are a lot of possibilities with this direction.

Did I mention I haven't smoked in 9 days? Mark Twain said, "Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I've done it thousands of times." I'm not a big fan of lung cancer. Not a big fan of feeling like a social outcast. Not a huge fan of how I feel when I smoke in front of the kids. So I haven't smoked in a bit and it really really blows.