Saturday, April 14, 2012

For Amy Winehouse

I just finished this piece:

Amy's Dream, 24" x 12", mixed media

I was listening to Amy Winehouse while working on it. She was completely raw and honest as an artist. Wether she was singing about the futility of romantic love or bemoaning her nature, every note was a plea for peace and happiness.

My friend, Jeremy Mage, broke the news to me that she had died. I said, "Well, she said, 'No, no, no.'"

She left the world a handful of gems. Here are a few lines of hers:

For you I was a fling. Love is a losing game.

Memories mar my mind. 
First time I swallowed; now you're on your own. 

Amy's Dream is dedicated to her and the quest for happiness.

The last line of my favorite poem by Langston Hughes reads,  "As the tune comes from his throat, trouble mellows to a golden note." Or as Amy sings, "What's inside her never dies."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Geometric abstraction

Jay Seldin, my photography and printing mentor, came by the studio yesterday. We did some shooting. Here are a couple of the photos I took:

Jay encouraged me to push the geometric abstraction that is developing in my work. I'm going to start using my 200mm lens  to emphasize this. The shots above were taken with a 80mm lens. The 200 will flatten things out a bit and make  lines more parallel. For example, I took this shot a couple of months ago with my 200mm lens:

I'm finding my voice as a photographer. It feels good.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Triptych prints

I've printed the pieces for the triptych I'm planning on mounting:

They are 60" tall. I'm going to have to live with them for a while before continuing. I'm happy with the difference in scale between the center panel and outside panels. It's reminiscent of an altarpiece. This is something I've been going for. I also like the difference in scales between the central and outer figures. I'm just not sure about the center panel yet. I pinned them up too far apart. Closing up the gaps will help.

I've been looking at Fra Filippino Lippi. His work is astonishing. One of the things that attracts me to his work is the psychological depth it has. Every section, every element of his painting is immersed in this depth. Here's a detail of one of his pieces:

Forget about the spectacular color for a moment. The shape of the figure kills me. It's inspiring what I'm trying to do with the central panel.

Framed standing Venus sequence

I just framed this piece:

My initial feeling is that image is too small in the frame. But I need to live with it for a while. I prefer having no lines breaking up the individual images as I have in this piece:

I prefer the white frame, but I want to see some of the grain show through. I think the number of figures are more harmonious in the piece with the wood frame. The white frame piece feels a little ant-shit as far as the scale of the figures. I'm still curious what a mat would look like.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Progress on a triptych

I'm working on these:

I'm loving working large. I always picture my work being monumental in scale. Either monumental, or tiny, like little jewels.

This will eventually be a triptych. I feel like the prints above will be the side panels. For the middle piece I picture a more contorted figure. and maybe a wider format. These will all eventually be mounted on panels and covered with encaustic. 

I'm feeling like there's too much negative space. But maybe once I apply the encaustic and there's a texture to the thing this will be resolved.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Framed reaching mother sequence

Here's a piece I just framed:

I think it needs a mat. Maybe a white frame? I need to take this piece to a pro. I feel lost when it comes to framing. I'm beginning to understand why it's so expensive. A frame makes or breaks a piece.

I am happy with the image. A linear story is becoming apparent that I'm intrigued with. It feels a bit like a movie strip.

In the works

Here's a print of the next piece I'm going to work on:

It's 60" x 24". I would like to see it even larger, say 90" x 36". Once I've decided  upon a size I'll order a panel for it. When that's in I'll mount it and apply encaustic to it. I'm surprised that I'm doing figures with heads. I usually stay away from heads and faces. I'm not consciously sure of why I'm starting to include them now. Maybe there is more potential for expression with them.

I think I'll be applying encaustic using the technique I used on the following piece. I basically have stippled the encaustic on it:

I'll do some staring and mulling about size. As I look at it I feel like the head may be too in-focus too. We'll see.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

At last, a new piece

I intentionally took a couple of weeks off from making art. I did this to mull over what I have created over the last few months. This is an important, yet frustrating part of the process. I finally made something this morning. I was starting to go bat-shit. After this experience I realize that making something is tied into my mental health. It doesn't matter if it's good or not. I just have to keep working. I think of Matisse confined to a wheel chair, cutting out pieces of paper. Or Monet going blind, yet still painting. No matter what life brings me, I really hope I'll be able to continue making art.

So when I got into the studio this morning I forced myself to heat up the encaustic and print out some work. The studio is again permeated with the wonderful smell of bees-wax. I've heard it said that smell is one of our most primal senses. I love the smell of mothballs. I was never sure why this was until my father once pointed out that my grandmother's house reeked of mothballs. Apparently she was terrified of moths. And had a lot of wool.

Here's what I made this morning:

It's composed of fifteen layers of printed organza, bound together by encaustic. I'm adding a little bit of color to a couple of the layers of encaustic. I want her to glow. The color is too obvious and blotchy now. It's also reading a bit to pink for my eye. I want to stay in the orangey spectrum. I'm also curious about what would happen if I used a blue tinted encaustic. I'll do another version in which the color is applied more evenly. I want the color to be felt, not seen.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Fire house on Lafayette Street starts

I pass by a fire house every few days and it always catches my eye. I love its nondescriptness. I finally grabbed my camera and tripod and took a couple of pictures of it early this morning:

The feeling I get looking at this building just isn't translating in these photos . I'll shoot it in daylight and maybe use a wider angle lens next. It's important that there aren't any people in the photo. This will be tricky. I might have to wait till Sunday morning to get no people around during the early morning light.

On approval

I've become obsessed with tracking my page views:

I've dubbed this page tracker my worthometer. I find myself checking it at least ten times a day.

At root, I'm seeking approval from others. People's opinions will change. I need to base my sense of self-worth on something else, not the number of people who visit my blog. As I write this I wonder how many people will read this post. Will it be picked up? Will it be retweeted?

From where do I get a sense of self-worth?

My artwork is the first thing that comes to mind. Recently I've been feeling an itch to get the work in front of more people. This is a good desire. But I want to take a moment to look at what is motivating this. Is it similar to what motivates me to check my page views continuously? I've decided that the most important thing this year is to create a body of work. Not necessarily show. I do not want to let my desire for acceptance from others get in the way of this intention.

I'm curious how much this desire for approval impels me to make art? In my heart I want to make art. But it's all mixed up in my head. My artwork is a concretized version of my psyche. When people comment more on the piano in my studio than the artwork I create it kills me.

My self-worth and ability as a musician were completely enmeshed. When I played saxophone it was exhausting. My life was on the line with every note I played. This is why I stopped playing music. Ironically, this is also one of the reasons why I was good.

The smile and acceptance from women is something I yearn for deeply. I used to think that I was looking for sex. Being married, this obviously caused tension inside me. But I have since realized that this isn't the case; it's all about getting validation.

The awards presentation at Malofiej20 were hard for me because we certainly DID NOT get approval from the audience when the gold medals were announced. We were met with a stony silence.

I need to find another source for my approval and self-acceptance. My gut is that this has to come from someplace inside me. I see reflected light in a shard of glass. It's there, but around the corner.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A talk at John Grimwade's class

My friend, John Grimwade, teaches a class on information graphics at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. On Tuesday I was a guest lecturer.

John Grimwade

I was impressed with the students' work. Many of their projects were hand drawn. This was refreshing. Most students seem to go straight to the computer when starting. I was happy to hear that the design students must take a life drawing course. Drawing is so important. It's by drawing that I truly understand form and line. Ingres said, "Drawing is the integrity of art."

I try to draw everyday. It keeps me loose and keeps my gears turning. I love the time away from the computer and electricity. Here are some of my drawings: