This weekend was Art-a-Whirl, a three-day event in NE Minneapolis just a few blocks from where I live, and reputed to be the largest open studio event in the country. Many of the studios are really cool warehouse lofts and have a lot of character. It was a cold rainy weekend that added to the effect. The artists range from full-time pros to hobbyists, from fresh out of art academy to grisled veterans, and from shy to gregarious (mostly shy). I always come away from mass art events with an equally diverse mix of emotions—inspiration, frustration, determination, camaraderie, envy, and hope.
Thinking about the less obvious stuff. No less real but much more open to interpretation and imagination.
I've been playing the guitar for about as long as I've been making art. There are many parallels and a few differences, one is the collaborative nature of a band. After several years apart, the band is getting together for a weekend of rock making. This piece seems to be anticipating the high decibels and good times.
If you're going to be anywhere near Denver/Colorado Springs on July 29, drop me a line for the details.
I decided to buy a printer today. I'm excited! I've never owned a professional quality printer and always had to go to a print shop to have my work printed. I intend to make print subscriptions and portfolios available. Stay tuned!
I was thinking about the power trio of aesthetic, craft and message while I was working on this. Message has always been a weak area for me. Oh well, let the medium be the message.
Certain ideas expressed in a few words can guide you through a lot of life. One such phrase that I hold on to is "we're all the same." Today I was thinking about the fact that our small differences are all the more important, beautiful, and dangerous exactly because we are all pretty much the same.
"Pareidolia: the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern." I get a kick out of it when people say they see some thing in my abstract art. I often see the same thing myself while I am working on it. But sometimes it's a total surprise when they point it out.
It's important to me to find a balance between refining the things that make my work mine, and pushing it to new places. Allowing a random element, such as the time of day or the weather or something I just read, to affect a piece, gives it an opportunity for something unexpected to happen.
One of the ever present dynamics of making art are the decisions to work with, or work against, inherent tendencies. The digital medium has certain tendencies, like flat colors, because the medium is not fluid like paint. It tends toward either perfectly formed shapes because of its built in drafting tools, or awkwardly drawn shapes because of it's mouse/tablet interface. It tends toward small formats because computer monitors can only display a relatively small amount of information at once. It tends toward flat surface textures because it's a medium of pixels rather than viscous paint on textured surfaces. These are characteristics that I usually contend with. On the other hand, digital is easily capable of complex fine detail that would be tedious in traditional mediums. It favors layering over fluid blending. It favors repetition and pattern. It favors willful choice over happenstance by virtue of the powerful undo button. These are things I usually embrace. Then there are other tendencies such as my preference for yellow or aversion to green, or the organic feel of curves and irregularity versus the man-made implications of hard straight edges. These are things I try to balance and give equal consideration.
I've been asked about the way I name/label my work and it's been suggested that I should give them titles. I've always wanted to allow the viewer to see and interpret the work on its own, without additional explanation or queues, and I have a slight aversion to obtuse titles as they often seem gimmicky to me. I lean more toward a label rather than a title as a practical indexing mechanism. I started labeling them in the early 90's according to the date: year, month, day, so they would sort in order on my computer. My mistake of course was the Y2K problem because I hadn't used the full year—dumb, I know.
Now that my work has grown and evolved over more than 25 years, I think of the entire catalog as a single piece of work as much as I think of the individual pieces as such. Since I mostly display my work online, it's usually presented, like it is here, in a chronological sequence along with many or all of my work. The date/labels help tell the story of the entire "piece" and give context to individual chapters.
Jackson Pollack said that "every good artist paints what he is." I don't know if he'd consider me a good artist, but I do believe I "paint" what I am.
I spend a fair amount of time pondering what I like and don't like about artworks—especially my own. It's how I decide if I need to keep working on a piece, change direction, or call it done. I got to thinking about the fact that I strongly prefer art that has at least a few distinct notable points of interest. For instance, I can appreciate a well crafted portrait or simple drawing, but I prefer one that employs a novel rendering technique, or even more so if it also uses an unusual color scheme, and more still if its scale, detail, composition, energy, or story are remarkable and apparent. I guess I'm saying that for me "more is more," but at the same time, even a minimalistic work of art can have multiple dimensions of interest.
It's said that the eyes are the window to the soul. I've always found it easy to misinterpret the eyes, but the mouth reveals the years as well as the moment. Art is like the mouth that way. A piece can be dark and full of joy, or smiling despite the pain, but if you look closely, you can usually see the truth.
In life you've got to experience pain so you can appreciate pleasure, you've got to know darkness so you can understand light—it's the yin yang thing. As an artist you've got to strive while the yang seed (the white dot on the dark side) waits to blossom, and stay the course when it withers again.
Dear Mr. Einstein. Would it still be considered insane to do the same thing over and over again and hope for different results as opposed to expecting different results? I may have a problem.
How tightly should one hold to his signature? Hold tightly and it can become dogma, spent, maybe even a hiding place from fear or cowardice. Let loose and it could pass without detection, or flitter into counterfeit, or quickly evaporate for lack of depth. Yet another fine line.
This is my first piece of 2017, after a break of almost two months. I desperately desire to level up and I fantasize that I'll come back from a break with a fresh perspective and new insight, but it just doesn't work that way. Picasso famously said "Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working." I'm happy to be able pick up where I left off.