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Showing posts from May, 2011

Day 48: Circles on panels again

First I drew some coal circles onto the 8" x 8" panel:

... and then partially erased them again. Then I repeated the same process on a 6" x 6" panel:

That slight out of focus glow comes from the fact that each set of circles is buried by a thick layer of gel.

I also scrubbed away at the big blue beast:


But now I'm at an impasse with this one. I tried drawing lots of yellow dots on it, but that didn't look right so I erased them while they were still wet. I tried drawing with black dots, but that didn't work either. I think I'll put this aside for a while and come back to it in a few months time.

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A few more landmarks

One thing I forgot to watch out for last week: I have now passed the 600th blog post landmark. I'll be a bit more aware when I approach the 700 mark (probably at the beginning of September), so I can have another free gift ready to go.

Also, another of my Meditations on Art has now surpassed 1,500 views. I know, I know, this is nothing compared to videos of sneezing pandas and cats swearing at printers. But considering that I don't promote them at all, and thought that only 20 people at most would watch them, I'm OK with this.

The video that is now catching up with my Matisse talk is this one, on Kara Walker:



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Artist David Hockney on Twitter

From the Tate Channel, artist David Hockney was filmed at the end of 2010 answering questions submitted via Twitter.

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Artist Talks from Catherine Edelman Gallery

Artist Talk with Tim Tate (2011) from Catherine Edelman Gallery on Vimeo.


Via Twitter, I just discovered a Vimeo channel by Catherine Edelman Gallery, based in Chicago. The channel consists of video talks given by gallery artists about their work. The above clip is by artist Tim Tate.

Clearly, CEG has better video equipment than I do for my Meditations series!

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Meditation on 'Large Blue' by Sam Francis

Number 71 in the series of 100 meditations on art.

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Day 47 (b): Then there's this

And on the same day as I'm throwing lots of blue and white pigment around, I'm also working on our old friend Mr. Tondo:

As well as this wood panel:

Which series will win out? Will they converge, and become sufficiently coherent to be considered part of one series? I don't know yet. If I were still at art college, this would be the time to have the studio visit from the course leader, or the group seminar with my beady eyed peers. But it's just me at the minute, me and the materials, and the hours in the studio, and the process of making decisions or not, but always working, reworking, erasing, adding, hiding, and bringing back.

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Day 47: Another Start

I took an 18" x 30" canvas on which I'd spread a load of moulding paste, and I stained it with a liberal wash of deep blue and white airbrush pigments:


So you've got lots of texture, and now lots of colour.

Why is it that the first stage of a painting is always the most exciting, before second thoughts have had a chance to spoil it? Oh wait: I suppose I just answered my own question...

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A cleaner look

After experimenting with brighter colours on this blog during the first half of this year, I've decided to revert to a cleaner look, with blue and black and grey (or 'gray', if you prefer)rather than all that red. It was beginning to look too busy, what with the extra pages I've added for Videos, Interviews, and so on. I hope that meets with the usual levels of customer satisfaction.

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My Studios: Part II

Reading, England

When I returned to England and completed my MA, I realized that I didn’t want to go back to painting in a a converted bedroom, so I obtained a studio in the town where I lived, about 40 miles west of London. It was in another small industrial space, near the River Kennet. Like many buildings in Reading, it was constructed from solid red Victorian brick, and it had windows running the length of each room. I was on the second floor, in a long room about 25 feet long, with whitewashed stone walls and half-moon windows on two sides.  I rented this space from about October 1994 to July 1995, when I moved to London. I moved in all the canvases and materials that had been shipped back from Spain, and spent the winter and spring continuing with the large, Anselm Kiefer-like impasto semi-abstract landscapes that I had begun during the MA. The space was unheated, but the weather is never that cold in England, so even on the coldest days I could manage a few hours in there by wrap…

Book of the Week: 'Edouard Manet: Rebel in a Frock Coat'

This compelling biography by Beth Archer Brombert (published by University of Chicago Press, 1997 - Amazon link here), brings together most of the existing biographical sources on the artist's life, together with more recent archive material, and presents a constantly illuminating narrative of Manet's life, his friendships with other artists and writers (Monet, Baudelaire, Degas, Morisot, and above all Emile Zola), his times, and his work.

Brombert is very good at moving between details of Manet's life, his works, and the society that surrounded them. After discussing the changing nature of sexual relations in mid-nineteenth century Paris, here is her description of 'Olympia':

"Unlike Titian's alluring goddess, this modern Venus is not a sexual object, a plaything of the gods or men, but a self-possessed, self-assertive individual. Her body may be her stock-in-trade, but it is she who has full control over it. Though a courtesan rather than a deity, she is…

Final thoughts on the One State conference

At the One State Illinois conference that I just attended, one of the most absorbing and inspiring presentations was given by Orbert Davis, who teaches jazz at the University of Chicago, and who is the founder and leader of the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic. He began by walking onto the stage, picking up his trumpet, and playing an obbligato, Louis Armstrong-inspired blues for a few minutes. He then gave a talk about the CJP, his creative process, which involves 75% research followed by 25% composing, and the necessity for music education from the earliest years in American schools.

He showed some clips of performances by his quintet and the CJP. The one I liked best was his variations on Miles Davis' 'Sketches of Spain'. And here is a You Tube clip I found of him performing it. As I (ahem) 'tweeted' after he'd finished speaking, Mr. Davis deepened my conviction that music is the most profound and the highest expression of art:



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Final morning of One State Together in the Arts

I'm just about to go to the final events at the one State Together in the Arts conference. There is a live stream from the main hall, starting at 10 am American Central Time (GMT minus 6 hours), which I'm embedding here:

Broadcasting Live with Ustream.TV

Yesterday, I ran into Christina McClelland from the Urbana Arts Program, who awarded me a grant to do a project there later in the year. She was attending this conference, too, so we were able to have a quick meeting to go over some basics about the project: permissions for street interviews, wording for publicity materials, and so on. Urbana is only about 40 miles from Normal, so after the conference ends at noon I'm going over there to take some photos in downtown Urbana, which I can use to think over where I want to install the public art project once it's finished.

If you're a Twit, like me, you can follow people's reactions on Twitter using the following hasthtag: #onestateil.

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The New Normal

The thing about a town that's called Normal? People who live here get the joke, too. There are t-shirts for sale in shops on the short main street that make puns on the name. Like the one I used for the title of this blog post.

So it's small town, attached to a place called Bloomington. And when you're at a conference in the ballroom of the local Marriott hotel, the event organisers are at pains to tell you the names of all the companies that are headquartered here, the well-known to fairly well-know people who come from here (artist Elizabeth Murray) or who passed through here (comedian Andy Dick, writer David Foster Wallace). You walk around the town and you see that it is indeed, very quiet, very normal. And it has some interesting buildings here and there, like the gorgeous art deco cinema pictured above. Surrounded, of course, by car parks and 1960s university buildings.

Anyway, the conference was very stimulating. 200 creative types from all over Illinois -- artists…

Day 46 (b): Second layer printmaking

During my last studio visit, I started the process of adding second prints onto the 100 page accordion book prints. I did some drypoint drawing onto a sheet of Duralar (acetate), inked it with white etching ink, then printed it onto a small test print.

Here is the work table, showing the image I was working from, the Duralar drypoint below it, the paper tray with the existing prints soaking (intaglio printmaking works best when the paper fibres are damp), and the blotter and roller to dry off the print a little when I take it out of the water tray:


Here is the print after I overprinted the drypoint onto it:

The thin white marks are from the drypoint. Mission accomplished: it works, so I will start adding some drypoints to the pages of the accordion book.

I'm probably going to exhibit this book at a gallery in Chicago in October, too. More details soon.

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Day 46 (a): White Dot Attack!

Acrylic gel medium, moulding paste, fluid acrylic, matte medium on a 48" x 36" canvas. A tad different from the cool, somewhat abstract coal-circle paintings I've been posting here. We'll see by the end of this year which series survives.

Later today I'm heading off to Bloomington, Illinois, for One State Illinois, a short conference drawing together creative people from many different arts disciplines. I hope to write some blog posts and put up some photos from the conference starting Monday.

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Day 45: All my life's a circle

A different 8" x 8" panel:
This now has four layers: a large swirly shape, a layer of gel medium, the circles (partially erased with steel wool), and a layer of matte medium.

Then I went wild with blue fluid acrylic on one of the things I started at the beginning of the year. It used to look like this:
And now it looks like this:
Progress!

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Meditation on 'Los Caprichos' by Goya

My favourite artist (Goya). My favourite medium (etching). My latest meditation (web talk on art). Put all three together and what have you got? Audio-visual dynamite, that's what.

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Book of the Week: Blimey! by Matthew Collings

I first read Matthew Collings’ work in the 1990s, after he began making TV programmes for the BBC and publishing books like Blimey! In one of those weird connections created by modern technology, he is now one of my Facebook friends – thought I don’t claim this as a particular badge of merit, seeing as he’s ‘friended’ about 35,000 other people, too. However, this recent connection made me pick up Blimey! again, to see whether my generally positive memory of it would hold up.
The title, suggesting a mildly ironic exclamation that someone confronted by early 90s Young British Art would make, sets the tone of the writing: deadpan, literal, consisting of emphatic and declarative statements, employed to apparently mocking effect. I say ‘apparently’ because although he does send up art world pretentiousness, his aim in talking about Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Sara Lucas, et al, was not to do a hatchet job on them. When he likes something, Collings’ creates these long, rhythmic, run-on paragr…

Day 44 (b): A discovery

When I was in the studio on Monday, I found a set of prints from more than a year ago that I'd completely forgotten about. They deal with the same imagery of coal mountains, mixed with gestural marks transcribed from my sketchbooks:


Some of them began with a rainbow roll, which is applied by picking up two colours of ink on a brayer and rolling them onto the printing plate to create a blended tone. Then I overprinted a paper-litho transfer image and a collagraph image, and in the case of the one shown above, a monoprint of white acrylic paint.

So the question I ask myself is: would it be so bad if the paintings looked like these?

Here's a few more in a Picasa web album:


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Day 44: An old friend and a new

I worked some more on our old friend, Mr. 8" x 8" Panel:

I found out that if you're slathering lots of acrylic gels/glazing media around, spritzing the wet layer quickly with some isopropyl alcohol will prevent air bubbles from forming on the surface.

Then I did something new. In preparation for the Artist's Book classes that I will teach during the summer, I tried out a flag book:

The principle is that you glue pieces of imagery (your flags) onto an accordion fold spine, with the rows facing in opposite directions:

When you open the book, it makes a satisfying 'click' as the flags open apart and pull in opposite ways:

For the main image, I cut up an old print of mine into six segments. Then I stuck bits of another print on the back so that it could be viewed from both sides:

Click on any of those photos to embiggen them and bask in the detail. It was great fun, and it opens up lots of exciting possibilities for creating and displaying images (and text, too.)

My studios: Part I

Poble Nou, Barcelona Before I went to art school, I used a room in my small, three-bedroom terraced house as a studio. My first real studio was in Barcelona, Spain, during the year that I lived and studied there for my Fine Art M.A. The English art school had rented two buildings, one in the heart of the Barrio Gotico near the Picasso Museum, the other in an old factory building in Poble Nou, the old anarchist quarter a few miles from the center. I was in the Poble Nou space, sharing the building with nine other artists. When I say factory, I mean a small workshop rather than somewhere they built cars. It was an L-shaped building faced with ochre stucco, with 25 feet high ceilings and a glass roof:

The studio building was part of a cluster of similar structures on a site about four acres in size, surrounded by a wall, forming a compound for light manufacturing that was common in Barcelona in the late 1800s-early 1900s. You entered the compound through a wide arched gate. As you crossed …

Day 43: More reduction linocut

On visit number 43 to my studio for this year, I did another reduction linocut. It's five colours, again cut from one block of linoleum. For the last couple of colours, I cut away whole sections of the block with scissors, as shown in the following photo. The print is on the left, the remains of the block on the right:


So maybe you can picture how that would work: the triangles of lino on the right are inked in black; when the paper is pressed against the block, those areas get overprinted with the black ink; but the top and bottom triangles are untouched, because those lino triangles have been cut away.

You can learn how to do this and spend a week playing around with the possibilities of this technique at the Interlochen College of Creative Arts workshop, which I will be teaching from June 13-17, 2011.

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