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Showing posts from October, 2012

Plus Ca Change

During the last studio session, I did something loose and bold with the picture that used to look like this: After adding acrylic grey paint, squeezed out of a nozzle-dispenser, it now looks like this: I hope I didn't spoil it. What I need to do is to mount it on a panel or canvas, bring it home, put it on a wall, and live with it for a few weeks to see.

Six of the Best, Part 21: Andrew Crane

Part 21 of  an interview series in which I invite artists to respond to six questions about art, process, and creativity   (previous interviews:  1 ,  2 ,  3 ,  4 ,  5 ,  6 ,  7 ,  8 ,  9 ,  10 ,  11 ,  12 ,   13 ,   14 ,  15 ,  16 ,  17 ,  18 ,  19 , 20 ).   The subject this time is painter Andrew Crane , whose work I've been enjoying via Google Plus for a while now. His paintings have echoes of the mark-making of Antoni Tapies, while still recognizably part of Andrew's own visual language. He lives in Northumberland, in the UK, which coincidentally is where I was born. 4e6 - Red step paint and graphite on hemp paper, 420 x 297mm Philip Hartigan : What medium do you chiefly use, and why?  Andrew Crane : Mmmm…tricky question. I'm a bit gregarious when it comes to media, especially if there's a hardware store nearby. Right now I'm using varnish with step paint on hemp paper - last week it was tile cement on panel. I love to experiment with the 'untraditio

Images of Darkness

When I was walking around the Dallas Museum of Art last week, I saw a small section in a bigger gallery that had one of the best things on show (see photo, above). The space was only about 10 feet wide and less than 20 feet long, basically just three walls, but it was displaying African masks and sculpture together with some of the western artists who were influenced by that, such as Picasso. Pride of place was one of Picasso’s first Cubist pictures, flanked by a grouping of masks, and a photo showing Picasso in his Bateau Lavoir studio surrounded by his own mask collection. All it takes to make a strong exhibition, sometimes, is just three or four things. At the same time as I saw these works, I was re-reading Joseph Conrad’s “Hearth of Darkness.” I am struck by the connections in thought between Conrad the writer, and artists such as Gauguin, Picasso, and Braque. First, their interest in what they called “primitive art” grew almost at the same time. Conrad wrote his novella in

Dots and Lines

I glued lots of black dots onto one of the paintings on paper. Each dot is an individual collage element, glued down one at a time: I'm in two minds about drawing all the spidery thin lines all over this one. I might just leave it as it is. The accordion book now looks like this: Here is a picture of it standing up accordion style:

Paper Works

Today (Thursday) in the studio I added lots of linework to this painting, using India ink and very fine nibs: There's a long way to go still - lots of space to fill up. When my wrist got tired, I painted the recto side of the accordion book I started the other day ... ... then added some thin India ink lines to the verso side: The dried layer of acrylic gel medium makes a perfectly smooth, non-absorbent ground for this sort of drawing.


Working on some of these coal circle-acrylic collage-airbrush drawings yesterday, things went a bit mental with one of them: Compare this to how it use to look: This new one is proceeding in a calmer manner: It's all painting so far, with thick brushes for the circles in the background, and a thin brush for the linear shape floating on top. The next step is to collage some of the poured acrylic shapes on top of this. Dimensions on this one: 28" x 42". Before I left, I started the same process going on an accordion book, dimensions 8" x 40" unfolded: In the close-up photo, the shiny reflections are because I poured some acrylic gel medium, mixed with a little white paint, and squeegeed it across all the pages. When it dries, I will be able to draw on it and collage stuff, as I am doing with the bigger works on paper.


Now that I'm back from Texas, it's time to get into my studio again. Tonight will be the latest of the Klein Artists Works online seminars that I signed up for, during which art consultant/writer/gallerist Paul Klein gives a bunch of artists advice on their careers. A major aspect of my participation in this 12 week course is to reassess the studio work I've been making for the last five years. I am entirely open to staying with what I've been doing, but I am also open to the possibility of changing course entirely. Actually, the work that I have been looking at is a strand that I have been working on for a few years, too, so it would be a reconsideration of existing things, rather than a wholesale change of style. But the things that are taking my attention most strongly as a result of the Klein seminars are these works on paper: Here is a diptych that I did at the end of last year, which kicked off this interest in circles underneath twisting shapes and blac

At the Dallas Museum of Art

I spent the afternoon at the Dallas Museum of Art with my hosts, Ava and Robert Everett, Carter Scaggs (printmaking professor at Collin County Community College where I am doing the workshops), and the lovely Karen and Amy (printmaking students). Funny thing, something I didn't expect, is that people were trying to play down my expectations for the museum -- funny, because the cliche of the Texan is that they boast about how everything is bigger and better. It turns out that in this case, the museum may not be a mega church for art like MOMA in New York or the Art Institute, but it is a very good museum indeed. On four floors, it houses collections of ancient Mexican art, Greek and Roman art, polynesian art, American and European art, with fantastic examples of each kind. As I wandered around from gallery to gallery, I decided to take pictures not just of complete paintings, but of sections of paintings that caught my attention. For example, the DMA had a few really early painti

In Texas

I am spending four days this week in Texas, where I have been invited to teach a solarplate intaglio workshop to printmaking students at a community college just outside Dallas. I've been to Texas a few times, but this is my first time in this area. From my twenty four hours here so far, Dallas appears to be an endless veldt of single story buildings, covering every inch of a gently undulating ochre coloured landscape, in every direction, as far as the eye can see. As my hosts drove me back from the airport to their home in a suburb forty miles away, I saw the same thing you see in every American suburban streetscape: highways thronged with cars, driving past shopping malls with Best Buy and Target stores, Starbucks, Radio Shacks, clothing stores, and so on. And megachurches -- so many of them that I lost count, behemoth constructions capable of holding 6,000 people, sometimes standing two abreast on the highways. That equals a lot of evangelical Christians, my friends. Supp

Some New Prints

Here are a couple of prints from the last time I was in the studio, which was over three weeks ago. Media: linocut, collagraph, solarplate intaglio, monoprint. Each one 4" x 12".

Writing and Art

Well, I only managed two weeks of attending a fiction writing class before my back gave out, and I had to drop out while I see a chiropracter (and in November an orthopedist) to sort it out again. I'm not as disappointed as if I'd been one of the real students attending as a fully paid up member of the grad program, but I am pretty disappointed, nevertheless. But the fact is, I have been unable to sit for more than an hour at a time without being in some discomfort, so it would be impossible for me to sit on a plastic chair for the four hours that the fiction writing classes take. And I fully approve of the Columbia College Fiction Writing Department attendance policy, too, by which four absences means an automatic fail -- and again, I wasn't doing this to receive a grade, but I already missed two, and would have to miss at least two more because of out of town commitments, so if for no other reason it's only fair to the other students that I withdraw, and not be an an

A Studio Visit with dm simons

dm simons is afraid. He's afraid of the sudden knock on the door, the strangers with ill intentions who might burst in, drag him away from his work, his life. Afraid that at any moment the whole thing will be over, like it was for Aunt Mimi and Aunt Bertha when they got that knock on the door, in the 1940s in Europe, and ended up fighting for their lives in a Nazi death camp with six numbers tattooed in blue on their forearms. "I remember seeing those numbers on their arms when I was a kid," says simons. "What struck me was that over time they'd become smudged." In his studio in the DUMBO area of Brooklyn, simons talks about the direct influence of that memory on the way he makes his huge pastel drawings--drawing and pressing the chalky pigment onto the prepared surface, then smudging, blending, erasing, so that the edges of forms become indistinct, and the volumes of forms start to move slightly out of focus. I first discovered simons' wo