After three years, thousands of words, dozens of interviews, 100 web videos, thousands of photos uploaded, it's finally here: this is the one thousandth post on this blog.
In my first post, at the end of December 2009, I quoted John Ruskin, from whose great autobiography I borrowed the title for my blog:
Ruskin also said that he would write "frankly, garrulously, and at ease; speaking of what it gives me joy to remember at any length I like ... and passing in total silence things that I have no pleasure in reviewing."I think by and large that I've followed through on that. My reason for starting this blog at all was for the purposes of self-marketing, to talk about my studio work and to lure potential buyers of my art (complete failure on that score, so far). But I quickly started using it not only to record my thoughts about my own work, but to seek out other artists and invite them to talk about their work and process, as a way of finding out about creativity in general. One of the things I'm most proud of is that list of interviews, all collected on one page (above).
Another thing that started because of the blog is the Meditations, short recorded talks about art and artists I love, illustrated with an image of the work in question and uploaded to their own YouTube channel. I did one hundred of them, adding up to 30,000 words, three hours of video, and currently 123,000 views. One of my particular favourites is the one on Alexander Calder. The story of how the series got started is here.
Here are the 10 most popular posts from the first 1000:
1. On Kensington Gardens and Anish Kapoor: contains an amusing near-personal anecdote about the great one.
2. Is Jenny Saville Any Good? I'm still not sure, though I'm in the clear minority.
3. Painter/Printmaker Nathan Oliveira Dies: a eulogy to a great American artist.
4. Artist-Writer-Artist Fiona Banner: an appraisal of a writer who combines text and image closely.
5. On reduction linocut: the closest a blog post containing a mention of my own work gets to the top 10!
6. On visiting Bath, England, again: very popular, for some reason.
7. On David Hockney's iphone and ipad drawings: the venerable British master's recent foray into new drawing technology.
8. Brancusi in Plastic: discusses my Chicago friend Mary Ellen Croteau's sculptures made from recycled plastic.
9. On Jack B. Yeats: one of the earliest posts, written after seeing Yeats' paintings in Dublin.
10. Interview with writer Katey Schultz: on the occasion of the sixth anniversary of her blog.
My own favourites would include these:
On Returning to Paris.
The series looking at my old sketchbooks.
This post about Van Gogh, which kicked off a series of daily quotations from his marvellous letters.
Guest posts like this one by Deborah Doering, this one by William Evertson, and this one by Susan Shulman.
The series that documented my first public art project.
My many daily process posts.
After about a year of blogging, someone asked me why I did it, when there seemed to be so little reward for it? At the time I wrote a blog post in reply, saying that the rewards were all in terms of the wide variety of people I had encountered because of this blog, and the things I was able to learn about myself, too. And then, at the end of 2011, I became a regular (paid) contributor to the great New York art blog, Hyperallergic. That blog posts six or seven articles a day, and is read all across the USA, as I have had museum and gallery people tell me when I mention its name to them. One of the people who was reading my Hyperallergic posts was the art and design editor of Time Out-Chicago, who invited me to start writing (even better paid!) freelance articles about the Chicago art scene. These gigs came about as a direct result of this blog.
But even if that hadn't happened, I would still have continued writing this blog. And the fact that they take up some extra writing time is the reason why I didn't reach the 1000-post milestone earlier, and why my posting has become lighter in the past year. In the future, I imagine that I will migrate the contents of Praeterita to another platform, most likely Google Plus, once G+ integrates the blogging platform more smoothly with its social network platform. Until then, I intend at least to post one interview a month, a couple of posts about my work, and one longer form piece of writing which doesn't fit into Hyperallergic or Time Out.
And if you've been reading this blog for all three years (thanks, Kim Thomas!) or you've only just started recently (thanks, Jim Serrett!), I want you to know that I am extremely grateful that you have given my thoughts a little of your time. Ultimately, that's what this is all about for me: sharing what I've discovered about the creative process over several decades of professional work, and finding out more from the many, many of us who are out there.
"Praeterita" literally means "things of the past", but let's end by saying: here's to the future, and the next 1000 blog posts!