Circling Around A Figure

I’ve been hard on myself this week, watching myself spiral around the studio but finding ways to procrastinate. I finally sorted long languishing tools yesterday and took a very full car load to Value Village. Things I couldn’t tell what they were, things I would never use.

I am waiting I think. And this morning it has come to me what I need to do. It is picking up the thread from when I stopped making work. I want to make little forms in slip which in turn become their own objects and I use them as something to draw and paint from.

I am thinking of Lisa Yuskavage and her use of porcelain ceramics to make a body of work from, those luminescent paintings.

Lisa Yuskavage. Asspicking, foodeating, headshrinking, socialclimbing, motherfucking bad habits, 1996. Cast hydrocal with artificial pearls and artificial flowers.

Lisa Yuskavage, Big Little Laura, 1998, Oil on linen, 76 x 96 in.

I am thinking of course of Magdalena Abakanowitz and her Abakan forms which are forever etched on my mind. I am thinking of a this video I just watched about Jim Olson’s Treetop house, the first thing he ever built as a teenager and how incorporating nature and light were important to him. I am also thinking about Morris Graves and the gardens he folded into his artistic practice, which I still want to do with my own humble plot. To make it it’s own little world.

Magdalena Abakanowicz: Heads 1973-75

All of that gives me some hope that there are ideas to be mined out of all that. I became very sad and upset for a moment as I couldn’t remember the process of making the  slip casts for the sculpture forms. I can’t remember the timing even though I have it written on a piece of cardboard, as to what comes first? I had such a great mentor helping me. I guess I just need to look over his ghostly shoulder and take it from there.

Instructions, bad spelling and all

Last night, now that the room is finally in a state of being cleared I finally unrolled some of that Magnani Incisioni paper that I always dream about and taped it to the wall.


Rat House

For three years and for many reasons I haven’t been able to go into the studio. Lately the main rationale though was I thought rats had gotten everything. I started crying when my brother-in-law braved the horror stories and we realized everything was intact. Everything will be all right.

#tbt Tiny Tortures

throw back

I kind of like the Facebook device of throwback thursday. It can be a silly exercise but it gives you an excuse to pull things out of the archives of your life and look at them. Laugh at them. I’m in the process once again of setting up the painting studio and coming across photos of my old paintings (the ones I don’t completely cringe at) fills me with nostalgia.

This is a really old painting, from when I was living in Ellensburg WA in my early 20s, so probably 1986. I can still remember the title was Tiny Tortures. Long destroyed of course.

In my brain this was a homage to Matisse’s Red Room. Max Beckmann. German Expressionism.

What I should be really nostalgic about is my use of materials: high gloss enamel oil house paint as a ground, oil paints with lots of turpentine as a thinner. I would get incredible headaches doing these things, high as a kite. No mask, no gloves. I kind of miss that irreverent disdain as far as my own health goes. Add a cigarette into the mix and you’ve front loaded yourself for asthma later on, so delightful.

I think art pieces should stand on their own without a need for back story. However since my work from that period was usually about something in my own life, it’s amusing to note that the subject matter is my boyfriend at the time Andy on his hands and knees capturing a multitude of mice that had infested my tiny home. I’m standing in the back of the room watching as far away as I could get.

I really got away from storytelling in my last few bodies of work and I think that is what I ended up missing the most.

For the record high gloss enamel house paint from the hardware store is not archival at all.

Cold snap work arounds

The cold has been really fucking with my drying times, both in pouring slip and in painting. I have a whole routine down to a science now with the molds, come home from work, pour, let sit for in the garage for four and half hours, dump and let the shell sit in the mold in the kitchen over night. In the morning every day is like getting an Easter egg prying that thing out of there. Clean up the seams while drinking that coffee. If I fall asleep too early in the evening – don’t do the dump, the shell gets too thick and I’ve made yet another door stop— much to my vast annoyance. For awhile I was just leaving them out in the garage and they’d keel over still fat and wet even after an all nighter. A very slow going learning process.

Painting right now, luckily working small so the heat register in the bathroom is fueling its magic. It’s also blowing the fine smell of medium all over the house but option B – leave piece out in the studio is akin to refrigeration, it’s probably colder right now than our own in house appliance. There’s a heater in the studio but it’s just blowing out little whispers of heat. The challenge is to figure out how to work hovered smooshed against the wall with hands poised against the heat outlet. Bundled in hat, gloves and coat. I can’t imagine people surviving cold-water flats; I am such a wuss.

dusting off the cobwebs


Assessing the damage of falling off production. And doing a little house cleaning and tidying up around here to get the New Year off to a good start. I thought it might be fun to try out flickr as loading photos is a chore I would love to find an easier solution for this month. Well see how it goes.


mark dixon

I love Mark Dixon’s painting blog- to leave a mark.

It is similar to more of the intent I myself had for a blog when I started this.

I too this week have been thinking about what the discussion Rachel started on her site a week ago about artist blogs, why, who and what we put into them. I especially have been chewing on what Marja-Leena said:

Is blogging still such a new phenomenon for visual artists, and why? There are quite a few blogs about art shows and art criticism, and numerous literary blogs.

Coupled with this, I have been reading Anne Truitt’s Prospect this week on my lunch hour. This is like a blog in chapbook form, I have been really enjoying her wisdom (the book is written at the age of 70 and in hindsight of a retrospective). I have to think, not that many artists have published books about their lives either.

So I’m giving myself the Pepsi Painting Challenge by adding a sidecar to this site for work. It is true, writing about art (I think I’ve made this analogy before) is like laying your poker hand right out on the table. I’ll have to agree with Anna when she said:
I have a weird, irrational fear of losing the “juice” by talking about it too much before I’ve actually made significant progress on the project.

We’ll see where it takes me.

What to do with old work?

I have been sifting through the stacks that have piled of old work. What to do with it?

I have some really large drawings that I did in after living in NYC for 3 or 4 years. I had become obsessed with nature, feeling particularly deprived. I did these large charcoal drawings of bird houses- at human scale. I only showed them once, at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis. So I think I still like them-they’ve been rolled up in a tube since- moved from one storage place to another.
After that wall space or floor space to produce work at that scale was non-existent as I closed that studio making tiny panel paintings in a small corner of the apartment.
Should the drawings languish?
Sometimes I hold on to old work just as a reminder of what the hell was I thinking or on the flip side the piles of life drawings from this era remind me I wasn’t totally stagnant. Other times I just get rid of stuff I really hate-or in practical moments I’ve turned large panels (actually hollow doors) over and used them as worktables.
Cleaning up the studio-these are the times I envy writers or those that follow less “thing oriented”, conceptual work. To those that can place their entire life’s work on a CD or just cart around a laptop, I am envious. Us painters and drummers hauling around all that stuff- then just add a little turpentine to the responsibility. For gods sake, I won’t even go into the needs of sculptors. I live with one who hung up his sculpture hat and always threatens to take a load to the dump. No! I say.
Still one wonders the burden of these things we make.


Things to not think of in the studio:

Artists are often concerned with the archival quality of their work, yet museum storerooms continue fill up with unseen works and landfills pile high with discarded work. As a young retail clerk in an art supply store I remember being pointedly amused by people buying shopping carts of acrylic paint and stacks of foam core only to tell me at check out to “save the bag— to save a tree”.