Monday, December 22, 2008

How do I begin a painting?

Lately, a number of beginning or returning students have asked,"Where do I begin? I feel so stuck."

I usually try to talk them through a logical process of elimination. After all, you can't put every idea into every painting. Let's boil it down to the message of this painting only. Let's put those other ideas which are inconsistent, or which dilute the main idea, into a sketch book of ideas for later. What constitutes a "painting idea"?

But sometimes that process doesn't work. Some artists freeze up when confronted with the request for logic. Sometimes one needs a new direction. Or to express something that can't be said in the style or with the medium or with the subject matter one has been using.

And those are the times I suggest that artists just dive in. Don't allow time for conscious thought. Just grab the first thing near you, and turn it into something different. A sewing store with a sale on zippers, a hardware store with a great assortment of sandpaper, or that beautiful foil candy wrapper from that 70 o/o dark chocolate bar you've just eaten in your frustration can guide you in an unexpected and new direction.

Obsession and Frustration

Titled "Behind the Fence", this collage is probably a sketch for a painting. My recent series of paintings  depicts obscured images. In a previous post, I wrote about "Hiding", a view of a lotus pond through tall grasses.
I've just completed "You Can't Get There From Here", and will post it soon as it is photographed. 

I'm not sure how my collection of chocolate wrappers fits into all of this, but in my passion for dark chocolate, I began to notice that I loved the wrappers and was saving them. Also, I found myself picking a chocolate bar for its wrapper rather than its percentage of chocolate. Perhaps loving chocolate and wanting to lose weight may be related to images of frustration?

Monday, December 1, 2008

More Collages

What are the Big Ideas driving the arts these days?

This is part of an article found in the London Sunday Times. For the whole article, click on the link in red.

I think much of contemporary art can be viewed through the lens described below. What do you think? Do Mark Quinn's comments help understand the seemingly directionless art scene today? What makes some art look cutting edge, or at least contemporary, and other work seem as if it was made 100 years ago? Your comments, as always, will be welcome.

From The Sunday Times

 November 30, 2008

What are the big ideas driving the arts these days?
 Sixteen experts identify the key concepts that are redefining the arts. 

"Taking on the big issues: an installation in Tate Modern's Turbine Hall

Interviews by Steve Turner


Marc Quinn, sculptor

One of the essential things of the moment is tackling embodiment in an age of disembodiment. We live in virtual space as much as we do in real space. It’s to do with using the internet, e-mails and all those forms of communication. A lot of my work explores what it means to be a body living in the world. The Kate Moss sculpture is about disembodiment, because it’s a sculpture not of her as a person, but of her image. We measure our lives against disembodied ideals. This is a human trait, but becomes more prominent with new technology.
I’m also interested in how we affect nature. Issues like climate change get refracted through the lens of my flower paintings. The flowers at the florists would never normally grow at the same time and in the same place. Many of them have been flown in. Human desire is shaping nature.
Developments in technology open up new opportunities as long as you can use them expressively. I’ve used DNA and I’ve frozen things. It means you can articulate contemporary concerns using contemporary technology.

Jessica Morgan, curator

In a curatorial sense, I am fascinated that few exhibitions try to take on really big issues. I think there is a certain amount of fear in the idea of taking them on. One result is that people look to the past. There has been a tendency to revert to the early stages of modernism. It was a point of utopian hope, experimentation and bold ideas of political change.
There has also been a type of artwork that allows the audience to create or complete it. I’m thinking of artists such as Carsten Höller, who made the slides at Tate Modern, or Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster [whose current show is in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall]. They take on the role of curator and to some extent allow the curator to be an artist.
The economic shift will affect the art world. One of the things I hope may fall by the wayside is the type of fashionable production created by the market. We’d all be better off without quite so many galleries and useless publications.
Jessica Morgan is a curator at Tate Modern"