In Praise of Trees is the name of my show with printmaker Kerry Corcoran, which opened about a week ago at the Bozeman Public Library. The Atrium Gallery is essentially the combined entrance halls from two sides of the new (environmentally-certified) building, resulting in a broad, L-shaped space intended for exhibitions. It does get lots of traffic, though much of it under 12 years old. We applied and were accepted over a year ago.
It wasn’t until mid Renaissance times that anyone other than the church was wealthy enough to afford decorative commissioned paintings. People wanted to show their wealth by asking painters and sculptors to do this.
Roman Art was almost as wallpaper, it covered most of the interior walls, outdoors murals, shop walls and ceilings.
Art form then, was a service to others, a technical skill brought into your establishment with limited individual freedom. Nevertheless, many artists while working for the church and patrons would also benefit from food and bedding as guests while executing their assignments.
In contemporary times, artists are given an assignment and we often pre-negotiate payment, theme, color scheme, size, etc…
Has the artist possess limited freedom in their work? What are the personal benefits besides the payment that an artist accomplishes from a commission that moves away from the individual style?
The challenge is that an artist has to re-think their work outside their ‘safe-comfort zone’ and create pieces that satisfy the commissioner as much as themselves.
I personally found this a very enjoyable journey for a professional artist. These five paintings shown here are an allocated comission to Novotel Hotel in my local zone.
After given a brief, I have walked to my studio thinking, researched and re-invent some artform that would still fall in to the client’s expectation and of course carry on my style signature. A challenge that I have truly enjoyed with the added bonus of discovering a new facet to my developing art skills.
Is a traditional artist an ego seeker? What is an artist true goal when producing art, is it their own fulfillment, or is it the rewarding enjoyment of public/patrons approval?
Sunrise – Oil on painting paper
Sunset – Oil on painting paper
Sunshine – Oil on painting paper
Moonrise – Oil on painting paper
Misty – Oil on painting paper
The phrase, “Sloppy Craft”, the title of a recent panel discussion and a forthcoming exhibition at Portland’s Contemporary Crafts Museum, had to be checked out. Whatever could it mean? How could the Contemporary Crafts Museum have been drawn into featuring sloppiness? What kind of provocation was intended by the title? What are the implications of honoring such a concept as sloppy craft for art as well as craft? Tell me more, tell me more.
A bit of background: when I was working textiles, I regularly engaged in a “discussion” with quilters (some traditional, some contemporary) about whether the stitching work done on my textiles ( specifically in construction and quilting) should strive for perfection. I always maintained that my goal was “competence.” My attention was entirely on the image and impact (on, I maintained, the art). The craft was there only to hold it together and/or to add to the art. Hence my seams were not necessarily straight and the back of the art was decent but not flawless (I didn’t bury my threads, for example, simply tidied them). I used the quilting stitches as part of the design, which meant that they were generally not even in length and that they were heavy in places and light in others; this can make the quilted art hang wonkily, requiring heroic measures to make it perform well.
This is an example of a old piece of mine that I claim has “competent” craft:
Sophie, Emerging, 84 x 73″, 2002, Materials: hand-painted cotton, canvas, silk, stretch-polyester, felt. Methods: hand- painted-and-dyed, airbrushed and commercial fabrics. Machine stitched.
On August 23 I finished the seven-panel plein air oils of The Diamond Grade. On September 10, I’m still working on putting together a small card with a fold-out version of the panorama. This is a project I thought to complete in a couple of hours. Instead, it’s taken weeks.
There was the question of the size of the images. And the paper onto which they would be printed. And which printer. And then it was clear that without some kind of cover, the images, folded into rectangles, looked a bit like the notes I passed to friends as a sixth-grader. So I had to find a cover. And then the images sprang open inside the cover, so I had to find a way to fasten the cover, a way which could be undone and redone, without too much damage. I had a bunch of Moo cards that I am currently enamored of that I wanted to include somehow.
Here’s the photo essay of the process:
The original strip of images:
After trying out samples of 3″ and 4″ sizes on my HP ink jet printer and 2″ sizes on my Epson pigment printer, which actually could handle up to 24-inch wide strips, I decided to go with Kinko’s laser printing service.
Noticing that prolonged standing at an easel and painting with the right hand results in a twisted torso, it seemed a good idea to spend time to learn sketching with the left hand to twist the torso in the opposite direction and thereby, hopefully, realign centrally.
Remembering that da Vinci is reported to have been ambidextrous, I looked him up on Wikipedia and noticed with disappointment that his Vitruvian Man shows two opposite twists. The belly button is displaced with respect to the sternum in one direction and the sternum and his nose are displaced in the opposite direction. more… »
In a few months, I’ll be back in Nevada, tackling the Amargosa Playa again. This time I want to do a set of painted panels, five 5×5 foot ones (25 horizontal feet). I have various notions of how this might work out in paint, but will have to wait until I get there to see what actually happens. I also want to do something similar in textiles, perhaps only some preliminary image making, saving stitching for when I return to Portland. But I am mulling over both projects in my mind, trying to think how I might work them.
I just read a blog entry (dated August 17) by Jenny Bowker, who is an art colleague who works in quilted textiles. She tackled the same kind of landscape and had the same kind of hopes about what she might evoke, with some additions that the Amargosa doesn’t have: the presence of a handsome driver and some marvelous land forms. Her blog entry, which finishes with the photo of her textile work, is worth reading for sheer pleasure. But it makes me somewhat nervous about my ambitions.
Here’s the photo of Jenny’s artwork, which won a prize at the Canberra quilt exhibit and, I’m sure, will be seen often at other places around the globe.
Jenny Bowker, Sandstorm over the White Desert, about life size (see her blog entry for scale)
And here is an photo or two of what I will be facing, again
I feel as if I have been away forever. Life overtook my Art and Perception, although not completely my art and not completely all my perceptions.
So here’s an update.
After a long struggle with health and painting, I’ve finally revived and have been painting the landscapes of the Willamette Valley in western Oregon. The change of venue from the wild and awesome desert to the gentle scenery of the Valley was fairly traumatic and also the cause (I think; I hope) of some really bad paintings, now discarded. But I’ve kept a few and think I may be able to tolerate the pretty landscapes and conventional views to which I’ve been subjected. (I’m engaged with a group of plein air artists who always choose not to paint the snarky or sardonic.)
The paintings imaged below have been done since the end of June. The first four (through the Storm) were attempts to provide a sense of expansion outward rather than focusing into the painting. This outward away from the center is what I feel the desert does, and I thought painting sky and/or water might keep me in touch with that expansion of space so essential to desert painting.
Morning Fog in the Gorge, 12 x 16″, Oil on board, 2009