May 2, 2013 by davidslonim
January 27, 2013 by davidslonim
Are you learning your personal rhythms? For me, this continues to be one of the most difficult aspects of the creative life. Nothing is static- talent, energy, optimism, ideas, hand skills… everything ebbs and flows. The flowing part is great. I love that.
What about the ebbs? After a quarter century of image making, a few things are becoming clear. I need to remind myself of them, so I’ll share them here in case you might be encouraged, too.
1) Expect the rhythms of life- times of filling up and times of pouring out.
I can plan on January being a harder month than May. Creative energy has ups and downs, like everything else in life. Are you wisely accommodating your personal rhythms? Are you avoiding feeling bad about yourself for having them?
Are you giving yourself permission to have a season of renewal?
I can’t produce art all the time without burning out. The creative well must be replenished from time to time. Are you giving yourself permission to take time off? Time to read, watch instructional videos, go to museums? Time to daydream?
Sometimes the best way to grow as a painter is to stop painting for a while.
2) A peak must be reached by climbing
Peak performance is made possible by the climbing we do to reach the peak. Are you expecting periods of time spent feeling awkward, unable to control the paint, or stumbling around searching for an idea? Even wondering if you have any talent after all? Climbing is hard.
In those seasons, I need to think, “Oh yeah, this again. Right on schedule.”
3) Peaks cannot be maintained indefinitely
If growth is the goal, we have to leave the last peak to reach the foothills of the next one. Sorry, self, but we’re moving on toward higher peaks, which means that in between you may experience some valleys. So grab some trail mix and let’s go.
(Yes, self, I’m saying that going higher is going to sometimes feel like going lower on the way.
Onward and upward.
January 11, 2013 by davidslonim
Here’s a movie theater ad which will run at various National Amusement theaters. Pretty cool!
Thanks to all the folks at Simon & Schuster who work to make stuff happen.
Available at AMAZON.COM
December 31, 2012 by davidslonim
“Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.
If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work.
All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction.
Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.” -
- Chuck Close
Chuck Close is represented by Pace Gallery.
NY Times story about Chuck Close inspiring school kids.
December 26, 2012 by davidslonim
A few weeks ago in Miami I could have sneezed on a 7.5 million dollar Picasso.
Not far away a large Helen Frankenthaler piece floated into view.
Nearby hung some beauties by expressionist painter Joan Mitchell, neighboring several canvases by Robert Rauschenberg…
Over two days in early December, Art Miami and Art Basel Miami Beach brought me face to face with works by Diebenkorn, Chagall, Rothko, De Kooning, Motherwell, Basquiat, Dubuffet, Hopper, and Chuck Close.
All this plus 90 degrees and sunshine. I could get used to early December in Miami!
Art Basel Miami Beach, now in it’s eleventh season, bills itself as “the most prestigious art show in the Americas”, with over 260 leading galleries from North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa.
Art Miami calls itself “the original and longest-running contemporary art fair in Miami”, showcasing modern and contemporary art from more than 125 international art galleries.
Both shows run the first week of December, along with many satellite shows and events in the Miami Beach area, the Wynwood Arts District, local museums and private collections.
There was plenty of weirdness, too. A toilet made of sparkly stuff. Bronzed enema bottles. Pencil erasers lined up on a one inch wide white shelf twenty feet wide.
One gallery’s booth space had a badminten birdie lying on the floor. Was it supposed to be art? Who knows? (Who cares?) Another gallery was displaying canvases slashed with a knife. (They come in red and white.)
Many pieces were playful, like these pencil sculptures. No deep statements, but fun to look at–
How did they do that?
Korean “light artist” Chul Hyun Ahn toyed with the depth perception at C. Grimaldis Gallery at Art Miami–
(Professional quality photos of these pieces and many others are available online)
How do you feel about animals made of bullets?
Can’t fit the tiger in your living room? Then try the hand-grenade spider:
Whimsical pieces dominated both shows.
Here are a few spoof vintage records. I especially appreciate the title of the one on the top left-
Here’s a piece made from hand-modified cereal boxes from various countries-
The down side to this sort of thing is that it’s a visual one-liner. Once you’ve seen it and smiled at it, the piece has nothing left to offer. Cotton candy for the eyes.
WHERE ARE THE PAINTINGS?
I was on the hunt for oil on canvas paintings by living artists, which made up a very small percentage of the works on display in Miami. Here’s one that caught my eye by a young painter from China-
Paul Thiebaud Gallery was one of the only places traditional representational painting could be found. But I was actually drawn more to this abstract piece-
- “Propellers” by Grace Manukata at Art Miami (Grace’s web site is beautiful -worth checking out.)
I also enjoyed the works by contemporary Austrian painter Hubert Scheibl represented by Torbandena Gallery of Trieste, Italy:
Here’s one by a living artist who is not afraid to paint LARGE. This is painted on tyvek, held to the wall with magnets over screws-
- “Up to Speed’” by Arden Bendler Browning | at Mayer Gallery, ART MIAMI (On his web site, the artist says he is inspired in part by Googlemaps streetview photos.)
I really liked this piece by Uraguayan painter Ignacio Itturia (b. 1949)-
Paintings by deceased artists were also rare relative to the rest of the art on display. There were two I liked by Milton Resnick (1917-2004) -
But the big discovery from this trip for me was the work of Uraguayan artist Joaquin Torres-Garcia (1874-1949):
Several galleries were showing Torres-Garcia pieces. Each one made me stop and stare. Beautiful work. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of him before.
But like I said, most of the “art” was experimental, conceptual stuff.
This framed gun is art? Hmmmm….
Seeing so much art at once is an opportunity to learn. It becomes clear that there is good, mediocre, and bad conceptual art. There is good abstraction and bad abstraction. So what’s the difference? Puzzling over that question on the flight back to Indiana, a few key things came to mind:
1. Concept is King
The best art conveys one visual idea.
As an artist job #1 is to ask: “What am I trying to say?”
Many of the pieces I saw in Miami also prompt the question: ”Is it worth saying?”
2. Compelling Design
Compelling design is captivating.
In his book “Problem Solving for Oil Painters”, artist Gregg Kreutz talked about creating a “visual event.”
(Note to tape to my easel: “What’s the visual event?”)
3. Sophisticated Execution
Fine craftsmanship matters. Materials should be handled skillfully in service to the concept.
Form follows function: The meaning and materials are in harmony with each other.
I came home inspired to
- clarify the visual concept for each piece
- edit for boldness of expression
- use color fearlessly in service to the big idea.
My trip to Art Basel Miami Beach and Art Miami was a helpful shot of encouragement to take more risks, experiment more, and press on to growth and artistic maturity.
And did I mention that it was 90 degrees and sunny?
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