Friday, October 28, 2011

Feeling Good Doing Nothing

Friday is studio day, but not today.

Today is my son's 7th birthday, plus parent-teacher conferences, and then the afternoon, and then dinner, and then it's pretty much all over, and no studio. So be it. I'm actually feeling glad to have the day off. The only thing I've getting out of the studio lately is anxiety and frustration, and I'm hoping a week off will reset that. Also, I'm thinking that I've allowed myself to get distracted by too many little side projects. Next week I'm planning on going back to work on the big framed piece and the big lady, and putting everything else on the back burner, where it belongs.

See you then.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cleaning Out Old Files....

...I came across this little gem from Jed Perl.

"I believe that a work of art must have a free-standing value. Formal values are one element of that equation; I take it for granted that a work we experience visually must be visually resolved. But the artist who gives this work its value is pulling together all kinds of experiences. Narrative may be as important as color; the startling character of the imagery may be what fuels the vigor of the line. What counts is that whatever the artist is thinking or feeling is absorbed into the look, the character, the intricacies of the work. The painting, the sculpture, the collage, the assemblage makes its own terms, and we judge what we see.
Jed Perl
Basic Books; NY, NY, 2000
pp. 5-6

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Everybody Is a Brand (And That Ain't Good)

It is a cruel facet of my personality that having a great day in the studio, as I did last week, doesn't carry nearly the emotional weight as a useless one.  I had plenty of time to think about this phenomenon yesterday, as I frittered the day away on frustrating dead end after another. The unfortunate conclusion I came to is that I expect a great day in the studio, I expect productivity, and anything less feels like failure. Ridiculous, but there it is.

Even more frustrating was that I went into yesterday knowing I wasn't going to be working in the studio. I am in the middle (hopefully a little closer to the end) of getting a Kickstarter campaign launched. Since I am launching a new campaign, I thought it made sense to also use this time to launch the piece I've been wanting to try on Etsy and, since I'm doing all that, I thought I should probably refresh my website. And, since I don't count any of those activities as actual productivity, I thought I might be able to resolve them all on Friday. Turns out no.

I should say that I didn't just start working on them on Friday. I've been working on them, intermittently, since last week, when I bought a little, useless HD video camera (since returned), and throughout the week, a little at a time. The problem is, you can't really rush any of this stuff. Maybe I'm still not in tune with the new digital reality, but I still believe that everything you put out there is important. Not because anybody cares on a piece-by-piece basis, but because of the aggregate impression it creates. The terrible, relentless, truth is that everything you put on the internet becomes part of your brand.

The problem with thinking of everything you do as reflecting on your brand is that, as an artist, there is so little distance between the two. On the internet, you become the face of your own little microbrand, which is poison. What makes it poisonous is not the fact that you become identified with your work, which is unavoidable, but that existence of Facebook, and Twitter, and Kickstarter and all the rest mean that your work becomes identified with your whole life. You are not just the face of your own little microbrand, you are the face of  microlifestylebrand. Social media turns us all into little Martha Stewart's.

It's a nasty catch-22, because while it's hard to imagine anything that has had a more positive impact on artist's ability to bring their work to market than social media, it is equally hard to think of a group of people who need to increase that self-conscious meta-thinking less than artists. Poets, maybe. Or Narcissists. I bet social media has been a disaster for narcissists. The very wise Ellen Driscoll, once told me that being an artist meant being learning to live with risk, and I believe she's right. You've got to be willing to bet big, every time. But betting big means being willing to see some of those bets, maybe a lot of those bets go terribly, embarrassingly wrong. And that's a lot harder to do when you're also trying to look cool.

To me this begs the question, if you think social media is such a problem, and that digital self-consciousness is such a problem, what are you doing with this blog? The truth is, I'm not sure. Certainly this is not the unvarnished truth about what happens in the studio. There are time when I find myself cleaning the studio so I can take a decent photo, or not talking about projects that unsure of, or don't like. It is, in a very real sense, a marketing tool. But that's the thing - when you are the brand (and you unavoidably are), then everything is a marketing tool. Facebook, Etsy, Twitter, Flikr, Kickstarter. All of it. Every picture you post of you and your crazy/bucolic/extravagant lifestyle becomes part of your little advertising campaign. And that can't be good. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Joy Of A Productive Day

Lovely. Full day in the studio, working around the rotation in true ADHD style.

First, managed to get some good work in on The Lady.

Even by my standards, this is a crazy process. Using 5/8ths inch rope from Home Depot to serve as the basis for some of the vines, and as a way to get a preview of the composition.

I've got a terrifying amount of work to do on this, and I'm hating the plasticene I'm using, but I'm happy with the way it's looking. You can get a glimpse of the drawing I'm working from on the right. I drew only a small section before I decided that making it was going to make more sense than designing it, but that little part has turned out to be a big help.  

With James busily casting figures in the new molds, during those moments when the (goddamn) plastince was warming up I could turn around and work on composing the new framed relief.

This is a great way for me to compose these pieces. Dropping in, almost unconsciously, without trying to "solve" the whole thing in a sitting feels much more productive, and the results feel much less labored.

Finally, after lunch, I made myself knuckle down and finish the smaller framed piece, "You And Your Romantic Notions". No pictures of that this round, because I'm shooting the final slides in a bit, but soon.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Summer Harvest

All summer, my excellent assistant, James, has been helping me rebuild the mold library for the relief project. Now they're all cast in silicone, on uniformly sized sheets, and molded in such a way as to limit cleanup. Beautiful. Plus, it looks like he's figured out a hot new way to get the nails embedded in the backs. We'll do a more extensive field test tomorrow, and I'll post the pics. That and the images of the new frame relief piece in progress. Stay tuned.

Early Look At The Start Of Stage 2

This has actually come a fair ways since this photo but, as usual, I'm behind. I'll try to get some new pics on Friday, when I'm back in the studio. I've started on the dress. As I mentioned earlier, I thought I'd be able to build the dress from the form of the hips, like this, but quickly figured out that, without the whole figure in place, there would be a good chance that I'd eventually put the pieces together only to discover that I got the center of gravity wrong. No thank you. So I made a quick cast of the entire figure, and mounted up high enough to give me plenty of room to work, and to have the completed figure's final height work out to about 7 ft. Then I laid up some pink foam (they've changed the color of pink foam to this liver colored mess that I can't stand), and carved it back. The straps you see are providing some rough clamping for the Great Stuff glue job that's holding the laminated pieces together.
The process get's a lost stranger from here, so bear with me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

More Installation Shots

Another (relatively) recent installation photo from my exhibition at the Abington Arts Center.

Plus a detail of the combined plates...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Recent Lo-Res Install photos

Sometimes you forget to bring a camera, and sometimes you aren't the one taking the picture. Nevertheless, a few images from recent installs. The plates are from the home of some great friends up in Maine, and the Self-Portrait was finally installed in the offices of the finance firm who purchased it back in March and generously let me hold onto it until the end of August.

Sitting in that chair has got to be a little intimidating...