I just spent a week in Arizona working with Katherine Chang Liu, an internationally recognized artist and teacher. Katherine calls what she does mentoring, not a workshop, partly because she does not demonstrate techniques.
Katherine does not dwell on an artist’s deficiencies, instead she identifies each individual’s strengths and guides them by building upon these strengths to form their personal visual language. Her ability to discover the essence of each artist’s work was amazing. At least in my own personal case, it was positive reinforcement.
Although my work space was totally mine to organize and set up, I was fortunate enough to be near two incredible abstract artists, Nancy Dini, and Jackie Roliardi. Nancy was working with texture and Jackie with shapes. Observing the various artists and how they worked was an added benefit of the week. You can find Jackie’s work at https://jackieroliardiart.artspan.com/
Detail of a 4-sided painting, “Seeing In A Different Light III” when first completed in early 2016.
Detail of “Seeing In A Different Light III,” after adding a bit of “collage” paper.
On the left, a detail of my 4-sided painting “Seeing In A Different Light III,” in early 2016. On the right the same painting with a bit of “collage” paper created by an archival copy of another small painting.
What I’m doing today: using materials I already have to make an earlier painting better. I was cleaning up today, getting ready to work on another large piece when I spotted a color copy (archival) of a painting I had just completed. Looking at the colors, I realized I could use it to make another painting or when I looked across the room, another painting better. You know the feeling, that painting was one that was “finished,” but I wasn’t quite happy with it. Well, now I am because it has the perfect detail.
By using pieces of this “collage” paper, an image I had already created, I changed a painting. Of course, I added a couple other bits and pieces when I got going, but I’m finally happy with the painting months after “completing it.” The other alternative would have been to use that color copy as the “jumping off point” for a new piece.
So if you have paintings you love or portions of paintings you love, let them “dress up” and lead another life!
It’s another hot day as I make my way from the camper to the beach. All along the path are yellow flowers growing low to the ground on both sides. When I come to the top of the dune, I see a single, unoccupied beach chair.
Novelist Julian Barnes’ view of memory is that “it is identity. When you forget your life, you cease to be, even before death.” Researchers now tell us we are constantly altering our memories each time we share them. If that is so, what does this say about our lives?
Do different memories really make us different people? Clearly, there are more questions than answers!
One of the advantages of having a studio in your home is that when you get an idea you can immediately execute it. One of the disadvantages of having a studio in your home is that when you get an idea you can immediately execute it.
Of course, this means I sometimes work in my pajamas. My best time seems to be morning, but I have been known to say, “just give me 5 minutes” just before bed. I came to realize a few years ago that this is how I work. It would be nice to have a studio outside my home where I could easily interact with other artists or the public. But I would still need a space where I live where I could write, work out some problem, or make that mark when I figured out what it should be.
So, even with an apron, my pajamas sometimes have a bit of paint.
Probably the most universal quality of all artists is the ability to observe and translate that observation whether realistically or abstractly.
Today I did a 2-minute sketch of the back side of the sand dollar. I thought I knew what they looked like since I have a jar full picked up over the years. Amazingly, I found the impression of what looked like leaves, but research says are pores, a way for gas exchange. The hole in the center on the back is the mouth. Of course, I had always thought them beautiful, but to really see the symmetry so closely.
Is anything is really “common” as this sand dollar was supposed to be?
Not everyone should be invited to your studio, according to artist Agnes Martin (March 22, 1912–December 16, 2004) and certainly not personal friends.
Quoted in “Brain Pickings,” Maria Popova’s online newsletter, Martin is very clear about the importance of the atmosphere in the studio. Based on handwritten notes for a student lecture in the Monograph Agnes Martin: Paintings, Writings, Remembrances (public library), edited by Martin’s longtime friend and Pace Gallery founder Arne Glimcher, Martin insisted that personal friends should be met in cafes.
On the other hand, she said that there were people that should be invited into your studio: People who “bring encouragement.”