Yesterdays 15 min sketch portraits on the square! Crazy how nervous & excited & alive i feel while doing these! I feel like my sign/explanation is some form of comfort blanket for me that makes it so i can just paint and can worry less about making a 'nice painting'. I do wanna make a more permanent version of the sign & maybe word it more concisely somehow...but for now it brought about the exact kinds of people & experiences i was hopeing for! 1. This was the least accurate & most interesting painting for me. Of my old friend Nathan, who doesnt really look like a dead ginger jesus. 2. Only one i got a photo of with the sitter! Had great conversation with this solo traveler! I have a special affection & respect for people that travel on their own. It gives you such a sense of how much you can trust & rely on yourself & truly enjoy solitude. It also leaves one open to random experiences like this! 3 & 4. Two sisters whos father commisioned the sketches. It was really interesting painting 2 people in a row who were related and had such similar but district bone structures & features. Excited to paint more!
I've been looking for a way to do portraits on the square where i can actually still enjoy painting. Also capitalism makes majority of our interactions transactional & predictable and i'd like to make a little room for exchanges outside of that. So im inviting people to just sit for 15 minutes and let's see what happens. If they want to buy the piece- okay, they can- and if not- thats fine too. Mostly im doing this because i love painting from life but having to appease people puts a damper on the whole thing. This way i feel like i can really be in the painting-- if i sense something that doesnt look like them or isnt particularly flattering i can still explore it. These are acrylic on yupo paper- The first two sketchy ones are 15 min sketches of 2 of my co-workers. The last one is more like 30 min where i was letting layers dry and trying to build up the paint some. Had a great time working on these!
I've been looking for a way to do portraits on the square where i can actually still enjoy painting. Also capitalism makes majority of our interactions transactional & predictable and i'd like to make a little room for exchanges outside of that. So im inviting people to just sit for 15 minutes and let's see what happens. If they want to buy the piece- okay, they can- and if not- thats fine too. Mostly im doing this because i love painting fron life but having to appease people puts a damper on the whole thing. This way i feel like i can really be in the painting-- if i sense something that doesnt look like them or isnt particularly flattering i can still explore it. These are acrylic on yupo paper- The first two sketchy ones are 15 min sketches of 2 of my co-workers. The last one is more like 30 min where i was letting layers dry and trying to build up the paint some. Had a great time working on these!
I semi-impulsively signed up for a local two day painting workshop with Susan Hotard. I admire her paint handling- there is obvious care and intent in how she handles light and there is a sense of joy, almost care-freeness in her loose brush work. I had some apprehensions about attending the workshop- primarily $, time, and what the parking situation would be since the studio is in the city and I am devoid of paralell parking skills. Somehow all these things worked out well- a collector bought work online which basically covered the workshop for me and when I called to ask what the parking situation looked like Susan told me I could call her and she would come and park for me herself!
As it turned out there was plenty of space on the side roads. The workshop spanned two days, 8 hours a day. The time flew by. We had 2 different models, Susan did demos for us and talked a lot about her process.
In contexts like these I find myself eager to follow instructions, I am aware that I can only get as much out as I put in (attention wise) and know I am not there to paint how I normally would. It is really interesting to take an experience that is common and regular for us and see it through someone elses eyes and how it takes on foreign qualities.
Also it is really heart warming to be in a room where people give a fuck about the same thing as you. Hearing people sigh about mid tones or get really excited about the highlight on a forehead is refreshing for me. Over time this is something I have come to love more and more about classical painting approaches, I am glad to not be working in a vaccuum where it's up to me to discover everything for the first time. (Although- in another aspect- that is inevitable.)
My main take aways were:
-The use in making 'posters' -Basically reducing all shadows down to clear blocks out areas in the begining of a painting. And then keeping those light and shadow areas clearly distinguished.
A phrase susan said a number of times: 'It's easier to tame a wild horse than to bring a dead one back to life'
(Which is painting means- go a bit wild and messy and chaotic at first, with passion, it's more possible to rein that in than to be overly cautious in the start and then try to liven it up toward the end.)
Damn, it's good to write and paint and think about depression when I'm not actually depressed! All of the romanticism of depression and 'mental illness' in general particularly in association with the arts seems to paint a much more exciting image than that of lived experience. Typically when I am in the deeper end of depression (and often during any overwhelming emotion, including anger) all I want to do is sleep. I notice my dreams become more vivid and my dreams even feel more 'real' and relevant than my waking life. Writing this now I realize it sounds conspicuously similar to the plot line of 'The indian in the cupboard' (which was one of my favorite books my mom read to me as a kid.) This painting was done from life and the model actually appeared very content and at peace, the lighting had a gorgeous ethereal quality. But somehow this piece came very clearly to embody very particular aspects of depression for me. A very heavy impenetrable-seeming quiet. Blank endless expanse without meaning. Grey on grey on grey on grey. Why move? Why choose this or that? I can't tell you how many days I have slept through while the world outside hummed and moved and chose things and did stuff and it really did not seem to matter that I was not out there being a part of it- because I didn't really feel like a part of it anyway.
'The Daytime Sleepers' 22" x 15" Oil on Arches Archival Paper
It's been a generally shaky year for me, but one thing that has panned out in an incredible way is getting back out on the fence! I quit my bartending gig and got a coveted jackson square license and have been working as a self-employed full time artist since. Before I got the permit I kept rationalizing that it would make sense to just throw my cards in and give yet another go at making a living off my work since I'm going to be creating it and attempting to share it anyhow. A move like this has an entirely different meaning since having a child, just like everything has an entirely different meaning since having a child. Before it is edgy and daring and after it is questionably irresponsible & potentially impoverishing. While I'm not getting rich I'm getting by and I really wouldn't ask for more. I am selling most of my work within a week or two of producing it. Not only does this keep the groceries coming but prevents a sense of stagnation from watching my work pile up around me. Not to mention I have absolutely no place to store a collection of my own work. I love going out on the street and meeting strangers. I love making paintings that surprise and provoke me and having those experiences shared and extended into other people. All I can do is be grateful and work to keep this going.
It's far too appropriate that it has taken me over a year to update this.
Too much has happened in a year for me to delude myself or anyone that I could just plunk it all right down here with words.
I'm in transition once again. Painting now feels like my grounding point and a stabilizing force. I find the time. I started tending bar. It's a laid back enough place that on dead nights I can sit in a window onto bourbon street and draw quick sketches of people passing by. I am acquiring stacks of these little sketch books that can fit in ones palm. What will I do with all of them? What do any of us do with ourselves?
I feel steady in my craft. I miss my long idle hours. I love my son who now sucks them up, leaving some scattered for sleep or shower. I enjoy having my circumstances dictate my materials; Palette knife + limited palette oils for the moments I need to take myself seriously. Pull out the wooden easel and make shift paint palette from the freezer (because I am too frugal to waste even a dime of paint.) When my child cries awake from napping or my eyes pull me to sleep I can just wipe the knives clean without worry of a spilled can of turpentine.
At work I have my tiny notebooks + micron pens...and lately brush pens. Massing...god I love massing. Toying with fast drying materials. Acryla? Gouche on Vellum? I now feel like one who has clearly defined their food allergies and skips toward the buffet to gorge themselves.
Some similarities I noticed between making a person & making art:
I've also had some ideas for a series of photos or drawing or paintings...basically about loss of bodily control and how it connects infanthood, pregnancy/birth and old age/death. Hopefully I'll be able to culminate that into something tangible sometime soon.
I don't intend to announce anything over internet, but I am pregnant right now and that seems to be pretty naturally preoccupying me. I've always been a little underwhelmed by paintings because they 'didn't change without me'...they have such a stillness about them...when I leave a piece in a certain state I return to it as is. Making a person I imagine will be quite the opposit experience. I'm a bit nervous about how I will find time to continue working, but I also really trust myself to figure it out somehow.
This was a quick wash painting I did pretty sketchy early into finding out I was pregnant. I painted it by making marks and seeing what showed up. For me it represented very clearly this experience and other big life experiences that we consider to be major personal transitions. What I see in this image is a nude person wading into the unknown. The nudity is the inability to really be prepared, a sort of rawness and a sort of vulnerability. The thing with the unknown is there will always be a chorus of people to 'tell you how it is'. To me this can either be comforting- in the form of family and friends sharing their own experiences- or irritating- in the form of media trying to get their hands into your incertainty to make you uncomfortable and sell you shit. It IS uncomfortable. Your friends and family can never really 'tell you how it is' they can share with you and hopefully let you feel some sense of connection and mammalian warmth in our hopelessy gigantic, space-filled galaxy. Ultimately this uncertainty is something you go into alone, because no matter how many other living creatures have lived, died, birthed, etc- your experiences are yours alone and are always new to you. Thoughts like these are both comforting and revitilizing for me in what sometimes feels like an over-populated junk filled world.
“It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.” -Steinback
Life has been incredibly rough lately for a number of reasons, most of which I'd rather not announce to the internet. One thing I can refer to is a recent local tragedy- the loss of a great artist and good friend to many. I want to use this space to commemorate the life & work of Ben Gregory. If you met me selling art on the street in New Orleans and pay attention to such things there's a very good chance you met Ben and saw his work too. He was relentless in pouring himself into his work and his work into the world.
Ben was one of the first people I met moving to New Orleans in 2004. We weren't best friends, we often made plans to hang out and would later be nodding in understanding at our mutual flakiness. We both still have books leant to the other a number of years ago that never got re-exchanged. When I first heard the news that was what really got me- Ben was someone so familiar and comfortable to me I assumed I would just always see him. My favorite times were when we didn't make plans and bumped into each other and loitered for hours and shared awesome twisting conversations about art- about techniques and materials, about intentions and results and about what we were working on and what was actually coming out. Here are some stray bits of those conversations that spilled over online:
2007- hey do you want to see some of the pictures that im makeing for jackson square?!
2008- thes are the pieces that i was telling you guys about. got a long way to go, but getting there. still pretty sloppy. but its getting some where. may work on it a bit more
tring to paint a composition over detail...
As a person Ben was genuinely kind and unpretentious. As an artist he was extremely original & restlessly dedicated. I fucking hate that this is post-mortem and I can't shake the nagging sense that Ben was right in the middle of his work when he got taken out of this world. If anything, I'm hoping we can still share the vitality of his work, so if you haven't been exposed here is a small portion:
If you'd like to see more of Bens work, there is quite a bit posted on his facebook:https://www.facebook.com/ben.gregory.3910?fref=ts