Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Day 21: It's Like Watching Paint Dry


The best laid plans of painters and artists... foiled waiting for paint to dry. I applied another coat to my dresses canvas, planning to sand it down once it dried. Only, it didn't. The sun came in my studio, then went back out again, then set. The paint (yes acrylic paint) was still wet. While generally this drying process only takes 5 minutes for acrylics, I got a little water happy with my mixture, and it took upwards of six hours for the paint ot finally dry.

Needless to say, I didn't get my dresses piece finished, but I did what any normal artist would do in the mean time, draw parrots.

I read a little more about sirens, turns out they are bird women. In order to draw them, I figured I needed to get more familiar with birds, how their joints work, how they can move etc... so, ladies and gentlemen, for today's viewing pleasure, I give you...

Parrots!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Day 20: Dressed Dresses Dressing and a little mythology

I have a vision for my dresses. It begins with a finely sanded canvas. Paint on blocks of color for each dress, each in the appropriate color. The dresses have been drawn onto tracing paper and cut out. They will be pasted over their color, and tally marks below will document their wearing. So far I have drawn and cut out all the dresses. I will spend the rest of tonight making a beautifully sanded canvas, and then tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. All will be well and together.

All this while a big drawing is brewing. I want to draw the sirens. Most people know the sirens as mermaids who sat on rocks and lured sailors to their death through enchanting singing. Interestingly, weather or not they are even mermaid's is debatable. They were once the maidens of Persephone. When Hades, god of the underworld abducted her, they did nothing. As punishment, Demeter, Persephone's mother, transformed them, gave them their seductive irresistible voices so they could call her home. Of course their voices couldn't pierce the underworld, but they are cursed to be forever calling out, searching. And the rocks they are exiled to are littered with human corpses, all because they are calling against their will.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Day 17: Old love, first love

I even love the way my old Nikon f2 smells. I haven't printed a black and white photograph since sophomore year of college. I printed my first one junior year of high school. I used to spend hours in the darkroom, printing and developing. I love the orange red light. I love the way the picture slowly materializes when you put it in the developer. Photography was my first art, my first love.

Today as I was playing around with cutting out drawings of dresses, the sun snuck in through the windows. I felt it warm on my toes. As it stole across the room, it called to me. Then my phone rang. It was Eli "Wanna teach me photography today?" "Oh my god yes!" I grabbed my camera, and as I held it between my hands, well it has the familiar curves of a lover. I'm not sure if I got any good shots today, but I can't wait to find out.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Day 16: Pretty and Delicious


A day of cooking cleaning and drawing dresses. Sometimes life as an artist seems more like being a glorified (husbandless) housewife.

Today was my first time ever roasting a chicken, so I might have gotten a little overzealous with all the flavoring and basting, but it sure paid off. I put lemons, red onions, and fresh herbs inside the chicken, and herbs under the skin. Then I sauteed some garlic in butter and smeared it all over the chicken. It took about three hand washings before my fingers didn't feel totally goopey. I also made guacamole and a delicious chocolate-pear cake. Every step of the cooking process was so intricate and beautiful, the quartering of the lemon for the chicken, the folding in of meringued eggwhites into the cake batter. It was not unlike mixing paint and mediums and colors.

Simple satisfaction from using up my almost too old pears and avocados. A pleasant life. And there is nothing wrong with embracing your inner girl and spending all day coking, baking, and drawing dresses.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Days 14 &15: Let the art-making begin!


Assignment 1 (courtesy of John Calvin Witty III): Look at the things around me, the possessions I have chosen to surround myself with. Draw these things and my relationship with them.

I'm not generally that into shoes, but I cherish my running shoes. They are new and pristine and glorious. Their color scheme is called "python" because they have gold and faux snakeskin decor, which may be the main reason I love them. In fact, my last two pairs of running shoes were identical (though now the white parts are grey). I decided to make a collage in homage to my first run with my new running shoes.

And what worthy christening this first run was, if not in length or speed, at least in excitement and hilarity. Brenna and I went on a run about a week ago, and on the run we passed a United Barbecue with a sign that proclaimed "We Deliver!". Brenna was so ecstatic at the idea of returning home to a delivered sandwich that we went significantly out of our way to find a person we knew so we could borrow their phone and call United Barbecue (whose phone number we had memorized). Turns out it was harder than expected, and we ended up using the phone of a bewildered acquaintance. The sandwich arrived just moments before we did and it was magnificent.

As I was pasting part of the United Barbecue menu to my collage, I thought of my other possessions. I was most intrigued by things which I own despite seldom, if ever, remembering I own them. These are belongings that I have kept through several moves, and continue to put in drawers out of hopes that keeping them will some day pay off. They are the possessions I aspire to use.

I recently got a bunch of new dresses from my sister in law Webby, which got me thinking about the small collection of dresses I already own. I very very rarely wear them, but I like the idea of wearing them. I aspire to wear them. Here is an opportunity to explore the Heisenberg's uncertainty principle! I will record my dresses and my wearing of them. This act of recording will, in all likelihood, alter how often I wear them, and thus change my relationship to them.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Day 13: In which we teach living things to glow.



Monday September 21st, a happy birthday to Brenna! And what a night we have in store for her! Nothing short of a brilliant collaborative art piece. A night of ice cream manifestations and birthday lights.

It began with candle lit milkshakes and a first round of wishes. Then Maggie, Annie, Brenna and I all piled into a car, embarking into the glowing of the night. After 20 minutes of driving, we arrive at Carr Pond, a place we have been many times, so many times in fact, that we believe Brenna could walk the path with her eyes closed. We blindfold Brenna and lead her through the woods.

After a 20 minute hike through the woods the calling of the geese signals our arrival. Maggie had walked ahead to build a fire, so that when we remove Brenna's blindfold, her first vision is of standing before the fire, looking out over Carr Pond. We are silent. We are reverent. The fire casts about it's glowing, reflecting in the water and our eyes. The stars are plentiful and answer back in kind. More wishes are made. Ice cream is made in plastic bags. We eat smores.

After rinsing marshmallow and ice cream residue from our fingers, we set out again for something completely new. We don't tell Brenna where we are going, but we are seeking the phosphorescent algae of the atlantic ocean. When we pull into our final stop, Maggie produces an ice cream cake adorned with candles. Brenna blows them out and everything is dark, only the stars remain. For light, we transfer the candles to the sand and burn them there. The wax forms pretty shapes as it melts into the sand. We name constellations. We make wishes. We paint our faces and hands with glow in the dark paint. We glow. The night glows back. We are reverent. The night is reverent.

We are transformed.

Day 12: Reorienting

I left New York Port Authority station at 4:45 on sunday, and by way of confused driver, we took a detour, an expedition, into New Jersey, quite the opposite way. As the bus waited in traffic, I searched for the poignant in that long backwards journey. The retracing of steps. Only arriving back to the washington bridge at 7:00. A pastel sunset, quiet and hazed rested on the water as I watched the city changing from buildings to silhouettes. I arrived back in providence at 11:30 (3 hours late and a little worse for the wear).

On my extended journey through the hours of the night, I occupied myself with thinking. with reorienting. An epiphany, I want to create, not simply record. More than capturing a moment I aspire to it's manifestation. If I paint it will not be to simply document. No! It will be a creation of something that wasn't there before.

I thought more about glowing about light. In the hour of the night when everything first begins to glow, illuminated from within, I watched the white graffiti lift off the tunnel walls like dancing specters. I was reminded of the way that quakers talk about inner light, of god. I couldn't help but feel that we all aspire to stumbling blindly and gracelessly, like children. And the world, not quite child proof. No wonder we cry out for light.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Day 11: On Passion

I'm still in New York, the city that inspires walking. Baby sitting duties had us walking Hero (my 14 month old niece) at least 6 miles today. We walked from central park to union square, we walked around the park, we walked around the market, we walked around the apartment. Of course, try driving around the city and you'll see why we were all so feet happy.

An important lesson to learn from babies (and there are many): have passion. What Hero loves, more than anything, more than stuffed toys and ice cream (though she really really likes ice cream) is watching singing in the rain.

A movie that I had never seen before this weekend, but have now seen 10 times, and each time it plays, she stops fussing and fidgeting and watches with rapt attention. She squeals and claps and tries to twirl along with the dancing. Now this is a baby who knows what she likes. She, at the age of 14 months has developed a passion for dance beyond the level of most passions we have as adults. It is humbling and inspiring. Thanks Hero!



Friday, September 18, 2009

Day 10: The Met and other delights

There is an irrefutable relationship between art and cooking. So when I tasted Webby's chicken tonight, I knew I was in the presence of a true master.

That juicy, herb infused, roasted chicken wasn't the only master work I was graced with today. I also got to make a trip to the Met. Worth it for the Van Gogh's alone, but there was even more great stuff! Another masterpiece of the day was a pumpkin cookie from the farmers market on Union square. Museum visits and delicious meals: occupational hazard.

Artistic developments of the day involve an interest in the power of the artifact. What would it be like to acknowledge our everyday objects as future artifacts?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Day 9: New York New York

Wouldn't it be grand to occasionally have one of those voices that announces previews for new movies announe the events of your life?

For example, picking up from yesterdays post, the deep thunderous voice of a man who probably eats crocodiles and Chuck Norris for breakfast would say "An early morning and a long bus ride later, she finally reached it: that glowing city, that place of possibility, that artist hub... New York!" Some violins are playing to accompany iconic shots of New York.

Of course, the announcer would leave out that my bus arrived about 40 minutes late, lurching through stop and go traffic as though the driver couldn't quite remember which pedal was for breaking and which was the gas.

My first stop of the day was a visit to artist Ed Cohen. He showed me his studio space, so vast and light filled it had me drooling like paintings by Wayne Thibault. Glorious! I got to check out his newest work, and talk about studio practice.

Lessons to take away:
1. Work a lot, work hard be dilignet and determined (none of this waiting for the muse nonsense)
2. Try to find a mentor/ Providence artist to give feedback, prefferably a RISD or Brown art teacher.
3. Visit lots of artists. Thay say cool things and do cool things and all have different approaches.


After the studio visit, I went to a bunch of galleries around 10th and 25th and saw some really really neat stuff. I even got to see Ed Cohen's show.

It was, all in all, a day of research. What of my waiting muse, my brewing ideas? Brew on I say!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Day 7 and 8: Night Swimming; exploring and collecting

Late at night, the water in the quarry is so perfectly dark and still you can see stars reflected in it. Giggling as we navigate the rocks to bring us closer to the obsidian surface, we contemplate the perfect reflections, we are suspended between two identical worlds. Maggie jumps in first, charged with the difficult responsibility of not revealing how cold the water is. I jump in next. It is my first time at the quarry and I have no idea what to expect. As I jump from the rock into the water, everything is suddenly cold, and i do my best to suppress a shriek "oh my god, the water is so... warm." I don't think Annie, Brenna, and Joey are fooled, but they all jump in anyway.

We swim through the dark. Nothing has ever been so beautiful. I float on my back hoping to hold so still that reflected stars will collect on my belly. They are cold and mystical. Maggie and I feel suspended in outer-space with night and sky all around us. We try to orbit each other like planets. Shivering and ecstatic, we are spell bound. The thought of leaving is more unbearable than the cold, but the cold always has its way in the end. It grows and grows pushing at us, forcing us to make the awkward scramble out of the water. After our cautious climbing up the rocks, we are happy at the sight of towels and sweatshirts.

Also I drew yesterday. I painted too. All that is secondary right now, I want to take everyone I know to the quarry at night. Something brilliant will ensue, inspiration is brewing.

I have 4 days in New York to visit museums and await the muse.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Day 6: Drawing in the Park; a one day belated posting.

I inadvertently took the weekend off. Whooops! I'm very, very remorseful. Truly sorry.

And the sun of a Monday morning, streaming relentlessly through my studio windows, was almost more than I could bear. Brenna called me up "Let's go to the beach!" I just barely summoned the will power to say no, it was a work day. As consolation, I went to the park down the street and drew for 3 hours. I also spent quite a few hours discussing art projects and the like with Maggie and Annie (that counts as work hours).

I am now keeping track of work hours. I will work 40 hours a week. I will get paid for overtime in ice-cream cones.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Day 3: Thinking in the Rain

It rained all day today, cold drizzly New England rain. So naturally I decided to go for a two mile hike. My friend Annie and I meandered along the scenic stripmalls of Providence, my jean cuffs caressing the grey film of rain collected on the sidewalks and streets until they were cold and soaked to the knees.

As we walked, we talked of art and some secret human vocabulary. Perhaps we were touching on the root of symbols, but perhaps we were reaching for something even more ancient and potent. We explored the idea that a simple visual cue can illicit drastic human emotions. If you could make a nail or bolt or toothbrush glow, it would immediately become beautiful, delicate, and mesmerizing. I became intrigued by the question of what makes glowing so poignant, deciding it is some ancient human vocabulary older than words.

I don't know that I have ever made art that asks a question without providing some type of hypothesis, some proposed answer or solution. Right now, I am very interested in making work that asks after this universal human vocabulary that skips our conscious thoughts and filters, heading straight for that familiar twisting of the gut that accompanies terrible ecstasy.

Not much time was spent actually painting today, just thinking and writing and looking up various artists and works of art online. It seems that perhaps, and somewhat unexpectedly, these rain soaked talks are part of my job description. A day of searching, I'd say it's better than a day of waiting. Ah the never ending excitement of an artist's life!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Day Two

Soon I'll be seeing pictures of zebras and wondering why they aren't covered in little splotches of color. I'm using a zebra striped rug to catch paint from hitting the floor. In my life, I sit for hours on a zebra stripped rug and paint. Beat that! I suppose I've got to come up with a good system for working on the walls instead of the floor.

Overcoming my initial inertia proved to be as simple as yesterdays declaration, though I am no where near the desired art output per diem. I painted for 3 or 4 hours yesterday, and about the same again today. Nowhere near the 13 hours a day I was painting at the end of last semester, but hopefully I'll get wrapped up in a new project soon.

I spend a lot of my current studio time waiting for a brilliant idea. The door bell did ring once yesterday, but instead of inspiration, it was my dear friend Brenna picking up her car.

I think perhaps I will give myself assignments, something to work on during the in between. I'm interested in giving painting the physicality and presence of sculpture. This is my new endeavor, my assignment for the week. Quite a bit of ambition I suppose, for one week, but as they say Rome could have been built in a day. My other new ambition is to make art that is humbling. I want to make art that taps into the power and presence of the humbling weight of stars and vast oceans. And people think organic chemistry is hard?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Day 1: What to do with an art degree 101

Whenever people hear that I went to Brown university to major in art, they always ask the same question... why? But it's simple. I love Brown and I love art. And if they venture to ask (as they usually do) "Well, what are you going to do with an art degree?", I confidently reply "I'm going to be an artist."

But behind that confident fa├žade? Truth be told, I'm terrified. This summer was 3 months of waiting. Waiting to move into my own apartment, waiting to set up a studio, waiting to officially become a full time self supporting artist. But 3 months gone by, the waiting seems to have clung to me, I am caught in suspended animation, frozen in a jello mold, unable to see anything but lime green and pineapple chunks.

Yesterday I moved into my apartment, set up my studio in the living room, and yet... the sensation of waiting lingers like that unanswerable question "So... what now?" It is as though I am somehow caught in an awkward conversation with myself, afraid to say the first word. Am I waiting for a man dressed in a tuxedo and waving a baton to officially declare my life as an artist open and begun? Should I invite the mayor of providence to come cut some red tape with an awkwardly large pair of scissors?

The time has come. I Geddes Levenson do hereby declare today, September 9th, 2009, my first day as an official artist.