Sunday, January 24, 2010


I teach drawing

I love drawing

But unlike what some people believe, it is not easy

It takes practice



Lots and lots of practice

You learn to draw by drawing.


Everyday if you can

I teach drawing
To adults

They believe in me
I tell them I can teach them to draw and they believe me

They have trouble with their drawings

“ I just want tear it up”
“I am going to start over”

No, I say, we will work on it

“tell me what is wrong”

They believe that I can, I have told them I can. What a sales pitch, what am I going to do?

But then I look


And we work on them.

They can be saved.

They will not be the best drawings, but they are working drawings and they are learning drawings.

And they learn

With each drawing, they learn

And they get better,

But the real secret is that with each of their drawings I get better.

I learn to see more clearly.

I have to know what to do. So I have to think

Art happens in the brain.

It is a problem to be solved but it has infinite solutions

I come up with the answer from somewhere, from never land, from ever land from that infinitely that lives within the finite brain.

They expect me to know so I do.

That is its true beauty

All the answers to unasked questions!

Art is beautiful simply because it is art.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Expressionist Art

Twentieth Century art baffles a lot of people.

They know it is supposed to be good, but they just don’t get it.

An exhibition of Robert Motherwell’s work is coming to town. The publicity about this exhibit extol its virtues to the public, trying to entice a largely resistant public into viewing his work.

In preparing her piece on this exhibition, the reporter was looking for a quote, something to make a largely confusing and un-untellable show explainable. Why should be see this show. Why should ordinary people in this economy care about the works of Robert Motherwell?

So, she asked me.

At first I panicked. Why ask me? Do I look like I know? This is a serious question. How would I know? Am I going to be exposed as a fake? I am simply a working artist, a blue-collar artist. Not some high-flaluten super educated art historian. Then I looked at her note, and noted the name. Motherwell, Motherwell, sounds familiar, Oh yes, I know this guy! I checked a couple of books to make sure I had the right person, the old brain-box is not what it used to be. But yes, I know this guy. So, happily I gave her what information I had, and my honest opinion on this man’s work, and impact on the art world of his time. Everyone is happy, and article came out, and she did a really good job of it. Being a struggling artist, I am happy for any recognition and getting my name in the paper without getting arrested is something to be proud of.

I sent a link to the article off to several friends and family members. Well, my sister wrote back to me that she enjoyed reading the article, but hoped this person’s art was better than the one image printed in the paper. I had to blink. I got out my paper, and looked at the image they included. Yes, that is one of his pieces, and while not my favorite I rather like it. It is very simple.

To my sister, it bears a striking resemblance to an ink blot test. As for it being good art, she just doesn't know why that is considered as good as say a Rembrant.

Now, I like Robert Motherwell’s work but I do understand what my sister is getting at. His work is condensed, and mature, but also not something the average run of the mill person gets. When I think of all the work and effort that the curators of both galleries, both the receiving gallery, The Clay Center for the arts and sciences in Charleston, WV, and the Jerald Melberg Gallery in Charlotte, NC I have to be concerned on how successful they will be on introducing modern, contemporary art to the general public. Oh, us art lovers will enjoy it, but how many of the other people visiting the Clay center will really get into it?

I know they want the general public to connect with this stuff. They struggle to bring the best to their museums and galleries. But I wonder if showing the best is really the way to go about it. I wonder if they showed the more ordinary pieces, what they dismiss, as not up to par or beginning pieces people might get a chance to understand what the "major" pieces are all about. Often people look at the end results of a lifetime of artwork and just scratch their heads. It is like reading people the ending of a great novel, when they have never read the book, and expecting them to get excited about it. There is no context, and frankly, modern art needs its context!

When showing contemporary art or expressionist art, you really do need to fill in the context. The why of the work is as important as the work itself. If you only show the work but not the story behind it, you leave so much of the work unexposed.

So showing the whole story, the art in context to its time, and to the art that preceded it, lead up to it, helps it make more sense.

We who live art have already made this journey, and sometimes we forget that others have not.

The accompanying photo is of a small painting by me, "Alien Sky" and not Motherwell.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Keep Your Pencils Sharp!

Were you the one in class who got into trouble for going to the pencil sharpener too often? Were you fussy about the marks you made?

I was. I hated trying to write with a rounded lead. Hated it! The legacy of being told not to “waste time” “stop fooling around” and get on with your work is hard to break.


You get no points for drawing with a “dull” pencil!

Sharpen up those points!

Having a sharp point on your drawing tool makes the creation of precise lines and points much easier. It will also allow you to create lines of different style and weights evenly and gives you much more control over your medium.

This is not school, and you can stop any time you want and sharpen up that pencil. Carry with you a neat little sharpener, something with a lid. And try using a sandpaper pad or Emory board to touch up the point when you are away from home. I draw with a mechanical pencil when I am sketching, but still touch up and point with a small Emory board from time to time.

Even guys can carry a small one in their wallets. Simply twist the lead around it to bring back the point. The fine side of the Emory board is also good for cleaning off your eraser. Sometimes they get dirty too, and leave smudges on your paper that are impossible to get off.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Studio Catastrophes

Disaster in the dungeon

What happens when people work in your domain without respect.

Over the last month, more and more boxes and things have ended up in the area known to many as The Dungeon, a.k.a, my studio. We are completing a major renovation upstairs, and the logical place to stash things temporally in the way is downstairs, this is especially important for things I am afraid others will not treat as delicately and carefully as it should be, such as my good china and crystal. But additional things seem to have found their way down there instead of out to the trash or recycle, such as the old bedding, various baskets and containers, both full and now empty boxes, paint cans, tape and assorted tools, none of which are mine.

Then the guys when down to work on the electrical wiring upgrades for the kitchen. They need to get to the fuse box, which was in the laundry room, next to the studio space. Well, when they started to route the new wires, they move the washer, putting the drain hose in the sink, when they put it back, you guessed it, the did not put the drain hose back in its pipe, but left it hooked over the sink, not securely.

I started a load of wash, and when it started to drain......

All over the place, the hose sprayed like a wild animal, not just down into the sink, but the pressure made it jump around soaking everything, including my clean clothes that were hanging up waiting to be taken upstairs or ironed, and the rugs, please don't mention the now dirty-water soaked rugs. It washed down my small cabinet I keep cleaning supplies in (which are now clean, but some not useable). Fortunately, or not, depending on your point of view, I heard it, came racing down the stairs, turned the corner, to get it in the face!

This is why I am not on top of the dungeon itself, which I need to be literally! All the mess had to be dragged out, and much of it landed in the area I fondly call my studio. So the Dungeon is a mess in which I cannot find my drawing table, much less my pallet. Until this mess is conquered, no art will happen down there.

Working in a basement studio is not ideal, but the vast majority of artist work under less than idea conditions. That does not seem to affect the quality of work we can turn out. The almost stunning work that people through the centuries have done under really appalling conditions sometimes is a testament to the inner vision of the artistic mind