Yay! We have an iPad in the house and I am all over it, learning how to use Paper by 53, an app I’ve been dying to dig into since I learned about it at Tapestry in March. Paper is a simple, intuitive drawing tool for the iPad used mainly by illustrators. It has a ton of potential as a sketching tool for painters. I would love to see more fine artists get into it.
Ready to try? The app is simple enough for you to just download on your iPad or iPhone and start noodling around. When you get stuck, check out this series of posts at mademistakes. It is chock full of tips and will help un-stick you. For more information geared toward data visualization and sketch notes, check out Catherine Madden’s website. You may also find this free Skillshare video, How to Use Think Kit, helpful/interesting.
When the Denver Art Museum announced its Women of Abstract Expressionism exhibition last year it made a big splash. ARTnews, Hyperallergic, and the New York Times published articles about it and created a nice bit of social media buzz. (“It’s about time!” went the theme.) Interestingly, I haven’t heard much about it since then, but did finally make it to the show which opened in June this past Saturday. It is interesting, both lovely and eyebrow raising. Women of Abstract Expressionism presents a number of terrific paintings by women artists whose work deserves to be seen, but the show has an uneven quality that raises uncomfortable questions about art and sexism. If you are a painter it is a must see.
This piece by Sonia Gechtoff is one of my favorites of the show.
Gechtoff is one of handful of “Bay Area artists” featured in Women of Abstract Expressionism.
Another Bay Area painting, this one by Deborah Remington.
The Bay Area paintings in general have an earthiness and material consciousness that make them exciting. Their physical separation from the New York paintings in Women of Expressionism – the show unfolds across several spaces – creates cohesion and offers a counterpoint to better known works by Elaine de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner and Joan Mitchell.
Joan Mitchell’s paintings, arguably the highlight of the show, looked wholly original, sensitively done and fresh to my eye.
But Elaine de Kooning’s paintings – at least the ones selected for this exhibition – are so similar in gesture and palette to husband Willem de Kooning’s work . . . well, it was hard not to judge them comparatively.
Here it is, Earthbound, my contribution to the Boulder Barrel Project that I wrote about here: Boulder Barrel Project, and here: Color Notes. Community projects like this always take more work than you think they will, but they are also a whole lot of fun. For me, it was fun to work in acrylic, a medium I haven’t touched in years. I also liked seeing the range of ideas people came up with, and, of course, supporting rainwater collection in my community.
See all the barrels and bid here.
One of the things I go for in my work is a sense of ease. I want it to look like it breathed itself into being which, counterintuitively, takes a degree of planning to pull off consistently. While every project is different, planning for me can include thumbnail sketches, doing materials tests, color tests and cutting/collage exercises to help work out ideas about composition.
Here are some of my color notes for the Boulder Barrel Project. I chose Mars yellow, transparent red iron oxide, titanium white and green gold for this project after spending time looking at neighborhood architecture and landscaping in Boulder, Colorado where my barrel will most likely end up sited. Accent colors are still up for grabs and could include raw umber, teal and magenta. I’m using Golden acrylics, a mix of heavy body, fluid and high flow paint.
Still on the fence about raw umber. But the Mars yellow, transparent red iron oxide, titanium white and green gold, all special favorites, are keepers, for sure.
While teal is a natural complement to terra cotta, I’ve decided not to use it for this project because the combo reads too tritely Southwest to me.
Contemplating magenta. Do I like what it adds to the palette? Or, all of a sudden, are we looking at too many colors here?
OK, here is another movie recommendation for you: Troublemakers: the Story of Land Art. If you are interested in environmental art and the American West, this is one to put on your list. What’s great about it: historical interviews with artists and footage of land art being excavated and built.
What’s weird about it: the lack of contemporary interviews with the film’s most noted artists (many of whom are deceased). Troublemakers relies heavily on interviews with people who knew them, which while interesting, aren’t the same as hearing from the artists themselves.
Interact with Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty and other remotely sited pieces (and plan your land art road trip) on Google maps.
Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson.
Sun Tunnels by Nancy Holt.
Double Negative by Michael Heizer.
Over the weekend I finally got to watch Jim Jarmusch’s 2014 vampire flick, Only Lovers Left Alive and wholeheartedly recommend. It’s fun to watch these two beautifully attired vampire lovers played by Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston speed reading, listening to records, lounging around and basking in each other’s company.
I only mention Only Lovers because my experience watching it put me so much more in the mood to consider art than Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2015 creativity book, Big Magic. I started Big Magic last week, am still reading, and frankly finding it depressing because of all the tough-love advice nuggets like, “Get a job!” “What’s your favorite flavor of shit sandwich?” and, “Please try to relax.” Anyhoo, while I like art and creativity books in general, and am one of those people who loved Gilbert’s bestseller, Eat Pray Love, Big Magic isn’t speaking my language. That’s OK. Plenty of other books do. People seeking constructive advice geared toward helping you move forward with creative work in the face of fear, procrastination and perfectionism, I recommend Sam Bennett’s, Get It Done.