Friday, December 26, 2008

pinch me now

For the first time in what I thought was two or three and a half years (which I now realize has actually been four and a half years!!) I can say that I'm actually writing a poem again.  The funny (and scary) thing is that it wasn't even writer's block.  One day there was just nothing.  As for being wasn't a big moment of sudden creative energy or a dried-up dam suddenly overflowing with water from the gods up above. No, it was not a sudden rush of inspiration nor was it the muses filling up my well with creative juices and inducing a brilliant flow of words which I couldn't stop.  No.  It was nothing romanticized like that, but a simple moment--just like any other in the past four and a half years--where I attempt to write. This time there was something different, something very small and deceptively inconsequential ...  And I think it's here to stay.  The dormant period is over and maybe all the work of trying is paying off.  This "poem" is only a start to an awful, banal poem perhaps, but it's something and I'll toast to that and kiss this awful year off. 

I am very rusty.

To be frank, it was probably fear.  Fear of failing, of dying, of aging and withering away in this city that I cannot learn to leave despite all the bad hands it deals out to me.  I still have some fight in me, I guess.  I better, as I'm too young not to.  And perhaps this poem by Jenny Joseph had something to do with it.


When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other peoples' gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that jeep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

By Jenny Joseph

Freebies for Photoshop

2008 is almost to an end and as a "gift" I wanted to share this great newsletter from The Green Bulb Gang. From time to time they give away photoshop brushes for free -- every month actually.  You can also become a member and purchase brushes for a discounted price. Commercial licenses are included so you can use them anywhere to create any design, no stings attached.  Design away in 2009!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

nocturnal being

I missed an entire day and didn't even realize it! I thought it was almost 5am when I woke up this "morning" and so I set-up a still life, made a pot of coffee and began my day early. Little did I know it was PM instead of AM. The days are so short nowadays that the skylight was just about the same so I didn't notice a thing....even when it was past 8am. I simply thought, "Wow, the days are getting really short." Not only until I checked email and saw PM did I realize my mistake. It was a twilight zone moment to say the least. 15 hours of sleep after two months on being unable to sleep a normal night. I guess I caught up. That's what happens when there is no sunlight in your bedroom. Now....since I started my still life painting, no dancing shoes tonight. The painting I started is too compelling. I still can't believe it feels very strange to miss a day like that and not notice for almost 4 hours that you are living 12 hours behind. It's a mind trip and now my sleeping pattern will be really screwed!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Masters of American Illustration

Great news!  The Illustrated Press will soon be publishing a compilation of Taraba's "Method of the Masters".  These articles were originally published in Step-by-Step magazine and I can't wait to get my hands on this 400 pg book, Masters of American Illustration: 41 Illustrators and How They Work!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

long time no blog

I haven't been blogging in a while, but I'm back and intend to blog more regularly. Well, we'll see how it goes. I heard about this old school Drawing Manual/Course, something a bit different from the Bargue plates of The Drawing Course (Charles Bargue) though they spawn form the same idea: to teach people how to draw. It is a series of lessons called Famous Artist Course, where animators and illustrators such as Norman Rockwell, Robert Fawcett, Fred here for the complete roster...created a correspondence course so that children could follow along with exercises, receive critiques from famous artists/illustrators/animators. It's a pretty neat concept.

Bargue and Jerome set-up these plates in the 19th Century when ateliers and the Academy training reached it's peak so that others could train themselves how to draw Academically. One was supposed to follow basic concepts and approaches to train their eye and learn how to simplify with the goal that one day they will go on to become a fine artist/commercial artist. I say both since they may have considered themselves strictly as fine artists, but the commissions they competed for were political in nature, if not meant for the State (ie France). So be painting battle scenes, historical paintings, portraits of government officials, etc artists of the day weren't necessarily free to make artistic decisions (though some certainly had this freedom or were able exercise this freedom despite their Academic training. But that's another story for another post). In the same vein, FAC lessons teach others how to practically learn and improve their drawing skills as a commercial artist. The correspondence element is pretty fascinating.

Imagine sending a painting study or exercise to be critiqued via letter, email or blog by realist/representational painters today like Odd Nerdrum or Jeremy Lipking, or even those with a more Classical bent/training/background who are already legendary teachers and artists in their own right such as Michael Grimaldi or Jacob Collins. Juliette Aristedes' books on the Classical Atelier training could provide the lessons as the painting book already covers different exercises covered in an atelier setting. One could train themselves until they were able to attend an atelier system themselves. It wouldn't be such a bad thing. The roster of instructors could be quite expansive, the critiques fulfilling and worthwhile. Check out one of the lessons by visiting the blog, Temple of the Seven Golden Camels. He did a great job posting these up on his blog and if you click of the Famous Artist Course label, you'll find three additional lessons from the series that he has posted to this date. They're pretty basic and simple, but still worth a glance.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

cemetery art

I'm in a landscape workshop this weekend taking place at the Woodlawn Cemetery and it's fascinating to realize that there is an entire culture of cemetery art. The mausoleums are quite impressive, some of them even look like churches with beautiful domes. There is a gothic style mausoleum that is simply amazing. I love gothic architecture. Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, The Strauss family (old couple who gave up their "space" in the lifeboats at the sinking of The Titanic, Herman Melville to name a few, were buried there. The Piccirilli Brothers (The Maine Memorial, Central Park NYC) -- by the Columbus Circle entrance to the park -- were one of the many amazing sculptors (marble cutters and carvers) that contributed to the beautiful landscape and architecture of the cemetery. The landscape architecture is beautifully planned.

I'm definitely a fan of the Piccirilli Brothers. There's a beautiful figure (nude) sculpture called the Outcast, and it's this heart wrenching, painful pose where the male nude is so alienated that he digs into himself. How bleak. It pulled my attention from across the landscape and pulled me like a magnetic force. They are also responsible for the lions outside the main/central location of the New York Public Library, (for those who do not know what Lions I'm referring to but watched Sex and the City, The Movie, the library is where Carrie and Big were supposed to get married. She runs out of the library, horrified and there's a beautiful shot of her dress flying behind her as she runs down the steps like Cinderella. You see the majestic lions). I think that after this experience where I'm learning to draw outside the studio and come up with compositions that forces me to select and simplify from what's in front of me, I will head over to draw from their work.

As far as sketching from outdoors and daily street life -- something I've very interested in documenting" this landscape workshop has been very beneficial. Even though it's only been one day, it makes me think about how painting is really contrived and how selective you need to be. These are the artistic choices that make a painting unique. Even as a realist or naturalist, we edit and exaggerate. This is where creativity lives in realism. We need to edit. In art school, for training purposes, we copy and transcribe exactly what's in front of us to develop our skills and not give in to laziness or make excuses for not getting things right to the exact millimeter, but outside of the Academy (literally) I think practicing how to make these choices (while at the Academy) to is crucial my development as a draughtsman and artist. We are not cameras. Edward Hopper composed his New York street scenes, placed his diner in a dark street with no lights in the windows. This was an artistic choice. I live across a very tall building and never have I seen all the lights off in the building no matter what time of night. (I hardly see people too, but that's another thing). Even Antonio Lopez Garcia, I believe, despite his meticulous approach and way or working, edits something out be it the fence in the background of the quince tree in order to better focus on every leaf and fruit on that tree.

After meeting the wonderful tour guide who was very welcoming, I think I will spend a good part of this summer sketching in the park and coming up with a series of paintings. I'm interested in some of the mausoleum doors, the weeping angels, many things, though I have to work out the composition. For this weekend, however, I think I will force myself away from the figure and lean towards something more architectural, just for a change in subject matter. The figure pulls me too much and I want to try something new and different form what I've been doing at the Academy.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Boredom is a funny thing.  I don't think I've been bored (maybe once, like reeeeeally bored) since summer vacations of my elementary school days.  

There are different types of boredom: situative boredom, repetitive boredom, and existentialist boredom, according to the most modern theory about boredom.  Creative boredom, ironically -- forces you to do something.  When boredom digs in deep, we tend to do things "out of the ordinary" just to get out of it.  We get stuck in the now, which is empty  and lacks personal meaning, and we want out.  Perhaps career changes or self-destructive behavior is the result of this feeling.  I used to think that boredom meant that I needed more things to do, but I can be very entertained "doing nothing" and sit around in the park people-watching.  I can also have tons of deadlines and work to do and be very bored because I donn't fine the work enjoyable .

Is it our fault when we're bored?  Emotions happen to us, but if we don't do something about it, then boredom has dictated our lives -- so in a way, yes.  I see this an an opportunity for something great, though.  If we are so bored with, say, executing and creating the same paintings or drawings we've been doing then it will drive us to take risks in our work thus leading (at least we hope) to something more exciting.  I'm convinced that it always come down to process over product.  

Another side note about boredom is that more men complain about boredom than women, but women complain more about depression.  However they may be describing the same thing as both are experience a lack of personal meaning or lack of satisfaction in regards to their world.  Maybe? Alas, perhaps this is the impetus of some blogs.  However, today it's not about boredom more than it is about procrastination (and maybe a little dose of ADD).

Perhaps this is the impetus of some blogs.  But today, it's not about boredom, it's more about procrastination.  Perhaps this is the impetus of some blogs.  But today, it's not about boredom, it's more about procrastination.  

Monday, January 07, 2008

contemporary art: idea over process

An article in the Boston Globe yesterday discussed the current situation of art nowadays and how the idea is much more important than the process of art-making. Since the "invention" of conceptual art, art became more object and product oriented. Everything was based on a philosophical stance or explanation. This is what Tom Wolfe also called "tenure art" during his closing speech at the 10th year anniversary of the Derriere Guard.

It's true that I find it disappointing to attend a gallery/museum show or exhibit and know that the large drawing on the wall is some concept thought about the "artist" and the idea was executed by "assistants" who are really gallery employees. Many painters still practice this way of working in their studios and workshops, such as Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst. They instruct and provide directions while younger artists who are trying to make their own art but need to pay the bills execute the work. As the article mentions, Rubens and I believe, Raphael, had their studios full of assistants helping them execute their work. I don't agree that the artist's hand should be removed from the process and though the modern world may justify the practicality in having your assistants transfer a drawing for you, or trace a "reproduction" of your work, providing an idea to museums with instructions on how to build the art object is going too far.

What does the audience feel? Do they feel fooled? However, many collectors buy into it and money talks. As an artist, especially since my focus in on representative art, studying technique of draftsmanship based on 19th Century ateliers, I find the trend disturbing. Have we reached the point of no return? I think there is a place for everything, but after leaving the world of installation art to concentrate on painting and painting really well, I wonder where this will all lead to. I love contemporary images and pictures, but when do we rebel and define our limits? Does technique still have a place in the contemporary art world or will it forever be seen as passé?