Monthly Archives: May 2017

What Can Be Made of This?

IMG_8723_croppedI saw this loafer while walking to the passenger side of my parked car to let the dogs out for our weekly hike. Oh brother! I can’t make the dogs wait when we’ve only just gotten here. And I don’t feel like it either. Touching abandoned seafood? Seems potentially germy. I wouldn’t be able to wash my hands for over an hour. So I left it alone and figured I’d deal with it when I got back. If I remembered or cared. If.

Well I did remember and care. I mean an abandoned dress shoe and discarded crab leg shells. Come on! This is my only chance, I have never seen this combination before.

I put the dogs in the car, unroll the windows and pull up a few feet so no one can park this opportunity in. Then I squat down and stare. Nothing is immediately coming to mind. Could the shoe be a nose? Nah. Nothing around big enough for eyes. Is the crab leg a mouth. Not feeling it. Okay. Fine. But make it work, the dogs aren’t going to wait forever and I haven’t had breakfast. The upper part of the loafer will just have to host the face. What is the crab leg going to do? I break it into pieces. A nose appears. Good! I tear a flexible leaf in half.  Eyes without pupils. I scout around for little black things. Pupils. Looking good but what about the mouth. Everything is rolling off because of the slope. I know what I need…saliva, the official glue of the ephemeral artist. I use it tons. I would hate for someone to see that. A grown women crouching down spitting into her palm. Why? Well now you know nosey neighbor. Back off and let me get this thing photographed. I mean just as soon as I wipe the excess spittle on my….what?…my pants? No they aren’t that dirty yet, on my flannel shirt? Yes, it should be washed anyway, definitely.

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IMG_8746I feel the greatest sense of accomplishment when I get what I call a one squat shot, all the items for the face within hands reach of a squatting position made quickly and then I move on. This was a particullary satisfying one squat shot. Although, now that I stare at it I wish I had tried to incorporate that red solo cup. If I had torn it in half it could have been a fez, right? Ah regret. The constant companion.

IMG_8745Of course even more untaken opportunities were only a step away. Look at those sneakers. Pretty fresh, what’s the story there? Was someone like hang on let me change from my party shoes into these kicks more suitable for our hike and before the sartorial transaction could occur the police pulled up and arrested our protagonist for a minor role in a money laundering scheme. Is he right now in an interrogation room with only one shoe and a very cold foot. Why didn’t his friend collect his shoes? I don’t know. French toast awaited and I needed to wash my hands.

 

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Why I Like To Be Constrained

If you are into choice, western modern life is the greatest time and place in history to be alive. I am into it big time. Don’t want it taken away thank you very much Handmaid’s Tale. But for art making, if your entry point is anything it’s a bit overwhelming to figure out what would be worth doing.

Imagine you want to go swimming but just as you hit the water 13 beautiful options open up such as an infinity pool on a cliff in Malibu, a secluded ocean in Brazil, Raquette Lake in the Adirondacks and a hot tub with a hot companion. How could you choose? Even if you did choose you might ruin your good time by ruminating over the choices not taken. That is the problem with choice. It’s a time waster.

I have found I am much more productive as an artist if don’t have to think about what I am going to do during the time I’ve allotted to doing it. So I like a lot of constraint. I will only use alcohol based makers on 9 x 9 inch paper to make only abstractions. I will only draw faces in this little book. I will only draw faces with pencil in this other little book. I will only take photos of faces I make out of stuff I see while walking my dogs. And so on.

Of course at any time I really want to violate the rules I do. The muse is the most important part. If she’s pouring out than job well done. No need to play by the rules. But how to get to that elevated state on a regular basis? I find deep repetition works best, eliminating time wasting choices and getting down to making a whole lot of something similar so your style, your individual voice can emerge. It is through quantity that you can see if you are on to something.

I am writing about this because a super cool Insgramer named @trent_lindo recently commented that he was thinking of taking up painting and wanted to know if I had any tips or suggestions. I was at the doctor’s office when I texted back:

Trent Lindo text cropped 2

I never did finish.  Trent this is my finish. Thank you for inspiring me to write about this. As your photographs on Instagram show, you already know what I am taking about. I hope you have a lot of fun painting. If you listen to music while doing it, nothing is more pleasurable and you get a cool prize at the end.

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