#21.Clean sweep: reblogged from Danny Gregory

Oh boy!!!!! A terrific post about “cleaning up the studio” and the rest of life from the amazing and remarkable DANNY GREGORY. Some deeply inspirational ideas and hot tips on everything from old art supplies to outdated software and stagnant work habits.

A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King

~Emily Dickinson

Danny Gregory

watercolor stages

Because it’s finally March and spring is allegedly on the horizon, I decided to clean up my studio. I swept the floor, wiped down all the tables, emptied the trash cans and water buckets, and vacuumed the chartreuse carpet the dogs nap and chew dried bulls’ pizzles on.

Then I decided to go deeper. Remembering the old carpenter’s homily, “Look after your tools and they’ll look after you,” I pulled all of my art supplies out of their drawers, boxes and Ziplocs and gave them a proper going over. I scrutinized each tube of watercolor and acrylic to make sure the lids were firmly screwed on, rolled them up from the bottom, and separated the ones that seemed too hopelessly hard and dry. I filled all the pans on my watercolor boxes with fresh paint and left them to solidify. I examined every brush and gave them a wash and…

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#19. “More Snow”: building a painting while wishing winter was over.

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photo by Laurel Casey

This winter in New England is… enough already. I’m not alone in feeling this. But in truth, it’s beautiful, in many ways. I’ve been doing some blue and white paintings as a result. Here is the process of my recent “More Snow”, mixed media on wood panel, 24×24″ (When I say “mixed media” I refer to the fact that the painting is not ONLY made of acrylic paint, but also pencil and water-based crayon.)

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First a couple of quick value and color studies in my art journal.

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I toned the panel with a random mix of phthalo blue, green shade; a small amount of lemon yellow; some teal; a little white. First time I’ve decided to use this teal color as a ground. Sketched out the image with hot pink pastel pencil. I like breaking rules, although I really don’t have too many in my studio.

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Laying in darks, lights and starting on some mid-tones… Also lots of scribbling. I love scribbling. Mark-making is important to me; I love the freedom of letting the marks make themselves through my hand.

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After I get things pretty well established, I often begin to get fussy, which is always a no-no. I take a lot of breaks, turn away from the painting, eat lunch, check my email, go back to the painting, play with my dog Theo,  plan the next painting, go back to the painting, sketch some other ideas, read books, check FB, (oops), go back to the painting.

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Anyway, after a few days, I decide it’s done, and here’s “More Snow” 24×24″ mixed media on cradled board. (My personal title is actually “More F$%^&ing Snow.” )

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“More Snow” 24×24″ mixed media on panel. © 2104  Karen Rand Anderson

Theo, faithful studio assistant

Theo, faithful studio assistant

 

#15. That Nasty Voice Again; or, WTFAYD?

So things seem to be going pretty well in the studio; you’re feeling that elation that is the divine experience of not thinking, not judging, not wondering, but just doing. Like a meditation through painting/making. And then you step back to look at the work. Shit. There’s The Voice. “WTF are you doing??” it says. Of course, I am not talking about you. I’m talking about me.

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Photo courtesy unlockthedoor.net.

It is rather constant, The Voice. When I googled “artist inner critic” the results were pretty staggering. Here’s a particularly good take on it, complete with some awesome advice by artist and full-time human being Janice Tanton.  Other terms that denote the inner critic are  “the judge” or “the gremlin” or “the little man.” (Janice’s term.)

It’s tempting to think that the really brilliant artists are/were free of the gremlin, but we know that’s not the case.

Henri Matisse:  “After a half-century of hard work and reflection the wall is still there. ”

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Henri Matisse, “La Tristesse du roi” (Sorrows of the King), 1952

 Claude Monet:  “For almost two months now I’ve been struggling away with no result.”

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Claude Monet: “Impression: Sunrise” 1873

And one of the most prolific and best painters of the 20th century, Richard Deibenkorn, said: “When I am halfway there with a painting, it can occasionally be thrilling… But it happens very rarely; usually it’s agony… I go to great pains to mask the agony. But the struggle is there. It’s the invisible enemy.”

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Richard Deibenkorn: “Berkley no. 22”  1954

However– it would appear our inner critics can be useful, according to this interesting article on the Behance website 99U.com. The author says: “The trick is to get the Critic back “onside,” delivering genuinely constructive criticism. Like the inspiring mentor who urged you to do your best and didn’t accept anything less – but with a supportive and encouraging tone of voice.”

Abstract expressionist Joan Mitchellwhose intense, energetic work I adore, had a particularly interesting relationship with her complex inner creative persona. In this short clip from a bio-documentary she talks about how she deals with “Little Joan and Big Joan.” I love it.

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For the full 57 minute documentary “Joan Mitchell: Portrait of an Abstract Artist” (Marion Cajori, 1993)  click here 

It’s no secret that meditation practice or mindfulness  is one strategy for helping to silence The Voice, as is allowing yourself to become immersed in that place of just making art. (easier said than done… damn that complex ego-thing.) As Robert Henri  wrote in 1923 in “The Art Spirit” (still one of the best books on art-making ever written) : “The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.” best. feeling. ever.

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 The bottom line? For me, it’s keep doing the work, and lock the gremlin outside the studio door, like Joan did. And look at what she produced.