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I could easily imagine a graduate student in a painting program, sitting in a studio with a Macintosh computer and a large format printer, cranking out work, week after week, month after month, and ending up with a real kick-ass MFA show.

 

I'm not sure if that would have been well-received when I was in school. Of course this stuff wasn't even around then. I'm also not sure it would happen today. For one thing, it would be very, very expensive. For another, people seem so stuck in traditional methods... either that, or everything is so far-out that it's all involved with animation, film, video, time arts(?), or stuff that ends up not looking like art - conceptual, I guess.

 

What I am doing is, working with a computer to create a pretty traditional type of art. It's two-dimensional. It hangs on the wall. It's printed on paper, with ink. It involves color, form... line, space, texture, balance, movement. All that good stuff. I spend hours, days, weeks at a time, in front of my computer. I dream about it in my sleep. I basically go through all of the same thought processes that I do when I am actually painting, with a brush on canvas and acrylic paint. The difference is that I can work on many different things simultaneously in a shorter amount of time. I can add, subtract and edit at will.

 

There are big problems though. It's expensive to print large works. Expensive to frame things. And then, many people still are not receptive to the whole idea. But I am, and I do it, and I plan to continue along this road of debauchery, this life as an artist.






Every morning I wake up and see this print, matted and framed, propped up against my dresser. I really like it. I see all kinds of new things each time, and I'm amazed at how nice the color printed. 

 

I have a whole series of similar ones. I created them at a large size, 30"x40". I guess, in part, because a company that I've used to make prints has that as a standard paper size. 

 

It takes a certain amount of imagination to create things that large, and even larger, especially when I'm working on a much smaller computer screen. In my head, though, they are big works of art from the very beginning. It's wonderful to actually have one printed and see that it actually "is real", not just a collection of 0s and 1s stored on my hard drive. The edges aren't fuzzy. The colors are true. "Good job!" I tell myself. If only...

 

I can also imagine a whole gallery filled with them, all nicely matted and framed behind plexiglass, one after another, all around a big, well-lit, white room. It's not that I want them for myself. I don't want to keep them. I don't want to store them here in my house. I just want to see them all assembled together, and then have them collected by people who truly love art, people who will cherish them and hang them in their great rooms - or museums that want to add them to their permanent collections. That would also be good.


I've had this one painting for quite awhile. I painted on it, on and off, for close to ten years. I really like it. But there are problems - warped stretchers, other things that maybe I don't even want to talk about.

 

I decided to do another version in Photoshop. It's not an exact copy, or a digital rendering, but rather another version. It's done to the exact size of the original, 48"x56", but this one is all in one piece, while the other one was three separate panels.

 

The new one is also created in high resolution with the best pixels money can buy. I might not be done with it yet, but I'm pretty happy with it so far.

 

 










I've been busy making 1 foot square boxes to mount some of my prints. The weird thing is I am using pizza boxes. I've been experimenting with the idea for awhile now, and I think I'm getting it "down pat".

 

I ordered a stack of 50 new boxes from a restaurant supply company. (I think the shipping actually cost more than the boxes.) They came just wrapped in plastic.

 

So, they're very easy to assemble... but then I put quite a bit of work into them. I've figured out that packing them with styrofoam is probably the best way to go. I'd really like to get a 4x8 sheet of styrofoam insulation from Home Depot, but for now I've been using some salvaged packing material.

 

I cut off a few tabs and sand a few small areas. Then I tape them up using both masking tape and brown kraft tape, the kind used for watercolor painting. Once that is thoroughly dry, I begin painting them with gesso. I'm actually using a flat white latex primer, but gesso sounds more official. It's important not to get them too wet or put the paint on too heavily at this stage because the cardboard will get all soggy and they can buckle or sag.

 

I've also bought some nice foamcore mounting boards which I'm planning to actually mount the artwork onto. This will provide a nice flat surface and add to the strength of the face of the board.

 

They really are looking nice. I think the trickiest part will be mounting the art work onto the boards. Getting them on straight can be nerve racking. I'm using acid-free spray mount - you really only get one chance to get it right.

 

I have a few more to go to make an even dozen. They will be sturdy, but lightweight for shipping. I'm thinking I can pack a box of them and ship a whole show's-worth to a gallery somewhere.


I'm seeing stories about MFA shows happening around the country at various schools, and they seem to be group shows. Is this a new trend?

 

My MFA show was a one person show. It was hung in a very small gallery in our art department, but I had 9 paintings and 4 works on paper.

 

Others had 2 person shows in the larger gallery, but not a larger group type of show.

 

It's not something I'm incensed about. Just wondering. Maybe there are just more MFAs graduating now.

 

I'm seeing similar stories about yearly critiques. Yearly critiques? We had different critiques happening every week, depending on the class and who was teaching it.

 

Of course things have changed, as they do, and what do I know? After all, after graduating in 1979, I am still waiting for my show at the Whitney. Still waiting for a real gallery to show my work, and truth be known, I confess that I never even thought about having a studio in Brooklyn.

 

And yet, I persist.


Painting painting painting - then, "OK, is it done? No let's try something totally different over here that I've never even thought of doing before!" This is why I love this so much. Truly. Much better than the same old same old, and yet some people think I just do the same painting, over and over again. That's true too. I yam who I yam.


I was introduced to "Chicago Art" while a student at NIU in DeKalb. Before that, I had no inkling of anything. I knew about Picasso, Toulousse-Lautrec, Modigliani, and I had seen magazine articles and books about Pop Art.

 

Basically, Carl Hayano introduced me to this whole other world, and I think the word "other" is a key factor. The Hairy Who, Ed Paschke, and then many other artist who weren't "Imagists" like Frank Piatek and William Conger became part of my world. This was all before the internet, so you had to actually go into the big city on the weekends.

 

Friday nights at the galleries were quite the thing, free white wine, hob-nobbing with famous people... probably didn't really happen all that much, but it was fun.

 

I actually didn't know that the School of the Art Institute was a real thing. I thought that people just took weekend classes there. Then, come to find out, my teacher had gone there, and yes, it was an actual school. In fact, the museum was built around the school to give students a first-hand experience with real art. The museum eventually became the largest collection of Impressionist paintings because of that.

 

In the early 90s, I married a woman who had gone to school with the Imagists. She told me that she used to eat lunch with Christina Ramberg. She knew everyone. I always loved hearing about all the things they did and what she knew about all of those people.

 

I had lived in Chicago on the north side for a couple of years in the late 80s. In my apartment building I had a small studio in the basement (cellar). It was cold in the winter, and damp in the summer. It had a tiny window with a little curtain on it - I kept the curtian open so that on the off-chance that Ed Paschke or anyone else might be driving by, they might glance over and see me painting there with my airbrush. (LOLOLOL!) It was a symbolic thing, OK? I knew that wasn't going to happen. You couldn't possibly even see in there while driving down the street, but I've always had my dreams. So, don't take my dreams away.

 

Chicago still is a big part of me and my art.