“Artists are thrust straight up against the wave of their ambition in the world as well as their ambition for their work. Unless they like being rolled over and over on the sharp pebbles of their inconsistencies, they have to dive through this wave into understanding” Anne Truitt: Daybook The Journal of an Artist.
I have curly hair, I always wanted straight brown hair and I can still hear my mother’s words – “you always want what you can’t have” as she yanked the brush through wayward tangles, snapping my neck backwards. Not only do I still want smooth, brown, tangle-free hair, but I also want my art to be as sleek and ordered as a brunette on a still day. Having just finished reading Anne Truitt’s Daybook I couldn’t help but feel it doesn’t matter what we want, we find comfort in others like us. She found that moment in the work of Barnett Newman and I, in her words. Despite the comfort of knowing other artists feel the same insecurities, the pebbles of inconsistencies still roll around my work.
I can never get enough art. I have proven this by the use of my time. I listen to podcasts whilst driving, on the train and now even peeling vegetables. There is always a backlog of something to listen to and this week I chose a great podcast by Angus Nivison, Wendy Sharpe and R. Ian Lloyd. It was recorded at the State Library of NSW to coincide with the launch of one of my favourite books, Studio by John McDonald and R. Ian Lloyd. They were talking about the photo shots of their studios and listening over freshly de-strung beans, I tried to remember what they were like. All I remembered was that I identified with Angus Nivison the most when I first bought the book back in 2007.
Today I pulled the book out and was keen to have another look after so long. I’m not as Baconesque as Nivison’s studio but it was the similar materials, looking at the same books such as Bonnard, Giacometti, Indigenous art and open art mags that made it feel familiar. It’s the studio I would have if there was more room leaving empty cans, stiffened brushes and empty tape rolls behind me in my wake. In contrast Wendy Sharpe’s studio feels like a workplace. It appears to have the ability to perform without too much distraction or threat of injury, surrounded by working paintings. There are no tempting paint stained books open to trip over and cause loss of focus. Shes does mention in the interview a central table where the books can be safely ogled. I have tried this in the past but as you can see from the last photo, the table was close to the point of collapse after a short while.
In the podcast the photographer talks about his experiences of first impressions. The photos in this book are simply brilliant and the photo of Nivison’s studio taken while hanging from open rafters captures what I would love to do, flying overhead taking in the experience of studio-envy. In Angus Nivison’s words “I’m a sticky beak….”
Just another note, I also bought the DVD at the same time. I have loaned this to someone and cannot remember who. If it’s you please PLEASE give it back I love it and miss it. I can assure you it’s not in this mess.
I have always admired Rick Amor (my post Failure Was Never An Option). A couple of weeks ago I took this photo of his dog in the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Garden.
I was bemused at the procession of fluro bunting surrounding the sculptures. I thought maybe it had something to do with risk management or maybe it was just for grass regeneration. Either way I loved the surrounding bunting keeping the viewer at bay from the dog. Maybe it was to keep the dog in.
Yesterday I came across this wonderful sharing of images on behalf of Dumbo Feather (a fabulous magazine). I’m looking forward to the article even though the images by Lauren Bamford have already said so much. Click here to see the whole slide-show.
You’ve probably already guessed it’s an artist. Once again it’s the thigh swipe on the jeans that gives it all away. John that I painted with used to wear a long white lab coat when he painted – a professorial look, pretty appropriate for a minimalist. My original apron was one I had inadvertently taken after volunteering at meals on wheels. The M.O.W tattooed on the inside made me feel guilty each time I donned it. Eventually it worked itself into a painting. Pollock’s black t-shirt was ample for him. I personally would like a flack jacket – somewhere to poke cloths, paint tubes, brushes, bits of charcoal, just stuff. It doesn’t matter how I set myself up I always end up with too many brushes in one hand and something tucked behind my ear and a cloth hanging out a pocket.
Oh, it isn’t the guy at the local hardware but he did say “Art starts where construction ends” – Hans Hofman
Hans Hofman 1952 Photo Kay Bell Reynal. Artists in their Studios
We’ve all had these moments. Will I take the risk? Or crap, I didn’t think that would happen. Oil paint has a mind of it’s own. I’ve started a new category, Artist Studios. I love looking into an artist studio, I like seeing what they read, what they pin on the walls. So I’m starting this adventure with an image of Frank Auerbach from Artists and their Studios by Michael McNay and photo by Eamonn McCabe.
Being in an artists studio is akin to looking into the mind of a serial killer. You can see where they are coming from, what drives them. Some are erratic, others orderly. A recent trip to Idris Murphy’s studio meant we could understand the paring back, the essence of composition. I always feel somewhat of a voyeur when looking at other artists brushes – the length, the width, how they are cared for-hung or potted. I am always so careless with my brushes and I think this leads to a bitter case of brush envy.
No matter what I paint or where I paint, I always seem to be in chaos. My studios have always become a huge mess. Perhaps if I look at paring back my compositions, my paint, the studio will follow and I will have well hung brushes like Idris.