Friday, July 27, 2012

Phase 1 - do/make the work, intro

Phase 1: Do/Make the work

"Do/Make the work" is a good place to start* because it gets to one of my fundamental beliefs - that thinking art requires action.
*Actually, there's a "pre-rec" principle, "know thyself," without which it wouldn't be possible to evaluate life-improvement, but this one got it's own project, "word-image," (   

Contemporary Artist Center, Troy, NY
 (skip this section if not super interested in theory) 
To me, thinking about art is not the same thing as doing/making art.  Don't get me wrong, thinking about art is a wonderful thing, but it's philosophy, which is a wonderful, different thing.  
Why? because art, to me is a form of communication and philosophy is not.  That's not to say that philosophy can't be communicated, but I don't think that makes it a form of communication (Example:  Imagine I have a theory derived through thinking (philosophy) that eggs are the ultimate food because they allow us to negate the potential of death and consume the potential for (re)birth (not my actual thoughts on this, btw, just an example).  I can write about my philophy, or I can talk about it, or I can draw a picture (egg + pacman + skull and crossbones Xed out = happy face).  The 'egg theory' can be interpretted different ways, but there is a general idea at its core which does not change even as the form of communication changes from words, to speech, to pictures.  A form of communication, on the other hand, can say anything, and that's one of the things I really like about art - it is inexhaustible.  I could paint something new every moment I was able to  forever and there would be no fewer possibilities (infinity - anything = infinity).  Anyway... a long (potentially very boring - sorry!) tangent, but to summarize: to me, art is a form of communication and therefore requires action to exist.  

In order to get the project jump started, I applied for and was awarded a residency at the Contemporary Artist Center in Troy, New York (yay!)  My goal was to make 10 pieces in 3 weeks (total, including the time to prepare supports at the beginning and document at the end).  It's a goal that does border on "hmmmm - um ok, well, alrighty then..." (spoiler - I did it!) In keeping with the project's theme, I wanted to use my time and space as efficiently as possible to test the limits of productivity under focused conditions.  

For this phase, I hypothesized that maximum productivity requires presentness, and I tried to reach a state of presentness quickly by managing my space in a way that engages all my senses (not just sight):

taste - studio - safe food - gum and mints - I went with cinnamon and peppermint
smell - real, not synthetic, not too closely food related (or it will be distracting) - Eucalyptis, Peppermint, Lavendar
sound - (always very important) instrumental music 1600's to 2012
touch - I found a pillow which looks like grass and feels like soft fur - it's intriquingly hideous, and I like it.
Add and Stir

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tempus Fugit: an art experiment in life improvement through time/space management

Goal: To create a new, coherent body of work of at least 20 pieces* which reflect my art-life principles.*of course there will be more work than that, but, (spoiler) one of the phases will involve editing. 
Hypothesis:  Happiness derives, in part, from aligning time/space expenditure with the object of  one's devotion. (Example, please...) Let's say that I commute an hour to work.  I don't like commuting, but I do it so that I can have a home with a yard for my offspring.  If I plant nice flowers in that yard and enjoy using it with my family, then my time expenditure matches my devotion to my family, and I can be happy with my commute time.  If I think of the yard as one more thing to take care of on the weekend, and no one really uses it anyway because the offspring really prefers video games anyway... then the space/time expenditure doesn't contribute to my devotion, and I'm unhappy.  
Can I manage my time and space to match more closely with my devotion* (to art in my case - no minor dependents here)? *Definition of devotion for this experiment - some might say "love" (cough, cough... Levinas :) ), but I like devotion - not only is it slightly less cheesy, but love, to me, on it's own, can be either active or passive, where as devotion is a form of love which necessitates action. 
Structure: 10 phases, each corresponding to an art-life, time/space related principle.   Estimated time commitment - approximately 1 year, 2-6 weeks per phase. Documentation will occur at the outset of each phase, laying out the principle and goal, and at the conclusion, documenting the resulting artwork, evaluating success and/or failure and/or suggested modifications in adhering to the stated principle.
Methodology: If the ultimate goal is life-improvement through enactment of my devotion to art,  why is time/space management an appropriate approach?

Time and space management can be measured through quantifiable data whereas devotion is an action based on love, which is not concrete.  Therefore, the dedication of time and space will act as evidence which allowing one to deduce the presence of devotion, which is otherwise undocumentable.   

Sunday, July 22, 2012

MINI 50!

Miniature #50 - July 16 - 22, 2012, 
I almost can't believe it - here it is - mini #50 of 50!(!!) The moral of #50 is that found objects are fun to paint on, and I should never be allowed to listen to the Danse Macabre on repeat ever again (joking... kind of)  I've been saving this carved, fold-out, triptych panel especially for #50 because I wanted it to be extra special and am so glad that I did. I packed most of the minis two weeks ago, and they do, in fact, fit in a shoe box (it's a boot box, but still).  I have my favorites among them and my not-as-favorites (though I'll never say which, because all the minis are dear to me in their own way).  Even the not-as-favorite ones taught me something and, in the end, I still believe that, in general, it's better to do/make something than not. On that note, all good things must come to an end, and The Power in Precision Project is now officially complete!(!) (I know multiple exclamation points are frowned upon in a stylistic sense, but surely some situations merit them, no?) Thank you for following - an archive of all 50 miniatures is on view at:  and for those desirous of even more tiny-artiness - a solo show of minis + is in the works for fall 2013 (yay! More on that to come as details unfold).  Lastly, because it's not in my nature not to have a project going, I've already started the next project: Tempus Fugit: an art experiment in life-improvement through time/space management about which I will post very soon (after savoring my mini-mission-accomplished-happiness just a little bit longer :) ) 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

mini 49

Miniature #49 - July 9 - 16, 2012, 5.75 x 5.75 in, mixed media on panel
Mini 49 - and the mini project is nearing the finish line (sadness). When I updated my main site (, I realized that the theme and composition of this mini are similar to mini 1, but this one includes an (awesome, if I do say so myself) bird, and the city is much better drawn.  I also feel like I've developed a more individualized (if unusual) palette. I keep coming back to this aqua, chartruse, light red (that's right, it's light red, not pink) and gray combo.  I find it intriguingly hideous somehow.  I also prefer the square format to a rectangle now. Despite my claim (when was it - oh, mini 6!) that panel is kind of a pain to prepare in a week, and maybe I just wouldn't do that anymore (ha ha), I think I've streamlined (or just accepted) the panel preparation process. Mini 49 is also nicely varnished, a skill I've honed over the course of the project.  Things that haven't changed - I was getting a little frustrated as I was adding the finishing touches that the light in the studio seemed to be fluctuating - wait, that change in studio lighting, that would be sunrise - oops (in my defense, the studio at the CAC residency has opalescent stained glass.)

My residency is going well and, as promised, I've been working on a statement outlining my next project.  In the meantime, it seems tiny creatures like tiny paintings too! (Yup, that's a panel being prepared background :) ).  

49 complete and only one more to go

Thursday, July 5, 2012

mini 48

Miniature #48 - July 2 - 8, 2012, 3 x 1 x 2 in, paper and acetate 
For mini 48, I was inspired, in part, by bankers boxes.  (Now there's a phrase one doesn't hear too often).  I'm head to New York state to do an artist residency and am extremely excited about the project I have planned (will post more about that soon).  This past week was spent cleaning and packing the studio (and packing and packing).   
Contents: skull (plastic), heart, raven,
jar o'bugs, unicorn, and lots of books
If only I'd been born a few centuries earlier,
I could have been an excellent alchemist.

I've been trying to organize
my materials better - proof!

While packing and cleaning weren't exactly the highlights of my week, putting the boxes together was fun, and I though that they would be even more fun if they were neon, miniature and had stained glass (naturally). This mini is more of a prototype - I want to refine the shape and placement of the folds and raise the level of craft, but its a start.

48 down and only 2 to go

You do know that you will be taking me.
O wait - there's a bug - nevermind.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

mini 47

Miniature #47 - June 25 - July 1, 2012, 2.5 x 3 in, block print on paper
I used up my "emergency week," the one "by" built into the project, a couple of weeks ago.  I was traveling, the project is nearing completion, and it would have been inconvenient to post (can we guess where this is going...) So this week, I had a real emergency - I'm fine, and so is Sunny, but there was an unexpected situation that required immediate attention and time/energy/$ (also known as an emergency - 'Doh!') I started working on the mini later than I would have liked, and, naturally, decided the piece needed not one, not two, but three, tiny, labor-intensive blocks.  

Reflecting on the project, I feel it's been a good thing because it's helped me try new techniques and hold on to my studio practice. It's proven to me that I can always make something, but lately, I've been asking myself if I'm I making the work that I most want to make?  What would happen if for the next project, I adjusted my life to fit my art instead of the other way around?  (I've also been thinking that the tiny press deserves its own side project.)  So, to make a long story short, I decided to go for it and made all three blocks. 

Why cathedrals?  I'm sort of a Cathedral groupie, and last week I saw the Chagall window in Reims Cathedral. Seeing it, I feel like even if something were to happen to it (forbid) or lots of people look at it for only a second, the world is a more beautiful place because it exists and Chagall's a great artist because his work makes the world a better place. (Can we tell that I'm a huge fan?)

here's a candid shot of me scoping out Ackermann's work
 Thanks for the picture Tammy! (taken with permission)
Why three?  I was also really inspired by a studio visit with Franz Ackermann. I hate to name drop, but I want to give credit where credit is due, and his work and studio were awesome, and he was also an incredibly gracious host. I got to see amazing work, hear one of the best explanations I've ever heard of the use of neon paint, and ... there was coffee!  Seeing his process, I was inspired to take the photos, even if I wasn't quite sure what I was looking for yet. I ended up taking all these pictures of industrial and artistic repetition.

I've been thinking about it, and I think I'm looking at industrial/mechanical reproduction vs. repetition as a form of devotion because, to me, the only difference is spiritual; so, maybe contrasting the two is a way of trying to find the soul (as in, one can't see it, but can miss it when it's gone). So I made two blocks and hand printed them (which is ironic because it's already a process half-way between the reproducible and unique.)  As I was printing, I kept hearing in my mind one of my favorite lines "a feint within a feint within a feint" (and yes, I did just prove, beyond a doubt, that I'm a big sci-fi nerd).  Three is such a pleasing number (as in tricolon or tricolon crescendo), so in the wee hours of the morning, I added the third, super-tiny block.

Can we guess which is my favorite?
approximately 1 x 5/8 in (Awwww)