Monday, August 27, 2012

Phase 2b - take time for meaningful rest and reflection

with artwork by Michael McKay 
Mala Meal 2012 (
Hegel is not funny, or, at least, I don't see it, but one thing I do find funny about reading Hegel is the way he makes so many subpoints, that he ends up needing to use both the Latin and Greek alphabets to label them.  If he had been a friend of mine, I might have said (nicely): "when you start needing multiple alphabets because your subheadings have subheadings, it's might be time to simplify, or at least consider using a new heading." So, I hate to make a "subphase," but I'm going to do it anyway, because I'm not ready to move on to Phase 3 and want to shift gears with Phase 2.

I'm not very good at resting.  I'm always so focused on planning and making new work, that slowing down to rest and reflect can feel like looking back at the expense of moving forward. I had so much fun this week - assisting with a performance piece (the Mala Meal Project); meeting people; seeing new places. While I miss my feline assistant and studio, I made these two mini prints to test out a new process and some new materials.
shiny new mini prints 

the mobile studio-in-a-box
a specimen from my new locale
After seeing first-hand the logistics involved in the Mala Meal Project (wow), I feel like I have so much to learn (and about cooking, too). So, in terms of being prepared, I'm adopting a new strategy. I'll start with the database because it's something I feel comfortable with; then, I'll expand gradually from there. That will allow me to break the record keeping down into smaller pieces and do a little each month instead of trying to do it all in one phase then moving on. By breaking it down, I hope to teach myself the habit of documentation, just like I learned the habit of mini-making. For now though - I think I need some sleep. :P
using the new camera for its intended purpose and working on that image database
(still working on the pithy title for this one), 24 x 48," paint and mixed media on panel, 2012

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Phase 2 - be prepared for good things, update 2

hello new camera, good bye tiny house
I've been working on being prepared by improving and systematizing my art records.  I started a database but need to work on my photographic documentation as well. Initially, I thought I would embed a thumbnail in each database form record, (and I still think it's not a bad idea, maybe for some other time), but it didn't work well with this database (I'd needed a separate, low-resolution image to keep the file size lean).  So instead, I built a text form to feed a spreadsheet, and at the top of the form, I assigned each work an accession number (last two numbers of the year it was created-abbreviation of the primary medium-record number within that year), and will make a parallel folder of photos labeled by accession number to match the text record. (Ok, now on to the fun part...)

I've been wanting a new camera for a while (see the photo of mini 45 - evidence) Unfortunately, it's not all the camera's fault.  Despite the fact that I often make tiny, precise artwork, I have trouble holding still enough to take photos, and I have a tendency to drop (non-art, non-living) things.  Fortunately, compensating for human frailty is what technology is for, no?  I'm so excited about the new shock-resistant camera that I thought I'd do something a little different and make a photographic entry or "what I did on my week 3 of phase 2":

Pack Boxes - while I use the library for reading books, I have a lot of art books for the pictures (I took this picture to remind myself that I may want to exercise greater restraint on that front in the future.)  I labeled the boxes with neon tape in purple pen and went back and used happy faces and different color neon stickers as a code for each room to try to distract myself from the stress of packing (did it work? About like taking tylenol for an oozing flesh wound, me thinks).

So, I decided to go for a walk.  Now I can take more and better pictures of industrial stuff (yay!)
I also got really interested in looking at mushrooms (some samples):

 which reminds me that one of the best things about real vs painted space - real space has a z-axis
Try Again
Look up

seriously - wouldn't want to step on this
 Look Down

In terms of my current art focus on mechanical vs organic copying - I think I've been looking at striations lately because a machine makes parallel lines by basing each one on a formula, and therefore can produce the same thing over and over; but a plant, animal, or human can make each line respond to the one before it and incorporate the unexpected so that, unlike with a machine, the result is unpredictable

I decided to test out the waterproofing on the camera by going for a walk in the rain even though my raincoat is already packed - it was totally worth it.

poem: rainbows are never cliche, and this image is (c) btw ;)

Finally, facing the emptiness.
studio floor in excellent condition (pat on the back)!
brought to you you with the help of:
 the happy timer, the lucky sheep, the kitty friend, and my man Albert

Friday, August 10, 2012

Phase 2 - be prepared for good things, update

I've made some progress this week in terms of being prepared for good art things to happen:

1) I got business cards - real ones (at last!)
2) I hunted down a coupon and got a work (the cathedral) framed for the Southeastern College Art Conference juried exhibition (at the Durham Arts Council, 120 Morris Street Durham, NC, Sept. 21 - Oct. 20 - yay!)
3) I set up a form to feed to a spreadsheet for my artwork database (if it works - double yay!)
4) I submitted a grant application (learning a new piece of software along the way - o my)

I'm also mid-packing for my next move (oy - heavy lifting, not my favorite thing). Part of my time management strategy for Phase 2, is that I am temporarily without a studio and supplies, so I thought it would be a good time to work on the database while it doesn't take time away from art-making (keeping it in line with principle #1).  I thought the lack of supplies would force me to focus on logistics and packing rather than drawing and painting. It didn't quite work out that way - I made these 4 small drawings this week. While I was at the framer, I saw a set of 48 acid-free pens for $5 (coupon!).  They're archival and the set contains both neon and (the clincher) glitter colors. I can only resist so much temptation. I made it a mini-mission to use every single color (mission accomplished :)).  I also worked through about half of a (small) book of violin music.  On the one hand, this took time away from my packing, but on the other hand, maybe part of the being prepared is being calm and focused (and seeing pens spread out all over the floor helps me identify my home, boxes or no).  Plus, isn't this entry more interesting when it comes with tiny, neon, glittery illustrations?

Up next on the docket for the continuation of Phase 2 - entering the data into the form to build the database
self- portrait as the patron saint of glitter

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Phase 2 - be prepared for good things, intro

Minis-in-a-box (with a can instead of a coin for scale)
Despite the fact that I was an honorary boy scout (a story for another day, that), Phase 2 is a challenge for me because I'm generally more of a "defensive pessimist."  Having given it some thought though, I think being prepared for something good to happen is different than expecting it - expectation implies inevitability (which I don't believe in), where as preparation is a state of readiness, "just in case." Being prepared, to me, does not indicate expectation, but is more about acknowledging the possibility of good things as one potential future among many.

I think the "just in case," ties in to a fundamental characteristic of art-making - that art always starts with a "what if...?"  One reason I never worry about running out of ideas is that I could go back to any work and start asking "what ifs" and end up with something new: what if I'd started bigger/smaller, prepared the surface rougher/smoother, worked on a circle instead of a rectangle, used gray instead of red, used a mirror image of the figure (and on and on and on).

*Theory moment: I think this is what the philosophers Deleuze and Guattari mean when they say that the virtual world is always more than reality and that reality is a reduction of virtual possibilities down to a single actuality (saddness).

But to refocus, I think it's a good thing in terms of art to always be asking "what if," but sometimes it seems like there are so many more "what ifs" associated with failure than success, that it's hard not to lose sight of the possibility of something good. So the question for Phase 2 is: what if something good happened?  If a gallery, museum, or grant committee called me tomorrow and wanted my work, would I be prepared in a concrete way?  Can I devote/adapt my time/space to be better prepared?

One idea: build a database.
As I mentioned in the project description, I think one of the great things about time/space management is that it leaves behind data, which can then be organized (and color-coded!).  I love charts, graphs, databases, and spreadsheets, especially art-related ones. If MOMA called me tomorrow and wanted an artwork (since I'm channeling the virtual here, I might as well go big) what would I need to know:

thumbnail image of piece (starting with the visual, makes the record easy to find quickly, confirms the right info for the right piece, and verifies the condition in a date-stamped format)
type: (drawing, painting, sculpture, etc)
title: (good to be consistent)
date: (I never forget my work, but I can forget the dates)
size: (same thing)
medium: (good to record this for future care/preservation, because I use so many different things)
price: (yes)
location/ owner: (I dream of having color coded flat files and vertical storage someday...)
publication/ exhibition history: (my, my, we are ambitious ;) )
display: (framed/ unframed, requires a pedestal, etc.)
notes: (because there should always be room for more info)

Once built, I'll be able to sort by any heading (I want to see all the work from 2011, I want to see all the paintings in acrylic), and I can make sure to have the database backed up so that my photos and records are more resistant to loss (thinking about a hard drive failure only violates the "be prepared for good things" principle if the data is irrecoverable :)).

I'm not sure how long this will take me - it's a pretty ambitious undertaking, but then, it wouldn't be a project without goals, right?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Phase 1 - do/make the work, conclusion

I did it!(!) I made 10 pieces (and prepared most of the the surfaces, and documented) in 3 weeks (and they aren't all tiny or uncomplicated either - not that there was any doubt there, right ;)).

The overall theme for this body of work is mechanical vs artistic repetition.  I used techniques that suggest reproducibility (stencils, stamps, projection, mass-produced materials, and repetitious mark-making), but in a way such that they become highly individualized.   

01 Tatiana Klacsmann, the keyhole, ink, color pencil on panel, 22 x 16 ,” July 2012
02 Tatiana Klacsmann, the project, acrylic, ink, charcoal on fabric, 22 x 40 ,” July 2012
03 Tatiana Klacsmannthe frameink, color pencil on panel, 22 x 16 ,” July 2012

04 Tatiana Klacsmann, the flight (Miniature #49), ink, color pencil on panel,  4 x 4 ,” July 2012

05 Tatiana Klacsmann, the balloon, ink, charcoal, and color pencil on panel, 9  x 11 ,” July 2012
06 Tatiana Klacsmann, the garden, acrylic, ink, color pencil on canvas, 18 x 36 ,” July 2012

07 Tatiana Klacsmann, the edges, ink and charcoal on panel, 4.5 x 4.5 ,” July 2012
08 Tatiana Klacsmann, the Exit (Miniature #50), acrylic, ink, color pencil on found object,  5.75 x 4.25,” July 2012

09 Tatiana Klacsmann, the game, ink  on panel 

(front and back), 1.75 1.25,” July 2012

10  Tatiana Klacsmann, the repeat (detail) ink and charcoal on panel, 24 x 48,” July 2012
Me, at CAC last week
Me, at my first residency, age18
I thought this was pretty funny - at least I'm consistent.  Some continuous interests:  self-portraits with framing, birds, found surfaces and refuse are all things that appear consistently in both (as well                         as my fashion-sense apparently - it's not the same shirt, but it could have been if I'd taken the photo on a different day). Speaking of the power of fashion, I took a page out of Michael Kors' playbook and wore the same thing everyday (white t-shirt from a multi-pack, cargo shorts, and longwear lipstick or gloss), so I didn't have to think about it.  It was a small change, but I think it did help me get focused on work from the moment I got up.  I may stick with this one in the future.

A big part of my strategy for this phase was to cultivate presentness and focus through sensory activation.  A breakdown of what worked and what didn't:
Taste - the only one that really seemed to wake up my brain and not make me hungry was ginger altoids (I'd never had these before - yum) 
Smell - the peppermint essential oil spray worked surprisingly well. When I got tired or a little stuck, I'd walk over and spray some, and it was like pressing a reset button for the brain.  
Touch - I like my weird grass/synthetic fur hybrid pillow, and it's preferable to sitting on the floor, but I missed having my feline assistant sitting next to me.
Sound - this was probably the most important component.  I usually listen to NPR/BBC while I work.  I've been thinking about why I do this, and I think it's my way of balancing focus inward vs outward.  With this project, I listened to instrumental music.  I did the research looking outward first and then focused my attention more completely inward, and the result was that each part received more of my more attention, but at different times.  I'm not sure whether this was "better," or just different (still thinking...). 
20th century industrial stuff

Other artness going on:
19th century industrial stuff

19th century me
- I did some research

- I got to go see oil paint being made at RGH paints (completely awesome, and they have "paint scholarships"! Check in out: )
- I recorded some of my interaction with CAC's unusual site with help (thank you Natalie!)
The 3 weeks spent at the Contemporary Artist Center were incredibly productive for me (thumbs up for that!)  Though the space/time of the residency is not reflective of my normal life, it did allow me to peek through the window onto what life could be like if I could find a way to devote more of my space and time to art-making. 

*Unforeseen happy outcome - pieces 1, 3 and 6 were included in the Hudson Independent Artist Trail at Henry Hudson Studios as part of the New Art Dealers Alliance art fair in Hudson, NY, July 28-29.  This leads me to Phase 2:

Phase 2 - be prepared for something good to happen
(...stay tuned for more on that soon)