Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Now that the school year has come to an end a lot of catching up and moving around is happening for me. I will be moving my studio at school this summer, where I end up or if I end up with a studio in school again is up in the air at the moment. I was not happy with my studio assignment for my last year, or the choices offered me. In any regard I need to be thinking beyond school anyway, beyond Philly too in galleries and contests, etc. being rejected from all four plein air events I entered this year was a little surprising I suppose on one hand, and then not on the other. I don't think quality is always an issue but content or style and subject. I also think you have to be rejected for a number of years, then once maybe you've entered enough times maybe they will let you squeeze in. I think if you like urban settings that puts you at odds with the Sunday painter taste of the mostly white, middle-upper class tastes of most of these events. My buddy William Wray told me he was turned down for years when he tried to get in, he's having great success in recent years--so head down and paint on!
I will be carting home a lot of stuff from school in any regard. I think as much as I love the place at times I do get burned out on the gravity there and need to get away. It's a good time to recharge my batteries away from school and the school mindset and all of the other minds and opinions and just deal with my artistic needs. I was pretty crunchy by the end of the semester and I couldn't wait for it to all be over. I cruised through the ASE this year, but just didn't feel the same level of excitement about it as in past years. I've been in school a long time now, since 2007 and maybe I just need a vacation.
I have been trying to line up other models to continue on with the covered or umbilical series. Model mayhem has really not been of much use and seems just hard to search for models in general. I have found 2-3 models who have said yes so I hope at least one will work out.
I painted a lot last summer and want to this summer as well and plan a landscape painting trip in Arizona. Plein air painting recharges me the most of anything I do painting wise, and my battery is kinda' low right now. I did get out 2 weeks ago to do an afternoon with friends painting in the city, and that was fun.
Now that the weather is nice I want to get back out and start plein air painting again here in PA as well. Last year I had a good group that went out a few times, but I might be going solo more this summer, the need of the one outweighs the need of the many this time around I think. I'll see. I need to get some new gear like waders for getting out near rivers and streams--they also help keep the ticks away which are very bad around here in southeast PA. I might try an new easel and i need to compact my painting rig as I end up taking too much crap with me.
I have a new Robin Hood cover illo to start this week, my third and I guess last in the series. They have been fun to do and ever garnered me an award a few years back. The next issue of Draw! is on its way to China as it will now be in FULL COLOR! I want to increase the amount of illustrators in te magazine as comics is mostly a black and white medium. We've hit 25 issues now, maybe we can make it to 50! Joe Jusko will be the featured artist in the next issue and I'm lining up interviews for the next few issues.
As always I am working every week on Judge Parker , its the one constant in my universe. The shot below is from an upcoming week before I put the blacks on. It was inked all with Pigma markers as I sat on my sofa watching Game of Thrones.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
I scooted down to see the public opening of this year's Annual Student Exhibition and to walk the show and give some support of many friends and fellow students. This time last year I was exhibiting and graduating from the school.
I am glad the first year MFA students don't have to show. Its always fun to see everyone gussied up and beaming through bleary eyes after the final push of the last few weeks. Proud parents and wives, husbands, girlfriends, brothers, sisters, lovers, teachers, critics, hangers-on, art lovers, goofballs, snarks and hipsters swirled around the show. Its always an opportunity to see people you haven't seen in a while and give hugs to those you won't be seeing again, maybe ever. But if you ever went to this school, the bond will always be there through the generations. There is only one degree of separation at PAFA.
This class graduates into maybe the most unsure art world, the most crazy art world, where art is a way the wealthy can manufacture personal wealth through buying and trading art that increases in value that outstrips the stock market. The galleries, the auction houses, everybody is in on the act.
ART isn't something that maybe most people feel they need, it isn't essential to most people. I think that is a shame and wrong. I think it is essential, but America has always had a very sort of hostile or suspicious attitude towards art in general.
One thing is for sure, this generation of art students will have more debt and less opportunity, so they will really have to fight for it and be excellent as well. We no longer live in a time where "average" can ever hope to gain a foothold.
The ASE as always is a real big mix of just about anything and everything from video, sculpture, paintings, drawings, you name it. I still think the best ASE I have seen was the one from 2008, it had the best group of painters overall. There were more figure paintings this year I think than last year's show, but figuration I think is waning at the school in favor of more abstraction-which I think is a shame. I think PAFA is still trying to shun the "brown soup" school stigma it was labeled with. Lots of bright colors abound! Still each year brings a new mix, in my MFA class there are a lot of figure painters, and who knows what the next year of incoming undergrad students will be like.
In general I think there is still this battle between figuration and abstraction, or modernists vs traditionalist and there might always be that battle.
Maybe that is good as it makes people defend their stance in the work and I am of course rooting for figuration and narrative painting as well. PAFA still churns out strong painters, and with that there is hope. Good luck to the class of 2013!
Rusty Scupperton doing one of his entertaining interviews. Enjoy the rest of the Art!
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Last week was my final review in front of the faculty of my work for my first year in PAFA's MFA program. It was a real barn burner in some ways between teaching the After School Illustration Class, keeping up with the weekly demand of Judge Parker and trying to finish my final paintings and squeeze in my last few crits with my critics. This was probably my toughest semester mentally as a student as I often just felt a real strong sense of disagreement with certain esthetics and certain teachers. I think I grew a lot as a painter and became even stronger in my convictions as a result. Modernism and I are never going to really agree, we can have a beer and talk, but nope, we can only agree to disagree. I was often buoyed and supported by my fellow students and that was great. I hope I did the same and think many of us found ourselves in choppy seas.
This final review was better than my first review, though I don't think anyone of my reviewers really loved my work, which is OK. They kinda' wanted to make it the male gaze, but having the male figure in it made it not just that. The fact is they want me to spell it out more, spell out the ideas, and I really don't want to nail it down. or not yet. I like letting people bring what they want to bring, for me that's much more enjoyable. I know what the ideas and influences are, I know what I'm putting in my soup. I imagine myself like a bird with that spot in your brain that says "north" is this way, so I head in that general direction but I might make detours. One of the worst things for me is to nail down what the ideas are exactly--- as then it becomes like an illustration, which is specific and has to be to be good. But i don't want my paintings to be illustrations. This is my big thing about artists statements as well. I know many artists like Dan Miller and Alex Kanevsky also feel that artist statements are kinda pointless--or certainly over done. If you can't tell what I'm doing, you don't get a real strong sense of something--react to it--well I'm not doing it very well. None of the issues the critics brought up were really ever brought up by anyone else seeing my paintings this semester. None of my female friends did and they actually were really supportive of my work including my model, which made me feel great!
I know its the critics charge is to challenge us, but I think if you define something too much and break it down too much you remove the magic and the mystery and the open gate of an idea. I feel what's really important for me as a painter is to leave the gate open, idea, format, technique--everything--then slowly close or resolve ideas. I know the danger is for me as a painter is that other wise it can become too closed off or like what I do as an illustrator. And good god I know they loath illustration for the most part though Renee Foulks did encourgae me to use my skills as an illustrator more in cooking the ideas. Reading Andrew Wyeth's Bio this semester he says this very bluntly that he hated talking about or explaining his work and I agree.
In fact I think Scott Noel was more supportive in my private crit that in the public one, but I was surprised by Mark Blavat, who I think was the most negative in my last review, labeling my work "journalistic". Mark came up to me after my review and talked to me at length about how I could push and incorporate my figures and backgrounds more. Honestly I was surprised as I figured he simply didn't like my work, but in the end what matters is if we can take away something from these conversations to make our work better, not whether the critics will love it more or not. In the end its about us, not them, you have to be open of course, but you can only paint to please yourself in the end. You will never appease all of the critics.
This started out as just the figure in the chair but then really ended up as sort of a self portrait as I used myself as the model for the figure in the background.
This is my set of drawings I brought in for my final crit.
They keep the cookies stacked and the refreshments fresh over the three days. Its tough on everyone, the students as well as the faculty, a lot of hard work has gone down and people are also kind of tired and a bit stressed but in the end we were all reviewed and rushed to the exits to begin the summer break and get ready for the ASE this Friday. I know I can use the break and plan on painting my but off for me over the summer. Overall it was good year but I can be honest and say at times I was very unhappy with a certain class, and some aspects of the MFA program. There are too many students in the program and this stresses out the system. I wish there were more figurative painters as critics and I had a better studio. Honestly, the school must really update things and come into the modern age, we should be able to do more things on-line, not have to stand in line. Our computer facilities need to be vastly overhauled--its a sad, sad computer lab and the internet some days is a joke. All of our teachers must be on-line and be able to deal with email, which too many can't. The incoming department head has a lot to tackle and I wish him well as he will have a big job and big shoes to fill replacing Dan Miller.
For now its time to get away from the place for a bit and recharge and get ready for the final sprint in my journey as a art school student.