Saturday, October 26, 2013

PAFA MFA 2 Fall Week 8: Back in the Saddle and Wabbits!

I seemed like it had been a month since I actually painted something in my studio--because it had been a  month since I painted in my studio. In that month "a lot o churn'n be happn'n in me noggin."
Even when I am not painting, rushing about I am always thinking about painting, always looking at the world and turning it into paintings as it swirls past my eyes and thinking about all of the things, scenes, people, places and events of light and shadow that would make good paintings. I see these paintings in my artist gaze every day, sometimes easily dozens and dozens. I call these imaginary paintings, mental canvases. The Famous Artist School had the saying, "See Observe and Remember". I guess since reading that phrase  30+ years ago I have employed that and taken it in to my daily process as an artist. There are many times I will be looking at some scene before me and imagine it as a series of brush strokes or blocks of colors, a face, a pose or gesture that I record in my memory bank. I do take plenty of pictures but sometimes you see some fleeting image that happens too fast to point and shoot--so the mind must capture it and sometime I do it thinking I might paint it later.
I snapped this driving to school, just one of the many painting ideas I see, some like this I take a pic of if I have the time, in this case the light was red so I had a few seconds.

Also in the last month since being in the studio painting I have had a few crits and as a result done a lot of thinking as my time as student winds down. Thankfully winds down.  I also think maybe this downtime was more active than mentally than if I had been painting, as I have resolved to basically ignore anything my critics tell me I really don't agree with for my final days and just paint what I want and FUCK everything else, to hell with the critics the ASE, everything.

After all, this is about me and I feel the weakening of my path by going down side paths, entertaining ideas and tangents/agendas of others must be put aside to finish where I want to finish. I can't finish on anyone elses agenda but mine. I suppose for me this is still part of the old ax I have to grind with much of modern art since my first time in college back 30+ years ago. Its funny and maybe sad how much hasn't change, how old some of these ideas and arguments are, yet are held up a fresh when traditional painting is often thought of as out of date. What isn't out of date? Painting with tweets?

This is about beyond school  for me and to be honest, mentally I am seeing myself almost  on a nice beach somewhere far far from PAFA already. This is not to say I hate the place or the people, don't enjoy the new friends I am making or the creativity, the opposite it true, but I really feel the time to be a student in this formal way and all of the shit that goes along with it, is done. I would not be the artist i am now without the school, but I'm packing my bags in a way.

                          A cool drawing my Joel in his studio of the Old Historic Building

One of the students took us into her studio and instillation where she was dressed as a rabbit and she talked about how important the rabbit is to her as an artist and a big theme in her work.

 However in my research seminar I am pretty winded or  tired of the art talk, the circular yak-yak of the seminars, as informative as they can be---ugh, I am honestly just done. In the painting seminar  something somebody spends a lot of time on something  gets 2 minutes of talk, something that somebody seems to have spent two minutes on gets 20+ minutes of talk. This has been tge case my whole time in art school and a joke amoinst my friends. I think so often weaker art is more open to interpritation and this allows the critic to insert their ego and personality more maybe the more a piece has a high degree of finish, craft, reality, the less you need a critic to explain it and many art students don't want to talk about good art or fellow students who are more skilled in traditional ways--which is doubly ironic at a place like PAFA. Maybe its jealousy, maybe not.  In some classes to be honest, this is just almost too much to bear. I know I am not the only one who feels this way...

I suppose every art student, especially masters student must feel that, and after almost 7 years of art school I just feel this way and cannot lie to myself about it.

I'll be signing up for my final round of classes and critics next week and I will pick even more carefully than before. I know on the surface having different viewpoints on your work is good,  supposed to be a good thing, opens avenues and ideas, challenges you, but that also sometimes just means you waste time and end up not being able to get anything solid out of your 3-4, 30 minute critic meetings.

 If its a new critic, the first meeting is basically a lost one as its a meet and greet. I think reflecting back on my last crit

with Noel and his admonition to me to paint  "only what is at stake for me and fuck everything else," gave me a final flag to go ahead with how I was feeling already.

So yesterday I just painted all day doing lots of little comps or studies exploring painting ideas, even doing a small landscape in acrylic, a medium I am coming to really enjoy. In years past I hated acrylics, seriously had real difficulty with them, but painting with them lately I have had a lot of fun with them and want to continue to paint with them---even trying plein air. In years past I was much more precious as a painter, afraid to plow over or alter precious parts of the I don't fear that so the speed of the acrylic to dry allows painting over into or altering in the sort of slash/cut/build/destroy method ---or open form painting. I'll have to try a more closed form painting to see how I like acrylics now. This day of painting, working on want I feel is important to me. at stake for me, declaring it in paint was invigorating!
 With all the Obamacare shit going on I thought about doing a painting addressing this idea and the fallout, but I don't know if I honestly want to go past this sketch, maybe I worked it out of my system here...

Next week I will have my final flight plan for the end of my time at PAFA and maybe I can start looking at booking tickets to new exotic and artistic locals.

And here are the inks. I just signed to re-up for the 5th year on the strip, which certainly makes this the longest series or project I have ever worked on.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

PAFA MFA 2 Fall Week 7: Open Studios--Tip Us Over And Pour Us Out

This past weekend PAFA held its first MFA and Post Bac only open studios in conjunction with the annual Open Studio Tours that happen city wide in Philly each year. With the new head Clint Jukkala there is a new push I think to get our MFA more out into the spotlight. We have an annual school wide Opens Studio in the Spring of every year and I have been a part of that several times now in both the Under grad and my first year in the MFA.


That's a well trafficked event and the place usually is packed. Traffic was pretty decent on Saturday but pretty light Sunday for most of us, so we socialized with each other and I got to meet a few fellow students I had not met so far which is great. I did have some good feedback on my work, nice conversations and made some new friends. I did want to try and work but it was just too broken up time wise to really concentrate o anything too difficult. I did rough out some of my Judge Parker strips.

It was also good to see some of the work of my fellow MFA's, especially the first years as I have not seen much or any of some of their work. I am happy that there seems to be a lot more painters and figurative painters as well. It was also good to get feedback from the public on my work vs the critics. The public really liked what they saw and almost nobody commented on what my critics have said or given me as criticism, including the artists who were touring the place.


I think its good to also get outside perspective because all schools are myopic to some extent. I loved getting back what people thought of the "draped or Bride" series, especially the group of you women from Moore who came by. I am working on what might be the last piece in this series for a while as I have a hankering to do something else.

We are reaching the halfway mark in the semester and soon the first draft of our thesis will be do, but man----I just want to paint and it seems I have been doing little of that in the past month with all of the other activities going on.

 I guess this is a common complaint with most of us in the program---not enough time to paint, draw, sculpt, assemble, etc. Many of the MFA's are doing installations, and I did have one in mind, but nixed it because it would be too much work for too little time, too short a run.

You have to make some tough calls. I am not an installation artist, nor a video artist and most of this type of work doesn't interest me, but I would try something despite the fact PAFA doesn't really have the facilities to do and edit video like a place like Uarts.

I could do stuff on my Mac, but again---do I waste time on something I have no interest in pursuing to the detriment of my painting?


I have three jobs between school, commercial work and teaching twodays,  plus the guest lecturing, painting events, etc of late so I think I have to be very realistic and say NO for now. If I get the thesis out of the way and enough painting done I might entertain something in the spring.

I can see Halloween on the horizon and Tom Turkey a few weeks after so I think for now I'll just keep my head down and try and paint as much as possible. It was also my birthday this weekend and I got together with my awesome friends and had a great dinner at my favorite restaruant , Little Saigon in Upper Darby on Saturday. Good food great people what can be better? I also go some swell gifts including this comic page drawn for me  by my student Tahirah Pryor. Next week and papers looms so back to it!

Friday, October 18, 2013

PAFA MFA 2 Fall Week 5 and 6

Sorry for the long delay in updates...I know some of you are anxious to read up on all the ins, outs, ups and thumbs down recent events. I have started a few times to update the blog only to have to postpone it due to running off to keep up with the strip and the Star wars books as well as school and teaching. We are coming up to mid-semester, my Thesis outline has been turned in and we have our MFA Open Studio this weekend.
Beautiful Lancaster, PA   and the poster for the event

The 24 Hour Comic day event out at PCAd was great! It's a great school, lots or talented cartoonists and illustrators gathered with the faculty and spent a ay drawing up some fun and weird comics! it was also great to hang out with comic buddies Bob Mcleod who teachers there along with Mike Hawthorne. I'd like to thank Robert Hochgertel  the Chairman & Associate Professor of Illustration Department, Communication Arts for inviting me out for the event.
 I brought along a lot of examples of my comics as well as some fine art paintings

                                                 My first comic cover for DC Comics

I gave a brief talk on my career in comics and animation and how the field has changed quite a bit in some respects since i started back in the mid 80's and then was joined in a panel discussion by Bob McCloud, Mike Hawthorne and Ric Remender to beamed in via Skype. Then it was coffee and snacks and powering up for the long night into day of cartooning which kicked off at 3pm and ended the same time the next day.  I spent the time working away with many of the students on their comics, penciling and even inking whole pages.

 PCAD in Downtown Lancaster. We Skyed away checking in every few hours with a big group of students in Singapore

 We also Skyped with several other schools around the world who were also participating in the event--which has gone global now.


 They plan on releasing a book of the collected strips which will be awesome. I also got to check out the city of Lancaster a bit with Mike an his awesome kids, then grabbed a few Z's and headed back to Philly and to the burning deadlines.

 One of the several pages I inked for students and Mike Hawthorne and his family read some of the comics


 Bob Hochgertle reading some of the comics, there was ever variety from superhero, fantasy to auto-bio comics.


 It was a great time though I was pretty bushed by the end after almost 37 hours straight, so I crashed at a local hotel before I rode back to Philly the next morning. I look forward to hopefully doing it next year.

As a result of all of this extra curricular action the paint brush has been a bit neglected in the past two weeks so I really have a burning desire to get back in the studio and paint---or even better back out plein air paintings. We are coming into the heart of the Fall now and the colors are going to be popping soon.

One the school front my seminar classes are chugging along and I have now had meetings with all of my critics. Some of the meetings have been more beneficial than others which is always the case, but the best so far have been the ones I've had with Scott Noel. I expressed my real frustration with elements of the MFA program as a painter and how I get the feeling the things that are vitally important to me like plein air painting are not looked at as being vital---or the word I have come to loath---contemporary. Tired old saws like "the male gaze' just bore me, time to update your software! If we truly live in times when men and women are equal then there are no sacred cows, both sexes have equal right to create art on any subject or theme. I think certain artists of the older generation still carry old axioms and ideas that I don't see playing now. As I explored a wide variety of artists using the figure, painters and photographers who also employed a wide array or subject matter from beauty, wrapping, draping, binding, blurring, collage, distorting or celebrating  the figure in a crazy variety quilt of subject matter -- from fetish to bondage, sex, gender issues to simply evoking the physical beauty of the human machine-- it seems anything goes.

One of my critics wanted me to paint male figures like the female figures in my paintings...and I did think about that, even doing sketches, but ultimately rejected the idea because I don't want to illustrate her ideas, which that would be. I just want to paint my ideas and I don't have time to paint her agendas---only mine. I feel in the end the critics are here for me and my agendas, to help me paint or ahcive them, not the other way around. So back to the paint pots as much as possible!

My Fall Uarts Storyboarding class has been going very well, the students justturned in their comic assignment and when I get a chance I'll post some here. This is a great group this year, very enthusiastic and hard working which makes teaching a joy! I'll have another update after our open studios this weekend.