Saturday, November 23, 2013

PAFA MFA 2 Fall Week 12: T-Minus 3 And Counting

 There is less than a month left of school now and we just received our schedules for our final crits on Friday that gives us a room and time and lists the faculty in attendance. The new head of the MFA Clint Jakkala is implementing a new way to do the crits based on a lot of suggestions from the MFA students. No longer will we have the entire faculty in attendance an more than one crit will be going on at one time in more than one room. I go on the last day, the 13th, and then its a good time to catch some sleep ahead of the holiday.

 I started a larger painting this week based on a sketch I did. I wasn't sure I wanted to pursue it to be honest, since its a bit political, but my critics encouraged me to go for it. Its on matboard and in acrylic and I'm just going to go at it as time allows me. Not that my thesis draft is in and over the Thanksgiving holiday I hope to get some painting time in.

 here is a shot of my storyboarding classat uarts. The crew is all hard at work on their junior animatic at this point---the final review when they have to have a final animatic complete with sound is coming up.

 there was also a gallery show for Studios 8 and 9 ( the 8th and 9th floors) as well as an Open Studio. I skipped the Open Studio as I started feeling like I was coming down with a cold--and have. But I did stop by and briefly hob-knob with friends at the gallery shows.  here are a bunch of pics from various artists in the MFA program, a mix of MFA 1 and MFA 2. The theme of the gallery 8 show was collaboration.

                            MFA Students  eating and drinking--two of our favorite activities!

I submitted my painting I collaborated with my friend Alexandra Thomas that we both painted on over the summer, entitled, Cezanne's Underpants.  A lot of people came up and asked me a lot of questions about this painting and how we worked on it. Its actually no that common that two painters can work on the same piece it seems. Maybe its too much ego?
With the closing of the semester i am very aware that soon I will no longer see this view almost everyday as I will be off to new environs. Will I have a new home studio or will I go and get another studio outside of my home? I don't relish the idea of being home alone all the time, and like the social interaction of having a studio with friends, but there are a lot of questions and issues with both. Philly as a city sucks for business and having studios. The parking authority and business privilege taxes to be just two of the bigger headaches. But I still have time to figure that out.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

PAFA MFA 2 Fall Week 11: T-Minus 4 And Counting

We are 4 week from the end of the Fall semester  and our final reviews begin on the 6th. They are trying a new format with multiple reviews happening at the same time in multiple rooms and splitting the faculty up into smaller groups. The hope is this will facilitate a better review process for everyone, the drawback is that not all the faculty will review everyone's work as in the past.

 These are the works of my fellow students in Mike Gallagher's class that was dealing with the various themes and topics we have been talking about in class. the idea is to create work dealing with these ideas but also having it relate to your own work.

                                   I like that my classmate Joel is always drawing in class

I've kept up with the smaller paintings as my time is still compromised but I did get out and get some plein air in last weekend. You can read about that over on my Philadelphia Plein Air blog

I wish I had more time to get out but that' just the way it is till I'm done in the spring with school.

Lots to do this coming week with the Thesis draft due, and two more paper/presentations coming up, but my regular gigs. Right now Friday nights have been painting nights at school for me, since its the only time something is not due somewhere for someone. I might start the crunch on the final big painting I started over a month back.

This week we had two assignmnets due in my seminar with Mike Gallagher, one was "The Everyday" and the other was a " mediated image".

The everyday was a drawing of my cats and the mediated image was a digital image I made from a photo I shot of a figure.  Now we have our final assignments which is to do a presentation on a subject for the whole class. I think I have one that might be interesting---or not. Someone always says what you do is boring.

There was a lot happening this week at PAFA as well with he final Gallery 128 student show of the year and an Allumni show in the Historic landmark Building and museum.

                                                           My painting The End of Play

I was honestly surprised my painting "The End of Play" was accepted into the show, its the one painting with the most love it or hate it feedback.
                                                                   The Alumni Show

 There was a lot of good work in the 128 show, my fave being this cool dino head sculpture, the second being this chair.

I talked the talk with several fellow students before I scooted next door to the alumni show and saw old buddies like Rob Stack who graduated almost 2 years ago.


Then it was back into the studio for some painting into the wee hours. I also got my spring schedule and it looks good, got the critics I wanted and I have only one seminar class, so I hope I'll have more painting time.

                                              Morning Lot 15 x 9 Acrylic on Heavy Paper

Saturday, November 09, 2013

PAFA MFA 2 Fall Week 10: T-Minus 5 And Counting

The could wet wind swept in this week lifting the Falls beauty from the trees as we entered the final real month of school.
                                    It seems  almost everybody I talked to was tired this week. But the fall colors have been great this wee, too bad i haven't been able to get out and paint yet, but my camera's eye is always hungry.........

 It seemed every conversation I had, from the casual ones you have in the elevators riding to a from studios and classes, to the bundled up smokers outside feeling the first licks of Old Man Winters approach complained about being "sooo tired".
 The Post Halloween Blues leaves many a rotting pumpkin head

At Uarts the students were also feeling the same, a few even missing class this week. The class is scrambling now to finish up the last assignment which is a commercial storyboard and then finish their animatic for their Junior Film. This will be my last semester as both student and teacher, the dual roles will finish in May when I graduate, so next year I will not have to juggle as much, which should make teaching maybe even more enjoyable.

 The crucial mix of reading, notes and coffee. 2/3 coffee and 1/3 everythig else on Friday mornings.

There seems to be a tagging war going on as the first tags up on the women's shelter across the street have now been tagged over.

So this little slide down the power bar is the The Deep Semester Drag---that's what I've come to call it. So now, like a character in an old cartoon, everybody will grab their collective stomachs, lift and  and stuff it up in their chests, pull the belt tight with a snort, and prepare to tackle the last crazy month of school--or maybe it won't be crazy, just busy, I don't feel crazed yet because in the end it's gonna be what it's gonna be, no matter what.

Crits/final reviews start in basically four more weeks and our thesis rough draft is due on the 20th. This time last year I think I was more concerned than I am this year about the fall review. I have a bunch of smaller landscape paintings I am doing and that may be all I show. I might have a figurative painting or two if I can get some model coordination going...which due to me being so busy with commercial work might be hard. Everyone seems to be reacting so well to this new round of smaller landscapes and that makes me feel I am onto something here. I don't know why. maybe using the acrylics instead of oils gives me a bolder approach. I think oil painting can have a preacious quality to it at times. So much prep time, expense, etc., and the acrylics are cheaper and less prep. basically no prep, I just sketch it out and blast.

Kurt Knoblesdorf came to talk in the Visiting Artists Program this week. Kurt graduated from the Academy in 2005, the same year the people like Rachel Constantine did. Kurt and a funny sort of weird talk about his work. I think the audience in a way didn't get it in spots. I didn't either so much. But I had a studio crit with him later and we really connected well. he's also from Detroit, went back and spent time and we both love the urban painting as a scene as a subject.

 One of the several paintings Knoblesdorf did based on an envelope he found of mugshots on the ground in south Philly.

                                                 Anderson 14 x 9 Acrylic on heavy paper

 We talked about strategies or approaches. He what I call and instinctual painter and he talked about not having a real intellectual approach to his work. He tries to basically get out of his own way when painting. I know i am more of a technician in a way. But I do try and get deep in the trance so I also get out of my own way--but I also realize that the technical is what is important to me in my process and I cannot deny that craftsmanship is vitally important to me. Craftsmanship in service of a vision. Sometimes talking to a painter who tackles similar themes or subjects but from a very unfamiliar angle helps focus back on your own approach. I know Scott Noel really wanted me to talk to him. Kurt said he was glasd to get out of school and all the voices in your head--something I so feel right now. It's not that the door is totally closed, but it's like pushing the door almost closed to stop the noisy hallway bleeding into the studio.

 Kurt was a funny guy and very nice and I think we will stay in contact, he was very positive about the work, especially the "bride series". So I guess staying out of your own way is a way to think about approaching a painting-- a new way of feeling your painting or process.

Draw! 26 also dropped this week and so far the feedback seems to be great. Its available as a dead tree addition or as a PDF from Twomorrows. I am trying to finish up issue 27 and plan 28-30 now. On the Judge Woody is finally bringing the cruise part of the wedding storyline to a finish as the cast disembarks the ship to head into  the jungle to see April's father. Woody told me that their is a new paper picking up the strip which is great! In today's world having a paper actually pick up a strip instead of dropping it is very rare, especially a old continuity strip like Judge Parker.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

PAFA MFA 2 Fall Week 9: A Final Step in the Count Down to Graduation

 Halloween week has come and gone like a mere waft of spookiness this year. I partook in none of the merry horror with all of the horrific deadlines I had this year. I had to turn down the party offers and sat ignoring any trick-or-treaters running up and down the rain slick streets of my neighborhood. I gave out no candy or comics this year as I just didn't have the time to sort through comics to find the appropriate ones to give out--if kids would even want them. Of all fall semesters since being in school this, my final has certainly been the busiest one, and maybe that is fitting as a big sendoff and countdown begins in full to leaving the world of academia behind as a student.  I also registered for my final classes a critcs for my last semester in the MFA--and boy was I happy to do this. It's like watching one of those hoses on the Apollo that caries some kind of power or fluid detach in the count down. I'm so happy to never have to go through registration again, or the FAFSA, etc. I am very excited to leave Planet PAFA as a student and see where the art rocket will take me.

I was a guest speaker last Monday at Arcadia University which featured my best bud and Grand Poobah of cartooning, Jamar Nicholas. It was a great honor and a lot of fun to talk about comics and World Building on the panel with Jamar and the host, Matt.  This took place to kick off the exhibit featuring Jamar's work which is up at Arcadia through Feb, 2014. You can watch a video of the talk here on youtube.

 This last Friday was also the latest 8th Floor Gallery opening which features art by the various students on the 8th floor at PAFA. I have been too buys to either submit anything nor have I been asked of chosen so far, but I popped down to eat some cheese and ginger snaps and yak for a few minutes. Most everybody went out to gallery hop for First Fridays, but I went back to the studio to paint for a few hours instead. It would be nice to go out, and maybe I'll make it about to see some of the new shows over the next month---but painting must be served!! I didn't even submit anything to LaPelle's winter show, even though I was asked. I just didn't feel I had something I wanted to submit and there is plenty of my work in the gallery already. I'm looking to make some moves too, so I am keeping my work back for a bit to see what changes might happen in 2014.


This was the first painting I did yesterday, and its based on a very small section of a picture I shot with my iphone while driving to Lancaster a few weeks back. the section of the picture was probably less than an inch in size and I cropped and blew it up and liked the composition I saw. The fact it was both a hazy morning and the digital grain of the picture was there added a lot of atmosphere and possibilities to interpret what was there. I was also ruminating on my last crit with both Noel and Denise Green. I was think that how paintings of nature, of the beauty of nature  are never really questioned I the way it is currently popular to critic the male gaze of female beauty. Its there a male gaze of nature? A Female gaze of nature? Denise liked my little study of a nude male you can see in the picture above. I put a male in a position like one of a young girl in a painting by Balthus. I don't really intend to go any further with this, though Denise thought i could explore painting this as a series of paintings of transsexuals. OK, sure. Except I am not interested in sexuality or gender issues as a painter, not at all. I like the beauty of the human form, but I am not wrestling with any identity issues myself. The idea of painting a tranny like Jennie Saville might sound like a interesting ideas, but for me it would be more akin to doing an illustration than a painting I have a feeling about in some deeper way.

So the idea of painting that would not be of any interest to me but it made me thing of how people react the idea of gender, to the beauty of mother nature in my work and how we almost always think of "Mother Earth" or Mother Nature" and refer to the Earth or nature in feminine terms and nobody ever seems to bring up a negative feeling about that. I'm sure out there somewhere there might be a feminist who actually does object. A feminist with leg hair as thick as the densest pine forest who objects to the objectification of nature. But it got me thinking about how often I feel in school you are defending things, your tastes, your choices in subjects, mediums,  topics, the politics of your art which might be the politics of gender or seen through the modernist or post, post, modernist lens of sexual orientation. I feel I am a defender of skill, tradition, beauty, history and the connections they all have from the past to now--to me. I really kind'a hate the word contemporary now. Like the word Genius, I think its should be struck from usage for a long time. Its I feel like the N word for art. It's loaded. It can be a term of admiration, support, an insult, a put down. It seems certain people use it too much and its a way to segregate artists and the validity of their work.

So this, the second painting I did yesterday based on my photo I shot during a morning commute into Philly to head to school--is this a "Male Gaze' picture of nature? Would a woman do this different, even not choose this scene at all? if so--how so? Can you tell its made by a male painter if you looked at it without knowing it was me who painted it? I think I might be chewing on this idea for a bit.