Work Going Forward

I made these drawings the week before I met my mentor, Tomer Aluf, last week in Brooklyn. They were the ones that caught his attention.

The following are the main points that came out of the discussion/review of my work:

  • work on white canvas/paper for a while as my main practice
  • work with paint, either oil or acrylic
  • I don’t have to abandon making collages, drawings etc. but for a while focus on working on a white ground

At Tomer’s suggestion I’m reading about Eva Hessa and looking at her paintings. I’m also reading about Philip Guston and Susan Rothenberg for their paint handling and how it conveys the emotional content in their work. I’m looking for emotional content and meaning in my work. I’m tired of the work on old paper I was doing prior to starting this program. I’ve lost interest in working that way, but where I am now is limbo. Occasionally I feel excited but only if I’m absorbed in making/using materials. When I step back I wonder what the hell I’m really doing, making, thinking–

I believe making art is important but I need to understand why. I can’t just make when I feel like it as I did before–I’m challenged me to make even when I don’t know why–even while I doubt whether I should be making at all.


These pieces were part of a larger piece that I tore up. I come back to them again and again as if they have something to tell me— about line, color, mark making. For me they work together and separately. They seem like maps of the sea or the heavens- the black lines and blotches are evocative and for a change I didn’t use so much red but more blue and yellow.

As I cast about for a direction, I find myself looking at older work, esp sketchbooks, with a fresh eye. At times it’s confusing to read about artists I admire as I search for an authentic voice.


Exploring the Anvil Theme (07.18.15)

An anvil is a basic tool, a block with a hard surface on which another object is struck. The block is as massive as is practical, because the higher the inertia of the anvil, the more efficiently it causes the energy of the striking tool to be transferred to the work piece. On a quality anvil the smith’s hammer should rebound with almost as much energy as the smith put into the downward stroke, making the smith’s job easier. ~Wickipedia

At Loose Ends (07.21.15)

Reading about Guston, Chagall, Hesse, Kandinsky, O’Keefe, Bourgeois and more- reading about map making, cosmology, the spiritual in art, feminist art and more- working 25 hours/week, dealing with roommate issues, aging parents and daily life. Thinking I’m the only one in my cohort who still feels adrift, unsure about “direction” and what constitutes a “body of work.” (Facebook discussions with them assure me I’m not.)

It helps to stand in front of my drawing table every day and do something. It helps to work directly with judgement and confusion to accept them and make stuff anyway. It helps to be around other artists, something I don’t do enough but am looking to do more.

The 2 pieces above were one drawing that I tore in half a while ago. I took them out recently and hung them in my studio- they remind me of Redon- they nudge me- maybe they’ll inspire me- maybe I’ll just contemplate them.

This unfinished piece is (maybe) the beginning of working with maps. I have an idea about landscape and drought (I have a huge book of old CA maps) and the resources underground- maps enthrall me- many early maps, esp maps of the cosmos and the heavens, try to convey complex ideas and concepts while also  trying to show the passage of time, or unfolding events.

The small collages below were made a few weeks ago- part of my collage practice looking at forms, balance and color- these come from an unconscious place. Not sure I want to “know” that much about them.


Underpinnings (07.15.15)

Today I wrote words in response to music (mostly Arvo Part), to my state of mind and to the paper. No. 3 was written on lab paper. I will eventually work into these but am documenting words and calligraphy for now.

I have an idea to work on paper that has my words as the background, rather than always working on printed paper with someone else’s words. Paper with my words, whether I handwrite or whether I use a copier to print them, adds another dimension–the entire work is mine.

I photographed these on my drawing table and liked seeing part of the table as a border for No. 3.

No. 1: there is no way to make sense of so much sadness that arises unbidden borne of conditions coming together but lack of awareness allows it to come unnoticed like a thief like a cop like a child fearful of rejection so much fear so much sorrow the heart of the earth of the mother is the only place vast enough she can hold worlds of hurt and transform them into dirt press them into stone into diamonds into things so precious we only need to press our forehead on her wide bosom to know to understand to wake up

No. 2: aloneness that is all i seem to cultivate i am very good at this yet i learn nothing whatever i learn stays here in this room in this house between me and the cat who never asks what i know but who never fails to ask to be fed feed me feed me feed me so many mouths crying crying crying to be fed feed me feed

No. 3: let’s turn this looking this codifying this measuring this keeping of detailed notes this obsession with input and output this concern with the primacy of data this love of columns of numbers that add up to profits let’s turn it all over let’s drop it on it’s head it’s lies all lies telling us one thing while forsaking all others awarding certificates and papers meaningless to life to the survival of species to our lost and precious hearts

Breakthrough! (07.14.15)

Apologies for so many posts–catching up with the backlog. And I’m very excited about this breakthrough.

Working with a process suggested by my advisor, I took an image from my Macaulay Sketchbook (I name sketchbooks based on the the name of the book I’m drawing in. If it’s ledger, then the date it was created.) and developed images/words from that starting point. The initial image had no particular meaning, I was simply attracted to it. Images are set up in the order they were created. The last 2 images are monoprints that are (finally) outside the sketchbook.

Script above No 52-53: two mouths yawning in opposite directions

Calligraphy for No.58-59: a tableau a table a hungry mountain spewing spewing like a volcano but not a volcano just a table and a hungry mountain

Script for 2 anvils: a table a tableau ghost of a table a mountain an anvil a place of beating into submission the fruits of the earth

I’m excited by this process that offers a direction and way of working.

Rediscovering Surrealism and Dada (07.10.15)

In Fiona Bradley’s, Movements in Modern Art: Surrealism, I rediscovered my Surrealist and Dada roots. I was fully immersed in reading about these movements in my 20’s, especially Dadaism–Kurt Schwitters and Hannah Höch inspired me to work in collage.

A surprising result of this MFA program is the excitement and liberation in finding my artistic lineage and tracing my connections to various movements and artists. Work methods I thought I’d “fallen into” are similar to, in some cases exactly like, methods used by André Masson and other surrealists.

In the 1950’2 Masson was drawn to Asian art and Zen Buddhism and became “fascinated by the play between spontaneity and control in Asian art.” These influences appeared in works like Nu vert and Message de mai, and show yet anther connection through shared spiritual interests (vipassana meditation) and art practice.