Sunday, September 11, 2016

How (not) to write an artist statement.

Me, sitting down with a cup of coffee, my brain and a computer:

Brain: You can do this.

Me: Right, focus.  Okay, *reading* “please submit a short artists statement (around 150 words)” —haha, they left off the apostrophe.

Brain: Stop being mean.  At least they wrote something.

Me: Yes, okay.  Let’s see…This series of paintings is a series of paintings about… God, that’s awful.  *grabs sticky notes, writes “Try and sound human” and sticks to monitor*  That’s better. The painting is one of many in a series about whimsy…I wonder if politicians have similar post-its stuck all over their houses and offices?  Ha.

Brain: Focus.

Me: Right.  Sebbie and Oma’s Teapot is the most recent painting of paintings of Sebbie…  *stares off into space*  Is devenir how you say “to become” in French?  Or have I bastardized the Italian word, “devenire” by chopping off the e at the end and pretending it’s French?  

Brain: seriously.

Me: No, no, it’s okay, I’ll just look it up quick; it’ll bug me if I don’t check.  *googles*  Devenir.  That’s right.  I think I bastardized the French to make fake Italian actually.  Just look that up quick too.  *more  googling*  Diventare.  Yep, I did.  I’ve been living an English speaking country for too long.  How can I pull off moving back to Europe?


Me: Right.  But do I remember how to conjugate devenir?  
Brain: NO.

Me: Alright. Tanya Harsch is a person with fabulous hair.  Her paintings are images without polkadots

Brain: Try again.

Me:  Fine.  Sebbie and Oma’s Teapot…  Something.  This painting is one of a series of paintings depiction my childhood toy puppet, Sebbie, encountering adventures.  In this piece, he is asking for tea from a teapot styled as a cat.   The teapot has particular sentimental associations for me, as it belonged to my grandmother and I spent many a childhood meal, seated at her table admiring the teapot on its shelf.  I’m out of coffee.  I wonder how many paintings a year I’d have to sell to be able to afford to pay someone to write these things for me? 

Brain: You’re so close, just focus, just get it written, and then you can ignore it until tomorrow when I make you re-read it and proof it.

Me:  A secretary would be nice.

Brain: This is why artists drink.

Me: Oh, shut it.  How many words is that?  *counts*  Sixty three.  Bollocks.  What else do I say?  Let’s see… I paint toys because they bring so much happiness to people.  I started painting them nearly accidentally, bored in the studio one day, and found it to be so much fun.  I thought, “I’ll paint another, maybe a series of three…”  Little did I know, 50 paintings later, I’d still be happily playing with toys.  Does that sound stupid?  

Brain: Shhhh, just keep writing.

Me: I find people often connect to my work because they find a nostalgia in it, a connection to their own childhood.  I don’t even know if that’s true.  Most people just say, “wow, I love your paintings!”

Brain: Then leave it out.
Me: Yes, but word count.  Who invented artist speak, and how do I find them?  

Brain: Why?

Me: I’d like to send them a box of crickets.

Brain:  What?  Wait, never mind, I’m not getting dragged into this, let’s get back on task.

Me: I hear crickets are particularly hard to find and get rid of once they’re in your house, and they make that lovely noise to annoy you.

Brain: *through gritted teeth* ARTIST STATEMENT

Me: You do realize, in this hypothetical argument, I’ve just given my brain its own set of teeth?  Where does it keep them? 

Brain: Shhhh.  Quiet time.

Me: Oh, do I have 150 words already?

Brain: No, of course not, you didn’t have them before, you don’t have them now.  They don’t magically write themselves.

Me: Oh, magic self-writing artist statements, I’d be all over that.

Brain: I give up.

Me: Maybe I’ll just go paint for a little bit, come back to the writing when fresh… Don’t know why these things take me so long.

Brain: *hides under covers.  plays dead*

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Thursday, September 8, 2016

NOAPS on the Cape

Last weekend I participated in a plein air competition on Cape Cod hosted by the National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society in conjunction with Addison Art Gallery. I've done a few of these things, you show up with an empty canvas, they stamp the back to show they saw it blank, and you come back in a set amount of time with a finished piece to hang. As a (mostly) studio painter, I spend a good deal of time alone, painting solo, being a hermit, and the part of me that thinks it knows what's good for me always insists I register for these plein air events when they're local--to get out and meet people, pretend to be social. But somehow that never works. It seems to me that most people attend such events either with the intention of slipping off alone to some secret painting spot, or in the company of friends who already know each other and so don't really need to meet anyone new. And so every time I attend, I end up by myself, marginally irritated with the world, and wondering why I thought it was a good idea to leave the studio in the first place. Except, standing in a beautiful place for a few hours really is reward enough. Even with only paint and ticks for company. And I'm never irritated enough to stop myself registering for the next one--my cynicism is endless betrayed by the persistent hope that the next one will be different. There really should be a Society of Plein Air Hermits. I'd be right at home.

Oh, and here's proof I was there ('cause the ticks are dodgy witnesses). Set up in progress, and the end result: