Monday, October 27, 2008

Return Of The Son Of Monster But-Is-It-Art

The next assignment for my Digital Printmaking class is to do a print of a number in the style of a known artist. I chose Chuck Close and based it on a piece I'd seen in one of my few trips to a museum. I spent all day on it yesterday and it kinda sucks -- but this was not an assignment that was gonna inspire me so it's good to have it done so I can do my own stuff. Funny, though -- there's a bit of synchronicity between my doing this and the examples Glendon used in his post.

If you've found interest in my But Is It Art posts you really should go take a look at this post on Glendon Mellow's The Flying Trilobite. I am not fooling.

6 comments:

LunchBoxxx said...

I failed every art class I've ever attended. Not to say I didn't learn anything, 'cause I did. however I cant work without a muse, or at least insperation giving me a swift kick to the groin. I salute your abilty to crap out art. You dont know what I would give to do that.

Sean Craven said...

Really, what it comes down to is a willingness to put marks on paper even if you know what you're doing is going to suck.

The thing is, you never know. There are pieces that I did as assignments that I absolutely hated working on. Years later they turn up and I wonder what the hell was wrong with me that made me despise myself for doing what was actually pretty good work.

Another big part of it is being so productive that the physical act of producing becomes second nature.

Of course I'm making it sound like this is all just a matter of discipline when in my case, I art or I go crazy. Real crazy, the kind where they have to lock you up. This is what I've got instead of Prozac... Actually, for what I've got it would be heavy tranquilizers -- anti-depressants are bad news for such as me.

So it's pretty much down to art.

Glendon Mellow: The Flying Trilobite said...

I think this one is aesthetically far far more beautiful than Demuth's Five.

I like what you said about developing art-making second nature; having a decent studio space is important.

Sean Craven said...

Thanks for the kind words on the piece; my own negative judgment is based mostly on my love of its model.

See, I saw the Chuck Close piece when I was first learning to draw. It had been reproduced in my textbook (The Art of Responsive Drawing by Nathan Goldstein -- it is an insanely comprehensive course of study and I'd love to have the money and time to work my way through it.) and I'd admired the absolute realism and sleazy attitude it conveyed -- the Hon. Mr. Close was smoking a cigarette and the beautifully rendered smoke and his 'fuck you' expression just hit me. The photorealistic rendering was a real breath of fresh air -- this was during the great Impressionism stampede of the eighties.

Imagine my feelings when I saw that the piece was something like five by eight feet and had been rendered entirely in fingerprints. The sheer labor didn't impress me as much as the way the thumbprints were darker and lighter in different areas in order to accomplish incredibly fine rendering that didn't show up in the small reproduction in the book... Well, next to that my number nine looks pretty shabby.

(But comparisons are odious, of course...)

I understand that Mr. Close has spent the majority of his career working on portraits based on photographs and rendered at large scale. This allows a degree of specialization that makes it possible to spend months developing a particular technique and executing a single piece. If I put that much effort into a single image, who knows what I could accomplish?

(Actually, I tried working that hard on a single piece when I was offered a gallery show a few years back and the results were pretty mindblowing -- but my back wouldn't let me work on a large scale piece for that long. I had been bedridden twice by the time I was a quarter of the way done so I had to give it up.)

And he got a lot more training, got an earlier start, got a lot more encouragement, etc. than I did.

But it's still pretty humbling.

What you say about a studio space is so, so true, at least for me. Having a dedicated creative space that really supports your activities makes a serious difference. I've been tempted to do a post about my studio but I've held back because it's...

... well, my studio is so cool I'm embarrassed to have it. It's the result of twenty years worth of putting my spare resources into my creative functions and as a result its informational density and artistic resources are really intense.

From time to time I'll describe myself as a cyborg -- half man, half room. Among other things the only furniture accessible to me that is actually good for my back is part of the workstation I'm at right now.

Huh. Now that I think about it, I'm embarrassed by it partially because I've been out of work for so long and my prospects are so bad (for pete's sake, I'm trying to make it as a writer/artist -- that's just retarded) I feel as though I don't deserve it. It's like being a homeless person with a sports car. I don't want anyone to feel jealous of me. I don't want to focus on the fact that my way of life is far, far more luxurious than is appropriate for someone with my financial status.

Fuck that attitude. I'll post a tour of the studio sometime in the near future. And they everyone will have the opportunity to, as my brother-in-law says, "ascend the lavender staircase."

Glendon Mellow: The Flying Trilobite said...

Sean, I'd love to see your studio space. I've though about posting pics of mine as well (an oversized closet).

You wanna coordinate the same week to do it? We could encourage other artists to post their studios in a one-shot blog-carnival kind-of way.

Sean Craven said...

That sounds just ducky. Let's.

How do we handle the details? Do you have anyone else in mind? This is all so new and strange to me...