July 8, 2006

Ahora (Sort of)/Admin

Here is a shot by night, the studio bajo. I can't deliver any more true "Ahoras" (studio pics shot and blogcast at once), but this might suffice.

I've just rolled on the last coat of matt medium and now all of the panels are prepped and ready to go. It feels like it has been a long time since I've approached a canvas... but considering that I have just recieved the last materials for the preparatioin of the panels by the middle of this week, well I guess I'm moving as fast as I can.

Here's a shot by day:

Sorry to be running behind with the mailcall. I intend to pick up the slack in a week or two. Thanks to those who were kind enough to send in a note. I've just recieved one from Chris Jagers (his fine blog is listed in the Soup of Links to your left) and since he asked a techinical question that relates to the circumstances of this Ahora, I thought it might be correct to get a jump on mailcall at this time:

Hi Dennis,

I saw in a recent post that you prepare your canvas with tons of matte medium. Could you post some pictures of that? I'm curious if you use rollers, squegees, brushes or something else. I am starting to use matte medium myself, but for painting with -, but using it between layers of ink drawing. (Does that still count as a painting?) I'll include a pic.

Also, do you like having so many shows lined up one after the other? I would hate the pressure, but you seem to know what your doing. Do you wish you had time to just mess around, or think, or take a break? Your unbelievably productive.


I think of Robert Ryman as the one who sanctified the idea that the entire construction of a cuadros is in coequal terms with the paint material in terms of being qualified with the status as art material. So, yes of course, interleafing the ink with the medium would still count... if one has to count at all.

Chris, I'm sure that you've already considered using the full spectrum of prepratory media in this coequal status with finish media: gesso, gel medium, even tinting the medium with acrylic color. Since you're interleafing, why not go to town?

My friend in ChinaTown, painter Bart Exposito ('sup, Bart!), was the one who converted me to the practice of rolling on the medium with... paint rollers, a big improvement this is over my previous habit of laboriously brushing it on. The "hand" is better, more uniform and neutral, and it's faster and therefore I no longer experience the dread I once felt in the have-to-do of canvas prep. Do I use tons? Maybe. But once you've had the experience of having the oil creep into the weave of a finished canvas, an extra coat will enable a sound sleep at night. I used to brush three coats by hand and now I roll four. That seems to work alright.

Shows lined up? Well, I do what I can, what I have to do, I guess. I'm lucky to have a train of shows (toca madera, I knock on my head), that's for sure. I try to schedule them so that I'm not on a treadmill... compared to many other artists, having around two and a half shows a year is certainly not a rat race.

To keep things in perspective, I have not enjoyed real success by the standard art world formula: making the curatorial and critical short lists which would throw me into the hyper velocity treadmill of rolling prestigious international museum shows and big time A list group shows, all of which would be added atop a super pressurzed three plus shows a year. Let's call this a blessing in a clever disguise.

Otherwise, I think it's important to keep that open "messing around" feeling on par with the attitude of industry. This is how I describe my work in relation to others: "For me, work and play is one and the same." ...and therefore, and with appropriately mixed feelings, I get no real vacation however exceptional my life may seem.

But consider my situation right now: Stephanie is working for Guess? inc. at this time, and she is enjoying a Spartan (or as it might be called here in Europe, Yanqui) two week vacation. We wish we could stay together here in Tossa for the three months of painting for the show (or otherwise traveling to see more of Europe), but we do what we can. This impacts her in that I am stealing time here and there to prep/paint, time for my work (or work/play as in space/time?) while she is on her vacation -which is ultimately not fair to her on some important level. ?Que lastima! And there will be moments between paintings in the coming months when I will be snorkeling and hoisting a whiskey with friends at local bars and wishing Stephanie would be here with me.

But look, if this is the kind of pain life can bring.... venga, tio!

Perhaps, too, it's my previous training as an architect that seeps in: those guys get no break whatsoever, they work their butts off. Consider: Louis Kahn used to have a matt on the floor of his studio to steal sleep now and again during charettes. I do the same for most of the time, I had built architectural bones into a painter's body. Workaholism is as natural as a sunny day.

Enough hablabbery. Gotta go!

ps: Thanks for the subtle correction in my misspelling of "matte"

pps: I remember a studio vsit aeons ago, wherein a woman in a group asked when the show date was and I reported something similar to my current situation. I remember her face, a study in horror. For a moment, I recognised that this is probably a proper register of emotion given the stress of my exhibition calendar... but I had to arc past her fear and steele myself for the task at hand: to find a way to relax into the tension; to cut away from the disembodied, floating above myself feeling and get inside the studio, into the work/play, to truley flow, to be there.

Posted by Dennis at July 8, 2006 9:14 AM

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