Browsing: Letters

2 Negative space

Dear Artist, These days no self-respecting workshop instructor goes half an hour without mentioning negative space. So prevalent has this stylistic concept become that it’s currently central to practically all types of pictorial composition. In my own work, the “backwardosis”…

11 How to improvise

“For an artist, greatness happens when you can take something organized and make it feel like it was improvised,” says dance teacher Helena St. Rogers in the drama series, Pose. In painting, you may wonder how to do this without ending up with an aimless jumble. Improvisation, the act of composing without a plan, unfurls in real time but rests on an armature of known structures and experiences, with the goal of getting to a breakthrough. Just as a jazz musician takes a solo over a grid of eight or twelve bars, your improvisation should have a beginning, middle and end.

Art Shows
12 Form them up

Dear Artist, In the good old days, students in art schools were provided with simple plaster forms. The sphere, pyramid and cube were the basics. Subjected to various types of light, simple drawing skills were tested and developed, the subtleties…

10 Hot executive function

Dear Artist, One of the most engaging aspects of Greyhound, Tom Hanks’ new film about the 1942 Battle of the Atlantic, is the toothsome machinery of Hanks’ Fletcher-class destroyer and the near-seamless chain of command protocols of his crew. The…

11 Part-time artist

Tania Bourne wrote to ask if it’s possible to hold down a day job and build her career in art at the same time. The question keeps turning up. Here’s my take on it:

There seems to be some argument for the idea that the more you do — the better you do. There’s also the idea that if you want something done soon and well — you ask a busy person. That said, the practice of art requires a sort of tranquil contemplation as well as energetic execution. How do you pull off tranquility and energy after a rough day in the office or the frazzle of traffic?

19 Art collective

Dear Artist, I recently read about a new online platform where every artist shares in the proceeds of sales. The site itself collects a 10% commission to cover hosting. The selling artist receives 60%, the other 30% is shared amongst…

25 Trees

Dear Artist, Yesterday, Charlotte Hussey wrote, “I’m not a painter, but a poet. I’m writing more and more about nature. I’ve just returned from the woods near the Vermont border where I was working on a sequence of poems for…

38 Permanence

Recently, a group of art conservators were discussing the removal of monuments. “As a person invested in culture,” said one, “I have really conflicted feelings.” “Every public monument is an instrument of power,” said someone else. “Let’s put them in a museum with blurbs about their re-examined context,” said another. “Like the Berlin Wall, watching them tumble is terribly exciting,” said another. “But,” said someone else, “the sculptural rendering of that horse’s flank is magnificent!”

18 Overworking

Dear Artist, A subscriber wrote, “I have a bad habit of overworking a painting. I need to turn it to the wall and walk away…start something else…but I do look for ways to improve my work and make a mess…am…

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