Monthly Archives: October, 2015

Letters dale-Chihuly3

Recently, Jerry Smith from Dallas, Texas wrote, “I painted in watercolour for many years and then became mentally unable to paint, suffering with Parkinson’s and depression. I’m proud of my paintings but I felt compelled to give away my paints, brushes, supports and all other materials. The good news is that I have replaced my painting with poetry. I’m just a novice poet and have much to learn. I wonder if any of your followers have similar experience and how they dealt with it.”

Letters rodin

Back in the home studio with my faster computer I’m doing some of those personality inventory tests on line. According to the “Keirsey Temperament Sorter,” for example, I’m what they call an “Idealist Champion.” This gives me an idea of who I am, where I’m happiest, what sort of a mate I ought to have, etc. What I really want to know is what I’m good for. To put it with a little less humility — am I a genius?

Letters claire-sower_Leave-it-Behind

One question arrives in the inbox frequently — it has to do with an email solicitation that some artists receive from a gallery in New York. It looks like this:

Dear _____________,

I came across your (your medium) on your website while I was doing research online. I wanted to take a minute to introduce you to our gallery, and inform you of our exhibition of (medium and subject matter with a link to the previous year’s online catalogue.)

Agora Gallery has been in business since 1984 and is located in the heart of New York’s famous art district, Chelsea. A well-established gallery, we provide promotional services to talented artists such as yourself, for which we charge an annual promotional fee

Letters banksy

Here on Kauai there are a lot of people with “Tommy” written on their clothing. When you think of “branding,” names like Coke, Nike and Marlborough also come to mind. A long way from the world of art. Art has integrity, uniqueness, we like to think. It’s perhaps surprising that people would walk around advertising Tommy Hilfiger — the guy that actually took their money for the duds. Then again, we artists do something similar:

Letters henry-moore_kansas-city

Yesterday, a New York art consultant emailed with a list of questions:

What inspires you to create your work?

How do you relate what you do today to the art of the preceding decades?

Are you very interested in what other artists of your generation are making today? Does that inspire you or do you push forth your own direction despite what goes on anywhere else?

How do you see your work moving forward in the future?

Letters Edouard-manet_In-the-Conservatory

After a one-person show a kind of post-partum psychosis sets in, which generally lasts for a day or so, then, for some reason, there’s a need to go back to work. Looking for the secret at the easel, I remembered: “It’s a matter of thinking one thing while you’re thinking of other things.” A modest understanding, but it’s useful. Often we merely push on — leaving the work to evolve in the hands of the gods — very much as a potter surrenders his clay to the “Kiln God.” Sure, there’s a place for intuition and just letting flow — but there’s also a need to bring in all of the strategy we can muster.

Letters Philippe-Petit

On the morning of August 9, 1974, French high-wire artist Philippe Petit rigged a 450-pound cable between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and for 45 minutes walked, danced, lay down, kneeled and saluted, 1350 feet above an impromptu crowd in the plaza below. Because he believed that all great creative acts are a kind of rebellion, Philippe called his unauthorized walk “the coup.” After being arrested, released and sentenced to perform for children in Central Park, Philippe celebrated his 25th birthday and made New York his home.

Letters robb-dunfield3

Robb Dunfield was an active nineteen year old sportsman, ski instructor, and all round good chap when he had his accident. He and three of his friends plunged from an insecure balcony of an unfinished building. Robb received irreversible injuries — a severed spine.

Robb was confined to a quadriplegic hospital, paralyzed from the neck down. For years he lay there, a ventilator doing his breathing, at times without even his voice, a ward of the state and a source of anguish for his family. One day he told me he wanted to learn to paint.

Letters 080712_robert-genn4

Painting techniques are easily adapted for oil and watercolour, but fast pleasure is found by going for them in acrylic. Speedy drying times and the knowledge that mistakes can be covered up in an instant keep the process uncommitted and playful. Here are five that enliven the act of painting and are generous with surprises:

My second-year painting prof called them “suckerblends,” which I took to mean that they snuck into your heart and made you love them forever, like a sucker. There was a time when many painters believed that a smooth gradation was impossible in fast-drying acrylic.