Yearly Archives: 2018

Letters Mary-Cassatt_Sketch-of-Mrs-Currey-Sketch-of-Mr-Cassatt

German-born English psychologist Hans Eysenck, in his studies of the brain’s reticular activating system, suggested that we all have a set point for regulating arousal levels.

Fifteen percent of us, Eysenck determined, have a naturally high level of arousal, which makes us introverts. He also notes that when introverts develop the skills for managing social activity and relationships and then optimize their penchant for looking inward, they can be among the very happiest of people.

Letters haddon-sundblom_christmas-mall-santa-1930

A subscriber wrote, “I received a call from someone that had seen my work in a gallery. Then she bought a piece from my web page and I mailed it. I called the gallery to tell them the good news and let them know that I owed them some money. Our agreement is 50-50. I told them how much I owed them and they said they’ll take it off my next check. Great! Yesterday, I got a call from a neighbor of this art buyer, and the neighbor bought a painting as well. Should I also credit the gallery another 50% from the neighbor’s purchase? Both paintings were on my website, and not at the gallery.”

Letters mitchell-freifeld_three-fire-places

Artist Mitchell Freifeld wrote from Portland, Oregon to ask for more clarity concerning the letter “Ignorance,” which mentioned my dad’s criteria when jurying. “It would be a great benefit to have this road map ‘decoded’ in the simplest possible terms. I’m sure others who read the piece would like to see this as well.”

While these points are subject to modification — sometimes there’s something major to upset them, like, “I like it” — here’s Dad’s list, with my notes:

Letters henri-rousseau_war-1894

A friend of mine (let’s call him Dino) entered retirement the other day and took up painting. You could say Dino has a life-long appreciation of art, but until now he has only thought about actually doing it. He went to a lumberyard and bought some wood for stretchers. He quietly helped himself to a bed-sheet from the family closet. He was thinking big. His work is huge. He primed with blue latex, then hit it with commercial acrylic, roller and brush.

Letters tom-thomson_first-snow-in-autumn

Here on the West Coast, the rain falls in a face-slap of plump, heavy drops. In pictures, though, winter is a silent, sensual swoosh of purple and cream with moody golden-hour skies and blobs of highlight dancing between long shadows. Here are a few ideas:

Painting snow is the best way to practice the art of looking. Forget about what you think you know about the white stuff and try to see what’s really there. Throw yourself into mastering the art of warm and cool associations.

Letters fernando-botero_mona-lisa-age12_1959

In this studio, a high percentage of inbox letters are from artists complaining about things. Some are like leopards jumping out of the screen, clawing wildly. As I like to keep our website fairly positive, some of this growling gets answered personally. A lot of complaints are about art dealers, art clubs, and general and specific lack of support.

Letters Saltz-feature

“Tell your own story and you will be interesting,” wrote Jerry Saltz last week, borrowing from Louise Bourgeois. He used her quote as Number 2 in his 33 Rules for How To Be An Artist, an article he wrote for New York Magazine, the publication for which he’s been the senior art critic and columnist since 2006. Some of Jerry’s other tips: “Prize vulnerability, make an enemy of envy, learn to deal with rejection, and accept that you will likely be poor.” In his Rules, Jerry is full of idealism, artist myth-making and scrappiness.

Letters arthur-streeton_The-Murray-and-the-Mountain_1930

In case you haven’t heard, “operant conditioning” is the use of consequences to modify the occurrence and form of otherwise voluntary behaviour.

For example, rats, cats or dogs that perform a task are more likely to repeat successfully if they’re rewarded quickly after the behaviour. Sitting at my easel this morning, I was wondering how operant conditioning might apply to creative folks. Activities of the easel variety have built-in consequences, some subtle, some obvious, some immediate and some delayed — and, admit it, some are negative as well as positive.

Letters EverythingYouCanImagineIsRealII_25X20_Linoprint_2017

You may, like me, have received an email from Florida this week titled, “Inquiry your artwork.” The letter says you are talented and that there’s an artist agency interested in representing you. This agency offers “gallery exposure,” “multimedia marketing,” “art book artist profiles” and “art fair exhibitions.” The letter includes links to a PDF brochure and a website.

Letters dale-chihuly_basket-light-drawing_2017

Yesterday, my friend Joe Blodgett brought a big yellow print into the studio. It was sort of modern, with a large, undecipherable signature across the lower end. “What do you think of this?” he asked. “Interesting,” I said, which is what I say when I don’t know what to say. “Why don’t you run it through those ‘evaluation points’ that you use when you jury?” he suggested. I protested that my points were subject to modification — sometimes there’s something major that upsets them. “Like, ‘I like it,’ ” I said.

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