Yearly Archives: 2020

Letters These whaling schooners sit “over-shot” and ready to have their silhouettes “cut in” with negative areas around the masts, etc. Variety and counter-light in the background adds the potential for abstraction.

Dear Artist, These days no self-respecting workshop instructor goes half an hour without mentioning negative…

Letters 1951 PH-374
oil on canvas
57 7/9 x 54 7/8 in
by Clyfford Still

“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 Sandwich, 1963 
oil on canvas
8 x 12 inches
by Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920)

Dear Artist, In the good old days, students in art schools were provided with simple…

Letters Untitled watercolour
by Henry Darger (1892-1973), a Chicago hospital custodian whose 15,145-page, single-spaced fantasy manuscript called The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What Is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, along with several hundred drawings and watercolor paintings illustrating the story were discovered posthumously in his apartment.

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?

Letters The Institute of Reconciliation, 2019
by Oscar Murillo (b. 1986)

Dear Artist, I recently read about a new online platform where every artist shares in…

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