Author ShawnA

Letters henri-rousseau_war-1894
6

Dear Artist, A friend of mine (let’s call him Dino) entered retirement the other day…

Letters tom-thomson_first-snow-in-autumn
22

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
30

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
54

“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
2

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
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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
20

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.

Letters poons_turned-his-head_2017
16

“People think I’m dead,” Larry Poons says, without irony. At age 80, he’s explaining his obscurity to filmmaker Nathanial Kahn while daubing colour onto a mammoth work-in-progress — un-stretched canvas draped ceiling-to-floor in a circle around him. Larry’s wizened face, hobo duds and ramshackle studio in rural, upstate New York describe an archetype of monetary irreverence. He and Kahn are in the midst of shooting The Price of Everything, Kahn’s documentary about the skyrocketing contemporary art market. Poons has been cast as The Purist.

Letters Nash, Paul; Landscape of the Moon's Last Phase; Walker Art Gallery; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/landscape-of-the-moons-last-phase-98001
18

Those of us who sometimes mentor and instruct students are familiar with trying to get people to really look at things. Recently, after a few days walking around in a subject-rich environment, I was agog with new possibilities. Burdened with reference, I returned to the studio and proceeded to paint the worst thing I’ve done in some time. It was one of those paintings that can have you considering a career in accountancy. During the fiasco I began to better understand a syndrome I’ve had all my life. It’s what I call “the tyranny of reality.”

Letters Robert-Genn_Jahn-11x14
12

Recently, a letter arrived describing a young girl standing at the barre in her ballet class, while an artist guest of the instructor sketched and gathered painting material.

“I remember thinking how I would have loved to be painting and learning alongside him, rather than be self-consciously fumbling through ballet exercises at the barre,” the letter read. “Later, he held a show and sale of paintings and drawings inspired by his time there. My parents and an older sister bought pencil drawings featuring my little sister…

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