Yesterday, after some friends had left my studio, I realized that I’d been bumbling around and lacing the atmosphere with some odd words and phrases. While gathering up the empty glasses, I also reminded myself that, as individualists, we all have the right to “name and claim” our own terms. Here, in an attempt at clarity — for you five treasured friends — are some definitions:
Strip-Mining — Methodical search into personal reference for new material and new directions.
Glancing — To see enough of another’s work to sufficiently prime the pump — without corrupting principles.
Early squeeze — The simple act of squeezing out paint as a method of prompting creative action.
Scumbling — Dragging a brush-load of light (often bright) colour over uninteresting areas.
Nuancing — Modifying elements from prior works in order to extract further interest.
Biggerization — Repeating satisfactory smaller works in larger proportions.
Terminal-Spotism — Final canvassing of a work in order to spot minor opportunities.
Smoke and mirrors — The full variety of methods used to assess work-in-progress — including the mirror.
Self-immolation — Brutal, self-actualized, critical evaluation.
Blind hubris — A pervasive and often chronic, ego-based stubbornness that strikes artists of all ages.
Co-dependency — Mutual approval and help systems that may or may not enhance mediocrity.
Personal foolism — Falling into the trap of “good enough is good enough.”
Strategic recyclism — The act of moving work from place to place (or gallery to gallery) in order to refresh it.
Banishing — Physical disappearance of inadequate work in order to clear the air for better work to proceed.
Re-virginization — Shipment of finished work from studio area in order to renew vision.
Re-humanification — Inviting friends into the studio in a spirit of sharing and reaffirmation of our brotherhood and sisterhood.
PS: “‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’” (Lewis Carroll) “Words are pegs to hang ideas on.” (Henry Ward Beecher)
Esoterica: We are all islands. While we may reach out to one another, and for a time, connect, we must, in the end, be ourselves. “The simple fact of yourself… there it is… just you… no excitement about it… a very simple fact… the only thing you have… keep it as clear as you can.” (Georgia O’Keeffe)
This letter was originally published as “Studio definitions” on September 27, 2003.
Sara Genn: New Paintings runs until November 2, 2018 at Voltz Clarke Gallery, 141 East 62nd Street, New York City. If you’re in the neighbourhood, we would love to see you there.
“predicament, n. The wage of consistency.” (Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary)
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Monique Jarry is a Canadian and a graduate of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Montreal.
I quite like this, although ‘biggerization’ sounds a bit like what I might call a ‘Trumpism’. His English is so…bad.
Meanwhile, under the banner of ‘name and claim’, am I alone in being totally fed-up with the Media’s constant use of ‘iconic’ and ‘epic’ to describe things when they are not. There is no such thing as an ‘epic goal’ in a hockey game. Right?
Ah! That’ll be hockey played by a team of ‘legends’
Or a chat show with several lovies or other celebs who are ‘national treasures’ :-)
Absolutely right. I’ve been raving on about this for 25 years. Alfa Romeo “drives as GOOD as it looks” Beauty products will give lashes of “intense length” Rick Steeves calls cathedral “Nohtra Domm” football player is Milt Steegle. Ridiculous! Why doesn’t CRTC do something.
Add the word ‘bespoke’ to those that grates on my nerves. In so many interior design or architectural magazines, that word can be on dozens of pages. If everything is bespoke and so special, why bother speaking of it?
How about “curated”? I don’t need a cup of coffee that has been “lovingly curated”!
Or maybe you do need one, it might improve your mood. Lighten up!
John, perhaps you should go back and read Humpty dumpty’s quote. Perhaps Trump’s words are meant to be what he chooses them to be .and You may just not understand them.
I especially like the “terminal spotism” refererance to “minor opportunities “. So nice to realize there’s another way to reference an area that needs improvement.
John Francis…. grin…. no, you are not alone; completely agree, absolutely, totally and utterly! What is hockey? Puzzled.
Love the “Early Squeeze” definition, can feel the anticipation/adrenaline with the twist of the cap.
My ongoing practice is the nuancing one. I must have the first prize for taking framed works apart because I see something that should be changed. I should not frame them in the first place until I am quite satisfied with the painting.
All great terms! My favorite is “self-immolation,” especially if the offering is burnt or otherwise destroyed; it takes more courage than “revirginization.” RV usually involves payment and passing the problem along to the buyer. It makes “art” into craft and trade, which are good in themselves as far as they go. Immolation makes space for the phoenix to rise and gives real art a chance.
Ah – but what is ‘real art’ – I’ve gathered 452 definitions so far and still counting . . .
Smoke and Mirrors might include putting a frame on a work in progress, even on the easel.
It changes its environment for me. Also, I had the opportunity to see the show in New York. The intention of the process comes across best in person. Nice work, Sara. Thanks
Thank you, as always, I enjoy these letters so very much <3