Friday, October 30, 2009

Misc Quotes relating to art

"It is not the eye, it is the mind which the painter of genius wishes to address; nor will he waste a moment upon those smaller objects which only serve to catch the sense, to divide the attention, and to counteract his great design of speaking to the heart". Joshua Reynolds

"Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it." Goethe

"Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no-one to blame" Erica Jong

"The centre that I cannot find, is known to my unconscious mind" W H Auden

"A picture lives by companionship, expanding and quickening in the eyes of the sensitive observer. It dies by the same token" Mark Rothko
Image: Gabrielle Jones, "Plumbago" 2008, 110 x 83 Oil on Canvas

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What I do when I'm not painting -You Tube, I love you

The following ads are some of the funniest things I have seen - worth the time. Perhaps they'll make you laugh when the painting gets too tough? Any excuse to watch them will do.
Image: Gabrielle Jones Reflection 1, 2009, Oil on Canvas, 40 x 30cm

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cecily Brown -Interview by Perri Lewis, the Observer (20/9/09)

Thanks, Roody Hooster by Cecily Brown (oil on linen, 2004) Photograph: PRView larger picture

Thanks, Roody Hooster by Cecily Brown (oil on linen, 2004) Photograph: PR

Thanks to my friend at Undercover Painter for finding and pointing this out to me. It's a great interview and says so much about the artistic process that I couldn't not post it here. (I'm also a BIG fan of her work - see it here)

The boundaries of painting excite me. You've got the same old materials - just oils and a canvas - and you're trying to do something that's been done for centuries. And yet, within those limits, you have to make something new or exciting for yourself as well as other people.

I have always wanted to make paintings that are impossible to walk past, paintings that grab and hold your attention. The more you look at them, the more satisfying they become for the viewer. The more time you give to the painting, the more you get back.

I often avoid using the terms figuration and abstraction because I've always tried to have it both ways. I want the experience of looking at one of my paintings to be similar to the process of making the painting - you go from the big picture to something very intense and detailed, and then back again.

The viewer is a living, breathing being that moves about in space and I want the painting to be experienced like that. I want my painting to imitate life in that way. I want the experience of looking at it to be very much like the experience of walking through the world.

My process is really quite organic and starting a painting is one of the best parts for me. I always start in quite a loose and free way. I often put down one ground colour to begin with and then play off that. For the first day or two, everything moves very quickly - sometimes almost too quickly - then there's often this very protracted middle period of moving things around, changing things, editing.

Often, I find it really hard to see what I'm doing when I'm in the thick of things. I can get too precious and have to force myself to put my paintings aside. There's a wall in my studio where I hang paintings that I think are done or nearly done. Over time, I'll realise which ones are working and which aren't.

There's never a moment for me when I consciously add the last stroke. When a painting is 90-95% there, it's especially difficult because you know that it's really close and you also know that you could completely ruin it. Of course, I do often ruin things. I take things too far, and can't get them back ...

The problems don't get any easier just because you're exhibiting. I'm still faced with the same difficulties as when I first started to paint. But you'd never make a mark if you started worrying too much about how it will be received in the world, or if anyone is going to look at it. You can't have all that in your head while you're in the process of making a painting.

I think once I stopped caring quite so much about where I fitted in, and whether it made any sense to be painting, I started getting more and more absorbed in it. I've discovered that the more I paint, the more I want to paint. The longer I go on doing it, the more I have to say and do. You pose a certain set of questions in one group of paintings and you want to answer them in the next. One body of work leads naturally to the next - you sort of feed off yourself. It's a question of accepting the limits of painting and trying to be as imaginative and expansive as possible within those boundaries.

• Cecily Brown is represented by Gagosian

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Professional Practice part 11

Final Instalment to common questions re my professional practice.

How important is your studio space to the work you produce?

Very important, but less so as I gain more skills and confidence (apart from the fact that I need one to do the work- how it is set up and where it is becomes less important to me). It was important for me to invest in myself as an artist - I spent the first year or two after graduation painting from a garage - as many artists do. I went to Bundanon and had all this space. I still didn't think I could afford it, and one of the other artists quoted someone famous (de Kooning???) who said, "when you can't afford a studio, rent two!). It's a statement to the world that you are serious (but only good if you turn up to it! -there are many studios waiting for their owner day in and day out....). The financial commitment means you may be more likely to actually do the work - otherwise it's an expensive accoutrement!

As for the way it is set up - it's important to have ventilation, considerate neighbours, and a re-inforceable policy by the owners that protects the environment; and that, preferably, non-toxic chemicals or odourless solvents only be used. A dream, but worth fighting for! I can't work if people are splashing turps around (too many years of not worrying about the chemicals - it builds up!) A good studio complex is also worth it as the energy generated by happy, working, creative artists is palpable and contagious!

How important is your studio space? What do you think are important considerations when choosing a studio? Post your comments and ask any questions here

Image; Gabrielle Jones Stand 2009 Oil on Canvas 30 x 30cm

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Inspiration-Alex Perry & Designer Rugs

A lovely man called Cedric, an arts patron, invited me to the launch of the
Alex Perry Designer Rugs collection last night. It was held in a groovy studio space in Alexandria and there were a number of celebrities, models and "all-round" beautiful people there - and then there was me!
The result of twelve month's collaboration between Alex and the staff and owners at Designer Rugs was on display, larger than life, around the walls. In all, there are eight beautiful rugs in the collection. I particularly loved the rug in the image at left - so luxurious looking, and I'm always a sucker for black and white.

But the highlight was talking to Alex about his inspiration for the designs. Alex had once been quick to hide his Greek heritage, wanting, like many first generation Australians, to fit in with his vegemite eating, sports loving school buddies with pronounceable names. This collection celebrates his coming to terms with, and embracing his heritage and incorporates a number of symbols taken from a recent trip to Greece. For example, two of the rugs feature (or are overlaid with) letters from the Greek alphabet, which came from a photo taken of multiple, old signs spied by Alex in a Greek shop window. The letters don't spell anything -they are there to celebrate their form and history. Another rug refers to the images and colours he relates to his cultural homeland - the small islands, the blue of the water, the yellow and orange of the land.

And the whole thing got me thinking of inspiration. Much can be taken from our history, our cultural symbols and our family relations. You can use your travel shots, your imagination, your pride, and your "life stage" as Alex has done.
And as the Designer Rugs owners, Eli and Yossi Tal know, you can come up with successful business ideas by tapping into the talent that surrounds you, and helping it to develop and expand into areas not previously embraced.
And I call that inspirational!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Vale Fred Cress

Fred Cress, the iconic Australian Artist, was cremated yesterday after losing his long battle with cancer last Wednesday, 14th October. The celebration of Fred's seventy one years was attended by hundreds of friends and fellow artists whose lives had been made more interesting, if not better, by this generous entertainer, wonderful guitarist and music enthusiast. By all accounts, was a great friend who loved a secret and a beautiful woman (preferably blonde).
Fred Cress was initially an abstract artist who, after his marriage to artist Anne Judell broke up (and counter to the prevailing interest of the rest of the artworld) began painting uncompromising figurative canvases depicting greed, jealousy, venality and, in the "End Game" series, ruminations on death, hell and heaven. His work was challenging-viewers seemed to either love or hate it, but could never ignore it (which was the way Fred liked it).

His sons Kymton and Julian, spoke of a father who has left a wonderful legacy on how to be a man, to dream big and to live fully and according to ones own lights. His partner Victoria Fernandez, and friends Richard Morecroft and Alan Krell, also spoke emotionally of a hard working artist who was a "mean" tennis player, who also gained much satisfaction from the "hands on" renovation of his house in the south of France (he and Victoria spent alternate six month stints in France and Australia). His family and friends will miss him greatly.
Image: Fred Cress in his studio, courtesy Australian Galleries

Duke Gold Coast Art Prize

Just been notified that my work, Still Life III (image LEFT) has been selected by Andrew Frost, Art Critic and Journalist (and founder of The Art Life Blog) as a finalist in the Stan & Maueen Duke Gold Coast Art Prize. Exhibition from Dec 12 th to February 14th at the Gold Coast Art Centre.
Pretty happy....

Sunday, October 18, 2009

More Quotes - On Artistic Process II

“You have to reduce in order to be clear.” Luc Tuymans

“Art proves itself in the making…I don’t want to see the world in any personal way. I have no aesthetic problem and the technique of making is immaterial. There’s no distinction between paintings, and I would like to change my methods as often as appropriate.” Gerhard Richter

“The physicality of the painting is important, whereas I don’t think the depiction of psychological states can give the same impact, the same strangeness, the same directness – or indirectness”. Luc Tuymans

“Certainty is the less safe option” Gerhard Richter

“When you are in front of a painting, you’re in front of the place where whoever made that work was, and you see the process of the making…” Jenny Saville

“You realise that you can’t represent reality at all – that what you make represents nothing but itself, and therefore, is itself reality….I’m not trying to imitate a photograph, I’m trying to make one.” Gerhard Richter

Image: Gabrielle Jones, "Sofala" 2008 Oil on Canvas 110x 83cm

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Guy Maestri- Google Earth

Attended the very crowded opening of this, Guy's first exhibition since winning the Archibald Prize with a painting of blind Indigenous singer Geoffrey Garrumul Yunipingu. I must concur with the oft repeated comment of the night, "this guy's got balls!" Maestri has done a total about face from his commercially successful, colourist, lyrical gestural landscapes, reminiscent of Cy Twombly, to monotone, realist, photography-based art which almost belies the “touch of the hand”. What continues is the concern with ecology and the landscape, enhanced in this show by a theme of human folly.

The unkind (and probably jealous) have speculated that Guy won the Archibald by changing his style, then thought he would/should capitalise on that in his next show. Do the maths! The number of paintings and cohesive quality and theme suggests he was painting in this style well before he entered the Archibald. Even if they’re right, he’s still a prodigiously talented, thoughtful artist because he could whip up such a show in a painfully short seven months since the prize announcement.

It doesn’t matter. What matters is on the wall – and that an artist made a choice to risk his “Brand” and his sales from followers, and go where he needed/wanted to go, to keep his practice alive and mentally energizing. What authentic artist really wants to keep painting the same thing? And isn’t a refusal to “play it safe” one of the characteristics that History has taught us is essential for creativity and great art practice itself?

Musings aside, the exhibition has a powerful, yet dream-like quality that sees a 60’s Astronaut standing on a crashing wave; a deep sea diver floating in a human chest; and boxing kangaroos obliterated by a slash of muddy, angry paint. My favourite was “Untitled, 2009”, a beautifully rendered though flattened (tenderized??) calf floating in infinity, with the bright yellow meat tag attached to its ear optically jumping from the painting. This was closely rivaled, in my estimation, by Trophy I, the head of an antelope(?) mounted in space in a frontal view that evokes it’s death by hunter and starkly contrasts in its beauty with the ridiculousness of placing animal heads in loungerooms as a measure of gamesmanship, skill or machismo.

The work still shows elements of Guy’s previous exhibitions’ risky execution – much of the paint surface is attacked by solvent or mediums to blister the otherwise smooth, varnished finish. But somehow, corrupted surfaces and slashing paint included, the images display a cold, removed beauty that nevertheless enigmatically draws the viewer in, leaving an image to be ruminated upon, in its quiet acceptance of death and new worlds past, present and future.

Tim Olsen Gallery 63 Jersey Rd Woollahra 13th October - to November 1st

Images: Guy Maestri, Untitled, 2009 183 x 152cm

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Peter Godwin-Defiance Gallery

This is the third show of Peter Godwin's I have had the pleasure of seeing. If you don't know his work, then you can't be anywhere in Sydney around artists, who seem to be all singing his praises.
Peter works in the classical medium of egg tempera, lately applying it to marine board and/or hemp, to give it an accessibility to the viewer and longevity that placing it behind glass (away from cockroaches -love that egg!) in the earlier works could not achieve. He works on a large-ish scale and has achieved a seemingly impossible blend of Primitive art, 20th Century modernist, 19th Century classical masterpiece and 21st century sensibility - a very "now" painting (the abstract sensibility is paramount, until one realises that its actually a very traditional genre of still life/dark interiors), executed in a brilliant "academic" way. This painter has studied masters like Courbet and Fragonard, internalised the best of what they have to teach, and come out the end with distilled, very individual and, dare I say it, beautiful paintings.

Peter didn't turn up at the exhibition opening, having just flown back from his first show in London, at Neville Keating McIlroy and being exhausted by the experience. But I suspect it also has to do with his personality - he is fairly shy, very committed and not a painter for the "artworld" scene. He didn't exhibit for ten years whilst he went on his own quest to study the masters and develop his own style - even when he was threatened with dismissal from the National Art School, where he taught (the NAS is an atelier school, and has a policy that teachers must be exhibiting artists to be on staff - every 18 months to 2 years). It's great to see an artist who is so committed, so unassuming, being so successful. Prices range from $5,500 for 50 x 45cm to $52,000 for 122 x 152cm, and all but one sold before the work could be hung on the walls of the irascible Campbell Robertson-Swann's gallery in Enmore. So I guess Peter doesn't need that job at NAS after all??
On till 24th October, Defiance Gallery, 47 Enmore Rd Newtown
Image: Peter Godwin, Interior with Highland War Shield, 2009 Egg Tempera on hemp on marine ply 122 x 178cm

Monday, October 12, 2009

Suey McEnally at Depot II Gallery, Danks St

"Lux" is the latest show by the artist's artist, Suey McEnally, an interestingly shy, "real-thing" artistic type who bangs away on paper stapled to her studio wall, with condoms filled with oil paint, dissolved in a double boiler using Sennelier Oil Pastels. The result is a series of remarkable, translucent landscapes which, in the words of another artist friend, Polly Joannou, are "quite magical". Somehow, they make themselves into a shimmer of marks, light and colour that dissolve into the heat of an Australian paddock or the frosty fronds of a pine tree on an icy morning.

Sharing in the Studio complex with Suey should send you for the ear phones - you know, the old fashioned ones which not only keep your music in, but shut the outside noises off), but the sound of Suey working actually creates an energy in the Balmain 1+2 complex that inspires other artists. And not only other artists - Suey has a nearly perfect sales record, which means she sells nearly every work she manages to whip into submission in her laborious, 5-7 layer process. For an artist who does not promote herself, she manages to have her work regularly on show -she has been invited to a number of prestigious charity events; shown in galleries interstate -often by invitation from other artists; as well as landing spots in top-of-the-line art prizes such as the Blake, Wynne, Sulman Refuses, Paddington and Dobell.

There is not one dud in this show, which caused a few arguments as to our "favourites" - you could pick any one, really. All prices are reasonable, too.
A special mention to the artist and gallery Director, Peter Francis Lawrence and his long term partner for having the strength to put their money where their mouths are and support artists they believe in, by developing the SMART (Sydney Metropolitan Art) Gallery initiative which selects a limited number of artists for exhibition at the Danks St Depot Galleries.
On till October 18th -Image: Suey McEnally, In the Light of the Resurretion, 2007 Oil Pastel 120 x 200cm

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Affluent Artist - Making art & making money from it

Just came across this blog (press the title to access the blog) and thought the words were timely and interesting. We all gotta show up to make the work, and know how to get it out there!

" Making it in business is a tough thing too. It requires talent and hard work. The point of my book, The Affluent Artist was that if you’ve learned to dance, or paint, or write, you might not have had time to learn a lot of the money stuff. That “money stuff” is hard too, it’s stuff that talented people spend a career learning.

The fact is, in every human endeavor, some people have a natural talent, things come more easily to them. That’s not the thing that determines success, it turns out; what determines success has a lot more to do with putting in the time, getting REALLY good and being in the right place when opportunities present themselves. Talent is nice, but give me someone who will work hard with zeal and passion and I will take that person over the talented Diva every time.

It is a particularly bad idea to assume that someone else’s profession is something you can pick up with little training or effort. It’s a bad idea to assume that you can master a new business with no background in that field or knowledge of “how things work”. Everyone has good ideas, flashes of brilliance, but success in most endeavors is all about follow through, about getting the job right.

The sculpture who sees the face in the block of granite still has to have the talent, expertise, tools and discipline to finish the work. The entrepreneur who has a business idea still has to have the talent, expertise, business plan and capital to make his idea work. Artists and successful business people are really not that different, they simply work in different mediums.

Everyone of us brings a unique set of talents to the planet, some of us are lucky enough to figure out the best way to use them. If you are someone who has to learn the business stuff, or someone who has to learn the creative stuff, understand that there is a learning curve on both sides of the equation and that persistence and goals are really good attributes to help you get through the hard times.

So, it’s ok to wait tables, hire an advisor or take classes, whatever it takes to get it going. It’s ok to ask for help or keep your day job. Having a successful creative career involves a lot of disciplines. You not only have to create inspired work, you have to know something about marketing, sales and running a business".

Do you agree that inspiration comes from showing up? How important is marketing know how to your art production and sales? Post your comments here.

Image; Gabrielle Jones, Hillside II 2009 Oil on Ply 30 x 30cm

New and Improved

I hope you like the new format - I think I'm getting better at sorting this blog thing out. If you are too busy to write a comment, you'll notice a "reactions" box underneath each post - just tick the appropriate box to let me know what you think, so I can improve the blog. Of course, I'd prefer you to comment extensively, even if you don't like what I have written.
Enjoy (i hope!)

Professional Practice part 10

Further instalment on the most commonly asked questions re professional Practice for artists.

Is your choice of materials intuitive?

I have to say that I love making stuff with anything around! Sculpture was out as a long term practice - I have a bad back and hate depending on tools to get things done (wasn't taught to weld etc as a little girl) -painting seems more direct. That applies to print making - like to mess around in acid etc but not laboriously draw, etch etc first. Like drawing - but usually prefer the wet materials - so probably a painter at heart! I respond to colour and beauty (who doesn't) and it's important to me. My choice of colours is definitely intuitive.

Do you return to painting for any specific reason? I guess, to be honest, in this day and age it's important to brand yourself to some degree. I started as a painter (it was easier to concentrate on one thing - and I wanted to get really good at it - still trying) so am known as one. I return to it in part because it's "what I do". It's only recently that I am more sure of being an artist first - so I will continue a varied practice. I enjoy the variety more than just painting. My regional gallery show (Goulburn, 2010) will hopefully contain drawings, sculpture, photography and paintings.

How do you choose materials? Why do you do what you do? Post your answers or ask questions here

Image: Gabrielle Jones Reflection 2 Oil on Canvas, 40 x 30cm

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Professional Practice part 9

More on professional Practice

How do you begin a new work? I usually try to start 3-4 in a day so I have a problem to start on when I come into the studio the next day, and so I don't get stuck on one painting. Usually working with a different pic allows me suddenly to see the solution I was searching for in the first.

Do you ever face artist’s block? Not often, because of my process - it's meant to keep me working! Having a problem to solve and keeping a few on the go at any one time means there is usually something to do.

If so, what do you do to deal with this? I recently had the first in my career - after ten years. I think I was bored with my own work, had no money to afford the size canvases I prefer, hadn't been in the landscape for a while, changed studios- always an adjustment period -and had already painted enough for my solo show but felt guilty about taking time off (talk about a work ethic!) So I changed mediums - drawing and sculpture. No pressure! Found I was enjoying myself, which renewed the love of what I do - and then found I wanted to paint again (rather than just turning up and going through the motions).

How do you handle painter's block? How do you face a blank Canvas? Post your comments and questions here

Image: Gabrielle Jones, Trees Wollombi 2009 Oil on Canvas 40 x 30cm

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Professional Practice part 8

Almost there- another instalment, answering artist's professional practice questions.

What is your artistic process? (Do you sketch, work outside, take photos, write etc)?

I do all of these. I find a camera seems to help me focus on seeing - frames the view, assists composition etc. It provides a record of the experience only - I print the best photos, but rarely refer to them when starting a painting other than to flick through the collection - it gets me into the "Right brain" and fills me with a sense of the landscape. If I use pics, It will usually be after drawing from them and drawing from he drawing etc.

I need to periodically get into the landscape to refill - even if not a stretch at a time. And then I like to look a lot - no talk in the car! Every two years or so, I need to spend time there to internalise the structures and refill the soul.

How do you work? Do you have a routine? Post your comments or any questions you have here.

Image: Gabrielle Jones, Billabong 2009 Oil on Canvas 40 x 30 cm

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Professional Practice part 7

The next instalment in commonly asked Professional Practice Questions.

Do you practice as an artist full-time?

Yes - I am in the studio about 4-6 days per week (nearly exhausted!) However, I have had jobs in between- one was 4 days per week- so I was in studio 3: and the other was 5 days per week (in studio 2 days).

Now I have a number of casual/contract jobs - this week two days teaching, one day making presentation to corporates next week two days presenting to corporates. But this isn't always the case - you need to take the paying work when you can whilst still maintaining the studio practice and your sanity! (Protect the studio practice at all costs, or you end up NOT being a practicing artist!)

Do you see this as something you would like to continue doing long term?

I am determined to - when you focus on what you want, it's more likely to happen (in my experience, the Universe does find a way - mostly a way I would never have thought of!) I feel I am on the brink of something better in my art and my career, so will hang in there until I can't pay my bills.

Is it better to practice full or part time? How do you juggle income earning with artistic practice? Post your comments or Ask any questions you would like to see answered here.

Image: Gabrielle Jones, Crossover 2009, Oil on canvas, 40 x 30cm

Friday, October 2, 2009

professional Practice part 6

Another instalment where I answer commonly asked Professional Practice questions.

You often paint landscapes. Would you say that your work is about the Australian landscape specifically? Is your work about your personal response to a landscape or memory of a landscape?

Because I am Australian, I understand the landscape here better than other places. Tahiti, where I had a residency, was too beautiful for me. I found it hard - but could have done something unusual, but was not given the time to explore. (It was like being a performing monkey for two weeks, on show to the guests!) I am applying for one in Spain - I am sure that will be great - and I want to see if I can respond to a different landscape.

Definitely my painting is about personal response and experience - not so interested about it objectively - I would use a camera for that!

Why do you paint? Do you paint from Life? Are there any questions you would like answered? Post comments and ask questions here.

Image: Gabrielle Jones, Underbrush 2009, oil on canvas 65 x 50cm


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