I thought I’d share with you the art studios here at the Cornelis estate – I always like seeing other artist’s studios so thought I’d share our with you.
This is my “new” painting studio – a TV room converted to a higher calling (many thanks to my wife for suggesting it!). I had not had a place for painting for a number of years so this comes as a welcome return to being able to make a mess and leave it there! You can see my table of monoprints in progress – the trick with these is to start a bunch at once and then refine them incrementally, so there is usually quite an array of them lying about. I’m still getting settled in, so it will undoubtedly get messier over time.
Below is my digital printing studio (aka Color Folio). This is where my day job happens – making large format fine art prints for artists all over the country. I’ve been doing this full time for the past 10 years. As you can imagine, I get to see all sorts of artwork during my day, both photography and paintings!
You can see my drum scanner (the monolithic tower in the middle), 60″ Epson printer and a bunch of computers. This is also where (in my spare time) I do my own photographic work, some of which you see on the walls. Lately, as you know, I’ve been taking paintings I’ve made and combining them on the computer with photographic work, mostly figurative.
Later this year my wife and I will be participating in our local open studios art tour in Sonoma County. I will be opening Color Folio (which doubles as a gallery) and my wife will also be showing her work. Here she is standing in front of her art studio:
As you can see, we’ve dedicated a lot of space to producing art!
“A work of art … is never really finished; it is abandoned.”
– Brooke McEldowney
I love this quote – it’s so true. The hardest part of making art is knowing when and how to stop. Especially when you reach a point in a piece where you really like it but feel something else needs to be done. How often do these next steps spell then end of that piece? Eventually one gets timid and the pile of almost-finished pieces grows.
You may have heard the advice that when a piece is 75% complete, it’s done. Of course, the challenge is that it’s impossible to tell when that point arrives because it implies you know how much further you could go. The optimist in us believes that a few more little changes will make all the difference, while the pragmatic side of us wonders if we should just leave well enough alone.
In many ways I think it has become harder to know when to stop. Less representational work doesn’t give us much help in knowing when we’ve achieved a sufficient likeness. If your work involves digital tools, there are so many and so many capabilities, that the possibilities become endless. For photographers, in the old darkroom, there was only so much you could do with the limited tools you had. Now, one can go on and on, endlessly tuning, tweaking, testing, twisting… It takes a lot of discipline and good judgement these days to know when it’s done.
Like much of modern life, we have more possibility, more capability and more complexity in the art world these days. Not sure that’s better, it’s just the way it is…
“People call me the painter of dancers, but I really wish to capture movement itself.”
– Edgar Degas
I don’t have a name for this new series of images yet, nor do I really have a name for the type of artwork it is (as Miki has pointed out in previous posts it is hard to find the right name). The combination of photography and painting in this manner is a little unusual – it’s certainly neither of the two but what to call the combination? Mixed media is so overused as to be almost meaningless. While the computer plays a crucial role in putting the two together, most of my time is spent on creating the original paintings that are used as well as the photographic image. The part on the computer usually constitutes less than 5% of the total time. Any suggestions?
I seem to always be drawn to making artwork that is a little difficult to explain to people. I guess this has it’s advantages and disadvantages – maybe the uniqueness increases interest, but sometimes it just confuses people. I am often present when my work is shown and always struggle to find the right amount to say about how something is made.
I will be showing this work (as well as some monoprints) at the upcoming juried ARTrails Open Studios event in October. If you are in the area, stop by!
“People in motion are wonderful to photograph. It means catching the right moment… when one thing changes into something else.”
– Andres Kertesz
Andre Kertesz was a Hungarian photographer who pioneered photojournalism in the early 20th century but whose work also intersected in various ways with some of the modernist painters in Paris in the 20s and 30s who I am currently reading about. He became friends with and took portraits of many of these painters, including Mondrian, Chagall and Calder. He did an interesting series of nudes with two women posed in a house of mirrors called Distortion – in some of them you can only see random limbs. Maybe he would have found this series I am doing of interest (how’s that for artistic hubris?).
I’ve been creating a set of small abstract paintings using Sumi ink and gesso and then integrating them into recent photographs from a modeling session. One thing is changing into something else, but which is the thing changing?
I like mixing the spontaneity that this type of photography demands with the equally spontaneous techniques I use when doing these small paintings – pouring, splattering, scraping, stamping, etc. Then I play with different combinations, looking for those that complement each other.
“How can we know the dancer from the dance? ”
– William Butler Yeats
I love to photograph and/or paint the human figure, but I particularly like to work with the body as it dances. I can’t think of another marriage of artistic mediums that works together so well to represent the essence of the dancer as artist. Capturing for a moment the human body as it propels itself through space, limbs dreaming their dreams, feet tapping out their poetry, the dancer as not just the artist, but the art itself.
Can you hear the music even though there is none playing? Can your mind fill in the blank soundless spaces because of what the eye sees? Can this one image contain what has come before and what will happen next? Can it inspire the imagination to recreate the dancing as it actually happened? There is a way in which the distillation of movement down into a single image interacts with the mind to cause it to play a more active role in how the art is viewed. It’s a little like listening to the radio vs. watching TV – your mind has more to do to create the desired experience. I think this is why I am so drawn to capturing motion in my artwork.
“The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.”
To continue the discussion about art and it’s relation to reality (hopefully you won’t mind), the above quote implies that there is some perfect form or super reality of which art is a pale imitation. Shades of Plato’s cave!
If everything that we know is only an imperfect representation of another realm, how can we ever know that other realm at all? Western philosophers have struggled with this question for centuries. Some believed that since we, in fact, cannot really know the perfect form behind our perceptions, we have no right to say that anything exists at all except our perceptions – the empiricists (Hume, Berkeley) were in this camp. This rigorous doctrine leads to all sorts of problems, however, so Immanuel Kant tried to reconcile the dilemma by saying that the ding an sich, the thing in itself, was unknowable but that it indeed existed. We can only know our mental representations about it and there is a fairly murky relationship between these representations and the things in themselves. If you’ve ever read Kant, you’ll know what I mean by murky here.
A work of art is one of these mental representations of reality, perhaps it’s ultimate form. In light of all this questioning of to what extent we can actually represent the thing in itself, artists started paying more attention to their relationship to the painting than to the paintings relationship to the world. A lot of this philosophical dialogue was happening in the early 19th century, around the time when painters started moving toward more abstraction and when photography began. The rise of photography served as a counterpoint to this dialogue as well – the difference between a painting of something and a photograph of it was that the painting had something of the artist in it, while the photograph was just a simple and exact rendering of the world.
Even today, painting is held in general in higher artistic esteem than photography, perhaps because the painting reveals more about the mental imaginations and feelings of the artist than does a photograph. that’s a point for another discussion – since I’m both a painter and a photographer, I have some feelings about that one!