Thursday, June 30, 2011

Knowing is Half the Battle

...but how important are the facts? America places a high emphasis on knowledge-based education, but what exactly is the value of cognitive information in comparison to experienced realities?

Photo: Dustin Diaz
 When speed reading, a person attempts to digest information at an increased pace without sacrificing retention. While there are various methods for learning how to speed read, all involve some form of skimming over words without focusing on what those words mean. The thought is basically that traditional reading methods cause us to slow down because the intuitive right-half of our brain has to wait for the analytical left-half to catch up and process every letter and word. The shocker is that the comprehension rates for well-trained speed readers are astoundingly high!

This beautiful image of another artist working comes via this site.  Sadly, the business site is a dead link.
 Artists essentially speed read life. They process the world and spit out comprehension in the form of their work without waiting for the fussy left brain to sequence and catalogue every last detail. That is not to say that some artists do not use highly logical or intricate methods to create their work, or that artists should not be articulate in describing their art. (They sometimes do, and they all should.) What I mean is that the creation of art (even in the case of text-based pieces) happens in a wordless scan and response. It values knowledge above the facts.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It was so hot in the studio today that after too many frustrating working hours, I finally threw down my brush and called it a day. Sometimes you just have to know when to cut out early and jump in a pool somewhere. Fingers crossed for a super productive tomorrow.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Match

{Every week I post an image of an interior that reminds me of a painting either in its color, composition or mood.}

Emma Reddington's home via

Anders Zorn, "Self Portrait with Wolf Fur Coat" 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Makers and The Shakers

The idea of compensation for work is not as straight forward as it seems. Just ask the guy who took the photo that Shepard Fairey used to create his iconic portrait of President Obama. Legal proceeding aside, the philosophical question remains: Was it the photographer who captured the original moment or the artist who capitalized on the resulting image who deserves credit for the work?

"The Mona Lisa Curse" is a documentary series narrated by art critic Robert Hughes on the state of the art world today. His critique of the current state of affairs can be summarized in the following quote. "Apart from drugs, art is the biggest unregulated market in the world, with contemporary art sales estimated at around $18 billion a year, boosted by regimens of new-rich collectors and serviced by a growing army of advisers, dealers and auctioneers. As Andy Warhol once observed, “Good business is the best art.” 

But who benefits from that business? The documentary touches on the story of Robert Rauschenberg whose protested his lack of compensation when one of his works sold for a significantly higher price on the secondary market. He was the creator of the work sold at auction, and yet the argument could be made that it would not have received such a high secondary sales price without the skill of other art world players.

These and other examples indicate the presence of Makers and Shakers in our world. In other words, there are originators and those who bring original ideas to public attention and subsequent popularity. But what if compensation for one's work included the necessity for that original product to be copied or otherwise extended beyond its creator? 

One commenter on an article I was reading described herself accordingly. "I'm not a trend spotter, I'm a trend maker. An unintentional generator of designs that become trend icons" writes Barbi. "It has become harder and harder for the true originator to capitalize on their ideas because the trend spotting machine is ahead of us, seeing a marketable trend when we're still scratching our heads wondering if our "thing" is cool enough, wondering what we should be doing next, already bored with the idea, forever motivated by intangible inspiration(...)So. I've turned the tables. The motivation behind my new company, Plastic is Forever, is that it can only fulfill itself when copied and serves as inspiration to many many appropriators. Only then will I be happy and feel that I have achieved what I set out to do."

It seems at least one of us has figured out how to truly be compensated for an original idea: making something intended to be shaken out to the masses. Brilliant!   

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


It seems that I've been bookmarking artists for a while now who use different forms of sewing in their work. I love the way that these three examples use what is traditionally considered a feminine, utilitarian craft to make bold contemporary statements.

1. Guerrilla Knitters

"Yarn Bombing" and other such practices could be described as considerate forms of urban graffiti. Groups like Knitta describe themselves as “a tag crew of knitters, bombing the inner city with vibrant, stitched works of art, wrapped around everything from beer bottles on easy nights to public monuments and utility poles on more ambitious outings.”  - quote via

2. The embroidered portraits of Daniel Kornrumpf

As a fellow portrait lover, I found the quote on the homepage of his website just perfect too!

3. All the work of Lauren Di Cioccio

I am especially enamored with her "Sewnnews" series which consists of New York Times papers encased in hand embroidered muslin.  She describes the series this way: "As news-gathering departs from paper form and is conveyed instead through the television and internet, the newspaper becomes a nostaligic and old-fashioned object. I describe the beauty of the ritual experience of newspaper-reading by describing the paper as a tactile and fragile object in the language of craft." All of her work is beautiful in its reaction to our culture of disposable objects.

Sewn objects recall the hand of the artist in the artistic process. While there are so many incredible conceptual artists to admire, there is something truly awe-inspiring about the reminder of the physical aspect of art making which accompanies that mental effort.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sight Unseen

Have you heard of the show The Voice? Contestants participate in blind auditions to win the vote of the professional coaches with their voices alone. Unlike American Idol, those who are selected to move on from the first round are picked sight unseen. 

I have yet to see the show, but the concept has me thinking about the importance of personas both in the art world and other areas of life. We love the idea of competitions like this because they are based on merit versus on superficial details. (Remember this lady from another singing competition?)

At the same time, we have definite (albeit often subconscious) ideas about how certain people should look and act, and these ideas affect our choices. When our doctor shows up looking like this...
...we don't feel particularly comfortable despite his amazing credentials. 

Defining your "brand" is a top advise point offered to all types of businesses today. Even visual artists from Whistler to Warhol have famously employed personalities to suit and sell their work. Lady Gaga defines "looking the part."
 As consumers we don't want to work too hard to mentally align a product with its source. And yet, when a child prodigy or a Susan Boyle comes along, I suspect that what we are really blown away by goes beyond the talent evidenced to the thrilling shock of our definitions being widened.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happy (Early) Weekend!


Mine started early with a sunset picnic on the Potomac River last night. We had the most amazing rhubarb crumble with salted caramel ice cream, and I can't stop thinking about it! Now I'm headed to New York for my best friends' wedding. (Just in case you were wondering, that apostrophe is in the right place. My best friend from high school is marrying my best friend from college!) Happy days, Friends!

Friday, June 10, 2011

 I've started running again, and the above picture pretty much sums up how I feel as a result. There's nothing that leaves me as refreshed and ready to tackle life inside and outside the studio as a good run! Happy weekend, Friends!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Did you catch my post a while back about canvas textures? Here are two sketches of the same man, painted on very different surfaces.

Medium-grade cotton canvas

Beligian linen with a very high tooth

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


On my way into the studio today I stumbled upon this tiny circus on a telephone wire. When I was a kid, every mundane object provided a leaping off point for the imagination, but as an adult, it's harder to remember to see the potential in things. I love little reminders like this not to take life too literally!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Happy Refreshing Weekend!

Friends, we bit the bullet and joined a pool! If you're craving a taste of summer, you  should check out  Portfolio  Two on Elizabeth Weinberg's website. All the beautiful images above are hers. Scrolling through them has me itching to jump in the car and drive to the beach or lake!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Has anyone visited this DC gallery? It sounds interesting. I'm planning to stop in tomorrow to check it out.

Heiner Contemporary
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