I was really trying to take a break from the busy work of my life when I went on vacation to Hawaii a couple of months ago, so I barely brought any art supplies... only my sketchbook and a few colored pencils. Well, that only lasted a couple of days. Soon I was saving every scrap of paper I could find (plane tickets, sandwich wrappers from the local deli) and scrounging for the extra tape off of to-go orders. Art is just too exciting to put down for any period of time.
Hawaii for me was all about adventure during the day: snorkeling with a sea turtle, exploring the Waimea Canyon, horseback riding through a grove of ficus trees and wild orchids; and then coming home to relax and make collages/draw in the evening.
This is from Eva Hesse and Sol Lewitt at Craig Starr Gallery, 2011. I found it via Creatures of Comfort.
Dear Eva, It will be almost a month since you wrote to me and you have possibly
forgotten your state of mind (I doubt it though). You seem the same as
always, and being you, hate every minute of it. Don’t! Learn to say
“Fuck You” to the world once in a while. You have every right to. Just
stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder wondering, doubting,
fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping,
confusing, itchin, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling,
stumbling, numbling, rumbling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling,
scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing,
boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling,
nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing,
alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing,
back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding,
grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just DO! From
your description, and from what I know of your previous work and you
[sic] ability; the work you are doing sounds very good
“Drawing-clean-clear but crazy like machines, larger and bolder… real
nonsense.” That sounds fine, wonderful – real nonsense. Do more. More
nonsensical, more crazy, more machines, more breasts, penises, cunts,
whatever – make them abound with nonsense. Try and tickle something
inside you, your “weird humor.” You belong in the most secret part of
you. Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your
own world. If you fear, make it work for you – draw & paint your
fear and anxiety. And stop worrying about big, deep things such as “to
decide on a purpose and way of life, a consistant [sic] approach to even
some impossible end or even an imagined end” You must practice being
stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO! I have much confidence in you and even though you are tormenting
yourself, the work you do is very good. Try to do some BAD work – the
worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let
everything go to hell – you are not responsible for the world – you are
only responsible for your work – so DO IT. And don’t think that your
work has to conform to any preconceived form, idea or flavor. It can be
anything you want it to be. But if life would be easier for you if you
stopped working – then stop. Don’t punish yourself. However, I think
that it is so deeply engrained in you that it would be easier to DO! It seems I do understand your attitude somewhat, anyway, because I go
through a similar process every so often. I have an “Agonizing
Reappraisal” of my work and change everything as much as possible = and
hate everything I’ve done, and try to do something entirely different
and better. Maybe that kind of process is necessary to me, pushing me on
and on. The feeling that I can do better than that shit I just did.
Maybe you need your agony to accomplish what you do. And maybe it goads
you on to do better. But it is very painful I know. It would be better
if you had the confidence just to do the stuff and not even think about
it. Can’t you leave the “world” and “ART” alone and also quit fondling
your ego. I know that you (or anyone) can only work so much and the rest
of the time you are left with your thoughts. But when you work or
before your work you have to empty you [sic] mind and concentrate on
what you are doing. After you do something it is done and that’s that.
After a while you can see some are better than others but also you can
see what direction you are going. I’m sure you know all that. You also
must know that you don’t have to justify your work – not even to
yourself. Well, you know I admire your work greatly and can’t understand
why you are so bothered by it. But you can see the next ones and I
can’t. You also must believe in your ability. I think you do. So try the
most outrageous things you can – shock yourself. You have at your power
the ability to do anything. I would like to see your work and will have to be content to wait
until Aug or Sept. I have seen photos of some of Tom’s new things at
Lucy’s. They are impressive – especially the ones with the more rigorous
form: the simpler ones. I guess he’ll send some more later on. Let me
know how the shows are going and that kind of stuff. My work had changed since you left and it is much better. I will be
having a show May 4 -9 at the Daniels Gallery 17 E 64yh St (where
Emmerich was), I wish you could be there. Much love to you both. Sol
-from the "Specimen" series, mixed media, 6" x 6".
Today I am moving out of my home, tomorrow I am starting my new job, and this week I am finishing up all of the work for my next show. Things are good. (this is one of the paintings for the upcoming show)
Looking back this has been quite the year for me. There was more
suffering and growth than I knew what to do with at times, but I am so
grateful for it all.
an onion. The past twelve months were all about peeling back each layer,
one-by-one, until I finally saw myself at the heart of the mess. Honestly, it
was the most important thing that ever happened for me.
I will hurt someone just as I have been sinned against this
past year. Human beings are clumsy, and we hurt each other terribly. I know what it feels like to suffer a heartache now, and I refuse to let someone feel that way because of me
without doing my best to fix things first. No silence or avoidance. Human
beings are worth more than that. They deserve words and tears and time,
just as the transgressor probably deserves forgiveness.
The silence this past
year has been maddening. It is so much
harder to forgive and let go of an injustice if that friend isn't asking
for you to do so, but I would much rather have my open palms than their clenched fists.
It has left me raw, ferocious, and glittering. I think I can prove that to you with one of my latest paintings (thank God for painting):
-"Valves", mixed media on reclaimed paper, 28.5" x 21".
These are pictures from my recent trip to Kauai, Hawaii. This part of the island is designated state park property as the people there are very protective of their beautiful land. Thank goodness for it too, because my soul would be crushed if I learned that someone wanted to build a shopping mall somewhere in here.
October is enchanting, November makes my heart feel raw
it's the weather and the knowledge that this is the last week for good fall colors and then the leaves will all be dead and browning at the base of the trees. Don't misunderstand me though, I like winter... it makes for good cold-weathered adventures and nostalgic family reunions... but I am twice as hungry and twice as sleepy during the winter, and much less likely to be able to focus on painting for more than an hour.
My toes get cold in the studio pretty quickly. Despite all of these complaints, I've been timing myself to work on art for at least four hours a day, even if I work at one of my other non-art jobs that day. Sometimes I find myself staying crouched on the floor of my studio furiously working away at a painting for even longer than my timed session.
Minus the discomfort caused by cold toes, it feels pretty good to be working so hard.
Some silly things happening in my beloved sketchbook:
(Whomever you are, I sincerely hope you are doing well and are also enjoying the weather - wherever you are and whatever kind of weather that might be.)
I walk down the steps to my studio, take one look at all of the
collected junk I've kept in hopes of "using it one day", and spend the
rest of my studio time making art in order to use and get rid of those
materials. Ideally, I would make so many sculptures and paintings that
my stack of canvases would just disappear, the box full of saved
styrofoam would be empty, and my flat files filled with salvaged paper
would be cleaned out. But I never get to that point! Art takes a long
I don't throw out paper. I've found ways of
recycling my bills, letters, and old drawings by painting over top of
them or shredding them up to make paper pulp to use with my sculptures.
Both of these methods are becoming stale and the stack of old paintings
is still overwhelming me. So I started cutting them up into shapes and
reassembling them as collages. I'm really enjoying the process of making
these collages and love how they seem to dismiss the
chaos/disorganization of my studio.. so clean-feeling.