Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Studio #1 - 116 Oak Grove studio apartment

My first oil painting space in minneapolis was in the basement of a house in north east where I lived with people i  did not like, and they did not like me.  That was probably why they had me paint next to the washer and dryer in a crappy low ceiling basement.  So lets call that Studio #0 and just leave it at that.

Studio #1, My first real art studio in Minneapolis was a studio apartment in Loring Park that I converted into an art studio.  It was an stimulating and productive time in my life.  I was examining abstraction, working on short stories and poetry, and learning how to make it without a day job.  I was relatively new to Minneapolis, and I had only met a handful of people I would consider friends.  

I converted the bathroom into my bedroom.  I had a board cut to fit the bath tub, attached with hinges to the top of the tub.  I would flip the board up, take a shower, flip it back down then roll out a mattress to sleep on.  The rest of the bathroom was a makeshift closet.  It was crazy cramped and messy, but it worked.  Seriously, have you ever tried to live in a bathroom?  We all do what we must to have what we want, and living in the bathroom was what I had to do.

The rest of the apartment was all art studio.  In less than a year, I ruined it getting paint on everything and paid high price for my youthful sense of creativity.  I used the freezer door to paint with at one point, as the toaster i was painting with at the time did not have a large enough edge to pull the oil paint how i needed it.  It was worth every dollar.

I probably completed 200 or so works of art in this studio, and it was crazy.  Here are some pics of the studio.


I was so proud of this painting, and its okay but not nearly as good as I thought it was at the time.  I created many works that I am still happy with today.  It does not mater if my work then was good, bad, junk or masterworks, I was building the skills I would need later as a professional artist.  Besides, in our art world its all relative to the individual so as an artist I could (and can) get away with anything I wanted to.  





At any given point there were 30+ oil paintings stacked up everywhere


During this time I met an oil painter named Philip Hoffman.  I became his apprentice shortly after we met (mostly because I kept bugging him to teach me what he knew), and we continued to work together for the next 4+ years.
Philip working on "The infamous Purple lake"

 Philip Hoffman worked with me in the studio until its inevitable end.  We created an entire series of works together in there, and became good friends in the process.

It became crowded fast, no room for anything other than oil paintings.  I still have that green shirt, it is seriously my favorite shirt ever.

Even the tiny kitchen was used for some type of artwork creation.

The tape on the floor was set for where I was to stand while I looked at the stage of my still-life.  It was part of my self imposed training/study as an artist.

Catherine A. Palmer and I worked together for years.  We will work and exhibit together again.

I had a very good time in this studio, and I was a ham (excessively theatrical) so we took tons of photos.

Stefan Johnson worked in the studio with me at times.  Here he is painting with a bathtub toy wind up bear and a toilet plunger.  Look for 2.2.3_Other tools for a detailed account of that day.

The downfall of this studio was the parties, or as I liked to call them the art openings.  We threw gallery like openings with our paintings in the hallways of the apartment building.  we actually sold some work doing this, and well it was fun.  I had screwed large lug bolts into the apartment hallway walls and painted whit over them so they were not very noticeable, but easy to just hang a bunch of oil paintings for a weekend art show.  The neighbors didn't care, they thought it as fun.
Eventually the apartment managers caught on and came to one of the openings.  I saw a group of suits come in, thought that it was odd but maybe they saw the flyer and wanted to look at the art so i invited them into the studio.  We small talked and then I suggested that they take some time and look at the paintings, they told me that they had seen enough and handed me eviction papers.  That was the abrupt end of my first studio.  Worth every penny.

  I have hundreds of photos from this studio, so i will just leave you with with these.

Thanks for reading my blog...
...keep checking back, there is more to come.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Maple Composition sculptures.

In 1999 I had a momentary desire to work with maple wood.  My grandfather had a huge amount of wood that we had chopped worn, milled and dried in the basement.  It is some of the best maple I have ever seen.  I still have a about 5 cords of it and I intend to make more art out of it as I feel the need.

There is one missing from this set and I doubt that I will ever be able to get pictures of it.

 Composition 1
Maple, polyurethane 
1999

 Composition 2
Maple, enamel 
1999

 Composition 4
maple, polyurethane
1999

Composition 5
Maple, polyurethane
1999


These are very old...
...my compositional choices are mature now.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Artwork of the month: Egon Schiele.

Egon Schiele was an expressionist during a time when expressionism was new and innovative. For the most part expressionist works today are worthless decoration.  I explored the ideas of expressionistic oil painting early in my career and eventually rejected it.  Expressionism is an ism that I grew to detest, then appreciate, then pass off as a phase, then start to enjoy again.  Nonetheless, Schiele was clearly an innovative artist with uninhibited erotic desires.  The majority of his subject matter are erotic nudes.

Egon Schiele
Austrian, 1890-1918
"Portrait of Paris von G├╝tersloh"
1918, oil on canvas

Egon Schiele died from influenza in 1918 before completing this painting.  Regardless, this unfinished painting is a masterpiece.  The subject, Paris von G├╝tersloh, a painter, writer, actor, producer, etc, was a friend Schiele admired for his prolific and expansive career in the arts.  This being the last painting Schiele worked on is a treat to look at because we have a chance to see the process of his work.  It is display at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.


"I do not deny that I have made drawings and watercolors of an erotic nature. But they are always works of art. Are there no artists who have done erotic pictures?"
-Egon Schiele

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

My studio environments.

As an artist in Minneapolis, I have built or converted 7 spaces into live-in art studios.  I refuse to waste money and pay for a rental studio surrounded by an undisclosed number of other studios with other artists energy and work habits.  If I wanted that boxed life I would have become a graphic designer and worked in a cubical.  The money saved on studio rental, is money that I have used on needed and expensive professional grade supplies instead. 

I have always obligated to be moments away from my work.  I used to keep an easel by my bedside, so when I would wake my current work I was contemplating would be right there, my first thought, and imprinted into my mind for the rest of the day.  I was then able to keep my paintings in my mind, making compositional choices as I went about my day.  When I returned home to the studio, my contemplation was over and I immediately could start working. 

I have always constructed my studios toward my needs as a painter. Which are truly the needs of my relationship with my chosen medium - oil paint.  All relationships demand a certain level of yearning obligation, and oil painting is the most demanding mistress.  Per her request, I prefer to have the walls of my studio painted to be the bluest white possible.  Cold, malleable, and unnatural so I can set the tones with filters on lighting.  I use cheap unnatural florescent lighting and have always needed to balance out the yellow quality of that lighting.  Studios are what they are: work spaces, and each artist will know what they need.  What I use is vastly different than what another will.  Working with oils paints require a certain kind of studio.  If my current series of oil paintings is about contrast, my studio reflects that; if my work is about calm, my studio is calm.  
     
I keep my working environment just as a stage in theater, a set up conceptually.  That way I can have the total experience of my concepts.  Sounds silly, fake, or just too much?  Maybe, but it is how I do it and it works for me.  I can be playful, but when it comes to my work, which I consider my life's work, I am serious.
Over the course of 9 or so posts I am going to tell the stories of my 7 past studio spaces, most of which are interesting tales.  The Studios of my past have always been exactly what I need.  

Check back soon...
...something interesting is coming. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Form studies from 1998

1998 was a year of exploration and experimentation for me.  I was developing my current compositional philosophy, and trying everything I thought of regardless of how strong or weak each concept was.

These are all Cray-Pas oil pastels improvisations that I am sure were completed in an evening. 






















Thanks for reading...
...more nonsense from my past to come soon.