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As an artist, you're constantly in the line of being criticized by others. You steel yourself to be prepared for the worst - it's simply part of the activity of what you do - taking the hit when it comes, but marching on regardless.
But what happens when it's you who becomes the critic? Isn't criticism a question of honesty, clarity, and courage? If so, how come there's so little of it here at ap?
Frequently we come across a barbed comment that not everyone here is an artist, that many are just profiting by the free site (even though it's admittedly not of the best quality), and they're uploading their stuff to muscle in on the online presence. 
Yet no specific examples of this are ever mentioned. How come? Are we afraid to voice our opinions in public? As artists, aren't we bound to seek truth, and to speak our minds exactly for this purpose, even though it might put us individually in the spotlight, and risk the ridicule of all?
In this context, I have to voice my respect for Hanjo Schmidt who in the past has risked being controversial, has bared himself to be the brunt of other artist's scorn, who has pinpointed artwork he is in disagreement with, and put himself out there to be the possible archetypal object of the antagonism of all.
In my mind, ap is about that. It's not of showcasing high-dimension images (as previously mentioned other sites do that better). It's simply about people who say they're artists facing up to each other. In order to raise the quality we have to challenge each other, and anyone who is serious about the job will readily (if not willingly at first) respond to that challenge.
Personally, I would like ap to mean "The Artist Challenged". I would love that an artist thinks twice before uploading her/his work on the site - for fear of the *quality* of opinions in response. But in order to achieve that, we need many Hanjo's who are willing (and able to back their statements with their own work) to come out and tell others their *real* opinion - what's really on their mind.
It's too simple to ask the site administrator to remove the work of those other guys who aren't serious artists - I would respond with why don't you challenge those guys yourself directly? What are you afraid of? If you want to be part of a site of art of quality, it's not up to the site admin, but up to you artist participants yourselves. 
Artprocess is yours for the making. If there's a possibility that it becomes different and more meaningful than the other better quality artsites out there, it's up to you to realize that with basic, clear, bold, honest speaking.
After all, that's why you're artists in the first place.

01 Dec 09 19:53
I don’t think anyone asked for anyone to be removed. That would be asking for the administrator to play the judge and the need for a judge was not thought of at any time. My point was that if there were a place where studio images are mainly shown and discussion on the process of each artist’s project were carried out, among people who are interested in it, those who I call “Sunday painters” or people who are not artists and just have nothing to do all day but to play about with the internet, would be discouraged to enter. Here of course, you are right in saying that it is us who will make this place of interaction real. And yes, there should be more talk on what we do not like as well. Actually I think that some of the silences we have had here are also because of people being tired of the same old compliments and politeness some of us have pointed the finger at in the past. Maybe time has shown that Hillel was right in his outburst on [LINK] and I was wrong. But no, I, for one, will not go out there and tell tens of others I think that what they have uploaded has no place in an artist’s site, for the simple reason that I don’t have time to waste. And I don’t care to inform them of what I think of them (many don’t ever even answer), because I have more important things to say to the people that interest me here and hardly enough time to do so. However, and since you made a good point here, I promise to get to work and challenge at least the people who are serious about it. Of course I expect to be challenged as well because the hope of something good coming out of mutual pushing and pocking has been the reason for being here for the past three years.
02 Dec 09 11:21
It should be noted and Maria is quite right to say that nobody (that's me "nobody")said or asked for anybody to be be kicked off the site based on their qualities or lack of qualities and I'm sorry for my "dilettante" remark, it's just a word I've always wanted to use. Now that I've looked it up I'm not aware of anyone here it would apply to but then again I'm not too familiar with a lot of the work anymore, there's too much stuff to look at and I'm tired of looking and ferreting out images on all these sites.

My point was that by limiting the portfolios and just stressing the SLOGS (I know what it means now) there would be a certain amount of attrition. In the beginning I started loading up everything I could, thinking AP could be useful as a personal web address. Now as I said before there are better sites for that purpose You JP once gave me some technical explanation about keeping the site streamlined so it wouldn't take too long to load in countries without broadband, I'm not sure if that still holds true. But that was the reason I suggested limiting the size of the portfolios if it would help facilitate a more interactive studio log section. Saatchi's Your Gallery only allows an upload of nine images.

As far as criticism goes, I certainly don't mind receiving it but would be very wary of dishing it out when there are so many divergent sensibilities and approaches. The so called group of four were only comfortable enough to voice come critical comments because beyond apparent differences there was some thread of commonality but mainly there were some mutual pats on the back and as Maria says that too becomes tiresome.

You would think that just by virtue of being artists there would be some underlying commonality no matter the differences in sensibility but it's simply not the case and people are only interested for the most part in work that touches upon something they're dealing with or aspiring to.

JP, I know you have your idea for an alternate site which you can be sure I am very patiently waiting for. And one last but very important point you made that I strongly agree with is about Maria's tremendous artistic progress as shown in her SLOG.

04 Dec 09 04:55
Voicing an opinion,hmmmmm
Naively in the past when I truly believed that there was something helpful I could say to younger people usually I did and the criticism was not well recieved.When I asked friends -artists for their truthful opinion they looked as if I had just landed from Mars.
In my other life as a teacher I often very carefully tried to warn parents of dangers concerning their kids,and it was my agony that drove me to dare do that,but faced stone walls.
In our lives how often and to whom do we express our true thoughts?
Maybe to do so we need ,at least I need ,some sort of steady groung to stand or land on before I speak my mind.
Silence and indifference of course can be as harsh as words can.And as far as work which in my opinion is not interesting as Maria said ,it is better to be left without comment.
Just one person in my life has been brutally honest about my work ,to the point of pain,and he has been the one who has helped me move along .Although I have suffered many migraines after our sessions I will always appreciate and love him for what he did for me.

04 Dec 09 08:33
I have a person like that too, Fotini. They are precious. It took great balls to show him work a second time. But I owe him and his sincere critisism a great deal. Now, after I survived the first blow, I enjoy calling him every time I feel I have done something worth showing and I know that if I get possitive reaction it is for real.
05 Dec 09 20:42
Don't be ridiculous! You all know the truth, but just afraid to admit it.
To be entirely honest - Art is no more.
Even Malevich said, that He had finished the development of art with his "Black Square". And in the 20 century art completely exhausted itself.
John-Paul, Maria, Hillel, Fotini, Hanjo Schmidt and Others! you, I presume, all know the history of 20th century art. Try to peer at your artworks as if they were made by anybody unknown to you. In the past, even in recent past you'll find the same art but much better.
Nothing new in style, nothing new conceptually, no new personal feelings. There are energy, professional qualities in your art.. But the substance of your art is some sort of game in rebus (Guess what is depicted), some sort of art about nothing, some sort of indifferent unspiritual Entertainment

Of course, I do not demand that everyone must be a brilliant revolutionary in art as Pablo Picasso and K. Malevich.
But GOD no longer speaks with artists. There is no longer the artist as a mission!
At present there is HANDICRAFT insteade of art, there is professionals insteade of artists.

I hope you do not take it for insult. I just try to talk over more intresting subjects than asking for anyone to be removed from this site.
And mostly my hope is to encounter someone having unconventional brains.

20 Mar 10 00:49
I think that you write like a critic, not like an artist. First you say “ you all know the truth,..”…hmm, what truth? , Your truth? What is the truth of someone who works on something he himself believes is dead? It has no sense or value for me. If I were you, I would dedicate myself to computers for example, certainly not to paint little Russian villages in a pseudo-early- Kandinsky’s way.
How can you say “ The substance of your art is some sort of game in rebus (guess what is depicted),some sort of art about nothing?????, some sort of indifferent unspiritual entertainment”, “indifferent unspiritual entertainment” man , measure your words, if you really understand what you are writing. Not few of the people that paint, and show their work here, have dedicated their life and efforts, to something that from the start promised to have no economical reward. And even so, they continued doing it, paying the consequences all their lives. Believing in it, pouring themselves in it, and fighting for it.
So to start with , it is not an “indifferent unspiritual entertainment” if this is what your art means to you, don’t extend your feelings to others.
I never admit truths that others want to impose upon me, let alone art critics, or superficial know-it-alls, and many artists had this same attitude in their time when their contemporaries, critics and art-gurus stated without a doubt what was art, and what wasn’t and thanks to this opposition to “imposed criteria and truths” the art kept on moving. The critics proved to be wrong, or let’s say, time and history proved they were wrong.
“Newness” isn’t a value for itself. Not everything that is new is worth even looking at, let alone being considered art. And luckily what Malevich wrote is history, and after him we have had all kinds of great painters.
I believe in dedicating time, and experiences (ours and those of previous painters) and inner feelings on our art, whatever the way one paints abstract, figurative, whatever the market asks for, hope that what one tries to express has some kind of substance, and not only the style or newness we are constantly asked for.
Look at it with optimism, you can write in magazines and art journals, be another Greenberg and create or destroy artists you like or dislike, wouldn’t that be fun ! don’t waste more time with something that is “ not new in style, is not new conceptually, and has no new personal feelings “, there are lots of us already doing this, you know, with a slight difference.. we are honest and believe in our work. So then who is being ridiculous??

21 Mar 10 15:02
Victor, thanks for your words and for going to all the trouble of sending them to my private mailbox as well, just in case I might miss them here. Obviously the message you're conveying seems to be aimed at a few people on this site. Your complaint being that they are not major artists who have altered the course of art history and their work derivative. This is of course huge news for me as I've always held myself and my status in the art world to be quite large and my revolutionary approach to the making of art itself an accepted fact that has charted new courses, changing art and indeed culture forevermore.

Although at first it was hard to confront the possible truth of your words I began to realize how right you are. I am not an original trailblazer but just another humble, non original artist pilfering bits and pieces from this one and that one to create my unoriginal, uninspired works. Thanks to you I've now seen the light and it feels great to unshackle myself from the burden of greatness and be just another Joe Shmoe artist, it's a greatly liberating feeling. So once again I thank you as do I'm sure my fellow AP peers whom you've singled out, I'm sure they've benefited from your words as well. All, that is except JP, there's just no reasoning with him, the man has an enormous ego!

Alright all kidding aside Victor does raise a good point. Why keep repeating what's been done already? A psychiatrist friend of mine once told me that there is only one difference between neurotics and artists. Neurotics by definition repeatedly create and act out a personal drama or scenario in an attempt to understand their behavior and hope for some kind of different outcome. While artists do likewise, the difference is that artists end up with something tangible like perhaps an artwork that might give enjoyment to their own selves or other people and neurotics end up back where they started from with no productive result and nothing changed, doomed to repeat the whole process again and again.

So what do you do if your personal bent is to find pleasure in the art process knowing you're no genius and how futile the whole thing is, everything having been done before. Do you just give up and then what? Maybe swallow a bottle of sleeping pills and chase it with a bottle of rubbing alcohol. Hey, that sounds pretty good to me.

Actually I don't think there's anything wrong with some sort of indifferent, nonspiritual (I'm never sure what people mean when they use the word "spiritual" so I tend to avoid it) entertainment as people need to do something with the time they have between birth and death. And there is always the neurotic hope of a different outcome. In fact I think Karen is quite right in just about everything she's said and having viewed your portfolio Victor, I think your words about some sort of game in rebus are applicable to yourself and your own dilemma, the only escape from which is either to carry on or quit and find some other way to occupy your time.

21 Mar 10 18:34
Victor, although it seems that your comment is directed to a few people in AP, as a painter I feel alluded and therefore I join to the thanks list.

I feel better for knowing that the progress of history does not depend on me.

To be good for a few is enough for me. And that’s a lot.

In any case, I hope that my fellows do not stop painting after reading your words. I need that their painting surprise me, delight me and excites me.

I think the world would be much worse if their paintings did not exist.

21 Mar 10 23:24
Sorry for "indifferent unspiritual Entertainment" and the other funny statements.
Almost always any personal criticism leads to nothing and is ridiculous. it was just a ploy to provoke the candor.
And to write like "If I were you, I would...." leads nowhere as well.
Special thanks to Hillel for the sense of humor. As all the stupidities in this world are done with a serious face.

Well, I'd like to continue all that stuff not like an artcritic nor like an artist
but like "the poor in spirit" (although, I don't think I deserve "the Kingdom of Heaven")
or a CHILD which all adults cheat.

and the sincerity of an artist with himself, that is the most significant and fascinating thing to find out.
Why not discard any fear and discuss that subject. (John-Paul, let's "Criticism and Honesty" go to hell).
The acute sense of lie and his honesty with himself , for example, helped Jackson Pollock to throw out all his artworks
that were just variations of the past and helped him to find the new value, new concept in art. That is why he is the artist, the one
in the world history of art, the one who is not indifferent to the civilization.
I have an insane guess that maybe only about 300 artists could be called the artists during the entire history of mankind.
Critics named them "the greats". But I name them ' the honest artists".
As all the artists of 2010, like me and you, are not the artists, Let at least anyone of us be honest "human being".
An Intesting thing F. Dostoevsky once said:
There are things in which it is difficult to confess to in public,
there are things in which it is difficult to confess to among friends,
there are things in which it is difficult to confess to youself,
and there is something in you what you're not suspect.
We may be disturbed or comforted by the fact of being nothing for the art. Or we may change and continue find yourself in art.
Or we may try to surpass all our art teachers. Plenty of choise.... I don't know the real ways to being the artist (the great artist).
Perhaps - being honest to the most abysmal depths. Actually I don't know whether the art is dead or it's still alive.
I don't know the truth!
But as I travel different countries I met art people a lot.
I often saw all this arrogance and blind pride of the fact the ones were artists. That was hidden even in deeps of professionals' mind.
And now like a deceived child I can feel lie, whether ingenious or unconscious.
I do respect Gautama Buddha saying: reject all your faiths and beliefs to find the truth.

karen ! "I believe in dedicating time..." - could it be self-delusion ? If not, please, make it clear what it could be.
XXS ! "I think the world would be much worse if their paintings did not exist" - Don't you think a grandiloquent statement can be false.
The falsehood needs beautiful appearance to be liked by.

And finally and sadly we must admit that at present, after Malevich, only new can be the art (part of history of art in future,
only someone who realize any artistic concept can be the artist.
Personally I am not glad of the fact that dedicating one's life and efforts, any inner feelings, spiritual and whether substance and so on ... can remain
only (high professional or skilful) HANDICRAFT. Even high technologies (computer or whether) can not help.
The artistic concept are product of human brains.
I've just remembered a thing about THE HONESTY. You may know that Leo Tolstoy at the end of lifetime refused and cursed all his creativity and works.
What a overwhelming honesty ! ! ! It was new and awesome. The real artistic act, a performance, it must be called!

I expect you don't take all this for preaching and "The voice of one crying in the wilderness".
It's a call for help and an attempt to be honest. If really believe in something, could you share it?
Just could you say where from goes your belief, how it works, and what results of it you have .
Hillel ! Everybody has his own neurotic and psychotic things. Only the deads are sane in mind !

VICTOR, Your curious child

24 Mar 10 21:55
Victor, discúlpame por escribir en español pero la pintura se seca demasiado rápido. Gracias otra vez por mostrarnos la verdad a los ciegos y sordos.

Dices que eres curioso, pero parece que tú ya lo sabes todo. Dices que eres un niño, pero no lo eres en ese sentido en que hablaba Nietzsche de Zarathustra: “Tus ojos son puros, y en los rasgos de tu boca no hay expresión de asco. No parece sino que vienes bailando. Zarathustra ha cambiado, se ha hecho niño.”

Eres un viejo, tan viejo como la historia de este continente lleno de clarividentes, predicadores y salvadores, conocedores de una Verdad que ha traído más dolor, muerte y destrucción que cualquier “ridícula ignorancia”.

Dices que mis palabras son falsas y grandilocuentes. Tienes derecho a pensar así. No es mi intención convencer a nadie de nada. Pero tu discurso está más lleno que el mío de palabras grandilocuentes. Lo que es peor, de sinceridad dogmática.

No conozco a ese “ser humano” del que hablas, no quiero formar parte de “la historia” del arte de ninguna humanidad, ni a civilización alguna, ni pertenecer al club de “los grandes artistas” de todos los tiempos –que tú conoces en su cifra exacta, sin decimales-. Ni siquiera quiero ser “artista”. Sí quiero ser honesto, pero la honestidad no se puede medir ni conocer más que por uno mismo.

Lamento la decepción que existe en el fondo de tus palabras. Pero yo sólo quiero pintar y que me dejen hacerlo, y confiar en poder “tocar” con mi pintura a alguien, alguna vez, en algún lugar. Y escuchar lo que tienen que decir aquellos que yo elijo que sienten la misma pasión que yo, y expresar de vez en cuando la mía.

Predica todo lo que quieras, en el desierto o en los púlpitos. Con discursos propios o prestados por todos esos carroñeros que, paradógicamente, viven de hablar de un arte que dicen que está muerto.

Si estamos muertos dejadnos morir en paz. (Grandilocuente, pero muy sincero).

26 Mar 10 13:10
Victor, for what it's worth, personally I like your aggressive stance, your willingness to challenge with no pretence of pleasing, and your seemingly obvious desire for making something that has meaning, with the goal of reaching the high ground of past exemplary artists. The photo you posted of yourself tells me this guy I can relate to, and that for sure we (at artprocess) have something in common with your gritty no-nonsense approach - a hunger to eliminate pretence in order to attain some sort of truth.
Nevertheless, when I look at the works you've posted, I can only admit my disappointment at what seems to be cute Russian landscapes - interesting in themselves - but hardly the sum of the stimulating invective of your verbal communication.
I say this as an invitation to continue the dialogue you've begun - you're obviously after that something, that eludes each and every one of us, and of course that something we're also after too.
Incredibly, you managed to irk Hillel (I view as a real accomplishment), and that amuses me immensely.
If you could please succeed in pissing Hanjo off too - then we might just have a bit of fun over the next few weeks.

Kind regards

26 Mar 10 20:02
Victor, thanks for expressing yourself, although I'm not entirely sure what it is you're expressing. i.e "...only about 300 artists could be called artists during the entire history of mankind". Perhaps according to your "subjective" opinion, but "no doubt" they're would be thousands of historical artists who in their "subjective" opinion would probably disagree with you. By the way the critics' pronouncements of "greatness" were most often long after of the making of the art itself.)

Your premise I believe is that art must be revolutionary to have merit. And (I'm not if my understanding is correct) that an honest artist should know that in our time, art or art progress is something that is quite unachievable. (The art is dead scenario.)

(Actually I believe most of the artist on this site might actually ascribe to some aspect of that thought, except of course for JP (ego maniac that he his) who as most everyone knows, believes his work to be the cutting edge of advanced artistic thought.)

However assuming my understanding of your intent to be correct, then "the honest artist" should either cease his or her activity, or at the very least carry on, but HONESTLY declare that they have nothing new to to contribute. Have I got it right?

If that is indeed the case I, of course, being the most HUMBLE of all the artists on AP would be the FIRST to do so.

26 Mar 10 21:46
Actually, I like artworks of you, John-Paul, and artworks of HILLEL KAGAN as well.
And with debris of my brains I can still realize that what I've done is only sickly-sweet sniffles
versus your creativity.
Why have you been discussing my petty creature???
Is not it more intresting to express your opinions relating to honesty, faith, hope and whatever eise of an artist ???

Frankly, I foollishly think that such things as the Faith, the Hope, the Love in the life are far more important
than being any significant social figure, like an artist for instance.
And as XXS I ,also, think - " To be good for a few is enough for me. And that’s a lot.'

I do expect any internal thoughts or any humour from the others about themselves if they take the liberty to.

26 Mar 10 22:08
Dear Hillel
In every joke there is a portion of joke !

26 Mar 10 22:45
J.P, I hate to disappoint you my friend but I don't think there is any fun to be expected from this. And that is because I really don't see any serious, let alone intreaging, challenge.
28 Mar 10 17:51
I am ever so sorry! It was all my guilty. I'll write no more. Victor S.
28 Mar 10 20:07
Well guys, now I’m going to do art. I mean real art. Not this figurative stuff. Real art that even curators can understand and guys like say Malevich. By the way, he’s in hell now. When you come in take the left hand side at the end of the third floor in the department for Depressed Fools. There he is. Met him the other day. Well umm, I’m allowed in hell whenever I want. The devil’s a good old friend of mine. I’m even allowed to stay overnight. He’s such a nice and helpful guy. Okay, where have I been? Oh yesss Malevich. Well he’s playing chess with old Ad Reinhardt all day long and the two of them just cannot stop fighting on who’s done the best black or „ultimate“ paintings ho ho. Sometimes I don’t bother to sit down for a while and listen. I mean in the end you can learn a lot about the endles differences in black hue. Quite interesting. Wouldn’t have thought there were this much without the help of these guys. I mean in the end Mal’s a lucky guy down there. He was supposed to go to paradise but the devil cought him just in time and saved him from that. I mean paradise is ... well, umm, how to put it ... it’s pure hell so to say he he. Imagine all this hosiannah and hallelujah stuff twentyfour hours a day seven days a week. And being bossed around by this old guy that’s so pathological after personal prestige and needs to be hailed all day long. And you are not allowed this and not allowed that and beware of this, too and let alone that . . . and don’t even think of THAT one in particular. No, no this would have certainly ruined old Malevich within days. Now he can dive into the good old depression pool together with Reinhardt or be on stage. Okay, I have to explain this. They have a little stage down there and everyone is asked to give a little show every now and then. So Mal does the revolutionary pamphletist when he’s into it. Pushes his fist into the air and declaims the old manifestos with his cracking voice. Sometimes together with Marinetti giving a manifesto duett and everyone who’s listening laughts his pants off. So there in the fools department there’s not so much difference between fascists, communists or capitalists. Pretty much the same stuff. Didn’t know that either. Okay. Talking about Mal I lost the red thread right away didn’t I. I said that I was going to make real art. Yeah that’s what I’m up to right now. So what am I going to do? Well, I have to clean up my studio. Making a heap of things I want to keep and another one with things I am supposed to throw away. I mean this is the normal way of how to do such a thing isn’t it. So I took some old paintings of mine peeled them from the stretchers and ripped them into stripes of approx. ten centimeters width. Then I took say seven of such stripes rolled them together and fixed the roll with some tape to prevent it from getting loose again. So after a while I did not only have aching hands but a nice collection of rolles too. While sipping my tea and pondering on them I got the idea of turning this into what I might call my „Dead Sea Scrolls Project“. So what I have to do now is to ripp apart all of my paintings in this way. Then build a glass cabinet, what we’re used to call a vitrine and put them all in. And then all these curators, gallerists, critics and whomever else can feast on that and make their silly theories about it and fight on who’s the most brilliant in interpretation etc. etc. I mean that’s REAL art isn’t it. Okay, I might put a photo in the studio log. [LINK]
16 Apr 10 11:55
16 Apr 10 13:23
Good idea. I'm going to keep painting figurative paintings to have to rip and make Art ...
20 Apr 10 09:01
Has anyone here heard of Rudolf Steiner? He gave many new impulses in many areas. One of these areas is Art. He gave many lectures on art, he was a sculptor and painter too, among million other things. Here is a link where you can find many free books and lectures on art and other subjects: http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA276/English/AP1964/ArtMis_index.html

The easiest way to find more art books is to use the Search button on the site


27 Jan 16 16:23
Haha Flavius... nobody's come to this forum in the last 500 years! You risk awakening some old ghosts, like myself :o)

Yes I've heard of RS, but personally I tend to avoid any form of collective ideology, however exceptional it may be. Notwithstanding, the few followers of Steiner I've met were likeable, interesting, and smart young people. Two brilliant computer programmers I knew were Steiner advocates.

Rudolf himself probably has had many interesting things to say on Art, however my preference is to talk directly to artists (like you), and read what you have to say on your own work, the process of it's making, and your experience of being an artist in today's world.
And if Steiner is the impetus for you to make art, naturally I'd be interested to hear your experience of why that is so.

28 Jan 16 09:41
Of course my enthusiasm for Anthroposophy is based on practical experience of Steiner's ideas and new impulses.

I studied Art and Art Therapy in the UK at a Steiner college. I also lived in a village called Forest Row, which has put many of Steiner's ideas into practice. Forest Row has quite a few initiatives, some of which are: 2 biodynamic farms, the first waldorf school in the UK called Michael Hall and Organic architecture, to name just a few...

Having studied Art and Therapy at a Steiner college, my approach to art is deeply personal, and could also be called Transpersonal (ie very personal and individual).

In the arts, Steiner's universality was an influence on artists like Kandinsky, Mondrian, Klee, Joseph Beuys, Mario Merz, Karel Malich, Giuseppe Penone, Anish Kapoor, Olafur Eliasson, Tony Cragg, Helmut Federle, Carsten Nicolai, Meris Angioletti, Jan Albers, Manuel Graf, Simon Dybbroe Møller, Gertrad Goodwin and countless others perhaps not as famous or know to the public just yet.

28 Jan 16 12:52
I don't think an artists should be removed from the site .I think the artist should have images that they remove from their page as the add more . They should be showing that they have a greater understanding of their own work by removing images. They should demonstrate that they have moved beyond some of their imagers , as they grow in their art process.
The craft of the work is what makes it great . Each dialogue with the world is always personal to the artist . The viewer will come to the work from their own personal place . Artist are not dictators who control human response . They present a view . The engagement with the world is the fear and the thrill. There are no failures , there is only the next step . We have control over the materials, nothing else . That is the real challenge , can you sustain being in an undefined space with all its challenges .
Can you justify your behaviour as you stand outside the social norms of work , making money .
As for fame and fortune , it has nothing to do with art , it is political , knowing the right people , playing the right games .
If you want to be famous you have to treat yourself as a business person making sure your work is seen by as many people as possible.
I think people should make comments about the work , the materials and how they are used by the artist .This would be a good start.

28 Jan 16 23:43
“I foollishly think that such things as the Faith, the Hope, the Love in the life are far more important than being any significant social figure, like an artist for instance.”
Art is indicative of faith in something useful.
Where there is art there is hope.
“Love in the life” ………….. isn’t art an expression of love.
Creative practice be it profound or trite is a fun activity, that’s why people do it, presumably.
And to hell with it, if fame is on your desire list, then go for it.

01 Mar 18 04:26
I have decided it is high time I did something for the protection of the surface of my work.

I have never felt it was worth the trouble until recently. However, I haven't yet been able to find a material or a way to prepare it that would create a protective film for my oils without making the surface too glossy or flat. Partly because I have been afraid to test on finished work.

Any suggestions, recipes or advice on books are welcome.


20 Jan 09 16:15
Maria, I like absolutely matt and general I advice it picture varnish matt 003 Talens /1000ml e/. It is universal and fastly dry. Good for mixed technician acrilico and oil too. I think that small test is indispensable.

And ps. to Maria "which says 300 different languages"
I thank for your opinion about my pictures. Your definition “How it is possible to have it all together: strictly figurative work, with strong narrative content, being contemporary, great painting” is very universal and allowing for growth.

21 Jan 09 21:14
ps. link with full information about /varnish and click/

22 Jan 09 13:51
Varnish seems to be a little bit out of fashion to begin with. Of course it still protects your painting but it also does something to it you might not want. That depends on the way you paint and the way you treat your paint. So for example you could never ever varnish a Francis Bacon painting without destroying it. Or you would take away the fascinating surface of a Michael Andrews painting with trying to cover it with varnish. Even those unbelievable huge paintings of Jenny Saville are not varnished even thought one can hardly imagine how they are being transported without the extrem danger of scratches and so on.

Well, I myself work with acrylics that are much more vulnerable than oils. But I have to varnish them for otherwise even the simple face to face, back to back storing in the studio would force me to make a retouche of a scratch every now and then. So I use a layer out of 50% glossy varnish and 50% water to receive a soft surface with a satin gloss. Sometimes I hate to do it but on the other hands It gives the colours more depth and brilliance. And that’s important if working with bright colours.

The question of using a glossy varnish or a matte one of course is a matter of fashion too. Maybe the glossy version is not so welcome for one may think uh, looks a bit old-fashioned. And the matte version is not to be seen so I take that. But it’s not really true. Varnish in it’s natural version is always glossy. So for to get this matte surface they have to add some other chemicals or wax. And when seeing a matte surface of varnish I often can’t help to think that the whole thing is covered with a more or less thin layer of plastic. This might not be a problem as long as one uses paint with poor colour. Brown, black and all dark hues that is. But when using bright red, yellow or blue you will notice how much of the brilliance this type of varnish takes away. So if I have to use varnish I would always take a thin layer of semi glossy stuff which one gets with thinning the original material.

The companies most well known in Germany are Schminke, Lukas, Guardi or Goya. Okay Maria, you might have an automatic tendency to Goya might you? So for the beginning you should use the varnish of your choice carefully with only thin layers. If in need you can always add another layer. By the way. I always protect the corners of my paintings with little pieces of bubble wrap when having them in the storeroom. This helps better than any varnish.

24 Jan 09 16:50
Thank you Mirek and thank you Hanjo.
With acrylics you use a waterbased varnish if I got it right. The varnishes I know for oils are not waterbased. Would thinning with turpentine destroy my colours?

26 Jan 09 19:41
Maria, I look for you everything about varnish, only its historical aspekt. Today there is chemical product. Varnish is for protection and in image equal light. It makes more intensive colours too. Please, it read :

Varnish is resin dissolved in turpentine or in a mixture of turpentine and a drying oil such as linseed oil. There are several resins available with which to make a varnish, and the selection of a resin is guided by use.
Picture Varnish is used as a final coating for a painting to protect the picture and unify the appearance of the surface. It can, for example, make the surface appear either matte or shiny, or protect the paint film from chemical reactions with the atmosphere and from mechanical abrasion.
Retouch Varnish is used to give a full and wet look to the surface of the unfinished painting before work is resumed. This prevents the eye from being fooled by the unevenness of the light reflected from parts of the painting's surface.
Mixing Varnish is used as an additive to the painting medium to accelerate the drying time, to add gloss, and to give body to a glaze.
Isolating Varnish is a resin that is insoluble in turpentine or mineral spirits. When this varnish is applied to a paint film, it will protect it from being affected by the turpentine or mineral spirits in the next layer of paint to be applied.
Types of Varnishes
The following are descriptions of various types of varnishes and their uses. Commercially prepared varnishes are readily available, or varnish can be made from recipes given in this section.

Dammar Varnish
Dammar Varnish is the most popular of all varnishes and is used as a retouch, a mixing, and a picture varnish. It does not bloom (develop a chalky appearance) and it yellows less than most natural resins. Dammar varnish can be readily purchased already prepared or you can prepare it according to the following recipe.
1 part crushed dammar resin wrapped in muslin
4 parts rectified turpentine
Leave wrapped resin to soak in the rectified turpentine for 1 or.2 days, or until the resin has dissolved.
Filter if necessary.
Dries in approximately 1 hour.

Mastic Varnish
Mastic Varnish is clearer than dammar and can be applied more easily. However, it does tend to bloom (develop a chalky surface) in humid climates, as well as yellow more than dammar. Mastic and mastic varnishes are much more expensive and harder to come by than dammar. Today, mastic is usually used as a mixing varnish and rarely as a picture varnish. A mastic solution (concentrate) for painting as well as a varnish can be prepared from the following recipe.
(from which the varnish is made)
1 part mastic tears
(The better mastic comes in the form of tears, or little round balls.)
3 parts rectified turpentine
(The best turpentine should be used, especially if the varnish will be used in painting.)
The preparation of mastic solution is sensitive to impurities and heat. The mastic tears should not be crushed to speed the process. The tears should be suspended in a gauze bag or nylon stocking and allowed to dissolve without use of heat. This takes 1 or 2 days.
Mastic has a more stable shelf life as a solution (heavy gum solution is best) than as a varnish. Therefore, you may wish to consider diluting a mastic solution to make the varnish. This may be done by adding 1 part rectified turpentine to 3 parts mastic solution.
Mastic varnish will dry in 1 hour.

Synthetic Varnishes
Synthetic Varnishes are, in most cases, composed of ketone or acrylic resins dissolved in mineral spirits. The advantages are that they dry rapidly, are crystal clear (unless a wax is added to create a matte finish), and are non-yellowing. The disadvantage is that, with the exception of polycyclohexanone, they can be used only as a picture varnish.
Polycyclohexanone is a synthetic dammar like resin, developed recently in Germany, that can be used alone or in conjunction with dammar for media or varnish. It is prepared in the same way as dammar. The advantage is that it is optically clearer than, and yellows less than, dammar. It also forms a harder and more durable paint film. However, it is slightly more brittle than dammar and, consequently, is often used with other, more flexible resins. The polycyclohexanone adds clarity, and resins like dammar add flexibility.
Soluvar is a synthetic varnish composed of acrylic resin produced by Binney & Smith Company, which is available in both matte and gloss. It is used as a final, protective picture varnish on both oil paintings and acrylic paintings. It is receiving greater recognition because it can easily be removed if the picture needs to be cleaned or restored.

Matte Varnishes
Matte Varnishes are made by adding to a varnish a flattening agent, which is usually a wax (such as beeswax or a fossil wax) or a wax-like substance such as aluminum stearate. Winsor & Newton's wax varnish and Dorland's Wax Medium are thick and are applied by rubbing the medium onto the surface of the painting and polishing it with a soft brush or silk cloth when dry. Liquid matte varnishes are made by suspending a wax in a varnish. The application of this kind of varnish is facilitated by warming the varnish until the cloudiness disappears and then applying it with either a soft brush or a warmed airbrush.
The advantage of a matte varnish is that there is no surface glare to interfere with viewing artwork. This has become an important consideration for many contemporary abstract artists. A slight sheen can give the illusion of a secondary color where there is none. This is less of a consideration in figurative artwork where there are usually many variations in color and shape, which help to camouflage the shiny spots on the surface.
The disadvantages of matte varnish are that too much can leave a milky or cloudy appearance on the surface, which is also easily damaged by rubbing.
Application of Varnishes
When applying varnish, the first consideration is whether the painting is really dry. Although a painting may feel dry to the touch within days or weeks, the layers below the surface may not be thoroughly dry. A paint film dries by reacting with the oxygen in the air. If a painting is varnished before this reaction is completed in the paint layers below the surface, these paint layers are sealed off from their source of oxygen and cannot complete their drying process. The painting may remain soft and sticky for a considerable length of time and, with improper drying, the paint film may not bond properly to other film layers. Another problem caused by premature varnishing is that the solvent of the varnish may penetrate the paint layers that are not completely dry, thus softening them and affecting the appearance as well as the stability of the paint films.
Most paintings of average thickness and painted with a lean medium will be ready for varnishing between six months and a year after completion. Unless driers were used throughout the painting, one year is usually the safest choice when in doubt. If the paint is thick, one year will not be long enough. Never heat or place a painting in the sun to accelerate the drying process. Because drying of oil paint is a chemical reaction with oxygen, rather than evaporation, rushing the process can cause wrinkling and other horrors. It is best to store the painting where there is light, ventilation, warmth, low humidity, and loving care.
Paintings that must be displayed before they are thoroughly dry can be shown either unvarnished or coated with a retouch varnish, which will even the surface appearance and will provide some protection. It will also slow the ultimate drying time, but will not prevent proper oxidation.
During the lengthy drying process, the surface of the painting may collect dust or dirt, which must be removed before varnishing. Any cleaning must not involve the use of water because the water can penetrate the paint layers, thus reaching the ground and causing it to swell. This will weaken the bond between the ground and the paint and can result in serious cracking. The best way to remove dust is first with a feather duster or a pigeon wing. Then take a loaf of fresh bread and pull out the center, squeeze it into a ball, and roll this over the surface of the painting. If there are slight grease stains, they may be removed by blotting with mineral spirits. If there are problems beyond those described here, professional advice is preferable to experimentation.
When the painting is dry, has a clean surface, and is in a dust-free, dry, warm environment, the varnish can be applied. The two basic methods of application are spraying and brushing. Spray varnishing can be successful when applied to a surface that has a minimum of texture, but a spray cannot cover textural irregularities as well as a brush. If a spray is held too close to the surface, the application will be too heavy and may run or pool. If the spray is too far from the surface, some of the particles of spray may partially dry en route to the surface and give it a frosted or powdered look. If you begin to spray off the surface and then move evenly onto the surface, pooling can be avoided on the surface because the areas where you start, stop, or change direction will be outside the painted area. Two thin coats are superior to one thick coat.
For textured and irregular surfaces, brush application of varnish is best. The varnish can be worked into areas that are not easily accessible with a spray. For a heavily textured surface, a hog or bristle brush is necessary to force the varnish into difficult areas. Ox hair is excellent for smoother surfaces.
After the application of the varnish, the painting should be laid flat to dry for one or two days. The surface should be protected from falling particles and dust. This may be accomplished by laying a board over some books or strips of wood placed on opposite sides of the painting. This will bridge the painting and will keep the protective covering a few inches off the surface.

26 Jan 09 20:54
Mirek, you are such a lovely person to have taken the trouble to write all this! Thank you, I will study this thoroughly.
29 Jan 09 21:30

As some of you know, Karen and I had a show in September. While sitting there at the gallery, looking at my work exposed, every day, for hours, the distance between me and the paintings grew bigger each day. Until I felt I had left them behind. New images of potential paintings started forming themselves and I took up sketching them on scrap paper, feeling so eager to start the new work. They would be bright paintings, with light and hints of what the country roads I drove through each day made me feel and the shallow pictorial space I like.

Then, all the business I had put off till after the show came knocking on my door and time kept passing with my impatience growing. In the mean time, the colours I had in mind slowly faded, until the recent episodes in burning Athens made them turn completely black. Despair followed. I thought that I was a fool planning sunny, happy paintings, content with my stupid, little discovery of “a new idea which would investigate my visual identity formed by my natural and cultural surroundings” and such. Those images would mean nothing given the circumstances and I didn’t even feel like making images any more. The whole beauty business seemed pointless to me. Of course, an architect friend kept telling me that it has always been moments like that when art and beauty are most relevant and necessary. I wouldn’t even be consoled thinking of Matisse painting flowers and fruits during the Second World War. I kept thinking of Picasso who made violence present even in his nature mortes through the presence of forks and knives.

That was the moment when Arnold uploaded some old paintings triggered by “things that struck him profoundly, over which he had no control”. I thought over those images a lot. Especially the one about the pilot being shot dead for the TV cameras and thrown out of the plane in Tel Aviv. I thought of the power of such an image as it is presented raw on TV or in photographs. It occurred to me then that the violence and sense of torture in Picasso’s paintings was of a different kind than the violence in a photo from a concentration camp in world war two. It is as if the archetype of the experience were dressed in apparently irrelevant objects and forms that in some magic way put the message through (Arnold in his beautiful little interview says that painting is magic because you look at scratches on paper and suddenly somebody’s idea is in your head). The archetypes of experience go beyond the temporary circumstance that triggers their visual materialization. It is something that has been there since the beginning of human perception and will be there till the end of it. It goes beyond the duration of a war or a terrorist attack or the gunning of one or many. It includes and compresses all past and future wars and forms of violence, turning the work into something that refers to all times. Like Matisse’s flowery wallpapers and fruits refer to all time beauty and harmony that goes beyond the ups and downs of historical events. Painting goes on, practicing one level above topicality, only fed by the experience of it.

Now, my fantasy paintings are back. They don’t have the same colours as before but my mental images of them are more physical. They have textures. And they look more mature. They are not sunny, happy, silly. I feel much more like starting work on them now. They have gone through incubation, as Hillel says.

27 Dec 08 16:37
Thank for sharing some of your intellectual process Maria, it really struck me as I've been contemplating the success of the Artprocess experiment. We are now starting to effect each other's work. Although we may be distanced by culture, language and sensibility we can find ourselves united by our commonality as artists.

This site started with the purpose of seeing if it was possible to create an online community of artists. It was and remains a completely non commercial, no frills site, Its sole purpose being artist to artist communication. The idea was not the promotion of artistic careers or the attempt to sell artwork online. The creating of work and the interaction of community to inspire and further creation was the idea of the experiment. Early on I was skeptical that such a notion was possible but the reality of the community, small as it may be and the pleasure of the contact and friendships that have been forged have changed my preformed notions. My own work has changed as a result of interaction on this site just as it might have in the past when artists used to gather (in my city) at Grossman's Tavern or The Pilot Tavern and talk and debate, yet go home and brood and come to other conclusions as a result.

A multitude of free art sites have been created offering things this site could never do; unlimited uploading of large size image files and videos, live chat, etc. etc. Yet this one remains, at least for me the authentic model... the ideal. Maria's latest opening of this topic "Incubation", a spinoff from another topic shows just how flexible this format has become for those who have become adept at using it. One idea spins off into another and that's how it should be. It's the very food we as artists need to continue what we do. For whatever reason, mainly economical... the soaring costs of real estate having dispersed artists from central locations with their meeting places and watering holes. This site has filled that vacuum for those who understand its purpose and enriched their work and lives.

28 Dec 08 17:23
Just over a year ago, my wife and I had the opportunity to attend the Sotheby's Impressonist and Modern Sale in New York. the evening sale was a crush, we managed to squeeze in at the back near the phalanx of film cameras, standing room. Way up front, Sotheby's premier auctioneer on his high podium, beside him a huge turntable dramatically revealing each work in succession, and all flanked by two giant screens showing artwork image and instant dollar conversion into eight currencies... along the front and sides of the room, behind high tables, sat about thirty young turks manning the phones. Standing near them was a serious looking man with a brief case and a satellite phone. The air was charged.

The show began with several works on paper by Egon Schiele, selling briskly, strongly, a self-portrait going for twice its estimate - over $10 million! We were soon at the first of the auction's gems, Van Gogh's "Wheat Fields" (28m-$35m). Bidding quickly reached $25m and stalled. A little joking from the dais yielded nothing. Pass. Murmurs through the crowd, heads turning...

Onward, Rodin sculptures going, a Monet just squeaking over reserve (9m) and a Renoir the same (10m). Then Pisarro, Sisley,Redon, pass. Gauguin, pass, a second Monet, pass, another Renoir, pass... The next star, a Picasso, stalled below reserve, as did Braque's "L'echo", a lovely piece which was hanging on the wall to our left.

And so it went, with nice sales of good works here and there, but a large number of works falling short of their expected millions. Especially the remaining 'star' pieces, those with expectation of $20-$30 million. The crowd restless, nervous, satellite phone-man quiet.

We skipped the morning sale. We took the time to poke around Sotheby's seven story citadel. We viewed their galleries. We passed some glass-fronted offices and looked in. We could see staff in front of a large screen TV displaying stock trading numbers. Sotheby's was in the process of losing 30% of its value on one day, as we would later discover.

While the evening sale was driven mostly by bids on the telephone, the day sale featured a more human fee. Less of a crowd, many bidding paddles about, a casual air. The room in bright light.

Works came and went - Vuillard, Seurat, Dufy oils and drawings, Matisse drawings, more Renoir sculpture, Picasso inks, Modigliani pencils, Miro, Chaall. The nice-looking, sweatered couple sitting just in front of us bought a little Victor Brauner oil for $250,000. Cezanne sketch, Klee oil, and more, and then another Schiele, his last of sale.

I had noticed two women arrive ealier, sitting nearby on our left. Fortyish, well-dressed, very casual New York. Coats on their laps and shopping bags at their feet. Enjoying themselves on a bright fall afternoon. The Shiele came up on screen a small crayon work on paper, sketch for an oil (splay-legged female nude, true to Egon's oeuvre). The bidding quickly reached a reserve of $300,000, when one of the two women raised her paddle. It became clear that she was going to have that drawing, and the other bidders withdrew at $400,000.

We left shortly after that, quite drained but exhilarated. It was at once profound and profane, a spectacle we hugely enjoyed.

I think back often to those two ladies. My first thought being, of course, "heck, I've got crayons!" And I've turned it over every which way, this whole concept, this provocative phenomenon of commerce and art... 

21 Dec 08 23:34
Interesting story Arnold though I'm not sure what it has do with the business of being an artist (unless that artist is your old travelling buddy Mr. Hirst) but it does make you stop and think.

Isn't it curious that artists who are usually pretty lousy capitalists produce the commodity that is perhaps one of the best examples of pure capitalism? What's the value of anything? Usually there's some intrinsic value to something (ie. how many carrots do you want for your bushel of wheat) but art really has no intrinsic value. Other than the scrap value of the material of its production it's only worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it.

I'd love to be able to say when asked for the price of a painting that I simply charge for time (pay scale determined by my nonexistent union the W.U.A.W. (Worldwide Union of Art Workers) and materials, say 100 hours times $25 per hr.= $2500 and materials $108.50 Total -$2608.50 plus shipping and any applicable taxes.

So what goes on at Sotheby's, the other auction houses, the public galleries, museums and publishers that help shape perceptions... all of that great big machine that forms the worldwide art market has very little to do with what we do.

I think you're right that "art is not for everyone". Actually it's for very few people, the vast majority being more interested in what something sold for than the stuff itself. However I have to disagree that "everything is not art", because in what you've written and your vivid visual description of the whole ugly spectacle you've proven otherwise.

25 Dec 08 16:15
nice story, i we like to learn more on this issue please any body
20 Aug 13 13:43
Recently I had the pleasure of meeting another AP member in the flesh. Arnold Leventhal was in Toronto for a family occasion and we had the great delight of a visit by Arnold, his lovely wife and daughter. It turns out that Arnold's daughter Anna is an accomplished author and performing artist. About two years ago she made a small radio broadcast piece for the CBC, our national radio service, the subject being her dad and his art. Knowing I would be interested she sent me a download of the broadcast. Well I loved it, It's a terrific piece about art and artists that I thought would be of tremendous interest to our AP members and I asked for her permission to make it available to all of us. She assented and has kindly posted her piece, entitled "10000 Faces I've Never Seen" on her Myspace space so we could have a URL to link to. I urge everybody to take twelve minutes and have a listen, it's a very enjoyable and informative little piece with the added bonus of actually hearing the voice of one of our members. [LINK]
17 Dec 08 15:55
Not a word? Nothing... what's with you folks? Did any of you even bother to listen to this thing? Ok, for the three, four or five people paying attention (my guess is four) I have to ask you. Did it not move you in any way, or bring up a few issues that we all share? From the first intoxicated utterings of Arnold (intoxicated with booze, art? My guess would be a bit of both) were you not simply taken in by the familiar voice of another of our species. Never mind the context of a kid who obviously loves the old nut bar enough to actually go on an expedition to explore the whole thing and in so doing comes up with a little piece of art herself. Yes the art affliction runs in families, we've covered that topic but I think there's some things here we haven't.

Arnold showing the photo he's had in every studio space he's ever occupied. The Castelli "stable" (a bunch of racing ponies). The notorious abstract expressionist boys, practically the whole Cedar bar crowd. What does it mean to him? Arnold somberly explains that he can't really call himself an artist, being an artist requires total commitment and sacrifice. He's compromised himself for some small piece of normal bourgeois life. Being an artist is some kind of a holy calling and you have to suffer and sacrifice.

I thought that way myself, I never called myself an artist until I was painting full time, if asked I would say I worked in graphics or was a graphic designer even though I always knew I was and had always been an artist. Anna's right when she conjectures that being an artist might not necessarily just be a job but perhaps and I think truthfully a disposition (of course at some point you actually do have to make the stuff). I've met Arnold and had that immediate recognition and familiarity I get whenever I meet another of my species.

I've met a lot of artists and just about all of them have or have had to compromise and do something else to sustain themselves. JP washes dishes, others are in commercial art or teach. Sometimes those other preoccupations take all one's time and/or energy and often for prolonged periods of time. It's very frustrating but I think artists keep painting or sculpting or constructing art in their minds. Those long periods of gestation or incubation can actually be quite productive because when you come out of them you explode with all that stuff you've been brewing in your mind. Sometimes something external will just make enough of an opening that you can jump in and act again. Sometimes it's just a shift in one's own psychological perception. I think that may be the answer to the question that wasn't answered when Anna asked Arnold "why now?"

23 Dec 08 22:36
Well this is my first day off for as you know I work teaching and this year I’m doing it full-time, and I have little time free to write, I did listen to Arnold and enjoyed it, first because his voice brought him suddenly nearer to me, the feeling of hearing a friend talking and not a stranger floated in the recording, and second because his words have been lingering in my mind since I listened to them: the difference between his creative process and mine and what we both feel when painting “one of the most efficient ways of loosing myself…” something I wanted to think about and write about, but I just haven’t had the time.
His words made me want to sit down and LISTEN to the paintings, make them talk to me, about him, about his world or whatever it is they talk about, you know Hillel some of us are slow thinkers or slow writers and need Time , (remember I really don’t think in English ) so please DON’T BE SO IMPATIENT we all have our pace, and I tell you if it were for me I would be sitting down in front of this pc looking up other painters and reading about them the whole day long, but I just can’t do it! And I bet there are others with the same problem. In fact I started looking up Arnold in the web to have more information about him and somehow ended up reading about Kitaj’s death and disappointments, like in the web , we are all connected some way or another, the questions we ask ourselves about art, what it means to us, why we do it, why we go on for that special one moment he describes… so let us have our moment of peace and we will talk about it, ok?? And by the way , receive my best wishes for all this next year Happy 2009! .

24 Dec 08 10:53
I am sooo jealous! For one thing, of the father – daughter relationship in this one.
Ok, I have to take care of this in a minute and thirty something seconds, and go on with what I wanted to say.

I don’t know what Anna was thinking when she chose Laurie Anderson’s “Superman” to open and to close this interview but it sure was some choice. It has always made me feel a touch of something very intimate, very urgent, very imminent and absolutely unavoidable.

The very intimate, very urgent inner knowledge of being one of the species, is often accompanied in me by the horror of the doubt of not being one. And horror it is because I really don’t know what I would do if that was the case. I mean, now at least I can say that I “compromise doing other things to sustain myself” UNTIL. Until I can be able to work every day? Until I can find out whether I belong to the species or not? In the mean time, yes, incubation does go on. The problem is that ideas become urgent and the fear of not being able to let them hatch properly becomes the most horrifying nightmare. Because I really don’t know what other reason would there be to continue doing whatever it is that I do every day if the hope of actually feeling “that one moment of artistic success” should fade. Anna says something about abstract painting which if rephrased applies perfectly to my every day life: it doesn’t make sense unless you relate it to something else.

Arnold, I really would like to ask you this: what did it feel like not painting for, if I remember well, some 10 or 15 years?

Everyone else, I bet you have your own talismans somewhere. I know I do.

26 Dec 08 19:21
Well as I said before, I heard Arnold’s interview and sincerely I found it …short.
He has an easy way of saying complicated things, putting them into comprehensible words anyone can understand and make it enjoyable at the same time. I heard it once, and two days later I listened to it again, this time alone and with no one to distract me.
It surprised me to see that even though our works differed so much our reactions through the process were so very similar.
My paintings have nothing to do with action-painting or chance, or even imagination, they are more related to intuitions, and an endless curiosity for the human enigma. I belong to those that cannot take their gaze away from reality, quoting Hanjo

"there are two different points of view of how to go to work with painting.The one is to follow an idea,to make a concept,to construct it etc. The other is to look at something and try to find out what it is telling you. The first one is inventive the second one curious just for to name the main points."

In any case we have a very different creative process, an yet, not always, but in some of my works I have experienced that same feeling of loosing myself, letting myself go in the process, dissolving in the painting to come back again to the surface without a clear notion of how much time has passed, and knowing just one thing, that lapse of time made the day worth it.
The first time I saw one of your paintings (I think it was called 66, it is no longer in this web) a name came to my head, “Kafka”. Subjectively something in your painting had connected me to his drawings I had seen a long time ago. I tried to find them again to confirm the link and what I found was this note “my drawing is a perpetually renewed and unsuccessful attempt at primitive magic”, funny, the same word you used!
Your works have undergone a steady transformation into a more abstract language. To me there is a great difference between these paintings you just uploaded and the latest ones in which you seem to have broken any possible link that could be left with the visible reality we all know. ( I keep seeing these little kafka figures in black, runing all over the painting ), I don’t read abstract paintings easily, so the earlier ones with their sharp contrasts, their aggressive slashes of paint and the few hints or clues of the event that caused them , reach me more directly. The latest, more abstract, sometimes speak their way through, sometimes become illegible for me.
“My work is going at its best when I no longer know what I’m doing”, well I never really loose the idea of what I am doing , but I do get lost in the effort too, specially when, trying to decipher a face, I remember reading that Bacon” was convinced that it was impossible to ever completely unravel the mystery of a person, and he became an almost fanatical observer of his friends in his efforts to discover the secret of their appearance, their living energy, the triggering factor in their immediate presence”-
The magic?
What I see is that abstract or figurative we all seem to aim for something undefined, that magic that makes a work of art have a life of its own. You can call it artistic success, or living energy, any other word, but we are all after it.
And even so, I as you, never talk about myself as an artist, I’m a painter, I don’t really understand what it is to be of that “species”, maybe the reason is I have never been able to dedicate myself exclusively to art, but then, we do not only paint with a brush, do we? Living is a constant incubation of ideas and emotions that come to the surface whenever we make it possible, for at least I think as Picasso (I think it was) that “painting is just another way of keeping a dairy”.

28 Dec 08 17:23
At the moment I’m very short of time. Of course. It’s christmas and the end of the year which means that there are many many social occasions to be attended. No time for spending lots of time in front of the computer let alone to ponder on essential questions. And the information you gave to us, acompanied with all the written and spoken texts from Arnold, is no easy stuff but goes to the roots of our very being. So it takes time and opportunity to turn it round and round in my mind if that what you want to make me talk about shall not be mere chit-chat. So there will be some chewing upon it first. But there is one thing that sounds funny to me: „I don’t call myself an artist but a painter“. I always felt being an artist even though there were long periods when I weren’t able to do anything that could be called art. I think that being an artist is a gift that is deep inside our souls, no matter if we actually paint or sculpt or whatever. So I never doubted to be an artist but now and then doubt if I am a painter.
28 Dec 08 18:00
I think Hanjo's right, that's what I was trying to get at when I agreed with Anna's conjecture that being an artist might be more a matter of disposition than anything else. And when I used the term "species" I was referring to "artists" not painters or sculptors or whatever. I think Arnold has been needlessly hard on himself in that regard as I had been myself until the age of forty.

A little story that relates to the issue of full time commitment and our romantic notions of not being able to have it all and having to make sacrifice. Quite a while ago, I recall reading an article about Richard Diebenkorn, one of my favourite American painters. To provide for his family he taught painting, if I remember correctly at UCLA and longed for the day when he would be able to paint full time. During those years his production was limited to 5 or 6 large canvases a year and of course he felt that if he had the time to work full time he would produce more.

Well, you guessed it, his growing fame as an artist (despite only being able to work at it part time) finally allowed him to paint full time yet strangely enough his output remained constant. He was a 5 to 6 paintings a year man. That was the nature of his process. We share a great deal and we're all different.

28 Dec 08 19:32
I am floored by the sensitive and thoughtful comments coming back from 'the gang of four'!
So much experience out there, it sent me reeling. I turned back to old texts that were touchstones for me back in the day, hoping to slow down and order my thinking.
Then my brain exploded!
Like Hanjo, I will need time to weigh in...

29 Dec 08 05:01
When i was younger i used to get very angry when i couldn't paint because of all the things i had to do for the family .I actually use to break out in sweat.After squeazing art in the tiny spaces of freetime in my life i've learned to take advantage of every single minute to work .This said as a thought to what Hillel was saying about being an artist.But i can't help feeling kind of sad of all time lost for other things which were and are important for the people i love .I wonder how selfish you must get in order to do what you want putting aside needs of people around you
29 Dec 08 19:37
Fotini thanks for not being selfish and joining the conversation, I've been waiting to hear from you. Driven people are selfish, the degree of their drive determining the degree of neglect of other aspects of their lives. It's not just artists but any successful person in any field of endeavor. However there are certainly enough stories of the screwed up children and lovers of eminent artists. Personally I never had that kind of ambition. Sure, my kids had to do without fresh milk, fruits, vegetables and meat but I was never selfish enough to deprive the household of a well stocked liquor cabinet.
29 Dec 08 23:17
Sorry Fotini, you deserve better than that... I just couldn't resist it. But you're right I think selfishness or the lack of it has something to do with this conversation. In the audio doc. Arnold says that he was unable to make the total commitment to art that he thinks is necessary. For the sake of his home life he has to suppress the artist side of himself having concluded that you "can't have it all", is he selfish or selfless? He'd like to have his art and his home life, not an unreasonable request but he felt (I don't know how he feels now) that to do reasonable justice to either, one must exclude the other.

Can a person deny who they are and can people who profess love of such people expect them to deny themselves? There is true selfishness but to suppress your artist self to make others happy strikes me as complete selflessness that in the end makes no one happy. There's always some compromise that can be reached. I suppose part of the question here is how much can you compromise yourself and still be an artist?

30 Dec 08 15:56
It is true that obstacles can be very helpful for the creative process. The more we are hindered the mightier the outburst. In German we use the term „Leidensdruck“ for this, which means that suffering builds up a pressure that finally makes you act. Maybe that this Leidensdruck in general is the fulcrum of all our need to make art.
Well, about all this Hillel, Karen, Maria and Fotini have already spoken in wonderful and exhaustive words ... and yes I liked the interview too ... so I feel no need to repeat all that in smaller words and poorer English.
But what caught my special interest was Maria’s „Incubation“ piece. In this - besides the incubation process - she deals with an issue I am also chewing on every now and then. So this is what came to my mind while pondering on it:

What are we looking for as human beings? In general it’s peace, food, love, friends and health. In particular health becomes more important with every year that passes. Even such simple things as that you might be able to just hear what people are saying when talking to you, let alone understanding it. And what’s more lovely than to remember those rare moments of love and friendship and appreciation like what some of us experienced in Trapani, Rome, Madrid or on the island of Syros.
But looking at the news makes us ask constantly how we can want to describe such „silly“ things as beauty or love when every single day somewhere in this world there is uprising and war with it’s lots of killings and mutilations? People die in scores from hunger or/and warfare, so how can I spend my time pondering on which kind of pale blue I am going to use? That’s why every now and then we as artists feel the need of using more and more black paint as Maria says, to finally end with painting completely black paintings as Ad Reinhard did.
Well, in the aftermath of WWII most of the paintings actually took this direction. Everywhere grey of all hues and black. Sadness, horror, torture and death. Now most of these paintings have gone and left our memory. But what’s still as powerfull as on the first day are those colourful and peaceful paintings Matisse did during the war. He was often decried for obviously having been blind to all what happened around him, but he simply did not join that chorus but rised the flag of what it is worth living for and what was highly at risk exactly in that time. He wasn’t blind at all but gave us hope, consolation and solace. Just as Maria’s architect friend had said.
„... Picasso who made violence present ...“ Maria writes. So what is it with that violence? Every day, as long as we can think back, one witnesses violence in the news and on TV. Detonations, burning sites, ambulances fighting their way through rubble, people crying completely desperate. But even this daily horror is only a censored view, made bearable for the viewer. What it really looks like one can find in the internet, on some sites, masses of bodies, killed and maimed in pools of blood shattered over the place. Or the almost unidentifiable remains of a suicide bomber etc. And this you cannot really bear. So how to deal with this horror as a painter? Painting piles of corpses? And in which way? What kind of composition and what colours?
There are those examples from Goya or Callot or later Picasso and Bacon and Dix. But I always had great difficulties with and were very sceptical about letting all this horror go through an aesthetical process. Making it a painting or a sculpture with all these questions of form and craft and material. These small, greyish and blurred photographs already, taken in the American Civil War or in the war on the Krim peninsula in the second half of the 19th century, tell you much much more about how gruesome and shocking and unbearable war really is than all the different paintings made after the same events in the same time. Human imagination cannot match reality.
So for example Picasso’s Guernica never really touched me. It needed the help of a short film in which Paul Eluard’s poem „Guernica“ was being recited and as a background a firework of small detailed pieces of the painting like in a very rapid video clip. That worked. But in the first place it was the words and the voice that touched me.

Well, I know the photo by heart, Arnold has used in one of his paintings shown in his studio-log Maria refers to. It shows the half opened door of the „Landshut“, a plane hijacked by Palestinian terrorists for to press free the masterminds of the German terrorist group RAF (red army faction) that had spread murder and panic over Germany in the seventies and were now imprisoned in Stuttgart. The said photograph is one of the icons of what happened in October 1977 just as the photos Gerhard Richter used for his RAF series showing the corpses of those terrorists that had committed suicide after the blackmail with hijacking the Landshut finally failed. So I know the story with all it’s details and circumstances like many Germans of my generation and in this case Arnold’s painting is able to recall all this. But does it work with other people as well?

There is a play called „Mogadishu, window seat“ after a novel, which we saw three month ago, for then it was the thirtieth anniversary, in which my beloved model Ulla performed as one of the passengers. This play was shattering indeed. You could feel the constant angst, the unbearable heat in that plane standing on that Mogadishu airfield in the desert (not Tel Aviv) for endless days, the thirst and the pain of having to sit still on your narrow seat, unable to move or really change your position for uncountable hours. You could almost smell the penetrating stink from sweat and shit, making breathing in the cabin an ordeal. And you could feel the silent, suppressed panic when the terrorists finally announced to kill another passenger every half an hour until their demands were fulfilled. And the passengers had already seen the killing of the pilot. And then the incredible relief when in the end the German special forces that were flewn in secretly managed to take the terrorists by surprise and to end the nightmare.
Well, this is what a film can do or a theatre play or a novel ... but a painting? On the other hand I can understand very well why Arnold did these paintings and understand the way in which he did them. He had to act out all his frustration and horror to stay sane. Maybe I would have chosen a punch ball for the same purpose. But in the end this is something you have to do for yourself by using the measures you have at hand. It doesn’t necessarily function with other people.
Well friends, I am aware that this is only my very personal doubt that has to do with my character and my feelings, so please don’t strangle me. But nevertheless deep in my heart I too hope that a piece of art might create this „archetype of experience“ Maria is talking about, no matter if I have the impression that it very rarely works. To end with I want to thank my dear friend Maria for having offered her thoughts so openly and honestly.

30 Dec 08 18:49
have a great
full of everything you wish for
new year

best wishes to all Artprocess artists

31 Dec 08 21:20
We all learn a great deal of what we know about the world from television news, magazines and newspapers, the photos and films and commentaries that are describing experiences which are not our own.
Hanjo remembers well the incident which i evoked in my painting. By his tone I know the painful memory he carries. He is reminded of a play he saw about this same event, which provoked in a particular and vivid way his latent memory, and he has told it back to me, (and to you) in a bold story.
Now I have this bit of terrible history as a new experience, and it belongs to me.

03 Jan 09 05:12
There is a huge gap between a beautiful, actual celebration of life, Matisse painting and what I mockingly describe as “happy, sunny, silly” piece of an image (beauty and love are not silly; there can be silly images claiming to be about them). In fact, I think some piece of information is missing from the last paragraph of my “Incubation” writing. The fantasy paintings I am talking about, the ones that came back, that went through incubation surviving the emotional crisis, are not images of violence. They are the very initial ones, conceived to celebrate the beauty which surrounds me and the thrill of deep penetration into the nature of it. Only that they do not have the superficiality of the first hasty conception. And this doesn’t mean that they have been contaminated by darkness or frustration. Instead, they have come out victorious and strengthened.

Reflection on Arnold’s painting contributed to the victory of these images over the darkness and frustration that had come over me, but not because they presented a solution. It was precisely the discovery that a painting like that doesn’t work. Apart from giving some relief to its creator. The horror of the actual photograph in the papers cannot be reproduced and in my opinion there is no point in doing so. Why make an image of a killing which will never be as shocking to the eye as the real image of the act? To this I perfectly agree with Hanjo. But this is not what Picasso and Bacon and Goya were doing. Their paintings were not the mere narration of one specific incident. Except maybe Guernica which, in the end, is only inspired by this one isolated bombing while it is about a human condition present in many different instances in history and which will continue to manifest its sad existence in different places in different times.

I feel that all successful, great works of art are the body of some archetype of experience. It can be the experience of horror as it can be the experience of peace and beauty. That depends on the painter’s choice, character and feelings. But painting would not move us the way it does if we couldn’t find in it the expression of experience.

03 Jan 09 21:10
I really enjoyed listening to Arnold going on about what it is that gets him returning to that studo. I also found Anna's other audio tracks equally interesting, and agree with Hillel's comment of her work being artworks in themselves. Coming back to the topic in discussion, the following fundamental themes appear to be asserting themselves - in my opinion each one meriting their own individual treatment:
1) Hillel's basic "One of the Species": How can we recognize a fellow artist, and should we take action when we do?
2. Again Hillel's generous "Artists keep constructing Art in their minds". His theory being that even if the artist doesn't physically create, nonetheless the process of intellectual research is ongoing, and is thus equally pertinent.
3. Hanjo's topical intervention on the artist's portrayal of violence (whether for or against). How can an artist successfully intervene in a politically-visual context?
4. Arnold's and Maria's discussion of if it is possible for the artist to selflessly dedicate her/himself to family and financial earning, despite her/his need for regular basic solitude back in the studio?

Notwithstanding, despite these quite universal concerns, and our individual actions in response, I firmly believe that an [international] group action is much more newsworthy and relevant in an online presence, and that we should now be thinking of moving beyond the artist-to-artist communication theme to that (more serious) consilidated [international] artist group context.
Personally, I'm still convinced that we could take on the "12 interfering artists" online project, and even produce exciting results. The 12 (or 6 or 8 or whatever) will be easily identified - the 12/6/8 ap members who have posted the most comments on the ap site.
We have a core group who are well acquainted, and can now take on the dynamics of building a collective interactivity, and forming a group identity.
Of course it is easy to chat in this fashion, but we know there's really a lot of work to be done if we want to realize something credible. In my opinion, the odds are against us if we want to individually have some effect - and are against us also if we want to do so collectively, yet as an [international] group we have a greater chance of attracting consideration, and therefore have no alternative but to forge ahead with collectively defining whatever significance *we* want the future artprocess to have.
My basic proposition is - why not seriously work together on a unified project, collectively come up with a significant set of process and imagery, and see if we can create a presence worth noting?

09 Jan 09 00:14
Hi there J.P. Well, this is not the first time this idea comes up and you know most of us have shown more or less interest in one way or another. But I think there should be some proposal of a clearly defined form for this international group (its goals, its way of presenting itself etc) so that discussion could begin. So, one of us could give it a try. Be patient though, because it needs some time and icubation (wow, I love this word... I am starting to form sentences on purpose just to use it).

09 Jan 09 12:24
Hello Maria... we'll probably have to flesh out that definite form all together. I imagine we could do something similar to what we're doing now, only at a much more involved rate.
My main worry would be to avoid quarrelling too much in the group, so we should understand at the outset that the project is our common publicity exercise, and that our first thought is to the online viewer and making an interesting event.

09 Jan 09 14:43
I just received an e-mail from a friend that is dear to me. It’s one of these e-mails meant to be spread over the world by sending it to all your friends who are asked to send it to all of their friends etc. I suppose some of you have received this mail as well.
The e-mail comes as an outcry against the violence in Gaza and the so called aggression of the Israelis against the Palestinians. The photographs show Israeli soldiers pointing their gun against children, lots of dead, maimed or injured Children and crying peoples. The message is: Look at these Israeli beasts that are going to kill us and our children on purpose and with no reason to do so.
No word about Hamas, the al Queda like terror organization, that is firing rockets and mortar shells towards Israel every day since years. An organization that torpedoes every step towards peace. Whose militants hide on purpose inmidst a densely populated neighborhood provoking on purpose civilian casualities for to get enough footage for anti Israel propaganda. They store their weapons and ammunition in schools, mosques and private houses and launch their missiles against Israel from there out of the same reason.
I am no friend of military actions as well as I am no friend of terrorist activities even though they are running under the flag of „liberation“. And I understand that the sender of that e-mail is no friend of this either. But we must not be so naive to spread heavily anti-semite propaganda from Hamas in the name of pacifism and human rights. Spreading material like this makes us the useful idiots of an inhuman terrorist movement.

13 Jan 09 17:30
"Does meaning change with process?" It was a question asked recently on one of the very many art sites. I thought I'd save my response and the question it provoked for my favourite site of art losers.

The easy creation of imagery with today's digital cameras combined with programs to manipulate those images have created a glut of pictorial matter that we are bombarded with whether we go looking for it or not. The making of art and imagery without the discipline of learning to measure, breakdown and reassemble, in other words how to really see what we've seen will surely change the meaning for artists unless "meaning" is only taken in the most literal of ways as it is for some casual viewers of the visual arts. Even photographers whose stock and trade has been the manipulation of light and dark are now freed from any constraints. The result of all this democratic "art" making is a complete devaluation and equalization of visual stimuli, it's all more or less shit. Just take a look through all of those aforementioned art sites, if you've got the time or stomach to do so.

There is a "sameness" today, predetermined by available software that becomes so apparent when perusing all this material. Even when used commercially as in cinema and animation the process becomes generic. There was a time when you could tell in an instant the difference between, for example, a Disney animation and a Fleisher Brothers' feature. Not any longer, today it's simply about the story, visually everything looks the same, individuality and expressive art have been removed for obvious reasons from all those commercial projects. Computer technology and software applications determine the look and visual feel.

The same thing is happening in the so called "fine arts" as more and more people find they can master these image making programs or at very least exploit aspects of them to produce "interesting" imagery. If the artists or image makers don't learn to draw they'll see what the average unschooled viewer sees. Simply "images" that will affect them randomly, "I like that!... Cool... Far out! ...That's gruesome." Just a "Rorschach" approach to art. Hopefully it won't happen and artists will just add all these new innovations to their arsenal of tools. Once the novelty wears off they might just resign all this stuff to the bottom drawers in their studios but I suspect not and think a major shift away from visual literacy is occurring, that is what sparks my question.

05 Oct 08 22:20
In response to your title question, any software developers/programmers I've known (I've met quite a few) keep well away from the visual representation of their own back-end work, and leave it up to the "graphics & web design guys" to do that kind of thing.

I feel that if you're referring to the young upcoming fine artist of today, and hoping to get a response out of him/her - then you won't get much joy I'm afraid. S/he would never lower her/himself to reading a website that specializes in (loser)Artist-to-(loser)Artist Communication such as this one.
Maybe losing is an art? I've always felt the cliche' that art and loss are intertwinable is irrefutable.

Anyway, your warning on visual literacy is pertinent even to us old-timers - it's so easy to slip into judgement based on the latest digital mode of representation. I don't think I know how to draw anymore (do I still have the patience and concentration?).

And so, I'm preparing those templates you've instructed me to do (in an earlier message), and will send on your version when ready, so the painting lesson may begin.

You know meaning doesn't change with process. It takes an artist to transform a process into meaning - that's probably why so many say there's so few real artists?

07 Oct 08 22:52
Thanks for your answer, I never thought that the development guys were visual people but they're the ones designing programs that make it easy to visualize objects three dimensionally and from all angles in some kind of imaginary space. My point was that where there were once theories of perspective expounded by various artists, when put to practice it was still an individual artist's particular feel for perspective and measurement that made for individual style. The degree of perspective, whether to exaggerate, subdue or change it completely if that felt correct was left to the vision of the individual artist.

With today's various raster and vector programs individual artists, illustrators and animators come up with images that feel very similar because the program is predetermined. That's what I see in all kinds of jazzy stuff produced for advertising or films and frankly it's become boring. Art schools are producing graduates proficient in various programs because that's what employers request. Job applicants must be familiar with (obviously in graphics, various desktop publishing programs) but also Corel Paint Pro, Adobe Photoshop, 3D Graphic applications, etc. I think it takes patience and intelligence to become a "computer proficient" professional artist. I think you're also right when you ask "why learn to draw?" It does seem to be a very slow process by comparison. Everything on the computer is quick and the mind becomes accustomed to that speed, it's addictive.

My main point remains that it is the designers of those programs, visual people or not, who are the real artists, their product being those selfsame programs. Creative people will and are doing things with these programs but the innovation is in the literal not the visual. It's the visual that for me is being lost. This is not just happening in the commercial realm. Digital Photography and printing is now an acceptable medium of creation for presentation in museums and galleries as more and more artists use their computer knowledge for personal expression. If as McLuhan said "the medium is the message" then I believe the people responsible for designing the "medium" are more "artists" than the artists that utilize them. And since the former are non-visual computer scientists I believe visual literacy is being lost. The literal image is paramount and that accounts for the successful inclusion of photography and digital imagery into the museum and gallery collections. People are used to seeing such images and put them on an equal footing with any other art, it all comes down to the image and not how it was arrived at. I'm not sure whether that's for the good or bad of humankind, it's just the way it is. Personally I feel it's a loss, a pleasure and sensual experience that seems to be vanishing, As we know there are still a few of us that love to get right up close to a canvas or sculpture and see the human hand and eye that produced the art but our numbers are shrinking.

By the way, I would never be arrogant enough to attempt to give you a painting lesson but sometimes one can trap oneself and I heard you make a plea for possible assistance. Sometimes we're so caught up in our own habits and the traps they lead us into, that it takes an impartial eye to find a possible way out. Isn't that your whole idea of "interfering artists"?

08 Oct 08 16:17
Well, it’s hard sometimes to keep high spirits. In such moments often a line from a poem by the Peruvian poet César Vallejo comes to my mind:

Hay golpes en la vida, tan fuertes ... yo no sé!
There are hits in life, so hard .. I do not understand!

He indeed had a very hard life and died of starvation in 1938 with being only 46. So compared with him I am a lucky guy. This sometimes helps not to become too bitter and filled with hatred. I had no problems with bitterness all my life before stepping into the artworld. So now since I am working as a fulltime painter this everyday frustration sinks into my soul and charges it with bitterness and hatred drop by drop that’s not that easy to resist. And so unfortunately sometimes there will be an outbust. But such an outburst of course makes thing worse for afterwards I’m sitting in my cabin with a very bad concience and feel terribly guilty and ashamed.

The best time I have (besides being with my wife) is when diving into painting wholeheartedly. When I can forget about getting recognation or sellings and be happy with bathing in paint and doing what I love most. And in the end that’s the important thing that one lives for one’s art and tries to make it become better and better.

18 Jul 08 16:27
Well I can understand perfectly what you are talking about, except for the idea that the best time you have is when you are painting, I cannot say the same thing, for me the first day one paints is perfect, from then on it turns out to be quite a fight, at least I visualize it as a fight with the painting, in which at the very moment I turn around and relax for a moment IT wins, and defeats me like in a boxing round. If I am alone I swear and talk to the damm painting and ask myself who got me into this , and who is the idiot that tells me I have a certain facility to paint , or from where came the idea that one enjoys painting....... yes I want to do it but I know I can loose easily, and although time passes by very fast when painting, when finally I look at the watch and decide its time to go home, I'm exhausted , and maybe I've been retouching, redrawing something the whole evening, and it really hasn't changed much. James Lord describes a similar process in his book "Portrait of Giacometti", the frustration of the artist fighting with Lord's portrait , session after session, never being quite satisfied with the results. Lord photographed the whole process, and from the outside one doesn't see such a difference between the first portrait and the final version. But Giacometti always felt on the verge of producing something REAL, never quite reaching it. I understand him very well. There are days in which I seem to dissapear inside the painting though, and when I come out I need nothing more.
18 Jul 08 21:59
Well Karen, that sounds funny to me. It sounds as if a boxer would say: „Oh I really hate this fighting, it’s so strenuous and afterwards I am totally spent“. Okay, it depends on one’s nature but since I’ve learned professional boxing in my earlier years I knew that I like fighting. Knowing how to defend yourself and knowing where to put the punch yeah. I need this adrenaline bath and that’s why I only use fast drying acrylics while trying to paint wet in wet. That makes it as stressful as I like it. Being in this state of emergency is what I am looking for. All my senses are in alert, I see everything in a part of a second without even thinking. And maybe sometimes I even feel the urge to vomit for I am so much aroused and my solarplexus is revolting. Then you may sit in your corner of the ring, sweating, grasping for air but absolutely satisfied for you know: I made it. That’s why I don’t like oils for you can sit on a chair while painting and slowly doze off.

So it’s not the challenge that infiltrates me with bitterness or the problems I have to solve when noticing that something is wrong with the mouth. To cite Sargent it’s exactly the essence of a portrait that there is something wrong with the mouth. What’s getting on my nerves is the indifference of some people, their ignorance when saying „oh, just another face, so why do you paint it when you already have the photo“? Or as the curator of a famous collection here once said when looking at my „At Arm’s Length“ series: „Why isn’t he painting younger men“? Then indeed like Lucian Freud I feel the urge to hit him right away, what by the way he really did in his younger years. He was notorious for that.

19 Jul 08 10:39
He must have been a famous curator but mind my words "he was quite an idiot" if he said that seriously, at that very moment I would have ended the conversation, no need to talk to another empty-headed person. You need your energies for other things.
Yes I understand the feeling, in the end I compare it with the relation with a difficult lover, that makes you suffer but to whom you return again, and again, asking for more. The moments of euforia are few but fantastic, and finally when you see all that effort together, you realize the paintings have pieces of your skin stuck in the canvas, pieces of yourself, they are your story, all that energy you invested that nervous anxiousness is there.

19 Jul 08 11:19
Hanjo, the online Artprocess Bar wouldn't attract anyone if we didn't raise a bit of a rumpus every now and then. Heated argument is good for the atmosphere, and as long as you buy a round of drinks for the participants afterwards, all is forgotten!

The difficulty of the market is familiar to all here. I hoping at least one active ap member (if not many!) will break through to wide recognition and financial independence. Nevertheless, the odds are stacked against the individual on that.

I'm a little reluctant to say this (from our previous experience) but we may have to look again to some collective venture in order to attract attention to what we do. It seems that when no-one of influence is supporting, it's a lot easier to gain exposure and acceptance as a group than as an individual.

19 Jul 08 11:39
Oh, the reward will be a night out with Hillel? Sounds phantastic indeed. So why not try to organize a second artprocess group show in Toronto so that we’ll catch two flies with only one trap? First we can meet again and show our works (and by the way make those people in Toronto understand what a brilliant painter they have in Hillel and put some shame on them for not having realized this so far.) and second combine all this with a night out (or two, or three ...) with this great artist and friend, pushing the economy of that place as well. But please make sure that the organizing person will not be that gallerist Hillel was talking about in one of his fabulous stories recently.
19 Jul 08 12:30
Enough time has passed and membership increased to warrant a renewed look at not only the direction of Art Process but its present reality and future potential. This is not to take away from what was its initial vision but to possibly bring it closer to that vision. An online virtual community of artists, that was the unknown factor when the site began. Was such a premise even a possibility? Well it is possible, friendships have been formed and continuing communications established, not to any great extent but enough to determine the possibilities and potential of the site. When AP first started there wasn't Saatchi Your Gallery, My Art Space or my Art Info, a few free art sites that I'm aware of now on the internet. Those plus all the other art sites available for fees or others I'm not aware of have changed the whole environment in the two years since I came aboard this one. At that time I was barely computer literate, being a subscriber to Modern Artist I was invited very early to the Saatchi site but it took me a couple of weeks and some help to learn enough to upload a few images and join. From that came an invitation to Art Process and the two others. Of all of them Art process continues to be the only one to capture my imagination. Yes, I utilize My Art Space as an alternative for the need to set up my own personal website, I'm probably too lazy, cheap or both to bother. My Art Space is excellent for that. This is the only site that fosters artist to artist communication and a sense of fellowship.

I've never thought that the internet would be of any use for either the selling of art or making the artist known. Just to make things very clear I'm fairly certain that art, at least the kind that I've always aspired to will never be a commodity on the web. Enough time has gone by now for most of us to be aware that the only people on all of the sites I've mentioned above are the very young, very failed or for all practical purposes never to be throng of artists that have always been and always will be the supporting cast of the very few recognized artists of renown who dominate the art world at any given time. The percentages don't change but I would estimate that for every artist who can barely eke out an insufficient living there are ten thousand losers who will never achieve that much. And for every artist of minor import or renown, that ratio would probably increase to just one out of every hundred thousand. Just take a look at Saatchi's your Gallery or My Art Space and see the thousands upon thousands of artists listed and certainly no artist of even slight establishment reputation will be found among them. As far as I'm concerned the internet only illustrates very graphically and very swiftly what has taken me practically a whole lifetime to understand and that is the near impossibility of breaking through the sheer number of aspirants. So the art world will continue as it always has to be a place of very few winners and a great number of losers abetted by a number who straddle the margins, being in related fields like teaching or working in museums and galleries while continuing to do their art for no other reason then their commitment and love of the whole process. Naturally art being art, there's always the the hope of the unexpected.

The lovely thing about this particular site is there was never an implied promise or expectation of attaining either fame or sales. Artist to artist communication was always the main point, a place for artists to meet and discuss and hopefully inspire or merely entertain each other was the sole idea. Like the other sites mentioned and like the internet generally it's completely democratic, anyone can join and participate, veteran professionals, students, those just starting out and amateurs alike. But unlike Saatchi or My Art Space there are no ongoing contests for best of the month and other competitions leading to shows and so forth, where usually an entry fee is necessary. To be fair I don't think the Saatchi site charges fees but it has perpetuated a culture of competition. Yes things did lead to one offline show but that was an exception to the rule and I think very unlikely to happen again. You'll notice that there are no ads or links to other sites here as there are on all the other sites. My Art Space which started about a year ago now offers premium pages. If I sign up now, I can do so for the bargain basement price of $50 for the year. Presumably they will be charging $100 yearly in the near future to thousands and thousands of artists. Well, you can do the arithmetic but when it comes right down to it, it's a business. The difference is that this site has never had anything to do with business. It's objective was quite clear from the very beginning, artist to artist communication, no more, no less. If you expect to attract dealers, make sales or do any kind of business whatsoever as a result of this site you're barking up the wrong tree.

Obviously as it's for free, a number of people, possibly the majority having nothing to lose, upload their profiles and portfolios and partake no further of the site's real value as a meeting place for artists. In the close to two years of my involvement, I've noticed quite a number of artists whose work and portfolios haven't changed an iota. Neither added to or subtracted from and never a word from the artists themselves in response to comments or for that matter direct questions. Perhaps they're dead or incommunicado from some other personal tragedy. My opinion is that if an onsite presence is inactive for a certain period of time, just as the banks do it, accounts should be confiscated, profiles and portfolios removed.

The bottom line, Art Process is not about so called networking for the sake of business but for true socializing and the exchange of ideas for the sake of comradeship and art. To my mind a much more valuable and realistic goal. More then any other site anywhere, this one is geared and designed exactly for that. It has through trial and error arrived at what I believe is a perfect format for communication and dialogue.

Over the last small while I've tried to give a few examples of communications other than the usual artwork comments and appreciations. There is now on the Forum Page listings, Artist's Cafe, a place to tell the stories of our lives as artists, not just to amuse each other but to learn from each other and share our experiences. Why not do reviews of artists' and museum shows in the various areas of the world where we live? That's quite a resource, peers from all over the world sharing what they see. It's a chance to receive art information, not through the eyes of art reporters or critics but from our fellow artists. Why not treat ourselves to the same kind of scrutiny and comparison through essays and interviews that our better known brothers and sisters receive in respectable art journals? I am recommending that the administration provide a new Forum listing titled "Artist to Artist Interviews". The topics will include interviews by members, with members they feel to be of interest. Although language continues to be a barrier, hopefully interviews by artists, clever enough to have a second or third tongue, will be able to introduce artists of one language group to artists of another. Yes it takes some commitment but with a staff of hundreds and correspondents from all over the world the possibilities are as endless as our imaginations and it's high time we made the most of what this site has to offer, not for fame or fortune but for ourselves

13 Apr 08 16:48
Hi Hillel, I really liked your comments about artproccess and I think this is a great site. This is the only site that offers artists the opportunity to post works in progress. That's amazing, although I'm still getting over the nerves of showing unfinished works on the net. Never the less, I agree about the language barrier. It is amazing that we are able to have so many countries represented. I believe that Babelfish dot com has free downloadable software that will translate for us. That may be an option you could pass along.
26 Apr 08 23:40
Thanks for your comments Abby but I'm afraid that Babelfish doesn't work as advertised, I've tried it myself and found myself in the midst of a major international misunderstanding and incident.
27 Apr 08 19:21
Dear All,
I must reply to this not only because I've been part of this website and I like it very much but because from this website I've gotten so much. First, no matter what some artists say I think the show organized in Sicily was a great experience, from that show I met with Federico Mazza whom is my boyfriend now. I could say that Art Process allow me a window for professional contacts as I have continued working in Sicily thanks to the people I met there and for personal matters since I have made good friends through it and the person i love.
I think what Hillel says is very true and I wouldn't know how to say it better, my comment can only be as an artist, that feels very happy and thankfull for this space where to network, share and exchange opinions, it is very authenthic and that is something I appreciate a lot these days. I have kept updating my information but it is true I've never been a big forum contributor so on that I do declare my self guilty !!! but i think we can all refresh a bit content and start to give it a bit more of an active content without making JP use his time much for it.
For JP I think he has been wonderful in every sense and the least we could do is to someway save this wonderful space and show him that we do care for all he has put up for artists.
All my best for you

ps: I'll translate in italian if needed (babelfish is something to AVOID)

03 Jun 08 08:40


(on Sunday, May 1, John Paul Delaney posted this comment.

"The employers for whom I spend my time figuratively washing dishes, have decided yet again it's time to turn everything upside down (i.e. reorganize) and so even though I'm still employed in a day job, I've been assigned to do duties completely different to what I've become used to. Unfortunately, I know next-to-nothing about what I'm expected to do now, therefore I see some months of re-adjustment as I learn to do what's now expected of me.
This means I'll have little or no time to spend working on ArtProcess - which disappoints me somewhat, as I see the site being used less and less, and it probably needs some dedicated development to attract back some interesting contributors.
Hillel, I always remember your line of this being a loser activity, but you still decided it was worth adding a contribution or two to help out. In the end, you turned out to be the mainstay of the site. Right now I wonder if it's really worthwhile pushing this website along any more, as in the end it's not attracted much interest amongst our fellow artists out there. As you mention, much better sites for artist exposure exist now, and so it's probably time to call it a day for the artprocess project, and put it down to yet another loser adventure, interesting as it was, while it lasted?"

Domenica 1 Maggio, John Paul Delaney a scritto questo commento.

“I miei datori di lavoro per I quali in maniera figurativa sto lavando piatti, hanno deciso che fosse ora di fare tutto sotto sopra (cioe’ riorganizare) e quindi mentre ho ancora un lavoro di mattina, mi hanno assegnato compiti completamente diversi da quelli che sono abituato di svolgere. Sfortunatamente, so pocco o niente di cio che dovro’ fare adesso, quindi vedo qualche mese di adattamento per imparare a fare quello che si aspetta da me.
Questo significa che avro’ pocco se non proprio no tempo per lavorare su ArtProcess – fatto che mi rende un po deluso, visto che il sito viene usato sempre meno, e che probabilmente richiede uno svilupo piu dedicato per riattirare alcuni contribuenti interessanti.
Hillel, ricordo sempre le tue parole che questa e’ un’ attivita’ perdente, ma avevi deciso lo stesso che valeva la pena di dare un contributo o due per aiutare. Alla fine, sei diventato la figura principale del sito. Adesso mi domando se davvero vale la pena di mandare avanti questo sito web, visto che alla fine non ha attirato tanto interesse dalla parte di artisti la fuori. Come dici, esistono siti migliori per la promotione di artisti, quindi forse e’ giunto il momento di chiudere bottega per il progetto ArtProcess e catalogarlo come un’ altra avventura falimentare, interessante finche’ e’ durata?”

Personally we would be saddened to see the demise of this site, we still think ArtProcess has some kind of potential for dialogue that's unique but the responsibility for providing content has always been its members' and it seems we haven’t met our expectations in that regard. We realize that JP can't do it alone and he has other commitments but we're prepared to contribute what we can.

If you would like to see this site carry on then make your opinion known by responding with a, "Yes!" "No!" or "I don't care!", and if you care to, an explanation or opinion. The fate of ArtProcess is in your hands.


Personalmente, ci dispiacerebbe molto vedere questo sito crollare. Crediamo ancora che ArtProcess ha una potenzialita’ unica per creare dialogo ma la responsabilita’ del contenuto e’ sempre stata dei suoi membri e sembra che non siamo stati all’ altezza delle aspettative riguardo questo. Comprendiamo che JP non puo fare tutto da solo e che ha altri impegni ma siamo pronti a contribuire quello che possiamo.

Se vorreste vedere questo sito andare avanti, fatte sapere la vostra opinione rispondendo con un “Si!” “No!” o “Non mi interessa”, e se volete agiungete la vostra spiegazione. Il destino di ArtProcess e’ nelle vostre mani.

Maria & Hillel

03 Jun 08 09:08
Well, I have seen or being a member to some other websites showing art, like the Saatchi site, Artmesh or Artrewiev etc. but NO ONE OF THEM can keep pace with Artprocess in terms of communication. As Sandra has pointed out artprocess initiated many very close friendships and no one of those participating will ever forget this wonderful gathering in Trapani in 2007.
Well, it is true, me too fell more and more silent recently for I have to struggle with my art and I am a painter and not a writer, particulary not in English. But as one can see from the „Authoritative Voices“ list it’s only a small amount of the members who really use the communication tools. And if one of them fells silent it immediately has a bad effect to the site. So I have to call myself to discipline and continue commenting.
Let’s keep Artprocess alive, this wonderful site with its features no other site has like the fantastic „studio log“ section which at the moment is only used by Titus and Hillel as far as I know.
It’s true that at the moment there is not so much activity on the site. But on the other hand I have the feeling that the activity comes in waves. Sometimes there is more sometimes there is less. Or maybe we are spoiled with the Trapani preparation time when the site was humming with activity. So let’s increase our activity and staying patient at the same time and not as we say in German empty the tub with the child in it.
best Regards Hanjo

03 Jun 08 09:33
Dear John, I might be a bit slow to comunicate things, I would like to tell you that artprocess for me has been a very important experience, for the love of art and life, I've rediscovered  values and forgotten passions by meeting all of you artists. I'm proud of being part of art process because I've met the people behind, generous people like you, interesting and stimulating, beatiful people that love art unconditionally. I think it is terrible to take away Art Process with all the "garbage" around. I would be happy to help you taking are of the website, graphically and technically if you won't have the time anymore, maybe Sandra can also help with promotion and good new ideas. I would love to meet you soon, after 18:30 where are you? in Rome? let's see each other I would love to talk to you, best Federico

Ciao John, io forse sono un pò lento a comunicare le cose, io vorrei dirti che Art process Trapani per me è stata un esperienza importantissima, per l'amore prima dell'arte poi della vita, ho riscoperto dei valori e delle passioni dimenticate da tempo conoscendo tutti voi Artisti. Io sono fiero di far parte di Art process perchè ho conosciuto le persone che ci sono dietro, persone generose come te, interessanti, stimolanti, belle persone che amano l'Arte senza freni inibitori.
Mi sembra terribile levare via Art process dalla retre, con tanta spazzature che c'è. Io vorrei propormi per riattivare Art process, darti una mano per gestirlo se tu non avrai più il tempo, coinvolgerei anche Sandra per nuove idee ed energie positive, io vorrei incontrarti al più presto dopo le 18,30 dove sei? a Roma? vediamoci, vorrei parlare con te dopo tuttto questo tempo! con sincero affetto, Federico Mazza

03 Jun 08 10:54
Estoy absolutamente de acuerdo con todos vosotros, sería una pena dejar morir Artprocess, es una web distinta, con otro tempo, otro nivel de comunicación, mas profundo y personal, menos superficial. Es cierto que no todos han participado, y la lengua es una de tantas razones por las que creo que otros artistas, no escriben con asiduidad, y de ahí que haga este comentario en español. Es difícil comentar una obra de otro artista, como para encima tener que hacerlo en una lengua que no es la tuya. Todos los días antes de irme a las 8.15 de la mañana echo una ojeada a la web, y leo a Hillel o a Maria, o a JP, o a cualquiera que haya escrito en ese momento. Por ArtProcess conocí y he mantenido un pequeño grupo de buenos amigos, que de una manera u otra han alimentado y enriquecido mi vida. Me he asomado por detras del hombro de Hillel cuando miraba los garabatos de su amigo, ya muerto, y he compartido los esfuerzos de Maria autoretratándose a golpe de luz y materia, he leído con interés los textos de Hillary, y he observado con curiosidad los arrebatos de color de David, o los descubrimientos de JP al caérsele una estatua. He conocido Trapani , lo que considero un lujo para el alma, y para la vista. Y me precio de haberme traído algún amigo siciliano que me parece ya como si le conociera de toda la vida, y para toda la vida. Es cierto que no he escrito tanto, ni tan a menudo como Hillel, por ejemplo. Primero por que no escribo de forma tan amena, aquello que tenga que decir está en mis pinturas, está todo allì, si uno quiere leerlo. Segundo porque escribir lleva tiempo, y este año ha sido un poco complicado para mí. Así y todo siempre he dejado patente mi intención de ayudar en todo lo que me fuera posible en el funcionamiento de la web. Así que dejo aquí también mi voto de que no se deje morir algo que está en el fondo muy vivo, y reitero mi oferta de ayudar en lo que pueda para que siga funcionando. Creo J.Paul que has hecho algo diferente quizá porque tu enfoque de lo que son las relaciones entre artistas es diferente y en él no entran competitividades, ni concursos, ni niveles, sólo personas que buscan y a veces y en el mejor de los casos, se encuentran y comparten, así que creo que puedes estar orgulloso. Mantengamos esta web latiendo , entre todos.

I wrote my comment in spanish but in a few words it says that I agree absolutely with all of you, it would be a pity to let Artprocess dye, it is a different web, it has a different tempo. There is a much more personal and deep level of communication between artists. It is true that not everyone has participated, and I think the language is the main reason for this. If writing a comment is complicated let alone doing it in a language that is not your own. Thanks to ArtProcess I've also met some very good friends that have expanded and enriched my life, and I lived Trapani, an experience that I will never forget. I have shared the process of doing an artwork with many different artists, and learned from it. This is unique indeed. So I owe this web a lot, and I wouldn't want it to dissapear. If I can do anything to help it go on, please count on me, I think it is worth it. Let's keep it alive with our voices.

03 Jun 08 15:37
Caro JP, togliere artprocess sarebbe un delitto contro l'umanità. capisco che forse diventi sempre più impegnativo lavorarci e che tu hai anche un lavoro, una famiglia.... però ArtProcess è un patrimonio di tutti, anche di chi non si occupa attivamente di arte ma ne sente la necessità. L'esperienza di Trapani credo che sia stata meravigliosa e che sia stata assolutamente trasversale al sistema ( artistico). Fin dall'anizio artprocess ha avuto una grande partecipazione e tante persone hanno collaborato e contribuito con i loro interventi e le loro opere, per difendere delle parole che dovrebbero renderci migliori : comunicazione e cultura. questo progetto è la testimonianza che ognuno di noi può dare un contributo e insieme fare la differenza. Non è un pensiero romantico, ma un dato di fatto. ArtProcess è un progetto straordinario che può e dovrebbe diventare ordinario.
03 Jun 08 16:41
Well, it seems we're all in agreement, I certainly can't argue with anything that's been said here and that even includes my own statements. I think Frederico's very generous offer of help could be very beneficial. We certainly haven't heard from everyone and once again I encourage them to make their opinion known. But the general consensus seems to be that ArtProcess is beloved and recognized by its member artists as being something rather special, as is its founder and the moving spirit behind the whole thing.

Yes there are other sites now for exposure and social networking but we all know this one is the real deal, the one with pure heart and intent. JP, I know you're seeing our words here. We want AP to continue and people are ready to help and make a more concerted contribution of time and effort. The only issue that hasn't come up is the cost of keeping it running and I know you're allergic to any talk of capitalizing from this site. We also know that you bear the whole brunt of bearing whatever the economic expenses have and continue to be. You're a dedicated free software GNU kind of guy. Please remember that all of them including Wikipedia don't turn down donations. I've spoken to enough members to know that they would not be averse to the idea of a non mandatory donation. Perhaps a suggested small annual fee of some kind on a strictly voluntary basis.

04 Jun 08 15:45
Well... I sure was surprised to see all those messages.
Actually, I don't do any work on the site (other than the odd bugfix) - all the work was done at the beginning, so that it would continue on it's own without me having to do any regular maintenance.
I was at the point of starting on a new set of functionality for a great suggestion of Hillel's who wants a new artist-to-artist interview section with the possibility to upload images, and make modifications before publishing the completed interview. I'm very interested to do this, only it will take some time to code in a way that it becomes a do-it-yourself, user-driven, interview application (i.e. I don't have to do any work once it's complete).
I also want to setup a proper "publicize your exhibition" section.
I had been wondering if there's any point in doing this at all as I felt you were all losing interest in the project. Your response tells me otherwise - so artprocess will live to fight another day. Thanks for the support!
There's only a problem of having to wait until my daytime job eases off a little so I can concentrate on the interviews development.
As far as money is concerned - most of you probably know the artprocess mantra by now - the artist shouldn't pay, as s/he pays so much (in sweat and tears) already, just by doing the artwork s/he does.
As long as I'm washing the dishes, that pays the bill.
And I'll be very happy to take up Federico's great offer - as you can see, we badly need a decent graphic designer!
Thanks always for your ongoing contributions of communication and artworks - you, ladies and gentlemen, are the soul of artprocess, and as long as you consider it worth continuing, the site will be there for you.

Kind Regards.

05 Jun 08 00:14
It would be a shame to lose a site such as this! Up the AP!
05 Jun 08 10:11
Dear JP
Thanks for your answer, I think we are all reliefed.

06 Jun 08 09:21
Weel Jp
come on! contact me please!

iniziamo a rispolverare Artprocess! mi chiami quando vuoi? o ti posso chiamare io? nel weekend? Io sono un uomo operativo, non mi piace molto parlare dei problemi, mi piace risolverli!

06 Jun 08 10:08
Scusa Fede... sono immerso in un nuovo progetto di lavapiattista e non ho un attimo di fare niente neanche durante il weekend. Si tratta di una tecnologia di cui non so assolutamente niente ma devo portare delle soluzioni in tempo breve (cazzo - perchè mi trovo sempre in queste situazioni assurde? Voglio solo dipingere). Sarà un'estate dedicata ai piatti purtroppo.
Appena ho un po' di tempo libero per dedicarmi all'AP, to faccio uno squillo.
Grazie sempre per la tua offerta di aiuto - è ben accettato ma non vorrei sprecarla, quindi aspetto un momento quando siamo tutte e due liberi e possiamo progettare qualcosa interessante insieme.
Nel fratempo vedo che stai facendo grandi passi in avanti con le tue opere - ripeto i miei complimenti e spero che continuarai sempre concentrato come sei.
Un abbraccio.

06 Jun 08 19:53
Caro JP, apro con la traduzione di un verso di uan canzone di Bob Dylan:" ho visto tempi oscuri dove non riuscivo a trovare un amico. Ho visto fuoco, ho visto pioggia". Pensare di chiudere Artprocess, una libera comunità di liberi artisti, di questi tempi oscuri, è paragonabile alla sensazione di fuoco e di pioggia che spesso brucia e bagna le nostre esistenze.
Il sottoscritto, pur essendo tra i sottoscrittori di Artprocess, ha poco contribuito al dibbattito sul sito, e per questo chiedo scusa. Ma devo confessare che ho trascorso molto tempo a conoscere gli artisti iscritti al sito,ed è stato un bel giro attorno al mondo.
Fa la tua legittima stanchezza non interrompa questa piccola comunità virtuale (e non) ciascuno con le proprie competenze, potrà animare e aggiornare il sito mentre termini di...lavare i piatti... e puttosto ti ricordo che a casa mia c'è sempre un posto per te. tuo

07 Jun 08 16:38
I would really like to see Patricia's tile instalation better. Maybe consideration should be given to the studio log image size. Especially since we usually upload views of studios or spaces and not just close ups of works. J.P. I hope I am not putting presure.
02 May 09 16:33
Patricia, this is a brilliant project! Congratulations! So in a way the green line finally becomes threedimensional with all the stories it transports. As you know I always thought the green lines to be a novel difficult to read but trying is worth it. Thanks for sharing your experience.
02 May 09 17:04
Please see the AP link below where this topic first came up, I think this Forum location is more appropriate if any more conversation is to take place.

[LINK]http://www.artprocess.net/artshow?artist_id=1159&fname=Tony&lname=Mac Cárthaigh&img_id=6598[/LINK]

JP's not really talking about criticism, sorry if I left that impression. He's well aware that everybody has their own take, different strokes for different folks and all that. What he's interested in is knowing what's going on in artists' minds and by what process, successful or not, are they trying to reach that wee glimmer of something or other that initiated their quest in the first palace.

All I'm saying is that right now the only place to do that on this site is the Studio Log but seldom will you get an artist able to do a whole lengthy monologue about their own process all on their own. I have seen that when prodded with questions as in an interview they can be quite forthcoming.

If this is not to be just another artist showcase site (there are a great many and much better able than this one for that purpose) than an interactive Studio Log might be the way to do it. i.e. Trade off much of the individual showcasing for the ability to intercommunicate on the Studio Log pages.

Ok now you can all beat up on me.

27 Nov 09 20:46
OK Hillel et al, thanks for the prod. I'd better start up some activity again at ap or the Gang Of Four who *are artprocess* will get totally fed up and move off somewhere else. Next week, I'll start taking a look at re-working the SLOG. It was done in a hurry, and has lots of rough edges about it, and I'll add the possibility to comment as you say. Once I get into rhythm I'll take on other suggested changes that have come up in the past. I'm a bit rusty now with this coding work, so please continue to be impatient and keep on bitching while I try to pick up where I left off.

I've said this before elsewhere and I'll bore you all again by repeating, that for me at least, the idea of ap was founded on my experience many years ago at art school where the real learning experience was generated by the students themselves. I learned the validity of how different approaches to working could resolve equally well shared concerns, with lots of discussion, argument, and humour thrown in for good measure. More importantly, I saw that this is how a group comes together and begins to create a collective identity (e.g. overheard conversations "Have you seen what they're doing down in 2nd year painting?").
Fast-forward 25 years later and you've got a bum painter isolated in a foreign country who fails to interest anyone with what he's making, and occasionally thinks back to when the process of trying to produce art was much more vital, and shared communication helped to keep research and exploration moving on.
I imagined there must be many more people out there in similar situations and so ap was to be a place where that communication could begin again, having the ultimate goal of allowing a collective identity come into being. If, and whenever that happens, the group voice will be a lot stronger than the individual and, managed well, could begin to attract attention within the art world. At that point, we could present a convincing case for art event managers, gallerists etc. to invest in our work and to finance our shows.
We're nowhere near that point now. Nevertheless, there's a faint glimmer of hope still being kept alive by those four who are the core of ap, and so I suppose it's only right that I get off my fat ass now to contribute my part too.

28 Nov 09 07:58
Good, I am glad to hear that the SLOG is going to get better. Now I don't know about how much data can this site handle, but it would be really good to have larger images. An maybe a little more tidy layout of the projects together. When it started, for the Trapani purposes, one couldn't have imagined there would be so many projects and now the drop down list looks too long and messy. One more thing is that projects get in alphabetical order instead of time of publishing order, which makes it difficult to follow one's process. Some times when I go through my slog I think of deleting some stuff but then I don't because some of it is our history.

On a second thought, reorganizing just the slog lets unsolved the problem of having this so well cocneived artprocess site crowded with people who happened to through some paint on a piece of paper once in their lives and satisfy their vanity by putting it on the web, like is the case in most free online galleries, but are no artists nor do they aspire to interact with one. I don't know how it could be put in practice but wouldn't it be better if the whole site was not enother gallery but a big studio log instead? Wouldn't that discourage those who do not intend to interact in the first place to waste site space and wouldn't it make it easier to show the site's identity at fist glance?

28 Nov 09 21:06
Not exactly sure what SLOG means in this context but what I was trying to get at Maria and perhaps I wasn't clear was to trade off the gallery aspect of this site and concentrate ONLY on the Studio Log aspect. Just leave 10 or so examples of an artists portfolio not an alternative personal website. I've always been personally reluctant to edit or delete any images in my "portfolio" particularly if there have been any "comments" because I know the hard work that was entailed to extract those comments. But in order to separate this site from others that aspect would more than likely have to go.

Other sites do the gallery thing much better than this one, huge unlimited image file upload and so on. So why not just get rid of the dilettantes, rob them of just another place to upload images and put all the AP resources towards the Studio Logs. In other words put the emphasis on the "Process" as opposed to the resulting "Art". JP might disagree and I'm sure these changes probably entail a huge toll of labour on his part but I think given the online options that going this route might be more faithful to his initial vision.

28 Nov 09 23:35
Gosh Hillel.. I sure hope I don't end up in your classification of dilettantes. I'm just a bum painter hoping to get down into the painting hole sometime soon but don't have the balls to tell the world to f* Off because what I do is so much more important than washing the dishes so the family can get by today. I post some images of my work hoping there'll be some bigtime moneyed collector who'll recognize the true worth of what I do. The thing I don't get is that no bigtime collector will ever set foot in ap.
As it's the major battle of my life just to *BE* in the painting hole (who here can concur with this), I surely can't be asked to willingly spend literally days fiddling with these horrible computer things as a means of communciation with my fellow artists.
Nevertheless, as you say, times have moved on. Happily, there is no real need for ap anymore - today artists have ample opportunities to exhibit their work on the web, and in far better contexts.
Nevertheless, coming back to your argument, as a reminder the original precepts of ap were:

1) Anyone who says they are an artist is an artist.
2) Artists should never be asked to pay money.

So be it for artprocess.net.

Coming back to your valid point, one day I want to re-open the site artprocess.com (currently not available) to artists from artprocess.net who agree to be selected artists. It'll be a sort of "BEST OF AP" from my point of view. I think there we may be able to develop your ideas for a more professional group, and collectively build something of consequence to reflect serious artists with serious ambitions.

Just bear with me, and give me the time to fix ap.net so it works a little better for all, then we'll move on to something new that the Gang Of Four (if they agree) and I can develop together from a concept and functional point of view.

29 Nov 09 17:10
To me SLOG is short for Studio Log. I hope it doesn't mean anything else in English. I'd better look it up...
Yes, Hillel, I understand what you are talking about and I am at the same wave length.

JP, to begin with, you are already putting a great amount of your time and energy on this project and I don't think anyone here expects you to perform miracles in one day. We can all plan this slowly and it will be ready when it will.

On the other hand, if you ask me not everyone who says to be an artist is one. And this is one of the reasons why "big time collectors" do not waste their precious money making time browsing through all those existing virtual galleries, full of Sunday painters and people with no real artistic vision or ambition.
Thinking of this another matter arises. What is meant by a "group" of artists?
a) Are we talking about a group of people who form a "group" based on the mare fact that they are artists? In this case this “group” has no identity and in my opinion there isn’t any specific reason why it should be called a group and why should anyone pay any particular attention to it.
b) Is it about a group of people who may have different ideas on art making but that is of no importance since what they aspire to is to get their forces together only in order to get into the art market? Honestly, if I were anywhere in the art dealing business, I wouldn’t pay much attention to such a group.
c) Or are we talking about a group of people who have in common specific artistic ideas that distinguish their work? A group like let’s say “the cubists” or “the fauves” or “the surrealists” etc. In that case we might be getting somewhere. Of course in that sense in Art Process there are a few different disciplines so we cannot be talking about one group but a few subgroups within a larger one, which I personally find very interesting and might be interesting also to potential art lovers who browse the net, if there could be found a way to distinguish these subgroups as if in a big house with different studio-rooms, where work and discussion take place and then have occasional inter-room communication too.

If this artists’ community project were not on line and it were done in some local dimension, some people would start a group and there would be people who would enter the group because of some real intellectual reason, without which it wouldn’t have crossed their minds to get anywhere near it in the first place.
Now these are some thoughts of mine. I am going to work for the next three precious free hours I have left now. Otherwise there would be nothing to talk about anyway.

30 Nov 09 12:40
Oops Maria, I expressed myself badly. I meant to take the position of any ol'artist out there who's battling against the stuff of living just to get to her/his studio every now and then. Sometimes it's hard to be a judge when they don't have the time, inclination, or ability to actually jump into the communication thing, and all they have is hope for the big-moneyed collector :o) !
Personally, I've hardly done anything with ap for over two years now, though I suppose it's time to start up again.
Your questions on the meaning of group are very pertinent. I see the GoF (Gang Of Four), with others such as Fotini and Arnold for example, that might be convinced to work together in some way. A thread of bold figurative work and a desire for discussion seem to unite them in some way.
That's something to think about for the future, and would come under your c) category. I'm quite interested in b) however. Hopeless causes attract me. My goal would be to help create a group that would become interesting to the art market. All we need is a little cynicism, strong ideas, and good marketing - something we're quite capable of I believe.

I hope you enjoyed your remaining three hours of work. To my mind, you are the one at ap making most advances with your art. Please continue to post your progress, and I'll start soon to look at making the slog interactive. ciao.

01 Dec 09 06:15
The "real" artist ? I think it was Robert Hughes who put down Basquiat as talentless by virtue of having bye passed the art school system. A friend of mine pointed out that over 30,000 grads exit that system each year but to what effect. Is it all attitude then ?
It seems to me that the Gof4 have already mentally jumped from the good ship A.P. As figure painters of varying abilities with a mutual hierarchy a flight to reasoning text based dialogue is irrestible. However as an outsider loner of long standing my instinct is to abhor elite groupings. But detaching from personal beliefs i have to conceed that most human endeavour sets standards for itself. So what if the despised Sunday painters recognise their efforts for the often limp copy Art that they are yet feel inspired to improve while being challanged by the company of their "betters".

06 Dec 09 20:29
No, Tony you have missed the point. Where has anyone said that “real artist” and “art school” have any sort of “necessary condition” relationship? Did you hear anyone here talking about Master in Arts degrees? No. It is a common place that Picasso had been almost thrown out of several Art Schools.

What I have been talking about is people for whom art making is a way of life not a profession certified by a diploma. And these are people who dream to do nothing but art, regardless the fact that they may have not succeeded in doing so just yet, not because it is fashionable or because they can get the girl in a cocktail party while talking fancy, but because they are bursting with it.

Now, I must admit that I haven’t fully understood what you mean in the second part of your comment, so I can’t provide an answer to that. However I would like to point out that the "Gang of Four" title was given to Kagan, Schmidt, Kruse and myself arbitrarily and regardless the friendship between us four I do not quite identify. I think it is an unfair, untrue simplification of what has been going on here in AP the past three years.

08 Dec 09 23:07
It's not too difficult to become part of the AP "elite", all you need do is write the odd word here or there, a comment, an observation or some random thought. This will immediately establish you as a loudmouthed opinionated jackass or as most everyone else would say "he / she's part of the AP elite".

Abhor elite groupings or not but just a few more comments Tony and you yourself will have joined the ELITE.

10 Dec 09 21:06
The whole idea of an elite is ridiculous, even the idea of creating an artistic group out of
four persons that work in different ways, in far away countries with different goals is strange. As Hillel says it is just a question of participating more often in this web site. Nothing to do with elites or degrees or anything else.
Solitary painters, not necessarily successful, that every now and then like to talk with someone else with similar interests, share difficulties or low creative moments. I have used this web in that sense, at the end of a day, as one shares a coffee with another friend, I came here to see what was being said or showed. I had more time then, and the time I had, I could dedicate to painting, now I have little to show here if there is anything, (and I find it so funny to be talked of, like being part of an elite!!) but nevertheless I check it every day, for it is the only web in which sometimes you can read an honest and interesting comment. “sometimes”. There have been other members who we all were interested in reading too, like Arnold for example, who for some reason or other aren’t mentioned, and should be.
So in the end this is like an evening group meeting, virtual meeting, in some “café” of who knows where, in which sometimes you listen, sometimes you talk, sometimes you upload your work with pride and sometimes you just watch the rest of the world create while you ask yourself if you have anything worth saying or showing .

11 Dec 09 08:08
To define what is a “real” artist is very difficult. More than to be one. I am often in contact with teachers and students of Fine Arts, amateur and Sunday painters, and I could not say which one is an artist more than the others. Even I'm not sure to be one. The word “artist” refers to an ideal, and in that sense are artist those who wish to be one. But how do you measure that?!

There is a precept from the “hacker world”, the inventors of Internet, which says that someone will be called “hacker” when other hackers call her so.

Therefore, artists, comment my pictures and make me an artist, please, and then get me out of the AP!

11 Dec 09 13:52
wow Hillel if only i had realised it was this easy to join the elite i would have opened my big mouth long ago.....
11 Dec 09 17:39
See there ain't nothin' to it, welcome to the elite. It's quite a grand feeling isn't it, almost overwhelming and believe it or not this is just the beginning. Congratulations!
11 Dec 09 18:02

The last museum exhibition I saw worth talking about was "Francis Bacon / Paintings From The 1950s" at the Albright Knox Gallery in Buffalo, New York. Buffalo is only about an hour and a half drive from Toronto and naturally I only got there on the very last day of the show, July 29th, '07. There was quite a lot of work, mostly from the Sainsbury collection, thirteen paintings in all. The Sainsburys were early supporters of the artist and the portraits of Mrs. Sainsbury were Bacons first depictions of a female. In addition there were works fom other private collections from all over the world including Albright-Knox's own "Man With Dog", he did at least a couple of versions on that theme, the one at the Albright -Knox is definitely the best. Although it's a relatively small museum the Albright-Knox has an excellent collection and when they make an acquisition it's usually a very good example of a particular artist's work.

Although I've seen a few original Bacons previously at the Tate and the one that's in the Albright- Knox collection, this was the largest number I've ever seen at one time and there were a few good pieces and a few not so good ones. It's always a good lesson for us artists to learn that even the greats are not always that great and that should give us leave to be a little kinder and more forgiving with ourselves. What impressed me was Bacon's attention to the presentation of his work, not surprising for a gay former interior and furniture designer. This need for lusciousness, all the works beautifully and sometimes ornately framed with elaborate mats and under glass. So prissy and precious and sometimes actually quite annoying, all that glass, the reflections often obscuring the image underneath. What surprised me was that the show produced in me this kind of stereotypical gay notion of Bacon for I've never really thought of him as gay in that way, implying a homosexual at ease with life or at least wanting to be. Rather, I've always thought of him as I think he did, as a queer, a flaming faggot. The boy that his manly horse breeding aristocratic (although broke) Irish father threw physically out of his home for being a poof and parading around in his mother's underwear and gowns. The young lad that lived a life of decadence in prewar Berlin on the the avails of older men. Crossing the channel once again to continue that kind of life as best he could in London. Always attracted to the underworld and the dangers of the brutish types he was prone to, the ones he could count on to give him a good beating or rob him of his money and punish him as Dad had done for being a queer and thus satisfying his deeply sadomasochistic desires. Notorious for his flamboyancy and sardonic words he was an outlaw to the end. Compare him with Hockney, an artist I admire for his cerebral study of art and optics. A gay man at ease with himself and others, I met him once at an opening, he was very polite and charming. Also compare their art, of course there is no comparison. Bacon's art when successful is simply unforgettable, all that angst and pain imbued with the strangeness of his life that makes us all too aware and sensitive to the strangeness we all feel somewhere within ourselves.

Just a couple of other observations. Admiring art writers have often spoken of Bacon's originality in painting on the reverse side (the unsized and unprimed side) of the canvas, yet no one ever mentions, as you all well know, that the sizing and priming supposedly protects the canvas from the acidic effect of the oils and turps, although frankly these paintings from the '50s seem to be in perfect shape. So much for art education. Not having one allowed Bacon to do as he chose. The point I'm coming to however, is never believe what an artist says even if he or she believe it themselves. Bacon in interviews and statements made much of what he called chance in his painting and I don't see much of that at all, in fact he was a very controlled painter. The reason he painted on the unprimed side was for reasons of control. I know it because when I was a graphic artist we used similar techniques for rendering mock ups. We would do big flat areas of colour with thick strokes of waterproof Magic Markers. The depiction of letters or figures could be painted in very quickly with designer colours or gouache without disturbing the underlying areas of colour. Likewise Bacon who no doubt used that technique commercially as a designer found that the oils on the "wrong side" of the canvas were absorbed and dried very quickly. In other words they stopped so that he could have more control when painting his figures without the colours bleeding. Later, for the same reason he quite often used acrylics for the grounds.

Actually he always painted more as a designer than a painter, like Robert Motherwell he had superbly good taste. In Melvyn Bragg's documentary on him there are some scenes where he reviews some slides of his own work and other works important to himself. Shown a of slide of his own works he said something to the effect of, "I don't think that one worked very well." that was followed by a similar painting of the same subject matter and he said something to the effect of, "Oh that one's much better, it's a much better layout". That really struck me at the time because designers and commercial artists concern themselves with layout, whereas painters always talk in terms of composition. That's the reason I think a purist and idealist like Giacometti derided his work and called him a fraud. I love my hero Giacometti but I also love Bacon precisely because he was a fraud and trickster who invented his own rules and life and art and stage managed the whole thing perfectly and yet beyond all that, his paintings are honest and do reflect his life and obsessions.

(Anyone else out there who has seen something of interest, a commercial show or a museum show or anything else that has given them food for thought please share your ideas with the rest of us and post your writings here. And as always your responses, arguments and objections are welcome.)

18 Mar 08 00:47
DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES ON FEMALE SEXUALITY. JOHN PAUL DELANEY AND TERESA MILLS Two different Art Process artists one male, the other female. Both working three dimensionally. Their topic, female sexuality and surprisingly they come to rather the same conclusion. Taking the Art Process tour you sometimes notice certain things of interest. Completely different works by what appears to be artists of completely different sensibility start to come together and make some kind of visual sense when viewed together in the same context. Let me make the case of the connection between the two artists titled above. John Paul Delaney's Inverted and toothed sculpture "The Victim" He explains it away as something different just a reaction to doing works with protruding and arrogant elements (sounds very macho and very defensive doesn't it?) yet I can't help viewing it as other than the almost inevitable attraction to and the succumbing to female sexuality and the inherent danger so prevalent in the male imagination. The cause of early male impotence, fear of losing one's manhood to the mystery of the female organ is a common and an archetypical male phenomena. There's a certain truth to it as well. The male spider is compelled to forfeit his life for the pleasure of sex and the procreation. A similar feeling takes hold to greater and lesser extents among human males. The deadly attraction to that place of comfort comes with great cost. The union that produces family and children and also produces the loss of freedom and individuality, the shackles of conventionality and obligation. The loss of one's self and one's art. These are the fears and possibly the realities depicted so beautifully in Delaney's work. [LINK] As I looked at Theresa Mill's beautiful work "Sexual Object" I couldn't help thinking about how much more direct she was about the whole sexual thing, quite aware that the beautiful organ conveyed so tenderly in her work is also the cause of the same trap that the male senses and even worse (men quite often abandon the whole setup whereas women, so connected to the children seldom do). She very wittily turns the lovely organ into an iron for pressing clothes. The compulsion the organ produces in her and the resulting consequences will certainly keep her bound and chained to the tasks of housekeeping, responsibility and obligation. The same loss of freedom, self and art depicted by Delaney. Yet she is quite aware of what is happening, she deals with it squarely and knows she can't beat the compulsion. The male who must volunteer his services is much less aware, somewhere in his psyche lurks the truth and the fears to where his compulsion and attraction to that selfsame organ will lead yet it's not quite as clear and he disguises his fear. Perfectly natural, the perpetuity of the species demands it. [LINK]
23 Mar 08 02:38

"..The deadly attraction to that place of comfort comes with great cost.."

When I read that quote from your piece, I fell about the place laughing - yep, you said it brother, that about encapsulates the whole shebang.

24 Mar 08 09:53
As you well know my whole purpose in life is to amuse you so I'm very gratified. Mind you a grievous fall into utter despair or at very least a vain suicide attempt were more the reactions I was hoping to provoke.
24 Mar 08 20:25
hi Hillel, I really enjoyed reading your very apt comparison of our works! I have been so busy with my teacher training lately that I haven't payed a visit to the artprocess site in a while. I have just also been reading the rest of the artist stories in Artist's cafe, they are such an interesting read and so well written. Thank you for entertaining us all.
16 Apr 08 12:26
Thanks Teresa, I'm glad you enjoyed it and had wondered where you'd disappeared to. Training to be a teacher, eh? I'm betting it'll be art and not ironing.
16 Apr 08 17:52

Having just read Norman Mailer's Portrait of Picasso As a Young Man I thought I'd share some thoughts. It's not a great book, nothing really new to be garnered if you've read anything else about the artist and it relies heavily on Fernande Olivier's book about her ex lover. What's most interesting to me is the author's take on "Cubism", I use quotation marks because the word itself like other words in the art lexicon was never formulated by the artists to describe what it was they were up to but rather bestowed upon it by sometimes angry and puzzled critics. Mailer seems to understand that most of the explanations and rationalizations created by those who championed Cubism as a movement like the dealer Kahnweiler and the poet and intellectual Apollinaire were a hodgepodge of various notions of modernity. Trying to tie everything together with notions of the fourth dimension and Einstein's theories of relativity, both had a stake in the success of the new movement. Although I believe he was a genuine enthusiast Kahnweiller's motivation as the preeminent dealer was obviously commercial, while Apollinaire poet, intellectual and avant-guardist was more concerned with how he'd be viewed by posterity. Picasso and Braque were more or less silent and the second rung of cubists like Gleizes and Metzinger borrowed and improved upon the earlier formulated language and created manifestos as did the Synchromists and Futurists, etc. Mailer then goes on to create his own muddled theories and his protagonist Picasso is always the best and the greatest, pretty much relegating Braque's paintings to a more minor status which is completely outrageous because both artist's work at the time, regardless of the gap in their innate abilities was of very equal quality. The democracy of their work together marked the only period in his life when Picasso was actually able to quash his ego for the commonality of the struggle. It should be noted that Picasso hated all the talk and particularly hated theories.

If you've ever read any of the thousands of subsequent writings on the topic you'll have noticed how boring and unreadable most of it is. Museum tours and explanations surely confuse the people in attendance. They come away knowing that those early works created during that narrow time frame (1908-12) were very important but without any real appreciation or understanding. So the question is does anyone actually know what Cubism is? And does anyone actually like the stuff or do they just take it in because "it's good for you" the way bran and whole wheat is in one's diet? I suspect that like James Joyce and Franz Kafka, who although people constantly speak of their work, they are in reality seldom read and it's a rarefied minority who actually enjoy the stuff. Cubism plays a similar role and familiarity with it is necessary for a person of culture. The popular mantra that Cubism was the logical outcome of Cezanne and was anticipated by him in his work is I think a falsity. I doubt that had he lived another 50 years Cezanne would ever have produced a Cubistic work, devoted as he was to the idea of realizing the world as accurately as his eyes could see it, unprejudiced by experience and mental preconception, "Realize all forms by the sphere, the cylinder and the cone." to paraphrase his famous saying, has more to to with his own technique for achieving his objective, each fully loaded chiseled brush stroke applied with meaning, one next to the other until the whole complete. None of this has much to do with Cubism. Only from a very surface like interpretation of the building of planes and some slight vibration of movement when in trying to achieve accuracy a former brushstroke is left intact. That plus outright mistakes in getting things right when for example a table's top seems to be on the wrong plane, the apples ready to roll off, does Cezanne in any way anticipate the Cubism of Picasso and Braque. The main similarity I see is that Cezanne approached his work with an unrelenting spirit of research and investigation. Rightly venerated I doubt whether the majority of people actually enjoy his work as much as his more luscious, easy and painterly contemporaries.

So what was Cubism? I believe it was a myriad of different things to different artists each of whom was working intuitively in their own way. One thing is for sure it was truly the start of the modern era, art could no longer be the illusionistic depiction of things. The invention of that one eyed monster the camera did a much better job of all that. But the intuition of artists determined that there was an even more realistic experience to be had of this world, one that didn't just capture one brief moment but encompassed past and future. Each in there own way set out on their explorations of space and time. Multiple views of objects, a new type of plasticity and the depiction of movement and time. Even surrealism that seems so at odds was a byproduct of the same quest for a more real reality, which is actually the literal meaning of the sur prefix of the word... over or super reality. In the past 100 years or so nothing has fundamentally changed. Except for the occasional retrograde throwback work of some neo romanticists or classicists, we're all Cubists even if our art is not cube like, pursuing in whatever form we choose a greater truth about our world. Freed from the restraints of producing realistic illusions of the world the advent of Cubism allowed artists to enter an age of exploration to discover some kind of greater reality that they sensed was out there, their only tools being intuition and imagination. The fact that Picasso and Braque could only sustain their rigorous investigations for approximately four years before descending into what became known as Synthetic Cubism, a decorative style of painting with Cubistic elements shows how hard the job was. For me "Cubism" has become a catchall word for any kind of advanced and investigative art that aims at attaining some newly sensed truth an art who's chief characteristic is one of research and not adornment. Usually perceived as ugly and shocking at first, art motivated by a spirit of investigation can, given time and understanding, attain a beauty beyond measure as the reality catches up with the art.

20 Jun 08 01:58
Well, I wasn’t recommending a volume specialized on Picasso’s art or an analysis of his first works, I just thought that Mailer’s book was fun, easy to read an enjoyable for anybody who like me still feels the fascination for this contradictory genius par excellence. An artist that flooded the world with his ouvre, and influenced decisively every discipline he touched and nevertheless thought it was absurd to think that art had any kind of historical mission, and who never worked thinking of the future “ All I have ever made, was made for the present and in the hope that it will always remain in the present. When I have found something to express, I have done it without thinking of the past or the future” he once said.

Mailer describes Picasso’s life and art covering the Blue Period, the Rose Period and cubism in a multiple facetted approach through the testimonies of his intimates at the time, Fernande, Stein, Apollinaire, Jacob, etc, constructing the puzzle that Picasso often represents for people who never had the privilege of seeing him alive and try to find out the enigma of his genius, and of his charisma. (like me)

The book might not be new, or it may not be original, but it does achieve the goal he set to himself “ the desire to make Picasso as real as any character in life or in art”.

It did help me understand better some of his fears, and obsessions and his behaviour, and I enjoyed reading the anecdotes of these years in Mailers clear and natural writing. I chose the book to read about him, the young man, so I wasn’t expecting one of those “boring and unreadable art texts” that you mention and that I sometimes make an effort to read (and never finish).

Your description of cubism is very good though and I agree with you in your identification of cubism with “advanced and investigative art that aimed at attaining some newly sense of truth an art who’s chief characteristic is one of research and not adornment”..” “Multiple views of objects, a new type of plasticity and the depiction of movement and time” who wouldn’t?? but I also like the idea of its relationship with the relativeness of things, quoting Robert Hughes for he describes it in few words.. “cubism has everything to do with proposing infinite relationships between things , and seeing how many of them at a time can make visual sense”

“ reality is not figure and void, it is all relationships, a twinkling field of interdependent events”

“You still cannot walk into the cubist room. But that is partly -or so the paintings quietly argue- because you are already in it . It is the space of relativity…….”

The space of relativity......... is there anything more relative than colour ?

Well, yes it was not easy to read, and it still isn’t but it is true that it remains the most influential art dialect of the early 20th century.

And I liked the book….

24 Jun 08 00:23
In his exposition toward a definition of Cubism, Hillel highlights the fact that we are in the centenary year of the birth of Modern painting.
With this I heartily agree. In fact I am presently celebrating the event!
Whenever I need to reinvent myself as a painter, I return to those four years of collaboration, Braque/Picasso, and steal some more!
Braque himself offered what may have become the watchword of all Abstractionists ' you must have TWO ideas, one to destroy the other.'

24 Jun 08 03:41
I should explain, Karen and I sometimes correspond and we ask each other what we've been reading. Karen had mentioned she was in the process of reading Mailer's book on the young Picasso and on one of my excursions to the public library I picked it up. That period of art is of particular fascination to me, Picasso not so much, but nobody can deny his major contribution at the beginning of the century. Whether the Mailer book is good or not I can't really say, I'm not a literary critic but for my purposes it failed to provide me with any new insights. However I truly enjoyed Karen's response and respect and understand her viewpoint. Picasso was certainly an enigma and had such a great power and so many second and third rate followers and imitators that he almost single handedly destroyed Paris as the centre of the artworld after the war giving America the opportunity to attain a cultural cold war success by supplanting it with NY.

The book however did get me thinking once again about that revolutionary period of time. The labeling of art and the so called schools of thought and philosophies... the "isms" so to speak were I think a very unfortunate development and that's what I'm trying to get at here. Cezanne had only reached his fulcrum and old age leaving the path open for a hundred years of diverse art. And Picasso and Braque had barely begun their experiments when suddenly new isms were sprouting up everywhere in a host of different European countries. So art became not so much a continuation of learning and process but was in constant search of the newest and the latest movement or revolutionary enfant terrible, at least from the marketing perspective of things.

Yes you can draw certain straight lines from so called Cubism to Europe's post war Abstractionists, Quebec's Automatistes and America's Action Painters. The realm of illusion culminating in flatness (the art of the past) and the realm of flatness culminating in illusion (the art of the present and future). In the quest for the new and the shocking, all of that has been thrown to the wind. The image once again has taken primacy and people including artists and experts have lost the visual literacy to look at painting and sculpture as unique forms with their own rules of engagement and construction. The image reigns supreme, the painted image competing with the photographic, digital and video, all being viewed on par, the only question being which image is the more intriguing and for people without the visual literacy to assess the constructive or historic components, it's a moot point. We the practitioners of the so called quiet arts are certainly the losers as whatever audience we ever had is continually dissipating.

That's why those early years of the 20th century have such power. When you see a retrospective of any of the artists from those times you marvel at their optimism about the future, they were all in their own way onto something unique and it's still reflected in their work today. Hughes talks of the "shock of the new", the true and real shock of the new is never lost no matter the length of time that goes by. I don't want to sound like an old curmudgeon or malcontent but I doubt that it will ever happen again. I really like what Arnold had to say, I don't recall hearing it or reading it but it's very true, modern art is a conflict that cannot be resolved, I think that's the antithesis of what modern consumers, reared on neatly conceived TV programs with beginnings, middles and convenient endings are prepared to deal with. One idea is more than enough for them, never mind two that are on a direct collision course.

25 Jun 08 01:07
I am so happy to have Hillel around to do the reading and digesting of the endless confusion of commentary and critique and opinion and analysis which has infested the artworld
I love the simple clarity of the twin paradigms - illusion>flatness,flatness>illusion which he has created for us. A satisfying summary of 100 years of artwork, allowing me to put MY time to better use!

27 Jun 08 04:58
Arnold, do I detect a note of sarcasm? Do you think it easy, the enormous investment of time I put in here, sometimes 30 to 40 hours a day, all to come up with mindless and inane trite so you serious artists can get on with your relatively easy jobs of creating enduring and meaningful art that will touch the souls of humanity unto the ages while I sublimate my own personal aims and ambitions for your sakes and the betterment of mankind. I thought not, that's the problem with all you artists, its always me, me, me.
27 Jun 08 21:54
Not a toot of sarcasm, Hillel...in truth, I wonder where you young folks get the energy to do what you do !

28 Jun 08 21:31
"Young folks", "energy?" and you're telling me you're not being sarky!? All kidding aside Arnold, I know we're just having a bit of fun here but to get back to the original topic. What is your take on Cubism? Your work shows an engagement with it and I'm not talking about going back to those years and stealing from the trough but I can't help thinking about The Blaue Reiter Group and Franz Marc, August Macke and others when I look at your portfolio. JP's painted works always conjures up for me the so called Orphists like Robert Delaunay and others. People look at my stuff and say "What is that, some kind of Cubism?" and I say "yeah". It's hard for me to understand how any artist working in the modern milieu can remain unaffected or detached from those early years without some major struggle.

Sure in the end something either works or it doesn't and it's the emotional impact that counts. There will always be some iconoclastic artist or a complete primitive who will challenge our aesthetic beliefs and produce something completely different and powerful. But for anyone born in the last hundred years Cubism is a major part of our language. So what is it and what does it mean for all of you?

29 Jun 08 16:59
the artworld according to me, me, me.

My earliest exposure to Aret was to the early paintings and sculpture of Picasso -1904 to 1915. So quite naturally I believed that this was also the beginning of Art for the rest of the world.
A look at Art history shows that most every innovation and twist performed upon painting had been done before WW1. Nothing is new. France, Germany, Russia, Africa, Cuba, even Canada had spawned artist/innovators of the first order, and they covered a lot of ground. But if there was a progenitor, a prime mover, it was Picasso. All benefitted from the competitiveness of the time, but Picasso drove the bus.
About 1906, picasso completed his famous portrait of Gertrude Stein. A critic remarked that she didn'e look like that. " She will! " picasso replied.
The balls on that guy. Twenty something!
Suddenly, Eurocentricity in Art was dead! Image was dead! What took its place was a 'World Painting', where Vision is everything. Where each part of a canvas is as important as the other. The subject is not more realistic, but more REAL! Freedom - to dioscover!
Yet, as soon as Picasso sniffed a 'style' of Cubism energing, he turned away and moved on.
Blah, blah, blah, it's all been written. But for me, the purest explanation of what changed is contained in this anecdote ( stop me if you've heard this ) - a visitor told Picasso he didn't understand him. Later he showed him a photo of his wife. " Oh, " said Picasso. " how small she is!~ I guess it's so she can fit in your pocket."
It took me years to figure that out. Cubism, Picasso and Modern Art...in a word.

08 Jul 08 05:44
Another week of busting my ass at work so I thought I'd drag in on my way home and see what's up. My heart is light because tomorrow is my studio day, and how I covet those few hours. Like any good Sunday Painter I want to put a few more whiskers on that cat I'm painting!
I've brought along a bottle of (Folonari) Valpolicella in honor of a meeting last week with a friend of 50 years. We drank this stuff together before we were legal, and I'm happy to say it is the same swill now as then!
I've spent many hours navigating this site, and found a lot of information lying around, about its history, its membership..I'm going to sign up again under a new name, to be the 1000th ! What do I win, JP?
I like the naivite abounding here, i like the sophistication. I am pleased to find that nothing changes, yet all is fresh and new! And I like the work! The innnocent idea of the work we all share...
I could get to like this cafe, cheap and dark, as it fills with raucous arguement and noses to punch! So pass around the bottle - it only cost $1.79, and I'll easily earn that from the next sale of a painting!

19 Jul 08 04:42
Actually Jacques (Montel) had mentioned a few weeks ago that we were coming up to the 1000th to join up, and how should we celebrate the event? He met with a roaring response of.. silence (perhaps a bit of shuffling in the background and the odd "Quoi?").
We're all too jaded with just getting through the week with the aim of having some precious hours in the studio (as you so aptly describe) that ideas of festivity don't come into it - we ain't there yet.
Nevertheless, had we the wherewithal, my suggestion for the prize would be:

A night's out drinking with Hillel.

(Personally, I aim to actually get to do that one day).

So if you sign up again to become the 1000th, you might even treat yourself to a trip down the road to Toronto and go knock on his door?

Roll on that next sale!

19 Jul 08 10:55
Arnold I really like the way you put it in the artworld according to you, you, you... very succinct and to the point.

Now will someone please tell me how AP is coming up to 1000 members, if you go to "Artists A-Z" it seems to say membership is approaching 600 members. When Jacques mentioned something about it a while back I really didn't understand what he was getting at. Explanations please.

As far as a night's out drinking with me goes... I'm too old for that stuff now, a late night drinking bout would probably finish me off completely. My drinking nowadays is usually confined to the daylight hours so the lucky winner should show up at my door in the morning but not before 8 a.m. because that would be plain ridiculous. What kind of person would start drinking before 8 a.m. it's just not civilized.

20 Jul 08 01:53
The 1,000 are registered users - those who have added some basic details and their email address. They comprise artists exhibiting or not (yet) exhibiting on ap, and others interested in the artworks - as when they register, they can leave comments on the site.

The others you mentioned (actually currently 484) are registered users who are also exhibiting at least one artwork. So we have quite a way to go yet before we can say that we are 1,000 artists contributing to the site with images of our works and our comments.

Nevertheless, reaching the 1,000 registrations (and a couple of months ago 100,000 unique session hits) are milestones that state our presence is slowly but surely growing.

20 Jul 08 16:19
Needless to say, the accumulation of numbers in this sense is meaningless, when what is *really* required is, say, 10 core artists, angry and serious about not accepting the status quo, willing to come together as a unit to withstand, and counteract, the oblivion of being ignored by the (well known to us) all-powerful marketing machine made up of eager-to-please critics and gallerists, whose only goal appears to be financial profit and brushing shoulders with stardom.
How about taking on this charade collectively, about pulling out the stops, about showing what a real, angry, visual language can communicate? Who among us has the balls, and the ingenuity, to work together to take all that challenge on?
Never mind the accumulation of numbers, personally I want to deal with those few among us who are fed up with taking all the crap lying down, and are ready to talk about doing that one deeply-satisfying and meaningful (to us) show that tells them simply - brother, cool it, take a look - this is really where it's at.

20 Jul 08 20:58
Hmm... no reply on that one. Looks like it was a bit over the top as a proposition, for we ever so genteel artistes.
Right then, as the saying goes, if you can't beat them, join them. Let's just open up our own gallery.

21 Jul 08 18:38
I love when you've been into the ale and start ranting like a crazed anarchist. I read what you wrote 10 times yesterday, trying to figure out what it is we as a collective can do to challenge the shopkeepers who don't want to stock our particular products because they doubt they can flog the shit. What are we supposed to do, pick a date and declare it "Unrecognized Artists Day" and then simultaneously throw bricks through windows and burn down buildings in 60 different countries?

Today I'm glad to see that you've sobered up, thought the whole thing through in a more reasoned manner and decided that we should open our own gallery. How about a chain of galleries in 60 different countries so we can keep our stuff circulating world wide? Sounds do-able to me.

21 Jul 08 21:01
If it weren't for you, this site would have closed down from boredom long ago. Thank goodness I have you to bother put a few lines together and give some character to the process, even if you do insist on a reality check each time.
Nevertheless, I'd like to take up your point on the shopkeepers. I've a feeling it's not the actual work that interests them as saleable, but rather the whole package of the artist profile - age, sex, race, background, market readiness, adaptability etc. We suspect it's not all about the work, right? Then what I'd like to do is bring those artists who don't fit into the schema, a little to the forefront and show there's quality in them dar' un- (or little-) known artists really. I mean there'e lot's of precedent for this already in history, right? So why not play on that?
Basically I'm saying let's ignore the gallerist/critic path and get a core group to work closely together on a year's preparation for a collective show? The participants should think more about maximizing the effect of the group as opposed to perfecting their own individual pieces. The point is that the show should be a kickass one that will turn heads and get people talking. With all our combined decades of experience, surely we're capable of that? C'mon it's too damn easy to dismiss it out of hand, why not discuss a little more to see if there's a small possibility in the making?

Regarding the opening a gallery proposition, I meant an online one.

21 Jul 08 23:00
Boy, try to chill after a fierce weekend, and run into some frikken artiste
trying to flog a charcoal on newsprint!
Look to the music business as analogy.
Now EVERYONE is in a band. Everyone IS a band! All music is available anytime to everyone. The record industry is DEAD! Whether we know it or not, music has gone thru a sea change in the last five years.
Gone is the top Fifty. No more golden oldies, standards or classics. Music has gone truely democratic, and extracted the Capitilist Imperative.
And NO ONE is going to make a nickel off it!
take this as given, and apply it to the visual arts....
Jeez I'm tired...

22 Jul 08 03:49
Arnold makes a good point, all these websites and images out there just for the taking. Unlike this one, some with very high resolution jpegs, downloadable and good enough to make decent glycee prints on paper or canvas. Times they are a-changing, the difference in the analogy is that the end result in the visual arts usually (not always) results in a one off collectible object that will always remain a tradable commodity. The music biz will always have its live concerts and performances. To squeeze the maximum amount of loot out of those objects and performances fame will become an even more important factor than it has been.

Now back to Delaney... okay Mr. Democracy, before I even approach certain sensitive concerns and I think you know where I'm heading. And without taking into account the myriad of practicalities and logistics, what do you mean by historical precedents, are you talking about artist's whose achievements weren't recognized during their lifetimes or do you mean precedents for the kind of show you anticipate. Events that turned whole scenes around and gave some obscure artists notoriety? Cool down Arnold, at this point we're only having a theoretical discussion.

22 Jul 08 19:00
I meant the former... referring to the erstwhile unknown artist who's work is 'discovered' to be interesting, a little late in the day.

I just figured that as we're all so wizened and wise with bags of experience to spare, why can't we put a kickass (I like that yankee word) show together collectively - where the show is more important than any single artist's work?

I was thinking along the lines of "Twelve Interfering Artists". The point being that each artist presents her/his project proposal online, for the other 11 to discuss and deliberate, and basically interfere with the original plans to such an extent that in the end (let's say over a year's work online - all well documented) the resulting works are more a result of the combined interference rather than any single approach. I think if we got the right group together, not only the completed work would be worth seeing, but also the website dedicated to the progress of the project. It's taking the basic theme of ap and combining it in a quirky way.

22 Jul 08 22:04
Note to JP - Delete button for my half-considered comments.
The 'collective' within my example of the music business would be, i guess, a generation...a great number of people who have re-defined 'success', lowered expectations, in a way, in order to make and share music for sheer joy! We pay for the technology that disseminates, but not for the art itself. And the artists don't care!
In my mind, this paradigm now exists, and grows.
What i am reaching for is a model against which to measure the near future of making paintings and sculpture.
And i'm out of my depth.

22 Jul 08 22:30
Keep talking, I think you may have something but you've really got to stick with the concept. Trapani failed because the whole idea of process, theoretically to be documented in the Studio Logs was lost. The Studio Log in effect became a mere ticket for entry and in the end even the slight documentation that did exist plus plenty of bits of dialogue that could have at least realized some aspect of process was not there. The actual hook of the show was not realized, I still think it was a good concept. The problem was and is the effort it takes to document one's own process to keep a visual and written diary day after day. It gets in the way of spontaneity to be so conscious of one's self as viewed from the exterior. Also few artists are prepared to work openly and reveal secrets or perhaps allow the magic to escape through an open studio door. That's why there were in actuality only, if I recall, only 2 or 3 studio logs of merit by artists who can work in that manner because in a way it's part of their own process. The show should really have been limited to those.
This new concept could prove even trickier. On a personal basis The idea of announcing in advance what the project is would be like writing some sort of bullshit for a grant application. My project is always the same, I paint and try to make a better painting than my last one and get closer to what I've been looking for.Yet the idea of interference is intriguing. If I've got you right the participants monitor each others' process and progress, making suggestions and commenting. (Something you can't do right now in the Studio Logs but might be worth considering to make that page more interesting.) Activity like that might just force movement and change of habit and lead someone in a different direction. On the face of it it sounds horribly aggravating and irritating but it does combine the whole AP rationale of process and artist to artist communication. This concept is even more demanding than the first one.

23 Jul 08 04:06
I knew you'd get the picture ('scuse the pun), Doctor Kagan. Only thing is that you wouldn't be allowed get away with a cast-off statement like "I just paint, so that's all". In fact, if you look through the texts of ap, you'll find so much richness in stories of what stimulates you, what doesn't, past influences, personal history, your family etc. All of this will have to come together over the year of interaction with the other 11 pain-in-the-ass interfering artists, to create a fascinating image of the artist today.
You see in reality it boils down to a publicity stunt - at least that's what we'll say to each other as we put ourselves publicly through this collective *Hard Time* (c). Anything else of worth that might emerge will be a plus. I think if we build a good enough site for it, it could become interesting, and maybe we could use it to convince someone to let us do (i.e. finance) that show in Toronto that Hanjo wants. At any rate, we hope it should raise some interest on the internet, for our individual projects as artists, and for the more general project of the artists of ap.

23 Jul 08 06:25
Well friends, what a funny suggestion! At first sight I would answer the same way I did with the Trapani concept. Showing the process? Letting someone into my studio? NO WAY! But as you all know it was Ilona (I think it was her) that asked me why I was so shy to do that, for my very own website for her was just that process thing. I don’t think that it is but nevertheless the idea cought me and from then on I tried my best to make this process documentation become real and interesting. In February 2007 I had an open studio exhibition for to show the Trapani idea and what I had done for it so far. During the two days of that open studio about 120 visitors came to my studio and were attracted by those two studio-logs I had gathered in two separate books. They even sat down to read the entire text! I mean they really took the time to go through it and even asked questions etc. It was fantastic. I hadn’t expected this. Unfortunately (ha ha) one of the visitors was so attracted that he bought my first contribution, the feet inmidst of the tomatoes, right away from the wall.
Okay, what I want to say is that I am very hesitant with the suggested project. But from my experience with what we had in mind for Trapani I am able to imagine that this new idea could become very interesting and challenging. So why not have a try?
But ... I beg your pardon for being rude again ... the main thing will be that we keep our hands on it from the beginning to the end and not delegate it to a so called organizer who has quite different personal interests in mind. It’s true, I loved to have been part of that terrific emergency squad that finally made the show run but I would be perfectly fine without it next time.

23 Jul 08 18:10
I think it could be a good idea, and this interference of other artists in one’s own work and viceversa can be a good stimulus; irritating or not (in fact irritation is a perfect spur that usually modifies something in us )it can generate a subterranean flow of influences from which no doubt we would all be enriched and probably surprised from the resulting works. I wouldn’t mind it at all for I’ve grown accostumed to work with people around me at my studio, but of course I’d rather have the comments of other artists I respect.
23 Jul 08 22:29
John-Paul, the essence of your suggestion seems to be „To create a fascinating image of the artist today“ as you have said. So it will not so much deal with art shown in works but with artists life. The outer circumstances as well as the inner prerequisites.
As far as I know all this has been said already in different comments, forum entries and studio-logs. It’s exactly as you’ve said that „If you look through the texts of ap, you'll find so much richness in stories of what stimulates you, what doesn't, past influences, personal history, your family etc“. So to paint that image of the artist today it would only need some people to carefully scan all these kilometres of texts already written somewhere on artprocess and to find a scheme to systematically organize them. This alone would be a tremendous piece of work to do. But in the end you would have exactly what you are interested in.

Quite another thing is to gather a bunch of artists (I guess you would need some kind of criteria to chose them) and let them work on whatever they are used to do and at the same time let them interfere in each others working process over a years time. And I cannot really see what this part has to do with the first one. Well normally I do 30 to 40 pieces during such a period. So maybe you have in mind only some three or four works particularly produced for this purpose like it has been with the Trapani project. But even then I am very sceptical if this will work. I am not talking about different artistic personalities or just different personalities ... from being very communicative to being loners. I am talking about what making art is in contrast to talking. As we all know there are many different ways of communication. Starting with using words, body language, gazes, vibes or whatever else. And there is music, paintings, sculptures, films, dance, performances etc. etc., the whole range of art. Each one using a different and typical king of „language“ which if translated into words will loose most of their speciality. It’s evident that you cannot repeat a piece of music in just words. With all the other kinds of art you will at least be able to describe what is to be seen ... a very poor substitute only. I guess that the use of these hermetic languages gives art this touch of magic. And even artists are not necessarily able to put in words what they are doing . So what will come out if everything that is done in one of these languages is pulled into the world of words, discussed, critizised etc. And last but not least will put the focus on the theme only for one cannot really discuss the style, the manner, the craft. All this makes me be very sceptical as said in this interference part of the project. But nevertheless why not give it a try just for the fun of it?

24 Jul 08 12:12
The essence of JP's suggestion to me is not so much about an image of the artist today but the effect of the interaction of artists as facilitated by this particular website. I agree with Hanjo that much of that can already be witnessed on AP but the "hook" for a show would be the documentation of all that internet interaction and the resulting work from such a diverse and geographically separated group.

My recommendation would be to firstly establish the capability within the Studio Log to facilitate the concept, get it in use and see what happens. My experience has been that curators of the type of public galleries likely to be interested in our venture, pre-plan their exhibition calendars 2-3 years in advance. Our concern at the moment should not be with which institution will host and fund another AP show but just getting the process going to see what evolves.

Keep the process open to all members, forget about a specific number like 12, the interesting interactions and groups will form on their own. With an ongoing process and something to show I think it should be possible to interest a curator from somewhere or other and he or she would be the final arbiter as to who and what gets shown. An independent and professional curator would not only keep the process (for us) democratic but they would obviously have their own agenda and the ability to mount and present a professionally produced show. In any event it's an interesting experiment.

24 Jul 08 16:30
I want to step away a moment, and take a look in from the outside. The artists are complaining that their work isn't getting the deserved attention and credit they think it merits. Nevertheless that doesn't stop them - they keep churning out their works month after month - hopefully to sell them, but that doesn't always (or often) happen either. Looking around the internet, it's much the same story - mountains of art being created by serious, well-meaning individuals on high-quality websites, so much so that in the end one gets bleary-eyed looking at the sheer volume of the countless images. In fact, they all tend to blend into that monotonous experience of looking at the third-hand: computer-rendered images of photographs, of artworks.
To counteract this bland surfing experience, I would propose to setup a project that intead gives an insight into the working and playing lives of the artists themselves. So instead of just the image of the work, there is some collective discussion and banter going on between the artists, that amply encompasses and includes their daily life - all to make it that much more interesting for the casual viewer.
To the artists, I say guys, lighten up - this is a marketing exercise, don't be so defensive. The project shouldn't be the usual life-and-death debate, but much more relaxed and spontaneous, less important within your oeuvre. You've got to look at the whole (i.e. the project), how it is shaping up, how to make it more attractive for the client (your internet viewers, and eventually organizations that will finance a real show). Your individual contribution should'nt be your goal but instead how all the contributions come together to make a potential whole. Naturally, the fact that it's a marketing exercise shouldn't be communicated either (you gotta fake it a bit), and let's run with what happens naturally at ap in a stop-start, not very cohesive fashion, and put it into a more controlled structure, governed by you, with a view to the audience?
Evil-of-evils I hear you cry! Yeah, it is a bit. I wouldn't pollute ap.net with it, but would instead put up artprocess.org, which I've been thinking could be a container for organized events and online projects like this.

25 Jul 08 07:40
Er.. is this the silence when, up for blasphemy before the Spanish Inquisition (High Art section), and I, accused, say "C'mon guys, cool it, let's all just chill out here a moment.." ?

Or is it just that everyone's at the beach?

26 Jul 08 15:27
Be patient J.P!
I, for one have been working like hell.

I have been absent for a few days while organizing an event here and I just read all this today. I am trying to form a clear idea of this proposal, which I think is the fruit of the initial idea of this artist to artist communication project of ap, and of course the reason why I am here with you guys.

As a first approach on my part, I would like to say that what bothers me in today’s art scene, is that there is far too much chit chat and image making and marketing in the expense of the actual work of art. To such a point that the essence of the work, where it comes from and why it looks like what it does, is forgotten. Which in turn, drives the public away from art, as something that is practiced by a bunch of conceited fruitcakes who live in a world of their own, with no real contact with reality.
Having said this, I tell you that I don’t care about the artist’s profile. What I deeply care about is find a way to show how an art work is born and what factors interfere with its realization and its final form. The interaction between artists is fundamental and inevitable. It happens as we speak, even when we don’t know it does. I would be very interested in recording this. I think it would be a perfect way to show in what way an art work is the meaningful product of live interaction between the artist and his/her environment and peers. It might help show how “meaning” gets into works of art and the difference between a meaningful art work and any other product (however exclusive or expensive or impressive) one can buy, two things that the public seems to mistake for one another, especially because of the fact that the art market treats the works of art the same way as any other object that works as a status symbol.

I am not sure I am making sense. I hope some of you might agree with me.

So, I tell you how I imagine this new project: each and every one of us starts one or more works and tries to document his/her thoughts while uploading images of the process. I would make an application where each member would have a personal studio log on their page instead of a huge studio log page for every one. Then we could start commenting on the work we feel we have something to say about and each artist can talk about which comments and how have influenced his work (a sort of blog apart) and of course show how the work has changed or not because of this. We don’t have to be theoretical about it. Just record our feelings and thoughts. A simple “…this idiot the other day said I should make it bigger. So I decided to make it even smaller!” will do. This can go on for a year or so and then we see what works have been made. Without having predecided on “what I will show in this show” like we tried to do for Trapani.
Then, I agree with the idea of an independed curator who would sort all this out and help chose the works and documentations that make the point of this interaction clearer and help find the best way to exhibit this whole idea.

Focusing on the actual works is I think what is missing nowadays. We must remember what making art and not marketing is all about. Sales might follow but this should be the result of meaningful art production and not only marketing. I don’t think marketing is evil at all. On the contrary, I practice it to some extent. But it cannot be the motor for doing what we do or the work dies. After all, getting this message across is the best marketing you can get. You will have convinced your buyer of the quality of the product…

26 Jul 08 16:22
Aye Jae Pea, ye hae awaket us all frum the deepe slumbre tha hae descent upon us. Whye hae ye dun it laddye?
Oops sorry, I get in these moods when I've been drinking a wee bit too much of the scotch whisky. Your last words were so awe inspiring yet confusing that, as you can see, everyone was struck dumb and confounded. Maria makes some good points and suggestions but I don't think we're quite getting the idea and how it would work. We've all been trying to fit it into the AP we're all accustomed to which as your talk of AP.org (?) attests to is not the idea.
You've plainly got something in mind so why don't you just get on with it? Lead the way Oh Great and Terrible One and we will surely follow ye (oops).

27 Jul 08 00:38
A couple of points Master Hillel, 1. - I ain't no leader, you all know that, and I don't intend to take up that role, and 2. - would you ever keep away from that scotch stuff, but instead take a sup from the well of purity of the Irish? Sure with taking the Irish whiskey, doesn't the clarity of mind descend upon you in all it's glory, that renders the universal understanding deep within, such that no manner of quizzical complexity brought before you cannot go unresolved?
And now back to our topic of discussion. OK apologies for any confusion - all I meant was, whatever form of project we eventually come up with together, let's not start with the premise of how it might useful for our own work, instead I suggest we talk about making an online website that'll be an interesting place for the casual viewer to go? Let's make an "experience" rather than a show of works.
It should be relatively easy for us to do. We know how ap works - let's now use the idea in a context of marketing.
Taking an example, remember Hanjo on his vespa in the studio, or preparing his studio meal of wine, olives and prosciutto? I think that idea of focus on the issue (the upcoming show in Italy), and sense of humour worked well. I'm not saying we should all become comic actors, but that fact that he was able to lead the viewer into context, in a way that maintained interest, and gave a picture of the playful side of the artist, meant that he guaranteed himself returning visitors curious to see what he was up to next.
The same with Hillel - he makes movies with words, and has us all waiting for his next update, that'll make us laugh or cringe, or both. Once again, we return to read his latest.
Fortunately, both of these guys happen to be good artists too - so they really give good value to the viewers of ap (I suppose next they'll be demanding a fee from me for new updates - as they bring so many people back to the site!).
I would like to make a container full with all that kind of richness that gives a three dimensional aspect to the making of an artwork. I'm saying we should dedicate some of our creativity into the manner of presentation, and not just the work itself. If anything, for this project, the presentation should - in our collective mind - be more important that our individual pieces. The goal will be that the project is the product, and that it could then become a "saleable" item i.e. attract the curator's interest in organizing a proper show.
The idea is that for this project you have to think like Saatchi (as you know he made his fortune in advertising), and not like one of his empire of artists.
Am I making myself any clearer, or just stirring those murky waters?

...Maybe I'll be needing a drop of the Irish after all.

27 Jul 08 11:25
Well, with or without Irish Whiskey (I will remember having one when being in our Irish Pub round three corners next time for some guinness) I have the feeling of finally getting the point.
So at least it would mean that there should be a fresh studiolog section for this project only and not mixed-up with the one setup for Trapani. Opposite to Maria’s suggestion I would prefer to have it just the same way. For only this gives me the chance to stumble over something I haven’t expected. On the other hand there should be the possibility to comment on the entries so a kind of forum should be included. How to do this technically is a question I cannot answer for the only thing I know about weepsites is how the word should be written properly. Just as a question I would like to ask if it would be possible to include a part where small videos can be shown, so that perhaps one could upload something that shows how one is working or sleeping in the studio. But maybe that’s just too elaborated or difficult to do.
Anyway, it looks as if it is up to John-Paul now to create the tool for to start the experiment. By the way, thanks for the kudos.

27 Jul 08 16:06
It's too bad that items get lost in the back pages and can be missed so easily. For instance I just checked out the studio logs to see what Hanjo had been up to there because it was mentioned here. Great stuff... very interesting but it's the first time I've seen them because I don't go to the studio log pages unless I see something on the home page that sparks my interest. Obviously if I notice that my pal Hanjo has made a new entry I'll check it out. If someone else comes along and makes another entry then that appears on the home page knocking Hanjo's off before I notice it then I'll just plainly miss it. The same thing with comments, although in time because I visit the site usually once a day and take the tour I'm likely to stumble across something I should have seen earlier. Of course one thing I'm never going to miss is "The Best of The Forum" because that stays on the home page for months and even years helping to keep the page lively and interesting.

There must be a way to set up on the home page a recent activities box. This site having a much slower pace then some others would allow for items listed to stay on the home page for quite a while. Sometimes traffic is so slow it could be a good long while, i.e. (date, time) Hanjo added a new Studio Log "Compensation", So and so added a new work/s (title), Arnold added a new entry to "don't bother knockin', etc., etc.. You get the idea and of course all the listings maybe 6 or more are hyper-links to the location. (Maybe it's too difficult, like Hanjo I know nothing about website technicalities.)

But I digress... so Hanjo and Hillel, two geezers are going to carry the day and entertain you all. I've got great hopes for Arnold (another geezer) and of course those two big mouthed broads, Maria and Karen but most of the the youngsters you can't yank a word out of 'em for love or money. And just one other thing J'ais Pis, "cringe" ... "disgust" and / or "nauseous", definitely but "cringe" "CRINGE!!!! (I'm hurt)

28 Jul 08 07:27
Hillel, you once again hit the nail upon it’s head as we would say here. Very goooood suggestion. Unlike you I do not look up ap every day. I simply do not want to get these rectangular eyes from looking on a computer screen all the time (my granma told me that this would happen for to push me out the house saying go play with the mud instead. So it happened that I got knowledge of the brand new and very interesting topic on the forum page only weeks later. An activity box oh my that would be sooo nice. And thanx Hillel that you posted it twice making it as important as possible!
28 Jul 08 09:12
He used his last reserves to slam the heavy door behind hin and sank to the floor absolutely exhausted. Every single breath filled his lungs with pain. He’d never run that fast. Everything was in turmoil outside. This upheaval he couldn’t stand no longer. It was like hell. But finally he made it, he’d reached this shelter. He was safe.
When the pain in his lungs slowly faded away he turned around to lie on his back more comfortable. Here he could sleep for days he knew. If only no one of that Kagan gang was showing up. He carefully listened but no noise, no whisper, no nothing. Not even a mouse. He calmed down. My what a peaceful place this was. Artprocess it was usually called. He had no idea where that came from but nevertheless this was like heaven. No one would ever disturb him. And he sank into slumber with a smile on his face ...

31 Jul 08 08:53
OK Following on Maria's suggestion to put references to the studio log in the artist's gallery, and Hillel needing more forum and SLOG history on the homepage, and removing the fixed pick of the forum. I thought they're probably good suggestions and so I made the changes as they weren't so difficult to do.
Let me know if anything breaks because of the updates please.

Hanjo, reading your recent studio log "what's coming next?" I get the feeling your alter ego is trying to tell you something. I reckon she's saying:

"Keep away from those guys - it'll just mean more trouble - don't tell me you've forgotten already?"

06 Aug 08 21:41
Sorry folks, I've been indisposed. Hanjo I enjoyed your prose above, I'm not sure what you're on about but you've got real style as a writer. I've just looked at your latest studio log project that gives us an advance sneak, peak of your take on JP's latest idea and you're not only a good writer but a producer, director and cinematographer as well. My feeling is that you should go off to Hollywood and join the ranks of Julius Schnabel, David Salle and Robert Longo of painters turned auteur filmmakers. I've also noticed the changes to the home page... very lively! "Good work!" to one and all.

By the way (this should probably go on the bugs page but I'm here already) about making that posting above twice, when I clicked on "reply" after making my comment an "error something or other" came up instead of the usual "thanks for your reply!" so frantic that I shouldn't lose my daft comment I went back a page and thankfully it was still there so I sent it again, later I noticed I had sent it twice.

07 Aug 08 01:16
I've just re-read Hillel's opening message to this thread. It's become so much more meaningful after viewing the interview he mentioned (currently available) at the following URL:


Consider watching the videos and re-read Hillel's comments, and let's discuss more... we've not exhausted this topic yet, by any means.

05 Dec 08 22:52
Much of Bacon's work has a sexual charge whether the imagery is explicit or not and I think that's the reason it's fascinating. Actually it was the work of our very own Hanjo Schmidt that twigged me to contemplate the nature of what I call "charged work". I liked a sense of perverse sexual energy in his double female paintings. I know he has made statements against what he calls "pornographication" of the nude in art and I believe he's sincere in what he's said however it's my own perception (viewer's prerogative) and I found it very interesting.

Then I thought about other artists of interest in that regard like Schiele and Freud. With Freud it feels more repressed and for me the work is more perverse than Schiele's whose work is much more sexually overt. Then again maybe in Freud's case it's just a contrivance of some kind because his name is "Freud" but I really don't believe that. Pornography bores me but there was a certain charge to early porn right up to the 1950s when it wasn't so formulated and explicit. What I've become interested in is what it is that creates a charged image. Going back in my mind to areas of my own experience I've been experimenting with the pieces I call "The Intimate Moment".

I'd be very interested in getting Hanjo's opinions and feelings about the big Bacon retrospective that he recently attended at the Tate and I thank him for being the inspiration for my latest work and for the postcards from London.

12 Dec 08 00:59
Oh it would have been much better to ask me what my opinions and feelings were about that almost countless amount of backs and backs of heads of all kind. Of course it was packed on Saturday and Sunday. But as I could see on Tuesday and Wednesday as well it was packed the same way every day. So in the end I had to attend one of the early morning viewings for members only, to learn that there were various paintings hanging on the walls.
Well, first of all I sensed this extraordinary sacred atmosphere this man creates with his paintings. And it’s not only the use of triptychs or the massive golden frames the paintings are in or the sheet of glass in front of every one of the extremely sensitive surfaces. It also is the colours, in particular the orange red and black, the presentating composition, the powdery surface of the paint, the mystery of the theme and the hint at martyrdom that produces this sacred air. So this declared lifelong atheist (god bless him for that) creates more of a sacred fluidum than the catholic church and Rothko together. That’s impressive. By the way, in the Tate Modern there is this big Rothko retrospective running simultaneous and you can experience that Bacon was absolutely right in saying that Rothko makes you depressive and not elevated or whatever.

Okay, let’s skip Freud and Schiele and jump directly to that questionable remark Mr. Schmidt once made somewhere. As far as I know it was not about „pornographication" of the nude in art but about „pornographication" of the human body. And I slightly have the impression that there is some kind of difference in it.

I don’t think that the depiction of the nude in whatever explicit state is pornographic in the sense of how we use that term nowadays. And it’s very clear that from the very beginning of art the depiction of the nude always had a sexual connotation concealed with alegoric and mythological themes. And all of this is pretty much okay even though for me it is a bit boring after all these centuries. And if somebody finds that in a still life the combination of a tomato and a toe are sexually charged why bother? What I was talking about some decades ago was the fixation of the body as a sexual thing ONLY, which consequently in the end leads to headscarfs and burkas and separation of the sexes and this I think is highly pornographic.

Well, as a sculptor (what I actually am, the painter is only camouflage) I’m interested in the design of the human body. Just have a look at a simple leg, it’s incredible. And as a painter (what I actually am, the sculptor is just a reminiscence) I’m interested in the surfaces of things. So that’s why the sexual connotation in a nude is not that interesting for me and not my theme. But if even that comes out as being sexually charged for some viewers ... why not? By the way, for me not the depiction of the naked body is that exiting but situations. That’s why I prefer texts more than images.

Okay, now I have to look for some breakfast.

12 Dec 08 05:47
I read your comment on Bacon, Hillel, and agreed with you, although I think the intense air that one senses in Bacon's paintings is not only because they are "sexually charged", but because one feels to have entered a forbidden territory common to all of us, but horrifying in what it implies, we look , we participate, we remain silent in the same room where something terrible has happened , or is about to occur.It has to do with the animal part of ourselves that we don't like, but are certain to have. Violence and sex have always been related.
The way in which his figures are caged under a potent light makes me feel not only their being alone but also being exposed, exposed to my gaze, I feel the voyeur and the torturer at the same time. And the terrible doubt , why do I keep looking at it??? arises. These and many other uncomfortable images of oneself float in his closed rooms like a magnifying mirror and this makes us all confront an idea of ourselves that has nothing to do with the image of rational humans we try to display daily. Bacon in its contained images, or in the most explosive is saying "this is what we are..." we like it or not, admit it or not, it is the truth. He once said " (..) the greatest art always returns you to the vulnerability of the human situation." When I see his paintings they always impress me and make me think how fragile we are, and how complicated .
I am looking forward to see the show here in Madrid in February, and take a close look at his portraits, not for the colours, not for the design but for what he thought connected his work to Velázquez and Rembrandt, "the fact that every successful portrait contains a reminder of death: "you feel the shadow of life passing all the time" .

14 Dec 08 09:37
Karen, I think you're bang on in your assessment of Bacon at his best and you've said it beautifully. When an artist has had the impact that Bacon has I think it's important to try to understand what it is that gives power to their work. Not for the purpose of emulation which particularly in the case of Bacon would be a ridiculous endeavor but for the purpose of growing one's own art. What comes across to me in our discussion here is that the best art comes from one's own life experiences. The thing is to be honest and true to oneself. Matisse for instance was obviously not an angst ridden person but he painted what was for him of intense interest or pleasure. Some people may trivialize his art as sugar coated confection but he produced a great amount of diverse and honest work. I recall visiting the MoMA in NYC and coming across his paintings The Red Studio and The Piano Lesson and receiving that same jolt of surprise I felt when I first saw Bacon's Three Studies for Figures at The Base of a Crucifixion at the Tate. Obviously no two artists could have more different natures but to quote Hughes "the shock of the new" was the same and I believe both artists wanted to create beautiful, luscious work. Bacon does have that extra charge of (as you say) violence and sex. That was the nature of his life, you can't fake it.

To come back to something I said at the start of this discussion not everything Bacon produced was of equal quality, he self admittedly produced plenty of works that missed the mark, as do all artists, especially the successful ones who are under pressure to produce great amounts of work to meet market demands. After a while they start parodying themselves and there's no doubt Bacon did that but he certainly produced more than his fair share of memorable works.

15 Dec 08 01:05
Hillel has shown me his, so I've got to show him mine...I've uploaded some old stuff on the studio log site, (tho I'd like to be able to use a photo with a comment ANYWHERE on this site, JP!)
I hope I've been provocative in my selection! I'd certainly like to offend somebody...in the artworld we have always had one theme and one thousand opinions!
Well, that's it. My feet are on the table. I'm getting pleasantly intimate with a bottle of French Cabernet, thinking about tomorrow, a Studio day, when I get to put some more touches on that vase of sunflowers I've been painting.

20 Dec 08 06:12
Thanks Arnold, that's what I was looking for, all that oozy, dribbley, painterly type stuff and from what I could see they look great. More Rauschenberg, Johns and even Rivers than I would have thought, your process and inspirations are interesting to me. Why not upload those images and more with (if possible) some better quality 150k jpegs into your portfolio so we can enlarge them for a better view and comment on them individually.

I see no one has made comment on "10000 Faces..." yet. I posted it not only because I thought it was a loving portrayal but you bring up some issues that haven't been covered yet on AP. I'll give it another day or so but if no one else comments I'll have to bore you all once again with my personal insights.

21 Dec 08 01:03
I'm very eager to listen to Anna's broadcast however I'm a having a bit of a technical glitch as the audio for that page isn't working for me. I'll try later when my son finishes his stategy gaming on his fancy new computer to see if I can listen to it there.
I hear Arnold's suggestion for the possibility to make comments. It's not the first time either that it's been proposed. Originally, I had figured the studio log to be just the artist talking his audience through the evolution of the making of an artpiece - a place where the artist wouldn't be interrupted, with enough silent space to concentrate on presenting the process. I'll have to review that when I come back to doing the next version of that part of the site.
In the meantime, I tend to agree with Hillel that the "upload artwork" ([LINK]http://artprocess.net/upload[/LINK]) area is more suitable to presenting finished artworks (dimensions, materials etc). There the work gets added to the general bank of art images that appear randomly on the site, are sent as email images to the artprocess community, and are resized for viewing in different contexts. You also have the possibility of adding and responding to comments.
It's not related to the discussion, but I'm currently working on adding an artist event section which is basically the same sort of idea but with a slant towards exhibitions, one-off projects, past shows etc.
Thanks again to Hillel for pushing Arnold to upload those earlier paintings along with the very interesting introduction to each.

21 Dec 08 11:16
I am thrilled.
Is anyone of you familiar with the work of William Kentridge? Well, I wasn't till I saw sculpture, drawings and film of his, last week in Athens.
Wow. It changed my life again. Look him up if you don't know his work. I'd like to talk about it.

04 Jul 09 18:49
I have watched a number of videos of Kentridge's work on y-tube this morning ,thanks to you Maria.And yes it is wonderful to discover an artist like that,a good word for me to describe him is humane.How was the rest of ''Heaven'' ?
06 Jul 09 10:52
I don't think I have seen Heaven. I saw the whole of the Magic Flute live, which is devine, and I got a big book on his work with a DVD showing parts of his studio work and the film Tide Table which is also wonderful. I think I will be looking for more literature on his work. Isn't it something else when the element of time and music are bound with drawing?
17 Jul 09 19:47
The phone rang, I picked it up "Hillaiiillll?", it was my friend Sean. "Whatsup man?" I asked. He replied. "We're invited out for lunch so meet me at my studio at 12:30." When I asked him what the occasion was, he answered, "Rosie Myer wants to arrange a show for us in New York and also do a piece about the group in her magazine. We're supposed to meet at The Sweet Vidalia." Ms Meyer had been publisher and editor of The Canadian Art Rag for going on (to her credit for keeping the thing alive) twenty five years and The Sweet Vidalia was a pricey, trendy spot in one of the city's gallery areas. "Well what's the deal Sean, what's in it for her, what's her angle?" I asked. "Why do you have to be so cynical," He said. "she happens to love what our group is about and the work we do and she's bringing some hot shot art dealer from New York who wants to promote it and sell it, but never mind that shit just get over here, Bogdonovich is coming and no matter what this thing comes to, at the very least it's good for free drinks and lunch, so shut up and meet me at my place, Kagan." Easily intimidated and bullied, I got on a bus and headed for Sean's.

!2:30 pm and as per usual I was bang on time and Godfrey answered the door to Sean's studio. "Yeah c'mon in man we're all goin' for lunch... Rosie Meyer's payin'!" "That's why I'm here." I responded, "How's things Godfrey?" Meantime I'm thinking 'What the hell is he doing here?' Godfrey gave up full time painting and part time drinking for full time drinking and part time painting years ago. He answered, "Real good man, the Suffingtons commisioned a piece and Moira Goodwyn wants to give me a one man show in September." I said. "Good going Godfrey my man, where's Sean?" He said that he'd be back in a minute, that he'd just gone out to get some smokes. "You know you can't trust him dontcha?" What are you taking about Godfrey?"I asked and he answered. "I"m talkin' about Sean and all his holy and sentimental artist bullshit. How he loves his brother and sister artists with big tears welling up in his eyes." I asked him what he was getting at and he replied, "Well didn't you ever hear about Bernard Klandoff's opening where he got right down on his knees like a rabid dog and bit Bernie's ankle until he drew blood? How's that for his good will to his fellow artists?" I told him that I knew all about it as did everyone else in the city's art scene. The story had taken on legendary proportions, the event was a three man show and I happened to have been one of the three, Bernie had to be rushed to the hospital for tetanus shots and stitches. "But Sean tries to keep a lid on that side of himself... he's a good guy." I went on. "Oh, for sure I love him like a brother." Said Godfrey.

Sean returned and I asked him where Bogdonovich was and he said we were meeting him at the restaurant. We finished off a big jug of Italian white, had a few smokes and some convivial art conversation and started heading to the restaurant. While we were walking I got Sean privately and asked him why Godfrey was coming along (he was never part of our loose knit group that had shown together at various publicly funded and regional galleries). "Well he just happened to pay me a visit, what was I going to do, don't worry he doesn't want to be in the show, he's just after the drinks and lunch... what's the difference Rosie's paying, besides she writes it all off as a business expense." Well that makes sense, I thought to myself except I have never understood the whole thing about writing it off, (writing what off?) and business expenses and so on and so forth.

When we arrived Bogdonavich was already sitting with Rosie and the NY big shot at a table on the terrace. Greetings and introductions were made. The New York dealer was a great big tall guy with a huge mustache, he was wearing a white suit, a black silk shirt and what looked like some kind of giant red cape, like Batman or Superman and surprisingly he didn't speak a word of English. Apparently Jose was a famous Brazilian artist who now resided in New York. The waiter asked if we'd like anything to drink. "Scotch, make it a double." Demanded Godfrey. Rosie somehow provided translation for Jose who wanted the same, she ordered a glass of wine and the rest of us, beers. The talk that ensued mainly had to do with the famous Jose. From her briefcase Rosie produced a book, some kind of monograph written in Portuguese, all about her famous guest. Filled with pictures of him and his art, it was handed around the table, Sean and I sent each other a look... like what's this all about? Something was beginning to smell funny, meanwhile Godfrey was ordering another drink.

Now an oversized brochure was produced from Rosie's briefcase and passed around the table. "The Jose de L.............. Gallery, NYC Invite You to Exhibit at His Fabulous, Newly Renovated Downtown Manhattan Space...........(bottom line $2000 US weekly). It appears that our esteemed visitor was not only a great and famous Brazilian artist but had somehow or other acquired a neglected downtown, near to Soho, Church which judging from the pictures was badly in need of repair, although to be fair all pews, pulpits and other church furnishings had been removed and I'm fairly sure sold. At that point the waiter was at the table inquiring whether we were ready to order, Godfrey didn't hesitate. "Steak frits my good fellow!" I bent across the table. "Psst.... hey Sean you crazy bugger, you do realize we're being pitched here, are you sure she's picking up the tab?" He gave me a sheepish look that answered all, I told the waiter I wasn't quite ready to order and I excused myself and headed for the gent's room where amongst other things I intuitively transferred the $25 bucks I had in my wallet into my shoe. When I returned Godfrey was in fine form, he must have been on his fourth double and his unusually deep baritone voice was filling the room as he expounded on the failure of Abstract Expressionism to measure up to its promise.

The food arrived. Was I ready to order yet? No, and I continued to nurse my beer, Sean had done likewise as did Bogdonovich, no fool, who had cottoned on fairly quickly. Now what? Jose and Rosie whispered to each other amorously, it was apparent that Jose was an acquisition of the older Rosie, it had come up earlier during conversation that he was staying at her place. While they dug into their linguini and clams she asked if we were interested in booking the space. "Well, what about the article in Canadian Art Rag?" Sean asked. "For sure, a centre piece article," She said. "It will help publicize the show, of course we'll be looking for your group to buy a full page ad in the magazine." Now I knew that between all of our group we couldn't afford to buy lunch, never mind finance a show in New York and when I informed Rosie of that fact and also the fact that even if we were able to come up with the funds, I personally wouldn't bet a penny on my chances or the group's. After that things took a turn and became more subdued, those that were eating finished up. Rosie excused herself to go to the washroom and a little later a grinning Jose indicated he had to do likewise.

Cut to the chase, neither reappeared but the waiter did, with the bill. "The lady and the very tall man with the mustache said you gentlemen would take care of this." He said very politely as he retreated. The bill came to $150 and as I suspected everyone left at the table was completely broke except myself who, not that it would save us from our situation had $25 in my shoe. "Call Ziggy Sieglemeyer, he's got a credit card," said Sean. Sieglemeyer was a group associate and everyone knew his family provided him with his truck and just enough money to get by. He was gotten hold of, did appear and did rescue us from our embarrassing dilemma with everyone's assurance of paying him back shortly. Thereafter we all dispersed, Sean and Bogdonovich having things to do downtown and heading in that direction. Godfrey and myself going in the same direction as Ziggy, took a ride with him in his truck. Passing the beer store, Godfrey pleaded with Ziggy to stop and run on in and get us a case of 24, he was already in this far for a lunch, the day was still young and another few bucks for a few beers which of course we would pay back wouldn't mean that much to him.

Beers in tow, we headed to Sieglemeyer's studio where we supped the 24 bottles of beer, continued our conversation on art that rapidly descended into an ardent evangelical sermon by the recently born again Godfrey who had his own special take on the whole thing. The main thrust being, that all you had to do was be born again in Jesus, accept him into your heart and all your sins were forgiven, a clean slate... which was a perfect deal for Godfrey because you could wake up and be reborn in the morning, descend to sin in the afternoon, fall asleep dead drunk in the evening and be reborn once again the following morning. Later when I regained consiousness I found that Godfrey had already slipped off to wherever Godfrey went and I asked Ziggy back to mine, for the lift of course but also to repay him with dinner because I knew he'd never see a cent of the money he'd spent to bail us out from the restaurant and I also knew I had $25 in my shoe that I needed to last for the remainder of the week. We got to my place where my ever patient wife retrieved a lasagna from the freezer for her unexpected dinner guest and Ziggy and I went outside with a full bottle of scotch to await dinner. We talked about all manner of things and drank the whole bottle and ate the whole lasagna. it was at that point with all that beer and liquor in me that I began to wax on eloquently to Ziggy about what a bunch of losers and failures we artists all were and how none of it meant shit and that the biggest success in our local scene amounted to a big fat zero in the long run, I was even making myself sick. Sieglemeyer's face was becoming redder and redder, until finally he exploded with, "Well you might be a loser but I'm not, so go fuck yourself Kagan." and he stormed off.

The next day Sean called me, not to ask how I'd enjoyed my "free" lunch yesterday or anything else about the previous day's events but rather for disillusioning Ziggy who had already called him to inform on me and tell him what a downer I was. "You know," Sean said to me in a very disappointed manner, "Kagan, me and you, we're older guys who have been around the block a few times. We know what's what and we can take the truth but Ziggy's still a kid so don't destroy his aspirations." "That's fair enough Sean," I began, "but he's only a year or so younger than myself." "Yeah," said Sean, "however he's still an innocent so don't destroy his hope. Why are you so cynical?" "Beats the hell out me." I said, "You tell me...yeah, PLEASE tell me." (the end)

(A totally true artists' story, the names are fictitious. Your questions, comments or own personal artist stories are welcome.)

14 Mar 08 02:25
I’m absolutely floored by this story. And I am quite sure that this extraordinary talent for writing did not emerge over night. So there must be some drawers filled with piles of paper containing stories like this one if not more ... books perhaps.
Well, that’s why I am ordering at least three copies of the book „An Artist’s Life“ and another three copies (one always need gifts you know) of „Seen Through a Bottle“ written by our astonishing author.
I am very thankful to you Hillel, for opening the literary section of this website.

15 Mar 08 10:58
Thanks Hanjo, my thoughts exactly.
15 Mar 08 12:47
Thanks, Maria and Hanjo. Believe me, I'm no writer, I do however have enormous respect for those that are. People like, you'll enjoy this Hanjo, Philip Roth, that guy has quite a mind. However at my age I do have many untold stories, memories that stand out in my imagination, as I'm sure we all do. These personal stories tell as much if not more about art and the art world as as does the work we do. Really, before Art Process I never wrote anything. When I started writing about this particular memory I was quite surprised to see it take the form it did. I truly hope it will encourage others to tell their tales, it could have the effect of adding another dimension to AP beyond the usual comments of "Love your work." and "Thanks very much." that are starting to get very stale.
16 Mar 08 01:05
Well, Hillel yesterday I went crazy looking for those books in internet, I would have ordered one too if I would have found it. But I found nothing, where did he get the information? this german old fox! The titles were so convincing! Finally I found out I had been fooled by Monsieur Hanjo, who must have had a good time,laughing in his studio...
I must say that I enjoyed the anecdote too, your ironic sense of humour and the natural way you write about things,makes reading very easy and amusing, you should start another career right now, who knows? maybe you even have fun... one thing is sure, you will not suffer as much as painting, and we will all buy the books!

16 Mar 08 11:29
Thanks Karen, but even though that rascal Hanjo has provided me with a couple of very good suggestions for book titles, there will be no second careers for me, I'll stick with painting. I have more than three people who collect my work now and I don't think that the sale of nine books would be sufficient to keep a publisher happy, or myself in liquor money. Any writing I do will be strictly for this site and we all know what that pays, in any case here's another true story.


Bill was one of the elder statesmen of the Canadian art scene. Coming of age in the 1950s he was one of the young turks that shocked the very provincial art world of that time by following the lead of their contemporaries in New York. Their access to that work came mostly from magazines like Art in America, Art News and Art Forum to name a few. Bill being Bill, was a bit noisier and more flamboyant than the others, there was a bit of show biz running through his veins. Having greater ambition than is usually the case he went to live in New York and did achieve success there, finding a place with the well known and established Gallerist, Sam Kootz. His fall from grace and New York is good for another story and not my intention here. Let's just say that his return to Canada and his nationalistic spin for returning to his native land was enough to ensure his success here for years to come.

In my youth and as an art student, I would go to (the then) Art Gallery of Toronto and I loved Bill's work above the work of his peers. It wasn't until 1990 that I finally met him at his studio. He seemed to like me. Why not? I stroked his ego, told him what an important influence he had been for me and how superior he was to the rest of his gang. He agreed with everything I had to say, told me to go pick a painting and after he complimented me for my good taste because I had picked the best one, proceeded to title and sign it. My house is filled with my own work and my wife's work and a few other pieces by friends. The small painting Bill gave me is I'm sure, monetarily at least, my most valuable piece of art.

For about seven years, from 1987 to 1994 I had worked on and off, on a series of paintings that I called The Struggling Figures, a few of them are in my portfolio on this site. Although I had shown some here and there during those years, I had a full show of them in 1992 at a now defunct gallery (good for another story). Bill was invited to the opening which was a loud raucous affair, filled with a great many drunken artists including myself but of course as it was not his opening, he didn't show up. However later on during the show's run I was called upon to give a tour and speak about my work to an organized group of art enthusiasts in the evening after closing time. It was also arranged by the dealer that on the same evening, after the group had left, Bill would make an appearance and view my work. It was a known fact that Bill never gave compliments to other artists so I wasn't expecting much in that department but was interested in what he would have to say. At 9 p.m. his great hulking frame, supported by a cane in each hand entered the establishment. We shook hands and started to walk around the gallery together, all the while I couldn't help noticing that he was muttering under his breath. Eventually the mutterings began to become discernible, "Nice stuff!, Good shit!... Fuckin' good shit!" I thought it must be my imagination. Finally we came to the end of the show and the last painting, turning to me he said, right out loud, to my amazement and humility, "This is fuckin' good work, it'll make you famous. Maybe not right away, it might take ten years or so." my face was reddening and my head was spinning and then, his voice growling, he added, "Why dontcha paint these guys naked with giant sized cocks and enormous balls, that'll make you famous right now!"

16 Mar 08 15:16
In Greece, being an artist (meaning most often broke), allows you to run your business without having to pay for social security. And of course government allow themselves to cause you a lot of trouble when it comes to offer their health services.

So, please, Kagan, next time you are up to such a story, warn people it is advised not to read with a mouth full or serious chocking may be caused.

Love you man.

16 Mar 08 17:57

Ok, this is how it is. I shall not try to tell you what happened to me as I walked the halls of The Prado and stood in front of the great masters nor will I uncover to you the mystic spell Paula Rego cast on me. As every good Greek knows, you don’t want Apollo’s rage raised and his grace withdrawn by revealing the initiation ceremony of his Mystai in his shrine. But I can tell you of this episode that had me thinking how time goes round in circles, dragging human experience along. And as we spin on our times sometimes we get so close to other figures and consciences who spin on their own parallel circle. So close yet so far in time.

As seldom, if not hardly ever, things happen by coincidence, books and films and articles kept falling on my lap considering the ruby red, blood soaked years of Spanish history at the turn of the century Goya lived in. So, like a diner who slowly concentrates on each and every course only to postpone and thus enhance the sweetness of after dinner fine sherry, I made my way through the Prado till time was ripe to enter the gallery of “Las Pinturas Negras”. Alone. The first time. There they stood, in three rooms, rather small in relation to the ample halls where the great Velasquez hung, rather human proportioned, and rather dark; with the smell of grand mother’s curtains, always drawn to protect the antique dining room furniture from the light of the street. Or the eyes of it.

Haunted by those images and the feelings that borne them I waited three days before I practically dragged Hanjo by the arm, to go and see them. I suppose I must have ruined them for him because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. Such was my passion and urgency to make sure that he felt what I did, that I kept “explaining” them to him. Look at the tragedy of the Duel with cudgels. How these tow men, brothers, are suspended in time and in the air, eternally exchanging bloody blows, with no legs to run, not any more, not after the madness war has inflicted on them. Can you hear the jaws crack? Can you smell the blood of the gums? Look at the land bellow The Fates turning yellow with poison as they hover over it. Yellow and black. Acid and poisoned. Do you smell it? Smell the sulphur as it burns. LOOK. Look close; hear them coming. They are close now; just behind that hill. Hear the hissing sound of their skirts. They are the Procession of the Holy Office; do you know what they do to you? What they have done? Their hissing skirts on the ground make you cold, don’t they? Poor Dog. But I stand here watching. I watch the Pilgrimage to San Isidro. I watch this human serpent of fools come advancing my way. I watch their contorted faces chanting their stupidity and madness and decay out of tune. Are they the same majas and majos of some past luminous times? How they are degraded. I watch them, after everything has been said and done, and I think all they have always been worthy of is to shrink in front of The Great he-goat. They will be forever led by him.
And so I frown; and my head bends slightly downwards and my lower lip moves forward and my chin gets harder and my eyes stare under my eyebrows with severity and contempt.

And then I saw it. Behind Hanjo’s back, in a dark corner of the room I hadn’t noticed the first time, was a bust of Goya, sculpted by some 19th century artist, of some dark stone, almost black as I recall. It was looking at me straight in the eye giving me precisely that look.

30 Mar 08 16:23

Once in a while I get up the nerve to go gallery hunting, make the prerequisite phone calls and try to get an appointment to come in and see the gallery director with slides to get something going. Such was the occasion a number of years back when I managed to get permission to send packages to four galleries. Some time passed and I called the particular galleries and was told by three of them I could come in and pick my slides up, they would be at the front desk. The fourth hadn't had the chance to look at them yet and the following week she still hadn't the time to sneak a peak. The week after that when I called I was simply told, after being put on hold for a couple of minutes, to come in and pick up my package.

It was late afternoon when I shuffled into CG's gallery to redeem my property. The receptionist told me to just go on in to the back office, CG's private realm. Walking into her office the first thing I noticed was that CG was seated behind her desk with a small throng of people seated and standing about her in rapt attention to whatever it was she was talking about. She seemed to be holding court of some kind but I have no idea what it was all about or who the people were. Apprentice gallerists perhaps? Politely I stood at the doorway and waited for her to finish her sermon. When she finally did she looked up and spotted me. "Hillel Kagan." I announced. "Oh yes," she said, "I have your slides right here." As I approached her desk she offhandedly remarked to the group that, "This is a perfect example of what I"ve been speaking about". Handing me my slides she continued to expound, saying while pointing a finger at me. "Here is a very good, substantial artist who really knows what he's doing". All eyes were on me as she continued." Yet unfortunately for whatever reason, the poor fellow seems to have missed the boat... he's just too old! The ship has come and set sail and he just just wasn't aboard. Now it's simply too late!" The whole group was viewing me like some kind of exotic species at the zoo. "You do realize that I'm standing right here." I said, to absolutely no response and continued stares. Turning on my heels, my package under my arm I walked out of her office and gallery.

On my way home, I tried to figure it out. It was very embarrassing, the whole episode was atrocious, her behavior abysmal, and I was quite angry. She'd caught me unawares, I should have given her what for, but I was too stunned, I'll call her when I get home. No, I should write a letter and tell her in great and explicit detail what an asshole she is. Instead I did nothing and some eighteen years later I've come to realize just how astute she was.

07 Apr 08 23:10
I know how you feel about time passing and things that you longed to have happened still haven't ,and things I should have achieved I haven't been able to yet ,but I think I will go off my rocker if I for a minute think of giving up.I hope I\m reading you correctlly.You seem to be in such an inward retrospective mood and I like reading all these very bravely expressed experiences.

08 Apr 08 18:53
Well Fotini I'm glad you've responded as you have because it gives us a chance to talk about failure and that's something that most of us have to deal with. In America, as you know, success is everything and of course the success they speak of equals $. Perhaps we artists measure success differently, actually I'm sure we do. Our needs are really quite small, enough to get by to continue what we do. A place to live and work, food, a well stocked liquor cabinet (at least for half of us, marijuana for the rest). We don't covet fame but unfortunately that's how the art market works. Fame = sales. The main job of a gallery is to make their artists famous to ensure income for themselves and the artists, no fame, no name, no gain. In my experience the artists are much better at their job than the galleries are at theirs.

Just as amongst any group there are some artists (a very small minority) gifted with a natural entrepreneurial and positive go getter attitudes. The galleries love those types because it makes their job so much easier. When a person like myself walks into a gallery I'm very conscious of the fact that their (the gallerists') experienced noses smell out the stench of failure very quickly. They might not know much about art but of that particular odour they're genuine connoisseurs. After years of failure in even making the slightest dent in the commercial marketplace I began to feel a change take place in my innermost feelings, the failure and futility started to rob the art process of its fun. The general gloom turned what was once my most joyous activity into arduous labour. From time to time I could rid myself of those black, impotence causing thoughts and free myself temporarily of my paralysis and squeak out a work. More often my anger and feeling of futility created in me a rebellion to even begin to measure, a childish desire to say "I won't, it's too hard, you can't make me." thus masochistically depriving myself of my only genuine pleasure... being lost in a world of measurement and comparison where time evaporates

So how does one deal with this almost inevitable failure? As far as I'm concerned you confront it dead on. When CG said my ship had sailed there was some truth to it. Yes it was a pretty horrible way to treat another human being but I understand her perspective. She doesn't understand much about art but she does play an odds game in her business. It's not that I'm hopeless, the thing about art is it always has the capacity to surprise, nobody really knows where it's going to come from next. So I do have hope, it's just that I've learned to carry on without expectations. Mine were never that great anyway, my biggest ambition was just to be part of the dialogue in some way. I hadn't made the connection early on between fame and artistic livelihood but I did know that I had to have my own alternate strategies for dealing with that. Being older now I've gone through enough of those black periods of anxiety, melancholy, dread and yes hopelessness to know that somehow or other I always come through it, working at yet another attempt at painting my masterpiece.

Finally, thanks for your comment about being brave but bravery has nothing to with it. When one is speaking openly to one's friends bravery isn't even an issue. There's an intimacy to our experiences that I know is shared by most of us so why hide anything. The democracy of this site has at least given me the opportunity to realize one of my ambitions, it may not be the way I envisioned it but I am part of the dialogue.

08 Apr 08 23:34
I am new to this site, but I have a story which may be of interest, being as we are all artists, gathered around a virtual table, slightly drunk...
Back in 1988 I was in London, Eng.,taking in the museums and gallerys and culture in general. I met a young man, a recent graduate of Goldsmith's College, who was on a similar quest for the elusive Heart of Light! His name was Damien Hirst and, tho he was much younger than I, we became good friends in a short time.
we hooked up and bonded and did the Art Tour together, and drank profusely together, and pledged that whichever of us hit it big, we would share equally in each other's success.
We even traveled together as far as Majorca , where we played and vacationed as good friends will. One day we discovered on the beach the carcasses of
two sharks,washed up the night before. I had one taken off by the local fishermen, to be cut up into steaks, and, well...the rest is History!

12 Apr 08 22:44
Welcome Arnold, and thanks for a very amusing story. If you could produce a story like that while slightly intoxicated I can't wait to see what you may offer us when you're completely hammered.

Having just visited MyArtInfo where I saw some of your very exciting and original work, I encourage you to upload some additional images here. It's always great to have another drunk at our virtual table.

16 Apr 08 17:56

It has long been an ambition of mine to paint while in a complete state of drunkenness. The reason I bring this up is I noticed that j-p said something about drinking and painting, having to do with myself, in the description of his latest Studio Log "Beer Box Drawing". There does seem to be a connection between the making of art and a taste for strong drink. Personally I don't think I've ever known an artist, at least an artist who's work I like who wasn't a drinker. Pot smoking artists just don't do it for me although they do from time to time produce something of interest. Artists that mainline heroin have my respect but I've known too few of them to form a definite opinion. Artists who abstain from all drugs and liquor are of absolutely no interest. Like all people who claim that they don't need stimuli and are capable of getting high on life itself, they are not to be trusted. They live a lie and their art shows it, the need for drink and other hallucinants being natural for every being, human or animal, on this planet.

That being said I have never been able to paint in a state of complete inebriation and I consider that to be my main failing as an artist. Limiting both my output and prospects. M, one of my very best friends is a painter. He's one of those artists who cannot do without the support of a dealer or gallerist. He doesn't care how much they screw him because without them he loses motivation. For instance they might come up with a scheme for him to produce a series of limited edition prints or works on paper for a hastily put together show and larger canvases for a bigger show down the road. Sometimes there are clients that just want a piece so they can donate it later at a higher valuation from the same dealer in the near future. A win for the artist, the dealer, the buyer and presumably the receiving institution, it's what is commonly known in the business as a win-win-win-win. M needs these schemes to provide the impetus to create, otherwise he would just drink from boredom. When he has a project, like let's say the production of fifty works on paper to be done within a couple of weeks, he's happy as a lark. The dealer provides M with quality watercolour paper and more importantly with a two week supply of four litre jugs of red wine, his preferred beverage for drawings, watercolours and all works on paper. He starts working early and drinks the wine constantly all day and never seems to become intoxicated. He doesn't mind company and people come and go all day long. He goes through a jug a day until the assignment is completed.

Larger paintings are a different story and when he has a commitment, the dealer knows that as part of his investment he must provide M with all the material needed. Stretched canvases, paints, brushes, etc. But the most important provision and before any serious work can take place is the provision of a couple of cases of liquor, additional cases may be needed depending on the amount of work required. Perhaps because he sees the large paintings on canvas as being more serious he requires the hard liquor to break down his inhibitions. People are no longer welcome in his studio. He locks himself in there for as long as three months, calling only the dealer, should he need additional provisions. He doesn't answer the telephone yet it's during those times that one is likely to receive calls from M at odd times like 3 o'clock in the morning. It's a one sided conversation where he just babbles incoherently. As he'll only call back if you hang up, I've learned to just put the phone in the drawer next to my bed and let him talk to himself until he drops off. The truth is I'm in awe of his ability to work completely smashed. Please don't think I haven't tried, I've invested plenty in art material and liquor (which I am lobbying the government for to be considered a legitimate art material and tax write off) but I've never been able to pull it off. Unfortunately, unlike M, booze doesn't compel me to paint. For me it's the opposite, painting compels me to booze. This I view as just another one of my multitude of failures as a human being and artist. Try as I may, I seem to need all my faculties to proceed with my endeavors and sometimes if the work is going poorly that means succumbing to my need for alcohol very quickly. Liquor is my reward for making progress, I try to work as much as I can and if I have indeed made some progress then I am surely entitled to my drink. No progress entitles me to drinking for the sake of drowning my sorrows, as I ask such pertinent and eternal questions as, "will I ever be able to paint again, how did I ever do anything before, has it all been an illusion, have I lost my raison d'etre, etc., etc?" Such thinking necessitates the need for more and more liquor. M is my best friend for a number of reasons but I must point out that the main reason is his ability to work while imbibing. I certainly don't love him for the work he produces which at least to me, looks like the scratchings and markings of a drunken lunatic.

There are women artists out there whom I know will jump on these statements as yet another example of male artist posturing. Just some more of that machismo hard drinking artist persona that is so passe. Let me assure them, as I have others, that for me there is absolutely no sexism involved whatsoever and I have enjoyed the company of my drunken female artist friends equally to that of my drunken male artist friends. No, let me take that back, I have enjoyed the company of my drunken female artist friends infinitely more so. So please don't hold that against me as I ask you as I have myself... why can't we paint (and live) perpetually drunk?

22 Apr 08 02:26

Last Sunday was Greek Orthodox Easter. This means I closed the school from Friday to Tuesday. Which, in turn, means that I was home alone all day for four entire days. So I did nothing but walk the dog, eat and PAINT.

I have been painting for four days and nothing disrupted me. It was such an adventure… Friday work was good; Saturday went bad and I was depressed all Sunday, but I put the canvas away and started three little portraits through Monday. That felt much better. Yesterday, waiting for the portraits to dry a bit, I started painting over an old, horrible, disastrous creature and there came out this very promising figure, bathed in light, I can hardly tell where she came from. She is proceeding well and I won’t rush her. I suppose she is so light and fresh because I painted her without having great expectations. Thinking too much is such a disastrous habit. Waiting for a new canvas, I made this little preparatory drawing of a two figure composition which, I expect, will be another interesting trip that will keep me busy for at least a couple of months. I am planning to take my time with this one and force myself not to think so much while painting this time.

My only other activity these days has been reading a collection of Matisse’s sayings and writings, a gift by a student. This fellow worked day and night and these days I remembered what it feels like. I find myself thinking about painting twenty four hours a day and I feel so much at home.
Next Monday life will try to take over again. Will I be able to face it?

01 May 08 20:08
Maria, you know I love you for your earnestness and romanticism but thinking about painting twenty four hours a day does not a great artist make. As you know, I'm a great believer in moderation and an artist must also be a well rounded person. You must learn to divide your time, at least half of which should be spent on completely debauched activities involving huge amounts of liquor (I understand that ouzo is quite inexpensive in Greece) and multiple sexual couplings and groupings. As you quite rightly say thinking too much is such a disastrous habit and what better way to start killing off those nasty brain cells than by taking my suggestion to heart. The other benefit of course, is the remorse, shame, guilt, self revulsion and suicidal thoughts the mind produces after a healthy episode of debauchery. These are all important emotions to pour into the soon to be great art you will create after the hangovers and physical sickness recede and you have a few minutes to concentrate with fewer brain cells in the studio.
02 May 08 01:32

Walking on the street I happened to meet an old neighbour who lived in the same building as I did close to forty years ago. Besides for that connection I remembered that he had been an associate of Jack. "How's Jack?" I asked. "We buried him a couple of weeks ago." He replied and knowing that this particular fellow works for a funeral home, I knew that when he said "we" to take it literally. It was sad news that got me thinking about Jack with whom I'd lost contact quite a few years before and who according to my old neighbour had been in a constant care facility for the past couple of years.

So who was Jack and why do I bring him up in the context of this art dialogue? Well let me put it this way, Jack was an artist and for all his obscurity and living on the margins of all society was an integral part of the art scene. Allow me to supply some personal history. Jack was familiar to me from my relatively very young years when I first started to make a study of art. He never missed an opening, as much for the dainties being served as the art being shown. His presence was always there wherever art was shown in the city. Somehow or other he became a friend to my stepmother who was herself an amateur artist, she also cooked and baked and I think that's what the real attraction for Jack was. Come holidays or celebratory events Jack was frequently in attendance with his nonstop chatter and effeminate manner. My father was relatively patient with him although he quite obviously got on his nerves. Jack was after all, one of his wife's best "girl friends".

It wasn't until I started to attend art school that I started to get to know him. He was an assistant librarian and I frequently rode the bus home from school with him. He always wore a grey suit, white shirt and bow tie and carried a black bound sketchbook. In our conversations I learned he had gone to the same school as I was attending years before and had a number of stories about certain teachers who were either his peers or already teaching when he had gone there. There was also the talk of his short lived career and why he had failed to move forward in the world of art. So and so had said what a delicate touch he had or how exquisite his watercolours were but he didn't have the ability to push himself forward. Also he had the liability of a very elderly mother to care for although I suspect that the reality was the reverse.

Over the years from time to time I would run into him at some gallery or other and like I said before he never missed an opening. When I started showing, Jack, taking our familiarity for granted started telephoning me to ferret out any interesting gossip about the dealer or other artists I was showing with. Thereafter he would call from time to time to talk about art and the local scene, he astounded me with his virtuosic knowledge of what was going on. He had met my wife at openings and getting her on the phone he would engage her for extended chitchat. Eventually my wife being a soft touch started inviting him for holiday meals just as my stepmother had. He was a queer old duck, eyes closed and mouth quivering he could talk at length about art and artists, writers and novels. But he always licked his plate clean and profusely complimented the chef, recalled his late mother's home cooking and was the last to leave the party.

He had been going blind for years but that didn't prevent him from reading with the use of a giant magnifying glass or going to galleries, and museum shows. Although I'm not exactly sure what it was that he saw, with his face pressed right up to a canvas. Yet he always had an opinion and was continuously sketching, face right down on the paper of those black bound sketchbooks. He was very worried about what would become of his art when he was gone as there were no relatives, I'd never been to his small bachelor apartment near the university campus but I imagine he had thousands of those sketchbooks. He kept pressing me to undertake the responsibility of caring for them after his demise and I kept putting him off. Just what I needed, more shit. "Leave it all to the Art Gallery of Ontario or the Library." I advised. It so happened that one evening Donna and I were strolling downtown when I noticed Jack sitting at a table in a brightly lit McDonald's, we went in, head down he was furiously working on his sketchbook. We sat down and joined him for a coffee. The usual talk ensued, his deteriorating vision, what would happen to his art when he was gone, art gossip and on and on. While he was talking which he always did with his eyes closed as if in deep concentration and continuously until you stopped him, I took the liberty of sliding his sketchbook over to me and quietly turned the pages. Page after page was filled with what at first glance looked like handwriting, densely packed and row after row but upon examination I realized it wasn't handwriting as such but squiggles, loops, dots and dashes that made no sense and the whole book which he was obviously nearing the end of was just that, I closed the cover and pushed it back to where it was, Jack was still talking.

At the end of the eighties and beginning of the nineties I started showing somewhat more frequently. Jack would call, there seemed to be a new bitterness to his tone. Well, I was only getting shown because I was tall and manly what chance did a sensitive person like himself have. "It's no big deal Jack," I would reply, "it'll all add up to a hill of beans." Thereafter I would try to move the topic to some more neutral topic, I'd been to Ottawa and saw some beautiful stuff by my hero Giacometti. "Your hero!" He spat out with derision. "You're an imbecile." Now abuse I can get anywhere, isn't that what family and loved ones are for? But I didn't love Jack although I was beginning to see in his new hostility a testament of some kind of love on his part for me. So after a few calls like that I just stopped answering the phone to him and that was the end of whatever relationship we'd had. I never saw him again except for one time a number of years later when I spotted him descending from a streetcar in front of the Art Gallery one evening, white cane in hand and I would imagine totally blind and as usual depending on the kindness of strangers for assistance, I marveled at his continuing to go to lectures and openings, he would have been in his eighties but he persisted. I didn't stop to chat.

What was he exactly? Was he an artist? Those countless filled sketchbooks that I have no doubt wound up on the trash heap, was that art? Who am I to answer that? All I know is Robert Rauschenberg, a very original and unique artist died the other day and the world mourned his loss. Jack died a few weeks ago in total obscurity. For every Robert Rauschenberg there are several hundred thousand Jacks and they're all unique.

15 May 08 21:15
I remember Hanjo's description, breathlessly reaching the sanctuary of AP, slamming the door behind him. I'm rather new here but I know what he's saying. Yet this is getting ridiculous. I can hear the echo of my footsteps. After posting an item, I hear the crickets chirping...
I don't like to drink alone.
My wife and I were recently in Chicago for the Jazz festival - good music, good wine, the whole Sinatra! We visited the Koons exhibit at the Contemporary. And Man, do I feel a good rant coming on, but...well...here's an item worth highlighting. On the day when the Stock Markets began their crash, Damien Hirst sold 200 million dollars worth of ARTWORK at Sotheby's!!! Hmmm!


18 Sep 08 04:09
I know the feeling, sorry about not responding to your comment about viewing myself as a mid-career artist capable in time of becoming a proficient colourist. Colour being something I devote very little conscious thought to I actually have very little understanding of what the term "colourist" means so I just wasn't sure how to respond although I know you were trying to be encouraging. The image you uploaded of an older painting of yours that you related to a newer work of mine made me want to comment. But as it was in the studio log section where there's no facility for response I didn't bother. So now that you've opened up the chat lines again I'll talk about it here.

Let me firstly say that from what I could make of it I like that older painting of abstracted figures on a realistic ground but as you know I'm partial to that kind of work. Actually I don't so much strive to abstract the figures and keep the background realistic. Hopefully I try to achieve a balance, figures and ground equally abstracted. It's the potential for movement that the human figure inspires that causes what appears to be a greater amount of abstraction. The settings the figures move in tend to be somewhat more still. Yet it's a conflict that still gets my main attention and I've yet to resolve it to my satisfaction.

So now about Koons and Hirst, a little while ago you brought up the topic of how visual artists will have to start perceiving the value of what they do in a different way just as musicians have had to adjust to the downloading of music on the internet, etc. and I fully agree. Yet one of the outcomes is the great cost of tickets for live musical events and in the visual arts the monetary value of an original artwork by a "star" artist has nowhere to go but up. Even if those artists operate art factories "a la Warhol" that employ hundreds and have whole PR departments devoted to promoting their fame. If someone like Koons or Hirst didn't do it for themselves, the museums might well do it for them in posterity, just take a look at what's going on at the Tate's current commemoration of Bacon and the amount of press and hyperbole being thrown about about England's, no, make that the whole world's greatest artist of the past century.

Now Arnold, go ahead boy, discuss and rant.

18 Sep 08 20:17
Two nights ago i sat down to have a go at Koons and ended up going off on Kagan. Just as well, as Kagan's work is more interesting.
The Koon's show was fun, we had a good time and all. And we have many of the original inflatables still in our home - the lobster, the shark, the bunny - from when our daughter was 5. So we recognize the cultural affirmations and the references to collective cultural memory.
But yet it's another instance of pointing up some commonplace object and sticking it in our face with a virtual exclamation point behind, which makes it Art!
Heck, it gets tiresome. I appreciate the craftsmanship, the conceptual acuity, but..
well, just but. I'm coasting right now on the artistry of that last bottle of Argentinian Malbec...

20 Sep 08 07:36
It seems that the usual suspects are synchronised.
I wonder what each and everyone is doing. I hope at least everyone is well.

I thought I'd say hello and go back to being crazy busy. Talk to you soon guys.

31 Oct 08 19:58
Beauty and other remedies.

Time is a relative measure and as a result so is speed. Duration, let’s say life’s, which is related to both these two measures, is relative too and so is the idea of what quantity of actions made in what amount of time can be considered satisfactory. And, of course satisfaction is such a relative feeling.
Occupation of one’s mind with such thoughts is an ever successful way of becoming constantly haunted of the idea of imminent end getting closer and closer, which in turn triggers a procedure in which time is perceived in fast forward mode, with its speed rising constantly, till you move through your days in a dizzy, crazy swirl.

It is not clear when and in which particular circumstance it started but one day I realized I was ill with “overspeeding of inner time dimention”, aggravated with “incontrollable unreasonable guilt” attacks. In simple language, stress; and it can be pathological. You know you have it when you start having physical symptoms like stomach cramps, fast heart beating, insomnia, lack of patience and concentration, feeling tired all the time, getting irritated for no reason, suffering short term memory loses. Every day life becomes like one of those blurry, speedy Richter images and no matter how you shrink your sleeping and eating hours you are always one step behind. You are then stepping one step before depression.

All this of course is not real. It is a malfunctioning of the flow regulator of your inner time spring. The trick to keep your time from shrinking and extend it back to normal, is hit the brakes and slow it down. In my case I took up a patience exercise which at the beginning was also meant to work as a therapeutic illusion to convince myself that I hadn’t totally given up painting. To fight the voices in my head that were telling me that this or that work was falling behind and made it impossible for me to stay five minutes in my studio without drowning in guilt, I took a pen and a little sketch book and went out.
I live in a beautiful country side which, due to plenty of rain this winter, is as green as it has never been before. There is not tall vegetation, only herb bushes, lot’s of grass and innumerable thick leaved bulbs. Of course there is the sea too; never the same colour and with an immense repertoire of moods. But the sea was not what I was looking at. Too big, too powerful for my fragile state of mind. I looked for small plants. The first that hit my eye I sat on the ground to draw with my pen on my little sketch book. I tell you this was not easy at all; plants are such complicated forms and I chose to draw mine in detail; with a pen; not a pencil, not aquarelle but a pen with ink. You can make no mistakes and you cannot rely on illusion created by incidental paint marks. Oh, it needs time and concentration. Accurate observation drove my stress demon nuts. You may think it is not an enterprise sitting still on the ground, concentrated in the shape of a weed, “using your precious time which is running out every second, doing a sketch of something so humble, so far from what an artist with such little time available should be wasting her twenty minutes with”. And the most difficult part is, when you are done, refrain from looking at your watch and go do another one! And another one.

It has been a week now. I had promised myself to do at least one drawing every day and it seems to be working. Now I draw the plants in the vases at home and the little branches I have cut here and there in neighbors’ gardens and put them in glasses with water on my table, in front of the large window, so that they grow roots. I closely observe the tiny new leaves growing next to bigger leaves; I observe the way stems grow and how they twist their little bodies stretching for light. They are simply there. Time is not an issue in this universe of green forms. They slowly suck life from the water in their glass and they quietly extend towards light and they expand their roots towards the earth in peace and silence. You can feel them celebrate the air around. Close observation can bring you into their circle of peace and each time you look you are taken deeper and deeper as you notice more tiny leaves and thin, stretching, little newborn branches you hadn’t seen at first glance.

I can now tell that the process of doing these little drawings (they are no bigger than ten to fifteen cm) has been working like a refreshing shower for my brain. It takes away the toxins of every day rat race and keeps me on the sane side of the road. I intend on carrying on with them even though something strange has happened between me and figures: I sort of feel they disturb my peace. It seems that people will have to stay out of my work until I feel better.

18 Mar 09 21:10
Thanks for taking the time to share some of your process Maria, I understand perfectly your state of mind and respect the strategy you've devised for yourself while this mood has overtaken you. I'm sure your overall work will only be enriched by your exercise which is interesting in its own right.

We all have our own methods of dealing with these altered states of mind and periodic bouts of angst and boredom we may feel for our own work. I try to drink my way through them although your approach may be more productive and healthier.

The main thing is not to go completely insane because then you could find yourself very very unhappy, lonely, anguished and a world famous artist.

19 Mar 09 22:39
This is such a beautiful text Maria, thank you for giving that to us. It reminds me of my own situation in Frankfurt some 27 years ago when I was in that rat race every day even at weekends while feeling that artist deep down in me knocking at the door all the time. But what should I do in that small time I had for my own? Just for my own sanity I had flowers in my cabin to look at and feel human. So one day I started drawing them. I thought oh my god how deep have you fell that now you draw flowers, what a kitschy subject. But after a while I had the same sensation you described with „ Close observation can bring you into their circle of peace and each time you look you are taken deeper and deeper as you notice more tiny leaves and thin, stretching, little newborn branches you hadn’t seen at first glance.“ So the beginning of my second artistic life started with drawings filled with water colours of flowers. Works I still love and which tought me to look precisely. This period was interrupted by another rat race for more than 20 years until I decided to stop all this and do nothing else than painting what finally brought poverty but satisfaction. Okay, to not tell too much I want to ask you if there will be an opportunity to have a peek into your sketch-book?
20 Mar 09 19:25
Coming just at a time when I can do nothing right, it was a real uplift to read your text Maria - thanks. Your exploration of the drawings is strong and encouraging, I hope you continue to enjoy this research, and find new channels for building upon an expanding visual vocabulary.
You've quite a talent with writing too.

21 Mar 09 07:42
With all seriousness i too was impressed with Maria's lovely description of what led her to start, in her mind, her humble project. I had thought of Hanjo's flower studies, maybe I'm amongst the few who have seen some of the images. At one point I myself chose to do a series of still lifes (how boring is that?), even my series of small "Fundamentally Heads" was a similar kind of diversion.

What i've learned, if anything is that it's not the ambition of the project but the interest one has in what one is up to. Boredom sets in quickly and we can't remember what it is we set out to do or maybe the project is too hard and beyond our capabilities. Yet bored or overwhelmed we feel compelled to do something and when we stop or slow down the accusing process of time (so little left and important things to do) we tend to forgive ourselves and perhaps choose something "less ambitious". Really there is no choice, it's that or madness.

In the end, it's all the same, just an excuse to paint, draw, do. The subject's gravitas or lack of it has little meaning, only the interest the process holds for us at any given moment. It doesn't matter what that might be, as long as it sustains our interest long enough to produce something there's always something new to learn.

22 Mar 09 16:37
Maria I also have to say that I understand perfectly your circumstances, because I have a similar
situation right now, but you describe it so well,.. some of you have a gift as writers too,and I've becomed
accustomed to reading the texts first and then trying to guess who wrote it, usually I do identify your's,
Hillel's, Hanjo's and JP's. I think when we turn to something, to look at it with time and curiosity it is
because it's already inside of us. I mean, I turned to paint the sea to recuperate an atmosphere of peace I had
lost a long time ago, I couldn't have done it with a landscape.
Hanjo paints flowers every now and then, because he loves plants, he takes care of them like a doctor,following
their growth with delicate patience, it is
not a superficial choice. As it isn't when he paints himself in a cold scrutiny of every detail of his face or body.
We are a constant change of moods, and sometimes we need the simple joy of sitting under the sun observing what
seems to be unimportant
and we usually have no time to see, but can be fascinating. I think that the subject's gravitas or lack of it
as Hillel says, is not in fact in the subject, but in the way the painter lives that subject, or sees it,its "emotional charge".(think
of Van Gogh's Sunflowers,Morandi's bottles,or Nolde's seascapes).
Maria,I would only ask you to show your plants in a bigger format, because they cannot be appreciated in such a
small size. Drawings have a very personal,spontaneous character that talk about the way a painter works or thinks his work,(have you ever seen Seurat's drawings??or Mr.Hillels drawings?) I love to see them . So I would ask you to put at least
one in your gallery, so it can be enlarged and seen properly, please..And by the way Hillel, among your "fundamentally Heads" series if you refer to the Torah scholars, are some superb portraits,you are not referring to these when you mention "a similar kind of diversion" are you??

27 Mar 09 11:52
Hi Karen, it's been a while since you took a leisurely stroll down Hanjo's fabled boulevard, you've been missed.
In answer to your question, yes the act of doing of those heads was a similar kind of diversion. The figures moving in some kind of (at least to me) believable space becomes just too hard a chore. So just isolating some heads and not worrying about the space they occupy and working in a very small format was a respite. I wasn't concerned about specific portraiture either, making for a much easier project.

27 Mar 09 19:56
Guys, I am in deep... stools...
This new stuff I am working on is not working yet and I am trying to get a couple of painter friends to come to the studio and wake me up. Until they do, I am in a desperate situation. It is a pity I can't really ask you for help, 'cause one needs to see the thing live, but I can ask you another question. What about neon lamps? Have you any clue of which type gives the closest to daylight light? I had asked the shop and they gave me something but I still think it is too warm. Or maybe it isn't and I just have the light too close to the wall where I work. Any idea will be appreciated.

Anyway, take a look at the studio log. If you feel like throwing up let me know. Maybe I am not ready for this "work without a model of any sort" just yet.

06 Jun 09 18:12
Chains. Chains, my friends; they occupy most of my space.
Have you ever felt you are trying to make your way across a room full of chains?
It is like dreaming with indigestion. You make one step forward and two backwards and there is always this feeling of moving deeper towards a deadly trap. On the other side of the room there is a door open. And you can see everything you have always aspired to going past that door. So casually, so natural, so “I was born for this” kind of way. And yet there you are with your feet surrounded by chains. Sometimes I can’t tell between my heart and my stomach. It is not clear which one it is that hurts so that makes breathing hard.

20 Sep 09 12:38
Well I can only talk for myself... it was certainly not something that wa