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April 2017

Which Would You Save?

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If You Could Only Save the Louvre’s Art or Its Visitors, Which Would You Save?

This week’s question is a variation of one from The Book of Questions, stolen boldly and without remorse from Wait But Why.

“Say on a given morning, there are 100 people in the Louvre in Paris. If a wicked sorcerer threatened to vaporize all people in the museum or all of its art, sparing one or the other based on your plea, which would you save? Assume the sorcerer will obliterate both the people and the art if you don’t choose.”

Addition: My mother has informed me this is from a Zen Koan involving a priceless Ming vase and a duckling trapped inside. “Master, the duck is free.”

What do you think? We invite you to post your responses below.

Exquisite Corpse Drawing Challenge #3: BUGGIN’

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Exquisite Corpse is a collaborative, chance-based drawing game invented by the Surrealists in the mid 1920s. Traditionally, each participant draws an image on part of a sheet of paper, folds the paper to conceal their work, and passes it on to the next player for their contribution. This is a modern version, with the entries received digitally, so team members can be anywhere in the world. 

This is the 3rd and final Exquisite Corpse drawing of the series. The other 2 team drawing challenges were done in teams of 3. This challenge is different. In this challenge, the winning team will be the most people who make the longest running, most interesting bug drawing.

no limit on participants!

In this final contest, there is no limit on team members, and the winning team will be the longest running, most interesting bug drawing, with the most participating team members.

Share this e-invite with friends of any age, anywhere in the world. Follow the instructions below, and without looking at each other’s drawings, send the pics to me by Tuesday April 18 at 8:14pm. Drawings will be digitally combined, and posted to our website. The winning team will receive Seattle Artist League painting aprons!

Details below.

DRAWING CHALLENGE #3: BUGGIN’

DIRECTIONS

  1. Take a piece of white typing paper, and choose something to draw with. You can draw (or collage) with anything you want, as long as it can be transferred into black and white.
  2. Fold your paper into thirds vertically, and horizontally. The boundary of your drawing will be the red line in the picture below. Be clear with your team who draws bug head, the bug legs, wings, and body (several), and the bug butt. Do not share any other information about your drawing.


  3. The drawings are going to need a way to connect with each other. If we were sitting at the table together the sequence would pick up where the previous drawing left off, but this is all over email, so they have to stop and start at a set location. For this, fold the same paper into thirds horizontally. This gives you intersection marks on the drawing boundary lines. Your drawing can go wider than these folds, but the shape must must enter/exit vertically at the 1/3 fold marks. The bug will crawl vertically, with the head at the top, and the butt at the bottom. You can have 50 middle pieces. GET AS MANY PEOPLE TO JOIN YOUR TEAM AS YOU CAN. YOUR GOAL IS TO MAKE THE LONGEST BUG.


 EMAIL YOUR DRAWINGS:

  1. Choose a bug name.
  2. Communicate who draws the head bit, who draws the end bit, and the rest of the team can draw the middle bits. Don’t share any other information.
  3. Email me a photo of your drawings by 8:14pm Tuesday April 18, 2017. Include your team name and the names of the other people you’re drawing with. Repeating this info in every email is very, very, very helpful. I’ll assemble and post all the drawings by next Thursday.

Email your drawings to:

ruthiev(at)seattleartistleague.com

Exquisite Corpse Challenge 2 Winners

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The Chicken Coop Challenge

10 teams collaborated for this blind drawing challenge. Each team member emailed me their drawings without their team mates seeing what they drew, and I assembled them. Evidently, no one can be serious. Winning team below.

And the winning team is…

2 HILLS! Brad Wilder drew the roof, Lucy Garnett drew the coop, and Siobhan Wilder drew the coop foundation. Brad, Lucy, and Siobhan will be receiving Seattle Artist League painting aprons. Clucky.

Are you ready for the 3rd and final round?

Click here for Exquisite Corpse Team Challenge #3: Insect

To Raise Poultry

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The chicken paintings featured in this V-Note are by Endre Penovác.

The chicken letter that follows was written in 1870, sent to the Poultry Society. The title proclaims it’s a manual about how to raise fine poultry. The content, however, renders itself informational for how to steal birds from your neighbor (or yourself, if you’re an idiot). It was signed by Mark Twain.

To Raise Poultry

by Mark Twain


–[Being a letter written to a Poultry Society that had conferred a complimentary membership upon the author. Written about 1870.]

Seriously, from early youth I have taken an especial interest in the subject of poultry-raising, and so this membership touches a ready sympathy in my breast. Even as a schoolboy, poultry-raising was a study with me, and I may say without egotism that as early as the age of seventeen I was acquainted with all the best and speediest methods of raising chickens, from raising them off a roost by burning lucifer matches under their noses, down to lifting them off a fence on a frosty night by insinuating the end of a warm board under their heels. By the time I was twenty years old, I really suppose I had raised more poultry than any one individual in all the section round about there. The very chickens came to know my talent by and by. The youth of both sexes ceased to paw the earth for worms, and old roosters that came to crow, “remained to pray,” when I passed by.

I have had so much experience in the raising of fowls that I cannot but think that a few hints from me might be useful to the society. The two methods I have already touched upon are very simple, and are only used in the raising of the commonest class of fowls; one is for summer, the other for winter. In the one case you start out with a friend along about eleven o’clock’ on a summer’s night (not later, because in some states– especially in California and Oregon–chickens always rouse up just at midnight and crow from ten to thirty minutes, according to the ease or difficulty they experience in getting the public waked up), and your friend carries with him a sack. Arrived at the henroost (your neighbor’s, not your own), you light a match and hold it under first one and then another pullet’s nose until they are willing to go into that bag without making any trouble about it. You then return home, either taking the bag with you or leaving it behind, according as circumstances shall dictate. N. B.–I have seen the time when it was eligible and appropriate to leave the sack behind and walk off with considerable velocity, without ever leaving any word where to send it.

In the case of the other method mentioned for raising poultry, your friend takes along a covered vessel with a charcoal fire in it, and you carry a long slender plank. This is a frosty night, understand. Arrived at the tree, or fence, or other henroost (your own if you are an idiot), you warm the end of your plank in your friend’s fire vessel, and then raise it aloft and ease it up gently against a slumbering chicken’s foot. If the subject of your attentions is a true bird, he will infallibly return thanks with a sleepy cluck or two, and step out and take up quarters on the plank, thus becoming so conspicuously accessory before the fact to his own murder as to make it a grave question in our minds as it once was in the mind of Blackstone, whether he is not really and deliberately, committing suicide in the second degree. [But you enter into a contemplation of these legal refinements subsequently not then.]

When you wish to raise a fine, large, donkey voiced Shanghai rooster, you do it with a lasso, just as you would a bull. It is because he must choked, and choked effectually, too. It is the only good, certain way, for whenever he mentions a matter which he is cordially interested in, the chances are ninety-nine in a hundred that he secures somebody else’s immediate attention to it too, whether it day or night.

The Black Spanish is an exceedingly fine bird and a costly one. Thirty- five dollars is the usual figure and fifty a not uncommon price for a specimen. Even its eggs are worth from a dollar to a dollar and a half apiece, and yet are so unwholesome that the city physician seldom or never orders them for the workhouse. Still I have once or twice procured as high as a dozen at a time for nothing, in the dark of the moon. The best way to raise the Black Spanish fowl is to go late in the evening and raise coop and all. The reason I recommend this method is that, the birds being so valuable, the owners do not permit them to roost around promiscuously, they put them in a coop as strong as a fireproof safe and keep it in the kitchen at night. The method I speak of is not always a bright and satisfying success, and yet there are so many little articles of vertu about a kitchen, that if you fail on the coop you can generally bring away something else. I brought away a nice steel trap one night, worth ninety cents.

But what is the use in my pouring out my whole intellect on this subject? I have shown the Western New York Poultry Society that they have taken to their bosom a party who is not a spring chicken by any means, but a man who knows all about poultry, and is just as high up in the most efficient methods of raising it as the president of the institution himself. I thank these gentlemen for the honorary membership they have conferred upon me, and shall stand at all times ready and willing to testify my good feeling and my official zeal by deeds as well as by this hastily penned advice and information. Whenever they are ready to go to raising poultry, let them call for me any evening after eleven o’clock.

-Mark Twain

Below: This is not a chicken (it is a goat) but it is still good to look at.

Indian Composite Animal Paintings

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I’m not really sure how I landed on these, but here they are: “Indian Composite Animal Paintings” from about 1750-1850. I don’t know much about them other than that they’re Hindu. I read that they’re about inter-relatedness of all beings. I’m not sure about the spiritual message, but it looks like people had fun making them.

Occasionally I wonder why European/Americans get so obsessed with realism when other cultures appear to be having much more fun with their pictures.

My apologies – as with many paintings from this culture and time period, they were posted without the artist’s name.

5 Contemporary British Watercolorists

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The highest creativity is in the sketch, when the mind is still free to explore and let things happen.  

British Contemporary Watercolors

Looking At Watercolor Directions By 5 British Artists

Stephanie Tuckwell, aber series 2 no.2 (2012) watercolour and charcoal on paper

Stephanie Tuckwell, watercolor and charcoal

In a recent ‘Resource Centre’ article, British art supplier and manufacturer, Winsor and Newton, focused on the contemporary works in watercolor by several British artists. In so doing they first noted some historical background of watercolour in England versus that of the French Academy, and thereby cited the issue of “heirarchy” in painting

“There are many preconceptions about watercolour; a paradoxical medium, seen by some as the perfect entry into painting but by many as technically challenging and difficult to master.”

“In the 19th century Turner and Constable introduced watercolour into fine art; however, the French Academy, copied throughout Europe, created a hierarchy of subjects suitable for the serious artist; history and myth being at the top, followed by ‘genre’ scenes, then landscape and still life. The only material they proposed for historical painting was oil colour; watercolour was considered suitable for sketches and associated with architectural painting and landscape.”

Five British artists engaged in contemporary work discuss the use of watercolour in their art practice… Several artists are cited who are currently challenging some of the perceptions about the watercolor medium. Given the diverse nature of contemporary art, it is little surprise that artists use watercolour in a range of ways, sometimes unorthodox, that best suit their ideas and working method.

Alf Lohr

Alf Löhr, Watercolor

“As watercolour is a liquid I pour or drip it” says Alf Löhr, “or I throw it in the air to catch when it comes down!”

Alf Löhr sees an almost moral benefit to this material challenge; he believes you have to live with your mistakes, there is no cover up or rubbing out. He likes the simplicity of watercolour: “water + pigment +light; neither greasy nor plastic like acrylics.”

The historical association of water colour with sketching is part of the way London based artist Alf Löhr (www.alflohr.net) communicates his ideas about life and the creative process;

“Look at architecture and it is obvious that the highest level of creativity was at the stage of the original sketch or drawing. The rest is technical execution done by engineers. Art is not dissimilar.

For me, creativity is in the sketch, when the mind is still free to explore and is open for things to happen. That’s why watercolours are always nearer to life and more lively than cleverly executed artistic statements. Watercolours allow you to avoid big, heroic simplifications. You either look for life or you don’t.”

Alf Lohr, in the studio

Born in Germany in 1957, Alf Löhr studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and completed a PhD at the Royal College of Art, London. Having spent periods teaching, researching and working in New York, Australia, and Glasgow – to name a few – he has chosen London to be his home for the last twenty-five years. Since the early’s 1990s, Löhr has focused on producing small watercolours, and has gained in scope until producing large-scale works on canvas.

Alf Lohr paintings

In a recent interview Alf Löhr responded to the question ‘what it is about a painting that might cause us to say that it is beautiful? ‘ with the following:

‘Whether it is abstract or representational, we find (a painting) beautiful if we can see a pattern in it, a grace of line or movement, harmony or proportion. The eye is caught by a pattern of colour, the way different colours relate to one another; the eye is caught by differentiation and contrast between dark and light, stillness and activity. And yet a painting is lifeless if it is too controlled, too obviously patterned, and organised and its objects too perfect. In truthful art as in a truthful understanding of life there is always a hint or echo of chaos, incompatibility, imperfection and so every beautiful artwork also has an element of pathos’.

Stephanie Tuckwell

Stephanie Tuckwell, aber series 2 no.1 (2012) watercolour on paper

Stephanie Tuckwell

Stephanie Tuckwell works on a number of paintings at one time; this encourages her to work swiftly and directly, shifting between paintings, sometimes to linger and work intensely, other times to move on rapidly. For Stephanie the special material characteristics of watercolour are both an idea in her art as well as a practical application.

“My work is a response to the edges of landscape, the meeting of land and sea, where mass meets fluids. My inspiration lies at the edges of the air, land and sea, my working methods lie in the area between the intentional and incidental; the fluidity and immediacy of watercolour which allow me to explore these concerns in an intuitive manner.”

 

“My work.. is a response to movement through the landscape; a glimpse from a train, a view from a mountaintop, being airborne in a glider, or standing on the edge of a cliff. I seek to arrive at an image that is a distillation of the experience of being present in the world at a particular moment.

Stephanie Tuckwell, aber series 2 no.5 (2012) watercolour on paper

Stephanie Tuckwell

Just as the focus of my inspiration lies at the edges of the air, land and sea, my creative practice lies in the area between the intentional and incidental. Working at these edges demands a mindful awareness and presence that embodies my experiences of the landscape. I work in series: my working methods tend to be swift and direct, shifting between drawing and painting, sometimes to linger and work intensely, other times to work more sparingly and moving on rapidly.”

Stephanie graduated from Goldsmith’s College London in 1975 and is based in Cardiff. Winner of the University of Glamorgan’s prestigious Art Purchase Prize for 2008, awarded the prize for Wales at the 2009 ING Discerning Eye Exhibition.

 

Carol Robertson

Carol Robertson, watercolour

Winner of the 2005 Sunday Times Watercolour competition with her abstract paintings that embrace the transparent qualities of water colour, Carol Robertson (www.carolrobertson.net) loves the medium for its luminosity and the way it soaks into paper. She believes water colour brings a quality of light from the back to front and appears to reflect light. Carol uses soft brushes to lay down washes of colour, then over-paints, using a more saturated mix. She sometimes removes areas of watercolour with water and absorbent tissue to leave a stain or vestige. She masks out areas of an image and uses flicking or spattering as a softer unstructured contrast to careful linear detail.

Carol Robertson’s paintings are firmly rooted within reductive abstract conventions. Although she doesn’t seek to confirm or record the way the world looks, her work is never disconnected from it.. In earlier work Robertson choose to use the square, rectangle and circle for their ideal power and aesthetic beauty. Recent work has moved towards a more informal relationship with landscape, architecture, nature and the environment, encompassing notions of transience and change.

Carol Robertson 2010

Multi-coloured arcs or circles now loosely traverse her canvases, with collisions and crossovers registering flashes of chance and coincidence, reminiscent of small arcane details that fleetingly curve across one’s vision.

Every painting is prepared with poured and stained grounds, unstructured atmospheric colour fields that deliberately highlight and complement carefully over-painted arcs as they collide and cross in their individual orbits.

The expression of flux and impermanence in this work reflects her changing response to the world. Art and beauty, however much they arise out of life, are now the defence against its ravages. As Nietzsche said “We have art that we may not perish from truth”.

“The power and beauty of geometric form and detail provides me with a catalyst for ways to make art. Adopting the formal restraints of a reductive and often repetitive geometric language takes the chaos out of what otherwise would be an impossibly vast set of visual options upon which to pin my existence. Geometry allows me to concentrate on the essential. It allows me the freedom to channel sensory or poetic material through its refined parameters. Over time my work evolves in tandem with whatever is happening in my life, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually and physically. The enduring constant is my commitment to working with the non-hierarchical and pragmatic language of geometric abstraction”.

Carol Robertson. This City 14, WatercolourCarol Robertson lives and works in London and is married to fellow artist Trevor Sutton. She is primarily a painter and printmaker, represented in the UK and USA by Flowers Gallery, by Galleri Weinberger in Denmark and by Peter Foolen Editions in the Netherlands.

In 2005 she won first prize in the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition. She was Research Fellow in Painting at Cardiff School of Art & Design from 2003 – 2008.

Her work has been exhibited extensively internationally, most recently in The Netherlands, Austria, Japan and USA. Since 2001 she has been a Returning Fellow at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation in Ireland. In 2012 she was artist in residence at the Kunstgarten in Graz, where she has made 3D objects for the first time. In 2013 she shows a new series of paintings titled Circular Stories at Galerie allerArt, Bludenz, Austria.

 

Barbara Nicholls

Barbara Nicholls, No 3. Watercolour, 2013

Barbara Nicholls’ (www.barbaranicholls.co.uk) watercolour paintings made with Winsor & Newton professional water colour suggest the stratification built up over millions of years in geological formations.

“I start by creating puddles of water on large sheets of paper. I apply the watercolour to this water and wait for the pigment to find the edge of the water. This creates a line of colour. I am interested in this line; it has a quality that I could not otherwise achieve.”

“Residue” Large watercolours produced during a year long studio residency at Winsor and Newton London 2013. “Nicholls takes as her point of departure systems of archaeological and geographical mapping, accumulations and isolated portions of material remains, the convoluted territorial alignments of the city (its physicality and historical layering), and the malleability of the actual materials out of which her work is made. She draws upon a substantial (though not arbitrary) armoury of technical processes and devices, bringing these together so as to produce works of a coherent yet open nature which ask that the viewer respond to them in an active and engaged way.”

 

Barbara Nicholls, No 9. 2013

Barbara Nicholls’ work operates across a broad range of artistic categories, employing a wide span of processes and techniques to address a number of engaging critical issues: questions of aesthetic form, surface and depth, chance and order, the handmade and the readymade, the archaeological and the cartographic, and the relations between work and play. Her approach, both to the subject matter with which she engages and to its material rendition is allegorical or metaphorical, rather than literal or mimetic. The objects Nicholls produces, be they primarily two dimensional or three dimensional forms, may thus be regarded as translations or complex developments with their own internal logic, structures which have, to a considerable degree, moved away from their original sources whilst nonetheless connecting to them through inference and analogy.

Nicholls takes as her point of departure systems of archaeological and geographical mapping, accumulations and isolated portions of material remains, the convoluted territorial alignments of the city (its physicality and historical layering), and the malleability of the actual materials out of which her work is made. She draws upon a substantial (though not arbitrary) armoury of technical processes and devices, bringing these together so as to produce works of a coherent yet open nature which ask that the viewer respond to them in an active and engaged way.

Barbara Nicholls, Spree-2, Watercolour, 2010

Barbara Nicholls, Spree-2, 2010

An individual work can display several, apparently contradictory methods of “inscription”, of technical know-how within its frame: drawing, painting, routing, folding and unfurling, tracing and tracking, sanding down and sharpening up. The result may be a multilayered, overly physical cluster of densely packed substances or, conversely, something minimal, neatly stripped down. Nicholls’ works might sometimes be better described as “accumulations” rather than as conventional paintings; they are certainly situated somewhere between or adjacent to conventionally established categories, this hybrid status being one of their most intriguing and seductive features.

Peter Haslam-Fox

Peter Haslam-Fox, watercolour

Watercolour can have a particular, luminous quality achieved by applying transparent paint to white paper. Once applied, water colours are hard to move and artists respond in different ways to this challenge.

In a recent London exhibition Peter Haslam-Fox (haslamfox.com) showcased a series of large-scale, highly detailed paintings:

“Water colour by its very nature is unforgiving. The kind of focus needed to be brave with your subject and get it right first time is exhilarating. I find this especially true of working on a larger scale.”

” I am aiming to rejuvenate the neglected medium of Watercolour and push it in a new direction. The paintings draw more on the simplicity of Eastern traditions in ink than the more fastidious Western works on paper, though through the use of colour and scale try to merge the two worlds.

For the most part self contained, the subjects are chosen for their innate but simple strength. Similarly the painting of them reflects a clarity of style and a concentration of technique that I greatly admire in Chinese painting and calligraphy. Rather than relying on detail, the pictures depend as much on raw paper as paint for their description. “

Based in his South Lambeth studio, Haslam Fox has continued in his attempt to rejuvenate watercolours and while working on various private commissions, he continues to work on new series of works.

Peter Haslem-Fox, Watercolour

Peter Haslam-Fox, lives and works in London. He has won several awards including; The Benton Purchase Prize at ‘The Discerning Eye Exhibition’, Mall Galleries (2010) and The RWS/Sunday Times, ‘young artist’ (2008). His work has been exhibited at mixed exhibitions including; The Discerning Eye Exhibition, Mall Galleries and The Royal Watercolour Society Spring Exhibition, Bankside Gallery.”

Peter Haslam Fox is a London based figurative artist. For the large part self taught, he did start out at art school. He hated it, and instead went to Glasgow to study art history and then went on to work in a variety of professions around the world, latterly as a carpenter in London and gilder in the U.S. It was only in 2006 when a chance meeting with the artist Brendan Kelly rekindled his interest in painting that he ended up under his guidance for a year culminating in his first show at Ainscough Contempory Art.

A foray into Watercolour in 2007 unexpectedly led to his first series of paintings that explored the capital’s architectural and social diversity. He was named the RWS/Sunday Times’s 2008 ‘Young Artist’ and other works were showcased at the 2008 Discerning Eye Exhibition at the Mall Galleries and the 2009 21st Century Watercolour Exhibition at The Bankside Gallery.

The series entitled A Tale of Two Towers went on to form his critically acclaimed solo show, launching the ‘Art Work Space’ gallery in Bayswater. The paintings were described in ‘Art Of England’ magazine as “exquisite pieces of contemporary portraiture.”

Peter Haslam-Fox, watercolour

Art in Times that Suck

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Ed Bereal in his studio. Photo by Jerry McMillan

As an art student, I’d roll my eyes at repeated debates about the role of art in politics. Conversation topics dead as beaten horses (shot) pushed the idea of the societal power of art, and the inherent responsibilities of artists.

In 1964, my teacher, Ed Bereal, was a young black man who opened the door of his L.A. art studio to find himself looking down the barrel of a policeman’s shotgun, right in the heart of the Watts riots. He’d been painting pretty pictures up till then. Composition studies. I do believe it was shortly after that gun was pointed long and slow at his head, a finger twitching at the trigger end, that he decided to become a political artist. As he saw it, for him to become anything other than a political artist was to be disingenuine, or just damned dumb oblivious. He responded with a series he’d continue for decades: political figures, American flags, and a rather dismantling sense of rye humor.

Not being a black man in L.A. in 1964, I felt differently about the politics and the role of my painted pictures. While I don’t believe art must be political, I do believe whether you lean into it intentionally, go along with the flow, or look away, it will be. My students have heard me more than once talk about the making of a painting, and how everything that goes into the making of a painting becomes a part of that painting. If you’re short on time, that’s part of your painting. If you don’t know how to paint shadows as well as you’d like, that’s part of your painting. If you’re happy one day and tense the next, that’s part of your painting. It’s all in there. If there is war and chaos around you, whether your painting flowers or flags, that is part of your painting.

Photo by Julian Wasser

After the election I experienced a reality shift. It was something I found neither productive nor pleasant, but it happened. I’m not sure if it affected my pictures, or if it would have affected them if I was painting them, but I wasn’t. What it did effect was how I viewed the the school. While a painting did not need to be political, an art school, any art school worth my time, would need to be political. I could see the League had a role to play.

While a painting did not need to be political, an art school, any art school worth my time, would need to be political. I could see the League had a role to play.

After the shock and nauseous bruising of election night, the League opened its doors and became a safe and creative sanctuary for our members. Later, we opened our doors to the public and hosted a poster making party in preparation for the Women’s March (thank you Caren!). This party was well attended and lively. More than that, the League functioned as supportive community. At the start of every studio session my class sits around tables together and talks. We talk about anything that’s coming up: materials, techniques, strategies, challenges, moods, ideas, anything that comes up. We talk as friends and we talk as artists. After the election we shared how we were making our way with the news events. Whether we painted flags or flowers we provided each other with peer support and insight, and we continued to find ways to be genuine with our creativity. Over time, we found (and continue to re-find) our way with the unsettling foundations of world events.

“Whatever our chosen palette, the practice of understanding the importance of our own creative engagement is a source of potential change on its own, and a space where valuable insight can be found through reflection and sharing.”
– Annette Bloom, Huffington Post 3/21/16

In addition to the supportive round table, in the light of recent events I wanted the League to offer a creative space that would specifically foster political responsiveness through art. I also wanted to offer context through history so we could better understand how artists of the past responded to war, upheaval, and suppression. I called this genre “art in times that suck.” I added 2 classes to the spring schedule: “Resist! Studio” with process art punk Jon Patrick, and “Resist! WTF Art History” with the bold and exceedingly knowledgable Suzanne Walker. 

I didn’t know what the art world would do, and then I remembered “We are the art world, so lets do it.” We start Friday April 21st.

 

RESIST!

Some of the most powerful art movements in history were sparked by social and political turmoil. In the 20th century, artists responded to war, fascism, and devastation with Dada, Cubism, Neo-Expressionism, and Capitalist Realism. In times that suck, the making and consumption of art continues. What will we, as artists, do now? Join us, and we’ll find out together.

Class links: 

• RESIST! ART HISTORY LECTURE: https://seattleartistleague.com/art-classes/wtf-art-history-series-resistance-lecture-spring/

• RESIST! STUDIO CLASS: https://seattleartistleague.com/art-classes/resist-spring/

Exquisite Corpse Drawing Challenge #2: Chicken Coop

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Exquisite Corpse is a collaborative, chance-based drawing game invented by the Surrealists in the mid 1920s. Traditionally, each participant draws an image on part of a sheet of paper, folds the paper to conceal their work, and passes it on to the next player for their contribution. This is a modern version, with the entries received digitally, so team members can be anywhere in the world. 


This is the 2nd week in a 3 week Exquisite Corpse Drawing Challenge.
Share this e-invite with 2 friends of any age, anywhere in the world. Follow the instructions below, and without looking at each other’s drawings, send the pics to me by Tuesday April 11 at 11pm. Drawings will be digitally combined, and posted to our website. The winning team will receive Seattle Artist League painting aprons!

Details below.

DRAWING CHALLENGE #2: CHICKEN COOP

DIRECTIONS

  1. Take a piece of white typing paper, and choose something to draw with. You can draw (or collage) with anything you want, as long as it can be transferred into black and white.
  2. Fold your paper into thirds vertically (the last one was horizontally). This will divide the 3 sections for each of the 3 team players. The boundary of your drawing will be the orange line in the picture below. Be clear with your team who draws top (roof part), middle (house part), and bottom (base, ramp, and yard). Do not share any other information about your drawing.
  3. The drawings are going to need a way to connect with each other. If we were sitting at the table together the sequence would pick up where the previous drawing left off, but this is all over email, so they have to stop and start at a set location. For this, fold the same paper into thirds vertically. This gives you intersection marks on the drawing boundary lines. Your drawing can go wider, but the shape must must enter/exit at the 1/3 fold marks. Remember, the last drawing challenge “Animal” was with the paper tall, but for this one the paper will be wide, in the landscape format. You and your team members will still draw top, middle, bottom. 

 EMAIL YOUR DRAWINGS:

  1. Choose a team name.
  2. Communicate who draws the top (roof), who draws the middle (chicken house), and who draws the bottom (base, ramp, and yard). Don’t share any other information.
  3. Email me a photo of your drawings by 11pm Tuesday April 11, 2017. Include your team name and the names of the other people you’re drawing with. Repeating this info in every email is helpful. Tell me who was top, middle, bottom, so I know which drawings go with which and who to credit for what portion. I’ll assemble and post all the drawings by next Thursday.

Email your drawings to:

ruthiev(at)seattleartistleague.com

Exquisite Corpse Challenge 1 Winners

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10 teams collaborated for this blind drawing challenge. Each team member emailed me their drawings without their team mates seeing what they drew, and I assembled them. It was fun to get these in my inbox. We are definitely doing this again. Check out these drawings! Winning team below.

And the winning team is…

RECKLESS LINES! Katie White submitted the middle, Robbie Devine drew the head, and Catie Devine drew the ‘feet’ (if jellyfish bits can be called feet). For their weird and fabulous collaboration, Katie, Robbie, and Catie will be receiving Seattle Artist League painting aprons. Fantastic job everybody! I loved all of these.

Are you ready for round 2?

Click here for Exquisite Corpse Team Challenge #2: Chicken Coop

Sex in Painting

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People sometimes ask me what painters I like, what paintings I’m inspired by. The paintings tend to be figurative, and lately, they tend to be sexy. Sometimes I choose them for what happens in the paint, sometimes I choose them for what happens with the subject. Often there is a personality in the painter – a way of being that I want to inhabit.
I’m going through an erotic phase. Movement, sensuality, sexuality, a bit of incidental shock, and crudeness. I want this. I want to do the things these painters do. I want to learn how I can put more of my own nature on the canvas. Hold back less. Lately sex is all I want to paint. I hope this erotic phase lasts forever, except I’m certain that I’ll starve to death if it does.
I adore Rodin’s watercolors.

I admire Cecily Brown.
Dorothea Tanning does things I find remarkably brave and sexy.

In general, want to be more bold with both subjects and marks, and not as loud in my need for my audience’s acceptance. I’ve always loved the physical and open sensuality of Frankenthaler. This isn’t sex, but it’s physical and personal, an ease with the movement of her body and the liquid paint. I love her for this.

I envy the ball sack on Goya…

 

…and Courbet. Not this Courbet. Good god no. Barf meringue.
I mean this Courbet: daring and present, concise, and completely unashamed. If he struggled with shyness, I don’t see it. He makes the viewer do all the work of handling this image.

“Origin of the World” was painted a 150 years ago and modern liberated me in modern liberated Seattle still can’t work up the bravery to match it. It seems simple enough, but imagine the conversation he would have: “Thank you for modeling for me. Lay on the bed here, no not with your legs to the side. I want your legs spread open. And if you would please cover your head, I don’t need it here. And no arms. Bend your knee please. I just want you to expose the single shadowed area you always modestly fold away. Yes, thank you. Don’t move. I’ll need to spend some days here, right here on this little chair … where I can smell you. Oil painting takes a while, and I have no camera. Comfortable? I don’t imagine so. Oh well. I feel fine, and fear no social repercussions from your friends.”

I gaze at the narcissistic bastard Freud, the dismantling and complete brutal ownership of everything around him. So simple. No apologies. He just rips it all away, and takes what he wants. Easy to be fearless when you own everyone and everything, as if it had no consequence.
Also: sock. Because.
I want to be as willfully unapologetic as Picasso with his erotic sketches. That man had no shame. None. Where do I leave my shame. I have too much of it. It does me no good here. Sex and art and shame. One of the three must go.

Similarly, the dark couple Hans Bellmer and Unica Zürn were a modern 20’s couple. They used shame like juice. (I’m pretty sure those are Fluevogs.)

And Bacon. That beautiful fabulous intelligently twisted mind meat of a man, Bacon. I like to think we would be friends but for the time difference, and the fact that I’m a minge.

As a teacher of painting, and as a general uptight overachiever who likes to do things with some measure of “success” I’m attracted to realists like Antonio Lopez Garcia. Thank you for the rabbit. That is a rabbit, right? Rabbits are so innocent. Horrifying what this feminine shape does to me, no relief is brought by the idea that it is also food.

I look at Euan Uglow. God he was cold to his models. I haven’t read that, I just see it. That woman must have pained for all those hours spent in that position. Can you even sit like that for 15 minutes?!? And he just had her do it. I don’t sense an empathy here. Uglow didn’t paint as much as he did math on canvas. Color chess, with women’s bodies. I wonder what parts of her lost blood flow, fell asleep, and woke with pins. Maybe that’s why her arms are above her head. The sheer physical pain of her body imitating the sensuality of a leaning 2×4, maybe wondering why she was still there, and should she really come back for another session of this hell. How flattering it is, to be looked at.

There’s no sex in Uglow, but still there is the feminine figure, and very clearly, the object.

 

Kanevsky liquifies the realism, eliminates the edges, and brings back the movement I am looking for, as does Saville (the pounds of flesh above). Kanevsky’s prom dress guy painting has humor, which is rare, and sentimentality, which somehow works with all the literal and figurative dirt. I look at Kanevsky a lot. And, again, there is the meat. Meat, sex, and figures. Delicious.

I’m starting a new series. A piece of each of these within it. Hopefully.  It’s likely that I’ll starve to death on painting sales. But I have to do it anyway. Can’t be shown up by a white guy’s 150 year old …. minge.