Archive for the Art Category

The Endless Slug Will Sleep a While

Posted in Art, Dance, Film, Games (other), Leisure, Literature, Pop-culture, Social Science, Theatre, Uncategorized with tags , , , on 23 November, 2010 by endlessslug

Well, gentle readers, it appears the slug must unfortunately slumber for a while during a potentially very long winter.  In a week or so, I will be taking my blog down, or at least limiting access to it for an indeterminate time.  It’s not that I want to, there is a bit of external pressure to do so for the time being.  I have much more to say, much more to do, and lots of interest in doing it, but for now, the slug absolutely must find a quiet stone to slime his way under and rest, just rest.

But don’t worry, the slug is endless and will return.  Wish my sleep well everyone.

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Work, of the Type I Dislike

Posted in Art, Art Student Handbook, Artists, Contemorary Art, Criticism, Leisure, Literature, Pop-culture, Social Science, Technique on 7 November, 2010 by endlessslug

The slug found himself a job.  It’s one of those jobs that kills all creativity and time, yet kind of pays the bills.  My new workmates like to remind me (constantly) that “it’s money, right?”

Wrong.

Yes, I get paid, but so what?  My interests are broader and I was getting along while also building two different companies.  I was producing, I was beginning a successful climb towards my own agenda of success and quality workmanship.  But now I must toil at a graveyard-shift shit-pile of a job and make way less than the average employee (as I’m considered a “temp”), and get absolutely no new work accomplished.  I know its difficult for a non-artist/writer to understand sometimes, but artists no matter what the type require time, above all, to complete projects.  In fact, we need time just to think and design a project.  We cannot simply sit down for 30 minutes at a time between meals or social events or work and be expected to pump out masterpieces – or anything at all.  The mundane world sees this as “correct” – that now artists and writers must make themselves a “decent” or “honorable” living because the general public believes very little in what we do for them.  And of course, there are artists and writers out there that have really made a terrible image for the rest of us working little and pissing out terrible work for a high profit return (cf Andy Warhol).  I would encourage the public to see artists as carpenters or other construction laborers, and no different, as much as popular artists, or the “artist you know” would like you to think otherwise.  Artists are craftsmen and women like any other, but our work is often situational and based on life experience, not a directly or obviously functional device like a house or car.  This is also not to take away from the artistic elements of the work that other craftsmen do.  I saw a forklift driver the other night whom I felt was a fine artist of truck loading, for example.  The difference between us is only that I (or any other artist) focus on the artistic/aesthetic and secondly on function; just a reverse of the practical consensus.  I wish we could be paid by the hour to create our structures, our homes, our food, our art, but this cannot be.  I don’t blame the public here, I blame artists in conjunction with a cultural mentality that we must all find some sense of uniqueness to consume and compete with.  A mixture of protestant ethic and capitalism, combined with contemporary reliance on spectacle and immediate gratification.  A competition for the shock, as it were, as a means to qualify for a self-defined (yet with immense lacking of experience) sense of personal hard work in the completion of a sub-standard pile of regurgitated sameness steamers.

You can make something new and important and be paid for it.  Relax.

New Studio and New Work

Posted in Leisure, Studio Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 26 August, 2010 by endlessslug

I just started setting up the new studio now that everything else is unpacked and organized.  It will still be a couple days until the new studio is complete, however.  I’m also working on finishing a new book for the Johnny Rook company which will hopefully be completed by the weekend.  I did receive a small commission for some paintings or drawings for a friend’s livingroom, paid in advance, and this has saved my financial ass.  Ok, I didn’t so much get a commission as socially strong-arming my buddy into making his pad a swingin’ chick magnet-verse.   It’s still appreciated greatly and I shall endeavor to produce some fine ass-capturing works in short order.  Spank-spank.

I have a few pastels I need to take some shots of and put up at my Zatista page as well as some B/W illustrations for Johnny Rook to post, although I have to wait for the latter until I get the ‘OK’ to officially post them.  I was allowed to post a couple of the new images in my facebook gallery – check me out there – but only 1-3 images from the new book.  I believe I posted 2.

Anyway, looking forward to beginning some new work in a new place with very positive surroundings.  Although a job would be nice.  It’s hard to pay the rent on nothing but hope.

The Slug’s Move is Ended… for now

Posted in Artists on 10 August, 2010 by endlessslug

Ok, I’m all moved! Now for the massive unpacking!

bah.

Letters to the Contemporary Age I

Posted in Art, Artists, Contemorary Art, Criticism, Pop-culture, Social Science with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 22 July, 2010 by endlessslug

Dear Post-modernism,

Are we done yet?

Have we not underwhelmed the intellectual world and utterly confused (for no reason) the general public enough to move on?  Can we put you to rest and nail the coffin shut so that no culture in the future will ever stoop to such a low cycle in art?  Early man was not even so bold as to make art entirely for himself.  I’m tired, so tired, of walking into supposedly “high art” galleries and uttering only “what a dick” to each exhibit.  Whatever happened to paintings which somebody wanted to buy because they were aesthetically pleasing to the individual and pleasant to display in public?  What’s so wrong with semi-nude nymphs feeding fountains in my front yard?  Post-modernism, is it still necessary to demonstrate the modern artists’ complete lack of knowledge of anything other than art trend and con-artistry?  When did artists become professional assassins of knowledge and thieves of culture?  When will we return to the days where a painter could talk to his or her ancestors or descendants about everyday things?  I recall a time when I could paint a pear and have it mean nothing else but “pear”; although that pear always said much more than that in complex understanding.  It meant more exhaustively: a pear which is there – a pear which is tangible, edible, tasty, delightful; a pear I want and will always want.  A pear my descendants will want and will say, “what a great pear, I understand that my ancestors enjoyed pears as much as I do.  I enjoy this painting.”  The funny thing is, Post-modernism, is that I hate pears.  But I can paint what it must be like to enjoy such a thing.  I see others eat them all the time.  About 50% of the lunch table in my old high school had pears for lunch every day.  But I explore what I hate about pears that others enjoy – and I paint pears for them.

And when did you shift from being about French Socialistic ideas about power relationships and into this self-righteous, selfish disaster all about yourself entirely?  “I, I, I, I, I, Me, Me, Me, Me, Me” – Shut up already, Post-modernism!  We ought to want our descendants to understand something about our times, sure, but in general, not specifically about “my time” as a human in this age.  We are part of a great lineage, a chain of kinship like everyone else.  All artists ought to spend time among non-western villagers.  Make things with them.  Learn how to make art for people, but not community art – this is for idiots (i.e., muralists).   Community art is lifeless and limited, like a tourist photograph, and is among the worst kind of you, Post-modernism.

So, are we done? Can we move on? Can we make distinctions between Modernism, Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, Post-Modernism, and Post-Post-Modernism?  Do we need a new “-ism” to describe this contemporary black hole of shock and self-centered-ness?  Can we paint beautiful things again and not gross, disgusting shock-value trash?  How is shock a power relationship? Because it affects people of all socio-economic and cultural levels? Sure, but you did not have to waste 50 years of fine art and artists on telling us this when it could have been simply written down in an article on a shelf, instead.

Sincerely,

Endless Slug

The Slug, it moves!

Posted in Art with tags , , , , , , , , on 13 July, 2010 by endlessslug

This week begins the big move – the Endless Slug is moving down the street!  I’ll be posting more soon, but I need to get all snuggled into my new digs and setup my new studio and home office.  It’s tough to do when you’re effectively unemployed and have zero income.  So, I don’t expect another post until after early August, but after that I have a few more chapters of my art student handbook to post and I have some new illustrations for another book I’ve been working on that will get posted.

Let’s all hope the new home brings much income to the Slug.  The Slug needs it.

Art Student Handbook, Part I.1: Expression and Self-Expression

Posted in Art Student Handbook, Social Science with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 21 June, 2010 by endlessslug

Artists should never express themselves in art.

This was one of the first lessons ever taught to me by almost all of my art professors.  “What?” you say…  Part of the problem with the arts and artists today – and here I’m referring to not only painters but also writers, musicians, and dancers – is the overuse of the concept of “expression” in their work.  We have been brought up in the contemporary world to hold a certain high esteem for any art work which is decidedly so unique to be a direct “expression” of what the artist must be feeling.   How can you trust this?  Art has become so self-centered over the last 40 years that a great disaster of a painting or sculpture is quickly defined as aesthetically pleasing.  Not because a disastrous painting is actually pleasing, but because such paintings invoke some sense of mystery or wonder in the viewer combined with some sense of:

Observation 1: It is ugly.

Observation 2: I don’t understand it.

Observation 3: The artist made it to show me.

Observation 4: Everyone else seems to be “getting it”.

—Deduction 1: I must be missing something.

—Deduction 2: The “art” must be coming from somewhere from which I am unaware.

Observation 5: It is expensive.

Observation 6: My confidence in the art world is insufficient as is my ability to directly criticize something because I do not want to look like either an idiot or a jerk due to immense public social pressure.

—Deduction 3: My sense of aesthetic must be incorrect.

—Deduction 4: Ugly must be beautiful when it is unknown to the viewer.

—Conclusion: Art, then, must be something out of reach of the common person, which I do not want to be, and entirely an expression of some instinctual utterance of thought and emotion, combined.

=========

Sure, there are some logical gaps up there, but I hope you see the point.  The problems in the art world today are complex and not easily solved, but I believe starting with new students brings the art world some hope.

Most art student’s I’ve met over the last ten years see no problem at all, other than the difficulty in being able to show their work at a gallery and believing that past artists had the same problem (this is untrue).  Following Harold Bloom, most of what we are told about art and artists is wrong or misunderstood – a misreading of the material from the past under a contemporary “lens”.  Let us begin to fix this misunderstanding with defining what exactly “expression” in the arts means:

Definition: Expression does not refer to “self-expression,” but is the act of making art itself; the act, not the resulting image.

Definition: Self-Expression is therapy and is not art.

Jeffrey Jones (Copyrighted for Education only)

I always refer back to a discussion between Jeffrey Jones, George Pratt, and David Spurlock.  For those unfamiliar, these men art contemporary illustrators of fantasy, sci-fi, and comic books, but they were both exceedingly well-trained artists from academies, universities, and the study of the old masters.  The following is an excerpt from Jeffrey Jones Sketchbook, compiled by Jeffrey Jones and George Pratt, Vanguard Publishing, 2000.  ISBN 1887591109.

[snip]

J:…This is one pet peeve I have with art – I never get time to talk about it.  It’s about self-expression being called art.  I think the worst – I’ll call it art for the sake of communication – the worst possible kind of art is that art that comes from self-expression.  The second worst is symbolism, but we’ll get to that later.  The worst is self-expression.

Art is all about communication.  It’s about what we have in common, not our differences.  The more different I am than the rest of the people, the less interested they are in what I have to say.  The more I can show them how we, as human beings, all see something, feel about something, experience something, the more valid it is as a piece of art…

…As an artist, it’s our job to somehow put this down and communicate it so people can look at it and say, “Thank God I’m not the only one!” That’s what makes art noble.  It includes people into places they’ve never been included before.  This is not a conscious thing at all – you just know it.  If you look at art and you feel good, it’s because you feel a part of something, not because you feel excluded.

P: You’re talking their language.

J: Exactly. And that’s why I hate people calling art “self-expression.”

P: It’s masturbation.

J: It is.  It’s self-abuse.  You’re sitting there talking to yourself.  It’s fine, it’s therapy – it’s not art.

S: Can you make an example of a well-known piece that’s self-expression?

J: If more than two people can relate to it, then it’s not self-expression.  By it’s very nature, it wouldn’t even be out there.  Woody Guthrie said it very simply, “All I do is tell people what they already know.” And that’s what artists do: they tell people what they already know.  That’s why self-expression is therapy and not art.

[snip]

I’ve always enjoyed this conversation and think to it frequently.  The best thing a student of the arts can do for him or herself is to learn:

1) how to draw.

2) how to use color, beginning with browns and earthtones.

3) how to draw anatomy of people

4) how to draw landscapes

5) how to use the technical materials of illustrators and painters

6) how to keep the therapy in the sketchbooks, which are later burned, and not sold online as “painting-a-day” bullshittery.

This will take time, and delightfully, these are craft skills, meaning that everyone, everyone, can learn them.

=========

Let’s return briefly to what expression means.  Expression in art is how one wishes to communicate.  I express a communication through paint or ink, sometimes comedy, for example.  The word “expression” is the best word that the current art world has for the act of making art.  The English language has a number of deficits due to our need to restrict the evolution of the language.  The art world, for English-speakers has always suffered due to our lack of emotive words and efficiency of though.  There is a connotation with the word “expression” though, that suggests that an expressed artwork is something thrown up publically for approval.  A serious artist should already know what the public ought to think about the work before any work is displayed.  When I hear the lay public refer to an art work as expression, it is very clear that they understand the word as self-expression with that mode of public shock or approval intrinsically attached to it.  But somehow, somewhere, at some time, art shifted towards appeasing a public eye, rather than communicating and dialogging with it.  Now, artists must shock or entertain, paint celebrities, paint pain, paint ugly, paint horror – in order to keep a mis-informed public interested enough to go into the galleries.  I hypothesize that if galleries accepted academy paintings again, we might see a slow reversal of public interest and hopefully, over time, a general increase in sales and profits for all, both in money and in beauty.

I urge you, new artist, not to bend to the whim of peer pressure, not to give up on developing your skills as an artist (it may take 20 years!), not to feel the need to masturbate your personal therapy at us and inundate the world with your quickly-decaying spunk, but to be patient, learn, listen, and experience the world in such a way that you can, one day, communicate back more universal experiences to us all.