Hey friends, hope you had a magnificent holiday season with you and yours. I took a little hiatus over the holidays, but am now back with the first "inspirations" post of 2017!
I first heard about Jac Chartier when I was doing Phase 1 of my training with Golden in 2008. (Fun fact: Chartier was actually the very first Working Artist in my program!) Patti, our director, had a book with Chartier's work in it when I trained at her studio in South Carolina, and I immediately loved her aesthetic - her rich colors, deep stains, and scientific approach. So I was very stoked to see a couple of her pieces in person at the Miami Art Basel a year ago. Naturally, they were even more stunning in person, as I could see all the details lost in reproduction- the size, soft thick pours, even richer color, and all of the pencil markings, including notes down the sides of the paintings. (I also discovered that her work there was going for $50,000, #goals)
She has several bodies of work, but my favorite is definitely her main series, Testing. These paintings are literally a series of experiments, testing the interactions of different materials.
As a huge art materials nerd who loves experimenting with materials, recording the results, and thinks of her studio as a lab, I'm SO into it - the picture below is one of the sexiest photos I've ever seen haha. But I'm even more intrigued after reading about her thoughts and process - which I know I should probably summarize for you, but it's so good that I'm just going to post it whole:
" I call my primary body of work Testing, because each painting begins as an actual test. Inspired by scientific images like gel electrophoresis, they feature intimate views of materials reacting to each other, to light, and the passage of time. Instead of paint, I use my own complex formulas of deeply saturated inks, stains and dyes. Such colors can do things paint can't do – change, shift, and migrate through other layers of paint, or separate into component parts with differing properties.
Whereas traditional artist paints are formulated to be stable and controllable, stains are capricious and easily affected by lots of factors like humidity, gravity, time, UV light – even the structure of molecules in the other elements they touch. After years of study I'm still intrigued by the hidden chemistries of these materials. I write notations directly on the paintings to help me track what’s happening in each test. These notes are one of the physical forms I use to display parallels between scientific and artistic exploration.
Like most painters I was educated to use archival materials and "proper" painting techniques. This practice was the original motivation behind a group of work I call SunTests. They started as a way of sorting out fugitive materials from those that are stable and lightfast. But instead of discarding such materials, I've found myself attracted to them, drawn by the additional layer of complexity that such changes suggest, and by the very notion of impermanence.
Time is not a dimension people usually think of for paintings. Even after you know about the testing process underpinning my work, it’s tempting to view the paintings as static, frozen moments or phenomena captured in the acrylic film like bugs in amber. But they're actually slow-motion performances changing imperceptibly over time as the materials continue to interact. I design some colors to shift in hue or gradually disappear, while others remain permanent.
Whether the painting is large or small, you're meant to get up close. The lush matte surface and blurry, out-of-focus quality bring further attention to the effort of looking. Repetition is employed to compare & contrast, and to provide situations where unexpected mutations might occur. " - Jac Chartier, www.jaqbox.com
First of all, I am DYING to know what her secret formulas are. Secondly, I really love her fascination with time, and that she not only welcomes impermanence, but embraces it - actually designing her materials to continue to interact and even fade as time progresses. It's so counter-intuitive to how most artists think (including myself), being careful to use archival materials. It's also really interesting to think that there are many potential ways these paintings can transform, depending on where the end up - they may change quite differently depending on if their new home is Ottawa, New Orleans, or Arizona. (Kind of like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure, but for paints).
Here are some of her pieces from the Testing series - click the button below to see more on her website!
Kim Kei is a multidisciplinary artist based out of Los Angeles who has several extensive bodies of work, all based on scavenged materials. Her work revolves around the idea of vulnerability and intimacy, which I think comes through beautifully in her delicate aesthetic and use of fragile, unwanted things. Kei assembles these discarded items to create sculptures that she then photographs, uses as a basis for paintings in oil, watermedia and ink, and creates monotypes with. Below are some of her photographs.
Kei's paintings are also inspired by these sculpted shapes, in which she references the human body both in the 'gestures' these forms make, and by mimicking the skin's surface. This is especially apparent in her monotypes, where she creates the looks of human skin out of paint skins - which she then inks and presses to paper, capturing "the cracks and wrinkles, the body's acquired marks though time, injury, repair, and illness."
To check out more of her work and see more great shots of her process, check out the link below.
WRITINGS ON ART, MARK ROTHKO
I got a library card a few weeks ago for the first time in years, and I don't know why I didn't do it sooner. That's not entirely true, I do- a) because buying books is one of my greatest joys and b) I want to have a floor to ceiling library one day (like in the movies, with a ladder.) However, it's not always the most cost effective when I'm drooling over huge volumes of art books.
Anyway, all this to say: dang, the Ottawa Public Library has a pretty great little art section! Besides the 20 books I ordered (whoops), I also picked up a collection of writings by Mark Rothko and Frida Kahlo's diary (which feels wrong to read, but it's amazing). I actually picked up the Rothko book thinking it was his manifesto The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art which I've been wanting to read for awhile, but I'm actually glad I picked up the one I did, if only for this excerpt:
"The satisfaction of the creative impulse is a basic, biological need, essential to the health of the individual. Its aggregate effect on the health of society is inestimable. Art is one of the few important means known to man for the articulation of this impulse. This is why its practice is as continuous as life itself. This is why its practice is as continuous as life itself. It has survived every proscription by man made law or custom, and every difficulty which nature contrived in the intractability of its materials, no matter how unyielding the surface or how adverse the circumstance, man has persisted in this recording of his imaginings. The process itself is a psychological parallel inevitable to all biological processes. Man receives and therefore must expel. The alternative is strangulation. Man's senses collect and accumulate, the emotions and mind convert and order, and through the medium of art, they are emitted to participate again in the life stream where in turn they will stimulate action in other men. For art is not only expressive but communicable as well, this communicability imparts to it a social function.
The writer will state then this inevitable conviction; that the practice of art is a social action, intrinsically important, requiring no auxiliary justifications. Its conclusion, therefore, in the education curriculum needs no apology. "
- Mark Rothko, The Creative Impulse, Writings of Rothko, p 28
I think this is one of the most beautifully articulated arguments for arts education, ever. It also puts perfectly why I'm passionate about giving workshops through non-profits that focus more on the health and wellness benefits of art. I think Rothko was a visionary that way - it's only been in the last ten or so years that we've seen really conclusive data from the scientific community that legitimizes this theory. Reading this this week really just affirms some things I've got cooking up for this year in both of these fields (more on that soon when things are more concrete, but ahhhhhh so excited!!)
I discovered Creative Live a few weeks ago, and I can't stop talking about it (as my poor boyfriend can attest to). It's a website and app that has video classes on art, design, music, and maker workshops, as well as business classes designed for creative professionals. You can buy these classes, or you can watch one free lesson a day.
They had a huge sale a few weeks back and I bought a business class with Tara Gentile, and three lessons in I bought one of her books and started watching another course as well. It's the first set of business resources I've read/seen that actually resonates with me. Like many artists, self-promotion isn't my forte, and I've always felt this divide when it comes to the business side of both my own artwork and teaching. Traditional marketing/promotion books often make me feel incredibly uncomfortable because they seem very inauthentic to me. This course is instead all about fostering connections, leveraging your strengths and building something based on your personality/values/goals/creativity. So that was a big inspiration this week - I definitely recommend both Gentile and Creative Live. I'm also looking forward to checking out some of their art and design videos! Click on the button below to check them all out!
I have a full week ahead of me so that concludes this week's inspiration list. As always, if you have any questions or topics you'd like me to cover, don't hesitate to get in touch! Happy painting!