Friday, December 20, 2013

Art Thoughts

            A lot of stuff has been happening, and I've been ignoring my poor blog. It always makes me    feel really sad when blogs die, so I promise not to let that happen to this one. 
            I went to the Holiday Artist Market at the Brooks Museum, and I bought an Alexander Paulus! I really admire his work. I bought one of the less expensive ones (although I love the paintings the best).
It inspired me to draw a self portrait:

         Funny story, when I had bought this drawing and walked downstairs in the Brooks with it, a security guard for the museum was at her post there and asked me if I had bought it. I said that I had, and she started laughing. "How much did you pay for that?" I told her and she said, "You pay fifty dollar for that?!?" She could not stop laughing. Very strange behavior for a museum security guard, I think...          
         But I thought it was funny. She even got me laughing!
         I went to David Hall's art show last Sunday. I drew this section of one of his paintings: 
            It looks like thread to me, which is why I liked it so much and drew it. It was made with thread, in a way, a thread of rubber cement that was used to block out these lines.
           The moon when I rode home that night was full, and it was spectacular when the sky was just starting to go dark.
           I've been looking at amazing art online, a lot of it on this website. I've also been thinking about paint, and what it means to be truly masterful with paint. I think it's a combination of natural talent, years of experience with the medium and ridiculous fluency with it, and a joy the artist must draw from the act of painting (which joy, I'm convinced, does come across). I'm still thinking about this!
          I found a Memphis artist who did portrait commissions: Paul Penczner.

I painted a picture of David at his art show:
I love painting portraits, but I should really work more, I think, on my works on tulle. Especially after reading a little of this book my mother-in-law just gave me as an early Christmas present, I really want to concentrate more on the work that was directly inspired by her. These are much more difficult to make, but I love them intensely.

I'm reading Infinite Jest, which is good so far. It's 1,000 pages long. And people complain about Wuthering Heights! Reading Infinite Jest gave me this urge to write fiction, and I've been remembering a lot of wonderful moments from very long ago. These are two things that happen when I'm reading a really good book, so I suppose that's what Infinite Jest is. However, I really ought to finish it before reviewing it. David Foster Wallace has been compared to Thomas Pynchon, and I hated Gravity's Rainbow, so I'll have to see.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Difference Between Painting and Drawing

Here is a drawing I made yesterday:

And here is the same image painted:

             I was reading this article that mentions an artist who died because he refused to stop using paint that contained lead: "Portinari seemed to strongly prefer working with the lead paints, reportedly saying 'They forbid me to live,' about the doctors who urged him to give them up."

            Since I needed a new tube of white oil paint, I started researching the hazards and benefits of different types. In most cases, it's essential that white paint not yellow over time, so one artist did a test to see which type of paint was best. All of the flake white paints (containing lead) come out the best in this test. There are also many artists who swear by lead paint for portraiture. I did think about buying some, until I saw this label for the lead version of the brand I use: 

The warning label on what I bought instead was much better, although it does still have one:

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Agnes Martin

"My paintings are not about what is seen. They are about what is known forever in the mind."  - Agnes Martin (From an article by Susan York)

How can the word "forever" be used in connection with the human mind, which is certain to decompose? This gets at Martin's philosophy. It doesn't have to do with the soul's survival after death. It is about the human mind accessing something that is going to last forever. Her paintings attempt to access this something (Truth, as it is traditionally called), or at least to express to the viewer this striving towards Truth. It occurred to me, as I sat for hours in front of one Agnes Martin, that she was expressing the way Truth undergirds all of nature.

These thoughts are notoriously hard to communicate and writings about Truth have been famously misconstrued (to mean exactly the opposite of their intended meaning, in fact). That is probably why Martin was very careful with everything she said in interviews, and often repeated the same statements, or simply rephrased them. Nabokov wrote out everything he said in lectures or interviews beforehand, and Kurt Gödel was similarly reticent (all believers in essentially the same philosophy). So, for fear of making a terrible blunder, I think I'll stop here for now with my philosophy lecture.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Good Times

        Last night I went to the art opening for Elizabeth Alley and Martha Kelly's show at the Botanic Gardens. It was lovely! I met Melanie Spillman there, whose work I really admire.
Me with the artwork I had framed today
      Then I had a great day today. The weather was amazing. In the morning it had exactly the breeze of an early spring day. I feel lucky that I got to run errands all day today on my bicycle.
     One of the errands was getting a piece framed at Frame Corner. The lady there, Rene (rhymes with green), very patiently showed me every step of putting the mat and frame and artwork together myself (after everything had been cut for me). This allowed me to save 10%, AND I learned a lot about how framing is done. Plus the people there were enthusiastic about the portraits I painted, which was great.
     I highly recommend Frame Corner to any artists in Memphis.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Would You Rather...?

Interesting group at Republic Coffee just now. They were playing a spirited game of "Would You Rather..?"
In other news, I had the most wonderful weekend. I spent almost all of it reading a novel (Wuthering Heights). I didn't know until a recent wikipedia binge that the well water (and only available water) for the Brontë family was contaminated by decomposing corpses. The life expectancy of the area where they lived was less than 25 years, so it wouldn't have seemed unusual to the other villagers that all of the siblings died young. 

Here's a picture of Emily Brontë (author of Wuthering Heights) painted by her brother:
She was thirty when she died.

Although it has its downsides (very long, but of course I like that), there are a lot of marks of genius in it: A perfect depiction of what bad people we are as children, greedy and cruel, especially to siblings. But, eventually, every adult in the novel grows out of that, except, of course, Heathcliff. Her characterization of a popular, pretty, and tyrannical teenage girl (Catherine Earnshaw) is spot-on. And I was incensed again, just as I was the first time I read it, at the way the wimp Linton talked about Cathy. Some credit has to be given to a writer that can make you wish you could slap a fictional character. 

Mr. Lockwood, the narrator, happens upon some books with notes in them written long ago (25 years ago). So when I re-read it, I imagined finding notes written in 1988. 

I'm looking for another book to read, or to re-read, in the same obsessive manner I read this one, but it's probably better that I don't have one yet. I want to get a lot of painting done this week.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

You know what would make a great Present? *UPDATE* *Completed Portrait*

A commissioned portrait! Contact me soon to get it done in time for the holidays. Meghank at

Here's a work in progress:

UPDATE 12-2-13: Here is the completed portrait:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Absinthe Drinkers

Documentation of a fun night at the Cove Saturday.

I really like that place. Has anyone else noticed how fantastic most of the art there is?

Thursday, November 14, 2013


The trees in Memphis this year are amazing.
Take some time to stare at them if you can.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Painting in Progress

I took photos of this painting as I painted it today.

First I did a general drawing and blocked in what I saw as the darkest areas.
Below I worked on the eyes, because I really can't see what I'm doing unless I can see what the eyes look like.
Trying to move things along, I added in some black (I make my own black).

Here I made a few corrections.

I started blocking in her clothing.

Towards the end of a painting, I enjoy leaning back in an armchair and bringing the painting right up close to my face, so that is what I am doing in the following photos.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.