Baltimore

Misdirection

In the past week, there was a mass shooting in Oregon, which drew the focus of the national media and the ire of President Obama who used it as another opportunity to push the gun control debate, as well as two shootings in Baltimore, which unsurprisingly have drawn less attention. 

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-mass-shooting-20151007-story.html

Apparently, it's National Mental Health Awareness Week, but there's not been much consciousness raising in my opinion, and we're hearing very little about mental illness in general, except in relation to this mass shooting at a community college in Oregon, which left 10 people dead, including the gunman, and nine people injured. One bright spot this week was when the host of "Last Week Tonight," John Oliver, delivered this incisive segment on his show: 


Instead of focusing on gun control, talking mental illness, when the mentally ill are more likely to be victims-- not perpetrators-- of gun violence, is simply misdirection. 

Concerted Effort

It's been a long time since I posted anything here. I'm going to start a concerted effort to (a) post everyday and (b) go through my comments.  Right now, I have 29,597 comments to go through, and I'm thinking probably 98% of those are Viagra spam.  I am also working on updating my website, but really I feel the most important thing to do right now is just to be painting since last year I didn't too much of that :(.

I've been really productive the last three weeks or so since moving my studio into the house, which is still being renovated, but seems to be moving along semi-steadily.  This is one of the paintings I'm doing. I have to get Toby to sit for me, but most of it is done (just got to do that damn shoe).

I got these tulips from Whole Paycheck and they've lasted a whole week!

Quick Landscape Studies

I promised I would post some landscape studies that I have been doing during the sporadically nice-weather days. Here is one that I did in Baltimore County, in Moncton where there is a lot of rural farmland.  I spent about 2.5-3 hours on this, and it is very low-chroma (meaning the colors are low in saturation, because it was quite foggy that morning).

This next study I busted out in about 30 or 40 minutes so it is obviously not very finished, but you get a sense of what I was going for.  I had started another painting earlier in the afternoon but from a different vantage point where the sun was flat on the abandoned rail car and it was difficult to get a sense of form. So I decided to move and try again, but then there was only about 45 minutes before the sun set.  This is on Falls Road, near the Hampden area of Baltimore.

There were a lot of drug dealers on this road, who asked me if I wanted to buy some "candy," which, I guess, is code for drugs.

New Painting Group...in Baltimore?!

Six months in Baltimore sounds like a long time, but it feels like a short few weeks to me.  Many have told me that one doesn't get used to a new city or place until about the six-month mark, and for me, that has been true: things are getting better. However, the improvement in my spirits might also be due to a confluence of recent events: the weather getting better, the help of new (and old) friends, and, probably most significantly, the congregation of a new painting group under the aegis of my friend Palden Hamilton.  He recently moved into a house with a studio graced with north light, and his powerfully cool personality is enough to bring people from all around the Baltimore-area to paint with him several times a week. Now that the weather is getting better some of us from this group have gone out painting, in surrounding areas such as Moncton, or Hampden in Baltimore City. Here is a 3-hour portrait I did of Jenny, a student of Palden's.

Tomorrow I'll post some of the landscape studies I've done. The titanium white is still pretty wet (had to slather that stuff on because it just snowed the other day!).

New Studio in Baltimore

I have been in The Charm City now for about a month and transitioning, which is the main reason there hasn't been any blog posting.  I'm finally sitting down to update the rest of my website with work I did just before I left New York, but I wanted to share that I finally found a studio space in the downtown neighborhood of Federal Hill in Baltimore.  The space is fantastic- not too big, about 400 square feet, but I've got northern and eastern exposures and high ceilings. I take over the lease and move in in a week!  School 33 is actually under the aegis of Baltimore's Office of Promotion & The Arts.  You can check out their website at http://www.school33.org. I have a pretty sweet view from my windows too, so be prepared for another cityscape!

Updated my commission information

I've been getting more inquiries about commissions lately, so my husband has been bugging me about getting better information on the website.  Now I know why I have been putting off improving my site: I'm no computer programmer and I suck at Photoshop.  I know I don't have information about my process on there yet, but hopefully by the beginning of next week-- getting the stuff I do have there now took me the whole day. In other news: we've done the move to Baltimore, my resting heart speed is much lower than it was in New York, and all my stuff is in storage.  I go to Pigtown (West Baltimore) at some point soon to see a studio. No luck on the studio front near MICA, which would have been ideal: I could have walked to work!

Stabbing on W45th Street!!!

We just got back from Crown Heights in Brooklyn where we were test-driving a Volvo. I'd never been out there before, and when I told the owner how nice her block was, she said that it looks nicer than it is: apparently, there have been some shootings outside her place.  I nodded knowingly.  I understand about shootings (at least in theory)-- I just spent the last week in Baltimore. Skipping over a lot of emotionally-excruciating details that may not be prima facie relevant to an "art blog", I will say that the Baltimore police department has a very skewed perception of New York City.  To them, New York is the gritty big city (as Lily Tomlin said of the city in Big Business: "crack whores, rapists, fiends, and white slavers- it's a pistol") and little ol' Baltimore is WAY better off in terms of crime than NYC.  Perhaps that's true in real numbers, but not in percentage terms, given that Baltimore's population is a fraction of New York's.  Toby and I discussed how safe we've always felt in New York, even in Hell's Kitchen, which if you've read my previous post, you know to be quite, um, "colorful."  However! The Gothamist just reported a THREE-PERSON STABBING on my street- like two doors down- that happened last night!

Blog Renaissance-- Righting a wrong purpose.

Well, I lost a lot of sleep last night after thinking that I had accidentally deleted my blog. Technology is not intuitive for me, but people say that it's something to use to your advantage and it seems like most people who do well these days are somewhat internet savvy.  So I created this blog, about a year ago now, and I have not been a very frequent blog poster since the inception, mainly because (a) I'd rather be painting than posting, and (b) though I do like to write, I felt a bit hemmed in by the "work" nature of this blog.  In wanting to keep this blog professional, I think I made it a bit boring for myself.

When I woke this morning after finally getting to sleep at around 5/5:30, I felt calmer. After all, I'm no Hemingway, I don't know if I have a lot of people reading this, and-- most importantly-- I'm moving.  The end of one phase in my life, the beginning of another.  The end of one blog, the beginning of another.  I like parallels, especially when they are forced.

My friends know and my gallery knows that I'm moving away from New York, but I have been keeping it to myself when it comes to my "professional life" -- partly because I know I'll be in and out of New York a lot still because of work obligations and commissions and things I have got going on (and friends of course), but mainly because I don't know what this really means for my life as an artist.  People ask me what it'll be like to be away from other artists, as I am moving to Baltimore, which is not exactly a cultural mecca, and I say I don't really know (since my day-to-day existence in New York is pretty introverted, and I don't go to as many museums and gallery openings as I should anyway).  Some others have said still that it'll be a good move: I can be a big fish in a small pond, but that type of thinking has never struck me as sensical (perhaps because I never think about size). I worry about getting models in Baltimore, just because it's a smaller place, but I suppose I'm looking forward to the cheaper real estate prices, because then I can have a sweet studio.  Anyway, Baltimore is a big unknown, and that's scary.

My husband is in academia, and was on the job market this year. When he and I were making the decision about what job offer he should accept (ultimately, we were stalemated between New York/Columbia University and Baltimore/Johns Hopkins University), I kept thinking that if I had a better sense of my life and purpose, I'd realize that there is a One True Purpose which has been driving me all my life and should continue to drive me in the future.  If I were a better person, a better self-evaluator, I would know my OTP (One True Purpose), and then I could program the decision-making machine with the correct parameters and whatever result it would spit out, I'd follow it, no questions asked, because once I come to a decision logically, I'm pretty good at bringing my emotions in line.  The OTP has eluded me.  Those of you whose OTP is God, I'm jealous.  Those of you whose OTP is career or money or family, I hope it leads you to where you want to go.

What I did in the absence of OTP was to make a list and assign numerical values. I'm kind of a big feeler, so I don't know if being a feeler is consistent with being quantitative, but I'd say I'm fairly quantitative.  I like "running the numbers," and balancing my checkbook gives me a sense of control and purpose and even a weird kind of elation.  (I know, I'm rolling my eyes AT MYSELF.)  I assigned what I saw as all the relevant issues to two categories: LIFE and CAREER.  LIFE included things like where to raise children, my own intellectual happiness, emotional supports, where Toby would be happy, and CAREER basically meant painting well and perhaps networking opportunities (which I avoid almost as much as blogging).  Ultimately, I thought New York won out on LIFE and may be lost a little on CAREER just because the idea of finding another studio space in Manhattan stressed me out.  The stalemate resulted not because Toby disagreed with this artificial decision-making paradigm, but because Baltimore won on CAREER and LIFE for him.  So Baltimore it was.

In hindsight, the whole LIFE/CAREER dichotomy doesn't make a lot of sense to me-- I feel that I am just who I am.  How could I have a good life without a good career, and vice-versa?  I am an artist, and even when I'm, say, scrubbing the toilet, I'm still that same person.  It's not like just because I pick up the toilet wand instead of a paintbrush that I'm now in "life" mode.  It's of course waaaaay too strong to say that I'm trying to make the toilet beautiful with my stain-fighting detergent, but I just know that everyday, whatever I'm doing, I'm doing it as myself.  That self happens to be an artist.

So when I realized it might be tabula rasa for this blog (I know, I'm so good at coming full-circle), I thought, here's a way for me to blog for myself, as I start a new phase in my LIFECAREER (notice the absence of the forward-slash here, indicating the rejection of the dichotomy that was proposed in the first place).  No more blogging because I'm trying to "market my career."  Just blogging because I want to, and dang it if the 21st century has rejected the PROFESSIONAL/PERSONAL dichotomy as well.

Godaddy.com has been a complete waste of time and money for me.  It's definitely the cheapest hosting out there, but have you seen the company's website?  It's like if Times Square in New York were a website.  Going to their website is like trying to find the Red Lobster on 42nd Street if you can't read maps or signs.  Streamline any time, Godaddy?  Well, Godaddy.com has been a complete waste of time and money for me-- until today. They found my blog, and restored it.  But not before I wondered whether it was what I really wanted.