Studio Mis-Adventures

Horrifying (or sometimes hilarious) stories of studio experiences gone wrong and tips on how to avoid them!

Posted May 12, 2014

As an artist in New York City (or anywhere for that matter), no one has to tell you that the art market is cutthroat. As an art student entering my final years of college, I was stunned at the rapidly disintegrating quality of the artist to artist support system in the academic setting. It seemed every time we gathered together with our work, the feedback became less and less constructive. It was like some sick cycle, which goes a little like this...

Walking into the painting studio, the afternoon sun seeps through the generous windows, illuminating the paintings on their easels. It's a "crit day", and my peers and I have gathered to hear where we have succeeded and failed in our recent projects. Sitting on the stools, chairs, and the corners of a table; we are quite a colorful cast of characters from all walks of life. Our Professor comes in with a flourish and calls out, "all right, lets get this show on the road!"

Now, in every crit, one person can set the tone by either choosing to be a fair observer of what they see... or ripping each painting to shreds. The unfortunate truth of it all is that the rest of the comments tend to follow suit, as people find it easier to follow whats already been done.

It's also the unfortunate truth that in every class your going to have one blood sucker who thrives on draining the life and enthusiasm out of his fellow peers. He (or she) gives no constructional feedback, but rather summons the basest language to establish to the class how inept you are. The question is whether you are going to fight the funk, or get dragged down with it.

About two paintings into the critique, Mr. Blood Sucker gets up and looks at a painting, shifts from one foot to the other and says..."I don't see any intelligent thought in this work."

point blank.

He goes on to say that the colors are completely mediocre and the composition lacking. The artist, to say the least, is shattered. She slowly get up and starts apologizing, essentially, for the choices she made. The problem is, nobody spoke up to mention any of the positive aspects of her work. I mean, come on, what about brush work? saturation of pigment? quality of rendering? Really people! If its one thing I know, it's that no painting is a complete failure. There is always some good in it.

One thing I have learned is: never lie at a critique. Be honest, not overly positive or negative. That point is, don't state opinions, state facts. If you can't suggest how to fix something you don't like, say it in a way that it becomes an open ended question that the entire class can fill in.

Also, there will always be your run of the muck unstable sociopath, I guarantee it. But by giving each other constructional and positive feedback, comments like his will have less staying power.

Finally, like my mother always says, "take everything with a grain of salt."

Go into my DIY to find a great guide to giving (and getting) a good art critique by acclaimed artist, Valerie Jaudon! You won't regret reading it (its just one page, don't get scared off!).

Posted: April 4th 2014

One of the most challenging aspects of learning to screen print is just that- the screen. No matter what media your using, the possibility of clogging up the screen mesh seems least to an amateur like myself. Whether its ink, screen filler, or photo emulsion, the only way to make sure that you can keep on making art work is to clean it. properly. This means one thing and one thing only, and that's water. By the buckets full.

One morning in particular I entered the print shop with high hopes. I was learning about the photo emulsion technique from my illustrious professor, and seemed to be taking to it like a duck to water. I'll say this now- no pun intended.

I was pretty comfortable in the dark room, and had a quick and level hand when it came to applying the sticky substance to the screen. Afterwards I went through the process of exposing the screen, flushing it out with water, and using the photo emulsified screen to print for the first time. The result was incredibly well controlled and clean in comparison to the paper stencil method, which more times then not left me in a pool of acrylic ink.

Here comes the trade off. To clean the darn screen, you have to scrub it with photo emulsion spray, then use an angry looking electric pressure washer. Its essentially a water gun on steroids. First you have to connect it its host to the sink, turn it on (ours started whining), hold it with both hands and pull the trigger. You stand two to three feet away from the screen, methodically waving it up and down to clean off the emulsion. Only.. today that trigger was stuck...hmm. I didn't see any lock mechanism...maybe there was a pressure clamp on the hose???


ALL I did was turn it once and I had an entire flood of water spraying at me! Wrestling with the washer head, it took me about twenty seconds to get it screwed back on again.

Standing by the sink and trying to catch my breath, I couldn't help but wish I had put my apron on. One of the more experienced printers now took the opportunity to walk by; at which point she looked up blankly and said, "everything all right back here?" There I was with wet stains down my jeans...sure, it all good. Right as rain. Too bad she didn't have a sense of humor. I sure as heck did! The next time I use one of those things, I'm wearing a rain coat.


Post a Comment

Please leave thoughts and questions

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Bluehost