Books I would Recommend

I'm going to be editing this for a while till I get all my thoughts about these books down, because right now I just kinda want to get this post up. Then I'll remember something and change it.

Note to reader: Anytime I say "our library" I mean the library located within Montserrat College of Art.

Alright so here we go!!!

This is a must read. I don't know what else I can say. I found this my freshman summer in beverly, when the old bookstore was going out of business. Picked it up and basically couldn't put it down till the sun started to set.

It's a nice reassurance that everyone doubts themselves and the best thing to do is just believe in yourself and keep working. I have my copy around somewhere if you want to read it for free. Don't know if I'll be able to find it.

Our library has it though.

What painting is... This book alongside "Art and Fear" rocked my world freshman summer. The way this man talks about paint is mind boggling and poetic. Later on I'll probably pull quotes out of it. It's because of this book that I'm a crazy James Elkins fanboy, but to be honest the books that I have read hence haven't been nearly as good. If you are going to read one of his books this would be the one to try. It's when he talks about the color plates that come along with the book that are really terrific. There is a lot of talk/history/lecture about alchemy in it, but it's worth wading through those blocks of text to get to the parts where he talks about paintings. He talks about working in the studio being a type of psychosis. It's really great stuff. I highly recommend it, but I've been recommending it for like 2 years now, and have only recently been able to convince one person to pick it up and read.

The library might have it. If not I own a copy that I would lend out.

I don't read that often despite what this book list may say. I get most of my reading done when I'm traveling back and forth from Kentucky. Books make airplane flight tolerable. So that might explain why I didn't pick this book up till like sophmore year had gotten underway. I picked it up 'cause it was written by James Elkins, but also I found it to be a paradox. How is a handbook for art students about how art cannot be taught.

The book is crazy pessimistic. "What Painting Is" is like rainbows and awesome art rants. This book is like a dissection of how art schools run. The books main point is that teachers do not directly teach. They do not directly impart you with knowledge. They talk, go on lectures or rants in the hopes that something they say clicks and inspires you. Besides expanding on that notion, the book also takes a very close look at how critiques work. More specifically seminar critiques, when you have several teachers from several disciplines talking about your work. It's insightful. It has some ideas in the end about how to mix things up. I read it all though so it had something in it that kept me reading.

Stupid small image messing up the page format
You can get it through the library

Alright lets round up this James Elkins fanboy train real quick. This book is a survey of how Modernism and Post-Modernism progressed. It stops just short of the year 2000 so it's not trying to make any statement of the world now. It's more talking about the transition into modernism and the resistance of post-modernism. It has interesting ideas, and basically put's forth all the theories of what modernism is. It's good for conversations about such things. We're going to move on from it now.

Our library has it don't worry.

Jenny Saville. One of the YBA's. (Young British Artist) If you're not sure who they are, Damien Hirst is a YBA. If you don't know who that is. Well stay tuned you'll be educated eventually. Anyways yeah. Jenny Saville rocks my world. Her paintings are huge. 6 ft being the smallest dimension in any of her work. Biggest being like 16 ft I think. Nice color plates. From afar they seem to be expressive figurative paintings. Walk up to it and suddenly you're looking at a De Kooning. This is one of the books I'll take out when working in the studio. Have it open just so I can look at it. Lovely color plates. Her imagery can be rather jarring at first, but eventually you're desensitized to the imagery and just appreciating the paint. Take that notion however you want, that's what's going on in her paintings.

Our Library DOES have this book.

Euan Uglow... It's a crazy hard name to remember. Hopefully now that I've had to type it up several times I'll be able to remember it now. Uglow is another british artist, but not part of the YBA's. Not sure what the difference between the two is? Jenny Saville crazy popular and rich. She sold one of her paintings at her grad school show and took off from there. Uglow had to be at his craft for a while before he got a book. While Jenny Saville's imagery is very powerful, this guy's paintings have such a meditation on them that it's crazy. He was so into making marks for measurements that he would mark the wall behind the model. Just another great figurative artist. If you get a chance to flip through this book don't pass it up.

Great Britain has a huge tradition of figurative artists. Like the entire island has a collective school of thought when it comes to figures. I don't know if you would include Jenny Saville in it. However, Uglow and Freud would definitely be part of it. Trends in this school of thought being very realistic and the avid use of browns.

Our library has it.

I found this book over winter break my junior year. It was my one and only christmas present to myself, and my stomach paid for it later on down the road. I was able to get it for 75$ though. Which is awesome, since now that I see what it is going for on amazon makes me feel much better about buying.

Anyways this book is copyrighted 2009. It is a wonderful survey of contemporary painting today. from 1970's to 2009. It's like you went on a trip to New York and were just bombarded with great paintings. Not only does it have great color plates, but it's like a text book. I'm currently reading this, and not yet done, so I can say much for it right now. Besides that it has wonderful paintings in it and gets me very excited.

Alright that's all the books I can think of. Please leave a comment with what you think. I'm not sure what I'm going to talk about now that I've done the one idea I had.

Thank you for reading, see you later.


I'm wondering what you want me to say.

I'm wondering what you want me to talk about. I mean I tend to ramblings already but I'm wondering what you are interested.

I could talk about books that I like to reference often. I might do a post about that.

We could talk about aspect ratios that I'm finding pleasant. Like this one of Dan the model. I had reference photos of his face from a class way back, and when I had to crop it for a painting I decided on this size. It's like only 21 inches tall, but there's something about this ratio that seems to be working for me. Not a lot of dead space going on here, but that might just be yellow being varied enough to hold up that corner. I'm going to keep on talking about this, 'cause I don't like how this paragraph breaks underneath the photograph. This paintings is done on paper adhered to a panel with matte medium. A drawing was done then fixed. A coat of clear gesso was then applied over it.

Whatever the case may be it showed up again in my portfolio with this painting of a security guard's daughter. This one, the reference photo was already cropped and I didn't have access to the original photo to make any decision on how it was going to be cropped. Also the original was in black and white. The guy gave me two photographs of his daughter, one vertical wise in color, and the other horizontal as you see here, but in black n' white. I thought the horizontal composition was stronger. I had to use the color photograph for color ideas as I worked on the black n' white composition. If that makes any sense. I think working from that awkward situation really pushed this painting into areas I hadn't been to. The space the figure inhabits has some direct thought put into it, that seems to stand up to the figure.

It was a hassle, but it's one of my only paintings where the background doesn't feel that influenced by Tim Harney. It starts to look like something that's truly me. The thing is though, I was painting that area when I was frustrated with the paintings and not keeping up with my journal, so I'm not exactly sure what my train of thought was when working on it. However, from this I'm able to transition into my newest painting. Which I'm doing in spirit of this aspect ratio that seems to be working very well for me.

It is a portrait of my now deceased Grandfather on my mother's side. She's been asking me to do a portrait of him forever, and right now as I get setup to put some thought out ideas down onto panel I thought I could bust out this portrait and make her really happy. She comes from a family of eight so once this semester is done I'm going to be sending it home to see how all my aunts and uncles respond.

My class was saying that my grandfather looks like Hunter S. Thompson...

It didn't hurt either that she sent me the photograph up with a care package right when I was scrambling to set up a new painting. I had to scan in the photograph since it's analogue (and also they had flash on it seems) but I was able to get a nice resolution and crop it nice to what I'm comfortable with. The panel is prepared with polymer gesso rather than my usual homemade gesso with animal fat. However, when I put the rabbit skin glue on top of it and let it dry the paint started to do wonderful things. It's acting much like the first portrait of Mike Vance, and being very fluid on the surface. This plus the fact that I have some newly mixed safflower oil and stand oil mediums set up kindly by my roommate Jordan Elquist, creates a new arena that I'm enjoying. Though the stand oil is making this thing take forever to dry. It's still a work in progress and I'll follow up once I'm done with it.

I'm thinking of doing a follow up piece with my 3 uncles in it. Then after that I'll hopefully be prepare to take on my more advanced ideas and start looking back into my meta painting theories. I'm trying my best to put a lot of forethought into my paintings, in general, before I jump into them. But these family portraits however, are done off of old scrapbook analogue photographs. There's not much to think about besides cropping. The painting's purpose is simple, my family would like a painting of our grandfather. No grand statements about what paintings should be doing. Just a portrait that I know would make a lot of people happy.

Alright I think I'm going to wrap this up for now. Drop me a comment to tell me what you think about this blog. It should be updated more regularly than my other two. Also, I want to know what you guys want me to ramble about. I think the next post is going to be about books that I think are valuable to artists, but after that I'm blank. Give this scattergun some direction.

Thank you for reading, more soon hopefully.