Sunday, December 13, 2015

Deborah Roberts: So what, the dam work changed!

Deborah Roberts: So what, the dam work changed!: Most artist go their entire art life creating the same type of work. Some never pushing the boundaries beyond what they are comfort with or ...

Saturday, December 12, 2015

So what, the dam work changed!

Most artist go their entire art life creating the same type of work. Some never pushing the boundaries beyond what they are comfort with or never bring their work to the edge and letting it fall over to create something new ... something different. Just like everyone else I have seen work like this and said .. "what if?.. they " but is this any of my business?!  Not really.
My work began to change years before I allowed it to, for example, I did a cover piece for a local magazine in Austin and the art was so different from the current Noman Rockwell stuff I had been doing for years it surprise even me. This change was always lurking in my work, so one summer I just let go. I let go of what was working and let crazy, imperfect, weird, unrecognizable, terrible, amateurish art happen. I created work that held no loyalty to clients, schools, friends, other artists and galleries. It was liberating in so many ways but what i didn't anticipate was the total loss of my art business. I lost clients and supporters who were so invested in my practice that they felt betrayed and made it clear that they felt I was now doing work for white (??) people and that I was no longer doing work that was understandable to Black people. Really? What no one was seeing at the time was I was honoring the work and my practice as an artist. Just like human beings art is about growth both in scholarship and in practice and It matters how you allow that growth to happen. The images I were doing were fine but they were no longer challenging to me. I forgot how it felt to struggle with issues such as multi surfaces, themes, materials, text, and media.
I have always done work about identity and race I'm just no longer giving it to you. This work requires you to see beyond the surface. Yes, there's a huge difference in the work I did in the past and my current work, but most importantly, what haven't change is the fact the work still challenges the notions of Blackness, fragility and beauty in social issues and contemporary politics.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Deborah Roberts: What does painting want, anyway?

Deborah Roberts: What does painting want, anyway?: "It's painting like this-you are in front of your canvas, your hand holds the painting, ready, raised. The canvas waits, waits, emp...

What does painting want, anyway?

"It's painting like this-you are in front of your canvas, your hand holds the painting, ready, raised. The canvas waits, waits, empty and white, but all the time it knows what it wants. So, what does it want, anyway? My hands comes near, my eyes begin to transform the waiting canvas; and when with my hands holding the paint and my eyes seeing the forms I touch the canvas, it trembles, it comes to life. The struggle begins, to harmonize canvas, eye, hand forms. Finally new apparitions stalk the earth."

(Karel Appel quoted in H. N. Abrams (eds.) Karel Appel. Painter, New York 1962; Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art', p.98.)

'One has to believe in what one is doing, one has to commit oneself inwardly, in order to do painting. Once obsessed, one ultimately carries it to the point of believing that one might change human beings through painting. But if one lacks passionate commitment, there is nothing left to do. Then it is best to leave it alone. For basically painting is total idiocy.'

Gerhard Richter


I was going to right a short paragraph about painting, but these two quotes spell it out way better than I could have.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

See more ...

See more of my work on my website:

And so it begins.

collages ...

Deborah Roberts: Gesso, gesso gesso.

Deborah Roberts: Gesso, gesso gesso.: I'm not superstitious when it comes to my artwork, but there are a series of things that I do to get going in my studio practice when ...

Gesso, gesso gesso.

I'm not superstitious when it comes to my artwork, but there are a series of things that I do to get going in my studio practice when I have been absent from doing work for a while. I first start by gessoing stuff!  Everything from small panels to paper, canvas' and frames anything that needs or needed my attention the last couple of months. The act of painting layer after layer helps me to delete the noise that sometime inhabit my thoughts. Once I'm done with the gesso I start my research looking for new faces/people for my collages, once thats done I start with a series of small panel or paper collages before moving on my oversized paintings. This enables me to create a structure or plan on how to tackle ideas I have been grappling with because, sometimes the biggest question mark in my practice is "what's next?" or have I "exhausted" this concept?
I think it's important that artist don't get too bogged down in over-thinking things because it may impede the idea of just working through substantial material.
As artist we have to remember that art allows us to express things that we would not be able to express otherwise. Most seasoned artists have their on ideas or methods of jump starting their work these are just few steps gets me going. Find yours and work!

I not even going to address how to jump start your career! I'll leave that to the professionals.
Also, check out this video on youtube: How to Jumpstart Your Art Career: An Interview with Paul Klein.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Drip drop ... drip.

So, it has been a minute since I updated my blog! Just set up my new studio in my new dwelling and isn't it ironic that it gets the biggest space. I'm gonna break it in this way... start on something small then blow things up! Here's a small sampling of what I'm doing, pick up these grocery signs in Chicago last month.
Also, I gave a art talk in San Antonio two weeks ago on my work and practice.

Wait until you see what I do with these signs as it relates to consumption, hierarchy and consumerism

Friday, August 7, 2015

Find a way to do your art. #Livingtheartistlife!

I can't say this enough, but as artists we must always find ways to keep our artistic practice going!  (#Livingtheartistlife!) I have a lists of excuses why I can't work in my current environment; It's too small, the lighting is bad, no real space to do work blah, blah blah!
Last week, with a little cajoling I was able to talk a local print shop in to letting me use their shop after hours for a small fee to print some large text silkscreen pieces. Well, I busted my ass to get my screens out of storage cleaned, coated, burn and film shot only to have the print shop be closed all week and NO one returning my calls... Ugh!
You know, I have been thinking about this new work for about five months now, so it was past time for me to get going. I had to get something done this week, because its perfect in my mind, but as you know, "Perfect work" doesn't always transfer to paper or canvas.

Frustrated, I said what the hell I'm gonna make this small place work even if I have to work in the bathroom tub! Seven hours later, I have four new silkscreened images with more to come. Not all of them are perfect, but two are. Take that life!

Check out this cool video--
—Arturo Herrera on collage from ART21's "Play" episode (


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Deborah Roberts: Nina Simone: Notions of being a Black artists in t...

Deborah Roberts: Nina Simone: Notions of being a Black artists in t...: As an artist whose artistic practice draws on the notions of acceptance and inclusion when it comes to race, beauty and gender I feel so ins...

Nina Simone: Notions of being a Black artists in turbulent times.

As an artist whose artistic practice draws on the notions of acceptance and inclusion when it comes to race, beauty and gender I feel so inspired by Nina Simone's thoughts and actions during the fight for civil and equal rights! Here's a quote from the documentary What Happened, Miss Simone that is so prevalent today.

 "I chose to reflect the times and situations in which I find myself in... that to me is my duty! And at this crucial time in our lives when everything is so desperate and everyday is a matter of survival... How can you be an artist and NOT reflect the times?"
                                                                                                                  Nina Simone

Creating a Consistent Studio Practice

Life can be very distracting, but if you want to succeed as an artist, you have to have a consistent artistic practice. 
Having consistency in your studio practice is very important. I always find it funny when artist tell me that they haven't work in a while. I get it, It's a struggle to create time for your artwork while having to work, manage a family and your social life. I'm only writing about this because I haven't done any work in about a month in a half. This hurts me and the more time that flies bye makes it even harder for me to get back to work. 
Last week, I went right back to work full throttle! Working on my new text pieces and preparing to do some large scale screen printing projects. I feel stronger as an artist when I work out my problems by creating huge amounts of art. Even though, I wasn't painting during my "hiatus" I was doing research, writing, grappling with language and thinking about whats next for the work. Having a creative practice is hard work that's why I think some artist take large amounts of time off.
I know there are some artist who have a more sporadic studio practice and if that works for them... great! 
Everybody has a strategy when it comes to creating work, but for me the more I stay away, the more chaotic my life becomes. So, If you have been in your studio in a while maybe its time to get back to work.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Deborah Roberts: Be a creative superpower!

Deborah Roberts: Be a creative superpower!: I can't wait to go to the junk yard today, it's the best place to find great things for your studio practice with little cost to yo...

Be a creative superpower!

I can't wait to go to the junk yard today, it's the best place to find great things for your studio practice with little cost to your budget. I love doing mixed media collages and you can find tons of things there for changing, challenging and aging surfaces. Recently, I found some weird metal tools for applying different textures. What I'm realizing is that there are so many ways to do art, no longer are limited to one tradition, one set of tools, one identity or one discipline. The relationships that you form in your practice can be versatile and multi-dimensional which is key to having a long and rewarding artistic career. It use to be unthinkable for an artist to have alternative ways of creating works. If you did film, then you had to do only film.That's so last century! 
Lucky for us you can do anything you want in your practice as long as it's working and making the work better. Working like this gives your work time to blossom, because allows the work to mature and preform on a higher plane. 
I like finding new things outside of my normal studio practice to work with, It feels like I'm collaborating with some crazy obscure (multi-use) objects or other people's castoffs. Its like exploring new spaces and refreshing old ones. When you think you have to create the perfect piece, you put more stress then it is necessary on the work. There are so many artists whose work is rooted in the union of found objects and painting or video and sculpture. 
By reshaping your process you can create new ways of reaching numerous people without being a slave to one marketplace.
I know this model is not for everyone, especially for those who went the traditional art school route, but I think there's a good chance of creating some astonishing new work by challenging your practice. The notion of the solitary artist working alone in his studio not looking at works by other artists, not engaged with technology, magazines or having studio visits is decades out of date.  
Being a superpower in your practice is sacred place, because it can be full of vision and inspiration...  which is always needed.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Deborah Roberts: Art Mags!

Deborah Roberts: Art Mags!: I love art magazines! Whether it's ARTNEWS, Art in America, ARTFORUM or Modern Painters I can't have too many. They are a great sour...

Art Mags!

I love art magazines! Whether it's ARTNEWS, Art in America, ARTFORUM or Modern Painters I can't have too many. They are a great source of inspiration, knowledge, creativity, and a tremendous resource tool. When I'm in the studio and I've hit a wall I normally take a minute and thumb through a couple of books. It gets my mind off of my work and helps me to gather my thoughts. Also, they help me to focus on my own personal goals. But have anyone else noticed that the prices have shot up? Dam! I don't really like reading them on line, but I think that maybe the way of the future.
It's not as exciting as getting a clean copy in the mail, but times are a changing. Here a new one I spotted today... It's so cool.

Current Issue

Friday, June 5, 2015

Out my studio and out of my head!

Today, I finally had to draw a line in the sand when it comes to my work and what others may think of it. Will this person like this or that!!! Should I add more of this or less of that ... go big or small ... WTF!
Kerry James Marshall told me and my friend Zoe once (after we snuck into the SFMOMA to see him before his show open) that if we did work only to please curators, galleries and dealers we had lost our souls. He was right. I think artists should do the work that feeds their soul and get the message THEY want out to the world whether everyone gets it or not! 
I don't think an artist will ever move forward if they spend any part of their studio time doubting themselves or trying to do work that will please certain people or a certain audience. Because chances are the work will start to look convoluted and diluted,which is the last thing any artist wants. And if this happens no one wins especially the people you want to reach.
Finding ones artistic voice is not an easy task amongst a multitude of voices in the art world, but it is extremely important that we become explorers in our own practice and this may mean closing our practice to some people while we seek out that voice. 
For the most part it's important to have people in your studio when you need a fresh eye on the work but be wise who you bring in. The last thing you need is for someone to throw you off your game or push their agenda on to your work. What they don't realize is this can wreak your practice.
For example, my mother loves me, but she doesn't understand my practice so, I don't invite her over when I'm grappling with a new ideas or work. 
This will always be a "pro artists" blog and all I'm saying is choose wisely when it comes to who you allow in those sensitive areas of your practice.
Check out this link:

Friday, May 8, 2015

Deborah Roberts: Art & Social Trauma and the role of Black artists

Deborah Roberts: Art & Social Trauma and the role of Black artists: What does it mean to be a Black artist in the age of social consciousness? The protests, the unrest and the BlackLivesMatter movement is swe...

Art & Social Trauma and the role of Black artists

What does it mean to be a Black artist in the age of social consciousness? The protests, the unrest and the BlackLivesMatter movement is sweeping the nation causing a shift in the national consciousness and shining a light on the disparity of privilege and mass incarceration. Thousands of people are marching in the streets demanding that America, a country built on the premise of civil liberty speak out valiantly that justice and accountability must be afforded to all its citizens equally.
 As an artist and a human being I'm drawn to the visceral affect of the faces I have seen on TV and in protests marches. I am mortified when I see some of the news media demonize and cast protesters as sub-human and not people who are angry, desperate and unable to breathe under the oppression of a system setup for them to live in the margins of society. While we are familiar with this narrative it's important that the images that are thrust in front of us are not just media driven. Is it the responsibility of Black artists and artists of color to respond to social unrest and trauma? Should our artistic practice be in service to the community? I believe so. We know that during the sixties, Black artists were out front illustrating and painting the Black experience.
The notion of how Blacks are viewed is a deeply personal one for me and It should come as no surprise that my work is addressing the latest social trauma polarizing the nation. I've heard many Black artist say, "Why can't I just be an artist?" or  Why do I have to be a Black artist? Some push against it, while others embrace it. A few Black artists have claimed, "It's unfair, this is not asked of white artists!"  It is a pressure they feel is not put on any other group. I don't feel that pressure, but thats me.
Whether, political or romantic Black art is based in our history, the communities we grow up in and our faith, it's inextricably linked to the long history of cruelty and notions of otherness.  The Black experience is complicated, vast, deeply rich and deserves many voices.
Blacks have a shared history, but should this shared history create generations of artists positing the same societal message of Black trauma? Our futures are tied to this country and if only one homogenized narrative is allowed to exist then we as artists are forever placed in a very tight monolithic box unable to breathe

Check out this wonderful article on the Whitney Museum anti-lynching images.
Painting by Barbara Jones Hogu of Chicago and AFRICOBA

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Who's art is it anyway?

Recently, I had a long discussion with another artist about artist assistants. She believed that if assistants were doing most of the labor then the final work was a "collaborative" piece. What became obvious after a twenty-five minute (let's agree to disagree) discussion is that this is a major topic within the art world. Apprenticeships or artist assistants has been going on since the 14th century with little fan fare or disapproval. However, today most people are complaining that artists like Damien Hirst, Khinde Wiley and others are having studio assistants preform all the hard labor when it comes to producing their works. How do you generate mass amounts of work without help when you have garnered the attention of the art world, which can be short-lived and fickle? Is this fair?
The notion of assistants will never really be resolved because some artists are going to champion the idea and others are going to view it as cheating. I think it is not fair to criticize artists for getting help with some of the exhausting tasks of building stretchers, priming, gessoing, and laying out preliminary under paintings. (if thats what they are doing) And what about artists who use projectors to get human like portraits? Should artist take advantage of whatever is out there to make their practice better?
In my artistic practice sometimes I get stuck cutting out large amounts of paper over long periods of time. Having clean lines is very important to the final look of the piece and if I could afford to pay someone to do this I would. Contributions from assistants allow artist time to work on the business of being an artist which doesn't get talk about much. The art-world is horribly unbalance, only a few of us are ever given the chance to exhibit in major institutions and blue chip galleries. And if you are lucky enough to have the art world at your feet you should use whatever at your finger tips to get the work out there! It's a resource and if it is good for your practice use them. Clearly, it will not be straighten out in my blog! But remember artist assistants are interwoven within the history of art and art makers. And while, I personally don't know if Wiley and others are not doing their own paintings, I can at least hope they're paying their assistants well, because chances are they are just undiscovered young artists waiting for their own chance to shine!
Check out the debate here:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Positive Psychology: Finding your creative art zone! (Flow)

(Flow) positive psychology, flow, also known as the zone, is a mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is the characterized by complete absorption in what one does. [Wikipedia]

One of the most difficult things is finding the zone ... your creative art zone! It's a place where almost everything you do in your practice is working and the ideas are flowing. You are unstoppable, each medium you try is working and the adrenaline for creating mass amounts art is at its highest peak. You can't sleep for the fear that it may leave and we as artists can bare witness to the notion that it eventually leaves you. It usually has nothing to do with drugs,liquor or any other substances, though I've heard from others that it can ignite the flow.
As for me, when it happens I love it! I don't anything special, because I work all the time and it make take months to kick in. It's just one of those things that happen to creative and driven people. In the mist of it I just want to be left alone to work; to build on my ideas, grapple with methodologies and different disciplines and hopefully find new ones or various ways of expressing old ones. I can work for countless hours on one thing or a group of works. I recently came out of one of those "creative synergy" and i could feel it when it left. Real "life stuff" broke its spell and i was consumed by all the minutia that tends to clutter up a person's life. Too bad, I miss it and all i can hope for is that it will return just as quick as it left. In the meantime back to cutting, pasting painting and drawing.
Here are a few things that helps kick start my synergy!

Read: Any type of art related book, blog, magazine or article. Reading is a must it helps in so many ways.

Lectures: Find a art lecture, there must be one at a local college or university in your area. Just listening to how someone else navigates the art world can be helpful. Then there's TED talks lots of great stories on this site.

Other artists' work: Looking at other artist's practices can make you better and sometimes unlocks ideas you have been grappling with.

Your practice: You must work! Not working is like starting over every time.

Go ahead start creating!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What's the value of your art?

I think every artists feels this way, at some point in their career,  what's the value of my work and how do I price it?  If these questions aren't not bad enough this one is even harder, pricing someone else's artwork. So, please stop asking me because I don't know what to tell you about pricing... well I do, but who wants to be the one that burst another person's bubble. Some artists invite curators over and asked them, others just wing it. This leads to overpricing or under pricing the work. I have witness artists selling things one week for one price and the next for another. This is a bad practice!
Personally, I tried to be fair with my prices, I've always wanted to get my work out to as many people as possible hence my low prices. It helped me be able to maintain a great client list for a long time and when it was time to raise the prices (actually my dealer did) I was okay with it.  I put in the time both with my status as a practicing artist and my exhibit history. I didn't come from nowhere and expect collectors to put down big bucks for my work, because I was in love with a piece of work or I put in a lot of time creating it. I hate the thought of artists struggling trying to survive but if you're not    selling on the level of a Van Gogh your prices should be in his neighborhood. (just saying)!

In Ask the Art Professor,  Clara Lieu writes, there are four factors that should go into pricing your work. 1) the media of the artwork, 2) the size of the work, and 3) the artist' position in the art world * this is important 4) the venue where the artwork is being exhibited. This article helps, so the next time you think about putting eight thousand dollars on a piece of work in a corner coffee shop ... please rethink it. You can read her complete article here:

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Can you speak "ArtSpeak"?

If you don't know how to talk "artspeak" then you are not alone. It's like learning a foreign language, first you learn a few simple phases, then complete sentences and your off adding your voice to the chatter!  I'm not fluent, i know just enough to get my point across. One must ask, Is it important for artist to know how to speak "artspeak"? I have always championed the notion that artists need to be able to write and talk about their work, because it's apart of the learning process to becoming a good artist. Do we have to walk around trying to sound pompous or over-educated? At what point does the "actual" art matters? Just in case you want to sound smarter there's help in Robert Atkins' book, "ArtSpeak" and ARTNEWS recently posted this great article on 146 buzz words to help you speak, artspeak properly.

Monday, February 23, 2015

What's the BIG deal! The idea of painting smaller.

So many times i've been told, " why did you make it so big?" Most of the time i say to myself ... " that's none of your concern," but i typically give a generic answer. I am a artist who paints both large scale painting and small works, because I find that sometimes a small whisper carries just as much punch as a loud scream. My work deals with controversial issues like race and beauty so i have to be careful in my practice not to come across as angry or resentful. Large scale painting tend to me to be historic and powerful and makes us all mortal in front of them. I love that!
Last night I had the chance to meet artist Jack Whitten at a lecture here in Austin. It was amazing to here him speak on potency of doing large scale works long side smaller ones. He champion this notion that if the message was clear and succinct size didn't matter. I agree with that statement! Look, if i were paint a 2in by 2in painting of a lynching which is very disturbing but draws you in closer to view it then i have done my job as an artist. Smaller works tend to be less threatening and easier to approach.  I can spend an whole afternoon in a small Emile Bernard painting especially the ones from Pont-Aven.  Small works are valuable because they tend to house much more than other works because of their size. And a subject that most artist don't want to talk about is that smaller work sell for less and are more affordable to the general public. YIKES... did I just say that! The upside is that smaller works are easier to store and if you are in a small studio space like me, you just don't have the room for larger works. Not to mention shipping and packing smaller works versus freighting larger works across the country or world. Then there's this notion that painting bigger makes you more of a serious artist and opens your practice to more attention from gallery directors and museum folks. I don't know if thats true or not but its an interesting hypothesis.
There's so much that goes into making art, it truly is a business and some of the decisions we make effects our livelihood if not made correctly. I must confess I love the freedom of painting on a large scale, but for now the smaller the better.
Buckwheat Harvesters at Pont-Aven 1888

Jack Whitten and Kellie Jones

Friday, February 13, 2015

ART vs Politics ... Is political art turning you off?

Is political art turning you off? I guess to most artists who haven't really been under the shoe of oppression might think that making political is boring, limiting and overused. I was asked in my thesis defense, "Haven't the art world had enough of Black beauty?" I am paraphrasing but you get the meaning of the question. What does one say to a question like that? When we look at beauty magazine covers on news stands few if any have a Black face on the cover. In the current issue of InStyle magazine featuring Kerry Washington  the editors thought "lightening her skin" was acceptable. Her beauty wasn't in question, her skin tone was. I think art and politics go hand and hand, it's the "politics of respectability." Below is segment of my views on gaining respectability through the use of grotesque imagery.

The Grotesque in Art History
Theorists and historians have explored the social and cultural contexts
of the grotesque in art history through the lens of the Western idea of beauty.
This critical examination has shown how artists have used grotesque imagery to challenge complex issues and traditions in a modern society that cherishes and rewards beauty. Grotesque images have a tendency to contradict common realities and push cultural boundaries beyond what society is accustomed to. There are several characteristics associated with grotesque images like humor, trauma, distortion, and ugliness. These are tools used to satisfy the need for humanity to recognize and engage others in social and political dialogues. Also, grotesque images have a propensity to raise questions and at times speak for the invisible in communities. Clearly, one of the most intriguing aspects of using grotesque images is that they are very visceral and give a unique approach to issues of identity.

Many artists have used this medium to express issues of misogyny, racism, poverty, and mortality. One of those artists is the 17th century painter English William Hogarth (1697-1764) who used realistic portraiture and comic strip like images to act as a political agent and social critic. At the very core his work challenges poverty and classism. Hogarth’s work ran the gamut from deliberate, exaggerated forms to beautiful painted portraiture of everyday people. Hogarth challenged classism by arguing that an artist’s function was to uncover social norms that were politically, morally and socially unfair and did not include all
its citizens. Hogarth posits, “His works should not be viewed as ‘contemptible caricatures’   but a new genre that was in ‘between the sublime and the grotesque.’”  In other words, he championed the notion that the grotesque features merely brought attention, humanity and honor to the common worker. 
Theoretically, he used his works as provocation to expose the similarity that existed in all humans, which enable us to see ourselves in other people.
By invoking Foucault’s ideologies with respect to power, Hogarth’s caricatures’ darker, serious sides were intended to be a symbol of the result of the damage conflict, or lack of power that was put on a particular group or person(s). The same can be said of Kenya born artist Wangechi Mutu (1972) whose works challenge notions of the surreal, beauty and human grotesque forms. Like Hogarth, Mutu constructs her images in ways that communicate a social injustice that presents itself in today’s society. The outward appearances of her works evoke a powerful emotional response from the viewer when examining the relationships of identity and humanity. Prompted by the ideas of sexuality, cruelty and beauty Mutu’s horrific yet imaginative works empower the women in them by giving agency to the voiceless and marginalized. Mutu’s use of cut out pieces from fashion and pornography magazines to translate grotesque images into social commentary acts in the same way as Hogarth’s drawings and paintings. Both Mutu and Hogarth used their work to create visibility for the invisible by shortening the distance between culture, social structure and gender. The collage images Mutu uses show fractures as well as harmony, which allow the viewer to move beyond the embodied grotesque to see humanity in the faces of the women she creates. In order to reach for a greater universal truth we must explore both the effects and the social politics of beauty. 

I believe that all art is political, you just have to look closer when viewing it. Check out the dailyserving latest article on Art and Politic.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Art World ... No excuses

So, like most of you I want to do well in the Art World! Mostly, for myself but partly because of the people who think its impossible to do so. I get it, it's not easy, but if this is the one thing that give you a sense of purpose you have to go for it! Yesterday, I meet a older artist who gave me so many excuses to why he hadn't found any real success that I wanted to throw up once he explain the reason for his lack of success. First, there was his fantasies about how the Art World works, then there was this notion that if he just made work the business end will take care of itself. Then there was the idea that,"My work is too powerful for the masses" then in the same breath... "No one will show me, (pause) if i could just have a solo show show ..." or this one "My work is about the Black experience." Really, because no ones ever done work on the Black experience before! Ok, ok, ok, now here's the kicker,"I really don't paint that often maybe a couple of times a year."  A year! That's your creative process, painting a couple of times a year. Wow, Its so hard to get any momentum going in our practice I can't see anyone not working constantly at this. Granted, most of us have to have other jobs to sustain a moderate lifestyle but .... c'mon man!
I don't know about you but I work really hard at my practice! I read as much as I can and listen to past and present lectures from notable artists, theorist and social activists. I'm always looking at anything that can aide my practice like, looking at art periodicals for insight or calling up other artists to vent, complain, laugh or talk about any art materials i'm grappling with.
This road we're on is not for the faint of heart, so no more excuses. Check out this website a friend turned me on to.
Resources to Present, Promote, Market Your Art

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"Collage is the twentieth century's greatest innovation." - Robert Motherwell

Thank you Mr. Motherwell!  Collage may be the twentieth century's greatest innovation, but in the twentieth first century it sometimes gets a bad rep. I can't tell you how many times someone has come up to me and said, " collage is so easy" or " it just cutting out paper, you can do hundreds in an afternoon!" Really, because I've tried and they look like crap! No matter how much or many you do It takes lots of work to make anything look effortless, just look at any of Matisse's works. Even as a painter he did numerous amount of collages called "gouaches decoupes". He was great, look at all that paper at his feet!  When Matisse became sick with cancer later in his career, he found away to still do what he could no longer do with a brush. It was away of reaching for something new! Checkout last weeks episode of Sunday Morning, and be inspired! 

Artists are trying to figure out how best to get their message to the world. Matisse is a great example, he used collage not as a way out, but as a tool to stay in. We live in best artistic period, where access to all sorts of media and material is at the tips of our fingers. In my practice I have always tried to add an assortment of materials like printmaking, painting, drawing and found fabrics to my works to get the most distance with them.  People may view collage as simple or easy ... I really don't give a shit. What I do care about is answering the bigger questions in my practice. How best to formulate my message so that it doesn't get lost in all the other constructs in the world.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Deborah Roberts: Studio visits... Love them?

Deborah Roberts: Studio visits... Love them?: So, I had a studio visit yesterday and was feeling pumped afterwards! Scott Sherer director of the UTSA Art Gallery and I talked about the...

Deborah Roberts: Studio visits... Love them?

Deborah Roberts: Studio visits... Love them?: So, I had a studio visit yesterday and was feeling pumped afterwards! Scott Sherer director of the UTSA Art Gallery and I talked about the...

Studio visits... Love them?

So, I had a studio visit yesterday and was feeling pumped afterwards! Scott Sherer director of the UTSA Art Gallery and I talked about the work, my practice and how best to create new pathways to push the work into multiple directions without getting lost in old troupes. We talked for hours as a second year Grad student looked on.
I felt pretty goods afterwards, but this isn't always the case. As we all know, some studio visits can have a polarizing effect on ones "fragile" psyche. I mean just getting ready for a visit can cause anxiety for me.  I know what's happening in my work but..but do they see it? If not, do i really care? or should i care?
In an Huffington post article last week, a young artist asked, "Do i really need other people looking at my work?"
 The author posits, "No artist can rely exclusively on themselves to critique their artwork; bringing in an outside eye is essential". This is so true, sometimes having other eyes on the work can be highly beneficial.

In my own visit with Scott, he liked works i had cast aside for one reason or another. His take on them gave me pause. Will i take a second look? maybe, who knows. Studio visits can be hard, in Grad school i would hear some students just be torn apart, is this really helpful? I don't know, I've found it useful to absorb everything and then place it where it best benefits you! Sometimes that may be the garbage and sometimes it maybe inspiration for a new body of work. Regardless of the consequences its vital that you receive a broad range of suggestions and thoughts on your work so that you can improve and move forward. So, come on invite someone in!

Monday, January 19, 2015

The role of the Negro artist. (1926) by Langston Hughes.

"Certainly there is, for the American Negro artist who can escape the restrictions the more advanced among his own group would put upon him, a great field of unused material ready for his art. Without going outside his race, and even among the better classes with their "white" culture and conscious American manners, but still Negro enough to be different, there is sufficient matter to furnish a black artist with a lifetime of creative work. And when he chooses to touch on the relations between Negroes and whites in this country, with their innumerable overtones and undertones surely, and especially for literature and the drama, there is an inexhaustible supply of themes at hand. To these the Negro artist can give his racial individuality, his heritage of rhythm and warmth, and his incongruous humor that so often, as in the Blues, becomes ironic laughter mixed with tears. But let us look again at the mountain. The road for the serious black artist, then, who would produce a racial art is most certainly rocky and the mountain is "high". Langston Hughes

 I thought this was the perfect statement as i try working through what is it like to be viewed as human.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What good are drawing books and should I keep them, forever?

Suddenly, I find myself besieged by old drawing books, did I ever throw any of them away? I guess not. Today I went around my apartment and counted how many drawing books do I have and was surprised that I had thirty five! Yes, thirty five, now don't get me wrong there's a broad range of books here. Some I haven't look at in years, just waiting for a glance when that inspirational well has dipped to its lowest point and I needed an artistic a hand up.  Drawing books have held my dreams, fears and my voice for a very long time and by the looks of them my heart.  
I have drawing books ranging from around 1993 to 2015. Some from my time in France, San Francisco, Syracuse, lots from the time I lived at my parents home (whew) those are at the bottom, and my gallery and so on. Then there are those who just fueled my love of pen and ink, watercolor and line, they're my refuge ... my armor. Why have continually ignored them? they hold a rich history, my history as an artist, my failures and my victories. And unfortunately, lots of notes and phone numbers ... geez couldn't I've looked for a piece of scrap paper. I ruined lots of nice drawing by writing in the picture, what a waste. 

 When I decided to do some small drawings to kick start my practice after leaving grad school I choose to pick up a drawing book. I am starting over, new fresh exciting clean white pages, this is exactly what I needed.  I made it threw thirteen collages before I was getting lost in trying to make "super"good shit! In frustration I saw my old drawing books I'd shelved, I thumbed through them for ideas or past ideas that hadn't panned out. And like before they gave back, so what good are drawing book? They're priceless! So keep them safe.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

What inspires you? ARTFORUM, ARTnews or Modern Painter?

Lately, I have been asking myself, which of these art journals should I invest my money in a monthly  script? I find that when I read ARTFORUM I am excited to see that artists all over the world are invested in their practice in ways i have yet to realize in mine. Damn, do I need to see that when I am working on my stuff?! When I look at Modern Painters and I'm proud.. it's just a matter of time before others (I mean collectors, museum directors, galleries, and curators) will see my work and see that I am in dialogue with what peers are doing.  It's all about the language, bro and I am singing in my practice. Honestly, these periodicals inspire me it different ways so, maybe I should empty out my penny jar and get all three because we have to invest in our practice.

Monday, January 5, 2015

My Progress report!

My progress report concerning my effort to create new works "post" grad school. What's the next step or steps? I have always champion the notion, that if things were getting a little confusing in your studio practice and you can't figure a way forward always go small. I mean really small and do a lot of them, maybe 25 or 30 little drawing or paintings. For me this creates energy, a spark that fuels my creative juices. I have a couple of shows coming up and i need a kick!
So, I went out and purchased a new drawing book (sigh) like I need another one and started doing these small collages of this little girl. I think there are 25 pages in the book... I'll use the month of January to fill it up. Here are my first 4, later I will figure out what I need these to say, but for now I am just working blindly,  not questioning or controlling the narrative.
Art is hard.

Friday, January 2, 2015

James Baldwin

To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.

New Year, big dreams!

Time to get going! look for me in Chicago and NYC this year