Archive for the ‘ painting ’ Category

Painting in Progress

I’m working on a 72×156″ painting. It is a bit like going back in time because I am using a painting made in 2011 as the source material. The painting in question, Who Needs Love When You Have a Paintbrush, is a good painting but it has issues. Back then I was really making kitchen sink paintings. The kitchen sink painting is when I add everything and the kitchen sink. So I try every little method I have to make the painting.

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Who Needs Love When You Have a Paintbrush, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 90×71″

From a design perspective, the painting is busy. There is unity and variety, but perhaps it leans too far into variety. There aren’t too many spaces to relax because the entire composition is frenetic. The issue is similar to Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. The “earthly delights,” are many many verbs occurring in the painting. The action, the movement all adds up to a busy painting. It works for what Hieronymus Bosch wanted in the painting: stuff to the Nth degree.

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Later paintings, like Grid 46, calmed down a bit. I gave the viewer some space to rest.

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Grid 46, 2012, acrylic and conte on canvas, 60″ x 42″

This current 72×156″ painting is resurrecting many of these previous issues. Each section could itself be a painting.

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painting detail

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And where the painting is currently:

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How Long Can You Beat a Dead Horse?

The Joke Workshop was interesting. Participants were two comedians, Christine Ferrera and Ben O’Brien.

I think I gained a leg up on my understanding of theory versus practice. I have been trying to write my way through the topic. I wanted to see if there were parallels between designing jokes and designing art. I wanted to see if these things could enter the classroom and help me affect the situation of co-learning in a more meaningful way.

In essence, I want to be a better teacher. I have observed that students know more than they have been led to believe and they know more than they are willing to believe. There are many issues that create this situation but I think it is due to how they have learned their entire lives and due to the unfortunate result of modernist activities driving people away from art.

I think it would be helpful to foreground this situation to them earlier rather than later. I think many students could gain quite a lot from taking agency with their own education. I think that elucidating that they know more than they thought would be helpful. With all that in mind, I embarked upon this experiment between art and comedy.

During the workshop we discussed Chris’ jokes. Chris and Ben jumped in with their practiced knowledge whereas I felt a bit bewildered. I didn’t really have too much access because they were digging into subtleties and I am not a stage performer nor a comedian.

We then looked at images from the New Yorker’s Caption Contest. We bounced around some ideas but landed on a topic Chris previously discussed with me: writing versus performing. They are different animals. Perhaps similar to how many visual artists find difficulty in writing about their work. There is a linguistic issue here. During this portion, Chris suggested that dealing with the caption contest might require a certain kind of skill set, and she suggested having improv actors to assist. So I might create a workshop were I interact with improv folks.

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a recent caption contest image from the New Yorker. The winning caption was, “Long time no sea.”

We finished with looking at some art historical paintings as well as art history memes. We bounced around some ideas but the same kind of issues with the New Yorker caption contest arose with the art historical images.

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a detail from a painting by Hieronymus Bosch. A possible caption: MFW a Trump voter says, “we don’t need no Obama health and dental care!”

I think there might be some future activities that could bounce off the workshop, like some kind of tweet writing workshop. Maybe it would be a podcast or a video. I think the purpose would be an intersection between comedy and pedagogy.

One of the collaborators, Ben O’Brien, discussed networking jokes through fiverr. I often overwork paintings to the point where I call them kitchen sink paintings – they include all my painting ideas and the kitchen sink. I overwork them because I don’t know when to stop. I overpaint because I doubt my own knowledge. My doubt takes the form of erasing the previous painting over and over. Networking the joke over and over might function in the same way. Maybe overworking the joke would cause it to fall apart. How long can you beat a dead horse?

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Asking the question, “How long can you beat a dead horse?” Apparently the answer is, indefinitely. 

Another thought I had is perhaps there is a major difference between comedy and art: efficiency or function. Essentially, the joke needs to be funny or its purpose is thwarted. However, the art gesture/object need not have any purpose other than its making. There might not even need to be an object. There is “process art” but is there “process comedy?” Is there a point where comedy is the thing itself? I need to research theatre and comedy.

Continuing this thought, I was once offered a skateboard to use as a painting surface but there was the stipulation that it still be ridable. The efficiency of form influenced the content. I never did make that painting because it felt like some kind of external demand that had nothing to do with painting. If I made that skateboard painting I would have just been designing. However, in retrospect I was completely misguided because I have been designing around the “edge” of the painting for years.

I have been making paintings that are aware of the end of the painting in order to foreground that inconsistent modernist convention of the painting as a window. Form and content do not exist solely within the painting. The painting is not a universe. The painting hangs on a wall that exists in some kind of institution. That institution has its own values and thusly those values influence the painting and the viewing of that painting. There is no such thing as four neutral walls. The point is, I think there is no distance between form and content. I think this is a central tenant in my world view.

A good example of this pressing against the edge can be seen at Trestle Gallery in Brooklyn right now. The show, Introductions 2017 was curated by Julie Torres and is up through February 19.

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from Katerina Lanfranco’s instagram: A Many One Layer Lie, second from the left, at Trestle Gallery.

But my world view might be completely bat shit crazy. Further research into comedy might help me ride the horse off into the sunset rather than into a lake.

See more of Christine and Ben at their websites

http://www.christineferrera.net

http://benobrien.net

And check out Trestle Gallery at

http://www.trestlegallery.org

Metal Jesus

Is there an intersection between art and comedy?

Metal Jesus is pretty funny.

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A forgetful hoplite is funny.

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What the hell is going on with humor and art? Come by the Torpedo Factory tonight and help me figure that out.

The Joke Workshop is a free event taking place at 5-7 in Studio 12.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/post-graduate-studio-jay-hendrick-joke-workshop-tickets-31768059120

 

 

Goddamn Darlings

Artist John M. Adams came by the studio yesterday and we talked about process. We discussed how my piece, 100 Paintings, foregrounded both process and design. I think content is available via observing how the maker made the item. Likewise, John appreciated the aesthetics of the thing. So it looks good and thinks good.

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100 Paintings; 2015; one-hundred acrylic paintings on a 20×16” stretcher on easel; 74x37x37”

 

I think I have made many works that are trying to find some axis between looking good and thinking good. Process has been an important component of my work as a means at standing back from painting issues like re-presentaiton, the canon of art, and my skeptics world view. The stretching and re-stretching method of painting was a process based approach to get a leg up on the image – the front of the painting the viewer sees. Painting Paintings at Both Ends was a culmination and cousin of 100 Paintings.

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Painting Paintings at Both Ends, 2017, acrylic on canvas and two stretchers, 50×216″

John helped me realize that I have been bouncing between a content oriented process approach to making and rebounding back towards the most elemental origins of making: the mark. I have recently been just trying to make paintings that stand on their own sans my gimmicks of layering or exploding the painting.

The mark making goes back to some of my first interactions with sticks of charcoal. You put the charcoal on its side, then pivot, leaving its center axis on the page. By doing this, you can make a circle. Or you can slide the stick around and create a network of what looks like pipes. The recent painting is doing this same athletic gesture but with the brush.

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Untidy Pivot, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 28×28″

 

I followed Untidy Pivot up with Sixteen Cornered Darling and an as yet to be titled painting yesterday…

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Sixteen Cornered Darling, 2017, acrylic on linen, 19×19″

 

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currently untitled, 2017, acrylic on linen, 19×19″

and today. This one might look black and white but it is actually very dark blue.

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A 42 Broken Arm or So, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 50×50″

 

I am already seeing a problem with these paintings (and why I have done the more process oriented works in the past): the paintings are pretty, sensuous, and goddamn darlings. So I need to think about them but they feel good.

See more of John M. Adam’s work at his poetically titled website:

thefullempty.com

 

Diamonds in the Rough and Their Discontents

“Overall it is bad, but each painting is good.”

I just muttered that to myself. This painting will likely not be too great. It is patchwork, differing in approach in singular spaces. It has differing tones, differing values, differing form overall. In essence it will likely fail the unity component of design. It will contain variety, but too much. That lack of balance might make it stumble. Though it is being made by one person, and that person is using their general approach to painting, that does not seem to push the thing towards an overall balance between unity and variety.

This issue has occurred with previous paintings. When I have used this stretch/re-stretch method, the paintings have been disjointed or randomly generated.

 

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The overall compositions are generated mechanically, yet jumbled together. I rinse and repeat the square and rectangle stretcher, which maintains a sort of mechanized distance. Akin to Jean Arp’s torn paper and gravity combo generated compositions.

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Untitled (Collage with Squares Arranged according to the Laws of Chance)

By dropping and glueing he could step back from the urge to design. This occurred with Jackson Pollock drawing with drips. Letting physics make the painting.

So this process is akin yet curated. The issue is, is the overall work good? There are great individual paintings within the overall piece, but the greater painting together might be a train wreck. The following are paintings within the overall painting that I think are functional:

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The question is, why are these working and why would I think the overall is not? Because the overall is Jean Arping and the singular paintings are curating. Goodness is also occurring because the individual paintings are being made in ways I would not normally work. I wouldn’t normally make paintings like these. There are definitely recognizable Jay gestures present, but many are occurring purely due to the process.

Something to take from this is an analysis of my own judgements about painting. What is this urge towards design? Why must the painting be designed well? Why be concerned with a finished goodness?

 

Befuddlement, Labor, and Collaboration

Blogging about this process is difficult because there are ten trillion potential elaborations to elucidate. There are many things occurring in the studio and they all want attention.

On Homogeneity and Heterogeneity

The long, stretch/re-stretch process seems to want most of the attention. This process is a nomad, dragging me along. All the paintings interact with each other. A painter might have a career wherein each painting leads to the other. An idea occurs that leads to a new idea, and on and on. This process is similar but it is all happening at once and in one painting. Maybe time is conflated with this project.

All the paintings are touching each other. The stretcher is an artificial framing device to set up a singular working space, but the old paintings are still present. The history of the making is present with each painting because each “new” painting literally contains old paintings.

The painting (pictured below) is emblematic of this process. There are five previous paintings present. The top left corner, the violet one on the left, the one with red stripes, the one with the large pink portion, and the lattice green grid. All of those paintings interacting with the un-painted canvas. There are drips but it is alone and I need to find ways to deal with this mess.

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detail of a work in progress

On Labor

There is also a question of labor. How much is enough? How much time spent makes a thing good. In the past, I have made very simple paintings. Single gestures. The idea might be that the simple painting could be good if that singular gesture can hold the viewer. If it has conflict. It if it dramatic enough. If it has unity and variety. The whole potential for how we might assess “goodness.” So with a “simple” painting the labor portion might occur before and after its making. The painter, with years of study, approaches the canvas, makes the singular gesture, then walks away. In its simplicity it is vulnerable. Perhaps empathy can be extracted from that moment. A little breath.

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Untitled, 2013, acrylic, graphite, and oil on wood, 6×6″

But the “goodness,” might occur in the long making. One-hundred hours on a painting. If a viewer sees Linn Meyers’ work at the Hirshhorn that viewer can discern that labor occurred. Time spent in making. Time spent might tend towards goodness.

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Linn Meyers, Our View From Here, photo by Jay Hendrick

I wonder if time spent equals goodness. That can’t be true. There has to be something in between the time spent. There has to be effort in the labor.

That is a concept that frustrates with this current painting. It has a certain momentum. It might just be a deadline, but this painting has an urgency. I want to make it. I want, not to finish it, but to maintain the erratic learning that is occurring. The painting is a conundrum – unstable and frustrating.

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It is further frustrating because I wonder how much work I should do for each painting. How much labor should go into each painting that will create the whole painting? My approach has been to make each painting good, as if it could be good on its own. That’s when I un-stretch then re-stretch. But none of them are ever truly separate form each other. It is artificial to think of them as separate.

On Collaboration

I have had several artists to visit the studio at VisArts. There have been painting exchanges  and discussions of where to go next. What I had hoped would occur has been occurring: I am learning from other people. It is very easy to become engaged in one’s own work. This process is disruptive, perhaps as much as the stretching/re-stretching.

I have made a few attempts at working with other people’s paintings. Becca Kallem’s painting has been leafed. Becca is interested in art history. It is present in her work. For me, I keep those things between my teeth, near the gums but this collaboration is bringing them to the fore, causing me to address my influences.

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Becca Kallem and Jay Hendrick, Greco (pink tag), 2016, acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 30×27″

This pink painting is interesting. Becca told me she was working with El Greco, The Burial of Count Orgasz, for this particular painting. The triangles present in that work by “the Greek.” The triangle occurs often with Becca. The triangle might be taken as canonical when thinking about Becca’s work. And it reminded me of my art history courses. My professors pointedly speaking about the presence of triangles in the composition.

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El Greco, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz, 1588, oil on canvas, 480 × 360 cm

This discussion bred new things in my own work. The appearance of the triangle.

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detail of a singular painting among many paintings within an unfinished work

This art historical quotation continued in the collaboration between Becca and myself. When I first began making paintings, the tradition of Byzantine icon painting became important as an inquiry and as a vocabulary in painting. There was a structure and methodology to making those paintings

This thinking has been borrowed by me and carried forward, put through many filters and come out the other end for me as a sort of signifier. I use burnt sienna. Not because it is yet another color, but because it links back to that icon painting, to the methods of my canonical lineage. Becca’s paintings made me think about those art historical influence and a tiny fleck of gold leaf on her painting was like a canonical lightning bolt. To leaf her painting would bring up her brush work yet it would also push everything back. The leaf would tug back to that icon painting, and to the lack of icons in my own protestant church upbringing.

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unfinished collaboration between Becca Kallem and Jay Hendrick, 2016, gold leaf, acrylic, and oil on canvas, 29×16″

This collaboration has me thinking of canon and I must address that canon of art. This project is working within that vein. I am wanting to collaborate with these people because they are themselves canonical to me. They represent different approaches to painting. They are now-ness. Living future subjects of art history. Somewhere within the local quotations is something good.

I have also begun a collaboration between Kathryn McDonnell. We exchanged paintings and she wants to try this stretching and re-stretching method.

http://kathrynmcdonnell.com

Linn Meyers: Our View From Here

 

Drips Drip

This painting project is pushing me around. I guess that’s what we want with painting. To be shoved down the stairs, launched from the cliff, sucker-punched with the unexpected. Therein will be the situation where learning can take place. Where the painting can become unstable – precipice walking. Wherein the painter can become vulnerable and thus relate to the viewer. There is something there about knowing, and how to know.

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On one hand, a person could be in an unstable place. “Travel broadens the mind,”is the saying. In that traveling the mind encounters the unexpected and unknown. In that unknown is the moment wherein the traveler can choose to adapt their knowing to the new experience, or disregard the encounter. Disregard the alien and continue with the present knowing. So be shocked and adapt or be shocked and disregard. There is also the knowing that abrades then polishes – shock and study.

Painting can operate in this same way. Josef Albers homage’d to the square over a thousand times. Over twenty-five years inquiring after color through the limited variable of a singular composition. Peter Dreher painted (kind of) the same painting for decades. So maybe Albers and Dreher were polishing their knowing of a thing. They had a subject and worried it for decades. They knew what they would be doing within a limited set of variables. They had to show up and work.

There are other approaches wherein art creates complete instability in the making and receiving. Many artists’ work is oppositional, retributive, and especially abrasively challenging. In that abrasion in the possibility to learn, or to disregard.

This project is pushing me to learn. Firstly there is the long painting that drips on itself. Secondly there is the collaborative component of this project wherein I paint on other peoples’ paintings. It has all been disruptive.

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Painting Painting at Both Ends, acrylic on canvas in progress, 60×21

This Painting Painting at Both Ends, has a wholly unexpected compositional gravity. Wherein I previously obsessed over the self-organizing system of the grid, this particular approach spins that fractally, looping, ouroborosian self-organizing method upon its head. The drips drip. They do follow gravity but the paintings are hung in wacky ways. They are all hung on the wall via hanging wires, but the entire painting is weighty, so each stretching causes drips in many directions.

Further, the knowing that the entirety of the painting will be interacting with each stretching causes each painting to occur in a non-standard Jay method of work. I know that each painting need not be the pinnacle of making. I also know that much of the paintings will be covered up by future paintings. I know that each painting will not be singularly alone. It will have many neighbors. The composition is legion.

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detail of the larger painting. Half of this has now been covered. Further, this painting will continue to be dripped upon, just like the rest of the work.

The collaborative portion continues. Mei Mei Chang visited today and I handed off a painting.

See more of Mei Mei Chang’s work at http://meimeichang.tumblr.com