Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Fangirling (and massive link dump....and lots of words that I suspect I'm writing mainly for my future self :O)

"So, what have you been doing in Kenya for all this time," asked no one, and so I thought I'd go on and tell you:

I've been painting! I've done actual work too and and a whole lot of house work, but mostly I've just been painting and indulging in other forms of art work.

This isn't exactly news, because I've been painting more of less regularly since I was 15, but for some reason I was always too impatient and insecure to try my hand at any straight up figurative work, because, honestly, I didn't think I knew how to.

Then a few years ago, on a whim, I started painting a portrait of David Hockney. Then followed a portrait of Jean-Paul Belmondo i Pierot Le Fou. And that's about when I started letting my mind go, forgetting all about painting something "smart" and basically just copying images I really like.

I've been listening to a whole lot of radio while painting, and incidentally came upon an interview with Tavi Gevinson (editor of Rookie and all around smart woman) on the show Nerdette, during which she discussed her take on fangirling.

During the show, she argues that there can be a lot of pressure associated with the idea of making good art, and translating the things you experience into original art. Instead she proposes that fangirling and nerding out can be just as creatively satisfying. That it can be just as rewarding to copy someone else's work rather than make your own.

I don't speak much ancient Greek, but after listening to that I was like: "Eureka! This is exactly how I feel".

David Hockney is by far the painter I'm fangirling the most on? at? (I'm sure you can use it as a verb, I clearly just don't know how to.), and hence I've been copying a lot of his pieces in somewhat meticulous detail.
Sadly, I didn't get around to finishing this one before leaving, but it's a copy of Hockney's "American Collectors (Fred and Marcia Weisman) from 1968. I've just been oo'ing and aa'ing endlessly at how he translates different objects and textures into painterly shapes and colors. 
This here is a copy of Hockney's "Peter Getting Out of Nick's Pool" (1966), which I didn't get around to finishing either, so there are still a lot of details missing. The format of the canvas isn't right either, so next time I'm in Nairobi, I'm gonna add some hypothetical exhibition poster-wording on the dark blue patch - just like I did in the painting below.
And this, as I've posted about before, is a copy of "A Bigger Splash" (1967). And this, at least, I got around to finishing :) (sorry for the lopsided iPhone image, btw.)

I've also been nerding out a bit to Picasso, specifically his Harlequin/Commedia dell'arte work, which I just love to pieces.

This is a copy with a twist of Picasso's "Seated Harlequin" (1901), which I didn't get around to finishing either. I started out by meticulously painting a Florida Dolphins cap on his head, but found it got a bit too colorful, especially with my rendering of the Lotus patterned wallpaper in the background.
This too, I have posted before. Also a copy of one of Picasso's Harlequins, namely "Harlequin sitting on a red couch" (1905). I think I might have flashed the hell out of this bad boy, because really it's a much more sombre blue.
In general, I think I've kind of been turned on again by my old high school crushes. You know, stuff I used to like before I studied art history and suddenly the only thing worth your while was minimalism and conceptualism, and in a pinch postmodernism, provided you could apply some fancy-pants philosophical take on it.

Anyway, before that, I was really into pop artists, among them Roy Lichtenstein.
Roy Lichtenstein, as you may already know, was a major fangirl himself, making lots of gorgeous and quite amusing homages to Picasso. Here I've mashed up Lichtenstein's entablatures, specifically this one from 1974, with a "Picassoesque" take (how much do you wanna kill me right now?) on Lichtenstein's famous "Girl With Ball" from 1961, which, it should be noted, he did a Picassoesque take on himself in 1977.  I've also sponged off Lichtenstein's brushstroke series, his reflection seriesthis photo of a seated Picasso in front of a painting in his signature striped shirt, and finally those famous bread hands of his. Phew!
What else. Yes, I've also had a moment with The Case Study Houses.
That painting up there on the top left is based on one of Julius Shulman's photos from the interior of The Stahl House. It goes with saying that the seated woman was not actually wearing a paper bag on her head. I just got so fed up with not being able to get her face right, and eventually a brown paper bag seemed like a welcome solution.

And here, on the left, a collage rendering of the one section of The Eames House, and on the right a paper collage of a Japanese milk carton, which has absolutely nothing to do with post World War II architecture. But they're a good match none the less. 

And while, we're on architecture, I also did a rendering of a photo I took in Meguro in Tokyo.
It's based on this photo, and that's about all I have to say about it. 
Moving on. To collage work.
I love the copywriting of the American ad industry in the 60s and 70s. Pure art is what it is, and it made me so happy recently when we had one of Johan's friends from work over for dinner and he flat out laughed at the pieces of writing I've amassed in this one. I mean "How to look for mortgage money and not find it" :O)
And here the Guggenheim, cut in paper from old magazines. 

And now to something entirely else. Dead pan commercial food images suddenly struck me like such an interesting trope.
So here's a burger meal with a Chinese Coke cup, which I resorted to painting in lieu of a western Coca-Cola cup, because yo, those curlicue letters are a difficult to copy. I kind of regret I didn't do a graded background cause it kind of makes the food look like an epiphany of sorts, but on the upside here's a turtle dressed as a burger!

And here, aged steak. I now completely get why artists have taken to painting raw meat throughout art history, because it's kind of the BOMB.

Here I am copying Felix Valotton's painting of a steak, which reminds me that this post was all about fangirling and on that note I recommend you look at Valotton's work, because it is just booootiful
So, has it been all fun, asked no one still? Nope! In fact there's this one canvas I've been struggling with, which has eventually forced me to conclude that it's doomed. The canvas I mean. I started out painting a vista from a park in Japan, which was just a catastrophe. Then I took to painting a photo of James Dean playing table tennis, which annoyed me super much.
FAIL!!! If anything, this taught me that just because whatever you painted actually looks somewhat like the thing you set out to portray, it doesn't per se mean it's gonna turn out a great painting. I know duh! right? But whatever, sometimes you just have to go through that process yourself before you really learn.

I then rotated the canvas 90 degrees and painted a gentleman in a blue linen suit instead.
Johan is being really nice about this one, complimenting the brushwork and the details all the time, whereas I feel kind of meh about it. Can't put my finger on it, but I guess it looks a little too naïve for me and not in that cool, intentional way I had hoped for. 
Actually, when I look at that painting I keep thinking of what Ira Glass discusses in the video below, namely about the gap between your taste and the quality of your work. How you can just tell that what you're doing is just not quite good enough.

But here's the thing: I kind of feel really fine being mediocre. Throughout my life I've had this kind of blessing slash curse in disguise of being fairly good at a lot of little things, which has meant that I haven't really bothered practicing and trying harder at the things I wasn't so good at or the things that didn't seem intuitive to me.

Do I sound like an ass for saying that? If so, I'm sorry. Because all I really want to say is that being a fangirl and amateur painter in the process of learning kind of...ROCKS! :)

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.


Johan said...

Verdens bedste fangirler!

Sarah Carlson said...

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Sarah Carlson said...

Hmmm, det var ikke helt sådan jeg havde tænkt mig det skulle se ud, harhar!
Kan du ikke copy paste det her i stedet: