Wednesday, March 18, 2009

UnClad 2009

The UNCLAD show. I submitted four pieces, three were accepted. Donna and I framed them up as best we could, and drove them up to Stanwood. I really had no idea what to expect, good work, bad work, inspiring, not inspiring. I had never even considered submitting, as I don't really think about being part of a larger figure drawing community, and seeing good figure work seems so unusual, as there are so many beginners and amateurs. But in fact, there was good work there, although we arrived before it had been all hung, but I saw enough to know that some of the same forces at work in the things that I try to do were alive, and even more so, in other people's work as well. This might sound precocious, but it results from pretty much working in a vacuum, and not knowing much about the wider world, only what I see in old books. Frankly, I was hesitant about the work I had brought I didn't really like it), and even a little surprised that it had been accepted. I don't really see the charm in it for other people. For me, I get it, I get what I was targeting, but it is pretty basic. I don't see why it would have any wider appeal.
But all three pieces sold. Maybe because they were among the least expensive works at the show. But it has always been my thought to be sure that everything I show sells, and price is the key. Art work is always priced so high, like it was precious. Of course, I don't make a living at it, but somewhere there is a price where it no longer sells. These were sketches, they took an hour, and another hour of framing. Hardly a wage in the end, but had I doubled the price, they'd remain unsold, I feel certain.
The piece on the right is one of the works, its a leg study. A study for nothing really, as I am not planning a larger work. "Study" implies a larger purpose. This ends here. Somehow at the knee area, and along the leg, there is the feeling of light. Which is entirely the key, after getting the general shape right. Its very formulaic, the way I think about it. There are certain elements to put together, and if you know them, then out the other end appears a decent piece of work. That's the way it seems to me. First, there's getting the drawing close to right. Not perfect, unless you have the time, like the Gage academy people do, but just close. Perfect would be great, of course, but there isn't time. And it has to take account of the whole sheet of paper. That's important. It doesn't mean it has to bleed off the edge, though almost everything i do recently does. Once the drawing is punched in, and dynamic, and feeling promising, its about the values. And what's important here will be the grand subteties of things, not the big obvious things. . And its about working and reworking the material and the surface, and understanding the medium and what feels right with it and what doesn't. This drawing is pastel. I don't really know much about pastel, except you can work with the shades of umber and the green yellows, and eventually, you are able to lay on few lights and things start to come alive. But you have to keep you hand in it.
A foot, or a hand, that would be marvelous to get right. Like Mary Cassatt and that generation of pastel artists. In this drawing, I only edge toward the foot, and then the clock stopped. It remains undone. I don't know if i could have sustained it, a perfect foot. I know how hard it is to get the tiny lines between the toes to look right. A foot drawing always seem to fail, though not as hard as a hand, which is too many planes and cylinders, I can't say I've even got one right. Its all part of the ultimate goal, to get a hand and a foot right, at least once in this life. Very hard to do.
There were three works that I saw at the Unclad show that set me to thinking. The first were the two works by the artist Sara Zin, who is the poster child for the show, as the work is so good. I looked at her website, which is very fine and Spartan and sophisticated, and the gallery that hosts here work, which hosts a number of up and coming young (I assume) artists who appear to be attached to the Chuck Close closeup, but more photographic, more 17mm, more intense. Sara's work was stunning to me, what I wished I'd done when I was young, and had been for a time searching for. And her paint is so clean. It puzzles me some- where is this working coming from? Where does it go?
Willow Bader has a few broad stroked back studies, with solid brushy color, that I liked very much, on skewed stretched canvas. And there were a few drawings on stone that were done by a Bellingham artist of Icarus, which I thought were delicate and intriguing. And there were many drawings, showing great skill, by lots of artists.
This weekend I'll drive my mother up to see the show. She's excited to see it, and grew up in the area. But in the past, she's not really like the work I do, "too yellow", so we'll see how it goes.

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