Days 67 – 101

So here’s days 67 through to 101 of taking 15 minutes or so to draw my left hand. If you’re clever you can tell what day’s I took the stuff for that benign tremor.  Maybe not though, if I hold the pencil loose enough it’s not that bad anyway. Starting on day 80 I went in with a pencil just cause I wanted to sort of get a process down. Pencil, then ink, then count. 1, 2, 3. Always 3. Speaking of which, hands are a 3 now, funny how that works out.

Also starting with 80 I used a dollar fifty 3.5 by 5 inch craft paper cover notebook. I really like that size. It’s a nice size. And they’re thin so I can clip then to a table and not have to worry about not having anything to steady it all. As of 101 I’m not quite halfway through the second little book. 101 and maybe 10 minutes a pice that’s a double just drawing a left hand. 16 hours. Not all that long really.

Only Two

There’s only 3 things, obviously, PLACES, THINGS, and EVENTS, but for art there’s only two. What are those two? Amateur and professional? Historic and contemporary? Good and bad? No, it’s much simpler than any of that, there’s art that’s art and art that’s a commodity. The Snail (Matisse, 1953) is a commodity. It’s not a commodity ’cause anyone would have picked it up in a yard sale, not because it’s inherently valuable-even as a pretty thing to look at-which it isn’t-just because Matisse made it. A caricature from some anonymous busker on the boardwalk is a commodity too, not because of who made it but because of who wants it.

It’s not that different with pickled sharks. Only no mater what someone, a specific someone paid for that caricature, and it’s going to be recognizable as what it is as long as it’s subject exists in living memory. After that it’s going to stop being a commodity, and it might end up in the paper recycling. But then, it might not. Once it’s done being a commodity it’s still going to be art. Every single living human could die, and gods or aliens or robot archeologists could uncover that cartoonish doodle and they’d know it as art. They’d see work that’s representative but not realistic and art would be art. They’d see a toilet as a toilet, a badly preserved shark as a poorly prepared scientific specimen (if it lasted-it wont ’cause it’s very badly done) and a jumble of paper glued to a canvas as an accident.

So don’t think you gotta be poor to be an artist, don’t think you can’t sell or even sell out. Just try and make sure you make something that’s going to stay art.

Days 40 – 66

So line variation is more noticeable than I’d expect. That’s the thing about technical pens though, there is not variation without changing pens, that feels like something useful. Like maybe if I was trying for better work with perspective then lines up close could be thick and thin lines far away, would that make there feel like more or less depth on the page? Something I should probably learn about, but I’m really struggling with what’s real right now so maybe I better let that wait. Anyway here’s more left hands, and American Sign Language in around 10 minutes a hand, once a day.


Contemporary Art Sucks

If you’ve gone to MoMa or the Tate Modern, hell, if you’ve picked up a recent copy of Art Digest or gotten by clicking about art in Wikipedia you’ve seen some modern art. Chances are you’ve seen it and, even if you didn’t say it you thought, damn that’s terrible. Oh, so and so spent 2 million on it? guess I’ll look again and try and rationalize. Or, maybe you swallowed it whole and just beleive that the capacity to generate a “cost” or end up in a museum or find a space in a gallery is what dictates the worth of an artwork.

So, I just ready Julian Spalding’s Con Art and in a effort to hear a cojent argument against that position I read Susie Hodge’s Why Your Five-Year-Old Could Not Have Done That. I was rather disapointed in both. Spalding just seems to accept that his position is correct and doesn’t need any sort of a defense. Hodge on the other hand give you her position in the title, just as Spalding does, and then proceeds to defend her stance in a way that totally disregards it. A more apt title for her work would have been, “Why The Art World Wont Defend Anything by Your Five-Year-Old.”

Spalding’s argument is something along the lines of, and I’ll paraphrase here, “What the hell is wrong with your morons? None of this is any good!”. Hodge’s is “We can bring all kinds of context to the analysis of this Unmade Bed or Uncarved Block so it’s deffinately worth a bunch of recognition and museum space.” I think their both wrong. I think they’re both looking at the wrong thing. I think this because terrible movies get made all the time and no one has any problem speaking up and saying they’re terrible.

Take Gigli. This is a movie that ends up on all kinds of worst movie ever lists. It had stars who people liked, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, and a budget of $75.6 million dollars. It made $7.3 million. If you invested $11.00 in making it, you got a dollar back on that investment and lost ten. The public at large and professional critics have no trouble at all panning the film. Why desparage Gigli but not the most expensive photo ever sold, a useless, photoshopped travesty called Rhein II?

Well, to sell Rhein II for $4.3 million one only had to briefly convince a few dozen high net worth idiots in an auction house that it was any good. In order to make a profit on Gigli you’d have to convince the public at large. Look at it this way, the fact Gigli got made is proof you can convice a few wealthy people that shit (even if it isn’t canned) is art that’s valuable. That it made no money to speak of is proof you can’t convince the world.

Oddly enough, everyone in the art world probably knows this. Everyone. It’d be hillarious, if it wasn’t so sad.

Art Book Review

When I say art book I mean a book about art, not one of those books full of all the sketches and character/world design stuff from a movie or television show. In this case I don’t even mean art instruction, insipration, or any of that. There aren’t even any pictures. What I mean isn’t even really art history, more art theory, yeah, or art religion. I mean Realisation From Seeing to Understanding the Origins of Art by this guy, Julian Spalding.

I’ve never heard of Julian Spalding. I really like him.

I’ve been having problems with reality again. I blame putting away the cameras, they were quite the crutch I guess. I figgured this book would be a good way to read about my trouble without getting caught up in it.

Turns out Spalding is a god damn mavrick. This is a book, full of history, full of pronouncements, with no foot-notes. Spalding is a guy who’ll take a position, his own position, and not qualify. Spalding knows what Stonehendge was for. Spalding knows why the top of the pyrimids at Giza are flat. Spalding knows why perspective came about when it did and it’s not the lame incimental progression slow evolution bullshit that has no place in art history.

I love this book. I had to stop reading it constantly and not for the usual no-pic art book reason of needing to go off and remember what this or that work looked like. I had to stop reading because I needed to give this or that bit time to crawl around through what I remember from art history one whatever through four whathaveyou. I had to stop and start because if I didn’t it’d all be over fast, too fast.

It’s not without it’s flaws. Like everything written on art that mentions any specific work there is a bit of that revolting tendency to see things that aren’t there (ha!) in this or that painting. If you read what I just wrote, I think you should buy what Spalding wrote back in 2015. It’s more relevent every day, not less.

DIY Nib Reservoir

Nib pens are great. Nibs are great. Zebra G nibs are only a couple bucks for a pack of ten and they flex. Line variation isn’t as extreme as it might be on a gold Phono nib from some Victorian era Pitman’s Shorthand school but it’s better than most. The thing that sucks though is flex eats that ink fast. Nothing sucks more than another involuntary psychiatric hold but running a nib dry on a long expressive contour is right up there. Just behind that, a close second to running dry is flexing too hard to fast and loseing flow. You know, when the tines separate and you just get two hairlines instead of nice broad stroke.

I got a solution though. Put you a giant reservoir on your nib and be well. Next time you have an appointment snag you one of those gimmie drug company rep pens. Here’s what you need:

  • A nib, something with some flex makes the most sense
  • The spring from that gimmie pen
  • A soldering iron
  • Solder
  • Needle-nose pliers with a wire cutter

Here’s what you do:

  • Cut that spring in half so it’s about a half inch long
  • Heat up that soldering iron and heat one end of the spring
  • Touch a bit of solder to the hot spring so it melts, that’s called “tinning” it
  • Sit that spring on your nib so the unsoldered portion hangs down to just below the feed on the nib
  • Heat up the “tinned” bit of the spring till it tacks down to your nib

Now when you dip that spring fills up and surface tension gives you ink like nobodies business. A full dip on this sucker puts out seventy inches at about 3/32nds flex. SEVENTY INCHES. Oh, and did I mention that when it’s on the full side (more than half) there’s basically no more speed-limit to keep it from spliting to hairlines? Yeah, and it’s free if you can get access to somebodies soldering iron.

The down-side is you gotta make sure to wash the nib now after you use it. No more wipe and go when you’re in a rush

On the left is about a third of a full load with the spring, lines drawn top to bottom, right to left. On the right is a full load without the spring, lines drawn bottom to top, right to left.

Days 25 through 39

Here’s the latest up to day 39. Picked up a Rotring Rapidography 0.50 around day 30 ’cause I heard that the ink was black black, practically as black as India ink and I thought that it might end up being more portable than a dip pen and ink bottle. I’m not sure how I feel about that pen yet, something about having to hold it veritcal makes my tremor worse unless I grip it super loose. I’ll keep trying it though ’cause I do like that Rotring ink…