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…

PayPal Sucks

So PayPal is trash. Let’s ignore the fact that there’s no reason for the “service” to exist. I mean, why on Earth would I want a company between a buyer and a seller when I don’t need one? Let’s look instead about the updated seller refund policy. It says that if there’s a return for a refund PayPal still gets their fee, the seller pays it, and everyone is back to square one. Well, except for the PayPal who get’s to make a profit and the seller who gets to lose money on a sale that got un-done.

Say a creative sells a print for a $100. That means somebody out there sends $100 to someone else and PayPal facilitates that transaction (as if we didn’t already have financial institutions and social contracts providing for that) pockets 2.9% + $0.30 or $3.20 and the creative gets $96.80 on the sale. If the creative was a convience store they’d just charge $103.20 for a print or price there work at $100 sticker and then add tax and fee’s at checkout. Now, nobody does that because as a population most creatives aren’t douchbags.

Now maybe that print gets creased in the mail when some carrier crams it into a PO box. The buyer wants a refund (and deserves one) so they get their $100 back. Now, you’d think that’d mean PayPal makes nothing on the transaction, and that used to be true, but instead they keep their fee and charge the seller to make the buyer whole. Who does that? Assholes.

So I want to close my PayPal account. Their website tells me I can’t and to contact customer service. I do and they say I gotta wait ten days for a “pending” transaction. I do. Try and close my account again. Can’t. Contact customer service. They tell me theirs an old, open, eBay case and I should contact them to get it addressed then PayPal will close my account.

Call eBay. Nope, no open case. In fact the only activity on my eBay account is so old that even if there was a case I’m told it would have been automatically closed by now.

Call PayPal. Nope, still can’t close my account. I tell ’em what eBay said. They give me details on the case and it’s two years old. I tell them that eBay said that means it’d be closed anyway. PayPal says it would have closed automatically on their end too because it’s so old, but it’s open so they can’t close my account. They want me to conference in customer service from eBay. I do. It’s like two brick walls arguing with each other. Everyone says they can’t do anything ’cause the problem is on the others end.

I open a Better Business Bureau case. And start giveing PayPal a call every day. Meanwhile everything I send them in their idiotic “secure messaging system” is generating automated replies that have nothing to do with the issue. Every time I call PayPal they explain how they can’t do anything and I need to close this case that is only open on their end but is somehow eBay’s problem.

Just for fun I successfully close my eBay acount. And I get the notice that the BBB has contacted PayPal, they have x days to respond, blah blah blah. Keep on calling PayPal once a day. This is my Everest.

Again PayPal want’s me to conference in eBay so they can rub their dicks together. Fine whatever.

One day I get on the line with someone from PayPal who’s not in an overseas call center. This is an actual guy in a cube-farm in the US someplace. He wants me to conference in eBay. Fine lets do that. Hey remember how ya’ll aren’t the same company anymore, how’s that working out? Why’s conferencing the eBay rep part of the standard script? PayPal finally says, and I quote “this shouldn’t be open. I’ll put in a ticket to get the support team looking at why this wasn’t closed.” I’m told I’ll get an email notifying me when my account is closed.

I get a notification that I have a message in their secure message center. The message says some trash like “Hi, my name is Buck Nutley. I’ve reviewd your request to close your account and am stepping in to reccomend you call our customer service department to achive the desired resolution to your issue.” I tell Buck no, I’m not doing that. I don’t want to hear from them until they’re ready to say they’ve closed my account.

Finally my account is closed. And all I can think is when the hell did ComCast buy PayPal?

India Ink

India ink is sweet. Its basically black + shellac + alcohol. It sucks that you cant use it in a fountain pen though, well you can but pretty much only once. I like it though, a lot, so here I go supporting a project to make an india ink fountain pen. This’ll be my most expensive art-thing that wasn’t tuition. Support it maybe.


Charcoal is pretty great. I think it’s great because it’s fast, easy, cheap and very forgiving. Full of anger and hate, poisonous food and hatching spiders? Charcoal forgives you. Charcoal doesn’t care that all you have cheap sketchbooks and scraps of copy-paper. Not like ink, ink cares about your paper. Ink cares a lot! Ink cares so much that it’s going to soak right in and become part of the paper, maybe part of the other side, maybe, part of the sheet behind the top one too. Ink’s a 2. Charcoal’s a 3. That’s for sure, maybe, the very best 3 it can be.

That’s perfect too, ’cause there’s only really three sorts of charcoal.

First there’s vine. Vine is just what it says on the tin, it’s vines, burnt vines? Former vines? It was vines, the charcoal formerly known as grapevines. It comes in gently curving lenghts around the size of a pencil. Three grades, hard and medium and soft. There’s extra soft too, and probably extra hard and extra medium. It’s a bit coarse, and you can really feel it going on, even on very smooth hot-press paper. It’s uniform in cross-section, charcoal all the way through ’cause vines grow that way.

Then there’s willow. Same thing with willow, it’s formerly a tree. It’s got a pith that you can see in the center of each straight length. Willow doesn’t come in hard or soft or medium, I think it’s all soft. And it’s fragile and dustier than vine but it’s so smooth. It’s like an ice cube on a hot dashboard. It wants to move. Willow comes in different diameters, up to about the size of a lipstick.

Then there’s compressed. If it isn’t vine or willow, it’s compressed. Ignore whatever made up name the manufacturer gives it. Compressed is carbon, ground up charcoal, and it’s mixed with some sort of binder. That could be some kind of mastic gum resin or oil or just about anything really. It comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes. It comes inside pencils. Then it’s got every hardness from practically dust to basically stone. The hard ones can hold a point like nobodies business.

All you need to use charcoal is a piece of it and any paper. Bigger paper is probably better but that just means it’s a good thing for implying details rather than adding them. You might want an eraser, so get a kneeded one. Get a scrap of rough canvas too, or a tissue, that’s basically an eraser too. I guess some people need a paper smudger too but just use your finger. You don’t need a sealer but it’s not gonna stop being alive until you have one and use it. Just grab a can of Krylon for six bucks. No, it doesn’t matter if you get “workable” fixative or not. Hell, people use hair-spray and if you’re working on cheap acidic newsprint or something that’s not gonna be doing much but getting worse that’s fine.

Anyway, here’s days fifteen through twentyfour. Everyday is charcoal day until I get bored.

Every day week 2

Proportions are weird. No wonder the trope of an artist holding up the handle of a paint brush are so common. No wonder measurments are important. Scale doesn’t mater, just the relationship of one thing to another. Water-soluble graphite is faster than hatching but looks less polished, less intentional. Maybe ink outlines and water soluble graphite for the tones one of these times.

Things I don’t get

There’s only 3 things. Gender is a 1. I mean, of course it is. I don’t get it though. I become aware that I don’t get it when I read things like this on The Nib. Go read it. Gender is a 3 for this person. That means it’s not someplace they are, it’s something that happens to them. I don’t get it, but that’s interesting. Like, here’s a person who thinks about gender on a level that’s far and away more involved than most people. That sort of makes me sad that I don’t think about it more.

I mean, if I say, “thank you, sir” to somebody it’s done without a thought. No malice, quite the opposite, it’s intended to be distancing and respectful. Sir is gendered, but it’s a sign of deference. If I think about it, it’s saying thanks, but it’s personal in that it identifies a specific person, while stepping back from that intimacy by establishing subordination through the use of an appalation like sir. Appreciation to unique entity separate from and unfamiliar but in elevated standing relative to myself.

For someone who has gender as an event, that’s off-putting, insulting. I’m inflicting my perception of a personal event on their own chronology. I am telling them where they are in relation to me, I get that as such that act is probably going to have negative effects on them.

I wonder though if this is more indicative not of any difference in our oppionions or desire to behave well to each other, but rather a product of the differing importance of gender to each of us. Gender doesn’t mater much to me, so if I missgender or am missgendered, it occupies no psychic real-estate. If it’s important to someone who is missgendered it would of course occupy more. How much onflict is the product of differing levels of assigned importance rather than conflicting oppinions or possitions? Probably more than we would care to know.

It’s personanlly elevating to have an oppion that is in opposition to another. It’s ego boosting to have adversaries. It’s insulting to find that your position is simply not important to another.