Artists Talk at Austin Metrohouse

Artists Talk at Austin MetrohouseWe went to a really nice exhibit today in the modern architecture setting of Metrohouse, where they were showing the work of 3 local artists: Andrew Long, Steven Dubov, and Roi James. Great venue in which all the work looked fabulous!

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Andrew’s — of both his work and his person. He showed a lot of small paintings I hadn’t seen before, and several of the tiny 8×8’s, including one of my very favorites. He also showed his latest large works and some beautiful medium-sized pieces.

I love how his work is informed by his years of experience as a choreographer. You can enter his paintings in one place, imagine yourself sliding under or behind a shape and coming up between several of the other shapes.

Stephen Dubov’s work is really something…he’s using windshield glass and breaking and bending it, then tying it together with bolts and cables and weights in some incredible ways. He compared his work to humans — fragile and vulnerable, yet sharp and tough. He talked about art and beauty over the last many decades — in the ’40s, when art and beauty got a divorce, as he put it; then in the 50’s when art started abusing beauty. Now, he hopes there may be a reconciliation. He’s courting beauty.

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The Seed: Start of a New Series

“Succession 01 #4-4 (The Seed)” Oil on Canvas 12″ x 12″ (part of 20-panel series, O.D. 48" x 60") © 2008 Marilyn Fenn
“Succession 01 #4-4 (The Seed)” Oil on Canvas 12″ x 12″ (part of 20-panel series, O.D. 48″ x 60″) © 2008 Marilyn Fenn

Every time I take a class with the wonderful painter Andrew Long, my work starts changing…

I took a class with him last spring, which helped greatly in the development of my rather freeform abstract encaustic paintings.

I took a longer version of the same class with him this past fall, and my work is evolving again. He really makes you think in ways you haven’t thought before.

I have started several new series in the past many weeks. I am working out some new ideas I’m having about painting through these several series of paintings.

I plan for the final work in the first series to be a large painting made up of many 12″x12″ paintings. The process of creating each new work in this series evolves from the previous work. The first painting is the seed for the whole series, and each new painting unfolds from an edge of the previous painting, continuing from the previous work, yet with the freedom for each new panel to go in a slightly different direction.

This is the first one.

Why Do You Paint What You Paint?

This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series Creative Process Class Notes

Why Do You Paint What You Paint?

Class notes from Reinventing Your Creative Process with Andrew Long, Fall 2007

I am so going to miss these classes with Andrew Long.  He said this would be a life-altering experience, and as grand a claim as that may sound, he wasn’t kidding.

My work changed fairly dramatically after taking the first version of this class with him last spring.  I started aiming again for complete abstraction (often my first love when viewing art) — just playing in the studio, and following the brush where it led.  I was experiencing real joy in painting – not that I haven’t usually over the past decade or more, but now I was giving myself permission to explore with a new kind of freedom.  Some of the paintings I did in the past 6 months or so have been more successful than others, and I do really love them.

But when presented with questions like, “why are you painting what you’re painting?”  “Are you saying something?”  “What’s the difference between this painting and wallpaper or a tablecloth or whatever?” — I had to take a step back, take a good hard look, try to evaluate my own work without that proud attachment of “I did this” achievement. It’s been a very painful week of soul-searching.

I have no idea if I’m ever going to be a painter who does more than pretty paintings to decorate your living room walls with.  But, my concerns are deeper than that, my interests are broad and varied — I hope I can finally find a way to incorporate all my visual interests with the less visual topics that fascinate me into a cohesive body of work — my own world of interests, coming together in a beautiful visual language or world of my own.  Why not mix abstraction, representation, diagramming, mapping, and all visual forms of communication on the same canvas?

Give me 6 months, a year, maybe two — or perhaps more — and let’s see if I can really re-invent myself this time into a painter that bears paying attention to.

Are Your Objects Objects or Facsimiles?

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Poetic Non-Representational Acrylic Painting
"Rabbit" Jeff Koons 1986 Stainless Steel 41 x 19 x 12 inches
“Rabbit” Jeff Koons 1986 Stainless Steel 41 x 19 x 12 inches

Class notes from Poetic Non-Representational Acrylic Painting with Andrew Long, Fall 2007

The object in the painting – is it being an object vs. being a facsimile of the object? Does it have a history, a great hook, and richness, a fullness, or is it empty?

What’s the difference between this abstract piece of art and wallpaper?

Matthew Ritchie — “You mostly wait around for things to leak.” -MR, from this Boston Globe article.

Check out Guerra Paints in NY or Nova Paints in CA for a large bottle of pre-mixed binder & highly concentrated paints to mix.

To increase interest, drama, contrast, come in with a pure black, white or deeper shade of color to really pop things up in high relief. Try india ink.

Mediums – retarder will make paint work more like oils. Acrylic flow release will break apart the paint. Use GAC100 + water (50-50) to use atomizer.

Use a belt sander with 30-50 grit sandpaper to carve down into the history of your paint. Try a Dremel tool.

Jeff Koons has 80 assistants!

Mia Pearlman - Maelstrom
Mia Pearlman MAELSTROM 2008 Paper, India ink, aluminum, monofilament, wire 12′ Dia x 11′ H Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY

See and read more about the work of Mia Pearlman.

Why Do You Create the Art You Create?

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Poetic Non-Representational Acrylic Painting

Painting by Terry Winters

Painting by Terry Winters, just because it’s so frigging beautiful!

Notes in response to the question “Why Do You Create the Art You Create?” posed in the class Poetic Non-Representational Acrylic Painting with Andrew long, Fall 2007

Thoughts and Quotes in response (from several previous classes at SAIC posted earlier in this blog):

An artist needs to be able to sustain their penetration to move past a simply available solution to one with greater depth.

The image must convey something special which appeals to the senses through the way it is presented.

Abstract concepts help to convey visual meaning.
The essence of a work lies in its visual meaning.

Aim for the BIG LOOK:

  • tough
  • brutal
  • uncompromising articulation of imagery and idea
  • extremes of technique


Thoughts and notes in response (from a discussion with my husband):

Meaning is a property of symbols – process is a mapping between symbol and what it’s assigned to represent — an experience of a thing or a concept that the reader has to have had.

Shape – how do we identify a shape?  Similar to the process of mapping a symbol.  (think of shapes in a cloud that make recognizable shapes).

“Something for everybody.”

Shapes relate to the notion of structure – an organizing principle or structures – little shapes that make up the whole structure.

Our notion of meaning and structure – parts relate functionally to the whole.

Some writers invoke “how true, how true.”  Others invoke “I see, I see.”  Better to be the kind who invokes “I see, I see.”

Color is more akin to music – it’s not about experience, it is experience.

Music – listeners’ enjoyment has to do with a balance between the expected (or familiar) and the unexpected – maybe 50-50.

Country music is boring because it’s all expected — jazz is uncomfortable because there’s not enough that’s expected.

Country music is to jazz as [Thomas Kincaide] is to abstract art?

Am I saying something?


  1. hypothesis
  2. data
  3. interpretation of data (mapping of meaning)

The development is a key aspect of it.

Step – “it follows…”

Early phases – R&D – trial and error.
Then exploring; then becomes more directed as you develop & discover how to discover.

Like the Vikings vs. the navigators (Columbus, etc.) — the Vikings may have discovered America first, but they were only about going out and bumping into things; the navigators knew there was stuff out there to discover, set out to discover them, and developed the techniques to discover (navigation, etc).  They discovered how to discover.

So the ‘let’s go find it’ phase can only come after the ‘bumping into’ phase.

Ontology – stuff from the outside world.

Just Make Work!

This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series Creative Process Class Notes
Painting by Joan Snyder "Magic Meadow"
Painting by Joan Snyder “Magic Meadow”
Class notes from Poetic Non-Representational Acrylic Painting with Andrew Long, Fall 2007

What do you think of when you think of a building?  Do you think of the structure underneath?   Why don’t they call it a “built”?  “Building” is a verb – a process.

Maxine Price – a fellow student’s favorite artist, for layers and colors.

Just make work!  Andrew made over 150 pcs. his first year; he’s now been painting 7 years.

Joan Snyder – who won a Brooklyn Museum exhibit.


  • Clear tar – makes acrylics work more like oil.
  • Get an ice chopper and cake spatula from restaurant supply store.

Jackhammer Your Myths

This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series Creative Process Class Notes
Jackhammer Your Myths
Class notes from Reinventing Your Creative Process with Andrew Long, Fall 2007

Jackhammer your myths.

For me, consolidate my careers. Think about validation. Making money doesn’t validate your art (yes, but it makes it possible to spend more time doing your art).

Think about, art can be more fun w/o the business end of it.

Think about expectations.

Excuses …back up to find the real cause of an excuse.  Such as, you’re late because…?

  • traffic on Mopac.
  • No.  Because you didn’t leave on time.
  • Because you didn’t ask your boss to leave early.
  • Because you hate your job…
  • So why are you there?

Throw ‘good’ out the window. It’s all good.

Hole in my bucket where the juice runs out…

Churn All Your Influences

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Creative Process Class Notes
Tara Donovan Untitled, 2003 (Detail) Styrofoam Cups, Hot Glue 6′(H) x 20′(W) x 19′ 2″(D) Ace Gallery New York
Class notes from Reinventing Your Creative Process with Andrew Long, Fall 2007

Are you what you paint?

Are you painting something external or internal?

Check the library – any book can be sent to the local library from Austin, UT, or ACC’s libraries.

Go to see the Mike show at the Blanton.

Go to:

  • Art Palace
  • OK Mountain
  • Studio 107
  • Big Medium (Bolm)
  • Lora Reynolds, off West & 3rd (father-in-law is Mickey Kline – 1 of top 10 collectors)

Go see work that you hate.

As a practicing artist today – you – now.

Churn all your influences & interests into the ground. What are you pruning and why?

Tara Donovan - Toothpicks
Tara Donovan Toothpicks, 2001 Toothpicks Held Together by Friction & Gravity Only 35″(H) x 35″(W) x 35″(D) Ace Gallery Beverly Hills, 2004

N.Y. Magazine -read Jerry Saltz (critic) articles.

Steve Parrino - Skeletal Implosion
Steven Parrino Skeletal Implosion 2, 2001 Enamel on canvas 84 x 84 inches (213/4 x 213.4 cm)

Painting Nice Little Paintings is Better than Doing Heroine

This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series Creative Process Class Notes
Painting by Richard Prince Untitled (The Velvets) Canvas, Acrylic
Painting by Richard Prince Untitled (The Velvets) Canvas, Acrylic
Class notes from Reinventing Your Creative Process with Andrew Long, Fall 2007

This class will be a guaranteed life-changing experience.  A gift you give yourself.

Richard Prince – it may take him 5 years to understand a work he’s done.

NOT doing your schtick.

Paintings nice little paintings is better than doing heroin.

(But is it enough?)