In the Studio #31

My studio is slowly turning back to normal after a week of finishing up paintings from Vermont and completing my Project Stream grant to the Lehigh Valley Arts Council. Now I’m trying to find a new rhythm which I’m hoping will take hold as I start to dig into the Hotness in Concert No. 2. I’m at the phase in the painting right now where the secret painting is buried and now I’m building up the stage and internal architecture for the surface image. Here’s the preparatory sketch for Hotness in Concert 2 that I knocked off last week.

Anthony Smith Jr., Hot in Concert 2, 24 x 36 inches, mixed media drawing 2016

One of the interesting innovations that I’m trying to explore in this piece is torquing the horizon of the concert arena to give a deep long view of all the onstage action. I got this idea after looking at the paintings of Sarah McEneaney. Her works remind me of Giorgio De Chirico in the way that one sees every possible angle in her pieces, all torqued into impossible perspectives. My paintings are often very perpendicular affairs and I have to confess as to not having much of an imagination for how each of these Hotness in Concert paintings would be depicted before I began this project two months ago. And so I was happy to see Sarah’s work at VSC and the speak to her about them because they gave me the inspiration to think outside of the box a little. Here’s some of Sarah’s works right next to some De Chirico’s. Can you see how they weirdly warped the space in each work and how the perspective is…, well a little off

left is Sarah McEneaney’s New Sleep, 2014. Right is Giorgio De Chirico’s Melancholia from 1916
left is Sarah McEneaney’s Dog Beach, 2013. Right is Giorgio De Chirico’s Ariadne, 1913

I’m trying to create this same sense of space in Hotness 2. Space that somehow doesn’t work but still does.

While I’m working out this problem I’m also trying to think about how to display my series “Matthew Likes Darkies Best”. I made these works on ceder shingles and so they’re somewhat unusually shaped. I’m debating whether to use a shadow box to put each work in – which would be a conceit to the conservative artwork-display-practices here in the Lehigh Valley – or to just display them loose. I would like to sell the works instead of just looking at yet another painting in inventory, so I’m leaning towards making the box. Here they all are on the wall as they were in Vermont:

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I’ve noticed that my energy is still somewhat off since Vermont and I’m having to do all kinds of tricks to motivate myself. I’m still managing to do some work but somehow the zest and desperation of the studio is missing. Some of this I think is related to my unstable living and employment situation. One of the things I’d like to figure out this summer is how to create new discipline so I can grow and change, and grow to anticipate change. My therapist told me last week that I should get used to things being different and to avoid becoming complacent. I think he was trying to remind me that I have overcome great obstacle in the past He’s new so it was heartening that he read me so quickly. Here’s some shot of the studio over the last few weeks:

I asked a coworker for a new list of songs to listen to so that I can again get out of my M.I.A. and now jazz rut, and so over the next few posts I’ll go down her list to see if I can find something I like. Until then more Coltrane! Here’s a classic it’s “Crescent”.

Okay next I think I’ll blog about First Friday and continue my other list, the list of artists that were recommended to me at VSC. Until then….

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