A few links for interesting reading:
The New York Times has a provocative article on an age-old question -- no, not Is It Art Or Craft? -- the question of whether an artist's talents override bad and even despicable and immoral behavior. I've pondered this a lot. People with remarkable talent and genius are not always exemplary in other ways, and they are sometimes truly awful. Should it matter? In our culture, it doesn't even seem to take artistic genius to make it not matter - everybody loves a comeback, and we celebrate reinvention without consequence.
Picasso was notably not nice to women, as the story acknowledges. Other artists had even greater character flaws. Isn't it almost a cliche that you should never meet the people you admire? I've had the good fortune to meet some artists I admired greatly, and just as in life, some were everything I wanted them to be and more, and others were disappointing. But I find that I'm inconsistent about whether or how much these things matter to me. There are actors whose movies I no longer want to see because of their personal behavior (Woody Allen, Mel Gibson), but Picasso's talent has never been blighted for me by reading about his foibles. Maybe it depends on the level of talent we're talking about.
Also on the Times site, a new series called Line by Line offers a weekly essay on learning to draw. This is a beautifully written series, and it's worth reading whether you once studied drawing and have long since stopped any serious drawing practice, or whether you've never drawn and would like to know the basics. I know many artists who have never drawn, but even if you're making abstract art, it limits your capacity for expression if you have no drawing skills. It's scary, though, to look at that blank paper with only a pencil in hand if you're rusty.
I took a half-day workshop in encaustic last week from Laura Tyler. I love Laura's work, and it was great to finally meet her. I understand now now seductive this medium is! It's both forgiving and demanding, and has qualities of painting, of printmaking, of collage, and of sculpture. I've always been a little daunted by the ventilation and flammability issues, but Laura made it comfortable to explore. We made three pieces: a simple plaid pattern with stripes of color, a layered piece that allowed for some texture (my favorite, below) and a collage piece.
I don't like being a "another day, another workshop" kind of person but I admit that trying new things -- encaustic, bookmaking -- has felt good these past few weeks, and seems to be allaying some burnout. So I may have to revise my thinking in that way. I guess the trick is to not just be dabbling in new things in perpetuity but to be open to the moments of exploration that might lead to new paths, or at least new energy and influences for the old ones.
And now it's Monday morning, 6 a.m., and time to get up, meditate, yoga, go to work, and face reality. I may be going to the Textile Society Symposium in early October; if anyone is planning to be there, let me know.