A pandemic project: working your way through a favorite artist’s back catalog
I have been observing the moon on as daily a basis as I can and marking my observations in my journals. I’m in my 27th year of this practice. At first it was a whim; then an obsession; then an art project; and now a practice, habit; and ritual. I do not do research—strictly personal observation and conversation. I have a scrapbook I’m compiling where I paste in every reference to “moon”, Luna, lunar, lunacy—whatever seems like a moon to me—that I can find, beg, or steal. I’m learning how to teach myself and in the process my ability to observe has really been sharpened. (www.salliewolf.com/moonproject).
This is a fun example: Tiersa watching movies with her cinephile son! https://twitter.com/tiersaj/status/1487542915568214019?s=21
Great suggestions. Inspiring for a 67 y/o who frankly never truly had too many goals. Which might sound fun and spontaneous but has the downsides of me flitting here and there with little direction and lots of disconnected artwork, etc.
It’s SO unpracticed to have even one goal, to stay on track with something through the hard moments. (Like self criticism, “you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re not an artist” etc etc)
Though I have a 26 year commitment to hubby, so there you go. it’s a reminder to me, not all goals look like “goals” and proves I have it in me if I have make an investment in something that/who truly means something. I’ll start with that tiny goal: figuring out what I want to focus on in a piece of art that I want to complete and that has meaning TO ME(important!). That’s about as far as I can offer myself, but in my case should/could lead somewhere meaningful-With at least one a completed piece.
Btw:So enjoy these Tuesday pieces from you.
I can't wait to tell my wife I bought a book entirely about Road House.
I decided, ten years or so ago, to make every recipe in Classic Home Desserts (by Richard Sax) and have been slowly plugging away at it. I have jags of baking a ton, then times where I don’t have the bandwidth. I’ve found lots and lots of things I like (and my family likes) and some pretty strange desserts too. Maybe I’ve made a hundred of the recipes? Don’t really know. There’s about thirty that I’ve marked “make again.” And I have. Also, each time I make one, I add little notes in the margins: the date, what’s going on in my life right then, and recipe notes. I know that I’m unlikely to finish before I die, but it’s a fun little project.
I’m a fan of Patti Smith’s writing. My project is to read through some of the books/authors that she writes about in her memoirs. I started with Roberto Bolaño’s 2666. It’s a slow, fascinating read, and I love flipping back and forth between the actual 2666 and Smith’s writings about 2666.
Comments here are so so cool. Lovely rabbit holes to fall into. I often listen to jazz when I’m doing art. Not a very sophisticated jazz person but Ted Gioia has a great newsletter that often points me in interesting directions.
Teju Cole has amazing playlists that are perfect for art doing—mostly instrumental. “Year” is my fav.
I’ve spent the last few months getting to know octopuses by reading about them, and drawing…mostly drawing … them. I am using my images to create a wordless picture book as a way to celebrate the diversity of life on this planet. I’m not sure what I’ll take on next… I just listened to two artists who spend years researching a topic, reading and re-reading a poem, making image after image in different styles and combinations of media before choosing to “finish “ a piece dedicated to the topic of their study. Fascination, love, interest has to run deep to devote that much to a single task, idea, subject.
Up to this point (octopuses), my visual art deep dives have been into the materials, methods, design elements in creating visual art pieces … I believe images have to be about something … and often my pieces have been about a quote, or capturing something about a person’s personally in a portrait…but truly, I cannot say I have ever spent a lot of time on that “something”…certainly not years.
That said, my process seems to be a matter of stumbling upon something worth pursuing, usually through reading, watching, listening, the inevitable rabbit hole … not all stumbling leads to finished pieces…at least for me. My latest stumble…the Prinzhorn artists of the 1920s in Germany.
I thought I was a bit weird. Spent a couple years obsessed with lichens - picking up bits on branches, drawing, reading about, even looking into a mathematical proof that lichens are fractal. Fractals! Another enticing obsession. Stretches the imagination, range of interests, and challenges the way I look at the world. Added note, I have limited vision, so much of this is in my mind, though my new smart phone camera gives me access to sights my eyes alone can’t.
I’m only now getting to reading the the “pandemic project.” A week ago it occurred to me that I would like to really clean the studio and jettison stuff that I simply did not want to do anymore. Does going through 30+ years of notes and idea sketches, plus all the papers my mother had saved since I was 10 years old count as a deep dive into myself? I think so, albeit a bit indulgent, however I seemed to be meeting aspects of myself forgotten or never even noticed. Thanks for your wonderful ideas !
All these comments = so great. I'm going to start w the artist Robert Gober. who mesmerized me on a trip to MOMA as a child. must find his cabinet filled with toilet paper rolls, so far no luck other than in my memory. Then would like to go deep into Christopher Wool. if anyone has tips, please share
My kids are obsessed with Home Alone and it was this year that I discovered that there's a whole franchise (6 total movies!) and so we dove in head first. Some are terrible, but I allowed myself to love them because of how much my 5- and 8- year old love them. We've been watching each one repeatedly, and I consider their interaction with the movie the thing I love to observe most. I ask myself what are the elements that draw in the kids? Which draw in me? How did they make 6 iterations (at least one is legendary and at least two are pretty terrible) that still get my kids and I to keep coming back? The mix of contemporary parenting dilemmas, references to cool kid-technology, and slapstick violence against bad guys delights every time. Of course, the underestimated kid who saves the day is the big win.
As always, on Tuesdays, I love the extra "shot"of inspiration, the thought provoking text and comments! Although not an exact example of listenthrough, but more a rough beginning of going down the rabbit hole, was the Miles Davis, Birth of Cool documentary I saw this week. That man went through so many different creative phases, reinventing himself all the time! I thought I knew quite a lot of his music but after the documentary I realized it was only the tip of the iceberg. I will definitely dive into his music further. I also love his quote in the beginning of that documentary: "If anybody wants to keep creating, they have to be about change". David Bowie was the same, also a good one to do a listen through on.
A more personal project I'm now diving into and which seems more the beginning of a "learn and do in public" is the idea to create one interactive artwork with as much people as possible, everyone contributing their own idividual part. I would be interested to know what happens if the artwork would not be linked to the name of one artist in particular. I'm looking into terms like identity, individual, mass, anonymous and what artists have said about it. Diving into projects like Ai Wei Wei's "sunflower seeds" (collaboration of Ai Wei Wei with craftman, but the artwork was only bearing his name), JR's faces projects (collective art, but again linked to one artist), Michael Toombs, known for his interactive community murals in Kansas. But also diving into the world of NFT's, do they relate in any way to my idea of collective -yet individual- art? It's a nice rabbit hole to be in and the next step will be to share the next steps on how to pull off such a project. Maybe even within this community;) A quote of Miro (book / interview: I work like a gardener) I like in this respect: "Because a profoundly individual gesture is anonymous"
52 Loaves: One Man's Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust
Book by William Alexander
I love deep dive projects like this. I'm a romance writer, so this year I'm doing a romantic movie marathon and have committed to reviewing one romantic movie a week in my newsletter. I'm pulling from a number of Best Of lists from different decades and decided to jump around in time. I'm not sure I could cover the decades of movies in order. I like being able to watch a classic like Casablanca and then jumping to something like When Harry Met Sally or something that just came out. It keeps the project feeling fun and spontaneous instead of like an assignment.
I also created a 2022 reading challenge for myself so I could dive into the roots of the modern romance genre because even though I write in that genre, I didn't grow up reading it. (I was a horror reader.) So there will be trips to used bookstores and covers with Fabio in my future--and probably pirates. :)
Thanks for the shout-out! Great newsletter and comments here too. Absolutely loved HOW TO READ NANCY and glad to see Craghead's Sun Ra docket includes the Batman novelty record he was on