Q: You are a multi-talented woman! Tell us about your book, “From Pilot to Painter,” and how writing, for you, compares to painting and photography. Which do you prefer?
A: I am pleased that my eBook FROM PILOT TO PAINTER is available on Amazon and iTunes. It is based on my blog and is part memoir, including my personal loss on 9/11, insights into my creative practice, and intimate reflections on what it’s like to be an artist living in New York City now. The eBook includes new material not found on the blog, plus 25+ reproductions of my vibrant pastel-on-sandpaper paintings, a Foreword by Ann Landi (who writes for ARTnews and The Wall Street Journal), and more.
“Barbara Rachko’s Colored Dust” (the title of my blog) continues to be a crucial part of my overall art practice. Blogging twice a week forces me to think deeply about my work and to explain it clearly to others. The process has helped me develop a better understanding about why I make art and has encouraged me to become a better writer.
From the beginning in the 1980s I used photographs as reference material and Bryan would shoot 4” x 5” negatives of my elaborate setups with his Toyo-Omega view camera. In those days I rarely picked up a camera except when we were traveling. After Bryan was killed on 9/11, I inherited his extensive camera collection – old Nikons, Leicas, Graphlex cameras, etc. – and I wanted to learn how to use them. In 2002 I enrolled in a series of photography courses (about 10 over 4 years) at the International Center of Photography in New York. I learned how to use all of Bryan’s cameras and how to make my own big color prints in the darkroom. Along the way I discovered that the sense of composition, form, and color I developed over many years as a painter translated well into photography. The camera was just another medium with which to express my ideas. Astonishingly, in 2009 I had my first solo photography exhibition in New York.
It’s wonderful to be both a painter and a photographer. Pastel painting will always be my first love, but photography lets me explore ideas much faster than I ever could as a painter. Paintings take months of work. To me, photographs – from the initial impulse to hanging a framed print on the wall – are instant gratification.
For two years I have been using my iPad Pro to capture thousands of travel photographs. Most recently, I visited Gujarat and Rajasthan in India. I have never been inclined to use a sketchbook so composing photos on my iPad keeps my eye sharp while I’m halfway around the world, far from my studio practice.
Comments are welcome!
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
Artists, by nature, are gamblers. Gambling is a dangerous habit. But whenever you make art, you’re always gambling. You’re rolling the dice on the slim odds that your investment of time, energy, and resources now might pay off later in a big way – that somebody might buy your work, and that you might become successful.
Elizabeth Gilbert in Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
Comments are welcome!
A. That is a long story. To get far away from New York for the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, my friend, Donna Tang, and I planned a two-week road trip to see land art sites in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. (Donna did excellent research).
We hoped for a private tour of Roden Crater with James Turrell, which is not easy to arrange. I had also invited my friend Ann Landi, an art critic and arts writer, to join us, hoping she might get an interview with Turrell and write an article for Artnews. Turrell has been working on Roden Crater for 30+ years so Ann was interested in seeing it too! Ann contacted Turrell’s gallery – Gagosian – but they later relayed Turrell’s refusal.
We were planning to see other land art sites. As an alternative to Roden Crater and Turrell, Ann pitched a story to The Wall Street Journal about Sun Tunnels and Nancy Holt (Robert Smithson’s wife, who as the only woman in the land art movement, has never been given her due). The Journal said yes, so Ann made plans to join Donna and me in Salt Lake City.
The three of us visited Sun Tunnels, Spiral Getty, and other sites together. Ann had a brand new point-and-shoot camera that she hadn’t yet learned how to use. I always take lots of photos whenever I travel. After we returned home, I sent Ann a few images and she asked permission to submit them with her article. I was thrilled when The Wall Street Journal requested JPEGs. It was the first time I’ve had a photograph published in a major newspaper.
Comments are welcome!
I am pleased to announce that my first eBook, FROM PILOT TO PAINTER, is available now on Amazon!
It is based on my blog and is part memoir, including my personal loss on 9/11, insights into my creative practice, and intimate reflections on what it’s like to be an artist living in New York City now.
The eBook includes new material not found on the blog: 25+ reproductions of my vibrant pastel-on-sandpaper paintings, a Foreword by Ann Landi (who writes for ARTnews and The Wall Street Journal), and more.
Thank you for your support!
Note: If you do not own a Kindle, you can download a free Kindle app.
Here is the one for MACs:
Here is a link for the rest:
Kindle Cloud Reader – Read instantly in your browser
Smartphones – iPhone & iPod touch, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry
Computers – Mac, Windows 8, Windows 7, XP & Vista
Tablets – iPad, Android Tablet, Windows 8
Comments are welcome!
Q: Do you have any rituals or a spiritual practice that you do before beginning your work in the studio?
A: When I arrive at the studio in the morning it’s rare for me to immediately start working. Usually I read something art-related – magazines like Art in America, ARTnews, Tribal Arts, or exhibition catalogues from shows I’ve seen, books on art, on creativity, etc. At the moment I’m re-reading The Gift, by Lewis Hyde. As usual I am struggling to understand aspects of the art business and figure out what I need to do next to get my work seen by a wider audience. The Gift reminds why I decided to make art in the first place. It helps reconnect with forgotten parts of myself and is a much-needed reminder of what I love about being an artist, especially in light of the business stuff that is becoming so complex and demanding of attention now. Balancing the creative and business aspects of being an artist is a continual struggle. Both are so important. An artist needs an appreciative audience – very few artists devote their lives to art-making so that the work will remain in a closet – but I also believe this (from a note hand-written years ago and tacked to the studio wall): “Just make the work. None of the rest matters.”
Comments are welcome.