On a drifty Manhattan stroll
The kind that unearths magical treasures
I made a right turn off of Houston
And as it became Third Avenue
I came upon this old art store
That creaked hello
Its warped wooden shelves
Held new paints
A little dusty from the old building
But whose colors were deeper
Than I’d ever seen before
And at the back of the store
Up a narrow stairway
Was a tiny room
And behind a long table stood three people
Who could get me any paper I desired
Paper with designs
To collage with
Hot press, cold press
100 gram, 600 gram paper
To draw and paint on
Any kind of paper I’d ever want
Templates from heaven
And over my right shoulder
Was a tall window
Overlooking the glorious city
That has held this little room
Tenderly in its arms
All these years
And as I hugged
My rolled up package of paper
And went back downstairs
The old stairs seemed to gently whisper
“Come back soon,
We’ll keep each other alive”
And stepping outside
Third Avenue seemed more spacious
And I took a deep breath
As the world
Lovingly wrapped up
By three kind artists
At the top of the world.
“Art Supplies From Heaven,“ by Judith Ellen Sanders, published in “Metropolitan Diary,” NY Times, April 6, 2014
Q: How important is the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think about who will enjoy your Art when you conceive it?
A: I can’t say that I think at all about audience reaction while I’m creating a painting in my studio. Although, of course I want people to respond favorably to the work.
Generally, I’m thinking about technical problems – making something that is exciting to look at, well-composed, vibrant, up to my exacting standards, etc. When I finish a painting, it is the best thing I am capable of making at that moment in time.
I think about a painting and look at it for so long and with such intensity, that it could hardly have turned out any differently. There is an inevitability to the whole lengthy process that goes all the way back to when I first laid eyes on the folk art figures in a dusty shop in a third world country. Looking at a newly-finished painting on my easel I often think, “Of course! I was drawn to this figure so that it could serve this unique function in this painting.”
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.
A BOX OF PASTELS
I once held on my knees a simple wooden box
in which a rainbow lay dusty and broken.
It was a set of pastels that had years before
belonged to the painter Mary Cassatt,
and all of the colors she’d used in her work
lay open before me. Those hues she’d most used,
the peaches and pinks, were worn down to stubs,
while the cool colors – violet, ultramarine –
had been set, scarcely touched, to one side.
She’d had little patience with darkness, and her heart
held only a measure of shadow. I touched
the warm dust of those colors, her tools,
and left there with light on the tips of my fingers.
Ted Kooser in Art and Artists: Poems, edited by Emily Fragos
Comments are welcome!
A: Today is a day off to let my fingers heal. When I start a new painting, I need to rub my fingers against raw sandpaper in order to blend the pastel. With each layer the tooth of the paper gets filled up and becomes smooth, but until then my fingers suffer. Here is what I’ve been working on.
This pastel-on-sandpaper painting is an experiment, an attempt to push myself to work with bigger and bolder imagery. The photograph clipped to the easel is one of my favorites. It depicts a Judas that Bryan and I found in a dusty shop in Oaxaca. Among the Mexican and Guatemalan folk art pieces that I’ve collected are five papier mâché Judases. This particular one is unusual because it has a cat’s head attached at the forehead (the purple shape in the painting). They are not made to last. In some Mexican towns large Judases are hung from church steeples, loaded with fireworks, and burned in effigy. This takes place at 10:00 a.m. on the Saturday morning before Easter. Mexico is primarily a Catholic nation, of course, so effigy burning is done as symbolic revenge against Judas for his betrayal of Christ. The Judas in the photo is small and meant for private burning by a family (rather than in public at a church) so by bringing it back to New York I rescued it from a fire-y death! In sympathy with Mexican tradition, I began this painting last Saturday (the day before Easter) at 10 a.m.
Comments are welcome!