* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
Two facts differentiate Daybook from my work in visual art.
The first is the simple safety of numbers. There are 6500 Daybooks in the world. My contribution to them was entirely mental, emotional. I never put my hand on a single copy of these objects until I picked up a printed book. I made no physical effort; no blood, no bone marrow moved from me to them. I do not mean that I made no effort. On the contrary, the effort was excruciating because it was so without physical involvement, so entirely hard-wrought out of nothing physical at all; no matter how little of the material world goes into visual art, something of it always does, and that something keeps you company as you work. There seems to me no essential difference in psychic cost between visual and literary effort, The difference is in what emerges as result. A work of visual art is painfully liable to accident; months of concentration and can be destroyed by a careless shove. Not so 6500 objects. This fact gives me a feeling of security like that of living in a large, flourishing, and prosperous family.
Ancillary to this aspect is the commonplaceness of a book. People do not have to go much out of their way to get hold of it, and they can carry it around with them and mark it up, and even drop it in a tub while reading in a bath. It is a relief to have my work an ordinary part of life, released from the sacrosanct precincts of galleries and museums. A book is also cheap. Its cost is roughly equivalent to its material value as an object, per se. This seems to me more healthy than the price of art, which bears no relation to its quality and fluctuates in the marketplace in ways that leave it open to exploitation. An artist who sells widely has only to mark a piece of paper for it to become worth an amount way out of proportion to its original cost. This aspect of art has always bothered me, and is one reason why I like teaching; an artist can exchange knowledge and experience for money in an economy as honest as that of a bricklayer.
Anne Truitt in Turn: The Journal of an Artist
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A: Certain sticks of soft pastel contain toxic lead and cadmium so some precautions are necessary. Before I begin working, I liberally apply a barrier cream, called Artguard, to my hands and wrists so that pastel will not be absorbed through my skin via small cuts that I might have. I wear a surgical mask to avoided breathing the dust. Also, I try to work so that my hand is below my head, to lessen the likelihood of breathing particles of pastel as they fall to the floor. I ensure there is good air circulation in my studio. Once the dust has settled onto the floor, I try not to stir it up again until I dispose of it. I’ve been working with soft pastel for 27 years and have managed to stay healthy so far.
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