Monday, November 30, 2015

One Daily Habit

I’m not by nature a big believer in self-help books. That being said, my girlfriend, Gertrude recently brought to my attention Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Like most people I’ve talked to, I began the book but did not finish it. I was turned off by the structure (it is a course) and intimidated by the rhetoric of totally changing one’s life based on one author's experience. I will give it another chance one of these days. One very valuable thing I’ve taken from the 25 pages I've read is the practice of Morning Pages. If you want a detailed description of morning pages directly from the author, please check out the book. Someone you know has it, I assure you. Cameron has a very intense description of the practice in the book.

The Dollar Store notebook I use.
I’d say I’m less intense about the practice of writing morning pages, but I’m a believer in the benefits. Basically, every morning I wake up, take out a notebook and brain dump three pages of stream of consciousness writing into a notebook. At first, it seems like a giant waste of time, but I have to say emptying my waking mind on paper focuses me and clears me up for the rest of the day. Also, it gets me warmed up to put things out into the world; art, writing, conversation, whatever. It’s daunting to attack a blank page which can be extended to any type of output in someone’s life. By starting my day attacking a blank page, even if I’m filling it with nonsense, I’m better prepared for all the output I need to produce over the course of the day.

This has all been so effective, that I’m going to extend the practice to visual expression, too. I’m going to start brain dumping drawings into a sketchbook every morning. Yes, I know I should be sketching throughout the day, every day anyway. But, I don’t. I think that applying the discipline of morning pages to drawing will prepare me for a greater artistic output because I won’t be worried about producing something good. When I did the 100 Drawings in 100 days project on Instagram, I found difficulty because I was sharing what I was drawing, so there was pressure to make it good. By getting all the crap on paper first thing in the morning, I’ll feel freer throughout the day. And I’ll be able to sort out the good from the bad in my increased output.

This is of course a theoretical resolution which I’ll be starting tomorrow (in theory). But, I’ve made the resolution public, so now I have to follow through. I’ll follow up in a couple of weeks to let you fair readers know how it’s going. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Really Fine Art vs. Real Fine Arts (Reflection and Review)

Nicolas Ceccaldi
November 14 – December 20

Real fine Arts
673 Meeker Avenue, Brooklyn

For years I used the tagline “Tim Doyle’s Really Fine art” or ‘”My name is Tim Doyle and I make really fine art.” – Tim Doyle, Tim Doyle’s Really fine Art.’ I thought it was pretty clever. But after returning to New York, I was debating whether to put the joke to bed since I’d been using it for about 15 years. Then, one day while researching an artist, I discovered that just three blocks from my apartment, there is a gallery called “Real Fine Arts”. It had sprung up after I had left the neighborhood in 2009. Naturally, I had to investigate since not only is it a legit gallery 300 feet from my front door, but the founders clearly share a similar sense of humor with me.

The gallery is located under the BQE on Meeker Avenue on the first floor of a mixed use building, surrounded by other businesses in small storefronts. Currently, artist Nicolas Ceccaldi is being featured with a show of 3D work entitled Wearables. Ceccaldi has shown internationally in a variety of media. Real fine Arts featured another Wearables exhibition of his in 2012.
From Wearables, Real Fine Arts, 2012
Photo: Real Fine Arts
This show is spare, comprised of seven sets of costume wings, a few hung irregularly on the wall and a few placed on the floor flat or leaning against a wall. The wings themselves seem meant to be worn and appear crafty rather than meticulously manufactured. For example, irregularly placed staples are visible on one set of wings. These seem very much like pieces a creative individual would wear to a party. It is interesting to see them in a gallery setting, seemingly celebrating the raver or burner lifestyle which they would serve. Some are threatening, with claws and animal bones while others mimic butterfly wings. One set is joined with corset laces, giving it an erotic charge. One set on the floor is broken, whether intentional or not, I don’t know, but they are effective in the overall installation. The wings on the wall appear to be trophies, part of a collection, without any gallery didactic next to them. The pieces on the floor seemed to me detritus from angels who have lost their wings either in flight or have simply walked away from them surrendering their identity, as the theoretical wearers would surrender their temporary identity after wearing them. But they are functional and the viewer could theoretically put them on, assuming the discarded identity (though I am not sure how the gallery staff or artist would feel about that.)

Overall, I’m very happy to see a serious gallery in my neighborhood. I’m of the opinion that there should be as many venues as possible, allowing a great breadth of work to be seen across New York. It’s phenomenal to see driven people fighting for attention away from the money galleries in Chelsea. Me, I was planning on walking away from the ‘Really Fine Art’ tag anyway, so keep those old postcards and business cards. They’ll be worth money one day!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Lessons Learned this Week

“Why don’t you think anyone in New York would want to buy one of your Tucson paintings?” asked my girlfriend, Gertrude (not her real name) recently.

Afternoon at the Presidio Wall
Acrylic on Canvas, 2013
I had no good answer to the question. I suppose in the spirit of marching forward through life and my own artistic development, I abandoned the paintings I made during my Tucson era to storage in Massachusetts. My plan was to start fresh in Brooklyn and build a whole new body of work. To be fair, my lack of space here had something to do with the decision to leave the paintings behind.

There is a platform for selling art called Saatchi Art. It is a clever website developed many years ago in the spirit of exposing artwork to a worldwide audience and to collectors. I immediately joined when I learned about it, but for years and years I received no response to my work. With less and less frequency, I updated my page on the site with new work, removing the paintings that were sold or that I didn’t feel reflected my work of the moment. I updated it at some point in Tucson and forgot about it when I moved back to New York.

Before the Wedding
Acrylic on Canvas, 2013
Sure enough, just a few days after my discussion with Gertrude, I received a phone call from a Saatchi Online sales rep informing me of the sale of one of my Tucson paintings. The problem was, I had already sold the painting. I told the rep that I would have to cancel the sale, but he proved to be very helpful and asked me to update my page to indicate which paintings were still available. I called my logistics department in Massachusetts (my father) and asked him to find which Tucson paintings were still available. He shipped the canvasses to me and I re-stretched them. Now I’m still waiting for word on which painting the buyer would like instead. I’ve got to hand it to the Saatchi sales rep; he’s been very helpful through this entire process and will hopefully close the deal for me.

In the meantime, I can reflect on the lessons learned from this experience. First, I should never underestimate the value of online presence. Second, I should never underestimate the demand for my older work, even if I’m focused on work to come. And finally, I have over a hundred paintings: I need to have an inventory system. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

What I've Been up to... Part 3

North Henry Street Alley
Graphite on Bristol, 2015
Another series of paintings I’ve been working on is called “Fenced Out”. These are inspired by the ironwork which one sees all around New York. It’s such a massive part of everything we view, serving the roles of security, demarcation and safety. Ironwork not only influences the landscape, but it often influences how we see the landscape. When walking by Gramercy Park or by many sections of waterfront, we have to look through fences to enjoy the scenery. We are
Fenced Out 2
Oil on Canvas, 2015
fenced out, either to protect the sovereignty of the property or ostensibly for the public’s safety. It was with this in mind that I started the Fenced Out series. These are abstracted landscapes/cityscapes, rather than specific places, shown through a typical iron fence. Formally, I enjoy the way the fence can work with the background to create a rhythm in the painting. The local ironwork provides endless patterns with which I may work.

Fenced Out 3
Oil on Canvas, 2015
Finally in this “What I’ve been up to…” series of posts: commissions. I’m very excited to be working on a commission right now for the owner of a Brooklyn Heights brownstone. I’ve been hired to capture her home in my style, in four paintings reflecting each of the four seasons. It’s a great idea for a project and I’m excited to be a part of it. If you’d be interested in commissioning a painting or drawing, please feel free to contact me and we can discuss.

Monday, November 2, 2015

What I've been up to...Part 2

Chandelier People
Graphite on Bristol, 2015
Throughout the Spring and Summer this year, I was participating in a challenge on Instagram where I was to post 100 drawings in 100 days. It was a valuable exercise and resulted in everything from finished drawings to notebook doodles. The drawings which weren’t pictures of New York buildings and streets
were something new for me and have resulted in an ongoing project which is still revealing itself to me.

Spirit Racing Through Space
Oil on Canvas, 2015
It began with “chandelier drawings” as a friend of mine called them, and I felt that these structures were taking on a life of their own and I began treating them as characters. Then one night I saw a painting in a dream, and I tried to reproduce it as best as I could. The main shape from the painting found its way into my chandelier people drawings and a new world was born. Now there are both drawing and oil paintings in the series.

Don't Tear Me Down
Graphite on Bristol, 2015
I’ve decided to call this project “Spirits and Nobles” because for me these two distinctive types of figures have developed the following meanings for me. The chandelier people have come to represent pure selves; that which is at the core of a person. These are the Nobles. The Spirits are the floating beings in the drawings and paintings and they represent that which would lead the Noble astray; outside forces which pull, tempt and plague, preventing one from reaching his or her goal.

Ready for the Challenger
Oil on Canvas, 2015
“Spirits and Nobles” is an ongoing project which has only just begun. The more work I produce with this theme, the more that is revealed to me about the allegorical and surreal world where these characters reside. It’s particularly fun for me because it is, like art should be, a process of exploration.