Did You Know...

That Lucian Freud was Sigmund Freud's grand-son?  Not I, or if I did, it seemed like something that was an urban myth and coincidence.  In the same way that it seems confusing to me that Francis Bacon (the painter) has the name as the Elizabethan era philosopher.  

Watching a documentary about Lucian Freud (A Painted Life) in the background as I paint flowers from the farmers' market - potted begonias with a creamy color, green inside.  Since my cut flowers from my Monday turn at Sprout never last as long as I'd want, I thought that growing things might be a better investment of my stipend.  Depending on how my arrangement skills go tomorrow, maybe I'll bring home some flowering houseplants, instead...

After watching Sarah Sze's conversation with Paul Holdengräber (!) at the NYPL, where she speaks about Vermeer's skills of composition - a zigzag of attention up from mundane life to the incursion of light coming through a window - I'm trying to look at each of Freud's paintings with an eye to composition.  Thinking about the way that individual flowers could be manipulated in a bouquet, even as a painting, to fulfill compositional principles, but through some trial and error.  Maybe a little like Matisse's cut-paper collages.

The End of the Internet

Remember this old DirecTV commercial about the end of the internet?  It's amazing. 

I do remember those glory days of the internet, when it actually felt like it might be possible to reach the end.  The look on that guy's face is entirely accurate to what such an accomplishment would do to someone physically.

Anyway - such a funny internet road has just brought me to a compendium of watercolor information on a site called Handprint, which is unmaintained as of 2014 or so, but holds such a wealth of fussily worded, querulously mined knowledge that I actually thought about printing pages out and reading them that way.  Just as with the seed collecting blog I posted about earlier - these days, even the most toothsome information has a hard time penetrating my brain, if not presented in a chic, scrollable, square format.  Ah...

I originally was just trying to cross-check some paint brands that Satsuki Shibuya (a total hero to me right now, both in terms of her tenacious and inspired approach and how lovely she seems as a person!) had mentioned that she uses on a Periscope broadcast (how's that for internet?!)  Unlike all the teachers I've been studying with, she liked two that I'd never heard of: Schminke and M. Graham.  

An internet search for "comparison of watercolor brands" unsurprisingly led me to WetCanvas, itself an insanely unflashy relic of the web 1.0.  And from there, a post on a forum board led me to Handprint.  Whew.  

Rainy (still!) Friday night on the internet - what can I say.

Rainy Days

One of the best things about not having an office job to go to is being able to enjoy staying at home on a rainy day.  It's been a gloomy, rainy week this whole week, although in this early part of spring grey days feel more like an investment than a punishment.

I went outside to plant some seeds I didn't get around to last year - Hudson Valley Seed Library's North East Native Mix, Starflower, and some coxcomb celosia seeds that I scrounged from a cutting last year.  Planting them in the plastic planters we have on the balcony seems so paltry.  When a seed packet directs you to 'scatter seeds' and your motion is similar in size and scope to salting your dinner plate, you remember the limitations of city life.  

Still - it's lovely to have a 'bit of earth' (if I remember the line from The Secret Garden correctly) to play with, even if it comes in huge dusty bags from Home Depot.  I exulted in sympathy with this article from Fine Gardening about the author's experience in collecting flower seeds - her sense of frugality and openness to surprise shining through.  Even though I can't really be bothered right now to really absorb all she is saying about when and how to properly harvest the seeds from the flowers.  A good read for a stormy day in summer, when this batch of flowers has already sprouted and is in bloom...

Personal Art Museum

A joy filled home is like your own personal art museum (Marie Kondo)

Having become a Kondo acolyte after reading her first book, it was natural that I might be delighted to double down and receive her second book, Spark Joy, as part of a wonderful stack of birthday gifts yesterday.  

With serendipity, I found a quote in Spark Joy that is great fodder for my current brainstorm around creating "aspirational art" - pieces that capture in 2D the essence of things one can't afford in 3D reality.  Or might not want to actually own.

Why merely like on Instagram, or pin on Pinterest, when you can create and lay your hands on a facsimile?

Antique tile; a papery orange poppy; a box full of beautiful ribbons or sharpened colored pencils... still life for the sake of possession, when actual ownership is not possible.

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Do This

In following the wonderful women at Apiece Apart on Instagram, I became aware of the concept of "Oblique Strategies" as a jumping off point for their latest collection.  Although I was intrigued by the term, I didn't know the provenance, and for some reason didn't delve deeper until last night, when I saw Brian Eno as a talking head on a David Bowie documentary.  Eno helped Bowie during the creation of his Berlin albums, the most famous instance when the Oblique Strategies came into play.

The intention behind creating Oblique Strategies in 1975 was to encourage lateral thinking via aphorisms that could help artists break through blocks.

I don't have a copy of the Strategies, but some examples that stand out to me:

Work at a different speed.

What would your closest friend do?

Use an old idea.

Ask your body.

I love the idea of lateral thinking.  A big reason for starting A Likely Pair is help me catalogue connections that I see between ideas or things that are not formally related, but share some root spirit.

The tone and intent of Oblique Strategies immediately made me think of Jenny Holzer's Truisms - a product of a similar time.  Holzer began her work on her first public artwork, the Truisms, in 1978.  Although the Truisms operate less on the level of a tool for artists (although I'm sure many artists have certain of these seared into their brains), and more as a provocation designed around lessons for living, I love the idea of commandments which generate action or discussion, rather than prohibit it.  A few which jump out at me from among these:

CALM IS MORE CONDUCTIVE TO CREATIVITY THAN IS ANXIETY
IF YOU HAVE MANY DESIRES YOUR LIFE WILL BE INTERESTING
LACK OF CHARISMA CAN BE FATAL
THE ONLY WAY TO BE PURE IS TO STAY BY YOURSELF
LISTEN WHEN YOUR BODY TALKS

And I do love, of course, as you may have noticed, the exhortation to listen to your body.  Something it's easy to hear but not easy to do - generally for me at least, dialogue with your body requires getting up off our chair and engaging in some form of movement.