I generally make art three ways:
1. On my own, either out in the field or alone in my studio. I mostly paint in gouache or oil, work on my large ongoing mosaic project, or perhaps carve a woodblock for printing.
2. As a teaching artist. Over the course of a year my students range from Kindergarten to 12 grade. Scatter in a few adults and that is my year. The processes and media range from drawing to clay animation to silk marbling to stone carving- always changing and always a new challenge. Seeing former students teaching younger ones is very gratifying.
3. The third category is making art in community, like yesterday.
Sunday, 9-5 was my time slot for the 2014 Monothon at Artspace at Untitled in Oklahoma City. Every year the experience is different – we are either upstairs in the most beautiful and inspiring workshop space I have ever seen, or downstairs in the less beautiful but still well fitted (and cooler) shop. Yesterday we were six artists working downstairs. The goal is for each artist to create two to four monoprints, and the studio chooses one to sell at their fundraiser later in the year. Long periods of silence are interspersed with conversation and commiserating. We usually end up helping each other work out technical issues with the inks and press throughout the day. We used Akua soy-based inks and Revere paper. I like Akua, although their ever-changing formula keeps mastery at bay. My only complaint is their colors are a little muted, especially the warms and whites. For school I prefer Akua for an entirely different reason–it only dries on paper.
I attempted one monoprint based on a rainy street at night I saw in New Orleans a few weeks ago, and one of the huge clouds I saw looking towards Santa Fe from Taos earlier in the summer. My cousin Brian Landreth was also working and added some finishing touches to that one.
Group studio experiences like this are an important and often overlooked part of building community among artists, especially in places like Oklahoma where we are far-flung. It is so good and nourishing to have a few hours to meet, re-connect, and work, and it us a great way for young artists or people new to the area to get acquainted. I find it much more satisfying than standing around making brief small talk at openings, and I never fail to learn something.
What other ways have you experienced this kind of artist community-building?
Ariana Foote and my first plate
Brian and one of his white dogs. The white dog is a Chickasaw protector spirit and a repeating motif in his work
Martin Hallren (l), Gilliam Kemper (r)