Yes, folks, I still love painting and I still write about artists who use traditional methods. I wanted to give you a little taste of what’s to come. I’m currently working on an article about Bay Area artist, Aaron Nagel. I had the pleasure of sitting down with him to discuss his art and practice BUT here’s a great video from the Warholian. Enjoy!

Artist Aaron Nagel Studio Interview – Warholian Profile Series – Warholian.com from Warholian on Vimeo.

Art is simple and complicated but its such an alluring and wonderful thing. Yet, let’s face it, money is an issue for any parent hearing their kid plead for an art education (trust me, I know, I begged my Mom when I was in high school). Studying and participating in art is not exactly welcome in a Filipino household, I’ll tell you that much. Yet, it’s important to understand why and I wish I caught onto the Bohemia of Finances series by art and culture writer, Brandon Brown (who writes critically about hip hop/rap – swoon!) sooner. I need to back track as soon as possible but I paid particularly close attention to Part 6 of the series because he conducted an interview with Patricia Maloney, Editor and Founder of Art Practical (double sigh, one of my art heroes). In any case, it’s an interview filled with great questions and amazing answers that touch upon an artist’s practice, pecuniary matters in the art world, and art theory/criticism and how they all intersect. Ms. Maloney’s answers to Mr. Brown’s questions certainly bring up some salient points about how the varying levels of education affect contemporary art and how art production and consumption affect an artist’s practice as well as the market. Definitely worth reading because it’s filled with a lot of great information and insight!!

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What is the best way to understand artists?

For me, it’s, actually, going through the art making process. To experience what the artist experiences. Everyone is unique and completely different but the commonality is the struggle all artists have to create something and be heard, seen, and understood. The above slide show includes pictures I took of my work currently at the UC Berkeley Extension Art and Design campus in Downtown San Francisco. I did a series of drawings for my ‘Working in Series’ class. Having never shown work before, it was an eye-opening experience. Although a student show, it reminded me of all the components integral in staging an actual exhibition.

Likes:

  • The camaraderie
  • Seeing my classmates again
  • Witnessing how we’re all different and how our unique experiences are reflected in our work
  • Teamwork amongst artists to showcase work appropriately
  • An amazing professor – Pam Lanza!

 Dislikes:

  • Measuring and hanging
  • The Security Guard gave me the stink eye as I entered the building with my drawings as if I wasn’t supposed to be there
  • Hanging up the art work and looking at it a million times to see if it’s straight
  • Feeling sad when seeing my classmates’ frustrated after having to hang and re-hang their pieces
  • Wondering if people will understand or care…then again, it doesn’t matter (I guess)

Overall, being an art maker has definitely helped me with my writing skills. Allowing myself to being an artist (outside of classes and writing) gives me insight into the overall process. Another epiphany, I don’t want to be a curator or gallery owner! They have ridiculously difficult jobs!!

Art School Confidential by Daniel Clowes

Don’t have unrealistic expectations. If you wanna make money, you better drop out right now and go to banking school, or web site school, anywhere but art school. And remember, only 1 out of 100 of you will ever make a living as an artist. ~Professor Sandiford, Art School Confidential (played by John Malkovich)

The aforementioned quote from movie, Art School Confidential, had me laughing but remember what Freud said about jokes, there’s a smidgen of truth in them. Talk about artists swimming upstream! It’s no wonder artists struggle both individually and within a community. With the artist’s plight in mind, I couldn’t help but think of depictions of the artist’s temperament. Many adjectives describe artists; genius, edgy, quirky, eccentric, abstract, literal, narrative, conceptual, derivative, and the list goes on. Artists (including art professors and professionals) aren’t spared from stereotypes. I told you the obvious, I know. We’re all subjected to looking at the world through a Gestalt lens to help organize our experiences and knowledge and the art world certainly doesn’t elude categorization (as much as it may want or like to). Music, books, and film have all showcased different impressions of artists, art professors, and professionals. Confinement to the couch the past couple of days had me bundled up and watching movies to pass the time. Woody Allen‘s Vicky Christina Barcelona and Art School Confidential directed by Terry Zwigoff based on Daniel Clowes work provide interpretations and stereotypes of the artist’s mind.

In examining others (whether through real life tales or a fictitious stories), inevitably, we examine ourselves. Who doesn’t? The instances I find myself being judgmental; often times, I either want what is not presently in my life (that which I’m seeing, reading, or listening to – the inevitable act of comparing) or I see aspects of myself I don’t particularly like. In Vicky Christina, Juan Antonio and Maria Elena are a carefree, highly sensitive, romantic, volatile, and poetic couple while Art School Confidential transforms comic book representations of art school archetypes but falls flat. Both are pretty extreme in their depictions. Sadly, I wish Art School Confidential wasn’t made into a film. When brought to life, the characters were just as two-dimensional (if not more) than the actual comic from which they were derived from. Unlike Daniel Clowes other graphic novel film adaptation, Ghostworld; Art School Confidential couldn’t mimic the richness and versimilitude of Enid (main character from Ghostworld). Even the stereotypes seemed over the top but I’m glad I watched it. As for Woody Allen, I hope he knows not all artists look as hot as Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, that drinking and smoking in bars is a ridiculously romanticized view, and artists aren’t all that tortured and polyamorous (well…maybe, in some instances, he may be right). Honestly, I loved Annie Hall way more. Artists and the art world aren’t that inaccessible and exclusive. Far from it! Then again, who wants to watch a movie filled with artists that get along and make a good living (why am I the only one raising my hand here!!).

The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.  ~William Faulkner

Indias Bravas #1 by Dorothy Santos, 8" x 11", Pen, marker, ink, and watercolor, 2010
Indias Bravas by Dorothy Santos, 23" x 30", Pen, marker, ink, acrylic, and watercolor, 2010

The Working in Series studio class with artist Pamela Lanza at the UC Berkeley Extension through the Art and Design program was one of the most wonderful experiences in 2010. It was a difficult year, to say the least. Yet, through the class, I learned so much about why I create art and why it is a huge part of my life.

More to follow…