Art Writing and Criticism

The 9-5 Job + Love of Your Life / Juggling = One Mean Balancing Act

Balancing Act…this elephant has crazy core stability!

The past few weeks have served as a bit of a break from active writing (I define ‘active writing’ as writing every day for a couple of hours about art.). Wanting to take a step back and re-focus is the primary goal at the moment. There’s always something that brings me back to art though. It’s in everything I do. The practice of posting to my blog everyday in 2011 (at the very least, gathering material to post for every day of the year) taught me a lot about producing well written and researched content. However, after a year of that practice, I found myself wanting to write ALL the time and feeling guilty when I find myself unable to produce. THIS was a sure sign that I needed to step back. Aside from wanting to constantly write about the things I want to write about, I have to balance deadlines and exhibition reviews for different editors too.

After some introspective time, I wanted to share a few revelations and strategies. These are not new but I’ve found them to be very helpful. No matter what, there’s always something there to remind me that art and writing are not going anywhere. Reading the last line of Steinbeck’s letter to his son Thom about falling in love is so true (in any case, it can certainly apply to your passion),

“…And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens – The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away”.

~ John Steinbeck, November 10, 1958 ~ Letter to his son, Thom

Despite the itching angst ridden feeling that washes over me when I attend art events or read something really amazing and phenomenal online, and end up not writing about these discoveries, I’ve definitely cut myself some slack. There’s just no way to capture everything and do it all justice. Lately, I’ve suffered from information overload as well and grappling with having this thing called ‘me’ time that incorporates relaxing and resting the mind and body. Here’s what I’ve had to tell myself over the past couple of weeks,

  • It’s OK to not write about EVERYTHING I see!
  • Documentation of art happenings are, sometimes, best left to memory…
  • Being in the moment of an art experience which will never happen again is OK ~ Let go…sometimes, the memory paints a much more interesting picture
  • Save all that pent-up writing energy for grad school and read non-art text (i.e., Tobias Wolff, Haruki Murakami, dive into some art magazines, flip through all my art coffee table books, etc.)
  • Watch the films I’ve BEEN wanting to watch and SAY I will watch but don’t because I’m hunched over my laptop
  • See art but take off the critical lenses!! It’s perfectly fine to spit out a gut reaction and not analyze the work
  • Enjoy a nice cup of tea (a good cup of tea…we’re talking loose leaf)
  • Connect with loved ones (yes, if you can believe it, I actually have a reminder on my calendar to do this…I know, I know…crazy, eh)

Overall, the break has been a nice refresher! I’m definitely back and will be posting some photos and posts in the next few days! Also, if you have other ways that you step back from your work, I’d love to hear them. 🙂


Serenity NOW and some Secret Breakfast would be so amazing right about now…

Needing some of this stuff ASAP!

There is SO MUCH happening! Aaaaaah!! I love it but I’m realizing I need to step away from time to time. Lately, I’ve been allowing “break times”, which excludes writing and writing about art. So far, so good. I’m starting to feel refreshed again when I get back to the keyboard. I’ve been able to balance out work, writing, and art stuff a bit better. BUT I can’t help but share that I’ve had some very cool studio visits with some amazing folks that include…

Currently working on some new pieces for the next Asterisk SF issue as well as other work, which will remain a mystery until they’re published. The studio visits with these great artists has certainly reminded me that I need to step back from time to time, which is probably why I posted the Secret Breakfast photo above (EVEN though I’m lactose intolerant – Yes, this ice cream is worth the stomach cramps!). I’m also in need of checking out some movies, concerts, and anything fun that doesn’t require heavy use of my brain cells. 🙂 Suggestions totally welcome!

Write until blood drips down onto the keyboard

Writing is easy:  All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.  ~Gene Fowler

As we near the end of January 2011, the WordPress postaday challenge has me wondering what I want to accomplish. This blog isn’t just a blog. It’s an art diary. An online journal where I can say whatever I want and post whatever I want about something I’m extremely passionate about – Art.

Artists. Art history. Art theory. Art movements. Art making. Well, you understand.

Ah, nothing like a good comic to sum up a feeling, eh?

This morning, my girlfriend asked me what my intent was regarding this particular challenge, which made me think of what I want this to inevitably become. Originally, I was trying to imagine myself being contracted to write about art for an entire year (everyday). Of course, excluding the one liner posts (i.e., links to the Art Statement Generator 2000, etc.). Those, admittedly, are filler but can you blame me [insert cheeky grin here]? In any case, she brought up an excellent point about what is realistic. If I were an actual art writer, I probably wouldn’t be writing everyday (more like weekly, monthly, or on a quarterly basis). I, certainly, agree with her. I mean, let’s face it, I’m not going to publish something on a completely polished and esoteric EVERYDAY.

However, I can post something everyday that gives readers a glimpse into the person I am. The art writer I want to become as well as the thought process when it comes to looking and experiencing art.

I love the fact she’s worried about me putting extreme pressure on myself and I worry too because writing should come naturally and without restraint (well, maybe a little bit for good writing measure). No blood dripping involved. I read a lot of other art critics and writers and I notice that some of my favorites writers write much more sparingly about the deep stuff. Duly noted. January is almost up and after a month of doing this everyday, I can tell you that I will definitely push through 2011 and show as much dedication as I possibly can to my independent studies of Art (everyday).

Lastly and most importantly, if I haven’t thanked you, dear reader, I wanted to take the time to say thank you for witnessing my growth. Here’s hoping all this effort in 2011 will throw some amazing opportunities my way.

Yours truly,

E/IC Art Writer


Writing Process

The Kitty Cat with Lasers and my Notebook

I know this is an art writing blog but I felt compelled to write about my (art) writing process. It’s simple: I journal (everyday).

That’s right, folks, I still journal. Or, keep a diary. I’ve done this since January 2006.

I love the act of writing organically. With technology, the mind processes many bits of information per second. Writing in a notebook may prove difficult if you’re in front of computer for hours every day (like me – that’s right, I have a 9-5 desk job) but it’s cathartic (even if I’m writing gibberish)!

Naturally, I need an outlet and that’s the reason why I journal as much as I can. It’s where I jot down all the ideas I have for essays and write-ups I want to pursue. If I’m roaming through a museum or gallery, my phone is my handy dandy note taker/keeper/recorder but soon after, I dash off to closest cafe and write in my journal. Some ideas get the boot while other musings garner a bit more attention. As the subject line states, posting a day has really forced me to look at my current writing process and what I would like to do to improve it.

For instance, not worrying so much about what the reader is going to think. Much of my fear, like anybody, is that the reader likes what I’ve written. This is not guarenteed and I’m not always going to write something people agree with or particularly enjoy. As a writer, especially in the Arts, I’ve have to accept this fact and move on. I’m starting to realize the more passionate I am about what I write, it shows.