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Showing posts from April, 2012

Another Blog Post about a Former Student

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a student from the Film and Video department at Columbia College Chicago, who attended a workshop that I gave there. A day later, I received an email from Ryan Hoyda, who took the Journal and Sketchbook class during a summer session in Prague back in 2005. In fact, I think that might have been the very first time that Patty and I taught this class.

My memories of Ryan from that class are overwhelmingly positive: a good writer, grappling with some difficult material, finding his way to his own voice. He became absorbed in the visual side of the class, and I remember his drawings to be fluid and expressive. I haven't heard from him for a long while until this recent email, in which he directed me to a website that has a lot of images of the oil paintings he has done in the last few years.

To my delight, Ryan's paintings turn out to be not only not bad: they turn out to be really very good. You can see the influences in his style (post-Impressionis…

Journal & Sketchbook Class, 2012

Here are images of the wonderful students from the Journal and Sketchbook Class, taught by Patty and me jointly in the spring semesters at Columbia College Chicago. There are fourteen students, and they give their final presentations over the lat two weeks of the class. Seven of them presented last Thursday, the rest will go next Thursday. It's a writing class, mainly, with the sketchbook, drawing, and visual art activities intended as a different way of "seeing in the mind", as a way for the students to develop their writing in a different way to their normal process, but with an equally strong emphasis on fully written movements.

If I can get permission, I may post some of their writing. For now, what the pictures show are the visual pieces, and I hope you'll agree with me that one needs make very little allowance for the fact that they are produced by fiction writing students to appreciate their qualities of visual expressiveness. It's nice to glance over at …

Six of the Best, Part 12

Part 12 of an interview series in which I invite artists to respond to six questions about art, process, and creativity (Part 1Part 2Part 3,Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10, Part 11). Today's artist is Julia Schwartz, who is a practising psychoanalyst residing in California, and (but) also a maker of abstract paintings of a remarkable, instinctive shape-making and sense of touch.



Philip Hartigan: What medium/media do you chiefly use, and why?

Julia Schwartz: I paint with oil, mostly on canvas, although linen is a new luxury that may become more of a necessity. It makes the work different: when the surface is primed, the paint goes on easily and the paintings have been delicate and sensual; unprimed or roughly primed linen took the paint in a different direction, and I followed it. I use oil because it has begun to feel like home, like a part of me—not that I am master of it, but that we are extensions of each other in a way. It still can surprise and delig…

Calling all Writers and Printmakers (1)

(Reposting this from the Page listed above:) I will be teaching two workshops at Interlochen Arts Academy in northern Michigan in June 2012. Famous as an arts high school that turns out world-class musicians, Interlochen is now running summer classes for adults, and it is a beautiful place to spend a week learning new skills or refreshing your creative spirits.

Journal & Sketchbook Offered as part of the Writers' Retreat, this class is designed for writers and artists of any level who want to see and record memories, observations, imaginings, stories, through writing and expressive mark-making. Co-taught with writer Patricia Ann McNair, Associate Professor in the Fiction Writing Department of Columbia College Chicago. These intimate workshops take place in Interlochen's beautiful writing house (shown at right).

Here is a slideshow of people at last year's workshop, with some of the work they produced in class:


Details: Class runs June 18-21; $475 non-member tuition. For…

Six of the Best, Part 11

Part 11 of an interview series in which I invite artists to respond to six questions about art, process, and creativity (Part 1Part 2Part 3,Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9, Part 10). Today's artist is UK-based painter Jina Wallwork -- who, according to her Google Plus Profile, has exhibited her work alongside people like Jeff Koons, Yoko Ono, and Grayson Perry. You can see more of her visionary paintings here.

Philip Hartigan:What medium/media do you chiefly use, and why?

Jina Wallwork: I mainly use paint or ink. Both contain great fluidity but can be controlled and structured. I enjoy finding a balance between control and release. There is a massive range of use in these materials and I discover more possibilities each day.
Philip Hartigan:What piece are you currently working on?

Jina Wallwork: I'm working on a series of drawings. It’s a very intuitive process.
Philip Hartigan:What creative surprises are happening in the current work?

Jina Wallwork: It is diffic…

In Urbana, I: Final Photos

Here is a slideshow of photos from the Urbana Free Library last Saturday afternoon, at the final gathering for the IN URBANA, I public art project. There was a special cake (special in the sense that I hastily drew the words IN URBANA I on the top in blue icing), visits by some of the participants, and also Urbana public art co-ordinator Christina McLelland, and library director Deb Lissak, to both of whom I presented a copy of a small hardback book containing all the photos and phrases from the project:

If you're wondering which one is me, I'm the one with the lanyard that says "Philip". Patty and I also trotted out the whiteboard one more time, and got about twelve more people to complete the sentence and pose for a photo.

All in all, this was a successful project, which I will write about at more length soon.

Meditation on Francesco Clemente

After a bit of a break (it seems to be slowing down as I approach the stated goal of 100), here is number 99 in the series of short talks on works of art.

Six of the Best, Part 10

Part 10 of an interview series in which I invite artists to respond to six questions about art, process, and creativity (Part 1Part 2Part 3,Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8, Part 9). Today's artist is Lena Levin, a painter living in the Bay Area of California.

Philip Hartigan:What medium/media do you chiefly use, and why?

Lena Levin: Oil paints. My work is focused on colour, and oils feel more "native" to me than any other painting medium I've worked with (watercolour, tempera, gouache, acrylics, pastels). They offer just the right balance between freedom and constraints for me.

Philip Hartigan:What piece are you currently working on?
Lena Levin: I am working on a series of 154 paintings, each corresponding to one of Shakespeare's sonnets. They aren't intended as illustrations in any usual sense, but rather as "translations": from each poem, I try to go the place where the difference between art forms disappears, and return with a painting, li…

A Student Writes ...

I am still relatively new to teaching -- this is only the fourth full college semester that I have (co-)taught the Journal and Sketchbook class at Columbia College. So it is still also a new experience for me to be contacted by a student and have a nice exchange about ideas coming out of a class I taught.

In this case, a student called Jonathan Leithold-Patt attended the J&S workshop that I gave in the Film and Video department last week. His was one of the pieces of in-class writing that I recalled from at the end, as I read back phrases that stuck out to me from the pieces that students read aloud. Jonathan followed up a few days later via email, and it turns out that he paints as well:

I asked him to say something about his pictures, and he wrote:
I don't exactly make movies outside of what I'm doing for school, as my interest in films is more in watching them and analyzing them than actually creating them, but I do see a connection in the films I love and the types of …

Every Photo from the Public Art Project

Here are all of the pictures from the public art project that I am about to complete, IN URBANA, I ...


If you are in Urbana, Illinois, on April 21st, come along to the Urbana Free Library to meet some of the participants and to celebrate the culmination of a year long project.

Meet Me in St. Louis

I've always wanted to go to St. Louis, but in the ten years I've lived in Chicago, just 300 miles up the road, I never went there until yesterday. Patty had to go to read at Left Bank Books, in the west end/Forest Park area of the city. She and her fellow Elephant Rock Books author, Stacy Bierlein, were doing a joint reading as part of their promotions for their books, "The Temple of Air" (Patty) and "A Vacation on the Island of Ex-Boyfriends" (Stacy), both of which were published by ERB in the last eight months.

Left Bank Books is at the corner of a street in a neighbourhood that looks astonishingly like parts of Vienna, or Prague, or the un-bombed bits of Berlin:


Not surprising given the massive German influx into the area in the late 1800s. Home of Budweiser, Anheuser-Busch, and all that. I understand that this area has been through several up and down cycles, and is currently enjoying one of its upswings, with cafes, bars, restaurants, boutiques, inter…

Six of the Best, Part 9

Part 9 of an interview series in which I invite artists to respond to six questions about art, process, and creativity (Part 1Part 2Part 3,Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7, Part 8). Today's artist is painter Abigail Markov, who lives in Florida.




Philip Hartigan:What medium/media do you chiefly use, and why?

Abigail Markov: I work predominantly oils. Sometimes I throw in oil pastels, charcoal and resin. I love the smell, the feel, the texture, the flexibility, the seemingly limitless possibility I find with oils. And, of course, the mouth-watering, intense, brilliant, century-withstanding color that is a hallmark of oils.

Philip Hartigan:What piece are you currently working on?

Abigail Markov: Actually, I'm almost always working on several, though in various stages. Granted, I have one that's my baby, one I am working on intently at any given time. As of right now, that baby would be the one I just finished a painting today: “It Was a Good Dream.” It turned out to be a signif…

I hate Gerhard Richter's Paintings

I was at the Art Institute of Chicago yesterday, going around with some students and talking about the things that they responded to. After the class was over, I took a quick through the modern wing to see what's new. On the way to finding something that I didn't expect to like but did, I passed something I always thought I liked but realised I now don't:


As I said recently in a different context, Richter's reputation will easily survive my negative opinion about him.  But a sudden encounter with his work, particularly the squeegeed paintings like the one above, made me think how lazy, incomplete, underdone he is. There's no reason for this gesture to exist, not even as a 'let's drag the paint and maybe the results will be beautiful/unexpected/absorbing/failed in an interesting way." There's no sense of touch or feeling in it, and not in a cool "the absence of touch or feeling is the whole point" sort of way. If you want to defend the ca…

Six of the Best, Part 8

Part 8 of an interview series in which I invite artists to respond to six questions about art, process, and creativity (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7).Today's artist is Kari Cholnoky, currently doing her MFA at Cranbrook and already finding deserved recognition for her work, with upcoming exhibitions in New York and a forthcoming residency in Singapore.


Philip Hartigan: What medium/media do you chiefly use, and why?
Kari Cholnoky: My media change according to my working limitations and my environment. Currently, they're mostly house paint, Sharpies, Krink marker, drop cloths, oil stick and collage elements, as well as the introduction of video as a collage element. And, to be clear, I make "paintings", but I'm not sure that the division of media is a thing anymore, and my paintings may not universally be viewed as paintings though I view myself to be a painter. 
Philip Hartigan: What piece are you currently working on? 
Kari Cholnoky: I make …

Six of the Best, Part 7

Part 7 of an interview series in which I invite artists to respond to six questions about art, process, and creativity. Today's artist is John Murphy, who lives just outside Madrid in Spain.



Philip Hartigan: What medium/media do you chiefly use, and why?

John Murphy: I spent many years making a kind of 'process painting' based on a very limited set of actions but now all my work created digitally.  Most of my pieces are composed of two parts. One part starts with paint on paper which then gets scanned into the computer and combined with vector/digital elements in photoshop and/or corel painter. I now work this way because the marriage of the hand made painted elements with the digital really excites me.
PH: What piece are you currently working on?
JM: I am working on some Illustrations for a festival in Cork, Ireland and I am also in the middle of a new series of silhouettes. 



PH: What creative surprises are happening in the current work?
JM: I am always looking for ways to redu…

Urbana Public Art Project Installed

I am writing this from Urbana, IL, where I installed the luminary/lightbox for the public art project today, at the Urbana Free Library (built in 1874):


The official party is in 2 weeks' time, to coincide with a big arts weekend int he city. But as you can see, the installation was getting noticed within minutes of going up.

Six of the Best, Part 6

Part 6 of an interview series in which I invite artists to respond to six questions about art, process, and creativity. Today's artist is Canadian painter Donna Marsh, whose beautiful impasto paintings have been like a refreshing eye-rinse for me since I first saw her work on Google Plus. She was also the subject of one my short video Meditations on Art (link).




Philip Hartigan: What medium/media do you chiefly use, and why?

Donna Marsh: I use oil paint on canvas. I like the smell, and it will do anything I want. I like how I can vary the thickness, put colour on top of colour, cut into it to use colours that are underneath. I also watched my mother and sister paint when I was little. I wanted so much to be allowed to use it too. Oil paint was big girl stuff like high heels.
PH: What piece are you currently working on?
DM: I just lost the one I was working on, but that's okay. I saw some things while I was working the paint, and one or two of those things will find their way into a…