Wednesday, August 27, 2008

$23.50 Club, More Works on Paper

T. Renner, $23.50 Club #5," 2008, acrylic on paper, 11" x 8.5".

The name "$23.50 Club" comes from the 1935 Works Progress Administration's Art Project that paid Willem de Kooning, among others, $23.50 a week to deliver a small painting every month.

T. Renner, $23.50 Club #6," 2008, acrylic on paper, 11" x 8.5".

T. Renner, $23.50 Club #7," 2008, acrylic on paper, 11" x 8.5".

T. Renner, $23.50 Club #8," 2008, acrylic on paper, 11" x 8.5".

T. Renner, $23.50 Club #9," 2008, acrylic on paper, 8.5" x 11".

Each of these works are available for $23.50.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Two Watercolors

T. Renner, "Untitled watercolor #1," 2008, watercolor on paper, 15.25" x 11".

I made these two watercolors in the week following my first "Immediate Touch" class at the St. Louis Art Museum. I'd never worked with watercolors before although I had access to a set that my girlfriend had when she was a schoolgirl. I got a little bugged-up and thought that the next week's exercise at SLAM would be on "hot pressed" paper.

In fact, the first class was on "hot pressed" paper and the next would be on "cold pressed" paper; that class turned out to be delayed until class #4. The difference in the papers is that "hot pressed" has a smooth finish that encourages water (and pigment) to run off the paper whereas "cold pressed" paper encourages the water and pigment to soak into the paper and spread out. Thus, these works would look very different if they had been done on different paper.

At any rate, these works are very process based.

The first is an exercise in controlling drips. I applied the large central swash with a brush and then hung the paper vertically and added colors that would run down the page. After finishing one direction, I flipped the page and repeated the process. I was inspired to do this work by Stanley Donwood's cover for Radiohead's "Hail To The Thief."

The second is an exercise in letting rain do the work. That is, I dabbed some pigment on a sheet of paper and set it out in a light drizzle and went off to do something that I no longer remember doing. On returning, I was very pleased that it had not rained very hard and that the pigment had spread very nicely. I picked up the sheet very carefully and turned it once vertically and once horizontally (or vice versa) and hung it to dry. (I did touch up a couple bits of pigment with a water charged brush but I couldn't identify the areas now.)

T. Renner, "Untitled watercolor #2," 2008, watercolor on paper, 15.25" x 11".

You might note that neither of these works is named. Feel free to suggest something. I think I'm too involved with the process to be moved by the content (which I nonetheless feel to be considerable) of these works.

Monday, August 25, 2008

"$23.50 Club": Four Paintings for Willem de Kooning

T. Renner, "$23.50 Club #4 (for de Kooning)," 2008, acrylic on paper, 8" x 10" [SOLD].

This was one of those mornings that saw me painting even before the coffee was finished brewing. The other night I had a dream about a black and white painting. None of these is that painting. I can still visualize the painting in my dream so I may try again to capture it.

T. Renner, "$23.50 Club #2 (for de Kooning)," 2008, acrylic on paper, 8" x 10".

These paintings are named for Willem de Kooning because I spent a little bit of time, charcoal and paper in hand, with Sally Yard's "Willem de Kooning: Works, writings and interviews" this weekend and I think the influence comes shining through.

T. Renner, "$23.50 Club #3 (for de Kooning)," 2008, acrylic on paper, 11" x 8.5".

The name "$23.50 Club" comes from the 1935 Works Progress Administration's Art Project that paid de Kooning, among others, $23.50 a week to deliver a small painting every month.

T. Renner, $23.50 Club #1 (for de Kooning)," 2008, acrylic on paper, 11" x 8.5".

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Open Studio Time at the Luminary

T. Renner, "Lee Young," 2008, ink over newspaper tracing on paper, 4" x 6".

Today I was finally able to take advantage of open studio time at the The Luminary Center for the Arts, right across the street from Tower Grove Park at Kingshighway at Reeber.

T. Renner, "Luminary Two" (detail), 2008, acrylic on paper, 17" x 11".

It sure was nice to be able to have lots of room to work. My home studio has room for my drawing table and me...

T. Renner, "Luminary One" (detail), 2008, acrylic on paper, 17" x 11."

At the Luminary I was able to work on an 18" x 24" canvas (part of the "Birth of the Cool" series) and a 3' x 4' plywood panel and still have more than enough room to work on some pen and ink drawings (pen and ink over tracings, to be exact) and a bunch of quick acrylic on paper paintings, both 5" x 7" and 11" x 17".

T. Renner, "Luminary Four" (detail), 2008, acrylic on paper, 17" x 11".

The Luminary is a very cool space, and I look forward to working there a lot in the future.

T. Renner, "For Truman Capote," 2008, ink and acrylic on paper, 6" x 4".

NOTE: "Luminary One, Two, & Four" are for sale for $75 each, shipping not included. "For Truman Capote" and "Lee Young" are not for sale at the moment.

Meshuggah Cafe Show Extended

I'm happy to report that Patrick at Meshuggah Cafe, 6269 Delmar, in the University City Loop, has agreed to leave my show hanging for the next few weeks.

Swing by, take a look, and grab a cup of really strong coffee!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Work Now Showing at Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center

I have a large group of paintings on display now through October 13 at the Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center, 3301 Lemp Avenue, right here in St. Louis.

The work ranges from a large 4' x 5' "action" painting to a series of six 12" x 12" paintings in homage to Josef Albers' "Homage to the Square" series.

Also, on display is the dada-inspired work "Join the Army, Travel to Foreign Countries, Meet Interesting People, and Kill Them (Red, White, & Blue)." Detail below:

Please join me for an artist's reception at the Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center on Sunday, September 7, at 3:00 p.m. There will be treats.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

"Immediate Touch" Class at SLAM, #5

My final class based on the "Immediate Touch" exhibition at the St. Louis Art Museum was by far the most fun.

Prior to the class the instructor, Jesse Thomas, had taken photographs of various pieces in the museum's general collection and had printed them out on transparent film.

After choosing a photograph students were sent out into the galleries to make a pencil sketch, from a different perspective, of the subject in their photograph. Then, students were to return to the classroom to add India ink to their drawing.

I particularly like my drawing because of the contrast between the rather chaotic marks that define my take on Degas' sculpture and the cartoon-ish representations of the two Van Gogh paintings on either side. I also like the swirls, loops, and spatters filling the background of the drawing.

Before adding any ink to my drawing I revisited the "Immediate Touch" exhibit to examine the work of Max Uhlig, Georg Baselitz, and Franz Gunzel. Without their influence, my drawing would have been much more sedate, and the work as a whole would have been much less successful. The final step in the exercise was to lay the transparent photograph over the drawing.

Self-grade: A.

"The Immediate Touch" will be on exhibition at the St. Louis Art Museum through September 7.

According to the SLAM web site: "'The Immediate Touch: German, Austrian and Swiss Drawings from St. Louis Collections, 1946–2007,' includes more than 120 provocative works of art created after World War II by such influential artists as Georg Baselitz, Joseph Beuys, Hanne Darboven, Anselm Kiefer, Blinky Palermo, Sigmar Polke, Arnulf Rainer, Gerhard Richter and Dieter Roth. The exhibition includes private explorations into the aesthetics of the drawn line, preparatory sketches for sculptures and highly finished works that are the size and scale of large contemporary paintings."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

"Immediate Touch" Class at SLAM, #4

This week, unlike last, I was eager -- perhaps even over-eager -- for this particular class at the St. Louis Art Museum. The topic was "Anselm Kiefer, architecture and landscape," based on several pieces in "The Immediate Touch" exhibition. This was to have been our second class but the syllabus had to be re-arranged due to rain. So, I had been mentally preparing for this class for several weeks, and had done an experimental piece before the second class. In preparation for this class, I had gotten a book on architectural drawing from the library and had done a few of the exercises before going to work on the day of the class.

The basic assignment was to go outside of the museum and make an architectural drawing, which would next be transferred to a sheet of watercolor paper. Next, the tracing would be inked over with India ink. Then, the sheet would be gotten wet and watercolor would be applied. (Also, students were to do a drawing of an object using "crosshatching to show tone and structure." This drawing was also to be traced onto the watercolor paper and inked when the paper was wet. My particular drawing was very poor and, so, isn't appearing here! The effect of India ink on wet paper was very cool, however.)

I spent the better part of an hour doing fairly detailed architectural drawings of the original rear entrance of the St. Louis Art Museum. Twice, I realized that I was far to close and needed to render a view of the building from much further away to approximate the Kiefer drawings we were supposed to be emulating. I also realized that I wouldn't have time to trace and ink a very complicated drawing so I quickly made a sketch that I felt captured the spirit of the building. (And even more quickly made a sketch of a sculpture.)

Back in the classroom, I thought I knew how to get the same effect with watercolor that Kiefer had gotten but, sadly, my attempt fell far short. However, I intend to re-visit this drawing!

Self-grade: B- (The instructions for this exercise clearly stated "Don't forget to look at Anslem Kiefer's watercolors" in the exhibit but I thought that I had studied them enough. I was wrong!)

Because I couldn't stand to waste some perfectly good India ink, I decided to grab a brush and apply ink to my original architectural sketch, which I had placed in the watercolor drippings from my first drawing. I've gotta say that I'm happier with the second drawing. [Full disclosure here: I did edit out an element in the original drawing with Photoshop. The irony of having done this to a drawing that bears the slogan "Art Has Truth" is not lost....]

UPDATE: Today -- Tuesday, August 11 -- I added some gouache to the drawing. It still doesn't look much like Kiefer's watercolors but I like it.

I also added some gouache to the drawing of the sculpture that I made but didn't post. I like it quite a bit more.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

"Immediate Touch" Class at SLAM, #3

I must confess that I wasn't especially looking forward to this past Friday night's class at the St. Louis Art Museum because we were going to be doing collages. I find the collages in "the Immediate Touch" exhibit to be not particularly interesting, and I've done work in very similar style in the past. One of the things that I find fascinating about the class are the number of students who will ignore the artwork in the exhibit and merely produce work in a style with which they are already familiar. The point, it seems to me, of each week's particular exercise is to challenge each student to take a step beyond what they are already comfortable with doing. I went into the class dead-set on doing something I'd never done before.

For my first collage, I decided to do a very minimalist collage with only a few elements and very few marks. My first piece was done in like five minutes so I kept poking at it and adding marks. Fortuitously, I spilled my container of India ink on my work surface and, while cleaning in up, decided to use an ink-soaked paper towel to make marks on a blank piece of paper for the basis of another collage. I also soaked the edge of my first collage in the spilled ink.

T. Renner, "Long Nine GL," 2008, collage, ink on paper, 9.5" x 13".

I admit that I spent an inordinate amount of time working on the background for the next collage, adding marks with red watercolor. I just wasn't feeling anything until I went upstairs and looked at the collages in "the Immediate Touch" exhibition. Something then clicked and I rushed back to my collage-in-progress.

I had hoped to find a news-magazine to get some photos from but all that was at hand was a Sotheby's catalog of African folk art. It was cool but I couldn't see how I could use it until I came across the portrait of the guy who had collected it. I feel bad that I was more interested in doing the work than taking notes so I didn't make a note of the collector's name. In an instant, I decided to put a weapon in his hand and to cover the collectors face except for his eyes with a ritual mask. I found a nice object that I could tear up and use to cover the text that appeared on at the bottom of the collector's portrait. Finally, I found the "mug shots" of the Sotheby's staff. It felt wrong to have their names appear so I cross them out with India ink and then decided to further their anonymity by blacking out their eyes.

T. Renner, "Red Sotheby's Faction," 2008, collage, ink, and watercolor on paper, 15.25" x 11".

All of the elements -- the blood red splotches, the weapon, the defaced mug shots, the mask over the collector's face -- add up to one disturbing and threatening piece.

As I was finishing the piece, I realized that it could be read as a statement about the appropriation of African folk art by the western art establishment. The mug shots reminded me of the Baader-Meinhof group of the 1970's, who carried out a series of kidnappings and killings in Germany. As I told the instructor, if I were the members of the Sotheby's staff in my collage I would be very frightened.

Self-grade: A.