I Love the Smell of Turpentine in the Morning

My new studio

Okay, the studio is actually in my apartment — part of our office-slash-spare bedroom-slash library (the spare BR in our 2BR).

We rearranged a few things, relocated my desk to the other end of this room (because it’s bad feng shui to work at your desk with your back to the door) and moved J.C.’s computer into the living room (a very pleasant room with lots of space and light and art and a pretty red area rug from Iran.)

I haven’t painted since moving this past October from L.A. to N.Y.

Now, it’s as if my missing right arm has suddenly turned up and reattached itself to my body.

Often such cases of pseudo-limb transplant are precipitated by a major life-change. Sometimes creative block or the lack of a well-lit space in which to work is to blame. All are frustrating and debilitating.

No matter what the source, once your so-called creative problem is resolved, the bipolar experience of sidling back into your work is best described, I think, by a Talking Heads song, called “Artists Only.”

Wry, laconic lyrics (by David Byrne) you cannot help but relate to when wrestling down the daemons of creativity.

Here’s a clip from a 1977 Talking Heads performance in Austin, TX:

Artists Only

I’m painting, I’m painting again.

I’m painting, I’m painting again.

I’m cleaning, I’m cleaning again.

I’m cleaning, I’m cleaning my brain.

Pretty soon now, I will be bitter.

Pretty soon now, will be a quitter.

Pretty soon now, I will be bitter.

You can’t see it ’til it’s finished

I don’t have to prove…that I am creative!

I dont’ have to prove…that I am creative!

All my pictures are confused

And now I’m going to take me to you

The new arrangement for our apartment essentially came about because of three reasons:

1) Studio porn for the visual artist: in the form of an inspirational birthday gift I received from my friend, B., called Inside the Painter’s Studio by Joe Fig:

You can look inside it at Amazon.com

2) J.C. had a dream, which envisioned a repositioning of both of our desks and my easel to their present locations.

3) Roberta Smith’s February 10th’s article in The N.Y. Times: Post-Minimal to the Max, which has infused me with hope that we non-post-minimalist painters are not irrelevant (or “dead” or moldering in some garret amid our stacks of paintings and neck scarves and berets and chain-smoking Gauloises and spouting “Beat” vernacular.)

As Smith writes in the article: “Museum curators need to think less about an artist’s career, its breakthroughs and its place in the big picture and more in terms of an artist’s life’s work pursued over time with increasing concentration and singularity

“They owe it to the public to present a balanced menu that involves painting as well as video and photography and sculpture. They need to think outside the hive-mind, both distancing themselves from their personal feelings to consider what’s being wrongly omitted and tapping into their own subjectivity to show us what they really love.”

If only.

Still, we persevere because we have no choice. We need our right arm!

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One Response to “I Love the Smell of Turpentine in the Morning”

  1. Joe Fig Says:

    I’m happy to hear that you found my book of interest. Thanks for the support! Wishing you the best,
    Joe Fig

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