PODCAST: with Erika B. Hesse

I am excited to share this episode with you because it is packed with such great content! Kimberly Brooks is a Renaissance Women who is a painter, researcher, writer, teacher and all around wonderful mind.

In this episode, we talk about David Hockney and his use of technology, the history of technology in painting, the book her father wrote “Art & Physics” and how she edited it during her teenage years. We also discuss her studio practice, work, color and how she became the founding editor of the Huffington Post Arts section.

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Art Talk with Kimberly Brooks, Windsor Smith and Rose Apodaca at Reagan Hayes

Reagan Hayes West Week Art & Design Event

Los Angeles — Join Furniture Designer Reagan Hayes, Design Icon Windsor Smith, Writer/ Curator Rose Apodaca and Artist Kimberly Brooks as they explore the interplay between art and the spaces they influence. Introducing new prints by Kimberly Brooks. Join us for  a book signing of Windsor Smith’s latest book Homefront following the event.  

Wednesday, March 23, 4:00 PM
Reagan Hayes Pacific Design Center Showroom, Los Angeles
8687 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90069

LEONARDO’S BRAIN by Leonard Shlain

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LEONARDO’S BRAIN NEWS & REVIEWS

It is with great joy and gratitude that I announce the posthumous publishing of my father, Leonard Shlain’s last book, Leonardo’s Brain: Understanding Da Vinci’s Creative Genius which he completed shortly before he passed five years ago.

The book is available online and in bookstores now. My siblings and I are hosting events to celebrate the book’s release in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco this fall.

Many of you already know about Leonard Shlain’s previous books, Art & Physics,The Alphabet vs The Goddess and Sex, Time and Power, or were lucky enough to attend one of his presentations. Otherwise you may have learned about him by my Technicolor Summer Exhibition, the articles I have published about our vigil or the flowers or when I dedicated the founding of the Science and Art Meets Science sections to him.

Leonardo’s Brain is not only one of his grand intellectual journeys akin to his previous books, but also has a particularly special meaning as synthesizes of so many of his ideas connecting neurology, history, philosophy, art, science and ourselves, holding Da Vinci as a harbinger of how our species could evolve.

We have so many people to thank — from our publisher John Sternfeld at Lyon’s Press (now Globe Pequot), Robert Stricker, his long time literary agent and particularly Andy Ross, the literary agent for Leonardo’s Brain who seized the opportunity to bring this book to market with zeal our father would have loved.  We also want to thank Ann Patty, (The Life of Pi) who helped us edit the final manuscript. The act of conversing with his ideas in our minds as we navigated the different stages of the editing and publication process was one of the greatest gifts of all.

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

January 5

Dear Friends,

I hope your new year is off to a great start.  Despite my perpetually lying on Instagram about my location (like posting pictures from my November trip to India weeks after I returned), I have indeed returned to home to California and have been quietly painting, planning and immersed in life.CityPalaceUdaipur_KimberlyBrooks
I took the above picture Inside the City Palace Museum which is across the water of the Lake Palace in Udaipur, India. There are rooms of walls just covered with Indian miniatures which chronicle the court life of the Mewar family who still rules after seventy six generations — the oldest dynasty in the world. You can spot how the introduction of perspective and portraiture seeped into the way artists depicted events at pivotal moments after the British came and gave art as gifts. *Sigh*

Portrait of Arjun | 20 x 16 in, Oil on Linen

Portrait of Arjun | 20 x 16 in, Oil on Linen

But immediately I must tell you that I will be in NY THIS WEEK, to attend a group exhibition I am participating in curated by legendary feminist artist and writer Mira Schor entitled ‘”A Womanhouse” Or A “Roaming House” A Room Of Ones Own Today’ at the A.I.R Gallery in New York.  A.I.R. Gallery. January 9 – February 2, 2014.  Opening reception is this Thursday, January 9th, 6 – 9 pm.

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AIRGalleryKimberlyBrooks

I hope I get a chance to see you at one of these exhibitions. If not, you can follow me on Instagram where I post pieces of my paintings and lie about my true whereabouts.

Happy New Year!

Kindest Regards,

Kimberly

Naked Summer Newsletter 2011

In an interview with artist Ethan Murrow, I depicted a spectrum I call “The Nudist and The Chemist”. On one side, there is “The Chemist”, who works in a pristine lab with a Bunsen Burner and the thinnest of pipette; on the other, there is “The Nudist”, who slathers paint with a spatula in one hand, a glass of wine in the other, all- while naked. While every artist’s approach is different, I’m leaning towards “The Nudist”.  I think of the elder Matisse, who worked in bed into his eighties with yards of fabric, a big pair of scissors and sunglasses that the doctor prescribed he wear for fear the colors might get him too excited.

For this recent show I’ve been painting directly on oil primed linen, stapling it to the wall and then stretching it afterwards. All the themes I’ve been working on as a painter — portraiture, narrative, the language of costume– have melted into one another the way meat falls off the bone after it’s been roasting for a long time– no longer recognizable in its former incarnation, but more succulent. Whereas my previous exhibitions revolved around specific subjects, including people wearing specific types of styles (“Mom’s Friends”) or people who wield style altogether (“The Stylist Project”), I now let folds and patterns serve as a vehicle for a kind of abstraction.  I’ve created a series of “unportraits” where the figure no longer serves a purpose like telling a story. It’s a shape, a part of the painting.

Preparing for TED

I’m speaking at a satellite TED conference on Friday in Fullteron about the arts.  I’ve been walking around my neighborhood with index cards talking to myself and people might think I’m crazy.   Rehearse rehearse rehearse!  www.tedxfullerton.com

7 Rings: Artist Telephone

Today I played 7 Rings, the game created by Rebecca Campbell and Nicole Walker on the Huffington Post.   Each participant has 24 hours to respond to the previous artist’s work.  I was responding to the poem below by Alison Deming called The Mirror.

“Chains for Alison” 2010, gouche on paper, 9″ x 12″ Kimberly Brooks

THE MIRROR


Once I had a cat who studied himself
in the mirror. He didn’t know
what it was in there staring back at him
but he couldn’t stop looking
because the face never turned away
and eyes meeting eyes
want more seeing. It’s already dark.
No moonlight. No whippoorwill–
the bird that tormented my childhood
refusing to take on the night
without incessant song. That bird
must have been the size of a fire hydrant,
something alarming anyway, I thought then,
but learned later it was just a pip
of feathered life with a voice
insistent as the news, that continuity
of disaster and argument to which
we all belong–bomb in recruiting office,
stoning in public square, crude oil
in everyone’s hair, to mosque or not
to mosque. Don’t turn away. It’s just
the brute world that will outlive us,
the lean hard muscle of it
flexing. But the birds
don’t belong, they are settling
into the night, their feathered quilts
ready-made. Some of them
are rising out of their bodies, whole
categories of bodies, and into
the being of non-being where of course
we’re all headed after a few more parties
and fixations of eyes upon eyes. But first
who doesn’t want to make something
of it, the clutch of childhood’s
solitary rages and the way the face
begins to cave in on itself with age
so that it looks like an Arizona landscape,
all contour and defile, telling the outcome
of its story to everyone, leaving out
a few details, so that a person might stare at
himself and say, Don’t I know you from
somewhere? You look so familiar and yet . . .

Alison Deming was responding to self portraits by Don Bachardy.

Don Bachardy, Untitled,  2010, Acrylic on Paper, Aprox. 24″ x 36″

7 Rings is a game of artist telephone that we launched on August 2nd.  I wrote about the overall concept for the game here.

Leonard Shlain 1937 – 2009

My beloved, brilliant, extraordinary father, author and surgeon Leonard shlain, passed away May 11.  I wrote about the vigil my family held for him.  And then I wrote about the memorial.  Painting is the only thing that is keeping me going right now.

Huffington Post -May 10
A Vigil For My Father, Leonard Shlain by Kimberly Brooks
I asked him the other day while I was helping him add quotes to his newest book: “Are you afraid to die?” “No” he said.” I’m not afraid to die. I just want to live.” Read Whole Article >

Huffington Post – June 1
The Man Who Attended His Own Funeral by Kimberly Brooks
…The memorial, a few days later, was particularly spectacular because he showed up. He had the foresight to have my filmmaker sister, Tiffany Shlain, shoot a video of himself several months beforehand.
Read Whole Article >

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“Made in California”

Thursday evening June 25th to celebrate our Golden State with California artists and friends Peter Alexander, Stan Bitters, Kimberly Brooks, Jamie Daughters, Laddie John Dill, Ed Moses, Samuel Moyers and Daniel Wheeler. Special guest Eames Demetrios, pop-up store by our own Trina Turk. A portion of the evening proceeds to PS Arts.

THE GOLDEN STATE proudly features California- based designers including Amahlia Stevens, Ash Francomb, Calleen Cordero, Clare Vivier, Melanie Apple, Michelle Jonas, Rebecca Norman, Staci Woo, Trina Turk and products that reflect our lifestyle and culture. Opens June 2nd.

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Venice Art Walk

The Venice Art Walk (this weekend, May 16 and 17) is the oldest, most adventurous event of its kind on L.A’s cultural calendar. And while it may be the only to charge (starting at $50 – actually a great value) it also offers the best opportunities in town to snap up remarkable works of art at a silent auction that includes more than 400 original works by many of the best artists now working in L.A. And it is for an extremely good cause – the Venice Family Clinic, now pushing 30 and the largest free clinic in the U.S., serving more than 23,000 Angelenos annually.

Michelle Obama’s White House Portrait

The White House revealed the new official White House Portrait of Michelle Obama today. I’m working on a series of portraits right now and am obsessed with the subject. Even though I love her signature bare arms, I found the blue curtain exploding directly above the center of her head a curious choice of composition, as well as the white rose blocking her hand.Michelle Obama Portrait

It reminded of John Baldessari’s “Wrong”, a photograph he made in response to a photography book telling would be artists that strong vertical design elements sprouting from people’s heads in a photograph or painting is wrong.

John Baldessari, “Wrong”

While he was surely mocking the idea of there being a “right” when you make art, I think this White House photographer needs a spanking.

Michelle Obama, Master Colorist and Me

There is a riot of color issuing forth from the First Lady’s closet and I cannot wait to see what she wears next. Say what you will about whether or not it was “appropriate” to wear a cardigan to meet the Queen or whether that balloon skirt was flattering, Michelle Obama is a Master Colorist — and I as well as my artist friends could not be more ecstatic.

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A Collage of Michelle Recent Outfits

A woman’s journey through fashion is a life cycle in and of itself. As I look at the bold strokes of Michelle’s color sense today I reflect upon Michelle’s journey in fashion and color as one that might parallel my own and other women like her.

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Behold Matisse

As a young girl, I thought of fashion and color as a means to make myself more attractive to the opposite sex. My grandmother once told me, “Red and yellow, catch a fellow; pink and blue, keep him true.” My entire sense of fashion was about sexualization and objectification. I essentially wanted to make myself look pretty for the boys I had crushes on. At camp I would look at Seventeen, Vogue, Cosmo and Bazaar. But when I went to college, I got serious about my studies and great literature and momentarily shunned fashion or looked down upon caring too much about it. This was not just because I didn’t have any money to pay for it. It was also due to the culture inside the Ivory Tower — and I believe many other Ivy League-type schools — which mostly eschews fashion in exchange for the idea that the main purpose of our bodies is to provide a container for our brains. So while I may have I swooned over the finery described in words during a Proustian night at the Opera, fashion stayed in my head whereas Levi’s, a comfortable Gap t-shirt and a cool leather jacket was my uniform.

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Obama, Matisse and J. Crew

It is often after women leave the university and enter the workforce that a different sense of fashion emerges and we pick up the magazines again, first for ideas and then reading them with new eyes. I started to become more cognizant of fashion as a language. Navigating the workforce was confining for me at first and my leftover sexy sense of fashion led to unwanted passes. Even though my first job was in the design industry, it was a very macho, male-dominated environment, not unlike Mad Men. There was a need to balance looking creative, smart and tough if you were to be taken seriously. I opted for a reinvention/upgrade of my student self and learned that black boots or heels and a crisp white shirt is better for negotiating a room full of men. I lived in San Francisco. It was often grey and cloudy. And with the exception of an occasional red sweater, most of my wardrobe was black. It was very easy to go shopping. While I only touched color with cool scarves, I had unwittingly become a student of the silhouette. Languages, after all, must be learned one word and one phrase at a time.

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Obama, Cezanne, Narcisso Rodriguez

And this is where a lot of us working girls sleep walk well into our late twenties. We’re finally earning money and can afford a fabulous shoe. For me, I had moved to Los Angeles and the working girl uniform from San Francisco was no longer cutting it. (The different fashion styles of San Francisco and Los Angeles is a subject in and of itself.) I suddenly no longer saw fashion as a weapon of either sexuality or power in the work place, but rather as a universe of fabric, texture, color just as vibrant as the ones on my palette in the studio. I often dived into one color at a time, learning what works, what makes sense together and what looks best on me. After gaining a certain confidence, women learn to really celebrate themselves and life itself through what they choose to wear. That is what Michelle Obama is doing with color and so much more.

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Obama, Matisse

In reality, a woman’s journey in color and fashion is a sign of a healthy society. All the most oppressive regimes towards women cover them in black. I don’t care what the faux religious excuses of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan are. The silence of color in an entire culture is emblematic of the suppression of women’s spirit and influence on it’s culture. Michelle Obama’s use of color and fashion is empowering and enlightening to the women in this country. It is the fashion equivalent of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” and awakens in all of us the beauty of life and every day. As an artist, I am doubly appreciative of splashes of chartreuse and yellow, purple and green as fly across my television and computer screen. As an American Woman, I am filled with pride and hope it spreads like a California Wildfire.

***First Person Artist is a weekly column by artist Kimberly Brooks in which she provides commentary on the creative processtechnology andshowcases artists‘ work from around the world. Paintings from Brooks’ recent series, “Technicolor Summer”, will be on view at the Tarryn Teresa Gallery April 10 in a show curated by Yasmine Mohseni. Come back every Monday for more Kimberly Brooks.

Facebook and The Death of Mystery

I received an email recently notifying me that I was “tagged” in a facebook entry called “25 Things You Don’t Know About Me” from an old friend. We actually went on a few dates many many years ago and I haven’t seen him in about three years, but we’ve remained friends. Curious, I clicked on the link and learned twenty five things about him I never knew, like the rest of his four hundred friends. He’s a very witty guy, so it wasn’t quite like “I like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain,” but in another way, it was oddly close. By tagging me he was requesting, or essentially daring me, along with the other nine friends he had tagged, to do the same thing. I impulsively started to do it and then never posted anything.

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My Facebook life started off about a year and a half ago with friends and people I know closely, then my family started dribbling in, and the next thing I knew my friends included that person from a job I had ten years ago, students I’ve taught at art school, that really weird guy from high school, and an old roommate in college… and on and on it continued. That was the first sign of “friend leakage”, where I had expanded beyond the scope of intimate friends and was venturing into people outside of my circle, but usually by only a few degrees — at least I knew them.

Then things started getting out of hand. It started with a friend who is a supreme animal rights crusader with a very sexy, come-hither thumbnail picture. I haven’t seen her in years but she wrote a book and is semi-famous for the cause, so because of her, I have about one hundred extra friends. I know this because when someone requests that they be my friend in Facebook, I can see all the friends we have in common. I kept seeing this one friend, and then I realized I had become a part of the save the animals movement because our mutual friends kept including the friends I had met through her. Honestly, I started to get a little loose about whom I would “friend”– that’s right, Facebook made me feel promiscuous– I would wait then say, “Oh what the hell, after all, we have mutual friends.” It was then when I truly appreciated the fractal component of the friending process.

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“The Facebook Friending Process” (Illustration courtesy of Mandelbrot)

When I joined initially, I saw in Facebook something that resembled the early days of AOL when people were giddy about first sending emails and buddy lists and instant messaging were all the rage. Unlike many other people, who put videos of their kid’s first step, pictures from their recent barbecue and the details of their love life (options are “single”, “in a relationship”, “married” and “it’s complicated”), I try not to reveal too much — at least I don’t think I do — but even that’s getting blurry. At some point I must have made the decision that because I am an artist, my work is something I want and need to share, and I think of Facebook as one of many tools to do that. I’ve also come to consider one’s digital footprint to be, in a sense, another form of existence outside of the physical body. And it’s scope and appearance needs to be tended to so that it compositionally represents the portrait you want to present to the outside world.

But what struck me as so odd about the request for 25 secret things about me was I instantly envisioned that I could be creating a white paper on my entire spiritual, intellectual and life DNA. Imagine getting friended by someone who you’ve been set up with on a date, and he goes on your site to read what would ordinarily be doled out like pearls rolling down a pillow after an intimate evening over months or years of getting to know each other. If you fully fill out the profile questionnaire, you could let someone know every movie or favorite song you like, your favorite hobby and, along with your photos, video and baby pictures, it would read like a map of your very essence.

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Kimberly Brooks. Detail from “Delivery” Oil on Panel. 2004

Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have believed that Amazon would close Cody’s Books on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, along with countless other independent bookstores; that I’d see a “going out of business” sign at the Tower Records down the hill; that bloggers and aggregators would somehow supplant (usurp?) journalists for news sources and that the New York Times (The New York Times!) would mortgage it’s building to stay alive.

I cannot help but to cast my mind forward. My ten year old son started a blog while we were at a dinner party. Now he wants to spend hours gathering cool content for it to show his friends. When he’s not begging me for a phone, it’s for me to blog about his blog so he can get a bigger audience. I wonder what they will call the generation who grows up with all this. I believe Time Magazine called mine “X” because it was right after the baby boomers and we hadn’t defined ourselves yet (well, we showed them). Then came “Generation Y” because it was after us. I would rename this one Generation “E” for “Exhibitionist”, (we can throw in “Exposure” and “Electronic” while we’re at it.) These social networking applications are grafted onto their gray matter and perhaps they might never know what mystery is. They’ll google or “friend” every classmate, teacher, co-worker, boss and know everything there is to know about that person. There will be no more boundary between “personal” and “professional”. Everyone will engage in wanton fractal friending and be connected with each other and Kevin Bacon. Maybe, if everybody becomes friends, this is how we will achieve Peace on Earth!

My husband is not on Facebook. I’m kind of jealous. He talks to a small group of people one-on-one via email. Because at the end of the day, and I mean that quite literally, Facebook has become another inbox for me to check. Maybe it’s because I always want to be mysterious or that as an artist, like Greta Garbo, “I just vant to be alone.”

(Published on The Huffington Post)

Leonard Shlain Update

Friends,

Two weeks ago, I was just about to send a fall newsletter and hop on a plane to NY when I received a call from my brother that my father, Leonard Shlain, was going in for emergency brain surgery. He made it through, but the tumor was determined to be malignant. He is a very beloved man and many of you are probably familiar with his books (“Art & Physics”, “The Alphabet vs The Goddess” and “Sex, Time & Power”.) Ironically he was in the process of completing his latest book “Leonardo’s Brain” about Leonardo Da Vinci. I made a get well site for him at www.leonardshlain.com and if you would like to leave a comment I’m sure he would love to read them.

Best,

Kimberly

Artist as Exhibitionist

2008-06-13-nytimescover.jpgMuch has been made of the recent Memorial Day Weekend Issue of the New York Times Magazine displaying, not a war veteran, but former Gawker editor Emily Gould languishing on a bed sporting a wife-beater and tattoo. It is not about the blog culture so much as an 8,000 word autobiographical tale about her experience in it. She paints a portrait of herself as a compulsive over-sharer where she describes, in great detail, how she blogged about her every thought, told amusing stories of boyfriends, skewered media insiders and experienced total humiliation by Jimmy Kimmel on live television before being ousted from New York’s subculture and media world. Aside from babes on beds selling more magazines, the repentant pose begs us to pity the entire generation of bloggers who expose too much of themselves online. “Poor, poor generation…“, say the editors “See how naughty you’ve been? Just like the tattoo, you’re gonna regret it!” Meanwhile, there she is, the “recovering exhibitionist” lying half naked on the bed. The joke’s on us and especially the NY Times. In fact, I think this picture I found of Emily is far more apt:

2008-06-13-emily2.jpg Emily Gould
As an artist, I was captivated by the piece on several levels. The narrative details Emily Gould’s journey piercing through the event horizon of celebrity culture and going from being the observer to the observed. What fascinated me most, however, was the x-ray view inside the mind of someone who craves the attention of strangers. As the entire spectacle of her feature betrays, Emily Gould is a masterful exhibitionist. In a sense, the second picture summarizes the ideal attitude you need to have to be an artist– act like you don’t care, but do it half-naked and look hot (i.e: express/expose yourself and make great art).

For fine artists, often solo creatures, it’s easy to get lost in the monastery of the studio (except for those artists with factories of people who paint for them, such as Damien HirstTakashi Murakami or Kehinde Whiley) and frankly shocking to suddenly then have to lift one’s head above the walls and care what other people think. I suspect there are more artists of talent and skill uncomfortable exposing themselves than artists with less talent that are and the latter always gets more action.

I am not an exhibitionist by nature. Yet writing here has taught me a great deal about getting over the fear of vulnerability. I started writing this column on an intellectual dare from Arianna Huffington, a friend and collector, who always told me “Dahling, I love the way you think, you have to write it down, you should blog about it!” “But I’m not a writer, I’m a painter,” I would protest. Writing is hard for me. Unlike painting — which I can get lost in — I don’t get lost in writing. I squeeze out every sentence. If I do get lost, it might be for a paragraph, but then I have to bludgeon it into spontaneity until my arms ache.

Although I certainly don’t write about my shampoo or my dog, writing online gets easier each time I do it and I start to understand the compulsion. I think of it like this: if I could take all the pages and pages of confessional material on the web and plaster it on the interior of a gigantic dome, I can envision this universal mind, and I start, by putting something out there weekly, to feel my place in it — as if I represent a couple of neurons or glands and if I stop I might make the mind lose the abliity to see the color red or find its keys.

2008-06-13-firstpainting.jpg Kimberly Brooks. “The Conversation.” First picture at an exhibition.
I painted for years in silence before showing my work. The first time I hung a painting at a group exhibition, I was as nervous as if it were a first date. I arrived late and saw people standing around and talking about it. I blushed and laughed behind them. I assumed that they would know it was me who did it, like they could tell. The Internet was far more terrifying. The first time I uploaded my art work, I created a password-protected website. I then handed out postcards with the password on it and attempted to control who viewed the work. The thought that anyone could look at it anytime was akin to someone watching me take a shower. I finally took it off for the world to see.

I keep relearning the concept of the artist’s impulse and the need to share; that the desire to express and loving the Zen of process are separate from seeking and desiring the admiration of strangers. Now I’ve come to see acquiring an ease with attention itself as just another tool of the trade, like turpentine or a good studio space. As an artist I remain an exhibitionist-in-training. As for Emily Gould, in that regard, anyway, I tip my hat.

Judging The Campaigns By Their Colors

I have election fever and everything else I had intended to write is out the window. It has been an all out Red and Blue assault–everywhere the eye can see. Not Prussian or Cerulean blue, mind you, but a pure, pungent royal blue. And the red–the purest cadmium deep– not a touch too orange or blue, the color of a bullseye, the color of blood.

These are the colors of our patriotism. Red is the color of power, passion, aggression, and war. It’s the id that overpowers all colors. Blue is the color of wisdom, calm, hindsight and thoughtfulness. In this light, I love the design of the American flag. Admittedly, I’d love to update it (another post), but it captures what I view as the colors of America. Furthermore, the colors assigned of Red=Republican and Blue=Democrat, undoubtedly by some anonymous graphics editor, seem seem totally apt.

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“Three Flags” Jasper Johns 24″ x 16 1/2″

Artists are constantly thinking color: which ones to use and when, when to make one or two dominant, how they change next to each other. As a painter, the colors form an entire language both spatially and mood-wise–for example, warmer and darker colors push forward on a plane. Cool and lighter colors go backwards, etc. They start to become friends with frequent use and then they hang around in your palette and the studio becomes a never-ending party.

For more than a decade in the nineties I didn’t own a television. Yes, I might have seen it occasionally at friend’s houses, but it wasn’t how I got the news. I read the paper in black and white–”Just the facts, ma’am”. But the first time I saw BBC News on television I was traveling in Europe. I put my hand to my mouth in shock that its branding and backdrops were mostly bright blood red underscoring every story and interview. In my mind’s eye, when I heard their cool objective accented voices on the radio I thought of blue! I wrote a letter to the president telling him it was all wrong–a terrible choice. Needless to say, they didn’t change it.

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Even though blue is typically considered cool and recessive, there exists a hue that has essentially no right to be considered in the blue family. The closest I could replicate it with paint would be Pthalo Blue which is so obnoxious that even a drop will overpower any painting. It’s so hot it rivals red. It was synthetically created in the last century as a replacement for Prussian, a great deep blue pigment favored by Matisse, but Prussian is considered less reliable in that it changes over time. (They call pigments like this “fugitive” and I always picture the color escaping off the canvas and going into hiding.) As a painter, I try and stay away from Pthalo. That said, add a little white and you have something quite divine.

Unfortunately, TV video editors like to bathe themselves in it every morning and this makes my retinas bleed. Fox News is one of the worst offenders, given their hawkishness it’s no surprise. They always use the the strongest most condescending ALL CAPS Pthalo blue and red together–their swirling graphics so spastic it more resembles a drunken peacock then a television station.

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CNN, even if it can be just as hawkish, thanks to touches of Cerulean, seems tad more objective and sobering.

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Barack, who never voted for the war, is the candidate for peace and his website is in various shades of blues. The blue use is respectful and doesn’t talk down to us. Given the red hot passion he inspires, he’s smart to counteract it with his sensible branding, although I do wonder if I can open a checking account.

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Clinton, a Democrat, but slightly more hawkish. She uses a Prussian blue. Note that jacket and the blue screen behind her. It’s not her fault, but once again, shame on those television editors!

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Hillary Clinton’s Website Homepage www.hillaryclinton.com

John McCain, who rides the “straight talk” express, uses black and white, and doesn’t want too much color getting in the way. Although the effect has more in common with the consol of a late 1990s video game with the handy logo serving as crosshairs. In case we might be blind, McCain’s website displays the branding not twice but three times, the ultimate sin. Bang bang! Fire the web designers!

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This is in stark contrast to Mitt Romney who rivals Fox in Pthalo-abuse along side a swooshing logo which makes me want to ask the price of overnight delivery. [Since writing this column, he suspended his campaign.]

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Let’s not talk about Bush. I think he might be color blind. Too much red isn’t good for anyone.

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The election is not close to over, but this artist looks forward to seeing green and yellow and brown, yellow and turquoise again.

The Challenge of Depiction

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I’ve often sought a literalness when depicting the color of flesh. Overtime and many techniques, I eventually landed on a restricted palette which uses burnt sienna as a base along with french ult. blue, cadmium orange, sap green and crimson.

In “The Sophia Loren of Mill Valley”, however, I used only indigo blue and golden green with white over a cool rose background. It struck me how much “cool” color could be used to depict heat.
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While I work on my next series of paintings, I’m further struck by how much more emotion can be conveyed when I stray from burnt sienna. In fact, no matter how far out or psychadellic my pallete becomes (gold green for warm tones, orange for cool tones, etc.) the viewer will still read it as a flesh and color, along with gesture, becomes yet another layer of articulation.

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I remember watching the Academy Awards a few years ago and Selma Hayek and Penelope Cruz were on the podium to announce the next winner. Here were two of the most beautiful Latina actresses working in Hollywood standing side by side. But instead of having their beauty compounded by seeing them together, I started to focus on their differences– Selma’s arms seemed oddly short in comparison; the top of Penelope’s lip to the bottom of her nose is too small, etc.

I wonder if attempting to emulate the colors of flesh tone too close forces a subconscious comparison; whether or not deviating dramatically sets the viewer free. Surely Van Gough and Gaugin discovered this long before me, but it is one thing to know it intellectually and then another to do it and feel it come alive.

Lisa Yuskavage and her Nice Round Eggs

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I heard a rumor that the painter Lisa Yuskavage spent her entire first year of Yale painting eggs. This is equivalent to a pianist practicing nothing but Czerny every day until her technique becomes flawless. Her subjects are so kinky and luscious — I now understand why she makes figurine models to paint from.
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She also has a wicked sense of color.

I remember the moment I really understood reflected light. Like certain things in painting, it’s slightly counter-intuitive: you’d think that the when looking at a round object, the further the form recedes is where the shadow is darkest. Yet if you don’t light the edge and spill the surrounding color onto the form, it looks flat, like a sphere cut in half. Light from the other side of a shape actually leaks on to the surface. It’s when you don’t let your brain overrule your eyes, that’s when you can really see.

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“Hot Faucet” by Kimberly Brooks

Preparing for Mom’s Friends

Liz Goldwyn was kind enough to pose for me in authentic 70s clothing from The Way We Wore on La Brea. (Not only is she luminous but also author of the magnificent book, Pretty Things)lizgoldwyn.jpg

I’m gathering old magazines from the 70s

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collecting textiles and hanging them all over the studio
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looking at 70s fashion on ebay…

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raiding all the old family photo albums

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(the artist at eight!)
It means making gouaches to work out palettes and compositions for the oil paintings.

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The Aesthetics of Memory

I’ve been perusing stacks of old photo albums to recall my mother and her friends’ style, their manner. The camera used from my childhood created these rather small square images. They’re very faded now. Mostly wide shots with the head smack in the middle. Our old photo albums are like everyone’s. Like the way old televisions shows’ newscasters have their heads smack in the middle of the screen.

The narrative of seeing all the pictures at once on an album page tells a story in a way that a single picture doesn’t. Even the aesthetics the photo album alters the way I recall past time. Today people either “scrapbook” where everything looks so ‘done’, or they never develop the photos since it’s on their computer/phone/email anyway. In the 70s there is a rawness to the hand of my mother haphazardly laying them on the sticky paper.

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Today, with disposal digital pictures (take twenty, keep one) people are much more experimental and favor tight shots and liberally clip the tops of heads. More prints are made, fewer treasured. I wonder if we’ll all reflect upon our future past with less preciousness as a result.

Markham Middle School

Today I visited a Markham Middle School. It is in the east side of Los Angeles. They have two giant empty buildings that use to be where they have a music program. The statistics of this school are grim. The kids are more likely to join a gang or be a victim of gang violence than graduate. Funerals of classmates are held throughout the year. I took some pictures of the walkway and for obvious reasons couldn’t take pictures of the kids. I really believe that if they had an arts program, things would change for the better. I was a dreamy kid, growing up in California in the public school system too. Art gave me hope and a mission. I’m on the board of a great organization called P.S. Arts (www.psarts.org) which raises money to put arts programs back in the public schools. I want to help Markham.

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I was only Born in New York

But i was raised here

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Speed of Light

I was at a dinner party tonite and a man was telling me how his ninety four year old mother was dying. She woke up in the middle of the night last night and said,
“Oh Henry, I thought it was seventy years ago and you were six years old and I was getting you a glass of milk!”
“No, mom, it’s not. It’s just me and i’m an old man and you’re an even older woman.”
“My god.” she clutched his arm. “It went by so fast.”

Van Gogh’s Hand, Cezanne’s Grave

Last night we watched a film about Vincent Van Gogh.vangoghhead.jpg

Here’s how it was structured: an actor read all the letters in chronological order while visuals of the Dutch landscape and eventually his drawings and paintings illustrated the voice over, Ken-Burns-Civil-War Style. They never showed the letters (below), I could only heard them through the voice over.
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Later, I took a shower and scrubbed my skin with lavender salts I had bought at Trader Joe’s. On the label, the word lavender is inscribed with a font called Cezanne. Someone took Cezanne’s letters and manuscripts and separated each alphabetical letter, turning it into a font. Now Cezanne’s handwriting adorns everything from book covers, bath salts, greeting cards, bath salts, anything to connote authenticity. They also made a font out of Van Gogh’s handwriting but it’s not as popular.

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Lavender Oil from the same product line
I used to avidly keep a journal. I had a beloved fountain pen to write entries, make sketches and draft letters. The bending nib captured my every gesture and stutter– it recorded my aesthetic DNA– my emotional state, my discipline, or lack of it with the ruthless accuracy of a blood pressure machine. People hardly write letters anymore. I don’t keep a journal anymore but for skywriting on wordpress. I really love technology but sometimes I mourn the things it has displaced.