All content copyright 2011, 2012, and 2013 by Keith Russell.

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28 September 2011

Confronting Beauty...!

I've spent the better part of three (non-consecutive) days, recently (including today) working on White Widow. It's coming along nicely (if I can be forgiven for saying so, myself) and I've been thinking quite a bit about what this painting means.

I've never intended the spider paintings to be scary (any more than actual spiders intend to be frightening...hmmm), and Liora has remarked several times that this painting looks more and more "beautiful", the longer I work on it. So, I'm beginning to seriously consider what it might mean, to depict spiders as "beautiful".

Further, White Widow represents only one approach to painting "beautiful spiders". I have another, different idea in mind, which I plan to explore in still other, future paintings.

And, those paintings might lead to still other ideas (and I certainly hope they do!) other ways to explore "beauty", and what it--and it's opposite--mean, and can mean.

I spent many hours during the second semester of my juniour year at KCAI (Spring 2006) discussing "meaning" in art with my instructor, Marcus Cain. Specifically, we talked about what my art meant (at the time), and Marcus gave me a great deal to think about with regards to what my work might come to mean.

It was with Marcus' encouragement (and guidance) that I first began "exploring" spiders, in both sculpture and in painting. I felt then that I was only beginning to understand, in the smallest way, what my work might possibly be able to "mean".

I am starting to feel, now, that I'm finally "back" to where I was at the end of my juniour year at KCAI (Spring, 2006).

And ready to move forward...

16 September 2011

Quality and Quantity...

I spoke to an artist earlier this week, and he said that he's working on combining screenprinting with his acrylic paintings, in order to create (hybrid) prints based on his paintings, which he will offer for sale at prices far lower than what he charges for his original paintings.

His said, "I think I can sell a hundred prints for $60.00, much more easily than I could sell one painting for $6,000.00."

He may be right--

--but, I've had really nice (photo) prints made from my paintings in the past, and while I have sold many of the prints, I doubt that I've made much of a profit. (Of course, today's digital technology might reduce the initial investment if I were now to start having prints made from my current work...)

Still, my focus remains (and I believe, needs to remain) on creating the absolute best paintings I can. While I've been fairly happy with my "work-ethic" over the past year or so, I am trying to focus even more on being in the studio as much as possible--along with staying focused (working) while I'm in the studio. (There are always distractions: magazines and art books to thumb through, reference photos to organize--and reorganize, etc. Resist, resist...!)

While I haven't (yet) sold a single painting for six grand, I have sold a couple paintings for more than three grand, each. I haven't sold close to a hundred prints of a single image. (Of the dozen or so images that I had printed, I think I'm in the thirties on one or two of them, and below twenty on the rest.)

Rather than making and marketing prints at this time, I feel that I need to find an audience (and, hopefully, a market) for my new paintings. When (I can be optimistic, here!) that happens, I'll know whether there's also a demand for reproductions.

But, I think (at least for me, as regards my work) any demand for prints will have to be based on how well the actual paintings "connect" with an audience.

I would love to hear your thoughts...

09 September 2011


This is not a political posting.

The ten-year anniversary of Nine-Eleven is in two days. Since I'm working all weekend, I probably won't have time to write, yet I felt compelled to write...something.

Now is as good a time as any.

Random thoughts:

My ex-wife and I were renting a room at my boss' house, and he woek me up on the morning of 11 September 2001, right after the first place crashed into the Tower. I thought it was an accident--a thought which lasted only moments. The instant we saw the second plane hit, I knew it was deliberate, that someone somewhere had arranged for this to happen.

We spent the rest of the day, basically in our pajamas, watching the news on his big-screen TV.

Shortly after Nine-Eleven, on, someone posted (in the Debates forum) that she "no longer felt safe". I replied that "you have never been safe". I stll agree with my (admittedly rather cynical) comment; I still believe that we have to overlook/forget/blank out a great many facts in order to "feel" safe.

And, it is only a feeling. One probably "feels" safe right until something happens that lets one know--in no uncertain terms--that one was not nearly as safe as one felt--and the new feeling of "not being safe" probably lasts (I guess, if one is lucky!) a great deal longer than the danger itself...

I've thought many times about creating a work of art based around Nine-Eleven. The closest I came to actually creating something, was a painting I started (but abandoned) my seniour year at KCAI (2007). It was a painting of Condoleeza Rice holding the head of Osama bin Laden (based on Carvaggio's David with the Head of Goliath.) I titled it, If Only. I'm glad that bin Laden is dead, and angry that it took so long to find him. Unlike some folks, I don't view bin Laden's death as an assasination, nor as punishment or retaliation--certainly not as murder--but simply as security; IMO the US simply could not risk letting him live to plan any more attacks. He'd lived and recruited and planned for far too long as it was already (again, IMO.)

I think in many ways, Nine-Eleven was simply too (big? Complicated? Real?) for anyone (who survived it) to truly understand it.

I certainly don't have any plans to make any art in the future that deals with it, certainly not directly.

I'll be at work Sunday, wearing my father's "Remember 9-11" pin. I'll probably listen to Mozart's Requiem at some point over the next three days--

--and keep working on the new paintings.

Have a good weekend.

06 September 2011

Another new drawing/painting

I spent the weekend drawing; working on White Widow. I'm trying to use the time I have now to get the drawings done for several new paintings. Honestly, I expect the drawings to take longer (we'll see...!), so I am going to work on the drawings now, so I can concentrate on painting, as it gets closer to the show.

I'm going to make the homepage on my site a sequence of views of this painting as it progresses, so keep checking back at:

The larger drawing (in charcoal pencil) is the actual painting: a 24x36 inch aluminum panel, primed with Gamblin's "Traditional Gesso". The smaller drawing was my reference drawing. No computers or projectors were used to enlarge the drawing; I used a 24" ruler to measure bits of the smaller drawing, then make some proportional marks on the aluminum panel, then the spider was redrawn, 2x, freehand.

Stay tuned. Thanks.