Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Artist Statement, part II

Winter Field
6 x 6
Private Collection


In my previous post, I wrote a bit about revising my artist statement and promised to follow through by sharing it. First, though, I need to back up a bit and explain how I came to be doing this at all. I am no artist statement fan- as I said, I have read too many that are pretentious and incomprehensible. And, I have read many that are, well, just boring- probably far more in that category- statements that didn't make me want to turn my head or click my mouse with breathless anticipation or at least curiosity about what this work might look like. So because of that and my "the work speaks for itself" philosophy, I never invested any time or energy in writing an artist statement.

Recently I contacted Alyson Stanfield with a marketing question. She asked me for my artist statement and noted that she could not find it on my web site. Hmmm-well, of course not. I sent her what I had thrown together the last time somebody asked for one, with a note saying it could probably stand to be "tightened up" a bit. Right. In the course of responding to my original question, Alyson generously offered some advice about how I might go about doing that ( I highly recommend her book). One of her suggestions was to go back to it each day at the same time and look for new ways to improve it. Doing that gave me the chance to think about what I really wanted to say- or not say- about my work and to weigh the amount of attention paid to different components like technique, influences and my overall aesthetic. The other and more dramatic thing I realized was that I could not have written this two years ago or perhaps even a year ago. I still don't know that having an artist statement makes one bit of difference to marketing or selling your work, and it does feel a bit like too much navel gazing. But, it can be a powerful exercise in gaining clarity- and for that reason alone, its invaluable.

Between Sunday and today, I edited it again and actually shortened it considerably. Who knows-maybe I'll get it down to one word! Here are the "before" and "after" versions. I let my husband read both versions-he's a pretty good judge of whether something goes too far on the "woo-woo" meter. He liked the second, later version best, and the word(s) "woo-woo" did not cross his lips, for whatever that's worth. I wanted the words to read the way my work looks, so that reading and then looking would be a seamless experience. Did I do that?

Before


In my work, I am concerned primarily with light and atmosphere, as well as mood. My paintings create a sense of quiet dignity in the landscape, evoking an inner standstill which allows a moment of reflection for the viewer. Using Renaissance techniques to apply veils of transparent color, combined with modern pigments, I produce a luminous glow in my work. I am most influenced by late 19th century tonalist landscape painters, but I incorporate a modern sensibility into my work through spare design and choice of color.

After

I look for the extraordinary in the intimate, ordinary landscape - the moment when light and atmosphere create a bridge between outward movement and inner standstill, allowing a moment of reflection. A luminous glow, produced by using Renaissance techniques to apply veils of transparent color, is combined with a modern sensibility in design and color. I ask the viewer to look, and having looked, to linger.

29 comments:

wilderartist said...

Deborah, great artist statement, really invites one in, to view what you have captured.

Caroline said...

I really like the way you tightened up the language. When I read that you were considering a one-word statement the word I thought of was 'luminous' - I notice that it's in both statements!

Nancy Moskovitz said...

It's fabulous. Warm and inviting for people.

Alyson B. Stanfield said...

Deborah: Of course your statement makes a difference! Until you can define your art, you can't write a coherent press release, brochure, Web text, grant application, or give a decent gallery talk. Nor can you speak intelligently to a curator or sophisticated collector. I'm glad you're working on this. As you said yourself, you have gained clarity.

Gordon Pritchard (a.k.a. gordo) said...

You originally wrote: " I am no artist statement fan- as I said, I have read too many that are pretentious and incomprehensible."
I'm sorry, but both versions read the same to me - pretentious and incomprehensible.
I much prefer your "about me" description and the captions to your paintings. They are much more direct and sincere. Your art should and does speak for itself, no need for a clich├ęd artist statement. Just write as you normally speak - that would be great.
best, gordon p
my sketches here: http://thesoftpen.blogspot.com/
my photos here:
http://www.gordonpritchard.blogspot.com/

grrl+dog said...

Cool! I saw LUMINOUS as well, and this bio makes it come alive.

OK, now where is it on your blog?

Thanks for the great example and for showing us the before and after.

Robin Maria Pedrero said...

Deborah,

Alyson has called me out a few times and is always on target. It is not easy for us as visual people to find words that accurately describe what calls our hearts to the art we create. Yours is perfect! Kudos!

Patricia Griffin said...

Hi Deborah - I followed the link on Alyson's blog to this post and the info on refining your statement. This has given me a lot of "food for thought." Thanks for sharing your progress and process. Your paintings are beautiful.

JoAnn Sanborn said...

I'm struggling with mine, too Deborah, and have changed it completely but not happily yet. How nice to have it done - and well done!

Laraine Armenti said...

I identify strongly with your remarks about writing an artist statement. Thank you for publishing yours and describing the uncomfortable process. The second one is a huge transformation. I love how short it is yet feels complete as an introduction to your work.

Marina Broere said...

very well written Deborah! I especially like the 'inner standstill' that I see reflected in your work.

Tracy said...

Deborah, you have done a very good job of simplifying your statement, as well as making it much more artsy! Good job tackling a chore that many of us (including me) spend a lot of time avoiding.

Leah Waichulis said...

I think you did a great job with your artist statement. They're so difficult to write. I just purchased Alyson Stanfield's book and I'm going to try the exercises.
Your work is gorgeous!

mira said...

The second statement is much more painterly. I can visualize what you're talking about and it teases me to take a second look at the work. Nice job! Mira

A rambling rose said...

The second statement deffinately makes me want to see your work - it is very visual - I'm impressed and will now revise mine and take on Alyson's tips! thank you

Laura Tyler said...

Great job, Deborah. I agree with what others have said. Number Two sure is inviting & helps me visualize your work before looking. Thank you for the inspiration. How much time did the re-write take?

rebeccashapiroart said...

Your new statement is engaging! It immediately drew me in and made me want to explore your blog and your work. Congratulations and thank you for sharing your process. :)

Shea said...

sounds great

Deborah Paris said...

Wow- thanks everyone for your comments (including you, Gordo..:>).
And glad to see so many new posters-welcome!

Anonymous said...

I really like the tight second statement. The result is poetic. But I stumbled over the flow of the last part.

Try this:

Veils of transparent color create a luminous glow. This Renaissance technique combined with modern design invites the viewer to look and linger.

Just a thought. :-)

Lucie said...

Hello Deborah, I just discovered your blog. I like your paintings very much. And yes, your statement (the second one) is fine!

Christine DeCamp said...

I thought your first statement was quite good. The second one though, seems to make more of a direct connection to the reader. Well done!

Robin Cheers said...

Love Number 2!! It sounds so much more personal and reflective... kinda like your work. It evokes a feeling of calm reflection. Oh - you said that.
:-)

Deborah Paris said...

Welcome Lucie!

Thank you Christine!

Glad you like it Robin and thanks for visiting!

Simon Jones said...

Like your statement Deborah, I have been toying with doing this for a while, lots of pros and cons as you say. Hopper famously said very little about his work, but yes the mechanics of making a career nowadays would benefit from a coherent statement. I feel that there are a number of artists that share your aim of finding the "extraordinary in the intimate, ordinary landscape " maybe we should go further and write a manifesto, and maybe have a paramilitary wing!

Sheila Vaughan said...

I find that I am always talking through this kind of stuff in my head and I do keep a sort of written diary about process and development and purpose but for me it's always changing. Sometimes I even question what on earth I'm doing with these paint brushes. If you think about it too long it seems almost a ridiculous thing to spend ones time doing. But then that's the existential bit coming out I suppose :-D

Kay said...

Your second statement carries your message in a sensitive and respectful manner. You invite your viewer in. My compliments!

We don't need to discuss the first one; isn't reflective time so important?

dianeclancy said...

Boy - this is some change!! I love reading the second and the before one is very hard for me to read.

Great going!!

~ Diane Clancy
www.DianeClancy.com/blog
www.DianeClancy.etsy.com

Sylvia Montesinos said...

In reading your statement I realize that I have a long way to go on mine but at least now I know where to start. Thank you!