Saturday, September 13, 2008


I started today's workshop with a couple of handouts from ROBERT GENN 's : Twice Weekly Letters for Artists. I have subscribed to this inspirational email letter for artists since the beginning. Starting as far back as 1999, I think. I've been praising Bob and his efforts ever since. His readership has grown by leaps and bounds from a mere handful of readers to probably hundreds of thousands world-wide. I highly recommend subscribing! It is a powerful resource, not just for painters, but for anyone with an interest in the arts and philosophy.

In last week's Sept. 9th letter, " Build The Factory " , Bob writes; "During the last while I've been giving my two bits worth to several would-be painters. These folks are young, well educated and talented. They want to talk about the business of making art, the possibility of going to art school, their future in art. They also check my modest brain for what I might think galleries want, price points, popular sizes, that sort of thing.

While this is all very nice, I've glazed over a few times, and frankly told one of them to paint a hundred paintings and give me a call when she does. There was a significant silence on the other end of the phone--as if it was just around the corner that I might coach creativity into her. "Think of yourself as a factory," I said. That was the end of that call.

Not many of us can be convinced that working in a factory is a lot of laughs. Being a factory may be even worse. But there's something to be said for building one and getting into it.

Artist-wannabees need to find a physical place to be. For artists who think big and lofty, an unused loft in a rust-belt town might be the choice. But a factory can also be in a corner under basement stairs, or an easel at the bottom of a garden. Factory is a mental thing.

An art factory is a place where unmarked supports enter on one side, become caressed with the physical manifestation of human imagination, and are subsequently pushed out the other side. Whether these modified supports are commercially destined or not, it's a process that needs to take place.

When the factory gets the steam up and things begin to happen, the worker becomes hooked. Also, as skills are learned, techniques defined and directions found, the place begins to look like a perpetual motion machine.

Theoretical folks don't always understand that the factory itself turns its operator back into a student. The factory becomes a school. If you like the idea of do-it-yourself learning, and you are curious about what you might be able to do, a little private factory is one fine institution. If your factory starts small and gets productive, you'll need a bigger factory."
©Robert Genn  The Painter's Keys

Here is a copy of two days of paintings from my own Sandy Sandy Factory.

In today's handouts, I also included a copy of this addition from yesterday's September 12th Painter's Keys letter, titled; "John Cage - Life is a Workshop"

John Cage's "Rules for Students and Teachers.":

1 Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.
2 General duties of a student--pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.
3 General duties of a teacher--pull everything out of your students.
4 Consider everything an experiment.
5 Be self-disciplined--this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
6 Nothing is a mistake. There's no win and no fail, there's only make.
7 The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It's the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.
8 Don't try to create and analyze at the same time. They're different processes.
9 Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It's lighter than you think.
10 Break rules. Even your own rules. Leave plenty of room for X quantities.

John Cage (1912-1992) was a composer, print maker, performance artist, writer, philosopher, editor, teacher, mushroom expert, collaborator and poet. Fact is, John Cage had a lot of fun in his factory. Considered one of the most influential composers of the twentieth century, he produced works with one note, no notes, notes by chance, and a noted organ composition that takes 639 years to play.

Thinking about the life and "happenings" of John Cage, it's not difficult to see that joy, imagination and brilliance flow from factories. "Life," he said, "is a workshop."
©Robert Genn -
The Painter's Keys

After practicing watercolor techniques, students all wanted to stick to tonal studies today. Building on yesterday's lessons, here is the demo I did today.

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