Though I had an informal meeting with Karsten yesterday and did some printing in his shop, I realized I had never done a decent write-up of our first official mentorship critique. So, here goes.
Karsten Creightney is a fellow painter / printmaker, with an MFA from the University of New Mexico and a BA from Antioch College. He also completed the Tamarind Professional Printmaking Program and he currently teaches printmaking at IAIA in Santa Fe.
I had seen Karsten’s MFA thesis exhibition and was very impressed by the scale, surface quality, dynamic space and mixed media integration he employed–there was a sense of active exuberance that communicated his ideas through fractured landscape. His combination of oil paint, serigraphy, lithography, collage, chine colle, monotype and other cross-media experimentation is especially exciting to me–as my own work expands its engagement with Post-Post Modern transmedia and mixed media experience.
Our first meeting was on July 31, at my studio. I hung the work I showed at the residency, for the sake of cross-referencing responses, as well as a few additional pieces from the same series. We had a 2-hour brainstorm session that was incredibly beneficial, which included a detailed critique of the work and the potential for future growth.
Before we even met officially, Karsten took the time to go through my entire portfolio website, read my thesis, artist statement and other written bits, and he had also checked out this blog and had looked at my bibliography and artists lists. I couldn’t believe it! It really facilitated the discussion because we started out on the same page. I was really impressed with his serious interest in working with me.
I took lots of notes that I’ll try to group nicely here.
Karsten’s overall initial impression and thoughts on the work:
- The prints are received as drawings, with a dominating flavor of drawing–they are not readily apparent to be prints. Especially Di Guan and The Emperors of Three Worlds.
- Formally: there is a strong sense of layering, washy veils, and cascading thin layers that are offset by more direct marks. The transparency and layered space is interesting / effective.
- There is a meditative nature, or sense of meditation in some pieces
- Titles help lead the viewer, allows the viewer to understand with more specificity
- He liked that elements are explored from both sides, yet are still recognizable form, in-between recognition and non-recognition.
- He was especially pleased with the color palette in the Pompeii series.
- He sees the created and the destroyed
- He recognizes energy vs. non-energy, action vs. non-energy in the work
- He sees that layers are allowed to exist as separate in a bold way, as in Pillar (which he liked). There’s something nice about the white ink being allowed to sit on top. This sensibility can be applied to add to other pieces, too.
- He likes the luminous quality of some of the papers, prefers the thicker papers
- There is beauty in non-being as well as in matter
- What does the spiritual or Taoist aspect mean for the art? It is impossible to achieve “Tao” in the art, but I come close.
- Practice of discipline, restraint mixed with free, open ideas of expansion
- The abstraction functions as non-action, the landscape as a source of inspiration
- He was pleased with the way Temple made use of space, collapsing surface.
Some of his suggestions / things to consider / words of wisdom / recommendations / and reactions to pieces:
- We are fiercely confident about our sources of inspiration and inquiry, but we do not always need to be so literal about it–regardless of the viewer’s reception.
- Use titles to my advantage, they can lead the viewer
- Work never needs to be a literal expression of an idea. When elements are allowed to just be there, that’s enough.
- For future work, think of ways to explore the ideas that have not come up yet–how to continue playing with space and transition.
- What if I play more with the void, as Brice Marden does–make it an additive experience, rather than always initial or reductive. What if my void or negative space is actually layered silence, like Marden (instead of always relying on the white or solid color paper to be the void).
- Consider taking my white-ink-on-top technique and try adding it to other kinds of pieces
- Try investing in different kinds of surfaces, instead of always thin rice paper. What about canvas? Thick rice paper? See what happens when the ideas are expressed on thicker paper.
- Since abstraction functions as non-action, or non-matter in the pieces, abstraction might be the easier method for me! But what about challenging myself to say the same things, without relying as much on abstraction. What if the representation is effortless, yet rendered? He suggested just experimenting by moving from pure representation to pure abstraction, to see if there’s a stage in between that works better than the middle. There might be, might not be. Just experiment.
- Void can also be space (depth, layers)
- Recommended new collage techniques–he’ll give demo. Asked me to try working with collage.
- Be risky. Like Basquiat.
- What if things expand beyond the picture plane? A window into a larger world?
- Edit my portfolio website more–make the galleries smaller, more concise. I don’t need to show everything.
- Try varying the sizes of the rock shapes more within each piece
Artists to look at:
- Richard Diebenkorn (especially his Albuquerque paintings)
- Brice Marden (already on my list) – he wants me to look again at Marden to see his style of editing. Though Marden’s shapes seem suspended in a solitary manner on the page or canvas, they’re really built on layers of texture and color that’s been re-surfaced to create a new void. The void keeps coming back in an additive, rather than reductive, way. Marden leves the thin skeletons of layers, put and removed, added and reduced.
- Look at more contemporary Asian artists
- Basquiat – (already on my list). He added that Basquiat is fearless in his ability to paint an entire surface with detail, then void out vast areas, leaving that active sense of “nothing” behind. He is willing to sacrifice any part of the whole.
- Terry Winters
The setup (i also had additional piles of loose prints for him to look through):