First Meeting with Spring Mentor, Les Ann Holland


Above: One of the Cascade stills Leslie and I talked about in depth. As the landscape enters the physical, internal geography of the human form, something interesting happens…

Spring, 2014  Mentor: Les Ann Holland

Leslie and I had our first semester meeting on Friday, January 24. We had already conducted a two-hour critique in November of last year, which was incredibly fruitful–as was our latest meeting. Leslie has an amazing ability to drill deeply into process, yielding tremendously useful suggestions and responses.

We focused our conversation on The Cascade, which has become my thesis (though it may mutate dramatically over these coming semesters!). I brought Leslie up to speed on dialogue from the residency regarding these digital-hybrid pieces and we dug deeply into the project and practice.

Here are a few of the highlights:

Reactions to the work:

  • Pieces behave as an intersection of editing.
  • Abstract, free form, expressive, alive.
  • Marriage of mediums (drawing/film).
  • Referents to memory, geography.
  • Some individual pieces feel very polished, others feel loose, organic.
  • Some exist with a readable, specific era (1970s), others deny era identification.
  • Intriguing textures/formal elements include: combo of low fi and polished digital, sense of hovering vs. strong sense of line, slick vs. organic, linework vs. boxy-ness., deep vs. shallow, angular vs. curvy. These dichotomies are interesting. They form paradoxes.
  • Movement and stillness inform each other.
  • Modernism + Postmoderism. Work combines both, without adhering to either, then attemtps to move forward without judging either ideology.
  • They deal heavily with environment, space, place. Environment emphasized when people present, prevailing sense of deep space.
  • Narrative not given, elusive.
  • It’s entirely plausible to have output 2D works (more static) shown congruently with video projection (more active)–more than one output method can be used.
  • There is play between the unknown and the known.
  • Moments where external objects enter the internal human landscape are significant.
  • Palette is key.
  • Leslie was excited about the body of work and felt that I’m on track and grappling with something very important.


  • Experiment with repeating more of the patterns across multiple pieces to see how it affects the overall movement and language
  • Experiment with the kinesthetic, the object-ness, vital structure
  • Try printing the digital images at 10% opacity and see what gets left out. Can it be added back with the hand? Is it better that it’s missing?
  • Tweak color in terms of printing so that I rediscover the color with the hand (print with orange filter, then “re-find” blue, for example).
  • Pattern plays an important role. Explore this.
  • Try doing lots of drafts of the same image, especially making use of the magix wand tool to wipe out huge areas. Play with changes in surface and space between each iteration.
  • What happens if the layers flip? Rotate? Skew?
  • How much control should I assert?
  • What if I radically chop and delete sections digitally? What if in the surface manipulation by hand I chop, stack, flip?
  • Play more with the magic wand tool and experiment more with flipping and isolating sections
  • If the hand is still so appealing, how do I push the digital to feel more like the hand?
  • Based on suggestions to find ways to put the hand back into the digital work (at the residency), Leslie asked me to consider what is different about the ether found in the prints and the digital works. How does time move to the surface of the prints, and is it behaving the same way in the digital work?
  • Trying radically blowing holes in things, tearing compositions apart. Try working where I don’t think too much. How to be evil? 🙂 Dominate the pieces, cut them, see what happens. Push them way too far. What’s left? Since they’re digital they can really be stretched to the limit. What gets to live in digital form? What gets to exist on paper?
  • Consider the way color relates to content.
  • What happens if the process of digital exploration becomes the container?
  • Consider how digital touches (or does not touch) Formalism.

Artist Suggestions

  • Georges Braque  (round/curved shapes present within the Cubist multi-point perspective / ambiguous perspective environment)
  • Ava Blitz (pattern woven throughout)


A piece we revisited as challenging, mystifying. Is it working? Totally failing? Part of the surface prevents entry.

Specific Exercises:

  • Try setting up a palette on a table in front of the digital pieces. Develop what I feel is the most important aspect/elements of each piece in paint, limiting myself to 15 – 30  minutes per painting. See what happens.
  • Try abstracting the pieces with just the hand
  • Try zoning in on smaller moments within the larger works, then pulling those out as a full piece. What happens?
  • Try painting some of the digital stills, try finding shapes within the stills and painting those.

John Kramer recently suggested that I continue engaging in exercises and projects that are experimental (and even fun!). I think some of Leslie’s suggestions will be great methods of side exploration for both Cascade and non-Cascade considerations. I’ll be trying them over the course of the semester.


Another still we spoke about in depth, concerning time-relationships, effective color palette experimentation, deep digital space and overlays.

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