Sometimes you need to get creative to get something going artistically. The period immediately following the release of my animation “Firebird” I was feeling drained, but wanted to still be doing something in my studio. One antidote to my slump was this collaboration between me and my friend Dave Kopperman. It was designed to create a low pressure, fun project for both of us. The idea was to make a six panel comic where one of us would draw a panel and then mail it, and the other one would draw the next panel. But there would be no instructions or preconceived plot. Each panel would simply be a reaction to what came before. While initially the idea was each of us would have one week to draw and mail, well life interfered. But we eventually DID finish it, and it was in fact very fun. While I had in mind more of a medical/sociological direction (casomorphins are opiod peptides created from the digestion of dairy producte) Dave took it straight to science fiction. So I followed. Hope you enjoy!
On June 16th 2018, my friend and colleague David Schorr passed away from complications following an aortic rupture. He was 71 years old and had been teaching printmaking and graphic design at Wesleyan University for 47 years. I have been processing the loss of this mentor and friend for months now, and it still doesn’t quite seem real that I will never see him again. He was a dedicated and prolific artist, who also LOVED to teach. He was a story teller, entertainer, and he was in his element throwing parties. But the thing I loved and appreciated the most about David, was the way he cared for me. As a “thank you” for the work I did for him in the printshop he would treat me once a year to dinner and the opera in New York. He knew just by looking at me if something was wrong, and always made time to talk if I needed to. Once, when introducing me to a group of students, he said, “and this is the beloved Kate Ten Eyck.” I still smile when I think of how endearing and somewhat inappropriate that introduction was. He was, in fact, both endearing and inappropriate most of the time.
David lost his brother to cancer in January of 2017, and it affected him deeply. I could tell that besides the loss of this person that he loved, there were issues surrounding his own mortality. As someone who loved life and lived intensely, he did not really have an “exit plan.” He was not at all interested in retiring, or making plans for becoming older. Because of the rupture in his aorta, he never did have to face retirement and the life changes that are inevitable if you live long enough. He got to live life to it’s fullest right up to the end.
I will always remember David, and the many lessons that he taught me. What are the most important of these lessons? Live life to the fullest, every day, and be a caring friend.
Years ago, I saw a show by South African artist William Kentridge, and was transfixed by his charcoal animation technique of creating different frames by erasing and re-drawing. Over the past few months I finally got around to applying the technique to my own artistic vision. Using “Dragonframe” software, I was able to make my first animation.
An inordinate amount of the time I spent working on it went into learning the software, in addition to “Garage Band” and “iMovie”, but in the end I am pleased with the result as a first try, and look forward to starting the next one. My first attempt, “Origin,” is now on YouTube, and you can check it out here. I simply started drawing with no script or real idea where it would go, and drew and erased until I felt done. The whole animation took place on one sheet of paper.
I am pleased and excited that several of my drawings will be on view at the Schick Art Gallery during November and December. The gallery is on the campus of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. At the end of this post, you can find the full info. Having been up to my elbows in charcoal for the past several years, I am pleased to be included in this group show entitled quite simply “Charcoal!” I am also honored to have one of my drawings featured on the postcard.
Schick Art Gallery
Opening events: Friday, November 1, 2013
Reception: 5:30 – 7:30
Artists’ Talk with Kate TenEyck and Scott Hunt: 6:30 – 7:30
Dozier Bell, Dragna Crnjak, Maggie Evans, April Gornik, Ken Greenleaf, Scott Hunt, Susan Hauptman, Anthony Mitri, David Nash, Emily Nelligan, Kate Ten Eyck, John Walker
Saisselin Art Building, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY
Image: Threshold (detail) by Kate TenEyck
For over a year I have been trying with limited success to find a way of working with color that approximates what I have enjoyed about working with charcoal on paper. Finally I have found the technique I have been looking for, and as many great discoveries go it happened by accident.
Over the summer, I found a very solidly built nine foot by four foot stretcher that had been abandoned by a senior thesis student who had graduated. I kept looking at the stretcher, being attracted to it, and yet what was I thinking? What would I do with a painting of that size? How much would it cost in paint to cover the thing? After several weeks of ambivalence, I decided what the heck and brought it home. At a certain point I thought about abandoning it myself, but in the end I stretched some linen over it, put some coats of gesso on (which caused it to stretch and warp more than I thought it would, so I had to re-stretch) and then it sat in my studio for a month, leaned against a wall. Every time I walked by it, I had thoughts of self-doubt. Last week I found myself with an evening that included a couple hours of studio time and the energy/desire to try something new. I put some screws on the wall, attached the painting, and began to make marks and see where that would lead me.
I was enjoying myself, and the imagery began to emerge. At the same time, I became aware that I was going through paint VERY quickly. To finish the painting I would need to drive to the nearest art store, which meant a little over an hour in the car just in driving, never mind the time spent shopping. It became late, and I needed to stop for the night. I hoped to continue working in the morning, but feeling demoralized, I knew I only had enough time to either drive to the art store OR work on the painting, not both. In the morning I chose to work on the painting, with the thought that perhaps making due with the supplies I had would be an interesting constraint.
As I was working and running out of supplies, I started to thin the green that I was using, in order to at least get a base coat out to the edges of the canvas. When I was done, I realized that the wash I had created was acting as a counterpoint to the more heavily painted area. Then I began to experiment with wiping away parts of the more heavily painted areas to bridge the two worlds that I had created. The effect was exactly what I had been looking for all year.
Going out on an artistic limb more times than not results in dead ends and big messes. However, it also leads to major breakthroughs. I have had this experience many times, but somehow I still find myself hesitating, or being disappointed when an experiment does not “work” like I think it should. I have learned over the years to listen to the part of me that is attracted to a material, even if it doesn’t make sense to the more logical parts of my brain. This painting is too large for any wall in my house, it will be difficult to transport, and I don’t have anywhere to store it. People who would like to purchase my work ask if I make anything smaller, which I have not for a very long time, and this painting is as large as my largest drawings. Despite all this I am still glad I made it, mainly for the technical discoveries that it forced me to make which I can then apply to other work. This whole experience was a great reminder to be patient, have self-confidence, and keep trying new things. This is easy advice to give, and much harder to live by.
I have always enjoyed collaborative projects. Years ago, when I first met artist/performer/musician Michael Pestel and saw some of his work, I knew that we should collaborate, but was not entirely sure how. We share many of the same visually esthetic interests, but also a love for sound and movement. I had some complicated sculptural ideas, but none of them felt right. Through the process of drawing using movement as the basis, which I have been pursuing now for several years, I found myself wondering what the absolute most direct way would be to get to the liberating feeling of freely making marks, feeling the marks come through my body in a way that feels like dancing or singing. Working with Michael, I came up with a performance concept which involves responding directly to sound through drawing, and influencing a musician to make sound through the action of observing my act of drawing.
I tried out my concept in the form of a public workshop that happened in conjunction with an event held at Wesleyan University called “The Big Draw.” This now annual event involves an afternoon where several drawing activities are set up, and participants show up and go from workshop to workshop. In mine, called “movement and drawing,” I covered the wall and floor of the room with paper, invited student musicians, and handed large chunks of graphite to the participants. The resulting activity was fascinating to watch, and fun to participate in. I decided to develop the idea into a performance event where I would interact individually with different materials and different musicians, and see what type of drawings might come out of the process.
This performance event, called DUETS, will take place Sunday, May 19th 2013, at 64 Prout Hill Rd. in Middletown. The location is PHARM (Prout Hill Arts and Recreation Monastery) the fabulous and ever-evolving art space/converted chicken barn that Michael Pestel has been developing. A work in process, it is a wonderful space where many fascinating events have already taken place. Michael will be one of the musicians I will be interacting with. He will be playing various wind instruments while I create a 30 foot long drawing using paint brushes dipped in India ink on poles attached to both of my arms. In another drawing, my husband, jazz pianist Noah Baerman, will play prepared pianos while I draw using sharpies attached to all eight of my fingers. In yet another drawing, I will be responding to artist and musician Dave Kopperman on electric keyboards and guitar. At the end, audience members will be invited to create a movement based, music inspired drawing of their own.
Over time, it seems I go through cycles of being involved in the communal nature of live performance and retreating to the solitary privacy of my studio. When I work in a solitary way, I tend to miss the beauty of live performance, where the shared experience creates a special bond between the performers and the audience. I am very excited to see where this particular line of performance leads.
For the past several years, I have been making drawings in black and white using either ink or charcoal. Since my last show, I determined that I want to work in color, and since October have been experimenting with different color media. Trying to explore with an intuitive approach, I tried color india inks and from there moved on to oil color. Oil seems to be the way for me to go, although I feel like I am only scratching the surface of the possibilities, which is both intimidating and exciting. While I enjoy the luminous nature of colored ink, the nature of my process does not seem to go along well with a medium that cannot be developed. I find myself being most drawn to working in a way where like with charcoal, I can cover up and erase and keep working an image until it “works” for me.
Although I feel somewhat intimidated by the possibilities of oil media, I am also excited by it. The content of my work continues to be gesture based, and I am struggling to incorporate movement with oil. A loaded brush doesn’t go far if I make a sweeping motion. Oil bars are a good solution, and I have been experimenting with those. The problem with oil bar is that the color that you get is the color of the stick. I found myself scraping the oil bar off the paper, mixing it, and applying it with a scraper. Interestingly, applying with a scraper allows me to get a more continuous mark than with a brush. So far, I have been working on heavy paper. Now I am experimenting with canvas, stapled to the wall.
Aside from gesture, I am also primarily interested in the illusion of space. The gesture inspires the image, and the image comes from my innate spatial interests reacting to the two-dimensional marks. I am sharing these recent images on the post. I don’t know whether to call them paintings or drawings, but I feel like they are on the way to creating a new body of work.
Every Fall brings about feelings of change. The leaves desert the trees, days get short and cold. This particular October, I wrapped up my show at Choate Rosemary Hall and have begun new work in my studio. The content remains the same, abstraction based on movement, but I have taken a leap into color. Exciting, but still quite unresolved. My recent show encompassed work from the last two years, and all of it was large and black and white. I feel compelled to make my imagery work in color, and also at a smaller scale for a change.
Warming my heart during this cold wintry week, there was an election that proved to me that money alone can not buy a seat in congress. In the months leading up to the election, I feared that the millions of dollars in adds from a few billionaires would lead to a republican victory. Thankfully, money did not buy the election.
Despite the president and the balance in congress staying the same, it feels different to me. I feel like there are now enough people who believe in equal rights and equal opportunity who go out and vote that we could start to see even more positive change. My biggest hope is that Obama’s second term will not be haunted by the need for re-election, and lasting change for the better will take place in health care, peace efforts, the environment, and the economy.
Voids, Portals and Passageways continues to be on view at the Paul Mellon Arts Center through October 28th. Gallery hours are 9 am to 9 pm every day, and the address is 333 Christian St. Wallingford, CT. The show spans two adjacent buildings, so if you visit make sure you don’t miss half the show! I had a great time at the opening talking with friends old and new, and meeting Choate students who had a lot of great questions about my work. Most of my immediate family was present, and it was great to share my work with Wesleyan students and colleagues. The evening was topped off with the Choate faculty concert, where my husband, jazz pianist Noah Baerman, premiered a wonderful new composition.
Now that much of my work from the last two years is out of my studio hanging at the PMAC, I am inspired to create new work. I am following a similar process, but experimenting with color. Since January 2012, I have been working with black India ink. Starting this week, I am working with India ink, but in vibrant color. I have been thinking about color for some time now, but have been unsure how to get there through my current process. After some experimentation, I think I have found my new direction and look forward to exploring. As the days get shorter and the colors grayer outside the window, I look forward to the colors in my studio blooming over the coming months.
On September 8th, I will be loading in a show of my work from the past two years to a gallery space at the Paul Mellon Arts Center. The gallery is part of the arts center complex at Choate Rosemary Hall, an exceptional private high school located in Wallingford, CT. Preparations beyond making the work have included making a scale model, and discovering a new method of hanging drawings without using tacks. If you are curious about the no tack hanging method, you will have to come to the show and try to figure it out. If you still can’t tell, I will tell you, but I am curious to see how successful this hanging method will be. Hopefully it will seem like the drawings are hanging through pure magic!
As the load in date approaches, thoughts of who might come and what they will think of the work inevitably arise. As I have been creating work over the past two years without a venue lined up, I simply enjoyed making the work for myself and whoever might come by my studio. In the Spring of 2012, when I received the offer to have the show at the Paul Mellon Arts Center, I felt excited to have the opportunity to share my work with a large audience. The space is also very large, nearly 200 feet of white wall. Fast forward to the end of of summer, and I still feel excited about the show, but naturally I also feel somewhat nervous. After all, what I put on the walls is deeply personal, the result of hours of solitary time and my imagination. Fortunately, I am not someone who gets stage fright, as although it will not literally be me that people will be looking at, in essence I will be hanging on the walls.
In sharing my work, I feel like I am joining a conversation. I am responding to arts events I have experienced throughout my life. My imagination has been shaped by films, music, visual art, writing, dance, etc…that I have experienced. Now I am putting myself out there for others to absorb. There is so much great creative soup out there, it is exciting to be adding to it!
The opening reception for my show “Voids, Portals, and Passageways” will be from 5:30-7:30 on September 14th, and it will be on view through October 28th. The address is 333 Christian St. Wallingford, CT.