Recent Scribblings on Art by Chris Hall

Notebooks with sketches and writings with studio detritus...

Although I haven’t posted in this blog very much lately, it hasn’t been for a lack of want.  I am always thinking and writing on art.  Here are some fractured thoughts from my notebook and various Facebook postings…

1.  On attending Flux night in Atlanta:  So, I enjoyed going to Flux night yesterday.  I enjoyed the Fast Food Mascot Fight, the Disarm sound work made of old weapons, the Spelman College Choir, and the large drawing of Civil Rights Activists.  I was a bit disappointed by Yoko Ono's work.  Too frequently she relies on the good intentions of others to complete her work. I love and respect her idealism, but sometimes it comes across as hopelessly naive.  I saw this in the way many people were butchering the spirit of her work by smearing the ink and drawing inappropriate things on it.  I respect her never failing optimistic take on life - but it is a place I cannot go to and settle in for any length of time.  But Yoko Ono is a sacred cow in the art world - and I doubt anyone would criticize her art in print.  And maybe I'm fine with that.  Although I cannot make an art that is so blindly optimistic, I am glad someone is.  We definitely need more of that.

2.  I think I make more interesting work than great work, and by great I mean sublime and profound.  I want to make more great work.  More often I make an art for the now, though sometimes I want to make an art for a forever.

3.  Last night I wanted to be wild.  I knew I wanted to be wild.  No one would join me so I went out alone.  It paid off.  I had a drunken epiphany as to why my current painting isn’t working.  I can’t wait to work in a bit.  Didn’t Hemingway once say, “Compose drunk, but edit sober?”

4.  In response to the stabbing at the recent Art Basel Miami:  Hello art world, please think about this sentence pulled from the attached article: Some patrons thought the stabbing was a performance art presentation. Others believed the police tape cordoning off an area of the convention center was part of an art installation. ------ this statement speaks to - 1. the current over conflation of art and life in contemporary art - and 2. a kind of jaded attitude where nothing is genuine or sincere and everything is suspect or a performance or a facade of some kind.... time to wake up my friends, and learn some sincerity, some trust, some wonder, some belief . . . some empathy.

5.  I am king of the night!  Now, if I can only master the day.  Good night everyone!

6.  So, this is 40:  a good a time as any to take stock of one’s life, I guess.   For those of you who know me well, you must know that my life so far has been . . . challenging.   But despite these challenges, I have zero regrets.   I’ve always done what compels my heart, I’ve always done what needed to be done, and I’ve always tried to do the right thing.  Perhaps it is because of these things that my life has been so full of challenges.  I can honestly say without any exaggeration that I would not be here without you, my fantastic friends and family, who have given me support during the many, many, and many less than ideal times in my life. . . But the lesson here is not how many bad times there have been, but how many times you all have come to help me out!  And remembering these times, these are sweet, rich memories!  I will never forget this, and I am eternally grateful to you all!  Thank you! 

Ahab (1998), oil on wood panel, 24x48.

7.  I recently sold an old favorite of mine to a good friend and collector.  The work?  Ahab (1998).  Obviously it is referencing Moby Dick, one of my favorite books.  Looking at this painting I remember a line from a poem popular with 19th century American whalers... "Death to the living, long life to the killers." How metal is that!  This painting used to hang in my parent's house where it would scare the neighbor's kids.   I picked it up tonight and am giving this old friend a good bye.  It will be in good company with two other Moby Dick themed paintings.

8.  I use a lot humor in my work and it pleases me to make people laugh, but I also want to make art to move people spiritually with beauty, and also to challenge people to think.  Art is such a strange thing.  There are still other reasons why I make art, and some more altruistic than others.  Selfishly, I use art as a catharsis to help with assimilating pain, but also to confront my shadow side, the potential madman, killer, chauvinist, dictator in me.  I often manifest my darker self in my art so that it doesn’t manifest itself as much in my life.  I know that I can never be perfect.  It is silly to try.  But if I confront the darker aspects of myself and acknowledge it in my art, I can at least attempt to be whole.

9.  I’ve been working a lot on some older works lately, the earliest dating back to 1999.  I honestly thought this might be harder than it is.  I thought that I wouldn’t be able to do this out of sense of respect or sacredness to a moment long past.  I am finding destruction can be just as integral to the process of making art as creation.  I feel as though I am taking some great risks here.

10.  Work on the dictator series continues, but I am already planning ahead for a future body of work, strangely enough on Art and Art Making.  I am pretty excited about this.  Of course there are other sketches for works that don’t quite fit into this plan – I hope I can find time to actualize a few of them.  And then there is the backlog of over 100 topics I’d like to write about for this blog, reworking my book, etc… Time is a bastard-bitch.


Dealing With Fits Of Inspiration by Chris Hall

You can never predict when inspiration will come; sometimes it can be decidedly inconvenient.  Inspiration can come at strange hours. It can happen while in the middle of work at a menial soul crushing job.  Your boss might get upset, even if you record just a short sketch or idea.  It can also wake you up in the middle of the night when you desperately need to sleep.  The urge to create is that strong.  Inspiration can come in flood torrents or it can abandon you completely for months at a time.  Currently I’ve been very busy dealing with more inspiration than I can properly handle.  There just are not enough hours in the day!  Because I do not have an art studio to work in, I have been devoting my time to my second love, writing. 

Here is the conundrum.  I am unemployed and desperately looking for work.  I spend on average about 4 to 8 hours a day looking and applying for jobs.  I also spend an average of 3-4 hours a day researching and writing, much of it for this blog.  My family feels this time would be better spent looking for work.  I whole heartedly understand their perspective, and I am aware of the inconvenience I am placing them in, but my family does not understand the inward drive and the necessity I and other artists feel for writing and creating art.  Inspiration is comes when it comes, and it simply must be dealt with.  I simply have to do it; it is a compulsion.  Sometimes I feel like I will become physically ill and die if I do not deal with it, like a shark will die if it does not continue to swim.  Just last night I woke up in the middle of the night and had to immediately write down some words, phrases, and ideas for future writings.  I knew that if I did not write them down, my mind would not be at peace, and I would not fall back asleep.

Even in this wretched unemployment state I’ve found myself in, I simply must have my time to create art and write!  Right now I am swimming in a sea of inspiration, and I have to do my best to record all my ideas for future use, as it is impossible to get it all done now.  So much gets lost, forgotten, or neglected over time, but it is my duty to work on all the ideas that I can, and while they are still fresh, as you can never count on inspiration always being there for you.  Would you believe that I have about 60 or more ideas sketched out for future blog posts!  And about 3 or 4 are Christmas related, so there is a rush to get them out in a timely fashion before the 25th!  I am working really hard, but I love it and wouldn’t’ have it any other way.  I just wish my family could better understand the position I am in, not as someone who is unemployed, but as someone who is unemployed who is also an artist having to deal with sudden fits of inspiration!  

Sometimes I get worried, for my own situation, of course, but also for the trouble I am putting my family through.  Thankfully, I have my creativity to distract me right now.  Working on and completing a creative task always puts me in a better mood and gives me a sense of satisfaction.