STUDIO: Scenes from the Studio, Part 1

My Better Half

Michele Bledsoe’s Studio Set Up 

 

In my book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization, I include a description of our current artistic working conditions:

 

Michele and I now share a studio in our home. We’ve spent countless hours together making art. We work back to back, with the stereo in the middle to play the music which inspires us.

She sits at her easel. I pace around in front of mine.

Michele uses tiny, soft brushes. I use big house-painting brushes for much of my work.

She discovers her imagery through stream of consciousness dreaming. I am replicating the vision I was assigned.

She likes to focus on one work at a time, and linger over it. I have multiple pieces going at once, at different stages of completion, and I compulsively push them towards resolution.

Michele doesn’t know what she is going to paint when she begins, but she applies her masterful technique to it. I know the image I need to present, but I don’t know how I’m going to paint it out.

We are both wholly committed to our art, and we show it in our own different ways. Remodernism encourages dedication to individual expression, and the pursuit of excellence.  

 

I’d written before about our shared art space. Back in 2015, i did a blog post on “The Mystique of the Artist Studio:”

There is nothing like having the dedicated space just for art. There is great pleasure in not having to pack up and move all materials at the end of a session, to have the needed tools within reach when an idea strikes. The magic in artists’ studios is in the sense of purpose, a Zen-like meditation on process.

It is an exotic environment. Many strange devices and substances are used there. Simple everyday needs like lighting and storage take on whole new urgency. And in the studio there is the artist, a person who puts appearances onto ideas. Might seem like an anachronism in these technological times, but the artist fulfills a deep human need.

It occurred to me that our studio spaces are full of wonderful moments, where our tools and inspirations blend together into intriguing vignettes. Why not share the excitement that is happening there, even we we are not working?

Michele Bledsoe has created a whole magical world to surround herself while she paints. In her blog post post “Art and the Proximity of Curious Objects,” she wrote:

My husband is always telling me to take a picture of the weird collection of items I have on the tray of my easel.

I’m not exactly sure what the actual purpose is for this little shelf-like area..

but it is where I keep all my favorite stuff.

Polished rocks, glass marbles and rusty keys.

Floppy-limbed Micronauts, the metal license tabs from Gunther’s collar

and my father’s college ring.

My art studio is filled with strange little objects that have captured my attention..

but you can tell how much I like something by how close it gets to my easel.

Here are some other special moments from Michele’s half of the studio. I will show mine in a future post.

 

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PAINTINGS: “LIFELINE FROM A FRIEND,” A New Collaboration by Michele and Richard Bledsoe

Michele Bledsoe and Richard Bledsoe 

“Lifeline from a Friend” Acrylic on Canvas 12″ x 6″ 

Michele Bledsoe and I have completed the fourth piece in our ongoing collaborative series.

I started this one, and it was a mess. This time we decided to divide the surface diagonally, from top to bottom. Usually I begin a painting with an image in mind. On this canvas, I tried to improvise, and it didn’t work out. I handed it over to Michele to start her section, with my half consisting of basically nothing but orange and brown smears. I told her I needed her to give me some kind of clue on what this painting was about.

Michele was not deterred. She began her natural method of stream of consciousness composition.

 

Michele Begins 

 

Soon her half was sketched in, and I was given a powerful departure point to work with.

Michele created the front end of a caterpillar in her drawing. Since I love animals and don’t want them harmed even in art, I knew I had to show the rest of the body. My own half of the image took off from that element.

Michele threw me a lifeline-in this case, the hind end of a caterpillar. It worked!

 

Richard Got Inspired 

Michele and I both created our own painting in our own unique style, but allowed a dialogue to form by the interaction of our individual efforts.

Michele compared it to having an intimate conversation.

The process of working on a piece together was so enjoyable that we will continue to collaborate. We hope to someday have a show of just our shared pieces. Watch this space for future updates.

 

Previous Collaborations:

Tusk

Blind Mugwump Johnson 

Do the Work 

PAINTINGS: The Conspirators

Richard Bledsoe “The Conspirators” acrylic on canvas 24″ x 24″ 

 

My latest completed painting. These sinister characters lurk in the shadows and plot. It is them, and those of their ilk, which have woven the web of delusions that are driving our culture to ruin.

I spend a lot of time on the internet studying current events and bizarre phenomenon. I see something truly massive taking form that will change the dynamic of the entire world. I call these changes the dawn of the Remodern Age. I describe them in detail in my book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization.

Am I crazy, or ahead of the curve? Time will tell. In the meantime, here are another couple of sinister characters.

Richard and Michele read the news 

PAINTINGS: “Do the Work,” a New Collaboration by Michele and Richard

Michele Bledsoe and Richard Bledsoe “Do the Work”

acrylic on canvas 12″ x 6″

 

Michele Bledsoe and I have completed the third piece in our ongoing collaborative series.

As we develop our art and our lives together, we have found inspiration in a book by Steven Pressfield:

Do the Work.

“A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It’s only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate. Don’t think. Act.”

-Steven Pressfield

Michele and I both created our own painting in our own unique style, but allowed a dialogue to form by the interaction of our individual efforts.

Michele compared it to having an intimate conversation.

The process of working on a piece together was so enjoyable that we will continue to collaborate. We hope to someday have a show of just our shared pieces. Watch this space for future updates.

 

Previous Collaborations:

Tusk

Blind Mugwump Johnson 

STUDIO: “Night’s Forces” Emerges from the Room of Shame

Richard Bledsoe “Night’s Forces” acrylic on canvas 30″ x 30″ 

Let me tell you about the room of shame.

The room of shame is the place where unfinished paintings are stacked, faces to the wall. It must have close to a dozen residents right now, some as large as 30″ x 36″. Some have been in there for many years.

These are paintings which I began, and then at some point in their development, I lost the plot, and the point, and my ability to finish them. This happens sometimes when working intuitively. The inspiration dries up before the work is complete.

I always have multiple works going. For example, right now, I have 4 unfinished paintings pending, 2 of which are practically done. So it’s no great blow to my productivity if I have to put something aside temporarily, or not so temporarily.

Some incomplete works are unsalvageable. I will paint over them, and create a whole new image.

But the paintings in the room of shame are worth completing. I still believe in them, and am waiting for their moment to return. They say the way you do something is the way you do everything. I may be slow, but I am persistent.

Case in point: Night’s Forces.

I began this painting in 2015. It was far advanced when I had to put it away. I’d had a series of studio sessions on it where instead of improving it, I was making it less effective, less resolved. It was a complex composition. I couldn’t get the colors and definitions to function. Off it went to the room of shame, where it lingered for years. Until a few weeks ago, when I brought it out again. I made some big moves on it, because at that point I had nothing to lose. The work would either crash, or crash through. Fortunately, it was the latter.

Night’s Forces is now finished, and I’m ready to move on with additional new projects. My wife Michele Bledsoe created a video of me working on it as it entered it final phases. See the video here:

Video-Remodern America: Renew the Arts and Renew the Civilization

As I state in my upcoming book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts will change the Course of western Civilization:

“Remodernism reboots the culture. Remodernism is not a style of art, it is a form of motivation.”

Sometimes a painting needs a time out followed by an assertive jump start. This return is driven by Remodernist motivation: I need to show you what I saw, so we will better understand each other, and life as a whole.

COMMENTARY: The Rotten Apple Didn’t Fall Far From the Tree-The Obnoxious Art of Lena Dunham’s Father (Sort of NSFW)

Daddy’s Girl: Lena and Carroll Dunham 

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“I’ve looked a lot at Picasso and read a lot about him, and I think he was having a good time at different points. There’s humor in that work—there’s no question—but to me it’s a byproduct of something else that’s much more ruthless and cold. Like the humor of a psychopath [laughs].”

-Caroll Dunham

 

I know about Lena Dunham against my will.

I’ve never sought out information about this marginal, unstable pop culture player, and yet at least every couple of months Lena Dunham floats to the surface of the news stream, and I have to hear more about her. The establishment media needed a role model to codify the Millennial generation as feckless narcissists and vicious virtue signallers, and Lena fits that job description perfectly. One of the latest breaking reports about her involved how she broke a fingernail while doing some intimate grooming. I resent that my brain was forced to ponder how such a thing could even happen.

My rejection of her ongoing presence isn’t about her looks, although a big part of Lena’s shtick involves a weird blend of exhibitionism and a push/pull of inadequately repressed self-loathing. It’s Lena Dunham’s character that is concerning.

She follows the Postmodern prescription that untalented celebrities can polish their resumes by strident political posturing. Pretty much no one watched her main claim to fame, the cancelled HBO show Girls. As Entertainment Weekly noted in 2017, at the beginning of its poorly rated last season, “Girls is basically the quintessential media bubble show — hugely loud in pop culture chatter compared to its actual viewership.” The reason an unpopular show like Girls gets hyped is because the parties involved can be counted on to broadcast the approved partisan agenda.

And yet away from the predictable policy positions and politicians she monotonously and shrilly advocates, Lena Dunham makes an effective case for leftism as a mental disorder, a justification for some reprehensible behavior. Lots of Dunham’s press coverage is actually negative fallout from the latest landmine she stepped on. Dunham has tried to fire up internet hate mobs by making dubious accusations about thought crimes by a couple of airline stewardesses. She smeared a former college associate with groundless rape accusations, then went on to publicly betray the #Metoo movement when they came at one of her pals. She abandoned a pet and then followed up with a borderline bestiality tweet. Perhaps most notorious was her “comedic” take on how during childhood she molested her younger sister. “Basically, anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl, I was trying,” she joked. Ha ha.

How does her sister Grace respond to the disclosure? She insists there was no problems. Oh, and by the way, Grace is now a non-binary gender identifying queer activist and performance artist, because of course she is. Sounds like the outcome of a totally healthy upbringing. Which brings us to their daddy: aging New York hipster and painter Carroll Dunham.

My wife Michele Bledsoe often states the art an artist makes shows who they are. So who would you say Carroll Dunham is, after looking at a few examples of his art?

dunham 3

In 2010, the critic David Pagel summed it up in a review:

“Carroll Dunham makes paintings that not even a mother could love. Vulgar beyond belief, his super-crude depictions of a naked woman crawling through a cartoon landscape border on vicious.

“It’s easy to see why many people find them offensive, demeaning and disgusting, as well as mean-spirited, malicious and horrific. They are all that and more. Much, much more.”

But this is the establishment art world we’re talking about here. Pagel clarifies the approved response in his next sentence:

“Dunham’s new oils on canvas are the best works the 61-year-old New Yorker has made.”

As I state in my upcoming book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization,  

“Behold the moronic masterpieces selected and elevated by our utterly corrupted and compromised institutions. This list could go on and on, full of examples of irrelevance, carrion, excrement, pornography, and debris.

“This is the elite’s idea of what is significant in our culture. This is what the establishment is stocking our museums with. This is our self-aggrandizing ruling class’s tawdry and nihilistic vision of life, being inflicted upon us all.

“They are trying to remake the world in their own rotten image. They’ve weaponized art into an assault on the foundations of civilization itself. We can call this assault Postmodernism, a philosophy which is explored in detail later in this book.”

I wasn’t talking specifically about Caroll Dunham in the quote above, but the shoe fits him like he was Cinderella.

Now I have no issue with art taking on intense subject matter and mature themes. It must. Contemporary painters like Eric Fischl may specialize in the dark, seamy and sexual, but skilled artistry can transcend the tawdriness.

Nor do I have an issue with extreme stylization in artwork. It was one of  Modernism’s powerful contributions to art’s expressive power; as far back as the Nabi art movement of the 1800s, artists experimented with flatness and simplification as a means for conveying an otherworldly experience.

No, the problem with the art of Carroll Dunham is its poor quality. It’s a Postmodern mishmash of graffiti, dehumanizing identity politics, emoji style perversity and  predictable coloration. I’ve seen more effectively rendered scrawls in public bathroom stalls. The paintings of Carroll Dunham are unfocused, sloppy, cheap, and redundant. Despite their brazen imagery, they are so poorly realized I’m not even sure they count as “not safe for work.”

The existing establishment is well stocked with sociopaths. Perhaps no where can we find stronger visual confirmation of this than the contemporary art market. For the Dunhams, producing lousy art propped up in the service of  pathological elitist oikophobia is the family business.

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Say Cheese! Carroll Dunham Exposed 

 

UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers! Check out other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

BOOKS: The Cthulhu Blues and Other Stories-by Richard Bledsoe

Richard Bledsoe and Michele Bledsoe

“Blind Mugwump Johnson” acrylic on canvas 10″ x 8″ 

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“We were led away from the others and sat under the shade of trees in the cemetery. As he arranged himself, sitting rather irreverently on a crypt, it gave me a chance to consider the hardships he must have suffered to reach such a condition. He was exceedingly tall but thin to the point of gauntness. His coloration could be described like that of an albino’s but instead of a pinkish tone, his pallor displayed a greenish tinge, with mottlings of purple. His unseeing eyes were squeezed shut, bulging behind lids that almost seemed to be sealed over. Unmindful of facial expressions, as the blind often are, he seemed to have a terrible snarl always about his lips, exposing his gums and a surprisingly strong looking set of teeth.

“Once he started to play his talent was evident, but it was not to my liking at all. The sounds he produced on his guitar I can hardly credit as music; his voice fluctuated between an eerie falsetto warble and an impossibly low croaking or gasping sound. Many of lines were delivered in some harsh language or dialect completely unknown to me. Those words which he sang that I could discern have shaken me to my very core.”

From the short story “Blind Mugwump Johnson and the Cooloo Blues” 

August 20th is the birthday of horror author H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937). I have been a fan of his writings since I was a teenager. It’s amused me to watch his influence spread over the years, becoming mainstream commercial to the extent you could go on a Cthuhlu-themed shopping spree, if you wanted to.

Lovecraft invented an underlying myth for a series of short stories he produced during the early decades of the twentieth century. In his nightmare world, prehistoric Earth had been colonized by monstrous demonic aliens. These evil beings were still here, slumbering under oceans and desolate wastelands, waiting for their time to rise again. Encounters with these creatures or their human accomplices led to madness, death and destruction.

Many other authors have built on the haunted universe Lovecraft suggested. Here in Phoenix, H.P Lovecraft’s Birthday was a performance art event for many years, held at various venues. I took part in these shows, doing readings of a series of short stories I wrote, my contributions to the Lovecraftian Mythos.

These stories are collected in an ebook available on Amazon. The Cthulhu Blues and Other Stories.

My wife and I made a book trailer for it, which had us shrieking – with laughter.

The painting currently on the cover is a Lovecraft inspired painting I made in 2001; “Tendrils of the Dreamer.” However, when Michele Bledsoe and I first conceived the book, I decided I was going to create a new painting for the cover design.

I was going to produce a portrait of the character Blind Mugwump Johnson, the mysterious and sinister Delta blues singer. I started right away. However, as Michele assembled the e-book, I couldn’t get the painting right. It happens sometimes. Here is an earlier version, long before I quit working on it:

 

I covered this base coat with purples and unbleached titanium and then piled on more green, and redrew the mouth. It just wasn’t happening. Rather than delay the book, we went with another image, and the work in progress hung on the wall of our studio for months, unfinished.

Recently Michele and I started collaborating on paintings. After we finished our first one, she had another idea of how we could share a work. She asked if she could put her hand to finishing “Blind Mugwump Johnson.” She didn’t want to change it, just tweak it a little. I loved the idea.

She brought it to a wonderful resolution. With a light touch, she brought substance and subtlety to the image, and made it complete.

My next book is going to be “Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization.”  We are in the final editing stages now, we want it out this summer if possible.

But once that’s all complete, I look forward to returning to the shadowy depths spawned by Lovecraft, and discovering some more stories to tell about them.