Monday, July 12, 2010

Thanks for playing

Until further notice, posting is suspended on this site. Feel free to browse old entries, though, you may or may not find them interesting. Toodles!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Art Director's Club

We'll be whooping it up NYC style this evening at the Art Director's Club (ADC). They, along with the Social Media Society, are hosting "The Art of Social Media" as part of Internet Week. The ADC is at 106 West 29th Street and you can buy tickets here although there are only a few left...
About 15-20 pieces from the Portrait Painted series will be up along with a video montage of the series. Also, the hilarious Justin Gignac will be showing some of his "Nudes" from Chat Roulette Did I mention music and free booze?
Ping me if you'd like to go as I do have a few comp passes remaining.
Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Back from a brief respite

When I was a kid, my mother told me if I didn't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. I am not very good at adhering to that virtue, but when I do, I feel much better about myself. It's not the exact reason I haven't posted anything for a while (although it is part) sadly, I just forget.
I wish I had a better reason for neglecting this site because to be honest, this blog was started to chart as much of the portrait painted project as we could. However, not everything we've experienced along the way should be shared, because some of it has been painful and a small part has just been downright ugly.
But 18 months in, let's reflect on some of the good things, because perspective is always important to keep in the center. So here are a few things that have added to the success of this project or speaks to the success of this project somehow, in no particular order:
1. Speaking to 1st Fans at the Brooklyn Art Museum
2. Group show and panelist at Yale U
3. Many new great friends and growing relationships with artists and art lovers alike
4. Speaking to grad students at SCAD
5. Solo show at Denise Bibro, NY
6. Solo show at Edelman, NY
7. Solo show and residency with Galerie Myra in France
8. Upcoming show at Art Director's Club
9. Lots of press
10. Brooklyn Arts Council/ DCA Grant
11. Successful fund raising for studio space via Kickstarter
12. GREAT Studio in Sunset Park thanks to 11. and 12.
13. Radar/Workbook Projects mini-documentary on project
I am sure I am forgetting a few things...but that's a pretty decent list I think.

I will tell you that going from near obscurity to a relatively modicum level of recognition is really quite bizarre--granted it's not me, it's Matt going through the process, but as his spouse and constant sounding board... Let me just say for the people who are better known for much more important things, I don't know how you do it. The amount of work that goes into managing an image and all the different types of relationships that need catering to, it's incredibly challenging. I've always thought I was good at being discernible and level headed about most things, to be flexible where needed and firm where needed. Not perfect, but at least aware that different people require different approaches, but to say those characteristics have been utilized and tested over the past 18 months is an understatement by 10 degrees.
Over the next six months, we will be wrapping up many aspects of this project and moving on to other things. I imagine this blog will also be put to rest, but who knows things change quickly around here...

Friday, April 2, 2010


We arrived in Vence on Sunday, March 28, 2010 to blue skies and a very warm welcome by our host and gallery owner/residency sponsor, Jacques Putzeys. To say that he has been kind and gracious is not enough, but we will thank him personally every chance we get. The south of France, spoiled in light and beauty, is where we have spent the past six days and where Matt will continue to live for the remainder of April after we leave on the 13th. The gallery is located in the historic area of the city of Vence--filled with galleries and fresh food markets and even an old Roman cobblestone street. A tight fitted spiral staircase leads you to four floors above the street level gallery (which opened with Matt's work yesterday). Each floor contains one living space and the third, fourth, and fifth floor make up the apartment by which we eat, sleep, and well, paint.
My french is getting us by, barely. After six days, I am feeling a bit exhausted at trying to translate small conversations and trying to think in french. There are a few English speakers that give us a bit of reprieve but I wonder what Matt will do when I a gone. Lock himself in the studio I suppose. Otto is curious about the language and I've been trying to teach him a few things to say to the children so he can play along with them but he is intimidated and needs a bit more time. Astrid is not sleeping well, which means I am not sleeping well, which means I am kind of cranky. Though, I was able to walk around a little bit yesterday and enjoy the quiet of the afternoon. That was nice.
We have visited Grasse (dirty) to see the perfumery museum. I think that and the chapel with three giant Rubens paintings are the only reasons for visiting Grasse. We also stopped in Pont du Loup to visit the candy factory. There isn't much else to see there. Soon I will take the kids to Nice and we will also go to Monaco and Tourettes Sur Loup
This weekend we will visit with gallery friends and Matt's sister from Germany and family. We are very much looking forward to meeting her children and letting the kids play together. It is a long awaited reunion with she and Matt and the first time we will meet as well. I will write more soon...Au revoir!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Portrait Project Changes

In the coming weeks, the portrait painted project will implement some significant changes. First and foremost, the focus will shift from individual portraits (Phase I) to recreating historical paintings with individuals sourced from social networking sites (Phase II).

When I first started this project, I had no idea it would grow to the size and scale it has. But we went with it, setting a soft goal of 200 portraits seemed reasonable at the pace I was going, and since I was funding it on my own I could scale it down if time/money became an issue. As 2009 went on, I started thinking about the idea of recreating historical paintings with a modern twist – still sourced from the same participants of the portrait group - and started fundraising through Kickstarter, as well as seeking out grants to help support this new phase of the project financially. The paintings needed to be bigger and my closet home studio just wasn’t big enough and all the money raised would go towards a larger space.

The fundraising through Kickstarter was successful (thanks to supporters big and small) and I was awarded a small grant through the Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC) to continue Phase II of the project through 2010. Winsor & Newton came aboard as a materials sponsor and in November 2009, I was able to move into a studio space in Sunset Park. And, and obtained a residency in Vence, France for the month of April at Galerie Myra.

As most of you know, when I started this project, I was also a stay-at-home dad with a gorgeous baby girl (I am of course biased). I must admit, as much as I loved being at home with her and working out of the house, she needed more interaction with kids her own age and we were able to find her a spot in a wonderful little bi-lingual school not far from my studio. She’s learning Chinese and making wonderful friends and trust me when I say that when she runs to greet her teachers at drop off in the morning, I know we’ve made the right choice.

Enough about me, what does this mean for the group, etc? Essentially, I am scaling way back. It’s too much to manage two pages of friends a fan page and a group page. All were created to manage a quick influx of people excited about the opportunity of being painted, and that’s great, but it’s also exhausting. So I’ve had to make a choice. All the individual self-portraits in the project, with the exception of a few buyers, were done for free. Phase II of the project is financially supported (as in 80% of basic costs are covered through Kickstarter, BAC, and Winsor & Newton). As such, I owe it to the supporters to put forth my best artistic efforts to focus on that part of the project and see it to its end.

I have a few portraits that I am working on now, as well as the second painting of Phase II. Once those portraits are complete and posted, I will focus more on Phase II. Of course, if you are dying to have your portrait painted, I would not hesitate to be commissioned for one. AND, the completed portraits are definitely available to buy.

If you’d like to stick around and see how the second phase of the project unfolds, I encourage you to do so. I will still send calls for participation in Phase II through the group and profile page.

This past year has been a great adventure, and I appreciate all the kind words thrown my direction—even the bad words. That’s all for now—back to painting.


Monday, January 25, 2010

First painting of Phase II complete

I feel like I’ve been living like a hermit for the past few months. Better to save you from my misery and post less than post at all. After nearly three month of languishing over The Feast of Bacchus, it is complete. Nine portraits in one 5’ X 6’ piece, this particular feast is filled with volunteers from the portrait painted project and I’d like to thank each of them for participating. Rather than call them out individually, I’ll just say “you know who you are and thanks for being the first— of what I hope to be many—guinea pigs.”

For those of you who know me personally, you know I really hate waxing intellectual about art. I don’t feel you need a master’s degree to paint (obvious since I don’t have one) nor do I feel you need to know anything about art to appreciate and talk about it. Viewers should be able to look at something and say “I like this” or “this is fucking garbage” and that should be sufficient. However, what I would like for people to take away from any experience of seeing a painting they enjoy is a desire to see more, to learn more, to be inspired more. More. More. More.

History has left behind some fantastic artists and thus fantastic paintings. The original painting, found here, by Velazquez is by far one of my favorites from the Baroque painters. This painting is generally referred to as “The Drunkards” and the reason I chose this as the first painting in this part of the series is that Bacchus, in the world of mythology, is known as the god of wine, propagator of the grapevine and a provider of joy. Alcohol was then (as now) a much beloved rescue for the common man in the street, and as such Bacchus was considered to brighten the lives of ordinary people. It seemed fitting as a first choice for a project focused on painting the “every person” (I know I too grow tired of the quotations, but bare with me) enjoying a bit of rescue.

Of course, the other relevance I see is that as the individuals in the original are depicted congregating to eat, drink and be merry, so do we congregate daily on such social networking sites as Facebook, Twitter, etc. Yeah, yeah ok, so we don’t exactly eat or drink online, but in a figurative sense, we do. Coming together on a daily basis with people we may or may not know in life and soak up the excesses via an online social networking so to do we feast.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

An honest, top 10 list of lessons learned in 2009

2009 really was an amazing year for us at Held Studios, but it's always important for me to reflect on the things learned along the way in order to keep perspective on where we are today.

Let me set the stage for this post with a nod to a girl who's name I can't remember. She emailed us about half way through the year to ask Matt for advice on how to become a successful artist.

Right. Ok.

I am sure the response went something like this: "Paint everyday, and everyday you can't paint draw. Network. Do something that is relevant and will get people interested in your work. Seek out criticism from others, it's the only way you'll get better. And then, tell me what you think being successful means."

She wrote back, said thank you and that she would do just that. I don't think we heard from her again, but that's not why I make the reference. All the things mentioned above are true for most artistic endeavors - just substitute "paint" for write, dance, act...But defining success is really the most important piece of it all.

If you define success by consistently selling work, or being represented, or getting published, landing a part you really wanted, receiving a grant, or a performing in a solo show, then strive for that "success".

Some people may think this list is too honest, or maybe unproductive, but it is what it is. The reason I put it out there is because of one little virtue my parents tried to instill in me: humility. So take it for what it's worth, but here is our honest top 10 list of lessons learned from our success in 2009.

1: All the press in the world does not put food on the table. People have to buy your work in order to make money.
2: The art world is a fickle, fickle planet.
3: Even famous artists still have laundry to do on Saturday mornings, most of them do it themselves.
4: Trying to make money making art is not for the faint of heart.
5: Asking your fans for money can be incredibly rewarding and really frustrating.
6: The goal you set forth a month ago that seemed so easy to achieve might fail - not because it was easy, but because you can't control the universe and it's important to know that's ok!
7: Creativity is only half the operation. Remember you are a business, even when people treat you like you are twelve, you are still a business.
8: Everybody wants something for free. (see lesson #1 for emphasis)
9: Sometimes it's better to go to bed, wake up and start over.
10: Success is not defined in the same way for everyone, you have to define it for yourself.

I am sure there is much more I could add to this list. It would never be fully comprehensive or exhaustive because as we go along, we learn more and more.

2010 could be better than ever, but not if we don't set forth a new set of goals, keep lessons learned at an arm's reach and remember that success is measured by ones own ideals, not those of others.

Best of luck and good fortune to all of you this year!