By the 1980s, I had been making art already for fifteen years when I learned there was a gallery on Madison Avenue that, once every month, hosted an open house for unknown artists. It was a chance to show your work to a curator. If the curator liked it, a show might follow. Armed with a selection of slides, I waited nervously until it was my turn to show what I had done.

The curator looked attentively at every image, and. perplexed, turned to me and said: “ Your work is interesting but you don’t have a style. You need a style.”


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I was reading John Elderfield’s excellent book, “The Drawings of Henri Matisse,” and came across a Matisse quotation that attracted my attention. Matisse said that In his earliest works he
“found something that was always the same which at first glance I thought to be monotonous repetition. It was the mark of my personality which appeared the same no matter what different states of mind I happened to have passed through.”

Finding and then defining this “monotonous quality” is not an easy task.

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The Sunday, April 8th NYT Book Review offers the following quotation from author Jim Harrison who died at age 78 last month. Harrison eloquently describes the discomfort that is intrinsic to the creative process.

" In a lifetime of walking in the woods, plains, gullies, mountains, I have found that the body has no more vulnerable sense than being lost...  It's happened often enough that I don't feel panic. I feel absolutely vulnerable and recognize it's the best state of mind for a writer whether in the woods or in the studio. Your mind feels a rush of images and ideas. You have acquired humility by accident. Feeling bright-eyed, confident and arrogant doesn't do this job unless you're writing the memoir of a narcissist. You are far better off being lost in your work and writing over your head. You don't know where you are as a point of view unless you go beyond yourself. It has been said that there is an intense similarity in people's biographies. It's our dreams and visions that separate us. You don't want to be writing unless you're giving your life to it."

Image below is from But a Bubble, artist book by Marc Shanker, published by Gravity Free Press.

Alone  , Drypoint. 8 x 10.

Alone, Drypoint. 8 x 10.