Typo Alert - in the closing to my video, where it says "therefore if I do reach my goal" DO should be DON'T.
Greetings -- My name is Shawn Thornton. I'm a Philadelphia based artist (mostly), but I also have been living and working at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Central Maine for the past thirteen consecutive summers.
What this is about -- I was recently accepted into a five week artist residency program this fall at Ox-Bow School of Art located on the south-eastern side of Lake Michigan, in Saugatuck, MI. I'd really like to attend this residency because I've been working hard all summer long at Skowhegan sustaining other artists in the capacity of 'baker' (not artist), so I'm hungry to spend some time focusing on my own work this fall.
As an artist, being chosen for a gallery exhibition, a grant, a residency, etc. is difficult and competitive, and can seem very random. So when I do get accepted to something or win an award, I believe it's a good idea to seize the opportunity.
I especially find that I'm in a strange position as far as these things go, because i have a fairly unorthodox way of working that isn't necessarily compatible to the way the art world typically operates.
For example, I spend an incredibly long time on my paintings, partly because everything is done by hand in oil paint, without using any rulers or measuring devices; I'd estimate I spend a thousand or more hours on a single, solitary piece and it can take years of labor intensive work for me to finish something. Therefore I don't have a large output.
In my experience, that's not something galleries are typically looking for. Not to mention, how do you even begin to put a price on something like that considering how much time it took to make. And I don't really know how it looks on applications either, having only completed two paintings in the past five years ("Witch Doctors at the Eye of the Solar Epoch" 2008-10 and "Bramastra for a New Age (UFO/Time Machine)" 2010-13) no matter how labor intensive and intricate they may be - if that is something that's even fully appreciated, or ever taken into consideration. Also my paintings aren't that big.
But in dissecting one of my small paintings, you could arguably conceive of having ten or so, successful large scale paintings in them, each taken from just a small detailed section. I believe they really capture the viewer's attention for that reason and you could easily spend hours and hours looking at one of them, always finding something new.
Back to Ox-Bow -- I plan on using my time at Ox-Bow working on a recent series of six oil paintings I started last fall. While I'm there I'm sure I'll also be sewing, building things, collecting stuff, playing music, performing - all of which inform my paintings and aspire to someday stand on their own as fully realized works of art (maybe this will be a good time for a breakthrough like that to happen). Attending this residency would also allow me to build momentum towards my studio practice for the coming year by providing me with a solid chunk of uninterrupted time to really tap into my work.
The paintings I'm currently working on are mostly in their formal stages right now. Getting into that initial phase in a painting entails laying down the generally more opaque and simpler, larger structures that allow for the details, narrative and meaning to begin to emerge - basically all the magic. For me, these beginning stages are the grueling, but super crucial elements in the compositions before they start to resonate with a certain vibrant potency - I often think of my paintings as small batteries that I'm filling with energy vis-a-vis the obsessive, but well-thought-out detail.
The next stage is what ultimately sustains the discipline and passion that it takes to make one of my paintings; the stage where the picture plain begins to fracture from the growing density of overlapping images and different - sometimes conflicting - modes of representation. The result is cerebral, illuminating, and can be unnerving, but it draws you in for scrupulous examination. I believe this is what ultimately makes my paintings really interesting and unique, and is what propels me forward into realizing the totality of each piece.
If you decide you'd like to purchase a print of my work through this Kickstarter campaign, your support will go towards art materials, travel and shipping expenses, rent money to pay for my vacant room back in Philly, and for some of the cost of attending the residency - all of which exceeds the goal amount of my campaign by quite a bit. So don't worry if we surpass the amount I'm asking for in this campaign, it'll go to good use. For instance, I would like to work with a print shop that does silk screening and make an edition of prints using that technique.
Thank you so much!... in advance for contributing to my campaign and for getting me to Ox-Bow this fall. I really appreciate it!
Video Credits: John Harlow http://vimeo.com/91756159
Music Credits: The Museum of Kind Man http://casualacidtea.com
Witch Doctors at the Eye of the Solar Epoch
Brahmastra for a New Age (UFO/Time Machine)
Risks and challenges
Being an artist in every capacity can be a risk and a challenge. But the main challenge I'm faced with is that I've had ongoing health problems as a result of surgery and treatments I had on my brain several year ago to remove a tumor from my pineal gland - which has also been referred to, or thought of as the Third Eye, the Seat of the Soul, Ajna Chakra - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pineal_gland - and from experiencing a prolonged period of misdiagnosis, during which time I was constantly battling a host of frightening and painful effects the tumor growth - and subsequently, the misguided treatments - were having on physical and mental well-being.
What I commonly deal with now is long periods of low energy, debilitating brain fog, and systemic pain throughout my body.These symptoms typically last for hours to weeks at a time. It is very difficult for me to get anything done when this is going on, but I always just try to push through it as best I can. So the best thing for me to do I've found, is to just take preventive measures and hope things will improve. I typically try to exercise daily and always try to eat well - which the later can be a challenge when I'm not cooking for myself, like when I'm at a residency. But in my past experiences, the food is always pretty well planned out at these things. So I'll certainly be keeping up with that stuff when I'm at Ox-Bow.
Everything is already set to go with the prints, so there definitely shouldn't be any obstacles in delivering all the rewards to contributors of this project by mid October.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (32 days)