Rose Wolf

I did this painting a few days ago and have had it propped in the studio, where I stare at it occasionally and wonder if it’s cool or the furriest damn thing I’ve ever done in my life.

The jury is still out, but I have decided that I rather like it. And the textures make me happy.

11 x 14, mixed media

Original for sale, send a note, prints available as always, yadda yadda.

In other news, I finished the script for Dragonbreath 9, aka “Toothbreath.” (Remember, those of you who had them, how horrifying it was to lose your retainer? Yeah, it’s about that. And packrats. And a concrete lawn goose named Mister Honkers. And Danny’s other grandfather.)

I have, as you may guess from the above (and a couple others kicking around the studio that need to be scanned) been back in a painting mood, having finished the art for Dreambreath last week. In pursuit of this, I picked up some interesting looking books on mixed media, two of which were quite good, and one of which was…um.

I am not going to mention the name, because I try not to be unkind and I am not a reviewer of any sort and I would not want to hurt the artist’s feelings, but dear god. The art is quite lovely, but the writing verges on the criminal. They say that Thoth, the ibis-headed god, brought the gift of writing to humankind, and after about twenty pages, I expected him to poke his beak around the doorframe and say “Okay, kids, if you’re going to do THAT with it, I’m taking it back to the store!”

One quotes: “Once the layers of the tactile landscape begin to build, excavating back into the multi-dimensional surface sparks curiosity, encouraging further inspection and even participation in the messaging.”

(I think this means “Build up layers, then carve back through them. It looks neat.” But I could be lost in the messaging. Still, that does look neat, just be sure you’re using a tough enough substrate, like Masonite, because there is nothing more depressing than tearing a hole in your painting because you didn’t let the layer dry all the way and it’s still soggy and peels off in nasty ragged gobs and you scream and tear your hair and throw it into the trash and go eat potato chips and sulk, NOT THAT THIS HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ME.)

I know artist statements are hard. Believe me, I know. But there is no excuse for “Throughout my pictorial idiom, I employ a concept-based message-driven approach…”* Unless these words actually beat you with a tire-iron, there is no reason to treat them so unkindly. (The actual description of the piece went on for two more pages and involved chakras, the devil, multiple highly significant things, and more layers of meaning than a class full of English majors locked in a room with a sheet of LSD and a copy of Moby Dick. It was a pretty neat painting, and I expect it’d be cool in person, but seriously. That’s a lot of verbiage to hang on one painting. You might need to find a stud.)

Anyway, I am sure the artist is a lovely human being, and many of the tutorials look excellent, but…well…If you find yourself writing a tutorial (and many of you probably have, or will) then, for the love of all that is holy, clear lucid prose. Phrases like “pictorial idiom” are extremely specialized tools, and if you use them to hammer nails, you will find yourself with a badly bent idiom and some very wonky nails.

Meanwhile, one of the other books included the sidebar “Tip: Don’t tell your viewer what to think.”  So, y’know. There’s that. Probably true for people complaining about writing as well as for writers themselves.


*I assume this means “My pictures are about stuff.” I could be way off base, though. My pictorial idiom mostly involves hamster-driven concepts, so I’m probably not the best authority on any of it.

3 thoughts on “Rose Wolf

  1. Wolf Lahti says:

    Academia still, sadly, teaches that good writing is florid and overblown: Why use two words to say what you can express in twenty? If it’s easy to understand, it couldn’t possibly be important.

    It is a difficult thing to unlearn but essential if you want to, you know, actually communicate.

    If more writers wrote like you, not only would concepts be relayed efficiently but people would have a helluva lot more fun reading.

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