Friday, September 18, 2009


I have the distinct pleasure of meeting with a group of like-minded, artistic people on a semi-regular basis. We call our group, YAK (you can make whatever acronym from that you'd like). We chitchat, have drinks, and gossip. Most importantly, however, we have directed, topical discussions. We decide upon a question to discuss prior to our meeting. Upon our next get-together we're expected to have an answer or at least the ability to engage in an intelligent discussion on the chosen topic.

Of the proposed topics for our next meeting one of them in particular struck a chord with me. A group member asked,

"Has anybody ever sat back and thought how ridiculous the things we call art and create are? (Matthew Barney, Kara Walker, Tara Donovan- strange sculptures, performance Art...)."

It's an understandable question. I went off on a little different direction than the one she had in mind, but her suggestion sparked something in me.

This is part of my answer to my fellow YAK member plus a bit of my added pondering:
Often times I'll find myself standing in front of a canvas, or out taking photos and ask myself, "Just why the Hell do I do this?". It doesn't make sense when you look at it from a strictly literal point of view. Then again I think when you look at any of the Arts in the harsh light of Literalism things can look a little silly. Walking around on stage wearing makeup and sporting odd costumes reading words from a book the actors themselves didn't write all the while being told how to move around and recite by some guy... OR standing in front of an easel using little sticks with hair on the ends to cover a piece of cloth with tinted oil. It does seem a bit pointless. I know that point of view does indeed exist. There are people in the world who have no concept of how to appreciate something that doesn't break down into perfectly logical little bits. People who look at a brilliant painting and say, "but what does it do?" People who lack the soul to see beauty for what it is. In short... Accounting Majors.
Naturally I'm kidding, but many of you know people like this. Perhaps Art isn't for everyone.

Everything looks silly when presented in strictly literal terms. Even accounting. Seriously, what's the purpose of chasing around numbers that, in the end, don't really make anyone happy? Just an example. I don't want to get flooded with comments and emails about me disparaging the Accounting field (sorry, Suz). I'm just using that as a broad, stereotype-fraught example. The same could be said for parenting. What's the point in creating more people that will do nothing but create more people who's purpose is to create more people, ad infinitum? Species preservation? Why bother if that's all it's for.

See what I mean?

Seriously though... What's the purpose in anything? All said and done I guess for me it's in the invisible bits. The intangible. The sense of accomplishment you get when you finish a painting. The exhilaration of Opening Night. The satisfaction of watching your numbers work out perfectly on a spreadsheet. The sheer thrill of seeing your child change and grow into the person they're going to become. Frankly, in my book, they're all the same and they're all One. It's not about Happiness. It's about a sense of purpose and the fulfillment of that purpose... whatever it is. When people do that it helps us all to grow a little bit more. Even if you don't understand what it is they're doing... Cristo, I'm looking at you here.

I'm thankful everyday that I was lucky enough to know what that purpose is for me. Some people go their whole lives and never even consider it. Have you considered what it is that you're bringing to the table?

Until next time,



Going Back to the Table

I know I posted my painting, "That First Step" last week, but truth be told... it wasn't truly finished. After letting the paint dry I noticed some spots that looked off and some where the paint was a bit thin. Plus there were scale issues with the car immediately behind the primary figure. Needless to say my fine sensibilities (read as "potentially OCD behavior") couldn't let this pass.

I did get them fixed to my satisfaction and as my final step, signed the piece last night. I guess it has something to say about "going back to the table" which is (you gamblers out there already know this) a big No No. Normally I hold to a policy sticking with my decision as to whether or not a particular piece is finished. I think most of us have spent a fair amount of time second-guessing ourselves. It starts when we're young. I have a number of more or less unpleasant childhood memories that involve taking tests in school. I remember looking at my answer, rethinking my answer, changing my answer, then finding out I was right the first time (insert picture of me slapping my forehead). It's a common enough occurrence especially with those damnable standardized fill-in-the-dot tests.

So I went back to the table, but I managed to fix the parts that were bugging me and left a few others that I decided were far to minor to bother anyone else. I managed to do it without putting myself in the position of having to fix something else. I'm always wary of overworking a piece. Normally I wouldn't recommend it, but sometimes you've got to give in to your impulses.

Lots more work coming up. Can't wait to start posting.



Friday, September 11, 2009

Tweeting & The Mark

He blogs two days in a row?? A rarity for me these days, I know. The reason for this special event?? It's because I'm very proud to make the official announcement that I've been added on at The Mark Fine Art Gallery & Studio in Stuart, Florida as a gallery Artist! Check out their site and see some of the amazing artists with whom I'll have the distinct pleasure of exhibiting. I can't wait to get things going with them. I'm hoping one day soon I'll be able to buzz down there for an in-person visit.

The really amazing thing about this for me is that the initial contact was done entirely via Twitter. When I first created my @RobReevesStudio Twitter identity I immediately started searching to see artists and galleries. I was surprised by the number of Art galleries around the world that had already adopted "tweeting" as part of their daily commerce and I was determined to make the most of it. Within 15 minutes of signing up and posting some links to my work I was contacted by @flysupes, co-owner of @eastvillagebooks (sadly no longer with us). Within a day I'd managed to get a show with them. Since that time I've gotten in touch with a number of artists and galleries, and made a few sales. The most recent of which was the sale of a t-shirt I created for @LVGreenfield on the Artist-community site, Redbubble. I don't know if this is common, but I'd say the few minutes it took me to sign up was well worth it.

I know I've posted about Twitter before, and for those of you who would say Twitter is silly and full of random blab... well, you're right. But then again so's TV and you don't see any shortage of people lining up to advertise themselves and their products on it. I choose to use it as a tool for marketing my work and for spouting random brain droppings... which I like to call "wisdom". As with anything, your mileage may vary.

Until next time



Thursday, September 10, 2009

That First Step

This week I've got some thoughts on the Law of Gravity and the nature of Failure. Long story short: My youngest son fell off his bike, knocked out a couple of his front teeth and chipped a couple others. Thankfully they were baby-teeth and he was otherwise uninjured. The reason I bring this up is that his reaction to it once he'd recovered from the initial shock both surprised and impressed me. The very next day he was wearing his injury like a merit badge proudly showing his dental trainwreck to anyone brave enough to look. He's impatient to get back on the bike and ride again. Perhaps this time he'll keep both hands on the handlebars.

I've always told my kids that you learn and grow through your failures. Success is nice and it keeps you going, but you never learn so much as when you crash and burn. I beamed with pride at his willingness to put his fear aside, pick himself up and jump back in the saddle. It's a lesson many people forget as they get older and their failures become, in some instances, less traumatic. The great success stories of our world are typically this: a series of failures experienced by a person with dogged determination and a clear vision of what they want out of Life. I know this sounds like so much motivational claptrap and I suppose it is, but that doesn't make it any less true. I've failed many times. Sometimes it gets me down, but the difference is that it never keeps me down. I've been called bull-headed, stubborn, and downright dumb, but I don't let it stop me. Sometimes you just have to be dumb enough to keep going down your own road despite all the evidence telling you to stop... to turn back... take an easier route. I don't think that means that you should be unwilling to change. You never know where your path will lead you and I think you have to be open to that.

That's why I'm calling this latest piece, "That First Step" (not quite finished). The image shows a figure carrying a parcel of some sort poised to take a step off a curb and into the street while a car approaches and a background figure (presumably) looks on. You can't tell if the figure has the crossing light or if they're stepping into oncoming traffic while looking the wrong way. I'll let you draw your own conclusions. For me the painting is symbolic of a change in my work that embodies some of my inner fear of failure and my fear of people being witness to them. Although these days when I make a major blunder in public I tend to take a bow instead of get flustered. It's more fun that way and it keeps people guessing. I've put my fear aside and have taken steps to get back on the saddle I fell off of some years ago...

Take a moment today to reflect on the things you've really screwed up. Take another moment to celebrate them, take the lessons you need to learn from them, and let them go. Then... take that first step.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Dissatisfaction comes in waves. That's been my experience at least. You'll wake up one day and find it everywhere: in your car, your government, your wardrobe, your breakfast cereal, your job, etc, etc, ad nauseum. We all feel this way from time to time. When the wave comes it dominates your field of vision. I think it's the subconscious' way telling you that you need to make a change in your life or that you've lost track of your desired direction. Dissatisfied people are the ones the effect change on themselves and the world around them... if they're inclined to answer the call. The rest let it pass... push it down... look in the mirror and shrug... cling to the safety of a comfortable, quiet existance. "Oh well..." is the battle cry of successive generations of our species.

If you can't tell I've been ruminating. It's good tho. To avoid going on a rant I'll say that while I don't currently feel the wave upon me I have recently and have been working on making the kind of changes that will effect the course of my existence. I've started spending my mornings saying "Thank You" for everything I can think of. While this may sound a little like "The Secret" it isn't. I'm merely trying to start my day with a reminder of why I do what I do. It helps put things in perspective and helps keep me thinking about ways to move forward. It's the dissatisfaction that keeps me acting upon those thoughts.

That being said I've started submitting my work to some galleries and have already received one favorable response. I'm finally acting on my desire to teach. Teaching was one of the things I had in mind when I started on at UNI. Sadly I don't have the credentials to teach at a university or in a public school (totally my own fault), but I have the experience which is, to me, far more important than a piece of paper I paid to get. I'm putting together a couple of class proposals for the Des Moines Social Club. I'd love to teach oil painting, but drawing may be a better way to start. It's less messy, less expensive, and requires less hardware (ie: easels, solvents, cleaning facilities). Plus I think people should be well-grounded in drawing basics before they get involved in painting. I'm a little traditional in that sense, but I think a good artist needs a good foundation. Perhaps in the process of working my way though this I can think of a way to make a course in painting work.

Lastly I've been rethinking the direction of my work. I've posted my thoughts on this subject before. I feel like I'm turning a corner in what I want to say with my paintings. I've touched on some of these ideas in other ways in other works, but I'm taking new directions in terms of composition, use of color, and overall tone. I've been getting back to my roots looking to artists I haven't thought about in a while like Donald Sultan, Alberto Giacometti and Wolf Kahn.

Have you been feeling the pang of dissatisfaction in your own life? If so what are you doing about it?

Until next time