What to expect
Robert Genn June 11, 2010 Dear Rodney,Letting folks into my studio is getting more and more problematical. It has to do with my embarrassment about the accumulated mess--the build-up of unfinished and substandard paintings--as well as the sentimental bric-a-brac and clutter on every surface, including the floor. As well as being recommended for inclusion in the current TV feature "The Hoarders," it's also been suggested that I go for counselling. My condition was noted last Thursday when a stretch limo arrived in our driveway. Six recent art-school graduates filed into my studio and stood respectfully in the limited spaces available. As they grimaced into the gridlock, they seemed to be asking if this kind of future might be waiting for them. They were a jolly, optimistic group. We talked about work habits, painting in series, types of easels, use of photography, art dealer relationships. "You must have a very active mind," said a stylish young woman as she knocked over a piece of Parthenon marble I had liberated some years ago. A young man with a van Dyke beard and a box of Tic-Tacs asked what I thought new artists these days might now expect. Happy to draw attention away from my sloth, I slipped into guru mode: "You will not always get what you think you deserve, but you will quite often get what you negotiate." "You will find that you'll work longer hours than your friends who have full time, demanding jobs." "You will find your best education is the education you give yourself." "If you're lucky you will fall in love with some interesting processes and begin to think you own them." I was going to go on with even more lofty stuff, when one of the grads asked what I thought about the future of neat and tidy studios. It was meant as a light interjection, and it had the effect of causing a brief round of mirth. Several of my visitors were staring at my paint-table and the heap of nearly-dead tubes awaiting their final squeeze. "You will be surprised to find you can always get more paint out of a tube," I said. It seemed like a good thought at the time. Best regards, Robert PS: There were a lot of questions requiring numerical answers, all of which I guesstimated: "How many paintings do you sign in a year?" (250) "How many days a year do you work in your studio?" (200) "How many on location?" (40) "How many galleries handle your work?" (15) "What percentage of starts do you abandon?" (20%) Esoterica: Over the last decade or so, many art students have demanded more from their schools. Facing similar financial burdens and debts as in other fields, today's graduates seem better informed of technical and practical concerns. Many have finely-honed skills and media mastery. Others come out with a keen curiosity as to how the artist-dealer-patron axis works. Notwithstanding the mild belittlement of apparent disorder, renewed respect for figurative and realistic art is in the air.