Wednesday, December 31, 2008

15 Years Young

Saturday, January 24th, one of Los Angeles' foremost urban art galleries, New Image Art, celebrates its 15th year in the business. Featuring the talents of artists like the Date Farmers, Bast, Shepard Fairey, Ed Templeton,Megan Whitmarsh, Kelsey Brookes, and MANY more, the West Hollywood gallery has been a pioneer of contemporary, street-inspired art. All the great forces will be represented in the anniversary show, which opens with a bang from 7pm-11pm. Let's party like it's 1994, shall we? Check out the details below.

New Image Art
7910 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Thanks, Patrick!

So...Patrick Romero from Los Angeles was fabulous enough to shoot several great images of his beloved (er....) city as his answer to Assignment #2 (posted in previous blog). Bless you, Patrick! :) Take a peek at the way he captures the place he calls home:

Friday, December 26, 2008

Assignment #2: In Your "Projects"

...that was a rap reference. You think I don't know rap? Anyway, I truly hope you took the time to read our profile of LA painter Nick Phail (see previous post). Since Nick looks to his surroundings as a source of inspiration, he and I thought it only made sense for the next I Make Picture assignment to be one in which you did the same. So here it is:

Assignment #2

Create an image that is symbolic of your neighborhood

Lookie here, I took a few Holgas of surrounding parts of Los Angeles as my answer to the new assignment. Holgas are my new pet passion, but you don't have to take photographs for the project (though that certainly might be an easy way to tackle this one). All mediums are welcome, and we at I Make Picture are anxiously awaiting your responses. Remember, email jpeg's of whatever you create to

Featured Artist: Nick McPhail

There's plenty of eye candy in Los Angeles when you're a boy from Laingsburg, Michigan (as a girl from Wisconsin, I should know). The seedy shops of Hollywood Boulevard, the seemingly endless parade of strangers, the homeless, and the hookers are notorious fixtures within this city of angels, but 26-year-old McPhail, a painting/ceramics graduate from Michigan State University, ignored such staples of good ol' LA in his juxtaposingly desolate urban landscapes of the place he now calls home. The eroding hillsides dotted with candy-colored, ranch-style homes, murals of graffiti, and wildly overgrown brush are just some of the things you could expect to see among the young artist's large, oil-on-wood works.

Taking a cue from action painters like Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and Jackson Pollock, Mc Phail's painterly scenes of Los Angeles' eastside (his home and studio are located in its Silver Lake neighborhood) explore the properties and possibilities of his medium du jour: oil paint. Decidedly more representational than his mentor Richard Diebenkorn, yet often more expressionist than David Hockney, McPhail's work fits snuggly into the category of California painters, yet the artist aims for his canvases to transcend the locale. In his own words, he describes his compositions as "both intimate and barren; places that are out of the way or might lie in-between what is noteworthy...I am interested in conveying a sense of place an time, not only my neighborhood...but a reflection of America; vast and unpopulated."

For the very first installment of I Make Picture's artist Q&A, McPhail answered our soon-to-be-imfamous "12 Questions" to give a little more insight to his life and work.

12 Questions: Nick McPhail

Q: At what moment did you first feel like an artist?
A: I guess it was probably when I stopped being embarrassed and stopped making excuses about my work. I think when someone is ready own it, and not worry about other people's reaction to the work, they really become an artist. This was only a couple years ago for me. I started getting very serious about my art and my paintings just got a lot more interesting. I didn't really care if people liked it or not... to a certain degree. Franz KIine had a quote where he said "You know what creating really is? To have the capacity to be embarrassed." That's what being an artist is to me.

Q: What has been your biggest art faux pas?
A: I think I had quite a few social blunders in college. In the foundation classes the professors would only critique a few people's work in front of the class, so I would always make these insane projects just to try and get noticed (and for no other reason). One project that stands out is when I made an American Flag out of cigarette butts. That's embarrassing. So I guess I would say my first couple years of college was a faux pas for me.

Q: Whose style do you most admire?
A: I'm really jealous of the freedom in Peter Doig's work. Any artist that can use a whole range of subject matter, references, and styles... and make it all seem like one body of work, has got my respect. That's where I would like to get to someday. He also really pushes color interaction and different ways paint can be applied. It always seems fresh.

Q: If your work had a soundtrack, what might it be?
A: Probably Regina Spektor. I listen to her constantly in the studio.

Q: What is your trademark?
A: People always comment on my palm trees and my "drips." I guess it's become a trademark by default.

Q: Name your dream collaborative team.
A: Phillip Guston, Charles Bukowski, and John Cage. I just want to hang out with them.

Q: How does where you live affect the art you make?
A: As a landscape painter it's a pretty direct relationship. I really try to respond to my environment so it's important for me to live in an area that I'm interested in. When I lived in Michigan my work was very rural and open. Now it's a lot more clustered, dirty, and urban. Where I live also affects me because there is so much art being created around here. It's really great to have the chance to see so many shows and meet so many creative people. I see a lot of artwork by local artists that makes me rethink my own work.

Q: If you could travel back to any era for its art and lifestyle, what time would you visit?
A: I'm really into Beat culture. 40's and 50's in America I think would be my era of choice. I think we are living in a pretty interesting era right now though. I think America is kind of being forced to reinvent itself, and nobody really knows what's going to happen over the next few years. There's a lot of potential. Also, there is a lot of amazing art and music right now. I like living in Los Angeles because I feel like it's just as important as New York, London, Paris, etc.

Q: Sum up your aesthetic in 3 adjectives.
A: Architectural, gestural, sad

Q: What's your must-have when you're at work in the studio?
A: Caffeine and music.

Q: If money was no object, what major project might you take on?
A: I really want to get into doing murals in public spaces... like inside of parking garages. I don't think it would be that expensive but I just don't really know where to start. I've also been dying to get back into ceramics, but it's insanely expensive and not feasible for me right now. If I was really dreaming big I would start a residency/gallery project. A space downtown to bring creative people together, and give them a place to work and show their work.

Q: What work of art that you've personally seen has most moved you?
A: This is a tough one. The Robert Rauschenberg retrospective at MOCA and the David Hockney retrospective at LACMA were both really moving experiences. As far as one single work of art... maybe "Measuring Your Own Grave" by Marlene Dumas. It's just one of those paintings that I couldn't stop looking at. Maybe when I get unlimited funding for my residency/gallery space downtown, I'll buy it.

Nick McPhail's work will be included in the upcoming exhibition at LACMA's Art Rental and Sales Gallery, which opens January 16th with a reception from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. View more of Nick's work on his website

More images:

Thursday, December 25, 2008

...and another

This one was created by the lovely and talented Mackenzie Jakoubek of San Francisco, California. Thanks, Kenzie! More anyone?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Response #1

This is Andy Kehoe's (Portland, OR) wonderful response to my Assignment #1, a print entitled "hello mystery." You can see more of Andy's work on his website,

Thanks, Andy! Now let's have some more from the rest of you! :)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Assignment #1: Your Inner Child

Okay goes nothing. Hopefully you read my Louise Bourgeois review below, and were able to glean some of the hallmark elements of her work. Taking a note from Bourgeois, our first project will similarly teach you to look to memory as inspiration.

Assignment #1:

Taking the perspective of your youth, create a work that revisits a childhood memory.

As stated in the submission info below, there are no limitations to the assignment in terms of style, material, or content. After creating the work, send an image to:

Just so you have an idea of what things this project could include, I've done an example myself.

For my project, I've used two nostalgic symbols: Barbie and the Polaroid (which...I always use). Here, Barbie is viewed as a real person, with use of lighting and movement to show young girl's (including my own) idealization of her as the epitome of beauty and perfection. My project also intends to show Barbie as a girl's first source of information on anatomy and sexuality. Certainly a child's curiosity about such subjects is often imagined through this plaything.



Louise Bourgeois at MoCA

Like many 10-year olds, I was enamored of all things Impressionist. Specifically the artist Pierre Auguste Renoir became a major source of inspiration. It wasn’t just his romanticized dappled lighting and loose, feathery brushstrokes that beckoned me but mostly the fact that this man was so devoted to his craft that into his late 70’s, crippled with rheumatoid arthritis, he continued painting by strapping brushes to his hands. To Renoir, creating art was his purpose in life and everything else was supplementary. I was similarly moved by the comprehensive retrospective of American artist Louise Bourgeois at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Grand Avenue, Los Angeles). At age 96, Bourgeois, an influential figure of modern art, is still creating new works of art each day. The current exhibition at MoCA (organized by the museum with assistance from the Tate Modern in London and Paris’ Centre Pompidou) is a well-deserved homage to the prolific, Paris-born artist whose work spans from Surrealist/Futurist drawings and paintings of the late 1940s, to mid-century modern, abstracted sculpture, to pre-Feminist, sexually charged works, to massive spider sculptures and emotionally involved “cells” (installations) from the last two decades.

While Bourgeois may be assigned with many art periods throughout the twentieth (and into the twenty-first) century, she has managed to maintain an individual fingerprint that graces her entire body of work. The artist has executed this impressive feat by merging elements of both modern abstraction from the early to mid century (think Picasso, Matisse, or Brancusi) with more traditional methods and materials. MoCA’s Louise Bourgeois presents all aforementioned periods from the artist’s magnificent breadth of work without ever overwhelming the viewer or losing consistency. Perhaps this is because Bourgeois’ work always clings to the same major themes: a murky childhood, sexuality and sexual confusion, and the female psyche.

It would be impossible not to assume that the major Feminist artists of the late 1970s and 1980s (Judy Chicago, Faith Wilding, Betye Saar) took a footnote from Bourgeois. In the 1960s, she began to move from more geometric, wooden sculptures to latex, plaster, and marble works that took on decidedly more organic, sexualized forms. Her well-known Cumul I (1969) features smooth, egg-like shapes cradled in soft folds of white marble made to look like fabric or skin. The Janus sculptures (1968) are even more blatantly sexual with bronze shapes that blend elements of both male and female sex organs.

Fascinatingly, Bourgeois’ abstracted imagery often seems more overtly sexual than objects and ideas she is representing themselves. Surely considered offensive by some, the artist manages to overcome any real pornographic association with the fact that they sincerely symbolize softer ideas like peace, protection, motherhood, growth, and mortality.

Bourgeois has a truly profound way of making the otherwise explicit remain somewhat innocent. She does this by assuming a sort-of na├»ve perspective of a child, undoubtedly stemming from her less-than-ideal one that included an adulterous, aggressive father, and a mother who turned a blind eye. The dark experiences of Bourgeois’ childhood are threaded through the entirety of her work. In Destruction of the Father (1974) she uses wood, soft sculpture, and red light to create an abstracted installation that imagines a cannibalistic revenge against a “tyrant” father over the family dinner table.

In her contemporary work, Bourgeois continues to utilize her early memories as a driving force. In the early 1990s, the artist began creating “cells,” involved, large-scale installations that simultaneously represent domestic rooms and transcendent, spiritual havens. Her Red Rooms (1994) consist of one smaller, child’s space, and a larger, parents’ room, distinguished by iconographic objects to make the latter seem decidedly more intimate and curiously erotic than the other. These beautifully assembled, somewhat haunting spaces signal Bourgeois’ feeling of isolation from her parents.

In Spider (1997) she creates a giant bronze version of the insect straddling a cage that houses a lonesome chair. The spider, now a trademark icon of the artist’s work, is representative of her mother, who worked as a tapestry repairwoman. Echoing this idea is Bourgeois smattering of textile scraps over the outside of the cage.

Bourgeois’ most recent work continues to use fabric as a representation of her parents. The soft, plush figurative sculptures speak on issues like sex and birth in a manner juxtaposingly innocent to its subject matter. A particularly memorable work, Couple IV shows two stuffed-fabric, bulky bodies pushed together horizontally. The sculpture re-imagines a time Bourgeois’ caught her parents in the act of sex. The vagueness of what these sloppy figures may be doing perfectly exemplifies the confusion and curiosity a child might have in happening upon such a scene.

In looking at the body of work represented by MoCA’s Louise Bourgeois, one realizes that age has never slowed down this extraordinary woman. If anything, her maturation in life has enabled the artist to continually find new creative outlets from the pain she experienced as a child. As she has tried on different methods and styles throughout the years, the artist has never lost her ability to relay emotion and show the power of memory.

Cumus I

Red Room

Couple IV

Monday, December 1, 2008

Submission Info

My little my first review/assignment is rapidly approaching, I felt it only fair to fill you all in on exactly how the submission process will work.

After each review/feature I post, I will assign a project for you, your friends, the crazy dude who lives above you, whoever! The project will be loosely tied to the subject of the reviews/features and offers you a chance to have a hobby and utilize that underused right side of the brain.

Assignments will purposely be left somewhat vague and open for interpretation (that's the beauty of the thing). Unless specified, you are not limited to any type of medium, size, style, or subject matter. However, for submission for inclusion on this page, you'll need to send me jpegs of whatever you create. For each assigment, we will post one example to give you an idea of things you can create.

The projects do NOT have to be super involved or technically perfect (but hey, kudos if you want it that way!) and you definitely do NOT need to be artistically inclined to contribute. Also, (unless specified) explainations of your project are appreciated but totally uneccessary. The projects are basically just a way for you to look at things more abstractly and creatively than you might otherwise and a means for sharing ideas and images with others.

To submit, email us at:

Not every submission will be posted, but don't let that stop you from creating. It's all about what you're learning from these projects. :)

That said, stay tuned for my review of Louise Bourgeois at MoCA Grand here in LA along with the accomplanying (FIRST!) assignment. There's certainly a lot to learn from this amazing, prolific artist. She's 96 and still making art every single day! Oh, and please check out our friends' links on the side bar. We have such amazingly talented friends, we just had to share with all of you! :)


Friday, November 28, 2008

Hello new friends! I would say "and old friends" but you're all new friends because this is a new page! So, welcome! I'll use this first post as an explanation. I Make Picture is a visual art-centric, informative, educational, project-based site where you'll (eventually) be able to read and learn about up-and-coming artists and outstanding exhibitions and shows as well as complete superfun assignments based on those artists and works.

Let's do an example so you're not totally lost. Maybe you'll read a review/feature on the artist Cindy Sherman (if you don't know her, by God do a Google search!) whose entire body of work consists of self-portraits where the photographer takes on a completely new identity with the help of lighting, props, makeup, and costume. Here at I Make Picture we might then create an assignment for you to do your own self-portrait where you become a character you've created. Basically a very watered-down version of what that artist makes, just keeping the major principles of the work.

The goal is to not only learn about other artists, but to spark your own creativity. So many of us get into the 9 to 5 (or whatever time) rut and lose sight of the creative endeavors we once made time to pursue. Hopefully, I Make Picture gives you a reason to get those juices flowing again. It doesn't matter whether or not you're artistically inclined...what matters is that you're exercising that beautiful brain of yours and learning something new. Perhaps even about yourself :)

And who are we to tell you? Hi, I'm Ashley. I enjoy donuts, sappy, girly music, and getting all kinds of nerdy about art. So much so that I even got myself a degree in art history and I work doing freelance reviews and articles on the subject here in Los Angeles. Oh yeah. I'm in Los Angeles where its always 85 degree and every dude with a spray can thinks they're Basquiat. My cohorts (in New York and San Fransisco) are equally dorky about art, and will hopefully introduce themselves very soon.

I'm pretty much spent. Hope you give us a chance. :)