Paint in beautiful Pecos, New Mexico, September 13-18, 2020

New Mexico’s a vastly different landscape, yet has the same long views and limpid light that so captivate me about Maine.

Dry Wash, by Carol L. Douglas

It takes a lot to get me to teach anywhere but Maine these days. But there’s another place I love to paint. I haven’t taught in New Mexico in more than a decade, and it’s time to go back.

The village of Pecos, NM lies along the Pecos River, which flows out of the Santa Fe National Forest. Nearby, Pecos National Historical ParkGlorieta Pass, and Pecos Benedictine Monastery provide superb mountain views. Ranches and small adobe settlements dot the landscape. This is a landscape of colorful skies, hoodoos, dry washes, pine wildernesses, horses, and pickup trucks. Yet it’s within commuting distance of Santa Fe, so accommodations, necessities and world-class galleries are just a short drive away.
Horses at a ranch in Pecos, NM. Photo courtesy Jane Chapin.
I first painted in the Pecos area during a plein airevent in 2018. I was supposed to range all over the state, but I loved Pecos so much I stayed right there. Then I came back the following winter. I’ve explored the ridges and canyons, the river valley, horse pastures, fallow bottomlands, and I think I have a great itinerary planned for you.

Old farmyard, Pecos, NM, by Carol L. Douglas. If I were going to buy a second home, this would be it.

I’m delighted to offer this opportunity in conjunction with the brand-new Pecos Art Center (about which I’ll be telling you more soon). This organization was founded to bring arts and culture to the local community. Each workshop instructor is asked to present a program for local school students before or after their workshop. This augments local art education and gives back to the local community. “In Pecos, we believe we live in a unique and authentic place and want to give something back to the community who has welcomed us to paint there,” said organizer Jane Chapin. “We want to preserve its character while leaving a footprint of opportunities for the next generation.”

Adobe and beautiful mountains. Photo courtesy Jane Chapin.
This workshop is aimed at helping painters refine their personal technique in plein air. All media are welcome: watercolor, pastel, oils and acrylics. This is an intensive class, with morning and afternoon on-site painting sessions and lunch-time demos. Classes are kept small so every student gets the attention they deserve.
My friend Jimmy Stewart critiquing my painting along the river bottom. Photo courtesy Jane Chapin.
Opportunities for accommodations are varied. There are seasonal rentals in the area, or commute up from Santa Fe if you want a more urban setting.
The workshop fee is $600. That includes five days of highly-personalized instruction and a social gathering on Sunday evening, where you’ll meet your classmates. Email me here for more information.
Snow at higher elevations (downdraft), by Carol L. Douglas
Carol Douglas has 20 years’ experience teaching students of all levels in watercolor, oils, acrylics and pastels. “Some teachers are good artists, and some artists are good teachers, but it is rare to find a good artist who is also a good teacher. Carol is one of them. She will teach you the fundamentals you need to know, which a lot of teachers gloss over without explanation, but she also takes you to the next level, wherever you are on the learning curve.” (David Blanchard)

Uncovering your mark and more

Two opportunities to learn in mid-coast Maine
Meeting Up, by Ann Trainor Domingue, acrylic on canvas
Baby Joshua and his mom are doing great, so I can concentrate on work again. There are several things I should have told you about and missed with the excitement of the last two weeks. Here are two very important ones.
I’m bringing Ann Trainor Domingue to teach a day-long workshop in my studio because she does something that seems magical to me, and I want to know how. Ann paints lyrical, mysterious, narrative paintings, seemingly drawn from within her own psyche. “I love the same things you do about New England. I just reflect on them in a different light,” she says. Annie’s developed a series of exercises to loosen up our thinking, and they will be good for everyone, no matter what their style.
Here’s Annie!

Uncovering Your Mark, with Ann Trainor Domingue

Sat June 6th, 10-4
Carol L. Douglas Studio
394 Commercial Street, Rockport, ME 04856
Cost $95 per person.
Confused by too many options? Feel uninspired? Need help to get back to your artmaking? Uncovering Your Mark workshop could be just what you need to find your way!
Discover personally meaningful imagery and ideas through a fun guided exploration of things you love. Bring clarity and focus to help make sense as you implement fresh ideas for this phase of your lifelong art journey.
Think quietly about what kinds of things energize you. Sort and combine insights to form something new that feels more authentic by finding your mark.
Take time to work on loose sketches to explore these exciting new ideas and directions to help you stay on your path.

This workshop is a hands-on class aimed at artists of all levels. The first part of the class is a process of guided inquiry. Then, students will apply their self-discoveries through small scale sketching exercises and preliminary color play. It’s strictly limited to twelve students so you’ll get lots of attention. Every style is welcome.
Ann Trainor Domingue is a graduate of Rhode Island College with a BA Studio degree in painting. Her career has included working in adver­tising, as a teacher and as a painter. She is represented in public collections and galleries nationwide.
Download a flyer here or a registration form here.

Tin-foil hat, by Carol L. Douglas. You don’t have to learn about painting reflections by looking at a vase!
Next session of weekly classes in my Rockport studio starts next week.
Some people wonder what we paint when the winter weather drives our class indoors. I build still lives, but they aren’t typical. For example, yesterday’s creation was a clash of greens including pine boughs, gift bags, wine bottles and more. The idea was to learn to mix and use a medley of greens without using any green out of a tube. That’s excellent preparation for spring, which really is just around the corner.
Marie told me, “I always come in and see a still life and think, ‘ugh’, but then I get into it and it’s great.” I’m not interested in still-life as a genre either, but I think painting from life is critically important, so I make an effort to make them unusual and interesting.
Back it up (hard drive and bubble wrap), by Carol L. Douglas
Working in my studio gives us a great opportunity to focus on color theory and technique. We have more time to concentrate on mixing colors and brushwork than we do in the field, where the demands of the scene takes over.
Our next mid-coast Maine painting session will meet on Tuesday mornings, from 10-1. The dates are:
February 25
March 3
March 10 (followed by a two-week break while I hare off to Argentina)
March 31
April 7
April 14
Peppers, by Carol L. Douglas
Painters are encouraged to broaden their skills in drawing, brushwork and color. Your own individual style will be nurtured. We’ll learn how to paint boldly, with fresh, clean color, to build commanding compositions, and to use hue, value and line to draw the eye through our paintings.
Watercolor, oils, pastels and acrylics are welcome. Because it’s a small group, I can work with painters of all levels. The fee is $200 for the six-week session, and we meet at 394 Commercial Street in Rockport.

Monday Morning Art School: how to choose a workshop

The ads are flying fast and furious (including mine). How can you tell what workshop is right for you?

Storm clouds over Schoodic.

There are many fine teachers out there. We each stress something different, but when we’re in a back room chatting, it turns out that most of us really use the same methodology and work through the same fundamentals. But there’s more to a workshop. Here are questions you should ask yourself when choosing.

How many students? This is the first question I’d ask about any workshop. Mine are limited to 12 students, with a monitor or crew supporting me. Any more than that and the teacher will spend most of his or her time demoing, because there’s no way anyone can give personal attention to twenty or thirty students.
Tuscany or Teaneck? There are fine teachers all over America, or you can follow your dreams to Europe or beyond. The great advantage of local classes and workshops is that they’re affordable, and that’s where most of us learn our craft.

Waves, by Carol L. Douglas, oil on canvas

However, the travel workshop is immersive, and that brings out something different in your work. You’ll work, live, talk, eat and think in the culture of that place. Painting in new places is fun, and you meet new friends.

Are you up to this? Plein air workshops are not physically grueling (for the student) but they do require some physical capacity. I accommodate mobility issues in my land-based workshops, but it would be difficult on American Eagle. Talk clearly with the instructor beforehand about special needs.

On shore leave from American Eagle. Photo courtesy of  Ellen Trayer.

Do you like the teacher’s work? Most good teachers can see through your individual style to the technical questions you face. However, the things a painter stresses in his or her own work will be the things that are stressed in instruction. If, for example, you strive to be a Luminist, you’re unlikely to be happy in a class that stresses modern color theory.

Is the instructor a good teacher? This will set the tone for the entire workshop. He or she should be supportive and kind while still giving you practical suggestions to push you forward. There is no reason to put up with bad temper or class management. There are many fine painter/teachers out there who are also very nice, organized people. Ask the instructor what percentage of returning students he or she has. And why not ask for references?

Aboard schooner American Eagle for my annual Age of Sail workshops.

Is the workshop properly permitted and insured? Teaching in national and state parks requires permits and insurance, and teaching on private property requires consent. You should ask whether the workshop organizer has those permissions in place.

What are you getting for your money? The per-person rate for my workshops includes room and board (or berth). Some—including my watercolor workshops—even include materials. That’s a great advantage where accommodations are scarce and/or expensive, and it has the advantage of saving lots of time. Know what your fee is covering—is it just instruction, or does it include other things?

Schoodic Peninsula, site of my annual Sea & Sky Workshop.

My workshops for 2020 include two watercolor workshops aboard the schooner American Eagle. I’ll also be reprising my popular Sea & Sky workshop at Schoodic Institutein August. Both revolve around the incredible landscape and water of the Maine coast, but are very different experiences.

On American Eagle, we concentrate on capturing the quickly-changing marine view in watercolor sketchbooks. At Schoodic, we’re at the largest National Park Service Research Learning Centers in the United States, with superlative landscapes right at our fingertips.
I’ll be marketing these through Facebook and Instagram throughout the Christmas season, but the important thing to remember is that if you register before January 1, you get an early-bird discount. That’s an encouragement to give a workshop to yourself or to a loved one for Christmas.

Cloudy with a chance of rain

A reader asks for advice teaching his first workshop.

Janith Mason at a Sea & Sky workshop. One of my all-time favorite photos of a student.

It looks like the rain predicted for Monday has moved up to Sunday, but I’m prepared; I rented a shelter for this workshopmonths ago. It can be a fly tarp, a tent, a shelter, your studio, or a porch, but you must have a place for students to keep working when the weather goes bad. Rain is inevitable.

Your first and most important step, however, is to get consent from the places you’ll take your class. The rules change when you’re not alone. For example, if you bring a group to Acadia or another national park, you need a permit and proof that you’re carrying insurance (which you should have anyway). Many state and local parks have similar requirements. Historic sites often also charge a fee.
Rain is inevitable. Here we are getting soaked on the Monhegan ferry.
If you’re painting a view along a street or road, remember to ask the property owner first. Stay on the sidewalks, the shoulder of the road, or in a pocket park if you’re in a public place.
You’re morally and legally responsible for the safety of your students. That’s why I don’t teach at Raven’s Nest in Schoodic, even though it’s a fantastic view. It’s not safe for big groups. Keep your people back from the road, and away from drop-offs and heavy equipment.
Know your own process and be able to break it down into discrete steps. Can you explain why you’re doing what you’re doing each step of the way? If not, go back and run through a painting in your studio and note each step. If you don’t have a consistent protocol, you’re probably not ready to teach.
You can’t demo convincingly unless you understand how and why you do each step in your process.
In a similar vein, if you’re not a natural-born encourager and coach, teaching might not be the best option for you. Teaching painting is far more than just technical advice. Your own personality is the biggest indicator of your potential as a teacher.
Write supply lists and disseminate them freely. Mine are in this blog post. (No, I don’t mind if you use them as templates.)
Every workshop should have a focus. This weekend’s is the composition questions raised by the gently rolling landscape of the Genesee Valley. In The Age of Sail, it will be watercolor sketching on the fly. Sea & Sky at Schoodic is longer, so we work more intensively on essentials of painting rocks, water, trees and skies.
Students need time to work alone, but they also need your attention.
Don’t take too many students. For me, twelve is about the maximum. Bigger classes end up with the teacher spending too much time demoing, and a video is cheaper and better for that. They’ve paid for your individual attention and problem-solving, and they should get them.
I do ask students to not spread out too far apart, or I spend all my time walking from person to person. When possible, I carry a bicycle with me to get from painter to painter faster.
The bottom line for a good workshop is one-on-one attention. Oh, and sunscreen.
Any time I have more than six students, I engage a classroom monitor. This person is responsible for setting up my supplies, logistics and answering simple questions (but not for teaching).
Lastly, I carry a teaching bag containing extra boards, rain slickers, palette knife, and bug spray. People inevitably forget something, and we want them to have a good time.
Addendum: I forgot to mention restroom access here. In the deep wilds you can use a porta-potty or nature itself, but in more civilized place, find a site with public restrooms.

How I plan to spend my summer (if it ever gets here)

Teenagers and artists choose interesting paths.

Teressa studying painting in Rochester, many moons ago.
Yesterday, I got two registrations in the mail for my Rochester workshop. Kamillah started painting with me when she was a junior in high school, working at a local diner so she could afford art lessons. Now she’s a graduate architect, studying for her boards. Her sister Teressa is in nursing school. It’s a joy to see these kids embrace adulthood with such grace.
Kamillah once painted with me on a late spring weekend in the Adirondacks. We were at an inn that hadn’t opened yet for the season. It was blowing and snowing, as the higher elevations tend to do this time of year. Kamillah is tiny, and I was concerned she’d be blown off the mountain and right into half-thawed Piseco Lake. Summer eventually showed up that year, as it will this year—at some point.
I get to teach in some mighty gorgeous places!
After I got their registrations, I opened my Little Book of Workshops. As of today, I have: 

(I don’t know about Exploring Rye through Paint (May 11-12, Rye, NY); contact the Rye Arts Center for information about that.)
That puts me about exactly where I am every year at this time. Suddenly, when it warms up enough for people to think about painting, those slots fill up.

Will I have a chance to paint in the surf this season? Who knows? Photo by Ed Buonvecchio.

Meanwhile, I—like every other plein air painter—anxiously await jurying results. Most are not in yet, but what I have promises an interesting summer ahead. On the 27th, I fly to Santa Fe, NM for Santa Fe Plein Air Fiesta.
William Rogersfrom Nova Scotia is in that event too. That means I’ll see him twice this summer, since he’s the Honorary Chairman of Parrsboro International Plein Air Festival in early June. The roster at that event is like old home week, including many artists I’ve painted with for ages. That includes, of course, Poppy Balser.
Nova Scotia is one of the world’s great beauty spots. It’s a privilege to paint there.
I’ll be at Ocean Park’s Art in the Park in July. That’s really six old friends doing an ensemble act together, as we’ve done for several years. At Cape Elizabeth I’ll run into Janet Sutherland for the second time this summer. She’s a crackerjack painter and a regular at Castine, but we seldom get time to say more than a few words to each other. If only I could slow the tape down!
In August I’ll be back in New York for the Adirondack Plein Air Festival. And other than that, the jury’s still—literally—out.
Barnyard lilacs, by Carol L. Douglas
Except for one other thing, which is perhaps the biggest thing of all: in September I’ll be an artist-in-residence at the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center. I was raised on a farm, and I’ve got a deep affection for agriculture. This will be the first time in several years where I’ve isolated myself to paint reflectively, rather than tearing around in a car painting fast. I’m terrifically chuffed.

How to get the most out of a workshop or class

Students make a good workshop great. Here’s how you can help.
Keuka Lake, by Carol L. Douglas. Yes, folks, there’s a lot of green out there, not that I’ll encourage using it out of a tube.

Study the supply list.

Note that I didn’t say, “run right out and buy everything on it.” Every teacher has a reason for asking for those materials. In my case, it’s that I teach a system of paired primaries. You can’t paint that way without the right starting pigments. Another teacher might have beautiful mark-making. If you don’t buy the brushes he suggests, how are you going to understand his technique?
A tube of cadmium green that I once bought for a workshop and never opened still rankles. I never want to do that to one of my students. When you study with me, I want you to read my supply lists (here for watercolor,acrylics and oils). If something confuses you, or you think you already have a similar item, email me.
Bring the right clothes.
Bring the right clothes.
Its in the 70s in Mobile, Alabama, where I expect to be painting next week. If I take my long underwear, I’ll be pretty uncomfortable. Likewise, if you come north without a hoodie, you will be chilled in the evenings.
I have a packing list for the northeast in the summer. If you’re going on the Age of Sail, Shary will send you a different list, meant for a boat. Follow them, especially in the matter of insect repellent.
Know what you’re getting into.
“How can you stand this? It’s all so green!” an urban painter once said to me after a week in the Adirondacks.
There are no Starbucks in Acadia National Park or on the clear, still waters of Penobscot Bay, so if you’re dependent on your latte macchiato, you may find it uncomfortable at first. (There’s always coffee; I don’t function without it.) I find the seals, dolphins and eagles ample compensation; others may not.
There are no latte macchiatos on Penobscot Bay, but there are consolations.
Be prepared to get down and dirty.
I’m not talking about the outdoors here, I’m talking about change and growth. I am highly competitive myself, so it’s difficult for me to feel like I’m struggling. However, it’s in challenging ourselves that we make progress. Use your teacher’s method while you’re at the workshop, even if you feel like you’ve stepped back ten years in your development. That’s a temporary problem.
You can disregard what you learn when you go home, or incorporate only small pieces into your technique, but you traveled to be challenged, and you can’t do that if you cling to your own solutions.
Listen and take notes.
Connect with your classmates
I know painters from all over the US. I met most of them in plein air events. There’s power in those relationships. Exchange email addresses. Keep in contact. Follow them on Instagram or Twitter.
Take good notes
Listen for new ideas, write down concepts, and above all, ask questions. If your teacher can’t stop and answer them mid-stream, save them for after the demo.
I’m teaching four plein air workshops in the coming year. Message me here for more information, or visit my website.

The mysterious perfection of watercolor

It can be either deliciously finicky, or wildly out of control. Or, in a perfect world, both.

St. Elias Mountains, Yukon Territory, by Carol L. Douglas. Think you can’t paint from a boat? This was done from the passenger seat of a car. 

Yesterday I got an e-blog that read, “Want looser watercolors? Pour your paint.” Well, I like pitching, throwing and otherwise making a mess with watercolors, so I opened it in great anticipation. What it was really talking about was drawing a meticulous cartoon, blocking off the light areas with masking fluid, and then setting the darks with a wallowing, graduated wash that gets a little bit psychedelic by virtue of watercolor’s great sedimentation qualities.
That’s a beautiful technique, but nothing that starts with masking fluid can be described as loose. We can’t use these shadowy washes in field painting, unless we’re willing to hang around all day reblocking paper and waiting for it to dry.
A field sketch of Houghton Farm (New York) by Winslow Homer.
Watercolor is a curious medium. It’s quite capable of the ultimate control, as in Albrecht Dürer’s Large Piece of Turf, 1503. It’s equally capable of insouciance, as in Maurice Prendergast’suntitled seascape, below. You can go anywhere you want with it.
Untitled seascape by Maurice Prendergast.
Frank Costantino is a painter who manages to pull off meticulous renderings in watercolor in plein air events. Frank’s drawings are spot-on and his framing is clever. On the other end of the spectrum is Elissa Gore, whose field sketches always burble in the style of Ludwig Bemelmans.
You know my pal Poppy Balser, who shares my adoration of boats, the sea, and color. Although she’s primarily an oil painter, Mary Byrom does lots of sketching in watercolor.
Large Piece of Turf, 1503, Albrecht Dürer. 
There hangs the moral of my tale. Every one of these painters works in more than one medium—in Frank’s case, watercolor and colored pencil, in the rest of them, watercolor and oils. That’s true of me, too.
I first learned to paint in watercolor. That was standard procedure in the mid-century, when no right-minded teacher was going to hand a kid a box of toxic chemicals and tell her to go to town. It’s a private possession for when I travel or when I’m thinking. I never sell my watercolors, and I don’t intend for them to be shown. Watercolor, for me, is deeply personal.
Preparatory sketch of Marshall Point, by Carol L. Douglas.
But it’s also the perfect travel medium, which is why I took it to Australia and to London and plan to bring it along to Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi in March. When it’s just you, your suitcase and a Prius, you want to travel light.
All of this has been much on my mind recently as I’ve debated the best sketchbooks to buy for my Age of Sail workshop on the American Eagle, in June. I’ve tried many myself. As with everything else, each one has its plusses and minuses. One friend suggested that I cut down sheets of paper and make my own, but I want every student to have a takeaway book with a nice binding.
I plan to have students working in both gouache and watercolor. I need to find the right paper for both. So every time a friend posts a new work in a sketchbook I query him or her relentlessly on the materials. And I’m narrowing it down, slowly but surely.

Four workshops this summer

One might be coming to a town near you.

American Eagle and Heritage, photo by Carol L. Douglas

I’m teaching four workshops this year, which is the most I’ve ever taken on. (I’m already in training, hiking around Rockport to get my endurance up.) They’re in different places, appealing to different tastes and budgets. If you’ve ever wanted to study with me, this would be a great year to do so. Who knows? All this exercise might kill me soon.

Yours truly, painting at Rye (photo by Brad Marshall)

Rye, NY, May 11-12: Rye is a quick jaunt out of New York City for those of you who want a pastoral workshop but can’t travel to Maine this year. I’ve painted in Painters on Location for many years, so I know the village and its boats, beach, buildings and waterfront. We’ll meet at the Rye Art Center and move out from there to explore locations around town. This class is for all levels and all media, and will focus on simplifying forms, planning a good composition, gathering the necessary visual information from life, and interpreting color relationships.

Cost: $350 for the two-day workshop. Call the Rye Arts Center at (914) 967-0700 for more information.
The Devil’s Bathtub, on a wetter, woolier day than we’ll be experiencing. (Courtesy LazyYogi)
Rochester, NY, June 2-3: I’ll be teaching at Mendon Ponds for two days under the auspices of Greater Rochester Plein Air Painters. I’m excited about the location, since it’s a designated National Natural Landmark because of its glacial topography, which includes a kettle hole, eskers, a floating sphagnum moss peat bog, and kames. Here, we’ll concentrate on painting the drama in the landscape while remaining true to the subject. We’ll concentrate on skies, slopes, and reflections. The fundamentals of design, composition and color will be stressed.
Cost: $200 for the two-day workshop, with an early-bird discount before March 1. The flyer is here, and the registration form is here.
American Eagle in Penobscot Bay.
On board American Eagle, out of Rockland, ME, June 10-14: “There are many painting workshops on the Maine coast, but The Age of Sail  promises to be the most unusual,” wrote Maine Gallery Guide. This four-day cruise aboard the restored schooner American Eagle is a great way to loosen up your brushwork. We’ll work fast, concentrating on reflections on water and the powerful skies of the Maine coast. All levels of painters are encouraged to join us. It’s an all-inclusive trip, including meals, berth and your materials for water media.
Cost: $1020 all inclusive. Visit here for more information, or email me.
Corinne Avery happily painting at Schoodic.
Acadia National Park’s Schoodic Peninsula, August 5-10: My long-running Sea & Sky workshop remains ever-popular, with many returning students over the years. We spend five days in the splendid isolation of Acadia’s Schoodic Peninsula, far from the crowds on the other side of the bay. There’s wildlife, surf, rocks, jack pines and more. A day trip to the working harbor at Corea, ME, is included. Our accommodations are at the Schoodic Institute—located deep in the heart of the park—and include all meals and snacks so that we don’t have to stop painting.
Cost: $1600 all inclusive. Visit here for more information, or email me.

Fall from Grace: the wreck of Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst finally makes something recognizable as art, and the chattering classes hate it.

From Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable by Damien Hirst. All images lifted from the internet without attribution because, hey, it’s 2018 and that’s how we roll now.
One of my former students now works in the workshop of a famous artist. This artist does not create his own work. His ideas are executed by a staff of artisans. He has a factory in Manhattan, a workshop in New Jersey, and hires specialists elsewhere as needed. He pays his artists about twice the minimum wage, and has a cadre of middle-managers and designers. He himself has no technical skills. “I’m the idea person,” he has said. His most expensive work sold in the aftermarket for just under $60 million, but you can buy copies on Etsy for $35. The work is so banal as to be uncopyrightable.
The artist’s workshop was standard practice for European artists from the Middle Ages until the 19th century. Sometimes these were family based, which is why we had women painters like Artemisia Gentileschi—she studied with her father and was better than the boys.
From Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable by Damien Hirst.
But these workshops were guild-regulated, and had a strict quid pro quo: young apprentices worked in exchange for their room, board and training. Consider the early career of Raphael: he was taken into the workshop of Umbrian master Pietro Perugino at a very young age, perhaps as young as eight. By 17, he was qualified to hang out his own shingle as a master painter.
The modern workshop, however, is not designed as a teaching mechanism; it’s a factory for expensive, branded artwork.
Damien Hirst was the most prominent member of the group known as Young British Artists (YBA) These were the bad boys of British Art in the late 1980s. All attended Goldsmiths, all were discovered by Charles Saatchi. Hirst had a rocky start, barely getting into art school at all.
Hirst became famous for a formaldehyde-preserved shark called The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, which sold for something greater than $8 million. Like the artist I mentioned above, Hirst is sometimes accused of plagiarism. The shark, for example, may have ‘quoted’ the window display of a Shoreditch electrical supply shop. Once again, the problem is that the ideas are too banal to be owned.
From Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable by Damien Hirst. 
With the new millennium has come reassessment. Hirst’s prices have slumped. He has responded with a comeback show, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, sprawling across two museums in Venice. It is an enormous fantasy based on the supposed discovery of a sunken ship. It includes its own movie.
It’s been panned by the cognoscenti. “Insipid,” wroteTiernan Morgan. “[U]ndoubtedly one of the worst exhibitions of contemporary art staged in the past decade,” wroteAndrew Russeth. “[A] spectacular, bloated folly, an enormity that may prove the shipwreck of Hirst’s career,” wroteAlistair Sooke. Hirst has been accused of plagiarizing the sunken artwork of Jason deCaires Taylor, which, considering the history of the YBA, is downright laughable.
This former darling of the British art world obviously cheesed someone off.
From Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable by Damien Hirst.
Unlike those reviewers, I don’t get a free trip to Venice to see the show in situ, so I looked at pictures online. That’s no way to experience art, but to me, it seemed audacious, witty, absurd and well-crafted (albeit by someone other than Hirst). In short, it was all the things Hirst never succeeded at when he was famous and feted.
While I was pondering his fall from grace, I was preparing for a studio visit of my own, the net to be calculated in hundreds, rather than millions, of dollars. I emptied the trash and cleaned the toilet, and the juxtaposition made me smile.