From the archives: Extreme painting

My guest expert (my daughter) wrote this post in 2018, because I was indisposed due to medical tests. I’m having tests again today (one of life’s eternal verities) and was reminded of this classic.
The Road to Seward, Alaska, by Carol L. Douglas

Dear Carol,

Last week, you mentioned the wild turkeys near your residency. I am, unfortunately, afflicted with both hoplophobia and meleagrisphobia – fears of guns and those creatures most fowl. When is it appropriate to pepper spray a turkey?
 
Yours, Allie N., New Mexico
 
Allie,
I have good news and I have bad news. As of 1992, the EPA was still looking for data on the effectiveness of capsaicin (the active spicy spice that makes spices spicy) against birds.1They accepted that it was probably effective against birds, in addition to other animals. Obviously, it has been several years since then. Two scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, discovered in 2002 that, while birds have the vanilloid receptors that taste capsaicin for us, theirs are immune to capsaicin.2 In conclusion, you could probably pepper spray a turkey and it would irritate and startle him. However, you’d get the same effect by shrieking and flapping your arms wildly. In my opinion, the perfect time to pepper spray a turkey is directly before he goes into the oven.
Mary Helen
The Alaska Range, by Carol L. Douglas
Greetings Carol,
 
It’s my favorite time of year here in Success, Saskatchewan – the air is crisp and clear, the leaves are changing, and it’s finally moose season. I can’t wait to make all my favorite moose recipes once my wife comes back from hunting. Moose chili, moose enchiladas, moose tartare, coleslaw with moose meatballs, moose bulgogi – you name it, I’ll eat it! I love going with my wife on her hunting trips all around the wilderness of Saskatchewan. You’ve been there. You know how it is! It’s a great time to do some plein airpainting while enjoying some quality time with the missus. How can I best keep myself from getting mistaken for a moose? You know, we share so many of the same features.
 
Bill Winkleman, Saskatchewan
 
Bill,
Moose season in Saskatchewan this year is from October to December. Soon it will be too cold to do much painting en plein air. However, here’s good advice on how to avoid being mistaken for a large ungulate:
  • Wear brightly-colored clothing when out in the woods. I recommend a large, heavily starched tie-dye wizard’s hat.
  • Try to sing as loudly as possible at all times. It’s common knowledge that moose are fans of jazz and Scandinavian black metal, so stick to old pop standards and famous Canadian sea shanties.
You may find that when you’re painting en plein air, you may find moose walking around en trails. Worse than that, you may find that some enterprising hunter has left moose entrails en trails and you have to walk gingerly. I recommend wellies.
Mary Helen
Confluence, by Carol L. Douglas
Carol –
 
My Oma and I are planning a cycling trip up the Alaska Highway next summer. We’ve already begun shopping for a truly inspiring collection of very tight, padded shorts and we’ve got our cameras ready to see all the wildlife. How do you get your best photos of bears?
 
Hildegard
Hildy,
It’s GREAT to hear from you again! My advice for taking photos of bears from your bicycle from the shoulder of the Alaska highway is, uh, DON’T!
Black bears can run between 25 and 30 miles an hour and brown bears can run even faster. A ridiculously lost polar bear can run even faster than that! For comparison, your 97-year old grandmother can probably only manage about ten miles an hour. Just put something to make noise in the spokes of your bike and leave the bears alone. Instead of stopping to photograph them as they forage on the roadside, why not take a quick snapshot of the other tourists taking their picture as you zoom by to safety?
Laird Hot Springs, by Carol L. Douglas. This was the site of a fatal bear attack in 1997.
In July 2018, conservation officers in British Columbia responded to 25 calls about grizzlies and 179 calls about black bears.3,4The Yukon Government reported that at least 63 bears were killed in Yukon,5a five-year high. Human interaction with bears is not only dangerous for the humans, but dangerous for the bear. Remember – a fed bear is a dead bear.
Mary Helen
  1. R.E.D. Facts – Capsaicin. (1992, June). Environmental Protection Agency.
  2. Jordt, S., & Julius, D. (2002, February 8). Molecular basis for species-specific sensitivity to “hot” peppers. Cell, 108(3), 421-430.
  3. Predator statistics: black bear. (2018, September). Conservation Officer Service of British Columbia.
  4. Predator statistics: grizzly bear. (2018, September). Conservation Officer Service of British Columbia.
  5. 63 bears destroyed in Yukon this year because of human conflict. (2017, November 29). CBC News.

Stop playing it safe

I’m willing to look like a fool for art. Are you?

Channel marker, 9×12, oil on canvasboard, $696 unframed.

I did a set of long demos in my classes this week. I worked from two different snapshots, one for each class. I’d never looked at them before. In fact, I chose them because they didn’t have any obvious structure.

It was up to my class to create that structure, so I didn’t crop or make any choices in advance. (To make the demo meaningful to all my students, I did each painting in oils and watercolor simultaneously. That’s hard.) The goal was to give my students a broad view of the overall processes of painting, from start to finish.

They said they learned the most from the many places where I dithered. At one point, I said something like, “stupid, stupid, stupid!” One student particularly liked hearing that; she thought she was alone in making choices she later regretted.

Fog Bank, 14×18, oil on canvasboard, $1275 unframed.

Another said that the most instructive part of the demo was the moment I took a rag to an entire passage of the oil painting. (My correction turned out to be a mistake. Stupid, stupid, stupid.)

The actual painting results were mediocre. But great paintings were never my goal. Instead, we worked our way through the process of a painting as a team, discussing our questions and dilemmas.

Home farm 2, oil on canvas, 20X24, $2898 framed.

I received this email from a student who wishes to remain anonymous:

“A couple of weeks ago, on a whim, I signed up for another zoom painting class with an artist I follow on social media… The most important thing I have come to realize is how much I value your approach to teaching and how much better your class is. I enjoy your [art] history lesson and how it wraps around the weekly lesson. We all work from our own still life set-ups or reference photos making our paintings more personal.

“In this other class, I was sent a reference photo (which didn’t particularly interest me) and we all painted the same thing. During class, there is a lot of talk about which particular colors were used in which particular spots. Questions like these make me nuts.

“We have to send a photo of our painting and there is a critique of everyone’s work so we are looking at basically eight versions of the same painting for two hours. Tedious, at best. In the end, I feel like I have spent time and materials on a painting that is not really mine since I don’t own the reference photo and I know there are eight other versions of the same painting out there.”

Home Port, oil on canvas, 18X24, $2318 framed.

This student is a graphic designer by trade, so when I saw her painting, I was amazed at how boring it was. Her work usually sparks with arresting design and quirky ideas.  But here she was working from someone else’s idea, and all the thinking was already done. There’s little to be learned in that.

On Monday, I wrote that I don’t think canned painting demos are very helpful. A shrewd painter rehearses these performances. He has already made the critical decisions before he ever lifts a brush in public. This creates an impression of mastery and confidence, but it’s a falsehood. The real process of painting is all in the choices.

Art’s greatest enemy is safety. That may seem strange coming from a painter who works in landscape—surely the least risky of genres. But the risks I’m talking about are in composition, structure, color choices, and brushwork, not in content. The best painters take chances all the time. They mess things up and toss them in the trash. The public will only see 10-20% of our starts. The rest are, to us, failures.

Women in the wild

Women are the majority of plein air painters, but some are afraid to be outside working alone.
The Alaska Range, by Carol L. Douglas
Louise-Joséphine Sarazin de Belmont was a landscape painter who traveled around Italy painting ‘views’ at a time when nice women were expected to be chaperoned in public. She made a tidy income for herself in the process. She’s one of two female artists represented in the National Gallery’s True to Nature: Open-Air Painting in Europe, 1780–1870, which runs until May. 
The other is Rosa Bonheur, who is best known for her animal paintings (including The Horse Fair). Bonheur was a one-off, refusing to be pigeonholed by society. She dressed in men’s clothing and openly lived with women. She didn’t want to be male; instead, she felt that trousers and short hair gave her an advantage when handling large animals.
Clouds over Teslin Lake, the Yukon, by Carol L. Douglas
We have an idea that 19th-century society was extremely repressed, but Bonheur was its most famous woman painter. Among those who admired her work was Queen Victoria. Bonheur, like Sarazin de Belmont, was an astute businesswoman, able to earn enough by age 37 to buy herself the Chateau de By.
Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot are the best-known 19th century painters today; why weren’t they as popular then? In part, they suffered from their restricted subject matter.
Western Ontario forest, by Carol L. Douglas
“Morisot isn’t going out with all of her paint tools, like everybody else, and setting up along the river and painting all day,” said curator Mary Morton in this thoughtful essay by Karen Chernick. “That’s absolutely because of the limitations of her gender and her class. She’s a nice upper middle-class French woman, and it’s just not seemly. In the end, her most accomplished pictures tend to be things she can do indoors.”
It’s something I’ve been thinking about recently, after reading a plaintive letter from a woman afraid to paint alone outdoors. “Can you give me tips for safety?” she asked.
Cobequid Bay Farm, Hants County, Nova Scotia, by Carol L. Douglas
Since the plein air painting scene is predominantly female, many women have made the adjustment to working alone. I’ve camped and painted alone through the Atlantic states and for 10,000 miles through Alaska and Canada with my daughter. I’ve been unnerved by tourists acting idiotically, but I’ve never been bothered by human predators.
But perhaps I’m not harassed because I’m so old, this blogger suggests. I don’t think so; I’ve been doing it for a long time. And I’m not the only woman interested in painting on the road. Deborah Frey McAllister created the International Sisterhood of the Traveling Paints on Facebook. Debby calls herself a ‘free range artist.’
Hermit’s Peak, El Porviner, NM, by Carol L. Douglas
It’s possible to run into trouble anywhere. In my experience, there are stranger people in town parks than in national forests. The worst thing that’s ever happened to me was being warned away from drug deals. But be alert and aware of your surroundings. 
The subject is something I’ll address when I speak to the Knox County Art Society on tips for the traveling painter. That’s Tuesday, March 10, at 7 PM in the Marianne W. Smith Gallery at the Lord Camden Inn, 24 Main Street, Camden. The talk is open to the public; the suggested donation is $5.

Monday Morning Art School: Stayin’ Alive

It’s the most dangerous time of the year.

Take a boat. They’re objectively safer. Tricky Mary in a pea-soup fog, by Carol L. Douglas, courtesy Camden Falls Gallery.

According to the people who measure these things, the most dangerous form of transportation is your family car. There are two seasons when highway accidents jump—summertime and the holidays. Surprisingly, Massholes and New Yorkers are better drivers than Mainers.

Why am I harping on this? I opened the holiday season with a car accident. This weekend I came too close to being sideswiped by an aggressive driver. You can’t take my workshops if I’m dead, so listen up.
The empty road, in Yukon Territory or eastern Alaska. The risk changes from distracted drivers to enormous animals.
Pay attention
You will be more distracted during the holidays. That seems obvious, but is it objectively true? Yes, and there’s an app for that. It’s from a company called TrueMotion.
They say we’re 33% more likely to drive distracted in the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And that means we’re:
  • 12.2 times more likely to crash from dialing a phone.
  • 6.1 times more likely to crash from texting.
  • 2.2 times more likely to crash while talking on the phone.

The adjustor who looked at my car added another distraction: fiddling with the radio or heat. The controls in new cars are too big and complicated to adjust at a glance.
Set it and forget it
Like most of you, I used my phone to navigate, so it’s not practical to throw it in the backseat. But I’ve trained myself to ignore it. If I’m alone, I location-shareto the person waiting for me. That way I don’t need to tell them how late I’m running. (They can buy that golden pineapple at TJ Maxx without my opinion.)
Driving while drowsy
I think it’s absurd to tell American adults to get more sleep. Most can’t. But the devilish thing about micro-sleeps—which is what happens when you’re wrung out—is that we don’t even know they’re happening until we’ve lost control and crashed. I have many years of experience managing long drives. I drink coffee in moderation, drink as much water as I can stand, and I sing. Listening to music is soporific, but singing wakes up your whole body. And I’m not averse to stopping and napping or even sleeping in my car rather than pushing through.
Life in the breakdown lane.
Don’t drive drunk or high
Seems obvious, doesn’t it? But people still do it; in fact, drunk driving is what caused Maine drivers to fail so dismally in the rankings above.
I drink and drive, but never at the same time.
A University of California at San Diego study found a driver with a blood-alcohol level of only 0.01 is 46% more likely to be found at fault for a car accident than a sober driver involved in a crash. There’s no such thing as a safe level of alcohol consumption before driving a car. Although we haven’t devised ways of measuring, I’m pretty sure that’s true for pot, too.
Stop being so self-centered
You’ve got no business climbing up my tailpipe. Frankly, I resent it. Yes, you might be able to intimidate timid drivers into speeding up, but not me, Bucko.
Meanwhile, there’s some damn fool potting along in the left lane at exactly 66 mph. He steadfastly ignores the line of traffic behind and the angry drivers swerving around him. He owns that left lane and has no plans to vacate.
Wait! Are we really using two-ton battering rams to vent our personal problems? Can’t we all save that for Christmas dinner?

Monday Morning Art School: Extreme painting

Hunting season is approaching, posing unique issues for the plein air painter. I’m having (routine) medical tests this morning, so I asked a guest expert (my daughter) to answer my mailbag.
The Road to Seward, Alaska, by Carol L. Douglas

Dear Carol,

 
Last week, you mentioned the wild turkeys near your residency. I am, unfortunately, afflicted with both hoplophobia and meleagrisphobia – fears of guns and those creatures most fowl. When is it appropriate to pepper spray a turkey?
 
Yours, Allie N., New Mexico
 
Allie,
I have good news and I have bad news. As of 1992, the EPA was still looking for data on the effectiveness of capsaicin (the active spicy spice that makes spices spicy) against birds.1They accepted that it was probably effective against birds, in addition to other animals. Obviously, it has been several years since then. Two scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, discovered in 2002 that, while birds have the vanilloid receptors that taste capsaicin for us, theirs are immune to capsaicin.2 In conclusion, you could probably pepper spray a turkey and it would irritate and startle him. However, you’d get the same effect by shrieking and flapping your arms wildly. In my opinion, the perfect time to pepper spray a turkey is directly before he goes into the oven.
Mary Helen
The Alaska Range, by Carol L. Douglas
Greetings Carol,
 
It’s my favorite time of year here in Success, Saskatchewan – the air is crisp and clear, the leaves are changing, and it’s finally moose season. I can’t wait to make all my favorite moose recipes once my wife comes back from hunting. Moose chili, moose enchiladas, moose tartare, coleslaw with moose meatballs, moose bulgogi – you name it, I’ll eat it! I love going with my wife on her hunting trips all around the wilderness of Saskatchewan. You’ve been there. You know how it is! It’s a great time to do some plein airpainting while enjoying some quality time with the missus. How can I best keep myself from getting mistaken for a moose? You know, we share so many of the same features.
 
Bill Winkleman, Saskatchewan
 
Bill,
Moose season in Saskatchewan this year is from October to December. Soon it will be too cold to do much painting en plein air. However, here’s good advice on how to avoid being mistaken for a large ungulate:
  • Wear brightly-colored clothing when out in the woods. I recommend a large, heavily starched tie-dye wizard’s hat.
  • Try to sing as loudly as possible at all times. It’s common knowledge that moose are fans of jazz and Scandinavian black metal, so stick to old pop standards and famous Canadian sea shanties.
You may find that when you’re painting en plein air, you may find moose walking around en trails. Worse than that, you may find that some enterprising hunter has left moose entrails en trails and you have to walk gingerly. I recommend wellies.
Mary Helen
Confluence, by Carol L. Douglas
Carol –
 
My Oma and I are planning a cycling trip up the Alaska Highway next summer. We’ve already begun shopping for a truly inspiring collection of very tight, padded shorts and we’ve got our cameras ready to see all the wildlife. How do you get your best photos of bears?
 
Hildegard
 
Hildy,
It’s GREAT to hear from you again! My advice for taking photos of bears from your bicycle from the shoulder of the Alaska highway is, uh, DON’T!
Black bears can run between 25 and 30 miles an hour and brown bears can run even faster. A ridiculously lost polar bear can run even faster than that! For comparison, your 97-year old grandmother can probably only manage about ten miles an hour. Just put something to make noise in the spokes of your bike and leave the bears alone. Instead of stopping to photograph them as they forage on the roadside, why not take a quick snapshot of the other tourists taking their picture as you zoom by to safety?
Laird Hot Springs, by Carol L. Douglas. This was the site of a fatal bear attack in 1997.
In July 2018, conservation officers in British Columbia responded to 25 calls about grizzlies and 179 calls about black bears.3,4The Yukon Government reported that at least 63 bears were killed in Yukon,5a five-year high. Human interaction with bears is not only dangerous for the humans, but dangerous for the bear. Remember – a fed bear is a dead bear.
Mary Helen
  1. R.E.D. Facts – Capsaicin. (1992, June). Environmental Protection Agency.
  2. Jordt, S., & Julius, D. (2002, February 8). Molecular basis for species-specific sensitivity to “hot” peppers. Cell, 108(3), 421-430.
  3. Predator statistics: black bear. (2018, September). Conservation Officer Service of British Columbia.
  4. Predator statistics: grizzly bear. (2018, September). Conservation Officer Service of British Columbia.
  5. 63 bears destroyed in Yukon this year because of human conflict. (2017, November 29). CBC News.

Safety in small brushes

In life, as in painting, which brush is going to give you the results you crave?

By Sheryl Cassibry, in gouache. Occasionally, I like to brag on my students. These are all from yesterday’s class.
Yesterday my class painted on the public landing at South Thomaston, watching the Weskeag River burble its short, strapping way to Penobscot Bay. I was, as I often do, coaxing a student to use a bigger brush. My students accept the reasoning behind this, but they often revert back to smaller brushes by the time I visit their easels again. It feels safer.
“What a metaphor for life!” exclaimed Roger Akeley. “You want to paint bold, but you run back to the tiny brush!”
 By Roger Akeley
He is right. In life as well as in painting, there is a time for measured, patient, diligent action, but there’s also a time for bold deeds. The trouble is, by the time we’ve reached our mid-twenties, the bold has been trained right out of us.
Bold carries a more obvious risk of failure. This is illusory. Bold alone carries the potential for greatness. Safe is a one-way ticket to mediocrity.
My youngest nephew joined our class yesterday. He’s going into the eighth grade.
I’ve been pondering the lyrics of Needtobreath’s Slumber this month:
All these victims
Stand in line for
The crumbs that fall from the table
Just enough to get by…
It’s a sadly-apt vision of most of our lives. We hang on from paycheck to paycheck, with no real plan for the future. We want a better job, the opportunity to live somewhere else, satisfying relationships and real community. Yet we stay rooted in our spots, unwilling to make the hard choices that make real, significant change.
By Rebecca Gorrell, in acrylic.
When should you reach for the bigger brush? Assuming you’re not a miniaturist, the answer is: nearly all the time. Most of the struggle in painting is getting the big relationships right. The rest is just detail. If modern painting has taught us anything, it’s that excessive detail is extraneous and often intrusive. It can interfere with the viewer’s ability to understand emotional truth. Detail, in painting, should be saved for where it really matters.
By Jennifer Johnson, in oil. Sorry about the glare.
I’m an artist with the soul of an accountant, myself. I like order; I actually enjoy math, spring cleaning and vacuuming. There are no fuzzy edges in any of these tasks. When I’m done with them, I have a sense of simple satisfaction. But they aren’t central to my life.
By Jen Van Horne, in oil.
The Pareto Principle implies that 80% of our results come from 20% of our work. This doesn’t mean that fussing isn’t necessary, but that it should come at the end, when the work has assumed its overall shape and statement.
By Sandy Quang, in oil.
Using a bigger brush isn’t necessarily more emotional or less rational. In fact, it’s usually the other way around. When I have my monster size 24 flat in my hand, I’m very thoughtful about where I set it down. Flailing around is much easier with a size six filbert. Extend that metaphor to life. It’s much easier to complain about your home town than it is to clean the basement out, sell up and move. In fact, we all complain a lot. But which is going to net you the real results you crave?
I’ve got one more workshop available this summer. Join me for Sea and Sky at Schoodic, August 5-10. We’re strictly limited to twelve, but there are still seats open.

Monday Morning Art School: painting when the sun don’t shine

Changing light, comfort and safety, and keeping your materials workable are big challenges for bad weather
Rocky, by Carol L. Douglas, Cape Elizabeth Paint for Preservation

I’ve had great luck with weather this year, but that isn’t always the case. Last year I did an event in a cold rain that lasted from the opening bell until the jurying was complete, at which time the sun came back out. Mother Nature may forego the rain and sulk instead. Fog is beautiful but the flat dull light of an overcast sky is a challenge to love. Organizers may sympathize, but they can’t magically change the parameters of a plein air event. The show must go on.

Outside of events, painters have the luxury of staying home when they aren’t inspired. I don’t recommend it. There are exciting atmospheric effects that take place in bad weather, and if you aren’t there, you won’t see them. Nor will you know how to cope if you suddenly find yourself in a downpour when it really matters.
Storm Clouds (pastel), by Carol L. Douglas
There are three issues involved in painting in lousy weather.
  • Changing lighting conditions.
  • Your material’s stability;
  • Your personal comfort and safety;

Changing and imperfect light is one of the principle arguments for doing preparatory sketches. This weekend, I painted a dramatically back-lit rock for Cape Elizabeth Land Trust’s Paint for Preservation. I only had about four hours a day when these lighting conditions were true, and they weren’t true on the second day at all, because it was overcast. At the same time, I needed to include the tide, which advances almost an hour a day.
I’d done a fairly careful sketch in advance and was able to refer to it when in doubt. I repeated that process on the canvas when I started painting. Some people think underpainting is a substitute for an initial value sketch on paper. The problem, however, is that you cover up the evidence when you paint. Without my sketch as my guide, I doubt I would have retained the rigor of my initial idea.
Painting in the residue of a hurricane with Brad Marshall. (Courtesy Rye Art Center)
Watercolors and pastel are very difficult to manage in a downpour, even when they’re out of the direct rain. Paper and chalk both become saturated with moisture, making control impossible. The only solution I know is to work from inside your car. Acrylics actually benefit from higher humidity, but sideways mist and rain will make them run off the canvas too.
Remember learning that oil and water don’t mix? Instead, they form a sludgy emulsion that’s impossible to paint with. Oil paint won’t stick on a damp surface. Since the pigment is in suspension in the linseed oil, it can bleed off with water droplets. Shake loose water off and pour off any that ends up on your palette. Don’t blot.
Oil paint doesn’t freeze, however, making it great for winter painting.
Storm Clouds over Lake Huron was painted in the direct rain in a terrific downpour. The paint emulsified, but sometimes you just have to capture the scene.
With any media, you should avoid letting your canvas get wet from the back. Gesso expands and contracts with moisture changes. Copious rain will destabilize canvas and warp boards.
This spring, Ellen Joyce Trayer brought a bag full of knitted cowls along to my Age of Sailworkshop. She handed them out to anyone on the boat who wanted one. I was an immediate convert. They warm your neck without adding bulk. A general rule of dress: you are coldest when standing or sitting still, so bring more clothes.
Massed thunderheads are beautiful and transient but put away your lightning rod (easel) and get off your mountain long before the storm hits. Lightning strikes on both the leading and trailing edges of thunderstorms. Even if the sky directly over your head is clear, you’re at risk of a strike when you can hear thunder. Far better to get inside your car and record the pyrotechnics with gouache.
I’ve got one more workshop available this summer. Join me for Sea and Sky at Schoodic, August 5-10. We’re strictly limited to twelve, but there are still seats open.

Reflecting on the Oakland fire

"High Falls, Rochester," by Carol L. Douglas

“High Falls, Rochester,” by Carol L. Douglas
Years ago, I rented studio space in a converted warehouse dedicated to artists. For the most part its tenants were serious mid-career professionals who worked there by day and lived elsewhere by night. However, there were also squatters, artists who lived there illegally.
The presence of these squatters was an open secret. The fire department visited regularly to try to flush them out, but the squatters had a sixth sense. In the entire time I rented there, the woman living in the space next to mine was never caught. She worked, which meant she was never around during the day when inspections are carried out.

A clothing designer rented the space on the other side of my studio for her inventory; her workshop was in the next space over. Garment manufacture is a dusty and flammable business. My own studio had shelves full of oil-based solvents and varnishes. We were on the top floor, and the rafters of our 19thcentury building were soaked in creosote, which would drop in fat strings through the still air of hot summer days. Even with sprinklers (which we had), a fire would have been disastrous.
I have been reading about Oakland’s tragic fire in an artist’s collective. There is always a fringe of people in every art community whose major life work appears to be being “arty.” Their spaces are chaotic and, since they’re not great respecters of rules, their stuff often spills out into public areas. Their over-sized personalities make them charismatic, and they draw others into their orbit. It doesn’t surprise me that a pair of middle-aged poseurs thoughtlessly led so many young people to their deaths.
"View from my studio window, North Rochester," by Carol L. Douglas

“View from my studio window, North Rochester,” by Carol L. Douglas
Many artists are terrifically poor. With that comes social isolation. When you’re already paying rent for a studio, it is tempting to move a futon into a corner, add a cook top and refrigerator, and then sort of drift into living there, especially when your friends are doing the same thing.
That is so dangerous. The same building codes that protect people in residential units also raise the cost of building and maintaining those units, but you get what you pay for.
In a nutshell, young artists, if you’re thinking of squatting in your studio, don’t. And if you’re invited to an after-hours party in a collective building, think carefully about whether the space is safe.
Anyways, you have work to do. Being an artist is not a lifestyle; it’s a job. Art poseurs make real artists look shallow and unrealistic. Their talk is just so much hot air. Your real future lies in producing consistent work and finding venues in which to sell it.