It’s a’MEE! SMITHSIO!
Respect Your Elders by Tennessee Loveless
I love seeing my work on Tumblr! Thanks! XOXO 10SC
"Lightbulb City, Population: Infinite", Free Form Piece, Stream of Consciousness Series, Classic Mickey Collection, Disney Fine Art 2012.
Six years ago I lost my creative synapses and the use of my hands. My brain was downtrodden with pollution, physical intoxicants, to the point of consistent delerium. Slowly, very slowly, I began to lose everything, and the world closed into this tight heated cramped space of living. I had, in essence, become less of shell of myself, and my ultimate defeat and crash in 2009 left me with nowhere to go. It was rock bottom.
Surely what cured me was to retrain myself in painting. I spent the next few years diligently retraining my hands to work against a compass and a ruler as my teachers. I spent 60 hours a week consistently painting, isolating myself from everyone else in this dingy apartment in Little Armenia. The thought process was there, but I lived by the ruler like a pair of crutches.
I have been afraid to leave those crutches, and in fairness, with my recent launch over the past few years and exposure through Disney, people have relied on that aesthetic as a representation of what I do.
Something happened while being filmed for “Tie It Into My Hand”, the collaborative effect crossing the senses woke up something sleeping for a very long time, and it was my busy busy synapses firing receptors in my head. I haven’t seen.. .. this work since 2001… since the beginnings of my corruptive path. .. And while people are calling this an ‘evolution’, I should explain that this is not new, but a reintroduction to something thats very close to my heart.
"Home, Here is Love, Love is Here" . Classic Mickey Collections, Stream of Consciousness Series, Disney Fine Art 2012
This is the third piece of the Stream of Consciousness Series, the 2nd will follow soon, but I wanted to share about this one now. I made two rules on this one
With those rules, this canvas was made with:
Now when I’m mentioning coffee, I’m pouring a little bit from my cup onto the canvas and then smashing the base and grinding the coffee in a circle into the piece. These were done in various locations, and at one of those locations I had someone rush up to me and go ‘my god what are you doing man, you are ruining it!’ which I found a little funny.
* The office job. So periodically I’ll take random temp assignments from an agency to fill in for extra cash, and to get me out of the studio. Generally I cant commit to office work full time because I paint full time, but I have to get work to make ends meet because thats the life of an artist who’s in their launch phase.
In this case, I ended up in at this organization who for the most part were very conservative. I was filling in for a coworker who was out of town and needed to fill in on basic duties that the boss needed, .. however I had pretty much nothing to do, but work on the canvas…which of course for rule part #2, I had to bring with me (trying to explain it to them was a little futile, but in the end they got it). With permission (I can only use the items if they say yes) I got to use the following items from the coworkers desk (items 5 through 8), which was fantastic. I did have coworker stop by and say “uh, why are you stapling the canvas?”… to which I said “its because I have to”.
One by one, the employees watched me, for the most part while waiting for calls to come into their office and filing duties to be done, fill up the canvas from complete white space (except for the black paint I got for the template and the coffee stains prior) with the supplies they had given me. There was just ONE thing that wasn’t complete, and that was the smaller rings which I knew I could make with the bosses coffee and cup.. to which I finally got after an awkward moment of asking for it…
Granted I was careful with the impression I was making, and for the most part I knew I’d never see these folks again. But they enjoyed my company, even it was a little eccentric for their tastes… and in the end, this piece was created, stuck in time in Echo Park, Los Angeles Calfornia on West Sunset Boulevard on 2/16 - 2/17.
These stream of consciousness series are far different than my normal work, because technically the pop geometric technique is left at the door, and all you have is raw soul, the use of objects in my environment. You have a part of my day, a piece of me written out for an entire week. A part of me.
This from my “Stream of Consciousness” Series. This technically was all a mistake. I was working off my templates for the Ten by Ten Series, and in one of the pieces, I had created Mickey behind a SMPTE test pattern screen (the bars of color you see to register the color for your television back in the 80’s and prior). In the face the words said “TURN OFF, TURN ON, YOUR TELEVISION SET”. In review I was asked to change the words ‘turn’ to ‘switch’. Rather than mess the original piece I created a new one, and just drafted the words switch.
But here was the predicament. Here was this lovely canvas, cut too weird to stretch to ever use, but I just felt that I was neglecting the piece in front of me. After all, it was just going to be used to the printing press to use those words I drafted, and after that it was going to be thrown away. I felt slightly guilty just leaving the words there and nothing else…. and well, that stems from my emotional attachment to the inanimate.
Often as a child, you’d see me running after a plastic bag that was floating down the street, because for some reason I thought it was clearly being swept away from its will, and I’d try and save it. I’d always be grabbing broken toys or things off the ground and taking them home because I thought they were lost, broken, and afraid. I suppose this characteristic of thinking that there is life and feeling with the inanimate was a part of this massive imaginary belief system that I created to shelter myself from what troubled life I had with the animate lives I grew up with.
Be that as it may, I find myself, still as an adult coming into terms with not wasting the items I have, and keeping that rare emotional connection through inanimate objects. I rarely throw anything out, and if you are a collector of my work, you’ll know that everything I use (brushes and pens) are super glued to the back, so that they’ll always be a part of the process and never left out.
And this is exactly where I was at with this lonely (see I’m projecting here) piece of canvas with the words ‘switch’ on it. I happened to be in a meeting, and had this pen with me, and I just ‘went to town’ on it. There is a WHOLE other subject on this process that I’ll get into in another post… but for now you’ll see that not much space is wasted. I figured once I showed this to the publisher, that they’d take it, use the useful space that they needed for the print, and give the piece back to me since it wasn’t technically the style they were used to, and they’d find it to be rather elementary and unclean since I’m more known for my clean pop optical subjects. .. and this.. .was rather something from my soul, and yet unsellable.
I was surprised, deeply surprised, that they liked it, and more than anything that they kept it. In the actual face is a journal of my time in Vegas, where I was overcome with synesthesia and couldn’t get rid of it, hence why the title above is “Wake Up and Smell the Sound of Coffee”
This so far is a series of 4 represented by objects.
The Crown. The Lightbulb, The Diamond, and the Key.
All of these you will see with separate stories very soon.
Classic Mickey Collection, Stream of Consciousness Series. Tennessee Loveless 2012.
So I needed to video blog about the experience with Paul Festa, and show you the actual piece. I’ve been working on this for the past few weeks, and what has manifested has come from such a foreign and strange place that I am anxious for the continuation of this painting series. I say this mainly because I consistently push myself for complexity in my work. The patterns have become more complex and the colors I’m researching and understanding are coming into the mix. HOWEVER, this is way beyond my safety zone when it comes to the work I do. … after all I’m painting a sound you can’t hear, and you are seeing a color I can’t see.
Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet with Paul Festa, a brilliant violinist, writer, and documentary film maker, for his newest project entitled “Tie It Into My Hand”.
When Paul had originally approached me about the subject, I fought with myself on how to exactly work with him, because the idea was so ethereal, that my brain wrestled with itself on how to create something solid enough to use.
The reason why I say this, is because “Tie It Into My Hand”, loosely is about Paul Festa being taught how to play Tchaikovsky’s concerto via the violin better, by many instructors across many fields of art expertise. In other words, I had to teach Paul how to play the music better by my own art form, which is painting. There is so much more to this documentary than just that awful explanation that I’ve given, but I’m trying to keep in brief so you can see this for yourself.
When presented with the idea, I fathomed different scenarios of communication. I fought back and forth in the giant sea of ideas on how this was really going to work. Being that I’ve found this comfort as a licensed artist, I had finally got a rhythm of working around my colorblindness in a field that was beginning to feel comfortable to me.
But this idea was so experimental, that I struggled with how exactly I was going to perform, even if Paul had considered me a teacher, or an artist.
It dawned on me that synesthesia was a common denominator in our communication. Because I can’t see color correctly, the only way I’ve determined to really communicate is in crossing the senses. I paint to feel cold, or taste sweet… so I determined that music was much the same… in that each note could in fact feel sweaty or frozen… or taste like cherries, or smell like cotton, and therefore.. I would have him play in a way that would communicate EXACTLY what Tchaikovsky was trying to say in his piece. .. by detecting the right temperature of color through Paul’s sound.
And that technically was what was SUPPOSED to happen, but when the filming actually happened in my apartment in Los Feliz, something else decided to take form instead. When trying to teach Paul how to play via a color scale, my direction suddenly backfired into my head. And while we achieved communication in him playing hotter and more yellow, patterns started forming in my head that I had never seen before or even attempted to understand.
The more Paul played, the more shapes and codes formed in my head. It was as if someone was writing a novel furiously without words, but just pages and pages of different bars, and squares, and combinations of geometric ballet in my head. My hand tried to scribble the pigment codes through his music, but I was seized with pattern. ..
When the music was over, and bear with me on this explanation, I suddenly felt the diameter of my being. As if, for the first time, I realized the space and dimension of my minds thought process.. And the space within myself was indefinite because something finally stirred in me, like this distant hum off in the horizon that was growing… I knew that in all actuality where this hum existed was extremely loud and powerful, but for now it existed hundreds of miles away in my head. This sound was either a collective wave, a tsunami of my ideas and patterns waiting to be pressed on to the canvas… but I could tell it was coming towards me, even if I couldn’t judge the rate/speed of its progress.
And Paul asked questions, about ‘permission’ and ‘grief’, which piled on top of this already growing force of an idea yet unreached but CERTAINLY gaining speed.. suddenly began to break away at this solid form I had built on my art for so many years.
And when Paul Festa left my apartment that night, I sat there blankly looking at this clean white 24 x 24 canvas for hours. The smell of the neighborhood skunk wafted in the air, and the sounds of helicopters dizzily kissed the sky in this endless dragonfly hum… and I just sat there, looking at this white square… wondering when I was going to start painting the music piece he played. .. dumbfounded and realizing that in me teaching Paul Festa how to play the violin better by painting, that Paul Festa taught me how to paint better by playing the violin.
Its an incredible moment when you are showing with the artists you grew up respecting. Granted, I’m 34, but for a lot of us striving for art success in the realm of studio animation fine art, 34 is pretty young.
I’m grateful for this.
Last week I was flown to Las Vegas for the Chuck Jones Gallery opening at Circus Circus on the Strip. Because I had just relatively started with them and wanted to show with them, I threw my entire world upside down to understand the fundamentals of Looney Tunes characters, .. which is kind of hard if your style is about patterning around without altering the characters form what so ever.
But, I did it. Even after TSA smeared it from putting it back in the box wrong at the airport… An artist with bad luck always carries a bottle of black ink and two brushes with them when in mid transport. I ended up cutting a plastic cup in the hotel room they provided me, poured in ink, repainted it, dried it with the wall hair dryer in the bathroom, rushed down to the promenade 2nd floor to the gallery manager and viola. .. it worked out in time for the press walkthrough.
But the most incredible part was showing with James Coleman, Mike Kungl, James Mulligan, and Mike Peraza Jr. I’ve been walking the halls at Disney admiring their work, and there are I was showing with them… Its just kind of hard to wrap my head around it. Granted I’ve shown at reputable places and had a bit of success in low brow street level works pre Disney, but to be asked to exhibit at studio level with these guys is a god shot… a kind of moment where you realize
'yes, this is what i was destined to do'.
License for Mitosis
Its 1:09am in Los Angeles. My studio is packed to the hilt with completed canvases… they are leaning against door frames, book shelves, and my couch. I believe there is even one nesting in the cubby hole of my kitchen. The air smells like skunk, which is quite common for the Los Feliz sector of Los Angeles, because they run rampant here along with the coyotes. Ambient music is playing in the background, and I’m just kind of organizing my thoughts before my big day tomorrow at Disney Fine Art, where I’m
I’m done for the evening. I’m working on three different collections/properties which I’ll divulge the other two in future posts, but the one I wanted to talk about today was my recent collaboration and signing with Warner Brothers properties via the Chuck Jones sector (LJE/Linda Jones Enterprises)
This came from a collaborative private viewing at Collector’s Editions studios entitled “Behind the Curtain” back in the Summer of 2011, in which both Disney and Looney Tunes collectors came to view some of the artists works. It was a great night in where I connected with them after a brief public Q&A about ‘the artist process’ with the collectors.
I recently am doing work for the opening of their gallery “The Chuck Jones Experience”, which is happening in Las Vegas, NV on the 19th. I’m trying to finish one piece right now, and just finished the layout for the final draft… I should mention that the final piece is due in 36 hours. .. Talk about cutting it close!
Its interesting, working for a new license. Granted I am still a Disney Fine Artist in the realm of POP, but… understanding the fundamentals of Looney Tunes characters is stepping completely into a different world. The brilliant animation of Chuck Jones isn’t as simple as it looks. This animation is walking into unfamiliar territory, .. the symmetries are different, the movement, the poses, the dimensions are so vastly different than Disney… that its like painting from scratch all over again. I feel vaguely infantile because of this switching of comfort zones… and I have to admit, I’m falling in love with the learning process.
I’m looking forward to this new collaboration with the team over at Chuck Jones/Looney Tunes/Warner Brothers, and hope you’ll tune in for future pieces.
Until then.. I’m going to sleep. I have a pitch for my 2012 collection/intention review over at Disney tomorrow, and have to get some rest.