30 July, 2007

Shout Out

This is a shout out to Mike and Susan to say thanks for having me over to your lovely home in Bellevue. Enjoy the Great Magenta Horizon, and it was wonderful to meet you.

24 July, 2007


I have become Rothko-ized! Now, I am a fully functioning zombie in the Mark-Mode.

Just kidding. I will be "out of pocket", as the hip people say, for the next three weeks. On the road for Bellevue, Park City and Sun Valley. Reports will be posted at
the Endless Summer Art Fair.

You are owed a better end to the Rothko study. Sorry, I'm not ready for the definitive post, yet. I will have some down time between driving stretches, and maybe I'll get to post a little.

The quick things I can share are my pre-conclusions. Greenberg and that whole gang (including MR) were so impressed with abstraction being the break-out style for modern art that they felt they needed to push it to it's absolute limits. I'm not sure if we have reached those limits, yet. The cracks in that infrastructure developed before the Abstract Expressionist school could run its course.

I disagree with the dialectic that insists abstraction is the end-game of art. There are some solid values to abstraction, and it is fundamental to art as a historic continuum, and as a rudimentary part of the formal structure of art itself. I love the stuff, personally.

Rothko was a huge figure on the American landscape, whose color field art did a better job of breaking away from figuration than Pollock's art, IMHO. Not to compare too much, but the lack of line and the forwarding of the element of color are why I say MR is better. Action painting, as absolutely fantastic as it is, is still very dependent (Pollock's work) on the line.

Let's see. Now that I've dug this big hole, I guess I'll have a fine job ahead of me to fill in the rationales! I don't want to leave you with a comparison between JP and MR. That's too far off the mark for understanding the Abstract Expressionists.

Let's leave you with this awesome photo of The Irascibles, a group of artists otherwise known as the Abstract Expressionists, or the New York School. I wanted to photoshop myself in there as an interviewer, but I didn't want a lawsuit from the photographer. Perhaps you'll just have to imagine that part.

Image of the Abstract Expressionists known as The Irascibles.http://www.artlex.com/ArtLex/a/images/abstexp_irascibles_lg.jpeg
"The Irascibles" (photo by Nina Leen, 1950, for Life magazine) Front row, left to right: Theodore Stamos, Jimmy Ernst (son of Max Ernst), Barnett Newman, James Brooks, Mark Rothko. Middle row: Richard Pousette-Dart, William Baziotes, Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, Robert Motherwell, Bradley Walker Tomlin. Back row: Willem De Kooning, Adolph Gottlieb, Ad Reinhardt, and Hedda Sterne.

Want to know more about Hedda Sterne? Fascinating. She is the last surviving member of this famous photo.

22 July, 2007

Art World Currents

Jane Kallir, in The Art Newspaper, has given us a well-rounded essay on the four pillars of the art world gone askew. I always read these things very critically, as I am very free market oriented. She does a balanced job of describing some of the ills of over-feeding the art world's money hole. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with capitol, IMHO. Money is indeed the root of all evil, but it is not the evil itself - that requires man's imprinteur.

Given Miss Kallir's authority as a NYC gallery director, I had to yield to her knowledge on the steep drop-off from the super-heated art auction market to the next levels down. I still feel that the value of art overall is improved by the unimaginably high prices spent at auction, but the facts also speak that the middle market and lower market (hello) are "becalmed".

Is it any wonder that I had a whole month on art criticism? The need for knowledge is suffering, and it seems that the general understanding of this is spreading. If I, as an artist, must strive for originality, then the academic and critical strata of the art world must risk a little, too.

Thanks to Katherine Tyrrell for linking us to this great article.

Urgent Help Needed - Book Pricing

Rip from my book

The book is about ready to go, although the customer service at MyPublisher is telling me to wait while they figure out why I had a mis-print on the spine of the "proof". I'm going to push it forward anyway, since there have been so many changes to the book, it will "send" as a new book with a new file name, anyway.

I need your help,. dear readers, on pricing. Maybe a few of you will wind up buying a copy, too. Here's your chance to "open source" solve the pricing issues I have.

The "wholesale" to me is going to be significant, even with the standard discounts that MyPub offers, and with grouped shipping. I had originally had a retail in mind of @ $49 for the 8.75" x 11.25" linen hardcover. The catch comes when I realize that it will be competing in the broader book market, but it only has 29 pages. It features 35 images, 32 of which are in color, and essays about my art process. Prints of my Colorist American Landscapes are offered nowhere else. And, at that price, I will be earning in the single digits. Call it cheap advertising!

I looked up Wolf Kahn (my sage) on Amazon, and his (much longer) hard bounds are retailed at @ $45, but of course they are older now and get discounts to about $30. My venue, though, will be the art fair and not the bookstore or Amazon. I think I'm going to be OK with the mid forties price, especially with the perceived demand that comes with standing in front of the artist in his booth and in the presence of an installation of originals. The package has "whollop", to coin a phrase.

In the fully steamed department, I see Amazon sellers trying to unload their Wolf Kahn opening catalogs for greater than $100! Don't get me wrong, it's a free market, and it is perfectly legal. But please! Those are ( I know in a commercial setting) given free as a token for attending the gallery during his shows. Is no one polite, anymore? Well, I'll get off of my soap box, now, especially since my English is deteriorating...

Your opinions on my price? Could it be a little more? Or, is $45 too much and they will just languish, in your opinion?

BTW, the text in the rip above is new for the book, and I share it here:

"The fact that one usually begins with drawing is already academic. We start with color," Mark Rothko.

The great Abstract Expressionist, Mark Rothko, has taught us a great deal about color. Don't begin with a subject at all, but rather a color composition. He found it imperative to kill the subject completely, but my approach is to devalue it by repetition.

I have been influenced by the idea that, instead of using a three hue palette such as red, blue and yellow, an artist may arbitrarily choose to function using a two color base. Say, red and blue.

Here's an analogy to help you understand my two-color theory. When I was heavily into mountain climbing, we approached ski-waxing theory by simple numbers. There was the three wax system: Red, Blue and Violet, perhaps - each color was for a different snow temperature. Some wanted five waxes for the ever-changing Cascade Mountain's temperature conditions. I wound up devolving to a two-wax system: Red and Blue Extra. Similarly, the artist may wish to see two halves of the color wheel, and think of the blue side of yellow and the red side of yellow. This is as opposed to seeing three "rote" and separate hues, and instead viewing something like a continuum. The advantages may be that the artist will focus more on the split of each hue, and get a better use of every color (even yellow!).

By the same token, consider a two color system where we have a red-influenced blue and a red-starved blue.

In my current series of blue-centric works, I am discovering the freedom of the one-color composition! How much can I learn about the enduring color blue? What is the importance of line to the one-color work? The same question may be asked of form. The pastel: "Blue Wandering" is in many ways a break through for me. I have added more cobalts, and found new avenues to drive abstract shapes down. The "exploding" violet trunk would never have worked in a multi-colored palette.

Am I traveling two roads at once-a monochromatic one and a limited color-theory one? Perhaps that's what artistic license was invented for.

20 July, 2007

Book Report

The book has arrived via Fed Ex and I was surprised at the quality! See my "book report" at the Endless Sumer Art Fair blog.

19 July, 2007

Der Farbenkünstler

Der Farbenkünstler

That's the German for The Colorist. This is a shameless post to try and net more readers from Germany. Do you ever look at your StatCounter and groove on all of the places that your readers come from?

I notice a number of things about my StatCounter. It doesn't catch all of the lurks out there. I wonder what the percentage of captures to misses is? It reveals that my audience (all of our audiences, probably) is heavily balanced with Americans. No doubt, the English-language is responsible. But, the plain fact is that Americans are "hooked-up" to the Internet in large numbers.

Speaking of English, the UK, is a large percentage of my non-American readers. Also a goodly amount of New Zealanders and Aussies. But, that stuff makes sense, given language. Canada is a little under-represented, but one forgets that Canada has a large land-mass, and a small population (my idea of heaven on Earth).

Now, this is interesting. I have a very good amount of Italian readers, and a fair amount of Spanish. Also Romania, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Poland, France, you get the idea. In fact, Europe is very well hooked-up, as they say. But way under-represented is Germany. I think that's odd, given the size and economy of Germany. Where are you, German readers?

I wonder sometimes if the German ISPs just do a really great job of hiding their referrals. Any ideas out there?

So, I am trolling for German readers here, as an experiment. I can't wait to see what happens. BTW, it has been said that Berlin is a world center for modern art, which is another reason for my curiosity about this.

I might as well list some of my other fun "hits" from the StatCounter. Those who read here that have mega-audiences, like Katherine and William, will be bored silly by this. But my readership is pretty modest. I am pleased when I see the ticks of page loads go over a hundred, and the Unique Visits go over 60 or 70. My averages are 70+ loads and 40+ UVs. I suppose a guy could spend more time on promotion, but that would come out of my content-producing time. To say nothing of my time in the studio!

Other interesting hits:

Brunei ( I have a "brush with fame" relating to the Sultan, but I'll save that for another post)
Anywhere in the Middle East
The Ukraine
Japan (not surprising)

My favorite all-time visit came from the Guggenheim Museum in Venice. That was a spit-your-coffee at the the CRT moment. In case anyone wants to know, I am open to the Venice Biennale...anybody? Anybody?
(Sound of an echo chamber here)

17 July, 2007

Clyfford Still

The Denver Post has this on the current DAM installation about our Abstract Expressionist, Clyfford Still. The city of Denver will have a Still Museum, targeted opening: 2010.

The definitive site
An interactive bio on the old boy
the proto-museum of CS
Worth a read. I discovered that he has a Spokane connection, which makes him a local boy, sort of
This research led me to a nifty art blog called Art and Perception
NYT article relating to a Time Capsule of Still's art-very unusual stuff

15 July, 2007

Museum Installation

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Dream big, everyone.


Artist and art promoter William Lehman, of Artist's Hideout, has a Pod cast that samples art blogs and other tidbits.

Pods scare the heck out of me, and I have no Earthly idea what a pod cast is, and even less of an idea how to rip it to this space, but I'll leave you with a link to his post.

12 July, 2007

Atonement and Automatism

Soft Pastel
7" x 5"
Casey Klahn

Many cuts from this blog made it in my new book/portfolio. Here's a new quote, though:

Gesture and intuition combine in my abstract art. Intuition, not intention. Color choices are simply not derived from nature, but from internal sources.

"Automatism" is an old term that could be applied here. Drawing for drawing's sake, without idea or content. Color has it's own intrinsic purposes and reasons - ideas of it's own.

Am I controlled by my medium? Perhaps, but no more than most.

What are my ideas? To express color as the dominant element in the formal qualities in painting. Color can be the strongest element, and I think that in this age we have yet to plumb it's complete depths. No content; no meaning. No subject, other than red and blue. Yellow, green...these are my subjects.

11 July, 2007

Book Project Update

The book project is on the front burner. Better not say: "burner". That reminds me too much that today will be another 100 degree Farenheit scorcher. Where I come from originally, it's much like I think the Northern U.K. is: the "foggy land" of myth. 70 degrees was considered hot, and we still put on our coats to go outside. We didn't have seasonal clothing, given that we only had one season!

I reviewed Lulu, MyPublisher and Blurb, but found some areas wanting. Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools has this great comparison of POD outfits. Here is a UK blog that did an extensive test of 3 brands of photo book. Mavie did a wedding book review between MyPub and Blurb. She agrees that Blurb's pages are too lightweight. WeddingBee has a user that loves her MP book. I felt Specifically, the business plan of Lulu is nice, but their printer is the same quality as my in-home printer (dry ink). They receive high marks from the world of writers seeking to publish and distribute their novel or whatever text-centric vehicle they choose. Hello, Twenty-First Century!

I did find this tidbit: you may browse for creative commons images to use on this page at Lulu.

Another issue is formatting. The various POD, one-off (meaning that you may print one book at a time), services have you download a simple program with templates. You drag and drop your jpegs, and the formatting is easy-cheesey.

Me being a fan of monkey-business, and always trying to re-invent the wheel, have decided that the next time I do a layout, I want to do it all myself. This method is also necessary for me when I produce low-quantity layouts such as a brochure for my packet or for my booth. I'll cover self layout issues that I have researched, or suffered personally, in a future post.

Blurb and MyPub use a much better printer, the HP Indigo 5000, which is a 7 color liquid ink offset look digital printer. Much better choice for image-centric books. Also costs more than Lulu, and for good reason, I think.

I am, so far, pursuing MyPublisher for a few reasons. The day I went to "pull the trigger" on laying out my book, I couldn't get the Blurb download to work, had trouble with my member log-in, and also didn't like the paper stock in my example book from Blurb. The photos "bled-through" from the reverse side of each page! They use an 80 lbs. paper, apparently, but the example book they sent me seemed lighter than that.

So, I spent all day Sunday early morning to late night formatting my pages for MyPub, and am just in the clean-up stages. Especially trying is my slide list. Unlike some complainers on the web, I found their interface pretty easy. All text pages, partial text pages, 1-6 images per page, no problems. Photo uploads - easy.

I also have a reader in Valhalla, NY (MP's address). The MYPublisher product, if I understand it correctly, is printed in the USA. The UK people who tested it on their blog, referenced above, did receive theirs from the US.

I cannot find any information on self-pricing or marketing a MyPublisher book, so I am currently in limbo on this. I resist the low quality paper and reverse bleed-through of Blurb, which also won't even download to my computer, so they're a non-starter, anyway.

Now, I am in the throws of Googling everything and anything on MyPublisher, etc. The research continues...

Review of findings:
  1. Lulu uses dry ink printing, poor for images
  2. Those that use the HP Indigo 500 are best, like Blurb or MyPublisher
  3. Complaints exist for all of these publishers, with a wide variance of satisfaction. There is ample evidence of people happy with the quality of MyPub's pages and photo quality.
  4. Most will use these services for "vanity" publishing, which means essentially not for profit purposes
  5. MyPublisher is not savvy to the for-profit guy like an artist trying to publish a portfolio style book
  6. A few bad eggs come out of the basket from time to time, such as page cuts off, photos not present or flipped, even wrong address delivery
Addendum: I pulled the trigger and ordered an 8.5" x 11" tome that will be 22 pages and contain about the same number of images. The hardbound volume, with shipping, comes in at just short of Fifty dollars (I opted for 2 day air/UPS). If I re-order after I approve this draft, then shipping will be cheaper for a multiple purchase. I think the final book may still come out to retail too expensively, at whatever plus @ $40. Hopefully, the margin on softbound can make up for that. On pins and needles, folks...

02 July, 2007

Untitled: Red, Gray, Blue

Untitled: Red, Gray, Blue
8" x 5"
Original Pastel
July 1st, 2007
Casey Klahn

Remember we were talking (in my post: Color Field Painting) about Rothko and the Abstract Expressionist's desire to take their art to the final or ultimate expression of art. The critic Clement Greenberg was an influential voice for the art movement that would take abstraction to absolute and near-absolute expression.

The Encyclopedia Britannica offers some insight here into Greenberg's reasoning for going whole hog into abstraction:

The intellectual justification for his approach had been articulated a few years earlier in two essays published in Partisan Review. "The Avant Garde and Kitsch" (1939) was a manifesto in which Greenberg made a sharp distinction between "true culture" and "popular art." He asserted that quality in a work of art had nothing to do with contemporary social and political values. "Retiring from the public altogether," he wrote, "the avant-garde poet or artist sought to maintain the high level of his art by both narrowing it and raising it to the expression of an absolute…." This was necessary, he argued, because of the ways in which modern society had debased high art into kitsch. In "Towards a Newer Laocoon" (published in Partisan Reviewin [sic] 1940) Greenberg explained the necessity for avant-garde artists to break away from the traditional dominance of subject matter and place a new emphasis on form.

We're still emphasizing form, or formal qualities of art, today. I was talking with another artist the other day who takes after Andrew Wyeth, and he was extolling the abstract values in all styles of painting that succeed. My friend, Stan Miller, was saying that one of the great artist's patrons insists on hanging a large Wyeth upside down. The abstract composition is that good, even though it's a "realist" work.
Abstract Expressionism, Art Criticism, Artists, Colorist Art, Drawing, History, Impressionism, Modern Art, Painting, Pastel, Post Impressionism