Robert Wallace




Studio Notes

You struggle, you fight with the paintings.  They're not cooperating.  Then suddenly...yeah.  That's it.  That's where they were going.  But you have to go through that difficult section to get there.  The difficult section is in fact vital to the painting, part of its DNA, without it it couldn't survive.  You can't go around it, or wait for it to pass.  You have to keep pushing.  Eventually every painting breaks open.


Studio Notes

The Browns are growing into something delicious, like caramelized onions or crème brûlée.  We stopped quarreling, stopped pretending there wasn't a mutual attraction.  I'm digging this color palette, the tones, natural, warm.  Without really trying I arrive at old leather, smoked tobacco, black coffee.  These are also the colors of Kyoto, the machiya houses.  I suppose that is no coincidence.










Studio Notes

It feels like the 19th Century in my second floor atelier, trying to work and stay warm as autumn begins its move into winter.  Japanese houses are designed to stay cool in the summer, not warm in the winter.


Studio Notes

A series never works for me because every painting after the first is more and more contrived.  The first painting is successful because it arrives naturally, spontaneously.  Every subsequent painting in a series is aping that first one in some way.  They are different, certainly, but I feel they are somehow less sincere.  Even if they appear more evolved or sophisticated, they lack the impulse and the guts of the original.


Studio Notes

Daylight vs. fluorescent light.  I'm working in both and it is sort of messing with me.  Paintings appear finished when I see them in fluorescent light; then the next morning in natural light I see how they need more work.  Or vice versa.  I have painted pretty much my whole life indoors beneath incandescent or fluorescnt bulbs.  My studios tend not to have windows.  The second floor of my little house in Uji-City, which I turned into my atelier, has wonderful natural light in the morning and afternoon.  There are windows on all four walls.  It is a great space, but it is so strange to see the paintings change with the lighting.


Studio Notes

I won't say I was bored with the blue/gray palette.  I love the whole spectrum of these colors.  But I felt the paintings were about to become redundant.  I squeezed 9 pieces from these tubes.  Burnt umber, burnt sienna + black and white is the new series.  I don't think I've really used these colors exclusively since university 20 years ago.  I don't know them.  So far we are not really getting along.  It is not exactly hostile, but defintiely not chummy.  We'll see if we become friends.


Studio Notes

I may be overthinking the current pieces.  Those early successes were so random.  I'm not sure how I arrived there.  Now I think I'm trying to replicate.  And, as often is the case, the current batch are refusing to go to that same destination.  I'm forcing them and they are resisting.  I don't blame them, really.  Let's go somewhere new.  When I'm trying too hard I feel it all through my body.  Tension grows.  Remember Sabro Hasegawa: paintings are formed as naturally as rocks or grass. 












Studio Notes

Shit.  Am I painting landscapes?  Knife flourishes, burnisher smears.  Plus the usual rip/tear.  Who do these belong to?


Studio Notes

Suddenly the three new pieces leapt up and moved beyond the previous three.  Were those first paintings warm-ups?  The New Three are good in a less obvious way, collage almost obliterated.  They have a strange 60s feeling to them.  Painterly.  I've never been one for "periods", but I'm digging this color palette, shades of blue and gray.  Quiet.


Studio Notes

I want to simplify.  I've reduced my color palette to black, white and blue.  Try for more negative space, less all-over painting.  These first three panels...sometimes they look done, sometimes I feel they need something more.  I could be pushing them.  Let them breathe.  Let the materials do what they will do.  Give them time.  Be patient.  Make it a dialogue, not a lecture.


Studio Notes

Back in it.  I'm rather amazed.  I expected weeks or even months of crap, staring down, frustration.  Perhaps it is the focus.  There are no distractions here.  I'm alone in a foreign land.  I don't speak the language.  I have only to paint.  This could be an extremely productive period.

New materials; some of the old techniques.  Feeling my way around.  It may be good; it may be bad.  It's too early to tell.  But it seems to be working.


Studio Notes

Getting started.  That's the hardest part, really, after so many months of inactivity.  I've bought some lightweight Japanese wood panels and "modeling paste".  (?!)  I've got a great little space with incredible natural light.  But there is stress.  I feel it across my back.  The confidence and swagger of Red Hook is missing.  I've got to be patient, relax, and keep at it.  Daily.  At the same time, one mustn't force things.












The Apartment After 15 Years

Inspired by the 1955 Charles and Ray Eames short film "House After Five Years of Living", this 16 minute film is a detailed documentation of the Brooklyn Heights apartment where artist Robert Wallace lived for 15 years.












1.  We’re looking for you

2.  Note: don’t do this

3.  Who’s calling the shots?

4.  3 o’clock drinkers

5.  Coming into their own

6.  A blues armada

7.  Two martinis, two beers and a bourbon

8.  Writer

9.  Looking for the exit

10. Stabilization treatment

11. Thumb twiddling

12. Open call

12a. certain restrictions apply

13. I’m going to ________________.

14. Reclaim your identity

15. Don’t hold your breath

16. Cheques and balances

17. Post-studio art

18. One for the road

19. People that are happy

20. Celebrating another defeat

21. “I’m right on the edge”

22. Listening to the B-side first

23. Dreams burn down

24. Make up a story

25. The criminal fringe

26. Without headphones, curious

27. Mending spider webs

28. That we were winning

29. Digital mayhem

30. No champagne or apples

31. There’s still hope

32. She stormed out

33. Degrees














1.  Ditchdigger

2.  Beautiful and misunderstood

3.  It felt like a funeral

4.  Becoming irrelevant

5.  The color of old plywood

6.  “lines thicken”

7.  Borrowed time

8.  It’s-gonna-be-all-right music

9.  the prescribed 7,848 feet

10. Matisse’s blue

11. Proof of a good time had

12. The first one is always free

13. My fatal flaw

14. Der Blaue Reiter

15. A letter of introduction

16. December letters

17. The leaky roof

18. We’re counting on you

19. Make them accomplices

20. The old days

21. Bruised stone

22. I don’t fucking care

23. Fucking things up

24. Hors-champ

25. Tore the playhouse down

26. Atmospheric pressure

27. A cast of thousands

28. What’s going on here?

29. Four and twenty blackbirds

30. Spending on the future

31. Civilized

32. Her shoulder blades

33. Degrees










1.  Starting over (again)

2.  Like blood coagulating in a wound

3.  The middle of nowhere

4.  Beautiful nonsense

5.  He was asking for it

6.  World without end

7.  In too deep

8.  When the money is gone

9.  I don’t believe in reprise

10. Diaphanous dreams

11. Whiskey drinking songs

12. One of these days

13. Just squeaking by

14. A crushing fatigue

15. “A global event to encourage spending”

16. The rumble seat

17. So drunk, so often

18. Who knows

19. The camaraderie of fools and dreamers

20. Good evening, sir

21. gin = swagger

22. Lurching towards order

23. “tilt toward the edge”

24. I know I’m right

25. Like water rushing to the lowest point

26. I must be doing something wrong

27. American born, 1969

28. Two midnights in a jug

29. A bat out of hell

30. (order) collapsing

31. What is the point?

32. Just like in the song

33. Degrees







All content © 2011 by Robert Wallace
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