Studio Photographs and Notes: Here are a few photographs of my work environment. Notes for my Inventing Landscapes with Color Pencil class, offered through Ivy Tech Community College, are seen on my work table. The last two photographs are from classroom settings, where I regularly execute drawings for instruction. The first image is a chalk drawing, although I now prefer using dry erase markers, as seen in last image. I have drawn countless drawings over the years for my classes, and because I do not own a smart phone, I do not have a practical camera for recording these endeavors. I can only compare my drawings to Buddhist sand paintings, but someone other than myself erases them.
Insights of an Art Instructor: I am reluctant to talk much about art because, as an art instructor, I do it for a living; and I earn a very meager living at that. However, certain truisms emerge:
1) If one goes to enough high school art shows, one sees a pattern. Somewhere around the eleventh grade, an epiphany occurs where a teenager of undeveloped talent has a breakthrough in achievement. This mostly happens in the domain of rendering photographic sources photographically, which is to say: making something look professionally realistic. This may be done in conventional media, or in unconventional media. What happens next is a mystery. Most of these individuals will not become artists, may never again make art. Should they return to it later in adulthood, they will pick it up where they left off, and think no more of their latent ability than they would retaining memory for how to ride a bicycle.
2) The very young and the very old are the most challenging students. They have difficulty learning new techniques and following instructions. When I am presented with a young artist with talent, my advice to parents is to stay out of the kid’s way. That light switch in individuals can turn on and off unpredictably, encouragement and schooling notwithstanding. It is a mystery and a personal journey, and that is all one can predict about it.
3) Those who are able to paint realistically, or with precision, rarely become abstract or impressionistic artists. It is the old adage: Those who can, do; and those who can’t, become abstractionists and impressionists. As someone who loves both Abstraction and Impressionism, I do not judge artists who pursue these styles. Levels of achievement are equal to anything produced in realism. Yet one wonders if this alternative interest occurs because of a lack of inherent skill, which is implied in realism, or is this path chosen by those who lack of interest in acquiring these skills?
4) Anyone who is willing can learn how to draw or paint realistically, or at least well enough. However, I cannot teach someone to have an imagination, or to have a work ethic. These aspects of being an artist are what I call Factor X, and they cannot be taught. One can have skill or imagination, but without a work ethic, these are squandered gifts.
The Vivien Leigh Bedroom 1977-1980: My libido arrived at a normal age, and there it resided until my late teens when adulthood beckoned with a need to objectify these untapped energies. While working at McDonalds in 1977, I saw Gone With The Wind for the first time and was smitten with its star, Vivien Leigh. My obsession for her blossomed over the next year, and coincided with my discovery of Tchaikovsky and The Romantic Composers.
The first of my many handmade Vivien Leigh posters was a modest portrait with a stark yellow background (seen in the middle of the fourth picture). The poster board was cheap, and color was added to it by rubbing oil paint over a finished graphic drawing. Other painted drawings of this period survive in dusty chapbooks, while all my posters were lost to time. Decorating my room with Vivien Leigh images may have persisted as late as 1981, although it was ended by the time I started my BFA degree in fine art.
I always felt I had Vivien to myself. She did not play her bubbly girlishness straight like Aubrey Hepburn, so was not idealized as an ‘English Beauty’ by the adoring public. I have had a few substantial celebrity crushes over the years: Sigourney Weaver in the early 80s, Alicia Silverstone and Sandra Bullock in the 1990s, and (lastly) Jules Asner in the early 2000s. There are many more lesser celebrity crushes to sandwich between these, and innumerable crushes on real women of my acquaintance after I moved away from home.
Perhaps not strangely, my creative life and romantic aspiration have waxed and waned together with age, and now that I am approaching Sixty-one years, I do not make as much art, although my obsessive-compulsive tendencies, as displayed in this website, continue.
Michael L. Teague, 2006
Google Streetview: Several years ago, I was walking home from the coffee house when Google Streetview drove up beside me and snapped a picture. I was heading uphill on 4th, almost to the gate entrance of Rosehill Cemetery, which, when I walk to class at The Waldron, I always cut through. I never thought to look for myself until today on Google Earth, but there I was, with laptop in tow, in considerably warmer weather than is presently had. I find this apropos since I have numerous places of dark interest pinned on Google Earth, and here I am within a half-block of a cemetery: 39°09'56.07" N 86°32'35.13" W
New Novel: My new novel is seven-something years in the making, which is equal to the time it took me to reach the first draft of Icarus Transfigured. I slave daily on it, although my sluggish progress these past four years is due to poor decisions about my health and how to manage my anxiety disorder. Resultantly, this book, as with the first, evolves with my life and understanding, and as many disruptive events have occurred during this time, they need to be processed. (Do not look to me completing this work any time soon.)
Deleted Scene From Novel in Progress:The title of my novel is The Travellers-Back, and its meaning may be interpreted variously throughout the book. Scenes involving dialog are opportunies to write on subjects of interest to me. Many of these topic end up being scrapped due to the need to keep the story focused and moving forward. Here is one removed conversation topic that merits reading:
“Are you familiar with Henry Darger, the eccentric janitor who was a writer and artist? He invented a private world through his creative efforts that he never shared, or had desire to share. He is credited with writing the world’s longest novel, which was only discovered upon his death. I mention him because he was happily friendless, yet was a devout Catholic who attended church unfailingly. Though Christianity is thematically central in his book, he touches on it peripherally, and with what one can only presume to be the same pro forma regard he took weekly to Mass. His book may be seen as a classic autistic creation, being essentially a playful (though tedious) catalog of lists of battles, place names, and proper names. I compare it to H. P. Lovecraft’s colossal ‘In The Mountain of Madness’, which, plotless, and virtually characterless, is little more than a run-on descriptive paragraph of interminable length. By the handwriting alone one sees a fugue state imagination rhapsodizing over peculiar predilections, and with little thought to their pertinence or repetition. Lovecraft even relates the same joke twice, and to what effect other than he failed to catch it in proofreading—if proofreading was even attempted. In his constellation, his imagination led him into atheism, yet one might view his elaborate Mythos—his list-building, assigning proper names, etcetera—as rushing to fill a void where the soul, by its hierarchy-seeking nature, invents what it cannot discover through divine revelation. It is—again—a rejection of wholesale randomness. We will reject the world in its entirety before we reject our universes of abstraction.”
Lowell reflected, “Darger’s obsession with hermaphrodite children would be viewed as disturbed, and most mainline Christians would similarly judge his individualized reconstruction of Christianity (much in the spirit of a William Blake), as being less a matter of creative adaptation of faith than one of inspired sacrilege.”
Roll-over artwork from failed website ventures: Banner from Death by Algorithm, with some of its original text below. (I wished I had held onto that dotcom name!) WARNING: Clicking on these unlinked images will only return you to the top of the page!
The Road to Nirvana is Paved with Karaoke: Schopenhauer said that every generation believes it is the salt and summit toward which humanity has striven. The case is always strong, but clearly wrong if the next generation does not concur. Where seizing the reins of power (as well as the modes of production), we have not so much liberated the best and brightest among us as have been swallowed up by manifold vanity projects of plebeians. The New World Order of culture is Karaoke Culture; and where culture is left to its consumer to invent, one gets exactly the culture one deserves.
Too many eggs in different baskets: This banner was a favorite creation of mine but, thinking clearly on it, it lacks the ‘responsive design’ for smartphone viewing.
Art versus its admirers: The arts divide naturally between creators and community. Most artists, being socially lacking, aspire to a monk-like existence—or at least default to a reliable sanctuary when they want to define themselves in opposition to everything else. The community, by contrast, is attracted to the idea of the creator, although they may have little genuine interest in his or her welfare. Let us not forget that the community of art exists principally to be a community. It is social, so intends, by its meetings and get-togethers, to plan other events that look suspiciously like more meetings and get-togethers. The community loves its own company, especially in settings where art serves as a backdrop, or as something to be discussed in lectures where the attendees can be seen attending.
Losing Getting Lost, Part One: One untold loss in the new algorithmic age is that of accidental discovery, where one stumbles over new and exciting things. Nowadays, overly helpful cookies and spyware keep track of your movements online, and you see only those advertisements of places you have visited. You are effectively denied access to random unknown places, unless you actively seek them out. Of course, if you knew where you wanted go, it would defeat the point of going.
Ghettos and Paddocks of the Internet: Corporations and slick web designers have learned how to ‘game’ Google’s search engine algorithms; and between their pirate ship antics and the ghettoizing of social media, the Internet has become an overly familiar strip mall: No matter what your inquiry is, you wind up in the same cramped parking lot looking at the same Office Depot and Subway sandwich shop. Similarly, an image search unfailingly provides the searcher with the blandest landscapes imaginable: endless galleries of slick studio portrait pictures—all for sale and emblazoned with copyright. In desperation, the searcher jumps deep into Google’s listed pages, trying to unearth original and novel content buried in the pile of shiny mediocrity, but the strip mall follows you wherever you go. Like a specter, or detached retina, it is inescapable in your line of sight.
One reason for this drought is fear of copyright infringement and lawsuits. These outcomes have made web providers risk-averse in spreading images and other content of which they do not own. Resultantly, proprietorship previals, even where that property is patently bland.
The work of artists and musicians can be found in social media, to be sure, yet the sheer number of individuals participating in these social havens becomes an impediment to pinpointing any one of them. This has given rise to the untenable belief that all parties involved in the Internet are reaching their audiences. Google rewards blogs and commerce sites, but not individuals with interesting but marginalized ideas. Do not believe that purchasing a .art over a .com domain name will win you many friends. These venues are little more than vanity plates. A web search of “.art vs .com” will dredge up next to nothing on this gamble.
It was said that the Internet was created by autistics for autistics; and this was arguably true in the early days when Google’s search engine genuinely sought out ‘rich content.’ Social media brought the cattle in from the field, and God-only-knows how and where you would find autistics now.
Neon Boneyard: Original Blender Kitty home page animated gif.
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