Unedited conversations between artist in a productive critique discovering thesis and processes behind the work.
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Conversation between Jeffrey Millett and Olivia Ramos.
MILLETT: yo yo
how's it going?
I'd like to start with the self portrait, only because it is such a huge jump, at least technically speaking, from our previous conversation about a previous self portrait.
ok lets do it
something particular about it?
Yes - particularly I see a shift in you with this new work, perhaps emotionally, perhaps strategically... not sure.
as if you are letting go of control of brush and outcome
would you agree?
emotionally, content wise yes
technically.. its far more precise in making - meaning the infrastructure or base of the painting is more 'refined' then over time
it changes as I work on it more
maybe that is where the letting go comes into play - i kinda work to destroy the representation of myself (literally) and rely on, an experience or moment
intuitively, refining and letting go is an oxymoron ... but maybe you mean you have refined the act of letting go?
I'm looking now at the first woman, the sad one with smaller breasts
it is hard to think refined but it is much more advanced technically.. maybe I'm not making any sense
its the process is contradictory but letting it play out is part exploring - my own experiences, feelings or emotions thru the application of paint
*the process is contradictory but letting it play out lets me explore
what do you mean by "the process is contradictory"?
meaning - having a solid structure for the painting allows me to play (technique-wise) with the paint
its creative destruction; the foundation allows for the build up of the paint and, the way i think about it
this offers opportunities to destroy or manipulate the image to how i see fit
working from photos i have something very finite for reference, a recording of an event
using that, i transfer for that to canvas, in what i referenced before as kinda of infrastructure - a base or foundation
this kinda sets the template for rest of the process to unfold over time
i feel like I'm rambling - does this make sense?
yes it does and it makes me curious about your choice of content
women and self portraits
these women are mostly strangers or don't even exist?
strangers, images i see that catch my eye or catch me in a moment or emotional state that makes me want to record the event
they act as an emotional depot
one could say a diary in a way
a record of an emotional response or documentation of an event in my life
hmm I've never heard you put it that way
this idea of a diary
a diary of responses to things you encounter
specifically women you encounter
coupled with self-portraits... I don't know, I feel like the high-level description is a bit broad
are the self-portraits part of the diary?
yes - all the self portraits I've named with a particular emotion or experience, or feeling attached to it
would you say this work is just for you?
the goal was to document 25 words that described my experience or feeling - then paint it
ha - that such a loaded question im not sure how to answer that
my painting have always been very personal
if others enjoy - then that is added benefit; i just feel like im recording my experience thru paint
even the women it's less about them and more about me
as awful as it sounds
haha on that note, lets talk about "The Ugly"
what does that say about you?
a lovely accident haha
it kinda of haunts me this piece
me too - I mean this woman is something else
where did she come from?
and I don't mean what picture
I mean what emotion
most of the images i paint from are these beautiful people, models, celebrities o my social media feeds
so when i save one to paint there something very raw that hits me - it could be desire, sex, pain, love, relief
so when i confront that 'image' it is less about what i or we see or what that particular person or image they want to convey to the world
and instead i tackle this idea of the beautiful person with my own
with my own...
none of the above tells me anything about this piece
I am getting the feeling that you are playing safe a little
and perhaps in general
nah i mean why i have nothing to loose
i'm not trying to be coy or anything
sure but you are also not taking much of a risk
i don't see what you are getting at
I'll tell you
the way you describe the work, the subject matter as well, is relatively safe
allow me to define safe in this context
by safe I mean, there is nothing to argue against, there is nothing to discuss really, it is all too personal, too general, too meaningless in a way
at least in the way you describe it
am I wrong?
what are you passionate about?
round and round we go
hmm let me take a stab at "The Ugly" - if I had painted her, and perhaps part of me wishes I had - It would be about betrayal, about the hidden, about being seduced by a complete lie... could be that she was insecure... but I'll never know.
I didn't paint her and maybe I am projecting my own experience, which says some things about me... but that is the point no?
if these are about you... then what about you?
why is my narrative important? isn't it enough to have painted it - and let the viewer decide or even own the painting for whatever they want to make it
your narrative isn't possible if i define mine is it?
do you want me to identify with the painting or to identify with you?
let me ask you something - do you identify with Bacon or with any particular painting?
isn't it him and by identifying with him you love all his work?
aren’t you answering your question
yes I am - but I am asking you
by identifying with a painter, a film, a novel, etc. you then can relate to its author
you mean painting?
no i mean by relating to any creative work, you are identifying w its author to some degree
can you answer my question about Bacon?
don't you love him more than his work?
isn't Bacon and what he believed more powerful than any single work?
i wouldn’t agree w that; for me its about the work; the man is just a vessel, a medium
I'm not sure I believe you
the man had a purpose
and his paintings speak to that purpose; recordings, documents - experiences
the purpose is a thing of it's own, a thing that could be discuss without the paintings... the recordings, documents, are merely artifacts - they are not experiences.
I am not going to ask what your purpose is - I am simply wishing we had such a thing to discuss
yes i don’t want to argue
I guess - I think you do have a purpose, but you don't want to articulate it
and in not doing so, it might have a hard time evolving
you know you wouldn't try to get away with this in architecture school