The Art World Interviews: Altoon Sultan on Blogging

Since I am discussing blogging here I thought it would be good to hear from an artist who is also a marvelous blogger.  I am so glad she agreed to do it and it was an honor to have Altoon Sultan answer my questions.

About Altoon Sultan
Altoon Sultan is a New Yorker, Brooklyn born and bred, who now lives on an old hill farm in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, where she makes art––paintings, textiles, prints, photographs––gardens, and blogs. She exhibited her paintings for 30 years in the prestigious Marlborough and Tibor de Nagy galleries, and in shows nationally and internationally. She has a solo show coming up in October of 2014 at McKenzie Fine Art in NYC. Her work is in many public and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Tate Gallery, London, and the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Her awards include two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grants and an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is also the author of an instructional book on egg tempera titled The Luminous Brush: Painting with Egg Tempera.

Melissa Wolf: What made you decide to start a blog?

Altoon Sultan: When my gallery and I parted ways five years ago, I wanted to have a web presence. At the time I didn’t know of the do-it-yourself, inexpensive website hosts, but I did know about Blogger, so I began a blog. Right from the beginning I realized that I wanted to integrate my life––gardening, nature, cooking––into the blog, along with art.

Melissa Wolf: Do you have a specific schedule for your posts?

Altoon Sultan: No. When I began the blog I used to post more often, five or six times a week, but the posts were shorter: fewer photos, fewer words. Now I’ll post two or three or four times a week; I want a clearer theme with each post.

Melissa Wolf: Do you do anything to to increase your following/visibility?

Altoon Sultan: No. When I started I let my friends know in an email, but that was it. The only thing I did, which certainly increased the blog’s visibility, was to join Facebook and link to each new post there. The blog has a great deal more traffic because of Facebook. Sometimes other bloggers will link to my posts, which also brings new readers, but I don’t seek that out.

Melissa Wolf: How do you decide on what to write?

Altoon Sultan: I write about my own work and I write about whatever interests me, whether it is film, books, recipes, art exhibitions, the flora and fauna around me. I feel compelled to write about things that I love. Sometimes something I read or something I see makes me think about an interesting topic; I keep a notebook next to the computer to note ideas down. This thought process helps to keep my mind open and fluid, which often gives rise to yet other ideas.

Melissa Wolf: Do you have any advice for a beginning blogger?

Altoon Sultan: Blog about what interests you; put your heart into it.

• Visit Altoon Sultan’s Blog Studio and Garden: www.

Altoon Sultan’s Website:

Writing For Artists: The Resumé

The questions I hear again and again are who looks at an my resume? What is it’s value and why should I even create one?

An artists resume has tremendous value for artists in so many ways. The primary purpose is to gauge the value of your work. It’s what collectors and auction houses might refer to as “Provence.” The more you do and where you do it can bring tremendous value to your work; exhibitions, grants, residencies, fellowships and most importantly collectors. For example: if you receive a prestigious grant a commercial gallery or museum juror is more likely to look at your work and take you on. I like to call the process ladder climbing. You’ll gain with every step.

A resume is also a personal record. A place for you to refer to again and again to see how you are doing. To take a moment, from time to time, to access and bask in your achievements. Don’t be afraid to list everything. I’ve seen resumes that are 10 pages or more. That said, do not be afraid to create a resume if you don’t have that much on it yet. You have to start somewhere after all. It will grow and when it does you will have a concrete record. (Don’t forget to applaud yourself every step of the way).

Remember that a viewer, gallery or juror will always look at your work first. They will look at the Artists Statement secondly, and your experience/resume third. It is important to have all three as perfect as possible. If your materials are well presented and clear you will be more likely to achieve success. In the next post I’ll tell you where to start so please stay tuned.

Writing for Artists: Getting it Write

This post will lean more towards your resume – which I will begin to discuss in the next post – discussing punctuation that is essential in formatting and consistency. A must when listing your successes and achievements the right way. These forms of punctuation, of course, refer to narrative text as well (artist statement, bio, etc).
The Apostrophe: This can be confusing but I hope that this clarifies things for you.
An apostrophe is used for….
1. To form the possessive case of a singular noun, add an apostrophe and an “s.” Picasso’s painting, O’Keeffe’s Black Iris, Giacometti’s sculpture
2. To form the possessive case of a plural noun ending in s, add only the apostrophe
i.e i.e. Diane Arbus’ photograph, Thomas Eakins’ Biglin Brothers Racing, Edgar Degas’ Ballerina, Eva Gonzales’ Portait of a Girl Holding a Sparrow
Note The few plural nouns that do not end in s, form the possessive by adding the apostrophe and a s just as singular nouns do. i.e. women’s studio, children’s art
3. Personal pronouns in the posessive case (his, hers, its, ours yours, theirs, whose) do not require an apostrophe.
Incorrect: I thought the paint brush was her’s.
Correct: I thought the paint brush was hers.
Incorrect: You have seen the museum at it’s best.
Correct: You have seen the museum at its best.
Incorrect: Do you know who’s sculpture this is?
Correct: Do you know whose sculpture this is?
4. When two or more persons posssess something indvidually, each of their names is possessive in form. i.e. Picasso’s and O’Keeffe’s paintings
5. The words minute, hour, day, week, month, year etc., when used as possessive adjectives, require an apostrophe. Words also indicating an amount in dollars or cents (when used as possessive adjectives) also require an apostrophe.
Singular: a minute’s work / Plural: five minutes’ work
Singular: a day’s work / Plural: three days’ work
Singular: one cent’s worth / Plural: five cents’ worth
6. To show where letters have been omitted, or when you are bringing two words together such as: don’t (do not), won’t (will not), it’s (it is).
7. To form the plural of letters, numbers and signs and of words referred to as words.
i.e. Mississippi is spelled with four s’s, four i’s, and two p’s.
Instead of a three and an 8, she wrote two 3’s.
How many +’s in that piece of writing?
Count the number of and’s in that paragraph.
The Hyphen: Please note that there is a difference between a hyphen and a dash. The dash will be explained below. A hyphen is….
1. Used to divide a word at the end of a line. Make sure that you use the hyphen after a syllable – such as (contest>con-test). This especially helps you break up a “widow.” Writing in some ways is visual as well. A widow is dangling single words or three or four words that stand out at the end of a paragraph.
2. Used with compound numbers. Such as: twentyone to ninetynine.
3. Used with prefixes such as ex-, self-, all- with the suffix -elect, and with all prefixes before a proper noun. exdirector of the museum, selfimposed, allstar, Senatorelect, etc.
4. Add to a compound adjective when it precedes the word it modifies (see the last post about adjectives and modifiers). Examples: A secondstory studio, doortodoor selling.
5. Used to prevent confusion or awkwardness. re-collect (prevents confusion with the word recollect). reform (prevents confusion with the word reform)
The Dash is….
1. Used to indicate an arupt break in thought . i.e. He might and according to plans, should have painted the corner of that canvas again.
2. To mean namely, in other words, that is, etc. before an explanation.
the teacher had it in his power to prevent the disruption he could have asked everyone to sit down.
In this case, the dash means “that is”.
Parentheses: Used to enclose incidental explanatory matter which is added to a sentence but is not considered of major importance. For example:
Retired City Councilman Peter Vallone, Sr. (Astoria, New York) is a member of the arts and the city committee.
The exhibitions included several artists (see the catalog) who’s work is considered Post-war Modern.
Tip: Very often commas, dashes and parentheses are interchangable. It depends on how much you want to offset the meaning of what you are saying. Commas and dashes are used more frequently than parentheses.
She said, by the way, that she really liked the art.
She said by the way that she really liked the art.
She said (by the way) that she really liked the art.
Brackets: In ordinary writing you probably won’t use this but I wanted to add it just so that you are absolutely sure when to use them and when not. They cannot be substituted for parenteses. Brackets are used to enclose explanations within parentheses or in quoted material when the explanation is not part of the quote.
i.e. Picasso accepted the award by saying “I am honored by it [the award] and am aware of the prestige, value and responsibility associated with it.
Quotation Marks vs. Italics and Underlining: basically these are all interchangeable when you are using a title of an article, publication or book. Most common is to use quotation marks but I think it looks much more sophisticated and clearer to read if you use italics.
Dale Chihuly: A Celebration by Rock Hushka.
“Dale Chihuly: A Celebration” by Rock Huschka
Dale Chihuly: a Celebration by Rock Huschka
You decide.
Use quotation marks to offset something that someone says in a narrative form.
Picasso said “The matter of my exhibition at the Salon is completely up to Gertrude Stein.”
Use quotation marks to offset slang:
She said the artist was “looney.”
She said the artist was so talented that he was “over the top.”
You can also use quotation marks to bring importance to something.
i.e Her work is “amazing.”
That formally ends the section of this post on grammar. I hope that you don’t think that it’s boring. It should help you become a better writer.
The bottom like is “Yes you can write!” You can speak right? It’s just a matter of knowing how to format it when you’re writing so that it comes across properly and as an added benefit you will become even more articulate about you work.

Maya Angelou

“The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.”

Writing for Artists: Creating Space

Did you know that your readers need to take a breath? To stop here and there just to absorb what you’re saying. When you read your work out loud you’ll notice the need to breathe. How much of a stop do you want to give them? Punctuation can help. It can also make your thoughts and ideas really clear and effective.
What follows are definitions of the different types of punctuation, along with ideas and examples of how to use each one. Again, just as the tiniest dot of red can change an entire painting, good punctuation can change the meaning of a whole piece of writing – and that’s exciting.

Let’s talk about “End Marks.” This includes the period, the question mark, the exclamation point and abbreviations.

Period: The most important use of a period is to end a sentence. It is also used in the abbreviations such as Mr., Ms., Dr. etc, and  F.B.I., I.R.S., N.Y., and U.S.A.  Periods (dots) are also used on the internet and should only be used as a separation of an extension (smith.jpg, smith.pdf,

Interestingly enough, previously end punctuation marks separated sentences with two spaces, now the accepted convention is to use one space only.

Exclamation Point: These should be used at the end of an emphatic declaration. It can also be used as an interjection or a command. i.e. What a beautiful sculpture! The show amazed me! That’s an unbelievable color! Be aware that exclamation points tend to be overused, especially on the internet. I find myself doing it a lot especially on Social Networking but I think about it before I hit the return/enter button. When it’s over used it can dilute the effectiveness of it. I try to think about it before and after I put it in.

Question Mark: This seems obvious but… A direct question is followed by a question mark. Generally it is used by itself, without other marks but an exception would be “She said what!?” There are times when  a question mark should be used and questions where it should not:

• Direct Questions – a question that you are asking another person when you are speaking to them or when one person in a narrative is asking another person a question. i.e. “Do you know what happens when you mix red with green?”

• Indirect Questions – usually when one person is talking about something that happened. You should not use a question mark in that situation. i.e. “She asked what would happen if she mixed red with green.”

Other punctuation marks are used in the middle of sentences, to break up a thought or concept, or to extend the space between words. I think of an end mark as a dead stop/breath break. A semicolon is a large stop/breath. A comma is a slight stop/breath.

Comma: The formal uses of a comma are:

• To separate elements in a series. i.e. paint, brushes, pastels, pencils, charcoal

• To connect two independent clauses. i.e. The painting was beautiful, but the lighting in the gallery didn’t suffice.

• To set off introductory elements in a sentence. i.e. Despite the lighting in the gallery, the painting was exquisite and the smallest lines were quite evident.

• Parenthetical elements – depending on how strong you want to offset the comment. i.e. The artist was in the studio, creating a painting, when the curator walked in.

• Colon: use this to mean “what follows” in situations as this:

• Before a list of items, especially after expressions like as follows and the following. i.e. The Julian Easel held just about everything: brushes, all of my paints, linseed oil and there was even a place for my canvas.

• Before a long formal statement or quotation. i.e. The Museum Director made a formal speech: The works of art that you will see here represent the period of Post-war Modern Art.

• In certain conventional situations such as:
• The time. i.e. 4:30 P.M.

• Semicolon: The is an under utilized form of punctuation and is something I’ve come to love recently. Using it also makes your writing more professional and intelligent. A semicolon can also break up a run on sentence. There are different situations to use it in:

• To join independent clauses that are not joined by and, but, or, nor, for or yet. i.e. Over 100 artists showed up for the demonstration; it lasted from 5 to 8pm and there was a reception afterwords.

• Between to independent clauses joined by such words as for example, for instance, that is, besides, accordingly, moreover, nevertheless, furthermore, otherwise, therefore, however, consequently, instead, hence. i.e. Artists always seem to just make the deadline for an exhibition; for instance, we always get at least 50 submissions on the last day.

• To separate clauses that include a comma. I find myself using this one often. i.e. The exhibition included Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon; Edvard Monk’s The Scream; Georgia O’Keeffe’s Black Iris; Joan Miro’s Moonbird among many other ground breaking pieces.

Tip: sometimes you can look at a run-on sentence and see where it can break up clearly. Decide how much of a break you want to give your reader and place the appropriate punctuation. As I keep saying, good writing is essential to your success.  So please keep following these posts.  It can make all the difference.

*The definitions of punctuation here are adapted from the following sources

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, An Encyclopedia Britannica Company, 2005.

Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition: Complete Course, Heritage Edition by John E. Warriner and Francis Griffith, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977.



Maya Angelou

“There is nothing more agonizing than bearing an untold story within you.”

The Artist Statement: A Sense of Purpose

Envision yourself walking into a gallery and you are absolutely, positively fascinated by what you see. The titles, media and size are not enough. They are only a clue to the concept. The art is really well executed and thought out. You are either not sure of what it really is or you want to be sure that you get it. You want to know more.

So you walk up to the desk where the gallery director or an assistant is sitting and start asking questions. About the artist – they can only tell you about their experience with them. What made them decide on that particular artist – they can answer that. Then you ask about the art. About the concept, how the artist did it, what they were thinking and feeling at the time. You get either cursory answers or a blank stare. What to do?

You go home and get on your computer. Search for the artists name and find a website with more art, a resume, a bio and contact information and not much more. The web is about instant gratification, you get bored and lose interest.

Consider this alternative scenario. Same compelling exhibition, in the same gallery and you are drawn in, breath taken by the art. You go up to the desk and start asking those very same questions. The person behind the desk jumps up, comes out and starts speaking enthusiastically about the artist and their process. You almost can’t get a word in edgewise. It draws you in, as if you were in the studio with that artist. You ask to see a price list. You see that you can actually afford a print that moved you and you must have it. Not only because the art was beyond amazing. Not only because it would look amazing in your living room and you’d enjoy seeing it every day. Because the artist is so compelling. Done! Sold!

The print arrives and you put it on the wall. The experience of the gallery visit was so thrilling that every time you look at the piece the very same feeling comes up in your heart. You must have more. Done! You are now a collector!

Eventually you meet the artist, get to go to their studio often, wind up going to a chique bar and have a drink with the “in crowd.” Life just gets amazing!

There you have it. The power of the Artist Statement. The power to change lives. You have given the gallery the power and knowledge to sell your art. Galleries love a well written artist statement. It’s not just the commission and the sale. It’s the involvement in changing a life. Yours. I actually heard a gallery owner say that he wanted to help as many artists as possible. If you give him the tools, he’ll sell your art. The Artist Statement provides the gallery the information they need to turn a viewer into a buyer.

The Artist Statement is also used for a press release or press packet. I will go more into depth when I address reaching the press another time. A good Artist Statement is an integral part of the press packet. It also gives the writer of the press release the information they need to appeal to an editor. (An editor is the one who decides whether a story is good enough to send a reporter out.) It gives the journalist the information they need to write not only a good article about you but a compelling one. The kind of article that makes your event, exhibition, art and even you – the artist – a must see.

The Artist Statement helps you when writing grants, residencies, fellowships and all kinds of applications. By getting through the process of writing your Artist Statement, you will become more articulate about your work and become a much better writer. You will be able to knock out those applications with ease. By being more in touch with what you are doing you will also be in a better place to decide which opportunities overall suit your work the best. More about grants and applications another time.

Lastly, addressing websites and the internet. Effective exposure on the internet includes statements about what you are doing. It can turn a visitor into a “click” or a hit. It can make the difference as to whether they click on your website on a search engine. They are more likely to become a follower on social networking sites. They can become a collector or buyer and make a recommendation for you.

I hope that I haven’t put pressure on you by saying this. I only want to express the importance of completing your Artist Statement. I also want to get you excited. Writing, fiction or non-fiction, is fun! Enjoy the process.

A word about the next series of posts. They will be about grammar. Groan! you say? You are probably having bad memories from high school English class. The teacher who beat the importance of a period into your head and those boring textbooks. I say English teacher and textbooks be gone! Empowerment and a stronger artistic voice come in! I hope to take away all that boring high school garbage and the confusion or the mislead feeling that you are confused away, and show you how good and effective a writer you already are. How you can strengthen the voice you already use to speak. Grammar is simply a tool. Think of a period the same way you would think of that dab of paint carefully placed on the canvas making a painting not only good but brilliant. Not only will this help you to edit better, but it will help you understand the series of posts following that: The Resume. Stay tuned!

The Artist Statement: Writing for the Senses

One of the most important questions, that can help your viewer get into your mind and your heart, is how does the act of making art make you feel. Is it a wonderment. an excitement, calming, peaceful. What’s going on in your being? What does it do for your soul?

Someone with a passion for art, who doesn’t have the ability to make it, cannot conceive of why you do it and how you feel. If you can touch them in that way your statement will ultimately be successful. Walk them into the studio with you.

The best way to do this is to bring the five senses into your writing. That is Sight, Smell, Touch, Feel and Taste. Okay, maybe the last one doesn’t exactly apply to art making. Writers will also tell you to show not tell. So describe what your studio looks like, how it smells and feels. Is it the best place in the world for you to be in? Why? If you’re a painter, for example, where are the paints in your studio and why? What do they feel like? How do they smell? What is your surface and why do you use it? What effects are you hoping to achieve?

That said, you don’t want to cross that line of telling the viewer how to look at your art. That’s crossing into the art historical, curatorial description of your work. You want to tell them what you see in it, not what you want them to see.

Try this exercise. Get a piece of paper and your favorite writing tool. Get into that relaxed creative zone. Then write about your studio. Imagine that you are someone else walking in the door and describe every detail of what it looks like, feels like, smells like, etc. You will write a lot, and don’t worry about that. This is primarily to get you in touch with showing and not telling. In touch with the senses.

One more tip, beware of using too many adjectives. Be aware of what adjectives you are using and why. A general rule is to not use more than two adjectives to describe something but rules are meant to be broken. The repetition I described in the last post may apply to this.

As always have fun with this. Espousing freely helps you find your artistic voice, your writer’s voice and can give you a lot of confidence.

Have fun with this exercise.

The Artist Statement: Second Writing Exercise

Before I get into another strategy for writing your artists statement I want to ask you to watch two videos.  One is of Jackson Pollock talking about his work and the other is Louise Nevelson.  The reason I posted them was not to intimidate you but because I want you to know that everyone can talk about their art in terms that are as accessible as if you’re holding a conversation and that’s what you definitely want.  You want to engage your viewer – as if you’re telling them about your process on an email or a letter or in a phone conversation.
Once late in her career, when pushed by a reporter to say that she intentionally put the sexual nature into her flower paintings, Georgia O’Keeffe said “It’s on the wall and if you don’t get it that’s too bad.”  She got up and walked away.  That was when O’Keeffe was in her 90’s and already an American Icon.  Some people thought she was downright nasty.  My theory is that she was a painting machine and she had to protect that.  The point is that most artists are not Georgia O’Keeffe and don’t have that luxury.  Even Georgia O’Keeffe said “Every artist needs a Steiglitz.”
How did that come to be that she could get away with such a statement at that point in her career.  Words.  Years of talking about her work, of Alfred Steiglitz talking about her work, of critics and reporters talking about her work. Words.  Even that reporter was trying to get words about her art out of her.
Enough about humanizing the greats, now it’s onto the second writing exercise.  I want you to get your favorite writing implement and a piece of paper or a notebook.  That writing implement could be either your favorite pen or a crayon or a quill pen or whatever your heart desires.  As long as you can make words out of it.  Sit in your most favorite place.  That can be on the floor, in an arm chair, or even in a cafe.  If you like Starbucks that will do.
Take 20 minutes and write non-stop. Don’t let your pen stop and don’t pick it up from the page.  This is a wonderful way to get into free writing.  For writers this means writing about anything that comes into your conscious from your sub-conscious.  For you there will be a theme. Writing about your art.  Don’t pick your pen up from the page without the intent of putting it back down immediately and continue for 20 minutes.  Don’t worry about editing, or how it will look to others.  Remember that ultimately you’re the only one that has to see this draft.  You can edit it later.

You may not even use the whole thing but you will definitely get prized nuggets about your art that may indeed blow your mind.  You may be surprised and not even know that you had it in you to write like that.  One of my friends is a wonderful short fiction writer and after this exercise she came up with a marvelous prose poem. We were both blown away.  She didn’t know she had it in her.  It’s an amazing exercise and I hope you find that it is. Remember that the absolute key is not to pick up your writing implement for 20 minutes.

The Artist Statement: A Writing Exercise

The first exercise I will give you is one of my favorites. It involves getting into that place where you are one with the pen and are just letting everything that comes into your mind out. Partly inspired by “The Morning Pages” in Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” and partly by seasoned writers who simply call it free writing. Tapping into your unconscious and letting it all hang out. Remember that you don’t have to show it to anyone. Don’t worry about editing as you go. You can do that later. If you do edit as you go your thoughts won’t flow. You will begin to wonder if what you’re saying is right and suddenly you’ll find yourself blocked. Almost like writing a diary about your art and your life. What ever is on your mind put it on paper or on the screen-wherever you’re most comfortable.

Sit down before your writing medium. Relax completely and make sure there are no distractions. Choose a pen and paper-I find that the words flow better on paper; you may find the computer easier to write on. Then start. The difference between this exercise and the morning pages is that you have a theme. Your art.

You can even start by saying “I hate this exercise. I don’t know what to say. What the heck should I say about my art….”. Most importantly do not give up. Keep going and if it turns out that you’re not writing about your art that’s okay too. Clearing your mind opens your creativity and your heart. Come back to it later or do this agin and again and again if that’s what it takes. You may begin to really enjoy the process of writing and find that you have something to say.

If you do get something out about your art and you’ve written enough about your art even for the day, sometimes you can get sapped and need to take a 24 hour break, leave it aside for that length of time.

When you come back to it go into a room by yourself and shut the door. Read aloud what you have. Don’t rush through it. Slowly, carefully. Enjoy the words, enjoy the language as it passes through your lips and try to listen. Don’t make any judgments. You may find that it opens up a flood of language that you must put on the page. A great author and activist Maya Angelou inspired that in a podcast I heard from TimesTalks. I’ll link to it at the end of this post. She is so inspiring to me. She said that is exactly what she does to break a writing block and yes, even Maya Angelou faces that from time to time. It clears your mind and makes the voices of self doubt disappear. It’s an amazing exercise and I hope this works for you. Keep following this blog because there will be more exercises and ideas.

The Artist Statement: An Example: Henry Moore

Henry Moore was an amazing sculptor who was the most well known sculptor in England in the 20th Century. His work is semi-abstract inspired by landscape, bones, human features, shells, pebbles and more. Here is a link to more about him on Wikipedia:

I want to share with you excerpts from three interviews he did because I think they are perfect examples of his artist statement. They are from the catalog “Henry Moore at The Serpentine” from an exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery and Kensington Gardens, published in 1978 on the occasion of his 80th birthday. He meant for his work to be viewed in a garden setting. It’s at is best in the open air. Throughout the years his work evolved and you will see by the dates that as he changed direction his statements changed with it. I hope that you find this inspiring. Read on!

“When I first began doing sculpture about 1922, or so, I often worked direct in a piece of stone or wood, which might have been not a geometric shape, but just an odd random block of stone that one found cheaply in some stonemason’s yard, or a log of wood which was a natural shape, and then I’d make a sculpture out of that bit of material as I could, and therefore one would wait until the material suggested an idea.

Now a days I don’t work so much in that way, as I have an idea, or an idea comes to me, and then I find the material to make it in, and do that, the ideas that I am concerned with, I’ll produce several maquettes – sketches in plaster – not much bigger than one’s hand, certainly small enough to hold in one’s hand, so that you can turn them around as you shape them and work on them without having to get up and walk around them, and you have a complete grasp of their shape from all around the whole time. If the form, the idea, that you’re doing is much bigger than that, then to see what it’s like on the other side, you have to get up, walk around it, and this restricts your imagining and grasping what it’s like as you can when it’s small. But all the time that I am doing this small model, in my mind it isn’t the small model that I”m doing. It’s the big sculpture that I intend to do.” Henry Moore, 1964

” One doesn’t know really how ideas come. But you can induce them by starting in the far little studio without looking at a box of pebbles. Sometimes I may scribble some doodles, as I said, in a notebook; within my mind they may be a reclining figure, or perhaps a particular subject. Then with those pebbles, or the sketches in the notebook, I sit down and something begins. Then perhaps at a certain stage the idea crystallizes and then you know what to do, what to alter. You dislike what you’ve just made, and change it. At the end of a week you’re sitting in that nice little easy chair with the bench in front, and there’ll be probably some fifteen or so maquettes about 5 or 6 inches long, if it’s a reclining figure, or that height if it’s an upright. Then either I know that a few of those are ideas that I like, or that I don’t like any of them. If some are ones that I like, then I’ll do a variation on that idea, or I’ll change it if I’m critical. Done in that way the thing evolves. In my mind always though, in making these little ideas, is the eventual sculpture which may be ten or twelve times the size of the macquette that I hold in my hand” Henry Moore, 1960

“The human figure is what interests me most deeply, but I have found principles of form and rhythm from the study of natural objects such as pebbles, rocks, bones, trees, plants, etc.

Pebbles and rocks show nature’s way of working stone. Smooth, sea-worn pebbles show the wearing away, rubbed treatment of stone and principles of asymmetry.

Rocks show the hacked, hewn treatment of stone, and have jagged nervous blocked rhythm.

Bones have marvelous structural strength and hard tenseness of form, subtle transition of one shape into the next and great variety in section.

Trees (tree trunks) show principles of growth and strength of joints, with easy passing of one section into the next. They give the ideal for wood sculpture, upward twisting movement.

Shells show nature’s hard but hollow form (metal sculpture) and have a wonderful completeness of single shape.” Henry Moore 1933

Henry Moore was immediate and frank in his understanding and description of his work. He was also very articulate. He seemed not to know really what was happening but at the same time he did. He left it to chance and let the materials tell him what to do. That’s what he was saying. It’s almost as if you’re having a conversation with him. These are excerpts from interviews so in a way you are having a conversation with him. If you can be this frank and immediate in your writing you will have something extremely powerful. That kind of writing almost comes from the unconscious and you can tap into it by using the free writing exercise I mentioned in the previous post.

Here is a link to a video about Henry Moore on YouTube: