The composer Morton Feldman is supposed to have said to his students ‘If you haven’t got an artist for a friend you’re in trouble’. Feldman could call on a number of the great names of American abstract expressionist art as his friends, and it’s possible he was counted too as a friend by some of these illustrious painters. Friendship between creative people can be supportive and enriching, not least as a mutual sounding board, a way of obtaining critical reaction with the safety net of trust and respect usually founded upon shared knowledge of context and method.
Once physical communities of artists came together informally on a day-to-day basis; in the studio, in the street, in the café, in the home. This still happens of course, but we now have an additional and potentially valuable meeting place: the virtual community of the Internet and the artist’s blog. Artists are becoming practiced in sharing the detail of their creative journeys, the nitty-gritty of discovery, experience, failure, influence. We know what books lie beside their beds, where they travelled last weekend, even what they cooked for tea. With the aid of a digital camera and the application of an hour or so at the computer an artist can use the blogging medium as a way of posting a regular report on artistic progress and process. This is often undertaken as a means of making a self-explanation of where work is going to; it can be a valuable form of both self-criticism and self-knowledge. The premise of such revelation, judiciously managed by making reference to techniques or the work of other colleagues, can quickly build an international community of interest. For some artists their blog is solely focused at their work, even to the extent of safeguarding their anonymity, though this is increasingly rare. Others, and these seem to be in the ascendant, demonstrate how their practice (what a loaded word that is) integrates with the minutiae of their daily life. There’s also lot of showing off; who we met, where we’ve been, when the next significant exposure of work will be. That said, there are out there in the bloggesphere occasional examples of sustained engagement with the medium that have the potential of adding a layer of informal interpretation that can enhance and enrich a viewer’s experience of an artist’s work.