Nicholas Baxter

Blog posts tagged “Situationists”

Death & Rebirth

I’ve noticed throughout the various efforts of my life that the completion of any large, time consuming project ushers forth what I’d like to call an energy vacuum.  In this cosmic void is where, given the abrupt surplus of “free time” and mental energy, I suddenly grapple with all manner of restless limbs, anxious neuroses and existential crises which had no life in the formerly airtight seal of goal-oriented focus I’m capable of (for better and, clearly, for worse).

I’d compare this phenomenon with what many historians and political scientists refer to as a “power vacuum.”  This comparison, to me, seems obvious, as I believe the phenomenon follows the fundamental metaphysical principles of the universe–and of all matter, for that matter.  Life, or energy, rushes in to fill all voids; the kind of energy involved is irrelevant, as is whether it’s great or it sucks for nearby humans.

Anyway, this time around, trying to avoid the free-fall after a steady climb up to that cliff called “achievement,” I seized the opportunity to run off the fumes of my recently finished painting series and finished some older abandoned pieces, a few random and experimental “lesser works.”  One of which was the topic of a recent blog entry.

Here’s the end result of that experiment:


"Rebirth" Oil on Canvas, 18 x 36 in, 2011-12

Which segued perfectly into remembering I had a tiny 5 x 7 inch half-assed underpainting laying around the studio, mocking me for the past 3 years.  So I silenced its unconsummated, jeering voice and finished that sucker, thus reversing the Bad Artistic Karma I’d accumulated from that former abandonment. (Note: Artistic Karma is a concept I explain in my painting book that I put out in 2010.  Look for a future post on that. But for now, how’s this for some more good Artistic Karma: my previous post featuring a reference to Leonardo Da Vinci was written and made live–unbeknownst to me at the time–exactly on Da Vinci’s birthday.)

Endgame 1

"Endgame 1", Oil on Canvas, 5 x 7 in, 2009-12

A barren, scorched landscape dominated by a central phallic symbol, imposing and rough.  The aftermath of mankind’s masculine aggression against Mother Earth. The finish line of industrial civilization’s race to oblivion. Totally Fucked.  Still unsure of what to call it… “Endgame 1”?  I like the sound of that for now. A little nod in the direction of one of the more important contemporary writers on this topic.

Nothing too impressive, but nonetheless, a satisfying little exploration of atmospheric effects on a small scale.

I can see some more experiments with this theme and subject matter in my future…I really want to tackle some realistic landscapes–with a twist. But for now, here’s to beating ennui and apathy and Living Without Dead Time.


On The Road

Live without dead time!”  

One of the slogans, courtesy of the Situationists, that I try to live by.  To me it means making productive, efficient, and enjoyable use of one’s short time on this earth. I find it easy to embody this ethic at home in the familiar environment of the studio, where steady progress is made on paintings and other projects. But it can be tough to halt progress and pull away in order to travel, and even tougher to get back into that same productive, creative sweet spot after returning.

One solution to this interruption is to bring the studio with me, if I suspect I’ll have some free time during my trip. I’ve developed a system that helps me fit all my painting necessities inside a cloth-bound, folding brush and paint holder that’s approximately the size of a thick 3-ring binder.  This makes it easy to travel with art supplies and be ready to work wherever I may be. My most crucial travel items consist of:

  • approx 10 small tubes of paint
  • approx 30 brushes
  • small vial of Alkyd medium
  • small vial for OMS
  • collapsible mahlstick
  • small rag

I usually stick to smaller sized paintings while traveling, to make packing and transport easier. To save space in my bag, I wrap my painting panel with my packed clothing, for padding and protection.

Sometimes a simple tripod-style collapsible easel is necessary, but often enough my destination has adequate desks or other furniture to take advantage of and provide a makeshift studio setup.

I make sure to work with quick-drying mediums while on the road, so that my painting will be dry enough to pack again into my luggage, after working on it the day before departure.

Painting at my parents' house: mid-afternoon, overlooking the water.