Making Art and Reading on the Brink of the Mayan Apocalypse

December 21, 2012 § 25 Comments

On this day Friday, December 21, 2012 I decided to take the day to peacefully read and paint. Upon my glass palette I have a fiery colored oil paint (Old Holland’s Cadmium Red Light) at the ready for any impromptu plein air landscape painting in the event that Portland, Oregon’s resident volcanic mountain, Mt. Hood, engulfs our fair city in a sea of lava and brimstone.

City on the Hill, Oil on Paper, 11 x 14”, 2009

City on the Hill, Oil on Paper, 11 x 14”, 2009

Currently I am reading several books for artists– some on old master painting techniques and tricks of the trade and some authored by painters. Highlights include Salvador Dali’s 50 Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship, A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney by Martin Gayford, The Art Spirit by Robert Henri, and Bright Earth, a book about the history and invention of colors and pigments. (Oh helllll yes I am a nerd…)

Read more, web less!

Read more, web less!

My new painting studio is located in a renovated third story attic of a hundred year old Victorian house. It has two large skylights under which I have set up to paint. The clarity of the light up here is truly wonderful.

My new painting studio in December 2012.

My new painting studio, December 2012.

Originally, I had my studio on the second floor of the house, but after I saw a painting in the Met Museum in New York City this past summer I was moved to adapt to a smaller space in the attic in order to work with the best daylight possible.

In the painting an artist works in an attic space beneath a skylight and has a suspended pane of frosted glass over his desk to diffuse the light. Since Portland, OR is an unending grey rain shower for most of the year so far it is like the light has already been frosted for me. I am unsure if the artist in the painting isn’t also using the diffused light with a small mirror for an unknown technique. What do you think it looks like he is doing?


The oil painting that inspired my studio space. Did you notice the red and blue chairs?

Update: Dissecting the painting after discussion.

Update: Dissecting this oil painting of space/etching techniques after discussion.

My current painting commission in progress on my easel.

My current painting commission in progress on my easel.

So far December 21, 2012 is a good day. I have my hot tea. While I paint I’m listening to Moondog’s Lament 1 and Jonathan Richman’s Egyptian Reggae. No sea of lava… yet.

Thank you for reading! Happy Apocalypse and Winter Solstice 2012!


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§ 25 Responses to Making Art and Reading on the Brink of the Mayan Apocalypse

  • So jealous of your space!

  • That studio space looks delightful. And the art popping up here and there is wonderful. My studio co-op is starting to become a hindrance to creativity, unfortunately. Does your studio have a sister?

    • Mike Schultz Paintings says:

      Thanks for the comment! I am sure that you can find a solid studio space if you look long enough. I’m not sure about a sister, but this one seems at least to be a great granddaughter of the one in the oil painting– so I know they exist!

  • oliverowl says:

    I am so happy for you to have this new space! I am hoping that this time of reflection with periods of solitude that you now have, in contrast to your stay in Thailand (although that time was beneficial, as well,) will add another layer to creativity. In a way, the various times in our lives are akin to the growth rings in a tree. You are wise to study the “old masters” we should all take advantage of what has been graciously shared with us! How shortsighted, if we don’t…right?

    • Mike Schultz Paintings says:

      Thank you, Oliver Owl! For me living where I did overseas was important and very intense. Reflecting on it now I would describe the past year of being back in the US as being cold and strange in comparison with SE Asia. Cold not only in temperature, but our culture at large.

      The old master painters (and poets and musicians and architects and chefs and carpenters) left us so many gifts. I agree that it would be shortsighted to ignore the teaching that our predecessors left us.
      Though Jack Baumgartner sums up that sentiment more than anyone I know. Have you seen his work lately?

  • Scritch says:

    What an amazing studio. I have desk envy. love the apocalypse painting too. was it part of the photography collaboration?

    • Mike Schultz Paintings says:

      Thanks for the comment, Janine! When I lived in Brooklyn I built two wooden desks that when next to each other added up to be over three meters of work space. (Do I like to put shit on tables? Yes!) I have the larger of the two downstairs for drawing and printmaking, and the smaller is the one pictured under the skylight for oil painting.

      What is your workspace/desk like? Would you ever write a post about it? If you need more light one trick I use in my studio are mirrors on easels to bounce light into dark corners. It works! I have them all directed at skylights so it looks like the room in sprinkled with windows.

      The painting was not part of the collaboration, but was the first oil painting that I made directly after that project. The landscape is based on one of the backgrounds I had made for it, and I thought that I could do it better and wanted to see it realized, you know?

      Here’s a link to the image:

      • Scritch says:

        well i have posted about it. I live in a very small flat and sharing with my partner. The size of the living room is only a little bigger than 3m. So my work space is tiny and is what I used to fit on this tiny child’s desk and now on a bigger coffee table. But I can’t work with oils or anything too messy, no printmaking, its impossible. But luckily I’ve learned to make do with dry mediums and small spaces even though sometimes its a bit frustrating.

      • Mike Schultz Paintings says:

        Well, your space/medium limitations don’t seem to be affecting your work. I love what you have been producing. I’m no stranger to working in small and unusual spaces. Once upon a time I even lived inside of my studio desk– which was a bit like sleeping in a coffin.

  • Mike this is a bit intrusive but just to quote something you
    said, in poetic form:

    the light
    already been
    for me

    That line jumped out at me while reading your story and seeing these photos.
    Somehow it also ties in with the theme of the painting above.

    Interesting post. Thank you.

    • Mike Schultz Paintings says:

      Thanks, Steven. You are right that when isolated that is a nice little poem, and very appropriate for Portland’s winters. Here’s an impromptu haiku about living in Portland in the rainy wintertime.

      When the sun come out
      everyone realizes how
      depressed they have been.

    • jackbaumgartner says:

      A beautiful and fitting observation, Steven.

  • jackbaumgartner says:

    How I love seeing your studio. Especially in its reflection of history.

    As to the painting, If he is working on copper,as the evidence surrounding him suggests, I think he is using the screen (which is at the proper angle for doing so) to cast a white reflection on his plate, which will make the incised or etched lines easier to see. The mirror is then for revealing his plate as it will look when printed, or to reflect back a proof for editing the plate in the corresponding place. My guess is that he is editing a plate based on a proof which he is holding up to the mirror.

    Great post, Mikey!

    • Mike Schultz Paintings says:

      Thanks for the comment, buddy! You see… this is why I keep myself in the company of smart people like yourself. I didn’t even realize what the hell that big black X was on the right side of the oil painting. I kept thinking it was some sort of strapping for a shelf– but now I clearly see that it’s a printing press! There is also a copper plate leaning against the wall, as well as an etching leaning upright next to it on the table.

      Also, good call about him using the diffused light to create white reflections upon the copper plate he is working on. From what I can see, I believe he has a book of proofs standing upright facing away from him which is directly reflected in the small mirror. I think you are correct to assume that he is working from the reversed image of the proof in the mirror to engrave into his plate.

      This morning I have made a diagram of this discussion and just added it to the post above. My only regret is that I foolishly cropped out his cool red sash– a must for any real artist. Also a must is a studio cat with a beret.

      What do you think the blue solvent is? Do you think it is correct that he is using the small mirror to reflect proofs while he works?

  • […] take a moment to visit my friend Mike Schultz interesting post on his blog the other […]

  • Ah! I thought I detected some of Mr. Dali’s influence in your work– excellent.

    I dig your new studio. It’s very hard to do good work without a congenial work space. You made a wise move, sir! : )

    • Mike Schultz Paintings says:

      Thanks for the comment, Mark. It’s true that without a dedicated space making consistent work can be difficult– and it helps if the space has some personality too!

      Also, it’s funny because I like Dali’s writing a lot more than I like his actual paintings. I’ve had this book of his for 20 years and haven’t read it until now. He starts out by trash talking the impressionists (who I love but it was still enjoyable to read) and concludes by saying one could chop off Cezanne’s ‘clumsy hands’ because it already looks like he’s been painting with his feet!

      Now, I love Cezanne, but we definitely need more opinions like that in the art world.

  • That’s a beautiful painting! And your studio looks so cosy – lovely!

    • Mike Schultz Paintings says:

      Thank you, I appreciate the comment! My studio feels really homey on days like today when there is a cold rain on the windows, but the heat and is on in here. <<>>

  • Hello- I don’t know if you participate in the awards on WordPress or not, but I nominated your blog for the “Liebster Award.” More details can be found here: Keep up the great work & Happy New Year! :)

    • Mike Schultz Paintings says:

      Thank you for the nomination and the well wishing! Happy New Year to you as well. I actually don’t participate in the blogger awards, but I appreciate the sentiment anyway. <<>>

  • Congratulations on surviving the 21st of December, Mike. I wish you well in your new studio space. Oh, the joy of having a dedicated space in which to make a mess or be disorderly and not have to clean it up in a hurry.

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