Bailin Studio

He left a paper trail…
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He Left A Paper Trail: Core Matter, Subject Matter and Object Matter
SUUM CUIQUE VENENUM • To Each His Own Poison
Exhibition Videos With Artist
Studio Practice: Developing Ideas
Drawing: Looking At Masters
Criswell Painting Detail
A Teaching Method For Basic Drawing
Workshop Drawing Wall detail
Workshop Reference Materials
Classroom with Students
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Writings on Robert Ashley, 1983, 1985
Ashley Portrait
Robert Ashley • 1930-2014
Back in 1984 I completed my master's thesis Robert Ashley's Atalanta (Acts of God): The Architecture of Perception. I spent many hours interviewing Robert Ashley and was saddened by his death this March 2014. I have decided to post several articles I wrote on his opera for television as a memorial to his work and his music. Click on the images to view the writings.
David Bailin • San Francisco Symphony Notes • November 1983
David Bailin • Formations • volume 2, number 1 • Spring 1985
David Bailin • Master's Thesis • Spring 1984
Déjà vu
An artist friend of mind mentioned that as artists we really paint the same painting over and over again. Subject and Object matter may change but the Core matter does not. Patterns of work, approach, organization, and deep themes appear over and over again. As much as we think we make progress, the progress is a fog of technical mastery and emotional depth. What makes us artists, what drives us to spend hours in the studio, what brings us to manic highs and depressive lows? Warren Criswell calls it our addiction–the art drug.

I was looking over paintings I had made in 1972. Typical student work: attempting to make something original by negating every thing I had learned about good painting and combining two disparate styles: Clifford Still and Phillip Guston.

But what struck me was how close those paintings looked and felt to my current thumbnails. The same self-enclosed stories, the diagrammatic elements of the work and the space between each idea or impulse. This was an aesthetic epiphany.
Years Apart
First Meeting, 1976, Oil on Canvas, 48 x 72 inches • Thumbnail studies for Book, 2011

As artists, we change the subject matter (the story) and the object matter (the elements) but we can’t change the core matter– the indescribable and intangible chemical, electrical, biological makeup of our psyche -the conglomeration of memories and emotions that require expression.
Clifford Still and Phillip Guston
We may never come to grasp or even understand what that core is but it remains stubbornly fixed and reinforced throughout our lives. The frustration, therefore, is how important that core is to creating our subject matter and how insignificant our subject matter is to expressing it. The art drug is the need, the compulsion, to express the core through our work so well and completely so as never to have to experience it again.