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INSPIRATIONAL ARTISTS #3: David Hockney

The Artistic Process- Homage and Dialogue


Why is it that first-year students get the worse dorms?

I arrived the week before the end of summer break. I was sent to the third floor of a walk-up building. The whole floor were freshmen like me. My dorm room was situated left of the wide stairway, second to the end of the corridor, closest to the common kitchen, furthest from the toilets and showers. I was soon to find out that it was extremely noisy as the kitchen was in use 24/7. I couldn’t concentrate or go to bed early. I also found out that climbing 3 floors at the end of a long day, with a school bag, groceries and art supplies was no easy task. My room was a cross between a storage room and a messy bedroom. My toothbrush and my paintbrushes swirled together in a glass jar. My neighbor next door, last room on the corridor, was much older than me. I was a whipper-snapper of 21 years old and she was in her late 20’s. She had a steady job as a graphic designer for one of the main local women’s magazines. Though we were both first year, we had absolutely nothing else in common. I had that art school studio look: I am short, with round John Lennon glasses, overalls, t-shirt and sneakers topping it off with a mop of thick wavy hair. She on the other hand, had short stylish hair, was tall, dressed in ironed neat jeans, a floral button-down shirt and loafers. Her room was immaculate, looking like it came out of a design brochure. I would escape to her room in order to calm down and escape the noise. She always understood what the professors were talking about, while I thought that they were talking Chinese.


One fall evening, late October, I knocked on her door. She was in the midst of painting a beautiful watercolor. I admired her work in silence. I looked over her shoulder. Open on her desk, was an art-book/ catalogue. The pictures were as neat and clean as was my neighbor’s appearance and her room. Extremely graphic. Sterile. It was like all background noises were muffled and all that one could hear was pure sound. A swimming pool with a house behind it. Crisp light blue sky. Another picture was of a naked man diving into a pool. A splash of water frozen in time, capturing a disappearing moment. My first encounter with David Hockney’s art.

“Sea View”- Black and White Ink on Gray Poster Board 250 gm, A-5@All Rights Reserved to Barbara Adler 2021


Fast-forward to the middle of my third year. We spent a better part of that year discussing the importance of dialogue within ourselves and with other artists and their artworks, both close and approachable in space and time and with those artists that are not as approachable. Stressing on its importance to our creativity, relevance and continuity of the long thread of dialogue within the arts.

“Nerano” - Colored pencils on quality paper 250 gm, A-5@All Rights Reserved to Barbara Adler 2021


Homage - “An expression of great respect and honor” (Cambridge English Dictionary) was THE theme that year. I found myself doing 2 works that were homages. One, to Judy Chicago’s “Dinner Party” (see Blog “Inspirational Artists#1”). In that piece of artwork, I expanded on certain aspects that related to her works. My dialogue took me to a completely different place only remotely evoking any similarity to Chicago’s installation. My second piece that year was an exact ceramic 3d of one of Hockney’s pools. Done to perfection, to the fine detail of the stairs leading down to the pool, the sandals by the side of the pool, and the water. Well, the water became my issue quite unintentionally: when firing the piece in the kiln, I tilted the piece so it would fit. The happenstance that occurred made the piece unique. Taking it from being a simple 3d ceramic interpretation of the famous picture to a pure form of homage; the glass melted and climbed the stairs. The pool’s water frozen and sterile like that famous splash from that Hockney painting that so impressed me 2.5 years earlier. When I opened the kiln, I was in such dismay that “things didn’t do according to plan” and that the assessment of that project was 20 minutes away (in those days I lived quite on the edge…) leaving no time whatsoever to fix or change. Sitting rather quietly at the assessment expecting the worst, I was amazed at the praise that I received. It was then that I began to understand the extremely vital importance of dialogue and control (or lack of control) we have of it. When holding any form of conversation/ dialogue with another individual, we have no control whatsoever over what they think or say. Yet, we respond with our thoughts and words. The outcome, interpretation, understanding of the conversation is what each individual involved, takes with them. Same in art. Same with the artist. The only difference is, that the artists appear to be alone in the process. The artist reacts to every line, form and color, preferably without overthinking it. The gut reaction and action that evolves is the process/dialogue that makes artwork. Just like in having a conversation.

From The “Beach” Series, Acrylic on Stretched Canvas, 23/30cm @All Rights Reserved to Barbara Adler 2021


The dialogue takes the artist on a journey. Like any journey, with maps and plans, we know where we start. We have a vague idea where it will end but have absolutely no idea how. The more that we “flow” with the road, the more likely it will be more memorable and enjoyable. The more we try to control it, the more we will be anxious, find dismay, distraught and disappointed. As an artist, I must remain open to my senses, ready to express my thoughts and feelings with the tools acquired over the years of study and practice. I must trust, believe, have faith in the process.


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