THE BLOG

Reflections on Five Years of Blogging on HuffPost Arts & Culture

05/24/2015 02:48 pm ET | Updated May 24, 2016

The past few weeks have been busy, so an important career milestone almost slipped by with my having noticed: May 13th was my "Five Year Blogaversary." On that date in 2010 my first blog appeared on The Huffington Post. Titled "Picasso's Recession-Proof Harem," it appeared on HuffPost's New York section, as the Arts page hadn't opened yet. HuffPost Arts -- now HuffPost Arts & Culture -- officially opened a month later, on June 15, 2010, under the direction of its amazing founding editor, artist Kimberly Brooks.

"Picasso's Recession-Proof Harem" was the first of a total of 259 blogs (this one included) that I have posted over a five-year span. That means I have averaged just under a blog a week over time. When I started, I had absolutely no idea that I was capable of writing so much or so often. Blogging has been a huge surprise for me: It has been a life-transforming experience and a door-opener.

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Ex-voto painting by Matthew Couper

Matthew Couper's wonderful ex-voto painting, sent to me as a gift early in 2011, does a great job of capturing the spirit world of my newfound avocation. Seated productively at my computer, I'm connected by a grid of red circuitry to Mat Gleason -- another early HuffPost Arts blogger -- and also to an all-seeing eye, and to a painting by my mentor, the late Nathan Oliveira. A head by Jean-Michel Basquiat -- an art world frenemy from many years ago -- rises over the floor tiles to my left, while my journalistic patron saintess, Arianna Huffington, raises a knowing eyebrow to my right. Christ, crucified for art, adds an additional touch of religiosity and devotion to the tableau.

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At work in my office

Matthew's painting captures some of the imaginative and psychological forces that surround my interest in writing. A photo of me at work in my real office shows some interesting correspondences. I do spend a great deal of time leaning over my laptop, and a work by Nathan Oliveira -- one of his "Tauromaquia" monotypes -- does hang in front of me as I write. A large model plane that I built and put too much work into to actually fly hangs over my head, a reminder of a hobby of the past. The energy that I used to put into making things seems to all go into writing these days. After recently re-organizing a bookshelf in my office to contain all of the catalogs and books I have contributed to over the past few years, all the effort suddenly seemed tangible.

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Art catalogs and books

The following list contains some reflections, notes and comments from five years of blogging:

A few things I have learned:

Every word matters. You never know who is reading your blog. Every blog is important.

My favorite quote from an artist:

"The bravest thing in the world is to take a position without a pre-planned fall back."

- Kyle Staver quoted in "A Brother Honored"

My favorite reader comment:

"Read it. Excellent. Loved the Mao."

Steve Martin responding to my blog "I Don't Deconstruct" on Twitter.

Blogging is different from other kinds of writing:

You wake up in the morning, drink your coffee, and blog about what you want to write about in the way that you want to.

Blogging is truly social:

I have never had so many friends. Oh, and a few frenemies too...

Something I need to do again:

The "Paintings and Palettes" and "Studio Visit" blogs were a lot of work, but a lot of fun too.

A common misconception.

I have written predominantly about representational painters. For that reason, some people have come to think that I don't care for other types of art. That isn't true. I write about representational painting because there is simply so much good work out there that hasn't gotten the attention that it deserves.

Humor is important:

You can say things with humor that you can't say another other way. A list of my satires can be found at this link.

I'm often asked if I have a favorite artist:

Yes, it is the artist I am writing about at any given moment.

Artists need to have their stories told:

Interviewing artists has allowed me let artists tell their stories. An index of the 75 interviews I have conducted since 2010 can be found on my personal website.

Some Acknowledgements:

I owe a great deal of thanks to Arianna Huffington, Kimberly Brooks, Kathleen Massara and Katherine Brooks (my editors). I owe even more to my wife Linda who has supported me, even when I have been writing when there is laundry that needs folding.

To my readers:

Thank you for reading. There is a lot left to write... more blogs are on the way.