Friday, February 24, 2017

Accentuate the positive

In positive, productive, and inspiring news, I am happy to share a couple of art related happenings that I am currently attending to.

I am delighted to be featured in an upcoming interview for the gorgeous, Art Scotland (I am working on answering the questions right now and will update you once the feature is live). I have also just been invited to show several of my recent paintings in an exciting exhibition, The Colour Purple, in April at the always impressive, Union Gallery. I am very excited and truly grateful for these upcoming opportunities.

The sun is starting to shine a bit more and the wind is milder (despite yesterday's storm, Doris Day) and it is starting to stay light, later each day. There are hyacinths, tulips, and daffodils on the living room mantel. All signs that spring is on its way. I think making it through a Scottish winter is a real triumph and it appears I have almost done it yet again.

I am still working on getting the Distillation Process properly documented in order to make limited edition prints and we are still tying up loose ends with the visa process. It will all get done, it will all be well.

Where ever you are and whatever you do, I hope you are well and are taking care of yourself. I know many of us are spending countless hours worrying about the state of the world and our governments. Besides worrying, many of us are taking action (some for the first time) as well. I thank you for your action and for protecting our civil liberties and freedoms. Until next week, keep fighting!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Wanting to remain

I must admit I miss the creative energy and drive of the distillation process. The past 17 days have been lacking the recent passion and unfortunately, have been fraught with anxiety. It's all hands on deck while we complete the visa process (yet again) so that I may remain in Scotland with Stewart and our cat Theo. It is incredibly stressful but we are making good progress on the time sensitive application. I can't wait for it to be over and to (hopefully) be granted that coveted permission slip from the U.K. government so that I can live another 2.5 years in my newly adopted homeland.

I have decided (mostly) not to freak out about this process, the expense and the rigor of the application as well as the required supporting documents, but it is always with me. If anything, this process has given me, even more, empathy for all the immigrants in the world going through the various processes to remain with their families, friends, loved ones, and pets in their newly adopted lands. We just want to be free to pursue our hearts, curiosity, opportunity, safety and our lives as we choose. It's so simple yet it is made so complex. I also know my educated, white, privilege makes this difficult immigration process so much easier for me. I will never forget this and I vow my continued solidarity with immigrants around the world.

So that's what's been going on if I haven't been publishing as much social media/art content as usual.

In other, more exciting news, part of the distillation process has begun to be documented for a series of limited edition prints (three of these images can be seen here in this blog).

It was so good to see the work in a new light after some time away from it. It's a bit tricky to document them with all the ripples and ridges in the paper but I think we will be able to work it out and make something beautiful. I will keep you posted as we progress. Until next week, please keep fighting. It's working.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Updates, admin, and raising hell

This week I spent many hours in the studio, less as a painter and more on the administration aspect of being an artist.

I am a proud member of both Visual Arts Scotland and the Society of Scottish Artists so I updated both of my membership pages on their respective sites. I also updated my own website. I am still working on cleaning up my CV, as well as polishing up my bio, and writing more of an all-purpose artist statement rather than a series specific one, as it usually is. These tasks take time and are always evolving and never seem to get any easier. I spent quite a bit of time researching, reading and rethinking things. I am always rethinking things.

Fortunately, I made some time for creating a couple of small pieces of art. I don't want to loose the connection I've recently been enjoying during the distillation process. It's always a balance. Soon the edited pieces of the distillation process will be documented and made into limited edition prints. I am hoping to make these larger in size and with a different type of paper from my previous prints. I will keep you posted on the process.

The sky has been dark and brooding prone to snow and hailstones as well as sun and blue skies. It captures my mood as I flit about, finding it hard to concentrate. Until next week you know what to do. Sign petitions. Call your officials. Show up and march. Send letters to the paper. Raise hell, and of course, keep making art.

Friday, February 3, 2017

My armor, my solace, and my connection.

On Tuesday, I finished the distillation process. 180 papers now sit on my studio table. It's an interesting way to start the year; it is just the beginning of February and I have already completed or have had my hand in 180 pieces of art. Like pages of a giant sketchbook, they are the evidence of my dedication to an idea. They remind me what I am capable of and what I believe in. I read somewhere that we are what we repeatedly do and every day last month except one, I painted.

I ask a lot from my work and at times it is unfair of me to do this. I can't keep asking for something from my work if I don't also give to it. I got back from the distillation process what I put into it. While working on the process, I was also reminded that I can lie to myself but my art never lies. This is one of the many reasons why I love making art. It has been a constant and dependable companion for so long. I haven't always treated my art as well as I could have; I have taken it for granted, I have been angry with it, and at times I have been very doubtful of its intentions in my life.

I've not thanked my art enough for all it has given me. Working on my art helped to rewire my brain over time to create more pathways to happiness and wholeness. My work helps me live less in fear and with more confidence and curiosity. Art has introduced me to the most fascinating people and has lead to wonderful conversations with strangers (now friends) from all over the world.

I told a friend earlier in the week that art is my armor, my solace, and my connection. The world can't mess with me when I am surrounded by art. That's why now, more than ever, it is important to keep making art for ourselves and for each other. We have political things to tend to and we have to show up and take action, but we also have to make our art. If you think this doesn't apply to you, I urge you to find your art. Find it and let it rebuild you, comfort you, and inspire you and then let it give comfort to the world.

Until next week, keep fighting. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

A challenge, a mystery or both

Hello and happy Friday! I missed you last week but felt it was important to participate in the J20ArtStrike against the inauguration of whatshisname. There was no art made or blog posted on January 20th as I took to the streets in protest. I urge you to keep marching, calling, writing, signing, and sharing in order to protect our democracy, but please do something nice for yourself too (read an art blog, for instance). We have a long way yet to go.

This is an art blog, so let's talk about art!

Today marks the 27th day of the distillation process. It seems like just yesterday that I made my first six papers. However, there are now 156 black, white, and ochre pieces piled up high on my studio table that tells me otherwise. The papers crackle as I stack and smooth them at the beginning of each day. The process begins as I take down the previous days finished papers and put them on the stack before I begin again. I tape one paper on my painting wall, work on it until completion, and then move it to the side and back wall to dry. Each day the walls get covered with six more wet and almost tattered papers. The thin paper dries and warps at the edges, it folds, gathers, and at times looks like fabric. Remnants of tape are left behind on the dry corners and are at times found within the piece, hidden under a layer of paint to cover tears and rips, hinting at the action of the process. I love the scars and damages left behind. My studio floor is now black with charcoal dust and I leave dark boot prints everywhere I go.

When this process began, I had no idea where it would take me, or what I might learn or gain from it. The distillation process developed from a deep need to satisfy something within me. Perhaps a challenge, a mystery or both and that's what I got. Just in the past week, working in this way has taken me to a place I haven't been in almost 8 years. The interlocking shapes are fading and the whole paper is being worked. An atmospheric dark beauty that seems to undulate from just under the surface has now arrived. A few dark lines really are enough to please me, why add anything more?

I wanted to relearn something I had forgotten. I wanted to find something I had misplaced. I wanted to give myself the gift of time and exploration. I wanted to dream the wild dreams again. When I show up for myself and my work, extraordinary things happen, the distillation process teaches me this every day and I am grateful.

Until next week, keep fighting!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Born of charcoal dust

The distillation continues, as today is the 13th day in the process. There have been 78 papers completed and 108 yet to come. I feel myself wanting to break my own rules, and at times I do. It is my process after all, yet mostly I stay true to the original idea, outlined in last week's post.

I leave out the yellow, focusing on the perfection of the charcoal dust and white. I stomp on my papers with my charcoal-encrusted boot and work with and against the marks left behind. I like reacting against especially, and I wonder if this is how I also live my life.

These fleeting marks and the work left behind excites me. At other times, I'm frustrated and want to do more to the paper even after it is deemed "finished." I keep moving forward knowing that it is more about the process than the end result. The papers are expressive and gestural as I remember lessons once learned, and once thrown away.

At times, I feel almost bored and have the urge to abandon it all and return to canvas or to paint on charity shop plates and neckties. This is another lesson of the process, to keep moving forward regardless of feeling. Innovate through the limitations; use the charcoal dust from the floor, stomp and kick the paper, draw larger, paint smaller, limit a severely limited palette even further.

I question myself as I work; why do I draw these interlocking shapes? What does this mean? Is it important? Is this work expressive enough; is it honest? Could I be wasting time? Is all of my art a waste of time? The paper's blank space allows my mind to run freely with abandon. Again, I keep moving forward, ignoring this chatter. If I am not relying on previous knowledge, this means also not relying on the previous bravado. I feel like a student again, unknowing and unsure.

I enjoy heading out the door these winter mornings and knowing that I have six exercises ahead of me; six places to become lost, six dreams to rehash, six thoughts to watch float past, six meditations, a multitude of ruminations and conversations born of charcoal dust, my hand, and heart.

This is not a waste of time.