Part 1: The Map
It is time to get serious for my upcoming exhibition."Evidence of the Disappearance" to be held at the Blue Moon Gallery in Hot Springs, Arkansas in June and July 2008. I head to the studio early one morning to find the paperboard backing off an old newsprint pad and I grab the nearest sharpie marker.
I make a map or diagram of what I need to do.
Preparing for a show is a long process and it can be overwhelming so, I like to "map" out the grand scheme and then eventually break it into more manageable chunks and set daily goals. I scrawl the title across the top, and start visualizing how many paintings I want to create to fill the space and of what size and orientation. I write a few ideas to keep me in line, things I know I want to incorporate into the show, a little of the theme, and some reference points. I draw boxes representing the paintings that I have completed, started and finished. I will mark these "done" as I work through my plan, with dashed lines, X's and checks- these markings will mean something to me. I am already feeling some relief. Some structure is a good thing; when I set parameters, I can then relax and let go and know that the process will take care of me in the end.
Once I have my visual map, rather than thinking "upcoming show=a ton of work," I can break it down, "Today all I need to worry about is starting three paintings, or revisiting yesterday's 10x10's etc." I take an index card or any scrap of paper and write down this smaller daily goal and pin it to the bulletin board in my painting area. I rarely look at it again except to mark it "done" when I am about to turn off my studio lights for the day. These little organizational tools help me to keep a cool head. I have these goals, but I also know I may not always meet them. I may get caught up in a particular piece and drift away and loose track of my "map" for the day and that is fine. I use the map and small goal cards to jump start me into action, and to bring some order to an initially unnerving situation. There is always room to deviate and meander through the process of preparing for an exhibition.The map and cards are simply my good intentions actualized, and we all know that saying about good intentions...
Part 2 : And then the reality
I shout at the muddy fragmented painting, " you're killing me!"and then suddenly it yields unexpected and positive results. The floor of my studio becomes littered with blotter paper and partially finished paintings. I am listening to every Interpol song ever recorded and I know I am in the zone.
Random words, sections of remembered dreams and song lyrics filter through as I work. Occasionally, even a potential title will reveal itself. This hum runs through my mind as my music gets turned up another notch. I jump, clap, and sing loudly, as I am painting. I am an active participant but I am not really here at the same time. I am watching all this happen from the other side of the room. One painting leads to another, one problem after the other, they keep pulling me along as I gain momentum.
This is my process at 5am (and sometimes earlier) every morning when I am working on a show. Some days are amazing, the music has never sounded better and the paintings on the easel are flowing like electricity. And some days, in the bright lights of my studio the paintings are awful, like pulling teeth or learning a new language, tears come too easily and it feels like I have never painted before. At times, I feel like giving up and getting a job at Target. Voices in my head, (the inner critics) say "hide the gold, hide the aqua- you know you are just imitating yourself!" So, I use some other colors for the sake of freshness and they reward me with a vividly hued mess. I then yell at the canvas "Are you kidding me?" The painting is so ugly it's embarrassing. I turn off the studio lights, my brow furrowed,"Am I really going to leave that on the easel to greet me when I return?" Sadly, I think so.
This impasse also signals break time. Perhaps, a MySpace login is in order (hello friends!). After a few minutes of quick greets, best wishes, and emoticon winks, I march back up the stairs to my studio and once again disappear into the process. I find a strong yet dreamy song and set it to repeat, and for the next few hours it helps to silence the questions, and I will dive back in. I know I will repeat this process again and again for months until the "Evidence of the Disappearance" is realized...
Now, for an exciting announcement: It is time for the paper painting give away, the response was tremendous last month! I will be giving away a small original painting on Arches paper to one lucky reader that leaves me a comment on today's blog. I will mail to anywhere in the world. To enter, please leave a comment on this blog entry. I will randomly draw a number to correspond with the comments in the order they are received. The giveaway runs from today through Tuesday of next week, so get your comment in between now and Tuesday at midnight. I'll post the winners name in my blog next Friday, along with an image of the piece they will receive so please be sure to check back, so that I can then contact you to get your postal information. I appreciate everyone who reads and comments on my studio blog. Thank you for all your support and encouragement. It means the world to me. GOOD LUCK!