Friday, November 28, 2008

I carry this refuge within me.

Come in and shut the door.
You might want to take your shoes off. Splash some cold water on your face from the basin, and look out at the street from the window. Smell the air and hear the sounds.
Try out the chairs, they may not look comfortable, but they are. Try out the bed, it feels firm and solid, so nice to recline and look at the art on the walls. While you are there just look up at the ceiling, you may start to feel yourself letting go. You have everything you need here, perhaps there is a good book in the drawer or even hidden under the pillow. You may find some paper, and decide to write a letter. In this calm and simple room, ideas start to form in your mind quickly. Excited by this you may get up and pace the floor, feel it underneath you, it gives a little and crackles under your feet. Just a few minutes in this room and you feel restored for the time being. Have a glass of water, put your shoes back on and it is time to leave. This perfect room is always waiting for you.

I carry this refuge within me.
Does your mind take you to a particular painting when you need to get away?

Friday, November 21, 2008

One thousand arrows point to the uninitiated

Freedom is available to you if you want it. If you will allow it in. Freedom is so revered and yet so feared. Most of the obstacles I put in my life are of my own creation. Most of the limits I put on my art are as well. Realizing this is a huge step and at the same time it seems so obvious.

I know I am free to make and do any type of art I want and that you the viewers, the readers, the gallery owners and the patrons will go along for the ride. The work will either be appreciated or it won't- and that is all there is to it.But now what to do? Sometimes all this freedom seems too much.

Right now everything feels like a riddle as I paint the works for my show "Fire and Noise." The original goal was to create art with more "me" in it or more meaning that was personal to me. People have encouraged me to express what is within, but they also offer conflicting advice to try it this way or think of it that way, use these colors but not these, remember this and explore that and don't rely on this familiar device but do make it easy on yourself, let go but perhaps just not like that.I know they are trying to help me reach deeper within and offer guidance as well as new ways of thinking about the problem.

They sense that I am frustrated and searching or that I am holding something back, and they are not wrong. One of my favorite Interpol songs, has the line "I have seven faces, thought I knew which one to wear..." and this has always resonated with me. When I am painting I tend to try too hard to maintain just one of the seven faces and I box myself into a corner. With the knowledge of true freedom comes the ability to put on the other six faces. I worry that if left to my own devices my work could become inconsistent or groundless and this is uncomfortable to me. I then start listening to all the voices around me and become overwhelmed.

Just as things seem to work on a Monday, they can also fade away by Thursday and I am back at square one. What am I after? I sometimes feel like an actor asking "now, what's my motivation?"

As I was working yesterday, trying to express something (something = the true problem, it seems my signal got jammed this week, it started off questionable and bleak, then moved into useful and familiar and then got so filtered and watered down that somewhere I lost it), I found myself attacking the surface with pencil and scrubbing pad, marks and words.The surface was absent of color, and it was so many things I wasn't, so unsatisfactory. The end result was like a piece of forgotten homework left in a mud puddle. Tomorrow I will go back to retrieve it, and I will attempt to return to the pure state I used to know, where color meets color and perhaps nothing more.

I will step once again into the fire and noise, and attempt to deflect all one thousand arrows...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hide all your yesterdays (and start again)

My studio has been a bit frenetic this past week, blotter papers filling the floor, brushes full of paint strewn about, water, oil, tubs of paint,powdered graphite, music music music, and a lot of looking, questioning and running up and down the studio stairs. I ordered my supplies like I told you I would, and in record time the Fed Ex man was blocking my door with large cardboard boxes, oh so exciting!

I have been exploring the Claybords in more detail, just messing around, and I don't mess around. This is different, if you read this blog regularly you know I don't sketch, doodle, or visually plan out my art. I may map out my strategy of attack but never the art itself and usually once a painting is started I plan on showing it. I don't have a lot of work around that I wouldn't feel comfortable showing in a gallery. Yes, I fall out of love with some pieces and some are stronger than others, but what I create usually leaves the studio. However, these panels are so foreign to me that I am really having to slow down and get to the know them.There is a lot of mediocre painting and more important learning going on currently. I get satisfactory results and then I take a steel scrubber and scrub it all away, and start again. I feel I still have plenty of time to get to know the material before I create anything permanent.

I love it. I love painting and tearing it apart, I love being able to take my time and revise. It is a long process getting to know a new material. Sort of a strange conversation, "Hello, oh you don't like that, but you kinda like this, but I don't like this... and so it goes." However, I have a fever to actualize this work. My paintings are not usually about struggle nor are they ever fevered. Yet in the past I wished they were- like the work of those mad passionate artists working in their studios as portrayed in Hollywood films. So, this new material is giving me that for now, but I suspect only for a little while, and then I will be able to manipulate and cajole it into something that fits the fire and noise concept. I don't usually have concepts either, so all the rules have changed. All of them! I am without footing and this is great too. Who knows if this will work, who knows if this will sell, who knows if they are staying true to the original idea. Again this is very exciting and freeing to think about for me.

So, today as I write this, there is a sloppy painting on the table waiting to be finished; more likely waiting to be found. There are two new paintings sitting propped up against the wall, that dare I say, rock!?! Another on the wall that is a maybe and another one already hanging in my living room because it too, is a keeper. Fire and Noise is spreading, not only through my paintings, studio, and house but through my life as well.

I just ordered all my old paintings to face the wall. I don't want them looking at me right now as they whisper, "Hey old friend remember me?" My reply, "Nope, sorry- not right now, I will again soon but just not now..."

I am hiding all my yesterdays...

Friday, November 7, 2008

A New Day...

First things first: I must say that the sun seems more beautiful when it shines, the wind blows me kisses, blankets feel softer and warmer, and my mind seems to be coming out of a dark dingy hibernation, things seem truly possible once again.

We elected Barack Obama as our next president and I am so proud of America! That is a new feeling for me. We have a long road ahead to repair the damage of the last eight years, but I think we actually have a shot. I don't talk politics on my blog but I had to make note of one of the most amazing experiences of my lifetime.

Back to art now- thank you again for all the support and comments about last week's post "Fire and Noise." I really appreciated hearing your excitement about my upcoming show and the concepts I hope to express. We will see where it goes, but I do feel like it is possible. I feel that change is in the air all around. I can afford to be a little bolder in my art and in my life and it seems you all are itching to go along for the ride!

I have completed two paintings for Fire and Noise this past week, and I am very pleased and excited by the results! I think new materials are going to be equally as important as the concepts I express. My friend/artist and gallery owner Dede Peters, did something above and beyond last week and had a Claybord shipped to my house as a surprise- she wanted to shake me up and see what I would do with a new material in a new size.

Hm.. what happened?? Well, I fell in love with the material right away, all my old tricks didn't work anymore, they acted new and strange- which was so thrilling! So, I have decided I will be ordering some more claybords for myself to supplement canvas pieces that will also be in the exhibition. I will also be experimenting with powered charcoal and graphite as well. I am placing my order right after I finish this post!

I haven't offered much advice here lately, but one thing I will say; if you are feeling stuck in a rut and not sure- then try something new! Splurge on a new material or a new size that you never work with. I have been exploring that idea to some degree while painting on paper for my Etsy shop and the rough wood scrap panels right after my show. Something about a new, fancy material makes you stand a little straighter in reverence, as well as scratch your head and wonder about the possibilities. I am thankful that I had a friend that saw this need in me and stepped in with a claybord intervention. If money is tight, trade a supply with another artist, trade a technique, get out of your creative cul-de-sac and try something new.

On another note, thanks again to everyone who purchased my small works on paper the month of October from my Etsy shop. I was able to donate $245 to Will Boyd's health care fund, from my sales and from the donations of other artists who sold their work to benefit his cause. I really appreciate how inspiration and compassion can grow, expand and shoot around the country and the world to help someone in need.

Next week more Fire and Noise...

pictured above
4 by Sea
mixed media on paper
only at Artmaven on Etsy

Please visit my website and learn more about the galleries that represent my larger canvas paintings as well.