Saturday, December 17, 2016

Three new paintings 12.17.16

When I got back from the Women of Abstract Expressionism show at The Mint, Charlotte, NC, a few of my friends mentioned that it would be interesting to see how that experience influenced my work. I wondered about that, too. I began these three new paintings thinking about the show, those women painters. I thought about how much paint they used! And that's at least one thing I brought to these new pieces. Not that I used as much impasto as they did, but I was aware of allowing myself to apply more paint than I have in the past. My surfaces still remain quite flat, though.

Then, the other thing I found myself thinking about was a conversation I had recently with a group of artists where I heard myself wailing about how much I suffered trying to get a painting to work (I think I've posted about this theme before.) And I said to myself, "Enough with the gnashing of teeth, just enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be, and can be, fun!".

(The painting angst comes from worrying about the audience, and we all know that is the kiss of creative death. When a painter is staring at a work wondering if it is acceptable, that painter is kindest when remembering the one to please is her/himself.)

This painting, Talk Between the Houses, 18" X 14" X 2", has acrylic, charcoal, graphite, 
colored pencil, ink, pastel and paper collage. 
Below is how it started out, where all the paint, of which I spoke, was used. I look for details in the initial surface for clues about what to enhance to create the images. The first thing I found was that "fissure" traveling up the middle of the image area and I went from there.

Below is the beginning of Safe Sweet Glad Gay Houses, 12" X 12" X 2". (I forgot to photograph it before applying the collage and pastel.)

Here is the finished painting, with acrylic, ink, charcoal, pastel and paper collage with monoprints.

And the beginning of the third, Willing the Keepsakes, 12" X 12" X 2".

You can see that I warmed it up quite a bit, though some of that change in color is the different lighting when photographed. This one has acrylic, charcoal, colored pencil and paper collage.

The next series I'm going to be working on is eight paintings 24" X 18" X 2" for an exhibit at the East Alcove Gallery in The National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD. Given that they will all appear together and be the same size, and I'm doing them as a series specifically for this gallery space, I wanted to have a theme. I don't normally do that; I rarely start a painting with any intention at all. But this feels like a different kind of challenge.

When I was in Charlotte I stayed in a lovely Airbnb hosted by a very nice couple who asked about my work and looked at my website. The last day I was there I ran into Stan and he mentioned that he liked my work but found it rather melancholy. He said, "I don't know much about art, but I see a lot of longing there; none of the birds are flying and the doors and windows on the little houses are all closed". Hm, I thought. Interesting.

That didn't make me want to run back to my studio and paint flying birds, but it did make me think about birds and my relationship to them. I decided that what I wanted to do with this new series was to choose eight totem birds and create paintings, not depicting the birds exactly, but something to do with what they stand for as totems. That's all I can tell you at this point. The eight wooden panels have been started with the first layers of paint (below). Now the... fun...part.

Eagle ~ Spirit
Hawk ~ Messenger
Crow ~ Law
Owl ~ Deception
Raven ~ Magic
Swan ~ Grace
Turkey ~ Give-Away
Grouse ~ Sacred Spiral

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