Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ode to Vision and Revision

Over the past three days, as I watched this painting change rapidly beneath my hand, I remembered the a few lines from T.S. Eliot's The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock that read:

There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

For everyone else, I hope there is something in this painting that lifts and drops a question on your plate. While I've come to understand that I cannot share through color and shape the conversations running in my head as I make something, I hope that the art provides a starting point for new dialogues, new questions, new debates. I hope something I've painted causes you to be curious, to remember, or to hope--that you leave a little you with the painting and take a little of the painting home.

For me, this painting is about vision and revision. The colors I used and the moments I constructed with those colors resulted from, I think, an honest sense of wonder (to use Rachel Carson's words). Wonder at color, at the way it is dispersed in nature and at the power I feel when I can choose colors. To finish this painting, I needed to take the time to look, often, and have the courage to let pieces of it fall away. The process was one of intuition, serious contemplation, indecision (about every ten minutes), joy (especially when the colors I mixed were vibrant and good), revision, and exhaustion. Today I felt satisfaction, and chose to stop here.

I dedicate the painting to the people that use their senses vigorously and joyously to explore our world!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

6' by 4' paint/drawing

This process is as intuitive for me as that of making the paneled drawings. Its the largest I've worked, and not so intimidating after all. what you see here is about three hours of work, all in one evening.

Monday, November 23, 2009

12 12" by 12" panels, in progress

just working on these a little every day until they're resolved.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

a very good week

sometimes I can convince myself that I'm capable of mental housecleaning. Usually this happens after a long spell of stress--for me this means aimlessness, frustration, non-motivation, and the sentiment that "I haven't made anything I've liked for months" whether this is the case or not. At some point all of that frustration culminates into a moment of conviction, in which I have a memory lapse, forgetting all sense of accomplishment and happiness I've felt in the past month, and decide I need to DO something about my pathetic situation.

Whether my situation is ever dire enough to warrant such a gung-ho feeling that I am "trying to turn my life around" is questionable. However, this transformation periods always lead to better things, among them serious productiveness (I become prolific in the studio for at least a week or two before things balance out again), an extreme natural high (which takes days to turn off), and an overall confidence in any social situation in which I find myself.

Such a shift took place a couple weeks ago. Although, really, nothing has changed I just feel a bit lighter because the problems that were in the back of my head have disappeared, and I do feel more invested in my artwork. Essentially, what did this was a few good conversations with people I respect and a pleasantly cold walk home that night. Then I had my open studio (with plenty of feedback) and a relaxed weekend at home with Jake and the cats, no work.

The Monday after I threw myself at some blank 12" by 12" panels and a 6' by 4' wooden support with some gouache, markers, cut vellum, and all the energy I'd saved over the weekend. Good things happened, and I suspect that it had to do with making art because I like to make art and a complete lack of concern for what kind of art I think people would like me to make. Of course, when you do that, your teachers always like your art better.

I think making art is how I keep my head clear--it's borderline meditational. When I'm allowing my hand to do what it is compelled to do, I lose total track of time, feel exhausted when I'm finished. Things I see and feel make a little more sense as a result of thinking about them as my hands mix colors or make permanent lines on a page.

The next few posts will showcase the studio progress that has occurred since last Monday.

Friday, November 6, 2009

my corner of some world (a construction in more scales and little nuggets)

I extended the drawing from the last post into another panel, making a bigger drawing or perhaps a diptych. Here is what it looks like currently:

It feels like I'm drawing a joyous universe for my head. Here's the progression of the piece:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mirror Carp Scales and Sarah Sze

This work came out of some drawings I made of Sarah Sze's work and some of the unique scale patterns of the mirror carp.

Now it's its own monster. I am barely holding the reins.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Partial Arrangements and Half-Baked Thoughts

These studies are working towards a drawing made in several layers on vellum (a semi-transparent drafting paper) The general ideas floating around in my head concern time and the accumulation of information. To show that I hope to let the top layer happen intuitively, where I compose the space by appropriating contemporary sculpture into drawings. In each subsequent layer I want to break down the forms and shapes and lines in the complex, initial drawing. Currently, I plan to do so by finding forms in nature, from the most evolved to the most basic, that could have influenced or informed the artworks. However, the process may change as things rarely work according to my plans when I'm in the studio.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Copenhagen Climate Conference 2009

I hope Obama attends. I may send a letter asking him to.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

composition in string no. 6

A sort of map of the string sculpture, in gouache (my first time using it.) Two paintings overlapped. Some sections cut out. A drawing in charcoal began each painting. The thought process was almost entirely about the color once I started painting. I treated the drawings somewhat like coloring books.

30" by 60" (approx)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

abstraction in charcoal.

a make it quickly and wonder what it might lead to, not overly cerebral or based on anything in particular drawing from my abstraction class. What does it remind you of?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Philadelphia Open Studios

Had a wonderful day last Saturday popping in and out of many, many artist's studios here in Philadelphia. Through POST, many artists pay a fee to advertise an open studio day to the public. It was so cool, as "the public" to have a free and open invitation to see the works in progress of the vibrant community of artists in this city, and to meet the hands that made so much of my favorite local art.

I was catapulted into my day (with a fantastic tour guide and mentor, I may add) when I walked into Elaine Erne's house and was confronted by three very, very large bunnies existing in some frightening and sad scenarios. I couldn't believe it when she showed me her medium: regular graphite pencils: to make 60 by 80 inch drawings or so. No, not even thick pencils.

We made a stop at the League Street studios, in which several good surprises unfolded as we turned all the many corners and hallways. Dolores Poacelli had some cool work up, as did Maria Christopher and Lee Horne. Had a good conversation with Lee Horne about how abstraction may be approached, and the differences between unfinished and finished work. I decided after seeing her unfinished abstracted landscapes that it is a murky area indeed. The white spaces in those landscapes were beautiful.

The Midwives Gallery was next, and I laughed and laughed at Angel O's exhibit there. We found Gretchen Diehl camped out in the hallway, with some beautiful drawings, working in her sketchbook. I encourage everyone reading to look at her site. Her drawing hand is exquisite.
Lunch at Charlie's house. He's doing all this colorful geometric abstraction now, a near 180 degrees from the dream-like figuration that was in his studio last time I visited. Isaiah Zagar dropped in and plopped down next to me to partake of the baguette and goat's brie and salami that was being shared. He's a funny guy. And, I don't need to mention, talented.

Finally, up to Port Richmond to see Alice Oh's studio, which was conveniently in the same building as a few Moore alums, like Aubrie Costello, as well as Darla Jackson, Charles Burwell, and the talented folks in The Sweatshop. Darla Jackson's little black animals in party hats were adorable and serious and wise all at once. The birds were my favorite, but the dead (deer?) on the floor was moving. Charles Burwell had a lot to say about his process, and was well-spoken. I came to the conclusion that I liked the first layer he puts on his canvases the best, much better than the last. My tour guide decided the opposite: he liked the last layer the best.

What a day. It would take a novel to describe all that I learned about living and making art, about selling one's art, about getting through difficult problems in a work. I met several people I wish to keep in touch with, if for no other reason so that they can continue to answer the questions I still have about the above subjects.

Off to my dentist appointment, for which I may be late now.

Monday, September 28, 2009

getting mileage out of that string

Now I'm painting from the string spaces. Which is a challenge, when I'm working in oil and refuse to use a three haired brush. I don't think I'll be painting them as forms after this one, because, to be frank, I think blown up, fat looking string in a painting looks cheesy. I may be using them as flat color in the next painting as a way to break up the composition geometrically.

But the solvent saturated paint that being thrown around in the background of this piece, SO much fun!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

string things

I've been toying with the idea of a visual representation of a single life, specifically the progression from innocence to experience. This is the form I've come up with.

String, a tack, all strings supporting a leaning frame and converging at the tack on the studio wall. To the left is a good explanation of how the object looks in my studio space.

When the viewer looks up into the frame, they are put in the small position of an innocent person, probably a child but not necessarily. Everything they see is within the frame, and there is very little color on their side of the frame; in their experience. But, as most people do, there comes a point where one must leave behind the framed world and jump into the mess of knots, twisted threads, uncertain roads.

Here, and from almost any other viewpoint around my composition, there is more color, more understanding, and a greater sense of the whole, the way of things. There is also more confusion, but it is confusion that is tangible and could be worked out.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sometimes we all just need the beach

the painting that put me into a funk also released me from a bad painting rut. I was so stuck that I did a one-eighty and decided to destroy the painting with a bright orange courtyard. Which, of course, saved it, and my exhaustion of it. Nearly finished, just a little more work on the white umbrellas and the shadows that appear beneath them.

I've been looking at Diebenkorn and Hopper to get me through this one.

Now I'm onto the next one, full of color and layers and experimentation with solvents and drips.

lungs, cells, and other dark wet things

the progress is as follows
what happens when one paints over matte medium with oils?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Leonardo's Lungs

these are small drawings I'm working on. a series of twenty in total. I'm reading Da Vinci's journals of anatomical drawings, which he had to keep secret from a Roman government that forbade human dissection. The pieces, when finished, will have very dark, dense negative space filled with incorrect anatomical drawings that preceded Da Vinci, and are only guesses, as opposed to observed. I'm sort of talking about dark as an allegory for ignorance and also fear, and light as one for knowledge and also courage.


and a painting I've just begun about the harshness of transition in the city. (Inside to outside, dark to light, edges, boundaries, shadows...)

Line as Sculpture

here's where the lines as sculptures idea took me