I painted these blocks awhile ago, and just had them hanging around the house, on window sills, bookcases, and the like. I’ve recently felt a little unsure of where I’m going next with my work. Makes sense to revisit the place I started: with these blocks. In fact, now I realize I’m looking for the format, or frame, really, to put around what I’m doing. … Just painting right? Yet to just dedicate a large percentage of your time to painting seems to require some sort of bigger life decision. Maybe that’s what all this frame-obsession is about.
I’ve been working on some small paintings recently, enjoying making the frame a part of the whole, rather than something I add at the end. I’m working on some even smaller ones now too, as a way to incorporate some very small blocks I made when first teaching myself to paint almost 5 years ago.
A few of these are paintings I started awhile ago. It often happens that I start a painting and then have to leave it for awhile. Perception, being the slippery fish that it seems to be, changes over time. Or, perhaps because I turn my attention to other paintings (or writing, which seems related, or singing, which also seems related, tho’ maybe less so), I learn something I needed to know before I could finish the piece I started. … I have learned to be patient in this process, mostly.
This too went through a big change recently. Maybe summer’s are for reflecting on what one’s done in the gray months. ? Particularly as summer gets one out of the house more, less navel-gazing time.
… I recently finished taking a poetry class with Frances McCue at the Hugo House, and have been taking to heart the idea that perhaps some things are “straight” in a piece, while others are more “out there.” In other words, if a poem has a fair amount of stream-of-consciousness leaps, it may need some anchors to ground the reader. … I think that concept has leaked into my painting awareness. This may be why I removed the woman’s bunny ears (in my previous post), and made adjustments to this piece. The figures here previously had two bald heads, no clothes. There was less definition in the houses, and much less sky. The sky was also filled with red flowers. This is 36″ x 36″, acrylic on board.
This portrait has gone through some changes of late. Started out as a feminine face with rabbit ears. I lived with it like that for awhile, even posted it here and there. Then I “re-saw” it. I needed to remove the ears, and see who was hiding under that disguise. This lovely face emerged in a plain yellow ochre background. … Then the background went through some big transformations, including curtains at one point.
I think she’s done.
Just starting a new phase of work, larger and mostly on unstretched canvas. My plan is to get looser with what I’m doing, not so careful, and to spend less time revising and more in free creation. “Freecreation = the act of creating freely, with no psychological, emotional or overly-intellectual encumbrances.” I just made that up.
What continues to startle me is how much visual information seems to be stored in our subconscious and how with some effort we can empty the contents in a form that we recognize, and can reckon with, perhaps. And without going through the act of translation that writing seems to require.
And it’s not just the quantity of images, it’s their potency, and the messaging system. I can’t explain all of my pictures or what they mean to me. I hope they register something, associations, memories, similar types of feelings, emotional situations — something familiar to others. … I guess that’s not the original purpose, tho’, I have to admit that. I think most of the artists I admire are trying to work out something personal on the page/canvas, whether unwittingly or not. … Certainly, of course, some are working out technical challenges, or challenging the art that has come before, or responding to something in their environment with an intentional message, an agenda, perhaps. … But I have to let sink it what I’ve observed, almost as a wash-over, since I have found that if I set out to make a certain kind of art, or paint a certain message or story, I cannot do it. I have to let go of whatever measure of control I think I have, and let the images happen.
After some duration of painting, I long to start cutting and pasting. Well, that’s not always how it feels, but it’s what I end up doing.
I started some rice paper and newsprint collages over the past week, and like how it’s going. . … Here is one that features some newsprint, some of the pieces have been brushed with shellac, tea, and/or ink. I haven’t glued down the pieces yet, and, of course, the type at the bottom isn’t on the original (just for Instagram).
“Flo and the River,” 22″x30″
A bit nervous about gluing down such thin paper, I decided to try it out on another piece first. So, I started messing around with similar paper and soon it evolved into a piece I liked. I still wasn’t as attached as I am to the “Flo” piece, so I went ahead with gluing.
“Someday, All of This Will Be Yours” 22″ x 30″ (plus frame and matt)
The cow actually came before I took a recent trip to Indiana to bury my father. I was so struck by the preponderance of massive box stores and strip malls there, but once I got off the main drags, I found myself back in the rolling prairie. Though that landscape is mostly populated now by subdivisions of over-sized houses, I spotted an old barn one day, derelict, but still standing. That barn really moved me, somehow. I supposed that’s about missing beauty and a sense of spaciousness. And, no doubt, my own past.
Back Home Again in Indiana, 30″ x 40″ acrylic on board
Help Somebody, 32″ x 24″ acrylic on board
I often use animals as stand-ins for humans, when the emotional content is too much for me. I don’t do this consciously, but when I stand back and look at what I’ve painting spontaneously, it really seems true to me.
So much imagery that’s come to me this past year has been related to my father. He moved to Seattle so I could take care of him during his last almost 2 years of life. Though it was challenging at times, as he suffered from dementia, it was probably one of the most meaningful phases of my (and maybe his) life. We connected deeply and were able to express our unconditional love for each other.
The Lost Ones, acrylic on board, mixed media, 16″ x 20″
When We Got Off the Plane In Seattle, We Felt as though We’d Landed in the Future (True Story), Acrylic on board, mixed media, 30″x 40″
This painting has undergone many changes over the year or so I’ve been working on it. It started out with all sorts of figures in it. Those figures turned into apartment buildings for awhile. Then, it occurred to me that the background should be simpler and match the spirit of these major figures. … When we got back from our trip to Indiana and my father’s funeral, we really felt how progressive our home city feels, even in the airport. When I next looked at this painting, I realized that this is what it meant to me.