The path to becoming a practicing artist is fraught with pitfalls. Some are certainly market related and others are economy related. These we have very little control over as that is the world of 2012. Perhaps the other key factors are the support we give ourselves internally and the support others provide other than financial. These helps that we can come to rely on are really very necessary as a decided confidence in ability is established but they can be dangerous. Just as often as support is there it can be withdrawn from the intended direction. This is potentially devastating but if we believe God has a plan than we must look for the silver lining. In the case of this artist swapping one medium for another is at least a partial solution. Learning to work alone is also helpful if one is used to the presence of a large social network. This is a direction to take when there seems no other so for the time being I will go back to painting and leave the mud be. Perhaps the change of pace will be benificial in the long run although getting used ot the unpleasentness on the outside ot he cloud will remain dicy for a while to be sure.
One minute the steam roller of thought and art production is flatening everything in its path as the semester rolls on and the next minute the semester ends and there is the in between. One almost always tries to make use of the in betweens by finalizing the semester’s projects and executing a few quick pieces before the demands of the new semester take hold but then there is life and its uncanny ability to throw you a curve. That usually stops up all your plans like a clogged drain. Rather than get the plunger it is sometimes better to let the back up fill until it gets deeper and deeper, thus developing a greater pool of imagination to draw from when the time is right. Most recently this situation crossed my path and the clog really backed up the planning mechanism. While away on a short trip out-of-state a new approach hit me and the sketching began. Much to my surprise a little sketch which was intended to be a set up for a full room installation became a great 2 d painting on its own. Quite by chance I began to apply hatching and cross hatching to areas in the work to differentiate the planes and that might have been it until I thought of Joseph Albers and is color ideas. That caused me to begin to apply subtle colors over the hatching. Finally i applied shadowing in the form of violet pencil strokes. It was at that point that I realized that all my underpainting techniques had been applied right under my nose without realizing it. Strange how art foundations support you when you least expect it.
Over the years of writing a new statement for each series of my work I have discovered one important thing. The statement is more about the artist than the work itself. This may seem backwards considering the need for a rewrite for the change of work but under it all it is the artist who chooses the topic and therefore it is about the artist’s inner workings rather than the mecenations and subtrafuge the artist applies to arrive at the piece to place on the gallery wall. Certainly there are those who would deny what seems so obvious to this writer and this might be especially so for those who love art as observers only. It is very difficult indeed for non-art creators to feel the sense of inner burden that hands on producers sustain everyday.
It is that burden which generates the artists statement in the first place.
When I posted the museum piece I received a phone call from the artist, the mom with many more things of importance. The first of which was about getting glitter all over the place when my brother and I were learning to become fine artists at about age 5. Not so budding but lots of fun. I remember mostly solid blue, green, and red along with elmer’s glue. We did not have the wild combinations of today, but we had fun anyway. On the flipside the artist was moving through a cubist phase and into a colorfield phase which was better in summer than winter. You see in summer she stood in the garage with the door open(good ventilation practice,) squirting liquified oil paint and turpentine mixtures with teaser bottles onto the canvases and rocking them back and forth to control the pools of paint. I guess she had a plan but as I said earlier , I just didn’t get it. She also took me to Moma a few years later and I definately didn’t get it. More about that in the future. There was only one major problem with summer painting and it was the smoking. I remember seeing a film about Jackson Pollock with a cigarette creating a painting and really hoped she hadn’t kept the two together for arts sake. The combination of turps and smoke just is not healthy. In the fall she moved back to the basement and filled up the house with fumes. One day when I was a little older I came down to her work area, I never thought to call it a studio, and the place was thick with fumes . As I gazed at the oil burner I thought mmmm well if that thing starts up now we both might get a tour of the roof so I installed a large exhaust fan in the window. When winter set in I came down again and found she hadn’t turned on the fan. She reminded me of the severe scolding I gave her about not using the fan so I turned it on, Whew, dodged that bullet. Some people said the fumes would not ingite but better safe than sorry. Years later there was a fellow lacquering a gym floor and someone dropped a lit cigarette at the end of the hall and caused a flash fire so maybe my fears were justified after all. Unfortunatly all I could do was suck the smoke and fumes out of the room, not out of her. Now she is battling lung cancer. So smoking is just not a good thing and you can do it all without it. Just remember be like the Karate Kid, “Breathe in, Breathe out.”
I just returned from a visit with family and what I call the family art museum. When I was very young I observed alot of painting at home. I saw everything from cubism to colorfield painting yet I had no idea of the impact it would have upon me until years later. During that time I stretched a lot of canvas over many homemade stretchers. I thought it was mindless work at the time but meaningful now some 40 years later. My father always made sure the stretchers were well made, strong, and square. I suppose I learned alot about fabrication, so perhaps it was not so mindless after all. (mmm, personal reflection moment) In addition to the colorfield work (thank you Helen Frankenthaler, just passed away) the work expanded into encaustic and collage with a little impasto added to thicken things up. All through the years from childhood I had many jobs and never realized the influence of living through all those days of canvas and paint. I did my own kind of art in metal and ceramic and engineering but without gobs of formal training. Yes I had a few lessons from Mom as she was an art teacher and made some drawings and paintings but without the kind of understanding that comes from formal exposure to the esoteric field of art. I once heard a teacher say anyone can look at a painting and interpret its meaning. After my formal art initiation I sharply disagree and I have the bumps and bruises from inadequet interpretive answers during art history classes to prove it. Even though I was raised with art I had no idea what I had absorbed until the last few years. It is one thing to study Cezan or Matisse, but quite another to suddenly ‘see’ the works created by ones own Mom and actually begin to perceive their contents. As I go to “The Museum” quite regularly, I discover the depth of the works. Had I not had the formal I might have missed the familial. So each time I see the works, I say to myself, “Where did that part or that color come from, I don’t remember it being there before.” The more I admit to accepting myself as an artist and following in the family footsteps the more my eyes are opening. Looking back 5 years or so at a ceramic flower container I made, I noticed that it was entirely influenced by my Mother’s unique colorfield and mulberry paper work. I hope this unfolding, this awakening continues forever, I have so much to learn and there is so much to do.
Recently a friend wrote me in desperate straights and I thought about my reply and then I wrote :I know I already replied to this long ago but was looking it over again. I may have mentioned , or not, that were it not for my needing pt for an old accident long ago then my PT would never have seen me reading my bible and would never have joined my church and also her husband who came over from the PI and now their new baby. So who knows who we are ministering to at any moment where ever we are. As to feeling like the dumbest women on the planet, yeah me too but faith is hard. Especially now. Any times I thought oh ya know it is just a crutch, but I have seen too much but as a human I forget those things when I should be writing them on the wall because out of sight, out of mind. I know Charles Stanley says write them in your bible but why not write them on the wall. Who knows who might visit and see your wall and be changed by it. Nowadays one could have it on the electronic rotating pic frame in the living room but I think hand written is the best. Stuff to consider.
Merry Christmas on Christmas Day in the Morning,
Well I have already had my sunrise Christmas walk down here in Sunny Florida and as an artist I naturally collected a bunch of photographs for future art works. I like to sketch but with the sun on the rise and so many things to see, the camera works for me like a race horse. I whirl around like mad looking at everyting to find lights,shadows, birds and water. Of course I was greeted by a golf course duck with a wagging tail. Good thing he could not read my mind. Yes good morning I said to him, wondering if he would be tasty, nah I thought, not on the back nine. Besides so much to do, I had to run back and make this post. My most exciting photograph might be a Heron in flight but I shall wait until I return ot NY for that. Mean while, no matter what Holiday you celebrate this time of year , do it with love. Listen with love, think with love, and speak with love. Oh yes, Make art with love.