Thursday, January 8, 2009

What Kind of Artist are You Anyway?

A visit to the local independent video shop can be the art treat that sets the tone for the work week. Of course, Netflix can provide a similar result, but will lack the visceral enjoyment of the hunt for an art DVD accompanied by fresh popcorn from the in-store popcorn machine. I rented art:21 just because Susan Rothenberg was one of the featured artists. A few weeks ago I made a couple of monotypes of Thimble Peak from a photo I'd taken while on the Mt. Lemmon highway, thirty miles north of home. Today, I worked on the ghost image and played with print ink and oil paint. It occurred to me that I am about to find out what kind of artist I am. Actually. Really. Truly. Without Permission. This is the first monotype straight from the press with only the one pull. The second photo is the first layering and the third photo is the working of the ghost image that I may consider finished. When I took a photo of the second one, the lighting cast a kind of sepia tone on the image and I liked it so much that I went back and changed the sky color and scratched a little into the mountains with the end of a paint brush. (12 1/2" x 16 1/2") Usually, after such a venture, I would announce to myself (and anyone within bellowing distance) that I have no talent, that I have no idea what I'm doing, mostly because it doesn't look like the work of...insert favorite artists' names here. I didn't do that today. I decided that this is okay. Why do I love Grace Hartigan, Joan Brown, and Susan Rothenberg so much? I'm starting to see. Without angst, without fear, without apology.


Edgar said...

"Someone once asked who had given me permission to paint the way I do... Painting isn't a matter of rules, rather it's an arena of freedom and creative liberty where no permission is required-that is, if one paints authentically."Melinda K. Hall

All your favorite artists paint authentically, Melinda, and that's what you admire. I kind of doubt that they paint without angst, but they probably got really pissed off at some point about all the "rules" and said, "I don't care anymore, I'm going to do it because it's different and I'm tired of seeing all the routine stuff."

Bold, yes. Because, like you, they realized they don't need permission.

You go. You're on to something -- boldness. This work is independent and challenging; rich, and subtle. It speaks about space and also about paint, and so bridges classical and modernist thinking.

Jeffrey J. Boron said...

Lovely work Melinda...sometimes I think being an artist and making art is something like an impromptu road trip. Sometimes in a car in which the road trippers seem blissful unaware of its obvious and questionable abilities. It's the not knowing that makes those wonderful discoveries such a kick. It's like a day full of wonderful surprises that you don't want to ever end!

The only rules are the ones we make ourselves.

Hey.. you go girl!!


(an artist friend once said this about my angst..."They aren't all going to be blue ribbons!")

Melinda said...

Virtual hug, Jeffrey!
You're so right. I love your analogy about the road tripper. Exactly.

I'll try to throw out more self-critical rules and angst. And, so true, they don't all have to be "blue ribbons"! Maybe some of them can even be "bad" and still be fun or important for the road.

Joan Breckwoldt said...

What a great post! I love how you have your own voice, I looked up the two artists you mentioned and I can see why you like them.
I think you have a wonderful style of painting, and most importantly it's your OWN style. You go girl!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

In the face of what you produce I am
astounded at the word angst. Sooo
beautiful. But angst is like the wet heavy cloak you have to cast off to get to ease I think. Not all the time, but sometimes.

I am lucky to be fairly shallow. I don't hearken back to kindergarten, because the teacher was mean -- but
forward to the kid still painting, and getting more silly daily.

Love, love, love your writing and
your mesmerizing work.


Melinda said...

Isn't it funny that when we have a personal style we can be confused and be hesitant about its "goodness" or viability?

This is what I am seeing in the women artists I've studied: They made a quiet, yet powerful shift in thinking, and declared their work sufficient.


Come along?! :-)

Melinda said...

After all the discussions we've had about this, I'm just now beginning to sense my own voice coming up from a far away place.

"Step aside, artist approaching!"

p.s. You can do the same, you know...

Melinda said...

I would never think of you as "shallow"! Your work is full of expression and energy.

Angst? Yes, tons. But, the cloak has become so worn and full of holes (would that be holey?) that the fresh air of confidence is having an effect.

If being happy, full of life and natural joy makes one "shallow", then I shall seek shallowness and silliness from now on. And, you will be my role model!
Virtual hug.

Barbara Muir said...


Virtual hug back to you. What a wonderful discovery it has been getting to read your words and see your powerful work.

You may have seen through my shallow cloak. Joy is often hard won as you know only too well, but always worth effortless effort.

You are so great!


Jala Pfaff said...

Hi Melinda,
I just discovered your blog while blog-hopping and really love your work and all your words of wisdom. I've added your link to my favorite artists' blogs. Love this particular work a lot.