Thursday, April 9, 2009

"Recurrent Bits of Form"

In Art & Fear (David Bayles & Ted Orland), the authors talk about the ritual of artmaking and how we all discover ways to keep ourselves headed toward the studio and toward the making of more art. If you are isolated in the studio, as most of us are, I'll guess that you've found that super-imposing small but significant tricks or rituals assist you in overcoming the many distractions of daily life. The whole focus is to get into the studio without feeling guilty, creating freely and happily!

Bayles and Orland wrote, "We use predictable work habits to get us into the studio and into our materials; we use recurrent bits of form as the starting points for making specific pieces."

That rings true for me. When I've been blocked in the past, I'll super-impose a dictum that I can work only on Tuesday and Thursday. Of course, on Monday I want to paint and on Tuesday, I do not. However, if I stick to this, eventually Tuesdays and Thursdays are exciting days I look forward to.

What is so intriguing about the authors' reference to recurrent bits of form, is that the familiar methods we use in our approach to the canvas are also solid, structural discipline.

This series of landscape paintings is my way of re-using elements that I've recently discovered. Repeating them, these bits of form, become like Tuesday and Thursday in paint and brushstroke. Once the structure is built, embellishment and variation, I hope, will follow.

This piece is a 9" x 12" of the Sonoita, Arizona area looking east. What kinds of tricks do you play?


loriann signori said...

You are so right's no secret. It's routine and habit that are our best that no thinking involved it's just part of your existence.
Gustave Flaubert said something like,"I am regular and predictable in life so I can be violent and creative in art."

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

My trick is to pretend I'm not painting at all. I write paint on my daily list. As in:
1. Make coffee
2. Eat breakfast
3. Read
4. Mark papers
5. Teach
6. Paint
7. Blog

Then I strike off all of the other items and drift into the studio
casually as though I had no intention of doing anything. The moment my first foot crosses the threshold I know exactly what to start on. I work on that, rub it off, go away, come back, work again,
go away, eat etc. But I keep coming
back because I don't think of it as
something I have to do. It just "happens." Meanwhile it's on that list, so of course it will happen.

The other thing I do is book time with a model. I for sure paint when my model is here.

Love your thoughts and your beautiful painting.


Melinda said...

Hi Loriann,
It's so very difficult to be predictable, but it is great fun to be "violent and creative in art."

The more I try to maintain a routine, the easier it becomes. In fact, it has become as necessary as water. I know that you understand this. I see that your work is just as nourishing, even when you must slow yourself down to "bake" the meal. ;)

Melinda said...

Hi Barbara,
I love your trick and your process! May I join you in your method? I'll substitute #4 with walking the dogs and #5 with a little volunteering in my neighborhood, but I shall latch onto all the rest in an artistic sisterhood with you...if that would be okay.

So....what time is coffee? ;)

Your studio sounds like the kind of sanctuary one would find on a sacred mountain. A safe, pure and sacred space in which no harm or discord could ever enter there.

Do you dust off the cares of this world before stepping across the threshold? And do you feel a golden light gently surround your space beckoning you to begin with all of the energy of a confident and joyful artist--confident that beauty and life will be forthcoming?

That is how I see you and your work.

FitFoodieMegha said...

Thats right Melinda..:) I like the landscape made by you..Happy Easter to you! BTW I have started a new blog dedicated to my sketch work — Art on Sketchbook

Melinda said...

Thank you for visiting, Megha. I'm glad you like the landscape!

Best wishes with your sketchbook and other blogs!

Edgar said...

These are good thoughts Melinda, and useful for trying an approach. My recent approach, which I've been calling "Artistic Anorexia" works pretty well -- if your objective is to not make very much art. ;-)

This reminds me of Maurice Sevigny's idea that an artist requires a 'challenge,' such as an instructor imposes when assigning work. It gets our whole psyche involved in the process.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

It does help that the studio is painted yellow --that it is my former living room and dining room, and sometimes has to go there again (scramble, scramble, clean, clean).
It also helps that it's right around the corner from the kitchen, not separate from the house. Safe -- yes it is fairly -- although frequently invaded by two cats and a dog, who have been known to harm paintings unintentionally of course.
Sacred -- I wouldn't say so -- more
a disastrous mess that is my play space. More fun than sacred. It's not at the top of a mountain, but at
the bottom of the very narrow stairs from the second floor, and along a hallway on the main floor, into the room(s) beside the kitchen. The kitchen is lovely, and
I can haul myself, or my models in there regularly for tea, cookies and a break.

Please come over -- it is always time for tea, or coffee, or champagne and I could paint you!!!


Jeffrey J. Boron said...

Wonderful feel of wide open space and that great simplicity Melinda...I really think you are on to something here!!!

My goal is to paint everyday and to feed the hunger I have to paint well. However what motivates my work ethic has much more to do with the somewhat mundane aspects of living. As I have taken a leap of faith into the abess of the art world and I'm trying to earn most of my living from my art, waiting for something to happen isn't an option that works very well.
Living modestly as I do most of my living space is my studio and at every turn of my head there is empty supports, unfinished work and finished work waiting to be varnished ect. and I hear them as I sit there gazing at my easel what are you doing...why aren't you at your easel you silly man...and it goes on =(;0)

But mostly it has to do with my desire to "succeed" as an artist.
(enjoying life making my living as an artist), that feel of a paint filled brush as leaves a stroke on an empty canvas. Keeping in mind always that song that goes..."are ya havin' any fun...what are ya gettin' outta livin'...


Melinda said...

Thanks Edgar. It's sad that you are depriving yourself of working right now. You're very busy with work, but maybe you could reward yourself with a few minutes with a sketchbook--maybe take one to work?

Melinda said...

That's great, Barbara. You have a wonderful studio--all yours! It's nice to have the animals around. That is, IF they don't destroy things.

I would love to visit your studio and a have a cup of tea or coffee. Maybe a virtual visit someday. How about making a video of your studio and painting? Don't want to distract you from the work though...

You are so inspired and your work so full of life and joy.

Thank you for sharing your process and thoughts about artmaking.

Melinda said...

Thank you, Jeffrey, for your heartfelt comment. Your dedication, your love for art and your mastery of paint and color are so inspiring to me. How I wish I could make my living space into more work space.

You ARE a success! May you see the results of all your hard work in the admiration of your peers and in an audience that appreciates you by buying and treasuring your art.

daviddrawsandpaints said...

It's pleasure to see someone enthused with what they are doing and providing us with glimpses of their Arizona desert homeland. Makes a change from the mists of Scottish highland glens (though I can't remember the last time I saw one!)

Now I know this isn't for everyone, but setting yourself a programme of work (as I have recently done) to achieve a desired end, such as an up-coming exhibition, is a sure-fire way of getting one's butt out into the studio!
What you do thereafter is up to you. You could follow Barbara M's example and do numbers 1, 2, 3, and perhaps a little of No.6.

Sounds like a good day to me :o)

Melinda said...

I agree completely, David. Although, I think you've really set very high expectations for yourself lately.

Hope you are able to partake of Barbara's suggestion of painterly libations after working so hard in your studio!

Thank you for your encouragement. I'm so glad that you get a sense of the desert from so far away.

Joan Breckwoldt said...

Hi Melinda,
Thanks for sharing your "tricks", I like the way your mind works! Great post, you've made me think, as usual.
This is a lovely painting, you do such a great job with your color, looking forward to seeing more.

Anonymous said...

My only trick is to pop an Atomic FireBall in my mouth then pick up a brush. The hot candy signals my brain to focus on the task at hand.
I only eat Atomic FireBalls when I paint. That's key.

Melinda said...

Hi Joan,
Thanks so much for stopping by. I'm not sure you'd really like the way my mind works if you could share an hour with it!

I've been consumed with the chores of living lately, but hope to post again soon.

Melinda said...

I love it, Silvina! I'm impressed with your trick and, well, I'll have to try that sometime...maybe...after I google what one a' them, there Atomic FireBalls are. Wait. Candy. Oh, yeah. That sounds pretty good!

Linny D. Vine said...

First, your "lotsa paint fearlessness"is showing, Melinda! And as for tricks; I tell myself that "it really doesn't matter how the painting turns out" and that frees me or "unfreezes" me.

Melinda said...

I like that very much, Linny! That's such a good approach--makes the critique settle down, yes?!

Melinda said...

I like that very much, Linny! That's such a good approach--makes the critique settle down, yes?!

susan hong-sammons said...

Beautiful painting. Reminds me of heat and rain all at once. gorgeous