Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tucson Museum of Art's Arizona Biennial '09 & Ich Bin Ein Artist

Yesterday, I sent out the first invitations and postcards to the upcoming Tucson Museum of Art's Arizona Biennial '09 and this got me to thinking about validation, confidence, hard work and the power of other artists' support through blogging. Because of your visits here, I have grown, experimented, and learned so much. Thank you, everyone. I am very grateful. I wish you could all attend the event and exhibit. Here is a link to some pre-buzz on the show and to Mat Bevel's page. Also, here is a link to another artist, Monica Aissa Martinez, in the show. Most of all, I hope that you will read the following and appropriate the message for yourselves. I recently received permission to share a mail art piece that I made for my son, Ell, last September 2008. Yes, I know. The sentence, "Ich bin ein Artist", is grammatically incorrect. However, I found this jewel in the New York Times Magazine in an article featuring a young artist. In this mailart (I painted a watercolor image of a ceramic fox that he made years ago and used copies of his inked stamps of an Icelandic flag and a dragon along the bottom), I wanted to let him know that we often don't see ourselves as others do. We are so much harder on ourselves than we need to be. Certainly, we are far more critical than our friends are. Why not treat ourselves as kindly as we treat our dearest friends? The words: In everyone else's eyes, you are always more creative than you think. When you make something with your hands, you have a process & a dialogue with yourself. First, an amorphous blob dares you to begin. Pulling the clay, asking yourself Questions: How do I make a fox? How large should it be? What are its proportions. Your hands work. The body is the foundation. The legs come next, one by one, Supporting the whole. The head and tail are developed last like the punctuation in a lovely paragraph. There is an observer present who says, "You're tired and this doesn't look like a fox. Quit now. This is not good--not at all like a picture, not at all like I imagined, not at all like... An allegory, an analogy, your life begins too, as an amorphous form, slowly developed thru a lifetime of questions--never turning out exactly as planned. Yet, the energy and movement that is the artwork of your life is more than you can see from the middle. Page two: Blurry from here, but clear on the outside...You can see there is a code, a secret message Back page: Albert Einstein said, "In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." ....Be true to yourself, think about quieting the 'censor' and seek an honest, loving image of yourself. "A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind." Albert Szent-Gyorgyi Here's a link to my new website. Thank you, Mr. Artyfice!

Friday, June 19, 2009

More Fun with Scraping

Today, I thought I'd continue experimenting a bit with scraping oil paint and spritzing portions of paint on some small 5" x 7" panels. These surfaces were different from the artboards that I used in the last post, but the process was the same. Again, I'm using water mixable oil paint from Winsor & Newton Artisan and Grumbacher Max. Thank you, Karen for inspiring me to detail the process and to push a bit. First, I drew a quick sketch and with a palette knife laid down the sky. Then, I spritzed the sky with a water bottle and let it sit a few minutes. The photo has some glare from the camera's flash, but you can see how the water works on the paint. The next two show the paint layers, without any scraping on this one. In this next experiment, I knew that I'd have to scrape, so I didn't put great gobs* of paint on. *Is this a technical term? I did spritz the sky, holding it upside down, and you can see the drips forming cloud-like elements. The bright center of the painting is where I scraped. It's really fun to use these paints because they can be used like watercolors, thinned with water as an extender, or used as oils with a water miscible medium. I've titled these two paintings, On the Road to Silver City, One and Two.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Scrape, A Spritz and a Happy Result

Working today on an artists' board (from Dick Blick art materials), I again (!) failed to check the back of the panel for the built in hang hole. Yikes. Of course, I had a nagging thought two hours after I had painted the image. That old axiom about the preciousness of one's work reminded me that it was okay to scrape off the paint and begin again. As I did so, I enjoyed the process half way through and documented how this looks. This view shows the hill scraped away and the sky still in place. Then, I spritzed the painting with a spray bottle of water (I use water miscible oils) and loved that effect, too. Didn't take a photo of it, but I will be experimenting with this in the future and I'll share anything I learn. Here is the result, after I flipped the panel and re-painted the image with palette knife and brush. This is a 9" x 12," artists' panel (Pink Sky New Mexico). Wish these panels were a bit more affordable because they are really wonderful to work on.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Shook Up, Show Up, Make a Mark

So I'm sitting here on a Sunday afternoon, pleasantly and lazily enjoying the company of my family, listening to Tucson's community radio, KXCI, cogitating on the 36" x 36" canvas that is pale and hungry, begging for paint only twenty-two feet away in the studio, when I hear sounds next door, like someone's there. Sure, I freaked out because the woman who had been evicted had come back to forage for things...again. Why would I notice? This woman is a sociopath, the common, garden variety kind that stalked, threatened and tormented my family and me for the last eight years. Panic. What to do? This is the moment that I realize how art not only created the world, but also saves it (and, me), when things get a bit dicey. I was reminded of a really funny cartoon that Mr. Artyfice has on his office wall. Donning my artist's beret and my painterly smock that says "Good girls go to heaven, but bad girls go everywhere," I leapt into the studio with a mighty purpose, mixing and sloshing paint like a maniac: First, a four inch brush to lay down a layer of blue; Then, a combination of swashbuckling palette knife action for the sky and the hill below; Ending with a gentler swish and a smear for clouds hugging land. Two hours later, we have two more clouds over Patagonia. I've included the small, 8" x 8" study previously posted. Whew! I could write a book about sociopaths...Oh, wait, someone already has: The Sociopath Next Door, by Martha Stout.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Drawing Moments

Just a quick post this week. While waiting for food to cook, I had a moment to draw sunflowers in a tall vase. The flowers in the garden are nearly past their prime, but the finches are eagerly harvesting the seeds and a quail family with seven little babes are enjoying the seeds that fall to the ground.

I wanted to include lots of fun quotes for today, but ran out of time. However, if you've ever heard Steven Wright deliver one of his quirky observations, you might get a chuckle from revisiting these quotes. Some of my favorites: "It's a small world, but I wouldn't want to paint it," "I have an existential map. It has 'You are here' written all over it," and, "Anywhere is walking distance, if you've got the time."

But, my favorite quote is from either Edward Kean or Sir Donald Wolfit, "Dying is easy, comedy is hard." Having a successful work of art is a bit like comedy, isn't it?!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Self Portraits Like Hybrid Flowers

Here's something to ponder. How many different ways would you consider painting a self portrait? What kind of freedom would you allow yourself and what is your statement on 'you'? You can see that my approach has been all over the place and this has been a good practice over the years, yet... Self portraits have always been most uncomfortable for me. Unless they are in some way self narrative or abstracted, it is hard for me to do them. This last week I gave myself permission to do a representational one and, am not too disturbed by the likeness. This painting is 8" x "10," oil on canvas. The others are: Doglady self portrait (37" x 48," oil on canvas), In Your Face (15 1/2" x 20," monotype), and Churchlady (38" x 48," oil on canvas).

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Painting to the Music

Love has no pride--Bonnie Raitt. Take Me to the River--Al Green. Oh, My Gosh It's Mighty Mouse!--Black Lodge Singers. Sittin' On Top of the World--Jack White (Cold Mountain soundtrack). Every Little Bit--Patty Griffin. Joue pas de rock & roll pour moi--Johnny Hallyday. Columbus Mississippi Blues--Bukka White... ...These were just a few of the songs that came up on shuffle while painting today. What do you listen to while painting? I would love to hear from you hardworking, enthusiastic and devoted artists. Sometimes it's difficult to keep painting when a particularly good song comes on (Blues, especially, for me). I want to rush back into the house, fire up the tube amp, and pretend I can play guitar, wailing away with abandon. Yet, smearing paint assertively (almost casually, the way a cat saunters across an open yard), feeling the color without reservation (like a prism held in a child's hand) is, is, is, transcendent! This painting is 8" x 8," oil on an artboard. Titled: Two Clouds Over Patagonia.