Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Artist Melinda: Off into the Weeds, Back with Saddle Burrs

Update: I finally fixed this painting and might even like it!

Yes, it's true. The open studio tour left me dazed and confused. I spent several days staring at mud, a few asking what kind of weed is a weed and where are the hidden treasures in all of the brush. I came back with some stickery but healing aloe, something shiny I still can't figure out and two paintings. Wished I'd had a saddle.

Here's the thing, the stickery thing. If women artists are the most prevalent artists in any generation since 1850 (okay, kinda guessing on the year, but I'm close), why aren't we studying them more, quoting them more, experimenting more with their processes? Even male artists are quoting and emulating male artists of the 1800s instead of artists more recent than that. And, the ones who are mentioned most often shouldn't necessarily hog all of the notoriety. Even if one wanted to stick with the 1800s, there are: Julia Margaret Cameron, Elizabeth Adela Armstrong Forbes, Lilla Cabot Perry, Suzanne Valadon and Berthe Morisot. These artists are worthy of more looking! Then, there is the 20th century and, oh yes, the last decade of the 21st century. You'd think we didn't have access to more sources. That's the bur. Well, at least one of them.

Grace Hartigan's, The Persian Jacket, 1952:

Grace Hartigan (included in the New York School of Abstract Expressionists): "Well, what we get down to finally is the ultimate point. What in the world is the reason for painting? Life is complete in itself. What can the painter add to it aside from presenting formal problems of my trade--space, projection, surface, contour and all those things. Rather, I think art comes out of an inability to understand the life that you are living and the hopeful desire that out of the chaos that is given to you, you try for a brief period of time to make some sense and order."

Couldn't have said it better.

One of the paintings I've sold recently is quite abstracted. This got me to thinking how right it felt to paint that way--and that someone responded positively to it. Here are two more experiments. The first is a landscape in which paint is for paint and image is a close second (oil on panel 5" x 7").

The second one might be a bit of channeling Grace as I think about our better angels of art or more graces (oil on artist's board, 12" x 12").

I'm gonna keep asking you, kindly and with gentle prodding (sans burs), to seek out women artists, support them, talk about them, examine their process and dig a bit into the weeds once in awhile. And, those guys? Gotta love 'em. Gotta make 'em share the canvas...


Jeane Myers said...

amen! a fabulous post! and I love the last photo - those blues are so rich and vibrant xxo

Melinda said...

Yes, sister Jeane, amen and so be it! Heading back into the brush with you as an inspiration.

Love your new blog photo!

SamArtDog said...

Great! You got a "wild hair". One of those ones which keep the brush from being too tidy.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

I am with you. Love both of your paintings. In Canada I mourn the loss of Lynn Donoghue, a portrait painter who died very young -- lost a contract she needed to live on, went out drinking, was a diabetic and went into a coma, never recovered. Her work is owned by all of our major galleries, but do you think it's on display? In Canada we all know Emily Carr, but she worked a century ago.

I have written on this theme before. But I do love so many of the guy painters on the blog, and so many of the women. I think I am an equal opportunity appreciator.

Really love what you are doing, so brave, lush and bold. Don't even give the open house a thought. It's the past, move on.


Melinda said...

Barbara, you made my day. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment and for letting me know about the two women Canadian artists. I'm going to look them up.

Now, I'm hoping that you will have better history with recognition in your country and globally!

Edgar said...

Sending good thoughts and support, support, support. I don't know how to call you in from the weeds (but it sounds like an adventure). You deserve and should expect honor.

Attention, all of you (woman) artists: we need you, we can't do this without you, just 'cause it would suck.

Just wondering — what was the shiny thing? I love shinies.

cohen labelle said...

Edgar is cute, eh Melinda!! Even if I didn’t know from an indisputable source – I would know, just from his responses, that you two must be an item – he’s not just Edgar, he’s Melinda’s Edgar!

Your post is very interesting. I try not to think too much about gender issues in the arts. I’ve never doubted that the expressive genius of women is equal to that of men. I love women writers as well.
From a visual point of view I admit that part of my soul is stuck in the 19th century and earlier. But I look at any artist who I think has something to say (to me that is) – be it a he or a she, famous or obscure. I have a lot of interest and respect for the obscure. But computers are changing that – self publication is wide open, perhaps something of a mixed bag. As much as I’ve come to depend on computers, I don’t love them. I have mega ambivalence in that vein. What’s the price, one wonders, for all this drive to ever increasing, mindless automation.

Your last two pieces are very powerful! Imagery may be a close second but it’s there - close to the surface and with fascinating ambiguity.
XO Marcia

Candy Barr said...

Right On Melinda!~ What do you think of the Cowgirl Up! show opening this weekend in Wickenburg AZ?
Other female artists of note: Donna Schuster,Euphemia Charlton Fortune, Marion Wachtel,Helena Dunlap, Cora Brooks, CA impressionists, Alice Neel, Lois Dodd, Jane Freilicher, etc.I have a friend who at one point would only view or read screenplays & scripts written by women. Same idea...

Melinda said...

You make me laugh, you make me smile, SamArtDog. I love the image you created with your comment. I really, really hate when lint and stray brush hairs get in the way of painting.

Yes, I got into a rant. Felt good to get it out. Thanks for understanding.

Melinda said...

Thank you, Edgar, for all of your support. I do appreciate it.

No need to call me in from the weeds. I get thirsty and tired anyway.

The shiny? Ah. A small silver wrapper in the shape of a star. It had a few twigs from the nest of a Harris hawk clinging to one point.

Melinda said...

Thank you, Marcia, for your thoughtful response. I, too, have ambivalence about computers and the internet, while being totally plugged in and needing them.

The thing that bothers me, I guess, is that we are here in the 21st century concentrating on art, good art, that is 120 years old. Not a bad thing, except when it's to the exclusion of most of the artists who came after. I mean, what if you create work that is every bit as profound as Rodin, or better yet Camille Claudel, yet you are not recognized because the talk is always about Rodin?

Because we have so much information available to us and the wherewithal to access it, why don't we update our files to include more recent artists?

For nearly a year, I promised myself only to refer to women artists when talking art talk. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be.

I remember in the 1980s when the first books were starting to come out that included women artists. It was like a renaissance.

Don't know where I'm going with all of this, but I'm hoping it stays honest and passionate.

Virtual hugs!

Melinda said...

Welcome, Candy! Thank you so much for your comment. I've always wanted to see the Cowgirl Up! exhibit. Wish I could go.

In my heart, I'm a cowgirl. In my dreams, I ride a beautiful paint horse.

Thank you, too, for the other mentions. Some of them I know, others are new. I'm gonna look them up.

Hope you stop by again. I looked at your work and look forward to more--very good.

Anonymous said...

Nothing like clearing the webs of stress but to get out into the bush.
You've left another thoughtful and insightful post Melinda.
As much as I'm reluctant to label things with gender delineation, there are observations that bring validity to them.
Since blogging has introduced me to so many artists- more than I'd ever know of, I've seen a large number of younger men- 30's - early 40's who are incredibly talented and prolific.
Now contrary to that, on this island, we have about 200 plus artists who are active and involved and practically NONE of them are men!
It's so puzzling.
I don't know if it's the geography but one thing is certain.
The web has given us all an outreach and visibility that should balance those odds overall.

As always, you give us more to look at and think about than your inspiring work.
Thanks for this great post.

Karen said...

I agree...amen to that. What a great Hartigan quote, too.

Thank you for reminding us...

Joan Breckwoldt said...

What a wonderful post, thank you for so sensitively introducing to a talented female painter. You continue to search out pearls of wisdom and I appreciate you passing them on, you have given me something to think about. Both of your paintings are fantastic!

Linny D. Vine said...

Do you know of Peggi Nicol? She was in Canada and USA. Her earlier figurative work does it for me!Also from the USA is the incredibly talented, multi media artist, Melinda Esparza!!! Welcome back from the weeds - I wish you a flying pony.

Jala Pfaff said...

Hear, hear, dammit!
I really like these new pieces. They have so much feeling in them and are very interesting to look at in depth.

Melinda said...

Thank you, Jala! I'm glad you like these. I'm still experimenting with them and thinking about the next steps.

I'm also really enjoying your abstraction process too. You've got good stuff going on!

Anonymous said...

So much gorgeous art going on here! I love what you've been painting the last few months. Sunset Ridgeline is stunning.

I'm always looking for really good female artists of our time. Do women just not promote themselves as much as men do? Why does it seem men get more attention and favor?

Melinda said...

Thank you so much, Silvina! Sunset Ridgeline is one of my favorites and I'm so happy to say it has a new home. I'm missing it too.

I think we women artists are to blame. If we would discuss other women artists and be more supportive, I think there would be more balance. It's pretty amazing how successful many women artists were in the 1800s and 20th century, yet we know so little about them. It's also because art historians merely left out the women artists. I don't know why.

But, we can change all of that, yes?!

I look forward to the day that we look at the work and less at the name.

Melinda said...

It's so true, Bonnie, that there are more women artists than there are men artists. I think it's been this way for a long time, especially the 20th century. When women have more leisure time, they have more time to paint, or play music, or write.

Thank you for your thoughtful post! I like the idea of supporting every talented artist, too, regardless of gender.

Yes, I agree that with the internet there could be an equalization. Let's hope so!

Melinda said...

Thank you, Karen, and amen sister. I so admire Grace Hartigan's work. When I discovered her, I wrote a very long poem about her work and life. Someday I'll share it.

Melinda said...

Hi Joan! Thank you. It's good to think about these things and to keep them in context with our own work.

Ever wonder why there aren't more current famous women artists, or that the arts aren't reported on more regularly?!

Melinda said...

You've made me smile and feel quite humbled, Linny. I'd love the flying pony, please!

I just googled Peggi Nicol and love her work. I can see her style in some of your beautiful landscapes.

Thank you so much. You made my year.

I think you are one of those women artists who should have a lot more recognition!