Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Grand Canyon Work: Small Endeavor for a Day

While taking a lunch break today, I watched a little of Charlie Rose's program with Chuck Close and Richard Serra talk about creativity and the brain. A woman artist was not part of the discussion, which I thought would have added to the conversation. I mean, the male brain and the female brain are different from each other we've learned. How so scientifically as it relates to creativity? Historically men have been heralded as leaders in art. So, what do women artists' brains reveal in relationship to art and creativity?

Well, it was interesting that Chuck Close said, and I paraphrase, that inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. While that seems flippant, it is true that we have jobs to do. I like to think this way too--do the work, surprises happen, new ideas emerge.

I'm endeavoring.

This week, I'm working on "The Beast" again--the Grand Canyon painting that I've been working on since 2008 (48" x 72"). This is one new section. Of course, it brought back wonderful memories of going there, standing there, dazzled by a sunrise on the rim. I surely hope I can finish this painting soon!

Grand Canyon Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Plus, I am delighted that this small work: Evening Light Catalinas (5" x 7") sold this past week. What a boost for this artist.

Evening Light Catalinas Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Okay. Lunch break over. Wishing you all a productive, happy discipline in the studio!


cohen labelle said...

My first reaction to these two beauties is WOW!!! Miraculous!!!
I may comment later on the discussion part but I think it's almost conventional wisdom now that showing up for the job sans inspiration is by far the best approach.
xo Marcia.
Congratulations on the sale of Evening Light Catalinas - v lyrical, beautiful colour!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

A thorny question. I show up for work as a teacher, but I wouldn't be any good at it at all if I wasn't inspired. I think you have to love the job of painting. If not.... it shows. If so it also shows, why? Because everything shows, it's visual.
I got a laugh out of that thought, and hope you do too. I love your work. It inspires me. Beautiful paintings.

P.S. I know what he means. But would he prefer the word heart. And guy brains are way different aren't they. His statement sounds like muscle flexing.

Donald DIddams said...

Beautiful paintings, Melinda. I especially love the colors and bold application of paint in Evening Light at Catalinas.
I don't know what to think about the Charlie Rose discussion, except to say that men may have been considered the leaders in art only because of tradition and business contacts. It's hard to believe it has anything to do with inherent differences in creative ability or hard work.

Melinda said...

Hello Marcia,
Thank you for stopping by and offering such an enthusiastic comment. I'm glad you like these!

I would love to hear from you on the subject of women artists, their brains and hard work sans waiting for inspiration.


Melinda said...

Hello Barbara,
It was interesting that Close seemed more work oriented and less inspired. It's probably a matter of how we define the word, as you suggest.

I think that showing up and doing the work is good AND getting inspired is pretty nice too!

Yes, we cannot fake heart. That's fer sure!

Thank you for commenting and for being so kind.

Melinda said...

Hello Don,
Thank you so much for your comment. That Evening Light Catalinas was actually a challenge for me. It's small, but lots of work!

Well, it was strange to watch the show. They didn't purposefully exclude women in the discussion about the brain and creativity. It just never came up. It really did seem like a throwback to other eras when women seemed not to exist except in a very limited capacity and venue. It puzzled me because I thought that it would have provided another interesting layer to how the brain functions and the ever fascinating power of the right brain and art.

I agree with you. It's mostly about culture, perception and insider contacts.

Have you ever read Seven Days in the Art World? Have I asked this before? If not, it's a great read, a real page turner, when it comes to what really goes on in the art world.

cohen labelle said...

The brain is a vast subject of which I know little about. I think even the experts, the map makers are especially humble when it comes to confronting the complexity of this most mysterious organ, particularly when something goes wrong.

As far as being a woman artist I am grateful for the time I live in - for the comparative freedom all artists, including women artists, enjoy - (at least on this continent) and for the fact that my mother had an intense interest and talent and love of the arts.

The idea that no experience is wasted stands an artist in good stead. We bring everything to our work. I don't take my freedom to do art for granted. And so when I have dry periods or blocks I'm very saddened. Therefore I think Chuck Close's comment is very useful - he focuses on the daily doing, the action - which often surprises and releases all kinds of ideas and feelings. Funnily I heard him briefly in a documentary about Alice Neel! He was a big fan of hers.

I think in a recent post when you talked about problem solving you hit the nail on the head and women can be great problem solvers on every level and in all spheres.

As far as biological, sexual identity of an artist is concerned, I prefer to contemplate the work first before I think to myself 'oh that was done by a woman or that was done by a man. I just feel better that way - I want to suspend what ever prejudices I might have. I don't want anything to interfere between myself and responding to a 'person's' work.
I love the work of Louise Bourgeois and not just because she was a woman but because she was an interesting, complicated human being, audacious and original and experimental and not afraid to follow an idea through to it's logical conclusion. And I'd love your work even if your name were Michael. So there you go.
I think if I go on much more I shall have to just write you an email on this!


kathrynlaw said...

Congrats on the sale, dear Melinda, and this section of the Grand Canyon painting is really coming along! Beautiful! Regarding Chuck Close's quote, I completely agree--I've had that up on my blog for a while. Here's a woman's take on the same concept, from the sculptor Beverly Pepper: "I go to my studio every day. Some days the work comes easily. Other days, nothing happens. Yet on the good days, the inspiration is only an accumulation of all the other days, the nonproductive ones."

Edgar said...

Melinda, you've given me something to think about and amazing work to behold.

I especially like the shadowed side of the highlighted plateau in the middle of your canyon detail. The light is just perfect.

(Charlie Rose's obvious bias toward interviewing men aside), I'd like to say about the Close statement: I can see what he means. So many people only pick up a brush or chisel when they have been struck by a great idea... but a professional artist always has work going on, and it gets worked on and refined... how many times have you set out to do a (relatively) study, as practice or to 'keep your hand in', only to have it turn out to be a strong work? I've watched you do it, Melinda!

Congratulations on the sale! I wish you many, many more!

Melinda said...

Dear Marcia,
Well written and I thank you for taking the time to discuss this further. I can tell that you have given the subject of the brain and women artists careful consideration. It's a subject that I think about daily, sometimes obsessively!

I too am grateful to be alive at this time in regard to opportunities for women. I just recently heard that exhibitions in which women artists are featured have risen exponentially. That is really good news. That, along with the equalization of the internet, has really helped us. Still, there is a long way to go, don't you think?

Yes, I totally agree with you about Chuck Close's statement. As one who once worked factory jobs and in the making of things, I find it comforting and less intimidating to think of art making as my job. I just don't have a time clock now. ;-) Of course, it follows that we put a bit of our hearts in the work as well.

I could tell by your approach that you look at the figure, make marks, and then solve the problems of looking and eye hand coordination. It's a great feeling, isn't it, when you get it the way you want?!

I love the work of Louise Bourgeois too! Remember the old days when a woman's painting would receive the "compliment" that it was painted like a man's? OUCH! I can't really tell anymore when looking at a work whether it is or not, until I look at the signature, and sometimes not even then. That's a good thing.

Was it Louise Bourgeois, working one day and interrupted by a phone call, who shouted into the phone, Can't you see I'm working?!! Love it.

Hope you'll chat some more about these things. Feel free to write more--any time!

Melinda said...

Hello, dear Kathryn,
Thank you, thank you. It's kind of different for me to work so traditionally, but I am enjoying it. I'm feeling like I just might finish it before November's open studio--at least that's the goal.

Love Beverly Pepper's statement. So true. I've got a confession...I sleep in the studio. That way, I show up no matter what. A little bit crazy, eh? Oh, well...

Hugs to you! I see your beautiful work and imagine that you are developing your mettle as you establish yourself with the AIR in CA. Wishing you all the best, knowing that you are in the process of becoming your best.

Melinda said...

Thanks, Edgar. This painting is starting to come together, and I hope to finish it soon!

It was rather strange to have the brain discussion about creativity and have two famous male artists, but no women. It just seemed anachronistic.

That said, Chuck Close exemplified the kind of artist I want to be--one that is a good worker/laborer.

Yes, it was really nice that the painting sold this week. It was encouraging!

Donald Diddams said...

Another thought on the Chuck Close comment that "inspiration is for ameteurs:"
For me, inspiration and work are both necessary ingredients. Inspiration is the spirit, and the work is what allows the spirit to become manifest. Inspiration alone remains invisible. Work without inspiration behind it lacks spirit and meaning.

I needed to say that "out loud." Thanks!

Jeane Myers said...

so much to think about in this post - I love your discussion on the male/female brain - so much to think about there - and Chuck Close's saying has been front and center in my workspace for years - inspiration, in my mind, is totally over rated - you made me laugh so hard when you described the Grand Canyon piece as the 'beast' - it overwhelms me to think of the work you have put/will put into this work - amazing and congrats on your sale - always such a thrill! xo

Melinda said...

I'm with you, Don! When we work, we are inspired for more.

Thanks for speaking out. :-)

Melinda said...

Hello Jeane,

Yes, I can tell by your process that work and solving problems are primary motivations.

And, you use them so successfully!

Glad you like my term for the painting. It's so large that it's hard to walk around in the studio. Of course, I must work on it in sections too. Next time, I'll use bigger brushes....;-)

Thank you, and virtual hugs to you.

kathrynlaw said...

Okay, one more quote from a very admired woman painter, on this subject. Catherine Kehoe, interviewed by Rebecca Harp for the Certosa program, said of her painting process: "Some days I move things around and nothing looks interesting. Other days everything I place in front of my eyes excites me. Brain chemistry? What I had for breakfast? I am not sure why my response is different each day. But I sit down to paint, regardless of how I am feeling about it. Within minutes I am fully engaged."


I bet she doesn't sleep in her studio, though! I like that plan!

Jeffrey J. Boron said...

Ya got it goin' on here Melinda!! Beautiful work! Nothin' like a red dot eh...



Melinda said...

I love the statement made by Catherine Kehoe!

Thank you, Kathryn, for sharing the link. I went there, read the post, and also loved, "Matisse’s wonderful quotation: “I don’t paint things, I paint the difference between things.”"

Nah, I'll bet she heads out to a studio. Bu, some people live in the shop because they love to stay close to the work.

Melinda said...

Hello, dear Jeffrey.
Thank you so much. I'd like to keep things going on, that's for sure!

Yes, a red dot is always welcome.

Virtual hugs!

Linny D. Vine said...

I'm so happy to hear that the "biggy" is back and that your inspiration for it is back, too! Congratulations to the owner of the colorful gem, "Evening Light Catalinas", (and to the amazing artist who created it, too)!

Melinda said...

Hello, Lovely Linny,
The "beast" has been cooperating for the most part. That's new!

Thank you for the congrats. Yes, it is a little gem that almost sold this spring. I'm glad it found a good home.

I'd better get back to work now. The painting feels like it takes up half the studio!