Thursday, September 27, 2012

Artist Melinda: Conquering the Monster and Lesser Beasts

Down from the mountain top and back into the studio. Hmm. It was a rough transition, but paint is on the road and the colors are good.

What have I been up to? Well, you can tell from the title of this post that I've been wrestling the Monster (the Grand Canyon painting from so many moons ago). I think it might be done. What do you think? Should I keep slathering paint on it, or is this okay?

Sunrise Grand Canyon (Oil on Canvas, 5 feet by 4 feet, © Melinda Esparza)
This painting of the Grand Canyon is available on my website if you'd like to purchase it.

This is a bit of a departure from the direction I've been heading. I've often asked myself why I have worked on this painting since 2004. Some of it has been to maintain technical skill. Some of my attachment is all about the land. I wish I could live there. I am still processing the 25 days I spent as a Grand Canyon Artist-in-Residence this summer.

I've had the privilege of talking about art with several women artists lately. Each of them are so full of talent and passion. It reminds me of a discussion on NPR (Are Men Finished). Well, of course, they aren't...They've just gotta scootch over a bit.

Really, though, the battle is within us now. If you get a chance to read, The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield, let me know. We'll have a good laugh together as we nod and cringe at the truth of it. Here's an excerpt written by the author's good friend (the link should go there, too):

"Some years ago I was as blocked as a Calcutta sewer, so what did I do? I decided to try on all my clothes. To show just how anal I can get, I put on every shirt, pair of pants, sweater, jacket, and sock, sorting them into piles: spring, summer, fall, winter, Salvation Army. Then I tried them on all over again, this time parsing them into spring casual, spring formal, summer casual...Two days of this and I thought I was going mad. Want to know how to cure writer's block?" (and painter's block, too--mse) "It's not a trip to your psychiatrist. For as Pressfield wisely points out, seeking "support" is Resistance at its most seductive. No, the cure is found in Book Two: "Turning Pro."--Foreword by Robert McKee

Yes, Resistance. I've been there in the past, and tried on the clothes to prove it. Now, I passionately do believe that some support is incredibly beneficially, especially when it comes from other women who are working through their approaches to art.

So, what the heck have I been doing? I have:

Learned to play a Stevie Ray Vaughn song (Life by the Drop), 'cause playing "Sparky" is a great way to procrastinate, I mean, ahem, contemplate painterly things.

Started painting a bathroom cabinet for fun.

Spent lots of time training Diego to do fun dog obedience stuff (warning: loud background music). Someday he'll be able to do this, I just know it.

Got new, way cool glasses.

Finished reading, Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. Wow.

Did NOT try on my entire wardrobe. Nope. Not once.

Thank you for being out there. I'll try to get back here more often. 


Barbara Muir said...

The painting is astoundingly beautiful, breathtaking as looking out at the real canyon must be. Oh my.

There has been a lot of talk about being blocked lately from many artists I know. I think the dilemma has its own timing, like gestation, and have found that the conversation about being blocked often leads to productivity again. It has for me.

Thank you for this magnificent painting and thoughtful post.


Melinda said...

Thank you, dear Barbara.
I think you are right. Certainly, I am unblocked now, in large part, to our meaningful chats. You have such a wonderful way of being with a friend and saying just the right words.

It's a great hurdle to have jumped in finishing the Monster. Maybe it took my residency there to bring the experience full circle. I'm glad you like it.

Paint all you can! I'll be with you in spirit.

Warm hugs from here. XOXO

Jeane Myers said...

you amaze me Melinda!! Ya! I think you finished this piece - it's really amazing - I'm always knocked out by your color sense - congratulations!! loved your list of things you've been doing because we are all more then just artists attacking a surface, no? will make myself wait patiently for your new work to surface - you have a huge green light in front of you and my oh my, I hope you have alot of panels ready to go!! xo

Jeffrey J. Boron said...

I like it Melinda...alot!!! Maybe its finished maybe not, probably a painting is never finished but has said all it needs to say? Like artists, we are really never finished as long as there's something to paint on out there or write on or play on or...are you finished breathing yet, singing yet, dancing yet...I didn't think so =8-/

Don't feed the block...

Try painting something you don't care about as simply and with as few strokes as possible, with lots of juicy colour on a small format no bigger than 6 x 6. Set the egg timer to 15 min. Sing a song out loud while painting of no no just standing on one foot...there you go....

Have fun out there and remember this is supposed to be fun eh!

Go easy on yourself girl.


Micros said...

Hi Melinda. . .

Nothing like being immersed in a painting as painterly as the one you have chosen to finish.


I can only speak for myself, but I know that with deep and sincere creativity comes a plunger in one hand plus a friend to talk too.

It's all part of the art that chose us.


Melinda said...

Dear Jeane,

I love your idea of a green light in front of me. Really. And, you are an artist of immense inspiration to me.

Thank you so much for stopping by.

I love your work. You have one of the strongest art spirit I've had the pleasure of observing.

Hope you're planning a winter visit to the desert someday! The light is shimmery and crisp then...

Warm hugs!

Melinda said...

Hello, dear Jeffrey,

Major hugs to you! Thank you so much for your generous comment. I always feel uplifted and more optimistic when you comment.

I hear you.

Your suggestion to have fun is right on target and I'm gonna go for it.

Of course, my singing would frighten anyone in the tri-state area, but I can stand on one foot for awhile!

Melinda said...

Hello Micros,

I love the image of a plunger in one hand! Absolutely true.

Thank you for your generous comment. This painting has been a touchstone since my visit to the Canyon in 2001 to this summer's artist-in-residency.

While my path is moving toward abstraction, I am beholden to all this painting has taught me.

Maybe some paint on the plunger can inform new work, eh?

Best wishes as you go forward with your work. Clearly, you are able to juggle painting and the intrusion of the everyday stuff.

Anonymous said...

Hi Melinda,

So glad to get another 'fix' of your wonderful work. How I would love to sit and watch you perform your magic. This piece is gorgeous. One day I will return to your part of the country and if I'm really lucky get up close and personal with your work. Thanks so much for this post. Cheers, Sherrill Pearson, Montreal

Bridget Hunter said...

A stunning piece of work. And what a great size to work on. A successful artist I know told me when he thinks he's finished he leaves the work sitting out and looks at it every so often over 3 weeks. By then he says he knows exactly what he wants to add or change so it's finally finished. Me? I'm nothing like that. I'm never finished and want to take all my works back and redo or bin them :>))

Melinda said...

Thank you, Bridget!

I like what your artist friend does...And, that you are willing to go back into the work at anytime! However, your work is too gorgeous to bin. I mean it.

Donald Diddams said...

Well, I'm late to this party! The painting is stunning, even just on the screen. Such vivid colors and then that softness of the sky. Love it, and I can hardly imagine
the impact in such a large size.

Resistance and blockage? Ha! Haven't we all been there. Seems like sometimes it is best to go do something else for a while, but then other times it's more important to put one's nose to the grindstone and push through it until the magic comes back. How to tell which is right, though?

In any case, isn't resistance often the precursor to a breakthrough into something new and powerful? Something not to be feared, but to be welcomed for what it portends. I can't wait to see!

Melinda said...

OH! Hello, Donald! It's always such an honor to have you stop by.

I'm in total agreement with you. There is a struggle sometimes in knowing when to push through and when to let go--to allow subconscious ideas percolate for awhile.

There is something that had me working with good discipline this last week. It was The War of Art's: Go to work. Put in the time. Finish the day, and don't judge the work. That helped a lot. Because, really, we can't control everything, but we can show to do the work...

I'm hoping that the Resistance I've been feeling is as you say, precursor to good things to come.

Thank you!

Warm hugs from the southwest.

Linny D. Vine said...

And the party continues...and why not?! It's celebration time!! WOW, MELINDA!!! Grand and beautifu!!! Congratulations on your year - thus far...

Melinda said...

Thank you, Linny! Sometimes it is all so grand I don't know what to do with it--like this huge painting. It's gotta find a wall somewhere...

Your work is a delight--just as you are.

Warm hugs from here...

Linny D. Vine said...

PS LOVE the new "party" glasses, Melinda!!

Melinda said...

Hugs, Linny! Thanks!

cohen labelle said...

Hi Melinda,
Just stopping by to say that this painting knocks my socks off and then some!!!

xo, Marcia

Melinda said...

Hello, dear Marcia. Thank you! I'm glad you like this painting. Wish you could stop in and see it in person.

Thank you for visiting. I think of you often--wishing you all the best, always!