Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Artist Statements

Close To Each Other, 2006, Oil on Panel, 11x14

Since the kids are away at scout camps this week, Doug and I had a leisurely Monday evening, first going to the opening reception of the 2nd Member Group Show at the Smithy-Pioneer Gallery, and then dinner at a new restaurant in town. When we arrived at the opening, Doug took a quick spin around the main room, while I was chatting with a friend. When I caught up with him, he nudged me and told me to go look at my work. I laughed and joked about how they were probably hanging behind the door or something right? (This was the same place where my work was hung over the food that I wrote about here.) But my two paintings (two of the monochromatic pieces that I just did recently) were hung in a good place, right along with everything else, AND they had big old round red dots on their labels! So that was pretty cool, since I really don't sell too much locally anymore, having saturated the market during the last few years. Actually, someone I know casually, who is also an artist, bought them for a house that she and her husband are building in Santa Fe. Doug went on to point out that nothing else had sold yet in the show. He likes to track that kind of thing for me-don't know what I'd do without him (I am rolling my eyes here).

I spent some time over the weekend writing up a statement for my new work for use by the gallery in Cape Cod. Writing an artist's statement can be really challenging, and after I wrote my first one a few years ago, I was hoping that was it for writing artist statements. But no, I have been informed since then that it should be updated occasionally, especially if there have been significant changes in the work. My "official" statement has been used in a number of places by now, on gallery websites, booklets, and that sort of thing, so I suppose it is time to freshen it up. Maybe I will use this new one, after a few revisions to make it less specific.

This is the new one:

In this work I explore the line between reality and abstraction, while continuing to express my feelings and impressions regarding the scenes I portray. A number of these landscape tease the viewer, hinting at the background scenery, or letting the background become the focus and reducing the foreground to a mass of color and shape. Man made structures, especially barns, continue to interest me and I strive to simplify their form while keeping their personalities intact.

Much of the expressive qualities in my work are related to my sense of color. Layers of paint create luminosity as well as large blocks of pure color, but upon closer inspection, there are many subtleties and variations within color field. Pink is never just pink, green is never just green. Orange and red are undercurrents, deep blues and greens and reds are subtle overtones. The colors of nature surround me and when I paint I am influenced not just by what I see, but what my memory tells me about what is around me.

My paintings are a combination of observation and imagination. While there is a certain amount of reality in my work, meaning that the space and objects are generally recognizable, reality is not my ultimate goal. I want to viewers to be intrigued by the image, and perhaps be reminded of a thought, a feeling or a place.

And the old one:

In creating a painting, my intent is to capture the mood of the landscape that I have a connection to. The spaces and scenes that I choose generally have a basis in reality, but I often alter composition, color and light to more accurately express my feelings about how and what I see. My landscapes are not usually representative in the traditional sense but still capture the essence of space, form and light.

The process of painting is very important to me. I love the texture of the surfaces that paint on, the color of the under painting, the softness of a brush, the smell of the paint, medium and solvent and the excitement of laying down each layer of color. I truly enjoy every step, from preparing the panel to applying the final glaze.

I have already sent the new one off to the gallery, but if anyone has any opinions about replacing the old one with the new statement, I am all ears.


Martha said...

The thought of writing an artist's statement makes me shudder with dread. I often find them to be utterly incomprehensible or pretentious in a creepy sort of way. It seems like a problem inherent in trying to describe a visual process with language. But yours do an excellent job of conveying your process, or at least what I think I understand wbout your process, without any excess baggage. I think these are great.

Also, congrats on selling the paintings-- I'm glad your husband is your cheerleader. It might be a tiny bit embarrassing, but it's also wonderful to have the support.

Tracy said...

Hi Martha, thanks. I know what you mean about statements, sometimes I come across statements that I could read a hundred times and I still can't understand what the heck they are talking about. I have tried to keep mine pretty basic.

Your blog looks very interesting, when I have some time again I am going to sit down and go through it. I struggled through War and Peace in college, but I think I could appreciate it better now. Well maybe:-)

Lesly said...

I think your new statement is really good and says all it need to say without sounding full of pretension. Statements are so difficult and mine sound so trite .. but will no doubt improve over time as my work evolves a bit more and I know my direction.

Congratulations on selling those two paintings ... what a lovely surprise on your evening out.

The Epiphany Artist said...

artists statements Auuuuug!
Beautiful painting!

Tracy said...

Hi Lesly, I think statements tend to sound trite to those who write them. I often feel kind of embarrassed about mine, but no one has ever laughed at it or anything, so it's probably just me:-)

Thanks, Terry, I am with you about artist statements-Auuuuug!

Rob Mackintosh said...

Hi Tracy,
I am visiting your blog after seeing your post on Ed Terpening's. I really like your style, very unique.

And re: artist's statements...why can't just our work be our statement?... when I have to use one I keep it very brief, just a few lines.

I just started a blog for my plein air work, and will be checking back here frequently

Nancy Baker, aka Rebel Belle said...

new one much better! Bravo.
I am terrible about writing abuout my own work. It always seems so pretentious. Good for you to have such clarity about your work.

Tracy said...

Hi Rob, Glad you came over. I wish it could just be the work, too and wish I had the nerve to buck the trend!

Hi Nancy, Thanks, glad you like the new one better and that you think I have clarity about my work. I was thinking that I sound "simple" but I like clarity better:-)