Monday, January 18, 2010

Halfway



Ok, here we go. The first body of work I began when I arrived here in Vermont two weeks ago has been really exciting to me. I decided to step back from full on abstraction and I have been making these paintings that have very definite landscape elements, mostly the horizon line and in color choices. I have been playing with a border, which at first felt like a window to me, but it also has a very frame like quality as well. I like the ambiguity of that. I am also doing a lot of scratching into the top surface of the paint, which is barely visible until one is quite close to the piece. The marks are somewhat random, although many of them evoke things like roads, houses, windows and power lines. As of today, I have 10 finished paintings, they are all on 22x30 gessoed paper and I think most of them are pretty successful. Two or three of them are a bit iffy, however if one of the visiting artists were to come in and rave about any of them, I could change my mind. Heh. Me fickle. I only have five more pieces of paper left and plan to do three more of the landscapes and two more Black Paintings. Here are some images of the color landscapes (hmmm, need a name for that series too, I guess). I apologize for the rather bad photos, I haven't yet set these up to take better images and anyway, I didn't bring my good camera, so the 'official' photos may have to wait until I get home. Anyway, here are some images of these paintings, along with a few close up shots:













The landscapes have flowed out of me and so far I usually have a good idea of what and where to go with the next few pieces as I am finishing up the current group (I have been working with these mostly in groups of four). Making those paintings has been a peaceful process; with enough new elements to be challenging yet they are still relaxing to me. Not so with the other things I am working on which all seem to be trying to kill me, or at least maim me. The Black Paintings are in the latter group. Again, I backed up from full abstraction and decided to include barn like shapes in these. I am very happy with what I have done so far, but I have no clue as to what I will do in the next one. I keep hoping that I will wake up in the morning, knowing what I should do but that hasn't happened yet. So I start each one blind, and the images forms while my hands are actually in the paint. I know this is good but it is also a bit unsettling to me. It's not like I am rigid about planning out what is next, but I do like to have some sort of plan that I can either follow or veer away from. However, overall, I think these are successful and I have gotten quite a lot of positive feedback AND one of the visiting artists called them 'powerful'. I have five finished Black Paintings, and three more that need just a bit more work. Those three are nearly entirely black or they have very little contrast, and I am also focusing on scratching into the black, which is a much stronger element in these paintings than in the others. And here are a few images which are are even worse than the others. Pretty much just black!






And the 'People You Know' series is definitely trying to kill me. I haven't done any for about six months and am finding it difficult to just dive back into them. I brought the last few that I did so that I could refer to them, but so far the pieces I have done here are too low key somehow. I can only do one or two underpaintings at most in a day, they are much more intense and I am just wiped out afterward. The color is a bit less energy sucking, but is also the point where everything can go horribly wrong so that stage of the painting is also a minefield for me to navigate. Currently I have five underpaintings, one is finished, one has color on it but is pretty blah. The drawing in the underpainting was lacking and since that really drives the painting, it can be hard to recover....



BUT. The last visiting artist was veryveryveryveryvery encouraging about the 'People You Know' series and told me that I should definitely be showing them. So even though they suck the life blood out of me, I am feeling a renewed energy about them and I plan to focus on them for the next two weeks.

And my last little project here, which is a good one to work on while other things are drying, is all about process. I brought like a million 4x4 inch gessobord squares, well ok, actually a hundred and twenty, but whatever. It felt like there were a million when I did the underpaintings on them! I am feeling like I need to work on my scratching technique since it is becoming a much more integral part of my paintings, so the plan is to make a variety of these small surfaces and do a lot of experimenting with scratching and drawing on them. I will be working on them in between the portraits over the next few weeks.


Even though I was pretty close to burned out on everything when I arrived here (December was SO hectic!) I have managed to get back my painting mojo and have been in the studio every single day. I am really feeling re-energized about my work and where it is headed which is really nice after being in flux for the last year or so. And now the real crush is on, I realized last night that I must do all the underpaintings by Wednesday so that I will have enough time to get paintings finished by the time I have to start packing up (sob).

17 comments:

paula said...

like the woman with the scarf around her neck and the woman after that...like your dark blacker pieces..and love the little squares...good to see and read how its going!

Rebecca said...

Wow, you have been busy. A residency is such a productivity boost for an artist, congratulations!
I really love the black paintings that suggest the barn shapes; the top right of the group shot and the bottom middle. They are mysterious, yet ethereal.
Really nice work.

Sherri Woodard Coffey said...

These are really impressive! What a lot of work you've been doing. In some of the single photos, I really did have the feeling of standing beside a window and looking out. Congratulations on your productivity.

Deborah Ross said...

Wow, Tracy, you have been busy! I've always loved your people, and now especially the lady in pink. She rocks. I think the suggestion to concentrate on those was a good one.

Interesting that you have been scratching into the paint because I've found myself doing that lately. I think it adds a little mystery to the work, even if it gets painted over. It's so cool to get up closer to a painting and then discover little marks like that.

What you said about navigating a minefield...I think we can all relate to that, but I've never heard it put that way...a perfect way to describe it.

I'm glad you have all those little pieces to play with. That will relieve some of the pressure of the people. Have fun!

Shirley said...

Things are really looking good. Glad you are having a good time with lots of quality time to paint.
I too, love the woman with the scarf around her neck. You are so talented.

Lisa McShane said...

The closeup of the landscape is very exciting. I love the texture, layers, scratching, all of it. Fantastic stuff!

Tracy said...

Thanks everyone! I had hoped to update here on my blog a bit more often and show works in progress, but maybe I am getting so much done because I am not????

Anyway, nice to hear the ones you like, thanks;)

SamArtDog said...

well, a residency sure isn't wasted on you! the blacks, the people, the 4 x 4s (bet you thought of those when you looked at the drawer full of the 50%-off ones), and the landscapes (looking through the windows are my faves) are all evidence of a muscular imagination. way to go!

Caroline Roberts said...

Wow, you have worked really hard! I really, really, really love the black paintings. The anonymous visiting artist was right in calling them "powerful".

The little gessobord squares are fascinating. What a great way to expand your mark-making, thank you for the idea!

Natalya Aikens said...

wow wow wow... you blow me away! especially by those black barns.... shivers.....

Casey Klahn said...

This is the fun time, and I look forward (vicariously) to your getting to show these in exhibition.

I admire your work.

Woo hooo.

Veronica Funk said...

The work is fabulous...and the space and time is great - lucky you.

Shanster said...

Hooray for your renewed mojo! I love your work...

rob said...

I love the scratching in the paintings. My two favorite are #2- the pink and green looks kind of like Neopolitan Ice Cream and #6- the blue/greenish (down). I also find the black paintings to be beautiful and somewhat haunting-- you should do 120 little ones of these too! (you've got time, right? :)

n warner said...

Well, that's a lotta excellent work.
Love the horizontal lines...specially the black/orange/purple and anything with an orange streak in it. Your portraits are intriguing, and as others have said...'powerful.'

Congratulations on all that endeavor and letting us see the progress of it all. Surely you are having an excellent time.

Caio Fernandes said...

what a wonderful post !!
can i live inside your paintings ? please !

Jala Pfaff said...

All this work is looking so cool! Wonderful.

I particularly like: the black paintings, and also the marvelous ladies.