Monday, January 18, 2010
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).