Daily life has changed so much since COVID-19 came to town. My structured life and studio time have become fluid. I do what I can when I can, and when I do I find I need to create more freely.
This piece has gone through many changes since it began in 2018. I've been thinking about how to combine my interests in painting and textiles, so in a fit of exploration ripped the fence fabric and painted it to the canvas. Then came the birds!
It's 60" x 48" and finally complete.
Last night I was driving home and this song came on the radio. It was equal parts nostalgia and inspiration. REM does it again! Amazing how well this fits with my work. Since there’s not an official video, here’s a lyric version.
I raised the wall, and I will be the one to knock it down.
Coming soon! Selections from the Borderlands series will be showing at Gallery 219 in Mesquite, Texas. I will be giving a gallery talk on Thursday, January 24th from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. On Saturday, January 26th, a public reception will be held. See you there!
In an effort to return to a large canvas, I repurposed a stretcher frame from last year. Space in the studio is limited so reuse is the best option. On the left is the source image from NASA's Instagram account - a gorgeous shot taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of, as they say, "a monster young star."
I've only done four days of work so far and my star is starting to form. It's daunting and difficult and I don't know how it's going to work out. I just can't wait to get to the main event of taking a paint pen to the thing and drawing in the finishing touches. So, between now and then is the glorious middle, which is the stuff of confusion and second guesses and sometimes boredom. Into the abyss we go.
After months of steady work in the studio, the figures have left my paintings. Now, the focus has moved to the borders that separate us from a place or event. The pieces are named after places that depict that occurence or feeling. I hear songs in my head while I'm working, like REM's Fall on Me:
Buy the sky and sell the sky and tell the sky and tell the sky
Don't fall on me
This is my working artist's statement:
In these large-scale paintings, seas clash, storms form and pour over sun-soaked fields, and through it all the viewer is barred from the full experience. It is this experience of seeing the event, yet being kept from it, that is the point. The boundaries and fences simultaneously protect and limit. These black and white lines separate countries along borders, suspected criminals from others, and allow individuals to create a sense of self. Liminal experience is a fascination of the artist, who grew up as an attorney’s daughter, taught to see both sides of an issue and walk the line.
48" x 60" acyrlic on canvas
Sometimes I wrestle with a painting quite a bit. The delicate balance of meaning + color + atmosphere + technique becomes a puzzle.
In this piece I'm asking questions about personal power in addition to showing a natural disaster. The original photo was taken at a mountaintop lake in Colorado, but the power just wasn't there. So it sat to the side for a few weeks. One of the many things I enjoy about a large painting is that I can make the scale of the elements closer to life size. This is NOT a large painting, which is irksome AND a good challenge. So, I did what I could do and enlarged the subject. Then I added a volcano. Better.
This piece still isn't done. The components are not in balance the way I'd like. I'm not giving up on her, just reworking the components until I feel like I've solved it in a way that makes me love it.
Does the balance pass me by sometimes? You bet. Sometimes I repaint just to realize I should have left it alone. That's why it's good to take some time off between reworkings. Give it a rest and wait. But then continue unafraid and keep trying to solve that darn puzzle.
I love to paint over pieces that aren't working anymore. When I attended art school at Texas Tech University, there was a grad student who would carelessly let things go in her paintings. I was in awe of her ability to let go. She said she knew things would come back to her if they needed to. I wish I could remember her name.
This was a painting that worked for me for a long time - until it didn't. It didn't say enough but was merely a study. I painted it according to the photograph I took (sans people) and left it there to be a pretty good rendering. It needed more though.
In thinking about climate change and people who are seemingly unconcerned, I decided to create a large wave and complete the painting with the addition of my son, who was in the original photo. As I zoomed in on the image I saw the mother and son in the background. I loved the way they casually walked toward the wave, so I painted them instead.
Nowadays I'm in awe of how people live in the world. I can't decide if I'm angry that we keep on going about our lives as climate change worsens or if I appreciate how we live in the moment and enjoy the time we have while things are as they are. Probably a mix of both.
Last December we traveled to NYC for a week before the holidays. It was my first adventure there. One evening, we had plans to meet our friends at Ooviña before a show. A few of us arrived early and the restaurant wasn't open yet. It was freezing outside. We found a hair salon/coffee shop down the street and settled in to have a drink and watch the passersby.
This was a scene I photographed.
This photo intrigued me the way the reflections inside blended with the outside, and I love the dark shape of the man walking by. I took a painting of the ocean I had done last year and turned it upside down, then began an experiment.
As in En Route, I didn't want the cars in the scene. They date it and block the horizon line. But then I also didn't want the buildings. There was something so satisfying about letting the concrete mix with the sea/sky. It didn't feel resolved though, so I let it sit in the background for a few weeks while I worked on another more complicated canvas.
Last week it occurred to me that this horizon needed some fire. It's the second time in recent weeks I've set fire to an object in a painting. I can't tell you why except that it needed to happen. I had this glorious warm color and it ended up causing a burn.
There is a new thing happening in my work. The world is beset by ocean waves and fires and destruction, yet people walk on by or focus elsewhere. It's how I feel about the world right now.
I took a break from painting. It wasn't as rewarding as sewing, so I stayed home and made a quilt. It was tiresome making these paintings that didn't seem useful or good enough to hang. A quilt will immediately be useful...once the Texas weather cools down!
Once the quilt was complete, I decided to just paint. I had this photo from the summer when we spent 20 minutes at a Galveston beach. It became lovely and happily free of the human form. This is a HUGE departure for me. I don't remember the last time I made a body of work without some part of a human or animal body. Maybe never? I usually have little interest in landscape painting or photography. Yet here we are. For now it feels great to have this freedom, movement, and enjoyment in the studio. We'll see where it goes! Until next time...