Long delay in processing recent work....I completed several small sketches/paintings for my October show at Deblois, based on my regular walks "around the reservoir". I decided that since that was what I was looking at the most, that is what I would paint last summer. I focused on developing my glazing techniques, and creating vivid color combos at dawn, noon and sunset in July. I did some quick paintings with birds, swallows, geese, egrets zooming around. These are not literal depictions, but silhouettes that I hope to turn in to marks and gestures as my literal spaces become more abstract and organic. That is what I am working on now.
I just checked back in to my website and find that the neglect has made things a mess. I have a foot in each world- old school and new. I plan to sit down with someone and bring the two together.....
Meanwhile, the red pipe cleaner issue is solved. And I proceeded to complete two extremely dark-literally- not too successful smaller paintings. One is called"vertical migrations" and needs one more gesture-image-word-silhouette on the surface. The other is called "plastic ocean" because I literally used a sheet of plastic over the surface as my final layer. It swirls so nicely over the glue and wet paint!! kind of weird, further explorations underway.
Next up as Spring emerges, is some land based paintings with dirt and natural objects included. I have two "drawings" done on thick paper mounted on plywood that interest me.
Seem to be very distracted by scattered teaching gigs etc. and need to get to June 11th to have my studio my only focus.
I have started to paint on plastic bags and adhere them wrinkly onto the canvas as a final layer. It adds a shiny multi textured surface- a plastic ocean. I continue to add bits and pieces of natural and man made litter to the work. The other day I stuck a red pipe cleaner into some netting- loved it. It echoed another red line but was a three-D version and curved, not straight. Loved the 3D line, but not the pipe cleaner- it bothered me all day, driving around, buying groceries, talking to people, I was mulling over the question ofred pipe cleaner as red line.wondering - something too obvious, recognizable, kind of not magical. What could I use? tops of ziploc bags? red wire? a scrap of cellophane? finally came upon some red tape- wrapped it over the red pipe cleaner and it kind of worked- almost, not quite, too stiff. Just posting this as an example of the kinds of things going on in an artists mind as they go about their daily life. we are wandering around absorbed by questions such as " what's wrong with a red pipe cleaner? what else could I use to make a 3D red line?" luckily, I did not get into an accident......
Now I am making some paintings inspired by "the deep scattering layer" that I am researching-fascinating. Paintings are kind of messy and dark, slowly getting more abstract.
But right now I am distracted by listening to Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus talking. All they can talk about is how Trump won. And I think Steve Bannon is scary smart and running the show from the top. I have to turn it off. And go back to work.
went into my studio and this is what happened....Read More
Studio is super organized and set to go. Started in today "fixing " two seascapes. pressure to show and sell ......so I separated the work onto two walls: one has the 2 seascapes, the other has crazy new ripped paper, raised relief, topo map drawings, free to do whatever I want on those. Eventually, we hope to merge the two in my mind.....
I have been trying to clean out and re-organize my studio, while at the same time pushing my need to work away. the minutia of daily life are constant- and very difficult to over ride. I keep thinking if I do this, clean that, fix them, I will get to a clear space where I can focus on my work. which leads me to the intense moments of gestation and delivery that initiate a body of work- kind of like transition in birth. So instead of a clear space of endless time, I have a dismantled and chaotic studio, new work on the walls, bare canvases stacked up, and very messy paint cart and table. i don't think this would take more than a day or half day to get prepared for new work. so I have to insist on the time and go in there. could be tomorrow, could be monday, a holiday with no classes to teach. two long days of endless time are a lot. I think I got off track shortly before the Holidays and now is the time to get back on track. next show is june- touristy windows at Arnold Art: a series of sellable, smallish seascapes/shorelines. after that is member's show at Deblois which can be anything, and then October a two person show at Deblois. I can do it!
I have been pondering a question posed by Alex from the Mercury during my interview with him. He asked me what artist inspired me. I quickly tried to think, running through art history, trying to posit an answer. But I don't have just one or two artists who inspire me. It is more like a library of artists,. I have a mental timeline, a mental library of artists, a solid knowledge of art history that I consult. So for example when I am struggling with a problem or problems in a painting, I go to the library and do some research. This could be online, at a gallery, at a Museum, at another artists studio. I am looking for solutions to a problem and consult other artists, past or present, living or dead, to help me solve it. That said, the artists who have been my best teachers include the following:
Museum School teachers Bill Flynn, Natalie Alpers, Sandi Sloane and the sculpture teacher whose name I can't remember.
Don Sunseri, Jeff Way, Ed Bartlett, Nordie and Barbara Garber, and the outsider artists of Greensboro Bend who inspired and worked with me in Vermont; Elizabeth Murray in New York City who looked at and critiqued my work whenever I visited; my Grandfather William H. Drury and my Aunt Hopie who got me to start painting on a trip to the West Indies; and my Mom who took me wandering through the Art Museums of NYC and gave us all unlimited art supplies. Or I refer to Natural History, look at books of drawings of flora and fauna, detailed descriptions of things in the natural world, and go out into the natural world to see how things work. Just looking at, being in and examining nature is perhaps my greatest inspiration.
A lot of people at the Hunter Gallery opening last night wanted to know how my paintings begin. It was hard for me to verbalize that process spontaneously. So I have decided to start a blog and see how that goes.
January 7, 2017 How I Start:
The other day I saw these beautiful marks on the sand, from where the waves came in and pulled out over a period of time.
In my head I am drawing it- broad stroke of soft charcoal on its side, pull down through it with fingers, erase white lines into the black, ghosts of previous wave edges. When I get home I go into the studio and do that- get out the thick soft charcoal, record the line patterns, use my fingers to pull down through the black charcoal, make marks with hard charcoal, the edge of a pink eraser to make white lines through the black. And I have a note, a sketch that is the beginning idea for a painting, or a series of black, white and grey paintings, rectangular not square, suitable for winter studies.
So I already have decided the painting will be on small, 20"x24" canvases and the skeleton of the composition will be these lines and marks of waves in the sand which also has stuff on it.
Next, I am mixing the under painting in my head- definitely a cool grey, or blue or maybe even violet. I pick up a very red piece of seaweed on the walk and a neon green remnant of a sponge- top -accents that help me determine the underpainting “family”: definitely cool, definitely pale, not dark, definitely transparent- as opposed to warm, hot, thickly applied, vivid.
Next I start coming up with the tone, value, shade of a cool grey blue for my underpainting- I might make a series of dabs and strokes on a big piece of paper and label them with the paint combos: Ultrmarine with a tad of burnt umber?; pale grey + pale violet? mars black diluted? the trick being cool transparent pigment or pigments with no white because this underpainting tends to set the tone for the whole piece.
I draw in the skeleton of my composition with paint and when it is dry, I wash or pour onto the underpainting, establishing the next layer of the skeleton in the lines and edges of poured glazes: wave lines, darks and lights, drips, poured on to do what water does when I tilt, raise and move around the canvas.
So then I am off and begin to apply layers of glazes alternating between warm and cool, vivid and muted etc. and things start to resonate. The canvas is laid horizontal on sawhorses, on the floor, outside on the ground. I tip and tilt it so that the paint does what water does.
As the layers get thicker I start to add in the scraps and shards of things I’ve found, adding them by color, shape, line, or written image, dropping them randomly or placing them in a specific way. My current question is whether these objects are submerged, attached to the final layer, or enclosed in plastic detail boxes- are these plastic boxes blended in with plaster wrap and then painted? this is my latest idea, or do they remain dioramas attached to the surface?
I continue to add lines and marks, details, and the process of adding, subtracting, changing the basic skeleton goes on. I like the accidents of paint, and the layers of poured latex gloss and texture that start to come in.
It is very easy to get lost in this process, though, so I keep the focus of the painting on my original intention of “wave marks”- ok that’s the title- and the skeleton drawing that came out of that little view I noticed.
At a certain point I worry about overworking the painting, hoping to get the painting done with less indecision so it doesn’t look that way, trusting my instincts to stop when I know its done. I frequently go back into a painting later to fine tune or change small details.
Early in the morning on 3rd Beach I found a line of Styrofoam beads which had washed up onto the sand, tangling with seaweeds and plastics, obviously the remains of a stryfoam cooler dumped or dropped overboard. It went along the edge of the water almost all the way down the beach. Sandpipers were rummaging in the tideline. It was a very beautiful thick white wavy line, with bright green lines of seaweed strands mixed in. So I scooped up the Styrofoam beads along with the seaweed. This was mixed with polyeurethane and poured directly on to the canvas at a later date.
I pick up the Styrofoam beads and add them to my painting because I really did see that, find them, despair over them. Keep needing to want the viewer to see the reality not the illusion of shoreline-seascape-landscape in the Anthropocene.