I’m walking Away

__2018-03-07 11.47.45

 I’m at that point.  The point of giving up.

I’ve been incredibly frustrated lately.  Mainly, the ideas in my head aren’t matching up with what’s physically manifesting on my canvas.

After six months of painting abstract acrylics,  I can look at this body of work and say:  It’s not translucent enough (the pieces are kind of muddy in color) and they don’t really communicate a significant message to my viewer (I don’t know what they communicate!).  These were some of the goals I had set for myself and I sort of fell short of them.

With that said.  I’m ready to walk away.  Throw in the towel. Maybe even create a giant pyre and throw all my paintings in it.

Ok. That might be a little dramatic.

I’m not feeling that bad, but I am frustrated darn it.

I am walking away, but really I’m just walking into a different room.  A room filled with watercolors and paper as opposed to acrylics and canvas.  My hope is that if I walk away, I can let everything I learned in the last 6 months synthesize into my brain somehow.  I’m hoping with time I will be able to mentally separate the processes I liked from the ones that didn’t work for me.  Or who knows, maybe with a little bit more time I can simply check acrylic-abstract-painting off my list.  – Check.  That one’s not for me.  Let’s go try something else.  That could be the case.  I don’t know.  Hopefully time will tell.

I do know that I love painting.  I can’t quit.  I won’t quit.  You’ll have to pry that paint brush from my cold dead hand.  I do sure hope I figure out where I shine technically before I am cold and dead.  Gulp.

So here’s to another go.  A different go.  Wish me luck :)

No. Seriously.  I mean it. Right now.  I wouldn’t mind a little prayer.  You could send me some positive Ju-Ju.  I’m a believer of that kind of stuff.  Send it my way right now I’m waiting!!!

Here were the last paintings I finished in this series:

__2018-03-05 13.21.55-1

 

__2018-03-05 12.37.54-1

 

__2018-03-12 13.01.44

These canvases were roughly 16×20 – 18×24.

It’s hard.  I feel like I would NEVER bring one of these paintings to a gallery or art association for exhibition.  Mainly because they don’t look like ANYTHING I see on their walls.  Mine are playful and crazy where as everything I see there seems so serious.  That definitely weighs into my cruel critique. I don’t feel like these are “show”-able.

__2018-03-13 14.10.48-2

I do have to say though, when I hang them in my house, I very much like them.  They are colorful, happy and create a cheery atmosphere.  That puts me in a strange conundrum.  I want to make art for the world not simply for myself.  Will I ever get there??? 

Deep exhale….. I hope so.

2018-03-16 10.45.28

As we speak, my brand new set of watercolors has arrived.

My old set is probably ten years old.  It’s been on rocky car rides where the pigments got mixed all together.  It’s filled with cat hair, mainly because my cat won’t leave me alone! It’s a complete mess.  Ta Da.  A new set with new paint brushes.  It’s like artist Christmas.

Well here I go.  Off to give these new puppies a try!  Hee Haw! Yipee!

Advertisements

Losing My Religion

_2018-01-24 10.19.11

Here’s a painting that evolved from random abstract mark-making.

Somewhere within the chaos I saw a church and from there, all my thoughts on the current state of religion in the US came to mind.

Of course religion in America is loaded.  It’s political and something most people would choose to avoid discussing. Nevertheless, It’s what came up in my painting.

I guess for me, I feel a bit of anger at the indifference some people find towards the First US Amendment – Freedom of Religion.

I can remember my earliest encounter with other faiths when I first went to kindergarten.  My little class had Christians, Jews and Vietnamese Buddhists in it.  I didn’t even really know what that meant, but I do remember that it was a lesson. Through school I learned that many people believe in many different theories of God and in America you can practice any religious faith you’d like. Or none at all.  There is room for everyone.   That was about it.  Sweet and simple. Oh, and there is church and there is state.  Church is your own private choice and state is where everyone agrees to respect everyone else’s choices.  To a small kid, I remember thinking that sounded pretty fair.

A decade later I was in high school. For the first time in over a decade we were told they were changing our morning routine. The Pledge of Allegiance had always come onto the loud-speaker. We stood up, said the pledge and were then told to sit down for a moment of silent prayer.  But, for now on, there would simply be a moment of silence.  I don’t think us kids had ever thought about it before.  We just did what we were told. We put our hand on our hearts, stood, recited, sat down and stayed quiet until we were told we could speak.  On this day, I can remember the teacher explaining why the government was doing away with the word “prayer”.  Prayer had come from the fact that our country was predominantly Christian for hundreds of years, since most people were Christian, no one really minded if there was Christian religion in the public schools.  But now, people were becoming more observant of the fact that not everyone is Christian.  Perhaps a moment of silence to whomever your God is might be better than the Christian idea of “prayer”.  I remember thinking this was amazing.  Right in my little classroom we were discussing the First Amendment again and how as a country we really needed to hold true to our word. There is freedom of religion and separation of church and state.  You believe whatever you want outside of school, but when you are at school, we respect that everyone may have different beliefs. We focus on learning at school. That’s it – period.

I got it.  I got it at every age. We Americans are free because we respect everyone’s right to freedom. That’s how it works.

Now, I’ll admit it. I haven’t been in school in a couple of decades.  But the talk I now hear goes against everything I was taught in school.  Things like “Finally, we can bring back prayer to the classroom.” and “Bring back the Christmas pageant”. Things that sound incredibly CHRISTIAN to me.  If these same people found out the school was pausing to face towards mecca to pray 5 times a day they would go berserk.  Perhaps there should be no school lunch as all kids should fast during Yom Kippur?

You can’t have it both ways. If  you don’t want someone else’s religion shoved down your throat, then you can’t shove your own.

The other thought that came to mind as I was painting this little church is acceptance.  I am pretty sure every faith has some form of “Love All” in their tenants.  This caused me to draw all sorts of symbols.  Religious ones. Feminine vs Masculine. Patriotism. Rich vs. Poor. Educated vs. Illiterate.  Citizens vs. immigrants.  Who does America belong to? All or some?

Me. I believe in the freedom to mind one’s own business.  You leave me alone.  I leave you alone.  Mutual respect = Co-exist.

Call me a snowflake.  A flaming idealist-liberal.  I’m OK with that.  I’ll own it.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but guess what? I’m not the only one!

Feeling the Blues

__2018-01-10 09.11.26b

Not feeling like I have any control over the subject matter, composition or colors, but I’ll show you how I tamed this wild beast from some dots and crosshatches to at least something… Negative painting (painting the background instead of the foreground) seemed to go well.  It’s how you edit the mess and I’m finding it’s the key to creating the composition.  I will take what I learned and move forward.

Blue Still Life

11×14 acrylic and charcoal

Little Field Study

__2018-01-10 09.11.41

So let me quickly explain what “mixed media” means to those of you non-painters.

 When it comes to art galleries, museums and art publications, an artist needs to very specifically categorize their art. Here are some classic examples.  Oil painting, acrylic, pen and ink, gouache, watercolor, pastel, … you kind of catch my drift…

Well “mixed media” is the term the industry has coined for any artwork that uses more than one medium.  I don’t know where in my schooling I got this notion, but I was always made to feel like mixed media was a lower, non-purist, uneducated art form.  That’s pretty loaded huh?  Some artist/teacher/adult taught me that and like Adam, I bit that apple.  I think in art there is this “purist” thing which now that I am getting a little older, I would like to re-term an “ego” thing.  If you can put people and their work in a category, then you can compete against one another. Then you can have “the best” in show and don’t we all want to work so hard to compete with our peers to be the best???

Ugh, I’m exhausted with this premise and I’m only in my forties.

Now, when you go to art shows and you see “mixed media” near an artwork title, pretty much it’s a lump word that  means – more than one medium.  Think of all the categories above. If you simply add a tiny bit of charcoal to your acrylic painting, you are – mixed media.  If you add a tiny bit of gouache or acrylic to your watercolor painting – you are mixed media. God forbid you glue anything to your artwork, you are mixed media.  Of course any type of collageis – mixed media. This leaves all of these artists lumped into the “we don’t know what to do with you category”. For award giving,  “purists” are being compared apple, to apple, to apple, to apple…. For mixed media artists, award giving is comparing apple, to orange, to pineapple, to egg…. No one fits per say. Maybe that’s what gives the industry it’s uneasiness. I also  think there’s a rich vs. poor thing going on too.  Poor people can’t afford the best art supplies nor can they afford the proper education to know the rules. Great industry to be a part of right?

I mention this because for me, wanting to work in “mixed media” obviously has loaded negative connotations.  But guess what?  I LOVE MIXED MEDIA. I really love artworks that use ALL THE ART MEDIUMS ALL AT ONCE.  Why not?  Who says you can’t?  I want to use charcoal, paint, pencil, gold leaf, and spray paint all in one work of art.  Why is that such a bad thing?  Why do I feel like I will be judged poorly for doing so?

I think of the most famous mixed media artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat.  I am pretty sure he wasn’t thinking “Gee, what are the leaders of my industry going to think about my art and art practice? Hmmm?”  Nope. He was a street artist, a gritty-city graffiti artist who used whatever he found on the streets to get his vision across.  Racism, poverty, segregation, social inequality.  He was feeling it and he was expressing it.  When you look at his work, it is raw.  It is loaded with power, anger, inquisitiveness and humor.  Somehow mixing all the art mediums, packs this visual punch.  There’s so much to look at.  In this genre, there is a contemporary mixed media artist I love and admire, Mitsi B Kral. Click on her name to see her work.  Mitsi has these great YouTube videos.  When you watch her, you clearly see she doesn’t give a crap about being a “purist”.  She is just blasting music, scribbling, painting, gluing, spray painting, pretty much going nuts on a canvas. Her work again is raw and expresses so much emotion to me.

I love mixed media. It’s crazy and free.

But, Just when I think I am crazy and free, I find that really, I’m not.  I have all these rules in my head and I don’t even know where they came from. They’re clearly un-examined.  So for me, wanting to be wild and free at least when it comes to painting, is going to take a lot of practice.  First I have to challenge every preconception I have.  I have to undo every classicly-trained art lesson I’ve ever had. Dump all of it and try to uncover what’s under there.  What is my raw unexposed self?  Beats me.  What do I care so strongly about that I find ways to express it through my art and share it with the world? Beats me.  But it sure seems more interesting than painting a still life of some grapes.

So this is a little taste of the mental garbage rolling around in my head.  I am such an over-thinker/over-analyzer. My step-father used to ask me how I could even wake up every morning?  He’s got a good point.  Maybe if I go to a therapist, they can teach me how to stop over analyzing and then I will be the best painter in the world.  I’m thinking world-domination good! Mhew Ha Ha Ha Ha <- that’s an evil maniacal laugh by the way.

OK. I think I’m losing it. Something tells me I need to stop.  I should step away from the computer and simply just try to make a little more art.

OK… OK … I’m going… I’m going…

 

Crazy Painting

_2016-06-06 10.04.27

Hi yall. I have some work to share…

_2016-03-31 12.59.59_2016-04-15 12.10.15_2016-04-15 15.48.10

Can you see why I named this post crazy painting?  My abstracts keep getting more and more out there!

This rather large painting (2ft x 4ft) Is a completely made up fantastical tropical forest.

When I got to this point, all though there was so much going on, I felt like it still needed some sort of extra life force.

In my imagination I saw hummingbirds just loving that yellow bell-shaped flower.

So why not!

_2016-05-26 10.30.01_2016-05-27 13.49.58b

_2016-05-27 13.49.50

What’s cool to me, is the birds do not stand out at all.  They are definitely not the first things you see.  Just like in nature.  Everything is hiding for it’s protection. Yet the more you tune in and look, the more of nature you see.

————

I have to admit I am a little nervous.

I have two local art shows I am submitting work to this month (this means exposing myself to my artistic peers!).  Yes, I post my work on my blog, but I haven’t actually shown any of these abstracts out in public!

I know to most of my public, these paintings are pretty frigging crazy.  I brought This giant 4 x 4ft abstract in for jurying last week:

2016-03-10 10.11.54

I absolutely love it. I had this in my kitchen and it brought me joy and energy every day.  But when I walked into the gallery and placed it next to a muted beach pastel, everyone in the rooms eyes popped out of their head!  Ok maybe I’m over-reacting and being super-sensitive… but high energy and bold may have been words thrown out there…

I have to prepare myself for the possibility that many people will not like my work…

That hurts.

Luckily it only bothers me about 25%  which leaves about 75% thick skin.

_2016-06-06 09.06.27_2016-06-06 10.03.27

I mean, when I display my work in my home, it makes perfect sense!  I just have to find a few more people out there like me – you know, totally awesome! ;)

I know that like an awkward teen, I’m just going through a phase.  Be that a crazy phase!  I can see down the road that one day I will be able to marry the craziness with my prior realistic style and when the two come together, look out! I will have found my artistic “signature”.

Gotta walk the miles in the shoes…

Just like the bobby pin holding back my awkwardly growing out hair, I still have to go outside and greet my neighbors.  Gotta keep living day to day…

Gotta show my work. Stand tall and enjoy this crazy ride!

 

 

Finding One’s Path

image

_2016-03-28 10.29.00

2016-04-15 08.57.01

2016-04-28 10.00.31

2016-04-29 11.27.07

image

This is intuitive abstract.  No planning. just show up, move paint and see where it takes you.

If you check the progression of the painting, there were initially two paths. One coming from the left and one center.  Eventually The left path didn’t sit well with me and one single path prevailed.

It’s pretty interesting, I am a constant obsessor about my path in life… It’s nice to know my subconscious could point out that my angst about going in the right direction, doing the right thing, seizing the right opportunities are all for not…

There’s only one path.

The one your on :)

This painting also tackles environmentalism.  There are elements of man’s development, infrastructure, entangled and intertwined with natural elements. Another concept near and dear to my heart. I used silver leaf to denote man’s mark on our environment, metals.

There’s also a bit of shamanism.  Feathers, forest, wind, breath and the blackbird.  Blackbirds are a sign of magic. They are said to have the gift to travel between both realms.  Physical and metaphysical.

A lot of black birds have been turning up in my work.  They always seem to be delivering something.  They are generally in motion and traveling with the wind.  Haven’t really figured out what they mean to me subconsciously, but I’m perfectly ok with them showing up on my canvas as well as my everyday life.

I will have to see what unfolds.

Tangerine

2016-04-14 09.08.27
Tangerine -acrylic and charcoal on canvas

A week ago I was sharing the experience of drag-out fighting with a painting from beginning to completion. The painting here, was the exact opposite.  Every line went in effortlessly and when it was done, I thought “well that was easy”.

_2016-03-28 09.48.42

This painting is 100% about color for me. I began by mixing my own oranges with magenta to create a hot and fiery backdrop.

_2016-03-31 13.00.07

Well, I guess it wasn’t completely smooth sailing. I instantly hated the blue and the flower shape which I then had to get busy changing…

_2016-04-01 10.43.14

Thanks to some gesso that flower began to become under control, but I did still hate that blue…my charcoal figures began to take form…

2016-04-14 09.08.27

I knew I was done when all the color felt right (bye-bye blue).

For me, this painting is about high-impact energy.  Things are busting and colliding and you can feel the jagged motion of  my charcoal lines.

The other night, my non-painting sister went to a drink and dabble. She sent me a photo of her completed painting.  They had taught her how to layer in a background and then allowed her to paint whatever she wanted into the foreground. My sister created this very soft tree.  Her color palette was creams and grey and caramel colors. I instantly felt peace and quiet from her color choices.

The thought of this has stuck with me. When I look at her painting, it tells a lot about her as a person. She is a soft-neutrals kind of gal in the way she dresses, decorates and behaves.

So of course my next thought was “if my sister paints soft and calm and is those things -then what do my paintings say about me?

Chuckle, chuckle, I’m not sure I can even go there…  The first word that comes to mind though is VIGOR – in a nutshell, an active strength of force. The second word – BOLD. My personality is very finite. Everything is black and white with me – I have no room or tolerance for gray areas. My final word that comes to mind is – TORMENTED. Inside I am a tangled up mess.  I want to do everything and try everything yet most things are complete opposites on the spectrum. With art I am fighting with my love of realist still lives versus  intuitive abstracts. ALeo creating subject matter the world might like versus what I may like. And I guess feeling strong and feeling week and vulnerable all at the same time.

It is an interesting thought. Art can be very loaded and very much give you insight into someone’s soul.

Luckily I live in a world where the soft and the bold can actually be born from the same mother. There is room for both to coexist beautifully. A world where we can learn and prosper from both.

And yet I must embrace who I am. No apologies. I was given my own very specific genetic make-up. I have learned to love what I am and make peace with that which I am not. Will this show in my work? Does this show in my work? Is that the true artistic path -to use your strengths to their best abilities?  It leaves no room for comparing yourself to others or what’s trending in your industry. You must silence it all and go within.

This is where I’ve been trying to hang out lately. I believe it is the path to tapping into THE CREATIVE FORCE. Embrace. Go within. -and see what comes out.

 

 

Happy Tree

 

_2016-04-06 13.38.32b

This is part of my intuitive painting series.  That’s where you show up, throw paint, make marks and not have a preconceived notion of what you are going to paint… Things evolve and the artist themselves is just as surprised as anyone with what is created.

The strangest things come out and they are always different from one another!

_2016-02-24 10.08.59

_2016-02-24 16.48.29 _2016-02-25 15.00.38At this point I started to see the tree…

_2016-03-18 12.26.34Then the only thing I liked about the painting was the tree!_2016-03-18 14.59.47I was going to scrap the painting entirely by throwing more paint on top of it.  My first change-up was that big black stroke in the sky.  I was going to put big black strokes all over the entire thing, but after the first one, the painting became a little more interesting to me…so I kept going with it..

_2016-04-06 13.38.32

Adding blacks, lights and darks, it evolved into this.  I live by the Atlantic Ocean.  The New England sea is a deep blue like no other place in the world.  That came to me in this painting.  And I just loved that tree!  It’s the only thing that kept this painting going.  To me, it is pretty and happy and it wanted to be manifested.

Mary vs. Painting

_2016-03-23 09.16.23

Into the Forest – acrylic painting on 36×48 canvas

I titled this blog post Mary vs. Painting as a laugh.  For any painters out there, can you sympathize with occasionally hating a painting?

Every day that I walked in to my studio to face this painting I would smile and throw some paint at it and tell it “I hate you!”. My description should not make you think I was feeling rage or anger, this is sort of like meeting up with an old-time nemesis.  An entity you have faced over and over again and have figured out that fighting and struggling against it is futile.  At this point you can sort of laugh and tell the entity you hate it, but it has sort of lost it’s meaning. It’s just a routine you both go through.

This canvas is large. 3 feet by 4 feet. I instantly felt like this it was huge and unruly and I just couldn’t tame it.  Yet every day I would walk in and spend a few hours wrestling with it until I was exhausted and then I’d ask it for mercy and pack up my bags and go home.  The next morning I’d smile at it and ask if it was ready to wrestle some more?  By day 4-5 I was absolutely amused.  I wanted to quit, grab a box-cutter and shred it to bits, but instead I would laugh and tell this canvas I was not surrendering.  I would tame this wild beast.

_2016-02-24 10.29.39_2016-02-24 13.49.15_2016-03-03 10.54.07_2016-03-04 13.48.57_2016-03-18 09.03.34

Actually, I’m not sure I ever tamed this beast.  I did my best and I learned through it though.

This painting is so crazy. There is almost too much energy and no visual rest.  I can be fully aware of my newness to this painting process and know I will eventually have full control and mastery, but for now I am completely vulnerable.  All I can do is show up, go for the ride and learn at a snails pace.  That is hard for an extremely erratic fast-paced Gemini. I know this about myself, so I have no problem laughing at it’s irony.

It is often said that man visually chooses landscaped earth over the natural state of wilderness.  Man can grasp an appreciate the lines of one tree but not 30 trees intermingled.  It brings discomfort because the eye does not know how to process and identify what it is seeing.

That’s kind of how I feel about this painting.  It is wilderness.  It is hard to process all that is going on.  There is no visual rest.  But just like the untapped forest, maybe that is what was there before we all began to manipulate it.

There is joy in that for me.

I shall observe, embrace and bless my journey.