the thought-stream of an artist and writer

I am in a perpetual state of bemusement.
I am always searching but don't always know what I have found.
Putting things together physically, visually or mentally in the language of symbols, or letters, or of clues of some sort is a life long obsession.
This blog is a narrative, a daybook of sorts.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sorting things out.

"Scheduling Conflict", oil, acrylic and aluminum leaf on MDF, 8x8
It has been a time of tremendous upheaval in my life, this spring, and I have been working sporadically on several projects without the feeling I am doing much of anything. There have been other places in my life where it has felt as if I am crossing a great divide, and there is before and then after, with much altered between them. My work has always gone through chaos to get to form, and it wasn't until I understood and embraced the correlation between my emotional/physical state and the state of my abstract work that I really felt  comfortable, even happy with a canvas. It gave me a clearer way of knowing when to stop work on a particular piece... to accept a state as an intermediate place but legitimate in it's own right. It may not sound like much but it was huge.

"Night Noises", oil and aluminum leaf on canvas, 8x8
When I started painting I had no idea what I was about, and painting classes didn't help much. Nothing I did looked the way I wanted, or even in any way I could make sense of. But it took years to figure out I was painting about how things felt. How they seemed to all the senses. I was painting about things that had no words or pictures. They leave me feeling raw and vulnerable, even at the best of times. I am learning to let go of that as unimportant. My messy life is just fodder for them.

"On The Slow Boat", oil and gold leaf on MDF, 8x8
Bit by bit, I feel as if I am getting closer to the work's own intentions. That sounds bizarre, even to me. So much of my life I have felt as if I am on a huge wave, a tsunami that has taken me where it wills, and it has been my job to hold on, to be brave and tenacious. And also to be quiet and pay attention.

previous posts about this body of work;

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Small Hours

Small Vision, acrylic, oil, thread and gold leaf on panel, 8x8

Every winter I do a kind of walkabout in my studio. Because it is cold and I have little light and I am usually working many hours at a job I try not to frustrate myself with producing anything important. Instead, I change everything about my working process. I "go see". Last summer and fall I was working on large sheets of paper with acrylic and oil pastel. In January I switched to little 8x8 panels and canvases and went back to using oils. But I added things... gold and silver leaf, thread and cloth and fur, beads and buttons, glitter. I had been thinking about this for a long time and now was the time to play with it. Usually, for most of January I make terrible art. I don't know what I am doing in a more fundamental way than usual, so I don't know when or how to shape when something good appears. Eventually themes appear and I settle in to expand upon them. I love to experiment. Essentially all my work is about that. I paint to discover.

Record, oil and gold leaf on canvas, 8x8

When I start to get a glimmer of what this work is about, then I can start to figure out how to say what I think it is saying. I never really know about my work. There are layers I understand, and deeper ones I do not touch. After all these years I have come to realize that there is a dangerous place in one's work  where it does not pay to meddle. There is a dark magic there that cannot be revealed through words, through analysis, only honoured. Respected. I know when it is there. Sometimes a painting has it right from the start, and it is my job to enrich it. Sometimes it is very hard won indeed. The fact that my work, for all it's abstraction, is intimately tied to my moods and experiences is a conundrum deeply confounding and confusing to me. I'd like to know myself but this is a river I cannot swim. I paint to figure it out as far as that is possible, but it is Pandora's box. I hang on to the threads that make sense and let go of the ones that will pull me into somewhere I don't need to find myself. The whole process is a kind of faith thing. A trust that it will all,  if not make sense exactly, at least hang together in a functional way. It is a provisional life.

Small Snag, oil, silver leaf and thread on panel, 8x8

Waitling, oil and gold leaf on canvas, 8x8
For more blogs on this subject; Where to Put Your Feet When Your Head is Occupied Elsewhere