Monday, April 26, 2010

Mon Apr 26 - Sun May 2

Hooray for paint, paper, and paint-applying tools! And sploshing around, with little preconceived direction. :)

Letting The Paint Fall Where It May
April 2010

Math is kicking my ass tonight! And my brain too. Word problems......yeaargh! And percentages!

We drew big animal skulls this afternoon. I need to find a new method of mark-making. Lots of inspiration from my esteemed colleagues though! In Design class we are doing self-portrait text collages. We handed in our last project and I forgot to bring my camera and snap pictures. We worked on our projects in class only.

I honestly do not understand how the day has passed so quickly. I even hauled out of bed at 6:30 this morning. Tired now. Good night, sorry for such a dry post. I feel despondent at how little I seemed to accomplish today despite the long hours. I trust that something mildly profound is going on at a subatomic level, under my egoic radar.

wow okay, now we're halfway through The Term! And Summer classes have been posted! Time is definitely moving differently from my new vantage position as student.

Earlier, before classes, I messed around with stamping and repetitive shapes. I began the impromptu exercise doing random stampings, trying for an emergent property/organic/spontaneous angle. That didn't fly. So I organized the marks into rows, imposing a little order on things. Trying to keep in mind all I'm learning and looking at art-wise that is related to the classes I'm in (drawing, design) = composition, hierarchy of shape, rhythm, repetition/echoing shapes, focus (active vs. resting).

I did a couple of postcards and liked developing the layers and the idea, so I played with the photos a bit and came up with these. You can click on 'em for bigs this time; I uploaded pretty large files (and I want some prints of these so I'll research something in that realm this weekend).

I'd like to do some biggers -- I mean maybe not wall-sized, but certainly as big as our drawing sized sheets at 18 x 24......but maybe even bigger! Maybe more white space on the left? And when the canvas is bigger, what size shall I make the 'bricks'? And how will I render those marching bricks -- I want a certain uniformity and exactness, but not so much or it will be boring. So I don't think spraying out shapes with a template would be the answer. I like the stamp pad a lot -- I went over the shapes again with acrylic, and then even again with the stamp pad.

Also, I used an eraser that was broken in half as the stamper.

Plus I want to make that red really red on the canvas, to do that (pop it out against white?).

I am trying to figure out how to settle down and focus on just a couple things instead of a whole barrel-full. It's pretty crazy, how many directions I go in at once, or in rapid-fire succession. It's not very productive and I feel agitated. Is this, in part, a product of growing older? Feeling the years creeping up, and thinking oh my god, there isn't much time left? I mean who the hell knows when you're number is up anyway but still....this sense of needing to accomplish so much more is exhausting.

Today, once I (finally) rested on a locus, I became absorbed in the development and unfolding of discovery and everything else quieted down. That is what I love about creating, and it's so strange how a part of me resists settling down or insists on keeping me hyper-alert. There is this fear that I'm wasting my time, that in the end I'll have nothing to show for my investment. Good lord!! Have I really forgotten how to just play??

Nawwww. But the weight of my years...they're threatening to tow me under...okay enough histrionics.

And here is one last manipulation I thought was interesting......they all have their moments and different aspects that I really like.......


I'm feeling less stressed out about how fast the days go vs. how 'little' I accomplish. I ordered the critic to stand down lest we all go completely bonkers. I can't add any hours to the day; I won't give up brushing my teeth or eating food that's healthy which requires time to prepare or shorting myself on exercise; I'm doing the best I can and I'm not sitting around with my thumb up my ass watching the quintessential season of LOST, or re-runs of Married with Children, you know? So I'm easing up on myself. It doesn't do me any good to stress out about how much better/faster/more accomplished I think I should be.

I do, however, wish that people in art studio classes weren't so chatty and disruptive. I can't concentrate with all that bok-bok-bok going on. I've never been one to be able to study with music, television or movies going on either. And I certainly can't carry on any sort of conversation and do art simultaneously -- unless I'm doing something rote, like tracing or inking something that's penciled.

anyway :)

Here we have some studies done over the last two weeks including this afternoon (last pic) in our Beginning Drawing class. Our dear Mr. G has been present and accounted for and I'm pleased about that. I'm learning stuff. Stuff in addition to drawing, even. Bonus!

So right now we're learning about value, edge, alpha dark lipsmacking that alpha white to produce that focal point - and the further from focal, the fuzzier and looser we draw so as not to compete and frenzy the eye or create visual conflict. Tension is good, chaos is not. These are great principles to be learning. It's why I'm in school. Lots to keep in mind while you're plundering a canvas, to be sure :)

ps - I received written congratulatory notification today from the Ford Family Foundation: I've been chosen for an interview to receive a scholarship that would pay for everything the Pell Grant doesn't cover for the 2010-11 school year (I'm talking, bills, food, art supplies). They reviewed 554 applications and will interview 88 people, selecting up to 45 to receive the Ford ReStart Award for women such as myself (non-traditional students, returning after a long hiatus, with little or no college). The FFF is based in Eugene -- my interview is May 20th. I'm pretty thrilled to have just been chosen; that helps my confidence, knowing that I filled out the application in an adroit and articulate my old boss at the Library gave me a totally kick-ass letter of recommendation.
Fryday. As in, totally fried.

I do not feel invigorated, energized or inspired by the hours of time I invested in a Design project today. This really sucks. No, I'm not going to post it either. It's a text collage self-portrait and I did two (one yesterday in class). I'm trying to view today's three (four???) hours of cut and paste as a learning experience but to tell you the fucking truth, I don't really give a shit about learning anything since I feel like I just wasted my time.

It's also because I wanted to create something playful but sophisticated, and I did not accomplish either. I didn't have fun. I'm in a dark mood. Now the doubts and heavy self-crit crowd in and it's standing room only.

Knowing when you've hit diminishing returns, and knowing when to hang in there just a bit longer because that state of absorption and creativity that galvanizes is right around the corner can be a toughie. I think right now I need a break. I think I do know the difference, actually, and I should give myself more credit for my intuition and skills than I do. And be more friendly to myself too. Goddamn it, be friendlier! Or I'll smack ya!


One of my recently found and now-favorite illustrators (podcast) is Chris Oatley. I just remembered two things I read on his site that heartened me mighty:

Keep working at it. You'll get it.

You are beautiful and creative.

Thanks for the modern-day mantras. I feel a glimmer of remembered hope. Actually, I really do feel a bit better....there is this weird post-post-post christian guilt complex (despite me divorcing them all...religion is like the psycho ex that haunts and stalks you, the fucker) that plays heavily into my black moods when I don't do something perfectly, or when I think I'm wasting time. I'm now also recalling a passage in Art and Fear (by David Bayles and Ted Orland) that I read last night, about imperfections:

"For you, the seed for your next art work lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece. Such imperfections (or mistakes, if you're feeling particularly depressed about them today) are your guides - valuable, reliable, objective, non-judgmental guides - to matters you need to reconsider or develop further. It is precisely this interaction between the ideal and the real that locks your art into the real world, and gives meaning to both."

Here's some more, I'm finding this remarkably reassuring and it's undermining the Standing Room Only Crowd:

"If you think good work is somehow synonymous with perfect work, you are headed for big trouble. Art is human; error is human; ergo, art is error. Inevitably, your work (like, uh, the preceding syllogism...) will be flawed. Why? Because you're a human being, and only human beings, warts and all, make art. Without warts it is not clear what you would be, but clearly you wouldn't be one of us."

(I had a wart removed from my neck several weeks ago, now I want it back)

the Doubts persist: What if I fail to learn, or if I fail to evolve? What good does all the imperfection do me if I'm incapable of learning from my imperfections and mistakes? What if I just don't 'get it' and I won't, ever? Folks, this is seriously one of my deepest fears -- that I was born with a missing piece, that there is a secret I'll never be privy to.

Doesn't this seem like a part of me is just hell-bent on fucking me over? WELL STOP THAT!

"Nonetheless, the belief persists among some artists (and lots of ex-artists) that doing art means doing things flawlessly - ignoring the fact that this prerequisite would disqualify most existing works of art. Indeed, it seems vastly more plausible to advance the counter-principle, namely that imperfection is not only a common ingredient in art, but very likely an essential ingredient. Ansel Adams, never one to mistake precision for perfection, often recalled the old adage that "The perfect is the enemy of the good", his point being that if he waited for everything in the scene to be exactly right, he'd probably never make a photograph."


Now I'm ready to post a picture of yesterday's collage endeavor:

Break up the text a bit, it's hard to look at a blog post with a shitload of text. Ha ha! There's text in the collage, neener neener!

So yeah, this was all over the place and I did learn a few things, as you will see from today's project, which I am mostly done being pouty about. The text reads 'art is the antidote', a phrase I coined, at least for myself, as I haven't heard it before. You can click for bigs.

Sigh. I shall gird my loins and try again another time.

"Adams was right: to require perfection is to invite paralysis. The pattern is predictable: as you see error in what you have done, you steer your work toward what you imagine you can do perfectly. You cling ever more tightly to what you already know you can do - away from risk and exploration, and possibly further from the work of your heart. You find reasons to procrastinate, since to not work is to not make mistakes. Believing that artwork should be perfect, you gradually become convinced that you cannot make such work. (You are correct.) Sooner or later, since you cannot do what you are trying to do, you quit. And in one of those perverse little ironies of life, only the pattern itself achieves perfection - a perfect death spiral: you misdirect your work; you stall; you quit.

To demand perfection is to deny your ordinary (and universal) humanity, as though you would be better off without it. Yet this humanity is the ultimate source of your work; your perfectionism denies you the very thing you need to get your work done. Getting on with your work requires a recognition that perfection itself is (paradoxically) a flawed concept."

amen and good afternoon, ladies and gents



"I find it exhilarating to start a canvas with no idea how it will turn out, no pre-conceived ideas, just a process that is relentlessly demanding and seldom rewarding. But, Oh!, when it all comes together and you realize that you fought all the doubts and all the demons and you won."
-Clifford Wilton

Abstract 373
Oil on Canvas
43 x 62 inches

Oh!, my god! I'm seriously in rapture here. This painting by Clifford Wilton is so arresting my attention. His words ring so clear. I feel so human. I love this. I found the....what do you call these things? that artists make, the postcards, sometimes very oversized, to announce their shows? as I was walking to figure drawing studio this morning up in Lawrence Hall. His Recent Paintings are presented by the Office of the Governor and Oregon Arts Commission; he's showing in Salem through May 7th. That's the only reason I'd ever go to back to Salem (been there once, my experience is not one I'd repeat and I'd not live in Salem).

I wonder if he painted over the canvas umpteen times. I wonder what his process is. I'll look him up online.

Hey! I bought a canvas today! There's a mega sale going on at our Oregon Art Supply. I want some biggers....maybe tomorrow I'll walk downtown, snag a couple biggies and ride the bus back home (drop me off about two blocks away). I was able to secure the canvas I bought this afternoon to the rack on my bike, but any bigger and I wouldn't be able to. I also bought some brushes.

There is an in-process on the floor over there, awaiting further experimentation.....does it spoil it, or not, if I show in-process? I mean, I like to see that sort of stuff on other peoples' blogs and sites....actually there are two....

What a gorgeous day today. Warm, sunny. Drawing session was productive. By this I refer to the state of being absorbed -- even though I'm not super excited about the drawings themselves (there are some fine moments in each), I am very...satisfied?....content?....that after about an hour I sunk into being absorbed in the whole process of it. I guess I stopped fighting.

Here is the progression:

Sandy, a fellow artist whose drawings I really admire and appreciate, and whose personality and temperament suggest a very balanced person, and who I like talking with - she said to stop using newsprint. Because I'm too good a draw-er. Usually I don't repeat stuff like this, you know? Ugh, I don't mean to be annoying and toot my horn, right? I was completed gobsmacked. I mean she's been drawing for YEARS, she knows her way around a canvas, so it's not an off-hand comment. I felt really heartened. I think what she sees is the potential, and I'm glad for her feedback. She doesn't gush, and I wouldn't want her to, but she is honest in her appraisals, and positive.

Those last two are not on newsprint, by the way.

Our model today was great. Inexperienced, and wonderful. I happened to be on the receiving end of a lot of foreshortening opportunities. I was up for the challenge of that today!

Of the next-to-last drawing up there, my next door neighbor (who often works in sumi but today was working with vine charcoal) remarked that it reminded her of (the painter, yes) Francis Bacon's work. I looked him up, I've been meaning I'm galvanized!

I'm very interested in abstracts and certain landscapes lately, too. Part of it is just being exposed to more art, and seeking out art. Part of it is that I've been trying so hard...too render the human figure in a more, well, western representational/realistic style, wanting so much to see and then draw, build a good foundation.....and I'm not seeing the kind of progress I know I am capable of, and I don't know why except that I'm trying too hard. So fuck it, I'm not going to try so hard.

I'll just try really hard at abstracts instead!



Sunday May Two

I messed around with that canvas. Hmmmmm...........I think I'll make a circle accordion book out of it. It's okay, I mean, it was good practice/learning medium/freestyley session.

Well just a sec, I think I need to hang it up and stand back to look at it; still, I think I'll transform it into a circle accordion book. The idea came from a class that a new acquaintance/fellow artist is teaching at the Oregon Art Supply store. I found some (very well- written, complete and clear) instructions for making the book, online (not by Jill Cardinal, the teacher).


later that day......

20 x 24"

Well so okay, the book idea, I'm saving for another day and another canvas, TBD. I decided instead to, well you see what I decided. Cut it up and re-arrange it! Four-inch squares recombined to make a brand new picture! It was pretty cool to lay 'em all out and play puzzle-pieces, arranging and moving them around. Once I decided that the repetition would be in the orientation of the arc, it went pretty fast (fast being a relative term). Then I glued 'em all down while listening to Mark Rudolph and Jerzy Drozd over at Art and Story. Thanks for the company, that I paused the podcast, my studio feels so...very....quiet. Like there is a gaping hole where you guys were just moment ago. :)

Actually, I also unplugged the ticking clock. Well, and by unplugged I mean, removed the battery. I can't believe I lived a whole year with a clock ticking in my studio. It's SO not me. I notice now how much I glance at it, and how anxious I was feeling with the tick-tick-tick of time passing, jesus, almost like a death knoll.

It's all part of my plan to reduce anxiety and agitation. I think it's working.

God! It's so blissfully quiet now! Why didn't I do this sooner?!

I'm going to recommend a great movie now: A Town Called Panic. Holy mother of mackerel! It's a French stop-motion film based on a Belgian TV series. It's phenomenal. You. Must. See. This. Jackie and I laughed for an hour-and-a-half straight, it's very absurd. Upon exiting the aisle, the folks who we sat next to said that they enjoyed our response to the film more than they enjoyed the film itself. Well!

Jackie and I also made a sort of buddy-promise, with pinky-promises too: Good Books. We bought snacks after the movie and walked to a very nice spot under some trees with ducks quacking in the creek behind us, sun shining, really great. Then walking back to her car I said I wanted to start bringing a notebook with me everywhere to record things that tickled me, that are positive and re-affirming (awwwwwwwww). No seriously -- cuz it's so easy to slump into a negative rut, seeing and remembering all the shit that happens, however small. So irritating. And here we've spent two hours laughing (because we have to re-enact all the absurd scenes in the movie, and screech about it) -- this momentum needs to be encouraged.

I suggested that we could do it together and she said Okay sure, we'll call it The Good Book, make our own damn Bible. YESSSSSssssss! Every day we're writing at minimum one thing. I love doing stuff like this.

My other friend Jacque made me a notebook a few years ago now. I've been waiting for the perfect thing to use it for, and this is it. Look at it:

Much cooler in person of course, and the inside front and back is done up pretty damn sweet too.

Earlier today I pieced together Summer's going to be very interesting. Two are for 8 weeks: Math, and Drawing for Media (o yay). Another, a biology (microbes) is a four-week class, offered online. Then there is a marathon Intermediate Drawing in September, one week before Fall Term begins, that runs six days, twelve hours per day (9am - 9pm). INSANE! I'm going for it!

I think :)



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