I have just returned home from a trade show in Minnesota, where it snowed, and the show was good, though sparsely attended. From a business perspective, it was OK, but not spectacular. The abundance of time between customers, however, gave me time to play on a canvas.
I find that in the studio, there seems to be a force-field of perceived pressure around me - to make something good, something momentous, something beautiful. More often than not, I retreat from it, unable to get loose, to let the creativity just flow.
In a setting where the expectation (mine) is dramatically reduced, where the intention is simply to demonstrate either a product or a process over a long, but continuously interrupted, period of time, I find myself tapping into that creative stream and things just happen.
The resulting paintings, however small or ill planned, take on a radiance and flow that is rarely found in the pieces I agonize over in my private studio. It all happens while I'm talking with people, showing how a particular colour enhances a texture, or layering another medium to show it's flow, while watching and listening to the cacophony of the dance and drama of sales scenarios all around me - art just happens here, like an afterthought, a by-product.
My challenge now, is to find that freedom, tap in to the laissez faire vibe and paint like EVERYONE is watching - because when it's just me, it's somehow empty.
This is a glimpse of the new acrylic skin I've been working on. It may be new, but the colour scheme is old. I have not yet shaken the chill of winter from my palette. Waiting for spring to work it's magic and bring more vibrancy to my creative spirit...which is in great need of a boost.
Sometimes there are pieces in the studio that I ignore, they usually started as examples in a workshop or demo, and end up being the surface I clean my brushes on to before they hit water. I think this was one of those pieces.
I look at it every day, as it hangs above my desk in my home office. It's probably been there for three years now. There are elements that I love in it, although the whole may not be as cohesive as I'd like. The disparate elements of it, the textures, and colour shifts, appear to me as the details that pop out. Those details keep me looking into the piece, which I realize that bit by bit, I am intrigued, if not enchanted.
I have recently become involved with the Kingston Prize, biennial national competition for contemporary portraits of Canadians by Canadian artists.
The mission is to encourage and reward the creation of contemporary portraits by Canadian artists, through a biennial competition for paintings and drawings.
Spread the word about this prestigious competition to any and all Canadian artists. The competition for the 2013 prize is now open for applications.
These are my paint "babies", pieces from Rain Dance, some fused with bands of liquid mirror (most awesome of colours by Tri-Art Acrylics. They are 5 x 7", and mounted on to heavy weight wooden frames. I like them a lot. Many thanks to Jonathan Sugarman for the fab new photos!
Rain Drop I
Rain Drop III
Rain Drop II
A colleague of mine asks for advice on publishing his book and suddenly I am lost in daydreams, and poring over a file I've been actively ignoring for a while.
Can I, should I, dare I try getting another book out?! I have some fun ideas that I revisit every time I get frustrated with how the art is going (or mostly not going). The second book I produced carved huge swaths of stress into the fabric of my life, gave me a wicked grey streak, and made me question my madness on a daily basis. I swore I would never make myself go through that again, and yet....
The feeling of accomplishment and grown-up-ness that comes with completing a project like a book, is unlike anything I've felt since the natural home-birth of my child. Really, really, crazy hard, but something beautiful and fulfilling came from it, and my life is richer from having created it.
Not sure what this means, but I'm re-opening the file and putting it on my desktop. If this becomes a thing, I'll let you know. We will see how strong the pull is, and if I'm strong enough to resist it.
There are times when my art consists of not much more than cooking something interesting with the leftovers in my fridge, or taking photos of paintings I can't seem to finish, and times when all of my creativity is channelled into mom jobs.
This Halloween, like nearly every one before it, was no exception. Halloween prep takes absolute precedence in this house in the weeks before the big night. My daughter, now nearly 13, has placed the spooky night at the apex of her holiday preferences. She is terrified of zombies, but somehow she feels a kinship with those girls with a dark side. I attribute this in part to letting her watch Buffy with me when she was two. The only result of which was how she would declare to all her little friends that vampires are totally not scary, you can just poof them to dust with a sharp stick. In the subsequent years, her fascination with the spooky but cool, dark but funny, has lead to a full on adoration of all things Tim Burton, Neil Gaiman, and the comic book worlds of Lenore, Emily the Strange and more. I dig this about her.
The mainstream vampire movies hold zero appeal to her, the whinny love story with fangs thing so uninteresting, much to my relief. Costumes for that kind of movie are not really that interesting to make anyway. I much prefer the melding of the cute and spook, rather than the bloodshot eyed, palid emaciated look. Looking like a heroin addict is not nearly as appealing a costume as being a kick-ass storybook character with a fuzzy edge. This year the criteria was (from me) to recycle last year's costume, and (from her) to look cool but tough. I wonder what we'll be fabricating next year? In the meantime, I seriously need to shop-vac my studio to get rid of every last bit of fluff from that infernal fun fur, or it's going to end up in every paintings!
Receiving an impersonal rejection of any kind is disappointing. Trying to squeeze back into the world with my artwork, I have been bracing myself for this eventuality, So rather than feeling utterly dejected, I am digging into the archives for a little inspiration.I dug a little deeper than planned, and found a toothy smile that has lifted me up and reminded me of the joy of drawing.
A girl with nice hat loosing her teeth
- March 1970 (I was 3 1/2 yrs. old)
It's a process, this art making thing. One part of production is what I like to call "bringing it back from the ugly". That ugly phase is a real buzz kill, let me tell ya. Sure, there may be those small areas that tickle the YES response, but throughout the process of producing a painting there is more often than not the truly hellish time when no matter what you do, it just gets uglier and uglier. This is the point when one should walk away, leave it for a couple of weeks and then take a renewed look with fresh eyes, and hopefully fresh ideas and instincts. It is not easy to move past this discouraging bump in the road, but once you do, it can be quite exhilarating. I'm playing a waiting game with this particular painting. It has been back and forth from the ugly a few times, and now is in some serious paint purgatory. I may have to put it away for another couple of weeks...and if it keeps eluding me, there is always black gesso!
At a studio tour in a barn, the environs teeming with livestock, it's not a surprise that the donkey, the pig and the cats received as much if not more attention than the art.
The tour was, however, a great and very fun thing to be a part of. Work was sold, comments (good and great) were made, and the event was enjoyed by so many on every level. From the hot cider on up to the acrylic skins.
The intimate barn setting was so relaxed that it was impossible not to be cheerful and feel good.For more pictures of the event, please visit my Art Works page on Facebook.