Thursday, July 28, 2016

Down the Rabbit Hole

If I'm lucky, there comes a time during every show production session that I become completely absorbed in the work to the exclusion of all else: other art projects, laundry, meals, Netflix, errands, sunshine, blogging. Until about two weeks ago, I was beginning to wonder if I was going to find that sweet spot in creating work for Figmenta, my solo show in October. I told myself that I was still recovering from an especially difficult teaching year, that it was just taking time to rebuild my energy and focus. I told myself that an ongoing battle with severe tendonitis and increasing tremor were slowing me down but that I was still making progress, albeit at a snail's pace.

And then, finally, I fell down the rabbit hole. However, the hole didn't appear where I expected it to and I am doing some serious pondering about what it all means.

I had been casually preparing a bunch of small canvases after completing two large pieces but after the first couple of layers, my interest stalled. I'd look at my stack of blank canvas and feel like I had to drag myself across the room by my elbows to them. So, in the spirit of moving onward, I turned my attention to my sculpture/assemblage project based on an idea I jotted down in 2012. It's an idea that's been patiently brewing in my brain pan for the last four years but simultaneously going nowhere. Since Figmenta is all about honoring my artistic whims, I had finally decided to bring this idea out of the show workbook and into reality.

I worked on the individual parts assembly line-style so it took a few weeks for everything to arrive at the same point. The heads were sculpted, dry, painted, and varnished. The edges of the wood blocks were covered in tissue paper and then the fronts & backs were covered with paper as well. Holes were drilled and screw eyes attached, four at a time. I could begin assembly.

And that's when the rabbit hole opened beneath me. Most of the last two weeks, I've spent upwards of ten hours each day playing mad scientist. Metal and wood bits cover nearly every inch of my studio table with the exception of Marley in his box and the tool jars that take up most of the righthand corner of the table. Somewhere in that pile of embellishments there are pliers, glue, wire cutters, a small hand drill, scissors, and a cutting blade that I hope I remembered to cap. There are itty bitty screws, brads, eyelets, random coils of wire, game pieces, and gears galore. As my actual workspace shrinks, my joy expands. Whenever I create something particularly amusing, I actually cackle aloud: "Heh, heh, heh." Time begins to slip slide away.

At first, I was just assembling the two parts I had completed: heads and bodies. But as I worked, characters and their stories began to emerge. I have moved into the deeper levels of the rabbit hole and as I continue to fall, I am starting to evaluate where I might land. Initially, I thought these "Cyborg Relations" would just be scattered in amongst my paintings, oddities for distraction and amusement. Now though, I am wondering if perhaps these might become the main attraction. Other than my very first show in May 2002 and a small show of the robot army in February 2014, I've always shown paintings. Both shows of my 3-D work were in tiny venues. Do I dare try to base a large solo show on my assemblage work? Hmmm...the wheels are turning frantically in my head.

My new friends await their arms and legs. I have two heads to redo since I discovered I am not in love with them. Other ideas are starting to surface. I am making copious notes and sketches. Unless I am seized with new enthusiasm for painting, it is very possible that Figmenta is going to turn in an unexpected direction. I'm not closing any doors yet; it's too early to make any drastic, final decisions. For now I'm just going to enjoy the descent into all-consuming fun.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Emerging

I will never tire of the sculpting process and this is my favorite part. As I work the clay, the characters I envision begin as ghosts; since I do no sketches prior to smoothing the clay onto the armature, I have no concrete idea what the final piece will look like once paint is applied. I have to believe that my subconscious will guide my fingers towards a character that "works" in the end. As I add the shading and details, the sculpt comes alive and if I've trusted the process, the resulting character feels like it existed fully visualized all along. It is as close to magic as I can get in my studio.

I think at this point I can reveal that this series is called "Cyborg Relations" and that it's destined to be part of Figmenta; however, I'll leave it at that until all the heads are painted and I'm ready to start bringing the parts together into the final forms. I do hope the process will start moving along at a faster clip once the heads are complete since that is the most time-consuming part of this project. I feel like my distraction-free studio time is slipping through my fingers and that I don't have much done. I need to keep focusing on each individual work day and not get mired in the gradually-rising anxiety within as summer winds down and show premiere date looms with the onset of fall. 

Thank you to all for joining me on this journey and for your enthusiastic and encouraging comments. Creating a large body of work for a show can be a lonely, exhausting endeavor and it has been nice to have a cheering section as I try to bring Figmenta to fruition. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Figmenta Rises Bit by Bit

I'm a bit behind here at Lost Coast Post because work on the show has complete command of my attention right now. If you were to wander through my studio, it would probably seem as if I'm not making much progress: there are unfinished projects all over the place. Currently, nine small canvases are drying in my tiny kitchen so that I can move on to the next stage with them. I try to end each day with a painting session after the dishes are done so that everything can be dry and ready to go in the morning. However, dinner might have to be take-out tonight so that I don't have to disturb my work.

In between painting sessions, I am working on an assemblage series. In my previous post, I showed you some plain wood blocks. All those blocks are now covered in paper: fronts, backs, and sides. I won't be touching them again until I get into the final assembly stage but I am eager to see how these work together with the heads I'm creating in clay.

Yesterday I completed the last 5 (out of 13!) sculpted heads and in about a week, they should be completely dry. Meanwhile, I'll start painting & embellishing the ones that are already dry, a fun but lengthy step-by-step process. I'm excited though because as I complete the heads, this project will really start to crystallize and come alive. This idea has been a long time in coming (my first sketch for this series dates back to 2012) and it is a more than a little thrilling to see that random note becoming reality. My show title, Figmenta, is becoming more appropriate by the day, as I transform scattered figments of my imagination from barely-articulated whims into real life objects. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that in the next few weeks, I'll have a lot more completed pieces so my usual panic about not having enough to hang will diminish. For now, I just need to keep working away on all the individual parts and trust that things will start to come together.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Teaser


Hmmm...I wonder what these things will become? Some blocks of wood...



A fantastic collection of metal, plastic, and wood bits & bobs (what's in this picture times five)...



Sculpted heads waiting for paint...


'Tis a mystery to be revealed on a future date. The wild ride that is Figmenta rolls onward...

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Research Question

Need to do a little research for my show...if you have a moment (and are willing to engage your imagination,) please answer the following question in the comments:

Based on what you have observed, when animals wear hats, how do they usually wear them? (I understand the type of animal, length of ears, and hat style creates a lot of variables but generally, when considering some common creatures - cat, dog, raccoon, fox, rabbit, bird, etc - what do you think is the most typical practice:

A) Hats are known for being uncomfortable. The hat is pushed down onto the head with ears poking out (if long enough) beneath the brim.

B) The ears are stuffed up into the hat so as to keep them warm and dry. This is the point of a hat, silly.

C) Animals have special milliners who craft ear holes in their hats; because of this accommodation, ears remain proudly on display whilst wearing hats.

D) Proper hat-wearing etiquette demands that the hat be set at a jaunty angle, covering one ear and perhaps concealing the other.

E) Hats are sort of a nuisance when one has ears on top of one's head; any hat worn by an animal must perch carefully atop the head, in between the ears.

F) What a ridiculous question! Animals don't wear hats!

If you have observed any hat-wearing options in the field other than what I have listed above, do tell. Thank you for your participation!

EDIT: Yes; I know "real" animals don't wear hats. However, I live a lot in my imagination and a world of story. In case you hadn't noticed, dreaming up fantastical characters, realms, and possibilities fuels my art and life. I thrive on silliness. To answer this question, you'll have to suspend disbelief, logic, reason, and reality. And then, go read Wind in the Willows...

A Parliament of Hooligans

as yet untitled; 12x36-inches gallery deep canvas; acrylics & vintage paper
Work on my show, Figmenta, is progressing very slowly but steadily. This is the painting I completed last week, the beginning of a series I'm calling "Woodland Hoodlums." This piece in particular is going to be titled either "The Hooligan Gang" or "Members of Parliament." (A group of owls is called a "parliament.") Figmenta will be different this year in that instead of consisting of a single, cohesive set of paintings, the show will be comprised of several series, each with its own look and technical style. I'm a bit worried that the final pieces will all look a bit disjointed when hung together but 1) it is too early to worry about that, 2) right now I just need to do the work, 3) my old way of doing things was boring me, and 4) I am giving in to my every whim, every figment of an idea that is floating my way. 

Next week, I will start working on some smaller pieces - preparing multiple canvases at once - so hopefully, I will move more of my canvas stash from the "blank" pile to the "done" pile. This photo captures the stack of small canvases waiting-in-the-wings; I have some large ones as well but I'd like to get these small pieces done first before I turn my attention to something really big and complex. We'll see how far I get in the next few weeks...

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Figmenta Begins...Sort Of...

Every show I do has a "lead" painting, a piece that is hung front and center in the show along with the show sign. Usually the lead painting is the first canvas I create at the beginning of show production, the piece that I love best, the piece that best represents the theme and spirit of the show, and the canvas that inspires & informs a bunch of follow-up work. Approximately two weeks ago, I completed the first piece destined for the Figmenta show in October based on the sketch you see here. As a part of show prep, I've been doodling painting ideas for several weeks and this was the piece I decided to begin with when the school year ended. Sometimes I create more detailed sketches of individual parts of a painting but often, I work off of these very vague blueprints so a certain amount of serendipity remains while I'm working.


Contrary to my personal traditions, this will not be the lead painting for Figmenta. This painting has been "under review" for a while now and I'm still unsure whether or not I even like this canvas. Since I completed this piece, my idea for the show has shifted and this canvas doesn't really "fit" now. Currently, I don't really have any desire to turn this into a series. These things happen. I like to have the theme/technique completely ironed out before I start painting but sometimes, new ideas start to flow once I'm engaged in the process. Figmenta is also very different from previous shows so I'm venturing into unknown territory; backtracking and unexpected route changes are inevitable. That said, I hate to waste canvas and I don't dislike this piece so much that I want to paint over it. In time, I may even fall in love with this big blue kitty. For now, I am going to pursue my other ideas and hope to come back to this one. As long as I can create a couple of other pieces that echo this, it will probably end up on the wall.

At this time, this canvas is untitled; I like to name everything right before the show when I am creating the labels and price list. It is painted with acrylics on a 15x30-inch stretched canvas with a 1-1/2-inch deep cradle.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Show Rituals & Routines: Part 2

The following is a description of how I develop and work on a show. It is rather lengthy and contains several pop-out links to old posts/artwork so grab a cup of your favorite beverage and read onward if so desired.
A reader asked at one point if I sketch out ideas before painting or if I just "wing it." It depends on the show. Some shows have required endless hours of research and preparatory sketches; several years ago I did a series of works based on historical Chinese cut paper patterns for embroidery. I spent a lot of time looking at copyright-free images and developing new designs and compositions. Ultimately, I think I worked in that style for a couple of years. Sometimes, I just fly by the seat-of-my-pants as was the case with my Facades, Soul Terrain, and Ornithological Oddities series. This year's show, Figmenta, is somewhere in between intense prep and blindly stumbling forward. I've made some quickie layouts for paintings and then more carefully "pre-sketched" the individual elements. I used to battle this crazy superstition that I couldn't draw something the same way twice so I was scared to draw anything in too much detail for fear I'd never be able to reproduce the image on canvas. For the most part, I've moved past that fear, due in no small part, to a dedicated daily drawing practice. For all shows, I keep many large "processing" sketchbooks where I gather my notes, doodles, questions, layouts, visual inspiration & reference, show materials (price lists, artist statements, advertising) and even encouraging emails from friends and purchasers.

Figmenta is shaping up to be a very interesting show on many levels. Typically, when I put together a show, each piece follows a specific pattern of techniques so all the pieces have a cohesive look. However, with the Sparks of Madness show (which followed two years of a show entitled The Motley Menagerie,) that idea of cohesiveness started to breakdown as I discovered that sticking to one "look" was getting boring. I felt like I was chomping at the bit to push beyond the boundaries of my artistic box. As a result, that show had two distinct looks within one show: the very colorful creature paintings as well as the more monochromatic collage/mixed media pieces.


This year, Figmenta may have many series-within-the-series as I have given myself permission to play and bounce from idea to idea. Some of those ideas come from those show sketchbooks and it is gratifying to see rough, unrealized concepts from years past finally become reality.


Once I finish painting a piece, it moves into "review" status which simply means I prop it up on the bookcase that sits in front of the couch/next to the TV so I can see it from a distance whenever I am relaxing. Time and space allows me to see anything that needs to be fixed or added. Some paintings are immediately satisfying but others spend weeks under review as I try to parse out what small element needs adjustment before I can truly call the piece complete. It is important to note that if something is bugging me about a painting, I don't pay direct attention to the piece, struggling to find the error and fix it. This only leads to disaster. I've learned to let my subconscious chew on the problem while I move forward. Eventually, I have the necessary "AHA!" moment and know instantly what needs to be done. Sometimes, canvases will go into review status before they are complete and the reason is the same as for finished works: to problem solve without doing so directly.

Well, this is getting long so I think I break off here for now and return to this topic in my next post in which I present the first major piece completed for Figmenta. (Hint: You can sneak a peek at that canvas in the above photo.) If you have any questions, please ask in the comments and I'll do my best to answer.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Show Rituals & Routines: Part 1

Since no one raised any objections to all my chit-chat about show preparation, I'll just stay the course and continue onward with part one of a two-part post on the rituals I follow for each show. Today it's a brief overview of how I work each day.

Before I start serious work on pieces for my shows, my studio table gets a fresh covering of butcher paper. The table itself is a vintage schoolhouse table with folding sides that I found years ago at a thrift store (it came complete with bubblegum underneath!) It is a very dark, unappealing brown so I cover it with white paper. Lighting is the biggest downside of my studio space so the white paper helps lighten up the area and it provides me a better surface for judging colors. Butcher paper, even when shiny side up, isn't totally water-resistant so in the area where I actually sit & work, I top the butcher paper with a layer of clear contact paper. This makes that space easy to clean up and helps the butcher paper last longer. Cat-wrangling is necessary in my space as well; my calico girl Tuscany is pretty independent but my beloved Marley Bear likes to stay in my orbit for most of the day. He has a box that sits on a corner of the table so he has a place to snooze while I work. When I need a bit of a pick-me-up, I merely need to lean over and scrunch my hands through all the fabulously soft white fur of his substantial belly.

When I sit down to paint, I always have a specific set of objects at hand: my X-Files coffee cup with coffee, my favorite palettes, and my favorite water bowls. A few years back, I began using old Pyrex dishes and a pretty handmade ceramic bowl as my primary paint water dishes. I'm not entirely sure why I prefer these to plastic tubs or recycled jars but I do. This year, the brushes I use the most are in front of me in a handmade ceramic tumbler I also found at a thrift store. I guess I like the sturdiness and homespun quality of these objects.

I used to have a specific shirt that I painted in...a X-Files shirt I acquired back in the 90s when the show first debuted. I used that until it literally fell apart; I have it tucked away somewhere because I couldn't bear to throw it out. (I might need find it and use it for clean-up rags.) Anyway, now I have decent, (generally) paint-free things I wear to work and "painting shirts" which is to say, everything else. I use a lot of baby wipes to clean up messes on surfaces but when cleaning my hands, I typically just wipe them on whatever I'm wearing. I'm not a big fan of aprons so if company shows up unexpectedly, they get what they get. Most anyone I know that might show up knows I'm an artist and so no one is all that shocked by my paint-smeared appearance when I'm in "studio mode."

When I'm working, I typically have science fiction movies and shows playing in the background. Last summer's work on the "Sparks of Madness" show was completed while listening to the first four seasons of The X-Files. (You might be sensing a trend by now.) Star Trek, Twilight Zone, Aliens, The Fifth Element, the original Star Wars trilogy: those are all good too...anything I've seen a hundred times and don't need to actually watch to know what's going on. In the last couple of weeks, I've been experimenting with old time radio mystery shows as background noise but it is a bit distracting; I get caught up in the story and my focus shifts away from the work in front of me. When my awful neighbors are away (which isn't often enough,) I prefer the quiet, listening and painting to the natural sounds that emanate from the protected wildlife area that borders my apartment complex.

Another important component of my daily rituals is that I clean up my space completely at the end of every day. If I have a specific set of paint colors that I'm working with, I'll set those aside but otherwise, everything gets put cleaned up and put back where it belongs. Paintings dry overnight on the kitchen countertop. I like to start every day fresh and find that if I ended the night frustrated with some element of the painting I'm working on, a clean studio puts me in the right frame of mind for tackling that issue anew. In addition, if I don't clean up my space, the cats will play hockey with my supplies all night long and in the morning, I'll have to look under every piece of furniture in the room to retrieve my belongings.

On Wednesday, I'll post about the various routines I follow while in the midst of show production and what I do as I approach the date of installation. When I get closer to that event, I'll blog a bit about hanging a show and all the things you do to move the work from the studio out into the world. In between, it will be posts about the work I'm completing as well as posts on other random art stuff that takes place this summer.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Word-Sifting for Show Title Gold

I thought it might be interesting for some to see how I arrived at the title/theme for my show this year. Through a process I call "word-sifting," I settled on the title back on May 21 but I immediately tucked that word away in my heart & brain so it could take root, sprout, expand, and blossom in protective privacy. Today's the day though for that title to become public, to become a solid guiding light as my show prep transforms into show production.

Sometimes the title for a show comes easily - "Sparks of Madness" is an example - but often it is elusive. When that happens, when I have to go digging for inspiration. I love vintage dictionaries, thesauruses and texts on language roots; these books are rich with archaic words that are still valid but that have fallen out of use. They also help me play detective, discovering roots and relationships that can point me to just the right word.  I look for a word or phrase that encompasses the scope of the work I plan for the show, a word that is descriptive and intriguing but not restrictive. I take copious notes along the way and the following is an account of my word-sifting path to this year's show title:

MENAGERIE: I began with a word that I've used for the past two or three years (aka "The Motley Menagerie.") I love how this word sounds and the visuals it conjures but it was time to move on...

MUSEUM: For a while, I was stuck on "museum" as an offshoot of "menagerie" but in spite of listing several possible titles - such as "Minerva Magpie's Marvelous Museum of Monsters" - I finally decided that "museum" wasn't quite right for this year.

CARNIVAL: The next word that rose to the surface of my word-sifting...stalled here for a while as well but I decided to set this aside for a different collection of work.

SIDESHOW: Looking here at synonyms for "carnival" which led to...

CABINET OF CURIOSITIES: Research on this led to...

EMPORIUM: At this point, I began to think that perhaps I was looking for a descriptive word rather than a specific noun so I thought about how I could describe an "emporium." There were many options but the next word temporarily floated to the surface...

FANCY: Which led to...

FLIGHTS OF FANCY: This phrase led to the direct synonym...

WHIMS: Looked up variations of this...

WHIMSICAL: Looked at the definition here which led to...

IMAGINATION: Expanded this word into a common phrase...

FIGMENTS OF IMAGINATION: I was a bit adrift and frustrated by now so I started looking at word origins and broke this phrase apart...

FIGMENT: I realized I really liked the sound of this word so I dug into it a bit more, beginning with the definition - "A mere product of mental invention, a fantastic notion; a feigned, invented or imagined story." Oooooh...there's my "word of the year" - story. I think I'm on the right track so I keep sifting.

FIGMENTUM: This is the Latin root of "figment" related to the verb "fingere" which means "to form, contrive, shape." At this point, I knew the nugget of word inspiration I was looking for had risen to the surface but since my show contains multiple works and "figmentum" is singular, I transformed this word into its proper plural form in Latin...

So hello there to my 2016 show title! I love the familiar but fresh sound of this title and I like how it is general enough to serve as an umbrella for many different types of work but also specific enough to tie all those pieces together.

Note: I hope, dear readers, that you are not growing weary of this kind of post; this work is my primary focus for the balance of the summer. I'll try to remember to toss in posts unrelated to my show work but on balance, expect this thread to continue practically unabated as most other projects give way to my painting fever.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Flight Delay

Have you ever been on a long road trip (especially as the driver) and once you reached your destination and tried to relax, you felt as if you were still moving? That's where I'm at right now. The school year officially ended for me last Wednesday but I've been having difficulty settling down. I thought I would just explode into a painting frenzy the minute work was over but instead, I've been wandering to and fro, casually cleaning, doodling, binge-watching TV, cuddling the cats, reading, cooking...pretty much everything BUT intense art-making. I am working in the studio each day and I even started a canvas but my heart isn't quite up for it yet. In addition, I'm dealing with a flare-up of tendonitis in my left wrist/arm (which certainly isn't helped by the PD tremor there.) I have to be irritatingly careful with what I ask my body to do and I know it'll come to no good end if I push through thoughtlessly and try to do more than I am able. So I'm allowing myself a bit of wind down time before I wind up again and get serious about painting.

In a way, this wee flying piggie represents my current state. His wings are at the ready but he's hasn't quite left the ground yet. He's also a bit confused about where he's going as his artist creator was more than a little vague about his destination...sty in the sky?? I have no idea what I was thinking with that "house on a cloud" motif; I just felt compelled to put it there. It doesn't have a religious connotation...I know that much...but other than what it isn't, I don't know much else. Perhaps Piggie will tell me once he finally decided to take flight...

Friday, June 17, 2016

Looking Backward & Inward to Move Onward

About a week ago, I created this small painting as part of my show preparation process: I practice theme and technique ideas small-scale before I commit to multiple and/or larger works. This project was actually the thing that launched me "backwards" to the Index-Card-a-Day challenge and in turn, it may be these ICAD experiments that propel my show work forward. Let me explain...

If you are constantly striving to reference and reinvent your own work (as opposed to always relying on outside inspiration,) you always have unique ideas at hand. Those ideas quietly inhabit your brain, shifting in and out of your direct attention. You spend some time exploring and then the idea goes into hibernation, waiting for the right time to reemerge. Each time you drag that idea back out into the world (consciously or unconsciously,) it has evolved a little bit. Coincidentally, this is how your own "style" develops as well.

I've been playing around with yearbook photos as a starting point for character creation on and off since 2013. Last week, that idea unexpectedly showed up again, this time on canvas and with a twist. I was intrigued so I looked back at some of the ways I've approached this technique in the past. I keep many, many detailed notes and sketches of my "brainstorms" so research was just a matter of pulling the right notebook off the shelf. I decided to practice drawing yearbook portraits again, this time in a medium I had not tried before. Inspired by this timely post by Danny Gregory, I also started looking at vintage mugshots as well. Once I'd done a few "normal" portraits as warm-up, I felt brave enough to play more with the idea that had popped up on that little canvas.

The result is this quartet of "monster" portraits. While I kind of love this idea, I'm still not sure about committing these to canvas and including them in the October show. Thematically, they would definitely be relevant to an art show concurrent with Halloween/Day of the Dead. Commercially, the market for such oddball works might be very small. I just need to settle that age old artist dilemma for myself: paint what I love or paint what sells. In a perfect world, those two options are one and the same. Thrilled and terrified by the possibilities, I showed my little painting to a couple of local artists. One is an impressionist/abstract expressionist and the other is best described as an "outsider" artist who draws, paints, and sculpts all sorts of strange and whimsical beasties. Both artists, despite their diverse viewpoints, told me to "f*ing go for it!" Last year, I experienced an incredible amount of anxiety about putting my monster paintings out into public, but the reception was overwhelmingly welcoming. This might be another occasion where I need to just make what I want to make. Trying to predict what will be popular with the public is a waste of time and if there is one thing I don't have enough of, it is time. In addition, I have found that the more I pursue what excites me - without thought to what other people want - the more authentic my work becomes and interestingly, the better it sells. I think it is just a matter of reminding myself of what I already know so I can do the work in spite of my nerves.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

ICAD 2016: Revisiting a Favorite Technique

Given how hectic my teaching year has been, I told myself that I should ease up a bit during summer vacation: Nope, no Index-Card-a-Day for me this year. Since I have a ton of painting to do in the next two months, I told myself that I couldn't possibly squeeze in one more project. No way I could do ICAD 2016. Logistically impractical. Emotionally impossible....nope, no way, no how could I even consider joining in...

Well, I lasted all of 12 days before I decided to jump into the annual creativity fun fest that is ICAD, the brainchild of the irrepressible Tammy of Daisy Yellow. I did, however, make a few allowances for myself: I probably won't make all 61 cards and that's totally OK. I'm not the least bit concerned with "catching up." Some days, I might make five cards and then again, I may go five days without making a single card. I may not post about all the cards I make and that's OK too.  I'm just going to dip my toes into the challenge whenever I feel the water's fine and when it's too chilly or I'm too busy for a swim, I'm going to let it go.

All that said, I have very specific plans for how to approach ICAD 2016. My cards this year are completely conjoined with my preparations for my October show (two birds with one stone and all that.) I'm not entirely sure yet where my show is going visually and thematically but I do have one wee wild idea to explore and experiments are needed. Enter my first set of index cards for this year. I'm working on some ancient (and consequently extremely sturdy) index card dividers that I found at my local recycling center. I brush on some grey acrylic paint and then, using vintage, black & white yearbook photos as reference, I draw characters with permanent black pen and color the portraits with pencil. 

I've worked with yearbook photos many times and it still tickles my fancy. During ICAD 2013, I used gouache in monochromatic tones to create the portraits. In the summer of 2014, while convalescing from foot surgery, I created "Postal People" with yearbook photos as reference. In the fall of 2015, I began a portrait series in watercolor in which I improvise the colorization once I get the basic shapes drawn.

Sometimes the portrait is highly flawed: a square chin becomes enormous, a cute nose blossoms into an unrecognizable monstrosity, a forehead becomes desperately unflattering, wide open eyes suddenly squint. I often make myself laugh at my efforts, sometimes in joy and sometimes in despair. I keep moving forward though, always working in pen without any pre-drawing. This is how I learn to ignore the shrill panic of my inner critic. And most importantly, one of the ways I create, develop, and refine my "style" is by constantly returning to and reinventing old ideas. This week's set of index cards is just the next step in my progression. Like an Escher drawing that chases its own graphite imagery, I will keep twisting, folding, and bending this idea into new forms and formats. More is coming...

Monday, June 13, 2016

Summertime Crystal Ball

Ah, summer break! There's a couple days left in the 2015-2016 school year but they are filled with a beach field trip, barbecue, "Olympic" games, and graduations. The bulging "Lost & Found" will be hung outside to encourage reclamation of wayward clothing. The kitchen is being scrubbed until it shines. The school bunny will find a summer home. Someone will be assigned to care for the chickens and gardens while school is out. All displays and bulletin boards will be cleared and an avalanche of papers will be sent to parents. I'll do an intense organization and clean up of my office so it will be ready for me to return in August. 

As I look ahead to late June, July, and early August, I see a lot of painting in my future. I see lots of journal play and creature doodling. I'll do plenty of art play with purpose: summer is when I develop new lessons for the fall slate of classes. I also spy a bounty of jewelry projects that have been waiting for some quality down time to come to fruition. (I craft almost all my own jewelry and every summer I make a bunch of pieces to wear in the new school year. Pictured here are just a few of the things I made last summer.)

I also see a fresh, rainbow-soaked fabric project in my future. I recently made a very simple banner for my balcony garden and I thoroughly enjoyed using my sewing machine again. So, in a burst of enthusiasm, I reacquainted myself with the quilting books in my library and then sorted through my rather embarrassing fabric stash. I got all those fat quarters organized by color - lightest to darkest - and the entire pile is waiting patiently to become patchwork.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Egg, Egg, Chick

This is another page in my little "Drifting" journal. I've enjoyed all this leisurely hopping betwixt random sketchbooks and journals that I've been doing in the last couple of months; I used to work in only one or two journals at a time, focusing on those volumes until they were complete, before I would allow myself to move on. Bah! Self-imposed rules! Now I just grab something off the shelf in the morning and get to work. Sometimes I stick with that project for a few days and sometimes I switch gears the very next day. I think I'll probably continue this practice as I begin to focus intensely on producing work for my October show in the next two months.  
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...