Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Trying too Hard

I think it is impossible for me to paint a painting about the love I have for my sons. It is a selfless love, and so there is less of me, a sacrifice of sorts, of my self for them.  But I can't paint it. Here I tried:
Took out the "Madre" banner, and think it works better this way

 I am so pleased with how much they love each other and the true bond they share.

I want to take a chain saw to this piece but have decided to hide it away for a while and come back to it later. It's good to get a little distance. it is so unlike me to work so long and hard on one piece! I'm a "daily painter", for goodness sakes!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Should the work speak for itself?

Writing artist statements is the bane of any artist's existence. I always wish they would make a novelist get up on stage and paint a picture to tell us what his book was about. Do we really have to come up with the words and craft a piece of literature to explain what can be seen with the eyes? Truthfully, I do not always know what I am painting. The work takes a life on it's own as I move through the process, and lately I collage elements in, and rip them right out, each for a differing effect. I think it takes about 3 years for me to digest, to get some hindsight, and to understand what I was painting.  So I was pretty psyched to hear what 10 of my peers at the Field last Saturday would say about my new triptych, which is actually half of the 6 pieces I envision working together. They looked at the work for 5 minutes, taking notes, and in silence. I could not say a thing.

And then... this is what they saw and felt: "illness and impending death, violent decomposition, rebirth." Some wondered about "heart surgery," and "the role of bees in nature and medicine in our bodies". They felt the symbolism to be strong- "maybe too strong and the three images together were confusing". It "makes the viewer work too hard for meaning". There was some positive feedback- the "disintegrating" lace was "a soft touch, a bit sad, but tender, like a fading memory". The middle section could be about "positive nourishment and care". The running title of choice was "Life Support", and they liked the hearts as flowers and the mother as a very strong presence. Last question was, "Was the bird in the center pulling apart the heart or stitching it back together? "

They did not pick up at all about what my statement might have said about the feminine stitching literally tied to the masculine necktie fragments around the frames! I thought that was an important social sexual comment... and the color embroidery touches! Doesn't it kick up the color? Is black always so full of gloom?  I like working with black, because like Picasso, it outlines and frames and tells a clearer story.   But I am still not sure of the story. Should the pictures speak for themselves or should I try to clarify the impetus for the fragments? Does the work look fragmented? I was hoping for more of a melody...

Doing the third panel I was struck by humor and the thought of how my parents generation is much more wild and addictive than me or my siblings ever were. We sometimes worry about them doing too much self-medicating. Its been a conversation lately and I laugh at it.

The second panel was called "violent"...and I wonder if that is just because of the surgical scissors or the graphic angles of the nest area? and the first panel was called colorless... I hadn't looked at it that way, but now I see... a bit of diagnostic insight I guess.

Friday, September 25, 2015

For the field work tomorrow

My newest tryptich...
Each of the embroidered felt paintings is stitched to men's neckties, and stretched on a canvas.
11 x 14 inches each.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Look what my kids can do with torn paper!

Every one of these is a masterpiece. I love this project! I love it when the kid's projects turn out so well and they take pride in their work. One student told me she has started another one at home!

And these are just 8 first finished out of the 25 all together!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

SOLD for a song

(and a little more) My songbirds floating by the chair painted on a map. On view through mid October at the Akin Natural History Museum and Library in Pawling, NY

Thank you Amy and Chris!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Australian Spiritual Masterpieces at Perez

Today I got a chance to see the new exhibition called No Boundaries: Aboriginal Australian Contemporary Abstract Paintings. It opened this week at the Perez Museum in Miami, and it will be up through January 3rd. The work is divine, inspired, and hallucinating inducing. An afternoon panel discussion promised to be helpful in providing a context for the work... they showed lovely portraits of the artists, descriptions of their studio support system, and images the dramatic landscape. Three of the nine artists, one aged about 94, were in the audience.

Either I was too tired or too stupid, but the curators questions were so full of artspeak double talk that I could not understand what was being asked. From the looks on the faces of some of the panelists, they didn't get it either. So I didn't stay for the Q&A and slipped out to review the work in the gallery.
Most of the paintings are painted flat on the ground. Only a few were displayed like that. The orientation as the works are hung on the walls of museums and collectors houses is arbitrary. I found myself twisting my head around to see them from different sides... imagining the artist's progress in the creation of them. The patterns are informed by the artists desire to map their history and culture, as well as their landscape and, a topic mostly used by women, mapping their source of food. They use dreams and the idea of travel and Time in their art. The art communities have gotten so popular that the artists have been commissioned to design cell phone covers. That example and the fact that the show will travel to many other cities after Miami, is a sign of the increasing global attraction aboriginal art is engendering today.
 I love the Perez Museums commitment to showing contemporary art from places outside the western mainstream. This work is a powerful addition for our visual understanding of another way to make sense of our surroundings.
I thought of a fun lesson plan for the students in my class to map out their daily travels to and from school... use bright colors and borders and dots. Turn the work to switch orientations as they design it. Stay non-representational and abstract and see what happens...

If I owned one, I would display it on the floor and make everyone walk around it.

The labor intensive dots and patterns really played havoc with my phone camera lens... and I just wondered, if I let go of my left brain need to label and categorize, and let my senses free, how disorienting an experience the paintings would have on my eye's rods and cones. In an altering state of reception, how hallucinating the work could seem! It definitely has the potential to remove the familiar and put us in an extra-ordinary state. Wonderful exhibition.
Don't miss the chance to see this on your own.