I am trying not to beat myself up for feeling completely stagnant. A few weeks ago, when I left for vacation I was at the top of my game, spiritually, physically, emotionally and within my art practice. After a great family trip, I have recently come down with something that has landed me, physically and metaphorically, with a debilitating headache that is all encompassing. While I out-wait the symptoms and doctors poking and prodding I am trying to not allow myself to feel down on myself or count myself “out.” I still have so many things I’d like to accomplish and and excited to get back to work in that art practice! For now, while I figure out my ailments,
I am going to attempt to sum up the thoughts that have run through my head since leaving my first LUCAD residency, so here it goes!
Finding time in the studio has been easier than I originally thought it might be, getting in about five hours almost every night (sometimes skipping a night) and working during my two youngest nap times each morning. When my oldest is around, shes six, its heartwarming because she wants to draw or paint whatever I am drawing or painting. So cute! SO I set her up with materials to create as well. It is a drag sometimes to have less daylight to work with but I tend to be a night owl, so I truly don’t mind being a work-o-holic in the evenings!
The artwork that I have been working on consists of several short gestural sketches, blind contour studies and regular contour studies of my face, small paintings and charcoal drawings of my facial features, mostly my eyes for now, and two self-portraits using limited palettes and gestural strokes in textured paint. I have almost finished one 6×6″ self portrait painting that I brought to the residency unfinished and feeling really good bout that one (pictured above). Also finished is an eye study in oil that is about 2×1.5″ also using a limited pallet inspired by analogous colors. I also purchased some glass and have begun painting and playing around with textures on them, still figuring out what size I’d like to use for an eventual project.
While my husband helped me wax one night I got the random idea of somehow incorporating that hairy wax into my artwork. If I am painting myself over and over again, why not use actual parts of myself? I started thinking about rituals I use, like most women, to feel or look “prettier” or “acceptable” within society. A painful process that is usually not talked about, or hidden yet done over and over again in order to feel “right.” It also made me think about my older sister repeating the, “Pain is beauty” mantra while she plucked my eyebrows as a pre-teen or did my hair. I mean why was I taught that so young? Where was she taught that at 15? So… I started playing with that hairy wax and thinking about how I could make it into something beautiful and delicate and dainty, where everyone thought it was pretty but when they drew in closer to look at it realized it was waxy, pulled, human hair. I started painting it for see what effects I could come up with and what I liked and didn’t like as far as the paints opacity. I also started melting it to see if I could make some medallions or crystal-like objects- still playing and working with these ideas.
I met with Christopher at a nice coffee shop in Hartford, about halfway for us both. He was kind and welcoming and insightful! We looked at my work and talked about what directions I could go in or options to try- but we didn’t go into too much depth or detail, leaving that for our next meeting. The meeting was encouraging and gave me hope for being a one day successful artist and his insights reminded me to allow life to take its course. Keeping focused on my practice and craft and that eventually the rest kind of falls into place. When we talked about my fears and insecurities he said, “You’re brave enough to breed.” which rang so true to me! If I can do that, I can accomplish a hell of a lot more! After finalizing this small 6×6 self portrait, he’s pushing me to work on a larger scale again and that has me excited to get back into the larger work realm. A list of artists and books he suggested are as follows:
- “Sapiens” by Harrari
- The “Myth of Persephone”
- “Women Who Run With Wolves” by Clarissa Estes
- Sam Messer
- Mel Bochner
- RB Kitaj
- Joseph Cornell
- Carl Jung U
I will be connecting with him this week to set up our next visit, which will be in his studio. I am very excited to check out his work in person and speak at a deeper level about my own.
Since the first residency I have seen two incredible exhibits and also met with Joe Saltore from the New York Studio School. The critique I sat in on at the NYSS I previously wrote about in another blog post and I plan to email him again to see if maybe I can sit in on a few of his painting classes at BARD.
The first exhibit was the Matisse exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. A few of my group members met me here and I took my two girls with me to see this awesome show! It was incredible to see objects from his actual home and studio in person and then how they played into his artwork! My oldest daughter picked up on this very quickly and was very excited about it. We were able to discuss together how everyday objects that surround us are not only already art, but can become infamous just because they were included in a famous artist’s painting. The show was pretty amazing and well curated but most of all, left me thinking that the objects that I choose to include in my backgrounds are not just mundane or feckless. It is actually quite the contrary- maybe I should think more about what I include within my paintings and why. What meaning do they have? How do they add to the overall concept?
I also had the great pleasure of going to the Whitney to see the Calder exhibit which was kind of life changing, so much so that I’ll save that for another Blog post!