Working towards an exhibition coming up in a couple weeks and it always seems to be the case that the momentum builds as the date draws near. Unlike training for a marathon there is no reason to "taper" my activity, except of course the oil paintings will be wet! So the tunneled-vision-frenzy of wanting to work through ideas just builds.... The house falls apart around me, meals are forgotten, it's a mess and after I catch my breath all will return to normal.
Painting is a messy business, physically and mentally, not to mention the coagulating paint medium, hot cotton gloves inside hotter vinyl ones, punctured oozing paint tubes, solvents... and then the brushes... Yep, a lot of time spent wrestling the physical world when you paint, and not to complain 'cause it's nice work when you can get to it, it's just surprisingly draining. The set-up and clean-up and the struggle in between to make something you like. .... Playing with colour and ideas seem to make it all worth the effort, it can be satisfying and there are no guarantees.
This is a piece based on a painting I did called "Helix", and it twists the original notion I had in another direction and works as a variant. Painted purposefully ambiguous while thinking about ; matter, stars, lovers, flux, spirals, flowers, molecules racing around, turning.... Like language I find myself often painting in signs and metaphors.
There have been some big decisions and choices that have been occupying me, I took that as a theme for this self portrait. Blue is such an infinite colour for me, like the sky , the colour of depth, and so many possibilities. So an introspective portrait searching inside for answers. I haven't been doing much work in oil paint lately so I enjoyed working with the the resistance and viscosity of the oil paint in this piece. "Consider" approx 3x4ft, oil paint.
A new piece almost completed on the idea of renewal.
Now the work begins... I have done started in on a commissioned piece while still finding my materials and figuring out where to put everything to try to organize this iteration of the studio more effectively. The space is naturally larger and light is very good l, a beautiful place to work. Now to find that old 'habit of art', always thinking about it, but now to get into the habit of carrying out the ideas, and not just carrying them around.
How has the new space changed things so far?
I can actually extend my easel so I can stand as I work, the daylight spectrum helps with colour mixing, practical, concrete things. Psychologically the commitment is heavier, this space represents an endorsement of value and a serious challenge to meet. Time is the last element and that will be more available soon as well.
So I have had this space to work in that has been problematic... 2 small rooms , one quite dark the other lots of windows but cold and drafty in the winter, steamy with windows that didn't work that well for the summer, low ceiling so, difficult to have an easel. Stan and I decided to renovate the space... so the studio, very specifically is getting pushed out in every direction a bit, loosing the dividing brick wall, getting insulation, very exciting.
For the month of June, 2014, I have an art work hanging in 'The Howard Park Institute ', window gallery, 2088 Dundas Street West, Toronto. As I was working on this I took pictures along the way to put up on the blog. I hope you find it interesting...
"speaking of love"
I've left the title ambiguous to add speculations to the narrative, as I often do, this is a painting about making the unseen visible, an intimate conversation… warm thoughts of love and springtime after such a chilly solid winter in Toronto….
This piece is about a kind of "sensual thaw", exploring and discovering through words and gestures. A secret shared space
Now I am happy with the commissioned piece "Tabletalk" so from my perspective it is done, time to install it over at Kathryn & Daryl's place!
I always bring along some touch-up paint in case anything has been damaged in transit a few tools and some hanging mechanisms just in case . We held the piece up against the wall leaving space for it to "breathe" , looking at the negative areas around the piece and trying to get the best height considering lamps, people who will be sitting at the table, angles from another room etc.. As we were deliberating the topic of lighting came up, that amazing creator of mood and revealer of information. We discussed how to squeeze a fuller spectrum out of colours , draw focus and create mood. After living with the work in my studio context it is always interesting to see how it changes when placed in someone else's living space.
I signed the piece while it was on the wall.
Not too pleased with this photo, though I like how it works in the flesh...the colours here seem too far from the original.. too ocher, but you get the idea…a place of honour in a beautiful room.
Here are a few quick portraits, funny 'time and materials' at hand seem to have some of the biggest effects on the way these images end up… Maybe that is always the case?
A face as a jumping off point, something to "riff" off.
Working on a cut-out wooden piece…. as yet unfinished...and thinking there would be many ways to record a conversation...photographically, digitally, maybe using graphs to record frequency of word use or volume…all verifiable, imperical sorts of evidence.
In this cut-out I am using the idea of recording my experience of a conversation in painted form.
Decided to do a self portrait a day to practice translating what I see, often, the way a writer would practice choosing words. These self-portraits below are from a series about 8 yrs ago. I was going into the studio and just getting down to it as a warm-up before working on the ongoing projects for the day. I remember with these last ones I had such fun experimenting with media and approaches. In some I thought of the face as a landscape, others shapes on an axis, and others more classically as features and an expression none to offend with unflattering details and emphasis.
Photographing work can be ... challenging, here I have the 'perfect' set-up , overcast, yet dry (for the best saturation and colour spectrum in diffuse daylight conditions) . I have chosen white as my website background colour so I painted 2 white boards to take the pictures against, this is important to me since I have tinted cast shadows produced by the work. Luckily is was not too cold today or windy both can make things more difficult, nice! I have the stepladder set-up so I can try to get a picture that is not distorted by having an angle on things... I take a few shots and try to get a good resolution for the web, although I am not in possession of everything anymore so at times I have to take what I can get...
All this is trickier if said art work is still wet, try to take a pristine shot of a wet bunch of oil painted modules... you end up wearing it for most of the day...but sometimes to hit deadlines for images it is what happens...
I've discovered that the process of making art is a very individual one. All the intention & happy accidents accepted or rejected create a unique vision and the basis of those decisions unique. The openness to accept that backing into ideas can at times be as effective as running towards them, keeping things engaging the process alive. This playground invites sideways, off beat influences & connections, to mingle and fall apart, knowing the act of expression, in my case making a piece, will add another layer of tactile sensual variables.
Levity, one of many lenses to look through & start this process.
It is challenging to step around the studio as I work on several oil pieces drying in various stages of completion… we have been discussing adding space to the studio, taking out that middle wall and going out a few more feet….That would be wonderful!!!
After having lost my former domain name and the website that I had designed for my work was dismantled and taken over... I just didn't want to start the process over again, right away. It had taken so long to collect all the materials, scan, crop and translate everything to set the site up also lost all the information on our hard drive so it would be another time commitment and I didn't want to get into that intense project again after everything was lost so easily...
Finally, I'm ready to put what I have collected so far for this eclectic electronic portfolio and a ready venue for new work....
and so it begins.