Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ireland Drawing 3

Untitled, 8'7" x 5', acrylic (monotype), paraffin and graphite on Fabriano

Wondering if this is two, or maybe even three drawings. I put in the darkness to give the eye a place to rest; from here it makes me think of fog and zombies.

Notes from the journal (see Oct. 17 entry): Sat., Sept. 18 – Quiet here in the studio. It's a luxury to float around, working on this one and that one. Hang three big works at a time and battle my inner demons.
Finished with big tribal piece of last couple days. It will be easy to animate. Different elements move or pulse slightly; very slow with lots of spaces in between. Gong or drum ... sneak in the occasional surprise. Trick of the eye?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ireland Drawing 2

This drawing, 9 feet x 5 feet, was made over 2 days in the studio. I seem to have had a touch of horror vacuii at the time ...

Notes from the journal, Monday Sept. 13: There's nowhere I'd rather be than here in the studio. It's darkly raining and very hard. Three stark white walls surround me.
Been drawing now all morning and see I have come to that place where I "wake up," loosen up and begin to SEE. But not before there are several really tight small areas in my great big drawing. No matter. Where I mean to be hugely gestural, I have come down to the microcosm. Think maybe I should spend my first hours everyday on a throw-away. But then, that might end up being the best one – in my old contrariness.
I drew all day in the hope of discovering something that "works." And I did. Plus lots of things not working so well (opportunities for problem-solving!). I'm intrigued by a couple of simple lined figures, one at the left wearing a deep crown and another at the bottom right, outlined with twisted legs up. Plus that rich flowing dark water at bottom center. Very fluid.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Ireland drawings

I recently spent four weeks in Ireland, working out of a studio at Burren College. I meant to post the work here as I went along, but never could get my camera or its chip to talk to their computers ... so I'll put them up now, one or two at a time, and add noted from my journal.

It was wonderful to be back in County Clare with friends from the village and new students at the school. I worked everyday and loved being away from the responsibilities of home as they tend to interrupt art-making.

I went with the idea of producing a body of large drawings on paper (having, for a change, a large studio) ... which I did. As often happens, however, the universe took me in a somewhat different direction. This drawing was the first one I finished, it measures about 7 feet by 5 feet and was made with my usual graphite, paraffin and crayon on Fabriano.

Here are my journal notes about making it, Friday, Sept. 10: It's Day One of studio work. Walked up from the village and spent the morning sweeping out my space and cutting paper. It's cold press and not taking the graphite well.
So, spent five hours on the first piece – it has a lovely sort of brushed motion to it. It's good, but am having to scrub and that means a lot of dust.
Tomorrow will soldier on – Work changes in an evolutionary way for me. So, what do I want to see happen?
Day Four: Now I am going back into the first drawing with a cloak of mystery. Oppression? No. Suppression? Maybe. Something to hide?
And TA DA!! I did it. It's good. Something hidden. Something revealed. Seeded like I channeled Chagall ... and I hardly know Chagall. With Bauhaus overtones (from five days in Berlin with my friend Bernadette). God, I love Europe.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The meaning in simple things

These are my entries for the Small Works show at Charles Taylor Center in Hampton VA. I need to deliver them today and want to give a video artist statement to help the viewer figure out what I think I'm doin.'

So, spent some time this week knitting long blades of grass from my garden into tiny fragrant, fragile prayer rugs. Buddha would like them I think. I'm sure I'm not the first artist to do this, but it felt right and helped me to reconnect with my home, land, garden, air, earth. (I've been away in Ireland for a while, another story to begin in tomorrow's blog entry).

Why knit grass? you might well ask. Your grandmother could do it? But wouldn't?

I wanted to do something small and meaningful:
  • Natural materials are simple, plentiful, not toxic and generally free.
  • Utilizing women's "work" in art-making – knitting, for instance – feels comfortable, and reminds me of the importance of the domestic arts in everyday life.
  • Knitting in itself is a repetitive activity and can be very meditative. To do something over and over again – like this simple stitch – is ritual-like, and brings on a serenity I don't often find elsewhere.
  • The use of a live material that will wither and die – change over time – illustrates the ephemeral nature of all living things. We are only here for a short time.
  • Bringing nature into the gallery – even ordinary grass – points out its beautiful properties of life, color, strength, fragrance and utility. I wanted to show the viewer something he or she probably sees everyday, but ask them to look at it in a different way.
  • From the beginning of the work, I called them prayer rugs, albeit tiny ones (maybe for your Buddha nature?). A bit sacred, a bit ordinary.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Before and after

Collage, and then working back into it with paint.
I had hoped to almost ignore the collage, but couldn't stop myself from trying to save the good bits.

And here's another. A lot of energy in so small (10 inches x 8) a space. Too much, I think.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

See what I mean?

Who is that? And that?
What I meant to do was to paste down random scraps and then paint over and around them ... but I get out the brushes and can't figure out where to put it. Aghhh.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Don't quit your day job

Gosh, this is frustrating. I thought by now, I'd have crashed through this stuff, but I find myself avoiding the studio – making a sandwich or writing an email or cleaning the bathroom – anything to not have to work at this frustrating thing they call collage. I can sort of hear all those little pieces of torn paper whining back there when I pass by the open door ... ha.
The switch to black paper has a sort of elegant quality, but feels like cheating.
Why does collage almost automatically go figurative? (I'll post a few more examples tomorrow.)
Black on black is intriguing. Will push this next.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Growing and changing

Spent the afternoon again with Lorraine. She's making huge works on canvas, recycling old drawings as collage and then going in with paint. Very lyrical and beautiful. She makes it seem so easy.
In contrast, I'm struggling with the medium. I love the idea of using old works to make new works, but it comes slowly and I feel like I have to reach way down into myself for every little decision ... and then second-guess it.
I suspect it's difficult because it forces me to think in a different way. Instead of creating negative space to define positive elements – as I am most comfortable working – I must compose with positive elements. Agh.
Change is good, right?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Found art

Looking for a big brush in the studio this morning, I came across a batch of 8 x 10s I made last summer when I wasn't posting (why wasn't I posting?). I'd forgotten all about these, and am happy to rediscover a couple of good ideas. They're inspiring me as I work on a new 8 feet x 5.5 feet drawing.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Postcards from the edge

Spent the afternoon with my friend Lorraine. Helped her work on some monotypes and then collaged these small pieces. Good Spring day.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Back off

Epiphany: In an effort to marry the two main layers (paint and graphite), I often go way overboard, filling in EVERYTHING. Working on this the other day with graphite, I actually stopped early. And saw that I was making a big (60 x 50 inches) drawing as if it was a small drawing. I had been covering up all the cool huge brush-stroked washes with a blanket of (small) texture. Got out the eraser.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I heard you the first time

Color. New camera (much better image). Allowing much more of the randomness to show through. Need to ramp it up.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sunday in the studio

Yesterday was a good day for drawing. I reworked this piece that started out as a small brush painting, blown way up. There was a lot of under-drawing here, and I love how it shows through. I'm thinking I will go back in with large areas of white paint, sort of getting back to the white of the paper, looking through the layers of drawing, but will hold off for now.

50 x 50 inches, graphite on paper

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Telling a story

Even if I don't quite know what the story is. Hal says it looks like an animation where all the elements are smashed onto one frame... awp!

Leaving now for upstate NY and a balmy 85 degrees. Tomorrow it will be 55. O Spring.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

No. 5

Sadly, I've got to stop using this paper, only halfway through my ten pieces of paper. I was excited about it in the beginning – 10 sheets of 38 x 70 inch eco-friendly (by that I finally figure out they mean renewable, but not necessarily good). It's not holding up well, and I fear for its lifespan.

So, I have cut down a larger piece of Stonehenge to the same size and can do at least one more...
It will be a practice run for my gallery drawing at Elmira next week, so I'll start with a bit of subtle monotype. Right now.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Number four of ten

They say that in order to make a change you have to do things in a different way. I learned a lot from making this drawing for a couple of reasons:
I started out drawing with a stick and ink (hmmmm).
I could only see half of the piece while I was working on it (big wall issues).
I took a break overnight in between halves.
I managed, for a change, to push through the tightness and horror vacui into the eye of the storm (where white space works and scribbles are good). I love this eraser.

OK, I know I'm way behind in my 10 drawings in 10 days project. I've had a cold; I've been pretending to be a cowgirl in Nashville; I'm getting ready to do a gallery drawing at Elmira College next week. But, we press on.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Day four, drawing three

Yeah, I know. So much for structure...
This drawing just didn't want to work. God knows I tried. I do like the dog; and the bear trap. I think I'd better go out and breath for a while before beginning the next piece.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Two out of ten

The light is fading so I had to photograph the drawing now (6 p.m.). I will probably work on it a bit more. Large white areas make it easier to breathe.
I need a new camera.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ten big drawings, ten big days

Just back home from Ireland. Visiting the Burren always helps me get focused to draw.

I found this great, cheap paper – it's six feet wide – I have ten sheets of it, so will make ten drawings in ten days. I made this one listening to Patti Smith. Yum.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


The Central Library show has moved up to Richmond. Catch it at Tarrant's on W. Broad if your travels take you there.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Recycle, repurpose

So, the plan is to recycle a few so-so drawings into three dimensional sculptures. This is the first one.
The next step is to make some drawings from the drawings, usually a fun exercise for me. Right now, though, I'm struggling: 'drawing things' is much more perilous than just 'drawing.' Feels tight and wrong. How can it be right OR wrong?
I think I want to make fluid and ethereal pictures, but I keep ending up with harsh, graphic work. Shall I just give in? I won't upload the graphic work just now. I'll take another day or so to study the cut paper.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Air Quality

Hal and I spent a good part of the day framing work for a show going up Monday. Our friend Jack Callan made beautiful frames and we worked out the rest.

This is "Air Quality 2," 27.5 x 53.5 inches. Oh gosh, I later added some graphite drawing that you won't see here (only at the VB central library).

My back is just about killin' me.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

This is "Air Quality 1," sort of a leap back into the past for me. I've been working lately with my friend and former teacher, Lorraine Fink. Years ago she taught me this process of monotype and I have been revisiting it, layering and drawing, then working with graphite and eraser over it. It feels good to bring a bit of color back into the work. Today I watched a video piece about Joan Miro and was awed by the color in his early work. Color to affect the heart.
This and several others will go into a show at the Central Library in Virginia Beach on Monday, and then on up to Richmond.