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.