Tuesday, March 23, 2010

As The Journey Goes...So Does My Life

I am at the 12 weeks mark of painting and the one year mark away from my executive/corporate life and can happily report that I make it into the yellowfish life for a good part of almost every day. I am in the clouds more than I am noticing them. I am on the surface of the water more than I am looking at it. I am up flying in the breeze more than I am feeling it. And I am on the branch with the birds that I hear each morning, noticing the way they hold on vs just the way they sing.

I am at the stage where when my head hits the pillow my brain immediately turns to art, images, the progress of the day and ideas for the next. These thought and images are also in my dreams and again as I wake and on days when I am not able to make it to the studio I yearn to get there.

Pushing aside any visual progress I continue to lean on the learning progress - how paint works, reacts, mixes, the various brushes, mediums and surfaces. The depth of this medium is simply amazing and as I spend a few hours online looking at other works and trying to learn and answer the question, "how'd they do that?" what I see in the good paintings is a maturity one can only get to with experience. And so, as my artist friend Shirl instructed me was the best way to learn, I continue to "just paint." The joy in this part of the journey is the freedom this still affords me. And I hope to be a student for many, many more years to come.

I can't say I have no fear of failure but I try to start each piece without a preconceived notion of where it will take me which makes it easy not to fail. But then even with that frame of mind of course I do think I will create something "good" and then of course fail often and yet these failures point me in new directions.

I still carry like cinder blocks on my shoulders the feeling that I must complete a painting in one session. This is left over from my watercolor days when it was born of necessity. So now I try to be working on multiple paintings and recognize when I feel myself blindly working so I can stop, take a break and go to another piece. This is so much harder than it sounds.

Another good learning cue is the knowing that I can always go back and re-work something that annoys me a day or a week later be it to add, subtract, sand, terp away, paint over or if push comes to shove I can toss it over the balcony. There have been many of those.

Yesterday I tried a new texture technique and a new paint color - metallic gold. It was a nice 24 x 24 canvas piece and the gold stained and dried quickly to the texture I laid down. It took on a very soft and natural tone and while I had planned to leave that as the first layer I instead played with it by adding a few marks and accent touches of color and set it down. When I was done for the day I looked over at it for awhile and then began to laugh as I thought, mockingly, "well now, Christine, doesn't that look generic, like something you might see for sale at Home Goods or be hanging in the bathroom at JC Penny's!"  As this was making me giggle a bit I stopped short as I realized I could not have completed a painting like this when I started three months ago, let alone mocked it (see below).

As I head to the studio today I will take a minute to reflect on the progress I've made over the past 12 weeks as well as in my relationships with others at the gallery and in the studio.   The circles continue to widen. As do my smiles. And while I don't consider myself yet an artist every once in awhile I can see the future paintings through the trees. Java!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

1st Art Show Tonight!

48 x 48" Brave New World

Yesterday I stood behind fifteen people in line at my local post office just to buy the new American Expressionist stamps. When I got to the counter and told the clerk what I wanted to purchase I had to further explain that they were art stamps that were released today. He stared blankly back at me for a few seconds and said, "art stamps?" I said, "yes, they came out today." And smiled back at him. He lifted an assortment of papers around his area then said, "hmm, let me go check." He went into a side door and, leaving it open, I heard him yell out, "do we have any art stamps??" I could overhear a few words of a conversation and some movement of boxes then he came back with a few sheets in his hands and a big smile on his face and said, "yes, here they are!"

Speaking of big smiles tonight from 6 - 9pm is the opening reception for the 1st Annual Member's Art Exhibition at Hollingsworth Gallery and I have three pieces in the show! This is the first time I've been in an art show since 1994 and my first ever associated with a gallery. I can feel the slate under my feet of this wonderfully cosmic stepping stone.

And I took a few more steps forward in my art journey this week (above painting). As in all trails the path is never a straight line and I feel like I've been leaving little yellow pieces of cloth tied to the tree branches of my life to help lead me to this point. After preparing the canvas with a textured surface and carefully adding marks in the ground I kept looking at my watch and I was long overdue to get home and let my dog out. While I was packing & cleaning up my stuff I picked up my hours-old, half full open bottle of diet snapple iced tea and thought, "wait a minute, can I use this as a stain on my surface?" I loved the color and want to learn how to make my landscapes have an organic look and feel so I ran over to the gallery to ask my instructor/gallery owner, piled high in paperwork, about it. He seemed happy to take a break while replying, "Well, let's give it a try!"

So he joined me as I poured the tea right out of the bottle over portions of the surface and immediately let out an, "ooooh." It held such a subtle yet compelling feel and I made a note to test this again on a smaller painting. Then I experimented with other available liquids including acrylic paint and while I wanted to keep at now I was reeally late and had to dash home and tend to Lucy.

When I returned to the studio the next day I loved it, as did others. Sometimes you just have to go with your instincts and see where it leads. And sometimes, it will return the favor with a nice surprise. Java!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Great Week of Art Happenings!

On March 11th the U.S.P.S. will release a new set of stamps honoring abstract expressionist artists! Does this indicate a renewed interest in the world of abstract art in America? I’m not sure but I find it a wonderful coincidence that it happens now and that somehow I became aware of it.  I no longer believe these things just bump into you as if by accident. When your mind is focused and you’ve been able to calm the rest of your world you are better able to see the color, shapes and details of your lives and thus your internal radar is on high alert without you even realizing it. Until it stops you in your tracks that is. 

Sometimes it’s a sound that stops you as it did to me yesterday. I was approaching the dune walk over during my volunteer right whale survey session when I heard a lone bird loudly calling is if by the top of its lungs. I thought I recognized it as a cardinal and immediately reached for my camera (yes, I now take it with me everywhere) and started scanning the brush ahead of me. There it was. All by itself. A bright red shape in the midst of the dark blues and greens of the palmetto plants.  I was able to get two quick shots off then it flew away and while I was out there for another hour I never heard or saw him again. But it made a wonderful and memorable mark on my soul if just for a few minutes.

Speaking of great marks coming up this weekend at the Hollingsworth Gallery is the 1st Annual Member’s Art Exhibition! Come out to the gallery located in Palm Coast at City Walk (off of Cypress Point Pkwy) on Saturday, March 13 between 6 and 9 pm for the opening reception and see some of the finest art and artists in the world right here in Palm Coast, FL!  And if you’re not able to make the opening the show will be up through April. Enjoy yellowfishing and Java!