Life has a glorious way of evolving while we spend time wondering, questioning, deciding and planning. We may think we are in control. We may think we know where we are going. We may even think we’re clairvoyant and know just what, where and when we will be doing x, y and z. But, if we are paying attention, we are experiencing all the plans that go awry, all the dreams that are shattered, all the self-concepts we leave behind and all the time we spend trying to gain control… again and again and again!
I am certainly experiencing all of the above. Quite recently, I am beginning to possess a new orientation towards life, and hence, to my art. I am learning that my overall approach to painting is cognitive. It comes from my left-brain, a consciousness which is derivesd from what I have been taught, from what I am reading about other artists, and from my mind-set towards life in general.
When I believe that I am in control, I approach my art with the same need – to be in control. I always set out the same palette because my favorite artist/mentor says this is the “correct way.” I begin with the same underpainting she uses and I am very careful about edges – hard or soft. I choose to work in oils because she works in oils (and pastels). This was fine when I had never painted before, since I never received any kind of formal art training at any time in my life. I give myself permission to be in kindergarten and to experience a wonderful time of learning. It places me on the path of becoming.
In the ten years which have passed since I began this endeavor, I have at times been inspired by the visible world, by concepts, by formal elements of painting, and by other paintings. “What the work is about” may run the spectrum from extrinsic (the natural visible world) through the personal (the artist’s mental world), to things solely intrinsic to the art object’s form (surface, color, scale and various formal qualities).
Today, my interest is abstraction which began as a simplification and generalization from nature. I sometimes paint from direct observation deriving a painting’s initial structure or colors from the visible world. However, I feel myself drawing an evolving inspiration from my own emotional landscape. I am, more and more, attuned to emotions or moods. My colors are whatever I need to connect soul to canvas. I am working with water-based oil at this time, but know I will move slowly to acrylic as a medium.
“Circles on Black”
So, what does the 20″ x 20″ canvas have to do with all this? Well, that painting started out as a sketch in my small notebook. There was the sand flowing into the water, flowing into the sky – but it didn’t work. The beauty I found in nature (the water and sky being two of my favorite subjects) became flat and unimportant, although the colors were just right – even up to the sliver of sun poking through the clouds.
After studying the piece for days, I decide to try and salvage it by dividing it up into geometric shapes, still using the ‘real” colors. No good! A few days later, I cover the painting with gray gesso, eliminating the vision completely. The canvas stays on my easel for a week or so and then is demoted to a place along the wall behind another larger canvas.
This week, for no conscious reason, the canvas returns to the easel and is painted ivory black with ascending circles of various sizes and colors moving from the lower left to the upper right of the piece. I have a few globs of paint left on my palette from a painting I just finished and, for the sake of economy, I use those colors for the circles – which just happens to be those of the sand, water and sky!*
The story of the 20″ x 20″ canvas is all happenstance – or is it?
*After all this, it turns out to be 16″ x 16″ ! See above. 7/9/2009