Sunday, March 30, 2008

Thinking out loud

Down and out a week with the flu! Ugh. I finally was upright this weekend and giving some additional thought to my life and art:

Commission Project

Now is the time for me to become a “full time artist and a part time everything else” (Chuck Close) There isn’t anything about painting that I don’t want to know. One of my earliest goals was to learn every craft in the world. I love to learn how to make things. This desire shows up in my work. Perhaps I should reign it in. But I have to say that at the root of artmaking for me, below all of the reasons I have for doing things, is an absolute love of making things, of physically creating with my hands, of the skills required to make things.

With that in mind I’ve been searching for what kind of work would best provide money for my family to live while generating something positive for my artwork. I’ve run through all sorts of solutions. But last night I realized that painting would be the best. Anything that helps develop my understanding of art, my skill in making work, my relationship to the images I try to reproduce.

Everything I do is relevant to me on multiple levels. When I started the Collaboration project I wanted to paint something without prejudice. I wanted to subvert my usual way of handling space, my usual way of making decisions about what to focus on. But I also wanted to find a way to use art to connect with the people in my life. I wanted to see if my painting could become part of my relationships in a very concrete way. The result was the series of grid paintings. And I think the answer was, yes, painting can become part of my relationship- at least as long as I’m making the actual painting. A lot of interesting issues were uncovered during this process. Like the fact that neither my brother nor my husband ever actually gave me a photo. (I decided that their lack of participation could also be part of the process and then went ahead and made paintings for them anyway.) Beyond that I learned a lot about my relationships with my family.

I’ve been toying with the way to take this work to the next level. Or which aspect to continue with. I’ve begun a series of grid based works on paper that resulted from my thoughts that these works should be larger. I’d like to also investigate the opposite possibility. At the same time I’d like to paint images given to me by strangers. And not just any strangers, but strangers who are willing to pay for the work. Does this element of commission sully the work? Does art become less valuable because you WANT someone to buy it? Certainly it is MORE valuable, or should I say HAS VALUE, if someone desires to buy it. Or am I mistaken, are all the paintings in the Met free??

On one level my interest here is in making smaller grid based paintings, in oil, on linen. In addition these are paintings that involve me in someone else’s perspective. This is a longstanding interest of mine- it motivates much of what I read and watch on tv- and of course my desire to travel. The only thing that will unite these individuals is their willingness to pay me $3,000 to make 24”x36” oil on linen painting of a their photograph.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mental Trips

I started this blog as a way to write. But perhaps it would be better if I just made audio recordings of stories. I seriously spent the past few minutes worrying over whether the photo should be above or below the text! Over analytical or neurotic, you decide...

We just moved to the Philadelphia suburbs and our backyard is a wild place owned by a cemetery. Someday I guess it will all be neatly groomed plots for the dead but at the moment it is a wild and wonderful place. I almost was eaten alive by some kind of wild rose bush when I went hiking to take these photos. I was amazed by the way that the vines wrap around the trees and then are encapsulated within the tree. (Seems like the photo should go here...)

I'm painting trees in the studio as well, grappling with all kinds of important things. I have told students many times that there is, in my experience, absolutely no relationship between how it feels to make a painting and how good it is. I heard an interview with Tom Hanks one time and they asked him if he knew that "Bonfire of the Vanities" would be a bad movie while he was making it. I loved what he said because I've experienced it so many times myself. He said that he believes completely in what he is doing while he is doing it. That there was no difference in how it felt to make a hit or a failure.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tick heaven. They just love the beagle!

Last week was spring break. I spent the majority of the week in the studio. I wrote in my journal: "My hiking has been more metaphysical this week. Slogging through works in the studio." A couple days later I was "slogging" through 4" of water!!!! Oh yeah. In the studio!!! Luckily only a few works on canvas got wet. Now I'm just trying to dry them without mold.
Bird update:
The tundra swans and snow geese have made their way up to Selinsgrove. Now I can see them on my drive to work.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

West Coast Trip

9 students, 2 professors, 1 van, 10 days, 5,248 miles or so. The West Coast Trip was one of the best things I did while in Bowling Green, OH. Sadly I'm not with them this year but decided to blog along. This morning, maybe even now, they are arriving in Gallup, NM. Sunrise, breakfast, not being in the van! Enjoy.

After breakfast, a quick hike...