Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Finding a new direction?

You  should know that anyone who has seen my work in recent years will not, I think, recognize this as mine. I’ve been painting blossoms, and occasionally cats.  This is neither of those!   For me, though, it is very MUCH mine.  And very much the product of a chain of thoughts I have been entertaining since the workshop at Kanuga with Mike Bailey.
The painting in my last post was my first post-Bailey project.  As it neared completion I found myself satisfied with it,  for how I managed to keep a mood,  used  design principles, and even included content and narrative.  But at the same time I knew it was not feeling like MY work.  I spent a lot of time thinking about that as I painted, and as I slept (or didn’t sleep), trying to understand what it was missing, why it didn’t “make my heart sing”.   My good artist friend Pat has used that term more than once during our group critiques, and I know that when I’ve made her heart sing, it’s one of my GOOD paintings, and when I haven’t, it’s not a keeper.
I realized, looking at recent (pre-Bailey) paintings around my studio that DID break into song, that this one was missing components that are important to me.  High contrast.  Dramatic colors.  Interesting shapes that fill the page. Patterns.  The more I thought about this, the more I decided that these things were a constant in ALL of my own paintings that I like the most.  In fact, I decided, it was time that I realized that they were not my style, they were my subject matter – or should be. Not flowers or botanicals. Not anything else.  Dramatic Color, Contrast, Shape and Pattern.
So, I stretched some paper and started out to paint my new (old) subject matter.  And this was the result. What it will lead to is still to be determined. A second attempt is already in progress, and a third idea already sketched. And, when I look from this new painting to my recent floral paintings, it is indeed from the hand of the same artist.  Compare it to these - to me they absolutely relate to the one above:

I’m very excited. Feels like I’m changing my whole relationship to my art.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Thousand Dreams

This is the first painting  I’ve started and completed after my workshop with M.E. (Mike) Bailey at Kanuga this month.  It has stirred up a lot for me.
I’m not sure it’s the start of a series in the way Mike hoped we would work for a while.  But I learned a whole lot just doing it and thinking about it as I did it, and thinking about how I felt about it when it was done.

I had decided that if I DID do a series, I’d cheat and work with the morning glory images I’ve already used twice recently, before the workshop. Both paintings abstracted the leaves into shape and patterns, so I thought I’d be able to let go of the ‘pretty picture’ and work on the design.   Having recently heard the song Something Wonderful, from The King and I,    I chose regretful as a mood or emotion to portray, and settled down to use the seven elements of design (see earlier posts – I won’t shout them at you now) to support that mood. 

As I worked through a plan, including maybe a dozen value sketches, the theme of regret (and those heartbreaking lyrics: “ he has a thousand dreams that won’t come true”)  kept nudging me, until I realized that, all unintended, I had a meaning, and content too (I wasn’t PLANNING on tackling that until June when I take a Marilynn Derwenskus workshop).  What brought it together was hearing the song.   Aren’t unrealized dreams one of the hardest things to accept?   This painting is for my mother, Margaret, who died fourteen years ago, with a bucketful of dreams that never did come true. I like to think that a few of them did – those are the blossoms that are still full of color. The others have withered and sunk back into forgetfulness.    

But already,  this is just the Last Painting, and I am already embarked on the Next Painting.  And very excited about it.  It’s a whole ‘nother animal altogether.  No peeks just yet, give me a couple of days to succeed or fail, and to think some more about what this newer idea means to me and my art.  I think it’s a very good thing, though. . . . more later.

Monday, April 15, 2013

POST-Kanuga, Day One

I was way too busy at Kanuga to post any more. Never even had time to take that lovely walk around the lake.

But here I am on the first Monday Morning after Kanuga, ready to get started. I spent breakfast time doing thumbnails (something Mike Bailey indicated he often did on painting days - or maybe every day), and re-reading all of Mike's very useful articles (you can download the .pdfs from his web site. Wait, I'll help:  Click HERE to find them!).

Thought I should check my email, and back up my PC (lots of new images I'd hate to lose) before going to down to my basement studio, so here I am. But I'm excited and energized about spending more time looking at my design and content, and letting technique follow along behind for a change.

The hard part, I know, will be looking at the half-finished pieces I left behind before taking Mike's brain-changing workshop.  I think they will have all morphed from "potential paintings" to "just a piece of paper".
Oh well.

If anyone else from Mike's class at Kanuga sees this, PLEASE stay in touch, drop a comment, and let me know if YOU are starting a series, or at least working differently than two weeks ago!  Also, I'll bet we'd ALL like to know if any of you got a Good Painting out of the workshop, rather than just an exercise (we know Sandy did . . .)

These are the (unfinished) exercises from the second, third, and fourth days of the class.  If I decide to work on them more, the two with flat shapes will probably get an overdose of pattern, just for the fun of it. The wet-in-wet painting, below,  was an interesting experiment, not my style at all, but an attempt to find 'serenity' in class.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Kanuga 2013, Day One (Mike Bailey's workshop)

Wish I knew how to post a sound clip. Spent today's workshop session, besides two 90-minute stints of painting, chanting, singing, and yelling. I'm missing the last week of choir rehearsals back in Michigan, but here at Kanuga, we have formed a chorus in our class of 26 students:  We shouted (at times)  LINE!!! SIZE!!!! SHAPE!!!!!!!! DIRECTION!!!! COLOR !!! VALUE !!! TEXTURE!!!!.  Note: those are the 7 elements of design.    We shouted these so often that I'm pretty sure I'm not allowed to change the sequence.  L! S! S! D! C! V! T!

Of course, these were not new to anyone any the class. We've heard them before. And had handouts that listed them. And illustrations of what they were.

But Mike Bailey has a unique and intense way of describing and teaching them so that (we do hope) they will remain as our new way of thinking about art, whether it is ours or others.

Banish the words love, like, dislike, hate from our art vocabulary. They don't convey any useful information.

Anyway, an exhausting and intensive and educational Day One, and I for one am satified!

More later. Meanwhile a picture  of two ugly painting   (I wonder if "ugly" is allowed?). I'm SO impressed with the artists who can come here to learn something completely new, incorporate it into their art, AND achieve something lovely right away.  Won't ever happen to me. See?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Excitement Builds - MWCS Annual Exhibition, AND Kanuga - all in one week!

Why Must It be Red?

The week started out with a committee meeting of the MWCS board, reviewing and proofing the results received from Pat Dews, juror for the 66th annual exhibition. This was held at my home, central for the four who worked on this step.  It was quite exciting, being part of the process.  I got to hear which artists entered, who got one of their paintings accepted, who got both, who got none. Imagine my pleasure to have had one of mine accepted this year.

It was an unusual year in that a number of artists who have steadily had their art accepted, year after year,  were NOT included,  while quite a few who were newcomers or had not been accepted before, were. This, I think, is probably a good thing, although difficult  for those who are accustomed to being included.  It indicates to me that the juror was looking with fresh eyes at all the marvelous artwork that comes out of Michigan. And the excitement and joy of those who are newly selected is wonderful to see and hear.
The painting I had accepted was this one.   I don’t have truly high hopes of hearing from the juror WHY my painting was included -    she’ll be too busy for that.   But  I  liked it enough to enter it, so I guess that’s enough to know for now.

Tomorrow the four of us begin our trip to Kanuga Watermedia Workshops, near Hendersonville, NC.  I promise to post some additional information about that experience as it unwinds – needless to say we are VERY excited and ready to go!