Dear Reader, I’ve reached the end of the residency. These last two weeks have passed rapidly.
Sharing this journal has turned out to be an integral part of the experience. I appreciate your support and comments. Thanks for coming along.
February 18 : From Art Making To Art Teaching
There are so many things art can’t do: It can’t bring the dead back to life. It can’t mend arguments between friends or cure AIDS or halt the pace of climate change. All the same… it does have some odd negotiating ability between people…it does have a capacity to create intimacy… --Olivia Laing, The Lonely City
There’s a message in my inbox this morning reminding me that my MAC workshop, Painterly Collage, starts in just one week. Tom’s coming tomorrow to take home all my oil and wax pieces and materials, leaving me with just the water based collage media. I’m not ready to stop working with oil media, but the world is coming back to me, moving things along. My work here has been concerned with seeing the landscape through the painted surface. Few pieces are finished. I wonder how they will find their way.
February 20 : Every Workshop Is Different
In preparation for teaching, I have been reviewing some of my reading. Dipping into Daybook, I find the Anne Truit who is a teacher as well as a studio artist:
The roots of art could not be more mysterious to the students than to me. Art, obviously, cannot be taught. Techniques…can be, but these are essentially exercises…serving to stretch, strengthen, to prepare. —Anne Truitt, Daybook
Although the Mendocino Art Center has few requirements, leaving artists to explore at will, each artist in residence is encouraged to take on a teaching obligation, an opportunity to share with others some of one’s individual processes. My workshop occurs the last weekend of my residency. I have chosen to teach Painterly Collage—a combination of printing, drawing, gluing and painting with water based materials. It’s a departure from my usual oil based work, but the essential processes, the exploration of adding and subtracting layers to create a mixed media painting are much the same.
I believe Truitt when she says “art cannot be taught”. I also believe Louis Pasteur who, speaking of chance in discovery, famously claimed that “Fortune follows the prepared mind”. I have heard students dismiss a beautiful stroke or clever solution in their art work as being merely a “lucky accident”. I wonder if, instead, this might be evidence of the right brain at work. I am hoping that by learning and practicing techniques, students will be creating opportunities for art to appear.
Week 6 : Endings
February 23-25 : Painterly Collage
A concept of any importance seems to carry with it the responsibility of inventing methods for its actualization, the energy to do so. —Anne Truitt, Daybook
It is a challenge to teach techniques and processes while encouraging the rhythms and states of mind (or no-mind) that invite art. I am in need of what Anne Truitt calls a “touch of grace”.
I like getting lost, conducting experiments and heading off, for better or for worse, into the unknown. But much of making art depends on problem solving, on finding ways of getting from here to there with the skills and materials at hand.
This workshop is filled with quiet risk takers. Students are learning new things while using their own strengths to make work that is individual and personal. One student says, “I keep asking myself how I will make all these ideas and techniques my own”. I love that question.
In the middle of the second work day, another student comments that our studio is really, really quiet—only ambient noises and the subtle shifting sounds of concentration. Each person is sticking with her work, dealing steadily with unfamiliar processes and materials, alert to possibilities, trying new solutions. Many are working larger than usual, experimenting with new color combinations or constructing new compositions.
We end on the third day with work that rewards us all. I love teaching—the excitement and wonder of seeing what emerges, the creative expressions coming through each individual. It is a strong beginning. Everyone makes three or four pieces. Here are some of them:
February 28 : Leaving
To define a mission for art, then, one of its tasks is to teach us to be good lovers: lovers of rivers and lovers of skies, lovers of motorways and lovers of stories. And—very importantly—somewhere along the way, lovers of people. —Alain de Botton and John Armstrong, Art As Therapy
In the last few days everything rushes toward the end—cleaning out the studio for the next resident, securing artwork and materials in the car, packing up the apartment.
There are last, long walks along cliffs, beaches and familiar streets; a drive into Fort Bragg for an art supply check in at Racine’s, and the night before I leave, a quiet dinner out with friends.
Morning and the window blinds are opened a last time to the garden, where there is a pale sunshine that will soon cloud over and turn to rain.
“So, did you do everything you set out to do here?” asked a fellow resident last night as we walked back to the art center under a soon to be full moon. I wasn’t sure how to answer. I hadn’t come with a particular plan. I had come to be alone and to see where that would lead me.
The tabby cat that roams the studios at the art center wears a red heart shaped tag dangling from her collar. It reads, “I am not lost”. I’ve been exploring for six weeks—walking around, making artwork, reading and writing and meeting other people who love art. I haven't discovered the magic charm that will transform my life or my work. I suspect I’ll always be a wanderer, but I am not lost.
Dear Reader, before I left Davis, my neighbor lent me a book : Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City—Adventures In the Art of Being Alone. Laing discusses the work of Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, David Wojnarowicz and Henry Darger, all artists who worked from deep loneliness and, through art, transformed isolation into forms of intimacy. This is a difficult, challenging book, but a rewarding one. Meanwhile, my time alone is transforming itself by increasing social interactions.
February 11 : Open Studio
If loneliness is to be defined as a desire for intimacy, then included within that is the need to express one’s self and to be heard, to share thoughts, experiences and feelings. p75 Olivia Laing, The Lonely City.
In Mendocino, 2nd Saturday is gallery night. In conjunction with the new show in the MAC gallery, artists-in-residence are asked to host open studios for the community. I think I should pick up a bit. My studio has become a true work space. Every surface is covered with some experiment or work in progress—much of which I’m not inclined to talk about.
My first visitor appears early, just after lunch. He’s elderly, a little unsteady on his feet, out of breath, but determined to take a look around. He says that years ago he was a painter. Then, one night, away from home, he lost his studio and everything in it to fire. He admits that he never had the heart to take up painting again. Artists often speak about the pain of having to neglect artwork at one time or another during their lives. This man lost the thread completely.
Later in the day, others drop by to look at work in progress, to breathe in a whiff of oil paint, listen to music and savor the mess that accompanies art making. I decide to stop cleaning up.
Late in the evening a husband and wife wander in to look around. They have driven from Ukiah for a brief Mendocino escape. They take it in—the work tables, the unfinished paintings, the paint tubes and pigment sticks. Moving toward the door, the husband stops to look silently at the deep browns and luminous pinks and greens of the large nine piece Landscape Grid. The Album Leaf is plays softly in the bright white studio and night is pressing in against the glass door. “Oh!”, he says. “This is it—the whole thing is art—the studio, the music, the colors of the work—everything we’re experiencing.”
It’s time to close up. We shake hands. My visitors have given me the gift of paying attention—everything I could ask for in an open studio.
February 13: Art Talk and Action
Intimacy can’t exist if the participants aren’t willing to make themselves known, to be revealed.
—Laing, TLC, p75
The four of us fine artists in residency have gathered for wine, cheese and conversation. Here we are: Linda Ryan, who works in abstracted landscape shapes and colors with poured acrylics, Linda Cloonon, a watercolorist whose still, air filled representational images suspend time, and Rogene Manas, who collages paper and drawings into a series of powerful women, “Everyday Saints”, and me—painting sense impressions of this place with layers oil paint and paper. Three of us are Californians; Rogene is coming from Oregon. We all have long histories with art. So what do we talk about? The workings of life—how we live, how we work, how we manage relationships around an obsession that is essentially solitary.
It all comes around to the possibility of working together—maybe pouring paint with Linda R, taking each others’ workshops, but finally we center on the press in my studio and conclude that it needs to be put to use ASAP.
On Tuesday morning, we do just that. I have plates and etching ink. We share watercolors and gum arabic. Nick Collins, a local printmaker, looks in, drawn by the energy of experimentation. No one is attached to outcomes. We all work right through lunch. It’s mid afternoon when we survey the chaos as we prepare to gather our materials, our prints, our many failures and some few shining successes. Linda Cloonan laughs and sums it up for all of us: “Now that was art making!
Dear Reader: As my time as a resident artist at the Mendocino Art Center passes, I’m feeling my way into the place—talking to people, relaxing into my work a bit, continuing to read Alain de Botton and John Armstrong’s Art As Therapy, and noticing how art and community relate to each other.
What Is Art? 1/31
We implicitly believe that artists should decide what they do, and according to processes that they don’t themselves completely understand. —AAT, deBotton and Armstrong
Early morning—up to watch the lunar eclipse in the pitch black darkness of a town where street lights can be few and far between. In search of the darkest dark I wander up the west end of narrow Calpella Street, where I find three other like minded sky observers. The moon and stars are spectacular. A companion points out Jupiter to the south just above the constellation Cygnus. Having ascertained what I am doing in Mendocino, a voice with an Aussie accent asks, “So what is art, anyway?” Ummmm…It’s just after 5 am; I’ve had no coffee; I’m freezing and completely absorbed by the reddish shadowy moon and brilliant stars. This is obviously not a right brain question.
But it is a good one—certainly one that matters. If, as deBotton and Armstrong speculate, art has achieved the status of a secular religion in western culture—then it’s a place many people put their spiritual concerns. My mumbled answer feels inevitably insufficient.
Later in the day, I am searching for a formal definition, a starting place. Here’s what I find: [art is] the application of human skill and imagination…producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. There’s certainly something there; still, I realize, the answer to the question, as posed in the early morning of January 31, was not in words, but in the sky above us, in absorbing its moving, improbable beauty and rich, meaningful silence.
Finding the Way In 2/1
…art’s true historic mission: the promotion of a sensory understanding of what matters most in life. —ATT, deBotton and Armstron
There are those days in the studio when everything comes together with the suggestion that there is a true path and that you may have just stumbled across the trailhead. In a few hours two diptych boards—36x36” and 24x36” go from blank white gesso to a layered mix of oil
paint, cold wax, pigment sticks and charcoal, mitigated additions of Gamsol and Galkyd gel. There is a word scrawled across the surface of both boards, “acquaeous”. It is there to remind me of the color of water, its sharp salt smell, the way it moves. This piece has a way to go, but for now I’ll leave it drying out for a few days, waiting for more shims of color, darkness and light.
Art and Science 2/3
…art changes how we experience the world. AAT—deBotton and Armstrong
Between Mendocino and Ft. Bragg there’s a turn off to an older, narrower road that leads to the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse station. At the entrance to the half mile trail that leads to the light house is a warm and welcoming, hand illustrated and lettered sign. The Cabrillo Lighthouse Station was once touted as a perfect second home community. Local folks—people who saw the value in the lighthouse, the outbuildings and the marine life that inhabit this place—spearheaded a preservation project and petitioned to make it a state park. It is still largely staffed by volunteers.
Visitors can stop by a small museum of wonders organized by local marine biologists—shells, starfish and anemones and a whale watching platform. Then there is the light house itself—an odd, schoolhouse looking structure with its magnificent multifaceted beacon. I’ve seen the lighthouse beacon flashing in a steady rhythm from the Mendocino Headlands when I walk there at night. The glass lens is beautiful, a complex piece of art and craft.
There is a bi-annual exhibit at the non-profit Pence Gallery in my home town called The Consilience of Art and Science. Being away means I’m missing it this year. But here—the lighthouse, the sea life, the meadow crisscrossed with spare decaying fencing from the sheep ranch days all have the sense that this is a place where art and science cohabit. Tonight I am drawing constellations.
Exhibits and Art Makers 2/5
…[an] agenda for art in a liberal society would be to assist the individual soul in search for consolation, self understanding and fulfillment. ATT—deBotton and Armstrong
Like most arts organizations, the Mendocino Art Center promotes memberships, which aim to create a steady flow of income as well as involve people more closely in art with class discounts and member opportunities. The new year kicks off with a member show in the gallery. There’s a wide variety of work—paintings, drawings, prints, photography and some very large sculptures. Local exhibits interest me—I like to see what people are up to in a particular place.
[Our culture is moving toward] an art of participation rather than just spectatorship… AAT deBotton and Armstrong
In addition to the arts center show, there are a number of galleries in the area. Ft. Bragg’s gallery night is first Friday—which proves to be a happening event. Four galleries and a co-operative ring a one block area and it’s crowded with artists and art viewers.
I’ve noticed this sheer abundance of art work in many small communities over the past year,— exciting evidence of creative engagement—both on the part of the artists and for the large numbers of people who want to interact with art—to have it be part of their lives, to live with art and make it themselves, as in this toy store window in Ft. Bragg, this mechanic’s bulletin board, and the window of a small house at the bottom of the hill on Calpella Street.
Dear Reader, These are thoughts from week 2 of a six week residency at the Mendocino Art Center. (scan down to find Week 1). Residencies vary widely in content and scope, but all have in common the goal of creating protected time and space for creative activity. In addition to studio time, I’m taking this opportunity to take long walks and to read and write about art making.
The modern world thinks of art as very important—something close to the meaning of life…Despite the esteem art enjoys, its importance is too often assumed rather than explained…What if art has a purpose that can be defined and discussed in plain terms?
—Art As Therapy, Alain de Botton and John Armstrong
So reads the beginning of Art As therapy by Alain de Botton (The Art of Travel, How Proust Can Save Your Life) and John Armstrong (The Secret Power of Beauty). I’m reading this book as an exploration of how art may function in the wider world.
These two philosophers imagine art as a tool with multiple functions: remembering, hope, sorrow, rebalancing, self-understanding, growth and appreciation. All this is inducing a bit of whip lash in my studio work, but I’m finding myself focusing on “rebalancing”
I’ve been in a “not this, not that” frame of mind lately, looking for things that can be eliminated— or at least composed—in life and art. This residency has created a spare simplicity in daily routines. Now the rebalancing notion is leading me to question why I’m drawn to certain art pieces—and by extension, certain solutions in my work. I’ve always thought that a big part of why we artists make what we do is that we just want to see it, but what is the “it” we want to see?
Here is a corner of a large collage I’ve started working on. At this point the whole piece is stuffed with monoprinted and drawn “parts” glued to a painted ground with cut and stripped lines. There’s a lot going on. Part of me wants to keep it all; part of me can’t wait to move in with obscuring tissue and more paint.
Art can put us in touch with [what is] missing…in our lives, and restore an equilibrium to our listing inner selves. —Art As Therapy, “Rebalancing”, de Botton and Armstrong
What is Art For? 1/26
One of the unexpectedly important things that art can do for us is teach us how to suffer... “Sorrow” — AAT, de Botton and Armstrong
I have continued working on collage-drawings and paintings, planning for the February Painterly Collage workshop. I started five small pieces recently—two have been headed in a good direction; the other three have been essentially going nowhere.
I decided to clean up the studio this morning and in the process over turned a full bottle of black ink. Looking at the puddle, I impulsively soaked the ink into a sponge brush and blackened the three troublesome collages, watching the surface alternately repel and absorb blackness, depending on how well covered areas were with Varathane. When they dried I sanded everything—what a miserable looking group of pieces!
I have been thinking about an artist friend who has been gravely ill. Looking at those dark, ruined collages, I realized that I had been exploring what de Botton and Armstrong describe as art’s function to create “an..engagement with sadness”. Working abstractly always brings up thoughts and feelings that may have been subdued or ignored until they are revealed by the unconscious processes of art making. I’ve added white oil stick to the black pieces. White, in many cultures, is the color of mourning. White is also the color of the white water and foam that ceaselessly washed over cliffs and rocks during the latest storm—the action of erosion a reminder of the poignant beauty of impermanence.
Solitude is required for the unconscious to process and unravel problems. —The Call of Solitude. Ester Buchholz
I’ve realized, belatedly, whether by intent or accident, that I’ve never lived alone. The prospect of living by myself during the residency felt important. I’ve always heard that art needs solitude.
Some residencies encourage group dynamics and communal living, but at the Mendocino Art Center residencies are organized around the individual. Each artist has an apartment, private or shared, depending on preference and costs. Artists pay an inexpensive apartment rent and studio space is free.
Each artist is assigned space according to her medium—painters, who bring their own tools and materials, have individual spaces furnished with sinks and work tables; jewelers share the jewelry lab—space and equipment—and the ceramic artists seem to share everything—studio space, clay, glaze, wheels, slab rollers, tools and a variety of kilns. We each have a key to our studio, and we can access our space at any time of the day or night.
Self Understanding and Growth 1/29
We are not transparent to ourselves. —“Growth”, AAT, de Botton, Armstrong
So, life is perfect, Yes? Alone with no set schedules, beautiful surroundings and a place to work. In the middle of all this perfection is the presence of the nibbling nag of expectation. I’m remembering the old Fred Babb cartoon tee shirt instruction, “Go To Your Studio and Make Work”. Well I am going. Everyday. And I am STRUGGLING to make work.
I came here with the idea of continuing to explore landscape. Truthfully, I’ve never been a big fan of landscape painting as a genre. But I do love the land—the improbable, profligate beauty of nature—the places I know—flat, stretching Central Valley farmland, snaking waterways of the Delta, impossible vertical ascents of the Sierra Nevada, and the North Coast, where I am now, remote, moody and passionate.
The question has been and continues to be how to transform this felt landscape into painted panels that resonate with these feelings. I have had some successes over the past year, but they seemed to have come from the great god-knows-where. There is no formula, no particular process that will lead to a good outcome.
At the back of my mind, I am hearing Pablo Neruda, “And it was at that age that poetry arrived in search of me…” And so I’m painting, failing, and painting more, hoping that patience and good faith will allow poetry, in the form of art, to arrive.
I am courting the unconscious with a pad of Arches oil paper and a collection of soft R&F pigment sticks, watching colors and shapes arise from scribbling, drawing and finger painting. I’m not sure there will be a breakthrough—or that I’ll recognize it if it happens. I’m content to let those expectations go, to work with what shows up.
Dear Reader: This inaugural journal entry covers a lot of territory—the first full week of a recently undertaken residency at the Mendocino Art Center in Mendocino, California. Future entries will deal with art and ideas in the hope that we can start some conversations. Please read on and catch up with my North Coast adventure to be followed by shorter entries in the future…
Preparing To Leave 1/8-1/15
Artist-in-residence programs…exist to invite…creative people for a time and space away from their usual environment and obligations. They provide a time of reflection, research, presentation, production and immersion into a new culture…
In the week before I was to leave for Mendocino to begin a residency at the Mendocino Art Center, in addition to all the small, but essential ordinary time demands, I cracked a tooth and had to have it extracted; I installed an exhibit showing fifteen artists; I hosted an art fundraiser for California Fire Relief, and the sweet, gray cat, whose health had been failing, died. I was more than ready for “time and space away”.
Mendocino is roughly a four hour drive north and west of Davis. The road dwindles from flat, efficient freeway to state road 128 through vineyards and redwoods to California Highway 1, which narrowly twists and turns cliff side along the coast. I had loaded the car with as much of my studio as I thought I could deal with along with creature comforts for the small apartment where I’d be staying—blessedly alone. I didn’t know exactly what I planned to do. When I read over my proposal, it felt like someone else had written it—someone, who, in summer, at the time of the application, couldn’t remotely imagine what arriving in rain, fog and silence on the edge of the northern California shoreline would be like.
The Mendocino Art Center Artists in Residence (AIR) Program…provides dedicated studio space and furnished studio apartments. The program provides the freedom to develop at your own pace and pursue interests in other disciplines.
The Mendocino Art Center was founded in the 1950’s—the dream of an enterprising artist couple—Bill and Jennie Zacha. It’s a wonderful, sprawling place, just up the road from spectacular cliffs and crashing waves at the Mendocino Headlands State Park. Studios and small apartments for
artists and students surround a coastal garden blooming with enormous echevaria, flag white calla lilies and assorted sculpture. I’d taught summer workshops there, but this would be my first winter at the center.
There will be hours of studio time, of course. I have proposed some writing. I also plan to go for long walks everyday, rain or shine. And I have brought books—some chosen myself: Diebenkorn: Beginnings, The Paintings of Joan Mitchell, Arshille
Gorky Landscapes and Alain de Botton and John Armstrong’s Art As Therapy. Others have been given to me by friends: Amy Parker’s Beasts and Children, Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City and Anne Truitt’s Daybook. Anne Truitt will be my guide into these first days of finding out what on earth I am really doing here.
Moving In 1/17
An individual is allowed to explore their practice within another community; meeting new people, using new materials, experiencing life in a new location and potentially integrating elements of that experience into their art.
I moved into the apartment last night—a clean, simple space—kitchen tucked into a corner, a bed, a chair, a table—and two large windows facing the exuberant winter garden. I made it cozy with my bedding from home—soft linen colors of earthy gray-brown and watery blue-green, five magic candles (battery operated—turned off and on by remote control), and a large clear bowl of fairy lights.
Today is studio move in day. The studio is spacious and bare, furnished with large covered work tables and a few chairs. There is also—grand surprise—an etching press along one wall. I paint flat or vertically—on tables and walls—so with a few screws and nails, my boards are hanging, ready for work. The west wall is a big sliding glass door with a smaller window to the south. Thin curtains diffuse the afternoon light; at night the space glows with floods and overhead light bars.
With the beginnings of a studio in place, I’m taking advantage of late afternoon sun to walk out to the cliffs to investigate meadows, rock and sea. Although I have been here in Mendocino and at the art center before, this is different—it is now my new place, a temporary home. My work is directly dependent on my environment—I am a peripatetic artist. Walking around is the way I find myself in the world.
The lawyer and doctor practice their callings. The plumber and the carpenter know what they will be called upon to do. They do not have to spin their work out of themselves, discover its laws… —Anne Truitt, Daybook
In addition to the unfinished nine painting project I’ve been painting off and on for the past two(!) years, I have brought a stack of large wood cradled boards. This first full day in the studio is all taping and priming. White gesso for three boards and black house paint for the others. I have forgotten to bring house paint (how is this possible?) and Varathane. I want to get some collage bases going in anticipation of the painterly collage class I’ll be teaching toward the end of the residency, so I am off to look for both. http://www.mendocinoartcenter.org/Winter18/Post.html .
Mendocino Hardware is tucked behind and to the side of Mendoza’s Harvest Market just off Lansing St—a quarter mile down Little Lake Street from the art center. Its narrow aisles are surrounded by shelves densely packed floor to ceiling. Everything you could want is there. The store clerk tucks paint openers and stir sticks into my bulging bag and I’m out the door. both of us knowing I’ll certainly be back.
I love the mindlessness of prep work. Tape edges, then paint and sand, repeat as necessary. I take time off to draw a little, conduct printmaking experiments with acrylic paint.
After working in the studio most of the day I’m off for a long walk—this too, is working. Some artists start their projects with a vision—a full blown idea of what they want to accomplish. The closest I’ve ever been able to come to that is a vague interest or notion of what might be wanting to happen—I know right now I’m interested in landscape—specifically landscape which shows traces of human presence or intervention—like this decaying fence on the edge of the cliff secured by a bright new yellow rope.
Settling In 1/19
A community as yet mysterious to me…We are all drawn together into a kind of tacit intimacy by being artists, which we handle in different ways…gently curious about each other as if we all had the same disease…AT p 16
Today I met Linda and Linda—two of the other fine arts residents who are here at this time. Linda Cloonan works in watercolor and Linda Ryan in poured acrylic. I have relatively little experience with watercolor and poured acrylics are completely new to me. Since each of us have private apartments and studios, we will have to go a little out of our way to make contact. Right now, I’m still embracing my need to be alone, to think, act and feel without much input from others. I’m layering grounds for paintings and collages, making drawings and exploring the shoreline on foot. Trails crisscross the headlands—when faced with a crosspath, I choose the one that heads out to the edge of the cliff. I’m out for a couple of hours—long enough to see the new moon setting toward the west.
…to keep abreast of household routine in order to set myself free for clean concentration in the studio. AT p 58
Eventually, everyone has to run errands. I need dish soap and garbage bags. It’s a good excuse to explore. I drive up the road to Fort Bragg—the first time I’ve been in a car since I arrived.
Fort Bragg is arranged along a long strip of commercial development. My favorite stores are Racine’s Art and Office Supply—emphasis on art and really well supplied—and the Hospice Thrift Store—described as a “hidden gem…small store, well organized, fantastic prices”. I find it amply stocked with the various, sometimes surprising, often interesting discards of Fort Bragg. By the time I get back, there’s only time for a couple of drawings—indulging in the considerable pleasures of art graf, watercolor pencil, ink and pan pastel
It is a joy to be here, set free, anonymous within a shelter. AT p 16
The north coast is well known for fierce winter storms—this blustery driving rain is the first of my stay here. In spite of best intentions, no walk today—scuttling from the apartment to the studio has soaked my raincoat. Instead it is a fine studio day, Puccini blasting from the tiny Mars Boy speaker, all lights blazing and the heater doing its job.Working on the nine piece group. Walking without walking, Mendocino is having its effect. I’m seeing the earth here—textures of ice plant, pebbles, rock, sand, puddles and scrappy vegetation. I realize that I’m seeing similar patterns and lines everywhere
—on the ground, in the sky, on the water, in the lines of my hand. A few years ago, I made a painting of a shell—expanded, enlarged to the edges of the board. Many people thought the patterns referred to galaxies, to the universe—I believe they may have.
I’ve Been Here A Week 1/22
Training in art is, then, a demand that…[artists] increase the consciousness with which they employ techniques that are, in themselves, ordinary. AT p 134
The rain stopped last night; dense fog late; bright sun this morning—a day when the desire to be outside is almost irresistible, but I’m waiting until afternoon because right now I’m working on what my ceramics instructor, Don Bendel, used to call “parts”—grounds, prints, drawings, pages of marks and lines—everything that has potential to be involved in collaged paintings.
I love making “parts”—it’s an invitation to experiment, to push the river, to end up in trouble and to learn a lot. I often struggle to be just that brave with “real” work. Technique is great—really necessary—and skill. But both need to be in service to a bigger, scarier idea. Where’s the balance? Or is balance what I’m looking for?
I snagged a bottle of ink, but no pen—finding that twigs and sticks are even better.
I’ve also gotten out the plates I brought and am loading them with acrylic paint (forgot the etching inks). Since the paint drys almost instantaneously, there’s no time to second guess anything. Just roll paint on the plate, maybe add some brush marks, a spritz of water, a dribble of liquid acrylic—Kazam!