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   Welcome to my blog! I'll be posting thoughts about art, photos, happenings, and other things that strike me--and hopefully my readers--as interesting. And please visit my website by clicking the link to the right--thanks!

   Also please check out my second blog, The Painting Archives to see older (pre-2004) paintings for sale.

Sunday, October 30, 2005
  New Mexico

I'm back in Wisconsin after a week and a half spent in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico. My rather traumatic car trip featured a blown engine on the way out and a fried battery on the way back. But in between, things were just fine. I was able to attend to some art business, visit old friends, see some beautiful galleries, and check out the Helena Wurlitzer Foundation which offers artists residencies in Taos for up to three months. That's definitely something I'm hoping to do in the future. I was able to borrow or rent a car while mine was in the shop, and to get out and around the landscape. The cottonwoods and aspens were in full golden glory.

I always have the odd sense of coming home when I get to that part of the country, with its open, expansive and rugged landscape. This sense of home has nothing to do with the actual chronology of my life, as I have never lived there, only visited a few times. The Land of Enchantment, it's called, so I guess I'm not the only one to find myself with a sort of spiritual attachment to the place.

This photo was part of the view from a series of natural hot spring pools in the Jemez Mountains. I was intrigued by this cliff, with its strong vertical columns of rock and their heiroglyphic-like eroded faces.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
  time warp
Last week I was back in art school...some things were familiar--smudgy charcoal drawings on easles, racks of paintings, color-spattered sinks, lithography stones. But this time around there was a whole new aspect and it was very high tech--like a machine that produces resin models from 3-D computer designs, a huge array of film and photography equipment, vast online resources for all kinds of design and research. My younger son and I were doing college visits in Duluth and Minneapolis, and I was struck over and over by how things have changed in the 20 years since I was an art student.

It's not just equipment and facilites, but also an approach to art as a career that I don't recall from my own education. In those days, we assumed that art education would eventually lead a person into the field, but it hardly seemed a clear path. It was more about the journey of becoming a deeper, more insightful person, with certain skills and lots of knowledge about art history. And yes, OK, it took about ten years to start seeing income.

My son and I heard a lot about mentoring, internships, networking, and professional preparation classes. And I am absolutely all for it. There is nothing noble or desirable about going into today's art world ignorant of basic business and people skills. There is nothing valuable in having to reinvent the wheel as you learn to conduct the life of a profesional artist. Streamlining the whole process may very well allow for more focus in the studio. As long as the part about the journey to becoming a deeper, more insightful person, etc. etc. is not neglected, it seems the new generation of artists is being offered a few things that the class of '82 could have really used, all high tech wonders aside.
Saturday, October 08, 2005
  a good book
Last night I picked up my copy of Writing Down The Bones, by Natalie Goldberg.I hadn't read it for while, and it's worth more than one time through. Though it was written twenty years ago it doesn't seem dated--aside from the fact that Natalie is always writing on paper with pen in cafes (I'd bet anything she uses her laptop nowadays.)It also seems as relevant to artists as to writers, and perhaps to many other disciplines also. She talks a lot about the creative process, how to regard one's work, and how to keep open to new experience. I will quote just one little gem. I mentally substitute "Painting" for "Writing" and "viewer" for "reader" etc. in this one:

Writing is not psychology. We don't talk "about" feelings. Instead the writer feels and through her words awakens those feelings in the reader.

This is typical of the rather simple-at-first-glance truths in the book. The relationship between the one who creates and the one who reacts to the creation can seem complex, if the one who is creating strives to dictate a particular meaning to the audience. Natalie seems to be saying that it is the creator's role to experience and express, and if this is done well, it is enough. The meaning will be unique to each person who encounters the work, and will be experienced by that person as self discovery or personal insight.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Is it just an excuse, or can I really claim that travel feeds my work? Until I few years ago I didn't get away much, but since 2001 I've been to Spain, England, New Mexico and Costa Rica. In that same time period my work has undergone a major shift, from something identifiable as "landscape" to the much more abstract work I'm doing now. So I think it's obvious!

Travel is like a cup of strong coffee to the creative process. It energizes the mind and opens the eyes wide. It heightens focus on the moment at hand.

This time of year my thoughts often turn to my stay in Spain, three weeks in September of 2001 (including the 11th, but that's another story.)I spent most of that time in the tiny, medieval stone village of Farrera, high in the Pyrenees in Catalonia. My studio there, at the Centre D'Art I Natura was a room with an open window (as in, no glass) overlooking a small field still cultivated by hand by the village's oldest resident. Overlapping mountain peaks faded into the distance. Days were long, with many hours for studio work, hiking ancient paths and sitting on the little balcony of my apartment writing or drawing. Dinner at 9:00pm. was fabulous, delicious fresh food presented with true artistry. Assorted guests and the delightful couple who run the place, Lluis and Cesca, would converse in rapid Catalan--but I was also included with someone or other translating or engaging me in English. There was a lot of laughter, teasing and good humor. I even learned a few words of Catalan, including "I am full," a very useful phrase. I miss those days, and I intend to go back.

For now--I'm planning a road trip back to New Mexico with my older son. I have some art business to attend to, and old friends and relatives to see. And of course I look forward to the landscape there which is so beautiful.

This photo was taken in February 2004 in Costa Rica.


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       Rebecca Crowell