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Friday, January 27, 2006
  process


Yesterday I delivered the last of the paintings to Circa Gallery for my show there that opens next week. Here are 2 small paintings that will be in the show. I chose to post them here because, although they're the same size and dimensions (12" square)and both have a lot of blue, they're very different from one another. The fact that they are so different illustrates something about how I think about exhibiting, and also about my working process.

(The dictionary says that process is "a series of actions, changes, or functions bringing about a result," or "progress; passage." Such a handy word!)

I regard the work in this or any of my exhibits as just a point on the continuum of what came before and what will follow, a snapshot of the process. It's not like a book, with a clear beginning, ending and central theme--for me, the overall process of growth and change is too important to be broken into neat chapters. I'm usually pursuing a number of ideas, and working on five or six paintings at the same time. Fortunately, because I'm usually drawn to a certain format or range of colors for an extended period, there is usually something that pulls the work together as a group when an exhibit rolls around.

Individual paintings are pretty unpredictable though. Because each one is developed intuitively, at any point it can take a sharp turn and a new path. That's what happened in the two paintings posted here. Both began in a very similar way, with shades of blue applied to the panel. I think I had some idea that they would be a "pair" (such ideas generally fall by the wayside pretty quickly.) The one on the left evolved into an abstract, opaque image, while the one on the right veered towards a watery image, with shimmering layers of white and turquoise. Neither idea was preconceived; both emerged according to the individual process.

Of course I'm not talking about complete randomness--a lot of consideration goes into my work, and all of it comes out my particular visual vocabulary and aesthetic. But I try to always trust in the process, and not limit the possibilities. The surprising results keep me very entertained.
 
Comments:
It really is amazing how different two pieces can be, within the same continuum of work (a "body" of work, to use a handy term).

Not to muddy the waters... but I look at these two paintings, and read that you originally thought of them as a pair... and it occurs to me that they still are, or could be. (My own process tends to involve things being put into relationship with each other whether they originally were meant to be or not, then observing the new conversation that happens... or maybe the knock-down-drag-out argument that ultimately drives them apart again.) These two paintings could be mounted together, side by side or above and below, and simply by their difference say something intriguing... and still very much within the realm of the body of work.

But that's where intention comes in, I guess. Every artist has a set of intentions that result in the exact pieces that get finished. Yours called for these two to diverge, and that's just as intriguing as any other result.

Congratulations, by the way, on all these shows! It must be a real live-wire time for you, and I wish you all kinds of success. It's such a different climate from the usual solitary studio time... exhilarating and all about the other half of the brain! ;-)
 
It's interesting to me is that they almost speak of water and ice. Or perhaps they are really different surfaces on some moon out in the distant parts of the solar system.

The polarity between linearity and lack, warm elements and the lack, between these two seem to also make them like male and female.

While I like each painting individually, they seem to have too much tension between them when they are this close. However, this could just be that I'm seeing a crude approximation of the real thing. Being less than one tenth original size I'm sure a lot is lost.

It would be interesting if there were half a dozen of these, all meant to be together.

Good luck on your show! A wonderful opportunity to pause, reflect and rest.
 
Anthony,
Yes it's kind of odd, I never thought of juxtaposing these two into one piece, although I definitely do that in a lot of my work...like you I enjoy the unexpected "conversations" that take place between related, but diverse images. But maybe in this case, it's because I finished one (the one on the right) a long time before I painted the other--it sat around for enough time to take on a strong identity as an individual. Usually when I juxtapose panels they're in similar stages of development so they grow together, split apart, re-merge, etc. over time, into a unified piece.

Also interesting that you mentioned "intent" as I am just working on writing a curator's statement for a local show of abstract artists. With the show and the statement I am trying to counter the stereotype that abstraction is random or meaningless. I'm asking each artist to write about their sources of ideas and intent for their work--statements to accompany their pieces in the show.

I'll blog about that exhibit more at some point. It's still in the planning stages. It opens in June at the local library.

Thanks for the congratulations, Anthony--you're right it's kind of a whirlwind right now, and i'm enjoying it. It's great to get some response to my work when so much of the time it is unseen in my studio (of course, now that I have a website that's not quite the story!)
R.
 
Sorry, I didn't see the other comment from Dakini Painter--thanks for that--! I is so intriguing to hear the associations that are brought to people's minds. The issue of polarities is important to me--as a way to both compare and contrast, unify and individualize (if that last is actually a word!)In the overall body of my work there is a lot of diversity, yet somehow many connections as well, kind of a yin/yang thing perhaps. When I have an exhibit I sometimes worry that the work is too all over the place, but when I see it actually hanging together it's not like that.

Thanks for the good wishes!
R.
 
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